Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pasta Salads

Pasta salads doesn't have to mean the traditional macaroni salads of the past - The SF Chronicle has an article on the Korean version..the most important advice is "Most cold noodle dishes are simple to make and require little time at the stove. Some of the broths can be made in bulk and refrigerated for several weeks, and many of the noodles are available in dried form, which keep for several months.
After cooking the noodles, dunk them in ice water and rinse thoroughly in cold water. This removes excess starch and will help prevent the noodles from sticking or tasting gummy.
The noodles are then ready to turn into a dish perfect for the warm weather still on the horizon for our always-late Bay Area summer" The flavors or spices can be from any cuisine. Pictured here is my version -peaches, green beans and whole wheat spaghetti, I used a bottled thai peanut sauce but a any salad dressing would work too. It is peach season...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Week 9 --inside the box

Pictured here are my neighbor Barbara Bourne taking pictures of "the box" the box and my box buddy Allen Chivers. Aside from the promoted benefits of joining a CSA, I have made a great new friend in Allen. Sol Food Farm matched us to share a box. This is from the note we got this week with the box:
"Vegetables: parsley, beans!!, potatoes, broccoli, collards!, lettuce heads, carrots, summer squash, golden plums!.....
Also a big thank you to Matt who is the farm manager at French Garden Farm. We were calling around to different farms to see what we could trade with them to keep our boxes poppin, and he happened to have some green beans that needed to be picked ASAP. It’s exciting to be working with other farms and farmers because it’s really all about getting good healthy food out to the people.We also did a big mushroom cook with The Sporriors, our friends who have the ways and means of growing oyster mushrooms. They came over, we boiled up some straw, then mixed the mycelium in with new bags of fresh straw, where they do their thing and eventually make new delicious mushrooms. This is all new to us, but hopefully it will work and again keep those boxes unique, like you!"
This has worked out well for me! Whenever I turn on the oven --my goal is multi-tasking. For example, when I baked the tian I also put in a small dish of olive oil and garlic...hmmm some nice garlic oil and roasted garlic sparks up just "plain" vegetable.
The collard green challenge continues - so far pesto, pickled, stewed, roasted and marinated!
What's next?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vegetables -melty goodness The Tian


It's almost time for the next delivery and let's see what's left: broccoli, a few tiny carrots, summer squashes and potatoes.
I used the broccoli to make broccoli with broccoli. I used a potato peeler to make ribbons of the stems which I sauteed in olive oil and then steamed the florets. I made a parmesan crisp -small amount of grated parmesan cheese in the same pan I used to saute the broccoli until it melts into a disk...just for fun.
The tian is a dish and a the dish it is cooked in. Basically a single layer of whatever vegetables (coat them in vegetable oil) you have topped with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.
I used squash, potatoes and tomatoes. For the topping - I mixed breadcrumbs, roasted garlic and parmesan cheese. Other versions have more cheeses. It is good hot and cold.
I got the inspiration for the vegetable pastas from Luminous Food my niece's wonderful web site.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Everything is Peachy

Peaches, pickled collards and bacon bacon bacon. Well a small amount of bacon. If you don't eat meat instead of the bacon --nuts add the same kind of crunch. The peaches are from my neighbor's tree.....a little foraging is a good thing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eating Raw Collards...who knew?

One of the vegetables that benefits from cooking is carrots. I made carrot and potato "pasta" using a vegetable peeler and sauteed them. I topped it with marinated collard greens. I added garlic and chili sauce but seasoning could be anything.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Arepa I've got it!

Arepas are a Latin American corn cake. The flour used to make them is a pre cooked cornmeal and not the same at all as corn meal. It is called masarepa and was a patented process. From wikipedia "This product was invented in the 1950s by Dr. Caballero Mejias, a Venezuelan engineer who used the profits from his patent to finance a Technical Schools system. The precooked form was widely industrialized from there The flour is mixed with water and salt (some people add oil, eggs and/or milk). After being molded by hand, or in a special mold, into a patty, the dough is fried, grilled or baked.

Since reading about the Arepa lady in the NYTimes --I've wanted to taste them.

Epicurious has a recipe for a smaller size and after a trip to Lola's for masarepa I was on my way. I stuffed my arepa with raw collards marinated in lime juice for about a half hour. I was very skeptical but it is vey good.

Friday, July 25, 2008

FDA Food Safety Plan --not an ironic title

Only a few days left to comment on the FDA food safety plan....or lack of one

What makes the FDA policy seem all the more ridiculous is this story
The Bush regulatory policy of benign neglect does not work and it is made worse by the revolving door between agency and industry employment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Green green green but not collards

Lots of basil and garlic inside the box. I made a salad dressing with basil, garlic, mint, lemon juice, a small piece of chipotle in adobo sauce, and olive oil. I'm serving it at a neighbors house over that big head of lettuce that came yesterday.

Speaking of olive oil. The Russian River area has three artisan olive oil producers. Best Dog, Las Sirenas and Olive Branch Farm. All three are located in Cazadero - probably because of the land availability and all the rain Cazadero gets every year. Pictured here are Ricky and Cathy Tokubo owners of Best Dog and of course the best dog herself..Hazel. I interviewed The Tokubos and the owners of Las Sirenas for a story on the new olive oil regulations in California. Part of their passion for being in the olive oil business is due to the community that has formed around small olive oil producers.

Breakfast --Sol Food Farm sammie

I've adapted the salad frisee idea ...
The longest part of making it --is peheating the oven for baking the bread. I poached the egg but it could be baked on the bread and then topped with the salad. I didn't add the bacon but of course you could.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week 8

Vegetables: basil, garlic, parsley, potatoes lettuce heads, broccoli, carrots, summer squash, collards and collards, AND an herb bunch from Sol Food's " sassy sister farm Taylor Maid."

It is common for neighboring CSAs to trade crops if they are short and want to maintain variety in the weekly boxes. Since the gopher's got Sol Food's potato crop, they are hoping to trade forsome potatoes with Taylor Maid....maybe they can trade some collards.....just kidding.

The collard greens challenge continues.

Marion Nestle's new SF Chronicle column

Marion Nestle: Global food crisis comes back to caloriesMarion Nestle, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, author of "What to Eat" and "Food Politics," and Chronicle Food columnist.

Q: What's the most pressing nutrition issue today, and why?
A: The answer can be summed up in one word: calories.
Calories are at the root of today's most important nutritional problems. Those of us in the Western world get far too many. Much of the rest of the world doesn't get nearly enough. And for everyone, calories are suddenly getting very expensive.
Calories measure the energy value of food. They are a quick way of talking about the amount of food we eat and how much that food costs. Eat too many calories for the number you use, and on come the pounds. Food tempts us everywhere, even in places like business supply stores, bookstores and libraries. It comes in larger and larger portions. And we are expected to snack all day long. more

Since most of us are used to portions much more then we need, adjusting to the real amount can be quite a shock.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I can pick mulberries while standing on my deck. It's the world's messiest fruit. It also seems to have a short window between ripe and yuck! But they taste great not too sweet and very very very very juicy.

End of The Week -- what's left?

Left? Collard, dino kale, the little onions -- what to do. With some help from two friends from the internet I made something really good. One suggestion was to add fruit to cooked collards and the second was the use smoked paprika. I had to go to my local big grocery store for some cleaning supplies and I found a good deal on pork. Things were starting to perk along.

I recently had read a story about someone who had made a blackberry mole'. Sounded great.

So I made mulberry mole' with kale and collards. I am going to freeze some and have the rest for breakfast.

Lately I've started making a batch of pizza dough and using small bits for fresh baked bread for each meal as needed. I had mulberry mole' flatbread sandwich.

The smoked paprika enhanced the flavors and the mulberry was a nice balance. I added some ground sesame seeds as well.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tell the FDA to fix it now!

FDA is currently taking comments on their Food Protection Plan, and there are some very specific suggestions for them. These suggestions include having more FDA inspectors on the ground, having control over where imported food comes from, and having mandatory recall authority.

FDA-2008-N-0188, Food Protection Plan; Outreach Activities; Opportunity for Public Comment, can be found at

This article from the SF Chronicle is a good review and why it is important to get the legislation right.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Great Side Benefit

I've lost five pounds eating seasonally, locally and with meat as a condiment -- oh boy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tomatoes Cleared --peppers still on the hot seat

FDA declares it's OK to eat tomatoes again
Thursday, July 17, 2008
(07-17) 16:28 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
It's OK to eat all kinds of tomatoes again, the U.S. government declared Thursday — lifting its salmonella warning on the summer favorites amid signs that the record outbreak, while not over, may finally be slowing.
Hot peppers still get a caution: The people most at risk of salmonella — including the elderly and people with weak immune systems — should avoid fresh jalapenos and serranos, and any dishes that may contain them such as fresh salsa, federal health officials advised.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Week Seven

Squash, cipollini onions, carrots (some kissed by a unicorn --turned purple) beets, lettuce, parsley, garlic, collards, dino kale and broccoli.

The hot weather put an end to the strawberries and stressed out other cool weather crops. Looking at this week's box, the challenge is what to do with the greens -collards and kale. Kale is an ancient vegetable popular around the world. So far I have looked for ways to hide it in othe things but now my green challenge is to find recipes that enhance the flavor.

yes we have no potatoes

I made a second potato pave. This one I marbled with kale pesto. Paves work well as a convenience food. But sadness no more potatoes coming --the gophers got them!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Potato Pave

What I did with week 6

I made a potato pave. A dish I had never heard of until this year. Most recipes call for partially cooking thin slices of potato which are then layered in a loaf pan, compressed, baked, compressed again and then chilled. It can be unmolded and sliced into servings. It can be reheated or served cold. I added squash and made a sauce of basil, chilis and garlic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bush regulatory policy

From the Denver Post
Clearly part of the problem is the Bush administration's deep-seated aversion to industry regulation. How else do you explain the weird scene last spring in which lawmakers peppered FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach with requests for a reasonable budget figure so the agency could do its job, and von Eschenbach's repeated evasions?
Eventually, von Eschenbach wrote a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter saying the agency needed an additional $275 million just to deal with imported food, drugs and medical devices. It's odd, to say the least, to breathe a sigh of relief when a bureaucrat finally asks for more money.
This current crisis has pointed out ways to improve the food regulatory system. Consumer groups have made some interesting regulatory suggestions, such as tagging produce at the site of origin — similar to the way produce is tagged now for the convenience of retailers — so it can be traced back to where it was grown.
In 2002, Congress passed country-of-origin labeling requirements, but agriculture sought and received exemptions, some of which expire later this year. Food safety advocates say Congress ought to take this opportunity to go further in labeling requirements.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Week Six

We got summer squash, head lettuce, two kinds of collard greens, dino kale, potatoes, carrots, basil and garlic. Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beets in the Raw

THE MINIMALIST; Beets For Skeptics
new_york_timesPublished: June 30, 1999
COMMERCIAL canners probably don't want you to know this, but beets can be eaten raw, and they're delicious. They're not as approachable as an apple, but my suspicion is that even beet-haters will like them raw in this salad. Uncooked beets are less sweet and earthy than they are when boiled or roasted. recipe and article

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What to do if you think you have food poisoning.

Advice from Consumer Reports
If you suspect that something you ate made you sick, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you follow these guidelines:
Preserve the evidence. If a portion of the suspect food is available, wrap it securely, mark "DANGER" and freeze it. Save all the packaging materials, such as cans or cartons. Write down the food type, the date, other identifying marks on the package, the time consumed, and when the onset of symptoms occurred. Save any identical unopened products.
Seek treatment as necessary. If you are in an "at risk" group, seek medical care immediately. Likewise, if symptoms persist or are severe (such as bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea and vomiting, or high temperature), call your doctor.
Call the local health department if the suspect food was served at a large gathering, from a restaurant or other food service facility, or if it is a commercial product.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Emergency Rule Making: Produce tracing.

Consumer groups have organized to push for immediate action on food safety legislation from
"The groups say the system could be very simple: placing little stickers on fruits and vegetables at the point of origin. The industry already has standard price look-up codes, or PLUs, that retailers can use at the register. Tomatoes that bear a sticker with the number 4087 are red Roma tomatoes, for instance.
Similar standardized codes could let retailers, food safety investigators, or even curious consumers know exactly what farm a given bunch of asparagus or bag of spinach hails from, the say.
"Each outbreak causes huge losses, both for the consumers who become severely ill and for the growers, who often can't sell their products," said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. ""Unfortunately, as this investigation has dragged on, the produce industry is reaping what it sowed when it sought and received special exemptions that allowed the industry to avoid the country of origin labeling requirements Congress passed in 2002."
"While new requirements are scheduled to go into effect later this year, FDA needs to go beyond country of origin labeling and give public health officials the ability to trace produce from the fork back to the farm," DeWaal said read more

Letter to Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, Commissioner ,Food and Drug Administration

Canadian maybe key to Salmonella Saintpaul source

OTTAWA, July 7 (UPI) -- Canadian officials report their first case of a Salmonella Saintpaul infection that matches those associated with a U.S. outbreak of the bacterial illness.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said the unidentified person involved indicated he recently traveled to the United States. read more

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Learn to love beets!!!!!!

The Accidental Vegetarian: Learning to love a beet
Amanda Berne, Special to The Chronicle
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Accidental Vegetarian
Beets are the devil's root. That's what I always say. Or, that's what I used to say.

It was all about balance. When the beet played a supporting role star - as it often does on menus - I liked how the slight bitterness and sweetness worked with other ingredients, just as in my Beet-Hater's Salad. (follow link for recipe)

Tops and Bottoms ..beets that is.

A lot of the older tougher greens benefits from a long braising. The beet greens along with cannolleni beans make a wonderful fragant stew. Adding ham or anchovies steps up the salt factor but also adds a depth of flavor. The beans and greens have lots of uses including pureeing and using as a spread, shown here with a beet and orange puree... a total beet experience.

The beet goes on

June 30, 2008, 8:50 am
The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating
Maybe you should be eating more beets, or chopped cabbage. (Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times,
Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, aren’t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts.
Pictured is a beet and apple salad, beet and goat cheese on a cracker and beet and orange salad.

Collard Pesto

Any greens will do! Saute or roast the greens until soft, garlic can be cooked or added raw. The first of the brandywine tomatoes are in the market, so I added one. This is a big hit with the testing panel. Onions, nuts, olives are among the other ingredients that could be added. This will keep for a week and also freezes well.

Kale Tapenade

kale tapenade works well as a spread, as a filling or a quesadilla or pizza topping. It also makes a wonderful pasta sauce. Saute the greens, garlic and olives in olive oil until the greens are soft.
Use a food processor or blender to combine sauteed ingredients with parmesan cheese. It will keep refrigerated for about a week. It also freezes well.

Thinking inside the box

Inside out tamales using napa cabbage with a tamale dough and a pickled carrot filling.
Thinking inside the box does not come naturally to me. But to make the best use of a once a week delivery, I have to plan ahead.
Weeks 3 to 5 of my CSA from Sol Food Farm has gone by quickly.
Week 3: dill, cilantro, basil, swiss chard, garlic, collards, napa cabbage, summer squash, head lettuce, letttuce mix and rapini.
Week 4: head lettuce, basil, lettuce mix, carrots, collards, kale, bok choi, napa cabbage, garlic,strawberries and broccoli.
Week 5: beets, head lettuces, bok choi, napa cabbabage, basil, parsley, garlic, Red Russian kale, dino kale, collards and summer squash.

Latest on tomatoes (or not tomatoes)

FDA reports more cases of salmonella illnesses
2 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government on Saturday increased the number of people reported being sickened in a record salmonella outbreak in which tomatoes are the leading suspect although investigators are testing other types of fresh produce.
There have been 943 reported cases nationwide, with at least 130 hospitalizations since mid-April after the first salmonella illnesses appeared, the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday. That compares with a total of 922 people about two days ago and 869 reported earlier in the past week.
The FDA also said it had begun looking at jalapeno peppers as a possible cause of the outbreak, as well as ingredients used to make salsa such as cilantro and Serrano peppers. Tomatoes continue to be investigated as well, spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said
more from the AP article

The Los Angeles Times published a great editorial on the current FDA problems.

Fixing our food
The best way to protect consumers and producers is a system that will track what we eat.
June 14, 2008
Salmonella-contaminated tomatoes -- the latest evidence that all is not well with our food -- have not only sickened at least 228 people but unnecessarily tainted the reputation of an entire agricultural sector. As consumers recoil from all tomatoes, and restaurants pull them off the menu, perfectly good produce is unsalable. That includes tomatoes grown here in California, whose farms have been exonerated.To some extent, this is simple panic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that cherry and grape tomatoes and those with the vine still attached are not implicated, but people are so frightened that they don't hear much beyond the words "tomato" and "warning."But consumers also shun tomatoes because they can't get all the information they need to make safe choices. And that is the failure of the FDA and the industry to implement systems to track food from farm to grocery bag.