Sunday, April 29, 2007

Veggie envy

No greenmarket this week - I was low on funds (okay, totally broke), and uninspired by my last two trips. (Also, my search for recipes featuring ramps, the only new springtime vegetable I found last week, led to my understanding that they taste like onions. I may still try them, but that killed my motivation.) However, on the food blogs I read, everyone is talking about how delicious this season's a) asparagus and b) artichokes are. Neither of these are availably locally in the market. And I dearly love them both.

So I think I might take part of my food budget to Garden Of Eden and buy artichokes and asparagus to steam and roast, respectively, while my photo assistant is still out of town. That's the other reason I skipped the greenmarket - it's funny how much more inspiring I find it to make meals for another person. When it's just me, I generally come up with some concoction of brown rice and frozen vegetables (last night it was shelled edamame and corn), sauced with a combination of nutritional yeast, garlic, pepper sauce, and soy sauce. It's nothing to write home about, but it's reasonably healthy and can be thrown together with a minimum of effort and dishes.

Anyhow, tomorrow I should have more interesting vegetable news to report...I'm quite looking forward to trying the roasted asparagus technique from Cook's Illustrated, so I'll share the results. And let's not get into how much I love artichokes. Man. When I was a vegetarian teenager, I used to have an artichoke every year for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey. My grandmother would always scoff and say that artichokes seemed like nothing more than an excuse to eat the lemon butter dipping sauce, at which I would respond "so?"

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Last night I was feeling uninspired about dinner, so I read a couple of my favorite food blogs for ideas. Vegan Lunchcast was having leftover mashed potatoes and vegan gravy for lunch, and I decided that it was as good a time as any to tackle my fear of homemade veggie gravy. VL linked to this recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan, and I thought it was worth a shot.

And it was! Though I accidentally doubled the soy sauce and salt (by halving the recipe and forgetting to halve them), the gravy turned out delicious. The toasted nutritional yeast/flour combination really does mimic the roasted flavor of the pan cracklings used to make brown meat gravy. I served the gravy over mashed potatoes (using the little yellow delights I bought at last week's greenmarket), and it was heaven. Since the gravy itself isn't tremendously unhealthy (especially when I make it with the correct amount of sodium!), I think it would be a nice accompaniment to plain boiled or baked potatoes - a flavorful variety, like I had this time - rather than the rich, buttery mashed potatoes, for an everyday-type side dish.

Last night, we had gravy, mashed potatoes, and faux-chicken nuggets from Trader Joe's - vegetarian comfort junk food at its finest! But I do think I can incorporate this gravy recipe into healthier meals as well.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring - so what??

Okay, I'm not quite that cynical, but despite the ridiculously gorgeous day, there was very little in the way of actual produce at the greenmarket this week. The food options are still mostly apples and potatoes, though I did find the same greens I had last week - including the fantastic chard - though there are, here and there, signs that bounty is just around the corner. The market was dominated by potted plants and flowers, which certainy looked lovely, and made the place smell fragrant (and highly allergenic).

Pretty much the same as last week:
1 lb. Bindje potatoes (pretty little yellow ones)
4 lbs. apples (Winesaps and Mutsus)
1/2 lb. rainbow chard
1 bunch red Russian kale
1 log goat cheese
1 loaf "San Francisco" sourdough
Total spent: $27

I made a lovely lunch snack of the sourdough smeared with goat cheese, topped with tart Mutsu slices, and popped under the broiler for a minute and a half. The goat cheese, from Lynndale Farms, is delicious, with a nice, pure, creamy flavor.

Onwards and upwards! I'll keep my fingers crossed for next week.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A semi-glorious and expensive return to USG

The past month or so has been impossible. Hence, no greenmarket trips. At this point, my body is fairly crying out for fresh vegetables...I think this USG trip came just in the nick of time. Though, unfortunately, most vendors are still replete with potatoes, apples, onions, and other fall/winter offerings - perhaps because our spring has been so cold thus far - I was able to find some really nice-looking (and pricey) greens.

Some of this isn't produce at all:
1/3 lb. mesclun mix
1/3 lb. rainbow chard
1 bunch kale
2 lbs. fancy red potatoes (I forgot what variety)
4 lbs. apples (Mutsu, Red Ida, and Winesap)
1 bag shallots
3 lbs. whole wheat flour
1 dozen eggs
Total spent: $36

The eggs were an impulse buy, chosen after I had walked around a bit and realized the spring greenmarket bounty I had been irresponsibly hoping for hadn't arrived. Though I don't eat eggs all that often (I have a bit of an inferiority complex regarding my inability/unwillingness to become totally vegan), farm-fresh ones are so lovely. I'm going to make omelets for dinner tonight, probably filled with greens and with roasted potatoes alongside. The greens vendor also had some "green garlic," which looked like the garlic equivalent of chives; he claimed that the roots of the stalks are delicious when scrambled with a fresh egg. I think I may have to try them next week.

I'm not sure what variety of kale this is, but I do hope that it turns out better than the usual tough, curly kind; the leaves seem quite tender and they're totally flat and shaped a bit like arugula. (A later Google search has shown that it is Red Russian kale.) Perhaps I'll use them with the chard in some garlicky mixed-green tacos one evening, with black beans on the side. I've been making big pots of beans all winter, but I haven't had fresh greenmarket peppers...I can't wait until lots of different types are available again, so I can experiment. Supermarket poblanos and jalapenos are waxy and tired (though, of course, better than nothing).

No applesauce this time - these will be sliced for lunches. Applesauce reminds me too much of winter - and since the winters temperatures are hanging around, I've got to avoid being stuck in the winter mindset. Maybe my early-onset hay fever will help...sigh.

A sidenote - sometimes I can't post because this happens: