Sign up

You deserve to feel great, look great & LOVE your body

Enter your email for your FREE starter kit to get healthy & lose weight without dieting:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Farmers Market Update: Autumn

by | Oct 16, 2011
Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Alright Mother Nature, you win. It’s autumn now and I’ll accept it, even if San Francisco only had about five days over 80 degrees this year. I don’t need summer when I have produce like this.

Thompson Grapes

Thompson Grapes

Bring on your autumn grapes. Grapes have never been my favorite fruit, but they are so sweet and crispy this year I can’t resist them. I like wine too, and harvest is soon. Grapes are ok with me.

Flame Grapes

Flame Grapes

I’ll take your apples too. These heirloom varietals don’t taste anything like the overly sweet fujis I grew up with. These apples remind me of what I’ve always wished apples tasted like whenever I have apple cider.

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples

And these little wickson apples, the size of golf balls, are as complex as a glass of wine.

Wickson Apples

Wickson Apples

Of course I don’t mind the sweet white pomegranates, with their pink seeds and delicate flavor. They aren’t as sour as the red ones are this early in the season, and the seeds aren’t nearly as tough and woody.

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

I finally gave in and got some brussels sprouts too. Sure I used to hate them, but once I learned the secret to cooking these little guys they became a welcome guest on my dinner plate. I’m especially fond of the smaller sprouts like the ones I found today, because they are almost never bitter.

Early Brussels Sprouts

Early Brussels Sprouts

With Halloween approaching not even the winter squash offend me, but these days I eat them instead of carve them.

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Yes I’ll miss summer—or at least the idea of it. I’ll miss the peaches and plums.

Peaches

Peaches

I’ll revel in the last of the figs and melons.

Brown Turkey Figs

Brown Turkey Figs

Maybe if I’m lucky you’ll give me a few more weeks of eggplant.

White Eggplant

White Eggplant

Perhaps the sweet peppers will last until my birthday next month.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Or maybe the spicy ones will?

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

What always breaks my heart most is the tomatoes. I can live a few months without strawberries, but the tomatoes really get me. Everything is better with a dry-farmed early girl tomato on it. It will be hard to see them go.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

But I love my cauliflower. (Pretty much everyone loves my cauliflower). And it will keep me company as fall rolls in and winter approaches.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I’ll embrace your root vegetables as they sweeten in the cold.

Beets and Carrots

Beets and Carrots

I’ll give you some time on the persimmons though, I don’t think they’re quite ready yet.

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Today’s purchases (~$40):

  • Heirloom kabocha squash
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Red Russian kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Wickson apples
  • Daikon
  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Dahlias

Is your farmers market still running?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!

by | Aug 14, 2011
Gigantic Tomato

Gigantic Tomato

This is by far my favorite time of year to go to the farmers market, it’s truly amazing. (If you’re interested in joining me next week, there are still a few slots left in my two market tours, 8am and 10am).

More than any other time of year the market is overflowing with life and bounty. The fruits are sweet, juicy and abundant, making it hard to decide which delicate morsels to cradle into my bag and try to get home undamaged.

O'Henry Peaches

O'Henry Peaches

Sea of Strawberries

Sea of Strawberries

We’re finally entering late summer, which means all the best summer tomatoes are finally here. The dry farmed early girls are my favorite, because they’re easiest to get home and amazingly sweet and rich in flavor.

Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl Tomatoes

But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

While we’ve had sweet peppers for several weeks now, the spicy chilies are just starting to appear. I got some jalepenos, but I’m excited to see Thai chilies are available as well.

Thai Chilies

Thai Chilies

Eggplants, my gateway vegetable, are also a late summer delicacy. As a former eggplant hater, I find that the long thin plants are easier to work with and often taste better than their rounder cousins. The light purple color of these were particularly striking this week.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Late summer is also the time for corn, which not coincidently pairs exceptionally well with all the above vegetables. I love it raw off the cob or pan cooked quickly with summer squash and peppers. But I’m going to experiment with some new techniques using the ones I bought today.

Corn

Corn

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Of course cooking is more fun with the abundance of summer herbs. This time of year I always have cilantro, dill and basil on hand.

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

If you love basil, look around your farmers market for vendors that sell it with the roots attached. You can bring it home and put it into a vase with water. I’m still using one I bought several weeks ago with one of my market classes. Just be sure to change the water 1-2x per week, and that the plant has access to light. I tried keeping some in my kitchen but it always wilted in one day if I didn’t move it near a window.

Rooted Basil

Rooted Basil

This is also my favorite time of year for salads. I make a big one most days for lunch, and the huge variety of greens like spinach and radicchio help mix it up and allow me to make something that tastes different every day. I love how the bloomsdale spinach is so deeply colored that it almost looks blue.

Radicchio

Radicchio

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Though I don’t talk about it much, melons (particularly the heirloom varieties I often find at the market) are a completely different experience when I get them directly from farmers. The rich complexity of the smell alone is intoxicating, and the flavor is nothing like the typical honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon I’ve had from the grocery store.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.

Red Flame Grapes

Red Flame Grapes

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find this week at the farmers market?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rain Day: Jai Ho Indian Grocery

by | Feb 20, 2011
Rasam Ingredients

Rasam Ingredients

The rain didn’t let up yesterday, so rather than face the cold wet farmers market I decided to visit the Jai Ho Indian grocery store to pick up some ingredients I can’t find at my normal spots.

Jai Ho was recommended to me by Anjan Mitra, a friend and owner of San Francisco’s premier South Indian restaurant Dosa. I’m a huge fan of Dosa and recently interviewed Anjan for an article about lentils and their health benefits I wrote for Edible SF.

Indian Groceries

Dry Goods

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

I’m delighted to report that Anjan was nice enough to share his amazing Rasam “fire broth” recipe for lentil soup, which I’ll publish here at Summer Tomato tomorrow.

Today I want to share some of the ingredients that go into the soup, since they may not be familiar to those of you who don’t have experience cooking Indian food.

Toor Dal

Toor Dal

The soup is based on a type of lentil (“dal” in Hindi) called toor dal, or pigeon peas. Toor dal are medium sized yellow lentils that fall apart easily when cooked through. You should be able to find them at any Indian grocery store.

The recipe also calls for wet tamarind pulp, the kind sold in blocks. The one I got actually had chunks of stems in there, which I had to pick out.

Asafetida

Asafetida

Wet Tamarind

Wet Tamarind

Asafetida is a potent smelling herb that comes in powder form. This was the first time I had worked with it so I had to check Wikipedia to see exactly what it is. Apparently asafetida is also known as “devil’s dung” but, ironically, is a known antiflatulent. How have I never heard of this stuff?

Turmeric

Turmeric

The only other ready ground spice used in the recipe is turmeric, which some research suggests may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can find ground turmeric at any grocery store.

Dried Chilies

Dried Chilies

As you might expect, the soup calls for several sources of heat. The first are dried red chili peppers. I used my own Thai dragon peppers I dried last summer, but any form of red chili works here.

Whole Black Peppercorns

Whole Black Peppercorns

Some of the heat also comes from a generous portion of black peppercorns, which are ground together with several other spices that form the main flavors of the soup.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

The other spices in the mixture are cumin and coriander seeds. Mustard seeds are also called for, though these are added whole and are not ground with the other spices.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds

One of the hardest to find ingredients for the recipe is fresh curry leaves. The recipe is very explicit that if you cannot find them you should leave them out and under no circumstances substitute ground curry powder. I was able to find fresh leaves at Jai Ho, and their flavor was more subtle than I expected.

Fresh Curry Leaves

Fresh Curry Leaves

And of course, don’t forget your garlic.

Garlic

Garlic

Stay tuned tomorrow for Dosa’s rasam recipe.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 6, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

New evidence that the Atkins diet may be depriving people of nutrients? You bet! There were also a few interesting articles this week about food ideology and the antagonistic tone that frequently comes up in discussions about health, food safety and politics. And Francis Lam’s greatest tomato pasta on earth article totally blew my mind (in a good way).

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

  • Is Your Diet Depriving You of Nutrients? <<A new study suggests that Atkins dieters may be lacking in nutrients that are usually found in starchy foods. Dieters on the Zone diet (which is more balanced) fared the best, nutrient wise. (Low Carb Diets Blog)
  • Does high-fructose corn syrup cause cancer? <<Does it matter? Great analysis about how the facts are often beside the point when food and health get discussed in the media. (Salon)
  • “Can’t we all just get along” – It does not seem so. <<BS of the week. Along the same lines as the previous article, Bill Marler brings up the antagonistic tone that often comes up in public food dialogue, which is neither pleasant nor productive. And that sucks. Intelligent discussions don’t seem to be forthcoming these days. That’s why I’m so grateful for the wonderful conversations we have here at Summer Tomato. (Marler Blog)
  • A Dozen Eggs for $8? Michael Pollan Explains the Math of Buying Local <<Great interview with Michael Pollan about why Bay Area residents have embraced his eating philosophy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Chili Peppers May Come With Blood Pressure Benefits <<Cartoons with red faces and exploding heads may give you the wrong idea. It appears chili peppers actually lower blood pressure in the long term. (ScienceDaily)
  • Is MSG Unhealthy? <<People sometimes ask why I don’t talk about MSG more on this blog. The truth is that the data doesn’t condemn it as much as people seem to believe. I don’t reject any food without strong science to back it up. Dr. Weil concurs. (Dr. Weil’s blog)
  • For blood pressure, can you be fit but fat? <<New research suggests body weight is a risk factor for high blood pressure independent of physical fitness levels. Best to keep both under control. (Medline)
  • Why did Whole Foods tart up my organic peanut butter? <<I agree with Tom Philpott on this one, but I still think it’s funny to get so riled up over “peanut butter.” (Grist)
  • Chioggia beets and farro salad <<Psssst. I shared one of my favorite recipe outlines over at my personal blog this week. It is super easy, and there are a zillion possible variations you can do. Beets not required. (daryapino)
  • The greatest five-minute tomato pasta on earth <<I almost choked to death when I read this, because Francis Lam had almost the exact same tomato experience I had. Then he turned it into a recipe. (Salon)

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,