Produce – Mixed Greens Blog Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:01:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Berry Interesting… Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:50:35 +0000 Strawberries in Colander

Summer is officially here and so are the strawberries in all their luscious glory. I can’t help myself from looking for some unusual ways to enjoy this old favorite. Don’t worry, I’m eating plenty of strawberries just the way they are, straight off the plant, nothing else required except maybe a bowl of homemade granola. But that hasn’t stopped me from searching around some of my favorite blogs where I’ve found a couple of great new ideas and had some revelations along the way that I want to share with you.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

First blog stop was My New Roots where Sarah Britton had made a Maple-Tossed Beluga Lentil Salad from her friend’s new cookbook called The Green Kitchen. It’s everything — beautiful, seasonal and excellent picnic fare but my big revelation from this salad was the thinly sliced raw rhubarb. If you pucker up just thinking about it, think again. Once it’s coated with the maple-lemon dressing, it adds a sweet crunch instead. Brilliant.

Sliced Rhubarb

As usual I messed with their recipe just a little bit – left out edamame, added more asparagus, topped it off with feta cheese and sliced spring onions. Here’s my version.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

Ingredients: 1/2 cup black lentils/ 1 thinly sliced small stalk rhubarb/ 10 – 15 sliced strawberries/ 10 asparagus spears, lightly steamed/ 2 or 3 spring onions, thinly sliced/ 10 or so basil leaves, sliced/ Feta cheese, crumbled.

Dressing Ingredients: 2T maple syrup/ 2T olive oil/ Juice of one lemon/ Salt & pepper.

Directions: Rinse lentils under running water/ Bring to a boil with 2 cups water. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. When almost done (tender but not mushy), drain, add salt and set aside to cool/ Place in large bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients/ Whisk together the dressing ingredients, add to the salad/ Toss everything together.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

Last week I went to Staple and Fancy, one of Ethan Stowell’s many new restaurants. I was tempted to order the burrata appetizer but didn’t and somehow I’ve had burrata on my brain since. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, burrata is mozzarella filled with cream. I know. It sounds amazing and it is, but I started dreaming about adding some fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar syrup. This wavers somewhere between an appetizer and dessert. Which brings me to my next revelation, balsamic syrup. I could almost trade in chocolate syrup after tasting this. Seriously.

Balsamic Syrup

Balsamic syrup is just 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar simmered down until it’s thick and syrupy. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Toward the end, stir it until it looks like chocolate syrup. If you cook it too long, it becomes balsamic candy.

Burrata with Strawberries

The rest of the dish is just a matter of slicing some strawberries on top of a ball of burrata, add some sliced basil and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic syrup. You could easily do the same thing using a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead, basil and all.

My third revelation came after visiting Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks. She has such a great knack for combining ingredients in unusual ways. This may seem like a no-brainer but I’ve never even thought about using cherries and strawberries together. It makes total sense if you shop at the farmers market this time of year. Yesterday in Wallingford, the booths were loaded with both of these irresistible red fruits, thus her Red Fruit Salad Recipe.

Bowl of Cherries

Heidi makes her salad with brown sugar and coriander seeds. I went for my no-frills version, just red fruit.

Strawberry Cherry Salad


]]> 2
Cucumbers Salads Thu, 18 Jun 2015 22:07:56 +0000 Last summer three plants produced bushels of cucumbers, enough for batches of sweet and sour pickles, cucumber salads every night, thinly sliced on sandwiches, and plenty for friends. Not that these beauties are a nuisance. Just saying, cucumbers, there are a lot of you. By the time late summer rolls around a person might have this conversation with their garden cukes. “We love you, we’ve had a fine summer together. You’ve been polite, plentiful and prolific – except when you vined your way into the apple tree – and we’ve enjoyed your delicious company.  It’s time to go dormant now. See you next summer.”

‘Next summer’ is now.

Asian flavored cucumber salad 2

cukes  on the vine cukes on the vine

So. Three salads which are simple, fast, delicious and laden with cucumbers. The first is the way my grandmother prepared cucumbers all summer long, with sweet onions and vinegar, an Asian cucumber salad which I spotted in the New York Times last week, and finally, a link to Cucumber Raita, an awesome side dish with anything spicy, or with fish. They’re each quick to make and delicious. And if you too have an abundance of cukes, try making bread and butter pickles with a few of them. Bread & Butter (sweet & sour) Pickles 

Place any of these salads on a bed of undressed greens for a complete green salad. Cuke on!

Have a look at our Summer Salads digital cookbook for more salad ideas and dressings.

Cucumbers & Walla Walla Sweet Onions Recipe

cukes & onions

Ingredients & Directions: Partially peel and then slice one or two medium-sized cucumbers/ Thinly slice all or part of a sweet onion/ Sprinkle with 1/4 – 1/2 C rice wine or apple cider vinegar, or to taste/ 1/2 – 1 t sugar optional/ Salt & pepper/ Toss, chill for a few minutes and serve/ These are good the next day, but best consumed, same day.

Cucumber Salad With Asian Flavors Recipe

Asian flavored cucumber salad 1

Serves 4 and is best eaten the day it’s prepared. From New York Times Healthy Recipes.

This is an outstanding dressing that can be used for *more than this cucumber salad. Asian flavored cucumber salad 3

Ingredients: 2 thin-skinned cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin/ Salt to taste/3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar/1 tablespoon soy sauce/ 1 teaspoon sugar/ 1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed/ 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger/ 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (more to taste)/ Freshly ground pepper/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil/ 3 tablespoons sunflower oil or grapeseed oil (or peanut oil)/ 1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, sliced very thin/ 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

Directions: Sprinkle the cucumbers with a generous amount of salt and let sit in a colander in the sink for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry on a kitchen towel. Transfer to a salad bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and pepper. Whisk in the sesame oil and the sunflower or grapeseed oil. Toss with cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro or parsley. Chill until ready to serve.

Delicious as is or *this salad can be expanded to make a meal. Make extra dressing and serve cucumbers on a bed of very finely sliced cabbage and red pepper, more scallions, rice noodles, shredded chicken, chopped cashews on the side. Instant meal.

Cucumber Raita Recipe    cucumber raita
Bread & Butter (sweet & sour) Pickles  sweet & sour cukes


Cinderella Story, Celeriac Salad & Shrimp Wed, 06 May 2015 13:02:22 +0000 Or maybe it’s The Ugly Duckling story. What’s beneath Celeriac’s gnarly surface is a beautiful thing. Dress it up and take it out for dinner. If you wear a beret and call it *Céleri Rémoulade it’s French.

I’ve purchased this salad in a to-go box at Pasta & Co, loved it, and  thought I’d try making it, with or without an actual recipe.

This comes close. Home alone for a couple of days, I dined on this salad two nights in a row, heaping helpings. Made with celery root, Oregon shrimp, a lemony dressing and mizuna from my backyard it’s local and it’s delicious. And except for that mayonnaisey dressing – which makes it, by the way – it’s healthy. If you insist, this would still be very good with lemon and olive oil, minus the mayo.

Recipe for Celeriac Salad with Oregon Shrimp

Originally posted three years ago and since then made many many times for our table. So good.

Also called Céleri Rémoulade. See note below.

About Oregon shrimp: Seattle Times, Oregon shrimp in the pink, tasty, and now sustainable. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

A medium celeriac is enough for 4 servings. Bigger root, more salad. Make it a meal with larger servings, a hard-boiled egg and a slice of avocado on the side. Garlic bread?

Ingredients: 1 medium celery root yields about 4 cups when grated or finely sliced/ 1 lemon/1 t lemon zest/1/2 C parsley if you have it/ 1/2 # Oregon shrimp (available frozen at PCC, or at some fish markets)/ For the dressing: 4 T mayonnaise, 1 T sour cream, 1 -2  t mustard (or more), 1/2 t salt & 1/4 t pepper, or use lemon pepper instead. Or, omit salt. Lemon and mayonnaise may provide enough salty flavor.

Directions: It’s important to immerse the sliced celeriac into the lemon juice right away to keep it from discoloring/ Zest the lemon then squeeze its juice into a large bowl/ Peel celery root with a large knife and cut into 1/4 rounds using a mandolin if you have one, or slicing carefully by hand with a sharp knife (the peeled root may also be coarsely grated for this salad)/ Pile 3 or 4 rounds of celery root and then slice thinly into matchsticks/ Immediately toss the grated or sliced celeriac in the lemon juice and teaspoon of zest/ Proceed accordingly until all of the celeriac is grated or sliced into thin matchstick pieces. Mine should have been cut a little finer. Next time.

Stir the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl/ Taste and adjust to your own liking/ Stir into the lemony celeriac/  Add more mayonnaise or sour cream, mustard, another squeeze of lemon if needed/ Before serving stir in approximately 1/2 # of Oregon shrimp and the parsley/ This salad is best made a couple of hours ahead and is good the next day.

Celery root makes a wonderful crunchy base for a crab salad mid-winter, Winter’s Crab Salad. It can be steamed, on its own or with other root vegetables, buttered, creamed and mashed. Celery Root, It’s A Keeper.

Slice and dice a root, dress it up, and it’s transformed into a culinary knockout, a Cinderella story. This humble root could be Saturday night fare.

Though I never found their actual recipe, thanks to Pasta & Co for the inspiration.

* After all was said and done I discovered that, minus the shrimp, this is a classic french salad, Céleri Rémoulade, and is described lavishly on the David Lebovitz site, living the sweet life in Paris. He advocates more mustard. I say go for it.

It’s Back at the Market: Asparagus Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:50:10 +0000 Asparagus

To every thing there is a season and asparagus says Spring in the Northwest like no other vegetable. The highly anticipated arrival of local asparagus at the University District Farmers Market signals the floodgates are opening and from here on out, there will be new and exciting produce arriving every week. Those of us who frequent the farmers market regardless of the weather have been waiting all winter for this moment.


Just in case you’re new to asparagus prep, this post will help you out. First-of-the-season asparagus needs almost no embellishment, maybe some butter, salt & pepper, a squirt of lemon. I’ll keep it simple for the first few weeks before I start adding sauces just to savor the unique taste I’ve been craving. Once I’ve gotten my fill of unadorned asparagus, I have a few new tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you. But, if I’m being completely honest, this miso butter is so good I’m already eating it on everything in sight, asparagus included. My inspiration for the following recipes came from a beautiful vegetarian cookbook called Feast by Sarah Copeland.

Asparagus with Miso Butter

 Miso Butter Recipe

Ingredients: 2T unsalted butter at room temperature/ 1 T miso – I used white, her recipe calls for yellow/ 1/4 t sriracha, to taste.

Directions: Mix butter and miso together with a sturdy spoon in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Add hot sauce, if you wish.

Seriously, I had a hard time not eating this by the spoonful so I slathered it on a cracker and somehow that made me feel less decadent. Go figure.

Asparagus with Miso Butter

If you’re more in the mood for a spring asparagus salad, try this ranch dressing – a great way to use fresh chives from the garden and green garlic from the farmers market. Charlie loved it, but then again, he didn’t get to try the miso butter. It mysteriously disappeared….

Ranch Dressing

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

Ingredients: 1/2 cup plain Greek or any full fat yogurt/ 1/3 cup mayonnaise/ 1/3 cup buttermilk/ 1 clove garlic, minced (if you happen to have some green garlic, use it instead)/ 1T fresh lemon juice/ huge bunch of fresh chives/Salt & pepper/ 1/4 t sriracha or your favorite hot sauce, to taste, optional.

Directions: Whisk everything together in a medium bowl/ Adjust salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste/ Store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.

Asparagus with Fried Tofu

I used a recipe from the above mentioned cookbook, Feast ,for cornmeal fried tofu on asparagus but the ranch dressing would work with any asparagus salad, or any salad for that matter.

If you can’t stand the thought of throwing away at least a quarter of these lovely stalks, Sally has a recipe for a lovely broth, using all of your asparagus, um, butts.


Fennel: My New Best Frond Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:00:20 +0000

With the first day of spring a little more than a month away, I can feel the excitement of a new season of vegetables stirring as winter’s meals have just about run their course. I still love creamy comfort foods but I’m ready to start making the transition. Consider fennel as a refreshing palate cleanser between the winter and spring courses. Fennel can go either way — baked with cream and cheese in a decadently delicious gratin or raw and crisp in an improvised salad.

I know that fennel isn’t grown locally at this time of year but without really thinking about it, I assumed it was. I’ve always associated fennel with winter foods, or at least early spring. Truth be told, we won’t see it here in the Northwest until June or more likely July. After consulting Seasonal Cornucopia, a wonderful resource for finding out what’s in season, and the Produce Calendar from the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, I’m humbled to admit that I, too, have been fooled by the gorgeous offering of organic fennel at Whole Foods, on sale and after looking more closely, grown in California. Since I was stretching my definition of “local” further down the West Coast, I figured I may as well pick up some juicy heirloom oranges to add to the mix.

Crunchy, light and fresh, a salad made with thinly sliced fennel and orange slices can immediately transport me to the sunshine and warmer days ahead. Fennel adds a little touch of anise flavor that even those of us who have an aversion to licorice, will love. Mixed with the more mundane celery, the addition of fennel becomes something interesting to spark your taste buds.

My real mission when I bought fennel was to make something decadent for our Valentine’s Day dinner. This fennel gratin is embarrassingly easy to make for a special occasion so try it for your next dinner party. It takes comfort food to the next level.

Baked Fennel Gratin

Ingredients: 2 large bulbs of fennel, stalks and core removed, cut into bite-sized chunks/ 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 & 1/2 is also acceptable)/ 1 cup grated parmesan cheese/ salt & pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees/ In a large bowl, toss together fennel, cream and 1/2 cup cheese, salt & pepper to taste/ Put in baking dish and cover with foil/ Bake for 45 minutes/ Remove foil and sprinkle with rest of cheese, dot with butter if you dare and continue to bake until the top is brown and caramelized — about 30 minutes.

Served alongside our favorite, a pan-fried Keta salmon fillet from Loki Fish and a simple green salad and I whipped up an elegant dinner for my honey with very little prep time and got loads of praise in return.

Please don’t throw the feathery fennel fronds away. Chop them up and toss into a pasta sauce or use as a garnish on practically anything. You can also use the stalks as a flavorful bed for baking or grilling fish. Fennel is a truly versatile vegetable and as is true with all my good friends, it never hurts that it’s also beautiful.


Julia’s French Onion Soup With a PNW Accent Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:21:39 +0000 We love Julia Child because she relishes making hoity-toity French food, but brings it down to earth. Pun intended. When she drops a chicken on the floor or licks her fingers we know she’s one of us. Fr Onion soup 19

I’ve made her French onion soup for years and while she’s specific about process, ingredients are straightforward. As she said, “Onion soup is simply a large quantity of sliced onions slowly cooked and browned in butter, then simmered in beef bouillon.”

Not a refined soup, it’s meant to be full of oniony character, chunky and rustic, kind of like Julia herself. Caramelized, softened onion imbued with the subtle flavors of bay, sage and thyme, toasted bread and melted cheese on top – comfort food in a bowl.  This soup is of winter’s landscape. Onions, lots of them, a stock of your choice, beef, chicken or vegetable, and but of course a smidge of wine. Use onions from nearby, a locally/regionally produced cheese, and make your own stock if possible.  Another mostly local meal.Fr Onion soup 29

Plus, French Onion Soup is a great way to have a party meal, any meal, that’s easy on the pocketbook. The cheese topping is potentially pricey, though you need very little, and onions and elbow grease for chopping come pretty cheap.  After that just time is required to let it all simmer into a pièce de résistance.

Onions, Aliums, are full of anti-oxidants. *Check out links and info at end of this piece for more about the Allium’s nutritive benefits.

I use Julia Child’s recipe from The French Chef Cookbook (a rumpled little paperback I’ve had forever) and I feel free to adjust it as needed. It calls for a cup of red or white wine. I’ve often used red which ‘colors’ the soup. For that reason I use white wine if I have it. Taste is great either way.

The work for this soup comes at the very beginning when, with tissues nearby, you roll up your sleeves and peel and chop a big pile of onions, a mountain of onions when you’ve finished chopping five or six of them. They diminish in volume significantly during cooking. This recipe makes 4 – 6 servings.

I’m always grateful to have fresh herbs in the garden, especially mid-winter. Bay and rosemary are thriving in spite of recent cold snap, thyme and sage are sad looking, but new growth is coming even now and I foraged enough for this soup. More about Herbs and Herb gardens coming soon.

Fr Onion soup 22

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Recipe

Repost from January, 2009. I made this soup yesterday, 1/12/15, and with homemade stock it took a chunk of time. Using stock made ahead or store-bought this would come together fairly quickly. And I must say, it’s a soup worth the effort. !!!

Ingredients & Directions:

Melt 3 T butter with 1 T olive oil in 4-quart pot/ Add sliced onions and stir to coat/ Cover pan and cook slowly for 15 or 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent/ Remove lid, turn the heat up to medium and stir in 1 t salt and ½ t sugar/ Stir together and sauté another 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Onions will gradually turn golden brown/ Lower heat, add 3 T flour and a bit more butter if needed/ Cook together for two minutes/ Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock along with 1 C red or white wine, 1 bay leaf, ½ t sage, salt & pepper to taste/ Stir with a whisk to blend everything and then add remaining 7 cups of stock (which could be diluted with water)/ Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

That’s it. OK to make it a day ahead of time. Like many soups it gets better after sitting a few hours or a day.

To serve: Ladle into a bowl and enjoy as is, or give it a French accent: nearly fill oven-proof soup bowls with the hot soup, place a toasted slice or two of bread, preferably French, on top of each and top that with a handful of grated cheese. Gruyere is traditional perfection. Place bowls on a cookie or baking sheet under a broiler for two or three minutes. Watch carefully while cheese melts. Remove from oven and serve with more bread, a green salad or fruit and a sip of wine.

The cheese topping is the opportunity for a Pacific Northwest touch (or skip the cheese entirely).  Julia suggests Parmesan and/or Gruyere which are local if you live in France. If there’s a locally made cheese that you like, try it. I used Mt. Townsend’s Trailhead with a little parm mixed in; Beecher’s jack or cheddar would be good; Sea Breeze’s Vache de Vashon or their Alpine goat cheese; Port Madison’s Goat Farm & Dairy is a source of excellent local cheese available at Farmers Markets most weekends. Goat cheese would be something to try.  Goat Cheese and onios are delicious together in a tart – it ought to translate to this soup as well.  If anyone out there tries it, let me know.

Fr Onion soup 36

Alliums’ Health Benefits:

Onion a day keeps doctor away?

*Many onions are chock full of anti-cancer chemicals. However, certain varieties are particularly high in these compounds as well as more effective in inhibiting liver and colon cancer cell growth.         According to a new study by Cornell University food scientists, led by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of food science, shallots, Western Yellow, pungent yellow and Northern Red onions are higher in anti-cancer chemicals than other varieties tested. Furthermore, Liu found that shallots and Western Yellow and pungent yellow onion varieties are particularly effective against liver cancer cells, while pungent yellow and Western Yellow varieties have the greatest effect on colon cancer cells.

“Our study of 10 onion varieties and shallots clearly shows that onions and shallots have potent antioxidant and antiproliferation activities and that the more total phenolic and flavonoid content an onion has, the stronger its antioxidant activity and protective effect,” says Liu.

Onions are Beneficial to Health, Vegetarianism & Vegetarian Nutrition

]]> 4
Feast-worthy Crispy Shallots Mon, 10 Nov 2014 01:37:23 +0000 This is a shallot strutting its stuff, like onion rings, but tiny. They sit courteously on top of almost anything and make it even better than it already was. They’re winter’s parsley, not as green and fresh, but perhaps more comforting in their crispy-golden-fried countenance.

crispy shallots

Crispy shallots add crunchy appeal to almost anything on a plate. Sprinkle them on soup, salad, mashed potatoes, spinach or kale, sweet potatoes, gratin, scrambled eggs, vegetable dips . . .

You might be thinking, as I did, but there’s the frying in hot oil and I don’t do frying. Yikes. Relatively little ends up on the shallot, you get a lot of mileage out of a few of these and they’re pretty easy and fast to make. Attention is required for the 15 minutes or so of prep and frying. They can be made a few hours ahead, but don’t plan to use these the next day or next week. Best eaten fairly soon. Strain, save and reuse the oil for another batch, or seven. This recipe makes about 1/2 cup, which is enough to garnish 6 servings of just about anything. Double or triple the recipe for feasting. Thanksgiving mashed potatoes will have some crispy shallots sprinkled on top this year, as will Aunt Caroline’s green beans.

Crispy Shallots Recipe

peeled shallots

Jerry Traunfeld’s recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook got me going on this. For convenience and curiosity, I changed one major instruction. I used a LOT less oil for frying than the 4 cups he calls for (and it worked). Also, I didn’t use a thermometer, though it is certainly recommended. For best results use one and heat oil to 325 degrees before frying shallots.

Or, take your chances with a more cavalier approach, which I probably got from my grandmother. Cavalier might not be the right word for she was thoughtful, careful and experienced whenever she fried, usually without a thermometer. Heat oil to very hot, but not smoking. The not smoking part is important – smoking oil burns food. When you think it’s very hot, toss one coated shallot into the oil, a bit of flour or bread, and if it crackles and sizzles then it’s ready. If it sizzles placidly then it’s not. Let the oil heat up a little more. I know. This is seat of the pants. For best results, listen to Jerry and other great chefs and use a thermometer.

However you do it, be cautious. Cooking with hot oil requires focus and care and I wouldn’t consider it if there are little children scooting about underfoot. Wait until they’re in somebody’s arms or asleep.


Ingredients: 3 medium or 2 large shallots/ 1/2 C flour/ 1 cup high-heat vegetable oil/ Salt.

Directions: Peel and slice shallots very thinly, should be about 1 cup/ Place flour in a bowl/ Place a paper towel on a plate/ Toss sliced shallots in flour to coat thoroughly, then place floured shallots in a colander and shake off excess/Heat oil, at least 1 cup, in a heavy, deep-sided pan/ Medium high will bring oil to very hot in 2 or 3 minutes, but as I mentioned earlier, test it along the way and don’t let it get too hot/ If you’re using a thermometer then you’re not doing this by the seat of your pants and that’s good – heat oil to 325 degrees.

crispy shallots

making crispy shallots

crispy shallots

When oil is sizzling hot, place all shallots in the pan, separate gently, stirring with a slotted spoon or a skimmer/ Keep stirring gently until shallots become golden brown – a couple of minutes at most/ Remove immediately, place on paper towels, spread and sprinkle with a little salt/ Allow to cool/ They will be crispy and ready to eat immediately, or store in an airtight container for several hours and use later in the day.

crispy shallots in soup

Another feast-worthy shallot recipe. Shallots Step Up to the Plate: Caramelized Balsamic Shallots

Apple Cider Rules Mon, 03 Nov 2014 01:00:49 +0000

Ever wonder how apple cider is made?  If you have plenty of apples and access to a cider press, you can make your own. One box of apples will make about 2 -3  gallons of cider. Renting a press is an option or you can offer an extra set of hands if you know someone with a press. I’m lucky enough to have a brother with a press and luckier still that by the time I arrived, most of the heavy work was done.

When I say heavy work, I mean picking and thoroughly washing all the apples. It’s the prep that always takes time, the rest is fun. Seeds and stems will pass through the grinder without changing the flavor so there’s no pre-cutting necessary. A mixture of varieties is fine and even desirable.


This is how the press works. Toss the clean, whole apples into the grinder. The fruit will be ground into pulp that drops into a pressing bag inside of a banded pressing tub.


When the bag is full of pulp, you slide the tub forward and place a wooden pressing plate over the top. Then the screw is tightened down to release all the delicious juice into a bowl.


The juice is then poured through some kind of filter to remove any chunks of fruit or skin — cheesecloth works but a grease spatter screen works even better. It can then be poured into containers.  Fresh apple cider will naturally ferment fairly quickly so it’s a good idea to freeze all but what you’ll be drinking in the next week. Remember to leave space at the top because the juice will expand when it freezes.


The bottled cider goes to friends and family or down to the freezer in the barn and the pulp goes outside the garden fence for the deer to have a feast of their own.

Fresh cider is incredible, cold or hot but also happens to make an excellent fall cocktail.

Apple Cider Cocktail aka The Wild Turkey (for 2)

Ingredients: 4 oz  fresh apple cider/ 4 oz bourbon, my preference is  Wild Turkey/ Juice of 1/2 lemon/ Dash of angostura bitters/Maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions: Pour cider, bourbon, lemon juice and bitters into a shaker with plenty of ice/ Shake and strain/ Serve straight up or over ice/ Garnish with a maraschino cherry (homemade or Luxardo are the best).

Drink up and do your turkey dance, sound effects are welcome.

I think our wild turkey would agree this is the perfect Thanksgiving Day cocktail, with or without the booze.

Crunchy & Tasty, Not Scary, Roasted Pumpkin Wedges Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:11:42 +0000 My sister Annie lives in eastern Canada and sent me two books, which arrived in the mail last week. She says they’re in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and The Third Plate by Dan Barber. Both look fabulous, but her intention and generosity are the biggest gift. Plus, we’ll have a Plenty-inspired vegetarian meal right away, like these savory bread-crumb crusted pumpkin wedges.

Pie pumpkin, ready to be roasted and crunchified.

Pie Pumpkin from Whistling Train Farm.

Plenty is a vegetarian cookbook written by a non-vegetarian. Photographs are gorgeous, Ottolenghi’s descriptions are insightful, and the recipes are appealing, alluring even. I invite non-vegetarians, myself included, to roll with it. And, it supports Dan Barber’s point that our new sensibility about local and seasonal, while good, is still unsustainable and that we have more work to do. Vegetarian or vegetarian-leaning more often is a start. It’s sumptuous and satisfying beyond what I could have imagined growing up on a ranch with plenty of meat and potatoes.

Another thing. Mark Bittman says that one of the most powerful practices toward sustainability and health is to ‘cook your own food’. Even if it’s cooking one meal a week instead of zero, think about joining me on that bandwagon. Dinner last night included these crusty roasted pumpkin wedges, savory stuffed roasted red peppers and a Caesar salad made with Whistling Train Farm’s gorgeous autumn romaine. There might have been ice cream for dessert.

Crusted & Roasted Pumpkin Wedges Recipe

These are tasty, not scary. But wait a minute . . . the slices are kind of pointy and boney-finger like. Mwaaaaaa ha ha.

crusty roasted pumpkin

crusty roasted pumpkin


From Plenty. Serves 4, takes about 20 minutes to prep, and then 30 minutes or so to roast. I would think you could use just about any fall squash, in addition to the pie pumpkin.

Ingredients: 1 ½ pounds pie pumpkin, skin on (in my case, half a pumpkin)/ ½ C grated Parmesan/ 4 T dried white breadcrumbs/ 6 T finely chopped parsley/ 2 ½ t finely chopped thyme/ grated zest of *2 lemons/ 2 garlic cloves, crushed and/or finely chopped/ Salt & pepper to taste/ ¼ C olive oil.

crusty roasted pumpkin

Cutting the pumpkin in half, seeding it and then cutting thinnish wedges is the time consuming part of this dish. After that it comes together quickly.

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees/ Cut the pie pumpkin in half, remove seeds and cut half of it into approximately 3/8 inch slices. Reserve the other half for another purpose, or use it for a double batch/ Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl, *reserving half of the lemon zest for later, add a small amount of salt and pepper/ Brush pumpkin generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with the dry mix/ Gently pat the mix onto each slice  – some will slide off, but it gets crispy and dark during the roasting, totally edible/ Roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and crust has turned a golden brown/ If crust turns too brown before pumpkin is done cover lightly with a piece of foil.

Remove from the oven, eat right away or at room temperature. Ottolenghi suggests serving crusty pumpkin slices with ½ C sour cream mixed with *the rest of the lemon zest and 1 T chopped fresh dill. This was a delicious accompaniment.

A few leftovers and I’m imagining crusty pumpkin wedges surrounded by mixed greens and goat or a blue cheese. Talk about an awesome autumnal salad!

crusty roasted pumpkin

Pumpkin seed pumpkin has seeds without hulls, perfect for our snacking pleasure.

Pumpkin seed pumpkins have seeds without hulls, perfect for snacking, raw or roasted.


]]> 3
DIY: Cup of Noodle Soup Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:00:36 +0000 Chicken Noodle Soup

I never know what to eat for lunch. A sandwich feels like too much, a salad not quite enough. Soup is just right but unless I’ve made a pot of homemade, I’m out of luck because I want something fast, easy AND fresh. I’m here to tell you that I’ve found the perfect solution to my lunch dilemma — ramen noodle soup with lots of fresh veggies. And the best part of all – it “cooks” in a mason jar. This is seriously fast food that you can make on the spot as long as you have access to boiling water. Such an easy concept but sadly I can’t take credit for it. I found the idea in the Pantry Suppers section of the new, River Cottage Veg cookbook. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just love vegetables, glance through this book and you’ll want to make every single dish.

Brown Rice Ramen Noodles

Go down the soup aisle in a grocery store and you’re likely to find many packaged versions. Cup o’ Noodles can be very tempting but wouldn’t it be much better to replace the processed “food” with the real thing – fresh vegetables and flavorings?  And who wants to put another styrofoam bowl in the garbage ? Fresh noodles could bring it to a whole other level but if you want this to be readily available, you can buy “cakes” of organic brown rice ramen noodles at Whole Foods. River Cottage Veg suggests flat, thin quick-cooking egg noodles so that’s also an option. I’ve experimented with using half a cake and more vegetables but if you like your soup very noodly, use a whole cake, breaking it in two to fit more easily in the jar. I used a wide-mouth quart size canning jar to cook my soup in. A lid is essential and the jar must be heatproof or it could break when filled with boiling water.

Noodle Soup Cooked in a Jar

DIY Vegetarian Cup 0f Noodles

Ingredients: 1 cake of quick-cooking noodles such as brown rice ramen noodles/ 1/4 cube of vegetarian bouillon, I like the Rapunzel brand, vegan with sea salt/ 1 small carrot, grated/ 1 green onion thinly sliced/ thinly sliced greens – I used savoy cabbage and spinach/ 1/2 t freshly grated ginger/ 1/2 garlic clove, grated/1 t soy sauce/ Juice of one small lime/ 1/4 t sriracha sauce (optional)/ Chopped fresh chives for garnish, if you have some.

Directions: Put all ingredients, except soy sauce and lime juice in a wide-mouth heatproof jar, layering it so that the ingredients that need more cooking (the noodles) are at the bottom of the jar/ Pour boiling water in just to cover ingredients. Press everything down to make sure it’s covered/ Cover with lid and let it “cook” for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender/ Remove lid, add soy sauce and lime juice, stir, then eat it immediately right out of the jar or pour into a bowl. Why not make it the night before and stick it in the microwave? First of all, I don’t own a microwave and secondly, the noodles will continue to absorb liquid and become mushy pretty quickly. Best to dig right in.

Noodles in a Jar

For a chicken noodle version, here are the ingredients I used but please use what ever you have on hand.

Ingredients for Chicken Noodle soup

From my garden — small broccoli florets, sliced green onion, sliced fresh spinach plus some leftover roasted chicken, fresh ginger! (from Mair Taki at the University Farmers Market), fresh garlic and cilantro. I used about 1 cup very hot chicken broth and 1/4 cup boiling water for my broth and added about 1/4 t curry paste to the liquid before pouring it into the jar.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Next time, another vegetarian variation with mushrooms and miso.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Bring your mason jar with soup ingredients-ready-to-go for lunch to work and you just might start a new healthy and tasty trend.



]]> 1