I don't recall eating kale for most of my life. It's not that I didn't know what it was it's just that I didn't buy it, cook it or know that it was edible. As a teen, I can recall the salad bar at Sizzler (a family favorite) being decorated with its curly leaves stuffed into the ice - not something that would have been mistaken as a crudite and piled onto your plate. It must have slipped quietly into my diet when I started studying nutrition. Even then, I was taught about its superfood properties, but didnï¿½t think much about those hardy, dark, green leaves.
Waiting for the ball to drop last year, I put a few handfuls of black eyed peas in a bowl of water to soak over night, and my Cuban friend put out 12 grapes for each of us to gobble down at the strike of midnight. We were preparing for a bountiful 2010 and working a little superstition to help it along. The black eyed peas would be turned into a delicious Hoppin' John on New Year's Day to bring us good luck and fortune, and the grapes, if all went well, would be gone by 12:01 A.M. - one for each month, the sweeter the grape, the better the month.
One of the last vegetables hanging around your local farmers' market in March is likely to be the rutabaga. Not always first on people's minds, but aren't you getting bored of carrots, parsnips, beets and potatoes? Maybe your grandma cooked rutabagas, frying them up in some butter? Even if your memories of these old-timey root veggies aren't that appealing, give them another try. They are a surprisingly tasty and nutritious, cruciferous treat.
The thing I remember most about the first time I tried asparagus is dipping it in mayonnaise. I was about seven and also vaguely recall grilled steak and a 1980's-era version of my dad, but the mayonnaise I remember clearly. (Best Foods. I grew up in Washington State and wouldn't hear of Hellman's for another 20 years.) Even as a child, I liked vegetables, but I really liked condiments. I still enjoy a good sauce, but these days I appreciate asparagus as most people do, for what it symbolizes: the beginning of the growing season.
Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming, by Laura Stec with Eugene Cordero, is a treasure trove of facts and tidbits about what we eat and how it affects the health of our planet. Part cookbook, part textbook, part righteous party planning manual, this 2008 addition to the "good food" canon takes a very different approach to coaching readers through the details of a carbon-friendly diet.
This week in Seasonal Food: Rhubarb. Get to know this fascinating, delicious vegetable -- er, fruit. (Which is it? Depends where you are!) Tangy and beautiful, these late spring/early summer stalks will lend a lot of zip to your seasonal eating.
While we have had our bad eating habits explained to us before, vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier brings a new perspective to the topic and breaks the elements down into measurable chunks in his new book, Thrive Foods, lending real weight to his theory that a plant-based diet is better for the planet and our personal health. Thrive Foods starts off on a downer note with a detailed description of the toll industrial food production takes on our planet and the toll our current eating habits are taking on our health, but finishes off with a delicious plant-based cookbook to help us counteract the first three chapters.
From The Niman Ranch Cookbook, you'll not only discover great recipes from some of America’s top chefs, you'll also learn about the producers, veterinarians, and ranchers across the nation who have joined Bill Niman in his quest to return agriculture to its traditional roots while remaining competitive in today’s market.
Simply in Season is a cookbook that takes on the problems of modern food production through seasonal eating. This handy, spiral bound guide is color coded by season and offers recipes made from foods typically offered by small local farmers during each season.
The popularity of the humble potato has waxed and waned with varying degrees of drama over the course of its 2,200-year history. Learn more about this ubiquitous vegetable and its history of feast and famine.
Estimates vary, but Americans put back at least several billion burgers each year (a quick internet search shows 13 and 14 billion as the most common approximations). Patty contents vary; Burger King offers a veggie burger these days, and fancier burger joints like NYC's Bareburger offer exotic meats like elk, ostrich and bison. But the majority are still made from ground beef, a product that has taken a major beating in the press this year with massive consumer outcry over "lean finely processed beef" (more widely known as "pink slime") that led to the recent shutdown of three plants that produced the questionable product. Will the ick factor kill Americans' burger fetish? Not likely.
Three years ago, I started growing a few different varieties of heirloom lettuce. To me, lettuce - more than any other vegetable - represents the highs and the lows of urban gardening. Is anything more satisfying than seeing the bright neon green of Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce peeking up through the dirt in spring? Is there anything more soul crushing than the discovery that your perfect head of Speckled Bibb has been nibbled to the ground by a flock of rough-and-tumble Brooklyn sparrows? This year I got wise and outsmarted the sparrows with the clever use of bird netting and row cover - leaving me with a bumper crop of tender spring lettuce. (A delicious bonus: laughing in the face of my sparrow nemeses.)