food


It may come as a refreshing surprise to learn that I am not immune to impulsive purchases. The most common are farmer-generated and occur at outdoor markets year-round (at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area). Visually inspiring and delicious, veggies and fruits often lead to impromptu desires. That’s me (right) communing with a bundle of scapes at a friend’s farm stand at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market in Seattle last month. The temptation was strong, but I resisted them despite the lure of their curls!

But here’s a first for me: while leaving the Mission Community Market last night, I got side-tracked not by produce, but by a towel. (more…)

This is a post about changing a habit. Habits take time. They require practice. Practice makes almost perfect. Why almost perfect? I believe that perfection is a perceived destination and that the journey is the actual destination.

If you’re like me, I’m on several journeys at any given time. This is about my journey to deepen a habit: to reduce my consumption of unnecessary waste and single use items. While this is something I’ve been working on for years and have gotten very good at, I was inspired to up my game after meeting Beth Terry, blogger extraordinaire and tireless crusader of My Plastic-free Life, in 2010. At the time, Beth interviewed me for an awesome piece she wrote about bringing our own reusable containers out into the world.

When I saw her April 17 post on Facebook announcing she would be attending the Lunchbox Project SF, a pre-Earth Day “large-scale Day of Action in which San Franciscans will order lunch in our own, reusable containers,” I kept my schedule clear so I could meet her for lunch with the very thing that brought us together in the first place! (more…)

I’m sitting at the kitchen table absorbing whatever rays of reflected or direct sunlight are finding their way through the east- and south-facing windows on this, the shortest day of the year. I’m also absorbing the heat emanating from the oven as a kabocha squash browns in preparation for it’s entry into today’s menu. The cherry tomato plant out my back door (below) is also working the light, this despite overnight temperatures in the 40s and the fact that it’s December 21.

cherry tomato

On days like today, when I’m not seeing any clients, I like to maximize the work-from-home opportunities to do one of my favorite things: cook.

“What!?” you may be thinking, “You’ve got time to cook while you’re supposed to be using your office time to balance the books, take care of billing matters, and work on outreach?” (more…)

During my years attending Rutgers University, there was one very tall building near the main campus in downtown New Brunswick that literally stood out: the appropriately white and sterile-looking corporate headquarters that was (and still is) Johnson & Johnson. Knowing they were based right there led my young self to assume that every Band-Aid ® and gauze pad I’d ever purchased in the red, white, and blue box was manufactured somewhere nearby.

Fast forward to today, more than (ahem) twenty years later. A box of Band-Aids ® sits beside me. Times have changed. Their distinctive logo remains the same, but the box design has been modernized in ways unimaginable back then. The FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council logo appears on the box. In a nutshell, this means their boxes are made from responsibly managed forests. The box also reveals that this all-American seeming product is made in…Brazil! There’s a possible irony there that I’m just going to avoid for today.

(more…)

Once upon a time, I decided it’d be cool to learn how to make a gigantic flat of luscious tomatoey goodness last a long long time. I would purchase San Marzanos from my friends at Mariquita Farm and turn them into sauce that I would stow in the freezer for the winter months. Freezing was great, but longevity was limited.

I’d always wanted to try my hand at canning, but the risk of accidentally creating a lethal stockpile of botulism kept any attempts at bay. I wanted professional guidance and in 2009, I stumbled upon classes offered by a the folks of Happy Girl Kitchen Co., a local independent producer of yummy things in jars. (Trust me, try the okra sometime!)

I signed up without hesitation and took a class…

tomatoes!chopping tomatoes

tomatoes and basil ready for canningjars of tomatoes in the canning pots

(more…)

a bag of nettles

My literal first hand experience with nettles provided one of the most uncomfortable, if not incredibly painful, kitchen memories on record and an important lesson: never plunge your hand into a bag of unfamiliar greens.

How was I to imagine that anything that arrived in the absolutely luscious and magical biweekly veggie box from the nice people of Mariquita Farm could ever cause twenty minutes of misery one day and a declaration of having a new favorite food the next?

As an unofficial member of the recently and aptly named “Danger Nettle Club,” I do hereby wish to share the magic and beauty of an unexpected culinary joy. (more…)

An apple from the garden at my San Francisco home

an apple tree in a san francisco backyard garden

just met the jar of honey (a magical souvenir) I purchased from

a beekeeper at the Slow Food farmer’s market in Alba, Italy

a jar of acacia honey from piemonte, italy

Their union was delicious.

Wishing you and yours a sweet and sustainably harvested new year!

 

Lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco

You’ve been here before: sitting in a restaurant staring at the uneaten portion of your meal that could not find its way to your stomach. Perhaps you’re out to dinner with your family and the kids barely touch their dishes. In both instances the food gets packed up and brought home. Leftovers for the next day.

The next day arrives and you open the fridge. Dang! It smells like the  leftovers. The origami-like cardboard carton leaked. That’s right those things don’t really seal in the freshness. Or, the clamshell container with the compartments that organize your foods and prevent them from touching has failed at its mission. You were in a rush to get home and the slippery food items sloshed over their borders and oozed out of the container. The plastic bag in which you transported it is sullied with food slim. Yuck! What a mess. Sometimes leftovers are more work than they are worth.

Or are they?

In more ways than one, there is a better way. Bring your own trusted container(s) from home.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1  – You decide you’re going out to eat. You know it’s a place where leftovers are common.

Step 2 – Before leaving the house, you grab a food storage container or two (glass jar, metal tin, plastic container…whatever you use!) and put them in your favorite reusable bag. Remember to grab the bag as you head out the door!

Step 3 – You enjoy your meal and find you’ve had your share with plenty to spare.

Step 4 – If preempted by the waitperson who asks if you’d like the leftovers packed up to go, let them know you’ve got it covered. Smile and show them your container(s).

Step 5 – Nonchalantly bring your container(s) to the table and transfer the leftovers. Snap on the lid(s) and head home.

For those of you who are more visual, it looks kind of like this:

no waste packaging of leftovers in a restaurant

an empty platepacking leftovers to go in a restaurant into a container from home

Voila! You’ve got secure food transport, tomorrow’s lunch, and nary a piece of disposal packaging!

 

 

Sometimes we must say good-bye to an old friend. A couple of months ago, I ended a love/hate relationship with an inexpensive hand mixer that I acquired nearly 18 years ago. It was one of my first appliance purchases when I moved to San Francisco, and being that my apartment then, like every apartment I’ve lived in since, had the notable feature of the mostly counterless kitchen, holding onto this little utilitarian and occasionally used tool made sense. Sort of.

Over the past couple of years, apparently, I uttered a few audible criticisms of the mixer while trying to wrestle batter or potatoes from it’s clutches. It just wasn’t up to snuff, yet, I persevered. Cuisinart hand mixerAnd then came the change I didn’t realize I was waiting for: on my birthday, my sweetie surprised me with a sexy, seven-speed, cranberry-colored hand mixer. Ooooh! I literally jumped for joy when I unwrapped the birthday bundle, but not just because it was really beautiful and made cool vroom vroom! sounds. It had the inherent potential to make some aspects of cooking and mixing things fun again. (more…)

asparagus ready to be roasted

Asparagus spears chat amongst themselves prior to meeting some heat in my kitchen.

Springtime. The bright and transitional season typically signified by blooms and allergies going crazy, weather turning warmer, and strawberries and asparagus bringing audible oohs and ahhs at the farmers’ markets.  This spring started like any other, until my unintentional asparagus fascination took root.

The first signs began when I realized last month’s visit to southern Germany could possibly bring me face to face with the famous spargel, or white asparagus. (more…)

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