Sunday, November 14, 2010

Have you heard of a purple carrot?

Me neither. I also didn’t know that carrots come in lots of colors including white, yellow, red and purple.

I happened along this blog, which cited the Carrot Museum Website in the UK. I was surprised to learn that some think the reason carrots are predominately orange today is thanks to the Dutch, as an attempt to honor William of Orange who led the struggle for Dutch independence. In reality, I think this is another example of how mass production has led to the homogenization of our food.

I thought that I’d have to wait till next summer to scour the famer’s markets and talk to my CSA provider about finding these varieties, but to my surprise (and the lady next to me in the produce section when I squealed) today in the produce section of my local Town and Country were purple, yellow and white carrots!

They are approximately the same price as “regular” organic carrots and taste like them too! But they’ll add a lovely color to the Rabbit à la Moutard I am making tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sausage Fest 2010!

Last weekend Kenneth and I joined our friends, Ben, an experienced Italian chef, and Carly, his trusted sous chef, and lovely host, on a whirlwind journey of making our own sausages!

It started with 20 pounds of pork shoulder from our local Cash and Carry, that Ben chopped into 1-inch cubes, and froze for 30 minutes. Then, we fed it through the meat grinder (see the one we used here) into a large pan, where we added the spices and mixed well. We split the meat into two batches, one seasoned with Ben's family recipe (no family secrets given away here), and one that we made up (so I am happy to share): salt, pepper, fresh garlic and red chili pepper flakes. To make sure we had the right proportion of seasoning, we fried some up! I love that about cooking - eat as you go. :)

Using the same appliance, with the sausage stuffer attachment, we threaded on the casing and filled it with the ground pork/spice mixture, tying it off at both ends.

Let me take a minute to talk about the casing. The larger size sausages (think bratwurst) are made from pig intestine. The smaller sausages (think breakfast) are sheep. To my surprise, you can get these from the meat counter at Whole Foods! So, I had to ask the guy - how often do people come in and buy casing? His response, and the full conversation left me speechless, often (he claims it is a Seattle thing). In fact, he just made 50 lbs. of sausage at his home that weekend! When asked what kind? Bear. That's right people, bear, and he claims it is delicious! But, his favorite is a combination of pork and elk.

Back to our own experience... Once the sausage was filled in its casing (which requires more skill than you might imagine), we twisted every other segment to create the sausage ropes you often see at the butchers. Sections of links were cut off to package and freeze, or give away.

Our hard work, and 3+ hours of time paid off immediately, as Ben fried up the sausages with onions and peppers for a delicious dinner.

I was never a big fan of sausages (much to Kenneth's disappointment), but knowing how it was made, and what went into it, really changed that. On top of that, this experience supports my plan of someday joining a meat co-op/CSA, where I would have a share of local, organic beef and/or pork. One step closer from farm to table!

Thank you Ben and Carly!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salad Burnett and More Beets

Salad Burnett has been a new one in our CSA this summer; it's a fern-like herb that has a slight flavor of cucumber. It is apparently a member of the rose family, and can stay green all winter long (I notice it also lasts a lot longer in my fridge than other cut herbs). Here's a particularly useful column on it.

I've used it a variety of ways: chopped it up and added it to my squash as I grilled it, included it in my herb butter and baked it on some Halibut, and added it to a vinaigrette for green salad. No real unique uses, but I think it is a fun complement to the usual herb lineup. :)

As the blog title promises, when a big bunch of beets came in our CSA a few weeks back, I decided to give the Cooking Light Beet and Fennel Soup recipe I found a try. Overall, it was very easy to make and tasty. Though, I would recommend it as a starter as frankly, there's only so much beet one should have in a single meal. :) If hosting a dinner party, you could make ahead and serve it chilled.

The only changes I made was using a large shallot instead of a yellow onion, and just using lemon juice instead of vinegar (taste as you go, less was probably needed).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Great Salad Recipe for Kohlrabi

Remember my post on the Slate article "The Locavore's Dilemma?" I promised I would follow up with a report on my grated Kohlrabi seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil, and I am here say that it was a success! I paired it with a seared Ahi Tuna salad of mixed greens with wasabi vinaigrette (courtesy of Rachel Ray) with a few alterations of my own. Here is the recipe:

Grated veggies
Finely grate 1 large carrot and 1 medium sized kohlrabi and place them in separate prep bowls
Add about a teaspoon or more of soy sauce to fully coat the veggies
Add 1 - 2 drops of sesame oil (very strong stuff, so be very careful when adding!)
Mix and set aside to marinate

Fava beans
I might end up doing a separate post on fava beans, because I love them, but here is the gist on preparing them:
Remove them from the pod as you would any other pea
Add them to boiling water until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water. Drain again and remove outer skins by ripping off the tip and squeezing out

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Toss the dressing with a mixture of greens, add a forkful of grated carrots and kohlrabi and sprinkle the fava beans on top. Season with a few sesame seeds.

Grilled Ahi
When purchasing, make sure to confirm with the butcher that it is sushi grade so that you know it is safe to eat raw
Season Ahi steak with salt and pepper (or spice mix of choice)
Grill for a few minutes on each side to your preferred level of raw on inside
Slice and serve on top of the salad

This was a hit in my house. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What to do with beets

A girlfriend of mine who started her first CSA subscription this year recently emailed me for help with what to do with her beets. I thought I would share my response here, as I suspect many people can find the purple veggie a conundrum.

The most basic way to prepare them is to season with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them for a long time till they can be easily pierced with a fork (depending on how thick, up to an hour). You can throw either them in a roasting pan or just wrap them up in tin foil. Once they are cooked, immediately get them into a sealed plastic bag till they have cooled to the point you can handle them. That is how you can more easily remove the peel. However, expect to have your fingers stained for a few days regardless. And be careful of getting them on anything - it is a very strong color die!

Here are some recipes that while I haven't made myself, sound like a unique use of the beets:

  1. If you have a way of slicing them real thin, this sounds good: Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic Rosemary Salt (Giada De Laurentiis)
  2. If you have lots, you can pickle them: Pickled Beets (Alton Brown)
  3. Here is a nice recipe without roasting them: Sweet Beet Dressed Slaw (Rachael Ray)
  4. For a nice fall day, or would probably be good served cold: Beet and Fennel Soup (Cooking Light)

Also, if you ever get the beet greens, they are so tasty! Cook them like you would spinach or Kale - I love them!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Top Ten Mistakes Made by Farmer's Market Customers

Awesome post by EcoSalon . I'm guilty of a few of these, but I am learning.

My favorite one is to ask more questions. I've learned a lot by asking about favorite recipes, how different varieties compare and even trying to get to know the people we see week after week.

I would add a few mistakes:
  • Forgetting to buy plants. At the Hollywood Farmers' Market you can buy starters of unsual, local varieties at dirt cheap prices. They are organic to boot!
  • Not spreading the love. I have my regular stalls, but I try to buy all of my stuff in one place. Variety is the spice of life!
  • Assuming everything is organic/pesticide free. If this is important to you, ask about their farming practices, you may be surprised.

What are your ideas?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It was what I did to the macaroni and cheese that made me seek professional help

My friend Jerry sent me this link to an article on Slate titled “The Locavore's Dilemma” and I wanted to share it with you all. The reporter, having hit a wall on “problem vegetables” in her CSA, seeks inspiration from a few chefs. She writes, “Cabbage, kohlrabi, collards, bok choy—everyone, it seems, has their problem vegetables. And, like me, many feel guilty about it.” This is exactly the reason I contribute to this blog, because I want to motivate people to take on these unusual, yet local/seasonal, vegetables, and because I want to be helped by you all as well. Please share your ideas! Anyway, the article is worth the read, if nothing else, to learn the conclusion about the macaroni and cheese. :)

I found a little inspiration myself in this article, from Mark Bittman, author of How To Cook Everything. When put to the daikon radish challenge, he suggested “raw, grated, with soy sauce and sesame oil.” I am thinking this will also work with my first Kohlrabi delivery of the year. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Have you heard of Microgreens yet??

Next time you go out to eat, or swing by your farmer’s market, keep an eye out for the latest trend in produce; the Microgreen! It’s the newest addition to my CSA this year, and so definitely required a little research. There isn’t much out there, not even a relevant Wikipedia page! But, here’s what I found out: Microgreens are the young seedlings (sometimes with flowers) of soon to be greens and veggies, that are harvested in under 14 days. Think of them as the “new” sprout (minus the root), except these are full of flavor, color and come in pretty much every variety you can think of, including arugula, beet, chard, radish, peas, and even kohlrabi!! Check out Green Cuisine for an extensive list. I love their bright color and find that they add a nice pop of flavor to salads. You can also use them as a garnish on any summer soup like squash or asparagus, and they would also be great to add to an omelet or quiche. Impress your friends and family by adding these to your menu this week!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Potatoes and Sustainable Fish

My local Farmer's Market has been open since the beginning of May and I have to say it makes menu planning a heck of a lot easier. During the winter I relied on websites, magazines and old favorites to get me thru the week, but it is just not as fun.

Perusing the stalls yesterday I came across one of my favorite spring treats: new fingerling potatoes. These babies were unearthed that morning and the skin is rice-paper thin. Mmm...Like most people, I grew up eating mostly russet potatoes which are fine for baking but why limit yourself when there are so many varieties out there? While I am not a huge of lettuce typically I could bypass the succulent purple lettuce. Pretty.

We love fish and seafood. We don't love the state of our oceans and try to be responsible with the fish we buy. Over the past couple of seasons we've gotten to know the fine folks at Linda Brand Crab and they are always very forthcoming with how the fish and seafood were harvested. I also wanted to point out this handy-dandy guide sustainable seafood.

So tonight we are enjoying some potatoes roasted with fresh herbs garlic and olive oil. Since one cannot live on starch alone, pan-fried up some Chinook salmon with Tom Douglas' salmon rub and served both along side baby lettuce salad drizzled with fresh buttermilk chive dressing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coming out of Hibernation

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

We are one week away from the opening of the Portland Farmer's Market! I am beside myself with excitement. Over the winter we've tried to focus on buying local and organic as much as possible but at times couldn't resist the urge to eat avocado or a tomato here and there.
And, yes, it's been a long, cold, but not exactly lonely winter. In February we added to our menagerie by adopting 4 chicks. It's been a fun and educational experience. I look forward to telling you all about Ava, ZsaZsa, EggSlayer and what happen to Kanye.
Stay tuned.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Discover Celery Root

If you haven't heard of celeriac, or celery root, than you are not alone! I can tell you that it is worth knowing about, because it is a valuable complement to your winter root vegetables.

Celeriac is actually not the root of the celery you buy at the market, but a variety grown for its bulb. It has a celery flavor and looks like a large, round, more gnarled potato. It can be used many ways, including in stews, gratins, mashed or pureed.

The first time I had it was over Christmas, when my sis-in-law roasted up a medley of parsnips, fennel, carrots, onion, squash and of course celery root. This is a bit of a complicated recipe, but the flavors are amazing.

Roasted Winter Vegetables
Source: Jamie Oliver


  • Halved carrots with a bit of cumin, rosemary and olive oil
  • Quartered parsnips with thyme, honey and olive oil
  • Peeled and sliced celeriac with thyme, rosemary and olive oil
  • Chunks of squash with crushed coriander seeds, a hint of chili powder, oregano and olive oil
  • Quartered fennel with its own leafy tops and olive oil
  • Whole baby turnips with tarragon, a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil
  • Peeled and quartered red onions with sage and olive oil

All the vegetables should be cut into similar-sized pieces so that they cook at the same time, tossed separately with their suggested flavorings and season generously. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the vegetables in a large tray next to each other and cover with tin foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue roasting for another 20–30 minutes until the vegetables are golden and tender. If by any chance one is cooked before another, simply remove it from the oven and keep it warm in a serving dish.

After that, I wanted to try it out on my own, so I found this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I am not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, so this is an ideal alternative. And it was SO delicious!

Celery Root and Apple Puree
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved
Serves 4 - 6


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup large-diced fennel bulb, tops and core removed
  • 2 pounds celery root, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and (3/4-inch) diced
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and (3/4-inch) diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good apple cider
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter over medium heat in a shallow pot or large saute pan. Add the fennel, celery root, potatoes, apples, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cider and tightly cover the pot. Simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft. If the vegetables begin to burn or they seem dry, add another few tablespoons of apple cider or some water.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the cream and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the mixture to a food mill or food processor. Taste for salt and pepper and return to the pot to keep warm. Serve warm.

Would love to hear your experience with celery root! Any recipes to share??

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Potpourri - not just for grandmas!

When I first told my BF that I was going to make potpourri for Christmas gifts this year, he looked at me like I had truly gone mad. I promised him that I wasn't going to start putting doilies on our furniture and reusing ice cubes, and that he would even like my potpourri because it wasn't just for grandmas. I had a general idea in my head of a wintery, spicy mix of natural items that would invoke the Christmas spirit with each whiff.

So, I started a list of things I already had in my home/yard*:
  • Cinnamon sticks: buy in bulk if possible
  • Cloves: buy in bulk if possible
  • Dried citrus slices and peels: place spiral peeled satsumas peels and thinly sliced lemon rounds on a baking sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for about an hour until completely dry but not brown. Check often!
  • Pine needles: straight from the Christmas tree!
  • Hawthorne berries: a bright red berry that stays on the trees through the winter, feeding birds, especially robins.

Next, I wanted to add a little more color and scent with some Eucalyptus leaves. You can usually find these at a florist or craft store where they sell dried flowers, but I decided to buy the living plant so I can enjoy it's pale green leaves year round.

The mixture needed some bulk. Since I was back in the city at this point, I took my search online where I found the
Atlantic Spice Company. Here I purchased some beautiful curly pods, birch pine cones and rose hips.

One tip to longer lasting potpourri is adding a complementary essential oil, so I also purchased a vial of clove oil. These can usually be found in herbal stores, natural markets or online.

Once I had all my ingredients, I combined them into a big bowl. It's not a science, so use whatever proportions (and ingredients) you like, but here is an estimation:

  • 4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup Cloves
  • 4 dried citrus slices and 10 -15 pieces of peels
  • 1/4 cup Pine needles
  • 1/8 cup Hawthorne berries
  • 3 cups Curly pods
  • 2/3 cup Rose hips
  • 3 cups birch cones
  • 1/2 cup Eucalyptus leaves
  • 10 drops Clove essential oil

This amount filled about four medium sized mesh bags. The potpourri should be stored in an airtight container for a few days to really seal in the scents.

While the BF was still a little skeptical, I love the result, and I hope that my friends and family did too!!

* and by yard, I really mean my parent's since Belltown condo living isn't very green. :)