fats

4 Sides for the 4th

Elevenscore and nineteen years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

That's right, folks, it's time to celebrate our freedoms once again, and the government has added a new one this year, if you didn't notice: the freedom not to limit your fat intake. Well--not to limit total fat intake. They're still jittery about saturated fat (i.e., the best-tasting fats from butter, cheese, whole milk, and beef). But since we live in America, we experience another freedom: that of ignoring government recommendations. Which means, in our house, we eat all those saturated fats mentioned above and plan to keep eating them. Cause for celebration.

How we feel about eating fat, and how we feel when the Mariners win [pic: RedTricom]

So say you've been invited to a 4th of July celebration this year, and told to "bring a side dish or dessert." As you might have heard, our Market is closed this Saturday, so you need to plan ahead and make purchases this Thursday. Market-available items are marked with an asterisk (*).

I'm bringing my homemade baked beans.

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans
3 cups dried navy beans*
1 medium onion, chopped*
1 lg can tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar, scant
1 cup water
2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb diced bacon*

Soak beans overnight or follow "quick soak" instructions on package. (You could also ask Alvarez Farms which of their beans they would substitute for navy beans, and that would reduce cooking time!) Drain.

Put all ingredients in the crock-pot and mix well.

Cover. Cook on High 6-8 hours. After the low end of the range, taste a bean for tenderness. (If it looks like it's getting dry, feel free to add 1/2 to 1 cup preheated water.)

But maybe you prefer a salad? We've been having this one a lot:



Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Feta
1 bunch or bag of spinach*
2-3 sliced scallions*
handful sliced strawberries (very ripe)*
crumbled feta or other cheese, amount to taste*
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

This is a pretty free-form salad. For the dressing, mix the oil and vinegar in a 3:1 ratio (e.g., 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar). Dress and toss right before serving.

I also have this potato salad marked as "Tasty!" in my New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, with one emendation:

Chunky Potato Salad
4 lbs medium-sized potatoes*
4 eggs*
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp - 1/4 c relish (my own personal addition!)
1-1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c milk
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, with enough water to cover, boil/simmer potatoes until soft (25-30 minutes). Cool and cut in chunks (I don't bother peeling, although it does make a prettier salad). Hard-cook eggs and dice.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes and eggs with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until serving.

And finally, for dessert, you can't go wrong with pie. Pick one up at the Market if it sounds like too much effort. Adrienne's Cakes & Pies has a lovely selection. The thought of apple or berry or strawberry rhubarb pie makes my mouth water.

The selection, from Adrienne's perspective!

If you insist on homemade (and don't mind heating up the kitchen in 90F weather), Good Housekeeping comes through again. Blueberry pie is the hands-down easiest, especially since freestone peaches are not yet available.

Blueberry Pie
double pie crust of your choice
2 pts blueberries*
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp salt

Prepare pie crust and line pan. Mix filling ingredients and pour into prepared crust. Top with remaining crust. Cut slits in top and bake 40-50 minutes at 425F. Cool on wire rack.

See you Thursday, and have a great 4th!

Carbs in the Doghouse

We interrupt my foray into Amishness with this breaking news from the L.A. Times: sugar and refined carbohydrates are doing us in. This is something many foodies and nutritionists have been rumbling about for some time. After all, as they have pointed out, in the thirty years since the world started plugging low-fat, low-fat, low-fat, rates of obesity and heart disease did not decline. Our treatment of heart disease improved, yes, but not the number of people who were still suffering from it.

Obediently, we laid off the real sour cream and butter and tried to limit red meat and cheese, replacing those items with pretzels and weird chemical spreads and nasty soy concoctions. Fake food.

Time for the pendulum to swing back. Maybe all those unsatisfying lowfat products will go away (they've been long gone in our household), but how to wean ourselves from the sugar and simple carbs? I wonder this as I consider the dozens of Christmas cookies I've produced and eaten this December. I might force the kids to join me and my husband in our yearly downer: Sugar-Free January. We've discovered that it really is easiest just to go cold turkey. I'm not too legalistic--there's still honey in the tea and jam on the toast and maple syrup on the waffles, but nothing where sugar is the centerpiece.

In the meantime, comfort yourself with Dr. Agatston's claim from the South Beach Diet--that a little bit of fat consumed with the evil carb both increases satiety on fewer calories and tempers the rapid spike in blood sugar. If you've got to have the sourdough toast, at least slather it in butter (God bless him for this).

If, like me, you'll never be a whole-wheat pasta gal, here are a couple recipes where minimizing the white flour improves the taste:

Pennsylvania Dutch Whole Wheat Bread (adapted from The New Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook)
(Amish lightning might strike me, but I tried this in the bread machine. It came out lopsided but perfectly tasty. You might want to add a tsp or two of Wheat Gluten to lighten it somewhat.)
2 1/4 t yeast
1/4 c lukewarm water
1 c milk warmed up in the microwave
1T softened butter
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 c white flour
2 generous cups whole wheat flour.

Dump everything in the bread machine, set on Whole Wheat cycle, and you're done! Slice when cooled and serve with lots of butter and some of Rome's delicious spreads from the Farmers Market.

Multi-Grain Waffles (adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
2 c various flours (I use 1/4 c each white, whole wheat, rye, brown rice, barley, cornmeal, oat, and oat bran)
2 T ground flaxseed
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

1/4 c butter (1/2 stick), melted
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk (generous) (buttermilk also works, but it makes a thicker batter)
1 t vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Cook in your favorite waffle iron. Makes about 6-7 Belgian waffles.

May Day

Good news, everyone! The countdown to Opening Day is on. If you follow any other local farmers markets, you see them all gearing up. My own hands are twitching for some Loki salmon, some Fishing Vessel St. Jude tuna (can you say "multi-can discount"?) and a quirky new vegetable to try, depending on what's on offer. Word has it Foraged and Found will be there with possibilities like nettles, morels, various wild lettuces, and fiddleheads! (Recipe ideas for such items can be found in the Bellevue Farmers Market Cookbook or at a blogsite such as Mixed Greens.) The kids and I were also sitting at MOD Pizza last night, agreeing that it, while tasty, couldn't touch Veraci at the Bellevue Farmers Market.

Market Season also means I'll have fresh blog fodder for you, rather than just fear-inducing food factoids that I've trolled from the media. Speaking of which, here's the round-up for the week:

1. If you haven't yet seen FOOD, INC., it's an informative and entertaining movie. And it's now on Netflix Instant Play, for those of you who considered seeing it in a theater but thought you might be stoned for bringing in your processed snacks and super-sized Diet Coke. I confess I have a thing for smart bald guys who talk about food, and this movie has two: Eric "Fast Food Nation" Schlosser and Michael "Omnivore's Dilemma" Pollan. (Celeb farmer Joel Salatin may also be bald, but he never took off his hat.)

2. And I read Susan Brackney's PLAN BEE: EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HARDEST-WORKING CREATURES ON THE PLANET. Very fun and educational book. Given all the buzz (forgive me) about the honeybee's demise, I must say I was heartened by a few things I learned here. For one, honeybees aren't native to the Americas. So if they completely disappear here, it'll be us going native. For another, "killer" bees also help with pollination and make honey! Brackney reports that apiarists can also cultivate this hardier species, at a certain increased risk to themselves. And for finally, they may not make honey, but butterflies, birds, and bats also help with pollination. If only the bats were just a tiny bit cuter...

3. More good news for saturated fat lovers! Scientific American confirms what other studies and Nina Planck already pointed out: natural, saturated fats found in things like butter and bacon were not the killer after all. The food and diet industry hastened to replace saturated fats with such "improved" ingredients like transfats and soybean oil and carbs, carbs, carbs, only to find this move didn't help a bit with heart disease, diabetes and such. Butter and bacon fat are back on the menu! And--bonus--they taste way better.

4. And, lastly, if your house is overrun by mice, you may want to consider putting out some soda pop and processed food. Science Daily reports that the phosphates in such items have been shown to reduce the little squeakers' lifespans. Extrapolated to humans, researchers conclude that "high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging...[and] may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy." Whoa, there--we may not care one bit about chronic kidney disease or cardiovascular whatchamacallit, but premature aging??? Soda, we are through!

For some happier reading, if you haven't already checked it out, peruse my article on the BFM for Bellevue.com. Ever wonder how many people come to our Market? Check out the interesting statistics Lori provided.