Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Michael Pollan Moment

I have a non-scientific anecdote for you: I was at a women's retreat this past weekend and was sitting, chatting, on a sofa with a 94-year-old gal who'd grown up in Ritzville, but who had left decades ago because she "didn't want to be a farmer's wife." I'll call her Pearl. Another woman passed by and handed Pearl what looked like a packing peanut, but which turned out to be a white-cheddar, Cheetoh-like puffed snack. "Try this, Pearl--they're yummy."

Obediently, Pearl took a bite. Obediently, she crunched and tasted. Then her face screwed up hideously.

"What is that?"

She glared at the Cheetoh-like puff like it had tried to poison her, so I ended up holding out my hand so I could throw it away for her.

When I returned, Pearl shuddered. "I eat healthy," she said apologetically.

It all put me in mind of Michael Pollan's admonition in In Defense of Food, not to eat anything our great-grandmothers wouldn't recognize. I guess that includes synthetically-flavored, machine-extruded corn puffs.

Darn. I find them kind of tasty, myself.

This post isn't actually a review of that book, which I gave two stars to on Goodreads, with no review to explain why I was so underwhelmed. (I much preferred The Omnivore's Dilemma and Cooked.) But his advice to eat more real food holds true, and my encounter with Pearl reminded me of how far food has come in the past century.

Another reason to visit our Market--it's chock-full of foods Pearl would recognize. Like the vegetables that went into my Greek salad:

and wild salmon--that is, Jeb's Wild Salmon:

caught in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Jeb's offers several varieties, either frozen or smoked. And their Saturday presence is a nice complement to Thursday's Two If by SeaFoods.

It's easier to eat real, of course, if you like to cook, but for the busier among us, or those cooks who want a night off, the Market also has so-yummy prepared foods. More than you could get through in one season, even if you tried one new thing each week, which is basically what we do, not counting the times we circle back to enjoy a favorite again.

Have you tried...

Biscuit-in-a-Box's Sister Wagen
Hard to read in my picture, but they offer sandwiches and soft pretzels and more!
So put down the Cheetoh-like substance and hit the Markets this week. Pearl will thank you, and so will your insides!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall's Apples and Pears

It's officially fall. Which means I can now serve chili and soup without apologies, even if it hits 70F outside. And, while we have to bid a tearful farewell to peaches and nectarines, the apples and pears are in, and boy are they yummy!

We tried this new variety at Collins Family Orchards called "Candy Time," a marketing brainstorm if I ever heard of one. Who could resist?

This apple gets high marks for its size and lovely coloring, and if you're one of those families which grew up on Red Delicious and other not-tart apples, this could be one to try. Personally I'm not a Red Delicious fan, and I love apples to be sweet-tart, but Candy Time would work well for caramel apples and apples that get dipped.

At a kids' swim team potluck the other day, a family brought a wonderful apple tart featuring apples they'd picked themselves, and the baker gave credit to Ina Garten for the recipe, which I'm betting was this one. It reminded me very much of the recipe it's based on, the French Tarte Tatin, for which I've always used this recipe I got long ago in a cooking class:

Tarte Tatin (from the HomeChef Cooking School)

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp butter
6 small, tart apples, cored, peeled, and cut into eighths
dough for single-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a golden caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, tilting the pan so that the caramel coats the bottom.

Lay the apple slices over the caramel in spokes like a wheel. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dot with the butter.

Roll out the pastry until about 1/4" thick and 2 inches larger than the cake pan. Lay it over the top of the apples, tucking it in around the edges. Poke 4-5 air holes in the pastry with a fork.

Bake about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least thirty minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter, so that the crust forms the base. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Unlike the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, there's no jam required and a lot less butter!

Don't miss the Bartlett pears appearing, either. I'm always tearing out pear recipes, too, except I never can bear to cook pears because I love them so much raw. If I can resist, however, I want to try this one that appeared in my latest Penzey's catalog. They call it "Pear Mad Almond Tart," which made no sense to me because of its (lack of) punctuation. I think they meant "Pear-Mad Almond Tart." It calls for a tube of almond paste, which is crazy-expensive, and seven pears, so I probably will never make it. If you do happen to try it, please let me know, and I'll be right over to taste-test!

Thanks for the pic and the recipe, Penzey's!
We have four more weeks of our Thursday Market, so be sure to come out and collect your goodies, including these tomatillos, which make great salsa!