Newsletters: 29 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 29 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Fresh strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin c (1 cup supplies 140% of the RDA), fiber, folate and potassium. They have been linked with lower blood pressure and may help against cancer, memory loss, diabetes, gout, constipation, and sluggish liver. They contain flavinoids that help cholestrol from damaging artery walls, and antioxidants that also have anti-inflamatory properties. They’re even good for the eyes. The Romans acknowledged the medicinal properties of strawberries, and Native Americans treated digestive complaints with strawberry leaf tea.

Although strawberries have been eaten in Europe since ancient times, the modern commercial strawberry is a mix of varieties from the Americas and Europe. Defining “berry” popularly, the strawberry is the world’s most popular berry (defined technically, the banana is the most popular, and strawberries aren’t really berries at all).

You can find more info at World’s Healthiest Foods and Organic facts.net.

In the kitchen
As I promised (or threatened) last week, I checked Dalby and Grainger for pea recipes, but they only give one. However, I found two medieval recipes in good ol’ Pleyn Delit, so you still get historic pea recipes this week.

Vitellian peas
8 oz. marrowfat or other dried peas, or substitute 1 lb. fresh fava beans
3/4 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. chopped lovage or celery leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 egg yolks, cooked
3 Tbsp. honey (+ more to taste)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2/3 c white wine
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Soak peas overnight in cold water, strain, and cover again with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, 1 to 1.5 hours, adding more water if needed. Drain and beat (or puree in a food processer) until smooth. If using broad beans, boil 4-6 min., until tender, drain and puree. Pound ginger, lovage, and pepper in a mortar. Add egg yolks and pound until a smooth paste forms. Stir in honey and fish sauce until smooth. Flush out the mortar into a saucepan with the wine and vinegar; add oil and simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the peas and reheat. Add more honey if desired.
From: The classical cookbook / Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. J. Paul Getty Museum, c1996.

Grene pesen (Green peas)
3 lb fresh shelled peas, or 20 oz. frozen peas
1 c beef broth
2 sprigs parsley
a few leaves of fresh mint, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1-2 fresh sage leaves (1/8 to 1/4 tsp. dried)
sprig of savory (1/8 to 1/4 tsp. dried)
1 slice bread, crusts removed
Boil peas about 12 min until almost done (less for frozen). Blend herbs and bread with enough broth to moisten. Drain peas and add about 1/2 c to the herbs; blend into a smooth, fairly thick sauce, adding more broth as needed. Gently reheat remaining peas in this sauce

Pois en cosse (Peasecods)
2 lb. young peas in the pod, untrimmed
2 Tbsp butter
salt to taste
Boil peapods in salted water 10-15 min., until done. Stir in butter and serve.
From: Pleyn delit : medieval cookery for modern cooks / Constance B. Hieatt, Brenda Hosington, and Sharon Butler. University of Toronto Press, c1996.

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Newsletters: 22 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 22 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Peas are a good source of vitamin K1 and folic acid, needed for bone mineralization, and B6, which is good for both bones and nerves. They also have lots of B1, 2, and 3, C, iron, protein, and fiber. Edible-pod peas (snow and snap peas) don’t have quite as much protein as shelling peas, but they’re quicker to prepare and you get more edible stuff per pound. I personally prefer shelling peas, but I also think that canned peas aren’t actually a food and sweet peas are a kind of flower, so my opinions are not necessarily mainstream.

Peas are native to a region from the near East to central Asia, and admirably suited to our cool Northwest summers. There is evidence that peas were eaten in Asia as early as 9750 BCE, in Iraq by 6000 BCE, and in Switzerland during the Bronze age. Apicius, I’m told, wrote about nine pea dishes… maybe I’ll look a few of those up for next week’s recipes.

In the kitchen
To coordinate with the whole steak/4th of July/barbecue thing, here are some barbecue recipes.

Homemade barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
large pinch of dried thyme
2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, to taste
3 Tbsp. honey
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Saute onion, garlic, basil, and thyme in oil 5-7 min., until onion is softened slightly. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, 20-30 min., until thickened. Adjust seasonings. Sauce will keep, refrigerated, several weeks.
From: From the farmers’ market : wonderful things to do with fresh-from-the-farm food with recipes and recollections from farm kitchens / Richard Sax with Sandra Gluck. Harper & Row, c1986.

Colvin’s favorite round steak recipe
For about 1 lb. round steak sliced into finger-sized strips:
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup salad oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon basil
Combine all ingredients. Marinate 4-6 hours. Grill the steak strips at about 300F (not too hot) about 2 minutes to a side. With the oil on the steaks you may get some flare-up, which can be reduced by patting the meat dry with a paper towel before putting it on the grill.
From: the Colvin Ranch newsletter Cattle tales, Mon, Jun 6 2011.

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Peas

native to: central Asia and the Middle East
in season here: July, with a possible second crop in the fall
DSCF1904_700
Botanically speaking, peas are a fruit. Green peas, also called shelling peas, garden peas, or English peas, are the immature seed of dried peas, also called field peas and most often seen as split peas. Dried peas have been around for at least 5000 years, but fresh green peas didn’t come into vogue until the 16th century. Edible pod peas, often divided into snow peas (with a flat pod and very small peas) and snap peas (similar in appearance to shelling peas, being a cross between snow and shelling peas), are a more recent development. Snow peas were developed in Holland in the 16th century; snap peas were developed in 1979. All are varieties of Pisum sativum and members of the Fabaceae or pulse family, related to garbanzos, lentils, and beans.

They’re best fresh, especially since commercial processing of peas involves immersing them in a salt brine to separate the younger, sweeter peas from the older, starchier ones. Also, canned peas are preserved in a sugar solution, instead of the salt brine most canned vegetables get. The natural sugars in peas convert to starch fairly readily, so even frozen or canned peas should be used soon and fresh peas should be eaten as soon after picking as possible.

Peas are also environmentally friendly. They’re nitrogen fixers, converting nitrogen gas to natural fertilizers, and the plants break down readily, moving that fertilizer into the soil. They’re also drought-tolerant and their shallow roots help prevent erosion.

Peas are high in protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, B-complex vitamins, vitamins C, E, and K, zinc, omega-3s, carotenoids, and niacin. They’re good for the eyes and can help lower the bad kind of cholesterol, improve heart health, reverse insulin resistance, support the immune system, and prevent constipation, osteoporosis, wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bronchitis, and stomach cancer.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw green peas
label-style nutrition information for raw snap and snow peas
World’s Healthiest Foods
Healthy Eating
Pea Shoots

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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.

Easy Creamy Peas

2 cups fresh green peas
1/4 cup light tahini
1/4-1/2 cup water, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Steam peas about 10 minutes, until tender. Mix tahini with enough water to make a thick sauce and mix with peas. Adjust seasonings.

Adapted from Real Food for Life

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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.

Minted Peas

2 cups fresh green peas
1 onion, minced
2 ounces butter
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Brown onion in butter, about 10 to 15 minutes. Blanch peas in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain and add to onions. Add mint, sugar, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes or until hot.

Adapted from WebMD

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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.