It seems like One Local Summer is getting a bit easier with every week. There are plenty of options for fruit and vegetables these days, and I even found a free-range pork and chicken producer, although I haven't purchased any local meat yet. At least I know it's out there if I need it.
In an attempt to use up some of the kale I got in my CSA share last week, I did a little digging for some kale recipes. I found a few that looked very similar to what I already do with chard, and then I stumbled on a couple of recipes for a frittata. It seemed easy enough, so I adjusted them to use what I had on hand for this week's OLS meal.
I cooked chopped kale (about 6 leaves) with chopped garlic scape and spring onion in a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper. Once the kale was wilted and soft, I mixed in some shredded raw milk cheddar cheese. When the cheese was melted, I added two whipped eggs and cooked it, covered, on really low heat for about 12 minutes until the eggs were set. The result was a surprise and a delight. I'll definitely make a frittata again. In fact, I'll be eating the leftovers for breakfast in the morning. (Non-local ingredients: olive oil, salt and pepper)
For sides, I had some dill potato salad, made with baby red potatoes from the farmer's market and dill from my garden. (Non-local: salt and pepper and 1/4 cup plain yogurt) I also roasted some zucchini, carrots, beets and fennel, all farmer's market purchases this weekend (Non-local: salt and pepper, olive oil).
Colorful, varied and delicious, despite the simplicity of it all.
Monday, June 30, 2008
It seems like One Local Summer is getting a bit easier with every week. There are plenty of options for fruit and vegetables these days, and I even found a free-range pork and chicken producer, although I haven't purchased any local meat yet. At least I know it's out there if I need it.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Another week gone by without much pomp and circumstance. Am I the only one who misses the days of free-wheeling summers? You know, back in the days when the hardest things I had to do involved running through sprinklers, staying out late with my friends, sleeping in, spending the day at the beach, camping in the backyard, or sunbathing with a good book...being an adult really sucks sometimes.
Now that I'm a working girl, paying bills and acting like an adult (most of the time), summer days are just like the rest of the year. Oh! There they go! Passing as swiftly or slowly as a mid-January day does. The only difference is the heat and humidity that seems to suffocate me as I walk to my car. That and the fresh fruits and vegetables I can get from the market every weekend. The flowers that brighten each day. The smell of lilacs on the breeze in the morning. Oh, and the sunshine that keeps me from drifting off into an unbearable funk.
OK, so summers are nice no matter where I am in my life. But I do still wish I could enjoy them a bit more, maybe go to the playground and swing all day or head off on a spur-of-the-moment trip without having to save up vacation time. I guess I'll just have to enjoy the summertime moments as they come. Before I know it, they'll be drifting off into Autumn again and then it's January...I better stop and smell the roses before they turn into snowflakes.
By the way, I posted a new article on DIS about how I've developed strategies for overcoming my tendency to procrastinate: Get to It and Do It. Check it out if you're interested.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I've got tons of local produce to use up this week, so I got my OLS meal in early this week. It was a bit of a patchwork meal, with some inspired dishes that I randomly put together into a meal. There was the tomato and red onion salad that Michelle made over at Bleeding Esspresso. And the pickled kohlrabi inspired by Mikaela at md*intake. The poached egg was just inspired by a craving I've been having for days.
For my tomato salad, I made about half the amount Michelle did, and I used a spring onion instead of red onion. It was exactly what I expected. It's pretty amazing how something as simple as farmers market tomatoes and spring onion; fresh purple, cinnamon and Italian basil from my garden; fresh oregano from the CSA; and a little ground pepper and sea salt can be so incredibly flavorful and satisfying.
I've never had kohlrabi before, and when I read about Mikaela's pickled kohlrabi, I knew I had to try it. I was right. It was tangy and crisp, and I imagine it will be even better by this weekend--if it lasts that long. The only thing I'd do differently is cut the kohlrabi into smaller pieces. Otherwise it was perfect.
Then there was the local egg, simply poached and placed on a toasted slice of Ezekiel bread, the only non-local ingredient outside of the olive oil, salt and pepper that I used in the salad and pickles. And I topped it all off with a glass of Deer Run wine that I bought at a local winery when I was visiting my family for Christmas (That counts as local, right? It was local when I bought it.). It was a patchwork meal for sure, but it hit the spot.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This week when I picked up my CSA share, I was surprised to realize that I should have brought more than one bag to haul home the goods. The first few weeks, the harvest was a bit sparse, but this week my bag was jam-packed with homegrown, organic goodness. Of course, some of that was thanks to others who passed up the goodies...but that's just their loss and my gain. Here's what I brought home.
- 2 large bunches of kale
- 1 bunch of chard
- 2 heads of a new kind of lettuce
- 1 small bunch of scallions
- .02 lbs oregano
- 1 bulb of new garlic
There's been plenty of oregano, and I was overwhelmed by it for a while, but I'm learning more about its flavor and what I can use it for. I've only ever used the dry stuff, and to be honest, I think this fresh oregano tastes completely different than any oregano I've ever had. It actually has a bit of a spicy, peppery kick to it. I used it under the skin of a roasted chicken, tossed it with my salad greens, added it to a chard sauté and sprinkled some on a tomato salad (which I'll post about tomorrow). I dried some, too, but now I'm hoping we have a few more weeks of the fresh stuff coming in our shares. I'd like to experiment some more before its all gone.
I'm getting behind on my scallion use. Probably because I'm using spring onions a lot these days. I need to figure out how to use up a bunch of them over the next few days. (Again, suggestions are welcome.) Maybe I can find a recipe that uses kale and scallions...kill two vegetables with one dish.
Too much lettuce has had me a bit sick of the stuff, but now that the lettuce season is winding down I'm finally getting more creative with my dressings and toppings, which is making the lettuce much more bearable.
Hope you're eating well this summer!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
For my third week of One Local Summer, I made a mostly local meal, taking advantage of the variety of vegetables I picked up at the farmer's market last weekend and got in my CSA share for the week. The only ingredients that weren't local were olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar, as well as the wild rice I served the vegetables over. In addition to the Balsamic Chard and Zucchini dish I concocted based this dish on a few recipes I found on allrecipes.com, as well as my favorite Swiss chard dish from last year, I steamed some sugar snap peas and drizzled them with olive oil. All-in-all, it was a pretty filling meal considering there wasn't any meat or other significant protein source in it.
Balsamic Chard and Zucchini
Makes 2-4 servings.
1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 large bunch of rainbow chard (about 15 stems), leaves separated from stems, stems chopped into 1/2 inch pieces, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 spring onion, white and green parts diced
1 garlic scape, chopped (or 1 medium garlic clove, minced)
1 radish, halved and thinly sliced
1 small yellow zucchini, quartered and sliced (abt. 1/4 inch thick)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the chard stems, onion, garlic, radish and zucchini. Cook until stems are tender but still firm. Add the chard leaves, vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are wilted. Top with basil and serve on its own or over rice.
Give it a try. I think you'll like it. I know I did!
Friday, June 20, 2008
I've been busy with freelance work in the evenings, so there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging this week. I made my OLS Meal #3 last night, and I'll try to post a description and the recipe tonight or tomorrow, but for now, here's one of those trusty bulleted lists we all love so much:
- Katy and I spent Tuesday evening together eating, talking, eating, talking, crying, and drinking coffee. Four hours went by before we knew it. While we got together under the guise of research for my book, we ended up having an amazing evening of bonding and girl talk. We committed to making more of an effort to hang out with each other. Turns out you have to be deliberate about these things or they just don't happen.
- Feed the Soul got a bit of a face lift. Check out the new banner and color scheme, and read the blog for some tips on staying cool this summer. If you haven't subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog, I highly recommend it. More recipes and health tips are on the way.
- Lisa Spahr, a personal coach I met back in May at the MWA Conference, has named me her "Favorite Person of the Week" on her website. Lisa's a great motivator. I sat in on her session at the conference and spoke to her for about 10 minutes afterward, and she left a lasting impression on me. If she can do that for me in a little over an hour, imagine what a few one-on-one sessions with her could do! If you need a little kick in the pants, like someone else I know (pointing at myself), head on over and visit her, check out her services and subscribe to her blog.
- It's term paper and thesis season, and I spent my evenings this week proofreading an architecture student's final project. The topic? Creating an effective, convenient High-Speed Rail Transit Center in San Diego. Now that's the kind of forward thinking creativity that we need to start supporting. Forget offshore drilling. Let's invest in revamping our public transportation, improving city and community planning and ramping up community safety efforts. What happened to that good-ol' American ingenuity and innovation that got us to this point?
- I got some great stuff at the CSA this week. Katy actually came with me and, as luck would have it, there were several "chips in the bags." (When members don't want a share of something, they can leave it for someone else by leaving a poker chip in a bag by the bin for that item.) Apparently people are getting sick of all the peas, but I say, "Bring 'em on!" I mean, that's what the freezer is for. I'll be eating fresh frozen peas all winter. I got a full share in addition to my normal half-share of both snap peas (1.4 lb) and snow peas (1.4 lb), an additional head of lettuce, and a full share of oregano (.02 lb) instead of my half-share's worth. There were also beet greens (.04 lb) and scallions (1 small bunch). I shared a bit with Katy, but still have plenty to eat and freeze for the week on top of what I purchased at the farmer's market over the weekend.
Monday, June 16, 2008
P has been a mentor to me without even knowing it. I first discovered her back when she had a blog on MSN Spaces. I was new to blogging, and her wit and thoughtful meanderings made me want to write more and write better. After a few years and a switch to Blogger, I'm still reading everything she writes and hoping every day for something new. She was like the popular girl in high school that I always wanted to hang out with but never felt worthy of, despite her willingness to be friends. If I were a stalker, she'd be the one I obsessed over.
If you don't already read P, I highly recommend it. This interview will give you a taste of what you've been missing. (It's a little long, but well worth the read. I just couldn't bring myself to edit her answers any more.) And if you do already read her, well hopefully this will give you more insight into the inner workings of a Biped Sideways.
Let’s start with my favorite question. Where did the name of your blog, “biped sideways,” come from?
Long story (but I’ll make it shorter). Several years ago I was a bit of a lost soul, made several dumb dumb dumb choices, and yada yada yada wound up face down, drunk, and alone in the middle of a street. Very classy. I vividly recall being on the ground and considering the viewpoint, the feet of strangers coming to my aid, which I later described in a very bad poem called “Sideways and with Feet.” I have always remembered that moment as a metaphor for all the times I feel lost and the world goes sideways. I started the blog and the column more recently in a discombobulated period and out popped “Biped Sideways.”
When I first started reading your MSN Spaces blog, which no longer exists, you were working as a school psychologist. The decision to move on from that career and find something you could love doing wasn’t easy. What is your dream career?
School psychs are more involved with assessing learning disabilities and behavior problems and ... assessment feels very cold a lot of the time – like my job was to admonish teenagers for not being normal. That didn’t feel very good. The only thing that was hard about leaving it was that I was worried I wouldn’t have a title anymore. Stupid and totally ego-driven. But normal, I guess. Oh, and the paycheck. That hurt.
Dream career. Easy! Prolific, profound, paycheck-earning (but non-contracted) writer of novels and essays and chaptered thoughts, which later become Oscar-buzzing movies with killer soundtracks. I would like to have a non-career and still earn a living.
Well in my humble opinion, you’re well on your way. You’re an amazing writer, full of insight and thoughtful contemplation. Did you always write so well?
Ha! Thanks! I don’t know how to answer that without sounding like a jackass. I think my voice developed more confidence only just a few years ago, after I’d matured and had experiences. I’m still developing. Writing is how I think and make sense of things. It’s how I discover my opinions and concerns. So I think my style of writing and my voice just naturally evolved with my soul and my thoughts.
But my first stories were in 7th grade when my friend, Tanya, and I wrote each other into romances with the boys we liked. They were horribly corny. Even beyond that, when I look back at all the stuff I wrote in college, even after I had decided I was a writer, it’s pretty horrible. I see it as really contrived and superficial pseudo-intellectual poo. I didn’t know who I was, and my voice reflected that. I feel better about what I write now because it’s more authentic.
I think that’s what I like so much about your writing. It’s clear that, just like the rest of us, you’re fumbling through this life and just doing the best you can, and you’re completely honest about that when you write. I have to ask, who are your favorite authors and what books have had the biggest impact on your life?
Favorite authors: Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Anne Lamott, John Irving, Milan Kundera. The book with the biggest impact…hmm….It’s a total cliché, but Catcher in the Rye is one of only 2 books I have read more than once (the other is House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros). I’ve read it 3 or 4 times. It was the first time I felt a profound connection to a character.
I suppose clichés are clichés for a reason. I think Holden resonates with the type of people who tend to become writers and artists. I don’t see any poets in that list, but you’ve been writing a lot of poems lately. What prompted the switch from prose to poetry?
I don’t know. It’s just how my thoughts have been flowing lately. Wasn’t a conscious decision. Hmmm…
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I had a great childhood – lots of cool memories. The first memory of pure joy and delight that comes to mind is the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. Big sister’s purple bike with the black banana seat and multi-colored streamers, wobbly but upright on the sidewalk from the driveway to the front porch. I was 4 or 5 and we lived in Missouri at the time. I don’t remember anyone being around. I remember the thrill of accomplishing something independently.
You live in Iowa and the immigration issue seems to be hitting very close to home for you lately. What about this issue strikes a chord with you?
I think it’s marginalization. I think very bad, cosmically lopsided things happen to our humanity when we fail to recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters and we marginalize each other ... Marginalization etches very very very deep patterns/ruts into our foundations. With as much progress as we have made, all you have to do is look at the extreme overrepresentation of Black people in prisons, in poverty, and in special education, to understand that those patterns/ruts are very difficult to climb out of. Such obviously bad consequences, yet we keep doing it in one way or another. Some would argue that immigration and racism against Black Americans is not the same thing. But I would argue that it doesn’t matter whether the behavior looks the same if it boils down to the same root – Marginalization. Marginalization = Bad.
I spend a lot of time worrying about our (collective) future. And I don’t think we will EVER EVER EVER make any progress beyond the progress that is encouraged and supported within our marginalized populations. (Of course “progress” is a totally subjective term. I think of progress more in spiritual, humanitarian terms, because I think little else truly matters. I think others might think of “progress” as capitalism and paved streets.) I get angry when people insist on Us vs. Them mentalities, because I think that kind of thinking is short-sighted, inhibits progress and makes the world a craphole.
What other social issues are important to you?
Our punitive system worries me -- namely the rate of recidivism and lack of rehabilitation in correctional systems. It goes back to the idea of marginalization. A) Many people in prisons are from marginalized populations (further proof at the consequence of dividing ourselves); and B) Prison marginalizes them further – necessarily so, yes. But again, we’ll never make any progress beyond our margins. It’s not about going soft. It’s about recognizing the very deep deep deep roots of our broken communities and addressing those.
I also really wish people would stop treating the planet like it’s their own personal toilet. And stop cutting up natural resources to build new subdivisions. Enough already!
And be kind to the animals. They are pure and soulful and add much positive energy to the world.
Really, I just want people to go gently and with humility and stop being giant, thoughtless dicks.
Amen and A-Men! Finally, a few lighter questions. What’s your favorite color?
I like lots and lots of color. My favorite color COMBO is turquoise and red.
Where is your favorite place to write?
My comfy red chair in the front room.
What is your favorite song and why?
Alanis Morissette’s ‘So Called Chaos’ (of the same-titled album). Like most of her catalog of music, this song speaks exactly what I would speak if I’d spoken.
I love to use certain words, and tend to put them in everything I write, at least in the first draft. Do you have a favorite word?
Hmm… Cool question. My favorite word is “sphere” but I don’t think I’ve put it into anything. I’m sure there are words I overuse (and misuse), but it’s usually by accident due to my limited and childish vocabulary.
Thanks for sharing with us, P!
Head on over to Biped Sideways and see what else P has to say. You won't be disappointed.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I'm not sure why, but this year I'm having a little bit of trouble getting excited about local eating. Last year I couldn't get enough of the farmer's market. Finding new veggies to try and experimenting with recipes was so much fun. But this year it all seems like so much...well, work. Maybe it's that last year I was just doing my best, trying out the "local thing" but not making a big deal about my non-local choices. Now I'm feeling pressured, by my own environmentally-conscious leanings as well as the cost of everything, to be more strict about my food and the places it comes from.
Now that the market options are becoming more varied--I was starting to get sick of all the greens, and lettuce is no longer my friend--things are starting to look up a little. This morning at the market, I found something to get excited about. Locally grown tomatoes! With all the scary news about salmonella, I can rest assured that these first tomatoes of the season won't make me sick. Now what to do with them? I'm sure I'll come up with something. In the mean time, brunch today is my second One Local Summer meal for the season. You might remember a similar meal I whipped up last year around this time. Since I don't know of any local rice or pasta, and my budget is making me hesitant to pay about $4 per pound for local chicken, I'm sticking to mostly vegetarian meals these days, especially when it comes to OLS. This is not easy.
I got lucky at the market and thought to pick up a dozen eggs from The Hen's Nest stand, so an OLS omelet and homefries it is:
Asparagus Omelet and Red New Potato Homefries
Makes 1 serving
1 tsp olive oil, divided
3 spears asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 small spring onion, chopped, green and white parts separated
1 TBSP garlic scape, chopped and separated
2 red new potatoes, diced
1 TBSP shredded cheese
fresh dill and parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
In a small, microwave-safe dish, microwave the potatoes for 1-2 minutes until fork-tender. In a small non-stick skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 the white parts of the spring onion and 1/2 TBSP of the garlic scape. Cook for a few seconds, until aromatic, and then add the potatoes. Sauté until browned. Place on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 1/2 tsp oil. Place over medium heat and add the remaining garlic scape and whites of the spring onion, as well as the asparagus. Sauté until the asparagus is bright green and tender. Set aside.
Wipe out the skillet again and spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whip two eggs until slightly frothy. Heat the skillet for a few seconds and then add the egg. Sprinkle with chopped dill and parsley and cook until no longer runny, scraping the sides every few minutes to allow the liquid egg to reach the bottom of the pan.
Slide the omelet onto the plate. Place the asparagus mixture on one side of the omelet. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and a bit more chopped dill and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
OLS Breakdown: Eggs, asparagus, spring onion, new potatoes and raw milk sharp cheddar cheese from the local farmer's market. Garlic scape from the CSA. Parsley and dill from my back yard. Oil, salt and pepper from my pantry (not local, but on hand). I also served this with a side of local strawberries. They won't be around much longer...*sigh*
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Is it just me, or is everyone else measuring everything in gallons of gas these days?
That latte? That'll set you back 1 gallon of gas.
The free-range, natural chicken I considered buying for a millisecond? A whopping 2 gallons of gas. Per. Pound.
Those shoes? Better start saving, because they're a full tank.
And a pound of strawberries? At about a half-gallon, they seem like a steal.
Get used to it, I tell myself. Europeans have been paying this much for gas for years. While this is the reality, it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. But it could be worse; I could be a truck driver in Spain. Or an Ethiopian. Or a citizen of some other poor, developing country. Maybe now that gas prices are starting to strain our purses we Americans will collectively start making more conservation-minded choices.
Or maybe we'll continue to do what we've always done: Thank God for our freedom to live however we choose, and as well as we can afford, without considering the consequences of our actions on our communities, our country or our world. Isn't that what being an American is all about?
I know I sound all judgmental and cynical, but all the doom and gloom, all the natural disasters and economic hardship, are making me wonder if we really can make a difference. I mean, for every person who is conscious of their own impact on the collective financial, environmental, medical and mental health of the world, it seems there are a dozen more who, for whatever reason, can't see beyond their own noses.
And sometimes, I'm not sure which group I fall into. I'm trying to make a difference, be more other-centered, do my part. I just don't know if it's making a difference. And if I forget to unplug my electronics today, have I negated all the efforts I made yesterday? How might my life measure out in gallons of gas? Would it turn out that I'm just as much to blame for the state of the world as the person down the street driving that Hummer? I'm not sure I want to know.
Friday, June 13, 2008
A little writing experiment. If you want to see the original picture prompt, visit The Feeless Free Writer's Free Your Ride #1.
It was almost dusk when we found it, a beat up, left-for-dead truck under under a rotting tree. We weren't supposed to climb over that barbed-wire fence, but before I could stop him, Chris was on the other side. "Come on!" he said. "Just hold the post and don't slip."
By the time I'd reached the truck, with several snags in my skirt that I knew I wouldn't be able to hide from Granny, he was already in the cab. "The door won't open. It's rusted shut. Climb in through the window," he told me. He was always telling me what to do. I pulled myself up and through the opening, smearing the front of my sweater with rust.
Chris scooted over to make room for me. As I slide onto the seat beside him, shoulders first, I started to cry. "Granny told me not to get dirty and now I've gone and done it."
He slid his tan arm over my shoulders and said, "Don't worry. She likes to yell, but she won't hit ya." His voice was softer and I lay my head on his shoulder and sniffled until the tears stopped. Chris pulled his arm away and opened the glove box, rifling through the abandoned papers, so I sat up and wiped my eyes.
"What's in there?" I asked, my fears of Granny fading.
He removed something solid and black from the very back corner and I leaned in to see what it was. Chris turned the gun over and over in his hands, but he didn't say a word.
"Put that back," I said, starting to climb out of the truck. I was shaking. I knew what it was and I didn't want to be near it, not again. "Put it back and let's go." My voice cracked and I knew he would hear me crying again, but I didn't care. I climbed over the fence and ran across the field to Granny's house, where there were no guns, and no Mama either.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I'm normally not one to get all excited about the latest gadget or newfangled electronic device. I don't have a Wii (not even the Wii Fit). It took me quite some time to finally buy my first iPod. And I could care less about the new iPhone, even if it is several hundred dollars cheaper this time around.
That's why I'm so surprised by my Smartphone obsession. I want a Pearl or a Curve so badly I can barely stand it. There's something about that little tiny keyboard, the sleek look and all their various features. I've convinced myself that I can't live without one. I'm certain that if I could only hold one of these darlings in my hand my whole life would come together. No more missed meetings or accidental double-bookings. I'd always know when that deadline was, and I'd have publications begging me to squeeze their articles in.
If only I had a Blackberry.
The obsession started over the Christmas holiday, when my friend the dietitian pulled out her Pearl. I swooned. I oooed and ahhhed and begged to touch it, hold it. Still, when it came time to get a new phone, I opted for the (Moto)RED™ Razr because it was cheaper and I felt good about the cause. Now, I'd like to undo that decision. The PDA envy has only gotten stronger. Everywhere I turn, there they are: at breakfast with a friend, in the hands of every manager in my company, even a co-worker just got one. Filled with lust, I stare at them and wish I had one to call my own.
There's no reason for me to get a new phone now, I remind myself. The Razr's just a few months old. It works just fine. And besides, I can't get a discount until January. Sprint will make me pay at least $400 to hold one now. So I wallow in my PDA envy and wait.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Things are starting to pick up at the CSA. While asparagus is no longer (at least at this farm), other treats are ripe and ready. Here's what I brought home from the CSA tonight:
- A small bunch of tiny little scallions
- 0.8 lbs. of snow peas
- 0.4 lbs. of snap peas
- A large head of red leaf lettuce
- And yet more oregano (does anyone have any suggestions what to do with all this oregano, other than drying with is my only idea at this point)
Asparagus with Pesto Over Pasta
Makes 2 servings
1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 spring onion, chopped
1 garlic scape, finely diced (or substitute 1 small clove garlic, minced)
20-25 stalks asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1/4 pesto (I used some parsley pesto that I'd made and frozen last season; use your favorite brand or make your own)
4 oz. whole wheat pasta, cooked and kept warm
Fresh herbs for garnish (I used parsley because my pesto was made with parsley, but you can use whatever herbs go well with your pesto of choice.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic scape to the oil and sauté until fragrant. Reduce to medium heat and add the asparagus, cooking just until it's bright green and tender. Cover in the pesto and stir until just heated through. Serve over the pasta and top with a few sprigs of fresh herbs.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Today is the first Monday in a really long time that I'm actually happy to be back at work after the weekend. It was so hot that I actually couldn't wait for Monday to roll around so that I could spend the day in my frigid office. Normally I'd shiver and complain about how cold it is in the morning, sitting under that AC vent blasting cold air down on me. But today I'm happy to have to wear a sweater to ward off the goosebumps. Bring on the chills!
I don't have central AC in my house - yet. It's my plan to have it installed by next year, and I'm saving up for it, but for now I have to make do with one ancient, really big window unit on the first floor, which I finally uncovered and turned on this weekend. Needless to say, I slept on the couch all weekend.
In fact, in order to avoid suffocation, I spent most of my time from Friday through this morning on the first floor. The temperature upstairs just wasn't suitable for living (unless you're one lazy cat who enjoys stretching out on the hardwood floors and taking a nap). Any trip up those steps required a really important reason, because half way to the second floor I'd start sweating, and by the time I'd gone to the bathroom or located the file folder I was looking for, I'd be dripping with perspiration. It was like walking into a sauna every time I ventured upstairs.
Because I try to be energy conscious, as well as frugal, I kept the temperature at about 78 on the first floor. This actually felt like I was living in a refrigerator in comparison to the temperature outside and upstairs, so it wasn't that bad. And I even turned it down a bit on Saturday, and spent my afternoon taking advantage of the free AC of the public library where I worked on The Book Proposal. I got a lot of work done this weekend, mostly because, in the heat, I didn't have the energy or desire to do much other than read, eat and type.
The heat was so bad that I was dreading getting ready this morning in my (upstairs) bathroom, so much so that I actually dragged my butt out of bed (couch) at 4:15AM and went to the gym before work. At least I could blow dry my hair in an air-conditioned locker room that way. This might be the best motivator to get me to the gym yet.
Friday, June 06, 2008
A few days ago, I drove by a gas station down the road from me that closed a little over a year ago. At the time, they made the price sign read $3.49 for a gallon of regular gas. I assume this was an attempt to keep people from accidentally driving in for gas, only to find the pumps turned off and the store darkened. But now it has the exact opposite effect.
Who would have thought that $3.49 would be considered a steal just a year later?
I find myself waiting just a little longer than comfortable to put gas in my car in hopes that the price might suddenly drop. No such luck. Today I watched my last two bars disappear from my fuel gage with several miles left for me to get to a gas station where I knew I would pay less than $4 per gallon. I held my breath as I passed each exit leading to the one I would take. My heart pounded with fear that I'd run out of fumes and end up on the side of the highway waiting for my free gallon of roadside-assistance gas.
When I made it to the station, I waited in line for 10 minutes for a pump to open. It appears I'm not the only one who scopes out where the cheapest gas resides (if you can even use the words cheap and gas in the same sentence anymore). I paid $3.91 per gallon for regular grade gas, and it cost me $43.90 to fill my Honda Civic's tiny little tank. That's the most I've ever paid to fill a car. Even when I drove a poorly tuned, 6-cylinder Chrysler Cirrus with a much larger gas tank, I never shelled over more than $35 to fill up. No wonder SUVs and trucks aren't selling.
I got out the calculator yesterday and figured out how much it was costing me to commute to work everyday. I drive 80 miles a day, round-trip, at an average of 35 miles per gallon (yes, I love my little Civic), I spend about $9 per day on gas alone. Not even taking into account the wear and tear on my vehicle, it costs me $45 per week to commute. That may not seem like a lot to those of you who drive less fuel-efficient vehicles, or who are paying more than $4 per gallon for gas, but for frugal, Civic-driving me, that seems like a fortune.
And it doesn't look like there's any end to the rise in prices in sight. With every penny that a barrel of oil goes up, there's more speculating and investing, pushing the price even higher. The summer vacation season is here, and demand is likely to go up. So how's a girl to get by?
I've got a few ideas, a few of which I'm not sure they'll fly with my boss, and a few of which I'm not sure I could live with.
- Work from home two or three days a week.
- Work four 10-hour days.
- Request that my company consider a gas-subsidy of some sort for those of us who commute more than a certain number of miles a day.
- Start selling my plasma.
- Live off of Ramen noodles until the price of gas drops below $3.50 again.
- Get a part-time job (one near my current job so that I don't have to drive any extra miles).
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
I picked up week number two's share from the CSA last night after work. This is what I came home with:
- 1 quart of super-sweet strawberries (I couldn't resist trying them on the way home)
- .37 lbs. asparagus
- .01 lbs. oregano
- 1 small head lettuce
- sugar snap peas (I can't remember the weight, but it was about 2 cups)
- garlic scapes (again, I can't remember the weight, but it was a large handful of the curly shoots)
To head off any produce spoilage, I decided to take an hour once I got home and prep some veggies for the freezer. After some quick steaming, chilling, and vacuum sealing, I now have a package of snap peas and three small packages of spring sweet peas frozen for later use. Next to go in the freezer is the rhubarb. I think I'll make some rhubarb sauce again, maybe with strawberries if I can't eat them all by the weekend. I also have swiss chard that will probably end up being frozen. And since I have no idea what to do with the garlic scapes, I'll have to do some internet research and find some recipes and some way to store/preserve them.
Expect to see a lot of new recipes over the coming weeks as I figure out how to prepare some of these new-to-me foods. I suppose this is as good a place as any to record my cooking experiences, and at least this way I get to share what I learn.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Today is the first day of One Local Summer. I got up early and headed to the Farmer's Market to find some fresh local ingredients for my first OLS meal. The options were pretty good considering how early in the season we are. I got two bunches of aparagus, several stalks of rhubarb, two quarts of strawberries, a half-pound of baby spinach, a pound of spring peas, a bunch of radishes, some red spring onions, cilantro, swiss chard and a few more herb plants for my garden (cinnamon basil, purple basil and rosemary). It was difficult for me to decide what to make, particularly because I had to make sure I didn't add any non-local ingredients.
Here's what I created:
Baby Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Makes 2 dinner-sized or 4 side-sized servings.
1/2 cup strawberries, halved
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves
6 cups baby spinach
1 large radish, chopped
1 small spring onion, chopped, whites and greens separated
3/4 cup strawberries, quartered or cut in eighths
fresh mint leaves, for garnish
For the dressing, mix the first four ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a large bowl, toss the spinach, radishes and onion to mix. Evenly split the salad into the number of servings you'd like. Top each salad with equal amounts of strawberries and add a few mint leaves. Drizzle with about 1-2 Tbsp. dressing immediately before serving.
* This salad would also be great with local feta or goat cheese and/or local walnuts. Unfortunately, I didn't have either of those. It was delicious just the same.
I can't wait to experiment this week with all my other market finds!