Saturday, September 30, 2006

One faux pas, but an otherwise uneventful trip

Green, green, green. Everything other than the squash is green these days, and half of it is bell peppers (which I hate), and broccoli (which I love, but which I can't buy because my photo assistant hates it). Maybe it was because I got up too early, but I had an unfortunately blah trip to the USG today...but I still managed to make some interesting choices.

Today's (mostly-green) selections:
1/2 lb. salad mix
1/3 lb tat soi
1 bunch Swiss chard
3 zucchini
4 assorted peppers - Anaheim and "El Diablero"
3 poblano(?) peppers
1 lb. seedless green grapes
1.5 lbs. nectarines
10 assorted apples - Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Macintosh, Macoun
1.5 lbs. whole wheat flour
Total spent: $36

The apples are for lunches - though I'm almost ready to settle down and make some applesauce. Maybe next week...though I don't look forward to carrying 15 lbs. of apples home on the L train! The Mutsus seem to be likely applesauce candidates, but I'm trying multiple varieties this week. Usually I use two types of apples in my applesauce, and nothing else.

I'll use the peppers like I did those from week before last - roasted in a big pot of black beans. The combination of poblanos and Hatch chiles I had last time was terrific, so this time I wanted to try new varieties. The Anaheims are mild, and the "El Diablero" were labeled medium, despite the ominous name. The poblanos I bought bagged, and there's about a 30% chance they're actually just very-dark green bell peppers. Luckily I have peppers to spare, in case they prove unusable.

The two dark green leafies will, once again, be used instead of my dear spinach; last week's chard wasn't as bitter as I expected. I heard about tat soi on a food blog message board as an alternative to spinach. Raw, it tastes a bit like a really mild sorrel. The tat soi, which I got from the weirdly antiseptic "microgreens" vendor I'd never bought from before, was the reason for my USG faux pas. I picked up a leaf to sniff it, to see if it smelled bitter or spicy, when one of the proprietors ran over. "Please don't touch anything!" she said, in a terribly alarmed tone, and threw away the leaf I'd touched. "Everything's washed." I apologized, and wanted to leave without buying anything, because of her unfriendly, accusatory tone, but I had to try the tat soi. Her attack wouldn't have been so offensive if there had been any signage up anywhere in their stand notifying customers not to touch the produce, but there weren't. It's the greenmarket. People touch stuff! But all their produce looked nice and clean, so maybe she had a point.

I'm not a huge fan of grapes, but my photo assistant is, so I bought him some seedless green ones (next time I'll remember the exact variety) as a surprise. We'll see what he thinks. The sample I had just tasted like grapes. As far as fruit goes, the options are rapidly diminishing. Peaches weren't looking very inspirational, so I went with some little organic nectarines - the kind that are "so organic that they're all blemished, but in a lovable way" - as well as the aforementioned apples and grapes.

In general, I've known "the change" would happen - fall, then winter, with fewer and fewer produce options - but that doesn't make me any happier about it. I'm going to have to start researching squash recipes in earnest; pumpkins and the like have been taking up more and more greenmarket real estate every week. Though I'm looking forward to getting to make soups, stews, and baked goods now that the weather's cooled off, it's hard to accept that berries are gone until next year, that tomatoes will soon be unavailable, that soon enough the last of the corn will disappear. But I'm optimistic that fall/winter will force me to try/enjoy more new vegetables than week I'm starting with celeriac!

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Honeycrisp" indeed!

Yesterday, I cut up one of the Honeycrisps for my lunchtime apple slices - a more aptly -named apple has ne'er been seen. I shared with my record-store coworker Koen, and we were both enamored of the things. So crisp, so sweet, but with enough tartness to keep things interesting - I'll definitely be stocking up on this apple next week!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Getting out of my USG rut

It sounds simple, but I started on the other end of the greenmarket today. Usually, by the time I slog my way through from the lower, southwestern corner, up to the bend, I've already got bagsful of produce - out of room, patience, and money. And it worked! I ended up finding lots of new apple varieties, and buying my "staples" from different vendors than usual, with the exception of peppers (I had a great conversation with the fellow at my usual pepper stand), shallots, and herbs.

My more-eclectic-than-usual take:
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh oregano
6 apples, various types (among them Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Jonamac...)
3 peaches
2 purple plums
2 nectarines
4 shallots
2 heads Rocambole garlic
1 lb. green beans
1 bunch kale
3 Poblano peppers
3 Hatch chiles
5 jalapeno peppers
total spent: about $28

Three of the shallots, half a head of garlic, and most of the fresh herbs have already been simmering in my tomato sauce for a few hours, with unsurprisingly delicious results. (And I now know why most people don't use fresh oregano - after you've rinsed and dried what feels like 1000 little stalks, you have to pluck ten or so delicate, fuzzy leaves from each, then chop all of it somehow.)

Kale was a risk, but since I don't like Swiss chard, and spinach might poison me, I had to do something green and leafy. Luckily, Recipezaar provided a really great-sounding recipe for white beans and kale, so I'll try that one of these nights. The recipe couldn't get more wintry, unless it were served in a butternut squash bowl.

The green beans will have their usual fate - blanched, cold, for lunch snacks - and all the peppers will end up in a gigantic pot of black beans. I'll roast the Poblano and Hatch (as my pepper guy instructed), and probably won't use all the jalapenos, though they are little (and were 5 for $1).

Last week's early goldens weren't as crisp and sweet as before I went on vacation, so I eschewed them entirely in favor of a mixed bag of "crisp"-promising varieties. The Macintoshes I picked up last week were terrific (and I got a couple more this time around), though I feel a bit mainstream saying so.

Speaking of mainstream, I bought Kitchen Confidential today, and I'm devouring it, despite Bourdain being a semi-sexist vegetarian-hater. (I think he just hates vegetarians who are irritating about it when they're at restaurants. But who doesn't?)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Drool-worthy heirloom tomatoes

These lovelies were harvested by pal Matthew Taylor in his New Mexico garden (not only a green thumb, but a talented member of rock band Bellini). Tomato varieties include black plum, green zebra, roma, yellow pear, and sungold.

Here's a shot of some of his tomato plants and basil plants (he grows three varieties!) growing together.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just my luck

Of course all my plums ripened at the same time. After the tragic loss of two peaches to some sort of gross fuzzy mold thing, I have been longing for some fresh fruit for dessert...and now I've got it tenfold. The "yellow egg" plums are tasty - not superior like the Green Gage, but still very flavorful. Good thing, too, since I have five of them to eat with lunch!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How can I miss you if you don't go away?

Back to the dear, dear USG today after weeks of questionable eating. But while in Cali, I had some really delicious strawberries and pluots (sexy hybrids like that never make it eastward, it seems), as well as all the ripe, buttery avocadoes I wanted, which was lots.

I came home with:
4 "Early Golden" apples
2 Macintosh apples
2 zucchini
1/2 lb. yellow snap beans
1 1/2 lb. green beans
3 peaches
1 lb. "Yellow Egg" plums
2 ears yellow corn
3 tomatoes
2 Poblano peppers
1 Anaheim chile
1 lb. fingerling potatoes
Total spent: about $30

The peppers will go in a pot of black beans, the tomato, corn, and zucchini will comprise another (late-)summer saute, and I'll roast the potatoes in the oven with olive oil and salt (as the sign over the bin recommended). I usually try to avoid the simple starches, but the potato vendor had so many beautiful varieties that I couldn't resist, and it was easy to choose fingerlings of the same size for even roasting.

I'll boil the green beans quickly with salt, and keep them cold for lunches, as a substitute for edamame (we eat quite enough soy in this family) - and, of course, the apples will be slices for lunch. The Early Goldens are absolutely my favorite - so crisp and sweet-tart! - so I hope they stay around for awhile...but I'm going to try a different variety also each week.

The plums were a total gamble - I have no idea what they'll be like, but their color was similar to my beloved Green Gage plums, so I went for it. You'd think my spotty plum history would advise caution in this type of decision, but I was still dizzy with joy at my return to the greenmarket when I hit the Red Jacket Orchards stand. The yellow snap beans were $6/lb., but I couldn't resist getting a few - and, once again, the boy who sold 'em to me was a bright-eyed cutie of about 22. What is it with snap beans and good-looking boys?