Sunday, May 19, 2013


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Back in January, my daughter and I embarked on an adventure we'd wanted to try for the last couple of years. We signed up for an organic produce co-op. We pick up our half share every other Saturday from a drop point that is about two blocks from my house.

At first we thought a half share might not be enough for two two-person households, but we've found it works out pretty well. My daughter got the lion's share when I was traveling so much in the winter and spring. (We'll see if we fight over the corn and tomatoes when the summer crops start coming in!)

But as the produce is all organic and most is local and seasonal, our winter/spring shares have presented some challenges. We're both good cooks and adventurous eaters, but we'd never had kohlrabi, or sorrel, and had no idea there were so many things you could do with beets.  A few items defeated us, like the weird radish-like THING. I think it was a vegetable...

Last Saturday's share, pictured above, contained, among the bounty, an unidentified but yummy green, and dandelion greens. So far I haven't done more than nibble at the dandelions, although they're supposed to be really good for you. (Any suggestions, folks?)

I did make the suggested recipe from the previous pick-up, which was absolutely delish:


(I cooked all the greens, onions and mushrooms, then used them with eggs and tortillas over a few days.  There was no way dear hubby would eat greens or shitake mushrooms!)

1 dozen organic eggs
1 clamshell organic shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 bunch organic greens (sorrel, spinach, chard, or beet greens) chopped
1 organic yellow onion, sliced
12 organic corn tortillas
real salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp organic butter

Scramble eggs in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stirring occasionally until softened. Add mushrooms, cook 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped greens and stir until softened. Add 1 tbsp butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in bowl and set aside.

Reduce heat to low and 2 tbsp oil to skillet. Add eggs. Push eggs around pan occasionally. When the eggs are almost done, remove skillet from heat and finish cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste and place eggs in bowl.

Heat the tortillas in the skillet. To serve, spoon eggs into a tortilla and top with mushroom mixture.

(Courtesy of the Urban Acres Kitchen.)  

While I was trying these sometimes strange new things, I learned  that a friend's mother has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and although she is still mobile, she can no longer have food or liquid by mouth.  And I couldn't imagine the loss of TASTING. All the weird and wonderful things we can eat are such a joy!

I've also just read our Lucy Burdette's wonderful new book, TOPPED CHEF (which made me want to cook like mad) and I kept going back to one of the book's chapter epigraphs:

"I always tell people, just put it in your mouth," she said. "What's the worst that can happen? You're not going to die. Either you're going to like it or not." Emma Hearst, chef at Sorella 

So here's my challenge for today, REDS and READERS:  Tell us what you've eaten lately that you've never tried before?



  1. Recently I came across a recipe that called for leeks and fennel [both of which I see are part of your bounty] . . . I hadn’t cooked with either before, but both were quite easy to work with . . . the recipe was delicious and since then we’ve enjoyed several different dishes that have included either leeks and/or fennel . . . .

    I’m not sure I’m too anxious to try your dandelion greens, though . . . .

  2. Hi Debs,

    If I had dandelion greens to use I would compost them.

    But if I had fresh leeks, I would make cream of leek soup with bacon and cheddar.

  3. Oops. Pressed publish by mistake--
    Thanks for posting recipe for Shitake and Greens Breakfast Tortillas. It sounds like a recipe Steve and I would love.

    Lucy's Topped Chef is headed my way, and I'm looking forward to reading it. I've only recently discovered mysteries that have food as a central theme, and I'm having a lot of fun with them.

  4. You sure you went to the right drop spot? That pile looks a lot like the kitchen trash I tossed the other day.

  5. Dandelion greens, if young are wonderful. Cook and eat them like spinach! Dee

  6. I see you have fennel - I like to add the bulb to my spaghetti sauce (Pastor Ryan's Bolognese over at Pioneer Woman), and it' good sliced up with onions and sweet peppers and thrown in a crockpot with Italian sausages. I'm a fairly adventurous eater, though I have a strong aversion to mushrooms, which I struggled with the other day. I ordered the daily special - an Asparagus Wrap - that the waiter raved about. When it arrived, I discovered it was 30% asparagus and 70% portobello. I tried. I ate one full bite, then got too squicked out and pulled out the rest of the mushrooms.

  7. Well, Hallie and I are traveling in NC on a book tour so we are eating southern specialties--lots of them. We enjoyed watching Jennifer McMahon eat her first-ever chopped barbeque (east Carolina style, with vinegar rather than red sauce) and hushpuppies.

    We're having a ball, but I have to admit it will be good to be back to more veggies!

  8. I tasted my daughters scrambled eggs with "ramps" -- they are a young scallion?

    Yesterday, I was at a food truck festival, and had a lobster roll -- the adventurous part was that the lobster was dressed in an Asian fusion emulsion! Quite good.

  9. Kale. I know it's one of the most amazing veggies out there for you, and I tried it a couple of months ago and was pleasantly surprised. Now I'm hooked!

  10. Fennel's also good to eat just raw, but you have to like the taste of licorice.

  11. I had not tried quinoa until recently and loved it! And I never cared for brussel sprouts until recently when they were served oven-baked at a housewarming party. It seemed they had been cut in half and drizzled with olive oil, maybe, then baked. The result was delicious! Just goes to prove you should never give up on a vegetable, either!

  12. Fran, I love fennel. Haven't eaten the lovely bunch in my produce share, but it keeps well. I'm planning a salad I saw in one of my Gordon Ramsay books with pear, rocket, and watercress. Yum!

  13. Susan, roasted Brussells sprouts are all the rage, apparently. I never liked them growing up, when they were cooked until grey and soggy. But I've discovered I love them roasted, or steamed until just bright green and crisp tender (cut them in half first.) Serve with a drizzle of really good olive oil or walnut oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and fresh ground salt and pepper. Fabulous and so easy!

  14. I just tried quinoa as well. It was very good. And so was the yu choy in a stir fry.

  15. Yes to brussel sprouts roasted and o zucchini, grated and sautéed in butter, salt and pepper. Always leery of fennel because I don't like licorice--does it give that taste to every dish you use it in? Tried quinoa two or three times--not impressed. Love kale chips.

  16. Judy, I don't like licorice either, but I love fennel. It doesn't taste the same to me. Try slicing the tenderest part of the bulb really thin and tossing in good olive oil and lemon juice. (You're beginning to guess I like olive oil and lemon juice on everything, right? Also fresh ground salt and pepper.) I especially like fennel this way with sliced grape tomatoes.

  17. Eating weird is not me! I do love caviar, and pate, and let's see..fiddleheads and ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE FABULOUS.

    (Oops, caps lock. But then, why not..) KAle chips..eesh. You will have to do more convincing to get me to like them.

    I'm just back from several days at a convention--yay, Pennwriters!--and am longing for something other than hotel food... (Though you know I love room service..)

  18. Love quinoa, too, Judy. But you have to rinse it before it's cooked or it's slightly bitter.

    My friend Carol Daeley wins the JR prize, whatever that may be. Here's her comment from Facebook, "I have eaten crickets roasted over a campfire with Berbers in Morocco and fried silkworms in China." Way to go, Carol!

  19. I tried grasshoppers a few months ago; they were in a Mexican dish my brave husband ordered.

    They tasted of nothing, really, and had the texture of fried shrimp shells (but not as crunchy).
    I wouldn't eat them again.
    Especially since Shin felt sick the next day and wondered why.

    Kale is something I never ate until 3 years ago. Now I'm addicted to it.

    Your recipe sounds delicious!

  20. I've always been an adventuresome eater. I figured I would be a good candidate for Survivor, because I could eat anything--even one of those nasty tree slugs--if it meant staying on the show.

    But that's until I tasted kohlrabi. Nasty. A French friend tried to convince me that the problem was it wasn't cooked right when I had. Yeah, right. Life is too short to try it again. Then again, if you put enough hot sauce on it, might be fine!

  21. I recently had collard greens for the first time. To me, it tasted something like spinach, but milder. I like alot of greens. For me a meal is not a meal without something green in it.Gotta have those veggies.

  22. I'm with Lil G on green veggies. Lately I sauté shitakes, add steamed broccoli or green beans, and then finish with a tbsp of plain yogurt. I'm a newcomer to kale. I make chips in the microwave, about 4 -5 min on high with a little olive oil--or i tear it into tiny pieces and marinate in lemon juice, then add to a green salad. Chard is too tough for me.

  23. Sara, I'm going to try that with kale, since I don't like it deep-fried. (Well, I do, but am not going to deep fry anything myself.)

    And if you love shitakes I'll be you'd adore the posted recipe.

    Shizuka, you come in second after Carol Daeley:-) Grasshoppers. Brave woman.

  24. I'm in North Carolina (shouting out to Molly Weston) with Lucy Burdette and Jennifer McMahon. I'm a pretty adventurous eater but grasshoppers? Yikes.

    A few weeks ago I cooked monkfish for the first time and it was delicious! Such a weird looking fish. Also celeriac. Weird looking vegetable. Cooked it up like mashed potatoes and I loved that.

    Okay, admission: I have never ordered room service. Like I've never done a drive-through line (I like to SEE them preparing it.)

  25. I was never a big fan of kale until I tried this recipe, which uses lacinto kale, lentils, and pasta:

    Grasshoppers and other bugs--no!

    Terry, I grew kohlrabi one year in my garden. I can't even remember how we used it, but once was definitely enough!

  26. Hallie, that's just... stunning, that you've never been to a drive-thru. But of course you are a gourmet cook and food fan, so that does make sense.

    I have not tried anything weird lately, but I bought a horseradish plant yesterday, as well as a very healthy ground cherry. Planning more adventurous eating later this year.

    On my travels, though, I try new things whenever I can. My first taste of celeriac was in Paris, served fresh and shredded with a to-die-for remoulade sauce. The chestnut creme I tried was dessert for that same meal.

    In Sydney I had kangaroo steak, which was very similar to venison. My husband, who eats more venison than anything else, was horrified and repulsed, and refused to try even a bite. Good thing he wasn't with me in Peru, when I tried the national dish: roast guinea pig.

    But unless there's a sudden shortage of all other protein sources you can count me out on the bugs as entrees. I politely decline.

  27. Never ordered room service. WOw. That's fascinating, Hallie! Fascinating.

    Okay, Sara P, you know I do what you say. But I'm still not sold on Kale. Did you love it from the first bite?

  28. Hallie, you never ordered room service?? Although, honestly, I can't remember if I'd ever had room service before I started traveling on book tours by myself. In a nice hotel, it's the ultimate luxury--and you can eat dinner in your pajamas.

    I'm not big on drive-throughs by any means, but I don't think you can grow up in Texas without having gone through one. And about twice a year, when I'm having a really rough day, I drive through the Dairy Queen down the street from my house, get a single-dip soft serve ice cream (and yes, I know it's not really ice cream and the dip is probably not really chocolate) and eat it by myself in the car. It's a chill pill.

    And that's a big confession from Debs the foodie.

  29. Hank,
    The kale chips can also be made in the oven - a little olive oil and salt at 375 for ten to fifteen minutes. It's like eating potato chips only healthy and low-cal!!

    I started juicing something called sun chokes, which are weird rooty things that sound just like what you may be getting. They are supposed to avert sugar cravings. They are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive at Whole Foods, so if you are getting them with your farm share, you are lucky.

  30. I cook dandelions with whole wheat pasta. I sauté a lot of garlic in 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive oil and remove when golden. Then I throw lots of onion sliced thin into the oil and sauté until golden brown, some bits burn a little. At that point I return the garlic to the pan with the onions and toss in the washed and chopped dandelions (if they are large I chop off the stems with no leaves) and cook until the dandelions are soft. Then I serve over Bioventura wholewheat corkscrews. We love it.

  31. Roberta, what do you mean -- vinegar?

  32. Jan,

    I love sunchokes. If you steam them, they taste just like hearts of artichoke. We drizzle a tiny bit of butter over them. In some places people call them Jerusalem artichokes. If you like them they grow very well in New England -- nice sunflower with roots you can eat.

  33. Catherine, will try the dandies that way:-)

  34. Jan, sunchokes are a wild plant, and they grow like crazy in certain parts of the country. In fact, they can be invasive.

    One of the regulars at my favorite farmer's market always has interesting stuff to share. One market day he had sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes prepared like hash browns. Man, were they good, and without the glycemic and latex issues of potatoes. I keep meaning to plant some.

  35. Debs, y very very first job was at Dairy Queen. I bet I could still make a dip cone with a curl on top..happy to do it for you any time!