Wednesday, July 1, 2015

4 Sides for the 4th

Elevenscore and nineteen years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
That's right, folks, it's time to celebrate our freedoms once again, and the government has added a new one this year, if you didn't notice: the freedom not to limit your fat intake. Well--not to limit total fat intake. They're still jittery about saturated fat (i.e., the best-tasting fats from butter, cheese, whole milk, and beef). But since we live in America, we experience another freedom: that of ignoring government recommendations. Which means, in our house, we eat all those saturated fats mentioned above and plan to keep eating them. Cause for celebration.

How we feel about eating fat, and how we feel when the Mariners win [pic: RedTricom]
So say you've been invited to a 4th of July celebration this year, and told to "bring a side dish or dessert." As you might have heard, our Market is closed this Saturday, so you need to plan ahead and make purchases this Thursday. Market-available items are marked with an asterisk (*).

I'm bringing my homemade baked beans.

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans
3 cups dried navy beans*
1 medium onion, chopped*
1 lg can tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar, scant
1 cup water
2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb diced bacon*

Soak beans overnight or follow "quick soak" instructions on package. (You could also ask Alvarez Farms which of their beans they would substitute for navy beans, and that would reduce cooking time!) Drain.

Put all ingredients in the crock-pot and mix well.

Cover. Cook on High 6-8 hours. After the low end of the range, taste a bean for tenderness. (If it looks like it's getting dry, feel free to add 1/2 to 1 cup preheated water.)

But maybe you prefer a salad? We've been having this one a lot:

Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Feta
1 bunch or bag of spinach*
2-3 sliced scallions*
handful sliced strawberries (very ripe)*
crumbled feta or other cheese, amount to taste*
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

This is a pretty free-form salad. For the dressing, mix the oil and vinegar in a 3:1 ratio (e.g., 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar). Dress and toss right before serving.

I also have this potato salad marked as "Tasty!" in my New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, with one emendation:

Chunky Potato Salad
4 lbs medium-sized potatoes*
4 eggs*
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp - 1/4 c relish (my own personal addition!)
1-1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c milk
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, with enough water to cover, boil/simmer potatoes until soft (25-30 minutes). Cool and cut in chunks (I don't bother peeling, although it does make a prettier salad). Hard-cook eggs and dice.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes and eggs with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until serving.

And finally, for dessert, you can't go wrong with pie. Pick one up at the Market if it sounds like too much effort. Adrienne's Cakes & Pies has a lovely selection. The thought of apple or berry or strawberry rhubarb pie makes my mouth water.

The selection, from Adrienne's perspective!
If you insist on homemade (and don't mind heating up the kitchen in 90F weather), Good Housekeeping comes through again. Blueberry pie is the hands-down easiest, especially since freestone peaches are not yet available.

Blueberry Pie
double pie crust of your choice
2 pts blueberries*
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp salt

Prepare pie crust and line pan. Mix filling ingredients and pour into prepared crust. Top with remaining crust. Cut slits in top and bake 40-50 minutes at 425F. Cool on wire rack.

See you Thursday, and have a great 4th!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waste Not, Want Not

My kids will tell you I hate wasting food. We are not one of those families that throws away $1,365-2,275 worth of food per year. Why should we, when limp celery can be thrown in soup, or twice-eaten baked beans can be added to taco filling? Yes, my Empty-the-Fridge Tortilla Soup might draw some groans, but it takes care of the 1/2 cup of leftover pork roast, 1/2 cup of burned crock-pot beef, and 1/2 cup of Thai Peanut Pork that no one was going to eat.

So you can understand how happy I am to see Saturday Market vendor The Brewmaster's Bakery. You know--the guys next to the cherries and apricots, who put out little dog biscuits for your furry friends.

Fresh from the Brewmaster
The Brewmaster's Bakery makes its products from "spent grain," the grains left over after brewers have used them to make beer. These might include barley, wheat, corn, rice, rye, or oats. What a great idea! For centuries, most brewers would give the spent grain to farmers for feed, but, as we know, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the one who might eat the goose.

The granolas
All those spent grains have been "turned into goodies" like granola and cookies by our friends, and the granolas have been given exciting names. If you have trouble waking up in the morning, maybe it's because you could use a bowl of "Your Spicy Mistress" granola, which the website describes thus:

pecans and dried ginger with accents of black pepper and a bite of cayenne pepper. This is especially perfect for the beer lover in your life. The granola starts off mildly sweet and then hits you with a nice kick to the caboose which only makes you drink more beer. You’ll tell people it’s because you’re a manly man that can handle your spicy mistress, but we all know it’s to kill her sting.

Yowza! Or maybe you prefer "Check Out My Coconuts" flavor,

sweetened shredded coconut and milk chocolate added to our base granola will give you that island feel that makes you want to feel up some coconuts! 
Have no fear, however. There are a few items you can order without blushing, or that you could give as a gift without getting slapped across the face. I saw one woman buying "hop salt," which she said she was going to sprinkle on grilled steak.

Hop o' my tongue
This product is described as "sea salt infused with local amarillo hops." I have no idea what amarillo hops are, but I'm betting they're worlds tastier than armadillo hops.

Reduce, reuse, recycle! As anyone who's tried to reduce food intake can tell you, it's not a viable long-term strategy. But "reuse" and "recycle" are, and The Brewmaster's Bakery is on the leading edge.

Ya never know what will turn up at the Market (besides the freshest, most seasonal produce and awesome pastured meats, I mean). Enjoy, and have a great week.