Wasabi-Soy Sweet Potato with Ginger-Kale Chowder

IMG_2531Soup, soup, soup, soup, SOOOOOP. I’ve been waiting for seasonally-appropriate weather for at least six weeks, largely to take the edge off the panic induced by a 70-degree Christmas Day in Ohio, but also to fully sink into winter grub. Winter grub includes soup. And thus we have here a tale of two soups.

The first is a variation on the carrot soup Shannon shared a month or two back. In this version, she braised the carrots in soy sauce before putting them in the food processor, replaced the onions with garlic, and added ginger and sesame oil. Boom. I have nothing against carrots, but I do get tired of the aggression of their sheer profusion these months. I could not get enough of this soup, though. I mean, some kind of lovely chemical in my brain drained away when Shannon told me there was no more. I didn’t care what Slippin’ Jimmy was dealing with in Better Call Saul. I sat there and secretly wished Shannon would give me some of hers.

Which she did on her own volition! “No, no,” I said, “you finish your soup; I’m okay.”

“I sampled a lot while making it; I’m full,” she said.

And so I destroyed the few tablespoons left.

And thus inspired, I decided to do my part to work our way through our stockpile of root vegetables by inventing another soup that would satisfy a craving that I realized was significantly a craving for sesame oil.

So I worked up what I’ll call Wasabi-Soy Sweet Potato with Ginger-Kale Chowder. Continue reading

Superhero Breakfast Bowls

mexican sunrise

A Mexican Sunrise in Brooklyn

I’m usually not a big breakfast eater, especially when I’m rushing around on weekday mornings. When I do take the time to eat a big breakfast, though, it makes me feel imbued with superhuman powers. I noticed this recently when we visited Richmond, Virginia and went to a restaurant called Lunch, where I ordered the Mexican Sunrise. The Mexican Sunrise was basically a big ol’ bowl of cheddar cheese grits, topped with all variety of yummy Mexican ingredients. After polishing off one of those, I felt ready to take on practically anything, even the Greyhound bus back to New York.

winter breakfast bowlI tried my hand at my own version of the Lunch specialty, which was delicious, plus it inspired me to experiment. Below is a breakfast bowl I invented to use some of the goodies from our winter CSA shipment. I love layering just about anything (sweaters, sandwich ingredients, meaning), so putting one of these together provides a nice laidback kind of task that’s perfect for the weekend. Go ahead: face the morning (and the new year) like the superhero you really are.

Winter Breakfast Bowl (makes 2) Continue reading

Lemon Kale & Chili Chickpea Salad ~and~ Caramelized Peach & Mint Arugula Salad

Summer salads!  We currently have a mere two rows of rocket arugula, each maybe three-feel long, planted in one of our gardens, and even though I’ve instructed all the neighbors to help themselves, we’re overrun with arugula.  If you don’t harvest it, it will bolt (produce flowers and seeds) according to Evolution’s imperative, and then you’re out of luck stuck with flowering plants sporting dinky, anemic leaves.  The solutioLemon Kale & Chili Chickpea and Caramelized Peach & Arugula Saladsn, obviously, is endless salads.

We also happen to be in peach season and kale season, and thus we give you:   Lemon Kale & Chili Chickpea Salad and Caramelized Peach & Mint Arugula Salad.  These are awesome salads because they are hearty but not heavy, and they keep well in the fridge.

Lemon Kale &… Continue reading

Kale and Crunchy Chickpea Salad

One of my jobs provides the glorious perk of feeding me lunch on the regular.  And last week it served up a salad that included spiced, roasted chickpeas.  TKale and Crunchy Chickpea Saladhey were crunchy and spicy and seriously elevated what would otherwise have been a very regular salad.  So last night, I worked up my own version and created this salad.

Jay’s Kale & Crunchy Chickpea Salad


  • 1 bunch of organic kale (Dark greens suck up a ton of poisons from contaminated ground. In fact, pretty much the only way to remove, for instance, heavy metals from the soil is to plant dark greens, pull them when they’re fully grown, and trash them. So don’t skimp on the greens; buy them organic or from a farmer whose growing methods you trust.) Continue reading

Kale Run Amok

We kept a Ragged Jack Kale plant going all winter in the hoop house.  After uncovering it and leaving it untended for about three weeks while traveling, we returned to find it looking like this.

I’ve never seen anything like this.  It somehow grew seed pods even though it flowers and spreads itself that way.  The other gardeners in our community garden were equally shocked.

Anyone ever seen something like this happen to a brassica?


Raw Food Surprises and a Journey to Bliss

journey to bliss logoEvery year, Bonnaroo has a tent called The Academy, where you can learn vital skills like hula hoop making and spoken word poetry. Though I searched in vain this year for my favorite primitive skills guru, I did stumble upon a mother-daughter team giving a workshop about raw food called “Living Cuisine.” Okay, I know what you’re thinking, especially given what I just said about hula hoops, but I found Laura Button and Journey Button-Hale of Journey to Bliss Raw Foods really down-to-earth and engaging, and there were some surprises in the presentation that I thought were worth sharing.

Ditch the Labels—Laura still bristles at the idea of labeling someone according to their eating habits. “I’ll be a raw foodist when people stop brewing delicious beer,” she said. She made the point that you can have a vegan who eats a lot of processed crap every day or you can have an omnivore who eats mostly fresh vegetables and, occasionally, a grass-fed hamburger at a party; which one is healthier and eating more mindfully? Her point was that labels like raw foodist or vegetarian aren’t as meaningful as the day-to-day choices that lead people to eat food that makes them feel good. That (to a longtime vegetarian who occasionally and somewhat guiltily eats seafood) sounded refreshingly logical.

journey to bliss

Laura on the Whole Foods blog

Rethink that Multigrain Chip on Your Shoulder—Whole Foods is a big, big corporation, which, to some folks, earns them an automatic Darth Vader rating on the Scale of Villainy. While I can’t speak to all of WF’s business practices, Laura did point out a pretty grand one, which is that they regionally stock small, local producers, giving them far greater reach. So if you’re at a Whole Foods in Tennessee or Georgia, you might see the Intentional Foods line that Laura and Journey produce. It definitely made me want to hunt around in my own Whole Foods for some small suppliers doing their best in my neck of the woods.

It Might Be a Good Idea to Eat like a Toddler—Little kids are weird, and they’ll do things like decide they’re not eating anything but watermelon for an entire day. While those “mono-meals” might be frustrating to parents, Laura pointed out that they’re probably much more in line with the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, who found a food resource and exhausted it. Continue reading

Overwintered Salad Goodies

Remember that hoop house video I posted in October?  Well, I’ve come to brag and to confess.

Confession:  Winter is crazy-time work-wise, and I haven’t directly watered our hoop house greens in probably two months.  I’m a bad person.

Brag:  After getting only what water they could absorb from the soil surrounding the plot, I picked this for dinner:

That's Ragged Jack Kale, Chard, and Rocket Arugula

This came from a potential harvest big enough to make about twelve monster salads.  I’m talking full-meal salads, no side or garden numbers.

Just think what I could have pulled off if I stayed on the watering and picking.

Andrew Leahey’s Kale Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave us a homemade cookbook entitled Rock N Eat.  We talk like this.  It’s part of our culture.

The first entry is for a kale banana peanut butter smoothie and it starts, “This is much better than it sounds.”

It is.

I mean, it’s shockingly tasty.  I like kale a lot, though I don’t think I’d be too psyched for a kale-flavored breakfast, and thankfully the kale taste is nowhere to be found in this smoothie.  It’s all banana and peanut butter goodness, reducing the kale’s presence to tiny flecks while bestowing all the nutrition of raw kale, which is, as Andrew writes, “pretty much the best thing you can put into your body.” Continue reading

When You Just Can’t Get That Garden Going ’til July

A reader in North Carolina posted this comment last week:

Love the articles! I’m buying a house and will finally have a yard to start a garden. I’d love to get your opinion on the best times of the year to plant certain foods and some that would be easier for a first time gardener.


So we’re going to oblige.  Because we’re cool like that.  And believe that if you have the means to buy a house, you most definitely should rock a garden in the backyard.

This is a cool photo that has nothing to do with the content of this blog post

The best way to find out what plants will succeed when planted mid-Summer is to check with a local plant nursery or find region-specific info on the internet.  Since a plant’s suitability to your garden depends significantly on the temperature and on frost, the answer to your question varies depending on where you live.

Also, a good rule of thumb for less experienced gardeners is to buy seedlings, rather than seeds, to plant.  Doing this will give you an added advantage in that you’ll save time that you don’t want to spare since we’re already well into the season.

So, some recs…

Tomatoes! Good, homegrown, heirloom tomatoes are about the best thing you’ll ever taste.  They typically take up to two months to produce fruit, but if you pick up some seedlings at a nursery and get them into the ground, you’ll probably be able to start harvesting by mid-September, only about a month beyond when the “normal” tomato crop comes in.  The plants will keep producing well into Fall; I routinely continue to harvest tomatoes in Brooklyn in mid-October. Continue reading

Egg Quesadilla with Strawberry-Chipotle Sauce and Kale Salad

Egg QuesadillaWe know you’ve all been waiting for our solution to last week’s three ingredient challenge. Here’s how we combined strawberries, garlic scapes and Russian kale into a tasty dinner for two. The sweet-spiciness of the sauce makes a great complement to the eggs, and the citrus dressing on the salad keeps the flavors bright.

In addition to the three central ingredients, you’ll need to pull together these items: eggs, cheddar cheese, flour tortillas, scallions, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, dried barley, limes, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Continue reading