Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Like Feeling Productive!

I feel so fortunate to be living in Northern California with farmers' markets close by, overflowing with fabulous local produce. I usually go to the Temescal Market on Sunday morning because I like the low-key atmosphere, the long lines for a personally brewed cup of organic coffee (I rarely stand in it but I like seeing it), and lots of parking since it's in the DMV lot. I arrive in my Prius and load up my reusable bags and trot over to my favorite vendors.

Spring is on the way and I can tell. Winter squashes are no longer the mainstay and artichokes, asparagus, and butter lettuces are in abundance. I am almost always seduced by the allure of fresh food at the market. I therefore overbuy. To avoid my husband's sarcastic comments, I then spend Sunday cooking "for the week." Today I listened to James Brown, Mariza, and Angelique Kidjo, and cut up beautiful blood oranges, red onion, and fennel (great with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to be eaten alone or mixed with baby lettuces). I then moved on to lovely red chard, starting with my standard approach: some minced garlic cooked for a couple of minutes in olive oil ready for the cleaned chard stripped from the chunky stem. I usually throw in a handful of raisins, some hot pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and a hearty lemon squeeze. So delicious. And so simple.

On to an Aisan noodle dish--adapted from Everyday Cooking on PBS. My niece, Margot Olshan, is a regular chef so I watch every chance I can. I also go to her restaurant--Margot Cafe and Wine Bar in Stamford, CT-- every chance I can. Really delicious!! The noodle dish is so easy and good cold (I'm thinking lunch tomorrow): soba noodles for 7-8 minutes in boiling salted water, remove to a bowl, and use the same boiling water for 6-8 ounces of cut green beans for 7 minutes. Remove to the bowl. Add some diced silken tofu, a couple of minced green onions, and a quick sauce of 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sesame oil, a pinch or so of sugar, and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice. If I have any fresh cilantro, I throw that in, too. Really great after a night in the fridge. Meanwhile, I've been cleaning and cutting cauliflower (the white, orange, and green "spacemen" types), turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, red and orange beets. So easy. Mix with some olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper and roast in a hot oven for 45 minutes. Roasted veggies are good as a side dish, as a main dish, or in salads during the week.

In the middle of the afternoon, I took off for a charitable event--a tasting of fabulous desserts to raise money for Rubicon Programs, who've helped over 1000 people find jobs. My host is writing a novel, in fact two at once. I became depressed because I am not as disciplined and don't feel I've done anything significant lately. But I got back , hit the kitchen, and felt productive again. Forgot to mention the delicious curried cream of broccoli soup from Jane Brody's Good Food Cook Book, one of my faves.

Work. Yes. A good feeling. Yes. Ready for the week. Yes. Nutritious and tasty. Yes.

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