Ooh, my favorite!


GMO OMG in Seattle
September 26, 2013, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

GMO OMG

 

Seattle friends, we’re one of a handful of cities that have been selected for screenings of the documentary GMO OMG. Opening tomorrow at the SIFF Film Center in Queen Anne here are the showtimes:  Friday 7:30 | Saturday-Sunday 3:00, 5:15, 7:00 | Monday-Thursday 7:30

A strong turnout in these key cities would mean a wider distribution nationwide. A hot topic here in Washington, for sure, as we’re set to vote on Initiative 522 in November. YES on 522 would be a very important first step in labeling foods that have been genetically modified. My mattress has a mandatory label, why shouldn’t my food.



Raspberry vinegar
September 4, 2013, 10:01 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Recipes

raspberryvinegar1

Eeking this in as our raspberry season is coming to an abrupt close, but with any luck you’ll be able to grab a pint at the farmer’s market this weekend so you can savor the flavors of summer berry-ness through the fall and winter. I mean, look at this sexy ruby color.

Like the chive blossom vinegar from earlier in the season, flavored vinegars are a great way to add variety to salads or anything needing a kick of acid. Raspberry pairs especially well with salmon, by the way, so I use this in grilled salmon salad with capers and shallots.

The simplest no-recipe-recipe:

I use a handful of raspberries (about 15) for each 1/2 pint canning jar, fill them with white wine vinegar, and set aside for two weeks when the color is most vibrant and red. Strain the berries from the vinegar and funnel into an air-tight bottle for easy pouring (or back into a canning jar would work too).

Don’t be shy, use as often, and in anything you’d like. In salads as a primary or finishing vinegar, soups, sauces.

raspberryvinegar



Elderberry Cordial
August 26, 2013, 11:04 am
Filed under: Clean, Farmer's Market, Food, Health

elderberry

I wanted to sneak this recipe in while elderberries are still, somewhat, getable. It’s a fun project and it will make you happy all winter long.

Elderberry cordial used to be a staple in every good housewife’s well-stocked pantry as it’s a powerful part of a cold and flu fighting regimen. As many old-school traditions go, it eventually fell by the side and was replaced with more convenient and immediate methods of cold care.

Last year when I shared my natural medicine cabinet with you, I mentioned my favorite elixir Sambu-Guard. Well this elderberry cordial is precisely that! And while it’s worth every penny of its $17 price tag (and you should certainly add it to your medicine cabinet) it was pretty freakin’ cool to be able to make my own this year.

Elderberry Cordial

We ordered  two large bunches of elderberries from Foraged & Found and picked them up at the University Farmer’s Market. The berries themselves aren’t particularly tasty on their own, so making them into a cordial, with the addition of honey, makes them so, so good.

Remove all of the large stems but don’t worry about the small ones. Place the berries in a large non-corrosive pot and cover with filtered water. Heat gently and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (one that you won’t mind if it stains). After simmering, gently mash the berries with the back of your wooden spoon.

elderberry2

Let the berry mixture cool and then transfer to an old dish towel or a double-wrapped cheesecloth. You can strain through a colander or gather the ends and tie them to a rack (like our horror movie set-up below). Let strain into a large bowl overnight.

elderberry4

After straining, transfer the liquid back to the pot and bring to a light simmer. Add honey to taste, mix until dissolved, and remove from heat. Pour the cordial into small canning jars. Sterilize them in the oven by lightly screwing on the lids and placing in the oven at 225-degrees. Once the cordial begins to bubble in the jars, turn off the oven, tighten the lids, and let cool.

It was a lot of fun, even over the span of two days, and all things considered it wasn’t much work. Not that I’m looking forward to cold and flu season, but I am excited to pop one of these guys the next time I feel that little tickle in my nose or throat. To use, add a few tablespoons of the cordial to hot water and drink as a tea OR add a splash of rum or rye as a twist on a Toddy.

elderberry3



In Season: Shishito Peppers
August 15, 2013, 10:28 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Recipes, Seattle

shishito3

I remember the first time I had these peppers at a little restaurant in Marin. I loved them so much I ordered a second round and didn’t share with anyone else at the table. I don’t know why but at the time it seemed so complex that I’d never be able to duplicate at home, I mean, where would one even find shishito peppers in the first place? Granted, it will require a trip to the farmer’s market, but even with that task these peppers are worth the errand and so easy to prepare.

Shishito peppers are a Japanese variety of pepper and only about one in ten are hot. They’re mostly fragrant with barely a hint of sweetness. We get ours from the Japanese farmer of Mair Farm-Taki at the University Farmer’s Market.

shishito

How to prepare:

Heat a large pan at medium-high heat. Once hot add a small amount of olive oil and tilt to coat the pan. Add the peppers in a single layer and shake the pan to toss and coat with the olive oil. Continue to toss and remove when the skins are blistered, this should only take a minute or two. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with sea salt. I used a coarse black Japanese sea salt but Maldon flakes would also be great for seasoning and texture. Eat as a snack or get creative and add to a salad.

Note: I like the peppers nice and charred but after having them in a beautiful melon salad at Sitka and Spruce yesterday we realized we could cook them even less. I’ll be experimenting with our next batch this weekend, but really there’s not too much you can do to wrong.

shishito2



How to build a better salad
July 16, 2013, 11:56 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Health, Organic, Recipes

cherry-mizuna

We are salad people. And while I’ve always craved for seasonal leafy greens I have never met anyone that can build a salad quite like Andrew. He often laughs about his time in the kitchen, preferring to work the garde manger station while others fought for the grill. The truth is that properly seasoning fresh ingredients is an art that many restaurants chefs haven’t even mastered. We all know the horrors of an over-dressed, soggy salad. (If you’re looking for a proper salad in Seattle, Matt Dillon is the master.)

Salads are compositions and are a complex form of cookery. Using what’s fresh and available, assessing how sturdy the ingredients are to inform your seasoning, and honing your sense of touch are all important elements to salad-making and are so much more rewarding than opening a bottle and pouring. If you’re bored of your salad routine and hoping to elevate your technique here are some tips to help you compose a salad like a true artist, and a recipe to help you practice.

Try a new leaf

We are all about Mizuna this season. It’s like everything you wish frisee actually was, but we all know that it just isn’t. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with a slight peppery taste and small, narrow serrated leaves. For as sturdy as the leaves are (they’re also great sauteed) they make for a really delicate salad.

There’s also my other fave, purslane that is also in season right now.

Soap box: Salad greens should never come from a bag or a box, especially this time of year. I’ll share my tips for washing produce very soon.

Use your sense of touch

No tablespoon measurements or emulsifying. Here we’re going to drizzle and use our hands to feel how we season. Start with a light drizzle of olive oil to coat the leaves, and use your thumb or finger to regulate how the oil is dispersed. Then move on to the acid and salt. (This bit of info was new to me. I never knew you started with the olive oil!)

* assess the greens: How sturdy are they? How much oil, salt, tossing can they take?

Toss with a delicate hand

Use just the very tips of your fingertips to toss to keep the lettuce light and airy. Collect only a few sprigs at a time…like 1/4 of a handful and let the leaves fall through your fingers. Just as the ingredients are coated use the bowl to toss once more and maintain the height of the leaves.

Make two different salads, then combine

This is key! Build flavors by making two components of the salad that are seasoned differently. Essentially all you’re doing is using two different vinegars. It’s magical and your taste buds will freak.

Use separate bowls

Each component should have its own bowl. This will help you stay organized, save time, and will also serve as a tossing implement. We love our stainless steel guys.

cherrymizuna2

Mizuna salad with Summit Cherries and Blackcap Raspberries

We came up with this salad based on what we had on-hand after a farmer’s market haul last week. Don’t feel restricted by a recipe, use what you have and don’t be afraid to try different pairings. In this, the savory chives with the sweet fruit and vinegar are unexpected but so, so good.

For the Mizuna:

–  Mizuna leaves, ends trimmed

–  feta cheese, crumbled

–  chive blossom vinegar (or other savory version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

–  pepper

Lightly drizzle the olive oil and gently toss to coat the leaves. Once the leaves are  coated drizzle a small amount of chive blossom vinegar, feta, salt, and pepper. Toss gently once more with your hands and then by tossing the bowl. Set aside.

For the cherries and raspberries:

–  5-6 cherries, pitted and halved

–  small handful blackcap raspberries

–  4 sprigs chives, finely minced

–  sherry vinegar (or other sweet version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

Lightly drizzle the cherries, raspberries, and chives with olive oil. The berries are fragile, so very few and delicate touches are important. Gently sprinkle the vinegar, and salt.

Plate by gently placing the cherries and berries around the plate. They’re heavy so we want them beneath the Mizuna. No arranging! Just let things fall as they may. Then gently pile the Mizuna on top. To keep height let the greens fall through your fingers as you transfer them from the plate. Scrape out any remaining pieces of feta and oil. Drizzle with the tiniest bit olive oil before serving.

Bon appetite!!

 



Head in the sand
July 8, 2013, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

movies
Most nights after, mornings before, and days away from work I have a habit of turning on the TV and finding something completely mindless to watch on Instant Netflix. I don’t want to think because the way I feel I swear it would cause some sort of brain injury. I just want to melt into the couch and watch any given episode of Family Guy for the millionth time.

But, alas, one can only disconnect for so long, and I soon became aware of how empty and uninspiring that habit was making me feel. For the past few months I’ve changed up my routine and I’ve come across some really interesting documentaries that are streaming on Instant now. I’ll admit that I’m not always in the mood to watch a super-intense, angry-making, political-injustice type movie…I just take them so personally and its effects can be hard on me. But when I do find the time and the energy to watch them I always appreciate how my perspective shifts and the decisions I make are that much more informed. Here’s to not being an ostrich!

Queen of the Sun

I desperately want to add bees to our little farm, and as much as I’ve tried to make it work we just don’t have the room next to the chickens. This documentary from 2011 is beautiful and insightful. (I just wish the cover wasn’t so creepy.) With our beloved honey bees at the center of the story there’s also some really great profiles on some forward-thinking (and some wonderfully eccentric) apiarists and permaculture farmers, discussions on the dangers of monocrop culture and pesticide use, and a really interesting segment on commercial bees and the breeding of Queen’s. Complex and I can’t lie, very emotional it’s the type of movie that will change the way you think of bees, swarms, and farming.

The Happy Movie

A glimpse of people and cultures around the world in an attempt to identify what makes us happy. Positive psychology is a real thing and it’s pretty cool. After I saw how a rickshaw runner lives in India, or how a once beautiful woman found happiness after a terrible accident it helped me reevaluate my knee-jerk reactions to the petty injustices of the day. I often need reminding so I have watched this a few times. The story of the people of Okinawa, the highest concentration of the oldest living people on the planet, was particularly inspiring.

Hungry for Change

I have watched this documentary several times, and it’s usually when I need that little kick in the ass to get things back on track with my health and diet. There’s suddenly been a lot of talk on the addictive nature of refined sugar and flour and this will help explain how and why it’s so hard for us to step back. There’s also a ton of great information on natural health and beauty which is one of my very favorite topics. Heal your body from the inside!

HOT COFFEE

EVERYONE knows the story of the hot coffee incident from McDonald’s in the 80’s, but I guarantee that you don’t know the REAL story. It’s heartbreaking and so much more complex than any of us ever knew. This story and many more will change the way you think about “frivolous lawsuits” in our country and the effects of tort reform. It’s a very interesting look at how the hot coffee incident was exploited to ultimately protect corporations and change our justice system at the expense of the average citizen.



Summertime Pasta
July 2, 2013, 11:05 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Organic, Recipes

summerpasta

Even amidst all of the heat yesterday I had a crazy craving for a big bowl of pasta. And after feeling slightly bitter that my appetite was in no way suppressed by the heat I finally gave in and embraced the idea of a belly full of noodles and all the summery produce I could add. Mom saw these first of our northwest season cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market and got an extra pint for us along with a bunch of the most tender basil and some crisp shelling peas. Let me quickly say that to miss out on fresh peas in the height of pea season is a crime! Save the frozen guys for the dead of winter and focus on shelling faster than you can pop those little suckers. I promise, you will be so happy.

The only piece of this dish that isn’t in-season per se is the lemon for the sauce, but since it’s often a summertime heat wave staple it’s no biggie.

Not oily in the least this dish is instead wonderfully polished with the perfect amount of tang from the lemon, sweetness from the tomatoes, crispness from the peas, and creaminess from the butter and touch of feta. All together the sum of these ingredients, even in pasta form, makes for a light and fragrant dish for even the hottest of days. It travels well too and can even be eaten cold-ish. Just not right out of the fridge.

lemonsauce

Summertime Pasta

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of sea salt. Drop 1 pound organic spaghetti and cook to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt about 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter* in a sautee pan on medium heat. Add thinly sliced spring onions (white part only for this recipe) and slowly melt them into the butter and olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to melt the onions. Remove from the heat and add the zest and the juice from one lemon and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Once the pasta is done transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season lightly** and quickly toss to coat.

Still working quickly add the lemon sauce. Once the pasta is well coated toss in the fresh cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, shelled peas, and crumbles of Israeli feta***. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper if needed.

Some Notes:

* Kerrygold butter is badass and should be used if you can find it.

**The key here, and to any pasta really, is to layer flavors by creating individual pieces that are seasoned and flavorful on their own. Ultimately this means seasoning the noodles before adding any embellishments. It will elevate your pastas and people will notice.

**We have our own little house mix of seasoning that Andrew made (we call it Magic Powder) and we use on anything and everything in the kitchen. Some of the basic ingredients of our mix include white pepper, organic garlic powder, and fine sea salt. Pulse into a fine powder and add to to the noodles…conservatively though. A little goes a long way!

***We love the Israeli feta from Trader Joe’s. It’s less tangy and salty than others, and packs a bit more of a creamy punch.

A few extras:

I will often add a fried or poached egg (I totally did yesterday). Give it a go, it works really well.

Use the lemon sauce as a base sauce and adjust the vegetables as the seasons and produce change.

ingredients




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