Archive | November, 2010

Patio garden update: the end of the eggplant invasion

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Winter 2010 GardenThe summer crops from my little patio garden lasted well into the fall yielding eggplant until two weeks ago.  I now feel like I could take on any cooking challenge that included eggplant as the secret ingredient because I’ve prepared it in almost every way I could imagine except dessert.

Even so, I was a little heart broken when I ripped the fading eggplants from their Earthbox.  I’m finding that I have a hard time pulling up vegetable plants even after they are long past their prime.  I get sentimental about the gifts they yielded and have to give myself a little pep talk to perform the first yank on the roots.  It was much easier to pull up the non-producing tomatoes.

But, it was time.  The eggplants were clearly unhappy in the cooler weather and I had Brussels sprout seedlings that needed a home.

I’m excited about my winter garden; my third planting in the patio garden! I planted broccoli seeds and the Brussels sprout seedlings in the Earthboxes and butter lettuce seeds in a few large pots.

I’ll be interested to see how the lettuce does.  I have good luck with the Earthboxes, but spottier results with the pots.  I have a hard time figuring out how much to water the potted plants, but with the Earthbox I just fill the reservoir and the plant does the work.  I’m getting better, but I’m definitely still learning.

Once again, a huge thanks to Carla Crownover at Austin Urban Gardens for continuing to coach me to grow new things.  She might turn me into a real gardener after all!

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Lazy Sunday mornings and a squash blossom frittata

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Since high school, I have always over scheduled myself.  There are so many things I want to do and experience and I usually end up wearing myself out.  My dad tried, with limited results, to teach me to slow down and plan less, but he did succeed in one regard.  He taught me to cherish slow Sundays.

Dad started Sunday morning in his blue robe sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee in one hand, the newspaper in the other and a news program on the television.  When he finished the paper, he headed into the kitchen to make a big late breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.  Breakfast was followed by watching either football or the Western movie of the day.  A slow and easy Sunday.

I do my best to honor the lazy Sunday morning routine regularly – sipping coffee, reading the newspapers, writing and listening to Chillville, one of my favorite radio programs.  In a life that is often too full of dashing between commitments, I cherish this lounging time and an easy Sunday morning breakfast.

A frittata is one of my favorite dishes because you can create a lovely meal using just about anything in the produce drawer .  Frittatas are a fantastic way to work vegetables into your breakfast and you don’t have to pay quite as much attention as you do when making an omelette.

Recently, I had some squash blossoms in the crisper (you can still find a few at the market, but probably not for much longer) and I thought a frittata would be a terrific way to honor these very delicate gems.

Squash blossoms

Placing the blossoms on top of the frittata kept them from getting “buried” in the egg and ensured that you got a little blossom in every bite.  Yum!

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Squash Blossom Frittata

 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 squash blossoms
6 eggs, beaten (I add 2 tbsps of milk to mine to make them fluffier, but you can skip this)
1/2 tsp salt (don’t add too much salt as the feta cheese is salty)
feta cheese
Preheat your broiler.
Heat the oil over medium heat on the stove in an oven-proof skillet.  Add the squash and garlic and saute until almost tender.  Add the squash blossoms and gently saute for a minute or two, just long enough to get some of the flavor from the dish, but not so long as to wilt the blossoms too much.  Remove the squash blossoms from the pan.
Add the eggs to the squash mixture, evenly distributing the vegetable mixture around the eggs.  Allow the eggs to cook until the egg begins to set (almost cooked through, but still a little runny on top.)  Place the squash blossoms on top of the egg and sprinkle feta cheese over the top.  Put the skillet under the broiler for about three minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese melts.  Check the frittata frequently while it’s under the broiler so that you don’t burn the top.
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Two Great Foodie Events: Primal Cuts & a Food Fight!

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Edible Austin is hosting  a special cooking demonstration and book signing with Jesse Griffiths and Chris Hughes who are both featured in Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers at the Williams-Sonoma Arboretum on Tuesday, November 9th from 2-4 pm.

Jesse is the chef/owner of Dai Due Supper Club & Butcher Shop. Dai Due Supper Club hosts farm dinners that rove to locations in and around Austin and the Butcher Shop pops up at farmers’ markets. 

Chris’ father founded Broken Arrow Ranch, an artisanal purveyor of high-quality, free-range venison, antelope, and wild boar meat. 

Jesse and Chris will talk about their unique businesses and give advice about working with different types of meat. They will also demonstrate and prepare pork chops, rice and greens.

Tuesday, November 9 from 2:00-4:00 pm
9722 Great Hills Trail, Suite 150, Austin, TX
512-231-1813
Event is complimentary; reservations recommended.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin Chapter Food Fight

Do you like a good food fight? Right now you can throw elbows over some of the best culinary experiences in Austin during the The Austin Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s annual fundraiser and you won’t even get dirty.

Through this Friday, November 12, 2010, until 11:59 p.m, you can bid on experiences as diverse as (hold for the shameless self-promotion) a farmers market tour with yours truly followed by a special lunch cooked for you by the incomparable Chef David Bull to a private cocktail class with Tipsy Texan David Alan to a French dinner for eight at Aquarelle.  You can fight over cookbooks, gift certificates to Boggy Creek Farm  or a pizza party from Bola pizza.  It’s a foodie’s online auction dream come true.

Proceeds from the auction go to Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Austin Chapter to support education, advocacy and philanthropy.  Austin’s chapter provides scholarships to women pursuing culinary and hospitality education and supports the Green Tables initiative that connects local farmers with local school cafeterias to ensure kids receive healthy food.

What are you waiting for?  Go bid!
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Save the Date & Buy Your Tickets: Eat Local Week Starts December 4th

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It’s no secret that I love to celebrate local food and soon we can all rejoice together.  Eat Local Week, Edible Austin’s annual series of events honoring our local food culture, begins on Saturday December 4th and continues through Saturday December 11th.

During the week, you can participate in a variety of fun events including an Urban Farm Bicycle tour, a pig roast at Springdale Farm, a holiday gift fair and separate beverage tastings for coffee, cocktails and beer.   You can participate in a special screening of Chocolat with a multi-course feast at the Alamo Drafthouse on Monday, December 6th and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is speaking at Bass Concert Hall on Friday night, December 10th.

If events aren’t your cup of tea, you can also participate in Eat Local Week by dining out or shopping at local markets.  A growing list of restaurants and marketswill be offering special local dishes and menus during the week.

Proceeds from the week’s events and meals benefit Urban Roots, a terrific local program that teaches leadership to area youth through the operation of a local farm and farm stand at area farmers markets.

I’m particularly excited this year about the VIP pass.  For the bargain price of $100, you get priority entry to the following events for the week:

Dec 3:    BookPeople Preview event
Dec 4:    Urban Farm Bicycle Tour
Dec 4:    Pig Roast and Harvest Dinner
Dec 5:    Drink Local Coffee Festival
Dec 7:    Drink Local Night &Tipsy Texan Cocktail Contest
Dec 8:    Better Bites Holiday Gift Fair at City Hall
Dec 9:    Fine Food and Art Night
Dec 11:  Media Celebrity Cook Off
Dec 11:  Texas Craft Brewer Mini-Festival


The pass is a fantastic deal AND it benefits Urban Roots.  What are you waiting for?  Go buy your pass (or individual tickets) today.

See you at Eat Local Week!

[P.S.  While I am a contributor to Edible Austin, they did not ask me to write this post.]

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