Farmers Market Find: Blood Oranges and Traditions

Last Monday, Satish and I walked over to the Marina Middle school to pick up our first Christmas tree as a married couple. It was really exciting and I even made up a Christmas tree song while we carried it back home. Even though I am of Indian ethnic origin, my family always celebrated Christmas. It was more about embracing the American culture and spending time with family than religion. My family went all out with the decorations, presents, and food. On Christmas Eve, my many aunts, uncles and cousins would gather at my parent’s place and it would just be a big family gathering. The food was really interesting in the sense that we didn’t eat ham, squash, or green bean casserole. We had  Mexican fried rice, enchiladas, Chinese soup, frozen corn, a large variety of Indian dishes, and turkey. So the turkey and frozen corn were the only traditional, “American” food at our “American” holiday gatherings.  Since my parents grew up in India, enchiladas and Chinese soup represented traditional American food to them. Christmas had to have been my most favorite time of the year, when everyone was so happy and together. Now, I look forward to this time of year so I can make the food that is available seasonally and create my own traditions.

 

Our tree!

Our tree decked up with simple ornaments.

Between holiday parties and my parents and brother-in-law visiting, I am going to make really easy dishes that require no time or attention and am making large batches to stretch throughout the week. (I also want to spend the little free time testing out a healthier, gluten-free cookie recipe).  I caught the first sighting of blood oranges today at the market! Blood oranges are one my most beloved fruits. They are extremely seasonal and gorgeous. When just right, they have the perfect balance of sweet and sour. One of my most memorable experiences with blood oranges was at Ella’s Restaurant. Every winter they serve a 6 ounce glass of pure blood orange juice that is a brilliant blood-red color. The juice is worth the long wait at Ella’s and this year I will make my own!

 

Blood Oranges- Hamadas Farm

Stinging Nettle were also sighted!

Weekly Dinner Plan:

Monday:  Lentil salad, Butternut Squash and White Carrot Soup
Tuesday: Arugula salad, Cumin Cauliflower, leftover soup
Wednesday: Grub Crawl!
Thursday: Cumin Cauliflower, Chicken Kebabs
Friday: Dinner out
Saturday: Leftovers + Holiday Parties
Sunday: Friends and Family Brunch + Holiday Parties

Miscellaneous Cooking
Savory Muffins
Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Pesto
Pistachio Cookies (gluten-free)
Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Advertisements

Farmers Market Find: Crabs

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.
I really love everything about the holidays.  From Halloween to Diwali, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, it’s all about the pretty, shiny things. Well, it’s not just about the pretty, shiny things, but the decorating makes the holidays really fun.  So does the food. The farmers markets are bursting with late Autumn and early winter produce and seafood. It’s crab season and everyone is planning their meals around crabs! I don’t think I am ready to bring crab home, but I am definitely planning dinners out before crab season is over.  I would love crabtastic recommendations in SF!

Australian Spinach almost feels like Kifer Leaves

Moss Christmas trees and decorations!

Authors of The Wild Table cookbook, Connie Green and Sarah Patterson Scott

Natural, compostable decorations and accent pieces.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Don’t Hate The Brussels Sprouts (with recipe)

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Brussels sprouts are my new favorite vegetable and they are in season right now! You might just be turned off from the title of this post, but I urge you to give fresh Brussels sprouts a try. I can’t remember the actual moment I fell in love with the cute yet oddly shaped vegetables, but it was only a year ago. Last winter, I noticed them in the grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. I must have ordered Brussels sprouts at one of San Francisco’s  gourmet restaurants and decided that I had to recreate the dish at home. Aside from being super nutritious, they are really delicious if cooked properly. Another added bonus: Brussels sprouts take just as much time as cooking pasta and don’t require lots of prep work. Follow these simple Brussels sprouts tips to get you started on a positive relationship with the little green veggies.

1. Buy fresh and seasonal Brussels sprouts.
2. Use real butter or high quality olive oil.
3. Steam or boil them for at 3-4 minutes to remove bitterness
4. Add roasted nuts and seeds to enhance flavor and texture.  Try pecans, hazelnuts, or pine nuts.
5. Dried fruits and lemon juice also enhance flavor and texture. Try cranberries, pomegranates, or dried figs.
6. Lemon zest and lemon juice enhance the flavor of almost any dish, without fail. Use fresh lemons.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Dill and Dates

Recently, I went to a cooking demo given by a friend, Teresa Piro, at We Olive SF. Teresa combined dill with Brussels sprouts, which inspired me for this recipe. This dish is elegant to serve as a side dish for a holiday meal yet simple enough to eat on a regular basis.

Ingredients
2 lbs Brussel sprouts, washed and trimmed
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
4-5 medjool dates, quartered
3 sprigs of fresh dill, washed and finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh (Meyer) lemon juice
½ cup of pecans, toasted and coarsely ground
1 tbs flaxseeds or sesame seeds
Sea salt
Pepper

Method

1. Fill a large pot ½ full with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the  Brussels sprouts to the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. Or steam them using a vegetable steamer for 5 minutes.  Drain the Brussels sprouts in a colander and rinse under cold running water to stop them from cooking any further. Cut Brussels sprouts in half length-wise and set aside.


2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts and a pinch of sea salt and cook, stirring often, until edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Pour lemon juice over sprouts and stir well. Toss in the pecans, flaxseeds, dill and dates. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*You can also use a pure lemon flavored olive oil

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Farmer’s Market Find: Brussels Sprouts

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

I debated going to the market today, since I have a fridge full of leftovers from Thanksgiving. Satish and I both want to keep our meals fairly light this week since we are still digesting our Thanksgiving dinner. I doubted the market would have been busy like last week, so opted on going and enjoying the quietness. There were less farmers today too; perhaps they were gone for rest of the season or just today. I bought a lot of Brussels sprouts. I never was a fan of Brussels sprouts or at least I thought I wasn’t. I actually never even encountered Brussels sprouts until my early 20’s, but I knew I didn’t like them because the kids on TV always hated them. So like broccoli, I thought it was another gross vegetable that no kid on the planet would want to eat. Then I saw just how cute they were at the farmer’s market a couple of years ago and started to cook with them. They are sooo good! I can’t understand why Brussels sprouts have such a bad rap. Anyway, they are super easy and quick to cook too. My favorite way to eat them is cutting them in half, cooking them on a skillet for 5 minutes, then tossing them with lemon juice, olive oil,  pecans, salt and pepper. I like to add shaved Parmesan cheese or dried cranberries when craving a heavier meal.  Cooking Brussels sprouts involve minimal patience and culinary skill. Brussels sprouts are related to the cabbage family and are best when in season. Try picking them in the same size so they cook at the same time. Smaller ones that are tightly closed are best. At the farmer’s markets and some grocery stores, you can buy them with their stalks still intact. This will keep them fresher longer, but storing loose Brussels sprouts in an air tight container will work too.

Brussels Sprouts on their stalk

Weekly Dinner Menu
Sunday: Stuffed Peppers (turkey and gravy), Arugula Salad (pomegranates, goat cheese, pine nuts)
Monday: Squash and Pistachio Quinoa, Kale Salad
Tuesday: Mixed Lentil Pilaf, Brussels Sprouts Salad, Roasted Beets and Persimmons
Wednesday: Turkey Tartine with Cranberry Sauce
Thursday: Sip, Snack and Shop on Chestnut Street
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Dinner at a friend’s place

How was your Thanksgiving?

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

My Thanksgiving Table

Follow me on Twitter Last Sunday, the morning after a hail storm, I walked over to the Farmer’s Market, wanting to get first dibs on farm fresh produce for my Thanksgiving table. What I had in mind was not literal. … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Without The Guilt

For the last 25 days you have 1) talked, thought, tested out recipes, and shopped non-stop for this meal  2) salivated over all the food blogs and TV shows, hoping someone can cook all that up for you 3) secretly dreaded the meal because you know it will mess with your health goals.

Family Meal

Image by _dbr via Flickr

It really is wonderful that you have been more conscious of your health and weight. You have made changes that will help you reach your health goals and  you have been on track for sometime now. If you really have been on track, eating well and being active regularly, then fear not. Even if you have not been on track, still fear not.  Thanksgiving is just one day and it is just one meal. It is the one day that you can allow yourself to enjoy creamy mashed potatoes,  turkey gravy, macaroni and cheese, and decadent desserts.  Here are some basic tips for healthy eating:

1. Enjoy the atmosphere. Take in the sights and smells of the food. Talk to the people at the dinner table.

2. Fill up your plate once and eat slowly. Bite, put your fork down, chew,  enjoy the conversations, then bite again. Slowing down helps you digest and you can actually enjoy the taste of the food. If you are still hungry, go for seconds of  only what you really only want to eat.

3.  Leave room for dessert. Instead of saying “There’s always room for dessert,” actually leave room for it. Eat a little less of everything else so you can have a piece of that pie with whip cream sans guilt.

4. Start the day with a workout, brisk walk, or anything active that will help kick-start your metabolism. If you are too busy cooking, cleaning, or driving, just do 10 jumping jacks. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s better than nothing, will make you feel better, and it only takes 60 seconds. Or suggest the family go for a walk after the meal instead of sitting down in front of the television.

Overall, it is just one meal.  If you overeat, don’t be so hard on yourself. It will not kill you or throw so off track that you can’t get back on. Your metabolism will adjust and you will burn off the extra 200 calories. Plus, you can get back to eating regularly and staying active the next day. Stop thinking about Thanksgiving as only about food and think about all that you have to be thankful for. It’s a time when you sit down and share the grand meal with people who mean something to you. Enjoy that thought. Happy Thanksgiving.

Farmer’s Market Find: The Thanksgiving Table

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

The power was out in parts of the city last night due to a brief, yet tumultuous storm. I was thoroughly exhausted from organizing and hosting the Music and Pancake Benefit for Doctor’s Without Borders, Pakistan and just wanted to sleep for all of Sunday. Though, I woke up at 8AM this morning, temperatures were in the 40’s, and I really tried talking myself into staying under my covers. But, I knew if I did, it would be at the cost of my farmer’s market Thanksgiving menu. So I got up, finalized what I really wanted to make for our Thanksgiving dinner, put on my puffy down jacket and woolen hat, grabbed my reusable grocery bags, and headed out the door. I was so glad that the clouds were clearing and the sun was coming out stronger, because I had big plans to create a festive Thanksgiving table arrangement with Phantom Floranista and I did not want to fight the Lighting Gods.

I haven’t been to the Fort Mason farmer’s market in 3 weeks, so I was really curious to see all of the new additions and the familiar farmers.  Just saying hello every Sunday to these farmers and farmhands has become the equivalent of keeping in touch with friends (without social media channels). It’s very heartwarming and real.

I have to admit, today was the earliest I have been to this market in a long time and it was really quiet. However, by the time I made it to Rio de Parros Organics to buy their colorful carrots, they were all sold out! I am planning on making roasted carrots and potatoes, instead of mashed potatoes. I was  also really hoping to get fresh herbs from Hollie’s Homegrown, but she wasn’t there. I wonder if she is returning this year. My backup plan is to go the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Tuesday.

Olives were just harvested in Northern California and this really is the time to buy olive oil. Olive oil is the freshest and even more nutritious right at harvest, and the taste is just divine. I did a little olive oil tasting last weekend at Long Meadow Ranch and I was convinced that fresh olive oil is the way to go. California Olives and Olive Oils is at the Fort Mason Farmer’s market every Sunday, selling fresh olive oils, uncured olives, cured olives, and lemons. Today, I tasted olive oil that tasted just like the whole Piccholine olives. I don’t think I ever tasted an olive oil that tasted so close to form.

These Viking Potatoes would make a beautiful side dish.

I picked up tiny apples (Rainbow Orchards and Billy Bob’s Organics), mandarins (Ken’s Top Notch Produce) thinking they would make  simple appetizers or snacks,  a pomegranate (Hamas Farms) for a salad,  and a pumpkin (Swank Farms) for a side dish, but they all ended up as accents for my special Thanksgiving table arrangement.

I bought my first Fairy Tale Pumpkin. I’ve never cooked any type  of pumpkin, but this one just called my name. Also, the farmhand from Swank Farms explained the cooking process, which was no different than of a butternut squash. So I carried home my 8 pound Fairy Tale Pumpkin, eager to show Satish and make a home for it.

The mandarins, apples, and pomegranates became the accent pieces on my Thanksgiving table arrangement. The Fairy Tale pumpkin took center stage.

 

thanksgiving table

I got these little guys with the intention to use them for the table setting.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates

While thinking about how original I can get with the millions of cranberry recipes out there, it struck me like a bolt of lightning.  Okay,  I am being dramatic, but it was that exciting. A few months ago, I made … Continue reading

Taking the Can Out Of Cranberries

Deliciously shaped.

Image via Wikipedia

Follow me on Twitter

Canned cranberries. I thought that was the only way it goes, never even having seeing cranberries in their fruit form. Then sometime 5-6 years ago, I saw Ocean Spray whole cranberries being sold at a supermarket. I popped one in my mouth and was really sorry. I always thought cranberries were really sweet, but was I wrong! I would have never guessed that cranberries were so bitter because they are super, duper sweet when coming out of the can. I examined the ingredients and nutritional information on the can and compared it to the whole, fresh cranberries. Here is what I found:

Canned Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Corn Syrup and Citric Acid

Whole Cranberries
Cranberries

Simple, Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, water, sugar

Notice the significant difference between the ingredients used to make homemade cranberry sauce and the canned stuff. Sugar is not exactly the same as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup. HFCS are created in a lab and does not come from the earth.  If you wish to believe the advertisements and propaganda put on by the industry, who have a lot of money to spare, I will not debate here.  By the way, the industry is calling HFCS and corn syrup “corn sugar nowadays to make it harmless and simple. You can decide for yourself. It’s just bad for you and it’s in virtually every packaged, processed, pre-made product.  The important message here is that you can control the amount of sugar you eat if you make the food at home. You can also choose sugar alternatives (Muscovado sugar, coconut palm nectar, dates, raisins, Agave nectar, raw honey, Stevia).  Also, another thing that everyone should be concerned with is Bisphenol A. BPA needs its own post(s) altogether, but everyone should be cautious of it as it has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, just to name a few. BPA is used to line canned and pre-packaged food, which leaches into the food.

Cranberry sauce has to be the easiest Thanksgiving dish, ever. Of course, you can tap into you creative side and jazz it up by adding one or many spices, orange juice, or anything else you seem fit. I started taking pride in making my  cranberry sauce when I read the recipe on the back of Trader Joe’s cranberries and the sight of canned cranberries just make me a little uneasy. Also, cranberry sauce can be made well in advance and actually thickens in the fridge. It’s also super easy (and cheap) to take to potlucks. Check out the recipes below on how to make your own cranberry sauce. Also, if you want to really surprise your guests, try my Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates.

Simple
Homemade Cranberry Sauce– by Pioneer Woman (who won the Thanksgiving Throwdown against Bobby Flay)
Gingered Cranberry by Sauce by Closet Cooking
Jellied Cranberry Sauce by The Bitten Word

Creative
Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates by Club Dine In!
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce by The Craving Chronicles.

via 5 Second Rule

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Potatoes Continued

Follow me on Twitter

Yesterday, I stated a strong case for staying away from instant mashed potatoes. Potatoes in a box are not wholesome, real food. Instead, they are just chemicals made to fool your sensory perception. Anyway, making mashed potatoes from scratch is not that hard and they are absolutely delicious. Checkout these wonderful mashed potato recipes gathered from other foodies:

Basic

Simple Mashed Potatoes by Use Real Butter
Garlic Mashed Potatoes by 23 and Grain Free
Mashed Sweet Potatoes by Delish.com
Creamy Mashed Potatoes by Pioneer Woman (she beat Bobby Flay on Thanksgiving Throwdown) I suggest using unprocessed cream cheese.

Creative

Kale Mashed Potatoes by Cate’s World Kitchen
Fluffy Pesto Mashed Potatoes by Kayotic Kitchen
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes by 101 Cookbooks\
Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes by Cake, Batter, Bowl

Image via Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.