Happy New Year!

Thank you all for your support of Small Batch and other essay and article publications in 2014. I am happy to announce an exciting event in Buffalo, NY on February 12th as part of the Larkin Square Author Series with more events and press to be announced shortly.

Have a great year!

– Suzanne

Advertisements

Why I Eat Meat, or What My Nani Taught Me About the Importance of Food Culture

My Nani – my Italian-American grandmother – was brought up during the Great Depression. She used to tell the story of how her immigrant father would walk miles to his dangerous job building bridges on the outskirts of the small … Continue reading

Preserving Peppers

While today is a beautiful fall day – a bit cool, but warm in the sunshine – I can’t help but feel that first twinge of sadness as I see the end of harvest season and winter looming. This was even more apparent at the farmer’s market today, where some veggies at the end of their season were on sale, most likely precipitated by the past week’s night temps in the rural valleys that came close to freezing.

sweet green peppers

Thus peppers were on sale – 10 for a $1 for small sweet green ones. I have also been getting a veritable bounty of red peppers the past few weeks in the farm share, which have been accumulating in my fridge. One can only eat stuffed or roasted peppers so many days in a row until you feel a bit decadent. Plus, this year’s red peppers were the sweetest I have ever tasted. Hands down. Amazing.  I would love to taste that sweet savoriness in the depths of winter and know that what I was tasting was local and preserved at the peak of its freshness.

So today I plan to freeze some peppers – very easy: chop fresh into large hunks and freeze them in a single flat layer in a plastic freezer bag. I also will do what I did about 3 years ago when I got pounds of amazing red and green peppers the day before I was leaving the country. I roasted them whole in the oven (40 minutes or so at 350 degrees), then cleaned them of their seeds and ribs once cool enough. Then layered in a clean glass jar and covered with olive oil, making sure to eliminate any air bubbles. I kept these in the fridge all winter, sneaking a few sweet roasted peppers for salads, antipasti platters or what have you, with the bonus being the sweet pepper-flavored olive oil that added a nice twist to fried eggs, pastas, salads or potatoes. I plan to experiment with roasting hot peppers and preserving them in oil as well.

Shell Beans: Cranberry and Tongue of Fire

shell beans

A delayed post from my pick-my-own excursion at the farm the other day. I filled half of a paper grocery bag with shell beans – from varying sources I found them called both Cranberry beans and Tongue of Fire beans. I got these for the first time last year and I was so pleasantly surprised! First of all, they are gorgeous. The long pink and white speckled pods each hold maybe 5 or 6 large similarly dappled beans. That these are fresh is amazing. I wouldn’t eat them raw, but when you cook them – depending on your dish, they become soft in about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling time – they have a great meaty-ness to them. I took almost an hour to shell the whole bag and then froze some (last winter I pulled out a container and made a great cassoulet), dried some in the dehydrator (just a  few hours), and then cooked some up with kale and garlic. The only downside is that they lose most of their dynamic color when cooked.

Tongue of Fire Beans and Kale

Boil the shelled beans in the bottom of a saute pan in enough water to cover them (and/or broth and/or wine) until tender -about 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and add a bit of water if it starts to look dry. You want the pan to be wet but not have more than 1/2 inch of liquid on the bottom. Toss in some chopped fresh garlic and a drizzle of good olive oil saute until just tender. Add freshly washed chopped kale, salt and pepper, and cover the pan so the kale can steam. Toss with tongs every few minutes and finish with another drizzle of good olive oil and maybe a few pinches of smoky salt to taste. Yum!

Lobster!

So I took a two day mini-vaca to York, ME earlier this week and was able to enjoy a nice splurge of lobster. They are so cheap at local seafood spots – as low as $4 – so one could afford to be adventurous. But really, there’s nothing better than boiled lobster dipped in melted local butter. The man and I went to a great place in Kittery, ME where you can pick out your own lobster and bring your own wine and sides to accompany it while you sit on the deck off a quiet ocean inlet. I brought along cold steamed green bean salad (beans from the farm share this past week). I steamed them for maybe 3 minutes and doused them in ice water, then finished with a drizzle of good olive oil and toasted sunflower seeds. Dessert was sliced local peaches and figs drizzled with local honey. As fresh as the sides were, however, the lobster stole the show.