Category Archives: General

Color and Carrots

Mixed giant carrotsCarrots are on my mind for two reasons. One is that I keep unearthing giant monsters from my garden. The second is that I seem to have ordered 9 seed packets for different carrot varieties so I know it’s going to be a carrot year. I didn’t know that I liked carrots that much. It’s more that I wanted to learn the differences that distinguish different varieties from life rather than looking at a picture—their shapes, flavors, and colors.

Strange how important color can be in food. As a college Oakley Sunglasses cheap student I worked in a lab at UC Davis where ice creams were different colors than their flavors would suggest. We gave them to students to eat and asked them to identify the flavors, which they found very hard to do.  Banana isn’t usually green; pistachio isn’t pink, strawberry isn’t yellow. Without the colors in their right places, the tasters were stumped. We put colors and flavors together in very particular ways, it turns out, and with the ice cream flavors matched with their colors, there as no problem and much relief.  As kids, my brother, who worked for a different lab at UC Davis,and I thought it would be amusing to make blue mashed potatoes from the Peruvian tubers he was studying. We thought it would be fun because it would be off-putting, and it was. There aren’t a lot of blue foods, maybe for a reason. Except for blueberries and blue corn flour, blue does not invite one to dig in.

Which brings me back to carrots.

Even though lots of people are growing them and buying them, it seems a bit fussy to call for particular colors of carrots in a recipe. If I saw a recipe for a white carrot and cumin puree, I might think, “Oh? And what’s wrong with orange?”  But if white carrots are what you have, well, you give things a try.  I’ve http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ had a lot of them, very late harvest, gigantic white carrots that I keep finding buried in the ground. Naturally  I wondered what would happen if I made a white carrot soup. It would taste like carrot, but it wouldn’t look like carrot. Would my guests know what they were eating?

Garden writer, Leslie Land, who ate this soup, thought that blindfolded, one might guess that it was based on potato and something rooty. In fact, there was not potato (just a tablespoon of rice). She then put for the idea that flavor is associated with pigment and that orange carrots have more flavor—an idea she has promised to research the minute she gets home. It’s true—the flavor was not robust, though to me it was clearly carrot. But maybe because they were pretty old carrots was why they weren’t’ more carroty. The jury is still out on the flavor component.

I suspect that a white carrot soup can mess with your head. It tastes like carrot but looks like potato, parsnip, celery root, anything but carrot.  A soup made of yellow ones is less disturbing, slightly more carroty, and in fact, pretty and delicate to behold.  If you use those purple skinned orange cheap oakley carrots in a soup, though, you’ll end up with the ugliest brown soup you can imagine. I did that once and I couldn’t eat it. I couldn’t’ get past the color. But the flavor was amazing which suggests there might be something to Leslie’s theory.

I’ve been using my lighter colored carrots in an almond-carrot cake where they work beautifully, giving the cake a soft, rich golden hue instead of intermittent orange streaks.  I recently braised some yellow carrots with orange cores that I bought from Boggy Creek Farm in Austin, tossed them with coconut butter and lime and they were gorgeous (and quite worth eating). Roasted purple carrots mixed yellow, white, and a few orange ones are full of drama, but the inclusion of the orange fellows lets you know that you’re eating carrots. Going back to the soup, I thought that a very fine dice of orange carrots plus the tender greens would be helpful, letting you know where you are in the vegetable world, and so I did just that.

DSC03143

Ivory Carrot Soup with A Fine Dice of Orange                                                      Makes about 5 cups

This is an extremely simple soup, intentionally so, as I was just going for the purity of color and flavor. Try it also with the pale yellow carrots, but not so much the purple skinned ones. They turn brown.

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 pound of white carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon raw white rice

sea salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

A sprig of thyme

4 cups water or light chicken stock

A few tablespoons finely diced orange (and/or other colored carrots, for garnish) plus some of the finer greens, chopped

Warm the butter and oil in a soup pot, add the onion, carrots, rice 1 teaspoon salt and sugar. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, turning everything occasionally.

Add one cup of the water or stock, cover the pan, turn down the heat, and cook while you heat the remaining three cups of liquid.  When hot, add it to the pot, maintain a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the thyme branch. Puree the soup. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Simmer the diced carrots in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then drain.

Scatter the diced carrots plus the minced greens over the surface of the soup just before serving.

Mouse Nibbles and High Winds

Despite the wind, putting on a jacket, grabbing a fork and going outside was actually easier than driving to the store, not to mention a better choice than burning up fossil fuel for some Jerusalem artichokes and a leek.

Our miserable windy spring weather has begun. On Leap Day, winds from our area turned into tornadoes in the mid-west. Here they were merely fierce, cold and loud, bringing sand and dust on their breath and doing a number on the cottonwood trees, pruning the live limbs over the dead ones. It’s not much fun to go out in this weather, but in the interest of being frugal as well as being curious, I did. I couldn’t resist prowling Ray Ban outlet around my beds to see what was there. I came back inside chilled, but with arms full— more hairy salsify roots, a few leeks, plenty of red skinned Walspinel Jerusalem artichokes and a few giant carrots, mostly white and pale yellow. I’m so amazed at how generous the garden has been given the neglect it’s endured since the fall. Plus it kindly stores my harvest for me, which is convenient since it won’t all fit (or last) in the refrigerator. And so I am grateful, too, and inspired to do better.

What’s interesting about cooking from a garden is that you just look at what you have and go from there.  Not that I don’t do that pretty much everyday regardless of where my food comes from, but the garden messes with your head in a different way than your well-mannered vegetables from the co-op do. It gives you a few salsify roots, maybe one burdock, a yellow carrot with mouse nibbles on it and a whole lot of white carrots. The leeks are too tough for the spring braised I’m hankering, but I’ve got to use them somehow. The bearded salsify I now regard as a bit of chore to deal—I see why it went out of favor— but there it is. (And a fresh package of seed is on the way!) I have one thin burdock root.  I wash the dirt off my collection, take the water outside for a peony, then stare at my harvest. Eventually a dish takes form.

In this case, it was a soup, which is always most forgiving when you’re faced with a bit of this and more of that. I thought it would go in one direction, but instead it went in two. I used the burdock, those red-skinned Jerusalem artichokes, the leeks, a few salsify roots, and some mushroom stock I had http://www.raybanoutletit.com/ made from a pound of forgotten funghi, plus a cup of home-made chicken stock. When I got all the vegetables trimmed, sliced and into the pot, I was taken aback by their forms and hues. They were gorgeous, their earth tones subdued and subtle.

JA, salsify, burdock soup

When I finished cooking the soup I was reluctant to puree it as intended, so I served the vegetables in their thin broth. That thinness was deceptive though, for the flavor from the roots was earthy and big and not too sweet. I added a pinch of truffle salt. I love that with weird roots. It was a light soup, good for the first course at dinner, with big surprising depth.

JA Soup unpureed

I pureed what was left, as I had intended in the first place. It was simple, beige and flecked with the skins of the sunchokes, but the flavors wandered around among the earthy, sweet but not too sweet natures of the roots. Truffle salt went on this one too.  No cream. Not only didn’t I have any, I didn’t want to dilute the flavor. No green, either, though sunflower sprouts would be good and right in the same family as the Ray Ban outlet Prezzi Jerusalem artichokes.  It looked dull, but then it surprised.  I did keep some vegetables intact plus added a few breadcrumbs for texture.

JA Soup with Breadcrumbs

I want to give you a really worked out recipe, but what I have is more of an approach. I know I can’t ask someone to go out and look for a salsify root, after all, or assume they have one growing in their back yard. Your soup will be fine without it. But do try the burdock – it’s a good partner with those sun chokes. And don’t be afraid of a soup that doesn’t look like much. The drama is really in the flavors – except that the cook gets another bit of drama when she looks in the pot early on and sees all those beautiful, odd vegetables.

Jerusalem Artichoke, Burdock and Salsify Soup with Truffle Oil                    Serves 6

(These are more-or-less amounts, as they can be in a soup.)

1 1/2  tablespoons sunflower seed oil

1 or 2 leeks, thinly sliced, or an onion, diced into ½-inch pieces, about one cup

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 small yellow-fleshed potato, peeled, quartered and sliced

1 white or yellow carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 burdock root, about 4 ounces peeled and sliced about 1/8-inch thick and covered immediately with water and a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice

1 salsify root, (should you have it) peeled, sliced in rounds and put in water with the burdock root

sea salt

41/2 cups, in all, chicken stock, mushroom stock, or water

1 tablespoon flour

Tuffle salt (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the leek or onion, Jerusalem artichoke, potato and carrot. Drain the burdock and salsify and add them to the pot. Turn immediately to coat with the oil. Sprinkle over 1 teapoon sea salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Add the 1 cup of the stock, cover the pan, and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, sprinkle over the flour then stir it in to the vegetables. Pour in the rest of the stock, bring to a boil then simmer, partially covered. Check after 15 minutes, take a taste, and make sure the burdock is sufficiently tender. If not simmer 10 minute more, or until it is to your liking.

Either serve the broth with the vegetables and a pinch of truffle salt. Or puree the soup.

If choosing the latter route, you might have to add extra liquid, which could be any of those you’ve used so far, or milk or a little light cream.  Taste for salt, consider a little pepper, and serve with or without the truffle salt.

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.

My Accidental Near-Vegan New Years Menu

The aftermath of the holidays seems to have produced more articles about becoming vegetarian or vegan whether for a day, a week, or a month than I remember seeing. I’ve even contributed to an article or two myself to the subject. And why not? It’s good to try something new.

I often make meals that could be called vegan, but I never think of them that way. It’s just how things turn out. But the idea of making a vegan meal for a dinner party isn’t something I’ve been much inclined to do. Again, sometimes it’s just how things turn out. It’s pretty much what happened when a friend wanted to give her husband a cooking class for Christmas. After reading The China Study the opera singer became a vegetarian. He already loved to cook, but his wife, who is not a vegetarian, thought a little instruction might be a good idea. And since we were friends, we thought we’d conclude with a dinner party.  And why not New Years? It was coming right up, after all.

In our class I wanted to show my student tricks and techniques, specific recipes, winter vegetables, and introduce him to a passel of different oils and vinegars plus herbs, spices, salts— basically, as much as I could cram into a short afternoon.  We cooked a lot of food. It didn’t all go together as a menu – you wouldn’t have a soup and a stew in the same meal— but I wanted to show him how, in a soup, a little miso could http://www.veridianinc.com provide that umami quality and how, in a stew, he could tease ordinary vegetables into a robust red and gold dish. We had more than one salad, but each one was provided a lesson or two in itself. Except for one dish, not a hint of butter, cream, cheese, honey or eggs appeared in this meal.

The non-vegan element, and it could have been foregone, was baked fresh ricotta cheese with thyme, one of my favorite dishes. We had it with crunchy crackers and olives. Dessert was a matter of arranging Medjool dates, marzipan, Satsuma tangerines, pecans, figs stuffed with almonds and anise on a platter.

When it was finally time to open a bottle of champagne and nibble on salted almonds still warm from the oven, we were ready for dinner, course after course of it. During dinner we drank a spectacularly delicious Marques de Riscal Rioga (2005) that worked well with the food.  It was a bit of a crazy mixed up menu, but I like to think that my friends went home with a lot of new ideas, a few tricks up their sleeves along with a bowl of Romesco sauce.

While cleaning up I noticed the wedge of Manchego cheese and a lovely blue I had intended to put out and that was when I realized we had just enjoyed pretty much a vegan meal, plus it was for company and not only company, but for New Years. And it was just fine. I just wouldn’t call it vegan, or maglie calcio poco prezzo vegetarian or anything but a good dinner, but with some refinement, I’d do it again. For company. After all, it’s good to try something new. The leftovers saw us into the first days of 2012, the recipes were from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and my upcoming book, Vegetable Literacy, and the vegetables were, with a few exceptions, from the farmers market and my garden. Amazing what we can do these days for produce.

And now it’s time to think about ordering seeds.

raised beds iin March snow

New Year’s Crazy Mixed Up Menu

Roasted Salted Almonds

Baked Ricotta with Thyme
Cheap NFL Jerseys
Golden & Chioggia Beets with Red Endive, Black Olives, and Pickled Onions

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger, White Miso and Black Sesame Seeds

Caramelized Fennel with Toasted Fennel Seeds and Fennel Greens

An Ozette Potato, Chickpea and Pepper Stew with Romesco Sauce

Finely Slivered Radicchio with Walnut Vinaigrette

Winter Tidbits of Dates, Tangerines, Marzipan and Nuts

Weird Wrappings or Where to Put the Tangerine?

Our Christmas gifts were mostly practical ones: pencils, socks, toothbrushes and that sort of thing. But each kid also received favorite edible—olives for one brother, sweet and sour salt plums for the other, chocolate covered cherries for my sister and me. There was always the special item, too —the binoculars, the big Audubon book, something deeply desired but completely unexpected. As for our stockings, our names were not embroidered in glitter or sequins but there was always a tangerine in the toe of each one. Always. And it was always so juicy and good.

Besides the binoculars, what I really remember was my parents wrapping style. We never seemed to have gifts wrapped in normal Christmas paper, but rather, in anything but. One year it was rice paper. Butcher paper was featured another year. When my dad wrapped our gifts in newspaper I felt they were cheap oakley getting maybe too unusual. There were many years when colored tissue concealed our gifts. My parents had been in charge of decoration for a dance at the university and had bought an enormous box of tissue paper to use. A rainbow of gossamer colored sheets remained from their efforts and showed up faithfully under the tree year after year. One year my brother, a budding botanist, got into the act and wrapped all his gifts in the leaves and stems of rather large plants, our houseplants, I believe. This was a hard family to live in if you longed for normal.

The stockings that held the little gifts and practical items were my father’s red hand-knit Norwegian ski socks with reindeer on them. Since he didn’t ski and wasn’t Norwegian, I don’t know why he had them or where they came from, but they were pulled out every Christmas, nailed to a mantel and filled. That is every year except the one my parents decided it might be fun to use my mother’s stockings instead.  The thing about nylons, panty hose and http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ all those feminine leggings is that they stretch. These stretched and stretched and in the end they accommodated the entirety of each child’s Christmas haul. There was nothing under the tree and the vision that greeted us on dawn of that 25th was bizarre. The stockings trailed down the fireplace and over the floor. They were all angles where the boxes had gone, puffy swells where the sweaters and soft things were. And there, in the toe, was still that tangerine.

I thought all this would end for me when I grew up, but no, it didn’t. The first year I was married, my husband, who is not a big fan of Christmas, but is a fan of tangerines, presented me with a garbage can (for the wrapping) that contained a hose. Actually, it was a terrific hose and twenty years later it still is our best one. I love that kind of a present. For years I’ve said what I really want is a load of compost, but cheap oakley sunglasses somehow he won’t make that leap. Maybe that’s just too bizarre, or maybe it’s just that there’s nowhere for the tangerine to go.

Regardless of how you wrap your gifts, I wish you all joyful and peaceful holidays with plenty of tangerines, either in socks, stockings, or maybe just in a bowl on the table.

Tangeriine

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!

Garden Cleanup, Cardoons and Carrots and What I Learned

My Monster carrots

Since it’s been chilly in the mornings for a week or more I decided to tackle my severely overgrown beds to make room for some chard, collards, lettuce and other plants I wanted to eat during the winter. With the night temperature only 13 degrees away from freezing I knew this was something I should have http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ done earlier and that I’d better get them in the ground fast. I also had to finish tying up my cardoons and wrapping them in paper for blanching.  It’s more challenging than you might imagine corralling these enormous spiny leaves, getting them all together in a bunch, then getting the twine and some paper secured around them.  The larger plants were so heavy they needed to be further tied to a sturdy stick to remain upright. I don’t know that I’m doing this at the right time or even remotely correctly, but I’m determined to have properly blanched cardoons at least once this winter. After that I’ll plant them as ornamentals for they are exceptionally handsome plants.

The huanzontle, or Red Aztec Spinach, grew tall and extra-voluminous. I didn’t have much success in the cooking department having waited perhaps too long to commit its seed heads to the kitchen. The buds that should have been eaten while green were now a dusky scarlet. I really wanted to free up that bed for other vegetables, but I also wanted to see just how intense the color would get. I ended up with a weak compromise, cutting away some of the heavily seeded branches and using them to cover a bed I had dug a few weeks earlier and planted with all the half-used packages of radish, turnip and bok-choy seeds left from other gardening seasons. I figured the seed heads would protect the ground and the new seedlings, which had in fact come up.  And if any haunzontle sprouts appear next spring I figure I’ll have a second chance at making those huanzontle fritters I like so much.

Until this summer, one of the toughest challenges in gardening was to actually harvest anything that made it to the edible stage.  My confidence wasn’t strong, hands-on knowledge was iffy and it always seemed so remarkable that anything grew at all that I could hardly bring myself to pick it. Instead I watched the gorgeous purple kohlrabi betting bigger and lumpier until they were fibrous and tough beyond redemption. I let the chard go to seed and then tried eating the prunings; I let the lettuce make it’s bitter towers then flower instead of just eating it and planting more.

But since moving my garden into the sunshine and away from competing roots of the apple trees greedy for water, I realize that I no longer have that problem to such a degree, although I was still reluctant to use everything up by eating it.  So not surprisingly I managed to find some gnarly and neglected Oakley Sunglasses cheap carrots of such heft that I would have walked right past them if I had seen them at the farmers market. But since they were mine, I looked at them with awe and immediately wanted to rinse of the dirt and barbarically roast them whole.  Some beets too, had gotten away from me. One weighed in at pound and others were close to that. Again, they wouldn’t have been my first choice at the market, but both they and the giant carrots turned out to be sweet and delicious when I cooked them. Those damn Fairy Tale eggplants that I had planted in excess finally had to go even though they were still producing. I’d had enough of fiddling with them, plus they weren’t my favorite variety in the end, so up came two plants and with them, 38 eggplants, many of them now too pale and seedy to be much good. I never dreamed I’d be able to do such a thing—yank up a producing plant, but I did. In it’s place, collards have been planted.

I saw my gardening mistakes from the season: too much of this, not enough of that and no skill at keeping the crops coming. But I saw some surprising success, too.  The black-eyed peas, which have been the most entertaining plant ever, did just as well in their open bed with no drip and only intermittent care as they did in the coddled home of their store-bought soil-filled raised bed and its steady drip system.  Ditto the Rosa Bianca eggplant and the daikon.  The tomatoes really did need more room than I had given them, and they all listed towards westward, as if trying to climb out of their cages to smother whatever was in the next bed. Next year I’ll put them more towards the west end of the lot and give them a lot more room, just the way the gardening books tell you to.  I had planted some chard seeds next to a row of chard that were already about 10-inches tall. (I learned that a single row provided far more than I could possible eat, giving me plenty to share.) These newbies had spent the summer shaded by their big brothers and sisters so they cheap oakley never really grew up, but now I viewed them as bonus cache of transplants.  I moved them to a new bed and put a cover over the hoops in hopes that I’ll have some fresh greens during the winter after all. Cumin and anise were fun to grow, but not a very efficient use of limited space. However the anise is very pretty in bloom.  The vetch seeds have turned out to be really vigorous and hopefully they will do something good for this tired looking dirt, along with the red clover. The amaranth I planted which was supposed to be red, instead made pale green frothy looking seed heads that are towering over the too close tomatoes. I should probably pull it up, but I’m going to wait until it forms seeds, then I’ll use it as mulch for another bed. If new plants come up, fine.  And they should. After all this splendid amaranth appears to be a gigantic version of what’s growing in my garden as weeds. Finally, when I dug up a celery plant, I realized what I really had were four or five celeries (lesson: next year thin more rigorously) that had grown together and produced a massive fusion of the same snaky roots that will be found covering the nearby celeriac. And that, by the way, is really doing really well, but I’ve no room for anything else in the kitchen.  I really am cooking as fast as I can, so the celeriac will have to wait until we cook our way through the eggplants, carrots and beets.

I think I see a root cellar in my future.