Nov 16, 2008

beef and vegetable stew

Last Sunday I found all kinds of fruits and veggies that looked too good to pass up. Beautiful stalks of chard, and flavorful fall sugar snap peas, yukon gold potatoes, lovely orange beets, a gigantic red pepper, an heirloom tomato, and a couple chilies and shallots rounded out the veggies. We both love fruit, and eat a lot of it each week either during the day at work, or as a yummy dessert. Apples of course are still crisp and ripe right now, and we picked up bunches of grapes, several pears, and for the first time a couple satsuma oranges.

Dinners this week have included a vegetable and beef stew, roasted beet and pea salad, and beef tacos with lightly fried potatoes, chard, red pepper and chilies. The beef and veggie stew was a combination of all the veggies here, plus some left over from last week.

Recipe for Sunday Beef and Vegetable Stew

1 pound stew beef, cubed into edible sizes
Chopped veggies galore - I used some shallots, garlic, celery, potatoes, left over green beans, carrots, bell pepper, a Chile, and several leaves of chard chopped up.
Beef broth

First brown the beef in a large soup pot with just a touch of olive oil. Scoop the beef out to rest while you slowly fry the shallots, and garlic until they begin to soften. Add celery, and slowly add remainder of veggies, minus the chard, a enough water that the veggies don't burn but can cook together nicely. After about 10 minutes, as the flavors begin to meld, add the beef back into the pot, and add a couple chugs of beef broth. Bring to a boil and the simmer.

Simmer the stew for several hours, being sure to check the water level every so often. Once the beef is tender to your likeness or about 30 minutes before serving add the chard and take the lid off the pot. This way the chard will remain semi-firm when served, and some of the liquid evaporated off making the stew nice and thick.

On Sunday I also tried my hand at bread baking, and served the stew with a couple slices of homemade brown bread.
(photography by: alison clayshulte)

Nov 10, 2008

market abundance and finding the lay of the land

This morning my husband and I visited the Tesmescal Farmer's Market like we have every Sunday that we've been in town for the past couple months. I love this market. It is not the biggest market in town, but it is neighborly, and fun, and un-pretentious. There are booths bursting with produce and nuts, music, jam's and pickles, and a growing number of wonderful food merchants. But, more about the market another time.

Today, after much thought, I have decided the direction for this blog. I want to focus on local flavors, within 150 miles of my home in Oakland. Most of our grocery shopping already comes from this fabulous Farmer's Market, but I always supplement with items from either TJ's or Berkeley Bowl. In order to really focus my cooking, eating, and blogging on the local flavors of the area I've decided to use the market as inspiration. Each week I will head to the market and pick out what looks the best and most flavorful. I will post a picture of my food finds on the blog. My goal over the course of the week will be to make nutritious, and flavorful meals, and to supplement as little as possible from outside the 150 mile radius.

I also believe in sustainable farming / business practices and will plan to feature items, restaurants, or organizations that I think are completely supporting this practice.

While I love to cook, I also am an avid baker and will begin putting my baking experiments and recipes in an area called "bake house" on the blog. If I haven't posted my own recipe I will be sure to link to the cookbook that inspired me.

Finally, I am so fortunate to be able to buy good food that nourishes my body and excites my soul. I believe that all people here in Oakland and around the world should have access to food that is healthy and nutritious. I will dedicate this blog to also writing and posting about work going on around the world that moves towards this goal.

Tomorrow...this week's market finds and my first market meal.

(photography by: alison clayshulte)