Sunday, February 28, 2010

Veggie Month: Opo Squash

Apparently opo squash is used in Asian cooking. I made an Italian-style dish that was a rif on this recipe. I used jar pasta sauce, and included carrots. It reminds me of the ratatouille my family used to get at Rosine's; the opo squash tastes a lot like eggplant. This would probably be good over pasta, or with ground turkey, but I ate it alone.

(Has a saute pan ever been so well documented in such a short amount of time? Or, for that matter, a dog over a blog's lifetime?)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Veggie Month: Spinach

(Shown minus the first of many pieces that would be eaten tonight.)

I made this recipe in December for my end-of-class party. The students ate the whole thing, so Bryan didn't get to try it.

Tonight, he had two servings. (Me, too.)

The only changes I made to this recipe were to use egg whites and skip the butter. It still had enough good stuff to make it tasty--cheese and a pie crust--but wasn't too dense like quiche can sometimes be.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Veggie Month: Tomatillos

(Make sure you rinse off all the stick stuff underneath the wrappers.)

You have got to try this.

Bryan and I made an approximation of this Tomatillo Salad--without the jalapeno or fresh ginger, but with artichoke hearts. Delish.

Next time, we'll add sliced almonds. Someone invite us to a barbecue so we can bring this salad.

(I like when I exceed my expectations.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Veggie Month: Radishes

(Radish "chips.")

Let's just say I wouldn't make these again. It's not that they're completely terrible--they're coated in chili powder, garlic salt, and paprika--but they aren't exactly tasty, either. Nor are they terribly crisp.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Veggie Month: Piloncillo/Panela

Today's ingredient is essentially brown sugar, but it counts as a vegetable because I found it in the produce section. Let me explain:

I chose a box of three brown cones with the name "piloncillo." Since there was no explanation, I assumed they were a tuber. Once I got them home, a Google search explained that they are made from sugar cane. Sugar cane is a plant. Lots of plants are vegetables. Which makes piloncillo a vegetable. See?

If you don't agree with my logic, you'll at least agree that fruits cooked in a sugar syrup are delicious. So let's get right to it.

This recipe is courtesy of Elaina Rodriguez, who gave it to V over the phone while we wandered the awesome aisles of Cost Plus.

I dissolved one cone in hot water, and let it reduce:

Then I put a little oil, sliced bananas, and some syrup in a pan and let it saute. (Afterwards, I realized that I'd forgotten the cinnamon and cloves):

Bryan came home right as I was cooking these, so I shared. Which was a good thing. Because I'll always share with him, and because these are really sweet.

Veggie Month: Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes

(They're related to the sunflower, but I don't buy that anymore than the idea that Manet's the Father of Impressionism. I don't see it.)

In researching sunchokes online, I kept reading that they can be eaten raw. And I suppose they can. One can probably eat shoe leather, too, but I wouldn't recommend it.

After one raw bite, I decided to sauté them in water with celery and Omaha Steak Seasoning. If this meal weren't going to be on the Internet, they probably would've been microwaved and dunked in ketchup. But I'm glad I didn't.

(This dish is good by itself, or as a starchy base for last night's leftover okra stew.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Veggie Month: Okra

(It's a good sign when your husband wants seconds.)

I've always been a little leery of okra. Probably because I never had many opportunities to eat it as a kid.

But this meal is one of my favorite of the month (the chayote stir fry will be a dinner regular after February's long gone).

I had been about to fill a produce bag with $4.99/lb. fresh okra when I remembered the bags of frozen stuff I'd been seeing and passing up for years. So I went to the next aisle over and picked up a 1.25-lb. bag for $1.99.

Adapted from a recipe on the bag of generic Safeway frozen okra:
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery
3 cloves minced garlic
1 (20 oz.) package frozen cut okra
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 lb. ground turkey
chili powder
red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

Sautee onion and celery in oil until light brown. Add garlic, okra, and tomatoes. Cook five minutes, then add ground turkey and seasonings. Let simmer until ready. Serve plain, or over rice, pasta, or tortilla chips.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Veggie Month: Carrots

Since my backyard carrots won't be mature by month's end:

I purchased a bag at the grocery store.

And because carrots are a common vegetable, I didn't want to simply steam them, or dip them in ranch dressing.

So I shredded one cup, and added it to Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge brownie mix.

The result is something like chocolate-carrot cake. Perhaps the extra moisture from the carrots made them less fudgey than usual. And I know what's usual for this brownie mix; it's my party dessert staple.

(These would be even better with chocolate chips.
And, while I'm at it, topped with ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Veggie Month: Red Bell Pepper

(This dish's appearance could've benefited from some broccoli.
Or the purple cauliflower that I am going to try before month's end.)

I should be blogging about roasted red pepper soup right now. Except I'd only bought one red pepper, which wouldn't have been enough for more than a dixie cup's serving.

Yes, this is a stir fry. But I used a plum sauce instead of hoisin. I know; I like my Friday nights crazy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Veggie Month: Bok Choy

(Ten cups of bok choy cooked down to three.)

Today I got around to what I couldn't yesterday. Braised bok choy, which is a simple recipe that Bryan and I put together in ten minutes. He's an excellent chopper, and I'm liberal with the molasses.

And for Marc: the riddle of vegetables and fruits is unraveled. Cover your kids' eyes, though. It's for mature audiences.

From Ask Yahoo: A fruit is actually the sweet, ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant. A vegetable, in contrast, is an herbaceous plant cultivated for an edible part (seeds, roots, stems, leaves, bulbs, tubers, or nonsweet fruits). So, to be really nitpicky, a fruit could be a vegetable, but a vegetable could not be a fruit.

Bonus explanation to Sunday's question: a nut is, "a dry, one-seeded, usually oily fruit."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Veggie Month: Green Onions -- and One Book, One San Diego

Can I get a "Ground Hog Day" do-over?

I had plans for today's vegetable. Big plans. Big bok choy plans. But the day got away from me.

Some short article assignments. Lunch with Marc, V, and V's mom at Spices. A long trainer session with the Olympics. (The DVR is a remarkable thing. By fast-forwarding through figure skating, a marginally motivated triathlete can--literally--spin for hours without getting bored.)

And then I headed off to the One Book, One San Diego kick-off event.

During the video introduction, an African girl spoke of making samosas with her family. Which are pastries that can be filled with--among other things--potatoes, onions, and peas. I just may attempt one of these for a veggie later in the month.

In talking about Outcasts United, Warren St. John said it's been his experience that the diversity training that's so pervasive in America doesn't work. Rather than formally talking about and celebratig people's differences, they should instead simply find a commonality, and work together on it. In the case of these refugee kids in Georgia--and the longtime Georgian residents--that commonality is soccer.

Outcasts United isn't an easy read--because its issues aren't easy--but it's worthwhile. Especially if you're a San Diegan; read it and be "in the know."

(A hazy, non-flash Warren St. John.)

So I'm backtracking, and using the green onions from lunch for today's vegetable:

(Cashew nut and tofu curry, spice #2.)

In tomorrow's post, at Marc's request: I will differentiate between fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Veggie Month: Turnips

(Eating them in your PJs is the way to go.)

I used this recipe, which is essentially for breaded turnips fries. Then I added a little Essence to kick the fries up a notch. Bryan had the bright idea of dipping them in apple sauce.

KK is cooking turnips next door tonight, too. Tomorrow's we'll compare notes--or the reactions of our husbands--and see whose recipe won.

From Wikipedia: Pliny the Elder writes that he considered the turnip one of the most important vegetables of his day, rating it "directly after cereals or at all events after the bean, since its utility surpasses that of any other plant."

So suck it, lima beans.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Veggie Month: Celery

(Grandpa with his bowl of chicken--and celery!--soup.)

I admit. These last few days I've been slacking with my vegetables. While I've been eating a different one each day, I've been letting the veggies come to me--usually in the form of a restaurant menu--rather than buying and preparing them myself.

I didn't prepare today's vegetable, either--celery--but I did drive two and a half hours to get it at my Grandpa's place. Mark and I both agreed the chicken soup was pretty tasty. I think it was the celery.

Wikipedia celery fun fact: A salt made from an extract of celery roots is used in Bloody Marys, Chicago hot dogs, and Old Bay Seasoning.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Veggie Month: Frisée Lettuce

(Frisée lettuce, as part of a Valentine's Day four-course dinner, at Eclipse Chocolat [full menu here].)

Half-way through Veggie month!

Veggie Month: Garlic

(Garlic grilling on the left of the zucchini slices.)

(How I miss teaching ESL.)

Garlic at a Korean BBQ.

Dinner conversation included a discussion of whether garlic's a fruit, vegetable, or a nut. Since it's in the onion family, it's gotta be a veggie, which means it counts for February 13th's vegetable.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Veggie Month: Asparagus

(Not a stir fry.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Veggie Month: Chayote

(Don't these look like a denture-less grandma?)

(I feel like I need to apologize for the tofu's dingy color.)

Stray Carrier Pigeon: testing the produce you see in the grocery store but are too afraid to try.

And since I've been a stir-frying fool lately, I cooked two chayote up with carrots and tofu in a hoisin sauce with extra ginger.

I won't mentions all the different names of this vegetable--for that you can check Wikipedia--but it makes sense that so many cultures eat it. It's a simple starchy squash that's easy to cook. It must be peeled, and although I hear its seed can be eaten, I took it out. I think I ate it in Belize at Erva's. The closest comparison I can make is to breadfruit.

Has anyone else eaten chayote? How did you prepare it?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Veggie Month: String Beans

(Halfway through the salad. Since life is uncertain I ate the beets
first. One green bean is left at the top of the plate.)

String beans, raw, eaten in a roasted beet salad. I usually like my green veggies cooked (spinach, broccoli) but these were tasty.

As I type this, I wonder if the correct term are "string" or "green" beans. A Wikipedia check says that either is acceptable. So now we know.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Veggie Month: Broccolini

Broccolini, stir-fried with carrots and tofu in a hoisin sauce. This vegetable is 15% broccoli floret, 75% asparagus spear. Which is 100% delicious.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Veggie Month: Red Tomato

One roma tomato, cut into chunks and eaten on a salad.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Veggie Month: Cabbage

Regular cabbage, prepared as cole slaw from Phil's Barbecue at a Super Bowl party. Congratulations, Saints.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Veggie Month: Red Cabbage

While tempted to count the dill pickles I had at Elijah's this afternoon as today's vegetable, I pushed ahead and cooked a head of red cabbage from my vegetable drawer.

When I think of red cabbage, I think of "A Christmas Story." I have no idea if this recipe is in fact what was prepared in the movie, but it was tasty.

I've cooked red cabbage before, with just butter, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. This new recipe required more ingredients, but it wasn't any more difficult. Although next time I'd try it with apple cider vinegar to complement the diced apple.

As Ralphie's mother said, "You love red cabbage."

I do.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Veggie Month: Beet Greens

I can't wait for the emails on this post.

When KK and I were at the story yesterday, I picked up a bunch of beets with stems nearly as long as my arm. (And my arms aren't too stubs.) The beet greens were falling out of my basket, and I said something to KK along the lines of, "I wonder if you can eat the greens. I feel guilty throwing so much out."

When I got home, I noticed a tag on the beets with cooking directions. Directions for cooking the beets and the greens. So that's what I did today. Removed the stems and chopping the greens, then sautéed them in a little butter and water.

The results were fantastic. It tastes just like spinach, spinach that comes free with a bunch of beets.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Veggie Month: Bean Sprouts

I had a vegetable ready to go this afternoon when KK suggested we walk down to the grocery store to scour the produce section together. Never one to pass up a walk (especially with tomorrow's forecasted rain), I decided to pick up a different vegetable for today.

I ended up with bean sprouts, which I love but haven't eaten in some time. My childhood bean sprout memory is of my mom putting them on salads, which she'd dress with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Tonight, they gave my salad a nice crunch. So did the croutons, but this isn't carb month.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Veggie Month: Wheatgrass

Today's vegetable
A 1-ounce wheatgrass shot from Jamba Juice, which I washed down with their amazing Berry Cherry Pecan Oatmeal (can a liquid be "washed down" with a solid?).

Apparently, wheatgrass isn't any more nutritious than other vegetables. But, c'mon, it smells funny! Surely the odor signifies some vitamin not found in broccoli or carrots.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Veggie Month! Beets & Snap Peas

Of course, neighbors are good for a cup of sugar. Mine also happen to be good for dinner parties, walks with our dogs, random lunches, and neighborhood gossip.

And this month, the female half of their household will also be good for a push to eat more (and strange!) vegetables. During the month of February, KK and I will be eating a different vegetable every day. I'll be posting my choices here, and you can follow KK at No Regrets 2010.

Long-time readers of Stray Carrier Pigeon will remember KK as the same neighbor who arranged for us to swing on an eccentric's trapeze as a "No Regrets" outing.

Onto the accountability. Yesterday, February 1, I ate beets. Which is really difficult for me, I know. (I wanted to ease into the challenge.)

Today, I snacked on sugar snap peas, after my leftover Mimi's sandwich (I love pesto!) but before a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. ... My veggie was sandwiched between two sandwiches. Odd. I need to get out more. And be more adventurous with my meals.

But back to this post's first line. After walking our dogs tonight, I gave KK some extra ginger and half a sweet onion to complete a recipe for her vegetable: swiss chard. Lending a cup of sugar is so 1960's.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Every once in a while, people work together in a perfect symbiosis and my heart wants to burst, like the buds in a fistful of flowers that bloom all at once. Thanks, Humanity.