It’s all about food for me: shopping, cooking, writing, reading, eating, feeding. When it’s not food, I’m hanging out with the kids, reading Zeeba Neighba (Pearls before Swine) to my son, going on a field studies with my daughter (last week the Gorge, tomorrow to pick lavender). I also like to play soccer and read. Latest favorite book: The Well and the Mine.
Wondering what to do with the latest seasonal foods? Here’s a partial record of what we’ve been eating ourselves.
In New Zealand, I was once told by a friend who spent a year there, it’s common to store kiwifruit at room temperature until they are sweet and pulpy, then eaten. I can imagine it, but it doesn’t appeal to me. After all, what I like about kiwis is the cheap thrill of tartness.
Lucky me, then, because tart fruit is what’s mostly available here. Kiwis in the store right now are mostly from California and were most likely harvested unripe in the fall, stored at a cooler temperature, then brought to market during what we’ve come to know as kiwi season: late fall into spring.
Continue reading Kiwis »
All too often, when a fruit first comes into season I buy far too much of it. I place the pears or tangerines in a pretty bowl and set it on the table, where I can admire it and, if possible, eat the fruit straight out of hand. But fruits (like quince) that require cooking to make them edible or more delicious begin to wither if left too long as a still life. Such is the case with the Meyer lemons currently sitting on my counter.
Cooks love Meyer lemons — a cross between a regular lemon and an orange — for their fragrance, smooth thin rind, and sweet (or less acidic) flavor. Grown in California, Texas, and Florida, the lemons peak between November and January, but their season often extends into March.
Continue reading Meyer lemons »
The pickup: Pomegranates, those leathery crimson orbs encasing a hive of jewels. They’re seedy little treats, tart and juicy. Come winter, I’m grateful for the variety they offer when I’m beginning to tire of apples and pears and I’ve overdosed on citrus fruits. As a kid I loved packing a half-pomegranate in my lunch, a piece of exotica next to the salami sandwich and dill pickle.
The results: Wrangling pomegranates is a messy (and clothing-staining) business; you can avoid stains by plunging pomegranate halves into a bowl of water and picking out the seeds under water. But I love seeding pomegranates over a plate; it means that, so long as I’m not sharing, I can lick my fingers as I go.
Continue reading Pomegranates »
The pickup: Last week, anticipating freezing temperatures, I picked all the green tomatoes — mostly cherry and pear — from the yellowing vines in my garden. My intent was to make green-tomato chutney.
The results: However, in the interim between harvesting and cooking, a good third of the tomatoes turned red. Those late bloomers have been tossed into salad, stirred into guacamole, and smashed into sandwiches and burgers. Crazy — eating garden tomatoes in November!
So, loosely following a recipe from Elizabeth David’s book Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen, I placed the stubbornly green tomatoes in a pot with chopped onions, green apples, apple-cider vinegar, brown sugar, kosher salt, ginger, garlic, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes.
Continue reading It’s easy being green »
The pickup: I adore the apple lady at the Saturday Portland Farmers’ Market. She is attentive and good-natured — and she sells wonderful apples. She favors uncommon varieties, or “Old World apples,” grown without chemical sprays. Because of this, not all of her apples are pretty; some sport blemishes and wormholes, and some are comically misshapen. No matter. She grows some of the best apples around.
It was at her table that I first tasted a Pink Pearl apple, a variety I had only read about. I was delighted with its amazing integral color and tangy taste. A couple of weeks later, when I returned for more, there were none to be seen. I expressed my dismay to the queen of apples. She asked how many I wanted, then filled a bag from under the table. Black-market apples! “Next year I’m planting more of these,” she said with a sly smile.
Continue reading Tickled pink »
The pickup: Red Harvest peaches, Italian prunes, blackberries, red potatoes, green beans, lemon cucumbers, pimientos de Padrón, and a couple of extraordinary watermelons: Tangerine Dream (orange on the inside) and Superbowl (shaped like a football and oh-so-sweet).
The results: All of the fruit we ate out of hand or with yogurt and honey, saving the melons for dessert. I turned the green beans and red potatoes into summer potato salad.
I adore the cucumbers and consumed most of them whole, like apples, and tucked the rest into salads and sandwiches.
Continue reading Pimientos de Padrón »
The pickup: When it comes to fruit, no matter how much I buy on Saturday, we’re out by mid-week. Luckily the Eastside Farmers’ Market offers a quick fix on Thursdays. Last week I picked up a half-flat of raspberries and blackberries, several peaches, a bag of salad greens, a couple of yellow and green zucchini, a bunch of purple spring onions, and a large container of tart cherries.
The results: The berries and peaches we ate out of hand, as well as over cereal, yogurt, and ice cream. The zucchini I turned into a delicious frittata, first cutting them into matchsticks, then sautéing them in a little butter with the purple onions and a clove of sliced garlic. To this I added a handful of leftover bacon, a lightly beaten egg, a bit of chopped basil from the garden, and some grated Parmesan. A brief moment under the broiler and it was done: lunch for one.
Continue reading Lunch for one »
The pickup: A half-flat of strawberries at the Thursday market.
The results: My intention was to make an easy boccone dolce for a gathering of moms and daughters in the mountains, but when I couldn’t find the meringue cookies at the store I picked up a package of ladyfingers instead. My daughter and I made trifle, completely winging it, with only a foggy idea of what trifle is and no recipe (magazine, cookbook, or site) to guide us.
First I washed four pints of berries, then sliced them into a bowl and tossed them with a bit of sugar. I set them aside and we went for a bike ride. Later I scooped a cup of the berries into the blender, added all the accumulated juice from the bowl of berries along with a quarter-cup of Triple Sec, then puréed.
Continue reading Faux trifle »
After agonizing over whether to join a CSA or continue to shop at the farmers’ market once (maybe twice) a week, I’ve opted for the latter. For two reasons: I’ll go anyway because I love the summer fruit, and the market is closer to my house than the pickup site for the nearest CSA. To sum it up, in three words: berry greed, convenience.
The pickup: Last Saturday I bought a flat of local strawberries, along with sugar snap peas, the season’s first cherries, and some Walla Walla sweet onions.
Continue reading Berry berry juicy »
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