Newsletters: 17 Nov. 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Nov. 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

About that food…
My family was always very traditional about our Thanksgiving dinner — right down to the jokes about the Candied Yam. Mom only cooked one yam, you see, because it had to be there — marshmallows and all — for the meal to be complete, but Dad was the only one who would actually eat any. I grew up thinking I didn’t like sweet potatoes and yams, then a few years ago someone served me mashed sweet potatoes. I had a spoonful to be polite and discovered they’re actually quite good without the marshmallows. Of course, doing them that way means there’s no bag of slightly stale marshmallows to roast in the fireplace on a cold January evening….

There is a lot of information about roasting turkeys around this time of year so I’ll just give you a couple of links and get on to a less thoroughly discussed facet, one that is becoming increasingly important as families grow smaller: what to do with the leftovers. The first thing I think of for using up leftovers is soup.

Turkey and sweet-potato soup
2 Tb butter
1 onion, in thin slices
1.5 tsp dried sage
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in cubes
1.5 qt chicken broth
2 tsp salt
1/4 lb green beans, in 1/4-in. pieces
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb turkey cutlets, cut into ca. 1.5 x .5-in strips
Melt butter in large pot over med-low. Add onion and sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, ca. 5 min. Add sweet potatoes, broth, 1 t salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, ca. 10 min. Transfer half the soup to a food processor or blender and puree. Return to the pot and add beans, remaining salt, pepper. Simmer until beans are just tender, ca. 8 min. Stir in turkey; cook until turkey is done, ca. 1.5 min.
From: Quick from scratch : one-dish meals. Food & Wine Books, American Express Pub., c2004.

Turkey, carrot, and apple stew
olive-oil nonstick spray
1.25 lb boneless skinless turkey breast slices, in strips
2 onions in wedges
14 oz chicken broth
1 rib celery in 1/4-in slices
1/2 c raisins
6 carrots in 1/4-in slices
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 c chopped apples
2 Tb cornstarch
3 Tb cold water
1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce, or to taste
Coat a nonstick skillet with the spray and heat over med. Add turkey and onions and cook, stirring, until browned, 4-6 min. Combine turkey mixture, broth, celery, raisins, carrots, brown sugar, curry powder, and turmeric in a med. crock pot. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hr, until turkey is cooked through. Stir in apples. Cook another 1-2 min. to soften the apples. In a small cup, whisk together cold water and cornstarch and add; cook another 1-5 min. until sauce is thickened.
From: Essential slow cooker recipes / Carol Heding Munson. Main Street ; Sterling, c2002.

Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.
— Lao-tzu —

It is better to die of indigestion than of starvation.
— Cicero —

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Newsletters: 15 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 15 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Bok choi, pak choi, snow cabbage, or Chinese cabbage is a relative of cabbage and turnips. It’s a zero calorie or negative calorie food, and facilitates weight loss. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins C, A, and K, along with various minerals. Bok choy contains sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which are responsible for it’s spicy-bitter taste and are being studied as possible cancer-preventers. It’s a natural for stir-frying and steaming. Those with thyroid issues may wish to take advice before eating large amounts of bok choy, however, as it can encourage the formation of goiters.

In the kitchen
Bok choi is in plentiful supply just now, so I thought I’d look for something new to do with it. By far the most common thing to do with Bok choi is to stir-fry it, but here are a couple of other options.

Chicken broth and noodles
1.5 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 bunch sliced scallions, divided
4 cloves minced garlic, or to taste
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
4 c chicken broth
3/4 cup water
3 c thinly sliced bok choy
8 oz whole wheat or buckwheat noodles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 cucumber sliced into matchsticks
Cook ground turkey, all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions, garlic, and ginger in 1 Tbsp oil over med. heat, stirring often and breaking up the turkey, 4 to 6 minutes until no longer pink. Remove to a plate. Combine broth, water, bok choy, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in the pan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, about 4 min., until the noodles are tender. Return turkey mixture to the pan and stir to blend. Top with the reserved 2 Tbsp scallions and cucumber.

Cilantro Fish Stew
1 lime
8 oz. peeled deveined shrimp (20- to 24-count)
8 oz. skinless cod fillet in 2-inch chunks
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 t sugar
2 Tbsp + 1 t fish sauce
6 oz thinly sliced bok choy
3 thinly sliced scallions
2 c packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 t vegetable oil
2 c water
1 c frozen peas
1 c brown rice (measured raw), cooked, to serve
Grate 1 t lime zest into large resealable plastic bag. Cut lime into wedges and set aside for serving. Add shrimp, cod, shallots, sugar, 2 Tbsp fish sauce, pinch salt, and 1/2 t pepper to bag. Seal bag and shake to coat. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cook shrimp mixture in oil 5 min or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Add water and bring to a boil; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in peas and heat 1 to 2 min. Stir in bok choy, scallions, and cilantro. Cook 2 minute, until bok choy is crisp-tender. Stir in remaining fish sauce. Serve over rice with lime wedges.

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native to: North and South America

After all the fruits and vegetables I’ve written about, I thought it was about time to give our friends at Moir Country Farm a chance (plus I found this intriguing recipe for Tandoori Turkey…). The advantage to buying your meat at a farmers’ market is that the better life and better feed the animals have at a small farm does produce better meat. Also, some of the ethical objections to a carnivorous lifestyle really only apply to factory farms; the farmers’ market is where you can find meat from animals that, in the words of one farmer, “have a good life… and one really bad day.”

So let’s get to the details. A turkey that gets to forage naturally produces meat that is higher in omega-3 fats, and has a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats (omega-6s are the ones that encourage inflammation, that most of us get too much of). Also, turkey is one of several high-protein foods (tuna and egg whites are others) that help prevent blood sugar spikes. As well as the protein (more per gram than chicken or beef), turkey supplies all of the B vitamins, although the levels of some of these (notably biotin, which is good for the hair and helps metabolize sugars) will vary depending on how well the turkey has been eating. Turkey is also and excellent source of selenium and provides zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Turkey hasn’t been studied as much as other poultry, and few studies differentiate between conventional, organic, and pastured turkey, so here’s another area of opportunity for any researchers who might be listening. One thing to be aware of is that turkey contains purines, which break down into uric acid, so if you have kidney problems or gout you’ll want to be careful about how much turkey you eat. Turkey is reputed to cause sleepiness, being a natural source of tryptophan, which is a serotonin precursor, but in fact it doesn’t contain that much. The sleepiness you feel after a turkey dinner is more likely to be from the associated high-carb foods and just generally the amounts you’ve probably eaten.

While there are many different breeds of turkey, they all belong to the species Meleagris gallopavo and are native to the Americas. Wild and heritage breeds seldom deserve turkeys’ reputation for deep stupidity; it is only certain popular commercial breeds that have had all the brains bred out of them.

If you’re going to eat skinless turkey to reduce the amount of fat you’re getting, consider removing the skin after cooking it to retain moisture and flavor during cooking. If you’re not ruthlessly cutting every ounce of fat you can, go ahead and eat the skin and greasier cuts to get more omega-3s from turkey’s particularly nutritious fat.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for turkey breast
label-style nutrition information for dark meat

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.

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes
15 ounce can kidney beans with liquid
15.5 ounce can white hominy, drained
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt

Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic about 3 minutes, stirring. Add the turkey and cook, crumbling, until no longer pink. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and simmer over medium-low heat about 20 minutes, until the squash is tender and turkey is done.

Adapted from

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.

Tandoori turkey

12-14 lb. whole turkey, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup kosher salt
5 black cardamom pods
5 green cardamom pods
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
turkey roasting bag

4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup chopped peeled ginger
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup paprika
2 Tbsp. tandoori masala (see below for recipe)
2 Tbsp. garam masala (see below for recipe)
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Rub turkey inside and out with salt and place in roasting bag. Stuff turkey with cardamom and cumin, then with onion, celery, and garlic.

Purée marinade ingredients in a blender and pour into roasting bag, making sure turkey is coated. Tie bag and place breast side down in roasting pan. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, let turkey stand in bag at room temperature for 1 hour, then turn breast side up. Poke steam holes in bag if required. Roast turkey for 30 minutes at 400F, then reduce heat to 350F and continue to roast about another 1 1/2 hours, until meat thermometer registers 160F. Cut open bag and pull away from turkey. Continue to roast another 15-30 minutes more, until breast is deeply browned but not burned and thermometer registers 165°F. Transfer to carving board and let rest at least 20 minutes.

Strain juices into a large saucepan and skim off fat. Simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes, until sauce is reduced to 3 1/2 cups.


Tandoori masala:
2 1/2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried fenugreek
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, 3-4 inches, broken into pieces
1/4 tsp. ajwain seeds

Toast spices over medium heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Grind mixture in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle, working in batches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.


Garam masala:
24 bay leaves, crumbled
3 Tbsp. black cardamom pods
2 1/2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
1 1/2 Tbsp. green cardamom pods
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. ajwain seeds
2 tsp. whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, 3-4 inches, broken into pieces

Toast spices over medium heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Grind mixture in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle, working in batches. Sift through medium-mesh strainer and store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.


Adapted from a recipe by Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez from Bon Appétit, November 2011, as reprinted by

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.