Let's EatSeasonal Recipes
With stores of hard sweet carrots from my crisper, a sturdy vermillion squash called Potimarron from the pantry shelf and rusty shallots snatched from my basement storage cart, orange becomes the new green! Steaming bowls of antioxidant power and beneficial beta keratin will warm us up and keep us healthy on cold winter afternoons and evenings.
One of my favorite winter greens are those cute little cabbages know as Brussel sprouts. They are easy to fix in a million ways and bring a real freshness to wintertime meals. They are a family favorite with us now, but that used to not be the case. Years ago when I was much, much less experienced in the kitchen I tried boiling them, steaming them—all to everyone’s disappointment. Then I found recipes for shredding them and sautéing them. That changed everything.
Long ago, when my daughter was in grade school and my grandma lived with us out in the country, I used to make this rice pudding dish. The original version came from a way-back issue of Cooking Light Magazine and involved a lot of low-fat ingredients that I would not be using today. But we loved it—all of us—even Grandma, who was not a rice fancier. This dish was meant as a dessert, rather a decadent one, even by Cooking Light standards, but the enticement of warm rice pudding on a cold December day made this a special weekend breakfast treat in our house. Even if I added the optional amaretto liquor!
I cannot think of a more autumn vegetable than squash—any kind from pumpkins, to butternuts, to Acorn. Squash is comfort food that can be served at breakfast—maybe in a hash or just roasted with maple syrup—enjoyed at lunch—as in little squash bowls filled with hearty grains—or for dinner, which is where we are landing today. A Squash and Potato Casserole that can be a weekend meal with plenty of leftovers or the star attraction for that Thanksgiving buffet.
Biscotti is one of my favorite cookies, especially as the season of gift giving begins. It’s sturdy, stores well and can be made at least a week before delivery. I’m always looking for ways to turn basic biscotti into something special—not that basic biscotti isn’t special on its own. But you know what I mean…something to surprise and elevate.
This dish is inspired by a variety of eggplant known as Fairytale, and these sweet tiny globes live up to their whimsical name. About “Barbie” size and variegated purple and white, as pretty as a Monet. Really cute and probably only showing up at farmers markets, Fairytales can perplex cooks as they consider how to prepare them. Most regular eggplant recipes just won’t work here. So I had to come up with something new.
For the entire summer, I have luxuriated in the most amazing organic carrots—quite the treat at the farmers market because they are not usually plentiful, organic or not. Carrots take up lots of garden space and can grow in really wonky shapes and sizes—not at all like the pristine orange spikes you find in the grocery stores. That’s why carrots are prime food waste in the conventional world of agriculture—cheap, only perfect and taken totally for granted. Market carrots can be a hard sell to perfect-produce loving consumers.
I am always looking for new ways to use ground cherries, those golden globes of farmers markets across the Midwest. I’ve been developing recipes for these one-of-a-kind berries (Actually they are a member of the tomatillo family!) since I started this blog way back in 2015.
This year, I decided to try them as a base for a marinade, using fresh basil from my garden and a fresh blonde habanero pepper (just one, as they are HOT).
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent.
Everyone knows that summer is my absolute favorite season. One of the reasons why is the abundance of summer fruits, especially the stone fruits—the peaches, plums, nectarines. Soft, sweet and dripping down your chin. Mmmmm. So once Friedel Family Farm started loading their market table with all these Lucious fruits, I was inspired to develop a few recipes. I am particularly proud of this galette because it came together with a lovely flavor balance of semi tart fruits—plums, peaches and blackberries nestled in a super-short sugar cookie crust.
I can’t think of a more quintessential summer pastime than a cool dip in a favorite swimming hole, can you? Of course, the dip here is about eating, not swimming. Although, the recipe makes a nice poolside snack, I do believe.
If I am given my choice for dessert, I usually choose something creamy like ice cream or pudding with a short cookie or crust. A refrigerated cream pie is divine! Crème Brulee with shortbread pure heaven! I like cake, of course, but it’s never my first choice; my grandma favored pies and cobblers with incredibly short flaky crusts, so perhaps that is where my preferences began. But put a slice of real pound-of-butter pound cake in front of me…particularly lemon pound cake that has been chilled in the fridge…well, if I must.
Childhood memories fogged around me for days earlier this month when my friend Sally invited me out to her farm to pick mulberries. Sally has several trees and forages daily as this bountiful berry ripens…and ripens…and ripens. Yep a lot of berries, sweet with their own very distinct floral flavor but fragile, with only a short window to use or preserve or freeze.
What I love most about my Carrot and Fennel Top Quinoa Salad is that the ingredients help us avoid food waste while encouraging the use of really local ingredients. Furthermore, there are any number of variations you could incorporate into this dish as the market season progresses. So on to cleaning those tops!
I cannot imagine my kitchen without the spirits of my grandma and mom or the voices of my favorite chefs and best friends. In one way or another, they all have inspired, informed and contributed to every recipe I have ever developed. This has never been truer than in the development of these fluffy, rich rye rolls.
April marks the yearly celebration of Earth Day, something we try to honor every day in the Green Gal kitchen. And looking at my ingredients so far, I’m pretty pleased—vegan goodies like stored squash, garlic and garden herbs, all with nearly zero carbon footprint. But then a lightbulb went on in my little culinary brain—wouldn’t salmon be a nice way to pull fall and spring together in a creamy bisque? It would, but would it be ecologically sound? Earth Day, you know….
When my daughter was little, I, like all good mothers, tried to incorporate healthy snacks into her diet. My goal was to keep her out of her great grandmother’s infamous “candy drawer.” You know what I’m talking about—that drawer with bags of M&Ms, Butterfingers, candy corn and chocolate covered peanuts. At Easter, you could find those bizarre speckled malted milk eggs that turned your lips white, peeps of all colors and big chocolate bunnies—usually solid.
To be fair, we all dipped into that drawer in my grandma’s bedroom. She delighted in our petty crimes. And more than once, I overheard my daughter and my grandma in deep conversations about life, love and justice while sharing a Russell Stover’s chocolate bunny or a “Bit O Honey.” Why would I interfere? Sweetness was happening on so many levels.
So when I start planning spring meals, I like to do something special in the meat category, something as unexpected and exciting as Swiss Chard for the vegetarian. Lamb, a clean, sustainable, locally accessible choice is often where I turn for inspiration. Lamb, in my opinion, really knows no season—kabobs on the grill in the summer, shepherd’s pie in the fall, a stew for the winter table. For Spring dining this year, however, I decided to do something exotic—and yet, homey. A pot pie with ground lamb, but seasoned—HEAVILY—with Indian-inspired spices. It got me smiles and a really great smelling kitchen!