Each week we attempt to stay within a budget at the Farmer’s Market. With some creativity, I can keep the weekly trip under $20.   However, we occasionally splurge on some of the great meats, cheeses, jams, honey and other items with a $10+ price tag. Last week, it was almond flour at the Jack London Square Farmers Market, this week, while I was chasing chickens around Funk Town, Mr. Oakland Garden Kitchen brought home a $15 filet of white sea bass (I’m sure it has another, non-bass name) from the fish vendor under the freeway at Grand Lake Farmers Market.  These guys are based in Santa Cruz and consolidate the catches of many independant fisherman taking their fruit de mer  to a different market each day.   While I have no idea if they follow any seafood watch guidlines, I do know that their fish is never frozen and always within 24 hrs fresh from the Pacific. Catch them at the Monterey market on Tuesdays. 

Another activity at Funk Town Farm this week involved harvesting alot of mint and cilantro, which put me in a Carribean mood all weekend. With a little help from allreicpes.com, I  merged a few recipes to make a cilantro-mint sauce for the fish dinner tonight. Here’s what happened in my kitchen tonight:

Diced:

Cilantro-Mint Sauce simmering on the stove

2 cloves garlic
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 yellow bell pepper
1/4 red onion
one of the little dried chilis hanging in my kitchen window.  (The recipe called for crushed red pepper).

I sauteed all these lovely local veggies (most of them the end of the sautee-stash from last week’s market) in a few tblspoons of olive oil.  As the onions and peppers softened, I diced up one medium size tomato (organic tomatoes are slowing coming back into season!) and added it to the pan.  Cooked a little more, hunted around my fridge for a dry white wine. 

White Sea Bass, Cilantro-mint sauce, quinoa and black beans

Luck!  Half a bottle of inexpensive sauvignon blanc.  I added 1.5 cups to the skillet.  As the wine warmed up to a sizzle, I added a little salt and pepper to the juicey mixture.

Per an online recipe, I added the fish filet to the pan, spooned a little bit of the sauce over the fish, and covered the pan, letting the fish cooked for 10 minutes.  This was a thick filet, so after 10 minutes, it wasn’t quite flakey enough for me.   I covered it again and let it simmer for 2 more minutes.

Fishy closeup

In the mean time, I washed and chopped up about two cups of mint and cilantro.  I had so much that I washed and spun the green leaves together in a salad spinner.  Then I balled ’em all up, transferred the wad to my cutting board, and chop chop chop with a knife.  I think this is something like what the french call “chiffonade.”  I was just trying not to get overwhelmed by sheer volume of herbs.

Once the fish was cooked, I removed the filet to put it in baking dish with a lid.  I left the dish, covered, on the stove near warm eye so it wouldn’t get to cold.  If I was thinking ahead, I would have had the oven on warm and the dish also warm.  But in the end the fish was warm enough to serve.

Meanwhile, I added 2 tblspoons of butter to the brothy sauce and simmered for about ten minutes, stirring regularly, until it reduced by about half.  I added in the mint and cilantro, stirred just long enough for everything to heat through, and then started fixin’ our plates.

Because Mr. OGK is also training for a marathon, I fixed a side of quinoa and reheated some black beans from an earlier meal.  Quinoa is very easy to prepare, somewhat like couscous, and is high in protein.  It is grown at high altitude in the Andes mountains, so sorry Oakland, it’s not local.  However, I bought it (in bulk) at the little independant grocer on Lakeshore (Lakeshore Produce) and I’m inspired to do some research into how the export of quinoa effects the mountain villages of Peru and Bolivia.

The black beans were also a bulk purchase, dry, from a grocer in Fruitvale.  I have no idea where they get their dried black beans, any leads anyone? 

So, with our exotic grains and our market splerge on fish, we enjoyed a lovely, light, yet filling fish dinner.  I finished off the sauvingon blank and Mr. Marathon-in-training had a tall glass of water with a splash of lemon juice and a sprig of mint.  Spring on the Pacific Coast is pretty fabulous.

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a FRESH success!

March 15, 2010

Thanks to everyone who helped make FRESH the movie happen in Oakland on Saturday!  If you missed the event, or skipped on all the paper, download a PDF of the brochure with contact info for participating exhibitors and tips on buying, growing, and eating local food.

Some highlights of the event were:

Incredible Mexican Food! Leticia, the owner of Taco Grill, donated all the proceeds of her sales to our cause of the night, subsidizing Grub Boxes for low-income families through People’s Grocery.  Did you know that her tacos, sopes, casadillas and all her food is make from organically grown and locally sourced produce, even the meat, cheese and eggs!  What an amazing opperation.  Please visit her restaurant in Fruitvale, 3340 E 12th St. right accross from the BART station. http://taco-grill.blogspot.com/

Three Fabulous CSAs are waiting for you to join!
Shooting Star:  Lily and Matt were there to show us how they grow organic produce in  Fairfield, just 40 miles from the Bay Area.  Visit their brand new website and sign up online: http://www.shootingstarcsa.com/Shooting_Star_CSA/Join_our_CSA.html
EatWellFarms: Morgan brought samples of their amazing pastured eggs, which are available in their CSA boxes.  Sign up online at http://eatwell.com/community/apform.html and be sure to use the promocode FRESH10 to save $17!
FarmFreshtoYou: Richard from Farm Fresh to You showed us the amazing variety and flexibility of their home delivery CSA.  Email Richard to get that $10 voucher and sign up for a CSA box.  richard.farmfresh@gmail.com

Sai from Star Apple Edible Gardens was there to show us how he can turn your back yard into an edible oasis.  A big thanks to Sai for volunteering to turn Funk Town Farm in to a high producing urban wonderland, we can’t wait to see the transformation!  Visit their new website at http://www.starappleediblegardens.com/

And Jon from Earthbox also showed those of us who are apartment bound how to grow food without a yard.  To find out how to get started, email Jon jondeme@hotmail.com.  What a great neighbor!

All the art work from the show DIGEST is still available for purchase, including those $10 original prints by Benjamin Chan.  Proceeds for Ben’s prints still go to People’s Grocery, only 60 prints made, all are signed.  Contact Dave Kim, daveyoungkim@gmail.com for details or stop by Regeneration Church on Sundays 8am-11am or 5pm-9pm.

An amazing panel of food justice activists joined us from Mandela Foods, Phat Beets Produce and People’s Grocery. Like Nikki said, don’t forget to stop by Mandela Grocery and for groceries next time you head to the West Oakland Bart.

Mandela Foods Cooperative
1430 Seventh Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510.452.1133

hours:
Monday-Friday 7am-7pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 10am-4pm

Finally, if you helped support us by posting a flyer, stop back in the business, thank them for their support and take the flyer down.  We hope they keep supporting community events like ours!

Rainbow Lake

January 26, 2010

______________________________________________________________________________________________

This afternoon I left my house on my bike, just thrilled to be out in the sun.  It was shinig so brightly, sitting low in the sky and making everything look clean.  But when I started pedaling up Lakeshore I noticed large drops of rain reflecting in the sun.  For just a second, I grumbled.  “Can’t we even get a break when it’s sunny?”  As I rounded the turn and settled in between those lovely orange baracades to cross over the bridge, I looked back over my shoulder and saw this.  Bright colors stretching over the lake in a perfect arch that seemed to put me and all of down town Oakland in a sunny snow globe.  It was better than a break, it was a rainbow ending in my back yard.

Purple Soup

January 24, 2010

Purple Soup

This week it rained, even hailed for a noisy moment, and I enjoyed the crash of thunder and one quick flash of lightening from our front window.  But it was cold, and everything in the garden seemed to be covered in the mud and sand that splashed up from the heavy drops and strong winds.

Standing in the garden with barren raised beds and the rain falling on my head, I pulled up some of our last beets.  My hands were muddy and and there was dirt on my face, and for a moment I felt like Scarlet O’Hara pulling up the last scrawny carrot out of the red clay of Georgia.

But beets are not to be mourned.  They are so full of color and vitamins they should be as celebrated as a summer berry, and they double deliver with iron rich green tops.  So though it is winter, and we seem to be losing variety, we haven’t lost hope.  Here’s a recipe for some real color to warm and brighten a rainy Oakland day.

Purple Soup
(Beets, Carrots and Ginger)

Source of local ingredients detailed

3 to 5 small to medium beet roots (funk town farm)
an equal amount of carrots (funk town hippie baby carrots)
1 small apple (Grand Lake Farmers Market, $0.50/lb)
1/2 a small lemon (neighbor’s tree)
1/4 red onion (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
1 small or medium ginger root (Jack London Square Farmers Market)

1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tbl spoons butter (bummed off a neighbor)
1 to 2 cups water or chicken stock (chicken stock preferable, I didn’t have any)
keep salt and pepper on hand for final seasoning
1 teaspoon cumin

Roast the Roots.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix all dry ingredients except cumin in a small bowl, set aside.
Choose a baking dish with a lid or have tinfoil on hand to cover it. Wash all vegetables to remove any dirt.  Cut carrots to fit into the baking dish. Cut apple into quarters, discard core.  Dice onion.  Toss carrots, apple and onion in the dry mixture and put in baking dish.  If the beets still have the greens on them, cut the stalks off at the base and set greens aside for another dish.  Add beets to baking dish.

Note on beets:  You will have to peel the beets after they cook.  You can cook all the vegetables together, then separate the beets afterward to peel them.  That’s what I did, but note that it’s a little messy because the beets inevitably have butter and sugar on them and require hand peeling.  You can put the beets in a separate baking dish if you’re worried about the mess.

Cut butter into small pieces and add to dish.  Bake the vegetables, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle the beets.  Because I wasn’t ready to make soup yet, I put the whole baking dish in the fridge until the next day, when I peeled the beets.

Peeling beets.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, their thin but tough skin is easy to peel off by hand.  I found that after leaving them in the fridge overnight the skins practically separated from the beet and removing the peel was very easy.  However, you’ll do this by hand and your fingers will get very purple.  Just rinse your hands off when your done and dry your hands, but not with your finest white kitchen towel.

Make Soup.

Peel and dice the ginger root.

Blend/Puree.
If you have a hand immersion mixer, simply dump the contents of the baking dish into a deep soup pot.  Add the peeled beets and ginger root.  If any of your vegetables are in large pieces, now is a good time to cut them into 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Just us a butter knife to chop of the soft beets and carrots in the pot.  Add about 1/2 cup of water or broth and bring to a simmer.  Puree the veggies with the immersion mixture until the soup is smooth.  You may need to add a little more water.  The deep soup pot should keep you from splashing purple soup on your clothes.  Aprons are good when working with beets.

If you prefer to use a blender instead of a hand mixer, dump the contents of the baking dish, along with peeled beets and ginger, into a standing blender.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water (or broth) and blend until smooth.  Transfer smooth mixture to soup pot.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Add cumin and squeeze the lemon juice into the pot.  Stir and add more water depending on the consistency you desire.  Taste it.  Decide if it needs more salt and pepper.  This depends on your taste and the potency of your ingredients.

Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes.  If you added too much water, you can simmer uncovered and it will cook down and thicken, the longer it cooks the thicker it’ll get.  If the consistency is just right, simmer covered and stir occasionally.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

This could be made with a variety of root vegetables or just carrots.

Read more recipes from people who grow their own food at “Grow Your Own” by Andrea, http://www.andreasrecipes.com/gyo/.  Check out the purple tomatillo salsa!

Little Green Chilies

January 22, 2010

Little Green Chilis

Little Green Chilis hang in my window to dry

An alternative to chocolate to encourage milk consumption.

Last Saturday I went to the Grand Lake Farmers Market with a budget.  I had $17 and I did not want to go by the ATM because the market would be closing in 15 minutes. 

I know the vendors pretty well, so I went to the hot spots to fill the pantry this week.  Apples, oranges, collards, brocoli, cauliflower, carrots.  At the apple stand I filled up on the $0.50/lb box for drying apple chips.  When my list was checked off, I proudly saw that I had $1.75 left. 

It was after 2pm and everyone was packing up, but I still had some cash!  The nearest booth was run by an Asian family, where I have bought cucumbers and gotten a few lessons on sweet potatoes.  I put the coins (all coins) on the table infront of the lady by the scale and asked, “What can I buy for $1.75?”  Her son was scooping eggplant into a box, she squinted at me. 

Chili close up

Strung with needle and thread.

“What you want?”

I shrugged.  My list was full.  I wanted to spend $1.75.

She nodded and placed 2 cucumbers, 1 large egg plant, and 2 sweet potatoes in front of me.

“Chilis two dollars,”  she said, and placed a bag of 25 small green chilis on the top of the pile.  I could tell they were a gift.

“Thank you!”  I said, and handed her my change, dumping out the change purse in her hand to show I was offering evertyhing I had.  I think I might have paid $1.97, there were pennies.

When I got home I sat down at my computer to see if I could determine what kind of chili I had been given.  Primarily, I wanted to know what it tasted like and what I should do with it.  But after several serches and chilihead blogs, I couldn’t find anything that looked like my little green chilis. 

So, I opened the bag, broke the tip off of one just enough to expose the skin inside, and touched my toungue to the chili.  I did not break out in a sweat.  My eyes did not water and my nose did not run.  But I took one deep breath and walked briskly to the kitchen, where I preceeded to finish a carton of milk….from the carton.

Even after downing a pint of leche, the tingling heat of the chili remained on my tongue and shocked my taste buds a new everytime I touched my tongue to the roof of my mouth, as if I were reactivating the chemicals.  It stung like a snake bite for at least 10 minutes. 

I wondered if the little lady at the farmers market was chuckling to herself on the way home, imagining me in this condition. 

I still don’t know what these little chilis are, but I know they are too hot for us!  I have shown them to every person who walks in my house, and the Asian friends I have say things like, “Oh, my mother grows those!” and “The little green ones are the hottest.”  Somehow, though, I can’t seem to give them away to anyone who recognizes them.  “No, we don’t cook with those, they’re too hot for us!”  I’ve been told that the custom is to pick them young and green, when they are only 2 inches long, for their intense heat.  Apparently, if left to mature, they will turn red and reach up to 12 inches long. 

My needle still threaded from my popcorn garland, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to dry a few.  There is no way we’ll eat more than one or two fresh, so I figured this was the best way to preserve them, even if I do keep giving them away to unexpecting guests.  In 5 days they have begun to shrivel a little, hanging in my cold kitchen window, and one has turned completely red. 

If you have a recipe for the fresh or dried version, please share.  Right now, the only ideas I have seem to be cruel jokes….

Eat More Chocolate

January 20, 2010

This year, my new years resolution is to eat more chocolate.

Ok, I’m actually concerned with getting more calcium, so the problem I am solving with this scenario is to drink more milk. The actual problem being I don’t really like milk.

Except in certain circumstances, one of those being with a good piece of chocolate.

So, I resolve to have dessert after LUNCH. With a small piece of chocolate and a tall glass of milk. According to the standard recomendation, this will give me 2/3rds of my daily calcium. I’ll need to add 1 cup of yogurt to breakfast or a serving of cheese and spinach for dinner.

To get the most out of the chococlate, I’m looking for dark chocolate, at least 60% cacao, in hopes of getting a little anti-oxident power from it. Because chocolate is not grown in California (please tel me if you know a source!) I’ll try to negate the negative impacts of purchasing an imported product by choosing an organic and/or fairtrade product.

Today, I enjoyed a small square (about a tenth of this chocolate bar) of Dagoba Organic Xocolatl, 74% cacao with little bits of chilies. They so small that the “heat” is very mild, but it adds a lovely texture and interesting layor of flavor. Quite frankly, the bit of heat balances the sweetness so that you don’t really need a glass of milk, but does still make the milk taste better.

Xocolatl (show-coe-LAHT-l) is believed to be the Nahuatl word for chocolate or hot chocolate.  Nahuatl was the trade language of the Aztecs and Mayans in Southern Mexico and Central America. 

Best part about this Dagoba is that I bought from Pharmaca it with a coupon from the EcoMetro guide. If you live in Oakland and havn’t gotten an EcoMetro, then it needs to happen. They are $20, and include tons of coupons for restaurant, grocery, museum, bike stores and even home goods. We got ours while making a purchase at Habitat Restore – it has a $20 coupon for Restore (with a $100 purchase) , so we practically got it for free!  We have used it to visit lots of indpendant businesses and explore the different neighborhoods of Oakland.  There is also a coupon for Bittersweet Cafe, another great Oakland chocolate source.

Today’s milk is Trader Joe’s Organic, 2%, Vitamin A & D, “Produced on California’s North Coast.”

Trader Joe’s private labels its milks, yogurts and cheese buy buying from local producers in different parts of the country. I am on a hunt to find out the actual producer of my Trader Joe’s milk, if anyone has info, please let me know!  What I don’t like about this product is the plastic carton.  Yes, it’s recyclable, but it’s also plastic.

Sweet Morning Potatoes

January 19, 2010

Sunday morning I grabbed two potatoes from the straw basket of our California Cooler.  Though one had a slightly richer purple skin, they seemed to both be sweet potatoes.  Two friends were coming over to share brunch with yes (yeah!) but we needed to suplement our usual grits and eggs with something that would help the meal feed four people.

We were out of plain white potatoes, but I’ve made breakfast hashbrowns with sweet ones before, so I started dicing up what we had.  But what we had was to very different roots!  One a soft, oily, rich orange potato that looked good enough to eat raw.  The other a purple skin with a dry, starchy white flesh that seemed to tear under my knife instead of allow itself to be sliced.  (Yes, I should probably sharpen my knife.) 

Both were full of natural sugar, sweeter than anything I’ve ever pan fried.  But there they were and there was the door bell, so heat the skillet and here we go!

Breakfast potatoes are a simple thing I used to think was a restaurant specialty.  Then I learned just how simple it is to dice a potato and brown it in a cast iron skillet.  Though I was using sweet potatoes, I still wanted a savory dish, so I used black pepper and cummin to tone down the sweet taters.  Here’s the recipe for rainbow breakfast potatoes potatoes:

1 purple skinned sweet potato (probably a japanese sweet potato)
1 tradional sweet potato (probably the american yam)
1 tbl spoon vegetable oil
1 -2 tea spoons cumin
1 shallot, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Cube the potatoes into small squares and set aside.  In a skillet, heat vegetable oil and sautee the diced shallot until tender.  Add 1 tsp cumin to the hot pan and stir to allow it to infuse the oil and the onions.  Then add the potatoes, stir to coat in oil.  Reduce heat and cover for 2 to 3 minutes, to allow the potatoes to cook.  Bring the heat to high, sprinkle some more cummin on them, and continue to sautee until the pieces are browned and tender.

Note.  The Yam is very soft and will begin to get mushy quickly.  I didn’t think this was a big deal, it seemed to hold the other pieces of sweet potato together.  However, if you want a more dry potato dish, skip the orange yams and just do firm, dry sweet potatoes. 

My potatoes were from David Little at Little Organic Farms.  Dry farmed, organic, $2.50/lb.  Grand Lake Farmers Market.

Also served:  Eggs (courtesy my Cocky chicken at Funk Town)
and Grits (courtesy Lucky’s grocery store, 5 minute quick grits.  We need to track down the guys at Jimmy’s Cracked Corn to get more local yellow grits.)

Cream Sauce over Linguine with Sauv Blanc

Um…….YUM!

This was quite simply delicious, and was more about the ingredients than the talented chef.

Pasta:
Fresh Linguine – Plain Egg Pasta from “the Pheonix Pastificio” in Berkeley, purchased at Farmer Joe’s.  $4.50 for 12 ozs.

Sauce

  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs butter (Redwood Hill, Grand Lake FM)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (Ventana Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour (Lakeshore Produce, organic bulk dry goods)
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream (Horizon Organic, Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (Trader Joes, “local organic”)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
  • 1/4 white onion or 1 green onion, diced (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (Jack London Square FM)
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced (Grand Lake FM)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmaseano reggiano cheese (We have had this block so long I don’t know where it came from…)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wait on the pasta until your almost ready to sit down.  Bring a big pot of water to boil with salt and olive oil.  The pot should be big so the pasta has enough room to move around in the roaring boil, otherwise it will stick together.  The package says cook for 60 – 75 seconds (yes, seconds) in boiling water.  I brought the water to a roaring boil, added the pasta, and of course, it stopped boiling.  It did, eventually, start boiling again.  From dump to strain, I left it in there for 2 minutes on high flame.  OH MY GOSH this pasta is delicious.   We will do this again!

To make the sauce,

1. add olive oil to pan at medium heat.  Sauté onions and garlic until soft.
2. Sprinkle just a touch of the flour in and mix in with a wooden spoon.  Any remaining liquid/oil will thicken.
3. Add butter (it’ll melt in the pan) and mushrooms and sauté until they are coated with the butter.
4. If you used a green onion, add the diced green “tops” or scallions now.
5.  Add white wine and bring to a simmer.
6.  Spring in remaining flour and whisk together until blended, reduce heat.  Allow to simmer for about 1 minute, until sauce thickens.
7.  Add cream and milk, whisk together until well mixed and simmer for approx. 5 minutes, until sauce thickens.
8.  Added grated cheese, stir until well melted and mixed, then lower heat.
9.  Add fresh spinach, stir into the sauce until all the leaves are covered with cream.  Keep heat low and cover the pan.  Now would be a good time to start the pasta.  Serve within 5 minutes of adding the spinach and do not raise the heat.

Serve with the Sauvignon Blanc that you used for cooking.  This is why you sometimes use a good wine for cooking.  The Ventana Sauvignon Blanc is dry, bright and has a very definite Meyer lemon tang.  It makes a great sauce and makes you look like a “wine pairing genius” if you serve it alongside the meal.  The bottle is approx. $10 and can be found at most Bay Area wine shops.  It is grown sustainably on a cold climate vineyard in Soledad (Monterey County).

Tonight, we had a few things in the fridge asking to be cooked. 

Smoked Cheddar Cheese, a good size block of it that we bought for slicing for sandwiches at the farmers market a week and a half ago.  But with no sandwich meat or bread in the pantry, we hadn’t made a whole lotta sandwiches.

Broccoli, who’s bright green color was waning in its second week in the crisper.

I suppose I could have done a great broccoli cheese something or other, but I had a craving for macaroni and cheese, so we had a two dish meal tonight.

I took on the mac-n-cheese, adapting this All Recipes.com recipe to my little ramekins.
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Macaroni-and-Cheese-V/Detail.aspx

My recipe:

  • 1 tablespoons melted butter (Redwood Hill, Grand Lake Farmers Market)
  • 6 ounces whole wheat organic macaroni (from Lakeshore Produce, independent grocer)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
  • 1 small tooth of garlic, minced (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tiny dried pepper (we have Coban Chiles from our last trip to Guatemala)
  • 1 cup whole milk (organic, Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 table spoons Fromage Blanc (Grand Lake Famers Market, Cow Girl Creamery)
  • 1 egg (Funk Town Farm)
  • 1 cup shredded Smoked Cheddar Cheese (Redwood Hill, Grand Lake Farmers Market)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 medium ramekins with butter.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, then place into prepared ramekins.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the minced onion and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pepper, salt, and crushed dried chili until incorporated, then turn off heat.
  5. Pour in the milk and whisk to incorporate the sautéed veggies and butter.
  6. Add the egg and whisk to blend all ingredients.  (It’s important to leave the heat off so as not to cook the egg)
  7.  Stir in the Cheddar cheese and pour cheese sauce over the macaroni in each dish.
  8. Place a dollop of Fromage Blanc on top of each dish.  It’ll melt down and brown, forming a nice salty “top” for the mac-n-cheese.  Buttered breadcrumbs would work, too.  
  9. Bake until the top is golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

 

Mr. Oakland Kitchen will have to share the secrets to juicy chicken and broccoli stir fry in another post, but here are the ingredients:
1 chicken breast, cut up (Kosher Meat Market, Lakeshore Ave.)
2 heads of broccoli, just the tops (put the stalks aside for vegetable stock later)
1 medium carrot, diced (Lake Merritt Farmers Market)
2 green onions, diced (Funk Town Farm)
2 small radishes, diced (Grand Lake Farmers Market)
a small handful of pine nuts (Trader Joes)
Soy Sauce
Sesame Sauce
Vegetable Oil

Fish Head Soup

January 12, 2010

One day, I said to my husband, I’d like to start buying whole fish.   With the head.  He nodded, I didn’t think he’d heard me.

But then, last Saturday, he brought home a whole trout from the Grand Lake Farmers Market.  $8. 

Well now I had to eat my words, and eat a whole fish!

The fish was already slit and gutted (whew!) so for the first round I stuffed it with what we had around….garlic cloves, onions, lemon slices, parsley and thyme.  I rubbed the shiny silver skin with salt and pepper, drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, layed a few slices of lemon on the outside of the fish and wrapped the whole thing in tin foil.  Baked in the oven at 350 for approx 20 mins.  (10minutes for each inch the fish is thick).

The fish steamed in the tin foil and the flesh was white and flaky.  The skin peeled off easily, but the bones were thin and flexible.  The were a task to watch out for on your plate, but they were thin I don’t think they would have done any harm. 

But all my stuffing and rubbing didn’t give our trout much flavor (perhaps I should have let it sit?) so we had a good bit left over, espeically that head.

So a few nights later, I dumped a (homemade) jar of chicken broth and the fish head (with a few more small filets of fish we didn’t eat), 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half (the last of the Funk Town tomatoes), a few thin slices of onion, the juice of half a (neighbor’s) lemon, a few stray arugula leaves (Funk Town) and 2 baby carrots (cut up, Funk Town Hippie Carrots).  A dash of salt and a double dash of black pepper.  I set the pot to simmer as low as the flame on our gas stove will go (just a glow of blue around the base), and took a shower.  Over all, it simmered about 45 minutes.

The resulting soup was amazing!  We totally redeemed that fish!  I must note that is was, indeed, a very fishy soup, so if you’re a “shrimp only” seafood eater, then you’ll have to get over that before you wash down this soup, but once you do, you’ll love it!  Mr. Oakland Kitchen stepped back into his fishing village days and pulled every good piece of meet out of the flavorful head.  I enjoyed the few chunks of filets in broth with the other vegetables and a slice of bread from Arezmendi Cafe (Lakeshore Ave).

The budget news:  4 meals from one fish, $2 each.