Posts tagged ‘ramps’

May 8, 2009

A Use-Every-Green Stir fry

In this Photo: dandelion greens, crimini mushrooms, bok choy, ramps, chives, mustard greens, parsnip, mung bean sprouts, radish greens

In this Photo: dandelion greens, crimini mushrooms, bok choy, ramps, chives, mustard greens, parsnip, mung bean sprouts, radish greens


When the new box of produce arrived from Vermont Valley, a sense of panic came over me as I took stock of what remained from last week’s harvest. The good news is, those leafy greens really cook down. I pulled everything left over from last week’s delivery (except the spinach) out of the fridge and decided on a stir fry. I called Eric, who was on his way home, and let him know that if he wanted to add anything else to the stir fry he had better pick something up at the store.

We are lucky to live nearby what I consider to be the best grocery store, ever. The Willy Street Co-op is one of the reasons Eric and I moved back to Madison, WI. It’s that great. As a locavore (of sorts), I appreciate how Willy Street highlights their local produce with purple signs. “Local” can be a rather controversial label – how many miles away is local? Willy Street defines local as anything produced in Wisconsin or anything produced 150 miles away from Dane County. During the height of Wisconsin’s growing season, Willy’s produce department becomes a sea of purple tags. Guided by the purple signs, Eric located some crimini mushrooms, mung beans from Troy Community Farm, as well as a parsnip.

Meanwhile, I was plotting a side dish: Watercress and Radish Salad.
In this photo: sunflower oil, white wine vinegar, radish, fennel, watercress

In this photo: sunflower oil, white wine vinegar, radish, fennel, watercress


I was inspired by a red cabbage coleslaw I had at Marigold Kitchen. Fennel was the eye-opening ingredient, and I was excited to try combining it with watercress. A relative of the mustard greens, watercress has a rather unique flavor – somewhat musky. After cutting the watercress into thin slices, I added grated radish. The dressing was simple: white wine vinegar, sunflower oil, fennel, salt and pepper. Perhaps I got a little too excited about the fennel – it’s flavor dominated the salad. Nonetheless, the flavor combination was de-lish, worthy of being repeated and perfected.

The stir fry took very little time – once all the ingredients were chopped. The mushrooms, parsnip, bok choy and ramps went in the HOT frying pan first, with a little sunflower oil. Once the parsnips softened a bit, I added all the greens and sprinkled soy sauce over the top. Using tongs to keep the ingredients moving, I let it cook for only a minute or two. Once on the plate, I sprinkled some mung bean sprouts on top and served it with basmati rice and watercress/radish salad.

Advertisements
May 3, 2009

First Trip to the Farmer’s Market

Finally, Eric and I had an opportunity to visit the Dane County’s Farmers’ Market on Madison’s Capitol Square. It was 11:00am by the time we arrived, and the place was bursting with people. I would like to say that people from all walks of life were in attendance, but really the Farmer’s Market is one of those things that white people like. Of the mostly white (upper-middle-class) folks present, there was quite a bit of diversity. Young and old. Walking and stroller-bound. Conservative and liberal. I am concerned, however, about the absence of people of color and lower socio-economic status. Are farmer’s markets really something only white people like? Or is there a form of food racism at play?

I discovered the term food racism in Roger Bybee’s article on Food Justice in YES! Magazine. After reading Bybee’s article, I have become increasingly aware of how white my grocery store and farmer’s market are, and how diverse our corner store is.
Things that make you go, hmmmm.

But, back to the Farmer’s Market, and our exciting purchases. Yesterday, Eric found a tantalizing recipe for grilled steak over fresh watercress. Although not our intended meal, it got us thinking – mmmmm, steak!

Our First Stop: Fountain Prairie Inn & Farms

We talked with the kind vendors, asking their advice on what kind of steak they would recommend for our purposes. Already sold out of their most popular cuts, we decided to go with a pound of the Skirt Steak, which was handed to us, rolled up and frozen in a vacuumed sealed bag. With promises to let them know how things went, we headed off in search of more goodies.

Popcorn was next on our list. Continuously disappointed in the tough and chewy varieties found at the store, we opted to try a more local version of our favorite snack food. Kinke’s Market, a persistent vendor who attends most of the winter markets, sells several varieties. We picked up a pound of the Baby Rice Popcorn and a pound of the Red Baby Rice Popcorn, which the fella said were nice and soft – no husks to get stuck in your teeth. SOOOO excited!

Just before we turned the last block, we stopped to chat with Cindy Fricke from Cherokee Bison Farms. I read on the Isthmus’ Daily Page that Cindy and her husband, Leroy, sell cold-pressed sunflower oil from their own sunflowers. In search of a high-heat cooking oil, Eric and I were excited to learn that someone in our area was producing it. Not an inexpensive purchase, our little pint of oil cost us $8.50.

With one quick stop at Gourmet’s Delight Mushroom Farm for white button mushrooms – the ever-popular criminis were already sold out – we were stocked and headed for home.

Stir Fry: It’s What’s for Dinner

Back at the house, we let the skirt steak defrost, then rolled it out to get a better look at its highly praised marbling. What a beautiful piece of meat, and so much. We split the steak, saving half of it in the freezer for another day. Nice to know our $10.75 purchase will last us at least two meals.

While Eric picked out spices for a marinade, I grabbed ingredients from the market bag and fridge. Within moments we had spontaneously planned a locavore feast.

In this Photo:

  • Cold-pressed Sunflower Oil (Cherokee Bison Farm)
  • Button Mushrooms (Gourmet’s Delight Mushroom Farm)
  • Saute Mix (Vermont Valley)
  • Ramps (see note at the bottom)
  • Bok Choy (Vermont Valley)
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground Coriander
  • Chives (Vermont Valley)

A Note on the Ramps:
Although we did not purchase them, the ramps did come from the Farmers’ Market. They were a gift from Mary and Marty. Every Saturday Mary and Marty stop in at Fair Trade Coffeehouse to sit and enjoy their Market purchases. Over the last few months Eric and I (when I still worked at Fair Trade) developed a kinship with this kind couple. Last week Eric was bemoaning his Saturday work schedule, which does not permit him to attend the Market, and humorously suggested he should simply pay Mary and Marty to pick up certain items for him. Last week he was dreaming about ramps – and today? As suggested, Mary and Marty came bearing ramps. Are we not blessed? What a wonderful world it is.

Good Eating

Holy Expletive! We just got done eating, and that meal was out of this world. The beef was cooked to perfection – thank you Eric. After marinading in sunflower oil, coriander and ginger for an hour, Eric cooked the steak over high heat for about 4 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, I tossed the mushrooms, ramps (minus the green tops) and bok choy (also minus green tops) into a hot pan with a bit of sunflower oil. When things started to turn brown, I layered all the greens on top, splashed some soy sauce on top and mixed it all together for no more than two minutes.

The result was beyond my hopes. The meat was delicious, if not a bit chewy. I am still learning about meats and their different cuts, and I look forward to exploring different kinds of steaks. It was, nonetheless buttery and delectable. It was the greens, however, that stole the show. They were just the perfect amount of bitter, sweet and buttery. I repeat, ‘Holy Expletive.’