Thursday, August 24, 2006

vegetable vacation

No Greenmarket this week. I'll be in sunny California, eating peaches and avocadoes by the dozen!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I was so wrong!

I take back everything I said about you, plums. These Green Gage plums are so delicious. Forgive me!!!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Beets update

If someone had told me 20 years ago that cooked beets just taste like corn, but purple and with a hint of dirt flavor, I would have been eating them this whole time. I like beets! I'm not afraid to say it, people. Beets are delicious, and I like them. And my weird dinner isn't so weird, after all. It looked quite traditional on the plate.

Boil 45 minutes?

I'm cooking the beets as we speak - most recipes I found called for 45+ minutes boiling time. But they smell really good, so we'll see. Once they're boiled, I'll toss them with olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and salt, an idea which came from Recipezaar. I noticed that most beet recipes have some sour element, usually vinegar; that must be to cut the sweetness. It's weird to boil something for 45 minutes. Even weirder is going to be having a dinner of vegetarian meatballs, brown rice, and beets, which is what my dinner is shaping up to be. These cupboards are pretty bare.

Beets: they're what's for dinner

...or are they?

Today, I was on a budget:
1 bunch beets
4 peaches
5 Ginger Gold apples
1/2 lb. apricots
1/2 lb. Green Gage plums
3 ears white/bicolor corn
4 small zucchini
Total spent: $19

The apples are delicious, like last week's (but they're not the same type) - sweet-tart, crisp, perfect in slices - and I loaded up on them for lunches next week. And as promised, I am re-trying plums, this time with Green Gage, apparently the "plum of royalty" or something; we'll see if they live up to the hype.

Beets are the real experiment. I've never really eaten them on their own, or as the main ingredient in a dish. I've found a lot of ideas from Recipezaar, but from what I've read, baked beets are the way to go to really enjoy them - and that requires 1-2 hours of baking in a 400-degree oven. Today's not really a 400-degree-oven type of day, and for a few hours? Yikes. So do I suck it up and boil them? Or do I wait until a more oven-friendly evening? We'll see. Perhaps it will cool down 30 degrees tonight, and I can try 'em out.

Otherwise, a pretty pedestrian trip to USG. I did run into some friends, which made me seem a little less crazy for getting up early to shop for produce. But since Jeremy is going to be out of town most of the week (and since I'm broke), I couldn't go on as many interesting tangents as usual. The real tragedy was having to ignore the heirloom tomatoes this week - one stand had about 10 different varieties, all arrayed beautifully, labeled with their evocative variety names. Maybe next week!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Saturday dinner photos; more about apples & green beans

Saturday night we had marinated baked tofu, which I made using a recipe from recipezaar; it was a good foundation, but I'll change some measurements next time I make it. On the side, we had zucchini sauteed with garlic and olive oil, with fresh basil and a perfect tomato tossed in at the last minute - delicious.

Tonight's dinner was more tofu and brown rice (my favorite pan-glazed tofu recipe), with green beans on the side. These beans were quite big, and not quite sweet or crisp enough to enjoy raw, but I boiled them quickly in salted water to soften and sweeten them up just enough, then added them to the garlicky pan sauce after the tofu was done, to add a bit of flavor. And I have some leftovers for a snack tomorrow.

But the real story is the great Golden Delicious apples. I may have to try to hit USG Wednesday during lunch to get some more - they're perfectly crisp and tart (but sweeter than e.g Granny Smiths), just exactly what a good apple should be. Sorry, Tydeman, you're good, but nowhere near the Golden D. Also I had six (!) apricots for lunch today, because they were ready this morning, and they were just ripe enough to be sweet without getting mushy, which is a real problem with the small variety I've been getting.

Tomorrow night's dinner will be especially exciting (and colorful) - we're having guests. Hopefully I can get some photos!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A beautiful day, darkened by eggplants

Today's USG trip was harrowing for two reasons: 1) I hadn't had any coffee; 2) the place was lousy with eggplants, ranging in color from deep purple to pure white. Now, eggplants are lovely, I will admit, but I absolutely loathe them. Bell peppers, another non-favorite, are also very much in season, and mocked me alongside their eggplant brothers from every vendor's stall. The coffee problem made me impatient, so I didn't go out on any limbs (unless you count the sorrel, which I have no ideas for) - though I did go a little overboard. Since all I feel like doing lately is eating, that should work out just fine.

My shoulders hurt from carrying all this:
1 lb. shell peas
1 lb. green string beans
3 heirloom tomatoes
4 zucchini (2 green, 2 yellow)
2 poblano peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
1 bunch sorrel
4 ears sweet white corn
5 peaches
1 lb. apricots
2 Golden Delicious apples
2 Tydeman apples
total spent: $35

The shell peas were a great surprise, as nobody's had any for the last few weeks. I think I'll whip up a new version of my "summer veggie saute" using peas, corn, and zucchini. Since I'm not savvy when it comes to cooking peas, I'll probably blanch them first, then add them to the saute right before adding the corn, to make sure they get cooked but not dried out. The super-sweet bicolor corn was not available, but my usual corn vendor assured me that both his white and yellow varieties are quite sweet, so I chose white for how it will look in the pan.

Last week's black beans were missing something, and, though I included three roasted poblanos, I think that missing something was jalapenos. This week, I'll use both. (I also think the Trader Joe's organic black beans I bought were especially tough - back to Goya for me!)

The green beans I'm planning to boil for a couple of minutes in salted water, then keep them, cold, in the refrigerator, for lunches and snacks. Last week, I boiled some yellow string beans for dinner and forgot to serve them, so I had them cold the next day as a snack at work, and they were delicious. I'm hoping to repeat this with green beans while they're still sweet enough, as an alternative to carrot sticks (which certain members of this family refuse to eat).

The Tydeman apples are quite good, especially with (gasp!) a slice of good cheddar cheese. Otherwise, the apricots and peaches are from the same places as last week's. The Red Jacket Orchards folks, where I get my apricots, also had a golden variety this week, but after learning they're sweeter than the tiny ones I've been getting, I stuck with the usual, which are sweet enough for me. And I was almost tempted into plums again, at the place where I bought the peaches and apples - they had some beautiful tiny, purple ones - but I held off. Next week, I'll get nectarines and red plums, to keep things interesting.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


1. Peaches continue to be nature's greatest gift to humankind.
2. We're out of vegetables. That'll teach me not to bring home a haul so slim next time!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Why I Love Cook's Illustrated

From #82, Sept/Oct 2006: "Like communism or sunless tanning, roasting chicken and vegetables together is far more appealing in theory than in practice."

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Tonight's meal can only be called epic. The three of us had pan-fried tofu with a glaze modified from the A Year In A Vegetarian Kitchen recipe (I omitted red pepper flakes and added fresh basil), stacked on the plate with slices of heirloom tomato, and a zucchini/fresh corn saute. The zucchini/corn dish was similar to the ratatouille/succotash described below, but I kept it simple - just olive oil, two shallots, two zucchini, and kernels from four ears of corn - adding the tomato and basil flavors to the tofu instead. It was so good. I only feel okay saying that because I had very little to do with it - the super-sweet corn and perfect tomatoes made it easy to put together a delicious meal so simply. I will say that my plating was especially nice this evening, though! (Again, no photos - we couldn't wait to eat.)



Union Square Greenmarket: Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes

Today was all about tomatoes at the USG. Multicolored, bumpy, speckled heirloom varieties were everywhere. For whatever reason, I never find myself eating tomatoes, so I usually resist them - but today's were just too tasty and well-priced (for heirlooms) to pass up. And, of course, they're quite lovely.

A smaller haul than usual:
1 lb. apricots
5 yellow peaches
3 ears bicolor corn
1 lb. cherries
4 small zucchini
3 heirloom tomatoes
3 poblano peppers
total spent: $22

The apricots and peaches are in a big paper bag, ripening (I'll be crossing my fingers that they don't all "arrive" at once, or I will incur a severe stomachache trying to eat them all).

Tonight, I'd like to make a version of the "ratatouille vs. succotash" I had last week, but with just the zucchini and corn sauteed together, and fresh tomatoes sliced on top, maybe served over rice.

I'll roast the poblanos and use them in a big pot of black beans, or maybe I'll try one of them, roasted, with a tomato and an avocado in a fresh salsa.

Meanwhile, I still haven't eaten last week's radishes! The cream-cheese plan fell apart, because yesterday I worked late and then went on a movie date. I'm just going to have to try them raw and plain, like my mom suggested. More news about this later.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I have been eating the apricots one-by-one as they ripened this week, but I knew that at some point, I'd have half a dozen ripe apricots on my hands. Well, that point was yesterday evening, and I made the ultimate sacrifice of eating all of them. Luckily, they were extremely delicious. The variety I have seems to tend toward mealiness, but that translates into a nice firmness when ripe, and intensely concentrated flavor. I still prefer peaches, but these were an acceptable alternative.

In other news, we had the yellow snap beans tonight alongside pan-fried tofu and brown rice (a recipe from A Year In A Vegetarian Kitchen). I blanched them in boiling water for about a minute, then cooled them down quickly with cold water. After the tofu was done, I just added a little bit of olive oil to the remaining garlicky glaze in the pan and sauteed the beans for about a minute. They still had a bit of crunch to them, which was perfect for how fresh and sweet they tasted. I was planning to photograph our meals, which were plated quite artistically, but I was too hungry to wait.

And I haven't touched the radishes yet. The best-sounding "recipes" I've found are for cream-cheese-and-radish sandwiches, so I'll pick up some cream cheese tomorrow and get brave fast.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sad but true (part two)...

Red carrots are kinda bitter and yucky.