Friday, March 30, 2012

Asparagus Almondine

Plate of asparagus with dressing and almonds on side
Steamed Asparagus Ready for Dressing

Recipe by Robin

Asparagus is an iconic spring vegetable, and the first asparagus of the year is cause to celebrate. It’s asparagus season! According to University of California Davis, California leads the nation is asparagus production, followed by Michigan and Washington. Asparagus is harvested 7 months of the year, but largest harvests occur in March through May. With production going up and prices going down, this is the perfect time of year to look around the markets for fresh young asparagus.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Honeyed Carrots with Cinnamon

Plate of Honeyed Carrots
Simply Delicious Carrots

Recipe adapted from The Chinese Herbal Cookbook

It’s hard to imagine a more utilitarian vegetable than carrots. They grow in the ground with little fuss, surviving freezes and winters with no problem. They can be harvested any time of year, eaten raw or cooked, and they keep well in the fridge or root cellar. They’re packed with vitamin A and minerals. Almost everyone likes them, though we tend to take them for granted. Let’s face it, they are just not very exciting.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Classic Brownies

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Photo of Joy with Candle and Birthday Brownie
Happy Birthday to Joy
I’m all for healthy eating and adding fruits and veggies to baked goods. But sometimes a chocolatey, sugary treat with no redeeming health value is more appropriate to the occasion. Like on March 24, when we celebrated my dear friend Joy’s 75th birthday…without her. She passed away suddenly last year, only two months after we moved to a house near hers. We were close during the short years we were friends. She officiated at my wedding. I’d call her up spontaneously and we’d talk about nature, books, art, anything. She would validate me, even when I made stupid mistakes. Her three kids are close to my age, yet she was like my wise older sister. I’ll never forget her 70th birthday, when she took us to a bellydance show after dinner. Later on, she served us limoncello at her house, and revealed that she owned over 100 Grateful Dead CDs, showing us their jackets in a neat, numbered portfolio.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Braised Chard with Leeks

Plated Braised Chard with Leeks
Garlic and Leeks Compliment Chard

Recipe by Robin

To say that chard saved my life is perhaps an exaggeration. To say that it saved my spirit is not. Back in the days that I lived mostly on beans, rice, and ramen, I could only dream of a supply of fresh veggies in winter. I wasn’t aware of which veggies were in season, only how much they cost at the market. I had no idea that local farms were growing vegetables year-round.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Butternut Squash Blondies

Butternut Blondies for Spring

Recipe by Robin

Happy spring to you and happy blogiversary to Seasonal Eating! It’s been one year and one day since I started writing this blog, and I’d like to re-welcome Seasonal Eating readers. What better way to do this than to publish a recipe by readers’ request? These particular readers also taste-tested the “maiden voyage” of this recipe at a recent potluck. So here you go, folks, it’s Butternut Squash Blondies!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vegetarian Spinach Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Finished Salad Looks Like Mandala
Jae's Potluck Idea

Recipe by Jae and Robin

A few years back, I was completely socially inept. Not only was I unable to make conversation at parties, I was absolutely clueless about what kind of food to bring to these gatherings. So many foods seemed unacceptable: chips and salsa were brought by too many people already, anything with meat was a faux pas if a vegetarian accidentally ate it, shellfish was suspect by individuals who thought it might not be cooked sufficiently, beer was assumed to accompany something else, and the ramen and veggies that I largely subsisted on rapidly deteriorated in texture as the evening progressed.  Because I wanted to mingle with others, I asked my few girlfriends what to do.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Between CSA Seasons, Week 2 Menu

Seasonal, Economical Chard
The last week of winter and the beginning of spring! Since abundance of local veggie variety is still a couple of months away, I decided to thaw some apricots that I froze last year. I anticipate a lot of apricots this summer because the weather was fair when the trees bloomed recently, making for easy pollination. The past two years we’ve had winter storms during what would have been prime time for making fruit. Apricot chicken and easy apricot jam are on the menu.

This week's full of celebrations: St. Patrick’s day, the first day of spring, and Seasonal Eating’s one-year anniversary. As winter moves into spring, new growth and new life start stirring in the natural world. Let’s think of all of the things we’d like to plant this season, both literally and figuratively, to harvest later in the year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smoky Chicken Paprikash

Closeup of Smoky Chicken Paprikash
Smoky Chicken Paprikash on Steamed Zucchini

Recipe by Robin

One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received was a bottle of exotic smoked paprika from my friend Betty. We were talking smoked paprika at a monthly musical gathering. The following month she surprised me with a bottle of my own, from her supply of La Chinata sweet smoked paprika. La Chinata, a manufacturer in Spain, also makes hot smoked paprika and bittersweet smoked paprika, half hot and half sweet.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Tonic Root Vegetable Soup

Spring Tonic Soup
Get Your Vitamins & Minerals Here

Recipe by Robin

About this time of year a few generations ago, mothers in Appalachia concocted spring tonics to invigorate family members after the long winter. Many ingredients were bitter and thought to encourage blood flow to revitalize body tissues, as natural and beneficial as springtime sap rising in a tree. Some traditional ingredients have been proven to be full of vitamins and minerals. Violet leaves are rich in Vitamin C and dandelion greens in Vitamin A. Comfrey is a potent source of calcium and is still prescribed by naturopaths for patients with broken bones.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Between CSA Seasons, Week 1 Menu

Basket with Huge Butternut, Lemons, and Apple
Giant Butternut with other Seasonal Foods
As winter gives way to spring, our CSA pauses for a few weeks between its Winter Season shares and its Regular Season shares. We are free to choose our own veggies, but planning the menu is still beneficial. It avoids the “what’s for dinner and where are the ingredients” syndrome. I’ve been there too many times.

I’ve been taking a challenging online class in finances, and this is my last week, so our menu is simple this week, featuring easy-prep comfort foods. Next week I’ll have time to get a little more creative. Spring veggies like asparagus and peas are beginning to come into season, even as I finally use up the cranberries we’ve had on hand this winter. Pre-spring winds bring fresh movement to the air. Be well and enjoy the last days of winter.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hot Carrot Chard Salad

Bowl of Hot Salad with Chopsticks
Bowlful of Color

Recipe adapted by Bruce from The Greens Cookbook

During these last two weeks of winter, many of us are scanning the landscape for the bright yellows and greens of spring. If you’re a bit tired of Mother Nature’s winter palette, here’s an antidote. Hubby Bruce adapted this colorful winter veggie recipe from his 1985 edition of The Greens Restaurant Cookbook.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

GMOs in Our Food: Call to Action

Maize Growing in Pea Pod
Photo © Yulan
We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post for a word about GMOs and genetic engineering, and a call to action. Genetically engineered (GE) products, commonly called genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are in all sorts of processed foods in the US. Consumers don’t know which ones because the FDA has dismissed consumer requests to label GMO-containing products. However, within the next 40 hours, certain US Congresspeople (from both House and Senate) will send a statement to the FDA calling for labeling of genetically engineered food products. Contact your Senators and Representatives now to ask them to sign onto the Boxer-DeFazio “Dear Colleague” letter to the FDA about labeling GE foods.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Piece of Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
Slice of Un-stuffed Cabbage

Recipe Inspired by Weight Watchers and Mom

Someday I will make stuffed cabbage leaves, the delicious galumkis that my mother and grandmother used to make…sort of. I’ll make a no-beef-or-pork filling and no-Campbell’s-tomato-soup sauce. The family recipe was never written down, so this is a project for when time, patience, and creativity are simultaneously expanded. In the meantime, working on my cooking goal of exploring my Polish cooking roots, I found a Weight Watchers stuffed cabbage casserole, and set out to make a no-beef, more easily prepared version.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

(Final) Winter Week 10 Veggie List & Menu

Large Basket of Apples
Apple Times 53
It’s already the 10th and final week of our winter CSA farm share! We’ll have a month or so before our regular share kicks in to finish up our leftover veggies and make new fruit & veggie year resolutions. We’ll also get to choose our own seasonal veggies for awhile, reversing our usual pattern of receiving veggies before planning the menu. This bit of relaxation in late winter is most welcome, especially since I’ll also be creating a “pot” garden from seeds.