Monday, July 23, 2012

Farewell to Dogs at the Edmonds Farmers Market

The tiny yellow sign says: no dogs except service dogs allowed next week.

Guest Post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

"Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss 

Canines turned out in force last Saturday at the Edmonds farmers' market. And if they could've carried protest signs they surely would have because this market is just one more market in the growing number, to be off limits for dogs, starting next week.  

When your dreams turn to dust, it's time to vaccum, that's where I figure the market is losing out on this canine ban. No free clean up for food vendors--oh no in the same mixed up human reasoning of we'd rather pay someone to do a job that canines willingly do for free.  And you wonder what happened to city budgets?

But on Saturday, tails wagged, noses were sniffed, and some legs were scandalously lifted, though never near food.  The sun was out, the sky was bright blue (a color I can actually see) and the market was at its finest! 

Small dogs clearly had a majority.  

I spotted this piece of bun under a hot dog vendor's cart.   Humans never take food from the ground (well almost never, I did see a guy actually do it once), but I go by, you spot it, it's yours, so I made my own canine line and waited patiently.

Maybe he didn't see me.  I moved a bit closer, still sitting so quite and polite.  The man turned slightly. I heard the Lady say, "He'd like that bun, please." The man reached down, grabbed the bun and handed it to me.   I'm a cheap date.

I can't be the only dog shedding tears over the prospects of no Kettle Corn.  What?  But canines,  all isn't lost because we still have Lake Forest Park farmers' market. Booths are harder to access, but I saw Kettle Corn last time I was there.   Need I say more?   

On Saturday I inhaled this poporn as fast possible.  The whirring machine making more made me simply giddy.  I snuck under the plastic (lol) barrier more than once.  

I was not what you might call a "good dog."   Constant approval is not the way I roll.

Food on the ground, and so humans sitting on the grass eating tamales and crepes--let me just say I tried to snag a crepe until I realized the plate belonged to a girl.   She squealed and threw her hand over her food in a flash.  Good reflexes. 

Seriously--in my world, plates on the ground are for anyone who gets there first.  That would be me.  I'm not spoiled; I'm simply an opportunist.  I can twist words as good as any politician.

Sister Chloe had her own adventure at the beach.  Sure running with a pack in the sand is fun, but it doesn't offer half the food opportunities.

I think she missed me.

Back home, Gino the cat lounged on a sorry patch of grass.  He appreciated the quiet house, and perhaps he got lucky and found the butter dish uncovered again. Check out this week's salad.  See you next week!

Mair Farm Cat (Gino) taking a cat nap.

A note from the Management:

The potatoes for this salad came from our garden, and not only did they come from our garden, they were a surprise because they were last season's crop, growing again.  What a surprise when dug up beautiful purple and red potatoes.   I bought potatoes at this farm last spring to plant. Now we've got potato abundance.  Maybe we went overboard with the purple potatoes, but if you've never had purple potato fries, or mashed purple potatoes, you're missing out.   Still if you don't have purple potatoes, use any waxy white or red potato.

I checked out potato salad recipes everywhere for this.  I had a certain texture and flavor in mind. I found other great possibilities.   Check out this one at 101 Cookbooks. I love the grilled potatoes.  Or how about this one from Whatcom Locavore--if you like it local this is the way to go.  And finally, I posted one here with carrots and cilantro not long ago.   And if it's not exactly the recipe you'd hoped for, I post this recipe on Summer Salad Sundays, so be sure to check out new offerings this week.

Perfect Picnic Potato Salad
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 pounds potatoes (waxy yellow, red, or purple)
1/2 cup garlic aioli spread or mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons white miso
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tabelespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chopped pickles
1 1/2 cups pepper (green, yellow, or red)
1/4 cup sliced green onions (optional)
2 stalks celery, diced
Smoked paprika
Handful of parsley (curly or flat)

1. Wash and cut potatoes into bite size pieces.  Place in a saucepan with a little water and steam on medium until tender, about 5 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Drain, rise with cold water and set aside.

2. In a small bowl blend aioli spread, miso, celery seed, raspberry vinegar, mustard, garlic and cayenne.  Whisk until well blended. Stir in pickles. 

3. Place potatoes, pepper, green onion and celery in a salad bowl.  Pour dressing and pickles over vegetables and gently mix until dressing coats all the potatoes.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika and garnish with a handful of fresh parsley. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Ultimate Dessert Salad--Mixed Balsamic Berries with Lemon Sorbet

A guest post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

A salad is whatever you make it

The long story made short is I spent hours drooling over my post, with connections to this farm and this one and I even mentioned this great home delivery service that you simply have to try if you have a canine friend at home.   Then someone deleted the entire post.  I'm not saying who the guilty party is, but you might guess by Chloe's look of shock and the stink eye, I'm flashing at the photographer in this photo.  

I'll just nibble a few of these berries to soothe my frayed nerves.  

I'm working on a piece of art here, and Management doesn't seem to get it.  I am  a model!  Am I just barking to the wind???

And now we must move on to another project.  At least you get the recipe.  And the good news is, the recipe is delicious. I mean, really how could you possibly go wrong with berries?  Unless they're moldy.  Which brings me to a couple essential tips for selection and storage:

  • Use berries the day you buy them or freeze for future use.  Never buy berries in big buckets because they crush easily and once one is moldy it quickly spreads to the other berries, even if you don't see it, mold spores probably contaminated them.

  • Extend the life of strawberries by placing only good ones in a single layer in a Tupperware.  Put a paper towel over the top, then add another layer of berries.  Seal the Tupperware and they should last a few days.

  • Freeze most organic berries from farms you know in the containers they're packed in.  When frozen solid use a Food Saver to seal and extend their life in the freezer.  Make sure the berries are frozen before sealing or you will have berry juice.  For strawberries: remove stems and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze.

  We got mulberries from Grouse Mountain Farm, raspberries from Hayton Farms and the anise hyssop comes from Let Us Farm.  Oh how I'd love to live on a farm if only for one day.

The Ultimate Berry Salad 

3 to 4 cups fresh berries (use your favorites, but include a few soft berries such as strawberries or boysenberries)
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar or berry dessert wine
A sprinkling of sugar or drizzle of honey
1 tablespoon anise hyssop or fresh basil finely chopped
A dusting of grated coconut
Lemon sorbet

Combine all ingredients except coconut.  Refrigerate for one hour.  Sprinkle coconut over the top and serve over lemon sorbet.

I'll return next week with more neighborhood tales.  In the meantime check out my new tatoo collar.  Have a great week!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Recipe Inspirations: French Lentil Salad with Fresh Mint

Finn the Cooking Assistant will return next week.  He claims he's busy working on his memoir, but it's been a few months now and he's still on the first chapter.  Like a politician, he's been known to stretch  the truth if it improves his chances of getting rewards, but how long can a first chapter take?

The door to his room was closed.  He'd demanded privacy for writing, but I couldn't resist sneaking in to see how the book was coming along.  This is what I found.   

Eyes wide open, deep in dreamland concentration,  the boy acted as if he didn't hear me at all.  All I can say is, I can't wait to access those stories.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this post about Bayview Farmers Market and my newest lentil salad recipe.

Recipe Inspiration 

When I consider what's for dinner, sometimes an idea for an ingredient gets planted.  I might see a recipe that features an ingredient and I start planning the whole meal or dish around it.  I thought my recipe originated in this popular book that I got it from the library, but I must have already had lentils on my mind this past week as I perused the recipes because I'd added this lentil soup recipe to my list of must make recipes.  It's good to have an outline before you start creating any dish.

The Green Lentil Salad in the book was a good pattern to work with--green lentils, leek, onion, carrots, garlic, herbs, chives, sherry vinegar and olive oil.  For a whole meal this recipe definitely needed more vegetables, and maybe a few nuts for crunch. I was also leaning towards mint and kalamata olives for flavors.  I had mint in the garden that I could use, so I kept those flavor possibilities in mind at the market on Saturday.

What inspires you in the kitchen?  

Bayview Farmers Market

On Saturday morning I took the ferry to Whidbey Island and drove to the Bayview Farmers Market.  Whidbey Island Writers Association has a booth there with over 40 book titles displayed.  I left  new recipe cards with a great fennel-orange salad recipe on the back, so if you get to this market, stop by and pick up the latest postcard recipe and add it to your salad file. 

I love that my book is at a farmers' market and Whidbey Island--a thriving locavore-, writer- and artist- centered community.

Check out these cool birdhouses.  I want the little trailer birdhouse!  I think even my Cooking Assistant would be impressed and I'm positive that Mair Farm Cat would have some different ideas about a birdhouse in our yard.

Tis the season for English shelling peas--what a treat!   They're more of a luxury item for us, since the pods usually get tossed on the compost heap and that's half of what you pay for when you buy them in the pod. We have sugar snap and snow peas in our garden, but not the English shell peas.  (Next year, I swear!)  I've tried cooking the pods, using them for stock and last year someone mentioned they juiced them, but I've never be fond of any of these ideas.  If you have some different ideas for shell pea pods, let me know.  Can't stand tossing food dollars on the compost heap . . .

I was really excited to see the new potatoes at half the price I paid for them last week. I got one of these 2 pound bags which was more than enough for the lentil salad.  And the red, white and blue (well, purple, but it's close enough) appeal is a great way to tweak customers' interest.

I bought carrots for color.  Big or small these are such a hit at our house, I can never seem to keep enough to satisfy my Cooking Assistant. 

Though baby carrots can be supersweet, don't rule out bigger specimens for sweetness and flavor.  Flavor really depends on the variety, farming techniques, the soil and how long the carrot traves from harvest to table.  Here's a hint--don't buy cheap old carrots if you want flavor.

This lentil salad is a vegetables lovers' dream.  I sometimes get carried away by the amount of vegetables I add to dishes.  Keep in mind which vegetables add sweetness, which add pizzaz and color. Also I added spearmint, but you could use peppermint. Also remember, the flavor of mint gets stronger the next day, so don't overdo it with mint.  A little goes a long way.  And you can use a different type of nut, it's there mostly for crunch and protein.

(Serves 4)

1 cup French lentils, sorted (remove any tiny rocks or sticks)
3 cups water
5 small new potatoes, ct into bite size pieces
1 shallot, small dice (optional)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's Peppers
2 cups chopped raw vegetables (cucumber, celery, carrots, summer squash, peas or blanched cut green beans)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Handful of freshly chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup roasted pistashios

1. Rinse, drain, and cook lentils in simmer water for about 30 minutes or until done. Drain.   While lentils cook, steam new potatoes until tender, 5 minutes.  Rince with cold water, drain and set aside.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot and oil.  Cook and stir unitil shallots begin to brown.  Add Mama  Lil's and potatoes.  When onions are browned, add to lentils in a large salad bowl.  Mix well.

3. While vegetables cook, whisk together lemon juice, raspberry vinegar, garlic, and  olive oil.  Blend dressing with lentils.  Stir in mint and kalamata olives. Garnish with pistashios.

This salad is protein perfect for potlucks and picnics.

I wasn't sure my Cooking Assistant would appreciate kalamata olives, mint and pistashios, but the boy continually surprises me.  He gave it four paws up.   

But guess what Finn doesn't like?   We discovered it quite by accident this weekend.   Stay tuned next week for the answer.

And for dessert--don't forget the berries . . .  I know Finn won't forget.  I'm posting this salad on Summer Salad Sundays at Easy Natural Food.  Check out the link up party for great salad inspiration.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Roasted Potato Salad with Carrots and Cilantro and food dreams

A Guest Post from Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

We've been having salad night once a week at our house, where we serve a combination of salads and some crusty bread from Tall Grass Bakery or Preston Bakery.  It all started when the Lady was working on this article and she kept making different salads.  

I got so many scraps tossed my way, one night I fell asleep and of visiting the market myself.  

The dream was a little like Alice in Wonderland, but my version was more delicious--Finn in farmland, maybe.

Everything was oversized. One carrot was almost too much to finish.

I needed to do some serious walking to walk those dreams off. 

I may not make it to the end of the race, at least not in one day, but I don't miss a thing on my journey.  What did you gloss over and totally not see today?

The giveaway season is when people stick cool furniture out that they don't want.  Sundays are the best bets for finding good stuff.  Not sure who would wants this chair after a rainy night but it makes a great rest stop for a weary basset.  Give me a warm blanket, fresh out of the dryer of course, and I could nap here in a heartbeat.

Seriously, this is better than my chair at home.
I worked up an appetite and when we got home, the Lady thumbed through cookbook after cookbook, then got out her own books.  Love the food she makes from this book, but it doesn't have the right potato salad--at least not the one the Lady was looking for.

Looking for the right recipe--tick, tock, tick, tock . . . 

It was in this book.  It's older than me.   And the guy, John Huschle, on the front cover--he's got two kids now.  No word about the dogs on his farm.  Maybe he needs a hungry hound to help with the harvest. 

The baby carrots were from Stoney Plains Farm.  The Lady featured this farm in both cookbooks.

Check out all these sweet babies!  Why you could simply leave them on a plate like this to serve.  They add color and sweetness to this salad.

Savor the scents of the season.

Roasted Potato Salad with Carrots and Cilantro (adapted from Local Vegetarian Cooking)

(Serves 4 to 6)
If it's way too hot and you can't bear turning on the oven, steam the potatoes like you would for traditional potato salad.

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup aioli spread or mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup chopped pickles

1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 spring onion, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Wash the potatoes (no need to peel the delicate skins of new potatoes.)  Cut into bite size pieces and place in a baking dish.  Drizzle with canola oil.  Roast for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to the pan. The potatoes should be fork tender and slightly browned. Cool, while you make the dressing.

2. Blend aioli spread, miso, raspberry vinegar, mustard, olive oil, celery seed, garlic, cayenne and pickles. Mix well, making sure miso is evenly mixed.  

3. Place roasted potatoes in a salad bowl. Gently but thoroughly blend dressing with potatoes, green pepper, carrots, celery, and onion.  Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Garnish with cilantro.

Sometimes the sad face works.  But sometimes no matter how hard I work, all I get are crumbs. 
My policy is never whine about the crumbs, but sometimes this is impossible

 "No one said life is fair," the Lady is fond of saying.  So true--there's always dessert.  And you know how I feel about strawberries . . .