Category Archives: Food & Flowers

The Friendly Breakfast Bap

How could this be? I forgot all about baps, once my favorite little roll, until a friend wrote saying how she use to relish the breakfast baps at Café Escalera years ago. Hardly anyone came for breakfast but a few diehards, even though I managed get out warm baps practically before sun-up. I thank her profusely for prodding my memory of those tender, yeasty rolls. They were the perfect breakfast bread and they certainly cheap oakley provided one of the nicest way to greet the day—golden round baps, warm from the oven, tender inside but crusty outside, a saucer of homemade jam along side, maybe some thin slices of a good cheddar, a bowl of coffee. Indeed, a good breakfast. Plus “bap” is such a funny, odd word, and fun to say.

Marion Cunningham told me about baps years ago. She loved them, too, and thought they were indeed the just about perfect for breakfast, although she thought many things were, in fact, perfect for breakfast. She included a recipe in her little masterpiece, The Breakfast Book, saying in her head note, “This is the Scot’s breakfast roll. Crisp-crusted, soft-centered, and well buttered, a friendlier roll you’ll never meet.”

Imagine. A friendly roll. That’s so Marion. And it is true of baps.

And I think a friendly roll might be just what’s needed right now.  January is always a long hard month. It’s too cold to be lured by the seed catalogues (minus-1 yesterday morning!). Our tea-party governor’s address to New Mexico doesn’t cheer, nor does the NRA. I’m tired of food and thinking http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ about food and almost even cooking, except, now that baps have been brought up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll make up a batch. Not today, but maybe tomorrow. I’m out of yeast and they call for a lot.

Baps are not only friendly, but, as Marion pointed out, they’re Scottish—and that’s my heritage, at least in part, and my husband’s in full. No wonder I was once especially keen on baps—it’s genetic. But I don’t believe you have to have a drop of Scottish ancestry to enjoy these little rolls. (Plus I never saw them in Scotland when I went there.)

Here is Marion’s recipe. She calls for lard, for it’s good “barny” taste, so if you use it, do here. Otherwise, sneak in some salty Irish Kerrygold butter. Serve them warm with that special jam you’ve been saving and saving. If you’ve got the winter blues, now just might be the time

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup warm water

3 (yes!) packages dried yeast, but cut back if you want to (I do at 7000 feet altitude)

4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup lard or soft butter

½ cup warm milk

1/ cup warm water

Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkled over the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a larger bowl mix together the flour and salt and rub in the lard or butter. Add the now bubbling yeast, the milk and water and mix together with your hands to get a soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Divide into l6 pieces and shape into a ball. Put the balls on a greased sheet pan and set them aside to rise for 30 minutes while the oven warms.

Heat the oven to 400’F and bake the baps until golden brown. (I brush mine with a beaten egg, but you don’t have to.) Serve them hot from the oven. The picture is cheap oakley irrelevant, but meant to say that one day summer will be here.

Imaginary flower

Imaginary flower

The Chard Among the Goosefoots

The goosefoot family of plants, the chenopodiaceae, is one we’re all pretty familiar with even if we don’t know its longish name.  It includes spinach, beets, and chard, but also a host of edible wild (and cultivated) plants collectively known as “quelites”.  Among them are lambs quarters, magentaspreen, orach, pigweed, and the cultivar, Good King Henry.  Quinoa and huanzontle also reside here, as do a number of wild desert plants, like Four Wing Saltbush.  All have masses of small edible seeds. Some, like huanzontle, are eaten while they’re still in their flower form. Others, like quinoa, are eaten once the seeds have formed and dried. Some of these are amaranths which used to be botanically closer but are still pretty similar in some respects, especially taste. Below is a bouquet of amaranths from a farmers market in Arlington, MA.

Amaranths from the farmers market

One botany book of mine succinctly sums up the goosefoots as a group of rank and weedy plants, which some clearly are. Epazote, the only herb in the family, certainly could be described that way, as can a number of the wild goosefoots that grow around my neighborhood. When I note the summer pollen index in the morning paper, much of it is due to the “chenopods”, the wild weedy ones just going to flower in June

But why goosefoot? Because the leaves are supposedly the shape of a goose’s foot. And they are, sort of. And how do I know? While visiting a u-pick berry farm in the Cuyahoga National Park, a small flock of geese had gathered behind a fence. As my friend and I approached their enclosure they ran Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo towards us, their long necks outstretched, hissing with unbridled menace because while we were proper visitors to the farm, in their eyes we were also likely to be thieves. I asked the farmer if he’d be willing to pick up a goose and show me its foot so I could see its shape. He did so, thrusting a big, orange leathery-looking claw-like appendage in my face. It was a powerful looking foot, but its shape was both broader and simpler than I had expected. It didn’t match up exactly with the shape of the leaves in this family, although it did roughly enough.  This webbed foot was rather broad and many goosefoot leaves like spinach and chard, are narrow.  Maybe some geese have narrower feet? Still, it is possible to see the resemblance, especially when you think of other leaves in other families that have absolutely no similarity, like artichokes and salsify, two members of the daisy family.

Aside from the one herb, the seeds and the beetroot, the edible parts of this family consist mostly of leafy greens (also reds purples, and magentas), tender leaves that are edible raw when young, cooked when older, and highly nutritious at any stage. There are not nearly as many edibles as in other families, like the cruciferous (cabbage) family or the solanaceae (tomatoes, potaotes, eggplant), but they are all easy to prepare, not difficult to grown, and they pair well with one another in all sorts of ways. The greens of these various plants are essentially interchangeable and taste very much the same, the wild ones being somewhat stronger.

Among them, I’m partial to chard.  It grows pretty much easily everywhere. It yields edible stalks as well as extremely handsome leaves. Just the appearance those thick leaves with their bubbled surfaces, not to mention the translucent golden, rose and purple stems of the rainbow variety, make my mouth water, even though chard isn’t as exciting as, say, mustard greens or broccoli raab. It is, however, ever reliable, useful, and can be prepared in all sorts of ways. Just steaming or braising the leaves until they’re tender, then turning maglie calcio poco prezzo them in some good olive oil, sea salt and pepper flakes is a simple act that goes far in the taste department. Chard is always compatible with lentils (in a soup) and potatoes (added to boiled ones or a mash.)  My favorite frittata, the Provencale trouchia, is based on slowly cooked chard and onions with basil. Another dish I never tired of is chard cooked leisurely in its own moisture with a few tablespoons of rice and a lot of cilantro, cumin and garlic. You don’t end up with a lot, but the few bites you get are intensely satisfying. Chard can also serve as somewhat neutral but bulk-supplying element when cooked in a soup with stronger tasting but less substantial greens, such as sorrel, nettles, and lovage. It can stuff a crepe or nestle into a lasagna. The combination of eggplant and chard is oddly meaty. The leaves can also be used to harbor fillings. And on and on.

Rainbow chard

All in all chard is an extremely useful green that can be led in this and that direction depending on its herb or spice companions. And you know what else you can do with it?  You can put the leaves in a vase and put them on the table to admire for a day, then cook it. Here’s a recipe from my work in progress, “Vegetable Literacy”.

Chard, Ricotta and Saffron Cakes with Micro Greens Makes 12 3-inch cakes

These can serve as a tidy little nibble for a pass-around, made slightly larger for a first course, or large still for a vegetable main course.

Enough chard to make 10 to 12 cups trimmed leaves

2 pinches saffron threads

1 cup white whole -wheat pastry flour or spelt flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 farm eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ cup whole milk

3 tablespoons olive oil or ghee

Thick yogurt or sour cream and micro greens

Wash the leaves and cook them in a covered pot until they are wilted and tender but not overcooked, so keep an eye on them and taste them frequently once they’ve wilted. When done, put the greens in a colander and set them aside to cool and drain.

Cover the saffron threads with 2 tablespoons boiling water and set aside.

In one bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. In another bowl, mix the ricotta, cheese, eggs and milk together. Add the oil, butter and steeped saffron threads, then whisk in the flour mixture.

Returning to the greens, squeeze out as much water as possible, then chop them finely and stir them into the batter.

Heat a pan with olive oil, ghee or butter.  Drop batter onto the pan, making small or larger cakes as you wish, and cook over medium-low heat. The batter is quite thick and it will not Cheap NFL Jerseys behave exactly like a pancake.  You need to give it plenty of time in the pan and it will still be very moist. Cook over moderate heat until golden on the bottom, then turn the cakes once, resisting any urge to pat them down, and cook until the second side is also well-colored.  Serve each with a spoonful of sour cream and a garnish of micro greens.

 


Two Long Roots: Salsify and Scoroznera

A friend came to visit one Thanksgiving bearing a gift of carefully wrapped salsify roots she got in her Wisconsin CSA box.  She brought them because she had no idea what they were, much less what to do with them.   Unfortunately I didn’t have a great deal of experience with them myself. Salsify and its black-skinned relation, scorzonera, have long been out of fashion although both were popular in colonial gardens.

You pretty much have to grow these vegetables yourself if you want to know what they are. Salsify, I know from experience, is easy to grow. I don’t know yet about scorzonera. You scatter the large seeds on top of the soil instead of burying them and they soon put down roots and begin to make plants and grass-like leaves that are striking when they move in the wind. Several months later you should have roots. Mine were ready in the http://www.raybanoutletes.com/ fall, but I wasn’t ready for them so I left the roots in the ground and nearly forgot about them until early February when those long leaves on the ground jarred my memory. I got my fork and dug them up. As you can see, they’re pretty gnarly looking. Each root is covered with a thicket of smaller ones, which give it its other name, goat’s beard. It’s also called oyster plant because many say that when cooked, it tastes (faintly) of oysters.  I’ve never found this to be true, but when I unearthed my crop I broke off one of its side roots and inhaled the main root where it was torn. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I detected a whiff of the sea – faintly briny and fresh.

Salsify roots freshly pulled from the winter garden

Unlike the pale-skinned salsify, the black scorzonera root is smoother and longer. Both roots are white inside and, like many members of the daisy family, have a tendency to darken unless plunged immediately into a bath of acidulated water. The two can be used interchangeably. Like lettuce, the roots of salsify, when broken, release a milky substance, and like chicory roots and Jerusalem artichokes, they contain inulin, which is good for controlling blood sugar and providing a pleasing sensation in the mouth, maybe a sensation that resembles an oyster. As for varieties, there are not besides Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify and Black Giant Russian Scorzonera, except in the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook where there are several varieties of each. The paucity of choice indicates only a mild interest in either plant from breeders. I believe there are more varieties of rutabagas than oyster plants, a vegetable that is the favorite of very few.

The roots of both plants, once scrubbed and peeled, can be steamed, braised, included in soups and stews, mashed, baked in gratins or dressed like salads. Young salsify roots can  (apparently) be eaten raw in salads as can the tender greens, or grated and made into little fritters. Both roots, however, are extremely mild which means that either more robust flavors need to be introduced to make them more interesting, or the accompanying ingredients need be delicate and complimentary. The few times I’ve had possession of either vegetable I’ve enjoyed Gafas Ray Ban outlet them steamed then finished in brown butter with breadcrumbs, a rather classic treatment of vegetables on the whole.  But then, what’s not good with brown butter and toasted breadcrumbs? More can be done and would be, if we saw these vegetables more often. If you are at a loss as to what to do with salsify and scorzonera, use them as you would carrots or parsnips or, as one seed catalogue suggests, treat them like asparagus. Or try this Salsify Chowder.

Thinking of the oyster-seafood connection, I thought of chowder, then I thought of corn but not frozen. Instead I used freeze-dried corn, which I’m currently intrigued with. They dehydrate into actual corn-flavored kernels.

If you prefer not to eat dairy, omit it. Make a stock from the leek trimmings and potato peels and use that, or chicken stock. If you really like dairy, decrease the water by 1 cup and replace it with milk or even half-and-half. If you’re in between, you might want to use 2% milk. It will be more of a pale white than creamy looking, but it will still taste good.

Winter Chowder of Salsify and Dried Corn                                                      Serves 4

2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar

1 to 1 ½ pounds salsify or scorzanera

1 small onion or 1 large leek, the white part, diced, enough for 1 cup

2 celery stalks, peeled if need be, and diced

2 or 3 yellow fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, about 12 ounces, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

sea salt

½ cup freeze dried corn

1 cup whole milk

a little finely chopped parsley or tarragon to finish

freshly ground white pepper

Put the lemon juice in a bowl with the water. Scrub, then peel the roots one at a time, slice them into ½ inch rounds or chunks and immediately put them in the acidulated water.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables. Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, celery, potatoes, then the salsify.  Give a stir to coat everything with the butter, then cook over Ray Ban outlet medium heat for about 5 minutes. Season with 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, add the corn followed by 3 cups water or stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, Covered, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Puree two cups of the vegetables with the milk and additional liquid from the soup if need be, and return it to the soup. Taste for salt. Serve with a bit of fine green herb in each bowl and freshly ground white pepper.

Like many soups, this is even better the next day.

Koroneiki: From Tree to Table

I grew up around olive trees and my brother, Mike, makes olive oil in California. As kids he once convinced me to eat a raw Mission olive, saying it was just like those in the can, only free because you could just pick it. You only fall for that one once because there is nothing more unpleasant than an olive http://www.raybani.com/ right off the tree. Something has to be done with them. Like turning them into oil.

At the gorgeous Westin resort in Costa Navarino, Greece (the lush green area of Messinia) olive trees are innumerable. About 7,000 of them were transplanted to the resort when a reservoir was dug not far away. (All but 3 survived.) Many of them are fairly young while others are old and venerable.

DSC02403

The variety is Koroneiki, a modest tree that produces very small olives that are harvested green and transformed into a lively, pungent oil. (The city of Kalamata is not far from the resort, so Kalamata olives grow in the area too, but those big meaty fruits are for eating, not pressing into oil.)

My brother grows some Koroneiki olives and presses them as a single varietal. His trees are many but his crop is small. “You think you’re picking a lot, but they’re so small they’re never as many as you want,” he says, something that was corroborated during my recent visit to Costa Navarino..

October is when the harvest starts and I was fortunate to witness its beginning. Rather than picking the olives from the branches, as my brother does, the trees were first pruned of their large branches, then beaten to release the olives onto the nets on the ground.  It takes a strong motion of your whole Ray Ban outlet arm to separate the olives from their branches; they’re too green to come off voluntarily. Although it looks easy, it’s not, and I speak from experience for I gave it try.  Once the trees are well picked, the larger branches are tossed aside, smaller clumps of leaves deftly picked out by the workers, the olives are poured form their net into sacks, then off they go to the mill.

DSC02350

I got to tag along for the next part, their transformation into a golden green elixir. Time is of great importance when it comes to making oil. If the olives aren’t pressed within 24 hours (and preferably sooner), they begin to deteriorate and rancidity sets in, so there’s a definite sense of urgency. As soon as the olives were picked, packed and loaded into a pick-up, we drove through the hilly green countryside up to the mill where they were immediately unloaded, washed, cleansed of any remaining leaves, then crushed to a paste.

DSC02367

In less than an hour, a river of green oil began to gush out of a pipe, an amazing site to see if you’ve only dealt with drizzles from a bottle. Even better was having the chance to taste this just-pressed olive over bread that had been grilled over the coals. This is an experience I hope everyone can experience. It has nothing to do with this business of being served a dish of olive oil with your bread in a restaurant. This is oil in its most pristine form, and from this point on, some say, it’s all down hill. But fortunately it’s a gentle slope. You have about a year to enjoy the oil. It is packed in a can, which makes it safe to carry home. (Helpfully, the oil and other products from Costa Navarino, are now available through Dean and DeLuca.)

DSC02384

This beautiful oil is produced, cooked with, eaten and sold at the resort. Its green and grassy flavors play perfectly with the vegetables that are also grown there. Add to the oil and produce the Greek varietal wines that are offered and I found I was eating in a way where the taste of terroir is absolutely vibrant.  I have excellent Greek cookbooks that I use, vegetables from my garden, access to homegrown Koroneiki olive oil and excellent wines, but they all add up differently somehow, good, but subtly different, the Greek version being possibly more intense, saltier, wilder. This is one reason why it’s so valuable to travel and eat food and drink wine from its place of origin. But I have to admit that today, that authentic experience can be hard to find. Cost is more a determinant than Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet locale, just as it is here, and not everything is as indigenous as we’d like to think. But at Costa Navarino there is an unusual commitment to local foods and traditional ones as well, not only their olive oil, but also their vinegar, sea salt, jewels of spoon sweets, olive oil biscuits, Kalamata olives in a wine syrup and other exceptionally fine foods that show up at the resort in a variety of ways. That you can spend days in blissful comfort gazing at the Ionian sea plus eat well in a resort that presses and uses its own oil is rare indeed, but it certainly makes for a more delicious and interesting world that such an effort has been made at Costa Navarino.

Koronecki: From Tree to Table

I grew up around olive trees and my brother, Mike, makes olive oil in California. As kids he once convinced me to eat a raw Mission olive, saying it was just like those in the can, only free. You only fall for that one once because there is nothing more unpleasant than olives right off the tree. Something has to be done with them. Like turning them into oil.

Olive trees are innumerable at the gorgeous Westin resort at Costa Navarino,Greece  (www.costanavarino.com) the lush green area of Messinia. About 7,000 of them were transplanted to the http://www.raybanoutletes.com/ resort when a reservoir was dug not far away. (All but 3 survived.) Many of them are fairly young while others are old and venerable.  The variety is Koronecki, a modest tree that produces very small olives that are harvested green and transformed into a lively, pungent oil. (The city of Kalamata is not far from the resort, so Kalamata olives grow in the area too, but those big meaty fruits are for eating, not pressing into oil.)

My brother grows some Koronecki olives and presses them as a single varietal. His trees are many but his crop is small. “You think you’re picking a lot, but they’re so small they’re never as many as you want,” he says, something that was corroborated during my recent visit to Costa Navarino.

Harvesters at Costa Navorino

October is when the harvest starts and I was fortunate to witness its beginning. Rather than picking the olives from the branches, as my brother does, the trees were first pruned of their large branches, then beaten to release the olives onto the nets on the ground.  It takes a strong motion of your Gafas Ray Ban outlet whole arm to separate the olives from their branches; they’re too green to come off voluntarily. Although it looks easy, it’s not, and I speak from experience for I gave it try.  Once the trees are well picked, the larger branches are tossed aside, smaller clumps of leaves deftly picked out by the workers, the olives are poured form their net into sacks, then off they go to the mill.

I got to tag along for the next part, their transformation into a golden green elixir. Time is of great importance when it comes to making oil. If the olives aren’t pressed within 24 hours (and preferably sooner), they begin to deteriorate and rancidity sets in, so there’s a definite sense of urgency. As soon as the olives were picked, packed and loaded into a pick-up, we drove through the hilly green countryside up to the mill where they were immediately unloaded, washed, cleansed of any remaining leaves, then crushed to a paste.

DSC02367

In less than an hour, a river of green oil began to gush out of a pipe, an amazing sight to see if you’ve only dealt with drizzles from a bottle. Even better was having the chance to taste this just-pressed olive over bread that had been grilled over the coals. This is an experience I hope everyone can experience. It has nothing to do with this business of being served a dish of olive oil with your bread in a restaurant. This is oil in its most pristine form, and from this point on, some say, it’s all down hill. But fortunately it’s a gentle slope. You have about a year to enjoy the oil, plus it’s packed in a can, which makes it safe to carry home.

pipe

This beautiful oil is produced, cooked with, eaten and sold at the resort. Its green and grassy flavors play perfectly with the vegetables that are also grown there. Add to the oil and produce the Greek varietal wines that are offered and I found I was eating in a way where the taste of terroir is absolutely vibrant.  I have many Greek cookbooks I cook from, access to homegrown Koronecki olive oil and excellent wines, but they all add up differently somehow. This is one reason why it’s so valuable to travel and eat food and drink wine Ray Ban outlet from its place. But even with travel that authentic experience can be hard to find. Cost is more a determinant than locale, just as it is here, and not everything is as indigenous as we’d like to think. But at Costa Navarino there is an unusual commitment to local foods and traditional ones as well, not only their olive oil, but also their vinegar, sea salt, amazing spoon sweets, olive oil biscuits and other exceptional foods. Where else can you go to a resort that presses then uses its own oil, I don’t know, but it certainly makes for a more delicious and interesting world that such an effort has been made at Costa Navarino.

Keep the Meal and Take a Hike

2. Bourbon Red

This is the time of year all the health magazines come out with suggestions for lighter pumpkin pies, non-caloric mashed potatoes, creamed onions without the cream and the like.  That’s fine, I guess, but when I was asked to contribute some suggestions for “healthier” holiday recipes for an article, I found I wasn’t so keen on the idea of lightening up my holiday dinner. But I did have another idea about feast days.

I guess I just don’t see Thanksgiving dinner as the cholesterol-laden threat of excess that others do.  In fact, I rather enjoy these meals that are larger than what’s needed to satisfy hunger, the groaning board laden with dishes often contributed by friends who have brought their favorites, dishes that they’ve gone to some extra trouble and care over. A table might showcase a parade of local foods that far outnumber what you’d http://www.veridianinc.com cook on any other Thursday. Or maybe it’s time for those foods without which Thanksgiving wouldn’t be that. They may be rich, silly, sentimental good or even questionable, but whatever they are, they’re probably dishes we don’t normally make and there’s something about foods that appear only once —maybe twice— a year. They’re special. Since we don’t eat like this all the time can’t we lighten up our fears instead of our food? It’s a holiday, after all!

A number of years ago when we were all new to e-mail, several chef friends and I planned a Christmas dinner we would share in Los Angeles. It turned out to be quite a challenge because one couldn’t imagine Christmas without oysters; another was allergic to them, but had to have Blue Lake beans. Were green beans really in season? “Yes!” said one of the west coasters so, yes, green beans were in.  What about the main course? Turkey? Crown roast? Ham? Did it have to one? Could it be another? What about the vegetarians? Some were flexible, others weren’t. But we all had dishes that were must-haves, and of course, everyone wanted to contribute those favorite Christmas desserts. We ended up with 10 appetizers, an enormous meal, and there were probably a dozen desserts—plus champagne, wine, chocolates, nuts, tangerines, and more.  It was truly excessive but it was much more memorable than a balanced, low-fat meal even though I recall vowing I would never again choose to be this full in my life.

But then, there as a beach right outside our motel, which leads me to my present take on this whole business of turning holiday meals away from excess to moderation. How about adding another element and leaving the food alone?

Our family used to take long walks in the  cold and return hungry and ready for dinner. As long as the oven was actually turned on (a few times it wasn’t) it worked out well. We’d come in cold and hungry to a house that smelled delicious, our anticipation high.  When I spent a Christmas in Norway a few years ago, the succession of big meals (and I do mean big, rich fatty ones) was broken by several hours of cross-country skiing in between. All the maglie calcio poco prezzo huffing and puffing under the light of clear moon in that Norwegian winter dusk was both a pleasure and a life saver. And if hiking and cross country skiing aren’t your activities, there’s always tennis, touch football, volleyball, Ping-Pong. Even raking leaves. Whatever it is, forget the treadmill and do something outdoors, with friends.

Sometime it’s not the meal that’s a problem as the leftovers. While leftovers are of course one of the best things about Thanksgiving, you might consider not making so many candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies that you find yourself eating them for a week. Maybe make enough for one extra meal and leave it at that. You probably really don’t need more leftovers than will fit in the fridge. Better to share the wealth or just have less to start with. And if you’re going to have turkey, skip the corn-fed factory-farmed birds for their sakes and yours, and find a local one, maybe a heritage breed. They’re smaller, but far tastier and far better bred.

A Gorgeous CabbageI will add this thought, though.  If you’ve generally changed how you eat, say you don’t Cheap NFL Jerseys make desserts anymore, cream hardly ever shows up in your kitchen and you barely remember sugar, then some of those old dishes, like real creamed onions and my beloved candied sweet potatoes may not have quite the appeal they used to. I mean, it’s a possibility your tastes have changed and if that’s the case, cook what you like to eat. In any case, cook what you like to eat, banish guilt, and above all, enjoy your Thanksgiving!

New and Different at the Farmers’ Market: Grain

A writer asked me the other day what I was noticing that was different in the farmers’ market this season.  She gave me an example: one chef she had spoken to was thrilled about finding pig’s ears in his farmers market. I can’t say I’m in search of pig’s ears myself, but I have noticed some new items creeping into markets that I’m very happy to see, and that is grain.

In our Santa Fe farmers’ market a baker is selling bags of local wheat milled nearby—nutty whole-wheat flour with flakes of bran throughout. This comes from the effort on the part of the baker and others to revive wheat growing in Northern New Mexico and we’ve been fortunate to have bread made with Ray Ban outlet native wheat for the past few years. But a 5-pound sack?  This is new. We also have corn meal, both blue and yellow, that’s rough and gritty and truly redolent of corn. It makes a terrific cornbread and is more interesting than most of even the good corn meals you can buy.

A few weeks ago in Davis, California, Massa Organics had not only their organic brown rice, but also wheat, wheat berries, and an amazingly sublime jar of almond butter made from their organic almonds. They sell at a number of farmers’ markets in Northern California and I always buy their rice when I have the chance to because it is organic and also because I like the family and appreciate what they’re doing. Does it taste radically different?  It’s good, maybe better than most. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it the nuttiest, sweetest, sexiest brown rice ever.”

I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I do treasure every nutty little grain, sexy or not. As for their almond butter, (now that’s sexy!) you could serve a teaspoon for dessert ray ban baratas and probably get away with it. And if you left the jar on the table, it would be gone within the hour. With crunchy bits of almonds laced throughout the creamy almond butter base, Massa’s almond butter goes far beyond any other I’ve tasted for sheer goodness, and I’ve sampled a lot of almond butters. It’s pricey and worth it. (You can order all their products via their website massaorganics.com.)

Near Portland, Oregon, Anthony Boutard grows and sells his frikeh (parched green wheat) at the Hillsdale farmers

market, corn meal and polenta made from Royal Calais Flint Corn, and very good Amish butter popcorn. The kernels look like little pearls. Popcorn isn’t that new to farmers markets –I’ve seen it sold shucked and still on the ears from Chicago to Ithaca – but Anthony also mills some of the Amish butter kernels into an aromatic flour that makes delectable cakes and corn breads.

I have also seen quinoa for sale (and the greens) in Colorado as well as wheat bran, and other wheat flours in markets around the country. The interviewer told me that she saw bags of wheat —Red Fife, I imagined and she thought it was, too—in Seattle recently at the farmers market section of Pike’s Place market.

Those of us who still bake and believe in the goodness of well-grown whole grains find the appearance of locally grown grains in our markets a boon.  They truly are a pleasure to Gafas Ray Ban outlet bake with. They are more flavorful than most and are not bromated or fumigated, which means the grains and flours are alive and prone to provide a home for moths unless kept in the freezer. So if you find grains and flours in your market, stash them away in the cold, but try not to forget about them.

I’d love to know what you readers have seen in your farmers markets that depart from the usual good vegetables, meats and eggs, and of course, fruits that are actually ripe and truly delicious. Drop a line and let me know if you can —and many thanks if you do!

When Flowers Trump Food

People sometimes speak the interference a woman’s perfume can run with the flavors of food, and then there’s the matter of cigarette and cigar smoke concealing the tastes and aroma of a meal. But what about flowers? While they most certainly grace a dinner table, they can be distracting to the point of taking over—and not just because of their fragrance.

My brother grows flowers. One spring he gave my mother a dozen peonies to take to a Seder. Now peonies are picked when the buds are so small you might well doubt that they will open to their full potential. But they do—and fairly quickly once they’ve reached a certain point. My mother was a doubter and she tossed the peonies in the sink— an inadequate gift.  But at the last minute she had a change of heart, gathered them up and Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo brought them to her host who set them on the table. Just as my brother knew would happen, they opened during the long course of the Seder. Between readings and sips of wine, the guests were unable to ignore the peonies, and they talked about them as the meal progressed and the crimson petals unfolded in the candlelight. Their scent, which is clean and elemental, does not interfere with food, but you cannot turn away from their bloom, which is so glorious with its rich layers of satin petals that they can distract one from the matters at hand, which are many during a Seder.

Twice I’ve been at dinners that were overtaken by another opening flower, a night blooming cereus.  On the first occasion we were the guests of a couple we were meeting for the first time, friends of friends, earthy, sophisticated farmers whose kitchen served in part as a greenhouse.  Before sitting down to dinner, Anthony pointed out an awkward looking plant and an odd, egg-shaped bud in the corner of the room. It had been swelling for over a week and was about to open. He promised it would be quite a treat.

Petals lay close to its body, like narrow strips of paper and about as impressive. There was a small opening about the size of pea at the distal end from which leaked a musky, tropical scent. As the bud slowly opened, the scent grew heavier and sweeter and it spilled into the room with increasing force. The petals began to lift and widen, the opening grew larger and larger.  And here we were, four strangers getting to know one another over a meal, but it was as if a dazzling slut had wandered into the room and sidled up to chat. It was impossible to ignore her company.

Anthony had cooked an unusual fava bean, harvested from a particularly rowdy row of miscellaneous vegetables, which he first toasted, then braised. Carol made a luscious slump, dumplings covering the fat Chester blackberries we’d been eating from the vine only hours earlier. There was more, too. The flower’s perfume http://www.magliettedacalcioit.com and the beans fiercely fought ffor attention, but the beans soon lost. The dinner conversation was jerky for it was interrupted each time one of us would glance over towards the flower and exclaim how much more open it was now! By the last glass of wine, the bloom was a starburst. Except for the beans and the slump, I can’t recall a thing we ate, but it must have been something good for Anthony is an exceptional grower of the most interesting edibles. It’s just that the flower took over.

night bloomer

A few months later we had a similar experience with a night blooming cereus and again, with a person we didn’t know, a prospective Greek teacher. This time, the plant was located in our bathroom. There were several plump buds and we were pretty sure this would be their night. We had tended these plants for many years, but this was the first time we had ever had the promise of a blossom. We were excited, although we knew from out experience with Anthony and Carol that the flower would be sure to disturb any conversation. But dinner was already in motion and you can’t tell a flower to bloom another time.

We sat down and just as before, the petals slowly lifted and peeled back while we ate and drank and tried to study the Greek alphabet. Although the plant was two rooms away, that tropical perfume was drifting into the kitchen in waves.  Every ten minutes or so one of us, including our guest, felt compelled to get up Cheap NFL Jerseys and check the flowers’ progress. It was during dessert, when the blooms went unwatched, that they opened fully. At that point we simply put down our forks, got up and all went into the bathroom and admired them.

The bathroom, you’ll have to admit, is an odd place to congregate with people you don’t know, but it didn’t matter. We were all smitten. And what was for dinner? I’ve no idea. The flower completely trumped whatever food we had enjoyed.