Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Sounds like summer doesn't it? Not bone-cold December. I guess you don't have to wait for the holiday to have a few surprises. One of my favorite local farms is experimenting with high tunnels, which means I am experimenting with FRESH LOCAL salad greens in December.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- More recipes, of course.
- Thinking Globally. Worldwide issues of climate change and hunger and what that means for all of us, and how we are all connected in these issues.
- Acting Locally. Ways to be active in my (and your) own community for Food Justice, and helping grow the local food movement for all.
- Issues, laws and your food. Just not going to get away from this one. Hot buttons ahead; school lunches, food policy as health policy.
- A little bit of humor now and again. I used to post these things, but we can all use some levity these days.
- More free books. Well, as long as I have them to share!
Monday, December 14, 2009
December's winner for The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook is Suburban Prep. Be sure you email your mailing address to farmerfare AT gmail DOT com to get your free book!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
There are two seasonal foods that I have a real weakness for; pumpkin ice cream and egg nog. Real, full fat, buttery-rich eggnog. Ho, ho, ho, off to jog I go.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
- 20,000 more people per day require food stamp assistance.
- 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps.
- More than 36 million people use food stamp assistance.
- Nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- Clean out the fridge to make as much space as possible for the incoming.
- Put all your recipes together and scan them, compiling the amounts of the same items into one list, so three recipes call for 1/2 cup of cream means you need add pint to list. A great tip on recipes is to think about making items that require the same oven temperature for your sides, or don't require the oven. Makes life SO much easier.
- Check your pantry against the list, crossing off what you have. It's cheaper to use what you have on hand — just make sure you have enough!
- Remember the bulk aisle to save money on the nuts and other items.
- Don't forget the items you need to make the leftovers into soup or casserole.
- Chop list, list all the quantities of produce you need prepped and measured into one list. You can do this work a day ahead, even two days for some items. Plus, the prepped items take far less space in the fridge — leaving room for the turkey.
- Errand list, things for us like pick up the turkey from the farm (already butchered, thankfully), liquor store, and items that need to be purchased day before like fresh bread or ice.
- House list, vacuum, set table, anything on the to-do's that can be divided and conquered. Share the wealth, I say!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I promised Ruthy I would post this recipe.
1 tbs. olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. red wine or cider vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. Pecorino Romano or Parmesean shavings (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, roast setting, if you have convection oven, or 400 degrees for a regular oven.
Toss the sprouts with olive oil and coarse sea salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until they start to show some golden brown. Go for lots of golden brown, you may have to stir once during roasting. Remove from oven and place on a platter.
While the sprouts are getting crispy, cook the bacon in a skillet until almost done. Pour off all but one tbs. of the grease. Add the shallot and finish cooking the bacon and shallot until browned and done. Remove from stove, whisk in olive oil and red vinegar, honey and Dijon. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the sprouts. Top with the shavings of Pecorino.
And, Cargill, what's with treating meat with ammonia during processing, and still having it contaminated? Not just with E. coli now, but ammonia, too? This meat was used for school lunches. Your meat patties were also the source of the E. coli that sickened the article subject.
“I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health,” Dr. Petersen said.
Monday, November 02, 2009
First, congratulations to GiGi as the random drawing winner of October's book, Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Coconut-Curry Pumpkin Soup
1 8-pound Musquee de Provence Pumpkin — also called a “Fairytale” pumpkin — or other deep-orange, thick-fleshed eating pumpkin or squash
32 oz. chicken broth
2 tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
3 tsp. sweet curry powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbs. sugar
Kosher salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash pumpkin. Cut it into halves and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Spray a baking pan with nonstick as well as the cut sides of the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin on the tray cut side down and cook for about 90 minutes, until flesh is fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh from the skin.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Sweat the onions and garlic until onion is translucent. The difference between a sweat and a brown is the stove temperature. Sweating is a medium-low temp that gets your onions and garlic (aromatics) to give up their moisture and flavor easily. You do not brown the veggies when you sweat them. Browning takes a medium-high temperature.
Add the curry powder, red pepper flakes and ginger and stir for half a minute to get the curry going. Add stock and heat to a boil. Add the pumpkin then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Use a stick blender to puree the soup. This type of pumpkin is very stringy, but it will blend easily. Add the sugar and the coconut milk and heat through. Season to taste with the salt. If desired, garnish with cilantro. This soup tastes better the second day when the flavors have blended more.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
There has been a lot of news lately about the pumpkin shortage. Good news is, not all states are affected. More good news is that many of the "decorative" pumpkins you see are actually delicious, edible pumpkins in disguise.
Have no fear this October should you reach for a can of pumpkin and the shelf is bare. It's easy to make your own puree.
First, get a large pumpkin. Not the jack-o-lantern kind. Or get a few small sugar (pie) pumpkins.
I used a "Cinderella" variety. It is large, flattened and a beautiful deep red-orange. The flesh is thick and has a high water content. So, the pumpkin is heavy for it's size. This one weighed in at 16 pounds. Other heirloom varieties that are supposed to be good for puree are Musquee de Provence (Fairytale), Long Island Cheese and Hubbard Squash.
Roughly, you can figure on about 6-8 cups of puree for a 16 pounder, 4 cups for an 8-pounder, etc. The first step is to be sure you wash the pumpkin.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Now, cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulpy part. You don't have to peel it! Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and spray the cut sides of the pumpkin as well. Place pumpkin, cut side down, in pan. Bake until the flesh is soft, about ninety minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Be sure you do not leave the cooked pumpkin out for more than two hours. Got to remember that food safety!
After it has cooled, scoop the flesh from the skin and blend flesh in a food processor. Now, fresh pumpkin is going to be much more watery than the canned kind. So, you will need to line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the puree on top of this. I make a little bundle to help "press" out the liquid. Set the puree and strainer both into a larger and deeper bowl. Cover with wrap and place in the fridge overnight to drain.
I saw an article on how to "save" your jack-o-lantern and make puree with it after Halloween. This is not a good idea.
Think about it. How often do you take produce out of your fridge, cut it open, set it on the front porch for a week, share a bit with the neighborhood squirrels, burn a candle in it, then take it in to cook?
The cut flesh that gets exposed to air collects a fair bit of bacteria while you are handing out all that candy. Additionally, this is not the best tasting pumpkin since it is cultivated for size and carving, not eating. Especially after it's been outside for a bit. Compost that sucker.
Here are a few more pumpkins sold as decorative that are actually edible — and delicious.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
We're coming up on the holiday season, the time of year when most of us probably do all of our charitable giving. In November, food donations are especially frequent as we all prepare to sit around our own tables and give thanks for plenty.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Lately, I have been blessed with a massive stack of food books to review. It's taking me some time, especially with our own manuscript due very soon. But, I will be getting to that stack.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
at a four-course dinner at Jasper’s
featuring dishes from
Chef Besh’s first cookbook
My New Orleans
Dinner includes non-alcoholic
drinks and dessert
Alcohol, tax, and gratuity additional
Cost: $75.00; includes a signed copy
of My New Orleans
Reservations: (816) 941-6600
Monday, September 21, 2009
It's already getting cool, a few golden leaves showing and the school buses are back on the road. Summer has faded, and the last bit of its bounty can still be found at the market. Tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers of all shapes, colors and heat. It's a good time to grab that last bit of sunshine and make fresh salsa. Easy as well.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I had this dish in a tapas restaurant in Chicago and made a note to try it at home. Usually, I prefer thick-cut bacon, local, from heritage pork. If you can find something of that caliber sliced extra thin, this is really good. If you can't, the applewood-smoked nitrate-free variety works well. Now, if you are "unlucky" enough to only be able to get the thick-cut good stuff, just do a single wrap on the dates. It won't be as pretty (see photo) but it tastes so good, no one will care.
I love this month. Not because I am a Virgo. Believe me, after the fourth decade ticks over, you find other things to celebrate that are more fun. September is just magic. The last of summer's bounty of tomatoes, corn, peppers and stone fruit mingles with the first of fall's pears, apples and pumpkins. The second burst of greens and lettuces are available. You just can't not eat well this month.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Happy Friday! Sugar High Friday, that is. This month's SHF has a bit of a twist, Vegetable Surprise! All entries are a dessert that leverages vegetables in the ingredients. I was impressed with the creativity and some of the Indian desserts that were posted. What a great way to get that extra serving of vegetables in your day!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Just wanted to say "Thanks!" for the recent coverage of the blog. And also to Saveur magazine for the nice surprise I got today seeing links to this site under the "Sites We Love" section there. Very cool. Over at my other online gig, I just finished an interview with Chef Preeti Mystri who will appear on Season Six of Top Chef tonight. Check that out if you get a moment.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This month I am happy to host the SHF August 2009, with the theme of "Vegetable Surprise!" That's right, put your best "Iron Chef" on and get crazy with the dessert course — use of ice cream maker allowed. C'mon make us WANT to eat those veggies whether you make it deceptively delicious or just darn delectable, bring it on!
Rules for Participation:
1. You can make any dessert you want, as long as it contains a bit of vegetable for one ingredient. Your post must include a link to this blog's announcement and a link to
2. Send your entries to email@example.com with subject line SHF-August. Please send your entries in English only, or with a link to the page which has English translation on your blog. Include in your entry:
- Name of blog and link
- Permalink for your post
- Description of recipe
- Image no larger than 200 pixels wide (height can vary).
3. The deadline for sending in your entries is Monday, August 24, 2009. Maximum of TWO (2) entries per blog.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This is perfect as a light summer meal with a salad and fresh melon on the side.
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, mixed varieties, sliced in halves
3 corn cobs, shucked and kernels sliced off
1 red pepper, diced
1 shallot diced
2 scallions, sliced, white part and one inch of the greens
1 tbs. canola oil
For the risotto
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/4 cup aborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. chopped basil
1 tbs. chopped parsley
2 tbs. grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To get the kernels off the corn, hold the cob vertical, place the knife along the side and cut down. Turn the cob and repeat. Do this over the tray or bowl. You'll want to keep all the sweet milk the corn releases when you cut.
Mix the vegetables on a baking sheet with the canola oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring if needed, until they just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
Bring the water and stock to a gentle simmer in one pot. In another pot, heat the oil and add the rice. Saute the rice in the olive oil for a couple minutes until the grains are translucent. Add the hot stock a ladle at a time. Stir until the rice absorbs the stock, then add the next ladle. Finish with the wine. When all the liquid has been absorbed, the risotto should be al dente and ready.
Gently fold in the vegetables, herbs and parmesan.
It was an 80-degree Sunday with a cool wind. Perfect weather, and rare for late July. We needed to get outside. Not too far away, Powell Gardens just opened twelve acres of food gardens, the nation's largest edible landscape. Beyond the typical row crop, the garden artistically mixes vegetables, fruits and herbs in a beautiful landscape. At the edge, a cafe serves food made from picked-that-day produce.
After an inspiring walk, where I actually believe for a moment I can overcome my gardening dysfunction, we ate then walked the rest of the gardens, acres of flowers and waterfalls and a glass chapel.
Sometimes, you don't have to go far from home to feel like you are on vacation.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I think about food. A lot. Some would say obsessively. I can live with that.
It's not always, "What should I have for lunch?" Nor is it what recipe to create next. I also think a lot about food policy. Which is not what most people contemplate. Yet perhaps we should. No need to rehash all the recalls and headlines here, it's pretty clear that the industrial food business is not doing a good job of producing safe foods, with some knowingly shipping tainted goods as with the recent peanut product issue.
Not a shock that the House recently passed one of the many proposed food safety bills, HR 2749. I mean, what Rep is going to vote no for safer food and have that on his or her voting record? The problem is nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. Food safety is needed. Indeed, just the provision in the bill that allows the FDA to make food recalls mandatory instead of voluntary was a huge improvement.
The problem with the bill is that it treats all food production as if it were large-scale industry. And, key provisions such as the $500 annual fee per facility are going to weigh heavily on small, local food producers such as the family that makes and sells jams and preserves at the farmers market. Along with additional paperwork and administrative burdens, the bill is going to put additional pressure on these small local producers who are not part of the problem.
Meanwhile, key parts of the bill that would regulate antibiotic overuse in factory farms — a practice linked to the development of MRSA and the virulent salmonella and E. coli strains — were successfully lobbied against and removed from the bill.
Another problem in the bill is the impact it could have on wildlife diversity around farms and the burden of compliance with this on small farms. While leaving the major source of food-borne pathogens and recalls out of the picture (feedlots and factory farms) this provision would require farms to clearcut vegetation around cropland, leaving the area open to erosion and a loss of habitat and biodiversity.
The good news is that the bill is not yet law. There is time to ask your Senators to keep the good part of the bill, put back the provisions that would better regulate factory farms, and decrease the impact the legislation would have on small farmers. You can find your senator's contact information here. Read a great analysis of the best and worst of HR 2749 here.
Things I Don't Think About
Most days, I think my brain has hit its carrying capacity. So, in order to make room for all the issues that are important, I clear the clutter. Here are a few items I no longer contemplate:
- What's on TV. I mean, is it worth it?
- Since having a child, I seem to be constantly sticky. I quit thinking about the cause of this.
- Why my kid will or won't eat this or that. There is no logic. Fix decent food, kids won't starve themselves. Eventually, I'll win.
- My child's wardrobe. Hey, I am just happy she dresses herself.
- My wardrobe. I know, it shows. I am just happy I still dress myself.
- My age. What's the alternative to getting older? Death. Accept aging.
- All the to-do lists I wrote and lost. I am sure there will be more new items to fill a list. A lot more.
- Celebrity gossip. Really, why do we care?
- My blog, which needs to change. I've been terrible at getting posts up. I have been thinking about you all, really. Life has just been a little crazy ...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Lately, it's been a bit of a struggle at dinner time. No, not over food. Manners. Seems like more than the kiddo can bear to remain seated, use a fork she's been using well for years, and just focus. Hmmm. I can recall my own struggles. They ended with a solid thump of a spoon to the middle of my forehead. A firm tap, dealt out by my dad, who had the longest arms of any human ever known. Or at least it felt that way from the farthest end of the table or the corner of the back seat.
Temporary attention span issues aside, let's think about this for a moment. Maybe dinner should be fun. Food should be fun. Like legos. Maybe not molecular gastronomy smoking and levitating over the plate, but just add a little something to the topography once in a awhile.
So, I played. Basically, this is just grilled vegetables with some spreads and polenta. Yes, I used polenta in the tube. I've not gone all "semi-homemade" on you guys. The only addition to the polenta in the tube is water. It's not ready to go, unless you slice it into circles and bake it. Which works really well. The rest is just stacking up grilled veggies and using pesto for spackle. Don't heat up the grill and oven both just for this one. Wait til you were going to throw something on the grill anyway.
For the grill
1 small eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch rounds
1 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch rounds
salt and pepper
For the oven
1 tube of plain polenta, sliced 1/2 inch rounds
For the spreads
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup kalamata olive tapenade (recipe below)
3 roasted red peppers, cut in strips
1 recipe roasted tomatoes (recipe below)
4 oz. goat cheese
Prepare all the pesto and spreads. Oil, salt and pepper the vegetables for the grill.
Now, you can buy the pesto and the olive spread (not that it's better, but you can). Other time saving steps — well, my husband does all the grilling. That helps a lot! Grill these just a few minutes a side on a medium-hot grill. The grill marks are nice to have.
Preheat oven broiler on low.
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place rounds on the sheet. Broil for a few minutes until golden brown.
Assemble the stacks in this order polenta, 1 tsp. basil pesto, 1 slice zucchini, 1 tsp. olive tapendade, 1 slice eggplant, top with a few red pepper strips and some of the roasted tomatoes, then a tablespoon of the goat cheese. Repeat with the other rounds and veggies. If you are making this in a larger quantity, doubling for a party even, you can keep these warm in the oven before serving.
Kalamata Olive Tapenade
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 large clove garlic
1/3 cup, or about 3 roasted red peppers (jar is fine)
1/3 cup pine nuts
black pepper to taste
Put the garlic in the food processor first, then the nuts and red peppers, olives last. Try to keep some of the texture, not just puree, to use the pulse method instead of just turning it on. This dip is amazing with pita chips and bruscetta or a antipasta platter as well. "Pitted" kalamatas are not always all pitted, so for the benefit of your food processor (trust me on this one) check the olives for pits as you put them in.
12 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups), stemmed
2 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and marjoram in large bowl. Place tomatoes in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are blistered, about 35 minutes. Top with chopped basil. These work well in other recipes, but also make a delicious and easy pasta dish when tossed with cooked pasta and a bit of grated parmesan.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wow. Is it just me, or does the little dude look completely deranged and possessed? He should really seek some professional help to get down off that sugar high that requires a giant spoon.
Here's what we do for cereal. We buy the great big boxes of plain oat cereal or some organic brand from a big box store or bulk bin. Then, store the cereal in bins, without the labels. Cereal is just cereal. No licensed characters waiting to lure my child into a sugar frenzy.
Because it is just cereal we're buying.
Lately, I have been exploring homemade frozen fruit bar recipes. It's ridiculously easy, and yet the kiddo is totally impressed that Mommy can make popsicles. I guess it's the simple things in life. As long as she keeps eating eggplant and squash disguised as lasagne, I am happy to hand her a "dessert" with two servings of fruit packed into it. She doesn't have to know all this is healthy.
The first round of popsicles I made were peach, honey and herb. Really good. But have to save that one for the book project. The other one was a bit more creative.
Pineapple-Cilantro Frozen Fruit Bars
1/2 of a pineapple, peeled, cored, diced
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs. agave nectar
1 tbs. chopped cilantro
Put all but the cilantro in the blender and blend until smooth. Fold in the cilantro (to keep the popsicle from ending up greenish). Pour into six popsicle molds and freeze at least two hours.
Just before the last bit where you pour the mix into molds, I was very tempted to dump in some ice and about six ounces of rum. It's been that kind of few weeks, kids. And it still sounds good. So, there's another approach. Note that the rum will prevent your mix from freezing into actual popsicles, in case you were thinking about that.
Whichever way you choose to make this, enjoy!