Monday, April 30, 2012

Golden Beet Soup with Herbs

Bowl of Golden Beet Soup with Herb Garnish
Cheery and Unexpected Yellow Soup

Recipe inspired by Healing Foods

“I wonder how that pureed carrot cilantro soup would be with beets, like the gal from Healing Foods suggested. And what kind of herbs would we use with beets?” I pondered.

“If I were you, I’d start with golden beets and a small amount of herbs.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Orange Spiced Carrots

Carrots and Oranges Simmering in Skillet
Cooking the Carrots & Making the Glaze

Recipe adapted from Carrot Cookbook

Carrots do so many things, culinarily speaking. They’re a natural for salads hot or cold, for stir-frying, in soups, simply braised, as vehicles for dips, and even in cakes and candies (carrot halvah recipe coming in May!). Carrots are a Seasonal Eating blogger’s dream veggie, available all year long, able to be stored in the fridge for days or weeks, brightly colored, versatile, and popular with people of all ages. This recipe comes from the Carrot Cookbook, compiled by Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz in 1978, as a followup to their popular Zucchini Cookbook.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Braised Leeks Mexican (ish) Style

Plate of Braised Leeks with Lime and Tomatillo Salsa
Serve Hot or Cold

Recipe adapted from Mexican Everyday

Three weeks of leeks, and then some! Leeks are one of our CSA’s most prolific crops, week after week, and their size requires considerable real estate in the refrigerator. They typically need to pair with other veggies, as in Potato Leek Soup, or with meats or rice. They’re not like broccoli, chard, or carrots. You can’t use up mass quantities of them by simply steaming. My attempts at baking them in various ways have failed: witness the cheesy leek bake. Leeks keep piling up, week after week. Clearly I’m not doing a good job of what my friend Barbara (hi, Barbara!) calls “refrigerator maintenance.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Green Salad with Oranges and Fresh Orange Dressing

Salad Bowl with Orange Salad
Winning Combo: Oranges and Greens

Recipe by Robin

It’s the end of orange season in California, and I’ve been trying all month to make a citrus glaze for chicken. My husband calls this “successive approximation” of a recipe. After several trials with “nearly delicious” results, I thought of a simpler orange idea: a salad with orange slices and orange dressing, inspired by the huge heads of red leaf lettuce we’ve been getting from our CSA.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Top Ten Earth Friendly Organizations

The Blue Marble, courtesy NASA

Environmental Advocacy Groups and You

Happy Earth Day! We’ve come a long way since our first Earth Day in 1970. Certain pesticides have been banned, lead is no longer used in paints and gasoline, and wilderness areas have been protected. Consumers have learned to eat local foods, measure and reduce their carbon footprint, and avoid genetically engineered foods. There is still much to do. As technology develops, new toxic wastes and pesticides of unknown toxicity are introduced faster than we can keep track of them. Global warming and climate change are facts of life. What’s a concerned individual to do? How can we stay informed and protect our earth and our families, and still have time to work, play, and enjoy the environment that we’re protecting? How can we avoid becoming depressed about the state of our earth?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ruby Root Vegetable Slaw with Miso Dressing

Serving of Ruby Root Veggie Slaw
Colorful, Nutritious, and Delicious

Recipe by Robin, inspired by New Leaf Market

In my last post, I stated that carrots are more nutritious cooked than raw, because beta-carotene becomes more available after cooking. However, the reverse is true for vegetables high in Vitamin C, which are more nutritious eaten raw. Eating a mixture of raw and cooked veggies makes life more interesting, not to mention nutritious, so this recipe is all-raw. Ingredients are mainly shredded beets and daikon (white icicle) radishes, both high in Vitamin C, plus shredded carrots. What makes the recipe kick is the miso dressing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Carrot & Cilantro (or other herb) Soup

Recipe from Healing Foods

Even people who love to cook appreciate a simple recipe that looks bright and tastes deliciously different. This recipe features the combination of carrots and cilantro, without the addition of more complicated flavors. It’s ready in 25 minutes or less, and during 15 of those minutes the carrots cook themselves without need of the cook’s attention. It's healthful, containing plenty of natural skin-friendly Vitamin A. It's a lovely color and looks and tastes like it was more complicated than it is.  What’s not to like? If you just said, “I hate cilantro,” try substituting a fresh herb that you do like, perhaps thyme, oregano, chives, or parsley.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Early Season Gardening

Desk with plants, pots, lights, and dirt
Don't Try this at Home, Kids

Starting Tomatoes and Culinary Poppies

I’ve always loved digging in the dirt, how about you? Were you the kid with perpetual dirt stains on your knees, mixing mud of various consistencies for different “baked” treats…mudpies and their ilk? Or “stucco” a wall with mud? Did you ever use the hose to add water to your sandbox to get the sand to stick together so you could make something? If so, you have great potential as a gardener. Just loving plants is not enough. There’s no getting around the dirt factor. You have to be okay with getting dirt on your hands, clothes, and places you wouldn’t imagine dirt might go.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet and Sour Braised Red Cabbage: Roedkaal

Plate of Red Cabbage
Underrated But Delicious and Healthful

Recipe by The Cooking of Scandinavia and Robin

Cabbage is an underrated vegetable here in the US. How often do we see cabbage in restaurants, or cabbage casseroles at potlucks? Sure, we see a few shreds of red cabbage in salads, but how often do we see red cabbage featured as a side dish? Most of the time, if we see it we’re eating in a German restaurant. Americans are missing out, because not only is red cabbage packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer components, it also looks beautiful on the table and snuggling up to other dishes on our plates.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Polish Beet Soup: Simple Borscht

Bowl of Beet Soup with Spoon
The Real Polish Thing

Recipe Adapted from The Art of Polish Cooking

It’s strange that the things that we scorned in childhood can become objects of our quests as adults. Take my grandmother’s beet soup, for example. As a kid, I had a strong notion that I’d dislike it, though I don’t remember any of us grandkids ever trying it. Yet, when our CSA supplied beets week after week, I went on a mission to recreate it using sparse memories from years past.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Fail: 8 Ways to Fail-proof a Recipe

Dogwood Blossoms
Easter Promise of Regeneration

He is Risen, but Cake has not…

Happy Easter, everyone! During both attempts to make this Easter cake yesterday, I pondered: will I post a new apple cake, or will I post a Fail? My husband said that either way, I would be able to perfect my cake making method. At this point the methodology contains more “do nots” than “dos.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

April Veggies and Recipes

Bunny Yard Sculpture with Orange Poppies
Local Bunny Among California Poppies

April Showers Bring May Flowers

April is one of my favorite months. I feel joyful watching plants burst forth with new growth.  In days past, here on the central CA coast, April was the end of the rainy season. Puffy white clouds arose and suddenly merged into gray skies, dumped a surprising quantity of cold rain, then dispersed, leaving skies sunny again. These days, the climate is different; heavier rains are falling later into May and June, and we hope for more substantial April showers for our crops and water table.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy New (Fruit & Vegetable) Year 2012!

Slices of Purple Cabbage on Yellow Cutting Board
Cabbages are Still in Season
It’s a new fruit and veggie year! Our CSA (consumer supported agriculture) farm is distributing the first of our seasonal shares this week. It’s time for new veggies, new recipes, and new ideas for conserving energy, both personal and planetary. This year I’m also changing my blog format to be more user-friendly. Instead of a weekly list of my veggies and menus, I’ll be writing a monthly listing of seasonal veggies, menu ideas, and recipe links, so you can get all of your menu ideas from one page each month. As I write new recipe posts during each month, I’ll link them up from that month’s reference page. I would love to find a stand-alone app to create weekly menus. If you know of one, please share so we all can make weekly menus easily.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool’s Blue Food Exploration

Cup of Blue Tea
Blue Food
In the immortal words of George Carlin, “Why is there no blue food? “ According to The Straight Dope, it’s because leaves are green. If they were orange, we’d have plenty of blue fruits and vegetables. It seems that Mother Nature wants to set up the maximum color contrast between foliage and flowers or fruits. This contrast helps animals find flowers to pollinate and fruits to eat. Plants actually benefit when animals eat their fruits. Since plants can’t move much, they rely on animals to transport seeds and "plant" them in other locations.