Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Don't worry, baby

"We'll have them for awhile still," volunteered the man who grows the best carrots I've ever had, as I paid for my weekly three-pound ration of the hairy, knobbly, bright-orange jewels (pictured here). No doubt he saw the fear in my eyes, saw the wildness with which I clutched my bags of greens and tomatoes; as fall undeniably chugs in amidst mornings fragrant with mist and chilly evenings, harvest bounties dwindle, and I am left to dread my squash and sweet potato-laden near-future.
Late summer and early fall mix:
1 bunch chives
1 bunch dill
3 lbs. plum tomatoes
1 bunch fancy flat kale (can't remember the variety)
1 bunch green Swiss chard
1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
1 lb. crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb. mixed salad greens
3 lbs. carrots
1 1/2 lbs. zucchini
2 ears white corn
4 lbs. mixed apples
1 Bosc pear

Total spent: $57

Once again I forgot that my photo assistant is leaving town tomorrow, meaning this week's haul is all mine to eat. I should have bought broccoli!

The corn will join the lima beans I bought and didn't eat Monday in the last succotash of the year for dinner tonight, topped with red pepper coulis and served alongside crispy "crash" potatoes and eggs baked with butter, chives, and goat cheese. We'll start with big green salads topped with the handful of plum tomatoes that wouldn't fit on the sheet pan with the rest which are currently slow-roasting in my oven.

I bought the Bosc pear to poach in preparation for my upcoming midterm; today's order is studying after a bit of housecleaning and laundry. Living the dream, people. Living the dream. Speaking of which, to meet my loyal readers' furious demands for more kitten coverage, here's an outtake from the carrots photo session:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News flash 2: making grape jelly is worth it

It is so good it is so good it is so good it is so good

News flash: making grape jelly is tedious

I started with 4 lbs. of Concord grapes, and after mashing them, simmering them for ten minutes, running them through my food mill, and straining them through cheesecloth twice, I have 3 cups of grape juice and lots of middling grape almost-liquid that is dropping out of my cheesecloth-lined colander at approximately the same rate that microwave popcorn pops when it's time to take it out.

Once I've got the 4 cups of juice I ought to have, it should be easy enough to boil the stuff with pectin and agave nectar, check for jell, pour into jars, and process...but right now things are a bit dire and boring. Though I suppose I can use a bit of forced relaxation given the way things have been the past few weeks...season change being what it is.

Today is stretching out errand-free until I have to go to class at 5, so once I've got the jelly sorted I'm going to make granola, lentil pepper-pot soup, and start some yogurt. And tonight before bed I'll put in a couple sheets of tomatoes to slow-roast while we sleep.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Smoky Split-Pea Soup With Greens

I made this soup last week on a whim, using roasted peppers and ancho chili powder for a double-shot of the smoky flavor ordinarily supplied by ham hocks. It turned out wonderfully - possibly the best split-pea soup I've ever had, which is exciting to a split-pea-soup-lover like myself! The beet greens were great, but chard, spinach, or kale would work too. It's even better served the next day, and I bet it would freeze well, too. Not sure on the yield here, but we got about six servings out of the batch.

Smoky Split-Pea Soup With Greens

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup minced onion (about 2 small)
1 cup carrot, chopped into 1/4" half-moons
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 roasted Poblano pepper, diced
1 roasted Anaheim (or other mild) pepper, diced
zest of 1 small lemon (about 1 tbsp)
4 cups stock
2 cups water
4 cups split peas
1 bunch greens (I used beet), about 4 cups torn-up leaves
sea salt and lemon juice to taste
minced parsley (optional, for garnish)
lemon zest curls (optional, for garnish)

Heat oil, reserving about 2 teaspoons, over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat until onions begin to soften; add carrot and cook until onions are completely soft, but do not allow onions to brown.

Push onion and carrot to the sides of the pan and add reserved oil and garlic to center; combine garlic with oil and cook until garlic is aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add cumin and ancho chili powder and stir into garlic for about 10 seconds, until aromatic; add lemon zest and diced peppers and stir into carrot and onion mixture until everything is combined.

Pour in stock and water. Add split peas and bring to a boil; turn heat down and simmer, covered, until split peas are completely soft and broken down, about 30 minutes.

Uncover pot and add greens, simmering until completely wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice, allow to stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes, and serve, garnishing each bowl with minced parsley and a couple of lemon zest curls, if desired.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

That is the tempo

Until this week, I've been mostly successful in avoiding tomatoes, despite the gorgeous piles they make everywhere at USG - because they're nightshades, they cause inflammation, they give me canker sores - but yesterday I chanced upon this recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes, and I knew I had to make them, despite the whole "leaving the oven on for 10 hours" thing. And once I had bought the plum tomatoes, I thought I may as well try a lovely low-acid yellow heirloom and a pint of my favorite Sungolds - totalling about five pounds.

So much more than tomatoes:

1 (small) bunch collard greens
1 (huge) bunch kale
3 lbs. carrots
2 lbs. yellow cooking onions
1 1/2 lbs. green beans
1 head celery
3 lbs. mixed summer squash (avocado and cousa)
3 lbs. plum tomatoes
1 pint Sungold tomatoes
1/2 lb. mixed salad greens
1 large yellow low-acid heirloom tomato
1 head Rocambole garlic
2 pints strawberries
1 box raspberries
Total spent: $60

Incidentally, almost everything I bought today was organic. My four favorite produce stands are organic, and I bought everything from them. If I don't have the option of local and organic, I will always choose local, but it's nice to find both - especially because the organic stands (whether certified or not) tend to have the best-tasting produce.

The tomatoes are already in the oven at just over 200 degrees - here's a shot just before they went in. I'll check them at about eight hours, but I'm expecting to leave them in for 10-12, like most of the recipes I've found online have indicated.

Otherwise, a pretty standard trip to the market, tinged with a bit of summer's end gloom. Peaches are finally waning - the last few I've gotten have been a bit mealy, and green beans are no longer young and tender. I think I'll have to roast these to make them delicious, as they're a bit tough. Tonight I think I'll make a light pasta dish with tomatoes, summer squash, greens, and parsley. We'll start with a salad and have berries for dessert, in late-summer style.