Newsletters: 27 July, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 27 July, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Chard is not actually Swiss; it comes from Sicily, but a Swiss botanist “discovered” it. Technically its season is June-September, but I’ve seen it much earlier and later than that. Chard is a chenopod, a member of the goosefoot family, and related to spinach and beets. It provides vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus lots of different minerals, which are not only good for you but prevent muscle spasms and cramps. It’s also got lots of carotenoids, which are good for the eyes. The only hitch is that it also has a fair amount of oxalic acid, which should be avoided by anyone at risk for kidney stones. Boiling chard for 3 minutes will reduce the oxalic acid content but if that’s a worry for you, you should still be careful. If you have blood sugar concerns, however, this is a good vegetable for you; it’s said to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates.

In the kitchen
Most of the blueberry fans I know just eat them, but there are a few other things you can do with them. For instance, here’s a very fancy recipe that’s really too long for this newsletter, but I’d love to try it someday when I have a personal cook: Tea-smoked duck breast with pears and blueberry jus.

Moby’s Vegan Blueberry Pancakes
1.5 cups whole-grain spelt flour
0.5 cup oat bran
0.5 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups plain full-fat soy milk
Vegetable oil for cooking
1 cup fresh blueberries
Combine flour, brans, baking soda, and salt. Stir in soy milk until thoroughly combined. Oil and heat griddle (or skillet) and pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Press 12-15 blueberries into each pancake and cook 3-4 min., until bubbles appear and pop on surface and undersides are golden brown. Flip pancakes, then turn off heat and let pancakes continue to cook in pan another 3 min., until undersides are firm and light golden brown. Transfer to plate, berry side up, and keep warm while repeating with remaining batter. Pancakes may be served with additional berries and maple syrup.

Royal Blueberry Ice Pops
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
8 oz. blueberry yogurt
0.25 cup water
0.25 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
Puree all ingredients until smooth. Divide mixture among 8 ice pop molds (each about 1/4 to 1/3 cup capacity). Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days.

Blueberries in Gin Syrup
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
15 juniper berries, crushed
1 (4-inch) rosemary sprig
salt to taste
2 pints blueberries (1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup dry gin
mint sprigs, to garnish
Boil water, sugar, juniper berries, rosemary, and salt, stirring, until sugar has dissolved and syrup is reduced to about 3/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Strain over blueberries and stir in gin. Macerate until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

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Newsletters: 28 July, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 28 July, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In keeping with this pause for breath, the raffle prize this week is eight yoga classes. I’m pretty excited about that, because yoga is the only “sport” I’ve ever found enjoyable (I was always the fat kid out in left field; which was fine with me, except they wouldn’t let me sit down). Now, we all know how healthy yoga is, right? Makes you look 25 until you hit 90, and you live to be 150*? But what people don’t always know is that it’s not about doing pretzel imitations. It’s about doing what you can TODAY. If that means you only touch your knees while the student on the next mat touches her toes — with her elbows — you still win, because you walked away without limping. And with time, you find yourself looking at a pretzel imitation and thinking, “wait, that’s not so hard…”. I encourage you to check out OlyYoga’s website (the “Practicing Yoga” section has a lot of good information), contact them with your questions, or just go and see. If you have money issues they’ll work with you — they have senior and low-income rates, summer specials, multi-class and unlimited cards, all kinds of options — so you can’t use that excuse.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I went looking for something Indian to go with the yoga, but this wasn’t really what I had in mind. Don’t you just love serendipity?

Ginger Cardamom Oeufs à la Niege
3 large eggs, 2 separated
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup roasted shelled pistachios, chopped
Line bottom of a small 4-sided sheet pan with parchment paper. Separate 2 eggs; add whole egg to yolks. Beat whites with a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup sugar in a slow stream, beating at medium-high speed until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Meanwhile, bring milk, ginger, and cardamom to a bare simmer in a wide 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Drop 4 large dollops of beaten whites into milk and poach at a bare simmer, turning once, 4 minutes. Transfer meringues with a slotted spoon to lined pan (reserve milk). Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and salt into yolk mixture. Add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking until incorporated, then return to pot. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla. Quick-chill custard by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Ladle into 4 bowls and put a meringue in each. Sprinkle with nuts.

Here’s one for apricot season. I’ve always been of the opinion that ice cream is not junk food, it’s full of calcium and happiness. Vante has the quick-and-easy kind, but here’s something for when you want to get fancy.

Apricot chocolate chip ice cream
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup caster sugar, divided into two equal parts
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 apricots
3/4 cup choc chips
Split apricots and remove stones. Simmer gently until tender in just enough water to cover. Drain and sieve. Set aside to cool. Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar until thick and very pale in colour. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the other half of the sugar and beat to form a meringue. Gently fold into egg yolk mixture. Whip cream until very stiff (be careful not to overbeat). Gently fold cream into egg mixture. Add apricot puree and choc chips and fold through until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a suitable freezing container and freeze until solid (overnight is best). Makes ca. 2 quarts.
Unfortunately I copied this several years ago without noting the source.

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*Results not typical.

Newsletters: 20 July, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 20 July, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
If you’re asking “Kohlrabi? What’s kohlrabi?” you’re not alone. That’s it over in the sidebar, right after the peanuts. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, is also known as a German turnip (“kohlrabi” is German for “cabbage turnip”) and is probably the same thing as Pliny the Elder’s “Corinthian turnip.” While it is often referred to as a root vegetable, you are in fact eating its swollen stem, which sits just above the soil surface; the leaves are also edible when young.

Kohlrabi is high in fiber and a very good source of various B vitamins, potassium (which helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of kidney stones), copper, manganese, and lots of vitamin C. It also supplies magnesium and phosphorus and is very low in calories. Kohlrabi is said to improve energy circulation and stabilize blood sugar imbalances. For some reason, kohlrabi hasn’t ever really caught on in American supermarkets, but has been gaining popularity in home gardens and farmers’ markets.

In the kitchen
This week I got to thinking about scallions (some people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions). I’ve really only seen them as a garnish or a salad ingredient, so I decided to take a look around for recipes that actually feature scallions. Good ol’ Epicurious.com, it hasn’t failed me yet!

Grilled Scallions with Lemon
10 oz. large scallions, trimmed, with most of the green part
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
2 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Toss scallions with oil, salt, and pepper. Line up side by side on a work surface and thread first skewer crosswise through all scallions about 2 inches from one end of each. Thread second skewer similarly about 2 inches from the other end, to form a solid rectangle. Grill on a lightly oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning once or twice, until softened and charred in patches, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer scallions to a platter and squeeze lemon evenly over them, then remove skewers.

Scallions with Lemon Parsley Butter
10 bunches scallions
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Trim roots from scallions, leaving ends intact, and remove any bruised outer leaves. Trim greens, leaving a 9-inch length of white and green parts. Boil scallions in salted water until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir together butter, zest, and parsley; season. Drain scallions and arrange in a shallow serving dish. Gently brush with lemon parsley butter.

Seared Scallions with Poached Eggs
2 bunches scallions
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Mince 1 whole scallion and whisk with 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice. Season. Drizzle remaining scallions with 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat. Season and cook in a grill pan, turning occasionally, until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Divide scallions between two plates. Eggs can be poached in the microwave: Pour 1/2 cup water into each of two 8-ounce microwave-safe coffee cups. Crack 1 egg into each cup and make sure it’s completely submerged. Cover each with a saucer. Microwave 1 egg on high until white is set but yolk is runny, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon top each plateful of scallions with an egg and drizzle with scallion sauce.

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Newsletters: 21 July, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 21 July, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

I’d like to break from my usual theme of good fresh food in the sunshine and share with you an idea for keeping in touch with those loved ones — seniors or not — who for one reason or another you don’t actually connect with as often as you should. Get some postcards and put the person’s address and a stamp on them. Store them somewhere handy and pick a time each month to send one — the first of the month or every Monday or on payday, or even a random event like whenever you have a math quiz. When that time comes, take a prepared card, write some personal news on it — the weather, a garden report, a grandchild’s drawing — and drop it in the mail. That’s it. You can write longer letters or send pretty greeting cards, but the beauty of a postcard is that it fills up quickly (you’re supposed to be sending them frequently, so there won’t be a lot to say). It’s the contact that counts, the fact that you thought of them, not the content. I used this system to keep in touch with my grandfather when he went into a nursing home, and not only did it free me from feeling guilty for neglecting him, but it was a nice tangible reminder for him when his memory got a little weak.

And if you find you like to send postcards, you might be interested in Postcrossing.

Cooking, and reading about cooking

In keeping with this week’s senior theme, here are a couple of recipes for… let’s just call it smaller households; what I think of as “singles and doubles.”

Chinese barbecued Cornish game hen
1 Cornish game hen
sauce:
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl. Add the hen and turn until it is coated with the sauce. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Place the hen in a small roasting pan. Reserve the marinade. Roast the hen in a 350F oven for 1 hour, basting with the marinade twice.
From: Fearless cooking for one / Michele Evans. 1980.

Oven barbecued chicken breast
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup catsup
1 T cider vinegar
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup water
2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp chili powder
dash liquid hot pepper seasoning
1 large, whole chicken breast, halved
In a small saucepan, combine the onion, garlic, catsup, vinegar, Worcestershire, water, brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, and hot pepper seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until it reaches a barbecue sauce consistency, about 20 min. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375F. Brush the breast halves generously with the sauce and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake, basting frequently with the sauce, 30 min. or until chicken is tender and done.
From: Cooking for two today / Jean Hewitt, Marjorie Page Blanchard. 1985.

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Newsletters: 17 Jan., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Jan., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

A new year, another couple of recipes

It’s only January, but I have to talk about Valentine’s Day this month because the February newsletter will be too late. If, like me, you’re too practical and down-to-earth (and aggressively single) to enjoy all that mushy stuff, feel free to roll your eyes. Next month I’ll talk about the cold, dark winter and the patience of seeds in the dark warmth of the earth, I promise.

My favorite Valentine’s Day story is about a young couple (no, not Gift of the Magi; I think this was a Reader’s Digest filler) who agreed not to buy each other Valentine’s Day gifts, to save money. So the Day came, and the young man produced a package for his beloved, which turned out to be a small volume of love poems. His wife was delighted, but objected that they had agreed not to buy gifts that year. With a grin, he pointed out the library stamp, and the due date.

The thing is, it is possible to be romantic without spending a bunch of money. Going out for a fancy dinner and show is a lot of fun, true, but I submit that staying in for dinner and a show can be just as good a date. In fact, staying home has some advantages — if only that the couch is a far more comfortable place to neck than movie theater seats. You can of course rent a movie, but I encourage you to emulate the young man in the story. The library has movies for free, you can usually keep them longer, and if the hold line is too long to get the one you want soon enough, why not pick up some silly old musical or even a “B” horror movie? I mean, how much of it are you really going to watch, considering that comfy couch and all?

About that food…
I went looking in Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite for a discussion of food erotica — basically, reading cookbooks in bed, dreaming of all that rich and succulent food — but instead found an interesting discussion of the seductiveness of culinary ability in men. So, knowing that many men are more comfortable in front of a grill than at a kitchen counter, I thought a little commentary on barbecuing in the winter might be useful to my gentlemen readers.

Winter grilling by Kelly Iverson
(with advice from Barbecue Master Kevin Iverson)
So you want to grill steaks for your sweetie on Valentines Day, huh? Well, relax, winter grilling isn’t all that different from summer grilling; the basics remain the same but with a winter spin. You trade the T-shirt for a parka, flip-flops for hunter socks and boots and the cold beer for a hot-buttered rum. Seriously, it isn’t that different, the cold affects the heat that is produced by the grill so you either run the grill hotter or extend the time it takes to cook the steak. If you can be out of the wind, if there is one, is even better as the wind sucks the heat away even faster requiring not only a hotter grill but also more time. So grab those steaks and your parka, fire up the grill and plan on a great, winter-grilled dinner with your favorite person!

To finish off, here are a couple of dishes with supposed aphrodisiac qualities, from Aphrodite : a memoir of the senses / Isabel Allende. HarperFlamingo, c1998. I was going to suggest strawberries dipped in chocolate, which are a classic, but this is the wrong season for strawberries. I wonder if one could make a sort of dried-strawberry bark…?

Noodles with artichoke
1/3 c olive oil
1 c bottled marinated artichokes, chopped, liquid reserved
1 small jar pimentos
1/4 c pine nuts (optional)
1/2 lb. noodles, cooked and drained
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
6 large black or green olives, chopped
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
salt, pepper to taste
Heat oil, artichoke liquid, pimentos, and pine nuts. Combine all ingredients in the warm noodle pot. May also be made a day ahead and served cold.

Curried sea bass
1/2 small onion, quartered
1/2 carrot, sliced
1 bouquet garni
salt, pepper to taste
1 c water
2 sea bass fillets, skinned and washed
1/2 lemon
Boil onion, carrot, bouquet garni, salt, and pepper in water 15 min. Rub the fish with the lemon and place in a pot; cover with boiling water mixture. Cook 15 min. on low. Remove and keep warm. Reserve liquid for sauce.
sauce:
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tart apple, peeled and grated
pinch brown sugar
1 tsp. flour
liquid from cooking fish
1/2 c coconut milk
2 heaped Tbsp. grated coconut
salt, pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Melt butter; stir in curry powder, vinegar, apple, and sugar. Add flour and cook 5 min. on low. Gradually stir in reserved fish liquid, coconut milk, and coconut; continue cooking 10 min. Adjust seasonings; keep warm but do not allow to boil. Add cream and egg yolk; pour over fish.

Well, and one more, just because of the name.

Chicken breast Valentino
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (i.e. both sides), quartered
salt, pepper to taste
1 egg yolk beaten with a little milk
1 Tbsp. cooked, chopped red pepper
4 Tbsp. Kahlua
1/2 tsp. salsa picante
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c chopped roasted peanuts
Melt butter and mix in flour; add cream and chicken stock, being careful to prevent lumps. Add chicken and season. Cover and cook 30 min. on low, turning occasionally. Add egg yolk, red pepper, Kahlua, salsa, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 10 min., stirring gently. Sprinkle with peanuts. May be made ahead and reheated.

The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31.
— Marie Huston —

And love can come to everyone,
The best things in life are free.
— Lew Bowen & Buddy De Silva, Good news —

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
— H. L. Mencken —

There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
— Isabel Allende —

Who can give law to lovers? Love is a greater law to itself.
— Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae —

Quien bien te quiere te hará llorar (Anyone who loves you well will make you cry).
— Spanish proverb —

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Curried Mustard Greens & Garbanzos with Sweet Potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, in 1/2-inch slices
1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 bunch mustard greens, chopped, stems removed
15 oz. canned diced tomatoes
2 cups garbanzo beans (15 oz can), drained
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Steam sweet potatoes in 2 inches of water in a steamer with a tightly-fitting lid, about 7 minutes. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, and mustard greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mustard greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add garbanzos and diced tomatoes, and adjust seasonings. Cook 5 minutes more. Mash sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper; add broth to thin if needed. Serve together.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 13 July, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 13 July, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
The WSU Master Gardeners say July is a good time to start planning for fall and winter crops. Start broccoli, cabbage, and kale for transplanting; plant carrots, peas, and rutabagas directly. Normally beans, cucumbers, and summer squash come on in July but they may be a little late this year. Keep an eye on the zucchini, though, so they don’t sneak up on you and get too big for anything but zucchini bread before you pick them. There’s always Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch night (8 Aug.) but the more you catch at the 6-inch stage, the quicker you’ll be able to get rid of the ones you missed.

This also a good time to stop watering your lawn and let it go dormant. It’ll get rather brown but I promise it’ll spring right back when the fall rains begin (whether you want it to or not), and you won’t have to mow it for most of August. That’ll give you more time for wandering the night with overgrown zucchini.

In the kitchen
I’m told July is Nectarine and Garlic Month — I hope that doesn’t mean we should eat them together! As tempted as I am to go hunting for recipes that use both (come to think of it, I may have one), I think it’s time for some more exotic (or at least unusual) summer drinks.

Bee sting
1 Tbsp honey, warmed if possible
1 Tbsp balsamic or raspberry vinegar
1.5 cup seltzer or sparkling water, chilled
ice cubes
Combine honey and vinegar; add water and stir once. Serve over ice.
Source unknown

Salty puppy
coarse salt
crushed ice
1 cup grapefruit juice
club soda, chilled
fresh mint, for garnish (optional)
Moisten rims of 2 glasses and dip in salt. Fill with ice and divide juice between them. Fill with club soda.
Source unknown

Lotus blossom
1 ripe banana, peeled and chunked
1 ripe peach, peeled, pitted, and chunked
1 ripe nectarine, ”
dash almond extract
24 oz. chilled ginger ale
Puree all ingredients except ginger ale until smooth. Pour ca. 1 c each into 5 tall glasses and fill with ginger ale. Stir gently.
Source unknown

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