Newsletters: 26 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 26 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Pumpkins, of course, are just one of the many winter squashes. Winter squashes are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, related to both the melon and the cucumber. They were originally cultivated, 10,000 years ago in South America, for their seeds. Now they offer us complex carbohydrates, fiber, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids, omega-3 fats, and a whole alphabet of vitamins. They are said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Research has suggested that growing winter squash can help remove contaminants from soil, which is good as long as you weren’t planning to eat them. The corollary is that this is a good vegetable to buy organic if you do plan to eat it.

In the kitchen
Being a bit pressed for both time and inspiration, I turn once again to good ol’ Epicurious for, of course, pumpkin recipes.

Ginger-Pumpkin Muffins
5.5 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tablespoons brandy
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooked pumpkin puree (or canned solid pack pumpkin)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix 2.5 tablespoons crystallized ginger, currants and brandy in small bowl. Sift together flour, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat egg whites and egg until foamy; beat in 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Beat until light, about 2 minutes; beat in molasses and oil. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture in 3 additions each. Stir in currant mixture. Divide batter among sixteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Mix 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger and 1 tablespoon brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over muffins. Bake at 375F about 25 min., until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Sugar Pumpkin, Feta, and Cilantro Quesadillas
3 cups peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash in 1.5-inch cubes (about 1 lb. whole pumpkin)
1 finely chopped seeded jalapeño (about 2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
12 flour tortillas, 8-inch diameter
10 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1.5 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges, to serve
Cook pumpkin in boiling salted water until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool 10 minutes; transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in jalapeño; season with salt and pepper. Spread about 1/4 c pumpkin mixture evenly on each of 6 tortillas. Sprinkle with feta, 1/4 cup cilantro and pepper to taste. Top each with a second tortilla. Cook in a heavy skillet over med-high about 1 min. per side, until golden with dark char marks.

Pumpkin-Seed Brittle
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, not rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Toss seeds with oil and salt and bake at 250F on an ungreased baking sheet, stirring occasionally, for 1 – 1.25 hours, or until golden and crisp. Combine sugar and water and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and washing down the sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water until the sugar is dissolved, and simmer it, undisturbed, tilting and rotating the skillet, until it is a deep caramel color. Stir in the pumpkin seeds until they are coated well, and turn the mixture out onto a buttered sheet of foil, spreading it evenly. Let the brittle cool completely and break into pieces.

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Newsletters: 19 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 19 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
This being our designated planning-for-the-winter week, it seems only right to give you a run-down of what will be going on out there over the winter. Here’s a summary of what the WSU Master Gardeners tell us.
• Nov.: Mulch. Move container plants inside (if you haven’t already). Be careful not to over-prune your roses.
• Dec.: Pot up paperwhites for forcing. Fertilize for the winter.
• Jan.: Do a little winter weeding. Start planning next year’s garden, including crop rotation.
• Feb.: Don’t be fooled by good weather into exposing your roses or getting a start on your spring pruning. Instead, go slug hunting or start your brassica seedlings indoors.
• Mar.: NOW you can prune and feed those roses. Transplant your brassicas outside and start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants inside. Sow hardy vegetables such as beets and spinach.
• Apr.: Sow carrots. Start squash and cucumbers indoors. You should probably mow the lawn, too.
• May.: Plant dahlias, gladiolus and calla lilies; fill containers and deadhead bulbs. Sow corn and beans, and transplant tomato, pepper and squash starts, if and when it’s warm enough.

In the kitchen
The cold weather is here, so I guess it’s time to talk about nice hearty soups again.

Clove-scented onion soup with Madeira and paprika
0.25 c unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 lb. onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 c beef broth
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
1.5 tsp. paprika
0.5 tsp. ground mace
8 whole cloves
salt and pepper to taste
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
0.25 c dry Madeira wine
Cook onions in the butter and olive oil, stirring occasionally, 20 min. or until the onions are wilted and golden. Add broth, raisins, paprika, mace, and cloves. Bring to a boil; partially cover, and simmer 30 min. Season. Stir 1/4 c of the soup into the egg yolks. Add the yolk mixture to the pot and cook, stirring, for about 4 min or until slightly thickened. Stir in Madeira.
From: Adriana’s spice caravan / Adriana & Rochelle Zabarkes.

Healthy Oatmeal Soup
10 cups chicken stock
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup quick cooking oats (more or less, according to desired thickness)
Salt to taste
Boil chicken breasts, tomato, cumin, and coriander in chicken stock until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken meat from the bones and cut or tear into small pieces. Return meat to broth and stir in oats. Bring to a boil, stir occasionally for about 2 minutes. Boil for about 15 minutes.
Source unknown.

Crock Pot Barley Soup
1 lb. stew beef in 1/2″ cubes
1 med. onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3/4 c. barley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
6 c. beef stock
Slow-cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
Source unknown.

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Newsletters: 20 Oct., 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 20 Oct., 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
Last month Jackie at L&I recommended a recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables using corn and zucchini that I think must be this one. If you move quickly you still might be able to find all the ingredients.

Summer squash and corn pasta
4-6 small summer squashes, diced
5-6 ears corn, cut from cobs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
handful cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. water
1 lb. fresh fettuccine, cooked
juice of 1/2 lemon, optional
Saute squash in the oil until tender and a little brown; season with salt and pepper. Add corn, garlic, and jalapeño; continue cooking a few more minutes. Add cilantro (reserving some for garnish if desired), butter, and water; correct seasoning. Add fettuccine and toss. Add lemon juice if corn is very sweet and garnish with cilantro.
From: Chez Panisse vegetables / by Alice Waters and the cooks of Chez Panisse. HarperCollins, c1996.

Warm spinach and squash salad
1.5 lb. delicata squash cut in half, seeded, and sliced, or butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 t salt (divided)
black pepper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
8 oz. spinach leaves
1/2 c toasted sliced almonds
Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste, in a 12×17-inch baking dish. Bake at 400F ca. 20 min., until tender. Mix lemon juice with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt; add squash, spinach, and onions. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, pour over all, and toss to coat, wilting spinach. Serve immediately.
From: Yoga Journal, Nov. 2009.

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Newsletters: 16 Apr., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 16 Apr., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
The WSU Master Gardeners say this is the time to plant dahlias, gladiolus, calla lilies, corn and beans, and harden off your vegetable starts. They also suggest planting out your tomato, squash, pepper, and cucumber starts, but some local tomato growers tell me it’s better to wait until really warm June weather to plant out tomatoes, basil, and other heat-lovers.

In the kitchen
At this time of year, lettuce is the one thing we can be sure of finding at the market.

Wilted lettuce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
ca. 3 slices bacon, chopped (or cut up with kitchen shears)
1 head leaf lettuce
Mix sugar, vinegar, and water; these measurements will probably give you enough for more than one head of lettuce but it can be kept in the fridge longer than I’ve ever needed to use it up – months, at least. Wash and tear up lettuce and place in a large bowl that won’t object to a little hot grease. Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain off some of the grease if there’s a lot, but reserve 1-2 Tbsp. of it. Add bacon to the lettuce, then the sugar/vinegar/water mixture in about the amount you would any dressing (not enough to leave the lettuce swimming, though). Toss, then add the reserved bacon grease and toss again.
From: Kelly Iverson

Fried lettuce
1 large head of lettuce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch salt
1 tsp. Vesop, Bragg’s, or soy sauce
Wash and trim lettuce and shake off excess moisture. Cut into four sections. Heat the oil and fry lettuce for 1 min. Add crushed garlic, salt, Vesop; mix well and cook another minute.
From: The Left Foot Organics cookbook : recipes for great food and a healthy community. Gateway, [2008].

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Savory Black Pepper–Parmesan Cookies

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pressed through a fine sieve
2 cups flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup chilled butter, chopped
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a food processor, pulse yolks, flour, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Add butter and pulse until it reaches the texture of coarse meal. Add cream and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/2 inch thickness. Place dough, still in the paper, on a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and bake 10 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven, cut into 1 1/2-inch diamonds, and return to oven to bake until golden brown, another 18–20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
Yield: about 6 dozen.

Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appétit.

Some more recipes to help use up all those Easter eggs:

Incredible Egg recipe collection

Curried egg salad sandwiches

Gribiche (hard-boiled egg) dressing, which can be used to make:
Arctic char with greens and gribiche dressing
New potatoes with Parmesan, black pepper, and gribiche dressing
Sauteed asparagus and morels with gribiche dressing

Bacon and egg tortellini

Campanelle with eggs and capers

And here’s a set of recipes for natural egg dyes to help start the whole circus off.

Getting the shells off
As Farmers’ Market shoppers, you’ve no doubt noticed that those lovely fresh eggs tend to cling to their shells when boiled. One way to avoid this problem (or at least attempt to) is to buy your eggs a month in advance and let them age, or buy them at a supermarket where it’s been done for you. However, since egg production increases as the chickens get more daylight, there will be more eggs closer to Easter, and anyway who wants to eat old eggs? Another option a hen-keeping friend suggests is to leave the eggs on the kitchen counter 1-2 days before cooking, which has a similar effect and adds the advantage of bringing the eggs to room temperature, which helps keep them from cracking when you cook them.

One trick I’ve had good luck with is to peel the eggs as soon as they’re cool enough to handle; not, alas, an option if you need to refrigerate the eggs overnight so you can hide them in the morning. This leaves us with the nearly-as-effective technique of peeling them under warm running water, angling the egg so the water has as good a chance as possible to seep in between the egg and shell. Yes, this goes against food safety advice, so work carefully and consider the risk. Leave the eggs in the fridge until the last moment (giving them a good many hours to rechill after being found) and work with a pot of very cold water at hand to drop the eggs into as soon as they’re naked.

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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: 12 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 12 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
This month, the WSU Master Gardeners say you should plant garlic and green manure (a nutritious cover crop such as crimson clover). This is also a good time to divide perennials and plant spring bulbs, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Winter is a good time for all kinds of transplanting. Don’t forget to turn off any irrigation system you might have, and rake those fallen leaves right around (and even over) your tender plants so the mulch can protect them over the winter and feed them in the spring.

In the kitchen
Instead of recipes, this week let’s revisit vinegar, because I have a reader’s question to answer. After the discussion of the health aspects of vinegar, Catherine wrote to ask how to make vinegar. It turns out it’s not as simple as keeping wine so long it spoils, although that may be where it began. Here is a general outline of the process; you should check with a brewing supply store or the extension service for more exact directions, or hit the library for some quality research time, before actually starting a project. You should also be aware that it is generally considered a bad idea to try to make wine and vinegar in the same space.

Making vinegar is a two-step process, in which sugars are converted to alcohol and then the alcohol is converted to acetic acid. The first part is the familiar fermentation of wine, cider, or beer (vinegar made from beer is called “alegar”), which in vinegar-making is called “vinegar stock.” The best vinegars are made from a stock with an alcohol concentration of 9-12%, to which the bacteria Acetobacter aceti is added. This bacteria is sensitive to UV light, so the vinegar stock should be left undisturbed in the dark for the first two to three weeks. The container should be covered but not sealed, because the bacteria need oxygen. If a mat of solid matter — a “mother” of vinegar — forms, your vinegar is doing well, although its absence is no cause for concern. It should be removed once the vinegar is through fermenting, however. It can be used to create another vinegar (a bit like sourdough starter) or just discarded. After about four weeks, the vinegar should be ready to test; you can get a test kit that will tell you the sugar, alcohol, and acetic acid levels, or you can just taste it. Fresh vinegar has a sharp, intense flavor that will mellow as it ages. Once all the alcohol has fermented to acetic acid, the vinegar should be strained into airtight containers so the acetobacters won’t continue to break the vinegar down into carbon dioxide and water. Vinegar is usually aged about six months once it is done fermenting.

Well, OK, one recipe; but keep in mind that this is still an overview for the curious and you should do more research before starting your first batch.

Maple Vinegar
950 grams maple syrup
800 grams live vinegar (red wine vinegar, or unpasteurized cider vinegar)
300 grams dark rum
200 grams water
Combine all the ingredients in a glass vessel. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and store the container in an undisturbed, dark place for at least four weeks. Test the vinegar for development. Once the alcohol has been completely fermented out of the stock, strain the vinegar and store it in sealed bottles or mason jars. It can be used immediately but will improve with age.
From: popsci.com

You can find more information at:
popsci.com
Virtual Museum of Bacteria
howstuffworks.com

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Newsletters: 13 Oct, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 13 Oct, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
Last week I got a request for green tomato recipes, and especially fried green tomatoes. When I was growing up, green tomatoes always went into relish (I never heard of fried green tomatoes until the movie came out) so I’ve given you my mom’s green tomato relish for the second recipe. About this time of year she’d start watching the weather forecast for frost (this was in Spokane, you see), and when it was likely to freeze she’d go out and pick all the tomatoes, ripe or not. The red ones got eaten right away, the green ones got put aside for relish, and the in-between ones went on the kitchen windowsill to see if they’d ripen (the cats always managed to knock at least one off, but they were too green to squish so Mom put up with it). Then the food grinder would come out and the relish-making would begin. This was a rather messy undertaking, because no matter what we did the grinder dripped. There was a big yellow plastic bowl that went on the floor under the grinder (the rest of the year it was used for popcorn) but it didn’t catch all the splashes. Everybody in the house took turns turning the handle (funny how Dad always had errands to run…) and the kitchen filled with steam from the sterilizing jars while we cranked, it seemed, for hours. Enjoy!

Fried green tomatoes
1/4 lb thick-sliced bacon, finely diced
1.5 lb green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c coarse yellow cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
Fry bacon until just beginning to crisp. Reserve bacon and fat separately. Press tomato slices into cornmeal until well coated on both sides. Cook tomatoes in some of the bacon fat 5-6 min. on each side, until golden; wipe out pan between batches to avoid burning loose cornmeal. Season to taste and sprinkle with bacon bits.
From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.

Green tomato relish
Put the following through a food grinder (you can use food processor but a grinder gives a more even result):
24 med. green tomatoes, cored but not peeled
2 red peppers
4 green peppers
8 small onions
Add:
4 Tbsp. salt
Mix well. Let stand 2 hours. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
Heat:
2 cups sugar (up to 4 cups if you like sweeter relish)
3 cups vinegar
4 Tbsp. mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. celery seeds
Add tomato mixture; boil 10 minutes. Pack boiling into hot (sterilized) jars, cap with hot (sterilized) lids, and hope they seal. Unsealed jar(s) will keep all winter if refrigerated. Makes about 10 1/2 pints.
From: Dorothy Huffman’s recipe collection

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