Newsletters: 8 Sept, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 8 Sept, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
I don’t have any questions to answer this week, which means I get to pick something from my own collection. If you enjoyed the medieval recipes I shared last spring, you should find these classical Greek and Roman reconstructions interesting too.

Cheese and sesame sweatmeats
(Globi, from Philoxenus and Cato)
1.25 c. milk
2 Tbsp. semolina
3 Tbsp. honey (divided)
4 oz. ricotta cheese
.75 c. lightly roasted sesame seeds (divided)
olive or vegetable oil for deep-frying
Bring the milk to a boil and sprinkle the semolina over it, stirring constantly. Cook briefly but do not let it burn. Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally, until it forms a firm paste. Add 1 Tbsp. honey and the cheese; mix well and stir in the sesame seeds. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or saucepan until a little of the mixture dropped into the oil rises and begins to color. Form mixture into balls between two spoons and drop into the oil 2-3 at a time. Turn occasionally until they are golden-brown on all sides; lift from the oil and drain on paper towels. Warm the remaining honey and toss the cooked balls in it, then in the remaining sesame seeds. May be served hot or cold.

Garlic cheese
(Moretum, from a poem attributed to Virgil)
2 bulbs garlic (very roughly, 15-25 cloves)
8 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese
1 large handful cilantro
2 tsp. chopped fresh rue
2 heaped tsp. chopped fresh celery leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Peel and roughly chop the garlic and herbs; grate the cheese. If you are grinding by hand, start with the garlic and salt and break it down to a pulp, then add the cheese and herbs. When you have a smooth mixture add the liquids and mix well. If you are using a food processor, process all the solid ingredients into a smooth mixture, then add the liquids. Chill. Serve with a crusty loaf as a snack.

Both recipes this week are from: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

Index to all blog posts.

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.

Index to all blog posts.

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

Index to all blog posts.

Newsletters: 23 June, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 23 June, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
For this week’s recipes I have a couple of interesting things to do with honey from a little Bermudian cookbook in my collection: What’s cooking in Bermuda, by Betsy Ross, published by Mrs. Douglas Hunter starting in 1957, mine being the 1974 revision. Starry Lane Apiary has jars of lovely honey for sale at the market and I think the first onions will show up as soon as we get a little warm weather, but you’ll probably have to go into an actual store for the rum.

Honey onions
1 lb onions
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp butter
Boil onions in salted water until tender-crisp; drain. Place in a large frying pan over low heat with remaining ingredients. Cook, turning often and spooning liquid over the onions, until onions are well glazed.

Honey Spice Cake
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup salad oil
juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup very strong coffee, cooled
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup coarsely broken walnuts
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil. Beat egg yolks until thick; add sugar and beat until well mixed. Add honey and beat some more. Mix in oil. Stir in juice and rind. Sift flour with the other dry ingredients and use some of this mixture to flour the raisins. Add flour mixture and coffee alternately to honey mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add nuts and raisins with the last of the flour. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter. Pour into pan and bake 65 minutes or until done (when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Partially cool in the pan, then turn out on a cake rack and peel of the foil. If desired, frost with lemon-flavored butter icing when completely cooled.

Hmm, I wonder if us non-coffee drinkers could use rum instead.

Index to all blog posts.


in season here: all year, but most commonly harvested in the fall
Honey is a monosaccharide, the simplest form of sugar, so it’s easy on the digestion. Yes, it’s sugar, but it’s also a natural food and requires no processing to use. It has a variable but generally reasonable glycemic index, making it a better choice than sugar for those with blood sugar concerns (although still something to be used sparingly; sorry). Honey provides small amounts of B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, some kinds of amino acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and live enzymes that promote digestion. It contains antioxidants, including pinocembrin, which is only found in honey, and has anti-inflammatory effects. The levels of these various nutrients depend on the source of the nectar, as do the color and taste of the honey. As a general rule, the darker a honey is, the more honey flavor it will have, and the more antioxidants, while lighter honeys often seem sweeter because their flavor is milder.

Beekeeping dates back to at least 700 BC, and honey was once used to pay tribute to the gods and to embalm the deceased. Honey is a traditional burn treatment, relieving pain and minimizing scarring, and it has long been used to soothe sore throats. It also has antibacterial properties and has been used to clean wounds and promote healing of sores, scrapes, rashes, and even cataracts. It also makes an excellent moisturizer (just try any of Starry Lane Apiary’s honey-based creams if you don’t believe me), and can be used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and hemorrhoids. Eating honey instead of other sweeteners has been linked to slight improvements in blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels, and may even help with weight loss.

Processed honey, of course, is little more than sugar, so (all together now) get it at the farmers’ market or straight from the apiary for the best stuff. If your honey gets moldy, ever, it has gotten wet, either from water leaking into the container or from being watered down and who knows what else. If it develops little crystals in its old age, it’s still perfectly OK to eat and the crystals can be dissolved by gently heating and stirring the honey.

The primary caution for honey is that it should not be given to children under 1 year old because of the risk of botulism, but more developed bodies are apparently able to combat this risk effectively.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for honey includes information on using honey in various traditional treatments

Index to all blog posts.
Honey recipes in previous posts.

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.

Soft mead

4 cups water
1 cup honey, or to taste
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced

Bring water, 1/2 cup honey, and spices to a boil; for best results use a non-metallic saucepan. Taste and continue adding honey until desired sweetness is reached; 1 cup makes a pretty sweet drink. Stir until honey dissolves, skimming surface until it is clear. Add lemon and orange slices, squeezing. Cool completely and strain. Keep refrigerated.

Adapted from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook / Patricia Telesco. Llewellyn Publications, 1996. ISBN: 1567187072.

Index to all blog posts.

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.

Honey candy

Here are a couple of honey treats from the ancient world, as recreated by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger in The Classical Cookbook (J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996. ISBN: 0892363940).

Delian sweets (Greek)

3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
olive oil for deep frying
2 Tbsp. warm honey
poppy seeds or ground black pepper for sprinkling

Vigorously beat flour in water and let cook for a few minutes. Turn out onto a large plate or, if available, a marble slab. Let cool completely; it should be firm but a little sticky. While the oil heats, cut flour mixture into cubes. Test the oil with a little of the mixture; when it rises and colors, the oil is ready. Cook cubes 2-3 at a time in the oil for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with poppy seeds or pepper.

Alexandrian sweets (Roman)

1 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup (total) chopped almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts
3/4 cup honey

Roast sesame seeds and nuts at 350F until they begin to color. Bring honey to a boil, skim, and simmer 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame seeds and nuts. Spread in a greased baking tray or shallow dish to cool. When cool enough to handle, form into small balls; wrap in pieces of paper to store.

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.