Archive | Meals RSS feed for this section

Pickles, Bananas and New Recipes.

13 Jul

So, finally, pickling cucumbers and fresh dill are available at the farmers’ market. I bought 6 cucumbers and they fit perfectly into one of the quart jars that came with my new canning kit. I added some garlic, peppercorns, tumeric and coriander seeds. We’ll see how it turns out! They lovely jar is sitting on top of the fridge fermenting and the rest of the dill is happily displayed in a vase in the living room. Now everything smells like dill.

Also, today, someone sent me a link to an interesting article about bananas: What’s the Carbon Footprint of a Banana? I still don’t expect to eat them on a regular basis. Bananas have never been high on my list of favorite fruits – but now I won’t feel as  bad for that occasional slice of homemade banana nut bread that one of my (evil) coworkers insists on bringing in.

Recipe Update: Last week was a bit of a failure with my recipe experiment with it being a short work week (due to the fourth of July) and 3 evenings of being social and out of the house. I did get to make one recipe from Greens, Glorious Greens and another from an online source. I know, I know. “Online” doesn’t count as one of my cookbooks. BUT – it was really good!

Pasta with Leeks and Greens. An excellent vegetarian recipe – especially topped with cheese.

Flourless Brownies: Seriously though. This is a recipe provided on the Whole Foods website. It’s made with black beans instead of flour. Makes a fabulous, nutritious, cake-like brownie.

Next week’s recipes: Well, right now I’m having a look at The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines. The recipes are a bit more on the… adventurous side.  But, since we have a local variety, I am thinking about the Sardine and Macaroni Salad and also the Garbanzo Polenta.

Advertisements

Recipes Are Good

27 Jun

So, over the last few weeks, I have been doing a bit of a spring cleaning.. of the mind! For many months I was having trouble commiting to the effort of cooking on a regular basis. I was even having a bit of a block when thinking about what to make so, for the most part, I didn’t really make much of anything.

A few weeks ago I discovered an interesting radio show called Green Tea and Honey which really helped to remind me about some of the reasons that I really love food. It ocurred to me that a way to help get back into the spirit of cooking would be to follow someone else’s recipes. I know, what a concept…

The reality is that I have a nice collection of interesting cookbooks that I have a tendency to glance over once or twice and put on my shelf next to the others. I rarely cook using any of the recipes in these books (I am more likely to search on the internet for recipes) and I think this is a real shame.

I have already begun trying some trying some recipes but I am setting myself a goal of making a recipe from one of my cookbooks at least once a week. This should also help me with my meal planning.. since through the last few months I have not changed my shopping habits – still buying lots of great, fresh local produce and wasting most of it. Not exactly mindful or responsible of me.

I intend to post once a week going over the each of the recipes.

Food & Farm Update – Fall 2009

28 Nov

Garden:

Oddly enough, the Marvel Stripe tomatoes keep appearing even though I have stopped watering the plant and it is half dead. A couple weeks ago I collected all of the green tomatoes from the plant and have been pickling them – but I will talk about that a bit later. The herbs are still doing just fine in the shady spot that they are in and I have been using my most of our food scraps to start on the compost for next spring. I also discovered that some plants that I originally thought were some sort of beans (not because they had any pods, but because they were growing where I planted a bunch of beans) turned out to be sunchokes! Hurray for unexpected edible things!

Food:

I’ve had some success and some failure over the past few months. first, I had another unexpected find a few weeks ago – but this time it was at the farmers’ market.  As I was stopping by the Massa Organics booth to pick up some rice,  I noticed the farmer was there! I had not met him before and we chatted a bit. I found out that he was there because once or twice a year (litterly, two days a year – once in fall & once in spring) they have Peking duck to sell.  As an organic farmer, ducks have become an important part of his pest and weed control. So, I bought one. I had never cooked duck before and knew full well that I might totally destroy it but it seemed too good to pass up. A couple weeks later I had a small dinner party and cooked it up and it turned out great. Thanks to Australian chefs Corrine Evatt and Mary-Jane Craig!

I also took a class on making kimchee and sauerkraut. The kimchee turned out great and I even managed to trade some for a beer at my favorite local bar! The sauerkraut that I made a few months back turned out well, but this one somehow went all haywire. It may have been because of the juniper berries that were added (a flavor I am not accustomed to in sauerkraut) or there’s some new and special kind of mold or bacteria, but it had a weird, almost detergent-like flavor and left a very dry taste behind – like a really dry red wine. It smelled strange too. Since I was a bit too uncertain, I decided to compost it. It’s a pity as I was really looking forward to eating that kraut as it had a variety of interesting ingredients that I never would have thought to use. The pickled green tomatoes are working out very well! I am not sure what I will use them with yet. with all of this pickling that I am doing, I had better figure something out! I find fermentation interesting and exciting but the reality is that we never ate anything other than dill pickles when I was growing up.  So, I’m not entirely sure what so do with all this pickled food. Suggestions are welcome!

Food & “Farm” Update – Summer 2009

19 Sep

This summer has been very interesting and busy! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Garden:

  • Two tomatoes plants (out of the original 4 varieties that I planted in March) have produced fruit – the Tomatoberry and the yellow Marvel Stripe heirloom – those most are still green.  I have one (color TBD) bell pepper still growing, a row of too-tiny-to-mention purple carrots and a handful of fava bean plants that may or may not be unhappy. All but two of the other plants that I bought as seedlings have survived in pots for months and are now happily residing in a big pile of soil enriched with the compost I’ve been preparing for months: oregano, sage, mint, strawberries and two kinds of lavender. The 3rd kind of lavender was trampled by a construction worker and the basil – well, so far I cannot get basil to work in the clay and debris filled soil back there. See garden photos here.

Events:

  • Eat Real Fest – held on the weekend before labor day in Oakland, CA. It was hot. No, I mean HOT – like nearly 100 degrees and for the Bay Area… that is HOT.  But it was much more interesting that the Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco last year. Eat Real Fest was all about food for the masses – not just the people who could afford to spend hundreds of dollars for exclusive tasting events.  The food was great – local, organic and inexpensive. Street food vendors and taco trucks filled Jack London square and sold a variety of dishes – all $5 or less. The also had a large indoor farmers’ market. I’d definitely go again.  See pictures here.
  • Ghost Town Farm tour – This was held on the same weekend as the East Real Fest as both were in Oakland. Novella Carpenter and her partner Bill are essentially squatting on a lot next to the apartment in which they live and have turned it in to a little urban farm. Novella has since written a book, Farm City, about her experiences with developing the farm and raising plants and animals in such an urban environment. It’s a great read and a great inspiration. I think what I love most is how they put something together pretty much out of nothing and created not only a garden, but a community as well. Her blog is here and my pictures are here.
  • A reading from the book, Cooking Beyond Measure,  by cultural historian, hippie, cook and writer Jean Johnson.  The reading was a joint venture between the Culinary Historians of Northern California and Omnivore Books in San Francisco. I have been to a few CHoNC events now and usually feel a bit out of place since most of the other members are professional chefs, food writers and culinary historians and even though Jean is a bit of all of those, I feel like she could make anyone feel at ease. She came of age in the 60’s, lived for a decade on Native American reservations in the Southwest and is just a genuinely nice person. When the reading was over I went up to her and said “You’ve just written the book I was planning on writing in a few years after I got my act together.” Somehow, I’d love to grow up to be the combination of Novella Carpenter and Jean Johnson! Jean’s blog is here.

Classes:

  • UrbanKitchenSF is my new best friend! With one-off, 2-3 hour classes that are fun, informative and inexpensive. They are all about slow food and cooking styles for the urban dweller. My first podcast was about their first pickling class and I plan on doing an interview with the founders of UrbanKitchenSF in a future podcast. I’ve taken all but two of the classes – one I had already taken and one I missed – including kombucha, pickling, butchery, cheesemaking and bread baking. I have pictures of most of the classes here. My kombucha and homemade pickles have turned out quite well!

Books:

  • Occassionally, I lament the fact that I never got my undergrad degree. While the study of food history and culinary anthrolopogy are becoming more well known and wide spread, it is a challenge to find classes for the beginner or hobbyist. So, instead of allowing myself to pine, I finally got myself a Library card. Seems a bit sad since I’ve been living in San Francisco for 7 years now. My first two books are Food in the USA and The History of Taste – both a relatively large collection of essays and heavier than most of the school and college books I’ve had over the years. It does make me happy to know that there are others like me – who are fascinated by the evolution of food and its impact on human development, society and culture and who can explain it a heck of a lot better than I can.
  • Wild Fermentation – not only a cookbook but a really good read as well. As the title states, this book is about fermentation and not only provides many, very approachable recipes, but talks about the health benefits, taste and history of the craft.  I have successfully made a bright pink sauerkraut and am now trying a batch of kvass which seems like a lovely way to use up stale bread!

Food:

  • Ah, well, I am always trying new experiments and recipes. Lately, it has been all about sourdough and some of my favorites of late I have found online and am happy to share them!
  • I have also just tried my hand at sprouting grains and as I type, they are slowly toasting in the oven. Studies suggest that sprouts are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and the act of sprouting (as well as fermenting) breaks down the harmful but natural enzime inhibitors present in seeds. My first try was with some local red wheat berries which, when sprouted, kinda tasted a bit like grass.  But since wheat is a grass, this makes perfect sense.

Ok, well that’s all for now!

Good food & friends!

New Recipe: Spiced Sourdough Corn Fritters

25 Jul

Spiced Sourdough Corn Fritters (Vegan)
This recipe gets 4 Purkle Stars
4_purkle

Ingredients:

  • the kernels of 4 fresh cobs of corn
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 – TBSP vegetable oil

Place kernels in large bowl. Add sourdough a bit at a time ( 1/3 cup or so) until all kernels are covered but mixture seem a bit thick. Add all seasonings and mix. Add baking soda last. Mixture will rise a bit, becoming smoother and easier to stir. Add vegetable oil to a frying pan and let heat up to about medium-high. Gently drop in corn mixture until it forms a medallion about 3 inches across. Let fry about 2-3 minutes on each side or until each side is a nice orange – gold color.  Serve warm with your favorite hot sauce or tomato sauce. Feeds 4-5 people (my general rule is one corn cob per person.)

MindfulCast #1 – Fermentation: The Final Frontier

19 Jul

After years of thinking about it, I have finally created a podcast call “MindfulCast”. The goal of this podcast series is to discuss the rewards and challenges of living a balanced life in these modern, urban times. The first episode, Fermentation: The Final Frontier, focuses on a recent Pickling Party workshop hosted by UrbanKitchenSF and Happy Girl Kitchen Co. To subscribe to the podcast feed, check the box at the top of the sidebar!

The workshop was held on a pier under the Bay Bridge…

From left to Right: Todd Gonzales and Todd Champange from Happy Girl Kitchen

Chopping and filling jars

and adding salt water…

Pickled Cherries, Lemons and Spicy Carrots

mmm.. Pretty Pickles…

The Search for Local Food: Roy’s Restaurant

10 Sep

A few months ago I started doing some research online hoping to find Bay Area restaurants that supported local agriculture and had seasonal menus. One of the restaurants that I found in my search was Roy’s, located in the Soma neighborhood of San Francisco.  With phrases like “a tempting combination of exotic flavors and spices mixed with the freshest of local ingredients” on their website, I was looking forward to seeing what the place had to offer.

Now if I had truly done my research, instead of having just a brief look on their website weeks ago, I would have noticed a couple of things.

  1. Roy’s is a chain with multiple locations in 10 different states.
  2. Their menu is decidedly more exotic than local.

I did not look at the menu until we were seated. The only vegetarian option on the entire menu was a green salad.  When asked, our server (who I will talk about in detail later) presented me with a completely separate menu for vegetarian dishes. I thought it was a bit strange that this menu was not automatically presented, but it was a pretty nice menu.

First, we ordered the Ponzi Pinot Gris from Oregon. A lovely crisp wine that went well with all of our dishes.

For appetizers, we had a very interesting Kobe Beef wrapped around Dynamite Crab, Tempura Asparagus & Avocado and (from the vegetarian menu) a Wild Mushroom and Truffle Risotto. The risotto had shredded shiso leaves which gave it an amazing flavor.

My Entree was the Sea Scallops with Purple Potato Gnocchi and my S.O. got the Monkfish with vegetables in a curry sauce. This is where things got a bit weird. Though visually stunning and cooked to perfection, the flavors of both dishes seemed a bit confused. The scallops were wonderful and the gnocchi as well but they did not seem to work together as well as I had hoped. The monkfish in curry sauce was very nice, but the vegetables seemed to makes no sense at all.

The desert – a chocolate souffle – was wonderful.

The one really good thing I can say about this restaurant was that the service was amazing. Our server immediately told us that he helped with the wine selection and would answer any questions we had about any of their menus. I asked him if they had any local produce, meats or fish. The non “exotic” produce was local, but none of the meat or fish on the menu. I also asked him a couple of times if he could find out what some of the ingredients were and was happy to do so. The staff was very attentive, friendly and professional without being pushy. A+ on that!

So, based on the flavor of dishes, the variety of local food available and the service, I give Roy’s 3 Purkle Stars. I would visit this place again, but not on a regular basis! It is a bit too expensive, too confused and has a high carbon footprint – even for a restaurant.

http://www.roysrestaurant.com/