Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sprouts, pie, borscht (not in that order)

A quick and unexciting trip:
1 box sprouts (three types)
2 lbs. Carola potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. carrots
1 bunch Swiss chard
2 bags spinach
6 lbs. apples (Mutsu and Empire)
Total spent: $36

The sprouts make a pretty picture, though they pretty much taste like grass. I'm either going to hide them in smoothies, or use them to add actual nutritional value to our current addiction: sandwiches made with Tofurkey cold cuts.

What is exciting is that today I'm going to make a pie, including homemade pie crust from scratch! You may remember that my choice of store-bought pie crust induced a negative reaction in my mother; for Christmas, she gave me pastry-making supplies, so I wouldn't have to transgress so again. (It's important to understand that my mother has preternatural pie-crust-making ability, so the association between pie crust and difficulty eludes her.) Wish me luck.

In other news, I'm finishing up the batch of borscht I started a few days ago (I'm still trying to revise my recipe), and I'll be putting on a pot of chili at some point, too. And while all these things are cooking, I'm finally going to crack down and work on my application to the Natural Gourmet Institute. Fingers crossed on that, too!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


This morning's smoothie, before I blended it. Contents: kale, spinach, carrots, bananas, frozen mango chunks, frozen raspberries, soy yogurt, apple juice, and ground flax seed. Verdict: delicious, from both myself and my photo assistant, who is pickier than I am about these things.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Apples, celebs: just another day at USG

Maybe winter's not so bad - the photo makes today's haul look almost...appetizing!

My hearty cold-weather cornucopia:
2 bags spinach
1/2 lb. Swiss chard
1 bunch curly kale
4 large beets
1 1/2 lbs. Carola potatoes
2 lbs. carrots
1 bunch celery
1 buttercup squash
Total spent: $35

The greenmarket today was a sea of apples - even the usually reliable Migliorelli Farm had little more than apples - but I managed to find some good-looking (but pricey) greens. I don't like the texture of curly kale, but I'm going to use it for smoothies, so it shouldn't matter. The other greens will be sauteed or steamed, per usual, I'll roast the squash, and the beets will go into borscht.

But the most exciting part of the greenmarket today was when I met celebrity picklemaker Rick from Rick's Picks, and got to talk to him and his coworker Allison about how much I love their beets. They were really friendly! I also bought a jar of whole dill pickles, and I've eaten about half of them already...I think I'm going to try to make ersatz pickled carrots with the brine after they're gone, per a tip on the Rick's website. We'll see how that works out.

At the moment I have (last week's) apples on the stove for applesauce. No big recipe plans this week other than borscht; tonight I may make colcannon with a side of veggie sausage and steamed carrots, or maybe oven-baked sweet potato fries with sausage and greens - cozy winter foods, as it's just around freezing out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dinner update - with recipe

After a lovely day of snacking and working on projects with Katherine, I made the previously-mentioned butternut squash-sage pasta dish for dinner. It turned out just as I was hoping, due largely to the deliciously pungent dried sage I ordered from Penzeys. The recipe is below - a very simple and satisfying meal. (I made this without dairy, but it would probably be fine, though richer, if you used dairy milk and butter.) This sauce is a beautiful orange color that looks terrific on green spinach pasta! Fresh pasta is ideal if you have it.

Butternut Squash-Sage Sauce for Linguine
2 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or butter)
1 butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 large or two small)
1/2 tsp. dried sage
3/4-1 cup soy milk
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2 tbsp. Earth Balance in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add squash and cook, stirring frequently to redistribute cubes, until just tender, about 20 minutes (this will vary widely; check multiple pieces for tenderness, as it can cook unevenly). Set squash aside. Without cleaning skillet, melt remaining 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance in it over medium heat, add shallots, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add sage and stir about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add half of squash cubes and 3/4 cup soy milk, season with salt and pepper, and stir until combined. Remove from heat, ladle mixture into blender, and blend until smooth. Return blended mixture to skillet over medium-low, add soy milk as needed for desired texture, adjust seasonings, and cook, stirring, just until hot. Serve immediately over pasta with fresh ground black pepper.

Ad astra per (vegetable) aspera

I couldn't find everything I needed at the greenmarket today, which was operating at about half-capacity in terms of vendors (and only about half those were selling produce vs. maple syrup, yarn, seriously good bacon, etc.). But I did my best.

Winter produce is so heavy:
2 bags spinach
1 bunch parsley
1/4 lb. arugula
1 butternut squash
1 1/2 lbs. carrots
2 yellow onions
4 large beets
1/2 lb. shallots
8 lbs. miscellaneous "bargain" apples
Total spent: $31.50

But my favorite greenmarket purchase by far was Rick's Picks pickled beets. Yes, the name makes me think of 1994 in a bad way, but they are so delicious that I can forgive the egregiously dated pun (not that I have anything against puns). Most pickled beets tend to be too sweet, but these have an ideal balance of sweet and tart, with a bit of spiciness from the unique herb combination. I think I could eat a whole jar in one sitting, but then I would probably pass out from acid overdose.

Though there was no garlic to be found (Keith's Organics has packed it in for the season, I guess), so I will have to give up on the garlic-braised greens recipe for now, I did think up an idea for tonights dinner: pasta with a butternut squash-sage-shallot sauce, over Knoll Crest Farms fresh spinach pasta. And I found arugula and parsley, which I'm going to use for the Very Green Rice recipe, probably served alongside sauteed spinach and veggie sausage.

But of course I am most excited about adding spinach, beets, and/or carrots to smoothies courtesy of my Vita-Mix! I will start out slowly with a handful of spinach here, half a beet there, since my photo assistant is a bit skeptical of the whole vegetables-in-smoothies idea, but I am really looking forward to it! I will post photos of the smoothies with the most zany colors.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My favorite new cookbook!

Someone wonderful got me Mollie Katzen's new cookbook, The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without, for my birthday, and I am utterly enamored. Not only is it really cute (hand-drawn illustrations and recipe titles circled by e.g. broccoli-floret motifs), but the recipes are simple, thoughtful, and (literally) mouthwatering.

I haven't had the chance to try anything yet, but tomorrow I am going to pick up some braising greens at the market, for Dry-Sauteed Braising Greens with Layers of Garlic, which includes both roasted and fresh garlic; others I'm looking forward to include Tarragon-Pecan Asparagus (!), Braised Brussels Sprouts in Maple Mustard Sauce, and Green Beans with Crunchy Peanut-Lemon Coating.

Tomorrow is going to be an early Greenmarket morning - I'll have to stock up on veggies for these recipes, and of course to test out my Vita-Mix...I can't wait!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ah, sweet relief

Though Monday's Greenmarket pickings were verrrrry slim, I was so glad to be back that I barely noticed. I picked up some apples, spinach, baby bok choy, sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash - nothing spectacular - but I'm very much looking forward to the spinach-and-veggie-sausage omelet with oven-roasted on sweet potatoes I'm planning to make tonight. And of course the apples are already simmering away for applesauce. California was great, but being home in my own kitchen is just lovely. And my Vita-Mix arrives Wednesday!!!