Thursday, March 10, 2011

You might call it phoning it in, but I call it I love The Awl

I just found this great Awl post from last fall about farmer's market fruits and vegetables "tasting like themselves." I felt the exact same way when I first tasted local New York State grapes - nothing short of revelatory. And the grape jelly I made from them! Lordy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Inexplicable spinach cravings.

Since I've mostly given up cheese, I no longer love spinach (nutrition-dork brain wonders if it's because of my body wanting dairy to counteract the calcium-infringing action of the oxalic acid), but this non-gratin gratin from Smitten Kitchen makes me want both.

And while I am not a fan of the "creating chips out of greens" trend, I like the idea with spinach, which wouldn't be fibrous or chewy or weird - and these look lovely.

Usually, spinach just seems noncommital to me - it cooks quickly, but it's bland. When I want a quick-cooking green, I generally choose mustard greens, whose antioxidant compounds fairly scream to make their presence known in its spicy flavor. But maybe it's time to rethink spinach?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Steady Diet of Nothing: The Road to Health

The wonderful and amazing Molly put together this SXSW panel, and invited me to be involved! I'm honored to be in such great company. Word to the Austin-bound: be there Thursday! I'm also going to blog photos of every taco I eat in Austin.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The green smoothie, 2011 style

Whether it was Mercury in retrograde, the continuing depressive contribution of an especially trying winter, or turning 31, the first few weeks of 2011 were rough, people. The energy was that of scratching one’s way through an increasingly narrow tunnel through the dirt.

Worse, I ended up with crippling late-night abdominal pain, the result of an infection, and took antibiotics for the first time in about seven years. To me, the girl who prides herself on an immune system of steel, this was a bit of a wake-up call. I re-quit coffee, decided to go on a two-week alcohol-free vegan diet, and dusted off the old Vita-Mix to reintroduce green smoothies into my life.

But these are not the yogurt-and-berry breakfast-in-a-glass concoctions of the past – these are lean and streamlined, for someone who doesn’t fear the grassiness of raw greens or the grainy texture of flax. One cup of local apple juice or cranberry-apple juice, about a cup of raw kale leaves, a half-cup of parsley, and one tablespoon freshly-ground flax seed, liquefied in my darling machine.

Raw kale we know: it’s full of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, etc. Parsley is the overlooked nutritional powerhouse in this equation: astounding amounts of vitamin K in addition the expected A and C, as well as good levels of iron and folate; and the volatile oils and flavonoids that give parsley its vibrant, grassy piquancy are especially anti-carcinogenic and blood-cleansing. And, of course, the flax provides yet more fiber and most of a day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m not exaggerating to say that bringing green smoothies back into my life felt like coming home again. While I’ve cleaned up my act in other ways (though I've gone back to coffee), I can trace my morning exuberance directly to that cup-and-a-half of chlorophyll-laden freshness. Green smoothie for president!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

New love: purple potatoes

Until recently, I’d never given purple potatoes much thought. I don’t regularly buy potatoes, and when I do, I (naturally) tend toward yellow-fleshed carola, “the potato-lover’s potato”.

But something struck me the last time I was at the market, that somehow I’d failed to realize: purple potatoes are full of anthocyanins! That’s what makes them purple! Since I’m a sucker for phytonutrients, I’ve decided it’s "all blue" all the time, for me. Their flesh is a bit on the dry side, but since I use them exclusively for olive-oil soaked oven-roasted potatoes (with plenty of sea salt, pimentón, and a dash of cayenne), that doesn’t matter.

Mostly, it makes me feel better than usual about eating potatoes. Because…anthocyanins! Preventing cancer! By eating potatoes!

Friday, March 04, 2011

What have I been doing all these months, anyway? (A roundup)

Let’s see: happy hour, going to the gym, eating fried chicken, and general idleness. Oh! And, as I've mentioned, writing for the ReadyMade food blog.

Here are links to some of my favorites of the vegetable-related posts I’ve written for them:

In which I resolve to eat greens for breakfast, and share ideas for same.

A double-quick, light dinner: pasta topped with crimini mushrooms in shallot and wine sauce.

Fridge-pickled cabbage slaw – this stuff is great.

Party menu!

I love tacos the most.

And a few ideas for one of my very favorites, broccoli rabe.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Toward the perfect beet slaw

While I've discussed my affection for beet slaw in the past, my relationship to the stuff has since escalated into somewhat of an obsession. For the past month, I've been whipping up a huge batch of slaw every week, and eating a good helping every day with lunch or dinner; the vinegar, salt, and spices ensure it keeps well in the fridge, and the flavor improves with time. (On a related note: remind me never to go back in time to before I had a food processor, k?)

This slaw is especially great to have on hand in the winter, when tasty raw vegetables can be few and far between. And if you happen to have an overnight guest (don't judge me), serve this slaw alongside the obligatory omelet for an impressive late breakfast.

Now that I've made half a dozen or so batches of the stuff, I've finally got a recipe I think is good enough to share. This slaw is a little spicy from the mustard, naturally sweet from the beets, with a great puckery tang from the lemon and vinegar. Don't be tempted to omit the raw shallot/red onion - it's key to keeping things interesting here.

This isn't a good recipe to attempt if you have a hand-modeling gig later in the afternoon, but it would be totally fine to make the same day as you're planning to dye your hair with Manic Panic, or possibly work on your car.

NB: This isn't one of those "serve this to the beet-haters in your family - it'll convert them!" recipes. You should seriously like beets to go down this road. My mom and President Obama: this isn't for you.

Best Beet Slaw

2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion or 2 shallots (will yield 1/2 cup sliced)
3-4 large beets, peeled (will yield 6-7 cups shredded)
agave nectar to taste, optional

1. Put on an apron, preferably a full apron, but if you wear a cute half-apron like I do, cinch that thing right up around your natural waist for maximum coverage (plus: flattering!)
2. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil into vinegar mixture slowly in a thin stream, and whisk until emulsified. Set dressing aside.
3. I'm serious about the apron thing. Do it. Things are going to get seriously messy.
4. Cut up beets into manageable pieces and shred on the larger shred side of your food processor. Do that thing where you futilely try to get it to shred those weird pieces that get stuck on the top of the disc a couple of times, then give up on them.
6. Ok, fine, go ahead and make the Macbeth joke, we know you're dying to.
What, will these little hands ne'er be clean?

5. Slice onion/shallots in half around the equator and slice on your mandoline's thinnest setting. Totally use the hand guard, because you always do, right? Safety first, that's your motto.
6. Toss shredded beets with onion slices in a large bowl. The onions tend to clump when sliced so thinly, so use your hands for this.
7. Give the dressing a quick stir to make sure it hasn't settled, and pour over beet/onion mixture. Fold until evenly distributed.
8. Let slaw sit for an hour or two (during which time: clean up! - sorry), adjust seasonings (adding agave to taste if your beets aren't quite sweet enough), and serve.

The aftermath

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


You should follow erstwhile Minimalist Mark Bittman on Twitter, less for his recipes (which I've never loved) than for his well-curated up-to-the-minute links highlighting food political issues.

Yesterday, he posted this link to a Reuters piece about plant pathologist Don Huber's recent "emergency" warning to Ag Secretary Vilsack about a newly discovered pathogen affecting fertility in animals, that he's linked to a primary ingredient in Roundup. Fingers crossed Vilsack pays attention...I suppose it's too much to hope the mainstream media will.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why, hello there

What's six months between friends?

I'm currently wrangling a relaunch of this dear Produce Stories, and I thought, what better time to start than when I can self-coerce into following the horrifically named NaBloPomo?

But meanwhile, here's a link to a series of Ready Made posts, in which I made all my meals for a week out of the same 12 ingredients. (I got really good at listing them off the top of my head as people asked, and now I've got this, sadly useless, memorized: eggs-bacon-lentils-collards-broccoli-onions-carrots-apples-almonds-mushrooms-brown rice-sweet potatoes).

The best product of the whole experience was this recipe for sweet potato/green apple/coriander soup - it's one of the tastiest, simplest recipes I've concocted in some time: the tart apple complements the potato's vegetal sweetness, and the freshly-ground toasted coriander lends the whole thing a floral, citrusy backdrop. It's almost refreshing, but it's creamy and filling. This will definitely be in regular rotation.

Oh! And I've added a link to all my ReadyMade posts in the sidebar, just to be thorough.

More soon...tomorrow, even!