All posts by Susie Middleton

And We’re Off! Simple Green Suppers is Live!



Just a quick update to let you know that Simple Green Suppers is off and running. We had a really awesome launch party at Morrice Florist. And we’re getting some great buzz! This week I’m guest-hosting the Instagram feed of my publisher @Roostbooks so please follow along to ogle some of @randibairdphoto‘s amazing photos. You’ll even get a glimpse at some great photos (like the one above of Little Gem and baby red Romaine lettuce, and the one of cherry tomatoes below) that didn’t make it into the book. (We took a ton of photos.) And while you’re at it, be sure to follow my Instagram feed @sixburnersue. If you’ve gotten the book and are enjoying it already, we’d really appreciate a 5-star (!) review on Amazon!

Just published this week–a great feature in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine (photo below) highlighting some of the recipes from the Toast chapter (with my, ahem, opinionated viewpoint on the best way to make toast!). And a feature blog on MindBodyGreen using leftovers from the Baby Potato, Greens, and Chickpea Hash in dishes throughout the week.

I’ve been doing some radio interviews and tomorrow I’ll return to my favorite–The Food Schmooze with Faith Middleton on WNPR.  Back in my Fine Cooking days, I used to ride up to New Haven every few weeks to be on the show with Faith and Chris Prosperi, and it was so much fun. 

In just a few weeks, I’ll be at the Grand Tasting at the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival (Saturday, May 13), so if you happen to be going, stop by my table! And I promise I’ll let you know about other events and news coming soon. (Garden is getting going too.)

In the meantime, I leave you this teaser from today’s Instagram activity. Quick Roasted Beet, Arugula, and Wheatberry Salad with Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing. (That would be on page 40 in the book!)

All photos here by Randi Baird Photography.

A Stack of Books, a Double-Launch Party, and Five Island Women

Yes, okay, I admit it, I am getting a little kick out of this pile of books on my desk. Those copies of Simple Green Suppers are “author” copies to give to all the many people who contributed to the creation of the book.

But I am just going to stare at them for a while.

I have them stacked up that way so that I can see the beautiful spine that the talented book designer, Toni Tajima, created. And also, of course, just to remind myself that somehow I’ve managed to write (and deliver to my publishers) four books over these last nine years. I never would have predicted that when I left my job as editor of Fine Cooking magazine in January of 2008.

Heading into my tenth year of living on the Vineyard—and the publication on April 11 of that fourth book—I am feeling ridiculously nostalgic and grateful for this supportive, energetic, talented, and yes, tight-knit community I live in.

Take, for example, this launch party we’re having next Sunday afternoon, April 9.

First off, you have to know that my editor at Roost Books (in Boulder, Colorado; they are an imprint of Shambhala Publications), grew up on the Vineyard. Her name is Jennifer Urban-Brown. As it happens, Jenn offered me a contract for my fourth book not long after she offered another Island author, Sarah Moriarity Waldman, a contract for her second book. (Sarah’s first book, Little Bites, was with Roost, too.) Then as it happens, both Sarah and I chose (with Roost’s approval) to work with talented photographers, Elizabeth Cecil (Sarah) and Randi Baird (me), who are based on Martha’s Vineyard, but work and publish nationally as well.

Then, the folks back at Roost Books decided that they would publish both Sarah’s book, Feeding a Family, and my book, Simple Green Suppers, on the same day. This seemed like a fun and exciting way to double publicity efforts, though I doubt this would happen in another place. As it happens, Sarah and I have become friends, and though she is younger than I am, we also share many mutual friends in the food and farming community on Martha’s Vineyard. (Just so you know, we have a year-round population of 18,000, and yes, there are days, like yesterday, when the ferries stop running, and we are marooned. Winter is long. Friends are key.)

One of those friends is another published author, editor, and radio host who happens to be the first (well, second) person I ever met on this island. Her name is Ali Berlow. Ali was the founding Executive Director of Island Grown Initiative, a non-profit supporting local farmers, (Randi Baird is a long-time board member and director as well) and founder of Edible Vineyard. And she is the author most recently of The Food Activist Handbook and is working on a new radio podcast, The Gleaning.

When Roost suggested that Sarah and I do a panel discussion for our party, we both agreed that Ali was the perfect person to moderate. We asked her, and she said yes. We agreed that the panel should include Randi and Elizabeth so that we could all answer questions about the process of making a cookbook. So there we had our quintet of Island women in food and publishing. (Yay.) (Left to right: Sarah, Elizabeth, Ali, Susie, Randi.)

Two weeks ago, with the event mostly planned, we learned we would need to change locations, as our bookstore, Bunch of Grapes, was going to be moving (only down the street, fortunately.) So we began to quickly look around for another space—the Ag Hall, the libraries, a theatre. Then we thought of a special place that happens to be owned by none other than our editor Jenn’s sister. (I told you the Island was small—forget six degrees of separation, it’s more like two.) Emily Coulter is the owner of the most enchanting floral shop you could imagine—Morrice Florist.

 And Morrice Florist also has a big solarium space—big enough to fit a crowd. Emily was happy to accommodate us, and Roost has ordered up chairs and refreshments.

Now all Sarah and I have to do is make several dozen nibbles from our books, and arrive on Sunday ready to talk and sign. Randi and Elizabeth will be there, of course, as will many friends and artists in the community who worked directly or indirectly on our photo shoots or on recipe testing. Bunch of Grapes will be there selling stacks of books. And I will probably get a lump in my front and tears in my eyes when I see all the other friends spilling through the doors, friends who’ve made living on this Island, for me, a much bigger deal than a stack of books—no matter how alluring they are.

 

 

A Few Small (and Big) Ways to Use Miso In Recipes

 

When I tiptoed over the mostly-vegetable line into the all-vegetarian world, I finally got friendly with miso. So when I wrote Simple Green Suppers, I took advantage of miso’s deep flavors in several different ways. Probably my favorite recipe is a simple Lemon Miso Butter (great on sautéed vegetables or in grain dishes), but I also use miso in a delicious Crystallized Ginger-Miso Dressing (on an asparagus and grapefruit salad, and more), and in soups and broths, including the wonderful Spring Miso Broth with Stir-Fried Asparagus, Romaine, Scallions, Tofu, and Mint recipe pictured above.

If you’re not friendly with miso yet, here’s a little background: Miso is a nutritious fermented bean paste, and making it is an ancient Japanese craft. Usually, fermentation begins with soybeans, salt, and koji (a fermenting fungus); sometimes grains or legumes like barley, rice, or chickpeas are added. The miso is aged for varying lengths of time; generally older misos will have more umami flavor and the saltiness will have mellowed somewhat.

The color of miso will tell you something, too. Generally, the lighter colored misos are the mildest (and most versatile). I use white (sometimes labeled yellow) shiro miso most often, especially for dressings and sauces (top right in photo below). But I also like the darker misos—in broths and soups especially. Great miso is now made in the U.S. In fact, my favorite miso is made right here in Massachusetts, by the South River Miso Company in Conway. I especially like their one-year azuki bean miso (bottom right below) and their three-year barley miso (middle bowl, below), but all of their varieties are delicious and worth seeking out.

However, you don’t have to go out of your way to find miso. Most major supermarkets and all natural food stores carry at least a small variety of misos. All misos have an alluring sweet-salty-funky flavor that’s hard to beat for flavor-boosting.

It’s fun to try out a range of misos; just know that you may need to use a little less of a darker miso or add a little more water (or other ingredients) to taste. A good starting point for soup is one tablespoon per cup of water. If you like, you can strain your broth if using a chunky artisan miso. Keep in mind that all miso pastes destined for soups should be dissolved in hot water, but never boiled. Boiling can destroy flavor and nutrients.

So now, time for you to get friendly with miso, too—though maybe you already are! Either way, I think you’ll enjoy these two recipes. (And you’ll have to get a copy of Simple Green Suppers for the soup recipe above. I know, what a tease. But just a friendly reminder if you haven’t pre-ordered the book–well, you could certainly do it now.)

Lemon-Miso Butter

Make this handy flavor-booster ahead; cover and keep in the fridge for up to a week. In Simple Green Suppers, I use this butter in a recipe for Stir-Fried Black Rice with Baby Bok Choy and Asparagus, and in a recipe for Parsnips and Creminis with Wheat Berries. But you can use it on any stir-fried or sautéed veggies or with rice; be sure to add the butter to the recipe while the veggies or grains are still hot. Double this recipe if you like. (If you need to soften butter quickly to make this, cut it into a few pieces and microwave for a few seconds, but don’t melt it.)

Makes ¼ cup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons white (Shiro) miso

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

In a small bowl, combine the butter, the miso paste, and the lemon zest. Use a small silicone spatula or wooden spoon to mash together until well combined.

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, from Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals (Roost Books).

Crystallized Ginger-Miso Dressing

I have to admit this dressing is one of my favorite recipes. It features crystallized ginger with assists from lime, maple, and miso. I love it on an Asparagus, Grapefruit, and Sushi Rice recipe in Simple Green Suppers, but it is equally good with broccoli, green beans, cabbage, or lettuce. Double or triple if you like.

Yields about 1/3 cup

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1½ teaspoons white (Shiro) miso

In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, the lime juice, the crystallized ginger, the maple syrup, the cilantro, and the miso. Whisk well.

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, from Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals (Roost Books).

Top Photo by Randi Baird, Randi Baird Photography

 

 

Chickpeas, Meet Smashed Potatoes

I’m not done with you yet, chickpeas! (Sorry folks, next week we’ll move on to miso and ginger and butter and some quick little sauces!) In my last blog, I talked about how versatile chickpeas are, because you can actually sauté or roast them—and turn up their flavor at the same time by browning. I included an Indian Curry recipe from the new book. But with Simple Green Suppers now just four weeks away from bookstores (Yippee! And I may have the first copy in my hands within days!), I thought I’d give you one more teaser recipe with chickpeas, which also happens to make use of, yes, smashed potatoes.

Those of you who’ve been following me since Fine Cooking days will realize that I just can’t leave these little crispy flattened red potatoes alone. Ever since I first developed the recipe more than 10 years ago (and here it is on FineCooking.com), I’ve been re-imagining them as components of other dishes. In Simple Green Suppers, I’ve included them in a simple and delicious hash with greens, chickpeas, and, of course, garlic. And they don’t even have to go in the oven; in this dish, instead of roasting, the boiled potatoes get smashed and sautéed. A lot of yummy things happen in this sauté pan!

But honestly, I also wanted to run this recipe because I love the photo (by my very talented co-conspirator, photographer Randi Baird) that runs with it. Stand by for a lot more amazing photos, great strategy, and delicious recipes in Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy For One-Dish Vegetarian Meals.

And if you live on Martha’s Vineyard, save this date: Sunday, April 9, 4 pm. Official book launch party at Bunch of Grapes bookstore—yay!

Baby Potato, Greens, Garlic and Chickpea Hash

A simple, comforting supper with just a few ingredients, this was inspired by a freshly dug batch of Red Gold potatoes from the garden. Nutty-tasting yellow-fleshed Red Golds are delicious, but of course not required in this recipe—any baby potato will do! The potatoes get boiled first, then crushed and sautéed with the other ingredients for a delicious crispy finish. I also love that this recipe showcases another tasty way to use chickpeas as a protein—in a rustic “hash.” Sautéing the chickpeas until golden is the trick to giving them extra flavor. It even works with canned, drained chickpeas. Choose your favorite tender greens for this, and be generous with the garlic, too.

Serves 2

10 baby red potatoes (preferably yellow-fleshed), about 10 ounces

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1  1/3 cups cooked chickpeas (well-drained if canned)

1 (generous) tablespoon minced fresh garlic

3 cups chopped or sliced stemmed tender greens (such as Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli greens, or young kale)

Fresh black pepper

Hot sauce or vinegar

1/4 cup sour cream

Chopped fresh chives

 

Put the potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan and cover with a generous amount of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and cook, shaking or stirring, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, tossing or stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Move the greens and chickpeas to one side of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Let it melt and add the boiled potatoes. Using a potato masher or spatula, crush the potatoes into large pieces (you don’t want to mash them completely, just break them up) and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Turn the heat to medium high and stir everything together. Press down on the mixture with a spatula and cook until the bottom is somewhat browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the hash over in pieces and cook again until the other side is somewhat brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the hash from the pan and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper and a splash or two of hot sauce or vinegar. (Or serve with a bottle of hot sauce alongside.) Serve right away, garnished with the sour cream and chives.

Copyright Susie Middleton, 2017. From Simple Green Suppers (Roost Books). Photo by Randi Baird.

 

 

An Indian Curry with Cauliflower, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Coconut Milk – And the Miracle of Chickpeas

Weeknight. Cooking. Strategy. Three words we all wrestle with, but that I hope will soon bring a smile to your face when you get a hold of Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals. Lately, with all the distractions, I barely noticed that the pub date for my fourth cookbook is sneaking up, and now we have just two months to go. (April 11—yay!)

I’m pretty darn excited, because I think this is the most useful cookbook I’ve written since Fast, Fresh & Green, and honestly, these days, useful is good. Useful is something we can wrap our heads around.

Heck, lately I’ve even realized that smarter cooking might be able to help us alleviate one problem in this country—food waste. (In American households, 27 million pounds of food a year gets tossed.) But I’ll offer some tips on that in a later blog.

Right now, I want to assure you that flavor comes first. Recipes that taste good and work well are the ones you will make again. When I can create great flavor, show a new technique, and offer a way to streamline weeknight cooking, I’m extra happy. Because I want you to cook more, enjoy cooking, and eat well.

So let’s talk about chickpeas—those incredibly versatile, protein-rich legumes that do it all. Despite the Ottolenghi-inspired elevation of chickpeas to a sexy star ingredient (very welcome stateside after many years of unfortunate mistreatment), I still have many friends who tell me they’re not crazy about chickpeas. I think this is because the texture, the liquid, and the flavor of canned chickpeas can be off-putting. Canned chickpeas can be a bit mushy and slippery, and some brands have a slight metallic or funky taste—or too much sodium. Doing a taste comparison of brands can go a long way towards eliminating some of these problems. I’ve found I really like Westbrae Natural Organic Garbanzos, so I stock up on them when I find them. And rinsing helps a lot, too.

It’s great to keep canned chickpeas around for convenience; I’d never suggest that you don’t. But I will tell you that of all the beans and legumes I cook and eat, chickpeas are the one I most frequently cook myself.

In fact, I toss a couple cups of dried chickpeas into a mixing bowl, cover with water, and stick in my fridge most Saturday nights. (That’s the overnight soak that people are fond of complaining about, when in reality it’s just a habit to form, and one that takes less than 2 minutes to accomplish.) At some point on Sunday, I drain them, put them in my pasta pot, cover with lots of water, add a bay leaf, a garlic clove, and maybe a sprig or two of thyme, bring to a simmer, and cook for about an hour. Then I add a little salt and continue cooking for 15 to 30 more minutes until the chickpeas are tender to the bite. (If I have to add more boiling water, I do.) I drain them, cool them, pop them in a storage container, refrigerate, and voila!–I  have chickpeas for the week. Very little hands-on cooking time for a big payoff.

Chickpeas that you cook yourself will not only have a better flavor and texture than canned ones, but they will keep longer as well—5 to 7 days in the fridge. For a vegetarian, having a protein like this already cooked and in the fridge cuts weeknight supper prep time down considerably.

And now those chickpeas are ready for their biggest trick—one that ordinary beans and lentils cannot perform: Browning. Yes, this is the real reason I love chickpeas so much: You can sauté or roast them until they take on a golden brown color and toasty, even nuttier, flavor. And you know, I love brown!! When I discovered that chickpeas could do this, I was ecstatic. Because the flavor is killer. The crunchy texture of roasted chickpeas is a fun bonus.

The good news is that you can sauté or roast either home-cooked or well-drained canned chickpeas. So if you’re new to vegetarian eating, look at it this way: If you’re making a quick weeknight stir-fry or sauté or braise, you can replace the shrimp, the chicken, or the beef with chickpeas. Chickpeas can also be part of a delicious hash, and they make a great base for quesadilla and burrito fillings. Sautéed and spiced chickpeas and veggies, along with some toasted nuts and fresh herbs, turn cooked whole grains (another great make-ahead) into a million different suppers. Marinated or dressed (don’t leave them rolling around naked and lonely), they turn a chopped or warm salad into a filling supper.

But enough already. I think at this point you’d just like a delicious recipe to try all this out, so here is a favorite Indian curry from the book. I think you’ll love it.

And I’ll be back in a couple weeks with another teaser recipe and more tips for weeknight vegetarian suppers to keep you excited about the book. And if you haven’t preordered your copy—or asked your independent bookstore to order some—please do. Click on this link.

Indian Curry with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Coconut Milk

One fall night I set out to cook a comforting Indian curry that would have all the things I love in it, starting with sautéed chickpeas and cauliflower and ending with a slightly creamy coconut-tomato sauce. In between, a mix of ginger, garlic, and curry spices (as well as fresh spinach) would provide backbone. I decided to use my handy stir-fry pan, because it’s great for sautéing and simmering. After a little chopping, I started cooking. Fifteen minutes later, I was so happy: I loved it! Leftovers were delicious, too. Be sure to use fresh curry powder. This dish is filling on its own, but you could serve it with rice or naan if you like.

Serves 2 to 3

3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried (or about 1 1/3 cups cooked chickpeas)

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch

3 cups cauliflower florets (1- to 1½-inch pieces, cut so that most have a flat side)

1 cup sliced yellow onion (about 1 medium-large onion, cut lengthwise)

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1½ teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 cups packed baby spinach

½ cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk (preferably organic), well stirred

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

 

In a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the chickpeas are golden and have some brown spots on them, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chickpeas to a large plate.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir, cover, and cook, uncovering to stir occasionally, until the cauliflower pieces are browned in spots and have lost their whiteness (they will be softened but still crisp), about 5 minutes. (If the cauliflower is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. If your pan does not have a lid, use a baking sheet or the bottom of a large skillet.) Transfer the cauliflower to the plate with the chickpeas.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are browned in spots but haven’t lost all their stiffness, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chili-garlic paste, curry powder, brown sugar, and cumin. Stir well to combine, and fry the spices for 30 seconds. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and coconut milk and stir well to incorporate the spices with the liquids and to soften the spinach. Add the cooked cauliflower and chickpeas and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the cilantro and remove the pan from the heat.

Serve hot or very warm in two or three bowls.

Recipe From Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton, © 2017 by Susie Middleton. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

Photo of Indian Curry by Randi Baird © Randi Baird

Best Veggie Sides for Thanksgiving, Revisited!

DSC_2822_01Here I go again reposting–so sorry, but once again, no time to create some new recipes for you for Thanksgiving, and time is flying. (And,  of course, the new book recipes are TOP SECRET…just kidding, I’ll start posting a few of those as pub date nears.) Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate a reminder of some of these amazing veggie side dish recipes on sixburnersue, so here goes. So while, yes, you’ll recognize most on this list, if you’re like me, you may have forgotten some. Reminders aren’t all bad!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with dear friends and delicious food.

Okay, here are our favorites from past Thanksgivings.

1. Crispy Smashed Potatoes (photo above)

2. Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberry-Ginger Butter and Toasted Walnuts.

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce

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4. Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

5. Thanksgiving Gratin of Butternut, Corn, Squash & Leeks

6. Potato Galette with Fresh Rosemary & Two Cheeses

RoastedBeetJewelsPg.2057. Roasted Beet Jewels with Cranberries, Pecans & Balsamic Butter

8. Roasted Turnips & Pears with a Rosemary Honey Drizzle

9. Potato Gratin with Gruyere, Thyme & Horseradish

10. Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

turnip overhead

Tart Art: Recipes for Sweet or Savory Rustic Tarts

DSC_0626I’ve been looking for a great excuse to repost this blog on rustic tarts. Well, it being the eve of you-know-what, I don’t thing I even have to mention why you might want to totally distract yourself with an incredibly delicious cooking project. (Perhaps you don’t have a TV or the internet in your kitchen.) But even if you don’t feel like cooking today or tomorrow, chances are that either a sweet or savory tart might fit perfectly into one of your holiday menus. So, Ta da! A repost of where to find directions to all my yummy rustic tart recipes.

DSC_9313

Sweet or savory, these open-faced pies can be everything from appetizer to dessert—and even breakfast. A couple years back, I wrote and photographed a story called “Tart Art” for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, and now the recipes are all online. It’s a great place to go for my all-purpose, buttery, flaky dough recipe—and to find recipes for both my versatile fruit filling (apples, pears, or plums) and for two different savory fillings.

DSC_0706

The fruit fillings work for sweet rustic tarts that are as delicious for dessert as they are the next day for brunch or an easy leftover breakfast. And if you’ve got a copy of Fresh from the Farm on hand, you can find one of my favorite variations in the recipe for Little Pear Crostatas with Hazelnut Crisp Topping. (Rustic tarts go by the name crostata in Italy and galette in France.)

DSC_1548

The savory fillings I did for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine—Savory Cabbage, Apple & Cheddar and Savory Roasted Butternut, Pear, and Cranberry—are variations on the fillings I did for my tart chapter in The Fresh and Green Table. Not only are these savory tarts deeply flavored and satisfying (great with soup or salad), but they are a lot of fun to put together.

DSC_1915

For step by step assembling instructions, you’ll want to look back at the directions and the photos I included in a previous blog, which includes a link to one of the recipes from The Fresh & Green Table. (The Seven Treasure Roasted Winter Veggie Tart is also a favorite in The Fresh & Green Table.) And over on the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine website, you’ll see that I’ve given you options for dividing the dough into either two or four pieces to make two bigger or four smaller tarts.

So you’ve got options.

And when summer comes around (we can be hopeful, right?) don’t forget about my most favorite tart of all—the Roasted Tomato Rustic Tart in Fresh from the Farm!

xroastedtomatotart

 

 

Simple Green Suppers Is Available for Pre-Order!

9781611803365My fourth cookbook, Simple Green Suppers, is now available for preorder (see links below). There, I’ve said it. Seems unreal, really, in many ways. First, that the whole selling and promotion thing gets started more than six months ahead of time. (The pub date is April 11, 2017.) Second, that it is actually happening—When I wrote my first cookbook, Fast, Fresh & Green, in 2010, I was pretty jazzed about that. Then came The Fresh & Green Table in 2012 and Fresh from the Farm in 2014. Meanwhile, I am farming and growing vegetables and, well, you’d think I’d get tired of vegetables. Not!

As some of you know, I also skipped over the line into full-time vegetarian eating a few years ago, so that gave me the ultimate fun challenge for a new book—how to cook vegetarian suppers every night.

Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy for One-Dish Vegetarian Meals is the very delicious, very beautiful result of that challenge. (Sorry about the “very”s but I am as excited about this book as I was about Fast, Fresh, and Green, which I believe continues to sell well because it is useful. Simple Green Suppers is super-useful. And inspiring. It is being published by Roost Books after all, and they make beautiful books!! Plus, I collaborated with talented photographer Randi Baird on a monster-sized effort on the photos. Okay, I’ll stop.)

Though my mission has always been to make vegetables more accessible and appealing for all kinds of eaters, I don’t think this full-on vegetarian book will exclude anyone, as most of the recipes will appeal to non-vegetarians and part-time vegetarians, too. I’ve never been one to go in for fake foods and I’m also not particularly into soy-based meat substitutes, so the recipes are based on familiar ingredients, with plenty of exciting flavor boosts.

The premise is this: Think of one-dish veggie suppers as “Veggies + 1.” The “1” is a staple ingredient from your pantry or larder. The chapters are divided thus:

Noodles, Grains, Leaves, Toast, Eggs, Broth, Beans (and Legumes), Tortillas

Each chapter offers you lots of strategy about how to shop for, store, and cook with the best and most versatile of these items (and the flavors that go well with them.) Each chapter, in addition to multiple yummy recipes (there are 125 in the book), has versatile mini-recipes for little sauces and salsas, infused oils, dressings, toppings and more that can be used many different ways. I’m encouraging you to nudge yourself just a bit towards the make-ahead mindset. Because if you’ve got Quick Lemony Tahini Sauce or Spicy Peanut Sauce or Whipped Lemony Thyme Feta in the fridge, and/or a batch of cooked short-grain brown rice or chickpeas around, you can bring that broccoli or cauliflower or spinach home and make a delicious supper in no time, with a little support from your pantry.

Just to be clear, everything winds up in one bowl or on one plate or platter. Though I’m not a nutritionist, I have thought ahead about protein and a balance of flavors and textures so your one-dish recipe is a complete supper. Some suppers are heartier than others, and I admit that I don’t eat huge amounts of anything in one sitting anymore, so portions, while filling (and rest assured, cross-tested by real families!!) are not huge. But they can be flexible.

Here’s a sample list of recipe titles:

  • Crispy Tortillas with Watercress, Peas, Avocado, Sprouts and Smoky Chile Broth
  • Roasted Butternut “Smash” on Whole Wheat Toast with Cranberry Citrus Butter and Crispy Shallots
  • Grilled Naan Pizza with Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Whipped Lemon-Thyme Feta, Cucumbers and Basil
  • Grilled Peach, Red Onion and Arugula Salad with Sungold Tomatoes and Grilled Croutons
  • Indian Curry with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Spinach, Tomatoes and Coconut Milk
  • Autumn Farro Salad with Quick-Roasted Root Vegetables and Lemon-Sherry Dressing
  • Green Rice with Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Shiitakes, and Crunchy Pepitas
  • Spicy Egg Tacos with Salsa Verde, Sharp Cheddar and Pickled Veggies (cover recipe)
  • Yukon Gold Potato and Brussels Sprouts Hash with Parmesan Fried Egg
  • Red Quinoa and Baby Kale Salad with Sweet Potato Fries and Blackberry Dressing.
  • Stir-Fried Black Rice with Baby Bok Choy, Asparagus, Shiitakes, and Lemon-Miso Butter

Now I just have to say a word about pre-ordering. I know how easy it is to order on Amazon, and certainly for authors this seems to be a good thing, to a certain extent. The more pre-orders, the more your book shows up in rankings and searches, etc. But the more we order on Amazon, the less we contribute to the well-being of our independent bookstores and our local communities, and ultimately that’s not great for anyone, especially book authors. (Also, discounted books earn back advances at a slower rate.)

As you may know, I work part-time in an independent bookstore, Bunch of Grapes, so I am particularly interested in supporting independent bookstores. Our book buyer has already placed a generous order for copies of my book (this is a normal practice—ordering the books months in advance), but you could visit your own local bookstore and ask if they’d be willing to stock Simple Green Suppers, and you can also pre-order your book from a list of independent sources (including Powell’s bookstore and IndieBound.org) through my book’s distributor, Penguin Random House. So you have choices!

Click here to check out options listed on Penguin Random House’s site.

And Click here for the Amazon link.

But just so you know, pre-ordering is a good thing as it helps build buzz and in some cases might actually affect the numbers of the first print run. A book has to build momentum before publishing day arrives or it won’t be able to take off running. So thank you in advance.

And yes, you’ll be hearing more about Simple Green Suppers in the next few months!!

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Simple Green Suppers cover photo by Randi Baird. Food styling by Susie Middleton and Amy Miller.

The Fly-By Summer

IMG_0140IMG_0101It’s a strange summer. Slow in getting here, fast in passing. The tomatoes have barely started to ripen and already it is time to pull the onions out of the ground. The weather is confused—dripping hot one day, New England chilly the next night. It’s like summer and fall all at once. But I’m okay with that. I like fall, and I feel a bit disconnected from summer this year.

I can’t complain. Grace and magic and kindness and opportunity have conspired to give me a new farmette business with a little farm stand plunked fortuitously close to the road.

IMG_0127My fencing and irrigation and weed controls are working as planned, so everything (well, most everything) is thriving, and the whole darn thing is actually manageable.

IMG_0133The soil still needs a lot of improvement, so my yields are not what they could be. But the real conundrum is space. The 4000 square feet I carved out this year isn’t enough for the little business to really thrive. 10,000 square feet is a quarter acre, and that would be great, but I can’t necessarily get to that here. I might be able to carve out 2000 more feet, but first I’m going to figure out a way to get a small hoop house built (and hopefully a chicken coop and pen, too). Then perhaps I will lease an extra little bit of land somewhere else next year, and grow more flowers on it. All things to consider this fall!

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I did finally break down and buy a new camera, as my old one died and I’ve been borrowing from friends. I went with the cheapest DSLR I could buy and still get good quality—an older Canon Rebel T5—and I just took it out of the box yesterday.

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IMG_0145So of course the first pictures I took were of tomatoes and flowers–probably my two favorite things about the late summer garden. Fortunately, with our warm fall out here, I’ll have tomatoes and flowers until late October of even early November.

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IMG_0130But I hope I can find some good tomatoes and flowers to enter in the Fair, which is–yikes!–next week! I did say summer was flying by.

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And the last bittersweet sign of changing seasons: The President and First Family arrived for their vacation last weekend. It still thrills me to see the motorcade whiz by, and I will always be grateful that they’ve chosen to come here for their vacations. Now if they’d just stop at the farmstand…

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Building the Market Garden(s)

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This is very cool, I promise, and constitutes the best possible excuse for the delay (again!) in blog posts: We have plowed, tilled, composted, dug, fenced, planted, mulched, and irrigated 4500 square feet of market garden space in exactly two months. During that time, we’ve also harvested from the earliest plantings and even turned a few beds over. (And opened a little farmstand.) I say “we” because I’ve had help from all over in this endeavor, and I feel proud that I set this challenge for myself, made a plan, and then reached out for help at every step of the way.

If you’re interested in a brief overview of how it went, read the timeline below. But life is short, so if you’re like me and in a rush, just take a quick glimpse at the photos (which are a mixed bag, considering I’m still short a camera lens and using an old phone, too!), and you’ll get an idea of the progress.

And then, please come visit the farm stand if (or when) you’re on the Island. I’ll be open every day now, from about 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. (Self-serve.) Many folks don’t realize that I’m not at the old farm and that I’m starting up a new business, so I can use your kind word of mouth to let Islanders and visitors know of my new location. I still have mostly just greens (chard, kale, salad mix, etc.), but peas and squash (and much more) are coming.

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Directions: I’m in West Tisbury on State Road, on the left just past Island Farms Road (a little bit up the road from Vineyard Gardens) if you’re coming from Vineyard Haven. The property has a long stone wall along State Road and two driveways. Take the first driveway (if coming from VH) or the second (if coming from West Tis.). The farm stand is right behind the stone wall. You will see my chalkboard sign on the road. We don’t have a farm name yet, but you’ll see “Sixburnersue” on the farm stand!

The Timeline:

In early April, property owner Trip Barnes and I walked around and decided where the gardens would go. We chose three areas that had enough sunlight (LOTs of trees here) and that could be reached from a water source. There wasn’t just one area big enough for me, so we staked out three. All were covered with sod/grass, meaning they would need a lot of work to become garden beds. There was also a fourth, very small area, that had been a vegetable garden, which I immediately pounced on to get started since it didn’t need to be plowed.

We then set about finding a farmer who could come with a plow and turn the soil over in each of the three spots. (Farmers are pretty short on time in the springtime.)

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On April 24 and 25, farmer Andrew Woodruff of Whippoorwill Farm came out and plowed and tilled each garden area to break the sod apart and loosen the soil to a good depth. (Yay Andrew!)

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Andrew left me with two good-sized piles of compost, which I then shoveled over each garden area. Next I called my friend Jim Costello to come with his powerful rototiller and turn the soil once more. We then had soil that looked plantable. (Yay Jim!)

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The next and biggest challenge was fencing. I quickly erected some temporary fencing around the two smallest gardens so that I could get started on making beds and pathways. (And do things like get an asparagus bed started and onions in the ground!)

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Then I made my fencing plan. I wanted tall (7- to 8-foot) deer fencing around the two bigger gardens and medium-height fencing around the flower garden (the third area). And I wanted to double up on the bottom with 3-foot chicken wire buried 6 to 8 inches (rabbits and rodents).

Trying to balance time and budget (shipping heavy rolls of fencing and fence posts to the Island can get very expensive), I finally ordered the mesh fencing online from a reasonable source. (I measured about 16 times to make sure that the 330-foot rolls were going to do the trick.)

But I still needed to find 40 heavy duty fence posts—that I could afford and also manage to get in the ground. This took a while, but through another farmer friend, I found out that another farmer on the Island, Mitchell Posin, was the Island dealer for a fencing company.

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I talked to Mitch and we settled on 9-foot galvanized metal T posts. I would need to sink them 2 feet, so that would work with my 7.5-foot high deer fencing. Mitch put the order in and also told me that he’d be happy to give me some of his round wooden posts (9-footers) for the corners of my gardens. (Yay Mitch!)

The fence posts missed their first ride to the island but managed to hitch a ride in the back of Andy the Sheep Shearer’s truck the next week. (Andy comes from New Hampshire to the Island twice a year to shear most of the Island’s sheep and to do demonstrations as well.) I was sure glad to hear that he had arrived. We piled in Trip’s truck one foggy morning and ran up to Allen Sheep Farm to pick up the posts from Mitch.

Now I had posts and fencing, but I had to figure out how to build this fence (and include a gate for each garden). In the end, I wound up going back to Allen Sheep Farm and borrowing a tool called a T-post driver from Mitch. It’s a heavy metal sleeve, or tube, with handles, that you place over the stake. Then you pull (more like bang—it is very loud) the driver down on the stake several times until the stake is far enough in the ground.

Help came next from my next door neighbor, Lena (who used to have a horse farm), and a woman visiting from Canada named Elizabeth (who still lives on a horse farm). Both of these brave women helped me figure out how to get the heavy driver onto the heavy (tall) stake before raising it up, and each volunteered to hold the stake in place while I stood on the ladder and banged the darn thing in. It was exciting when the first post went in, and even more exciting when the 40th post went in—thanks to help from two more ladies, Terra, and Helen.

Helen is the young woman helping me out on the farm this summer, and I have nicknamed her Super Farm Chick, because she is one hard worker. Together we did the rest of the hard work to get those fences done. The most tedious part was digging the trench around each area to bury the chicken wire (another friend, Ann, joined us for the last of it). Actually hanging and zip-tieing the deer fencing and chicken wire went pretty smoothly. Helen and I got so good at this by the end that we decided we could hire ourselves out as fence builders (ha!). And we had fun with the fact that the fence was almost entirely built by women. (Yay girls!) (I wish I had photos of all this.)

I had wanted to do something fun for the garden gates—I had my eye on two old screen doors—but I had to improvise for the short term and make the gates (or doors) out of the fencing material, some dowels, and some bungee cords for closing. Not pretty, but functional.

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After the fencing was done, Helen and I got going on the serious planting. I had already (with help from a friend’s son, Oliver), dug the paths and raised beds for the first garden so that I could get all my greens in . (I grew a very successful crop of baby bok choy in this garden, and I was happy to sell some of it and some beautiful Japanese turnips to State Road Restaurant. I’ve been harvesting lettuce, kale, chard and spinach from that garden, too.)

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Oliver and I had also gotten the potatoes in the ground out in the biggest garden. (Yay Oliver!) I knew deer didn’t like potatoes so I wasn’t worried about planting them without the fence up. Interestingly, not long after the potatoes sprouted, we saw deer tracks right through the bed. So I knew I was doing the right thing in planning on tall fencing—especially for that garden, where the tomatoes would go.corner

But now Helen and I were staring at 75 tomato plants, 60 eggplants, 60 squash plants, 30 cuke seedlings, and untold numbers of flowers (about 300 maybe?) that needed to get in the ground. In my zeal, I had started everything (both under lights inside and in my little mini tunnel outside) about the same time I always start, not thinking about how delayed I’d be in getting everything in. So all my plants were leggy and busting out of their pots (and needing to be watered twice a day). To get those plants in, there would be more shoveling to make raised beds, a lot of weed mat barrier and plastic to staple down, stakes to pound in, and lots of drip hoses (a whole other story) to set up.

It sounds so easy to just “get the plants in the ground” but there are dozens of things that need to happen before that little hole is dug and the seedling popped out of its pot.

But now I am happy to say that as of this afternoon, it is pretty much all done.

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All but a couple random flats of seedlings (and some extra tomatoes, which have been moved to bigger pots for the farm stand) are in the ground. Weed mat barrier is down in every path in each garden. Drip hoses are down and the irrigation, though jury-rigged, is functioning. Sunflower and nasturtium and cilantro seeds planted around everywhere to attract the good bugs and bees.

Whew. Now we just have to go back to the first garden and do some weeding and thinning and turn some beds over. Bok choy out, yellow beans in.

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