Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Confetti Pepper Relish

Photo By Mozart's Nose
This makes approximately 1 cup of relish.

1/2 c banana peppers chopped
1 T green pepper chopped
1 T sweet pepper chopped
1/2 tsp salt

Combine and let stand for 20 min. - allowing for flavors to mix.

In a small saucepan combine

1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds (yellow seed is more pungent than brown)
1/2 c apple cider vinegar

Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and add to pepper mixture. To this add

1/4 tsp celery salt
1 large garlic clove minced

Stir to combine and let rest until cool, then put in an air tight container.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Column: Remember This?

I usually keep cottage cheese on hand in my fridge.  Its great for snacking - and usually I top it with salsa and avocado or with applesauce or I make something we refer to as 'schmearcase.' But I was looking through the fridge trying to find a cool snack to our indian summer day and came across the glass jar of wheat germ that I use when making drop biscuits. And I remembered you - 'mi Mama' - and how this was a snack you would make every once in a while with your tub of cottage cheese.

What do you remember Mom, when you make a dish of cottage cheese with wheat germ and honey dashed and dribbled on top?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CSA or Farmers Market?

Photo by Mozart's Nose
I've been part of a CSA for the last two years (since I moved to San Francisco). Beyond that my educational and professional experiences in the agricultural industry provides an intimate idea of organic farm production. My friend Farah asked me the other day why I choose to do a CSA - after all its a big commitment!

Shopping at the Farmers Market is great and a way to directly help your farmers put food on your table as well as theirs.

But here are some reasons to consider committing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

1. Farmer's bills are primarily seasonal - meaning they spend a whole bunch of money up front before the harvest season for seed, fuel, equipment, etc. As a CSA member, you can pay for the entire CSA up front, thus completely defraying the farmer's cost for providing you with your share.

2. Mother Nature can wreak havoc on agricultural production.  So even if you have to pay your farmers every three months because of your personal financial situation, that farmer has a guaranteed income despite what nature throws at her - failure or over abundance even. CSA's also help farmers plant according to a specific need, thus reducing wasteful spending and labor.

3. Ever since I joined a CSA, I eat much better.  "Better" not only in that eating organic/biodynamic is better for the environment and your body, but also better in the sense that this stuff is FRESH and farmers give their CSA members the best of what they have and then they go to the Farmer's markets. It is also better, and this is the best point of all, a CSA is better for me because I eat my vegetables.  When you are given a bushel basket of premium produce each week, there is an obligation.  And I know its for that very reason that most of us choose NOT to do a CSA, but I swear that obligation has made me healthier.  To be forced to eat tasty and nutritionally balanced is one of the best obligations you can "burden" yourself with.

4. Along with the point above, all that produce also "obligates" you to use it through out the week.  The best way to do this and prevent waste is to plan your meals as soon as you get the CSA for that week (For me its on Saturdays). I'm sure you've heard that if you walk into the grocery without a list, you end up spending a lot more.  When you plan your meals, you plan your grocery list simultaneously. It just makes your planning so much easier, just in general.

5. It's fun - most farms hold potluck or other special events for members.  Our farm throws a Peach Party the first week of each August.

I think if you can commit to the amount of food (some CSA's allow its members to split their share, if its too much...but I make do just fine - most of the time I am cooking for one) and you really believe its important to support our local farmers, you should definitely consider a CSA.

Here's a scenario - I went to our local farmers market the other day. It was late, about 15 minutes to close, I was walking past the tents and tables.  There was a farmer practically begging for people to buy his from his table, still loaded with cherries.  The Farmer's markets are unpredictable, sometimes they sell their wares well, sometimes not.  Now I'm sure something good happened to those leftover cherries, hopefully they got donated or were given to friends or the community at large.  But what if they didn't?  I've always been meaning to ask my farmers what happens to Farmer's market surplus.  Now I think I will.

I know a lot of you have considered signing up for a CSA before - have questions still? Concerns? Other reasons why a CSA is better for you and your family? Comment below!

Subscriber's Exclusive - In Season

Photo By Mozart's Nose

Here's a peek at what my subscribers get each Saturday.  Email me at to join in!


Whether or not you subscribe to a CSA, you'll get the best tasting of things by shopping seasonally.  Here's what I got in my CSA this past week, as well as some alongside inspiration. I'll be sending these out each week on Saturdays, so we can plan next weeks meals together.

~Apples - Apple Cheddar Scones with Celery Salt Butter, Apple Throw Together (AKA: Apple Crisp)
~ Cantaloupe - Tanqueray Cantaloupe Granita
~ Corn - Creamed Corn and Creamed Corn Chowder
~ Carrots - Creme Fraiche Carrots


~ Pears - Sliced Pears and Arugula with Honeyed Goat Cheese Dressing, Pear  and Candied Orange Peel Clafoutis
~ Potatoes - Sauteed Chard with Paprika and Onion Homefries Frittata
~ Tomatoes (slicing, paste, and cherry) - Tomato and Grape Chutney; Sliced tomatoes with Green Bean Pesto; Cherry Tomato, Cucumber Salad with Pink Peppercorns

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"One inconvenient location since 1851" ~ Story, Indiana

Photo by Mozarts Nose

The Story Inn and Restaurant is not close to much more than the Horseman's Camp at the Brown County State Park. And this must be one of their most reliable markets. Believe it or not, google does have "street view" of this tiny town. And most of what makes up the town are buildings dedicated to the business of the Story Inn.

I didn't take pictures of the food, as I don't normally dabble in the world of "food critic".  I want to enjoy my meals and expound on them later with fellow food lovers like you. I am just an eater, not someone who deserves special attention. Nor do I like to be a rude person to eat with, distracted by her own intentions.

I did learn that the restaurant at the Story Inn has recently acquired those two chefs who fed us so well.  Jenny and Erick Virt's culinary travels has been far reaching, they had just moved from Woodstock, Vermont, but had also spent time in Chicago and other continental lands. This is a young husband and wife team who have shown great potential in the arts of tasty balance and piquant presentation.  Subtly creative contrasts with crab (tricky) and masterfully heated meats (also tricky).  

As a dining companions, we all went a little ga-ga. Here's what we got ~

Pan Seared Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Citrus Salad and Tarragon-Hazelnut Aioli

This also had small julienne of what I'm pretty sure is jicama, but would also be fabulous with celeriac for a winter veg version. This generous appetizer made my palate extremely happy.

Grilled Peach and Herbed Goat Cheese Salad with Spiced Candied Pecans, Good Life Farms Mixed Greens and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

I appreciate that they used a herbed goat cheese, not of their own doing (That's just smart, so long as everything is quality.) I was surprised at how complicated this salad was - with each bite.

Certified Black Angus Beef Filet and Local Heirloom Tomato Slices with Fried Buttermilk Leeks, Horseradish Vinaigrette and Chive Oil

I'll mention again how expertly the meats were cooked and being of good quality were full of robust flavor which easily stood in line next to the other features.  This was so refreshing and yet also enriching.  I was tickled to be reminded of the tastes of a very classy BLT. Was especially inspired by the fried buttermilk leeks, has anyone else encountered this preparation?  It was brilliant!

Grilled Bone-in Pork Chop with Green Tomato Jam, Jalapeno Corn Bread Pudding and Sweet Chili Oil

Photo by Mozart's Nose
This was the only dish that I would improve upon. Again the pork chop was juicy and perfectly tender. I took half of this home and reheated it in the toaster oven and the meat was still tender! Overall though this dish was full of sweet.  The jam was sweet and the bread pudding was sweet, and while I couldn't distinguish the sweet chili oil, I'm sure it was sweet as well. 

In my improvements would have been either to make a jalapeno spoon bread or to use a green tomato based salsa or relish.  Also a dollop of creme fraiche and lime somewhere. Pickled watermelon rind could also have a place, adding a nice though, this was very tasty, but I'm a serious stickler for balance and up until this point in the menu, each dish had been superb.

Southern Indiana is a beautiful bit of country (it is many, many things beyond corn and soybean fields) and this remote bit is even better for its culinary delights. Its not much to look at, but up close it has an attractive bric-a-brac quality that inspires nothing but comfort - like you are home for a long respite.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday's Best of the Rest

Grandma Neumann's Orange Rolls
Photo by Mozart's Nose
Serves up a sugar and butter coma for 4-5,  makes approx. 9 small rolls.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix ~
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

Add 2 T cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
Add 1 cup milk and mix with a fork until well combined. Form a ball of dough and place on a floured surface, knead, then roll out to half inch thickness.  Sprinkle with ~ more pea sized pieces of cold butter (approx. 2T), liberal amounts of sugar and rind from three large oranges.
Melt 4 T butter.
Photo by Mozart's Nose
Roll up dough into a jelly roll and cut into nine pieces. Place in 8x8 brownie pan (glass is best, only because its easier to see the sides brown while cooking). Liberally sprinkle tops of each roll with sugar. With a pastry brush liberally swipe sides, in between each roll and pour any remaining over the tops.  Sprinkle rind from one orange on top.

Bake for 12-15 min. until slightly browned along sides and on tops of rolls. Also a fork should come out clean.

Enjoyed best with yet more cold butter and a fork. And make sure to scrape up the "goo" from the bottom of the pan.  This something you will fight over, like the pepperoni or sausage pieces that fell off into the pizza box.

Disclaimer: All cholesterol medicines should be taken thirty minutes prior to consumption.

Photo by Mozart's Nose