Facebook Share

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

Let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin! Not only are the mornings dark and the evenings dark, and not only have we started to consider an overcast day "good weather," and not only have we sighed to see summer's soft-fruit bounty giving way to the apples and pears of fall, but the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market is in its last week.

This is the time to take a look at the "Thursday-only" farmers and vendors on the website, so you can either stock up or sign up or cut special deals with them when you visit the Market for their curtain call. Are you signed up for Skagit River Ranch's Buyers Club? Do you have enough Soulever Chocolates and Melt mac and cheese and House of the Sun kale chips to hold you? How's your salmon supply? Your hazelnuts? Your toffee? Your hum bao reserves? Got Soup?

Some folks might make the move to Saturday, but it's best to ask. And we have until the Saturday before Thanksgiving to get our fill of fresh and local before it's all gone gone gone. (See picture at top of post.)

As a Thursday swan song, I have two awesomely delicious recipes to help you capitalize on what you'll find this week (fingers crossed): End-of-the-Season Kitchen-Sink Sauté and Yu Choi with Oyster Sauce.

End-of-the-Season Kitchen-Sink Sauté

2 ears of corn*, boiled for two minutes
2 medium tomatoes*, cut in eighths
couple handfuls of spinach or chard, de-stemmed, rinsed and cut in big pieces
2 slices bacon*

Cut corn off cobs and set aside.

Fry bacon on low or med-low heat until to desired doneness. Remove and drain on paper towels, than crumble. Leaving the bacon fat in the pan, turn the heat to medium. When the pan is hot, throw in the greens (as much as you like, really), and stir-fry till almost wilted. Throw in the tomato slices and cook until the greens are dark and soft. Remove from heat.

Stir in corn, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

This second recipe came to mind because, at my favorite dim sum place in the Bay Area, we always order these greens alongside the other goodies, as a sop to the nutrition gods. When I found yu choy at Blia's stand, I immediate drooled to think of recreating this at home. Usually the greens and stems are stir-fried, and then drizzled with oyster sauce, but Blia's helper guy remarked that his mom usually just boiled them. Done.

[Pic from seasonednoob.com because I forgot to take one!]

Boiled Yu Choy with Oyster Sauce

1 bunch yu choi*, rinsed and cut in 4-inch sections
some bottled oyster sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and put in ALL the yu choy. There's a lot, so you probably have to keep at it for a while. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the stalks are tender.

Drain and drizzle with oyster sauce.

Kids who like broccoli usually like this dish, and doesn't broccoli get old after a while?

So come one and all and see you this Thursday. I'll be the one weeping silently into her reusable canvas shopping bags...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Better Than a Payday? A Payraise!

Swim team season has started up again, which means lots of practices and meets for my three kids. Which means granola bar consumption has spiked.

I spent a truckload of time in the amazingly overextensive granola bar aisle of QFC, reading labels, coming to the disheartening conclusion that--news flash!--granola bars do not qualify as health food. (And that's not even counting the "chewy" variety because I suspect the only way baked goods stay chewy is plenty of chemicals.) Granola bars are especially not health food when your kids reject the kind with chunks of real dried fruit in favor of those with real drizzled chocolate.

Yes, they are glorified candy bars
As processed foods go, these Nature Valley ones aren't bad. Some soy flour I didn't want, along with two instances of so-called "natural flavor," but otherwise not too bad of stuff, all wrapped up in nonrecyclable plastic.

I could've gone with the hot new KIND bars, and sometimes I do, but all those real ingredients mean they are decidedly expensive. And they, too, come in the nonrecyclable plastic.

So I got the brilliant idea that I would make homemade snack bars, and a little searching on the internet turned up this extremely helpful post. Wow! Thanks, The Yummy Life!

My first batch of "Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt" came out beautifully, although the caramel-ish sugar stuff holding all those nuts together threatened to pull out my fillings. The girls loved them, as did the others I gave samples to. Only my boy objected. He's in braces, after all, and those giant almonds were off-limits, even if he liked giant almonds.

That's when the brilliant idea hit me that I could use mostly peanuts, resulting in the homemade equivalent of a Chocolate-Drizzled Payday Bar. Wow.

But what to name it--is there something even better than a pay day? Why, a pay raise!

(Drum roll, please!) I now present to you, the PAYRAISE BAR...

Payraise Bars
3-1/2 cups roasted peanuts (if they're salted, reduce salt)
1 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup puffed millet

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or whatever combo of the two you have)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp oil

Grease a large mixing bowl and a 9x13 pan with butter. Mix the nuts, seeds, and millet in the bowl.

Peanuts and a few cashews I had, to total 3-1/2 cups
Flax seeds

No nutritional value, but kinda fun!
Brown rice syrup is some hippie alternative to corn syrup, I think:

Heat the syrups, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt in a saucepan until it froths and reaches 260F on a candy thermometer, otherwise known as "hard-ball stage," the candy equivalent of we're-not-messing-around-anymore.

Immediately pour the syrup over the nut mixture and blend. Then spread in your greased 9x13. With buttered fingers, spread the mixture evenly to fill the pan.

After 20 minutes of cooling, turn it out on a sheet of parchment paper. You'll have to beat on your dish to make it come out, but beat away and have patience.

You could eat the whole thing about now, I suppose
Slice into twenty bars before it cools off and gets too "crunchy."

Then melt the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until it's smooth and melted. Drizzle (or dump) over your bars. Let cool completely. Wrap bars individually in wax paper or parchment or plastic wrap and keep in the freezer. When you want one, thaw it five minutes and enjoy!

You deserve a Payraise.
Are they still glorified candy bars? Yes. But as occasional treats, they're way better than a cookie or candy bar.

Consider the original Payday bar:

PAYDAY Peanut Caramel Bar




Kosher Status: OU-D
Serving Size: 1 Bar
Total Calories240
Calories from Fat120
Amount Per Serving%DV *
Total Fat 13 g20%
   Saturated Fat 2.5 g13%
   Trans Fat g
Cholesterol mg0%
Sodium 120 mg5%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g9%
   Dietary Fiber 2 g8%
   Sugars 21 g
Protein 7 g
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%
Note, in particular, the 21g of sugar and 27g carbs, along with additives.

In contrast, Monica of The Yummy Life makes these calculations for her "Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt" bars, on which I based my Payraise variation:

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for one bar: 193 calories, 12.5g fat, 95mg sodium, 18.9g carbs, 2.1g fiber, 14.2g sugars, 5.2g protein

Considerably fewer carbs and less sugar. The protein is a smidge less, but at least it's all from nuts, and not soy. As a final plug, the homemade ones were a snap. Less time to make than a batch of cookies! So remember these, the next time you're the snack parent for a crew of nut-eaters.

P.S. Two more Thursday Markets to go, and I assure you my next post will be healthy. Cross my heart with sticky fingers.