I heart Mark Bittman

You may know that I love him. I read his Minimalist articles in the NY Times whenever they come out. I, more or less, trust any recipe he’s ever published. I own a book of his, and he makes random appearances in my Spain book. Really, I just think Mark Bittman is a good dude. Cooks meat, fish, veggies, whatever. Likes his food good and tasty. Can produce elaborate meals that take hours (days?), but has a whole cache of quick-cooking recipes as well. Really, he just seems like a good dude. Which is why I am not even remotely surprised that this lovely OpEd in today’s NY Times was written by none other than Bitty himself. It’s short and very much to the point. GET INTO YOUR KITCHEN!!!!

I know there are plenty of people out there who do not have a kitchen or do not have the funds to stock a pantry or own cookware. But seriously, this is the best way to spend your money when you do have just a little bit to spare or can procure cookware from the salvation army or some other cheap (or free) source. Cooking is fun, relaxing, therapeutic (open a bottle of wine or have a cocktail while you chop or saute or whatever). But seriously, get in your kitchen. You’ll be amazed at how easy and delicious the whole thing is.

So, thank you, Mr. Bittman, for having an awesome message that, in my mind, is the most important and basic food-related message in a long long time. Kudos!

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uninspired but delicious

I spent the latter part of my day making a peanut curry (will post about it tomorrow) for New Year’s Eve and had every intention and/or hope of having this for dinner. More or less. There were to be some substitutions, but essentially that. Delicious. Gooey. Starchy. Pasta. But by the time I finished with the curry, I barely wanted to keep my eyes open, let alone slice and saute and chop and layer and … Even if it was going to be delicious in the end.

So, I pulled together all kinds of random leftovers and pantry items for a meal that is far more delicious and wholesome than I intended. I had some leftover beans (black and cannelini) and triticale from my earlier cooking. If you’re sitting there wondering what the heck triticale is, you are not alone. Last year, our farm provided a variety of grains and flours in addition to vegetables and the occasional apples and berries. We are still working through them. For info on what triticale is, wikipedia is your friend. I am not the hugest fan of rice, and this provides more substance and probably nutrients. Who knows.

Anyway, I remembered the can of tomatoes with green chilies in my pantry and decided to mix the beans, grains, and tomatoes in a saucepan for some simple deliciousness. And then I remembered the avocado I bought that needed to be eaten today. And then I grated some cheese. Seriously, people, this simple meal that took about 10 minutes to pull together is surprisingly delicious and healthful! Complete proteins! Oh yeah, and grapefruit juice. Here’s an ugly photo for the finish.

Grains, beans, avocado, cheese

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New Cookbook!!!

Oh, hey guys. You know how last week, I turned an ungodly 32? Well, some fabulous friends gave me the gift of BOOKS–a gift card to Elliot Bay Book Company, my local bookstore. I decided to purchase a cookbook that included some seafood and other Pacific Northwest flavors. I searched for the last few days while I was sick and stuck in the house. There are some great looking PNW-focused cookbooks and seafoody cookbooks. But, the one I chose is perfect. It’s oh so very Seattle. It’s oh so very PNW. And it’s oh so very me. It’s full of stories. And local recipes. By local food purveyors. YES!

It’s: Pike Place Market Cookbook. Be warned. New experiments to arise from this soon. Like SOON!

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A Brussels Sprouts Christmas

We have two pounds of Brussels sprouts. Well, we had two pounds of Brussels sprouts. And while I actually do like them, I was not in the mood for anything that I normally do with them, which is usually just caramelize in the cast iron with some onions, vinegar, and almonds. So, I snooped around the ol’ internet, and came across a few different recipes for a hash with the B sprouts and bacon. Mind you, I’m not really one to cook with bacon, and Jason, my lunch/dinner guest, is allergic to all pig products. Alas, I remembered the salmon in my freezer and did some experimenting.

First, let me say that being sick on Christmas, even when you don’t personally celebrate it, is no fun. It makes all things a pain to do and all foods taste like, well, pretty much nothing. But so long as I was capable of eating, I was going to put something healthy and delicious on the table–I trusted Jason’s sense of taste to tell me whether it was a success. Answer: it was.

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Brussels Sprouts and Salmon Hash

1 lb. brussels sprouts (cleaned, halved and shredded–thin slices)

1 small shallot, diced

1 cup cooked root vegetables (here, I used a mix of leftover sunchokes, potatoes, rutabagas, and beets, but feel free to use whatever you have–I think celeriac would be a nice addition)

1 Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp walnut oil (optional)

1 cup cooked (preferably smoked) salmon ( grilled mine with a little dijon because i had no more smoked salmon, but I think the smoked would be better)

salt

pepper

eggs

black bread

not very pretty but rather tasty

– Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and melt butter and walnut oil. Reduce heat to medium and cook shallots, stirring frequently so as not to burn. When shallots are soft add the Brussels sprouts and continue to stir. After about 5-7 minutes (sprouts should have cooked down some), add the root vegetables to brown. Once the root vegetables are sufficiently warmed and toasted, add the salmon. Let cook on low for 3-5 minutes until all flavors are blended but before anything burns. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate skillet melt some butter, oil, or spray cooking spray and fry eggs. I prefer the eggs to be mostly cooked but a bit runny for the yolk to join the hash and make it gooey. Your choice.

– Finally, toast some black bread.

I put the toast on the bottom of the plate, scooped some hash on top, and placed the fried egg on top of the hash. The photo above isn’t so pretty but I’d already broken the yolk before I remembered to take a pic.

Serves 2.

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I’m doing this

This is for my family and a select few who are interested in my dabbling with food in the kitchen.

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Carrot challenge

cast iron carrots

I have been a member of CSAs for about five years now. In New York, I received a box from the Chubby Bunny Farm, which was my first foray into the world of surprise weekly vegetables. I loved it. I’d go to a church on West End and W 86th St. with empty bags and schlep stroll my way home, occasionally with 10+ pounds of deliciously ripe and ready vegetables. When I moved to Seattle, I first connected with Helsing Junction Farm. They were incredible, too, and had a bulk share that I could substitute for the weekly flowers that were beautiful but would likely send me into a sneezing and coughing fit.

But when I moved to the suburbs Fremont, I once again switched farms. I spent every Sunday at the Ballard Farmer’s Market and lazily didn’t want to have to haul all those veggies up this steep hill. I found Nash’s at the Ballard Sunday market where I could be a CSA member and pick up my box at the market…a little one-stop shopping, if you will.

The best part? Nash’s does a Winter Share! This means, for 15 weeks during the winter (mid-December through most of March), I’ll receive a heck of a lot of fresh veggies for my consumption. The challenge, last year, was how to consume the carrots and cabbages at a rate consistent with how often it was coming it. Believe me, it is a challenge.

Last week, we received a 5-lb bag of Nash’s FAMOUSLY AMAZING carrots. I’m over the carrot-ginger soup I usually make, and my attempt at creamy carrot calzones resulted in a rather disappointing product. But last night, I was just looking around and saw this recipe on Orangette for pan roasted carrots. They are ridiculously easy and simply delicious! I could eat this with a fried egg on top, some grated gruyere, grains, or just as a plain ol’ yummy snack. Plus, my cast iron skillet loved the attention.

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Skillet Carrots with Onion (from Orangette, modified)

olive oil

1/2 yellow onion sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 pound carrots, sliced into thin medallions

salt (I used grey sea salt, but I’m sure anything will do)

thyme (I used dried thyme, probably about 1/2 tsp; i firmly believe you can use rosemary, herbes de provence, or some other herb that you love…but in equally small doses)

red wine vinegar (splash)

Heat your skillet or pan on high heat. Once smoking, add enough oil to coat bottom of pan and lower heat to med-high. When the oil is heated and coating, add onions and a pinch of salt (should sizzle); stir to coat. Cook the onions until they are soft (mine browned rather quickly because of the heat in the cast iron); amount of time will depend on the type of pan you use. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant. Add carrots, thyme (or other herb), a couple pinches of salt, and stir a bit. If the carrots look a bit dry, add a bit more oil. (I didn’t have this problem, but I can see how it might occur.) Lower the heat to med-low and cover the pan to let the veggies continue cooking and melting. Stir occasionally. After 15-20 minutes, the veggies should be soft and melty and ready for consumption. At this point, splash some red wine vinegar into the pot. Orangette calls for about 1/4-tsp, if you want a precise measurement. Remove from heat. Mix in vinegar. Devour! You won’t be able to stop yourself. For serious.

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