Houston recs?

I’m going to be going to Houston next week to visit and learn about some very cool early childhood education initiatives.  But since I’m going to be there for several days, I could use some recommendations on places to eat. Feast sounds pretty awesome, but I’m not sure if I can do that for a solitary business trip (but I”m open to being convinced!). I’m going to be staying near Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, and would particularly appreciate recommendations that are somewhere near there and relatively inexpensive. I will have a car at my disposal, so if there are cool things off the beaten path, I may be able to check them out.


CSA for 9/29

Here’s what I’m getting this week:

1 Head Green Romaine Lettuce

1 Bunch Dandelion Greens

2 Leeks

2 Delicata Squash

1 Green Acorn Squash

1 Bunch Red Beets

1 Bag Red Gold Potatoes (3lbs)

3 Onions

1 Bag Red and Yellow Delicious Apples

Thanks for the pea shoot links and leek recommendations last week. The pea shoots were terrific, but I still haven’t gotten around to using the leek (busy week!). Hopefully I can combine wt with those I’m getting today in one of the recipes folks recommended.

I think I’m good in terms of what to do with all these items, except possibly dandelion greens–I know how to make a good traditional dandelion greens salad, and it’s tasty, but I’m more than open to alternative suggestions here.

CSA Week of September 20

Here’s what I expect to be picking up from the CSA tonight:

  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 2 Sweet Onions
  • 1 Bag Red Potatoes (3 lbs.)
  • 1 Bag Pea Shoots
  • 1 Bunch Young Orange Carrots
  • 1 Head Green Cabbage
  • 2 Leeks
  • 1 Bunch Curly Parsley
  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1 Head Red Romaine
  • 1 Bag Apples

Man, I am loving having these bags of apples around the last few weeks. I’m chopping them up and throwing them in salads, oatmeal, sandwiches, cereal, even with roasted squash and yams. They make great snacks at work, too (ALMOST cancelling out that bag of candy corn I bought the other day). And I even made a quick and dirty cobbler the other night.

I need some help though, with some of the other stuff I’m getting this week. Kale, I have mastered and now love. But I don’t really know what a pea shoot is, let alone what to do with it. And my search for stuff to do with leeks hasn’t yielded much beyond a whole variety of leek soups–which I’m sure are lovely, but I am so not a that kind of soup kind of girl. I kind of want to carmelize a leek, but don’t really know how, what flavors to use, or what to do with it next. HELP ME INTERNETS!

CSA Week of September 13

Shockingly, no dark leafy greens this week!

We got:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • Butternut squash
  • Delicata squash
  • One bag of adorable tiny eggplant “fairytale” eggplant
  • One BIG bag of honey crisp apples
  • One bag (~2 lbs) sweet potatoes
  • One box of things that look like flowers that I have no idea what to do with and that shriveled up before I could use them or take a picture of them!

I want to make something that combines either sweet potatoes or squash with jalapenos–I think the spicy/sweet/earthy balance could be fun. Any suggestions?

CSA: Week of September 6

I’ve been a bit remiss about posting the contents of my CSA box for the last month or so, partly because I was out of town a good bit, and partly because it was pretty similar throughout July and August and, while delicious, not that interesting to read. I have, however, learned how to make a mean fried okra courtesy of the CSA.

Now we’re getting into fall, I’m going to start up again, in large part because I’m guessing that, as we get into the long season of squashes and dark leafy greens, I’m gonna need some more help keeping things fresh.

Here’s what I ended up with this week:

  • 3 ears of corn
  • 1 squash
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 3 candy onions
  • 1 bag tomatillos
  • 1 bag apples

Now, I didn’t think I was much of a fan of kale, but after this week, I think I’m a convert. I used one bunch to make kale chips, which were yummy and fun, and the other to make a super-easy kale and sweet potato dish of my own devising that I absolutely loved. I’ve got a number of good ideas for the squash.  And I’m thinking applesauce is definitely happening at some point this fall.

What I have absolutely no idea what to do with are the tomatillos. Apparently, I am supposed to use them to make salsa. This seems a little bit uninteresting to me, and also like more salsa than I’m likely to eat in a timely fashion. Any other suggestions out there?

Foodie Book Club: Four Fish

By Kay Steiger

Paul Greenberg's Four FishI read Four Fish by Paul Greenberg this summer, a book that Food & Think put on its summer reading list for foodies. The book is definitely worth reading, recounting the fascinating history of domesticating cod, tuna, salmon, and sea bass over the last few decades.

One interesting point that Greenberg brings up toward the end of the book, however, is about overall conservation of fish. He notes that those little cards distributed by environmental groups, like this one from the Environmental Defense Fund, are often sold as a “guide” to consuming fish that are good for the environment. But Greenberg argues that even though such guides may make people feel good about consuming eco-friendly fish, individual choices about fish consumption have virtually no impact on the overall survival of fish populations.

That part, he argues, is more in the court of countries’ regulations on fishing and the actions of commercial fishers. He argues that in order to preserve fish populations, it will take a concerted international cooperative effort to actually manage fish populations. What kind of fish we eat for dinner, he says, just won’t make that much of an impact. Besides, he says, those groups that put out the green, yellow, and red fish guides say the tools are really about awareness anyway.

This is an interesting — and frankly — controversial point. The same could perhaps be argued about factory farming practices or even vegetarianism, although fish is perhaps a unique case because of its inherently international nature. I’m interested to see what folks think about this. The pro is that you can help create demand for eco-friendly fish by having a widespread enough movement. The con is that it can create overwhelming feelings of guilt when you do consume fish on the “red” list.

My perspective has been that boosting awareness and encouraging folks to consume foods that are good for the environment is valuable in that it creates a sense of value about these issues and creates pressure for laws and regulations to accommodate that  perspective, but such behaviors are not really in and of themselves making an impactful difference.

Do Not Want You, Frozen Yo

By Kay Steiger

Frozen Yo in Columbia Heights (Flickr/Mr. T in DC)

Yesterday, as is a haphazard tradition in my office, we brought one of our interns out for frozen yogurt on her last day as a way of thanking her for all her hard work over the summer. We decided to walk to Frozen Yo in Metro Center. Afterward I felt sick.

Perhaps it was the heat. Or the fact that I had just eaten beforehand. Or perhaps it’s the fact that Frozen Yo serves their self-serve yogurt in gigantic freaking containers. They have to be at least twice to three times the size of the containers you get at other fro yo places in town like Mr. Yogoto, Sweetgreen, or Tangysweet.

The first time I walked into Frozen Yo, I noticed how much it was like a buffet, where you load a bunch of crap onto your plate and see what you like best but ultimately end up eating way more than you planned. It just seemed so — American. And I say that as a born-and-raised, third-generation, 14th Amendment-style American. But come on, a huge container where you load up whatever you mix then pay by the pound? That screams excess.

Granted, I’m not much of a dessert person in general — I far prefer a savory treat. I would probably take french fries over frozen yogurt any day, so it’s not some kind of strange diet I’m on. I’ll say it, at risk of pissing off all the native Californians out there (where I understand this tradition comes from): This enormous tub o’ fro yo thing just turned me off.

Rich Kids Go to Cooking Camp

By Kay Steiger


Well, the rich sure are different. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a few cooking camps for the 10-17 year old demographic. Tuition or fees for these camps and competitions range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars:  Dorette Snover takes a group of teenagers on a 12-day trip to Paris that runs $4,750 per child; the Baltimore-based camp called For the Love of Food charges $395 for tuition; and chef Kelly Dietrich charges $2,695 for a one-week course and $4,900 for a two-week session at the Kids Culinary Academy of Vermont.

But as amusing as the story about a small army of tiny gourmet chefs is, it’s hard for me to think about the children who aren’t so lucky. America has roughly 14.1 million children that still live in poverty and an estimated 6.5 million children who live in food deserts. Even if you don’t want to talk about the children growing up in poverty, not all parents have the time or inclination to cook and teach their children to cook.

My critique of this article isn’t meant to be an attack on the rich. The parents who can afford the $5,000 tuition should by all means buy a two-week course at the Kids Culinary Academy of Vermont. But as cooking gets more bourgeois, it’s easy to remember that there are lots of children who don’t even have access to regular and healthy meals. In that light, profiling these youthful gourmet chefs is just a startling reminder of how wide that gap really is.