Temperatures Rising

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Indeed it’s been a while since I’ve given you an entry and I apologize.  Maybe I can supply an excuse in a minute, bear with me.  It is June in Minnesota and certainly the spring has come and gone.  Our temperatures are high now, the windows are all pulled open, the cat is on her back on the porch waiting for a breeze, iced tea is in the windowsill steeping for a later on cool drink.  I have just been to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where I bought an armful of organic strawberries and some new potatoes.  Life is good, easy and open, everything is flirtatious and fresh. 

I’ve had an unusual spring on into summer, for I’m currently pregnant in the middle of my second trimester.  Food has been a strange companion these past months and I’ve had little to passionately write about.  My eating is very limited and awkward and sometimes embarassing.  What can I say?  I did however get to all of that asparagus I was longing for in my last entry.  In the end I simply grilled it alone on our cast iron pan-grill with a bit of olive oil, coarse sea salt and black pepper.  I also used quite a bit of local green garlic, replacing normal aged garlic whenever I could, loving how sticky and sweet my fingertips got after cracking open a bulb.  So, I took advantage when I felt up to it and not lightheaded or detesting of the fruits of the season. 

Now that I’m in the middle of pregnancy my eating habits and cravings are a bit more to my liking; fewer pieces of fried chicken and plain mashed potatoes and bowls of cereal for supper.  But it is still so much of a surprise to me how changing my relationship to food is now, how cut off from my normal seasonal indulgences I’ve been.  My greatest annoyance with this is the fact that now more than ever I need to be indulging in a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, for the little one’s sake. 

Maybe you don’t want to hear another word about this, but more of the foods of the season and what you can do with them.  Since I bought some of those precious red new potatoes I thought I’d make some semolina pizza dough this afternoon and make a white pizza for supper with the various elbows of cheese hanging about in the fridge (mozzarella, gruyere, and parmesan), sliced par-boiled new potatoes, and thyme or rosemary (I’ve still a bit left of both those herbs in the fridge).  I also bought an uplifting head of green butter lettuce from Loon Organics yesterday at the Mill City Farmers Market and I’ve some local radishes left at the bottom of my crisper drawer; perhaps I’ll make a quick salad.

If you can’t tell I’m lately interested in looking at what’s left in the fridge and the cupboard to see what I can manipulate into a meal.  Maybe this has something to do with our new frugality based on upcoming baby investments.  But this is a practice that everyone should embrace more often.  I just know that I’ve some frozen ground lamb buried in the freezer, a bag of soba noodles at the back of my pantry, and a hodgepodge of vegetables in the well of the crisper drawer.  I know I’ve these things on hand, and I don’t have to get my underware in a bunch about making an elaborate meal, I’ve already limited myself to a few ingredients.  I’ll let you know what turns out; perhaps you’ve some good back of the pantry/bottom of the crisper drawer concoction stories for me. 

I want to leave you with a unusual, intriguing radish recipe, but first I encourage you to head down to your local farmers market now because now is the time.  The Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, a favorite of mine, is humming now with all sorts of greenery, meats and dairy products, local trout, plenty of sweets (even those little warm donuts that come spinning off the wheel into a crisp brown bag for you are organic), music and entertainment, and of course the array of veggies and fruits.  My next entry will more than likely be on canning summer foods, for a pregnant lady due in the fall has got to think ahead to the Christmas gifts she won’t be able to afford or find time to make.  Looking forward to that, and finally, cheers to you for being so patient with me.

Braised Butter-Glazed Radishes

from All About Braising by Molly Stevens

2 bunches small radishes (about 1 pound), 2 tbls. unsalted butter, 1/3 cup chicken stock (or water), large pinch of sugar, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Trim the radishes of their roots and pare off the greens, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the stems.  (Taste a piece of the pared-off greens.  If you like their peppery taste, wash them and save to add to salads; otherwise, discard them.)  Soak the radishes in cold water for about 15 minutes to loosen any dirt that may be caught in the stems.  Drain and scrub the radishes.  Cut any radishes that are more than 1 inch in diameter in half.

2.Place the radishes in a medium skillet (10 in.) that will hold them in a single layer.  Add the butter, stock or water, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, reduce the heat, and braise at a low simmer until the radishes are easily pierced with a metal skewer, 20-25 minutes.

3.Remove the lid, shake the pan to roll the radishes around, and continue simmering until the liquid reduces to a glaze and coats the radishes, another 5 minutes or so.  Taste a radish for salt and pepper.  Serve warm.

Serves 4