Sunday, August 29, 2010


Instead of my regularly scheduled greenmarket shopping this week, I was a CSA tourist. My friend Meg couldn't pick up her Stanton Street CSA share Thursday, so she let me have it. My haul is pictured above (there are a dozen more nectarines inside the Whole Foods bag).

All in all, I took home:
1 head lettuce
6 beefsteak tomatoes
4 yellow plum tomatoes
35 cherry tomatoes
2 Italian frying peppers (?)
2 small yellow peppers
2 long skinny Thai-looking peppers
1 head fennel
2 slicing cucumbers
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch basil
1 lb. tongue of fire beans
13 nectarines

This for the low, low price of free ninety-nine (with a plan to buy Meg dinner in the nearish future, maybe at M. Wells, where I inexplicably still haven't been.)

The lettuce and chard are easy enough (salads; sautéed - last night, I had some with white wine and bacon), but there are a lot of tomatoes in this cornucopia for someone with serious tomato sensitivity. I threw caution to the wind and ate all the cherry tomatoes plain; I made tomato, cucumber, and basil salads with some of the plum tomatoes, and added others to green salads.

Most of the beefsteak tomatoes ended up in the ranchero sauce I made for this morning's huevos rancheros brunch with my friend Jane - I cooked them along with onions, garlic, cumin, the frying peppers (roasted) and yellow peppers, and a little cayenne and oregano, then threw it all in a blender. This sauce is killer - I'm excited to find out what else I can put it on - I'm thinking almost anything.

I still have a few tomatoes left, and I'm stumped, since I'm already paying for eating all the other ones. Maybe I can add them in small amounts to things here and there without causing too much damage.

As for the nectarines, which (of course) ripened all at once, I have been eating them as quickly as I can; I used four of them in some nectarine muffins, which I adapted from this recipe; I used half whole-wheat flour, used 1.5 cups sucanat instead of 2 cups white sugar, used melted butter instead of vegetable oil, and in addition to freshly-ground Ceylon cinnamon, I added 1 teaspoon vanilla. I'm not a big muffin person, because they're generally so dull, but these are quite moist and have a lot of flavor - switching to butter was definitely the right move.

I'm having a crew over for Thai curry Tuesday evening, so I'll throw in the rest of my basil (if it lasts), and if I'm feeling brave, maybe I'll toss in some slices of the Thai chiles. Or I could try sautéeing those with shallots, and tossing them with popcorn, maybe with lime and some curry powder? We'll see.

The tongue of fire beans are a bit of a stumper, but since I still have some tomatoes left, I might pick up some corn and make an improvised succotash for dinner one of these nights. I bet that ranchero sauce would be right at home on top!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I had a party instead

Though, to be fair, I did buy some collards yesterday. But now I have to clean the floors.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Field trip!

Upon finding myself in Clinton Hill of a Saturday morning, I took the opportunity to be a Greenmarket tourist, visiting the petite but well-stocked (and refreshingly uncrowded) Fort Greene market. Plus the sun was shining and I found some vintage sunglasses at a stoop sale for $3: all in all, a magical, if drowsy, visit.

A well-balanced haul for two hours' sleep:
1 bunch collards
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 bunch carrots
3 lbs. mixed summer squash
4 shallots
1 pint sungold tomatoes
1 1/4 lbs. nectarines
Total spent: $25

Naturally, the sungolds are gone - can't stop from eating those things like candy, as much as they wreck my stomach + the inside of my mouth. The first one of the nectarines to ripen was my first nectarine of the season, and I couldn't have asked for a better one: it was perfect, and started my lazy Sunday in the best possible way.

I'll quick-pickle the shallots, add the squash to everything in typical late-summer fashion, and sauté the greens - all per usual. Some of the carrots will go into lunches, but I have been thinking about this simple recipe for grated carrot salad from David Lebovitz since I saw the post, and I'll whip up my own version along with dinner tonight.

Otherwise, it's all catching up on sleep and biding my time until the rest of my nectarines ripen. It's a lush life, people.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Late-summer powersalad

This whole both-ends candle-burning tendency continued unexpectedly through my return from Bloomington IN, so I didn't wake up bright or early enough to make it to Union Square Saturday morning. Instead, I had a semi-lazy morning and took my budget-shopping to the McCarren Park market instead.

Midwest recovery diet:
1 bunch collards
1 bunch curly kale
1 head red romaine lettuce
2 ears white corn
2 yellow bell peppers
1 bunch spring onions
1 lb. apricots
2 lbs. new Yukon gold potatoes
Total spent: $16

Vacation-eating (and drinking) for the past five days had put me in desperation for a cleanse, so I revised my powersalad recipe to use more of late summer's bounty, ratchet up the fiber, and blast those phytonutrient levels up to healing levels. More importantly: this salad is a joy to eat.

Late-summer powersalad
3 cups torn romaine leaves, cleaned and dried well
One ear sweet corn
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper
2 hardboiled eggs
4 kalamata olives (optional)
Dijon mustard vinaigrette
Sea salt
Black pepper

Shell and quarter hardboiled eggs; set aside. Roughly chop olives if using.
Remove kernels from corn cob into large bowl. Slice bell pepper into thin strips with mandoline into the same bowl. Add lettuce leaves, drizzle in dressing, and toss with tongs; taste and add more dressing if needed.
Plate lettuce mixture and top with eggs and olives, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

The rest of my haul is pretty much just maintenance, but I did innovate a little tonight, adding homemade curry powder to tonight's collards with caramelized onions, to great effect; I had them for dinner under a medium-rare grass-fed burger, with red-and-white mixed quinoa on the side. Dessert was four super-juicy Red Jacket Orchards apricots.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Added Value; or, the girl who loved Red Hook

My plans to get up early, run, and go to Union Square before my Red Hook brunch were foiled by my own sluggishness: by the time I'd dragged myself around McCarren Park and back, it was after 10. So I changed plans, and went by the Added Value community farm and market on my way back to the subway from Fort Defiance (have the Savannah). Not much by way of stories, but I managed to wrest a few nice shots out of the iPhone camera.

Entering the farm - view framed by black bags of compost.

Beautiful (hot) day - you can barely see the corn growing, and the farmstand over to the left.

Swiss chard in the foreground, lacinato kale in the background.

Farmstand armful:
2 zucchini
2 ears yellow corn
1 lb. carrots
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 pint yellow plums
Total spent: $8.75

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday night fridge pickles

Friday night in = fridge pickles, which are my new obsession, and - along with popcorn - the only thing I feel like eating during this heat wave. I have a post up about them with a bunch of recipe links at ReadyMade; on my exciting Friday, I tried all sorts of intrepid new spice blends, as this questionable iPhone photo attests.
Everything's less fun on a budget:
2 lbs. crimini mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch Siberian kale
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch spring onions
2 bunches carrots
Total spent: $27

The criminis, bell pepper, and some of the onions will go into the mushroom sloppy joes I'm making for dinner with a friend tomorrow night (along with miscellaneous spices and the housemade barbecue sauce from The Meat Hook - cheating, I know, but theirs is so good); we'll also have collards with caramelized onion and, of course, fridge pickles to top the sandwiches.

My favorite carrot farmer has told me that the weather's allowing for a second planting this season, which is lucky, since apparently the deer have gotten into the carrots - my carrots! - so they'll stick around longer this year. I know I've waxed overly poetic about these carrots before but they're just so sweet, but mineral, but grassy - balanced - with no bitter edge like most carrots tend to have, but they're not candy-sweet and one-dimensional like some. All his produce is delicious, so it must just be fantastic soil.

But, fridge pickles! Friday night's batches used the same brine as my previous efforts, with cucumber, yellow bell pepper, spicier yellow Santa Fe pepper, garlic, and onion slices. Four jars, four spice blends: cumin seed, coriander, and black peppercorns; caraway seed, yellow mustard seed, and black peppercorns; pink peppercorn, fennel seed, brown mustard seed; and a final (smaller) jar with lots of yellow mustard seed and crushed red pepper. I also upped the amounts of the whole spices from my initial batch, from 1/4 tsp each to 1/2 tsp each. It's still a bit early to try them, but I'll probably do a tasting along with dinner.

Otherwise, it's a broke week 'til payday. I'll be eating lots of eggs over greens and rice for the next few days - though, since that's my favorite dinner of all time, I'd probably be doing it regardless. Also I'm going to try to be a better blogger. But summertime, man.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

My city, my sauna

As a counterpoint to last Saturday's zombie-hazed, sleepless market trip, this morning I woke up at 6:30 after a sensible bedtime, and got up to run four miles in refreshing 80% humidity before heading out to USG. My extra-long run had me visiting both Monsignors McGolrick and McCarren, as well as the scenic pass near our neighborhood terrifying chicken slaughterhouse, before rounding my sweaty way back to my woefully not-yet-air-conditioned apartment.

After all that and fighting through the busy market crowds? The cherries tasted AMAZING.

Early to bed, early to rise:
1 lb. sugar snap peas
1 qt. strawberries
1 lb. cherries
1/2 lb. wild asparagus
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 bunch Siberian kale
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head Red Oak lettuce
Total spent: $35.50

I blanched last week's sugar snaps and took them with me to a beach picnic; they were wonderful, but I'm looking forward to hoarding these so I can eat them with lunch every day. Lunch-wise, last week's standout meal was goat barbacoa made by my friendly local (cute) butchers at The Meat Hook, thrown in a bowl with lots of sautéed kale and shallots, on top of red quinoa (tastier than beige quinoa!).

Mostly, lately, I've only wanted to eat the above-pictured Enormo-Salad dressed with shalloty Dijon vinaigrette and topped with hardboiled eggs and olives, sometimes with a buttered piece of the awesome spelt-rye sourdough from Hawthorne Valley Farm on the side. Coming soon: a recipe for said salad dressing.

My only real disappointment this season has been my own overwhelming lack of interest in all things rhubarb. Maybe when I get my A/C installed I'll be able to care. I have been dreaming about this rhubarb bread, but haven't been able to stomach the idea of heating up the oven to bake it. Ditto rhubarb chutney and the great rhubarb bars I made last season. We'll see.

As is standard Saturday practice, I've already eaten half the cherries and one-third of the strawberries. Some things don't change.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Early bird gets the zzzzzzzzzzzz…

Since I’ve been writing Produce Stories for four years now, there aren’t really many firsts left to be had: even when vendors come and go, the seasons tend to bring the same fruits and vegetables to the market, season in, season out.

But this morning marked the first (and, let’s hope, last) time I went straight to the market in the morning without sleeping. Being that this is a family blog, I won’t go into the circumstances, but I will say that I was sure spaced out and lackadaisical about my shopping. One vendor asked me how I was doing and, after ringing up my greens, told me to “be careful out there.”

You snooze, you lose:
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 bunch Siberian kale
½ lb. wild asparagus
2/3 lb. sugar snap peas
4 shallots
2 heads red oak lettuce
1 pint strawberries
1 pint cherries (!!!!!!!!)
Total spent: $35

The upside was that, since I left my house at 7:30, I got to the market just as it was opening, so it wasn’t crowded and nobody had sold out of anything yet – and by “anything” I mean CHERRIES!! My buddies at Locust Grove had ‘em, and I snagged a pint.

If I weren’t so drowsy I think I’d be beside myself with glee about the reappearance of sugar snaps. Shell peas were available too, but I held back, since I didn’t have any immediate ideas for them. I’ll have to plan a dinner party soon so I can make fresh pea soup with cream and tarragon.

No big plans for anything else, beyond the giant shalloty salads and proteins served atop piles of greens that have been my standard fare lately. I’m happy that regular heads of lettuce are back in season, so I don’t have to buy super-pricey (albeit delicious) baby greens anymore – and Keith’s Farm has the best lettuce, though sadly their garlic is still all green.

My lord, I’m tired.

Photo from Flickr: fromky's photostream

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Better than sleep: strawberries!

Despite severe undersleeping after last night's brain-breaking (in the best way) Joshua Light Show with Silver Apples and Oneida, I didn't even snooze when my alarm bleated at 7:15 this morning - I was so excited about strawberries, which I missed last week. I arrived at the market at 8:30, buoyed by the gorgeous blue sky and green tea with fresh mint & sage. And: mission accomplished! Of course, I've eaten half of them already.

Oh, spring fever
1/4 lb. mixed baby greens
1/4 lb. arugula
1 lb. white button mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus
2 lbs. carrots
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 bunch lacinato kale
2 pints strawberries
Total spent: $36

Not that there weren't minor disappointments. My greenmarket inside source told me that Eckerton had had sugar snaps and shell peas for a few minutes before I got there, and wild asparagus has already gone from Terhune.

But strawberries are worth it. My love for strawberries is well-documented (not the least of which, on my left arm), and while apricots may make better jam, and sweet cherries may be easier to eat by the pound, the first strawberries of the year are most evocative, for me, of sunshine and sweetness and - to take it a little over the top - the wonders of the vegetal world. I guess: they just make me happy.

The baby greens are my favorites, from Hawthorne Valley Farm, and they'll be paired with the arugula + dressed with herby shallot vinaigrette in one of the many protein + salad greens dinners I can't get enough of lately. I've been sautéeing broccoli rabe with ginger, sesame seeds, shoyu, and a splash of toasted sesame oil, and bringing it to work to eat cold, which is surprisingly great.

And of course, the strawberries will be gone before the weekend's over.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I have lost my capacity for rational thought when it comes to new arrivals at the market. All I can think to say is "asparagus is here! Asparagus is here!" Though for some reason I'm really not ready to face rhubarb yet.

You can have any color you want, as long as it's green:
3/4 lb. asparagus
3 hydroponic cucumbers
1/4 lb. wild Italian arugula
1/4 lb. mixed lettuce
1/2 lb. white Russian kale
1/3 lb. collard greens
1 bunch lovage
1 lb. crimini mushrooms
1/4 lb. shallots
1/2 lb. Nicola potatoes
Total spent: $48

I'm not a huge fan of hydroponically grown produce because it's never as flavorful as soil-grown, but I'm heading upstate to a barbecue today and really wanted to make a simple cucumber, mint, and feta salad - my mint plant exploded while I was out of town, and it needs trimming back. I'll keep it simple with red wine vinegar, shallots, the cucumbers, plenty of mint, and a sprinkling of Lynnhaven Farms' wonderful feta on top.

As for the rest, I have been craving green salads like crazy since spring started. I managed to eat pretty healthfully on my desert vacation last week, but it's time to ramp up the greens intake for the cleansing sunny season. I'm especially excited about the tiny-leaved, spicy, Italian arugula - it's so delicious simply dressed with a lemon-Dijon vinaigrette, and brings a ton of flavor and freshness to a meal.

I have no idea how to use lovage, but most online sources say it's simply added to a recipe for added flavor, maybe in place of celery. It was an impulse buy for sure - maybe I'll try it in my next batch of beans or lentils.

And the market's best asparagus, from Terhune Orchards? It's everything I can do not to go throw it in a pan and eat it all now, with my fingers. I'll sauté and sprinkle with salt and eat it within a day or two for sure. Spring!!!!!!!!!

Photo from Flickr: Muffet's photostream

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Given last week's relative barrenness at USG and the freezing-cold temps, I wasn't expecting much from this morning's trip. The hydrangeas pictured were certainly the most glamorous and colorful scene at the market today, but I was much more excited by the color green.

It's really happening:
1/4 lb. pea shoots
1/2 lb. collard greens
1/4 lb. lacinato kale
1 lb. white button mushrooms
3 lbs. mixed apples
Total spent: $22

Not only did I find marvelous (albeit pricey) young lacinato kale and collard greens at Norwich Meadows Farm, the farmer who grows my favorite carrots and shell peas in the world had pea shoots. Fresh greens! I couldn't stop smiling.

With my bounty, tonight's dinner was a salad of the pea shoots, with my standard simple dijon mustard vinaigrette, and kale stir-fried with lots of sesame seeds, ginger, and shoyu. The young and tender greens cooked up very quickly, and had so much flavor - I can't wait to try the collards tomorrow.

In other produce news, I've been making jam thumbprint cookies like crazy the past week with last season's homemade peach jam, because it turns out that jam made with agave only lasts a couple of weeks once opened. And as I'm off toast at the moment, I've got to find ways to use this stuff. Luckily the cookies are quick to make, and I haven't had trouble finding folks to eat them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sun, but not much else

Beautiful day at USG yesterday, with more vendors, most of whom were selling plants. Not much by way of produce, as I expected...but perhaps this burst of early sunshine will bring on the advent of harbinger rhubarb soon.

Just a few things:
1.5 lbs German butterball potatoes
1 lb. yellow onions
1/2 lb. shallots
1 lb. crimini mushrooms
Total spent: $14

I also bought a chive plant to go with my bedroom-window herb garden. Here they are, all nicely potted in terra cotta. I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to plants, but at least they look cute. The chives already seem like trouble.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Humble beginnings

The start of my windowsill herb garden: tarragon, thyme, spearmint, and sage. I had to build my own windowsill! And I can't figure out how to get my screen open to get the old pots out of there, but I'll figure it out. Next stop: the garden store, for new pots. I'd like to have oregano, lavender, lemon balm, and catnip too...summer savory, basil, hyssop...we'll see how much space I have.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

Well, I did make it to USG Saturday morning, but the rain and wind had already started - though they'd get worse - and the vendor turnout was understandably sparse. I bought some potatoes, onions, cheese, eggs, and milk, before heading to Whole Foods to pick up the rest of what I needed to cook for my old folks on Sunday.

And Sunday itself was almost laughably terrible, with the aggressive gloom continuing, the leak under my kitchen seak worsening, and my rushing to get everything done before I had to run to the office to bring merch for the Hauschka show at Le Poisson Rouge (which show was perhaps the only positive of the day). It was the kind of day where you find yourself making fennel and orange salad at 1 a.m. - we all have those, right?

Oh! And my camera's broken. I haven't even begun to figure out what to do about that.

On the positive side, I finally wrote down my permutations to this baked fettucine recipe I found on Epicurious. It's a great dish - one of my clients' favorites - and can easily be made ahead and popped into the oven when dinner guests arrive. While a bit heavy on the cheese, there are enough vegetables in the mix to make the whole thing seem, if not virtuous, then at least balanced.

Also on the bright side (literally, heyo!), it's sunny and in the 60s all week - further making me feel like not going to SXSW this year was the right decision.

Baked Fettuccine with Mascarpone and Vegetables

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
2 lbs. spinach leaves, washed well
3 medium leeks, halved and cut into 1/2" strips (about 4 cups)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
zest of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. mascarpone (I've used fromage blanc for a lighter version also)
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
3/4 lb. dry fettuccine (whole-wheat works great here)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sauté spinach in batches in a small amount of olive oil, adding a pinch of salt per batch. Drain, chop, and set aside.

Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water just until crisp-tender; shock, drain, and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened; do not brown. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, zest, thyme, several pinches of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Cook one minute, whisking constantly.
Whisk in milk, turn up heat, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly; turn down heat and simmer (keep whisking!) until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses until mostly smooth (mixture will be a bit grainy because of the Grana Padano). Stir in leek mixture and taste for seasoning.

Cook fettuccine to al dente in salted water. Toss pasta with vegetables in a large bowl; add cheese sauce and toss until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and bake in preheated 350˚ oven until top is bubbling and golden, 15-20 minutes.

If making ahead, store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, and toss to redistribute sauce and vegetables before baking. Can be frozen at this point, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil; allow to thaw completely before baking.

photo from Flickr: Ervin Bartis' photostream

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Vegetable blogging at ReadyMade

Hey...that's me! I'll be posting weekly at ReadyMade with info and recipes about a different vegetable every week. Check out my first post, about the wonders of butternut squash.

In other news: too sick to go to USG this week. Roasted some beets, sautéed up some greens, nothing too exciting. We've had sunshine though, so I'm getting spring fever for early veggies! Still a few weeks yet, I know.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's the freakin' weekend

So, there will be no boring, self-important monologue about why I haven’t posted in nearly six months.

But! Now! Installed (as I am) in my own real one-bedroom which boasts an even smaller, narrower kitchen than my former home, I am suited wonderfully for the frequent dinner party for 2 and the occasional slightly crowded dinner party for 8, not to mention other configurations and guest-quantities TBC. (When spring arrives, there will be teas: delightful conversation-heavy teas in the best of company with the best of finger sandwiches and other delicacies, because I’ve never given up on my fantasy of having a salon.)

Since we last encountered our heroine she has become single, turned 30, quit caffeine, and acquired a personal chef client, a freelance cookbook-consulting gig, and an upcoming weekly vegetable-blogging assignment for a prominent DIY/lifestyle magazine (about which more later). This is on top of her full-time job managing a little record-label-that-could, as well as her new physical-fitness hobbies, running and Ving Tsun Kung Fu. (Today was my first Saturday off since mid-December.)

But enough about me. USG was closed yesterday due to our third snowstorm of the season, but today it was open and even thriving – much more crowded than I thought it would be, and with most of the wintertime vendors in attendance. But this photo (of organic farm Norwich Garden’s insulated tent-stall) is a pretty typical shot: it’s pretty much all root vegetables and tubers nowadays, where it’s not apples. And it’s apples almost everywhere. So it’s not much of a haul, but it was a welcome excursion for a work-free Saturday.

Hot and fresh out the kitchen:
1 ½ lbs. beets
1 ½ lbs. “Red Rose” potatoes
4 lbs. mixed bargain apples
½ lb. shallots
Total spent: $11

I also bought eggs from Northshire Farms, a maple syrup-sweetened lemon poppyseed muffin from Body & Soul which was very dense and had a not entirely unpleasant faint hint of Funfetti cake mix, and a gorgeous whole-wheat multi-grain boulé from Our Daily Bread with which I will spend the week making impractically-sized toast. Then I headed across the street to Whole Foods where I bought the greens, carrots, and other necessities our root-cellar of a market is currently lacking.

I’ll roast the beets and probably the potatoes (no doubt on separate occasions), and the apples I’ll make into applesauce, which will feature my new favorite spice to pair with apples: star anise. I know – daring! Nothing’s changed.