Archive for April, 2011

I’m Scared

April 29, 2011

My  potatoes have sprouted! But not from the ground like they are supposed to. I was startled to spot these alien-like tentacles growing from my pantry shelf. Yikes! It scared me! This is the kind of growth you don’t want to happen, and the first thing I thought was “gosh darn it, half a bag of wasted potatoes!”

You do not want to eat potatoes that have sprouted like this. The apperance of sprouts, softness or greeness indicate a change in chemistry – the startches are turning to sugars – which means most of the nutrients have been lost. Potatoes are considered a species of  Solanaceae, also known as the nightshade family, so when you notice these tell tale changes, you should take them as a warning that the potato is slightly toxic. Although not deadly poisonous, upset stomach or other digestive issues are likely if raw or bad potatoes are consumed. Better to be safe than sorry.

There are ways to avoid this disastrous spoilage. A shift to the green color spectrum indicates too much light exposure, so keep them in a  dark place if you want them to keep. The sprouting is a result of humidity and temperature. You want a dry storage area with good air flow and consistently right around 50 degrees. This last stipulation is where I went wrong I think, I don’t have a cold cellar so the spuds were sitting somewhere between 65 and 68, which is just too warm. They got confused.


So what’s a girl who hates to waste to do with half a bag of toxic potatoes? They can always be composted, turned in to worm food that will eventually become nutrient rich supplement to add to the soil that will grow next years plants. That’s a nice thought. Or how ’bout a little experiment? Which is what I decided to do, by chopping them up and planting them in my new vegetable bed. It brought back good memories of sitting on my gal, Lea’s couch in Manhattan watching old episodes of P. Allen Smith as he planted row upon row of potato pieces on his gorgeous Southern property.  It might be too late for these spuds since they were already sprouting, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I am in Idaho after all, if I can’t grow potatoes here, something must really be wrong with me. I guess I’ll keep my day job ’till I find out if it works.

Get Comfortable, Spring Might Be Awhile.

April 22, 2011

SANDPOINT, Idaho: There is still a ton of snow on the mountain and it has been showing up in random quick moving spatterings in town. I was lucky enough to get caught in a sleet storm on a bike ride a few ago, on what i thought was a blue sky day. It seems like we have a few more gray days in front of us here in Northern Idaho as we all patiently wait for the snow to melt up high and fill up the lake to swimming and boating level for the summer. Any guesses from locals on the last frost this year?

In the mean time, get cozy with grilled cheese on homemade beer bread and tomato soup. I just used up my last canned batch of those juicy red fruits, and boy was it good. I’m a sucker for sour cream.

Wildness

April 18, 2011

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/18/135412640/foraging-the-weeds-for-wild-healthy-greens

Radish, Spinach, Onion & Garlic

April 14, 2011

SANDPOINT, Idaho: With Spring just starting to show its green buds, us locally minded eaters are getting to the bottoms of our root cellars. Here are some ideas for meals using what I have dubbed the cold weather fabulous four, radish, spinach, onion and garlic. These four ingredients are pretty much available locally throughout the year with the simple inventions of cold frames and good storage techniques. The possibilities are endless, but here’s a few I documented this winter in the hopes of inspiring some local grubage:

BAKED POTATO:

This one is easy, and so fast. Chop up some garlic and onion and throw it in a fry pan with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Get a big old hunkin’ baking potato (Idaho grown please! depending where you are, duh.) and slice it once the long way about half way through and then three or four times the short way. Microwave for 4 minutes. Meanwhile stir your onion and garlic, wash your spinach, chop up some radish and shred a whole bunch of sharp cheddar cheese. Spread the pieces of the potato carefully apart with a fork – it will be very hot! – and sprinkle on the cheese. Micro for one more minute, and then dump on the fixin’s. I love the crunch the raw radish adds.

SOUPED UP MISO:

Start boiling 3 cups water. Meanwhile, chop onion and garlic and start the sauteing with a lil salt and pepper (you know how i do.) Meanwhile chop half a block of firm tofu into tiny cubes, as small as you can without completely crumbling it, see photo. Next dissolve 1/3 cup miso paste into 1 cup of cold water. Dump the tofu into the onions if the onions are to your likeness  firmness wise, I for some reason like mine nice and limp. Browned even. Add the spinach to the fry pan, things might get wet. Is the water boiling yet? Is the miso dissolved? You may want to wait a hot minute for the tofu to catch up, but add the miso liquid to the boiling water and turn down to medium. Dump all that spinach-onion-garlic-tofu mess into the now simmering miso. Stir it around. Marvel at the marbling miso. Add the radishes last, right before serving. Again, I love the crunch!

FRIED LENTILS:

Do you know how to make lentils? It’s similar to rice. I made mine with 1/2 milk and 1/2 water because I had some milk I needed to use before it went bad. I don’t know if it was a good idea or not because they say not to add salt to lentils while cooking, since it will make them a poor consistency , but it tasted ok to me and I felt more nourished because of it. Nevertheless, start the lentils asap, they take a while. Read the package and time accordingly.

Probably twenty plus minutes later, start the onions and garlic same as always. Did I mention I let the onions get a head start before throwing in the garlic?

In this case I also made a crappy box of mac and cheese because lentils feel so damn healthy and to be honest with you, I was afraid of being alone with them. I am proud to say this particular box of mac and cheese cost me $.23 on sale at the grocery store and let me tell you, a great way to jazz up a box of the cheap stuff is to add a little shredded cheddar and a dash of parm. Tabasco is always a good idea too.

So let’s recap, your lentils are cooked, your pasta is boiling and your garlic and onion and sizzling in a bath of olive oil, salt and pepper. Well done. Add the lentils to the fry pan. Add the spinach. Chop a radish and cheese your noodles. Viola.

MOD PIZZA:

Make some mozzarella from the milk you just hand squeezed outta that cow in your backyard, and rise some pizza dough or just go buy a frozen pizza at the store (I know! I know! This is all technically about locality, but it’s hard sometimes!) Cook up in a fry pan three of the four things I’ve been talking about this whole time and remember, onion first, then garlic, then spinach just a little later. Throw it all on that pizza, however acquired, and sprinkle with cheese. bake. Add the radishes right before serving, raw. Still love that crunch! Yes indeed.

Ye Ole Cliche “Signs of Spring” Post

April 13, 2011

SANDPOINT, Idaho: The mountain is officially closed for the ski season and although everything is still covered in white up at 4,000 feet, signs of spring abound in town. I planted lettuce seeds last week.

There will be tulips soon!

Another Want….

April 11, 2011

Brooklyn Freshies

April 6, 2011

Hey New York! There is still time to join Southside CSA in Williamsburg! Believe me it is a very exciting thing to be a part of. Imagine insanely fresh (picked that morning?) local produce every week, or every other if it’s too much veg for you! It’s tons of fun following what is going to be in season and figuring out how to prepare an amazing variety of food you might not have ordinarily thought to purchase at the store, actually sometimes stuff that is not even available for purchase at a grocery store. Wow. I would highly recommend it to any New Yorker. Check out some of my previous posts about the impressive bounty to be had, and find all the info you need to join, here:

http://southsidecsa.wordpress.com/