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

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, “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.