Of all the things into which a potato can be made — baked, mashed, au gratin or scalloped, to name a few — lucky is the potato that ends up as a fry. Beloved by children and ketchup manufacturers the world over, the french fry is both simple and complex. The ingredient list is short and the reward is large. Crunchy, crisp, steamy and creamy, the humble fry brings it all and is content with playing a supporting role on the dinner plate. Who ever heard of “Chips and Fish,” after all?
Let’s just begin by agreeing that kale Kool-aid would be a terrible thing. But, I’ve drunk it. Figuratively, that is, not literally. That would be gross. Whereas I once overlooked this leafy green, I now look forward to grabbing a bunch at the grocery store and absolutely can’t wait for the farmer’s market season to begin so we can get first crack at some just-picked leaves.
Leaving the visual image of kale Kool-aid behind, I’ve said before that I’m surprised it took me so long to warm up to this superfood. It had its moment and I ignored it. But that moment lasted so long that I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did.
We are in love with the carrots from Chickadee Creek Farm in Pennington, NJ. I’ve mentioned them in our posts before but think I’m becoming a bit of a junkie. We give them a starring role in many of our recipes and I start getting nervous when our supply runs low. Raw, they are like candy. Cooked, they are sweet and rich and so much more “carroty” than our regular grocery store carrots. I’m not sure how farmer Jess Niederer does it, but these truly are the best carrots ever.
One Thursday in mid March I happily stumbled on the winter Princeton Farmer’s Market that occurs once a month during the colder months at the Princeton Public Library. Of all the wonderful winter produce set up on the Chickadee Creek table — and, with several varieties of greens, heads of garlic, daikon radishes and more there was a surprising amount of it! — I made a beeline for the carrots. The supply in our crisper drawer was nearly depleted and I giddily jumped at the chance to replenish our stock.
If Necessity truly is the mother of Invention, how do you think Invention acted in those early teen years? Was she — and I’m taking some liberties here, but in my mind Invention is surely a young lady — subject to hormonal angst, locking herself in her room and writing bad poetry? Did she skip school or stay out too late, or bleach a blond streak into her hair as I did at 13? And how on earth did Necessity stay sane during all that?
Maybe Necessity was married to Ingenuity, which would explain a lot. Or maybe she sequestered herself to the kitchen, baking batch after batch of treats like granola, which, when offered at just the right time to a hungry (a.k.a. irascible) daughter, can go a long way towards restoring peace and order.
If, however, Necessity were to have packed some of the aforementioned granola in Invention’s lunchbox, she’d better have paid attention to those “no peanuts, no tree-nuts” warnings many schools enforce. After all, she wouldn’t want Invention’s friend, Anaphylaxis, to end up in the emergency room. Again.
Well, Necessity, do I have a recipe for you. Very Berry Granola. No nuts. No coconut either (which is NOT a tree nut, but sill on the naughty list at our preschooler’s daycare). It’s also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. Great for lunches. Great for snacks. Great in the morning with some milk or yogurt. You get the picture.
It seems the whole world has gone corned beef crazy leading up to St. Patrick’s day. Not that I have anything against corned beef. Or cabbage. But what I do have something against is green beer. Or any food, really, that is dyed green despite the natural order of things.
When St. Paddy’s comes around this year, why not indulge in something that is just as authentic but much healthier than either corned beef or green beer: we’re talking leek and potato soup. The Stout Sprouts and I made a version recently with some kale that pureed down to a lovely spring green. And this is the perfect seasonal soup, making good use of the last of winter’s russet potatoes, cooked down with tender leeks, onions, and a handful of that antioxidant-packed kale. It is hearty yet delicate, warming your insides while crossing over the seasons with the promise of sunnier days.
It’s Valentine’s Day The Stout Sprout style. Those of you who have been following us for a bit know that this winter has been one for the history books. We had another record snowfall event this week, which meant another snow day, which meant we had two lovely little ladies kicking around the house ready to wreak havoc.
We channeled that energy into cooking something special for Valentine’s Day: our own homemade fruit leather, aka fruit roll-ups. This is definitely one of those recipes you should try on a day when you’ve got extra and abundant time, though it is incredibly easy and kid-friendly. The ingredient list is short, the participation factor is high, and the results are delicious. It does take quite a few hours in a low-temperature oven so be warned: best to start this project in the morning if you want to be nibbling fruit roll-ups for dessert.
I’m not sure who out there is writing the master plan these days but between mother nature and the top brass in sports programming, someone must want me to spend an awful lot of time in front of the TV. We barely made it past the Super Bowl and now my favorite spectator event — the Winter Olympics — will begin broadcasting at the end of the week. That, combined with the nine inches of snow that fell in our New Jersey neighborhood on Monday and the ice storm that is descending on us now, has this family happily parked inside scanning our entertainment choices. And cooking. And snacking.