Friday, April 14, 2006

The Box
Spring CSA - Week 2


Of course I wrote this too late for those preparing Passover sedars, but for all you still cooking Easter dinners, stop. Consider your menus. Are they filled with dishes falsely associated with spring. Beyond, Easter, are you inspired by things like this? Have you shopped for asparagus, fava beans, strawberries, new potatoes. If not, please stop. Don't eat that stuff. Look what you could be eating.

The box this week: even more of these oil well drill sized carrots, and don't believe anyone who says big carrots have to be bad, these are amazingly sweet and delicious; tiny chard so tender you could eat it raw; a bag of mixed lettuces called mesculun; golf ball sized beets, with greens that can make another dish; and a full head of romaine lettuce. There was also a big supply of fresh thyme that went almost immediately into our spring lamb. It is enough for great meals.

We used some of last week's carrots in the pressure cooker with corned beef and a few more in this week's Grandma tzimmes. The broccoli raab got braised with garlic and then added to whole wheat pasta for a satisfying vegetarian meal. The sprouts, alas went mushy before we could figure out a use. Last week's kale awaits.

Listen, I am not perfect. We snagged some sweet potatoes for the tzimmes. We needed something green for our sedar. I convinced my wife that we could not get asparagus, but we still got broccoli. Still, people can try. We tracked down local, keeper potatoes at Caputo's, both for the tzimes and as a garnish with the lamb. We still draw from our store of onions. Not entirely devout, we still put meals on our table focused on local foods. You can too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Eat Local (and seasonal)
Gourmet Edition

On Saturday, my family and I, along with a few tagging along kidz, had the pleasure of seeing the Shorter Shakespeare Macbeth production at Navy Pier. Surely, I went along not just for the stop afterward to Fox & Obel but for the cult-cha, but the show was surprisingly good. Not that different from an episode of this year's Soprano's (really!). Still, I always like any excuse to visit F&O.

I especially like the ample commitment the place shows to local and seasonal products. Perhaps, it is all for show, but sometimes you have to appreciate your partners regardless of their motivation. Local was most on display in the dairy case with Country Cottage eggs and Traders Point Creamery products (with samples!) amongst the offerings. There is also a commitment to carrying local cheeses (which is not that hard given the quality of items like Pleasant Ridge from Upland). What most impressed me, however was the spring lamb from a farm in Illinois (darn, forgot the name!).

Real spring lamb. Something you read about WAY more often in Italian cooks (e.g., Silver Spoon) than ever seen in a local market. Aside from runs of king salmon, it seems we as an eating public have been entirely weaned of the notion that protein should be seasonal. Yet, here it is, a once a year treat. Lamb that by its very nature will be different in a few more weeks. F&O displays it against standard Colorado,all year round lamb, and you can vividly see the difference. The spring lamb, which, beating heart, beating heart, is also local, is smaller (a whole leg looks like it would barely feed 8) and pink like the color of veal. I will not know what it tastes like until tonight. I am eager.

I hassled the F&O meat counter a bit about meat. I like that they carry media approved Bill Curtis grass-fed Tall Grass meat, but I pine for them to carry local meats from the likes of the Wettsteins or Rissman or Roseland (stuff out there at the Green City Market). We both know, however, that the local providers cannot ensure steady supplies of fresh meat--infrequent slaughter schedules. Still, if we can enjoy the yearly treat of spring lamb, maybe we can get used to the idea of yearly beef. No?

[Note, I began this post on Monday, but it's been a too hectic week. I apologize to anyone who would have shopped spring lamb at Fox & Obel for their Seder. You still have a few days, however to Easter.]
The Phil Vettel Game (?)
Actually, I have pretty much walked away from the Phil Vettel game, losing to often these days. I mean the revamped, mostly food oriented At Play section in the CTrib, is more than acceptable, and Phil dishes out a lot of the copy. Now, the Cheap Eats reviews...

What bugs me is this:
But dominating the place are blackboards with daily fish specials. Owner Glenn Fahlstrom, who has an extensive background in seafood as a chef and an original owner of Davis Street Fishmarket, wants to combine quality seafood with a diner menu. But as most seafood options are more than our Cheap Eats limit, we'll stick to the main menu, where most things are under $13.

Anyone see a problem? Especially as Phil's not touching this place?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Scratch That
More Time Life Foods of the World

With spring cleaning, another book appears
American Cooking
The Best Reporter in America

Murray Waas

Monday, April 10, 2006

Time Life Foods of the World - Update

I mentioned here, my collection of Time Life Foods of the World books. Since that post I found out that I have Middle Eastern Cooking; American Cooking : The Melting Pot, and I have two versions of Cooking of China. I will trade the later for any of the following:

African Cooking
American Cooking
American Cooking : Creole and Acadian
American Cooking : The Great West
American Cooking : New England
American Cooking : The Northwest
American Cooking : Southern Style
Classic French Cooking
Cooking of Germany
Cooking of India
Pacific-Southeast Asian Cooking
Russian Cooking
Cooking of Spain and Portugal