Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quinoa - Where Ya Been All My Life?

Oh quinoa, where have you been all my life?

As embarrassing as this may be for a foodie to admit, I have just discovered this delicious, nutritious super-food.

Why I didn't try it 15 years ago when I first flirted with whole foods beats me. For one, I was not very adventurous with food at the time. Hey, I'm Cajun. Rice. Rice. More rice. For another, information was not as easily available at the time, meaning I wasn't fused to Google. Plus I was eating mostly protein to clear up allergy symptoms of candidaisis. Turns out, quinoa is a protein according to Connie Dobbas - Green Grapes Nutrition - who is quinoa-crazy.
It’s a WHOLE GRAIN! …okay, a whole seed!

It contains more protein than any other grain or seed!

It’s a complete protein! Meaning quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, or building blocks, our bodies need to form new proteins and keep our lean, green, mean, disease-fighting machine system in top-notch!

It’s splashed with a good dose of gut, heart, and healthy- weight lovin’ fiber.

It’s laced with lysine! No—this is NOT somethin’ to worry about! Lysine is an amino acid essential for tissue growth and repair.

It’s gluten and wheat free—those with wheat/gluten allergies, rejoice!

So I'm really excited that something so easy to prepare can fill such a huge gap in the nutritional requirements of my vegetarian companion for protein as well as satisfy my carbohydrate craving without triggering food allergies. And on top of all this, it's delicious!

WHOA. That really is a super food. Now I'm on the hunt for quinoa recipes.

What's your favorite way to prepare quinoa?

Monday, May 30, 2011

How to Choose, Store, Prepare Spring Onions

Scallions, green onions, green shallots, spring onions, whatever you call them, these tender bulbs add a gentle kick to salads, stir fry, even the grill. LA Times touts helpful tips on how to choose, store and prepare spring onions.

A spring onion isn't a type of onion; rather, it's an onion that has been harvested at an immature stage, when it has just begun to form a round bulb and the top is still green. At this point it will seem sweeter than a mature onion because it hasn't yet developed its full chemical complex, including the elements that give onions their characteristic bite. Really, though, it's probably more accurate to call it milder, since it hasn't developed its full sugar yet either.

At farmers markets you will find spring onions in all sorts of varieties -- red, white and yellow. Because they are immature, the flavors are pretty much interchangeable.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Survey: People Willing to Pay More for Safer Food

Food Safety Survey

People Willing to Pay More for Safer Food


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Should Food Blogs Stay Out of Politics?

It seems that the April Newsletter of Local Harvest - Protecting the Safety Net - stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy on the subject of the US government balancing the budget by cutting food subsidies.
In last month's newsletter I said that in this period of budget cutbacks we as a society need more public dialogue about how to make sure that everyone has enough good food to eat. My article struck a chord with many. With a number of others, it hit a nerve. There was plenty of emotion to go around Readers from across the political spectrum wrote in to voice their frustration or support, aimed variously at the federal government, the media, Wall Street, liberals, conservatives, the system at large, and the poor. In addition, a number of people wrote to express their disapproval of LocalHarvest being vocal about the federal budget process. These writers argued vehemently that I should stay out of politics.

I share Erin's concern about dismantling the social safety net. In addition, I endorse local programs that support food security for Texans. I get a seriously guilty conscience when I enjoy an abundance of fresh, natural, organic food while 17% of people in my community are struggling to feed their children on $16 worth of food assistance a month. How is that right? And frankly, I don't think ensuring food for hungry people is a partisan matter. It's common decency.

I give. I share. I do my part to help.

That said, is a food blog about fresh, natural, organic growers, producers and artisan crafters the best platform for this advocacy?

Sound off.

Should food blogs stay out of politics?


Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Eat Organic Food In Season

We all have our reasons for choosing fresh, natural, organic, local, sustainable ingredients for our family's table. Tabbouleh - parsley salad - is mine. Truly, once you make it with fresh-picked parsley, mint and tomatoes - in-season everything - you cannot go back to shrink-wrapped, out-of-season anything. I'd rather not eat tabbouleh than compromise on fresh ingredients. So we undertake the first tabbouleh quest of the summer with special relish.

These quests began in 1996 when I lived in Galena, IL, an historic village of 2,000 people. It hugs the banks of the Galena River nine miles upstream from the Mississippi River where Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin intersect.

I was hosting a feast to celebrate Lammas - the six-week interstice between summer and fall.

At this turning point on August 1, every flower, every vegetable is at its peak in the short, vibrant growing season that interrupts the endless Midwestern winter.

Everyone I knew in Galena was invited - artists, writers, actors, musicians. We were mostly ex-patria of Chicago and gardeners one and all.

Every blossom in the centerpiece on tables scattered inside and out was fresh, courtesy of Wendy Oestreich who owned an organic farm and nursery with her husband, Grant.

Every dish on my menu was prepared with fresh, organic, local ingredients - hand picked at Wendy's farm, my garden or the garden of one of my friends.

Every bouquet and dish contributed by my guests was also prepared with fresh, organic, local ingredients.

There could not have been a more reverent offering to the gods and goddesses of summer than this fresh feast. My guests could not have been more enjoyable and appreciative. It was truly memorable.

Even after all theses years, two things stand out: the tabbouleh salad. And the missing guest.

At the time, I owned three sets of china.

Throwing a sit-down dinner for a multitude would use every plate, knife, fork, spoon and wineglass in my kitchen. So I was annoyed when Donald Jonjack, a former Chicago journalist, called at the 11th hour to say he'd come. It was Tuesday, July 28 - well past my RSVP deadline. Nevertheless, I reserved a place for him. Three days later, on July 31, Donald died of a heart attack. He was 51 years old.

Despite shock and grief, everyone came. It was lovely night perhaps more intimate because of the loss.

After all my guests were served and seated, I noticed that one dinner plate remained empty - the one meant for Donald.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tabbouleh - Fresh Parsley Salad

The first of warm-weather tomatoes, garlic, parsley and mint combine in a refreshing Middle Eastern parsley salad. Serves 8.


3/4 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup EVOO
2 cups finely chopped Italian parsley
2 cups finely chopped spearmint or lemon mint
1/2 cup diced green onions, white part only
2 tbsp diced garlic
6 diced plum tomatoes, about 1 cup
1 large diced cucumber
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Combine bulgur, water, lemon and 1/3 cup EVOO in a large bowl. Mix well. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fluff occasionally with a fork.

2. Add mint, parsley, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and the remainder of the oil. Toss and fluff.

3. Add diced cucumber and tomatoes. Toss again.

4. Stand loosely covered at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.

5. Just before serving, adjust seasoning to taste. Add more lemon or oil as desired.

About Tabbouleh

People who only use parsley as a garnish will be pleasantly surprised at how delightful it is in this Lebanese salad dressed in nothing more exotic than good olive oil and a little lemon. What's more, parsley is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamins A (beta carotene), C and K and packed with health-promoting flavonoids. Serve tabbouleh as a light lunch or supper accompanied by hummus, pita and olives. Because parsley holds up well at room temperature, it's perfect for a picnic or pot-luck supper.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eating in Season



There are very good reasons to buy fresh, natural, organic, locally grown and sustainable food. It's sound nutritionally, environmentally and economically.
By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles, your food dollar goes directly to the farmer, and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and to experiment with seasonal recipes. And it simply tastes better!

It's also a stretch when one is accustomed to cook with foods grown anywhere in the world year round.

So I'm dusting off recipes from a childhood enriched by my daddy's green thumb and energy to fill a city lot with fresh fruit and vegetables every summer.

This wasn't trendy; it was frugal. And frankly, it was before the advent and dominance of industrialized, mechanized, picked before its time, cold-stored, trucked nationwide and shrink-wrapped agriculture.

(Yes, I am that old.)

So get ready for it.

I foresee a summer of regional favorites in our Fresh Kitchen: Maque Choux, a stew of corn, garlic, onion, green pepper, tomatoes and bacon; stewed okra, tomatoes sliced, stewed and sauced; cucumber salads and salsas. And beans. Oh yeah green beans, butter beans, snap peas. Zucchini, summer squash, eggplant stews and pasta dishes. Potatoes baked, oven-fried and in salad. Then melons - cantaloupe, watermelon. For dessert: fruit alone in all its farm-fresh glory, fruit with cheese, fruit cobblers.

Oh it's going to be a great summer eating in season!

These are the vegetables and fruit you can expect to see on Central Texas farm tables.

Green beans
Butter beans

Fruit that ripens in hot weather


Herbs that love Texas heat



Local Restaurant Recipes Galore

If you're into cookbooks and local dining, look no further. Along with its ever-popular annual restaurant poll and guide, Austin Chronicle offers food writers' looks at cookbooks from eight eateries that regularly hold a place in Austin diners' hearts.

Instead of a trend watch this year, we've opted to showcase cookbooks from eight local establishments. Three are restaurants that regularly appear in the Top 35 list (Uchi, Fonda San Miguel, Eastside Cafe); the other four have won multiple awards in various categories (Maria's Taco Xpress, Hudson's on the Bend, Sweetish Hill, Threadgill's); and the eighth is our nationally famous local spa, Lake Austin Spa Resort. Each book offers delicious insights into the history of our city's culinary culture as well as recipes to use and savor.

*drum roll*

  • Maria's Taco Xpress recipes by Maria Corbalan and Ruth Carter; reviewed by Virginia B. Wood

  • Uchi by Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy; reviewed by Claudia Alarcon

  • Sweetish Hill recipes by Patricia Bauer-Slate; reviewed by Virginia B. Wood

  • Eastside Cafe recipes by Ruth Carter, Elaine Martin, and Dorsey; reviewed by Kate Thornberry

  • Hudson's on the Bend recipes by by Jeff Blank, with Sara Courington; reviewed by Kate Thornberry

  • Fonda San Miguel recipes byby Tom Gilliland and Miguel Ravago, with Virginia B. Wood; reviewed by Claudia Alarcon

  • Threadgill's recipes by Eddie Wilson; reviewed by Mick Vann

  • Lake Austin Spa Resort recipes by Terry Conlan; reviewed by Barbara Chisholm

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dog & Draft Combo - Black Star Pub & Brewery

Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery today is offering Dog & Draft Combo - a Salt & Time mortadella hot dog paired with a pint of craft-brewed beer - High Esteem! Puppy dogs welcome on the patio

Katy Crocker: Why Fresh, Organic, Local?

Johnson's Backyard Garden

In terms of sustainability and LIMITED natural resources we humans now have available, Farm to Table should sound like music to our ears.

Farm to Table, a Local Necessity

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slow Cook White Beans and Artisan Hot Dogs

There's no doubt that artisan crafted food is more expensive and most of us live within a budget. An old fashioned favorite, cool-weather leeks and artisan-crafted hot dogs in a state-of-the-art slow cooker serve up a feast.  10 to 12 hearty servings.  Freezes beautifully.

White Beans and Hot Dogs


8 Salt & Time Salume artisan beer links
1-1/4 lb dried Northern white beans or cannellini
2 tbsp EVOO
3 diced leeks
1 small, diced yellow onion
8 cloves minced garlic
4 cups of vegetable stock (more as needed)
3 bay leaves
4 - 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes, drained
Cajun seasoning to taste


1. Wash beans, picking out any that are discolored or broken; let soak in water while you are prepping the vegetables.
2. Trim, wash and dice leeks, the white and pale green parts only
3.  Heat olive oil on medium in a dutch oven until sizzling.
4. Saute' onions, leeks until just starting to caramelize.
5. Add garlic and saute' until it releases its aroma.
6. Drain beans and transfer to slow cooker along with sauteed vegetables, tomatoes and 4 cups of stock.
7. Pan fry hot dogs to brown here and there; slice into bite sized pieces and stir into beans.
8. Add fresh herbs and any other spices you like. I am a fan of Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning, but this dish can go ethnic with ease - Italian, Mediterranean, South Asian.
9. Set slow cooker for 6 hours on High heat or until beans are tender and creamy.

Garnish with fresh herbs and a dash of Louisiana hot sauce.

Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow CookerI love love love this slow cooker. 3-1/5 quarts is just the right size for a pot of beans, chili or a fryer. Set it. Forget it. Clean up with ease. Available at Amazon.com

Mothers Rally in DC for Raw Milk

Just when I thought I'd seen and heard it all, something even more ludicrous hits my screen. Pennsylvania Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer was staked out for a year by the FBI and arrested for transporting raw milk for sale across state lines. Don't they have better things to do?

University of Maryland student Jake Lee (left) and Monica Corrado, the owner of Simply Being Well, serve fresh raw milk at a rally held by Grassfed on the Hill at Upper Senate Park in the District on Monday.BARBARA L. SALISBURY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES University of Maryland student Jake Lee (left) and Monica Corrado, the owner of Simply Being Well, serve fresh raw milk at a rally held by Grassfed on the Hill at Upper Senate Park in the District on Monday. The rally was held to protest the sting operation conducted by the FDA against Pennsylvania dairy farmer Dan Allgyer.

Mothers Crying Over Raw Milk - The Washington Times

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Luxury of Leeks


New York Times, Recipes for Health, wonders why leeks are so underused in this country.
If you are one of those people who can’t tolerate an abundance of onions in a dish, try leeks instead. They’re milder, even though they contain many of the sulfur compounds present in onions that are difficult for some people to digest. But these compounds, also found in green garlic, are the source of many health benefits. Leeks contain other important nutrients as well, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that are being studied for their role in eye health. Leeks also are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin K, and a very good source of vitamin A.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Avoid Genetically-Modified Food

PLU Code on Bananas
Today, seven out of every 10 items on grocery stores shelves contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. In other words, scientists are using new technology to transfer the genes of one species to another, and these altered foods are in the market stream. And yet many scientists have concerns about the safety -- to people, wildlife and the environment -- of this process. That's why consumers in Asia and Europe are demanding that their food be free of genetically modified ingredients. Talking Fruit. How to Tell if Fruit is Genetically Modified Marion Owens

The United States, not so much.

As reported by Maria Gallagher, in the June 26, 2002 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, by reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here's how it works:
For conventionally grown fruit, (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically engineered (GM) fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 8. For example,

A conventionally grown banana would be:

An organic banana would be:

A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be:

The numeric system was developed by the Produce Electronic Identification Board, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, a Newark, Delaware-based trade group for the produce industry. As of October 2001, the board had assigned more than 1,200 PLUs for individual produce items.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Mistakes

This morning, I thought I was being really obsessive about one failed recipe this spring.

Swiss Chard Gratin just didn't quite work.

En route to learning the difference between gratin and quiche (crust!), I discovered a worldwide web of obsessive chefs. Only one bravely owned up to epic fail.

To smittenkitchen I say, no mistakes, only necessary experiences!

Next time we make a Swiss Chard Gratin, I'll add potatoes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Salt &Time: Artisan Twist on Dogs 'n Suds

As a general rule, you don't want to know what goes into hot dogs.

Remember the movie The Great Outdoors? Dan Aykroyd’s movie character rags John Candy’s character for ordering a hot dog, “You know what they’re made of, Chet? Lips and assholes!”

Real life is not quite that bad.

The USDA requires hot dog manufacturers to accurately label the ingredients in their dogs. “All beef” or “all pork” franks are available. Yet, conventionally-manufactured hot dogs also contain preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors and other chemicals common to heavily-processed meats. They also have nitrates, which increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack, as well as MSG, which may have its own health consequences.

Yet Americans won't give them up.

During Hot Dog Season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs or 818 hot dogs consumed every second during that period.

Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler, owners of Salt and Time offer us a healthier alternative.

They are making a craft-beer link of the month, available weekends, at the Barton Creek Farmers Market every Saturday from 9am-1pm and at the HOPE Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 11am-3pm.

The first six artisan-breweries collaborating with Salt & Time are Jester KingReal AleLive OakThirsty PlanetSouthern Star, and Hops & Grain.

Kristi Willis: Stocking the Pantry With Affordable Organics

private-label organic foods

Affordability is sometimes perceived as a barrier to eating fresh, natural, organic, sustainable food.

Without government subsidies and industrial-sized economies of scale, growing, producing and crafting food costs more. Even in a community as well-heeled as Austin, many of us live on a budget. But with a little price-shopping, cost doesn't have to stop us from enjoying the flavor and health benefits of farm-fresh.

Kristi Willis, Ditch the Box, makes a great price comparison between non-organic and organic foods.
What does all this mean?  Eating organic is more expensive, but you can save significantly by buying store brands - Whole Foods, 365 Every Day, Whole Pantry, Whole Kitchen, Central Market Organic and many other store owned brands that offer a more cost conscious organic product.  Check with your local grocery chain and find out if they offer an organic version of their store brands.  At 60 cents per product, it’s definitely worth the effort.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Recipes That Don't Work

What's your favorite great recipe idea that went bad?

Trying new foods, testing new recipes is part of the fun of buying, cooking and eating fresh, natural, organic, local produce. As a result, Swiss chard has become one of our favorite spring vegetables. It's delicious. And it's highly nutritious.

Our recipes, on the other hand, have not all panned out.

Thumbs up to Swiss Chard - Feta Quesadilla and Fettuccine, Chard, Walnuts and Brown Butter. Swiss Chard Gratin not so much.

I'm not giving up on it. After all, how can anything with chard, garlic, eggs, milk and sour cream taste bad? But somehow our grasp of proportion and process went awry. It came out of the oven somewhere between quiche and a failed souffle'.

What are some of your memorable recipe flubs?



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Local Harvest Offers Book Sweepstakes

New orders from the Local Harvest store earn a chance to win a copy of From Asparagus to Zucchini, a guide created in 1996 by the Madison Area CSA Coalition to help CSA members make the most of the wide variety of produce they received from their farms each week.


Round Rock Farms 2 Market: Why Fresh, Organic, Local?

Our Round Rock Farms to Market not only offers you the opportunity to consume farm-fresh, locally grown food, we also provide the opportunity for producers and consumers to get to know each other on a personal level.  Discussing growing methods and garnering other information produces a special relationship.  Nothing like looking your farmer or rancher in the eyes and asking him how your food is grown and cared for.

As the name implies, a farmers' market offers small farmers the chance to market their produce, incubate their businesses, and supplement their income. Increasingly, however, our farmers markets are also helping create robust local economies and a more vibrant community.

Round Rock Farms 2 Market, Wednesdays from 4 to 8pm at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

Be there or be square.

Monday, May 9, 2011

National Salsa Month - Who knew?

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Steve Cukrov / Featurepics stock"]salsa[/caption]

Merisa Fink, Contributor for Bites reports:
May is National Salsa Month and the perfect way to celebrate is with some heat.

Got a favorite recipe to share? Do tell.


Liza de Guia: Why Fresh, Natural, Organic?

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Liza de Guia, food.curated"]Liza de Guia[/caption]
photo courtesy of Andrew St. Clair andrewstclair.com

Brilliant and beautiful storyteller, Liza de Guia, food.curated, discusses why she is passionate about fresh, natural, organic, local and sustainable food and the people who bring it from farm to fork.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Local Author Publishes "Food Lovers' Guide to Austin"

Local food writer and photographer, Crystal Esquivel has launched her book "Food Lovers Guide to Austin."

The product of six years planning, shopping, buying, cooking, eating in, dining out, writing, photographing, editing and cleaning up. It's a great accomplishment to transform one's love of food into a book for others to enjoy. Congratulations, Crystal.

Buy it at Book People, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders. Meet Crystal for a book signing at BookPeople on Tuesday, June 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Organic is Organic?

In 1973, six farmers sat down around Barny Bricmont’s kitchen table in Santa Cruz, California to form the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

The idea was to give form and substance to the notion that small farmers, using biologically-intensive technologies, could produce food that was somehow better than farmers using chemical-intensive technologies.

The idea caught on with other small-scale farmers, who took pride in the notion of producing food that was somehow special, and with the consumers of organic foods, who were happy to pay more for that food. The organic industry grew, and grew.

Then organic farmers got the notion their word should be protected, and so petitioned the government to become their official appellation controllee. When the government took control, the organic food industry blossomed into a multi-billion dollar international industry.

Some say up to 80% of the organic food in the United States is now imported from Brazil, China, Mexico and others. This leads us to ask…

How organic is organic? (Food Chain Radio #725)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Update on Raw Milk, Cottage Foods Hearing

They heard, but did they listen?

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance reports on the April 20 hearing on relaxing state regulations on the sale of raw milk and making and marketing of cottage foods.
We had a great line-up of witnesses in support of HB 75, the raw milk bill, including Dr. Mary Traverse, Dr. Mark Shannon, Bob Stryk, Ramy Jisha, Shorty and Rhianna Miller, Tom Hensleee, Susan Simpson, Paul Norris, Christina Peteet, Michelle Ellis, Nancy Falster, and Judith McGeary. The witnesses discussed the low risk associated with raw milk from licensed dairies, the many illnesses linked to pasteurized milk, the range of nutrition and health benefits provided by raw milk, the difference between large conventional dairies and small direct-to-consumer raw dairies, the economics of the dairy industry, and more.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) sent two witnesses. Under state law, an agency must be neutral on bills pending before the Legislature, but DSHS’s witnesses made it plain that they view raw milk as dangerous. Two local health departments (City of Garland and Harris County) also sent witnesses to oppose the bill. One of the witnesses made the completely unsupported claim that if the bill is passed, we’ll see more illnesses. To the contrary, FARFA provided data from the CDC showing that there is no pattern of increasing consumption of raw milk leading to increasing rates of food-borne illness.

I've submitted a petition to the Texas Health and Human Services Department, so the proceedings are unsurprising to me.

The public brings knowledge, passion and conviction. The state brings a bias toward business as usual, emphasis on business. You simply cannot put too much pressure on the state legislature to support these bills.

EatingWell: "Natural" Meat Busted

Beware the growth industry that has adopted modern marketing tactics. Words no longer mean what you think. Case in point: "natural meats."
How much do you know about natural meats? Take this quiz to find out.

Myth or truth: Buying “natural” meats reduces your exposure to hormones and antibiotics.

Myth. The term “natural” means only that no additives or preservatives were introduced after the meat or poultry was processed. (And, in fact, certain sodium-based broths can be added to poultry and pork and still be labeled “natural.”) The term “natural” is often confused with “naturally raised,” a term that, according to the USDA, means the animals were not given antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products.

There's more!

The Myths About "Natural" Meat Busted

Daniel Klein: So You Think You Want to Be an Organic Farmer?

The challenges and rewards of organic farming know no geography. Well, maybe Texas has more drought.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

allDay: Why Does Asparagus Make Smelly Pee?

Oh come on, you know you've always wanted to know!
Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg explained the answer in their book, "Why Do Men Have Nipples?”.

"Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. It is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks," they wrote. "The signature smell occurs when this substance is broken down in your digestive system. Not all people have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, so some of you can eat all the asparagus you want without stinking up the place. One study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that only 46 percent of British people tested produced the odor while 100 percent of French people tested did."

To read a short excerpt from Leyner and Goldberg's book, click here.

allDAY - Answers from TODAY: Why does asparagus make your urine smell?

Asparagus - Lemon Vinaigrette Salad

Fresh spring asparagus takes a bow on the salad bar before we say "farewell" to cool-weather crops in Central Texas. Makes 8 servings


2 pounds asparagus
2 minced shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons mixed citrus zest from lemon and orange, divided
Juice of one lemon (about 2 tbsp)
2 tablespoons orange juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Break off the tough butts of the asparagus. Wash asparagus well.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Steam the asparagus for 7 to 10 minutes. Test for tenderness. Drain and plunge into a pan of ice water to stop cooking. When cool, wrap in paper towels then place in a plastic bag. Refrigerate.

3. Soak the shallot in a small bowl of water and set aside 10 minutes. Drain well.

4. Mix shallots, mustard, 1 teaspoon citrus zest, the lemon and orange juices, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mini-food processor or small jar with lid. Shake well to combine. Refrigerate.

5. About 20 minutes before serving, arrange the asparagus on a platter and drizzle the vinaigrette over it. To marinate evenly, gently stir the asparagus after 10 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining citrus zest over the top before serving.

Chef’s note: Soaking shallots or other onions in water extracts their raw bite.

~Seattle Times

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fresh Recipes for Cool-Weather Crops

Now in convenient e-book format, a collection of recipes and chef's tips for updating your menu with fresh, natural, organic, local, sustainable and artisan-crafted foods available at farmer's markets and online in the Spring. It's free - with our compliments - when you subscribe to our newsletter, Fresh

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Chow Tour Austin: Beards, Butchery & Salumi

Chow Tour Austin checks out beards, butchery and salumi in Central Texas.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Asparagus-Leek-Pancetta Saute'

We wind down our recipes for cool-weather crops with a sizzling sauté of asparagus, leek and artisan pancetta from our friends at Salt & Time.


4 ounces diced Salt & Time pancetta
2 tbsp EVOO
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1-1/4 cup leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves minced garlic
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Sauté pancetta in a large non-stick pan over medium heat, stirring often until crisp and lightly golden.

2. Steam asparagus until bright green, almost tender. Slice into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal.

3 Add 2 tablespoon of EVOO to pan. Add garlic and stir fry until he starts to brown.

4. Add asparagus; sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

5. Add lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and sauté for about one minute, until fragrant.

6. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Serve immediately.

4 servings