November 29, 2007

i heart kale

I am in love with kale.

Sure, I've bought it in the store before - but it was usually turned into pureed baby food. Maybe once or twice a year I would seek it out and make it. But I get it a few times a month from the farm and I am forced to eat it and I am swooning!!!

Kale with whole wheat pasta and some walnut pesto. MMM.
Kale and potato soup. Better than you think it'd be.
Throw it in stirfry!

It pairs so nicely with earthy or nutty things like mushrooms, as well as all starches (potatoes, polenta, pasta), and all pork products ;)

November 20, 2007


Reason number #74 to subscribe to a CSA? Not having to go to the grocery store before Thanksgiving :)

We have just about everything we need for dinner on Thursday - it's too bad we aren't hosting! We even received the requisite herbs - rosemary, sage, thyme. I will never forget Ruth calling me a few years ago asking me if I managed to buy fresh sage. It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and she couldn't find it anywhere! She had to drive pretty far before finally finding some. (I stocked up over the weekend, just in case.)

The second best part of not having to shop? Getting local, organic pomegranates! How psyched am I now that I have been asked to bring a salad???

Red dinosaur kale, arugula, rosemary/sage/thyme, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce, mandarins, pomegranates

November 11, 2007

The Meat

Last Thursday night, after tucking the kids in bed, I made a trek to my friend's house for the first of what will likely be a bi-monthly ritual. Our meat had arrived from Oregon!

Yes, again, out of the 100 mile foodshed. But the net footprint of the meat is the addition of a cooler to a pick-up truck that makes the trip anyway, once a month.

In her dimly-lit kitchen, with dishwasher running and children sleeping in the rooms next-door, we quietly (i hope) received almost a 100 lbs. of frozen meat to be split between three families.

Her husband had a miniature heart-attack as he calculated the ratio of frozen meat spread across the island in their kitchen to their available freezer space. We, most fortunately, have an entire, vacant freezer thanks to my husband's kegerator.

What I'm going to do, and whom I'm going to feed with that bone-in leg of lamb I ordered remains to be seen. But for roughly $4.50 a pound, I have 35 lbs of patured lamb, beef, pork and chicken, all raised humanely on a family farm. And I do take comfort in these seemingly small things.

As I dig in the supply, I'll post recipes and menu ideas.

If you're interested in sources for pastured meat in your community, here's a great resource: Eat Wild

The Grain

Somtime last summer I signed up for a grain CSA, through a one-woman, biodynamic farm in Siskiyou, County, about 300 miles north of me. It's well out of the 100 mile foodshed I'd originally (naively?) hoped to call my own. But a girl-with-farming-in-her-ancestry turned city-slicker doesn't really know that the 100 mile radius around her house doesn't provide a cool enough climate for most grains. Until I started investigating a source for local flour.

At that time, flour, in its generic form, was about all I was looking for...

Behold my freezer today:
Kamut flour
Red Hard Wheat flour
Soft Pastry flour
Rye flour
The best whole-grain, hot cereal and pancake mix!

To give you an idea of the diversity of grains used (and crops rotated! with respect for the soil!) on the farm, here's the contents of the pancake mix: Oaxacan green dent corn, teff, flax seed, orange popping amaranth, len wheat, rye, Ethiopian hulless barley and hulless oats.

Our breakfasts, which are now a rotation of hot cereal, pancakes or yogurt along with our pastured eggs from Eatwell, or bacon from Deck, have had a significant impact on how I feel as I go about my day. When my first-born was a baby, I followed the Super Baby Food diet, giving him the author's special blend of whole grain cereal. It's touted in the book as a super food because of it's incredible nutritional value based on the variety of grains. It was a bit of a pain to concoct from the bulk bins at the natural food store, and I never really ate it for myself. I abandoned it for plain oatmeal sometime around the second year. Suddenly, out of this grain CSA, I've been handed a cereal with more grain diversity than Ruth Yaron could wrap her brain around and all I have to do is soak it the night before and cook it for a short amount of time in the morning. No grinding your own grains! No messy kitchen! No hour-of-cooking early in the morning!

I've been eating it regularly for about six weeks now, and doggonit, ol' Ruth was right! (I just thought she was a well-informed bat.) I feel deeply satisfied, with stable blood-sugar for most of the rest of the day. Haven't had a single sniffle since (we'll see how I fair this winter under the plagues-of-preschool, but six weeks is a long time for the mother of two small children to go without a cold.). And here, I'm going to step off the firm foundation of secular cynicism that guides my entire life, and say: I feel really, freaking good inside all the time. Yes, I'm a born-again Grain freak.

This next month we'll be getting some beans... they come in the CSA rotation as well. They'll go nicely with the simple lunches I've been preparing for myself, inspired mostly by a conversation with Miche last summer about her work lunches.

Here's the formula:

Advance preparation (can be done on the weekend):
In separate bowls, soak a large batch of your whole grain of choice and your legume of choice.
The next day, cook each separately according to cooking times for each.
Store separately in glass containers in the fridge.


mix together the following:  
1 cup grains
1 cup beans, or what ever ratio you prefer of the two
finely minced onions
diced vegetables such as: red peppers, green peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, celery, cabbage, or whatever you happen to have in your crisper that goes crunch


one part acid of choice (me likey champagne vinegar!) to 3 parts oil of choice

acid goes in bowl, oil follows slowly as you whisk briskly. finish with salt and pepper.

toss the salad with vinaigrette until nicely coated. voila! healthy simple lunch!

I eat this 2-3 times during the week for lunch. It's healthy, satisfying and can look and feel very different week to week depending on the ingredients you use.

November 10, 2007

This and That

Here's what we got in our boxes this week:

Butternut squash

I was happy to discover that my 2 year old loves roasted  butternut squash - so that makes 2.5 of us in the family (my husband eats it, but it isn't his favorite).

We never got through a bunch of swiss chard we got last week - so I've just finished sauteeing it up with some onions and garlic.  I'm going to make ravioli out of them using wonton wrappers.  My favorite quick-and-easy trick!  It's not local or organic blahblahblah, so, see?  We're not nazi about these things ;)  I did buy my wonton wrappers at a mom & pop shop, though.  That counts for shopping local in my mind!  Anyway - the kids are onto the fact that there is something *green* in the ravioli - so they have started turning their noses up at it.  That's fine with me, I will make a batch of these and freeze them and bring it to work for lunch.  What worked last time was to boil them, toss with marinara, and then freeze.

I'm also in the process of prepping a mock Thanksgiving dinner for tomorrow.  We bought a turkey breast (bone-in) - man are those suckers huge!  We are not having Thanksgiving at our place this year.  Half the reason I wanted to have this mock dinner is to make things the way I like (control issues, anyone?) and the second major reason is because I want to make turkey stock with the remains.  I will either make escarole (see box contents above!) soup with it or use it to make the stuffing I am bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.

Tonight's dinner?  Wild salmon with broccoli.

Downer news from the Bay: Crab Season Delayed Indefinitely

Have you read this, yet?

If you haven't, you should!  It's an update on the Farm Bill - sounds boring, but this is Michael Pollan writing it - so it's fascinating.  Trust us. ;)

November 5, 2007

Yummy Collards!

This would be a great dish at Thanksgiving

1 large bunch collard greens
-slice the greens off the center rib, roll into a 'cigar' and slice thinly into a chiffonnade
1/2 onion, minced
few cloves of garlic
Diced pancetta - to taste, really. I put in maybe 1/4 cup?
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Saute pancetta until the fat starts to melt, but before it gets too crispy.
Add onion and garlic, saute until soft, but not brown
Add collards - stir until wilted a bit
Add vinegar
Salt (careful! pancetta is already seasoned) and pepper to taste

Hmm - maybe I should have added the vinegar before the greens so it could concentrate a little bit. I added it after and it was ok, but a little too wet for my taste.

November 2, 2007

Swimming (drowning?) in greens!

My refrigerator currently holds the following greens:

Two bunches of spinach
A huge bunch of large-leaf arugula
Collard greens
Swiss chard
Head of lettuce

Aie aie aie!

After my last round of 'lets boil the collard greens to death, and then cook them again' - I looked for another way to cook them. Why didn't I think of slicing them in a chiffonade and cooking them with pancetta??? I found that on - one of my go-to websites for recipes.