Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's Saturday!

My first waking thought on Saturday morning is almost always "Farmer's Market"! And, then I run through the possibilities in my mind of all the potential dishes to be made. What shall we have for lunch? Or dinner? Today, I'm sure that it will probably have something to do with Dai Due's antelope keftas, which I picked up from Jesse and crew this morning.

Choices, choices!
Hot Breakfast Items

These Middle Eastern-inspired keftas are made with Broken Arrow Ranch antelope and pastured veal ground with fresh allspice leaves from their garden, parsley, Hausbar eggs and grated spring onions. The mixture is then seasoned with salt and pepper and formed into patties which can then be grilled or seared in a pan. I'm planning to cook mine on the stovetop in a hot cast-iron grill pan.

Antelope Keftas

Their serving suggestion is with yogurt and pickled carrots (which they also had available today), and that sounds just perfect to me. To make these, they start with organic carrots from Martinez Farm and then pickle them in a brine of fresh dill, cumin seed, coriander, honey and apple cider vinegar.

Dill-pickled Carrots

They also had cardoons from their garden that had been pickled with organic apple cider vinegar, honey, coriander seed and dried habanero peppers for a sweet and sour taste. Cardoons are in the artichoke family and are grown for their stalks. I can't wait to try these!

Pickled Cardoon

And, I can never pass up an organic gluten-free breakfast taco from Jam at Thai Fresh. But, sadly--she didn't have the GF version today. There was a problem with the corn tortillas this morning. They do make them in the restaurant starting and 7:00 a.m., and then serve them all day. The sweet and spicy Thai flavors that she adds certainly "wake up" a simple breakfast taco.  From her, I've learned that in Thai, "pad" means to stir fry, so all of the dishes with "pad" in their names are some version of a stir fry. And curry (or "kaeng") means soupy. Most curries are made with coconut milk, but not necessarily. We love to pick up an order of their special "curry of the day" and then serve it over greens from the market.

In my next post, I'll go into peppers and/or chilies a bit more, but they are believed to increase metabolism by raising your internal body temperature (the hotter, the better!).

Speaking of coconut--what an amazing fruit. I've been reading about the many beneficial properties. The coconut water is so refreshing to drink, although I did learn that it is high in potassium (it has almost twice as much as a banana), and if you are a person with high blood pressure and/or on medication for a heart condition, you should check with your doctor before adding this to your diet. The use of the oil in reversing or aiding Alzheimer's or its anti-aging properties are almost too good to be true (and probably are), but we can always hope.

I always pick up fresh mushrooms (shitake, oyster, and/or portobello) from Kitchen Pride. Apparently, mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, and most of us can definitely use a little extra. I love to use them as a gluten-free replacement for the breadcrumbs in dishes such as meatloaf. They have such a meaty, satisfying texture and just soak up the flavors of whatever they are cooked with. Remember, don't wash them or run them under water as they absorb too much. Just dampen a paper towel and brush them off.

Oyster and Shitake Mushrooms

My favorite "Field" option at Lenoir Restaurant includes chickpea panisse, oyster mushrooms, wilted winter greens and a poached egg. And, this was the latest "Land" dish that we had there the other night--crispy wild boar over wilted spinach with quinoa carbonara (major protein!) and pickled carrots.

Jeff Wylie from Bar W Farm and Ranch was at the market this morning with his beautiful and delicate pea shoots (which I plan to use in my Jamie Oliver-inspired pea dish just any moment now, along with some very fragrant fresh organic mint from Johnson's Backyard Garden).

He also had gorgeous and tasty spinach (and yes, we will eat or drink all of that in less than one week). He's one of the youngest year-round farmers at the market and a favorite of ours.

Bar W Farm Spinach

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Fresh Start!

Per my astrology expert, Priya Kale--today’s New Moon occurred at 2+ Aries at 10:37 AM EDT. This marks the start of the astrological new year, and the day after is celebrated as the Hindu New Year, or Gudi Padwa (in Maharashtra) — a very auspicious day to start something new. So, a very Happy Gudi Padwa to ya (from the heart of Texas)!

And, I've just learned that it is also World Meteorological Day, and our 2012 US heatwave has been off the charts. As one commentator said, ""It's not just off the charts, it's off the wall the charts are tacked to."

The new ritual that I've started to commemorate this fresh start is to brew (and then savor!) a special cup of tea each day. I find that there is something so soothing to me in the ritual of making the tea and the contemplative time while drinking it--a feeling of being more centered. There's a blog by Darya Pino called Summer Tomato that I really enjoy, and try to read on a regular basis. She mentioned a tea company that she really liked called Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco, CA. They are direct importers of rare and artisan teas. Some of their teas are virtually impossible to find on the open market, having been discovered only by chance after being hidden away for decades by a tea maker or their family.  I placed an online order for a Discovery Collection, which includes five resealable packages of rare and exotic loose leaf tea from around the world. The package of tea arrived in approximately two days.


My first choice from this collection was the organic Cloud and Mist tea. It had a wonderful, buttery taste and a very rich golden color. Also included in their very nicely boxed set are brewing instructions and descriptions of the different teas, and also included two sample packages of other teas. This sampler would make a lovely gift (to give or receive).

For anyone who might not know, adding lemon to your green tea significantly boosts the antioxidant benefits. Lemon (or other fruits with ascorbic acid, such as orange, lime or grapefruit) acts as a stabilizing agent for catechins (very good antioxidants that are highly present in green tea) throughout the digestive process.

Also, if you suffer from ragweed allergy or sensitivity--definitely avoid chamomile tea. I discovered this the hard way, after trying to drink more and more during allergy season one year--attempting to make myself feel better.  Needless to say, it didn't work. I've since learned to carefully pay attention to my body's reactions when introducing new foods. It can be as simple as smelling an intense herb that makes your nose tingle and/or turn red. That doesn't mean that you must totally avoid every food like this--just be aware and go slowly. My husband Bob reacts by sneezing in almost every garden center that we go to, and we still haven't figured out what the exact cause is? Of course, it may just be trees or grasses--which are very high today in central Texas.

My morning was spent shelling fresh, organic peas (from Animal Farm and Boggy Creek Farm) while waiting on a major house door glass repair. First--defective. Second--oversized. Oh, well--third time is a charm, right? (Of course, they only discovered these problems after dismantling the entire wood trim on the door--a process which took almost two hours each time.) But, I'm grateful for their helpful attitudes and look forward to having our door back to 100% sometime soon.

Back to the peas.  I couldn't help but fondly remember my late grandmother ("Mimi Jean") sitting in the counter stool just next to this one. When I automatically handed her a bowl of peas to shell while I was cooking, she said, "Sweetie, I don't do this. Don't you just buy these at the store?" And, I'd just assumed that she would just feel right at home with a bowl full of fresh peas in front of her...

Shelling Peas
Organic Flowers from Animal Farm


I'm so excited to use all my freshly shelled peas in a new lava rock molcajete from Williams-Sonoma to make a fresh green pea/avocado dip or hummus. I'm planning to use fresh peas a la Jamie Oliver in my dish, but also have several fairly ripe avocados sitting on the counter (the organics come in a mesh sack/6 each from Whole Foods for a fabulous price compared to just one--but, you must eat them quickly!). Although, I've also learned that they last longer in the refrigerator. I didn't find any online recipes using fresh raw peas with avocado, but hopefully just smashing and bruising them up in my new mortar and pestle will do the trick? I'll post on that tomorrow.

More good news today, the FDA was ordered to restrict antibiotics' use in livestock. Hopefully, there won't be some unforeseen backlash with a sudden (or any) withdrawal of drugs--like perhaps some new strain of bacteria in the food source?

Some time was also spent plotting my possible urban garden in our backyard. I actually went so far as to consider chickens and goats (not sure that my inner-city neighbors or Bob would be very positively responsive about that?). My friend, Carla does exactly this (well, maybe without the poultry and livestock) at Austin Urban Gardens, and I may need her input and expertise. Once upon a time, I worked in my family's garden, but am not quite sure that this older body of mine is prepared for the summer heat and labor. I do love a little air-conditioning in the 100+-degree days of Texas summer weather!

Well, this is definitely something that I relate to--Why Talk Therapy is on the Wane and Writing Workshops Are on the Rise: "We were writing to confront what Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.” And not just any hearts. Our hearts." Writing therapy will always be my choice over talk--hands down.

So much for my special dinner tonight--real life happened. We opted for Casa de Luz, our favorite organic/macrobiotic/vegan oasis in the heart of Austin (also in San Diego, CA). They just can't be beat for quality--everything is made with love and care and the best ingredients.
Yellow Split Pea/Rice/Kimchi/Blanched Greens


And, I ate every single bite of that! Yum.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sacra Natura

Just tried a very interesting new organic wine from Spain--"Sacra Natura", D.O. Terra Alta 2007, Celler Pinol. The grape varietal is 35% Carinena, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Tempranillo. The best organic wine I have tasted to date. Light on the palate, but with definitely spicy, interesting afternotes. Recommend.

BCF Strawberries w/Fresh Ricotta & Honey

Mouthwatering Boggy Creek Farm's just picked strawberries atop toasted baguette slices from Texas French Bread with fresh ricotta cheese from Antonelli's Cheese Shop, drizzled with Gause Yaupon Honey and grated lemon zest.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

A simple, quick and tasty soup. Slice butternut squash in half and bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until fork-pierceable. Sweet potatoes are wrapped in aluminium foil and baked in same oven for approximately one hour. Saute one half of a large yellow onion in olive oil until translucent. Remove skins from all squash and potatoes and combine in large saute pan. Add 1-2 cups chicken broth. Puree with hand held imulsifier (or use blender in stages--be careful, as liquid is hot). Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sliced red pepper and chopped parsley.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is the first post on Dana's Dish. It will scroll down or can be deleted, but it was written to test word wrapping, photo uploading, and general usage.

Here's a first photo:

And here is a link to Yahoo!.