Saturday, October 25, 2008

Technical difficulties continue

Oddly beautiful morning that opened an emotional roller-coaster of a day. Every year as winter begins I forget what seasonal affective disorder means...for about a week.

And my camera is still not working. I think I'm going to order a replacement battery, after I consult with my dad about it.

Not on a budget this time:
1 lb. shelled fresh Tarbais beans
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch celery
1 head Red Oak lettuce
1 head French Crisp lettuce
2 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
2 lbs. zucchini
2 1/2 lbs. soup carrots (big)
2 lbs. eating carrots (little)
1 lb. red tomato "seconds"
2 lbs. German butterball potatoes
2 1/2 lbs. apples (Macoun and Winesap)
1 lb. Mars purple seedless grapes
1 bunch dill

Total spent: $70

I've already used most of the soup carrots in an oat-thickened carrot cream soup, which I served for dinner, garnished with fresh dill; inevitably, we started with a big green (and red) salad. The carrot soup was the recipe we had to prepare for our midterm, and despite the practice runs and the stress of making it for the test, I still like the stuff. And my photo assistant, despite his disdain for carrots, lemon, and ginger - the soup's primary constituents - also finds it agreeable.

More carrots and onions, along with the celery, most of the fresh dill, and the beets I've been saving, will go into the season's first batch of homemade borscht. I'm going to use some of the fancy French Tarbais beans instead of limas.

Otherwise: Brussels sprouts for breakfast tomorrow, and lots of greens to eat this week. I feel good about this haul.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Can you stand it in the cold light of day? Neither can I.

This morning was crystalline with a sharp chill, the kind that can only happen in early fall and seem replete with meaning - the sky's clarity and cold an almost embarrassingly obvious metaphor - the type of morning that carries with it a plangent demand for urgent forward motion and harsh self-examination. Or at least, that's how the morning looks just after coffee to a person as ennui-leaning as myself. It was uncomfortable in a way that felt necessary.

Beautiful morning, lovely time at the market, didn't get quite everything I wanted but got closer than usual. Sadly my camera is on the fritz, as the light today has been perfect.

I've got a market bag full of allegories:
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head French crisp lettuce
1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
3 lbs. carrots
3 lbs. onions
1/2 lb. shallots
3 lbs. tomatoes
1 small butternut squash.
2 heads Rocambole garlic
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch thyme
1 box raspberries
4 lbs. mixed apples
1 lb. Lakemont seedless green grapes
1 qt. red grape juice

Total spent: $64

Some of the onions, carrots, thyme, and parsley, along with last week's celery tops, went into a four-quart batch of vegetable stock. It didn't turn out quite as flavor-y as I had hoped, but then again, it is very tough to tell with unseasoned stock. Next time I think I'll brown the vegetables first. I'll use it first in some minestrone with the tomatoes, as well as more carrots and onions, though I am disappointed that I couldn't find cranberry beans at today's market for it. I think I'll substitute lentils as an experiment.

Eventually I'll probably make some butternut squash soup.

And lately, I've been eating Brussels sprouts for breakfast.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What culinary school does to your brain

This morning, when I was about to get in the shower and I was looking in the mirror to judge whether my hair could go another day without washing, the first words that came to mind were "it's within range."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Punk rock died when the first kid said...

Despite my morning grumpiness, the sun, perfect blue sky and not-quite-chilly temp made me glad to be a vegetable obsessive, rather than the sunglass-wearing aging punk I sat across from on the train back to Brooklyn. Nothing wrong with his way, of course, just that fiddling with the safety pins on a black hoody while reading Barthes (whom I recognized by the author photo alone - thanks, liberal arts education!) just doesn't strike me as the way to get the most out of such a lovely morning. Though shuffling through a crowded market with aching, laden shoulders may not appeal to lots of folks either, I suppose.
Greens greens greens:
1 bunch beets with greens
1 (gigantic) bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale
1/3 lb. mixed salad greens
1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
1 head celery
2 1/2 lbs. carrots
2 lbs. German butterball potatoes
1 lb. seedless grapes - green Lakemont and purple Jupiter
6 lbs. mixed apples (Empire, Gold rush, Macoun, Gala)
2 Bosc pears
1 pint strawberries (?!?!)

Total spent: $56

Being on a budget at the market always requires sacrifices: today, I gave up on getting tomatoes, and had to forego goat cheese in favor of eggs and bread. Though I suppose there was no question of whether or not to buy the strawberries once I saw them, which are some of the best I've had all year...and will be perfect over our favorite coconut milk ice cream for dessert tonight. Beets always make me feel like a smart shopper, though, since they're two vegetables for the price of one.

The Brussels sprouts were an impulse buy as I was still in the shallows of the market - they're not really an economical choice for the household since the photo assistant won't eat them. But if buttered Brussels sprouts and toast for lunch at 11 a.m. are wrong, I don't want to be right!

It's become the time of year when hearty greens make it into every meal - blanched and chopped in tacos instead of lettuce, added to chilis and soups, and sauteed with garlic and olive oil to accompany just about anything. Tonight I'll probably have garlic-sauteed beet greens (my current fave!) along with roasted potatoes and veggie sausage for dinner. My friend Amanda makes a yummy dish with lacinato kale, lemon, and I think red pepper flakes - I'll try that this week.

And of course, given the tough economic times (which for me have nothing to do with Wall Street, rather the increase in my monthly student loan payment for culinary school), I'll save the stems from all the greens and stir-fry them with tofu at the end of the week, like I did last night. Not the tastiest dish in the world, but good if it's spicy enough, healthful with brown rice, and frugal.

One of my favorite greens dishes lately is toasted English muffin halves topped with (in this order) goat cheese, minced chives, garlic-sauteed chiffonade-cut greens (chard is ideal), a butter-fried egg each, and more minced chives on top. The chives may seem optional, but they absolutely make this dish - combined with the goat cheese they elevate an ordinary breakfast combo into a dinner-worthy meal. Tomatoes on the side are an excellent accompaniment and predictably, I precede this with a big green salad.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Minestrone fixings and grapes

It was an undeniably chilly morning at the USG; there's no turning back from this fall thing, people.
The budget was tight today:
1 bunch chard
1 bunch kale (the same fancy kind I got last week)
1 bunch beets with greens
4 lbs. carrots
4 plum tomatoes
3/4 lb. mixed greens
1/2 lb. Lakemont variety seedless grapes
5 lbs. Concord grapes
1 Osage orange

Total spent: $56

I got a bug to make minestrone with fresh cranberry beans, so I bought some tomatoes that looked perfect for soup (it's the tomato equivalent of having a face for radio), a bunch of chard...and made quite a serviceable minestrone with whole wheat rotelle.

The grapes are for another batch of homemade jelly, but I have to find some Pomona's Pectin, since Brooklyn Kitchen is out. I really have no idea where else to look, but I've got to figure it out soon.