Batter Licker

March 29, 2012

twice-baked butternut squash halves

Searching for butternut squash: that’s what I’ve preoccupied myself with while everyone else is anxiously leaping into spring, baskets overflowing with the first bundles of asparagus and green garlic.

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It’s the one piece of Fall and Winter produce that I keep a tight grip on for as long as possible, reluctant to let it go and dismayed to go without it for another six months, even if that same time period brings delightful indulgence in strawberries and, eventually, nectarines.

I love butternut squash. Its sunny, bright orange flesh ushers me through months of bleak greyness. I live for butternut squash. When strawberries turn sour and nectarines disappear from the market and all produce stands point to cabbage and kale,** the appearance of butternut squash brings a smile to my face and puts the spring back into my steps. I have a serious butternut squash addiction.

** I do enjoy eating more than my fair share of both cruciferous veggies, but I don’t feel overwhelmingly excited when they’re all I see at a farmers market. (more…)

March 21, 2012

cherry-studded banana bran whole grain muffins

I recently started setting up a sort of brown banana renewal system. I’ll buy a few super green ones and a few yellow ones each week, and then find myself with a consistent supply of brown, spotted mushiness that is sufficient for my peanut butter shake and green smoothie purposes.

It was all working out swimmingly until I got tempted by the very cheap, very large bunch of jet-sized bananas at Costco. Suddenly, I had a serious overflow problem.

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The first resolution that came to mind was banana bread, which would also conveniently free up some precious space in my overstuffed pantry. Okay, maybe it was actually equal parts resolution and excuse to fill my apartment with the fragrant aroma of freshly baked banana bread.

Either way, I wanted to make a more portable, healthful, whole grain, breakfast-appropriate version. (more…)

March 8, 2012

chinese barbecue (char siu) pork cowboy steak

The night before Valentine’s Day, Jay and I got more intimate than usual – with a pig.

That might sound gruesome and not in the least bit romantic, but I still feel like I’m under some sort of meaty love spell weeks after we eagerly watched Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats skillfully butcher the whole pig and explain the perks of each cut and his use-the-whole-animal philosophy during San Francisco Beer Week’s Butchers and Beers event.

Clearly, I’m my Great Depression era grandmother’s granddaughter; I’m a sucker for reducing, if not eliminating, waste. I get an intense thrill out of embracing resourcefulness and the creativity that inevitably plays a role in finding uses for less popular animal parts, apple peels, and vegetable scraps.

Perhaps it’s needless to say in this context, but once the Butchers and Beers silent auction benefiting The Food Pantry came to a close, we walked home with the bones and offal – and a large hunk of pork known as a cowboy steak.

Hilarious-and-ironic-to-me story from the auction: while waiting patiently to increase our bids, I overheard two guys in front of me whine “ewwwwwwww” when they came across the offal bid card; they were much more enamored with the super popular and trendy pork belly. (more…)

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