Feeding Twain’s ghost

Posted by Anita on 07.07.08 6:51 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**I know there’s some serious doubt about whether ol’ Samuel Clemens ever said “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” But if he didn’t say it back in 18-whatever-it-was, he would definitely have said it this year. Because, hello, it’s been frickin’ cold over here. I keep hearing everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere talk about sweltering subway rides and temperatures too hot for grilling. Meanwhile, I’m hauling out the fleece and putting the sundresses back in the closet.

But, you know, if the weather is going to make it seem like winter, then who are we to second-guess Mother Nature? Our Marin Sun Farms Meat CSA box this month included a mega-jumbo chuck roast, way too large for the two of us to tackle in one sitting, even with leftovers. I hate to cut up a large hunk of meat, but — freezing weather or no — I just couldn’t see inviting friends over for a roast beef supper. Burgers might be nice, but we already have enough ground beef to feed a small army.

So we cut the meat into large hunks and made a hearty, 100%-local version of Beef & Guinness Pie. Substituting Anchor Porter for the beer, and using local flour, butter, and cream cheese to make a really wide version of Lara’s cheater’s puff pastry pinwheels for the topping, we had our One Local Winter (er, I mean, Summer, of course) entree all wrapped up.

The pie is old-school Irish fare; its only vegetables are onions, garlic, and a dollop of tomato paste, so a side-dish is definitely in order. Thankfully, the delta and valleys, where most of our food comes from, are actually getting plenty of sun and heat, so we’re grabbing plenty of gorgeous shelling peas and baby carrots these days.

We like to cook young veggies gently, in a way that helps retain most of their vibrant color and snappy texture. We happened onto this fast pan-braising method (a much more interesting recipe to share with those of you who aren’t experiencing arctic blasts) as part of a green-bean recipe in one of our favorite cookbooks. Turns out it’s a fabulous way to get just about any small, tender vegetables to the table without a lot of fuss.

And it’s a method that rewards repetition: Once you get to know your pan and your stove, you’ll be able to add just enough water so that it all evaporates at the perfect moment, leaving just the buttery glaze and perfectly textured vegetables behind. It’s a fabulous technique you can use all year ’round, regardless of the climate.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Quick & Tender Vegetables
- adapted from Staff Meals at Chanterelle

Trim and/or peel the vegetables into uniform shapes. (Shell peas; slice carrots into 1/3-inch-thick rounds; trim the stem end off green beans, etc.)

Place the prepped vegetables in a skillet large enough to stack them no more than two pieces deep; a single layer is even better. (If you’re combining different shapes and textures, like shelled peas and carrot rounds, it’s best to cook them in two separate pans, so you can adjust temperatures and timing as needed.) Add cold water to reach halfway up the vegetables — no more! — then add as big a hunk of butter as you dare, and goodly amount of kosher salt.

One Local Summer 2008Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered, shaking the pan (or using tongs for long items like beans) to fiddle with the vegetables as they cook, until they’re brightly colored and tender but still have a little bite. Lift the vegetables out of the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon, letting them drip-dry just a bit, and place them in the serving dish.

locavore, One Local Summer, recipes



Comment by Joan

My sympathies on the weather situation. I can easily relate since we were in the same situation just a short time ago in Portland. You are doing a terrific job of making the best of it and not whining! Thank you for the pan braising directions. Now is a great time to try that out.

Posted on 07.07.08 at 8:09PM

Comment by sam

This post is making me laugh – the antithesis of a certain someone’s twitter today, a twitter that might have been predicting 150F in these here parts ;)

Posted on 07.07.08 at 9:11PM

Comment by Anita

Joan: I’m not whining? Good thing this isn’t a podcast! And yes, the pan-braising is a lovely trick year-round.

Sam: isn’t it funny what happens when you write a weekend wrapup, and then the weather changes? :D Needless to say, next week’s menu calls for something MUCH more summery!

Posted on 07.07.08 at 9:15PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

I love your veggie method.
So sorry about your weather! Cranky and I are building an outdoor kitchen on the patio (hotplate, charcoal grill, minifridge). Yes, it’s warm here. C’mon up.

Posted on 07.08.08 at 12:47PM

Comment by Kate

This recipe looks amazing. I’m going to try it this weekend!

Thanks for the idea!

Posted on 07.08.08 at 4:05PM

Comment by Tartelette

I am surprised it’s not hotter here than it used to be. Very strange, I am not complaining though. August might be a different story so I might need to make this soon!

Posted on 07.09.08 at 8:20PM

Comment by RebeccaC

This sounds delicious and I can relate to the cooler weather. Although Chicago is nearing the 90-degree mark this week, our spring was delayed by about 2 months this year and incredibly wet to boot. I was making hearty winter fare right up through May!

Posted on 07.10.08 at 12:35PM

Comment by Alice Q. Foodie

Mmmm… that sounds terrific, even if it is pretty darn summery around here!

Posted on 07.10.08 at 4:04PM

Comment by Rayrena

Hmm, I’ve been needing to cook a couple roasts that i have in the freezer. Perhaps I’ll catch a break and we’ll get a cold snap too because this sounds good!

Posted on 07.11.08 at 8:27AM

Comment by Paula

I’ve not heard of a meat CSA before; great idea! The recipe sounds good, too. Summer has finally arrived where I lived; we had been soggy and cold during “June-uary”!

Posted on 07.11.08 at 11:07AM

Comment by SweetBird

I’m totally feeling your pain concerning the weather. I’m about two hours south of SF right on the coast and we’re dealing with the same garbage cold weather…and smoke. Yay.

Beyond all that, the meat pie sounds amazing. I’m going to have to check and see if we have a CSA program around here.

Posted on 07.12.08 at 4:55PM

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