Today’s newsflash is that you can’t believe every health claim you read on a pill bottle, which is one of the reasons I think it’s smart to count on food for your vitamins instead. And although nutritional science waffles on what’s good and bad for us, I think we can agree that it’s always nice to see presumably-health-promoting-and-also-delicious foods smiling up at us from our plates. Probiotics are a current darling of the health-food scene, which pleases me because I always like when my favorite foods come into vogue (hello, dark chocolate!). Sandor Katz emboldened me to ferment my first batch of sauerkraut two years ago, and since then, in the secret world of off-blog cooking, I’ve continued the science experiments of fermentation in bubbling jars in the fridge and basement. Continue reading
The upside of seasonal eating has gotten enough play. Today we turn to its darker side. To the part of eating seasonally where summer ends and I am supposed to set aside perfect peaches for pumpkin soup and root vegetables. What kind of solace is that, I ask?
In the coming weeks I’ll settle in, I know, remembering the unexpected heights that Brussels sprouts can reach and that miso-roasted squash and kale salad. I’ll even delight in planning our vegetarian Thanksgiving menu. Eventually.
But for today, let’s talk about holding onto those peaches for as long as we can.
This recipe is the love child of this sweet tomato jam and this savory peach jam. It was inspired by a tomato and peach salad we ate all summer and a tomato and peach gazpacho served in the cafe of my favorite bookstore. And like all my good jam ideas, I later learned that Marisa had it first.
This jam is equal parts peaches and tomatoes by weight, but the result is more sweet than savory; the umami notes of tomato and balsamic add just a whisper of intrigue. As you’d expect, it’s most at home alongside a soft cheese or spooned over a piece of salmon, but it’s no slouch in a sandwich or vinaigrette either.
At 2 a.m. I was still in the kitchen. Peach jam in the canner, tomato jam out of the canner, three trays of fruit leather in the oven, tomatoes and peaches in the dehydrator, prepping zucchini relish. This is what I always forget in those dreamy, carefree spring months when I plant my garden or sign up for a CSA (or, this year, do both): The harvest season is also a season of all-out frenzy.
This recipe is here to help. You will find both emotional and practical relief as you reduce two truly gargantuan zucchini to five tidy pints of the hot dog relish you remember from childhood.
Pile it onto a field roast sausage with that better-than-ketchup (and I don’t say that lightly) tomato jam and a beery mustard, and you’ll almost forget about the boxes of ripe pears in the basement still awaiting your attention.
Any ideas for those pears? Continue reading
For the most part I’m a lazy cook, which is why I don’t get along too well with fava beans.
If you have it in you to shuck the beans from the pod, simmer them briefly and then peel each and every single bean, more power to you. You are now ready to make some elegant little appetizer that will be gone in two bites, like this fava bean and arugula crostini or that fava and ricotta bruschetta. (That second recipe recommends having a friend do the work for you, which is at least a step in the right direction.)
If you don’t have it in you to do all that work, this recipe is for you. It neatly foists the labor of excavating the tender beans straight onto your guests, providing a lively to start to your dinner party as your guests roll up their sleeves and forge a camaraderie based on their mutual amazement at your laziness. Provide a tiny bowl of good salt for dipping the beans, napkins, and a bowl for discarded pods and bean skins. Continue reading
Each summer, I fill my freezer and pantry shelves with jam and pickles and applesauce and roasted tomatoes and pesto and all the tastes of summer that I think I’ll need to make it through the Seattle winter. And each year, right about this time, I either start wondering where it all went or wondering how we’re ever going to get through it all. This year it’s the latter.
So here we are: the chickens are laying again, green rows are peeking up in the garden, and although even the rhubarb is a few weeks off, all signs indicate that spring will come again. Which means that it’s time to be working through our winter stores.It was in that spirit that I hauled the last of our apple harvest out from the back of the fridge today. Last fall we borrowed two dehydrators from a friend and dried a few gallons of apples that lasted, oh, right until whenever the girls found them. They loved them. So today when the counter was piled high with apples and I started talking sauce, an intense lobbying campaign was launched from around the height of my bellybutton. Who could resist?
It’s unfortunate that we’re not supposed to eat sugar anymore, because at this time of year I’m zesting citrus like mad and there’s nothing like a little (or a lot of) sugar to tame the delectable bitterness of orange and lemon peels. Think marmalade, think lemon-olive oil cake, think whole wheat quick bread with orange zest and brown sugar. Need more ideas? I loved this recent post from Food In Jars.This isn’t a recipe so much as a good idea: before the next time you peel or juice a (washed, organic) lemon or orange, scrub off the zest with a microplane first. Zest the fruit directly into a bowl to catch every drop of oil and essence from the peel. Add sugar. For this batch I added 1/2 c. granulated sugar to the zest of one orange and half a lemon. Mash it around to help the sugar absorb the flavor of the zest, then leave the bowl uncovered at room temperature for a day or two, stirring occasionally, until the zest is completely dry. Transfer to a sealed jar for storage. Continue reading
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The season of holiday excess is upon us, and one of my year-round favorite indulgences gets its due at this time of year: the cookie. These caraway cookies are a fine specimen—not chocolate, I’ll admit, but otherwise quite good. They have a reliable pedigree, hailing from Maida Heatter’s Cookies, where she describes the “caraway crisp” as a classic Scottish recipe. The flavor is restrained, the caraway and lemon are fragrant but not overwhelming, and the overall effect is a very nice balance of sweet but not too sweet. Continue reading