Friday, September 10, 2010

10 September 2010 Chilly Morning

This day dawned chilly. It was a day for gloves and hat and even a down jacket! It warmed to the promised high 60's or maybe 70 in the sun. Beautiful. Melancholy threatens to overtake me as I rush to get the last few nectarines and tomatoes into my freezer. I'm roasting tomatoes tonight at home.

I harvested some grapes from my parents' grape arbor near Detroit. It had some green, unripened and non-sprayed grapes that the birds were probably waiting on...I nabbed them to make verjuice--the Greeks and other Mediterranean-Eastern Mediterranean cultures juiced unripened grapes and used the sour juice in place of vinegar or lemon. Boil the juice with a little salt, and can or freeze it.

Here are photos of the crew peeling garlic, a never-ending job that leaves slivers under your fingernails like the old Chinese torture we used to imagine as kids. EEK. One photo is of Eli and Jon, his dad, two of the Meadowlarks, filling our boxes. Another is of the artichokes Jenny and Jon grow and added to our boxes today. Amazing, right? Makes me feel better about leaving California.

Dick Flowers brought over goat milk and cheese, which they sell through goat shares. Everyone who tries Mary Buschell's (Dick's wife) goat cheese raves.

Lunch today was Turkish pink lentil soup with mint and bulgar (we've had this before) and lots of onion and garlic.
Maureen roasted some of Meadowlark's beautiful potatoes with thyme and rosemary plus olive oil and salt.
I brought cracked wheat and made a bulgar wheat pilaf with roasted walnuts and parsley. See recipe below.
Maureen and I cleaned, chopped and cooked a bunch of collards and kale. We heated lots of olive oil and minced shallots until the shallots (drowning in oil) began to brown. I tossed in lots of snipped chives, salt and red wine vinegar then tossed it with the greens. I could not stop eating the greens!
Maureen sliced some tomatoes and Eli picked basil for them. Salt and a little olive oil and that was salad.
Jenny donated some feta and everyone ate it on bread or sprinkled it on their tomatoes.

We all agreed that this was a starch happy day. I was so exhausted today--and so hungry--everyone seemed to crave the starch--Robert says that we eat more when tired. That's so for me. Plus the corner seasons and changing weather just seem to catch you off guard...this one has me in its clutches and won't let go...

Greek Bulgar Pilaf with Walnuts
If you avoid wheat, substitute quinoa and simmer it 10 to 15 minutes.
4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 to 10 ounces onion, 2 cups finely diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coarse-ground bulgar
1 bay leaf
5 to 6 ounces walnuts, 1 cup toasted and finely chopped
2 ounces Italian parsley, about 1 cup chopped

Heat a medium saucepan over medium and add oil and butter. When butter melts, add onion and salt and cook until soft, 7 minutes. Heat a kettle with water.

Add bulgar to onions and stir and cook 1 minute. Pour in 1-1/2 cups boiling water, bay leaf and salt. Bring pilaf to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and rest pilaf 10 minutes.

Fold in walnuts and all but 1 tablespoon parsley with fork; fluff bulgar—don’t stir. Taste bulgar and season with freshly ground pepper and more salt as necessary. Pile pilaf into serving bowl and garnish with reserved parsley.

Sauté other vegetables with the onions like chopped chard, minced carrots or finely diced tomatoes, or toss in cooked chickpeas with the bulgar.

Friday, September 3, 2010

3 September 2010 Friday

Wow, today's weather is windy with big grey-white loomy clouds blowing fast with peeks of sunshine. It was chillier than we're used that warm weather has spoiled us and thinned our blood. The farm crew crowded inside the grainary and we all ate together. I love it, cozy and easy to talk to everyone.

Mary and Maureen helped as usual. Maureen and I made Greek tahini soup with tomatoes and horta, greens that I blanched 4 to 5 minutes in lots of water, drained, chopped and braised in lots of olive oil (I simmered sliced garlic and a little finely diced onion in the olive oil first, of course). At the end, I sprinkled the horta with salt and red wine vinegar. (I ran out of lemons and used Eden red wine vinegar, my fave.)

The Cretans are wild for horta. They have more than 300 varieties of edible wild greens--more varieties than anywhere else in Europe or the Mediterranean. Carol said that Cyprus is very much the same. Though Cyprus is nearer to Turkey (and half claimed by it) the people share the foraging mania. Can you imagine the phytochemicals (antioxidants and so on) that those folks must ingest? No wonder they are so long lived.

Mary has been making the best stuffed grape leaves that I've eaten in these parts, so she offered to make them with me. Husband Bill and I picked 90 wild grape leaves--pretty tough, but a 1 to 3 minute blanching softens them. Mary brought local lamb and beef and we all rolled them--about 80. It went fast with three sets of hands. She made the traditional avgolemono sauce for the topping too. These will definitely go into the textbook. I'm working on Greece and Turkey right now. Divine food. I haven't finished the recipe yet, but if anyone wants it, just email me a and I'll post it here.

Lots of tomatoes, melons and greens today.

Greek Sesame Soup (Tahinósoupa)
6 servings

1-1/2 quarts water or vegetable broth (I use the cooking water from chickpeas)
5 to 6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white long grain rice
2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes plus juices
1 to 1-1/2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini)
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Bring water or broth, garlic, rice and tomatoes to a boil and simmer until rice is tender, 15 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and remove soup from heat.

Whisk tahini with lemon juice and 1 cup hot broth until creamy. Pour tahini mixture back into rice-tomato-broth and mix well.

Taste soup and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and more lemon juice to taste. Serve soup hot sprinkled with parsley.