Beet Greens

20 May

I’ve been doing a lot with beets. I should have a few good posts on the delicious, versatile crimson root soon. But today I am here to give you a simple, quick recipe for the beet green:

Thoroughly wash the greens of 3 or 4 beets then cut out the stems and chop the leaves into bite size pieces.

Twist a few grinds out of the pepper mill over a large hot skillet. Let the pepper warm up for a few seconds.

Add a teaspoon or less of bacon grease. Allow it warm up.

Toss your chopped up beet greens into the pan.

Drop just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the greens.

Toss the greens around and sauté for about a minute.

Serve 3 0r 4 people and eat.  Note: we don’t add any salt because beet greens have a salty/savory thing going on.




Creature of Habit; Or the Most Important Meal of the Day

20 Apr

When it comes to breakfast, I’m a creature of habit. Oatmeal with honey and cinnamon Mondays through Thursdays and Huevos a la Mexicana at La Reyna after the farmers market on Saturdays. Then, I make breakfast tacos on Sunday mornings.

The ingredients change, but almost never the ritual of Sunday morning tacos itself. So, I certainly wasn’t going to let a little thing like staying in a cabin and roughing it change anything. Luckily for me, we had a full kitchen. But we did forget the onions.

Rough Sunday Breakfast Tacos


4-6 eggs depending on your hunger level (Ottmers Family Farms)

4-6 tortillas (the ones from Margarita’s that you have to cook yourself)

(Onions if you don’t forget them- Ottmers Family Farms)

Mushrooms (Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms)

Wild Boar Chorizo, as much or as little as you’d like (Dai Due- I also suggest the Verde Chorizo from Kocurek Family Charcuterie)

Olive Oil, if needed (Texas Olive Ranch)

Cheese (whatever you have on hand; I like the caraway cheddar from Veldhuizen Farm)

Hot Sauce (May I suggest Extra-Terrestrial IV by the W. Ross Pepper Company out of Albuquerque?)

Brown the tortillas and put them in a tortilla warmer. Set aside.

Put the chorizo in the skillet. I use a large serving fork to break it up for crumbles.

As the chorizo cooks, add the sliced onions. Cook all until almost done, then add the sliced mushrooms.

When you’re happy with the cooking results, add the mixed eggs. Cook until done.

Split the ingredients up on your tortillas. Using a microplane, shred the cheese over the top.

Add a bit of the hot sauce of your choice, and you’re good to go.

If you’re able, enjoy scenery like as this while eating your tacos.

Pickle Mania

3 Apr

I’m not a big fan of large corporate chain stores.  I like the inconvenience and costs of shopping local.  It’s not the inconvenience or added cost that draws me to local stores.  It’s the smug feeling I get.  The feeling of knowing that I’m living a more sustainable life than you and that a couple of decades down the road I’ll look out across the great landfill/toxic waste no-man’s-land we’ll call Earth and pat myself on the back for not contributing to the problem as much as you did.  No, but really! I’m not a big fan of large corporate chain stores and I think that we should all try to shop locally.

Anyway, I have shopped at chain stores in the past, including Borders.  I stopped shopping there three or four years ago so I could give all my book money to local book stores.  Lisa sporadically bought books from them until about a year ago when they sent her an email with the subject line: We haven’t seen you in a few months.  What?  You don’t read anymore? Lisa barked at the computer, “I read every day!  Just because I buy my books from another store or check them out from the library, doesn’t mean I’m not reading!”  Then she uttered an ancient but still useful curse, “I hope you go out of business.”

Not even the heavens can help, if Lisa places a curse upon you.  For the last couple of months our nearby Borders has been having their going out of business sale.   We waited till the sign said, Everything %60 off,  then we went in to help kill the dying beast.  There wasn’t much left but I did find this:

A Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home, by Janet Chadwick


I’m pretty excited.  I see beet pickling in my future.




I <3 Cornbread

27 Mar

Into the pan with melted butter, then into the oven.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love Mark Bittman. I love his recipes, not so much because they tell me exactly how to make a good dish, but because he gives me the tools to change and improve his recipes so that I can make a great dish. I’ve found my groove with Bittman recipes. First, I try exactly what his recipe suggests. Then, I spend the remainder of my life making changes every time I make the recipe.

An example is cornbread. However, I must admit that I’ve gotten to where I’ve refined this recipe enough, that I rarely make many changes any more. It’s still the basic cornbread recipe from How to Cook Everything, with a bit of the ingredients (but not all) of his suggested “richer and lighter” cornbread. And, of course, I’ve thrown in my own twist, since I’m using wheat instead of white flour and goat milk instead of cow. I will give my mother props for suggesting that I use my high-sided cast iron skillet to cook the cornbread in. It would never have crossed my mind to use anything other than a traditional baking dish. (Side note: the cast iron skillet was a fabulous gift from friends/volunteers as a going-away gift at my last museum job. Love those guys!)


1 ¼ cup milk or buttermilk (note: I’m currently using local goat milk from Wateroaks Farms in Bryan, but I’ve used local buttermilk, and that’s good too.)

2 tbs butter (more if you want it richer– and usually, I do going with 3-4 tbs depending on my mood)

1 ½ cup cornmeal

½ cup all-purpose flour (note: I’m using locally grown/ground wheat from Richardson Farms in Rockdale)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

4 tbs sugar

2 eggs (note: we get our eggs from Ottmer’s Family Farms in Fredericksburg)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the butter in the skillet you’re going to use in the oven. Put the heat on low and melt the butter.
  3. Meantime, combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry into another.
  4. Stir the liquids into the dry and mix. Add more milk here, if the mixture seems to dry. (note: mine is ALWAYS too dry and I ALWAYS add more milk.)
  5. Pour the batter into the pan with the melted butter.
  6. Place it in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

It’s as easy as that. Bittman’s recipe calls for a little less sugar (okay, a lot less: 1 tbs) and for 1 egg, not 2. But, I like my cornbread a little sweet and rich.

My favorite addition to this recipe is to add green chilies. We’re huge fans of chillies in our household, so when we can get fresh green chillies, we end up adding them to just about everything.

I’m off to cookbook club this afternoon, and I’m taking this.





Porkandcheese Soup

23 Jan

The inspiration for this dish came from a recipe entitled Portuguese Soup. A few years back Lisa and I visited Portugal. We never encountered a national soup or any soup like this particular one, but then there was a lot of Portugal we didn’t sample. Anyway, it’s important to know: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this dish and I would not posit that this soup describes Portugal with the same colorful detail that American Cheese describes America.

This soup is a favorite with the family during the holidays. We have a cousin that has a hard time with the word “Portuguese” so she refers to it as “pork-and-cheese soup.” This recipe contains no cheese, and a lot of times we don’t use pork; however, I contend Pork-and-cheese Soup is a better name than Portuguese Soup. It’s certainly no less descriptive or deceptive, and I don’t want to be responsible for tying all the fine people, the culture and the history of Portugal to this soup.

However in the interest of avoiding confusion and because we have to name it something, we’ll call it Porkandcheese Soup. If you prefer confusion, you may inform your dinner guests that this soup recipe is ancient, first crafted by the Porkandcheese Indians: nomads who once roamed North America hunting the wild herds of smoked sausages.

You will need:

Extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup of chopped onion

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1-1/2 cups cubed turnip

1-1/2 cups cubed potatoes

2 cups diced cauliflower

1 pound chopped kale, turnip tops, or any other green

1 1/2  pounds smoked sausage sliced

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 quarts of simmering bird or vegetable broth

6 shakes of W. Ross Pepper Company’s Extraterrestrial IV hot sauce (Tabasco works in a pinch)

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste (and whenever you feel like it)

Heat your kettle up (medium high) toss in the sausage and a little olive oil.  Cook until browned. Remove the sausage and put into a bowl. Dust the chili powder and paprika in and let it warm up for a moment. Add the onion, garlic, turnips, and cauliflower and mix around until everything has chili and paprika on it. Add a few drizzles of olive oil and sauté over medium heat. Stir in the greens (a little at a time) and let the whole thing sauté for another 10 minutes adding olive oil when needed.

Add the smoked sausage and all the juices that have pooled at the bottom of the bowl. Add the tomatoes. Mix that all together. Add the broth and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer with a low flame for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, simmer for 15 more minutes, then serve 4 or 5 hungry people.


Curried Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

12 Dec

If you find yourself at the downtown Austin Farmers Market this time of year, you will witness a mighty flood of sweet potatoes spilling over the counters washing away the last of the summer okra.  Several venders are selling this root vegetable, and if they have any at all it is very likely that they’ll have tons.  Sweet potatoes strewn all over the place —it’s as if they grow in the dirt!  But the zillions of sweet potatoes at the market right now is numerically infinitesimal when compared to the jaw-dropping, constantly multiplying, repository of sweet potato recipes known to the human race.

Unfortunately you have chosen to read this blog and we only have one sweet potato recipe —but it’s a good one.

Curried sweet potato corn chowder:  a stew so hardy it’s a mouthful to say the name, and it’s perfect for a chilly autumn eve.


When picking your sweet potatoes, keep in mind they should be no larger than a small kitten.  Yes the farmers market has sweet potatoes the size of your head, and yes it’s fun to hold that ginormous tuberous root up to your head turn to your friends and say, “Hey look! It’s as big as my head,” but for this recipe you’ll want medium to small sweet potatoes.  Also if you are doing your shopping at the grocery store don’t be fooled: a yam is not the same as a sweet potato.  If you whip up a pot of yam chowder friends will ridicule you, your family will disown you.

This makes about three servings.  You will need:

1 1/3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (about 1/2 inch cubes)

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 cup diced green onions

1 teaspoon curry powder (we’ve been using Kurry King curry powder that our friend Lindsey gets from the Dallas Farmers Market (BTW: Lindsey if you’re out there, we are running low, time for a visit.))

1 tbs white flour

1 3/4 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup fresh corn

a handful of crushed pecans

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter with the salt and pepper.  Add the sweet potatoes and green onions; stir for 2 minutes.  Mix in the curry powder, and stir for another 30 seconds.  Mix in the flour.  Slowly stir in the milk and cream.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover the saucepan and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the corn, stir, and cover.  Simmer at least 5 more minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Sprinkle each serving with the crushed pecans.



Rainbow Chard

20 Nov

Rainbow ChardHere’s a variation on Rainbow Chard from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.

On a side note: It was brought to my attention by one of my friends that she finds it somewhat irritating that I don’t always include quantities in my recipes. I used to *hate* recipes that didn’t include quantities, but as I’ve started cooking more I find that, in general, I just put in what I think is right as compared to what a recipe actually calls for.  Then this morning I was talking to my grandmother to get a cornbread stuffing recipe, and apparently I come by my “lack of quantities in my recipes” by birth.  The only quantity my grandmother could give me for the entire recipe was, “I’d guess that maybe you’d need 5 cups of stock.”  And that was after not giving me a quantity of cornbread needed overall.  (But she did give me a way to see if I have enough liquid vs. dry ingredients.)

Rainbow Chard with golden raisins, pine nuts and bacon
1 bunch of rainbow chard (Ottmer’s Family Farm)
some golden raisins
some pine nuts
3 strips of bacon (Kocurek Charcuterie)
3 green onions  (Ottmer’s Family Farm)
good white wine

Soak the raisins in white wine.  (I think I let them soak for about 20 minutes.)  I used a glass of Gruet’s Blanc de Noir, because that’s all I had on hand.  Roast the pine nuts by putting them in a non-stick skillet and cooking over medium-high heat moving them around until they’re golden.  Put off to the side.  To cut the chard: fold over the leaves and cut into strips including the colorful stalks.  We had rosemary-molasses bacon in the fridge, which I cut into thin slices.

Fry the bacon in a non-stick skillet and add the onions.  Once those are browned, add the drained raisins and cook until they’ve warmed up.  Add the chard and saute until they’re done– I like them a little soft.  Toss the pine nuts on top and serve.

We really enjoyed this recipe.  Honestly, I was all down for following Keller’s directions, for the most part, until I saw that I need to saute the chard in two different skillets…there was also something about parchment-lined baking sheets.  But, really he just lost me at “blanching the chard” first.