Archive for ‘Cookbooks’

June 6, 2012

At Long Last: Spring CSA Week 1

Even though I participated in both the spring and autumn CSAs last year, it still feels like forever since our last CSA pickup. But last night, in between trying to see The Transit of Venus, we popped over to pick up our bag from Potomac Vegetable Farms.

What, you may wonder, was in the bag?

The answer: many green things with some white and purple accents!

An abundance of green

For those of you who prefer a list format:

  • 3 large heads of red-leaf lettuce
  • 1 bag of mixed lettuce
  • 1 green cabbage
  • 2 lbs. beets
  • 1 lb hakuri turnips
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 bunch spring red onions
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes

It has been 28 hours since we picked up our CSA, and what has already been consumed?

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April 3, 2012

If I Ever Need To Cook A Wolf….

…I want Tamar Adler to be with me. Not only would she be able to provide me with excellent advice about the best techniques to use, I know she would write a wonderful book about it.

But if you can’t wait for me to find a wolf to cook…and it might take a very long time for that to happen in the DC ‘burbs (although we just got visual confirmation that coyotes are wandering around in Arlington…), I recommed that you pick up a copy of Adler’s new book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.

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March 7, 2012

Vegetarian Dark Days Challenge Meal

“Nice presentation,” said The Eldest, “but it would have been even better with a few swirls!” Not something your typical 16-year-old says at dinner, but this is what can happen when your kids start working in a professional kitchen! But, what, I am sure you are asking, did you make for dinner that elicited such commentary?

We had visited our regular farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and found to our delight that the color green was seen at multiple vendors’ stalls.  After touring the stands, we decided to purchase the bulk of our vegetables from Sunnyside Farm.  Knowing that the theme for this week for the Dark Days Challenge was to prepare a vegetarian meal, we had decided to make the potato-leek soup that my daughter (a.k.a., The Picky Eater) had wanted to make for her Depression Dinner. I knew that we could get sweet potatoes, and thought that making Sweet Potato Biscuits might make a nice accompaniment — and was something new for me to try to make.  Finally, I was thrilled to see that early leggy greens were available at the market. So, the menu was set and all that was left to make make it…

I pulled out my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, and quickly found recipes for both the soup and the biscuits.

Potato-leek soup is so easy to make, I really think we could enjoy it once a week.


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December 8, 2011

Planning for Dark Days Challenge Meal 2

I am thinking about my Dark Days Challenge recipe for the weekend, and I am wondering what I will make. And, while wondering, I was moved to revisit my cookbook shelf. And as I was browsing the shelf, I found a great cookbook that my mother got for me several years ago, Cooking Fresh From Mid-Atlantic:

Not only are there lots of lovely stories from farms and chefs that I know (Nora from Restaurant Nora, Polyface Farms), there are doable and accessible recipes that I am ready to try.

As I think NOW about my shopping at the farmers’ market on Saturday (which counts as advanced planning in my life), I am planning on buying potatoes and smoked ricotta cheese to make Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi, and a basket of mushrooms to sautee, maybe I’ll braise the cabbage in the fridge, or roast the butternut squash, or mash the sweet potatoes that need to be cooked…that’s our plan. Check back Monday to see how it went!

I’m ready to see if I can make the gnocchi… a new one for me!

What are you planning to make this weekend that is SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical)?

July 16, 2011

Simple Summer Supper

In mid July, when your garden is overflowing with options, what should you make for dinner?

First, you need to inventory what’s ripe (and what remains from the CSA that needs to be prepared).

For us, from our garden:

  • tomatoes, both cherry and full-sized
  • lotsa lettuce, still (although I fear we may be at the very end)
  • basil, as tall as a small child

From the CSA:

  • pole beans
  • yellow summer squash
  • red onions
  • garlic
Looks like our menu will include:
  • Linguine with fresh tomato sauce
  • Sauteed beans, squash, and onions
  • Green salad
Making fresh tomato sauce to serve over piping hot pasta is one of our favorite treats of the summer.  Based on a recipe from one of my go-to cookbooks: The Only 25 Recipes You’ll Ever Need, this is incredibly easy and wonderfully delicious.
  • Begin with approximately 2 cups of fresh tomatoes – we used a mix of cherry tomatoes of different sizes and colors from our garden.
  • Dice the tomatoes.
  • Chop up 1/2 of a red onion.
  • Slice a handful of fresh basil – whatever variety you have handy.
  • Mince 1 or 2 or 3 cloves of garlic.
  • Place in a medium sized bowl.
  • Then add 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar,
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • Gently toss.
Then serve over warm long noodles – we’re in a linguine space these days, but any shape will do.
Grate fresh parmesan on top.
Accompany with a green salad, sliced tomatoes with vinegar and parmesan, and sauteed veggies.
Eat well and enjoy!
April 11, 2011

Highlights from the Family Foodie

Arugula sprouted first….and other greens aren’t far behind!! Little raddichio and spinach sprouts have also been sighted….

Sometimes we need to have pie before dinner…local apples, not so local strawberries

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October 24, 2010

Chicken and Cabbage and Apples…What Season Must It Be?

Tonight I made a complete Bittman dinner.  My brother and sister-in-law gave me Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything ages ago, and I love the way that I keep finding new recipes to make from it every time I open it up.  I knew when I woke up this morning that I was going to make the Bittman bread I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  But what to make with it…. my menu planning has been in the general rather than the specific level for the past two weeks or so, and my only constraint was that I had to cook with what was already in the house.

I began by taking out a chicken this morning, and as I was waiting for the dough to rise, I began to flip through the Bittman poultry pages.  I knew that I needed to prepare the chicken on the stove, so I was trying to decide if I wanted to sautee or fry or braise…I decided to go with something way easy — at least, something that would be easy once I cut the chicken up into pieces…

The winner was Chicken with Garlic Stew — primarily because I knew that I was going to have fresh crusty bread to serve the sweet soft garlic on.  Easy to make – with cinnamon, dried orange mint from the garden, and lots of garlic cloves – braised in a bit of oil and vegetable broth. 

After simmering for about an hour, the meat was tender and succulent.

What was missing was some color.  A quick glance in the vegetable drawer turned up a beautiful red cabbage,

and I knew that I had several apples that needed to be cooked prior to eating,

so voila!  Cabbage and Apples – again thanks to Mr. Bittman.  Sauteed in butter, then braised in a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, it bubbled away while the chicken was simmering on the front burner, and the bread was cooling. We finished it with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of raspberry jam from the farmer’s market (the very last spoonful –  time to restock!).



All good – no need to go to the store, and I used up some produce that was leaning towards the wastebin.

October 3, 2010

I Made Bread and He Made Pie

Two declarative sentences that make it sound oh so easy.  Now, the Man of the House has been making pies with homemade pie crust for years.  He makes berry pies in the early summer, peach pies in late summer, and apple pies in fall. We all love them, and when he is busy and enters a “pie drought,” complaints are registered (especially by the eldest).  So today, he used up the last of the peaches, and a few of the apples from the market, and made a scrumptious pie. 

Not so unusual for a fall Sunday in our house.

But I made bread. 

And it was good.

And that is new! 

I regularly make banana bread, and zucchini bread, and apple bread, and biscuits — any form of bread that does not require yeast.  That is easy and fun.

But my history of making good old crusty bread with yeast is fraught with failure.  I can never get the temperature of the water right, and kneading never seems to work, and my bread never ever rises.  I have tried beer bread — which has worked okay – but its always better when others make it.

Earlier this week, however, a friend of mine on FB posted that he had used Mark Bittman’s recipe for quick yeast bread and had great success with it.  Knowing that today was relatively quiet in our household, I decided that it was my day to make real bread.

And so I did, following the directions in How to Cook Everythingwhich are below in an abbreviated form (please, please read his recipe if you want to make this – he has all kinds of helpful hints and illustrations, which are not included here).

After hand mixing 3 1/2 cups of “Better for Bread” flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast, and a scant 1 1/2 cups of water, I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes. 


Then I let it rise covered in the warm kitchen for 3 hours.  I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, and sprayed water in the oven. 


Then placed the dough – which had risen!! – on a floured baking pan – and popped it in the oven.  After 5 minutes another spritz of water.  And then 25 minutes later there was a marvelous loaf of bread. 


Wow!  It worked.

And it really wasn’t hard.

Now, if I can do it again, I may have to make this a regular part of my week!!

August 25, 2010

Coolest Food Blog to Date

Check out this site: They Draw and Cook.  While I can’t draw to save my life, my cooking has improved.  Full of inspirations! Enjoy!

May 3, 2010

To Read, To Eat: Favorite Cookbooks

If you were to come into my kitchen, you would notice, if you looked under the countertops, that I have lots and lots of cookbooks.  Blame it on spending several years working in a used book store, and the fact that I spent a good portion of my young adulthood trying to figure out how to prepare interesting and flavorful meals.  As I was looking through Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for a Meatless Monday meal, it occurred to me that my cookbook preferences and references have changed over time.  I wonder how many of you out there have thought about using your cookbooks as ways to journal your cooking and eating trajectory.  So, to chronicle my cooking history (from recent to distant past), see below:

Cookbooks I refer to regularly today

  • How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman
  • How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman
  • Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food [Book]  How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food [Book]  Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book [Book]

As a new mother

  • Woman’s Day: The Only 25 Recipes You’ll Ever Need
  • Monday-to-Friday cookbooks, Michele Urvater

Woman's day: the only 25 recipes you'll ever need [Book] Monday to Friday cookbook [Book] Monday-to-Friday chicken [Book]

In Bolivia

  • The Joy of Cooking
  • Cocinando in Cochabamba

"Rare ""1975"" Cookbook ""Joy Of Cooking"" by Irma S. Rombauer - ...

As a graduate student

  • What to Cook When You Think There’s Nothing to Eat in the House
  • Twenty-Minute Chicken Dishes, Karen A. Levin
  • The Moosewood Kitchen Cookbooks
  • The Silver Palate Cookbooks
  • Family Circle Great Meals on a Tight Budget

What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat: More Than 175 Easy Recipes and Meal Ideas  Twenty-Minute Chicken Dishes: Delicious, Easy-To-Prepare Meals Everyone Will Love

The Silver Palate Cookbook Cover Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant (Cookery) by Moosewood Collective

As a child

  • Peter Rabbit’s Natural Foods Cookbook, Arnold Dobrin

  Peter Rabbit's Natural Foods Cookbook


Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg.  I have many more “targeted” cookbooks, and many others that have been resold or borrowed from the library.  Spending just a few minutes looking at my favorite cookbooks over time has reminded me of many favorite meals, and of the resources that I have at my fingertips…

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