Sunday, February 22, 2009

Urban Pastoral

This week we picked up our first delivery of fresh, organic seasonal fruits and vegetables from Eatwell Farm's Community Supported Agriculture program. I'm super excited about getting a box of amazing produce every other week.

This weeks box included Fuji Apples, Pomelo, Lettuce, Spinach, Leeks, Bok Choy, Collards, Green Garlic, Radishes, Italian Flat-Leafed Parsley, Butternut Squash, Oranges, and Kiwis.

Not only does the Tiny Kitchen get to enjoy this fresh organic bounty, we are supporting the good hardworking people of a local California farm striving to keep alive the agrarian traditions of our great state. Local farms like Eatwell are the cornerstone of our food system, and the source of our continued sustenance.

And because we are all watching our expenses these days, it bears mentioning that buying a share in any CSA program is vastly cheaper than shopping at your local Safeway. A 4 week share from Eatwell Farm costs $108, or about $27 per week. Most CSA's, like Eatwell, let you choose between weekly or bi-weekly delivery.

For more information on Eatwell Farm and local Community Sponsored Agriculture, please visit the Eatwell Farm website or

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Udon Miso Soup

The great thing about soup is that you can make it with just about whatever you have ready to go in your kitchen. It can be a simple light broth with veggies, or a thick and rich stew of meat, beans and noodles. I've never really tried anything with miso before, but recently a cold San Francisco night was calling for a good soup. The miso soup I have had before, primarily in restaurants, has been little else but broth and tiny cubes of tofu. Since this was going to be the main course instead of just a starter, I figured it was going to need a little substance.

I adapted yet another recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for this soup, and while I added generous amounts of vegetables for this batch, it is really easily adaptable for whatever suits your tastes. I heartily recommend adding a small amount of miso and tasting the broth at first, you can always add more if it isn't flavorful enough. Miso can be pretty salty, so you probably don't need to add salt to anything. I used the fresh udon noodles that I found in the refrigerated section at the store, next to the tofu. Dried noodles should serve just as well.

Udon Miso Soup

1 package of fresh udon noodles
2 - 4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
3 - 5 ounces of extra firm tofu, sliced into tiny 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups of water
3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch chunks
1 package of fresh shitake mushrooms or other variety, sliced thin
4 - 5 radishes, sliced very thin
Small handful of fresh cilantro
A pinch of red pepper flakes (for heat)

Boil the noodles in salted water until cooked and just tender, drain, rinse and set aside. Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Mix a few tablespoons of the broth into a small bowl with the miso paste and whisk so it thins out the miso. Pour mix back into the pot. At this point, taste the broth to see if it needs more miso. Add the water. You may choose to add a little water at a time, tasting the broth as you go. 2 cups ended up being just the right amount of extra liquid needed for the amount of vegetables and noodles. This will vary on what you add to your soup.

Sprinkle in red pepper flakes. Add mushrooms, celery, and radishes, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the tofu, and allow the soup to return to a simmer. Remove the soup from the heat and add the udon noodles. Serve topped with fresh cilantro. I can't eat soup without something crunchy, so I toasted slices of a baguette to serve along side.

If all goes as planned, this should serve 4.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Treats

I've never been very keen on fake, made-up holidays like Valentine's Day. It was always cute when we were kids, giving out little cards with generic sentiments spoken by our favorite cartoon characters attached to tiny packets of inedible candy that we would all enthusiastically try to break our teeth on later. It was fun then, and I'm sure it was hilarious for the teachers to watch all of the little boys shyly trying to give the girls their Valentine's, and hoping for one in return.

Since those days, I've grown somewhat wiser, and a little bitter, and realized that Valentine's Day is just a way for greeting card companies to make their quarterly profits and for restaurants to spike their prices on indulgent and pretentious prix fix menus. I also understand that showing the person you love how much you care about them is immensely important; however I don't need nor want Hallmark, Nestle, or FTD to tell me when I am expected to do so. Luckily, Mrs. Rosewater does not subscribe to the doctrine of St. Valentine either, and as the anniversary of our very first date is the next day, we have a much better reason to celebrate and dote on one another.

Ok, enough Proselytizing. Sorry, I kind of went on a rant there. In spite of my obvious disdain for this "holiday", it is always a good excuse to enjoy something sweet with my sweetie. We decided to try our hand at making crepes with Nutella, that famed Parisian street food and favorite treat of Nutella lovers everywhere. I've never made crepes before, and the craft has a certain learning curve to it. To add to the handicap, we do not have an actual crepe pan or that handy little wooden spreader thingy used to evenly cover said pan with batter. About halfway through the bowl of batter, we realized we should be spooning the Nutella onto the crepe whilst it was still in the pan, ensuring it was hot enough to melt the spread.

Throw a couple of strawberry slices inside, fold, and serve topped with powdered sugar. Or more strawberries. My first try at crepe making was pretty successful, if I do say so myself. And no, the fact that this is my second post in a row to include Nutella is not lost on me. What can I say? We had plenty left over from World Nutella Day 2009. I hope everyone's Valentine's or Anti-Valentine's Day were just what you hoped they would be. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

World Nutella Day 2009

I do not have a sweet tooth. Never have. So, in general, things like Nutella don't often show up on my radar. My wife, on the other hand has a sweet tooth big enough for the both of us. She loves Nutella, and is gingerly licking it off of her fingers with a sly smile on her face as I write this sentence.

Several weeks ago, she was reading two of our favorite blogs, Bleeding Espresso and Ms. Adventures in Italy and noticed that Michelle and Sara would soon be celebrating "World Nutella Day 2009" with many Nutella-loving food bloggers around the world. She said "you should write a post about this. You might actually like it."

Up until this evening, I had never tried Nutella. Even though I know they are two completely different things, I have always thought Nutella was exactly the same thing as Vegemite. (If you don't know what Vegemite is, you're probably better off.) Despite my irrational aversion to jars of gelatinous brown food-stuff, the missus convinced me to partake in World Nutella Day 2009. And continue enabling her addiction to chocolate.

Keeping things nice and simple, we bought some LU Shortbread Cookies to spoon the Nutella onto. Not a bad choice.

So I may not become a full on Nutella addict like some of my foodie friends out there, but now that I have tasted it I have seen the light. Although now I have this big jar of chocolate hazelnut goodness loitering in my kitchen, waiting to be eaten. Here's looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tastemaker Review: Quaker True Delights granola bars

From time to time our friends at Foodbuzz headquarters will open up their stash of great foodie delights, and shares some with the rest of the class. Recently, I opened up the mailbox to find a large white envelope from Foodbuzz stuffed with the first flavors of a new line of granola bars from Quaker.

Quaker's True Delights granola bars are being introduced in three tasty new flavors, Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut, Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry, and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond. The bars are being billed as "an indulgent combination of real fruit, whole nuts and dark chocolate, mixed into wholesome honey-drizzled Quaker oats."

I always enjoy having something to snack on during the drive to work, and these little bars hit the spot. Filling they are not, but they do take the edge off of the morning hunger pangs when you don't have time for a real breakfast. These little guys are tasty, definitely a step up from your average granola bar. While they are by no means "all natural", (nor are they billed as such), but there are only a couple of ingredients with more than 3 syllables. They aren't the healthiest treats in the world at 4.5 of grams of fat per bar, but as long as you don't eat the whole box all at once, I think you'll be alright.

All in all, not a bad turn from the folks at Quaker. Thanks, Foodbuzz!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Indigestion

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, our pseudo-national holiday of greasy food & cold beer, rampant gambling, million-dollar television commercials, and I think there was a football game on, too.

The Super Bowl party has become a national past time, almost as much so as the actual game itself. People come together bearing cases of beer, chips and dip, and crock pots bubbling with cheesy, spicy delights. Our good friends Rick and Erin hosted us again this year, and they had their house fully prepped for the big game. The couch was even arranged into stadium seating complete with 3-D glasses and penalty flags for the ultimate viewing experience.

But on to the food. I didn't actually cook anything; I still haven't mastered cooking for large groups. So, we headed up to Sonoma county with some snacks from Trader Joe's and our winning personalities. Everyone brought something to snack on, from multi-layered dips, peanut butter & chocolate cupcakes, barbeque pork, and a cheesy buffalo chicken dip that I can only liken to crack. It's just that good.

Oh, and in case you missed the game, the Steelers won. It ended up being a pretty exciting Super Bowl. I hope everyone had a great time, where ever you were.