20 July 2010


Dearest farmer's market:

If you keep giving me perfect exciting cucumbers and gigantic purple heirloom tomatoes, I'm just going to have to keep cutting them up, salting them, mixing them together, eating them voraciously, and drinking the last specks of tomato juice out of the bottom of the bowl. I only hope you are prepared to live with the results of your actions.


19 July 2010


So I got some eggs and immediately felt better. Eggs are clearly the best of all possible ideas, especially when you cook them at home. I'm not particularly into restaurant eggs for a few reasons.

1. Everyone cooks eggs to their own preference/in a particular style. So if you happen to be at a French restaurant, for instance, a poached egg is going to be totally runny and albuminical throughout not just the yolk but also the white. GROSS. That degree of runniness actually gives me an upset stomach. If you cook at home, you control the egg.

2. Eggs must be eaten as absolutely hot as possible. Now, ok, taking pictures for foodblog does not exactly encourage this, but at least I know my eggs haven't been sitting at the pass for five minutes before I get them.

That said, I will totally eat a diner egg. I just like my own eggs better. I got a dozen at the Lebanese market and hand-picked another six brown eggs at the farmer's market and felt excellent about my prospects.


I always cook fried eggs with the steam method, which should be no surprise to anyone who's been hanging around here for any length of time. Heat pan on medium-high; melt butter; crack in egg; let set for maybe 30 seconds; add splash of water; slap on lid; shake pan to get water under the egg; let steam until done to your preference. I make my whites solid and my yolks liquid, for maximal toast absorption. You can start toasting bread before you ever put the egg in the pan.

Next, scrambled egg with onion, tomato, corn cut off the cob, and hot pepper.

I was going to add black beans to this one, but it was too late for the leftover container in our fridge. So we just had to make do with all the other delicious vegetable content. Oh no, fresh corn and heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market! HA.

Since scrambled eggs with various additions were clearly a great idea, I went ahead and made even more.

This time I chopped up some red onion, green beans, and a sliver of red pepper, cooked them quickly in butter, and broke an egg over the top. After a vigorous scrambling, a grind of salt and pepper, and a handful of chopped dill, they were perfect. I warmed up some tiny exciting Lebanese market pita, cut them in half, and stuffed them with the egg-vegetable business.

This one was the best iteration yet. I mean, dill in egg salad is a given, right? It is for me, and should be for you. I'd never tried it with scrambled egg before, though. Clearly, I have been missing out for years and years.

09 July 2010

In the meantime

Living near the Lebanese market is clearly an excellent situation. We walked out a couple days ago with a pint of black mission figs and a bag of extremely fresh, excellent, tiny wheat pita. At home I still had (and have) the remains of a massive 1-pound container of labneh. Everything was clearly screaming to be mashed together and eaten as soon as possible.

So I warmed up the pitas in the toaster oven, cut them in half, smeared the insides with labneh, and stuffed them with sliced peppered figs. I realized too late that we didn't have any herbs; if only I'd also bought one of the market's huge bags of basil or mint! Chopped mint would have made this completely over the top. I did have a basil seedling that needed thinning, though, so I picked it to use the leaves. Hey, it's just barely too big to be microbasil! HA. Of course, it was also in the ground approximately 30 seconds before I took these pictures, so that's perfectly satisfactory.

07 July 2010

Ok now: white bean potato corn chowder

So I made some white beans and potatoes into chowder.

I suppose this isn't actually a true chowder; there's no dairy, and I puréed everything except the corn and garnish. So, you know, take that into account. On the other hand, it was pretty damn awesome, and would've been even more so with further raw bits strewn over the top. If it were earlier in spring, a massive handful of pea shoots would've been ideal, for instance. Of course, then there wouldn't have been any fresh corn yet, so you know, you take what you can get. Shredded chard or spinach would clearly be awesome as well.

Awesome awesome. Am I ever going to get rid of my early 90s vocabulary? Signs point to no. Anyway.

White bean potato corn chowder

olive oil
white beans
bean or veg broth
fresh exciting summer corn
salt, pepper, red pepper flake
garnish: red pepper, potential greens, parsley

If you don't have broth, you want to start it first. So get out some big handfuls of vegetable scraps, put them in a pot, cover them with water, and simmer them for ten or fifteen minutes. I personally had white bean broth frozen with cooked white beans, but since I knew I was also going to be boiling potatoes, I decided to make veg broth as well. Water is also an acceptable choice of liquid if you have no broth capabilities.

So, for two people's worth of soup, chop up maybe half a yellow onion (other colors work fine) plus a couple cloves of garlic. Soften them in a big soup pot with some olive oil and red pepper flake (or even a diced actual hot pepper; whatev) while you scrub and dice a handful of potatoes. I was using a new red and yukon gold potato mix; since they were all small, I used about five or six. Clearly, if you have one massive and gargantuan potato, just use that. Peel them if you want; I don't.

When your alliums have softened, you want to get the pan sufficiently full of liquid to cook your potatoes. You could do this in a couple ways; adding two or three cups of broth or water is clearly easiest. I, however, had my aforementioned frozen white beans in broth, so I threw that into the pot to melt before adding additional liquid. If you're using a plain can of beans, just go with the broth.

So. Bring your liquid-filled pot to a boil. Then, and only then, add your potatoes. Otherwise they will take a million years to cook. If you haven't added beans already, add them now. Make sure the liquid covers everything well, season with a little salt and pepper, bring the pot back up to the boil, reduce to a simmer, slap the lid on, and let cook until the potatoes are completely tender. This took about a half hour for me, but will vary depending on the size of your potatoes.

In the meantime, you can shuck an ear or two of exciting summer farmer's market corn. Oh man, fresh corn. I love it. I admit that cutting corn off the cob is a gargantuan bitch, but otherwise, you could not ask for more. To cut corn off cob: hold it up, bracing its end on your cutting surface, and gently cut down the side. Kernels will fly everywhere as well as falling off the cob in big milky solid slabs. I actually saw that the Pioneer Woman was cutting corn off the cob in the middle of a huge stainless steel bowl the other day. That is so clearly a good idea. If only I had one of those sets of giant bowls.

When the potatoes are cooked, pull the pot off the heat and let it cool for a minute before you blitz it with the immersion blender. If you want a more traditional chunky chowder, go ahead and skip this step, or just puree it a little. Stir your corn pieces into the soup, put it back over the heat, and cook until the corn is done to your liking and the soup has reduced to your desired level of thickness. I wanted my corn to stay crunchy and sweet and exciting, so I think I only cooked my batch for about five minutes longer. In the meantime, you can chop up anything you want for garnish. Red pepper is always really good with corn, but you can use whatever you want.

At the last second, correct any necessary seasonings. You're done. Eat it!

In scorching midsummer, such a thing demands a salad. Ours was just butter lettuce with a last-minute fork-whipped dijon vinaigrette. Clearly, practically anything green and crunchy and lettuce-related will work just fine.

03 July 2010

Make the full transition

So I've been having a hard time getting back into the rhythm of cooking since we moved. That's probably pretty clear. Much of the problem stems from our location, or maybe I should say our location plus sun. There are a few small groceries in easy distance, but they're inconsistent. The real stores are a short bike ride away, but I have yet to establish a particular behavior pattern so as to make that ride a normal occurrence. This means our supplies are always low. Clearly, establishing better shopping habits is the best strategy; once we have good, consistent supplies, things will be way easier.

In the meantime, I've been going to the farmer's market (which I will clearly continue to do) and getting...just fruit and vegetables. No eggs, no meat, no milk, no cheese. We have and make lots of beans and grains, so that's good. I get bread, but since it comes from an actual bakery, said bread is not long for the world. So I've mostly been trying to live on...vegetables. It's like the terrible strategy everyone's great-aunt Edna adopts when their vegetarian or vegan grandnieces and nephews come to visit. "I know you really like vegetables." That. Of course I like vegetables, but they aren't an actual full dinner. I know better than this; what am I doing?

Right! So this has to stop.

1. Establish regular biking to store/food shopping routine.
2. Brainstorm delicious food not made solely from vegetables.
3. Brainstorm delicious food based around something other than beans. I love bean-based soups and pastas, but it's JULY. I love black bean quesadillas, but there have been a damn sight too many around lately, and on crap tortillas besides.
3a. Establish decent tortilla source.
4. Establish good backlog of staples of all kinds, not just beans and grains. Flour would be good, for instance.
5. Establish good backlog of food that's easy to just throw in a pan for five minutes and then eat instantly.

Key items to make, freeze, and keep for easy consumption:

- Burritos. I've had a terrible and fairly gross craving for those huge orange bags of frozen burritos, but it would clearly be better to make a huge and awesome batch of refried beans, a batch of rice/barley/quinoa, and some sort of exciting salsa featuring many farmer's market tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Then I would play "how many tortillas can I stuff and freeze without eating them?" until I ran out of supplies.

- Pizza. Though this would clearly be best with homemade sourdough-starter crust, I 1. do not currently have a starter (though now is the best time to start one since it's hot!) and 2. am not entirely sure how an unbaked/partially baked sourdough crust would hold up in the freezer anyway. Hmm. So, with that in mind, I want to make a batch of dough of some kind, roll it into smallish and individual pizzas, and cover each of them with everything in the world. I would totally do the potato-rosemary-garlic pizza, the massive amounts of black olives-artichoke hearts-red pepper pizza, the easy and awesome margherita pizza, the straight up onion-green pepper pizza. I would even make some plain ones with just sauce and cheese. We love pizza and yet have just moved from NYC to California. This is a required project.

- Black bean and/or lentil burgers. These can go any which way depending on what we have in the house, but they're essentially cooked beans or legumes mixed with a cooked grain of some type and some chopped onion/garlic/hot pepper. I totally wing the proportions, which is not exactly the best way to go for consistency of texture/etc, but whatever. Prebaked and frozen, they are exactly what you want to eat with mustard and barbecue sauce and a hunk of lettuce on a big chunk of decent bread. On a similar note, I should also make lentil kibbeh: more or less the same deal, only differently shaped and with more added spices for random snacking with yogurt or baba.

- Soup. It's too hot for this now, but the big pot of chili in the freezer has consistently been the best idea ever, and will continue as such in the future.