Monday, April 28, 2008

Peach crumble, spinach-rice soup, and a Daily Menu

I've been craving fresh peach pie for months. Not the kind made with pre-cooked, canned style peaches in a heavy double crust, but with fresh sliced fruit on a light crust, with vanilla ice cream. As it has not been peach season, the craving has been in the back of my mind for months, waiting. It's almost here, peach season; I saw the first local peaches, small and too firm to really be flavorful, at the market the other day, so I know we're heading into the best season of the year! But the craving was still too strong and I remembered that I had frozen peaches from our trip to Frog's Leap last summer.

I pulled them out, along with a few frozen berries, and made a crumble with them. I'm no baker and pie crust is beyond my ability or patience! I made a crumb topping with oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, and a little butter, baked it until it was golden, and enjoyed the peachy goodness! It's not pie, but was quite delicious and used all but the sugar were local ingredients - peaches from Napa, oatmeal and flour from Windborne CSA, butter from Strauss. I'll definitely make this again for a sweet treat that is low in points (I estimated it as 2 Points per serving for the minimal butter and sugar.)


Last night's dinner was an Asian-style spinach soup with a little bit of beef (less than a pound for about 6 quarts of soup), rice, lots of leeks, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and Asian spices (soy sauce, Chinese 5 spice powder, lots of black pepper.) I used 5 bunches of spinach and 2 leeks that had been building up in the fridge. The one pot dinner was very satisfying and a tasty last minute throw together meal. It was another almost all local dinner - only the ginger, spices, and soy sauce weren't local.


Daily Menu

Peach crumble

Spinach-rice soup with beef
2 c. milk

Yogurt, 1 t. flaxseed oil, and fresh strawberries (yippee!)

Young root vegetable braise with fava beans
Green salad with oil and vinegar dressing
Grilled salmon (I found one more package in the freezer while unearthing the peaches! Yay!)

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (oatmeal, rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fava beans, asparagus, and radishes: Spring veggies galore!

In our veggie box today, I received:

Fava Beans
Salad Mix
French Breakfast Radishes
Tokyo Turnips

Hooray for asparagus! We've gotten it a few weeks in a row and they've been quickly devoured after just a light simmer. They're so tender and sweet that they need no seasoning at all.

I've never eaten fava beans and am excited to try something new. I found a recipe for them that uses radishes, and turnips, too, so tonight I'll be making the young root-vegetable braise from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. The recipe calls for green onions and I'm going to substitute leeks, which seem to be reproducing in our refrigerator! I just don't use them up as fast as I get them.

I'm also planning on making one of the turkeys that I froze at Thanksgiving this week, which will be great with the fresh sage.

I've found a surprising use for chard and spinach: smoothies. Sounds strange, but fruit and yogurt smoothies disguise the greens flavor and it adds quite the nutritional punch. Jax has even asked for seconds! Lately, I've been using plain soy yogurt (Jax still can't have dairy), frozen peaches from our trip to Napa last summer, frozen berries, a cup of cooked chard, flaxseed oil, and a banana for a very tasty and healthy snack.

Young Root-Vegetable Braise

Sea salt
12 small turnips, peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 bunch radishes, stems trimmed to one-half inch
6 small carrots (3 to 4 inches long), peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 pound fava beans, shucked
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1bunch green onions, trimmed (use 2 to 3 inches of white and pale green part only) and sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, adding 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Slice the turnips and radishes in half if large; leave the smaller ones whole.

2. Blanch the turnips, radishes and carrots for 5 minutes, less if smaller, then lift them out of the simmering water and plunge them into an ice water bath. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

3. Bring the water back to a boil and add the fava beans; blanch 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. Reserve the cooking water. Pop the fava beans out of their skins and reserve the beans.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the green onions and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add one-half cup of the vegetable cooking water, the blanched vegetables, half of the parsley and tarragon and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Simmer until the vegetables are fully tender, about 10 minutes or until done. Add one-fourth cup cooking water as needed to maintain a small amount of sauce in the pan.

5. Add the fava beans, remaining butter and lemon juice. Increase the heat and swirl the pan back and forth until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the rest of the parsley and tarragon, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Picnic in the Park with our Last Local Salmon

We had a lovely picnic in the park with out of town family yesterday, and the menu featured what will be a rare treat this year: local salmon. I had a bit of local salmon in the freezer from last summer and pulled it out to defrost just as the radio was announcing that salmon fishing will be closed in California this year. Record low numbers of salmon are returning from the Sacramento river delta, from 800,000 six years ago to just 68,000 this year, and halting salmon fishing for the season will give them a chance to try to recoup their numbers.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has pointed to a sudden lack of
nutrient-rich deep ocean upwellings caused by ocean temperature changes as a
possible cause. But most biologists say it is a combination of factors,
including agricultural pollution, water diversions from the delta and damaged

So we will not be buying any whole salmon this season, obviously, and I'm glad we made the best of what we had left. I'm also glad that measures are being taken to protect the salmon. Hopefully a year off will make a difference; otherwise, we'll be looking at a salmonless future, and how sad that would be for all of us.

For our picnic, I made salmon salad sandwiches (made with fat free plain yogurt), Mexican cabbage salad, horseradish devilled eggs (made with fat free plain yogurt), and sliced watermelon. My mom brought a Waldorf salad and a friend brought hummus with goat cheese and tasty green olives. What a treat the spread was! So many great flavors, such good company, and yummy, CORE leftovers in my fridge!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Egg and Lentil Curry for Meatless Monday... And exciting news!

First, the exciting news: I'm having a girl! I had an ultrasound and everything looks healthy. My due date was pushed back to August 15, but I'll probably go late since Jax was two weeks late, my brother and I were both two weeks late, and my family has a history of late babies.

I have been eating more junk food lately as cravings hit and I definitely need to pay more attention to getting my 8 healthy guidelines every day. It's too easy to have French fries and pickles for dinner, which offers little in the way of nutrients to either me or the baby.

So for dinner tonight, we'll be enjoying an egg and lentil curry with sauteed garlicky greens and barley. It's my first time trying this recipe and if it comes out well, I'll post it (and a photo) this evening.