Friday, November 30, 2007

Turkey, sweet potato, and apple hash with greens

Dinner last night was a delightful use-up dish for leftover turkey. The sweetness of the sweet potato and apple matched nicely with the savory turkey, and deglazing the pan with white wine added an extra subtle yumminess to it. I served it with sauteed Swiss chard for a delicious Core meal. It also made for tasty leftovers.

Turkey, sweet potato, and apple hash

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium apple, washed, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fat free yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 cups diced, cooked, skinless turkey (or chicken)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add apple and cook until everything is just tender, but not mushy, 2-4 minutes. Drain.

2. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a large bowl; mash. Stir in yogurt and lemon juice. Add the remaining unmashed mixture and stir gently to mix. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add turkey, thyme, salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the reserved sweet potato mixture to the skillet; stir to mix. Press on the hash with a wide metal spatula; cook until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Cut the hash into several rough sections; flip and cook until the undersides are browned, about 3 minutes longer.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meatless Monday, November 26

Good morning! This was a leftovers weekend and we'll be happy to eat something other than turkey today. The turkey was great, though, and made for excellent leftovers. Good thing, because there are three more in the freezer just like it, and each one will likely feed us for a week!!

Today's daily menu

Hot cereal mix with applesauce and sliced apples, milk - with Windborne Grain hot cereal mix, home made applesauce, and Organic Valley milk from Modesto

Egg salad made with yogurt
Beets (finishing off leftovers!)

Cranberry beans and greens (chard and spinach) over barley - using Full Belly Farm beans and greens, Windborne Grain barley

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Locavore Thanksgiving, the recap

My first Thanksgiving dinner was a smashing success! The food was delicious, and all hot on the table at once. With 7 dishes, that's not an easy feat! I didn't have any meltdowns, even in the last minute hectic get-it-on-the-table rush. Everyone raved about the meal and seemed interested in hearing where everything came from, which made for fun dinner conversation.

I loved the turkey method from The New Best Cookbook - it was juicy, cooked through but not overcooked, well seasoned, and the skin was nicely crisp. The drippings made the most amazing gravy. Deeelicious. I ran out of butter before we got to the apple crisp (yes, a whole pound of butter was used in the meal before dessert!!) so we had baked cinnamon apples (without crisp) and ice cream. Still delicious. After dinner, we all played with play dough and sang kid songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald - weird, I know, but there were two toddlers to keep entertained, and we all had a good time. I am so fortunate to have a warm home, plenty to eat, and a loving family who will happily sing Row, Row, Row your boat in rounds.

I hope your Thanksgiving was full of good food, friends, family, and fun, and that you've had the opportunity to reflect on the things that you're grateful for in your life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Locavore Thanksgiving, Part 1

I'm hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, and my menu is almost entirely local. I know you've been waiting with bated breath to see what I'll be cooking (haha), so here's the menu:

Turkey with pan gravy (turkey from Harmony Farms in La Crescenta, 350 miles away)
Quince-strawberry-rhubarb jelly with pomegranate (no local cranberries, so this is our sweet-tart substitute, and it's tasty!)

Bread dressing with bacon, apples, sage, and caramelized onion (Bread from Campbell bakery, bacon from TLC ranch, apples, sage, and onion from the Palo Alto farmer's market)

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Garlic and potatoes from Palo Alto farmer's market, cream from Strauss Dairy)

Blackberry-ginger balsamic glazed beets (Beets from Palo Alto farmer's market, balsamic from Hare Hollow)

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Honey (Sweet potatoes from Palo Alto farmer's market, orange from a neighborhood tree, honey from Meeks Honey in Soquel, and smoked paprika from Happy Quail Farm in East Palo Alto)

Roast Lemon and Pepper Brussels Sprouts with Old World Portuguese cheese (Brussels Sprouts from Cabrillo Farm in Half Moon Bay, lemon from a neighborhood tree, and cheese from Spring Hill Cheese in Petaluma)

Apple crumble with vanilla ice cream (Fuji apples from San Jose farmer's market in Japantown, flour from Full Belly Farm, butter from Clover Stornetta, honey from Meeks Honey, ice cream from Strauss Dairy)

Our turkey is from 350 miles away, farther than my standard 250 radius for local food, but hormone free, free range, and purchased fresh from our local natural foods store, Country Sun. Everything else (except spices and sugar) are from within 200 miles of our home, and purchased from the farmer's market or the farmer.

So far, the pomegranate jelly, bread dressing, and beets are done; the turkey is brining, stock for the gravy is simmering on the stove and I'm about to peel potatoes to make up the mashed potatoes. I'm trying to do as much ahead as possible so I'm not stressed out and stuck in the kitchen all day tomorrow. The house smells fantastic - celery and sage are the quintessential Thanksgiving smells and they're strong, strong, strong in here!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A full freezer makes a locavore happy!

I picked up the pork yesterday (thanks, Jen!) and am ridiculously happy about the nitrate-free bacon, ham, chops, ribs, and sausage in the freezer. We ordered from TLC Ranch and picked up the butchered, smoked meats at Los Gatos Meats. This place smells SO GOOD - my mouth watered just waiting in line! We got smoked ham and bacon, and next time I think we'll have them make more sausages like keilbasa, chorizo, and Italian links - we didn't get any links this time.

I made a delicious meal with the first 1 lb. pork sausage last night. It makes enough to serve 10-12 hungry people, so you could cut the recipe in half and still serve an average hungry family with just half a pound of meat.

Pasta with sausage and greens

1 t. canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 lb. pork sausage
3 bunches of greens (I used kale, swiss chard, and turnip greens, but any sturdy greens would work)
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1 t. basil
1 t. thyme
2 t. oregano
about 1/4 t. red pepper flakes, more to taste
1 quart crushed tomatoes
(NO salt needed)
1 lb. noodles like rigatoni or fusilli

Cook noodles according to package directions, pulling out at just before al dente.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil. Once translucent, add the pork sausage and spices, breaking up into small pieces as it browns. Once it is all browned, add greens in batches, stirring as they wilt. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to combine. Add not-quite-al dente pasta. Simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to combine. Enjoy!


This week's CSA box includes the following:

Strawberry Daikon
Karinata Kale (purple and pretty!)

I'll be using the cauliflower and pomegranates in my Thanksgiving dinner. Since cranberries aren't grown locally, we'll be having a jelly made from quince, rhubarb, and strawberry with pomegranate juice mixed in. It is sufficiently tart and sweet for the cranberry lover in my house - Mr. M - and has that gorgeous red color that one expects to accompany their turkey. It does not, however, come from a can in jellied form, so there aren't any of the "can lines" that Mr. M likes so much. Maybe he can have "can lines" next year, haha.

At the farmer's market yesterday, I also bought sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts on the stalk (pretty!), the biggest bunch of celery I've ever seen, eggs, Old World Portuguese cheese (as a Parmesan substitute), a few apples, more of the Hare Hollow Blackberry-ginger balsamic, and the Scarborough Faire herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Today, I'm getting beets, Yukon Gold potatoes, sugar pumpkins, and onions at the Mountain View market. All that's left will be to pick up the turkey, already on order, and butter and cream.

This is the first year that I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner and my menu is set, my fridge is full, and I spent much of the day cleaning my kitchen yesterday. Today, we're cleaning the dining room and livingroom to accomodate our guests (we'll have a full house with 10 diners, ourselves included.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Move over beef, the pork is on its way!

Awhile back, we ordered 1/6 of a grassfed pig from TLC Ranch, and it will be ready on Saturday! I'm ridiculously excited about having tasty organic, pastured pork stocked up in the freezer. I've bought several pieces of TLC Ranch pork at the farmer's market over the summer and it has been delicious every time. I also ordered 3 extra pastured, hormone free turkeys, as they're half the price of my organic chicken source, so we'll have beef, pork, and turkey at the ready for months to come. I still have some chicken from the last big stock up, too. Yes, the freezer will be full and we'll eat well!

As a preview to our Thanksgiving menu, I'll tell you that pork will make an appearance. I'm making a bacon, apple, sage, and caramelized onion dressing from The New Best Cookbook. This is the first Thanksgiving that I'm cooking, and the menu has been planned out for weeks. It is not Core (sorry to disappoint) but it will be a locavore meal, with everything sourced within 250 miles. Most everything is within 100, but my grains (and thus bread for dressing, rye rolls, and pie dough) are closer to 250.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Refrigerator Chowder - YUM!

Tonight's dinner was a use-what's-in-the-fridge chowder, a repeat of last week's well-liked chowder with salmon instead of clams. It's so good, in fact, that I'm going to pass along the recipe. It has worked both with canned clams and canned salmon, and I'll be trying it again with canned crab as I work my way through the canned pantry goods, and I anticipate it being equally delicious. This is not a creamy chowder, but is thickened by pureeing some of the soup before serving, making it not only low fat and hearty but CORE as well. If you want it to be creamier, you can reduce the stock to 3 1/2 c. and add 1/2 c. milk or cream or half and half when you add the uncooked corn. It is adapted from a chowder recipe in Lorna Sass's cookbook, "Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure."

Salmon Chowder with corn, celery, leeks, and potatoes
Serves 8

2 t. canola oil
2 c. leeks, cut into 1/4 inch half moons, or 2 c. onions, diced
4 large celery ribs, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 c. vegetable or fish stock
1 lb. thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 c. fresh or frozen (defrosted) corn kernals, divided (fresh is best, and you can cook the shucked cobs with the soup for added sweetness and flavor)
14 oz. can of wild-caught salmon, or 2 small cans of clams in their juice, or whatever seafood you have on hand, or no seafood at all for a vegetarian chowder
1 T dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. dried thyme

In the pressure cooker over medium-high heat, saute the leek/onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper in the canola oil until softened, stirring frequently. Add the stock, potatoes, 1 cup of corn, corn cobs (if using), thyme, and seafood (if using). Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure. Cook for 4 minutes on high pressure. Use quick release to reduce pressure and remove the lid away from you.

Remove the corn cobs. With a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the cooked veggies to a food processor and puree them together with 2 cups of the uncooked corn kernals. Do not overprocess. Stir the puree back into the soup with the remaining cup of uncooked corn. Add dill, salt, and pepper, and simmer until the just-added corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A whole lot more than a hill of beans!

Today, my mother in law, Jax, and I drove out to the coast for beans and quality family time. I haven't been to Phipps Country Store since my birthday in July, and we'd eaten through our supply of lovely heirloom, organic beans so it was about time to make another trip. I picked up quite a variety of lovely beans with such fun names like Buckskin, Desert Pebble, Cranberry, Adzuki, and Gigantes. And who but fellow foodies would appreciate rows of beans in their recycled glass homes? (The glass jars were a Freecycle find - four boxes full of large mason jars, perfect for storing grains and beans, free to me and kept out of the landfill. Hooray for Freecycle!)

I also cleared out their bin of organic yellow popcorn, since Mr.M has been making popcorn on the stove most nights for a snack. I'd never made popcorn outside of the microwave, which is a sad confession, and it is so much tastier from the stove! With fewer unpopped kernels and no fake chemical butter flavoring, it's a better value all around. He makes it with 2 teaspoons of Canola or Olive oil and we split a batch, so each serving has one of the healthy oils we need for the day.
We had lunch at Duarte's Tavern, a family owned business since 1894 and James Beard "American Classic" award winner. I had locally caught sole and a Mexican cabbage salad made with cabbage grown on site. The Mexican cabbage salad was the highlight of my meal, with a tangy lime and cilantro dressing, jalapeno, and olive oil. My mother in law had their famous artichoke soup, and Jax had a fit, upset about being restrained in a high chair and not allowed to eat his crayons, followed by a quarter of Grandma's soup, half a tuna fish sandwich and most of my broccoli, a piece of crusty sourdough bread, a few bites of my mashed potatoes, a pat of butter that I couldn't pry away from him, and a fork-full of the cabbage salad! I think it's more food than he's eaten in the past week, combined, and he'd had an orange and raisins to snack on in the car and half a cucumber that he snitched in Phipps (we paid for the cucumber, of course.)
We picked up a jar of the Quince-Rhubarb jelly at Duarte's, and Strawberry-Rhubarb jelly at Phipps. Since cranberries aren't grown locally, I'm putting sweet-tart jellies and pomegranate seeds on the table to quell the sweet-tart-with-turkey needs of my cranberry loving diners at Thanksgiving. As cranberries are one of the few foods that I just don't like, it's not too much of a sacrifice for me. I'll be sure to report back if the jellies and pomegranates don't pass the turkey test!
Mr.M and I spent Sunday at the Green Festival in San Francisco, and I had lunch at Cafe Gratitude's booth. Their menu is organic, raw, and vegan, and the meals have names like, "I am Honored," "I am Fabulous," and "I am Passionate." Ordering there was fun, and while I was skeptical that raw and vegan would be bland and boring, I was pleasantly surprised to find my meal flavorful, filling, and fun to eat! (I had "I am Honored," a nacho-esque meal of carrot-flax chips, fresh salsa and guacamole, and a salad that had grains and sunflower seeds.)
Our grain CSA shares should be ready this week, and I'm looking forward to trying teff for the first time. We'll also be getting more pancake mix, rye flour, and wheat flour, so I need to do more baking. Does anyone have a good rye bread or whole wheat bread recipe that doesn't call for all purpose flour?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Daily Menu for November 5

I got home late yesterday and didn't make dinner, eating leftovers instead. Tonight I'm making the clam-corn chowder, and I'm going to try using evaporated milk instead of heavy cream. Hopefully that will be good! One less thing to buy!

Today's menu includes:
eggs, applesauce, milk

1/2 slice pizza, apple

clam-corn chowder

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daily menu for Sunday, November 4

It's day four of November's pantry challenge, and I haven't purchased any food until today. I haven't eaten out, and have been pretty consistently on plan (besides the blintzes at yesterday's pot luck.)

Our CSA box this week includes the following veggies:

Red Daikon
Kabocha Squash
Tokyo Turnips

From the newsletter this week:

The food grown at Full Belly Farm has not been irradiated, fumigated, chlorinated or pasteurized. It does not contain genetically modified organisms, hormones or antibiotics. Nor have we implanted it with tracking devices. For these reasons, the food safety technicians may tell you that it is not 'safe.' On this we have a difference of opinion: Full Belly strives to deliver nutritious, tasty food in its pure state and we have 100% confidence in its high quality and integrity.

Hooray for Full Belly Farm, giving us food in its natural state!

I'm excited about pomegranates! Do you have any favorite ways of using them?

We're having corn and clam chowder for dinner, using up two cans of clams from the pantry and several ears of corn that are sadly shrivelling in my fridge from last week. I'm also adding celery, leeks, and new potatoes from the fridge and pantry. The recipe calls for1/2 c. heavy cream for 6 servings, which is definitely not Core, so I'll be counting the small amount per serving (2 Points per serving of heavy cream). I'll be buying milk, a tiny container of heavy cream, and clam juice to complete the recipe, and eggs for the week, for a low, low weekly food expense of under $20. There are advantages to eating out of the pantry!

We're purchasing 1/3 of a local, pastured pig later this month and I'm so excited about the flavorful, humanely raised pork that will soon fill my freezer! TLC Ranch, where the pig is from, has been at the farmer's market over the summer and I've bought small hams from them. Not all pork cuts are Core, of course, just like the beef that we've been working our way through, and some pieces will have to be counted. It's worth it! Some of the sausage will be used in my Thanksgiving stuffing - I'm making an apple, sausage, sage, and caramelized onion stuffing with home made bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Daily Menu
Cereal with soy milk

Lentil-barley soup with kale and tomatoes (yummy leftovers!!)

Clam-corn chowder in the pressure cooker (not local clams, dairy from Clover Stornetta, local produce from Full Belly Farm)

Friday, November 2, 2007

November's Pantry Challenge, and a daily menu for November 2

Our pantry and freezer are stuffed with food and I still spend my regular $90 or so a week adding to the stock. For the month of November, I'm limiting myself to $30 a week for fresh food like dairy, eggs, and fresh fruits, and am going to try to use up some of the extra stuff cluttering up my cabinets. My menu plan includes quite a few non-local products that have sat idly by while we ate local or ate out. Cans of coconut milk, clams, and pineapple, frozen edamame, and lots of frozen fish will make an appearance in this month's menu plan. (Thanksgiving is not included in my $30 a week, and will be a Locavore holiday. I'll post more about my plans in the coming weeks.)

I posted about the big box of tomatoes and the 5 or so pounds leftover, looking for suggestions. Thanks to those of you who e-mailed me suggestions! I'm dicing and freezing the remaining tomatoes for soups and chili over the winter.

Daily Menu
Applesauce oatmeal, milk

Sweet and sour lentils, carrot sticks

Mexican style wheatberry-cranberry bean salad