Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Books About Olive Trees & Recipes~

Carol Drinkwater wasn't satisfied just to grow olive trees and make olive oil. She began wondering about the location of the very first olive tree. You may remember that a dove brought an olive branch to Noah in the ark, telling us that the olive tree's been around since the beginning of time.

But where did man first cultivate the olive tree and use its precious fruit for oil and food? There is a record of olive oil use in Syria in 6,000 BC. In her next book, Carol has decided to make a trip through the eastern Mediterranean area to find out about the site of the original olive tree. She sets out from the Bay of Marseille on her journey through Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Greece, Crete, and finally Israel. This journey is recorded in The Olive Route. Not only will you learn about the olive tree, but about the cultures surrounding its cultivation and use.

Carol's next journey to find out the place of the original olive tree is recorded in The Olive Tree, a personal journey through Mediterranean olive groves. Her quest takes her south to Spain--now the home of more olive trees than anywhere else on earth--through Morocco, Algeria, and then Italy. Algeria is a dangerous area for her and she is helped by a network of beekeepers to navigate it. Not only does Carol learn more about the olive tree, but about the lack of management both of land and water.

Without attention to the needs of this great tree, it may begin to vanish as it once did when the leaders in Crete destroyed the well-producing trees to make way for a more lucrative crop--cotton. At the end of this journey, Carol meets with other olive growers who have a vision of the future. This is a remarkable and fascinating journey (at this point, I want to say saga) for this remarkable and fascinating woman!

It isn't often that we are allowed into the mind and heart of an explorer. And that's really what Carol Drinkwater is in relation to the olive tree. And when a quest transforms our own awareness, and creates possibility for other peoples in the world, it's quite amazing. Having furthered her knowledge of what the olive groves need to survive, Carol goes home and fights for her bee population because they are being destroyed by pesticides.

Do you see how each of us can find a purpose for which we are best suited--or at least are most interested in--and help the world become a better place? What we do in America affects the world whether we like it or not. We have the capacity to do good things, but we must be awake and we must care!

Now that I've told you about these two books, I'll also say that Carol has written another book Return to the Olive Farm that has come out in England, but I don't see that it's available here in the States--probably available soon. Meanwhile you have her other books to read.

I personally find the olive to be an interesting and health-promoting food. You can make up your own mind about whether you want to use it, but I hope you'll give it a chance. This isn't just another "politically correct" thing to do...it's an excellent food that has been put aside because of our own way of life. And I love butter as much as the next person and use it, but I can have both in my kitchen without compromising taste or health!

I want to give you some recipes using olives, and if you use them, I'd like to hear whether you like the recipe or not. These are simple and easy ones that come from the cookbooks I bought when I first read Carol's books.

Here are recipes from
 Avner Laskin's cookbook: Olives: More than 70 Delicious & Healthy Recipes.
Fried Rice with Green Olives
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 carrots cut into 1/8 inch wide & 1 inch long strips
2 celery stalks thinly sliced
1 clove garlic chopped
2 cups steamed rice
1/2 cup pitted green olives cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1) Heat a large skillet over high heat.
Place olive oil and onion in skillet and saute until onion is translucent.
2) Add the carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
3) Add the rice, olives, salt and pepper. Cook while stirring for 6 minutes.
4) Add the lemon juice and stir well. Remove from heat and put on plates. Serve.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Black Olives
Serve this chicken dish with wide noodles and a fresh green salad.Serves 4

12 chicken thighs
5 medium potatoes quartered
1/3 cup pitted black
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2) Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
3) Transfer to a deep baking dish and cover.
4) Cook for 40 minutes.
5) Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.
6) Chicken and potatoes should be golden brown.
If not, return to oven for 5 more minutes.
7) Serve hot or store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

There is another cookbook I want to tell you about: The Olive Harvest Cookbook: Olive Oil Lore and Recipes from the McEvoy Ranch. This ranch is an olive farm in California which brought the olive trees of Italy to America. It's another fascinating story of a woman with fortitude and a vision, which you can read on their web site. It was their olive oil, olives, and olives poster which I bought after reading Carol's books! And although I'd love to give you many recipes from their cookbook, I'm only going to give you a dinner dish.

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, and Olive Oil
Serves 5 as a main course, 8 as a first course
Note: Don't be put off by the amount of garlic, as the slow warming in olive oil mellows the flavor.

2 s
mall heads garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil1 pound high-quality imported Italian spaghetti
1 1/2 pounds assorted vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes (red, orange, yellow, striped)
cut into 3/8 inch dice
1/2 pound assorted vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Leaves from 1/2 bunch (1/2 cup) of fresh basil, cut in chiffonade (strips)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Optional: Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or basil strips

1) In a small saute pan, combine the garlic and 1/2 cup of the
oil over very low heat and warm for 10 minutes. The garlic should
not sizzle.
2) Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until
al dente, 8 t0 12 minutes, or according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, finish preparing the sauce.
3) In a large, warmed bowl, combine the garlic mixture, tomatoes,
basil, salt, pepper, and the remaining 1/4 cup oil and mix well.
4) When the pasta is ready, drain it, add it to the sauce, and toss to
coat well. Divide among warmed individual bowls. Garnish with the
cheese and/or basil, if desired.

Now it's up to you to try the recipes! And for now, I'm through serving up my thoughts on Carol Drinkwater's books and the olive. I will probably return to this favorite subject later. And as Julia Child would say: Bon Appetit!



  1. You're making me hungry for olives and everything that goes with them! The chicken sounds delicious. We can easily support olive growers by purchasing products from the olive tree. :-)

  2. I think some people might have to create a taste for them, but if you can find good ones, it's easy to make olives and olive oil part of your diet. I remember the olive oil and olives that we had when I was younger and that world has changed tremendously. Now we have access to the very best olives and olive oils. So I agree with you: support olive growers by buying their products! Thanks for commenting.