Hidden in the refrigerated section at Ranch 99 somewhere past the tofu and the fresh noodles lies taro cake. It's such a good snack or light lunch with greens- try it with Mystery Greens B. (Sorry I still don't know what it's called!) It's quick and my whole family loved it.
When you buy it is comes in a really unappetizing package. It looks like glue and cardboard, but sliced and fried it's delicious. Don't let the dried shrimp scare you either, my husband never knew until now. It tastes great, and the kids loved it, albeit without the mustard or the sriracha.
oil for frying (I used beef tallow)
soy sauce, mustard, and sriracha or another hot sauce
Slice the block of taro cake into 1/2 inch slices. Pan fry them to get the outside crispy and golden, flipping once. Serve them with soy sauce, mustard, and sriracha. The inside will be soft and gooey.
My friend Sylvia showed up at my house to help me cook a few years ago. I had invited a number of friends over to make every single recipe in a spread from a magazine, but most people had to leave about four hours in. I had overreached what could be accomplished in my kitchen, and dinner wasn't served until 10 at night. When Sylvia arrived late I was still desperately cooking, every horizontal surface covered. With only twelve inches of space on the counter and a rolling pin, she put together a heavenly almond paste roulade. She works miracles.
Yesterday morning she surprised me and stopped over to share some apple fritters she had made. Never in my life have I had the drive or energy to deep fry before 5 PM, but on a random weekday with five children at home ranging in age from 9 to six months, she got up, chopped, diced, mixed, deep-fried and iced. Clearly she is ambitious.
While we were chatting I decided to pick some of the arugula in the garden and she suggested a salad with goat cheese, prosciutto, and melon. It sounded so good, but with my house an obscene mess, I wasn't able to leave and had to work with what I had. When I finally got to the mess in the refrigerator, I found sashimi I had forgotten to serve, a pile of pears on the brink of death, one last steak in the freezer, and some feta. I used up everything I could. The arugula salad will be a new family classic- we were all tempted to lick the plate.
thinly sliced pear
a small sirloin steak
1/4 cup cream (or beef stock if you can't have dairy)
Slice the steak and marinate it in red wine, soy sauce and black pepper. Toss the arugula with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over it and lay on the sliced pear. Heat a couple tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and sear the meat on both sides. Lay the meat over the salad, and once the pan is empty, pour in about a quarter cup of cream to de-glaze the pan. Turn down the heat and taste it for salt, then drizzle the sauce over the meat. Dinner is served.
If you were worried about the fate of the red snapper sashimi fillets, they came to a good end after all. Those I pan fried in loads of butter and served over purple roasted potatoes.
Drumroll please... The mystery greens to the left (Mystery Greens A) are sweet potato leaves that have spent a few days in the refrigerator. I had assumed that they would be poisonous like potato leaves, but these are edible. The stems are tough, but the tender leaves can be eaten stir-fried or steamed. I remember trying them last year, so I picked them up when I saw them at the Richmond farmer's market. I don't remember how I ate them before, but this time I over-steamed them and served them with salt and butter. Absolutely disgusting, and now I have no desire to try it again unless I am trapped on a desert island with nothing but sweet potato leaves to sustain me. But don't let that stop you.
And on to Mystery Greens B. They are still a mystery-I have no idea what they're called. The good news is that these mystery greens are wonderful. They taste like a cross between romaine lettuce and mustard greens. They are lightly bitter, and I am sure I'm a little healthier for eating them even if I couldn't prove it. I also believe they have an affinity with beef tallow. If you have any left over from making calcium broth, sauté these in the reserved fat with some garlic and salt or soy sauce. This last time I also added a half pound of ground pork. It was so good. It made a great light dinner with taro cake. Buy them at the farmer's market or Ranch 99.
"Mystery Greens A" was a snack for the birds.
I promise I won't post every single time a chicken dies, but indulge me. This is the last time. I know no one cares, but this was truly awful. My pet, my beautiful rooster, the gentleman, the pimp... breathes his last today. He was beating up on one of the hens. I don't know what he had against her, but sweet little Martha, the first hen to accept him into the flock, has all of her feathers missing from the back of her neck. She is a bloody mess.
She hides from the rooster all day in the nesting box, and beneath the feathers she has left it is clear she is skinny since he won't let her eat. It's really hard to say when you've never had a rooster before what is normal and what is not, but this doesn't seem normal to me. I know when to fold.
Big Foot, a.k.a. Humperdinker, had a lot of really good days. He foraged. He mated with so many hens so frequently it would make most grown men jealous. He spent every spare minute crowing, confident that he ruled the world. He ruined an entire neighborhood's slumber at exactly 4:30 am every single morning.
I've temporarily abandoned my plans to raise birds or rabbits for meat. It turns out I'm too sensitive to live. I can't help making pets out of livestock. This means I will never be able to raise a goat for milk. What would I do with the cute little baby goats? I probably couldn't even fish successfully at this point.
Such a disappointment.
A Few Days Later...
Well, it certainly has been quieter around the neighborhood. I haven't slept this well in a few months. I'm no longer terrified that the neighbors are going to turn us in for an illegal rooster. Martha has been eating as much as she can and she already looks like she's put on weight. I do have to give Big Foot credit where it is due, however- the day after he left we lost a hen. He kept them in line and never let the stupid ones visit the neighborhood dogs.
And finally, as thrilling as it was to experience some quiet, there are three wild turkeys gobbling away behind our house. Just listen.
I have eaten many frittatas in my life, but this was the best. The results were perfect and light. This is a great lunch or snack and tastes fine warm or room temperature. This version was from Saveur magazine, but there are at least ten versions found in Margaret Shayda's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. Some versions call for potato, cauliflower, eggplant, herbs, strained yogurt, and a few of them are sweet. Eventually I will try a few of them, but except for the yogurt version and the sweet version, they mainly follow the recipe below. Sometimes saffron is used instead of turmeric for the color.
A friend of mine uses it to make sandwiches for her kids. My son ate his drenched in ketchup. To each his own.
1/4 inch coin of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large onions, chopped
1 t. ground turmeric
5 medium zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
salt and pepper
4 T. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
7 eggs, beaten
2 T. chopped parsley
sumac for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fry ginger, garlic, and onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the turmeric and zucchini and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender. Stir in the flour and baking soda and allow it to cool.
2. Stir the eggs into the zucchini mixture. Use a little oil to grease a 9" x 13" baking dish, sprinkle with a little flour so nothing sticks, and pour in the zucchini mixture. Bake it about 25-30 minutes, until the egg has set. Take it out and garnish it with parsley and sumac.
This is one of the oddest vegetables. Like the potato, nagaimo is a tuber, but when you cut into it the texture is bizarrely slimy. But don't be scared, because it's low calorie and surprisingly refreshing. Usually found at Japanese grocery stores, I believe you can also find it at Ranch 99 or Berkeley Bowl. It's usually wrapped in plastic wrap with something that looks like sawdust (rice bran, maybe?) on the ends to keep it from seeping.
Peel as much as you're going to eat, and then grate it with a box grater.
Serve it over hot rice with a big squeeze of lemon juice and soy sauce. Re-wrap the unused portion of nagaimo and store it in the refrigerator.
I'm sure there are other ways to eat this, but this is the way I was shown. I started a nagaimo board on pinterest, but who knows when I'll get around to trying it other ways. Leave me a comment to tell me how you eat this if you've had it before. I'd love to know.
There is a Polish deli in the unlikeliest of places: Concord. This deli is impeccably clean and carries everything you could possible need for Eastern European cooking. Maybe you don't think you need a Polish deli yet, but the day may come when you decide to cook your way through a collection of Hungarian or Polish or German recipes. It happened to me.
So there you have it. 1984 Monument Boulevard in Concord. Swing by next time you feel the urge for smoked paprika sausage or frozen piroshki. Buy the perfect bread to accompany your borscht. Gorge on poppy seed rolls with your coffee. I know I'll be back.
I owe this bit of genius to my baby sister. It was the result of a low-carb phase during a Persian salad streak. I am never excited by the idea of a radish, but this is one of those light, refreshing mixes that you can't stop eating. Leftovers the next day are still good. Refresh it with a light sprinkle of salt and another squeeze of lime, and eat it next to an omelette or buttered toast.
green onions or a shallot
parsley or cilantro or a mixture
lemon or lime
salt and pepper
If you are using a shallot, slice it thinly and put it in the salad bowl with a little salt and lemon or lime juice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you use green onion, slice it thinly. Cut up the radishes any way you like. I used my new benriner, and even though I felt a little ridiculous putting that much effort into it, the results were beautiful. Chop up the herbs and toss it all together. Add a drizzle of olive oil, plenty of lemon or lime juice, and lots of feta cheese. Taste it and season it with salt and pepper.
The salad is now perfect as is, but if you have any leftover roasted vegetables, toss them in. Last night I had a roasted beet and a bulb or two of roasted fennel. Roasted cauliflower improves any salad. Give it a try!
I am a novice gardener. I have no idea what I'm doing- but I thought this might be interesting, and a good way for me to remember next year what I did and when. If you garden, tell me what you're doing. All suggestions are eagerly welcomed.
I finally learned the secret wonders of homegrown broccoli. After the initial broccoli crown is cut, if you leave half the stem, lots of leaves and small crowns come back. I pulled out all but three plants, and those three have continued to give me a little broccoli here and there. Enough for a stir fry last night, and enough for a steamed side vegetable the week before that. Sadly I ate it before I thought to take a picture. The broccoli is a deep emerald green next to the store bought variety. I cut a bunch of the leaves off last night to make stem pesto with, and if I have enough soon I will try to make broccoli leaf chips instead of the trendy kale chips.
All my young hens are finally laying. You can't tell in the picture above very clearly, but eggs five and six were about half the size of the others. The first eggs from our two black hens.
I tried all winter long to grow swiss chard in a raised bed, and nothing happened. I sowed the seeds at the end of September, and though they germinated, they never thrived. Then I tried to grow it in a pot in the greenhouse, and it did really well in there until the weather started to warm up. I had sown close together for a braising mix, but I decided to just transplant all the little seedlings outside and they're finally growing. I covered them with some netting because I think little birds were eating them. The birds really did a number on my pathetic snap peas. I'm not including a picture- too sad.
I finally started cutting the outer leaves of the kale. This took a while too- I think I sowed the kale at the end of September too. Not a huge success, but not bad either.
The spinach is growing. It took five months! It was a pretty warm winter, so I'm surprised. I had big dreams for the spinach. Maybe next year.
Volunteer parsley did really well, though I didn't get much from the parsley I started from seed. The green onions above were all started from the roots I cut off bunches last fall. I was never able to keep them alive from seed.
I started butterhead lettuce mid-January and realized that it was dying in the greenhouse from the heat on warm days. It's doing well outside. All the lettuce and arugula I planted did really well this winter, but I wasn't in a mood to eat any of it. Some years I just don't feel like salad. Fortunately my mother lives next door and she is composed of 80% lettuce.
I tried to grow zucchini last summer to no avail. I planted a few seeds on a cold day in January (in the greenhouse) and now, six weeks later, I have four or five zucchini. I don't get it, but I'm happy. I had a lot of garden fails- the seeds that never germinated, the beets the chickens got into, all the plants I accidentally killed.
"Mom! You forgot to cut off their heads!"
I don't know what came over me. All I can say is that I was rushed and tired, and for five minutes, when the task of cleaning the shrimp fell on me, I lost my head and didn't remove theirs. My family was not amused; they were nauseated. Too bad, because the sauce was great. So even if the sight of their beady little eyes and whiskers is a big turn-off, give it a try. Shells and heads are optional.
I can't remember where I found the original recipe, and I never wrote down all the proportions because sometimes it's nice not to measure. It's been great every time. I'm going to write this out exactly as I have it on my recipe card from seven years ago.
cornstarch or arrowroot powder
a drop of chicken broth
cornstarch or arrowroot powder
oil for frying
a little minced garlic
1/2 pound snap peas or snow peas, rinsed and de-stringed if they are tough
2/3 pound shrimp, preferably peeled and cleaned
night, they marinated for no more than ten minutes and the world did not end.) Heat up some oil in a wok or fry pan over high heat, and when it's hot add the minced garlic. Give it a stir and then add the shrimp. Keep stirring. When they are cooked, transfer them to another container and set them aside.
Stir the shrimp back in. The shrimp will feel velvety too, but not from yuck and goo like my family assumed, but from the cornstarch in the marinade. We ate this with hot rice and cabbage pickles.
Fry garlic, add shrimp. Remove. Add salt and snow peas. Add sauce. Add shrimp. Serve.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!