Wednesday, March 18, 2009

beef sorta-stroganoff

I haven't posted a recipe in a while, and this was a fun one because Rowan helped a lot. With the mushrooms, anyhow.


bit of steak, sliced thinly (this is easier if it's still partially frozen)
2 large portabello mushrooms (or equivalent mass of whatever mushrooms strike your child's fancy at the store. Most mushrooms you see in the grocery store come from the lower mainlaind and therefore count as local if you do the 100-mile radius thing. Or you can get fancy and get the Vancouver Island dried wild-harvested ones, which are tasty but not anything resembling cheap.)
1/2 an onion
about a cup of beef-like stock (mine is made with scraps and often contains things that aren't beef)
balsamic vinegar & olive oil (not local. You can get local, but you need major connections and a huge grocery budget.)
splash of red wine
loads of greenery (I used spinach, but mild chard, kale, beet greens, braising greens or most chinese veg would work. Just use lots, because they all cook down and you want texture. You might want to blanch the kale first if you use it.)
1/2 cup of either sour cream or creme fraiche (which is sour cream, only twice the cost and minus all the guar gum and stabilisers and crap - you can make it yourself for cheap, but only if you plan well and have a day to let it thicken.)

First have your toddler prepare the mushrooms. Little fingers are perfectly suited to peeling and removing the stems. Slice the mushrooms yourself. Put them in a bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, and coat the mushrooms with this. Toss to make sure every bit is covered, and let sit while you do the other stuff.

Slice the steak while a large sautée pan heats up. Add a bit of fat to the pan (good lard works best, but if you're still brainwashed by industrial agriculture, you'll be using canola oil.) Fry the steak quickly so it gets nice and brown, sprinkling lightly with salt as it cooks. Remove the steak, add some more fat to the pan, reduce the heat to med-low and put the onion (sliced) in. Cook until golden, turn the heat up to medium, and toss the mushrooms with all the marinade in. Cook until mushrooms are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Return steak to the pan, and deglaze with a splash of wine.

Once the wine has cooked off, add the stock. Bring it up to bubbling, then add the greenery. Stir and fold in the greenery until it's nicely cooked.

Add the creme fraiche, whisking to combine smoothly. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. At this point you can turn the heat down and let the excess liquid evaporate to thicken the sauce while you enjoy a relaxing glass of wine and catch up on your e-mail, OR if you have a hungry family circling like sharks, you can mix a little stock with a bit of cornstarch and thicken the sauce quickly.

Serve over broad noodles or mashed potato. Or nothing, it's good as-is.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I almost feel guilty about living here

I know most of the rest of Canada - and much of the US - is still buried under a pile of snow, so I almost feel bad posting this, but I expect I'll get over it.

March has hit and the local hothouses are starting to pump out deliciousness. Compared to 3 or 4 weeks ago when I was gleeful to get carrots, parsnip, kale and the odd rutabaga, today I bought all this:

What you see there is savoy cabbage, lettuce, chard, spinach, carrots, eggs, tomatoes (cherry & slicing) cucumbers, basil, kale, salad greens, green beans, beets, parsnips, kale, eggs and candied hazelnuts. (not in picture: boring packages of meat) This is food for 2 families, so divide it in half and that's about the amount of veggies we eat in a week.

I would be surprised if any of that was picked more than 24 hours ago. It's all beautiful, and what the hothouse stuff lacks in nutrition, it makes up in tender delicate deliciousness.

Oh, and those tomatoes? YUM.

(BTW, the reason I am posting pictures of my groceries is that certain people have complained that there are not enough pictures on my blog. I don't know what's more exciting, reading about groceries or seeing pictures. Either way, readers/viewers are advised to limit the amount of time they spend on this blog so they don't overdose on adrenaline or anything.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tomato countdown

Sun Wing opened this week. Sadly, I missed the few cherry tomatoes they had today, but I put an order in for next week so in 6 days and 10 hours I will get to eat tomatoes again (and, of course, exercise some will power and bring some home for Rowan rather than scarfing the lot in the car.) I will be sure to actually TELL her about the tomatoes before I go so as to remove that temptation.

I freely admit that this is not technically seasonal eating. These tomatoes come out of a hothouse. However, they are pesticide-free, and the hothouse is owned and run by a local family, and darn it, I want tomatoes.

In other news, I found Saltspring Island mussels at Pepper's today, and since I am family-less for dinner I am having mussels steamed in beer with lots of carmelized onions and bacon, and a nice spicy salad of Dave's winter greens. Now that's dinner. (And total cost: approx $5, just in case you think I'm sneaking luxury dinners in.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

and now, a pretty good article written by me

Heh, I totally forgot that I'd written this article for the Beacon when I put up the last post about the MSN article. But it makes for a nice symmetry of post titles. Anyway, go read my article! I actually like it, a month after I wrote it, which is rare.