Tag Archives: vegetables

Peanut Soba Noodles and a Confession

Well, make that two confessions.

The first: I’m not a great cook. I like food, but I don’t always know what to put together, or have the patience or skill to use the right techniques. I certainly don’t know how to make it look pretty in photographs. But I’m working on it. I’ve made some wonderful foodie friends recently who inspire me to be a better cook, and a better blogger.

But the real confession is this – I’ve been in a rut. I love to write, and I just… haven’t been. I love to work out, and I haven’t been making the time. I’ve been eating weird concoctions of snacks from the market downstairs for dinner, instead of trying new recipes or making old favorites. I live, literally, on top of a wine bar, and I haven’t even been to it. What is that about? I just haven’t felt like me. I have no real good reason for this rut I’ve been in. I have a good job, with people I like, one that sends me to London and allows me to work from home or charming coffee shops quite regularly. I’ve got good friends, really terrific ones. My family is great, cool and quirky, and they live nearby enough that I get to see them a lot. I have a cute apartment in an adorable neighborhood, albeit one that might be just a little too yuppie for me, after all. I live in a fantastic city, and have access to the most amazing food and fresh produce. I have a machine to make my own fizzy water (more on that soon) for Pete’s sake. Life is good, really good.

I think what it comes down to is change. Way too much change. In a very short period of time, I changed jobs, got my own apartment for the first time, moved across the city, and sold my car. For someone who’s never been great with change, it was a lot, all at once. My routine has been thrown off, and I can’t quite get it back. Oh, and did I mention I have a pretty big birthday coming up? Yup, it’s been a lot to take. I like my life, but sometimes don’t know how to process it all.

But, I’m trying to shake it. I’m tired of being in a rut, or using the excuse of being in a rut to stay in a rut. The weather’s getting better, and I have a lot to look forward to – yes, even that big birthday. I had a wonderful weekend, filled with friends and fresh produce and family and yeasted waffles, and it reminded me of how good life is. And how fun it is, when you’re open to it.

I may still not be a great cook, but I’m starting to figure out what I like. Like these peanut soba noodles I threw together tonight. I made Orangette’s recipe a few months back, and loved it, but decided to mix it up (literally!) tonight, not follow a recipe, and see what happened. What happened was good. I was inspired to add asparagus and tofu from this 101 Cookbooks recipe. So, tonight, I threw together:

1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter
A few splashes of organic soy sauce
The juice of one small lime
The juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
A dash of white wine vinegar
A glug or two of olive oil
A generous dash of Sriracha

And whisked them together. Then, I cooked up half an 8 oz package of soba noodles for about 6 minutes, and added some chopped asparagus into the boiling water for another minute or two. I rinsed and drained the noodles and asparagus, added them to the peanut sauce, and threw in some thinly sliced carrots and radishes, strips of yellow and red bell pepper, and Super Firm Wildwood tofu, pan-fried in sesame oil.

It was really tasty, and so easy. Next time, I’d add some whole or chopped peanuts on top, like the 101 Cookbooks recipe suggests. But all in all I was pleased with how it turned out. I’m really thinking of going back for seconds. But I’m wondering if that feeling, like the rut I’ve been in, will pass if I just let it.

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This Is Why I Love the Farmers Market

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Are these not the most gorgeous onions you have ever seen?

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What’s Fresh in Your Area

I’m sorry guys, I am like 12 years old, but this title totally sounds like an ad for Summer’s Eve, no? 😉

Via Twitter (thanks for the RT that caught my attention, Foodzie), I found this really cool interactive map, where you can find out what’s seasonal and fresh where you live. Apparently okra is in season in CA right now… who knew? I don’t think I’ve ever had it, with the exception of a gumbo in New Orleans. Anyway, you can search for seasonal produce by state and month – check out what’s in season now where you live!

Thanks, Epicurious – very cool!

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Peak-Season Map

PS: A guy totally asked me if I worked on a farm yesterday! I’m like, I know my jeans are torn, but really, I thought that was trendy. 😉 Turns out it was because I have a Buy Fresh, Buy Local sticker on my computer. I was like, nope, I’m just into that stuff. I have a green blog. Cue blank expression. Ha.

What’s in season where you live? What are you most looking forward to being in season?

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Eat (and Trade) Your Veggies!

A few weeks ago, I posted about Neighborhood Fruit, an awesome website that allows you to find and share the bounty of neighborhood fruit trees. This morning, I read about a similar site, Veggie Trader, which allows users to trade, buy and sell produce, herbs, nuts, seeds, etc. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of listings so far (I only found one for a trade within 20 miles of my zip code), as the site is relatively new. Hopefully people will start signing up – I definitely plan on checking back in to see what’s available down the road. You have to register, but it’s totally free to use. I really like this trend of avoiding waste and sharing with your community!

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Seasonal Pizza and Good Folk(s)!

Last night, after carpooling with my boss (yay for carpooling!) home from work, I took BART over to the East Bay to meet my sister for dinner and to see my friend’s concert. I have to say, I really love taking public transportation, and I always forget that! Taking BART, or Caltrain like I did to work on Tuesday (post in the works), makes me feel like I’m on vacation in another city. I just love it, and need to do it more often!

Anyway, my sister picked me up at BART and we headed to The Cheeseboard Collective for dinner, a worker-owned, independent pizza place. Each day they have one kind of vegetarian pizza, and it’s delicious! There’s always a line around the door. On the menu last night: pizza with asparagus, gremolata, Shitake mushrooms, mozzarella , Montalban Manchego Cheese and garlic olive oil. YUM! I never would have thought to put asparagus and gremolata on a pizza, but it was great. We also had a yummy salad, and I was just really in the mood for a beer, so I had a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Half a pizza is $10, and we both took leftovers.

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Pizza with compostable forks (for the salad)!

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My cute sister eating pizza! Trying to come up with a good nickname for her, because she is my green inspiration. Extra Green Girl? Pretty Green Sister?

Then we headed over to the Freight & Salvage, a coffee house/music venue, to see my friend, the ultra talented Laura Cortese, perform. She’s an amazing fiddler/singer/performer. Definitely check her out! I was listening to her CD Even the Lost Creek this morning, and it’s so good! I definitely got some weird looks from other drivers because I was totally singing along! One cool thing they mentioned at F&S – they are in the middle of building a new eco-friendly venue with blue jean insulation and a living roof. Three cheers!

During the concert, Laura had a contest/raffle, including questions about how often you take public transit or walk instead of driving. Three days a week for me – soon to be four, I hope. I work from home Fridays, try not to drive on the weekends, and am hoping to start taking the train to work one day a week. We didn’t win, but we had a lot of fun with our entries.

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We had to write down a word to identify ourselves on the cards. My sister picked snorkle (snorkel?). I picked, naturally, green. I also drew a really horrible picture of a tree, but luckily for you, the photograph didn’t come out. 😉

Also, here’s proof that keeping scratch paper in your bag is always a good idea.
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My sister wrote “Janet Smells.” I made it “Janet Smells Good,” which became “Janet Never Smells Good,” which I turned into “Janet Never Smells Good Except Always.” Ahh, siblings. 😉

We then headed over to a local bar and had fun catching up with friends I hadn’t seen since high school. Lots of reminscing about all the drama back in the day, ha. We have some fun plans in the work for a writing project!

Finally, check out this awesome sign we walked past. I’m getting more comfortable saying, hang on, stop, I have to take a picture for my blog! I’m hanging on to this picture as a reminder that while recycling is great, reducing and reusing come first in the chain for a reason.

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PS: Super thanks to Hallie for helping me link up my blog to my Twitter. You rock, girl!

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Pretty Green Tip: Keep Your Carrots Fresh!

I often get a bunch of organic carrots from my CSA, or pick them up at a Farmer’s Market. The problem is, they don’t last very long! Whether I keep them in the fridge or on the counter, a day or two later they’re always shrunken and rubbery. Ewww. But I remembered that when I was a kid, my mom would put out carrots sticks in the middle of the table at meals, standing upright in a cup with an inch or two of water at the bottom. Using this as my inspiration, I’ve started peeling carrots right when I get them home, and putting them in a jar with a bit of water at the bottom. This works great – they’re fresh in the fridge for days, even weeks. If you’re planning to keep them a long time, change or add more water every once in awhile.

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My sister says you can actually just stick the whole bunch of unpeeled carrots in water. I haven’t tried that yet, and like the convenience of having peeled and trimmed carrots ready to go when I want one. But you actually don’t really need to peel carrots – sometimes I don’t (I just trim the tops!), but this batch was extra dirty!

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CSA Bounty, or WHO Doesn’t Like Potatoes?

I just picked up my CSA produce for the week – check out this cornucopia!

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I got:
4 apples
4 oranges
5 FREAKING GIGANTIC red potatoes
Bunch of red beets (unpictured)
Celery
Kale

I usually get to order whatever I want, but this week I either didn’t get the email or forgot to order in time, so they gave me a selection based on my past orders and what they had available. I actually probably didn’t need the beets (got them last week and roasted them but still haven’t eaten them), but I’ll come up with something! Maybe I’ll enter the Blogger Secret Ingredient contest for the first time with some of these items, as long as I pick up some basil. Does anyone have any awesome recipes they want to share for any of these other ingredients? I won’t steal them for BSI, I swear!

Check out the cool reusable bag from my CSA, too! I alternate between that, providing my own bag (usually one from Whole Foods) and a big paper shopping bag which you can return to reuse. You can also return egg cartons which they will reuse even if they aren’t the same brand the CSA provides – pretty cool!

Seriously, how huge are those potatoes? Maybe they just look really big to me because red potatoes are usually so small.

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Funny story: My little brother, who is 6 (yes, big age difference), doesn’t like potatoes. I was on a walk with my roommate and telling her this story and I said, “I mean, WHO doesn’t like potatoes?” Her response, “um, I don’t.” It’s been a running joke between us ever since. Check out the note I left her on the counter. 🙂 It’s written on an old envelope I saved, of course!

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