Full Flavor Fall in Forty Minutes

Because I have such a busy schedule, all too often I end up grabbing a quick bite on the go in lieu of cooking. Lately I’ve been obsessed with AGNO Grill’s black rice bowl with grilled veggies, topped with roasted cauliflower, carrots, and pickled beets–all smothered with lemon tahini and a touch of harissa. AGNO Grill is one of my favorite restaurants–partly because its menu is organized around a brilliant made-to-order concept, partly because everything they make is both delicious and healthy. First you choose a base (such as a salad or gluten-free wrap), then a protein (falafel, baked tuna, etc.), 3 toppings (like broccolini salad or kalamata olives), and 2 sauces. The enthusiastic folks behind the counter put everything together, and within minutes you’re sighing and planning your next visit (click on the image for a link to their full menu if you don’t believe me):

Front of restaurant, with lemonade stand
Fresh basil lemonade!

While I love the convenience of grabbing a meal on the go, I’ve also been dreaming about copying AGNO’s basic concept at home by using vegetables from our CSA shares. Although I can’t reproduce all their sauce options, emulating their mix-and-match menu on a Sunday could set us up for days worth of delicious options.

This week’s share included 1/2 a head of green cabbage, sweet potatoes, kale, a small bag of arugula, carrots, a turnip, and four beautiful apples. I also had a butternut squash from the last share, a shallot or two, plus some scallions and cilantro (which I keep on hand for noodle bowls).

I envisioned a warm salad plate with crispy chewy kale chips, cumin scented carrots, and cubes of roasted butternut squash all on a bed of quinoa. So late this afternoon I began peeling and dicing.

cut vegetables
Prepped and Ready

For the carrots, I turned to Mark Bittman’s Roasted Carrots with Cumin. I went basic with the kale and only used olive oil and sea salt. I perked up the quinoa by adding a minced scallion to the pot while it was steaming (you could also stir it in at the end for a little more bite). And, to match the depth of the carrots, I livened up the squash with shallots and balsamic vinegar (1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed, tossed with 1 sliced shallot and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar).

The vegetables after cooking
Oven Roasted Goodness

Unfortunately, every web page I consulted recommended different temperatures for each vegetable. As usual, I decided to ignore what I found online and wing it. Because winging it demands keeping a close watch, I kept my eye on the clock:

  • 7:48–the squash goes in a baking dish and into a 350 degree oven
  • Toss the carrots with olive oil and cumin, sprinkled on a bit of salt, place them on a metal pizza plate, and wash prep dishes
  • 7:53–put the carrots in the oven and crank the heat to 400 degrees
  • Decide to take a quick shower (I had just gotten back from the gym)
  • 8:06–clock back into the kitchen with clean but wet hair–time to give the veggies a quick stir and start the kale
  • Rub about a tablespoon of olive oil on the kale, sprinkle with salt, and spread it out on a cookie sheet
  • Rinse the quinoa and get it simmering (low heat) on the stove
  • 8:15–drop the oven temperature back to 350, removed the carrots, move the squash to the broiler, and put the kale in the oven
  • Clean up the remaining prep dishes and dry my hair
  • 8:25–turn everything off, garnish the squash with some parsley while the quinoa finishes steaming, and start plating
  • Dinner ready around 8:30–hopefully, I did AGNO proud

The complete dinner plate

Hump Day Inspiration – More Zucchini

Photo, stuffed zucchini

This past Sunday night I was determined to use as many random vegetables leftover from our farm share as possible. When I did a quick mental survey of what we had left–zucchini, cherry tomatoes, purple basil–I came up with the idea of making vegetarian stuffed zucchini and serving them alongside whole wheat cous cous with chick peas.

Stuffed Zucchini:

  • 2 medium-large zucchini
  • 1/2 a bunch of scallions
  • 4 baby bell peppers
  • 2-3 large heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • purple basil (I grabbed about a handful, then coarsely chopped the leaves)
  • garlic (1 clove)
  • white wine (optional, I happened to have an unfinished bottle of Torrontes in the refrigerator)
  • grated cheese (optional, but if you are using cheese I recommend a parmesan-type)

Cous Cous:

  • 1 cup whole wheat cous cous
  • 1 cup canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • seasoning: I used dill, sumac (you can substitute fresh lemon juice to taste) and marash pepper (any kind of mild to medium hot pepper would work)

Zucchini:

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil
  • slice each zucchini length-wise in half and scoop out the center seedy portion with a spoon (you will have “boats” about 1/4 inch thick)
  • place the zucchini boats in the baking dish cut side up and drizzle with olive oil and sprink with a tiny bit of salt
  • coarsely chop the seedy bits; smash and mince the garlic; slice the scallions ; seed, then slice or chop the bell peppers; chop the tomatoes
  • pour about tsp of olive oil into a heated non-stick skillet over medium heat, and add the garlic and half the scallions, after they start to soften add the bell peppers and zucchini, when everything is starting to brown, pour in just enough white wine to deglaze the pan and stir to mix
  • add the tomatoes and minced basil and remove from heat
  • salt to taste
  • place the zucchini boats in the baking dish and carefully portion the vegetables inside
  • top with a sprinking of grated cheese if desired
  • bake uncovered for about 35 minute

Cous Cous:

  • in a medium sacepan, heat 1 cup of water or broth
  • clean out your skillet, pour in another teaspoon (or two) of olive oil
  • saute the other half of the scallions with your spices, as soon as they start to turn fragrant, throw in the chick peas, saute just to coat the chick peas, turn off the heat
  • as soon as the water/broth comes to a boil, add the cous cous and the chick peas
  • stir, cover, and remove from heat
  • let steam-cook and enjoy a glass of wine while the zucchini finishes baking
  • open the pot, fluff with a fork, salt to taste (I sprinkled in some more of the basil), and serve

Zucchini–the Fruitcake of Summer

Last week’s CSA share featured zucchini, perhaps the summer’s most maligned vegetable. If you don’t live in a town filled with home gardeners and farmers markets then you might not be familiar with zucchini overkill; but simply put, zucchini is the fruitcake of summer. Despite its tendency to overstay its welcome, some of us are still enjoying that lovely summer squash (as we will fruitcake for that matter)

Sign announcing "Leave zucchini on your neighbor's porch month"

A complex computer algorithm must be driving Highland Orchard’s CSA, because we’ve only received zucchini twice all summer. For this reason, I was practically ecstatic to find two beautiful zucchini in last week’s share. Also included were two ripe tomatoes, three beets with greens, corn, basil, and more. As soon as I saw the zucchini thoughts of an herby roasted ratatouille entered my mind. Luckily we just happened to have a few purple and white striped eggplants and an onion waiting at home. Is it just me, or does the universe sometime seem to be run by an empathetic cook with a taste for global cuisine?

Cartoon image from Pixar's Ratatouille

Because my boyfriend and I have slightly different eating habits, if he’s planning to make, say, pork chops for himself, I will prepare something that will work as a side for him and a main dish for myself. At some point last week he bought fresh chicken sausages. You know those math puzzles where they give you a string of numbers and you have to guess what comes next? They baffle me. Seriously, unless the sequence is 5, 10, 15 … the answer might as well be “antelope,” because I can never see the pattern. But present me with a random collection of ingredients, and–while I might not be able to use every single item (radishes, the eternal conundrum)–I’ll immediately start planning single dishes or even whole meals. The minute I saw those sausages I knew the time had come to break out the zucchini: grilled or pan-seared sausages, roasted ratatouille, and polenta with pesto. What a perfect meal! In fact, I was so enthusiastic about roasting vegetables that I filled two trays and planned on leftovers.

photo close-up of the ratatouille
Ratatouille Redux (better the next day)

Roasted Summer Vegetables:

  • two medium to large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
  • two small (not baby) eggplants, half-inch dice
  • one medium sweet onion, diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, pricked with a fork
  • olive oil
  • oregano (herbs de provence works well too)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss the the zucchini with a light sprinkling of oregano in small amount of olive oil and place in an even layer on a lightly greased non-stick cookie sheet. Toss the eggplant and onion in a bit more olive oil and spread into a greased baking pan. Place both in the oven. After 10-15 minutes, check your zucchini. When they are brown on the bottom, flip them and add the tomatoes to the cookie sheet. Stir the eggplant mixture. The vegetables should be done in 25-30 min. Toss everything together, season with salt.

Note: once the zucchini were done, I placed the eggplant mixture under the broiler for a few minutes for additional browning.

Basil Pistachio Pesto (vegan)

  • bunch of basil (about a cup, chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of pistachios
  • 1 clove of garlic – peeled, smashed, and minced
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (more to taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt (I use Maldon salt for almost everything)

Place the basil, pistachios, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a blender. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse-mix for about 30 seconds. Mash everything down with a spatula, add more olive oil, and mix again. Repeat until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper (if desired), and additional nutritional yeast.

As my boyfriend cooked his sausages, I pan fried slices of ready-made polenta. I dolloped the pesto on the polenta and garnished his vegetables with a parmesan-romano blend. The meal looked beautiful, but it it left me a little disappointed. Although I love roasted vegetables, the classic “stewier” form of ratatouille would probably have better complemented the polenta. We were also running low on tomatoes, so the dish didn’t feel balanced.

Another reason to love leftovers? a shot at redemption, a fix for a flawed meal.

The next day I smeared fish fillets (cape capensis) with the leftover pesto and baked them at 350 degrees. While they cooked, I reheated the vegetables in a skillet along with a diced fresh tomato. Served alongside local sweet corn, this turned out to be a real winner (despite the ratty photo of a warmed-over plate taken with a Blackberry)!

photo of dinner plate
Dinner, Version 2

Vegan MoFo – My Fruit Addiction

happy cartoon vegetables
Vegan MoFo

It’s been weeks since I’ve blogged. And now that Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) is upon us, I need to get back in the game. Over the summer, I quietly dropped meat and “obvious” dairy from my diet. I’m still eating fish and seafood, and I’m not one to turn down the occasional pastry, but summer’s quintessential burgers on the grill? pizza for movie nights with my boyfriend? neither of these, nor even my beloved fro-yo, has graced my palate in months.

Despite my love of elephants and other wildlife, my dietary shift actually began as an experiment in anticipation of the Yoga Weekend with Kino MacGregor. “You’ll be amazed at your flexibility!” people claimed. To be honest, any gains I might have made in flexibility are probably due to the lack of air conditioning in my house. BUT, my pores have never been so clog-free nor my sinuses so unaffected by pollen, and my often jumpy, nervous stomach has been pretty calm all summer. Now the weather has turned a bit cooler, a new school year has begun, and I’m teaching three writing seminars per semester in addition to those thirteen fitness classes a week. I’ve never consciously tried to control my eating, so maintaining my summer standards will be a new challenge.

One problem that I’ve sort of ignored all summer but really need to face is my fruit addiction. I kid you not. About mid-summer I switched our CSA from weekly to bi-weekly deliveries. To a certain extent, the shares were so bountiful that we were finding it difficult to consume everything quickly enough. Sometimes social engagements meant eating dinner out. Sometimes I was just too lazy to get creative in the kitchen after coming home from the gym at 8:30 or 9 pm. Sometimes I didn’t plan well enough and was left with random items that didn’t work well together (a bag of radishes and an eggplant, for instance).

But let’s face it, the biggest impediment to finishing farms shares lies in the explosion of Farmers Markets across Philadelphia. There is one happening practically everyday, somewhere in the city–which means ubiquitous offers of fresh, seasonal fruit.

Beechwood Orchard's strawberries for sale
Who could turn down this guy?

As a self-confessed fruit addict, I have a hard time resisting a box of sun-warmed blackberries or mounds of fragrant peaches. Just imagine, there I am cycling to or from work, when I happen to see people unloading crates and crates of plums from a truck. Pebble-skinned black plums … tiny yellow shiro plums … gorgeous, juicy “elephant heart” plums. Years ago I almost crashed into a curb while staring at a satin dress in a store window. Sure, it was a strapless, ruched, satin cocktail dress in a color somewhere between seashell and smoke, but it was still just a dress. And dresses cannot compare to fruit.

First I reach for a small box of blackberries … but the strawberries are so tiny, so perfect, and they smell so sweet. The donut peaches just look happy, and since they’re not quite ripe, we could let them ripen while we eat the berries. Then the guilt begins to creep. Although my boyfriend likes fruit, he is at heart a tomato man. “This is selfish,” I think. “The fruit is so obviously a treat for myself.” Next thing I know my bike is leaning to the right because the berries and heirloom cherry tomatoes cannot balance the weight of the peaches, which have somehow rolled across the bottom of my backpack. When I get home it takes all my spacial-organizational skills to fit the fruit around the corn, beets, basil, and zucchini already populating the refrigerator. But it gets worse. Every time I open the refrigerator door or walk by our hanging basket (where the peaches are ripening) I smell fruit. Breakfast, lunch, dinner? It doesn’t matter. I think, “I’ll just start with a small bowl of fruit and move onto a proper meal from there.” Right.

While fresh fruit certainly lies within the parameters of my diet, a bowl of berries–even with a dollop of coconut-milk yogurt and a sprinkling of nuts–doesn’t make a meal. And consistent substitution of fruit for meals results in unused items from our farm share, a tendency to lose weight, and stalls on strength gains. Ironically, despite my efforts at cleaning up my diet and getting even healthier, at last glance I ended the summer two pounds lighter than I began. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Two pounds? My weight fluctuates an average of five pounds on a daily basis!” Well, at barely five feet tall, size 5.5 shoes, and a size 3.5 ring finger, I’m just plain tiny. If I’m averaging a few pounds less, not only does my face look drawn, but I just don’t feel as strong. Most troubling, weight loss at my age could signal losses in muscle mass and bone density.

I used to say that I spent my 20s “getting smart” (3 post-graduate degrees), my 30s getting fit, and my 40s really confused. I’m not yet 50, but it’s high time I started putting the same long-term planning and care into my body that I put into my IRA. So in addition to working on prepping food over the weekends and maintaining our CSA, I’ve purchased a foam roller and committed to weekly chiropractic visits ($35 co-pay, 30 min massage included). Does chiropractic work? Do I believe in it? The jury is still out. Like my non-dairy experiment over the summer, I’m going to give it a shot and tell you what I think.

NOTE: I cannot tell a lie. It is nearly impossible for me to watch films from Asia and not crave Asian food. For what seems like a year I’ve been anticipating the release of Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster (click on the link for the trailer). We caught the film opening weekend and stopped at one of my favorite spots, Meritage, on the way home. Chef Anne Coll specializes in an artful blend of East and West. By the time we got to Meritage my brain was swimming in soy, so I ordered pan-fried dumplings (pork-filled, of course) and gleefully ate all four (click on the image for a recipe).

photo of Japanese potstickers
Japanese “Potstickers”

Noodles au naturel

When cooking naked, an apron goes a long way towards protecting delicate areas … just kidding. As soon as I published my last post it occurred to me – lots of people cannot tolerate msg in their food, and most instant noodles packs, especially if they are made in Asia, probably contain a ton of msg in the broth packets.

Cartoon about the ill effects of msg in food

So how do you make a tasty bowl of noodles that won’t give you a headache? Use unflavored dry noodles and make your own soup base. How do you make your own Japanese-style soup base you might ask? Well I’m about to tell you!

Oh! if you haven’t noticed, I don’t really measure ingredients or follow recipes when I cook. In fact, someone once (jokingly?) accused me of deliberately altering recipes constantly so that no one could ever reproduce anything I served, thus insuring my dishes remained elusive. While I don’t try to keep my recipes secret, I am forever playing with them. I’ve given ballpark measurements, but you need taste things as you go along. I tend to “under-salt” almost everything (and make up for it by eating potato, pita, and tortilla chips like I’m on a mission), so make sure to taste and adjust.

Miso Soup Base for Noodles (vegetarian)

Ingredients (aside from water):

  • dried mushrooms (shiitake add plenty of flavor, so count on about 2 per cup)
  • scallions (put fine shreds of the white portion in the broth, mince the green part to use raw as a garnish)
  • ginger and/or garlic – both can be “smashed” with the flat side of your knife, thrown into the pot, and fished out later
  • vegetables – I like to use Asian greens like napa cabbage and bok choy
  • miso – white (shiro) miso is sweet and mild, the least salty, and makes a beautiful creamy-looking broth, but red is richer in flavor

NOTE: some dried mushrooms have a lot of grit stuck in their gills. You can soften your mushrooms in hot water (just enough to cover). Once they are soft, strain the liquid into your soup base – I use a tea strainer lined with a small piece of paper towel – and rinse the mushrooms. But I’ve also found an amazingly grit-free brand (and crazy-inexpensive at my local Asian grocery). If you know your mushrooms are clean, you can just throw a few into the pot to simmer with everything else:

photo of Dynasty brand sried mushrooms

Directions:

  • Put a little oil in the bottom of your pot, once it shimmers, throw in any garlic (1 clove), ginger (roughly the size of a quarter), or other aromatic herbs (curry powder is also really delicious, and even 1/4 tsp will add plenty of flavor)
  • Stir them a bit, just until they start to soften and smell amazing, then pour in your water (1.25-1.5 cups per person) and vegetables
  • If you pre-soaked your mushrooms, rinse them off, remove the stems, slice thinly and add them to the pot (I’ve also served them whole, stems and all); if your mushrooms are reliably clean, throw them in with the vegetables
  • If you want a true one-pot dish, wait until the vegetables are not quite done, then throw in your noodles
  • Bring everything to a boil and simmer just until the vegetables (and noodles) are tender
  • Remove about a 1/4 cup of water and “dissolve” your miso in it – this is really hard to gauge, since miso varies so much in saltiness. Start with a teaspoon per cup of water, because you can always add more. Once the miso has dissolved, add it back into the pot.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning. Feel free to add more miso or maybe some soy sauce, tamari, or mirin

NOTE:  miso should not be boiled (it kills the enzymes), so either add the noodles to the pot before you add the miso, or boil them separately, place in your bowl, and ladle the soup and veggies over them.

Remember: every bowl of noodles is a new adventure! Use whatever you have on hand, and make it your own! Yesterday I topped a bowl with stir-fried celery and red swiss chard but skipped the scallions. Since I had added a pinch of curry to the soup, the fresh crispiness of the vegetables provided a wonderful contrast to the rich and spicy broth. It also looked really pretty!

Flat noodles with celery and chard

Stone Soup (or how to make a bowl of noodles)

Remember that old folk story called “stone soup?” A man sets up a pot of water with a rock in it and nonchalantly tells bystanders that he is making stone soup. He tells them – despite the tried and true nature of his recipe – it would be even better with a few additional items. The townsfolk are curious and cannot help but contribute a carrot here, some parsley there. As the soup bubbles away, more people are drawn by the wonderful smell, and they all eagerly offer something from their own stores. In the end everyone enjoys a bowl, which really is delicious.

While I’ve never tricked anyone into handing over a carrot, I do regularly make a bowl of noodle soup out of odds and ends. The last time I did, I posted a photo of the finished result on my Facebook page. A bunch of people “liked” the photo, one friend asked for the recipe, and someone even asked me where I had bought that dish (!). So, P-Girl, this is for you.

Because I subscribe to a CSA, I often have random vegetables in small amounts in my refrigerator. On this last occasion, I had one big zucchini, a few bunches of baby bok choy, and a handful of snow peas. Other vegetables I like to use include asparagus, sugar snap peas, any kind of greens, and aromatic herbs such as scallions and cilantro.

When I’m feeling ambitious, I will make a stock and use plain dried noodles. Any Asian store will stock a wide variety of noodle types such as wheat, rice, bean thread, buckwheat, egg noodles, flavored and unflavored (usually shrimp). These noodles will also come in a variety of widths and lengths:

Asian noodles
Various dry Asian noodles

Most often, when I make noodles I eat them as a quick lunch or dinner, so I start with prefab. That’s right, I am a huge fan of instant ramen. Now, I know what you are thinking, “But they are soooo unhealthy! They are fried! Haven’t you looked at the sodium content??? I once saw a photo of undigested ramen in someone’s stomach …”

To this I say, “Do you know who invented instant ramen? Do you know what nation tops the world in longevity?” The answer to both questions is the Japanese. So forgive my faith in my ancestors, but I am not going to let one nasty photo stop me from enjoying my birthright! And, honestly, about that photo – do you think if that person chewed his or her food maybe it would digest? Anyway, on this particular occasion, I started with instant udon (which are thick, non-fried, wheat noodles). You can find them at you local Asian market in the refrigerated section, although I have seen a spicy seaweed ramen (which looks halfway between ramen and udon to me) at Trader Joe’s. Udon packages come in all sorts of “flavors” such as pork, crab, abalone, mushroom, “oriental,” and spicy, and this is what they look like:

instant udon packages
Instant Udon

Don’t worry if the directions are in Japanese or any other language. Disregard them if they are in English.

Recipe!!!

  1. Boil some water in a pot that will fit everything (I use about 1.25 cups for myself, more for my boyfriend because he likes having more broth).
  2. Throw in whatever vegetables you would like to simmer. In this case I decided to simmer the baby bok choy so that it would flavor the soup and become soft. Sometimes I don’t put any veggies in the water and just stir fry them all; if I’m feeling really lazy, I boil everything so I only have to wash one pot. The options are truly endless – and endlessly delicious!
  3. As the water is boiling, heat up a non-stick or cast-iron skillet on medium. Grease lightly with olive oil, coconut oil, whatever you like. I use a non-stick skillet and pour on about a teaspoon of roasted sesame oil. I use Kadoya brand, but there are so many brands that you cannot go wrong.
  4. Once the skillet is hot, put in the vegetables or anything else you want to stir fry. This time I lined up slices of baked tofu and zucchini. Once one side browned, I flipped them all and threw in the snow peas.
  5. By this time, you water will be boiling, and your veggies will be simmering. Here is where we go wild. Open the broth packet that comes with the noodles, but only pour half of it into the water. Taste. In many cases, this is all the flavor (and the salt) you need. If you want more, add more, but err on the side of caution.
  6. Save the leftover half-packet of broth. I have a small box of leftover broth packets that I keep for when I want to use the plain dry noodles – because sometimes only flat noodles will do.
  7. Put the noodles in the pot, drop the heat to low, and let it simmer a bit (yes, even if it’s instant ramen, let it simmer a little).
  8. Your skillet veggies should be almost done by now. I like to splash a little mirin (Japanese rice wine) over the veggies and then cover the whole pan, just for a minute. This adds depth to the flavor and makes the veggies glossy.
  9. NOTE: you can also add about a tablespoon of mirin to the broth instead, or both.
  10. Pour the contents of the noodle pot into your bowl.
  11. Artfully arrange your veggies, tofu, etc. on top.
  12. Garnish with finely sliced scallions, cilantro, etc. I dabbed on some Vietnamese chile garlic sauce, which I prefer over sriracha. I also sometimes drizzle a bit of sesame oil on top, which just makes the bowl smell like my Mom cooked it.
  13. Slurp your noodles and enjoy!
noodle bowl
Bowl of Udon

Where have I been?

Funny how I can jet off to Chicago for a weekend and still have time to write 3 posts, but give me a week to spend at home, and all you get is internet silence. What have I been doing with my time? I’ve actually been working on a longer post about my recent pixel laser treatment.

The short version: I got a pixel laser done on my face on Thursday June 13. The pixel laser is far more aggressive than glycolic peels and microdermabrasion. It basically “nukes” your skin cells in a pinpoint pattern, forcing them to regenerate. Even though the pixel laser only blasts 20-25% of the skin’s surface, you probably would not want to be out and about for 3-5 days post-pixel (unless you happen to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind stares). Honestly, it looked as though I had run face-first into a burning screen door. Since I can be shameless when I believe I am helping people, I taught all my regular fitness classes – first with a red face (like nightmare sunburn) then, as it started to heal, with flakey patches of brownish and burlap-textured, dead (fried!) skin. Not surprisingly, a few participants told me that they might want more information, but only after they could assess the final results.

Before going “under the laser,” I managed to squeeze in a night out with my boyfriend to celebrate our 31 month and one day anniversary (and people call me “un-romantic!”). If you look at a photo he shot, you will notice that my face changes color to the left of and below my cheek. Behold the ravages of time, genetics, and tropical excursions!

NOTE: suspecting he would shoot a few photos, I slathered on the BB cream. What you see here is an un-retouched photo with makeup.

js drinkie_576x768

You can expect a longer and more detailed post (with gruesome photos!) about my pixel at a later date. In fact, I’m making a whole separate category called TMI for posts like that.

Also in the works are posts (with recipes) about our weekly CSA. What is a CSA? Enrolling in a CSA (community supported agriculture) basically amounts to investing in a “farm share.” You pay up front for a regular “share” of the harvest, guaranteeing a market for the farm and a regular supply of fresh produce for yourself. CSAs are also a sly way to rack up some karma points since you will: 1. support local farms, 2. eat cleaner and greener. So what if you don’t believe in karma? Joining a CSA will probably force more nutrition and variety into your diet. Here’s how ours works. Every week we pick up a bunch of locally grown, organic produce at our farmers market. But there’s a catch – although we know the produce will be seasonal, we never quite know what we will be getting until we pick it up. In that way, a CSA can be a little like a weekly Iron Chef challenge. And who doesn’t enjoy a fun challenge when the prize is a healthy and delicious meal? This week we received broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, garlic scapes, blueberries (our share always includes one fruit item), a huge cucumber, a little bag of spring mix, and fresh sage. Since we have some potatoes leftover from a previous share I’m looking forward to Salad Niçoise … and then maybe pasta with broccoli and garlic-scape pesto for a quick mid-week dinner. Once in a while you might find something mysterious (like garlic scapes) included in the share.  Luckily, the man who hands over the produce will identify unusual items such as sorrel or mizuna and even offer cooking ideas.

Anyway, I’m quite green at this blogging business, so my writing and posting probably seems a bit irregular. But in the immortal words of Shri Patthabhi Jois, “Practice and all is coming,” which is my way of saying,  “Thanks for your patience – more posts soon.”