Autumn brings with it a whole new menu. Out are the grilled veggies and burgers and in come roasted root vegetables, soups and stews. In the summer, the thought of turning on the oven or even stove-top can be exhausting. The heat of summer means you don’t want to make your house any more uncomfortable. Everything changes though in September and October, suddenly cooking is appealing, baking cookies a joy.
Looking for something tasty to welcome autumn? Here is a recipe for one of my favorites, beans and greens. This dish can be used as a main meal or as a side to braised short-ribs, pork chops or a perfectly baked chicken.
Beans and Greens
1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. thyme
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch greens (kale or chard) sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 can white beans (small white beans or cannellini beans)
2 c. diced tomatoes
1/2 shredded Romano cheese
- In a large saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook for about three to four minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in kale stems and cook for another three minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Mix in the kale leaves and add the thyme and red pepper. Set on a medium-low heat and let cook for fifteen minutes or until the greens are soft.
- When kale is tender, stir in the drained can of beans. Once warmed through, mix in the diced tomatoes and let cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle the Romano cheese on top. Serve.
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.
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!
You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. There have been no recipes, insights or reflections from me for nearly a month now. Somewhere along the line a week’s long break to get things in order here ended up being a month (or more). So where have I been and what have I been doing?
Well, I started a new job.
I am now the market manager at Schenectady Greenmarket. It’s only been a week, but what a week it’s been! I’m trying to get into the groove of balancing my new role with my writing and family and friends and all the other things that make up my days.
For those of you in the area, the Market runs on Sundays from 10 to 2 on Jay Street in Schenectady. Stop by, say “hi” and enjoy all the wonderful food and wonderful people the Market has to offer. I’ll see you there.
As soon as the sun begins to shine and the snow stops falling, my job requires that I am on the road visiting farmers. I love this part of the year…and I loath it. There are two fundamental truths I have discovered over the last few weeks:
- I live in an amazingly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful area of the country.
- Despite printing up and following directions, I will get lost.
I told this to the Lemon Drop yesterday afternoon as I asked him to talk me out of the maze of back roads I was on in Rensselaer County. He just laughed and laughed. What makes the entire experience even more funny is that I have a master’s degree in geography.
It isn’t my fault though…
Sure, I have no sense of direction and I second guess any kind of instructions no matter how simple or exact. No, the problem is not on my end, it is with the directions themselves.
Why take me down six back roads when I could easily take a main route the entire way and then a left onto the desired street? Why aren’t roads marked? Or signs twisted so you think you are on the correct road only to realize 3.7 miles later you actually aren’t?
The only thing going for me is that I am not required to find my way around at night. I once had a 1.9 mile night-time journey take me an hour and a half because I missed the one and only left turn I had to make. Yes, a GPS would make my life simpler and my bitching wane, but I don’t think about it until I’m in the middle of nowhere on mile 4.2 when I was supposed to find Barton Road at the 1.6 mile mark. And I’ll forget about everything by the time I hit the road again on Friday.
My faults are many, I’ll admit. I have a problem with any kind of authority (shocker, I know). And I don’t like having to hand control over to anyone or anything (even directions) – I’ll do it, but grudgingly and I am always poised to snatch that control back at the slightest moment of weakness (huh, maybe that’s my issue with men?).
Is that why I keep getting lost? I don’t know and I’m not convinced. I still think Google Maps has it out for me.
Spring has finally (kind of) made an appearance in Upstate New York. The Winter was cold and bitter and even snowy…but it was also long. Why is it that we spend all year complaining about the season we’re in? Winter is too cold (or too warm); Spring is too short, too rainy, too cold or non-existent all together; Summer is too hot, too wet, too dry; Fall is too short, too warm, too stormy. I’m just as guilty as the rest, I complain right along with everyone else.
To me, Spring is always about transformation and transformation is never easy or smooth. Transformation, instead, is about stormy emotions, destruction of the old, birth of the new. Muddy paths and windy nights; turmoil and chaos – that is what Spring brings. It is an unsettling of routines, souls and perspectives. It is scary and beautiful all in the same breath. It is about surrender and acceptance.
Spring in Upstate is also the time when fields are plowed and planted. It is the time when farmers emerge from their workshops rested and repaired with a curse on their lips and a prayer in their hearts, prepared for the marathon that is about to begin.
Farmers are always in a tussle with Mother Nature. Last year it was a record warm Spring and a devastating Summer drought. This year, it is the continued cold snap and flooding. We need to get seed in the ground so that it can mature in time and be ready for harvest but we also need the ground warm and dry enough to get into the fields.
For many of us who have a supporting role on farms or in farmers’ lives, planting means saying “goodbye” for a solid six (or more) weeks. I had my goodbye chat last night, planting hasn’t started, but it will in the next few days. There may be a quick call from a tractor cab here and there, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. After seven years in the country, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm and the calendar that farm men live by. I’m not saying that I like it, I’m just used to it now.
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.