• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 8th, 2014, 5:00 AM

    The second winning recipe for the Spooning Can-It-Forward Day recipe contest (with generous prizes courtesy of Ball) comes from Ann Forsthoefel, also of Portland, Oregon. (What can I say, the locals deliver!) She will be enjoying a bounty of Ball Heritage Collection Spring Green Mason jars, herb savers, pectin, and more for all her future canning endeavors (from what I hear, she has many such endeavors!)—and we will be enjoying her Tarragon Pickled Beets. As the directions below indicate, these can be processed in a hot water bath to be shelf stable, but Ann prefers to make them refrigerator pickles “because it keeps the beets so crisp.”

    Tarragon Beets

    Makes 3 pints Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on July 22nd, 2014, 1:25 PM

    It goes without saying that there is no better time than summer to make and eat salads—cool, refreshing, requiring no heat to prepare, and light enough to keep you feeling good. Salads are particularly welcome at lunchtime in the hotter times of year, but lunch salads also present a huge challenge. Namely, the dreaded limp lettuce syndrome, combined with leaky tomato-itis, browning and pervasive sog. For my forthcoming book, Bring Your Lunch!, I tested countless systems and ingredients for lunch salads, and came up with a few hard truths. It’s easy and quick to make salads for lunch, but you do have to follow the rules. Here’s what I learned, plus an easy, lunch-friendly salad to try.

    * Get your container dialed. You need a spacious, leak-proof container plus a teeny one to put in there that holds your dressing, if you are needing to dress last-minute (more on that later). I mostly avoid plastic (just in case!) and use either a lightweight stainless steel or glass container with a snap lid; for dressing I like a baby food jar or a 4-ounce canning jar.

    * Keep it cold: The enemy of crispness is warmth. If you have a standard-length commute, throw your container and an ice pack into an insulated bag (there are oodles, but I love the classic/classy Gourmet Getaway Tote by Built). If it will be more than an hour, or if you don’t have a fridge at work, you’ll need a legit cooler. (How cute is this mini Playmate?!)

    * Forget lettuce. If you are dressing in the morning and eating mid-day, which is greatly more convenient than transporting salad dressing, you can’t make that arugula and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette. It will be inedible, watery mess after 4-6 hours. What you need is a salad base that withstands–nay, welcomes–marination. Raw kale or chard, green or red cabbage (my personal favorite), mature spinach, fennel and Brussels sprouts are rather potent freshly shredded, but delightful after a few hours soaking in salad dressing. And who says it has to be leafy? Build your salad on shredded carrots, beets, shaved raw zucchini, or grains. (This farro salad from Tasting Table would make a superb gourmet lunch.) On days that you simply must have a tender pile of raddichio, baby spinach, or red-leaf, tote the dressing separately (see above). Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 18th, 2012, 5:04 PM

    From time to time, I feel like it’s my duty to remind everyone to pickle things! Now that winter is coming on, pickle-friendly veggies are taking center stage, and there’s nothing like a zingy bite of something sour to spark up cold-weather dishes like roast meats and stews. It doesn’t take much–maybe a quick cook to soften, and then a nice long soak in a flavorful brine. No need to do any fancy canning, just a clean jar and a fridge. The glorious pink pile you see here is a batch of watermelon radishes, thinly sliced and soaked in lemon juice, white balsamic, salt, sugar, and zest. It took but a moment and brought days of happy snacking. (This system works beautifully for daikon as well. But remember, pickled radishes of any stripe are stanky.) So as the beets, carrots, radishes, cabbages, garlic, turnips, and brussels sprouts pile up around you this fall and winter–please, remember to pickle.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 14th, 2011, 5:43 PM

    Where I live, early fall is the season of lumpy, oddly shaped, strangely colored last-hurrah tomatoes. They aren’t as vibrantly flavored as the height-of-summer fruits, but they do ease the transition into cooler weather and darkening days. Our fall tomatoes were all yellow (or yellowish), and not quite suitable for slicing into a salad. But they did make an excellent fresh tomato sauce, with a bit of oregano, perfect for serving with seasonally appropriate mushroom ravioli. Here’s how I made it:

    Crush or finely mince garlic and saute it in some olive oil in a wide, non-reactive pan. Just when it starts getting aromatic, toss in some crushed dried or minced fresh oregano. Using a food mill, grind your fresh yellow tomatoes into the pan and simmer until the flavors meld. Season with salt and, if your tomatoes lack acidity (ours did), squeeze a bit of lemon juice overall. (A friend recommends lemon zest, which I haven’t tried.) Toss with pasta and enjoy the lingering taste of summer!

 
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