Greenmarket Grub: Garlic Scapes
If you are a fancy pants person who reads a lot of food magazines / is first in line when the farmers’ market opens / prides yourself on your food knowledge, then you already know these are garlic scapes.
If you are, well, me, then you need to need to look up what the hell you just brought home.
In brief, scapes are the long, flowerless stalks that emerge from bulbs of hardneck garlic. If they’re left on, they will eventually form another bulb of garlic — but only by diverting the plant’s resources from what would otherwise be a nice fat head of garlic underground. It’s like pinching back the tops of a plant to make the rest grow better.
Which is fascinating, I know, but how does it taste? Well, if there’s an allium Kinsey Scale where mild, sweet onions are a 0 and raw garlic is a 6… scapes are probably about a 4. Predominately garlicky but still enough sweetness to eat raw without cringing. [And I feel like there was more to make of the idea of the onion-garlic Kinsey scale but I just can’t seem to find it. WELL ANYWAY.]
Basically, any recipe that calls for garlic could easily use garlic scapes instead — stir-fry, pizza, pasta, whatever — but I used mine to make pesto. You can either use all scapes or use half scapes and half basil, which is what I did. Otherwise, the recipe is the same: scapes/basil (no garlic, obviously), olive oil, salt, et cetera.
And then you can be a fancy pants, too.
ADDENDUM: I’ve got a piece about me and my kid up on Mamalode.com today… maybe you might like to read it?
dinner list > grocery list
Every week, I write two lists: a grocery list and a dinner list.
I know a dinner list seems a wee bit fussy, particularly from me and my Zero Tolerance For Fuss… BUT I’d say the half-hour I spend writing the dinner list saves me at least a couple hours a week and saves me money besides.
Here’s how I do mine:
Step 1: Assess the state of your pantry and jot down any meal idea based on what you can make with what you have on hand (or with the inclusion of one or two ingredients). For example, at the bottom of my list is an entry for tacos (because I found I had taco shells in one of the cabinets), so tacos went on the dinner list and sour cream and salsa went on the grocery list. I usually try to make this list after I hit the farmers’ market that week, but I’m in a kind of Greenmarket limbo since deciding I need to try shopping at a different one.
Step 2: Pick something new to make. I get bored really easily with the same foods over and over (to the point that I usually don’t even eat leftovers the next day if I don’t have to) so I try to include some new recipe every week. This week’s list is slightly unusual, due to the fact I bought a copy of Donna Klein’s Supermarket Vegan this weekend, and I’m going through a MAKE ALL THE THINGS! phase with it. My parenthetical page numbers on this week’s list are all from that book.
Step 3 (optional): Check out the grocery sales. I don’t always do this, but if I’m really hard-up for dinner ideas, I’ll go to the supermarket’s site and see what’s on sale that week. Otherwise, I just pick up some sale items while at the store and they end up as part of Step 1 in this process.
Step 4, possibly the most important step of all: PUT THE LIST ON THE FRIDGE. I don’t even want to discuss how many times I have made the dinner list and then failed to take it out of the notebook and put it somewhere. Seriously. It’s shameful.
With the dinner list on the fridge, I am saved my usual staring-blankly-into-cabinets-at-5pm-and-sighing time and can just get cooking without having to think about it (last night was the pasta puttanesca and it was crazy good) AND I know that the items that ended up on my grocery list have an actual use that week, which keeps me from buying perishable items on impulse and regretting it later (yeah, I’m looking at you, flaccid carrots).
What’s your shopping strategy? One list or two?
Greenmarket Grub: Potatoes
I hate to hear people trash-talk potatoes. I once had a friend sniff, “I don’t consider potatoes to even be a vegetable” and I rolled my eyes and flipped her off (which, okay, I could do because I was actually online chatting with her at the time). Potatoes, in my mind, are pretty much an absolute good and I feel rather protective towards them.
Remember a couple of years ago when food prices shot up and then suddenly staple grains were all crazy expensive, and there were protests and riots in parts of Africa and Asia over food prices? Well, that’s what globally-traded food commodities can get you.
Rice, wheat, and maize are the top three sources of carbohydrates in the world and they’re all subject to price fluctuations, but potatoes don’t keep well enough to ship very far, so they’re not globally traded—which is great news if you live in a developing country and you’re now royally screwed because rice/wheat/maize is now too expensive for you. Potatoes can be grown by almost anyone, anywhere, in any country. So long as you have dirt and people to water said dirt, you’ll get potatoes and you’ll get fed.
But here in the rest of the world (I hear you say), we don’t have that problem.
Photo Friday: at last, salsa
I made salsa and it did totally did not suck, unlike last time I tried to make salsa.
I also made a mess.
Carrot soup infinity
Last week, all I wanted was a bowl of soup. The idea would flitter across my mind throughout the day: Want. Soup. I even started eyeing the cans of Campbell’s at the far back of the cabinets that we keep on hand in case one of us gets sick and needs a salty childhood comfort food, which I’d pretty much never eat if well.
Tuesday, it rained all day. It was overcast and cold, and my husband had gone out to meet up with some former workmates. I was cleaning out the fridge, trying to assess what I still had and what I was going to need from the greenmarket that week. I found three bunches of carrots I’d bought the week earlier, brought home, and then completely abandoned in the fridge. Some had gone a little squelchy, but about a pound of decent ones remained, so I decided, at 8pm on a Tuesday, to make carrot soup.
I sat down at my laptop and googled +”carrot soup” +recipes and got several thousand different recipes. Creamy carrot soup, curried carrot soup, Thai-style carrot soup… this was going to take a while. I peeled the carrots, covered them with water, threw in a bouillon cube and a cube of ginger I’d frozen, set them to simmer and sat down to read recipes.
After the 27th recipe, I realized… carrot soup is a blank canvas on which you can put anything. I could probably put almost anything in it and it would be good…
By 11:30pm that night, this is all that was left of the pot of carrot soup:
Here’s the base recipe:
An old foe, vanquished.
About six years ago, I had just moved into in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood and before I’d even unpacked all the our boxes, I signed up for Urban Organic‘s home delivery service.
The first week’s delivery sat at the wrong door of the brownstone in 93° heat all afternoon. I called and gave them instructions of which door to go to.
The second week, I found a box of humid, wilted produce in exactly the same spot. I called and gave them explicit direction of where to leave the box, and just to be sure, I left a note at the wrong door: wrong door, don’t leave my box of food here, thanks.
The third week, I stayed home all day, hefting my pregnant self up and down the stairs every hour or so to check the wrong door. And there it was, my note on the door and my box of produce. I canceled my Urban Organic subscription immediately, but that still left me with something that looked like this:
Broccolini, my new vegetable love
I don’t even remember why I bought it. Maybe I was going to buy broccoli rabe, but it was more expensive, or FreshDirect just had it on sale last week. Either way, I recently bought two bunches of broccolini. Or Broccolini® as I’m sure Mann Packing, its distributor, would rather I refer to it.
It looks like broccoli and it tastes… almost like broccoli, but better somehow. Sweeter, I guess, and also somewhat… familiar.
As it turns out, broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale, also known as kai-lan, gai-lan, or gai lohn.
I love kai-lan, and for a while I was semi-obsessed with it. When we lived in Brooklyn, about five years ago, my husband and I (and technically the kid, although in utero at the time) would make regular trips to Big Wong’s and always order the roast pork on rice, which came with kai-lan dressed with oyster sauce — and I would scarf that down as fast as my pregnancy-swollen fingers could manage.
Broccolini… I think I may like even more. A rinse and a chop and it’s in whatever you’re cooking. It turns this amazing, almost lurid green after just a couple minutes of cooking. It cooks really fast but it doesn’t go all mushy either.
As you can see, I put it into fried rice with (even more) leftover ham.
I’m generally a flop at fried rice or stir-fries, because I always misjudge how long things need to cook and then I end up with half overcooked, half undercooked ingredients. The broccolini worked out perfectly, though â€” which was great, because I think I broke my brain writing three essays for my application to The New School. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much over anything in my entire life.
Anyway, it’s done now, and now I have to write this week’s Accidental Hedonist post. It’s going to be about bees. Seriously.