Market report: Garlic scapes — and kohlrabi, too!

June 28 market

I missed two Saturdays of the farmer’s market while in Montana and my, how things changed! The last of the strawberries are now out, but are being replaced with favorites I’ve been longing for. Namely, garlic scapes and kohlrabi.

You might recall that I got a little obsessed with garlic scapes last year, and ended up making carbonara with them three times before perfecting the dish. To the point that I had carbonara out the other night and thought, “mine’s better.” (This rarely happens.) This go-around, I may even get a little crazy and toss in the fresh English peas I found today.

My niece Leah and I have been waiting patiently for kohlrabi to come into season, although she wasn’t as excited as I thought she would be when I called her this morning from the farmer’s market and woke her after I found it. Some people eat kohlrabi raw, but I prefer it peeled, tossed in olive oil, and roasted.

I also filled my farmer’s market bag with beets (more on this experiment later), three types of summer squash and sweet Michigan cherries.

For the first time, I ran out of room in my bag before I ran out of cash. Now that’s a good day at the market.

Greetings from Montana

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I fully planned to continue my blogging streak on vacation. But until now, we had spotty to no Internet access, so were forced to only admire this view for four days. The other good news is that you were saved from a bunch of “look what I had for dinner” posts. The epitome of a win-win, no?

I have eaten as regionally as possible, in the spirit of research — bison filet, loose meat elk burger, huckleberry ice cream, Montana trout and flathead cherries. And my goal is to find a Montana cookbook before I leave.

Mike’s on his way home, but I’m now off to a writer’s retreat. The fare for the next four days will be strictly vegan, aside from what I hide in my room. I’m honestly more daunted than I was at the prospect of loose elk meat. If I have a chance, I’ll report in.

The forgotten asparagus

I have one issue with asparagus — it’s too tall.

If I stand up the stalks in a glass with a little water, like you’re supposed to, it really only fits in the door of the refrigerator. And the door is definitely my blind spot.photo

I glimpsed the bunch of asparagus I bought during my farmer’s market trip last Saturday as I was shutting the fridge yesterday afternoon.

Oops.

We didn’t eat at home last night or tonight, so it’s still there. Just hanging out with the soy and worcestershire sauces and a bottle of Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Cider from last summer. Going bad. (I’m sure the Mike’s is a poor influence …)

I guess I should take a peak in the crisper, too. Although given that the asparagus was technically in plain site, I’m a little afraid to look.

Pimm’s off!

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Mine

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Jen’s go-to Pimm’s cup

What happens when two people in one book club love the same British liquor only prepared differently?

Why they have a Pimm’s off, of course.

I’ve written about Pimm’s before, the quintessential summer English drink I fell in love with during a summer in London. I’ve long prepared it the way pubs there serve a Pimm’s cup (or a jug of Pimm’s, with friends): with lemonade, strawberries, cucumbers and mint.

But book club Jen takes a much simpler — perhaps, Americanized — approach: with ginger ale and lemonade.

We tried my version first. “You win,” Jen quickly declared.

But Jen’s, Sandhya noted, was “more Pimm’s-y.”

(And mixed much stronger, I might add.)

Really, is there a wrong way to drink Pimm’s on a summer’s night? Personally, I think not, especially when it’s paired with good friends and a good book.

Summer muffins

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If these muffins look delicious, it’s because they’re chock-full of fresh Michigan strawberries and rhubarb.

I used this recipe for Jumbo Strawberry-and-Rhubarb Muffins from Food & Wine. The only thing I changed is the size — I’m not a huge fan of muffins as big as your head. So I used a standard-size muffin tin and ended up with 18 muffins instead of six. (Seriously, how jumbo were these muffins?)

Of course, I adjusted the baking time, too. I still cooked them at 375 degrees, but began checking them in five-minute increments after 25 minutes. At 35 minutes, they passed the toothpick test.

These muffins are super moist, likely thanks to the juicy strawberries. A perfect summer muffin — and breakfast.

‘Warm, burnt carrots’

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Not every meal can be a home run.

We grilled chicken tonight. At the last minute, I thought, Why not toss the carrots on there, too? What’s the worst that could happen?

The answer, in Mike’s words: “Warm, burnt carrots.”

“With a squeeze of lemon,” my niece Leah added.

They were edible, at least.

Perhaps I didn’t grill them long enough. When I noticed they weren’t cooking as quickly as the chicken, I covered them with a lid and prayed for steam.

Perhaps they didn’t need a squeeze of lemon. But I’d zested a lemon for strawberry-rhubarb muffins, and it was just lying there naked on the counter. Seemed meant to be.

Perhaps, just perhaps, carrots aren’t meant to be grilled.

Happiness is a jar of jam

Jam

My cousin Ellen texted me this photo earlier, with the simple message: “Thinking of you today. Raspberry jam. :)”

I couldn’t help but smile. I love homemade jam, and hers especially is a sweet combination of berries, sugar and happiness.

I grew up with jam as a breakfast table staple. My mother made freezer jam every summer as soon as Michigan strawberries debuted. She always used the tried-and-true Sure-Jell recipe, which usually gave us enough jars to keep us through to the next June. (Occasionally, the fail-proof recipe did indeed fail, leaving us with a stockpile of thin strawberry ice cream topping. Still a win, in my book.)

Of course, now I’d like to get my hands on some of Ellen’s raspberry jam. Considering she lives five hours away, that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Perhaps it’s time to dust off my own canning jars …

Farmer’s market Saturday: We have berries!

June 7

There were strawberries galore at Green City Market today, and from Michigan no less. Michigan strawberries are truly the best. Even if I wasn’t partial to my home state, which I very much am, this would still be true.

I also picked up asparagus, carrots, rhubarb, spinach and Swiss chard. (Yes, Swiss chard. I feel like eating some this week but won’t force any on Mike.)

Although my market bag was about full, I couldn’t pass up Hoosier Mama Pie Company’s small chess pie. I had my first sampling of this Southern favorite at my friend Molly’s backyard wedding in Nashville last summer. So good.

Overall, a nice day at the market. I’m happy that my berry bowl is finally full — not that it will be for long.

Red, red wine

Côtes du Rhône

We discovered this wine in Paris, on our honeymoon. We were out for pizza (Parisian style, with smoked salmon and crème fraîche), and I asked the waiter if the Côtes du Rhône I spotted on the menu was any good.

Yeah, that was a huge mistake.

His answer was over-the-top stereotypical, read: “snotty”: “Of course it’s good. It’s French!”

I only asked because I’d never heard of Côtes du Rhône, and it was so cheap. Less expensive than what Mike paid for a Coke at a cafe near Notre Dame.

The waiter was right, though. It was good. So good that we bought a couple of bottles at the market near our hotel to bring home, and have sought out Côtes du Rhône in restaurants since.

We found the bottle pictured above at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods Market a few months ago. We were married near the 45th parallel in Michigan in 2011, so were excited to find a 45th parallel Côtes du Rhône. I’m keeping an eye out for our wedding year vintage, and plan to buy a bottle … or 12.

Learn more about Côtes du Rhône here.

Baking bread … finally

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Visits with my college roommate Tracy always involve some sort culinary adventure. My last trip was no different, except she’d been following this blog and was determined to help me overcome my fear of baking bread.

The second day I was there, she pulled out the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook and flipped to “The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever” recipe. I was skeptical, as I always am about baking bread. But just seven ingredients later, mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer no less, we had batter rising in a loaf pan.

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Only an hour later, we popped it in the oven. You read that right: No more kneading. No more anything. Now, that’s what I call easy.

Most importantly, the end result was delicious.

The recipe is on page 180 if you have the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook at home. If you don’t, buy it. I did.