Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dungeness Crab: Selecting and Reheating

Half Crab on Plate
One Half Crab Per Person

Recipe for New Year's


The very last day of 2011, a time to reflect on the past year and contemplate the New Year ahead. On the central CA coast, New Year’s is also a traditional time to enjoy crab. This year is particularly good, as the Dungeness crab population is booming and crab season opened almost a month early. The Dungeness crab fishery is sustainable, with very little bycatch. Crab pots are designed to catch only legal-size individuals, and have little impact upon the surrounding environment.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cooking Dried Garbanzo (and other) Beans

Closeup of Cooked Garbanzos
Cooked Garbanzos Ready for Hummus

Recipe from Frugal Living & other sources


Fast away the old year passes! It’s been a busy December, with lots of good cheer, friends, and family. As I take a short pause before New Year’s, here’s a simple end-of-the-year how-to guide for cooking beans when time is short.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Golden Raisin and Carrot Salad with Peanuts

Bowl of Carrot Raisin Salad
Winter Perk-Me-Up

Recipe by Yankee Magazine


I love when an old friend surprises me. As a former New Englander, I’ve enjoyed Yankee Magazine for years, finding it a great source for traditional recipes that use seasonal ingredients. Yankee isn't the first place I’d think to look for a nutty, nontraditional, vegan salad, and yet their  Fruits of Fall magazine supplement, published in 2000, contains just such a recipe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ginger Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Bowl of Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Classic Ginger Maple Cranberry Sauce

Recipe by Yankee Magazine


Ever notice how the leftover cranberry sauce runs out before the turkey? Here’s a zippy recipe that’s perfect for Christmas leftovers. Quick and easy to prepare, it’s surprisingly zingy and creates a fresh new cranberry sauce experience. Maybe you’ll like this so well that you’ll serve it as your standard cranberry sauce next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Low-fat Appetizers

Celery and Multicolor Bell Peppers on Cutting Board
Christmas-Colored Veggies for Dipping

Menu by Robin, Recipes by Weight Watchers and Cooking by Moonlight


“Simple, low-fat appetizers,” Bruce’s cousin Elizabeth responded when I asked if there was anything particular we could bring for Christmas. “If not possible, just let me know,” she continued, but I love a culinary challenge that requires creative thinking. I also love the idea of beginning a lavish meal with light fare, casually served in the living room as holiday revelers arrive. This menu can also be employed on the week after Christmas when kids are on vacation, as a healthy alternative to the sweets we’ve either made or received as gifts. Next year I’m going to also try this idea for holiday parties and potlucks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Date Nut Bread

Two Pieces of Date Nut Bread with Cream Cheese Ball
Date Nut Bread with Cream Cheese

Adapted from 19th Century Recipe


I love cookbooks compiled by church women’s groups, especially if they are more than two decades old, preferably three or four. These books of family recipes, put together by volunteers as church fundraisers, are excellent sources for old school cooking in modern times. For sure, many recipes use canned soups and other processed foods, or are very high in fat, but the creative cook can make substitutions, like fresh mushrooms for canned, whole wheat noodles for refined elbow macaroni, lean ground turkey for ground beef, real celery in white sauce for cream of celery soup, etc. And there are always a few recipe gems, things that I remember from eras past.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sautéed Chanterelles

Plated Sauteed Chanterelles
Chanterelles: A Colorful Side Dish

Recipe Inspired by New Leaf Market


Happy Solstice, All! Tonight is the longest night of the year here in the northern hemisphere, and the last of the golden sunlight left the tops of the redwoods before 5 pm. It’s cold, dark, and damp in the woods, urging us to spend more time indoors, preferably in front of a fireplace, keeping warmth and light within ourselves as winter begins.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Veggie Frittata

Slice of Frittata on Plate
Winter Veggie Frittata

Recipe by Robin


I confess that I have never made a frittata before. The word intrigued me, and when I won a raffle prize of 6 fresh eggs from the office manager’s chickens, I thought “frittata.” Frittatas, it turns out, are quite similar to “veggies and scrambled eggs,” which I used to make every Sunday morning when I was single, paired with whole grain toast and homemade jam. Back in those days I used zucchini, bell peppers, and sometimes tomatoes, in other words summer veggies. To honor where we are in the yearly cycle (and to use veggies on hand), I winterized my old recipe.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Week 3 Veggie List & Menu

Bowl of Red and Green Apples
Christmas Pippins from Dan's tree
I won a raffle prize yesterday at the staff meeting at my day job: ½ dozen eggs fresh from the office manager’s chickens! I could use them for seasonal baking, but decided to feature the delicious fresh taste in some variation of frittata instead. It’s been many years since I’ve had eggs this fresh. It was enlightening to learn that our manager cleans up after the chickens every morning, taking care of ”the sh*ttiest job I’ll have to do all day” before she even gets to work…now how many of us can say that? Thank you, Maureen!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oven Braised Parsnips and Carrots

Plated Parsnips and Carrots with Parsley Sprinkles and Lemon Wedges
Braised and Garnished Parnsips and Carrots

Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking


“I love your cooking, Robin,” said my friend Joy at dinner a week before Christmas last year. She was specifically talking about this dish, which Bruce and I served with roast turkey, coleslaw, and cranberry sauce. “You know how to make healthy things taste good.”  Sadly, this was the last meal we shared. A chronic illness put her into sudden decline the next week, and she passed away shortly afterwards. I will always cherish my memory of our last dinner, and how we attended the Christmas carol singalong with Boomeria’s 2500-pipe organ afterwards. Let’s join in celebration with our friends, while we have the opportunity.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Simply Baked Yams

Baked Yams on Plate with Maple Syrup, Butter, and Cinnamon on the Side
Fix Your Own: Butter, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon

Recipe by Robin


In December, food media tends to emphasize complicated recipes for sweet and buttery treats and desserts. I’m all for holiday baking (and will post some recipes that contain seasonal fruits later), but wanted to offer the alternative of a simple baked yam, naturally colorful and sweet. Although my recipe contains sweetener (maple syrup) and butter, the amount compared with the vegetable is low. Since butter and syrup are served as “add your own” condiments, each diner can add the amount they like.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 10 Gifts for Seasonal Cooks

Green Cauliflower Tree Decorated with Bird and Ribbon
Romanesco Cauliflower Dressed for the Season
Seasons and available foods change, but some kitchen tools get used in all seasons, year after year. ‘Tis the season to be gifting, and I’ve come up with a list of 10 tools that seasonal cooks will appreciate and use year-round. I’ve received many of these as gifts myself. I invite you to comment and add your own favorites. And yes, if you click on a link and buy something (anything) at Amazon, I get a little referral fee, so I’ll be able to retire a little sooner and blog more. *Grin*

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Week 2 Veggie List & Menu

Basket of Parsnips with Greens
I've never seen parsnip greens before.
Have you?
Today we received our first winter CSA share here in central coastal California. Last week actually began the season, but we were visiting family, like many of us do around this time of year. Returning from Idaho, I feel fortunate to live in a county where food can be grown year-round. Moving on towards the darkest time of year, we’ll be eating plenty of root veggies, onions, and apples, and someday soon I will have to make use of the giant pumpkin from the Live Earth Farm harvest festival in October.

While it’s tempting to post lots of treat recipes this month, I’ll find some nutritious main and side dishes too. For starters, check out my friend Mira’s curried cauliflower, which I’ll be making tomorrow night with the delicate green Romanesco.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Bars

Closeup of Pumpkin Cranberry Bar
Pumpkin Cranberry Bar Closeup

Adapted from Weight Watchers Recipe


December, one of my favorite months, is here to conclude 2011. Late fall turns to winter, and the darkest day of the year arrives along with celebrations of family, food, and return of the light to the world--in the northern hemisphere. Our friends in Australia and Africa celebrate quite differently as daylight approaches its yearly maximum. It can be hard for those of us in darkness to imagine the light, nor should we try. Short, dark days have a beauty of their own as we retreat indoors, rest more, and find sustenance in light from within.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom’s Applesauce

Large Bowl of Mom's Applesauce
Mom's Applesauce, Smooth Texture

Recipe by Mom


Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.

Sara Coleridge, only daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wrote these words in 1834, part of her poem “The Months.” I remember reading this in my childhood almanac, and it inspired my lifelong interest in changing seasons throughout the annual cycle. Indeed, November has stripped our fruit trees and even weeping willows of their leaves. Cloudy, cool, and grey, today is what my sister Chris calls an Applesauce Day. November is usually full of these, as is February.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cider Braised Cabbage and Apples

Cider Braised Cabbage and Apples in Pot
Braised Kapusta & Apples in Cider

Adapted from Bon Appetit Recipe


In the beginning of the 2011 CSA season, I set a goal of exploring my Polish roots through cooking. Kapusta (cabbage) is a Polish staple food, and I know that my ancestors cooked kapusta and onions with caraway seeds. The triple apple addition in this recipe (apples, cider, and vinegar) compliments the cabbage by adding sweetness, texture, and a bit of tartness.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranberry Sauce with Wine & Spice

Glass Bowl of Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce
Cranberry-Cabernet Sauce

Recipe by Robin


“This is the worst cranberry sauce I’ve ever eaten in my life!” exclaimed my (former) brother-in-law about the first cranberry sauce I ever made. “Dear, we MADE that!” said my sister, using “we” diplomatically even though it was my idea, my recipe, my cooking. He made it clear that he preferred the canned jelly pillar to anything involving whole cranberries and oranges. He'd thought my sauce was store-bought because I had served it out of a recycled brown Ovaltine jar. I never got too creative with cranberry sauce again…until now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mom’s Apricot Yams with Spice

Slice of Apricot Yam Casserole
Apricot Yams

Recipe by Mom and Robin


Happy Thanksgiving, All! The first thing that I do every Thanksgiving, before I’m even out of bed, is to think of 10 things for which to give thanks. Top of the list is always my husband, friends, family, home, and having plenty to eat. It’s everyday things--like a bountiful harvest that puts food on the table--that Thanksgiving celebrates.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy Polish Carrot Cake

Slice of Carrot Cake on Plate
Carrot Cake with Double Frosting Recipe

Recipe from Healing Foods by Miriam Polunin


I’ve wanted to try this recipe for ages. What’s not to like when “a large slice of this super-moist cake has a food value similar to that of a main course” according to Miriam Polunin, who created the recipe in 1990 when carbo-loading was in style. Actually, this is healthier than most cakes. One serving has 190 calories and most cakes have at least twice that. It is sweetened with honey, and only a small amount. Though not really high fiber, the whole wheat flour, raisins, poppy seeds, and carrots do contribute 2 fiber grams per serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 33 Veggie List & Menu

Apple with Branch and Mini-Apple Attached
Whimsical Apple
This week marks the end of our CSA’s regular share season. Thank you, Live Earth Farm, for the tasty organic veggies, fun community events, and the easy system for donating our share to food banks when we’re out of town. We’ve signed up for a LEF winter share as well, and pick-ups will start December 1. Next week is Thanksgiving, and although I won’t post formal menus, I’ll continue posting recipes, particularly whatever I make for the Thanksgiving potluck. Hopefully I’ll get an inspiration for that soon. A third large green cabbage in as many weeks means you’ll likely see some sort of cabbage recipe/s as well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roasted Beets with Apple Cider Glaze

Plate of Cider Glazed Roasted Beets
Apple Cider Glazed Beets

Recipe Adapted from Various Sources


I’ve tried roasting root vegetables many times and have always come to the same conclusion about turnips and rutabagas: DON’T! Unless they are very small, they are just too fibrous for the dry heat of the oven. Moist heat cooking suits them better. On the other hand, even large beets these days are tender enough for roasting, and this naturally sweet cider glaze plays up the beets’  sweetness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Applesauce Cake

Slice of Applesauce Cake Plated
Slice of a Classic

Recipe Inspired by the Boston Cooking School Cookbook


Applesauce cake has been around for years. I remember my grandmother making it back in the 1950s, but it's been baked since the 19th century. I was nostalgic for this classic seasonal recipe, especially since I had a huge amount of homemade applesauce after the apple u-pick a couple weeks back. I began with a recipe from the 1942 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook, but wanted to make it lighter and moister. I borrowed an idea from the 1975 Joy of Cooking, and added an egg. I also used more applesauce, baking soda, and raisins.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Strawberry Crisp

Two Strawberry Crisps
Strawberry Crisps

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers & Joy


Happy 11/11/11 at 11:11! I’ve heard a few predictions about what will happen at this time, from 1111 celestial beings helping us humans make our dreams come true to the mouth of hell opening up on earth. I’m going with the former. In any case, something unusual could happen…like baking with fresh strawberries in November!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 32 Veggie List & Menu

Three Small and One Large Butternut Squash
A Bounty of Butternuts
For days I’ve been making varieties of herbed tomato soup (see bottom of linked page).  With a dozen or two tomatoes left from this season, I’d like to do something special, perhaps a small batch of homemade catsup or just an all-tomato salad. On to the fall veggies: plenty of greens, more cabbage and beets, Brussels sprouts, leeks, onions, potatoes, and winter squash.

11/11/11 is coming this week, a palindromic date that occurs once every 100 years. In numerology, 11 can represent a channel to the subconscious, a doorway to the inner self. Some also say that 11:11 is the symbol of spirit guardians, a group of 1111 celestial beings who look after us earthlings. Perhaps I’ll have an amazing insight, or get zapped by a celestial do-gooder, at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11. Or, maybe I will just have some fun appreciating the number and our lucky space in time.

I’m going to have a second try at recreating my (long deceased) Gram’s applesauce cake this week—I overcooked last week’s batch and it was a little tough to cut (hungry musicians enjoyed it at the potluck anyway). I’d like to try more apple syrup, since we got apple juice in our CSA share, and perhaps roast some root veggies with it. Three small butternut squash are perfect candidates for microwaving. First of the season’s Brussels sprouts are harbingers of winter. But can you believe we got one last basket of strawberries (a bit pale, but strawberries nonetheless)? Live Earth Farm, you are awesome in the true sense of the word!

This week’s veggies:

Gala apples (lots)
Beets
Beet greens
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage (large green)
Collard greens
Green beans
Kale
Leeks
Onions
Yellow Finn potatoes
Butternut squash
Strawberries
Apple Juice

Leftovers: leeks, rutabagas, beets, large cabbage, cranberry-orange relish, roast turkey thighs, carrots, tomatoes, 1 hot pepper, applesauce, cranberries, butternut squash, herbed tomato soup, oregano, basil

Wednesday
leftover roast turkey
steamed green beans
leftover herbed tomato soup with hot peppers

Thursday
leftover roast turkey
steamed Brussels sprouts
make applesauce cake

Friday
veggie burgers
strawberry crisp?

Saturday
Lunch: catered after Holt’s urn-filling ceremony
Dinner:
steamed beet greens

Sunday
Lunch:
tacos or veggie burgers

Dinner:
roast turkey thighs
cider-glazed roasted root veggies
cranberry-orange relish

Monday
beet & cabbage borscht
leftover turkey and veggies

Tuesday
leftovers

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry-Orange Relish Complete
Three Ingredients, Simple Preparation

Recipe Discovered by Carol


Quite a few years back I worked as a production jeweler for various small and even smaller businesses, meeting many talented and eccentric individuals in the process. One of my favorite such individuals is my friend Carol, for whom I worked on two different occasions throughout the years. An avid reader with an interest in just about everything, she would have been an excellent researcher if art hadn’t been her primary obsession. She also was quite creative in the kitchen, often cooking large quantities and bringing delicious leftovers to work to share.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cooking Fresh Pinto or Cranberry Beans

Fresh Cranberry (or Pinto?) Beans

Recipe by Robin


Back in September, I found some beautifully patterned beans at the Farmer’s Market in Watsonville, CA. I asked some Mexican-American shoppers about them and they told me that that these were fresh pinto beans. "Pinto" means "painted" in Spanish, referring to the spots on the beans. These painted beans could in fact be the larger cranberry bean, as my rudimentary Spanish skills prevented me from understanding the entire explanation. Both varieties are spotted, and can be cooked the same way, though pintos require a bit less time. Fresh pinto/cranberry beans aren’t widely available, and the season is short, so do try them if you’re lucky enough to find them.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 31 Veggie List & Menu

Chrysanthemums and Lemons
It looks like cold weather is settling into Santa Cruz with mid-fall. Every year it seems so sudden. Nights get chilly and the furnace must be turned on. Tonight I even covered up the plants, as it’s rumored that we will have our first hard frost. The chrysanthemums, luckily, are quite tolerant of this and continue blooming in the garden.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Cornish Hen and Cranberry-Orange Sauce on Platter
Hen with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two


It’s a perfect fall day here in northern California. The locust tree in my neighbor’s year is dropping golden leaves so poetically that I don’t mind them fluttering into my yard. It’s sunny, cool, and a bit breezy. Yellow and white chrysanthemums bloom in the garden. A pot of rustic applesauce bubbles on the stove. Thinking of my east coast friends, who are still cleaning up the aftermath of an unbelievably early snowstorm, I feel extremely lucky to have this beautiful day, not to mention power and lights. Best wishes to east coasters, may you be warm and lit again soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lemon-Ginger Green Beans

Plate of Lemon-Ginger Green Beans
Green Beans to Celebrate New Year

Recipe from Cooking By Moonlight


It’s the Celtic New Year and a beautiful fall day in the Santa Cruz mountains. A fresh breeze is combing the redwoods, blowing small branchlets of russet needles everywhere. It’s cool but sunny, invigorating weather for outdoor forays, and a perfect day to start a new year. For those of us who like playing with numbers, 11/1/11 is a particularly fine and symmetrical day to begin the year.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Plate of Apple Cranberry Crisp
Fruits of the Season

Recipe from Cooking by the Seasons


Happy Halloween All! It is said that at this time of year the veil between the living and the dead grows thinner. Christians are preparing to celebrate All Saints and All Souls day to honor the dead and pray for their safe journey to heaven. In Mexico, folks will be celebrating Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) by building altars to honor the dead, decorating graveyards with flowers, and inviting spirits of those passed to join the celebratory gathering of family and friends. Participants cast an eye towards the living as well, acknowledging the fact that we will all pass into spirit someday. Similar celebrations occur in Brazil, Spain, and parts of Asia and Africa. I’m building a memorial altar to honor my dear friend Joy and my father, who both passed away this year.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

African Carrot Sambal

Plate of Carrot Sambal
Carrot Sambal with Padrone Peppers

Recipe from the Carrot Cookbook


Long about 1978 our Santa Cruz Planned Parenthood self-published (by way of copy machine) an unassuming Carrot Cookbook compiled by PP employees. This volume was a follow-up to their Zucchini Cookbook, which was “considered almost too silly to use as a fundraiser,” yet sold 20,000 copies at $2.50 each. The philosophy of the Carrot Cookbook was “to glorify the carrot—to elevate it from just a stick around a bowl of dip, just a companion to a brown bag lunch, just a curl alongside a hamburger.”

Week 30 Veggie List & Menu

Dishpan Filled with Apples
Bumper Crop of U-Pick Apples
Fall is most assuredly asserting herself now, with golden sunny (and shorter) days and long chilly nights. On Monday we celebrate All Hallows Evening (Halloween or Samhain), marking mid-autumn and the end of the Celtic year. Traditionally, this is the third and final harvest of the year, the harvest of fruits and nuts. Fall fruits and veggies are abundant in coastal CA now: the last of summer’s tomatoes and peppers, fall’s apples and pumpkins, wintery root veggies and multi-seasonal lettuce and greens. This bounty of veggies calls for a giant stir fry on Saturday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Herbed Tomato Soup

Bowl of Tomato Soup
Herbed Tomato Soup

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two


It’s the very end of tomato season this year on the central CA coast, so I ordered 10 lbs. of dry-farmed Early Girls from our CSA Farm. That was the smallest quantity I could get. I’m planning to make more baked tomato sauce, perhaps with Armenian bell peppers, but in the meantime remembered making a delicious tomato soup when I first came to Santa Cruz a few decades back. I don’t remember the recipe, except that it contained milk and I kicked it up by adding some red pepper. But this recipe uses neither of those ingredients…I was going to add them, but the soup tasted too good as is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken with Peppers, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

Chicken with Pepper, Zucchini, and Tomatoes Plated
Chicken with Garden-Fresh Veggies

Recipe by Bruce


Even in marriages with no particular gender roles, a woman is lucky if her husband likes to cook and is good at it. And if her husband can improvise with ingredients on hand, and even does the dishes, it doesn’t get much better. To quote the movie Footloose, “Let’s hear it for the boy!”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baked Apples

Baked Apple on a Plate
Baked Apple

Recipe from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer


Inspired by our 11 lb. U-Pick and my recent apple pancake recipe, I turned to Fannie Farmer’s classic Boston Cooking School Cookbook for a baked apple recipe. Originally written in 1896, this was the first cookbook to use standardized measurements such as tablespoons and cups. This became the most popular cookbook of its time in the US. The 1945 edition, which my mom loaned me a few days before she died, contains meal-planning and nutritional tips from the era too. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Pancakes

Plate of Pancakes with Cinnamon-sugar and Golden Syrup
Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon and Apple Syrup

Recipe adapted from The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer


When I was a kid, my family observed meatless Fridays, usually fish, potatoes, and a vegetable. I wasn’t crazy about fish back then. So imagine my delight when my mom decided to serve more casual fare for a period of time when my dad went to night school. Pancakes for dinner!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Syrup and All Things Apple

Smiley Face Pancake
Apple Syrup on Apple Pancakes

Recipe by Robin, Bruce & Happy Girl Kitchen


Bruce and I got a little carried away at the Live Earth Farm Harvest Festival and Apple U-Pick yesterday. Although we were hot and tired by the time we walked all the way to the orchard, we picked 11 lbs. in just a few minutes. This is about twice the number I’d planned to pick--since our apple tree at home is still bearing large if less numerous fruit. In the US, apples will never taste fresher or cost less than they do right now. So let’s celebrate apple season by noshing as many as we like for snacks, then making apple goodies with the rest!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 29 Veggie List & Menu

Cut-up Apple on Cutting Board
Celebrate: More Apples, More Apple Recipes

“Adapt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


Our CSA sent these words of wisdom in last week’s newsletter. It’s even more appropriate this week, since this week’s fruits and veggies look like an instant replay of last week’s. Patience is the tool that I need to re-make the Carrot Sambal, Roasted Beet Salad, and Apple Cake recipes from last week in an attempt to improve them from good to uniquely delicious.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Summer Squash in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Summer Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce Plated
Squash and Tomatoes: A Winning Combo

Recipe by Robin


If someone told me that I could eat only two vegetables for the rest of my life and let me make the choice, I’d choose yellow squash and tomatoes. When I was a teenager, my mother and I would eat all-vegetable dinners straight from the garden on hot summer evenings. These always included sliced fresh tomatoes and steamed and mashed crookneck squash with butter, garlic salt, and pepper. These meals inspired me to take up organic gardening a few years later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Psari Savori: Greek Fish Fillets with Tomato and Wine Vinegar Sauce

Golden Fish Topped with Bright Red Sauce
Psari Savori, both Flavorful and Colorful

Recipe adapted from Middle Eastern Cooking


Back in the 1970s, I discovered the first all-ethnic-cookbook I’d ever seen on my sister’s in-laws’ bookshelf. The Cooking of Scandinavia was one of a Time-Life book series called Foods of the World. Each book consisted of two volumes, a large picture book and a small spiral bound recipe book, featuring cuisine of various countries and ethnic groups. The beautiful (pre-Photoshop) photos and the descriptions of foods and customs of other nations inspired my young mind and opened up a whole new world of cooking and travel ideas for my future. You can still find these books at flea markets and used book vendors, and they are fun forays into the pre-globalized world of the late 1960s.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 28 Veggie List & Menu

Basket of Pears and Apples
Fall Fruits: Warren Pears & Gala Apples
I've been away from the West Coast, in Cape Cod, MA, scattering my deceased father's ashes and visiting places that he loved, and that I love. Amidst family musings, and with limited kitchen resources, I temporarily abandoned my usual weekly menu format, while donating our weekly farm share to Loaves and Fishes, a local food bank. It's been liberating to only post recipes and whatever commentary comes to mind. But now I'm ready continue with my original format, with my goal of creating a whole year of seasonal menus.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Open Faced Tomato Sandwiches

Sandwich on Plate
Open Faced Tomato Sandwich

Recipe by Mom


We tolerate things from our family that we'd never put up with from friends. After all, we can un-friend someone, but we can't un-family them. If a friend asked me, after not seeing me in three years, "Why did you come and visit me anyway? I'm not lonely!" I would not call up the next day to ask if I could see him then. In fact, I would not have traveled the 3200 miles to his town to make a connection. But I did that with my father last year, and it happened that this was the last time I saw him before he passed away. It was not an easy or fun trip, not a happy connection, but a reaching out to someone who was expert at distancing others when his mood suited.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Microwave Steamed Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash by the Sea
Cooking Squash Away from Home

Recipe compiled at Chowhound.com


Normally I would have never agreed to microwave a winter squash. But while on Cape Cod recently, the only locally grown veggie I could find was butternut squash. And how to cook that in a motel efficiency unit with only one large knife of dubious sharpness was a challenge, until Bruce suggested microwaving it.

He did some web research, and it seemed simple enough, as long as we watched the squash carefully. According to rworange at chowhound.com, “NEVER leave the kitchen. If the squash starts whistling, squeaking or making other noise, there's too much steam building up inside. Pause the microwave for a little and then restart. Otherwise said squash might explode.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sustainable Grilled Bluefish

Plate of Grilled Bluefish with Seaweed Salad
Grilled Bluefish with Seaweed Salad

Recipe by Bruce


I’ve been on the US East Coast for awhile, to scatter my recently deceased father’s ashes with my two sisters. We chose a beach in Provincetown, MA that my parents enjoyed, and where we scattered Mom’s ashes a few years back.

Being on Cape Cod, I’ve wanted to enjoy the seafoods that we don’t have on the West Coast. Of course, there’s lobster, which is too difficult for a transient like myself to prepare, and the smell would linger, since my room doesn’t have a fan. But there’s also bluefish, which my husband can grill fairly easily. This is an oily fish so can smell quite a bit, so outdoor cooking is preferable.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baked Tomato Sauce

Bowl of Rigatoni with Tomato Sauce
Baked Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

Recipe by Barbara and Robin


Tomatoes are still coming in strong in many fall gardens. The idea for this recipe comes from my longtime friend Barbara, the only gardener I’ve ever known who grew corn in foggy Santa Cruz. Originally from Chicago, she grew a row of corn every year, even though she harvested only a few small ears. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Middle Eastern Style Carrot Dill Salad

Simple, Colorful Carrot Dill Salad

Recipe by Bruce


Recently we were trying to use up all the perishable veggies in the refrigerator before going away for a bit. We’d accumulated a substantial amount of carrots for our CSA share, but those would last until we got back home. However, the plump bunch of dill would not. My husband suggested a simple carrot-dill salad. “Tell me more,” I said. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rustic Applesauce

Old Fashioned Glass Bowl of Rustic Applesauce
Rustic Applesauce from Windfall Apples

Recipe by Robin


At our house, early apples fall before they’re fully ripe, and can be a bit buggy. But why waste less than perfect organic apples? My husband gathered them up, cutting out the cores and bug damage, added a squeeze of lemon juice, and left them in the fridge for us to snack on. But less than ripe apples had limited "a-peel." So, the next load of windfall apples, the volume of which required both of us to cut out bugs and cores, became rustic applesauce. Unlike my Mom’s applesauce, it contains apple skins, and is chunky rather than smooth, since it's not run through a food mill.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Small Cup of Roasted Seeds
Roasted Seeds from One Butternut Squash

Recipe by Robin and Mom


Here’s a simple recipe for roasting the seeds from my last post’s baked squash. I’ve seen recipes that use oil or cooking spray, but without oil the seeds get crisp and cook faster. I use sea salt, but you can eliminate the salt if you prefer. You can bake them in the oven along with the squash if you like.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Baked Winter Squash

Serving of Baked Butternut with Maple Syrup, Butter, and Pumpkin Pie Spice
Baked Butternut with Spices

Recipe by Robin


Happy Equinox to all! I just learned today that the length of day and night is not exactly 12 hours throughout the world (that’s equilux, different at every latitude). But metaphorically we can think of this day as a period of balance of light and dark, as the sun crosses the equator from north to south. While friends in Zimbabwe and Australia celebrate vernal equinox today, here in the US we’re celebrating the beginning of autumn. Both spring and fall are transitional seasons where winds kick up and life begins or ends for the year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orange Basil Chocolate Truffles

Plate of Truffles Garnished with Basil Leaves
Orange Basil Chocolate Truffles

Recipe by Robin


Three years ago today I was married after an 11-year courtship. But something even more amazing happened that day. Kelly, my maid of honor, brought 250 truffles that she had made herself to the wedding. Her husband James assembled the commemorative boxes and they packed up one raspberry and one coffee truffle for each guest. She offered to make them along with her other maid of honor tasks like organizing the shower, shopping for dresses, finding cheap flower source, giving the toast, and being my go-to person for staying somewhat sane while planning all the details.