I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been eating the same-old, same-old for the last few months. Maybe I let my meals become as dull as the winter weather. Maybe I was just a little lazy. Either way, spring is now here and there is an influx of greens at farmers markets adding flavor and color to dinner. This week I had the most amazing, quickest, delicious stir-fry for dinner.
Pea Shoot and Spinach Sauté
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 T. grated ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 cups pea shoots – cut into 2 inch segments
2 cups spinach – cut into thin slices
1 T. soy sauce
1. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, sautéing for 3 minutes – don’t let garlic brown! Add pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
2. Add greens and mix until they begin to wilt. Toss in soy sauce and mix, cooking for an additional two to three minutes.
Simple, easy, delicious and a great change from the winter blahs.
Over the last nine months I’ve been working for Schenectady Greenmarket. In that time, my life has changed quite a bit. One main area of change is my kitchen. Sure, I have always been a pretty ardent home-cook, rarely eating out, rarely purchasing prepared foods – but I haven’t the kind of person that eats truly seasonally. All that has changed since now most of my grocery shopping is done on Sundays as I run around the market.
Among the celeriac, beets and kohlrabi, there has been one humble reawakening – carrots. This cooked carrot salad is now a staple of my weekly dinners and lunches. It brings sunshine and warmth to my day regardless if it is actually sunny outside (and -12) or snowing.
Spicy Cooked Carrot Salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 lb. carrots – diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped parsley
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1. Boil the carrots in salted water until tender but not soft (about 3 minutes).
2. In a large bowl, smash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir in the paprika, hot pepper flakes and lemon juice. Whisk in the oil.
3. Add the carrots and half the feta cheese. Toss until fully combined. Sprinkle the remaining feta on top and serve.
This salad is wonderful on its own for lunch, perfect wrapped up in a pita with falafel or grilled chicken and amazing served for dinner next to some freshly grilled chorizo.
I’m going to admit it – I am pretty damn lucky. I live in an amazing part of the world surrounded by farmland, friends, mountain views and great food. Top that off with a job that allows me to combine all of these things and, well, things are pretty damn sweet. The past few weeks I’ve been grabbing some delicious fruit from the Market and nibbling on it throughout the week but the truth is, I can’t eat the fruit fast enough. So instead of letting it go to waste, I’ve been making the most delicious, simple and summery treat I can think of: cobbler.
Last week it was cherry cobbler, this week it’s been peach and next week who knows? Maybe plum? Yum! Cobbler is so amazingly simple to make, the toughest part is waiting the 45 minutes for it to cook. It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (Battenkill Creamery is my choice) but I’ll fess up to eating it cold, straight from the pan for breakfast too!
Easy Fruit Cobbler
4 T butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt (I usually skip)
3/4 c. milk
2 c. fresh fruit (sliced if needed)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put butter in an 8-inch square pan and set in oven to melt. When butter is melted, remove from oven.
- In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add milk and whisk until it forms a smooth batter.
- Pour batter into the pan then scatter the fruit evenly on top.
- Bake until batter browns, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Eat and enjoy!
I am about to embark on one great big, holy crap adventure – and I’m kind of terrified. The terror isn’t going to hold me back, in fact it is pushing me forward, but the fears of failure or success or getting hurt along the way – all these things are beginning to knot together in my tummy. You see, next week I am flying to Las Vegas for a national conference where I am going to be part of two panel discussions about farming, women, and communications. It is an amazing opportunity – one that I reached for and grabbed. An opportunity I plan to take full advantage of…but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death.
The other morning as I was stirring my coffee and staring at the clock, I realized that all grand adventures are, in some way, kind of terrifying. Adventures aren’t smooth and easy and always full of fun. That’s a vacation. No, adventures are full of tough treks and scary moments and amazing payoffs. I’m ready for the adventure – and the happy ending too.
I’ve been practicing my presentation (about farming, women, and communications) for a few weeks now, but I felt like I needed a fresh perspective. I called my friend, the Lemon Drop (sour and sweet all at the same time) over for dinner. The Lemon Drop realizes that there is no such thing as a free dinner where I am concerned. When I come a-callin’ he can expect a delicious meal, a lot of questions and very likely a blog entry the morning after.
Anyway, I think the best part of the evening was listening to the Lemon Drop reading my presentation about farming, women, and communications. Hearing him say things like “It’s called being a woman, right?” with sincerity made me giggle. A deep, gravelly voice – one that can be grumpy and pumpy at times – talking about the strengths women have, well, it made me see the presentation with fresh eyes and a pretty light heart…and I wasn’t so scared anymore either.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big St. Patrick’s Day observer. I don’t like the smell of corned beef and cabbage cooking away on the stove and I never understood what’s appealing about boiled veggies. I have made only one corned beef dinner in my life and that was only because a boyfriend asked for it. I will leave the corned beef to my friend Bridget, author of Ranch Wife Life. Bridget is a cattle rancher in Eastern Washington and works for the Washington State Beef Council. Her recipe is tested, tasted and approved and the veggies are roasted, not boiled – a plus in my book.
The one thing I do like about St. Patrick’s Day is Irish Soda Bread. I love it toasted with butter and honey. Why is it only an annual treat? Soda bread is simple to make, quick to bake and intensely satisfying to eat. It should be a weekend standard, not just a holiday treat.
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until a ball is formed.
- Turn dough out onto counter and knead for three to four minutes.
- Form into a round approximately seven inches wide and two inches high and cut cross on top.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when poked into bread.
I have a friend that recently went through an amazingly traumatic event, but one that thankfully she will recover from. When I sent her a get well note this morning, I added a prescription of my own: eat lots of ice cream…chocolate ice cream make everything better. It got me wondering about all the little things that make hard times a little easier to bear.
For me, the list would include:
- Chocolate milkshakes
- Pink champagne
- Cheeseburgers & beer
- Mac & cheese
- Chicken noodle soup
- Hot water with lemon & honey
- Spice cake
All of these work when I’m not feeling well both physically and mentally, but chocolate milkshakes are the most powerful of all cures. They just make me feel better. And who could deny that pink champagne makes you happy? The simple act of saying pink champagne brings a big, bright smile to my face and my soul.
What are the simple pleasures that make you feel better on a grim day when you are sick or sad or plain cranky? Sometimes the best medicine can be found right in your kitchen.
I love food and I love to eat, but I’m not above confessing that during the week my dinners are less than extraordinary. Weekends are meant for good food, weeknights not so much. To be honest, weeknights are the path of least resistance (and fewest dishes). I’ll eat ice cream from the carton (spoon), cereal (bowl and spoon) or, most often, tortilla with cheese (cutting board, plate, knife). Great meals with more than a bowl or heaven forbid a pot are not in my regular Monday thru Friday rotation.
So, I live on tortillas. I tried for a long time to find an easy, delicious tortilla recipe. The results were just that: easy and delicious – but they were also hard and crisp. I ended up experimenting and came up with the following easy, delicious and soft recipe. No, they aren’t traditional, but they are good…Really good. I keep them in a zip-top bag in my fridge and pull out one or two a night for dinner.
1 1/2 t. yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 t. sugar
2 t. olive oil
3/4 c. (plus or minus) flour
1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy.
2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine until it forms a slightly sticky ball.
3. On a well floured surface knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Return to bowl and cover with towel. Let rest 15-30 minutes.
4. Divide dough into 8 balls. Roll out to 7-inch disks.
5. Heat a dry skillet. Place dough on the skillet one at a time, cooking 45 to 60 seconds each side. Place cooked tortillas onto a plate to cool.