Carrot and radish leaf pesto

Carrot and radish leaf pesto

When our week 3 CSA box arrived I was determined to use every bit of the animal – um, I meant vegetable – to the fullest. That meant getting creative with root vegetable greens, the fresh leafy tops from the radishes and carrots in the box. How cool would it be, I thought, to make pesto? I looked around online and found Chocolate & Zucchini had already pioneered that territory with radish greens alone. I followed the basic proportions of her recipe, improvising mostly by mixing up the greens and doubling up on the garlic. Here’s my version of the recipe; by the way, it’s not only deeply green but gluten free and vegetarian, too: Carrot and Radish Leaf Pesto   Save Print Prep time 15 mins Total time 15 mins   Radish leaf and carrot top pesto, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini's Radish Leaf Pesto recipe. This recipe makes approximately 8 ounces. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: sauce, condiment Ingredients - 2 large handfuls fresh radish leaves, thick main stems removed - 1 small handful carrot tops, thick main stems removed - 1 ounce grated pecorino cheese - 1 ounce toasted pine nuts - 2 cloves garlic, germ removed, cut in four - 3 tablespoons olive oil - salt and freshly ground lemon pepper to taste Instructions Toss all the ingredients in a blender and pulse in short bursts. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat until you have a finely textured paste. Spoon out into a glass jar and keep refrigerated. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09   Don’t wait for pizza night; this...
Playing I Spy with your food

Playing I Spy with your food

So far, the verdict is out on my Farm to Table CSA box. I do love the idea of farm fresh fruits and veggies dropped at my door, but in reality it’s an awful lot of produce to deal with at one time. The apples and beets from that first week’s box were tasty, but the pears and kiwi weren’t ripe. And unfortunately, since I left the broccoli and green beans out overnight and they were bad within a day of delivery. Week 2 came too fast, and I wasn’t terribly interested in the contents: even MORE beets, more unripe fruit, a cute little pumpkin, and an uninspiring bitter green I’d never seen before. I compared notes with a friend; turns out she spent her delivery day cooking up dishes and soups with all the vegetables so that nothing went bad – beet greens included. I was ready for a fresh glimmer of possibilities when Week 3’s bounty arrived:   Sorting out the box was like playing a game of I Spy: I spy, with my two eyes . . . a Caesar salad, a broccolini and carrot stir fry, and squash soup. We even got a potato leek fennel soup out of it. I call this a succesful CSA week. And in the interest of giving this box, and the CSA box concept, a fighting chance, I even went crazy and made a pesto from the radish and carrot greens – new pizza...
Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Fennel and artichoke hearts add an earthy twist to Julia Child’s excellent potato leek soup – a quick entree I learned to make forever ago from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In addition to 2 large chopped leeks – white part only –  and 2 pounds peeled and chopped russet potatoes, just add 1 large chopped fennel bulb and 1 can water-packed artichoke hearts to your pot. I discard the feathery fennel tops and thinly slice the bulbs. Use these often in your soups – they hold up nicely in a stew, puree well, and add a hind of licorice along with a boost of fiber and potassium to your meals. The rest of a proverbial piece of cake. Just barely cover with water, add a pinch of paprika and lots and lots of freshly ground lemon pepper. Simmer until it’s all tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. It will look like this: Use a hand blender to puree, and you end up with a nice thick warming entree. Add butter and salt at your pleasure and discretion. Serve in warm bowls with a fresh baguette and warm radishes. Go crazy and top with a bit of sour cream and crispy prosciutto if you like....

A good gluten-free pizza dough

I had a pizza night planned for Saturday with new guests – work colleagues – and almost too late learned one of our guests needed a gluten-free menu. Instead of rethinking dinner, I decided to give gluten-free pizza a go and tried Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix mix – chosen because, of all the gluten-free baking options at the grocery store, this package included directions for making pizza dough. This was my first try with a gluten-free dough, and it turned out just great. The package had quite specific mixing and handling directions; follow them exactly and you will combat the inherent stickiness and relative difficulty to work with. Once cooked, the crust was perfectly crisp and had a firm, light texture. It’s on the sweet side because ingredients include sorghum flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, molasses, and honey, so use lots of garlic and herbs in your tomato sauce. Even if you’re not gluten-free, this is worth a try. Seeing as more and more people are gluten-free these days, I’ll be keeping a package or two on hand from now...

Geometry, guacamole-style

My Kids are pretty good at finding the fun things on YouTube – I never would have known about Magical Trevor or Gangnam Style on my own. It’s not that I don’t have the time; I’m really just not clued in enough. The newest YouTube discovery is Kahn Academy mathematician Vi Hart’s channel. We almost mastered the hexaflexagon, folding strip of strip of paper into perfect equilateral triangles and folding them in on themselves, when she wondered why you had to make these cool folding origami-like disks with paper? Why not use . . . food? So if you find yourself with an extra large flour tortilla and want to make your kids sing for their supper, consider sitting them down in front of a computer with a plate of guacamole to make hexaflexamexagons. That sounds like a really bad idea now that I write it down. You should probably have a couple of big towels handy. Check it out, though, she’s totally fun: embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube DirektFlex Mex...
The edible cell

The edible cell

With only one or two exceptions, I love every single one of the teachers my kids have had. They’ve embraced experiential learning, largely abandoning lectures and rote memorization in favor of group projects, individual presentations, skits, and songs. It works. I have two boys who love to learn and who have excellent communication skills as a result; by junior high, they’d logged more time speaking in front of a group than I had by college. The Edible Cell is my favorite of their hands-on learning projects so far. Why hand a kid a plant cell drawing and ask him to label all the parts for 100 points when you can send him home and ask him to construct a plant cell with edible items from your kitchen? Sending kids home to do kitchen things requires a small budget and a large amount of parental cooperation. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m by default a cooperative parent, so the afternoon of the assignment I shepherded three boys to our corner market, gave them each a couple of dollars, and let them go crazy picking out candy. Sadly no one else was in our aisle to overhear them discussing what would make the best endoplasmic reticulum; I would have loved to see the questioning eyebrows. What I loved even more, though, was watching the kids as they made a big batch of brownies from scratch: reading the recipe, searching for ingredients, carefully (sort of) measuring them out, setting the oven temperature, discussing the different parts of a cell and how best to arrange the candy – observing that process of actively...

The amazing Loreto tortillas

The flour tortillas in Loreto are wonderfully fresh and moist and seven inches in diameter – larger than the corn tortillas you find packaged in the U.S., but still smaller than our standard flour tortillas. They’re so unbelievably thin – almost transparent – scarred with uneven air bubbles that no assembly line production can ever hope to duplicate.   These tortillas are 10 pesos for a packet of 12, about 80 cents, at the pink cinder block market on Calle Davis that is also the front room of a family home. Glance through the open rear door of the store, and you will not see the expected stockroom, rather, you are peeking into a tidy living room with brown sofa and deep olive throw rug. Three young children ventures in and out, and a grandparent-aged man works the counter. You can also purchase CocaCola, cooking oil, tampons, hominy, and leche, but no bottled water.   Best Thing I Ever Ate: January...
Farm Fresh vegetables at my door

Farm Fresh vegetables at my door

We’ve gotten to the point that a phone call or a knock on the door usually signals an intrusion; there’s rarely a friend or neighbor on the other end. People asking my opinion on politics and desalination, robots offering to reduce my credit card rate, Greenpeace canvassers, Mormon missionaries, door-to-door magazine salespersons . . . once a man in a refrigerated truck with an out-of-state license plate even knocked to ask if I’d like to buy some meat. I would love to see a Girl Scout or local kids raising money for their schools, but it’s not to be. I think all these type of sales must happen by their parents at the office. So last week when the door knocked and the dog barked, I rolled my eyes, pasted on a smile, and got ready to say no. But I was in for a surprise – the dog wagged his tail at the man. And he was a neighbor in a sense, a representative from Farm Fresh To You looking for new home delivery customers for their seasonal fruits and vegetables. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing, but not seriously. Now a farm found me, and the timing is great; I’ve been making baby steps toward planning our meals in advance and streamlining my grocery shopping. It seemed to be a good experiment to get a box of produce and plan a week of meals around it. I went for it. We received our first delivery yesterday morning, a box of fresh vegetables and fruits at my door before 8AM. Here’s a happy gorgeous way to start a morning:...
Sliced buttered radishes

Sliced buttered radishes

We’ve been on a warm buttered radish kick lately, serving them up every couple of days on top of a slice of fresh baguette and topped with a bit of crunchy green salad. Mmmm. If you’ve never tried these, give it a go. . . it’s the simplest side dish you’ll ever make: Sliced buttered radishes   Save Print Serve these warm, spicy, buttery radishes with a fresh baguette. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: salad, side dish Ingredients 1 bunch fresh radishes 1 tbsp unsalted butter 1 tsp sea salt Instructions Wash and trim the radishes. Slice into thin circles. Arrange on a microwave-safe plate. Top with 1 tbsp butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09...
Oatmeal muffin magic and recipes for happiness

Oatmeal muffin magic and recipes for happiness

You certainly have a recipe for a perfect roasted chicken or chocolate chip cookies – for some dish that makes you and your family smile – but have you ever considered your recipe for happiness? It’s a little bit harder to describe, hmm? That’s the question the Allrecipes.com team posed to us bloggers at this year’s BlogHer Food ’12 conference, and it’s definitely something to chew over. Food is a way of bringing people together, of showing love, and of sharing a culture – all things that bring happiness. How do you put it all together? I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do just that – to think about my recipe for happiness and share it with Allrecipes’ Fresh Bites blog. Of course, it involves my children, and cooking, and being creative. Click here to read Muffin Magic – One Family’s Recipe for Guaranteed Happiness. And thank you, Allrecipes, for letting me stop by your blog and share a...
Modern midden at the MOMA

Modern midden at the MOMA

The very best part of fourteen years as an elementary school parent were the field trips. Are all California public schools as open and enthusiastic about off-site learning, or did we just get lucky??? It seems there wasn’t a mission, museum, or state park in a three-county radius we skipped, from fall’s monarch butterfly walks and county fair pig races to winter’s elephant seal viewing to spring’s steelhead release into local rivers. Each year, the teacher had at least five or six trips lined up, and I drove on every one of them, happy and lucky to learn right along with the kids. It was on one of those school outings that I learned about middens. Our group trotted single-file along a dirt trail lined with live oak trees dotted with woodpecker holes on one side and duckweed-covered wetlands on the other, where snowy egrets waded and dived for food. Our docent gathered us around her in a field and pointed out a raised mound near her feet where blue-green bunch grasses grew from between broken bits of shell. “That’s called a midden. It’s an ancient trash heap left by the Native Americans,” she informed us. “Archeologists sift through these to learn more about what they ate and how they lived.” The kids appeared to be unimpressed. I was fascinated though, completely taken with the realization that we were standing on wild land still bearing traces of people who came before us. Way before – hundreds, even thousands of years ago – parents stood on this very spot, creating briny feasts for their children from local oysters and clams...
From the Heavens to Hell’s (Kitchen)

From the Heavens to Hell’s (Kitchen)

New York City is certainly one of the few places in the world where the enormity, scale, and sheer spectacle of a space shuttle parked underneath a giant rubber bubble and perched on the stern of an aircraft carrier can conceivably be concealed by the enormity, scale, and sheer spectacle of the surrounding environment.   Kid One and I serendipitously stumbled across the shuttle Enterprise, a 75-ton OG of space, on a boat ride down the Hudson River. We had two days in New York City and not much planned, so as soon as disembarking from our Lady Liberty photo-op, we scrambled to check out the monolith up close. I didn’t know that, after a lifetime of never seeing a spacecraft in person or even thinking to seek one out, this would be the first of two to cross my path in one month. Imagine the size of an aircraft carrier:   Now imagine walking onto its deck and into a giant rubble nipple:   To find this:   Wow! Underneath the tarp, the Enterprise was as dimly-lit as the Degas pastels at the Musee d’Orsay and the room as respectfully hushed as university stacks during finals. It’s hard to capture how surprisingly large the Enterprise is. Here’s another photo from the ground:   now one with Kid One for a sense of scale:   What a fabulously full day so far: breakfast in Bryant Park a three-mile walk, a river cruise, and shuttle visit. Yes, all before lunch. And now we were hungry. After such a close brush with the heavens, the only place left to go was hell. So we walked the...
Space shuttle Endeavor flies over the Cement Ship

Space shuttle Endeavor flies over the Cement Ship

Witnessing a five-story, 83-plus ton spacecraft flying piggyback on a Boeing 747 is truly a majestic and oddly moving sight, a tribute not so much as to advances in aviation and engineering, but more to our human ingenuity. I think of how we marvel at ancient feats of engineering, those pyramids, temples, terraces, and statues built ever-so precisely by long-ago people, perfectly crafted from rough, massive boulders, and how we wonder at the level of sophistication and technology they could have possibly possessed to create such phenomena. Do you think, in a few thousand years, Earth’s inhabitants will look back at photos like this and scratch their heads, curious as to how their otherwise unsophisticated ancestors could have possibly sculpted something a creature like this out of metal and keep it aloft?   I wasn’t expecting to have this reaction. Space exploration doesn’t speak to me like it does to Kid One, a dedicated space nut and hobbyist astrophysicist. He mentioned to me that the shuttle Endeavor had a scheduled flyover at the Monterey Bay Aquarium after looping through the Bay Area, and I just thought – hmm. Then I realized our town is right in the middle, as the crow flies, of those two locations. A space shuttle flying over Seacliff Beach?? The photo op of a lifetime. So Koah and I left the house early armed with poop bags (for the dog) and telephoto lens (for me), strolled over to the field above the beach, pup staring down at gopher holes and me staring down at the #spottheshuttle Twitter feed on my iPhone, tracking Endeavor sightings through the Central Valley and...
Garden-fresh martini

Garden-fresh martini

Here’s a drink that is as light and breezy and a Seacliff Indian summer evening and a fun way to use ripe, late summer strawberries and cucumbers. I watched Ben at Oswald Restaurant make these by the dozen before the Lawrence Juber show recently. It was a wonderful drink before a fabulous show, worthy of being duplicated. So just in time for you weekend revelry, here’s my take on what he did: Garden-Fresh Martini  First, drop 2 or 3 halved strawberries into a pint glass:   Add 3 or 4 slices of fresh cucumber:   Use a muddling stick to smash it all together:   Don’t forget to smash in a sprig of mint:   Squeeze half a lime into the mixture along with a tablespoon of simple syrup:   Now rinse the muddler with a splash of sparkling water:   Fill the glass with ice:   Now fill to the top with your favorite vodka:   Strain and serve:   I added a second tablespoon of simple syrup and substituted sparkling water for the vodka for Kid-friendly versions of this drink....