January 2008 archive

Swiss Chard – what’s not to love?

I’ve never been a big fan of typical southern greens.  The ones I had were always bitter and the texture and color were about as appealing as warm spit.  Over the past few years, I’ve become a much bigger fan of greens in general.   My all time fave has to be Bright Lights swiss chard.  It’s a gorgeous plant – technicolor shades of red, yellow and orange.  It’s so pretty I grow it in my flower borders and it looks good the majority of the year.  It’s been a little cold here so it’s not a perky as it normally is but it still adds color to my very brown and dead garden.  With a rowcover and some plastic, it stays in great shape in my raised beds.  If you pick the leaves small enough, it adds color and flavor to winter salads.  The larger leaves are great to cook with.  One of my favorite ways to serve them are lightly sauteed in olive oil with a little bit of garlic.  If the stems are fairly large, cut them up separately and saute them first before adding the leaves.  When that’s done, sprinkle with some pecorino Romano cheese.  I know this won’t sound like a ringing endorsement but to me, this tastes like absolutely delicious dirt.  It’s got a rich earthiness that is very satisfying but still tastes green to me.  Here’s another recipe that’s amazing for breakfast.  Come spring, it’s actually part of our morning strawberry picking ritual.  Mark makes it while I go pick a few handfuls of strawberries that are then sliced and lightly sprinkled with Penzey’s Vanilla Sugar.  Absolute heaven.

Scrambled Eggs with Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese

Saute a couple handfuls of swiss chard leaves (chopped up if big) in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  If you like, add a little garlic, green garlic, garlic scapes or shallots as well.  Saute for 5-10 minutes until greens are very wilted and greatly reduced.  Take four eggs and add to pan, breaking up yolks with a fork.  Then add 1-2 ounces (or more if you feel like splurging) of fresh goat cheese and scramble eggs until they resemble fluffy curds.  Serve!

You can also add cream cheese or boursin cheese instead of the goat cheese.  Fresh herbs are also lovely in this – tarragon is particularly nice.  This is also yummy piled into an enlish muffin.

Wonderful recipe site for eating seasonally!

I came across this find tonight and I’m really excited by it.  Tons of recipes but more importantly, these recipes are all organized by what kinds of veggies are in them. 

Live Earth Farm CSA – recipes

I’ve got all kinds of resources available to me as far as recipes go – cookbooks I really use, websites, magazines.  However there are still times where Mark and I find ourselves trying to figure out what we can make with the produce we have.  We’ve been eating seasonally for several years now and it’s still easy for us to get stuck.  For so many years, we’d figure out what we wanted to eat or what recipe we wanted to try, write a list of stuff to buy and we’d go shopping.  That kind of mindset is hard to shake – it’s wonderful to have so many different food products at our disposal but at the same time, I’m struck by how many wonderful recipes come from cultures where the food choices are more defined.  African food is amazingly tasty but the ingredients are more limited due to the climate.  Kosher food has all kinds of laws that one must follow – and so much of the food is delicious.   My favorite cookbooks are written by authors that eat meat (or used to) but who write mainly vegetarian recipes.  I think setting limits on the foods we eat can spur people on to be even more creative in the kitchen.  When you eat seasonally, not only do you limit your palette.  You also use the best ingredients – it’s hard to mess up with both of those things going for you.

I already have a couple of other recipe sites listed in the sidebar and I’ll be adding this one as well.  I hope it helps you this coming year! 

Thrifty stew

I don’t like New Years resolutions that much – it seems like so many people are completely unrealistic about what can be achieved.  It’s not enough to eat better.  They have to lose 50 pounds and exercise every day on top of that.  I guess my expectations are more realistic – I’ve made broad declarations before and failed so it seemed kind of silly to keep doing it.  I’ve been very happy with the steps Mark and I have made in eating locally and reducing our dependence on the corporate food model.  But the only reason we’ve been so successful is that we did it on small steps.  First we tried to spend more of our grocery money at farmers markets.  Then we tried to eat a meal with local meat once a month (our choices were a lot smaller back then and MUCH more expensive).  Then we tried to eat more seasonally.  We just kept building from there.  I’ve already made a post about our goals for 2008 but one thing I didn’t include is my desire to be more thrifty.  I know that sounds silly when we’re paying out extra money for grass fed meat but I’ve always been ashamed by how much food Mark and I waste.  We buy cilantro from the store and half of it rots.  I just threw out over half a container of ricotta cheese.  That’s just wasteful and I want to try harder to make use of everything we buy – if we have to buy it at the grocery store, I at least want to squeeze every little bit out of our purchase.  So we’re going to take little steps towards that goal.  I bought some cilantro from our local food co-op.  Rather than let it rot in the fridge, I chopped the whole bunch up and filled up an ice tray with it and poured a little water over it.  Not as good as fresh but it will work well in soups and cooked dishes.  I made refried beans the other night.  Instead of pouring out the bean liquor, we saved it and I made a yummy soup with it the next day by combining it with a can of roasted tomatoes and some cheese and frozen cilantro.  I’m making a list of all of the condiments we have so we can use them up as well.  Little steps but they’re steps in the right direction.

A few months ago I found this recipe for Clamizo stew online and saved it.  Krogers has canned clams on sale – 10 cans for $10.  We had Spanish chorizo that we needed to use up – it was starting to get white spots on the casing because of salt deposits.  So this recipe sounded ideal – quick, fairly cheap and fairly seasonal.   I made a few changes to it – and I rewrote the ingredients so the yield is reduced by roughly half.  I want leftovers but when dealing with seafood, I only want enough for an extra meal.   This recipe is really great – it’s very easy and the sum is far better than the parts.  I’ll be honest, I had a few thoughts of "Crap – all these clams wasted" while it was simmering but it turned out to be delicious.  I upped the amount of chorizo slightly and chose to saute it first.  It’s very fatty and I wanted to drain that out.  Instead of olive oil, I used a tablespoon of the chorizo fat to saute the leeks.  I also reduced the amount of clams – I like clams but I wanted this stew to be an equal partnership between the chorizo and the clams.  Finally, I added in some smoked Spanish paprika and parsley from the garden.  I think they made a good addition.  First, they got rid of any lingering "canny" taste from the clams and the smokiness of the paprika reinforced the smokiness of the chorizo and the roasted tomatoes.

Clamizo Stew
Adapted from Welcome to my Pantry

1-2 leeks, chopped (white parts only)
1/2 cup Spanish Chorizo, chopped in small dice
3 medium potatoes, diced
2-3 6.5 oz. cans chopped clams
14 oz. can Muir Glen Fire-Roasted tomatoes (diced)
1-2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
¼ cup chopped parsley

Saute chorizo over medium heat until lightly brown and crispy.  Drain off most of oil and saute leeks in oil. Add the potatoes, clams, tomatoes and smoked paprika and cook on medium until the potatoes are tender.   Add most of parsley (save a little to garnish right before serving) and serve with warm, crusty bread.

I know – it’s been a while!

I’m sorry – this last month has been crazy.  My business keeps me jumping in the month of December and on top of that, I had kidney stones.  Fun, fun!  I promise to get caught up with some of the awesome recipes we had soon.  Before I do that, I wanted to post a wonderful blog post I just read:

Christmas on Purpose

It’s late but still absolutely beautiful.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  Here’s to 2008!!!