East Austin’s Springdale Farm announces it will close at the end of summer

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East Austin is poised to lose one of its urban farms.

Glenn and Paula Foore announced in a newsletter today that they planned to “retire Springdale Farm and move on to the next phase of our lives with a focus on health and family.”

Springdale Farm has hosted countless events in the past 10 years, but the owners announced on Wednesday that they would be closing the farm at the end of the summer. They did not announce any plans to sell or develop the property on Springdale Road. Contributed by Springdale Farm.

For the past 10 years, the Foores have run an urban farm with crops available for sale at a twice-a-week farmstand. About six years ago, they opened part of their land to chef Sonya Cote, who now runs her outdoor restaurant Eden East next to the house where chefs and home cooks alike can be found on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Although the land has always been zoned for commercial use — the Foores first moved their landscape business there more than 26 years ago — Springdale Farm was part of the controversial effort in 2013 to revise the city’s urban farm ordinance.

Along with Boggy Creek, Rain Lily and HausBar, Springdale Farm has hosted an annual fundraiser called the East Austin Urban Farm Tour, which will continue this year, the Foores said in the email:

“These past 10 years in particular have been such an amazing journey. The food community has shown us tremendous support, and we have been so honored to be a part of this wonderful group of people,” they wrote. “The adventures were grand, to be sure: the fun times at the farm stand and the friends we’ve made, the fundraisers, the farm tours and school kids of all ages… The documentaries, the photo shoots, the supper clubs, the politicians on the porch, the celebrities on the grounds. Our daughter’s wedding, and any minute, God willing, we’ll christen the farmhouse with the birth of our first grand baby.”

Springdale Farm is one of four urban farms in one corner of East Austin. Laura Skelding for the Austin American-Statesman.

Springdale Handmade, an offshoot soap and skincare business from farmstand fixture Carla Crownover, will continue to operate, with the products available online and at other retail outlets. The email to customers did not say what would happen with the Springdale Center for Urban Agriculture, a non-profit project that was a recipient of an Austin Food & Wine Alliance culinary grant.

We asked if they had plans to develop the property, rent it out to a new farmer or sell the land, but have not received additional information.

Rice-A-Roni is still delicious and 14 other lessons I learned during the #30atHome cooking challenge

Today marks the end of my month-long #30atHome cooking challenge.

Sure, there were a few exceptions, but for the most part, I ate home-cooked food for the entire month of January. In today’s food section, I shared my favorite recipes and some thoughts on why a challenge like this is perfect for getting reacquainted with your kitchen and your inner Julia Child.

The only way to reduce your food waste is to eat what you cook. In this case, that meant a leftover ham sandwich with carrot top pesto, which I had made earlier in the month, and spring greens that I almost let get too wilted to use. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

To round things up on the blog, I’m going to round up 30 things I learned this month. If you’re finishing a Dryuary or Whole30, I’d love to hear your highs/lows/lessons in the comments below.

  1. Cooking at home means doing more dishes, too. Podcasts make it better. Here are some that I recommend.

    Dishes. The not-so-sexy side of cooking. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
  2. Don’t be afraid to share food with your friends. That can mean a full-on food swap, which we had earlier this month, or a random call to your neighbor friend to see if she wants a jar of the hot soup you just made.
  3. Finding a reliable homemade bread recipe was one of the best things I did as a younger cook.
  4. In a house with young boys, you can never have enough bagels and cream cheese.
  5. Lists and sticky notes are your friends. I made lots of recipe lists, ingredient lists, even lists of leftovers and frozen meals in the fridge. That helped me stay focused on the food already in the house and prioritize which items should be used first.RELATED: Find more #30atHome blog posts, recipes and cooking tips
    Strained relations with your kitchen? Try a cooking challenge
  6. Shop at a different store at least once a month to keep your pantry, fridge and creative culinary mind feeling fresh.
  7. We waste a lot of food. Even with a close watch on leftovers, quantity of food, etc, I sent at least three large bowls full of compost to the bin every week. That includes coffee grounds and onion peels, but also that last bit of chicken I couldn’t use up and at least a few servings of pasta I left on the stove overnight.

    The bulk spice section at Central Market. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
  8. Take yourself on a take to the bulk spice section at least once a year. Stocking up on new-to-you spices will reinvigorate your creativity and even the most boring dishes you already make.
  9. Eating out is a recreational activity for many of us, especially on the weekends or weeknight. We had to come up with other ways to fill up our downtime, so we did some cooking projects, including melting Starbusts to make a fun edible putty.

    Edible putty, made with Starbursts. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
  10. For lunch, your leftovers might be a homemade meal but it’s never going to be as appealing as eating out. You can either fight it by investing more time in spiffing up your leftovers or you can simply accept it with a heft dose of humility. I found that eating a boring lunch just made me enthusiastic to cook something fresh for dinner.
  11. The internet makes it too easy for your cookbooks to collect dust. I say: Use them or get rid of them. Check out Eat Your Books if you have a large collection and want an easy way to search all of them at once.
  12. Don’t have any cookbooks? Go to the library.

    Food coloring and a little patience turns regular pancakes into rainbow pancakes. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
  13. Rainbow pancakes are so fun.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask friends for recipes, and then actually make the recipes they give you. I loved that chorizo chili from my friend Beverly, and I’ll be making Hema’s pongal later this week.
  15. Rice-A-Roni is still delicious. I ate myself sick on Rice-A-Roni when I was a teenager and didn’t know how to make much else. Until this month, I had not made a box in at least 15 years. Now I remember why I ate so much of it when I was a kid. It’s a total processed food shortcut, but it’s a nice change of pace from regular rice or other carbs.

 

Beer, pasta, cheese and bacon: This satisfying dinner has ’em all

Cheese, pasta, bacon and beer.

Each of these words solicits joy in the hearts of food lovers, but what happens when you combine them? That’s the idea behind this dish from Lori Rice, author of a new food-and-beer cookbook called “Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer” (Countryman Press, $24.95).

Beer pairs well with lots of pasta and bacon dishes, but this beer-pasta-bacon-cheese meal inspiration comes from Lori Rice’s new cookbook, “Food on Tap.” Contributed by Lori Rice.

Even without the beer, this dish would be a winner. It instructs you how to make a cheese sauce using the leftover pasta water, whose starch helps hold the sauce together without watering it down. If you do want to use beer, Rice suggests a pale ale like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Brewery Dale’s Pale Ale or Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale. A less hoppy British pale ale works in this recipe, too.

Cheesy Shrimp and Bacon Pale Ale Pasta with Green Peas

The light pale ale cheese sauce in this recipe delicately coats the pasta for a meal that’s hearty but not too heavy. Feel free to serve this meal with a pint of pale ale.

16 ounces pasta
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 pound 40/50 count medium raw shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ounces pale ale
2 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh or thawed green peas

Fill a large pot with water for your pasta. Turn to high and heat to boiling while you begin the pasta sauce.

For the pasta sauce, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, until the fat renders and the bacon begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until it reaches your desired crispness. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 2 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon and shrimp to a bowl, leaving the bacon grease behind.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions while you finish the sauce.

Return the pot with bacon grease to medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk it into a dry paste. Reduce the heat to low. Continue to whisk as you pour in the pale ale. It will thicken into a paste as it simmers, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melts. Increase the heat to medium-low if the cheese slows its melting.

Drain the pasta, but reserve the pasta water. Add the hot pasta to the sauce with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. If the sauce seems thick, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more pasta water.

Stir in the peas. Transfer an equal amount of pasta to each serving bowl. Top with shrimp and bacon and toss gently in the bowls before serving. Leftovers will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer” by Lori Rice (Countryman Press, $24.95)

The Super Bowl is coming: Here’s how to make your own Philly cheesesteak

It’s Super Bowl time, which means we get to try our hand at foods that we don’t make so often ’round these parts.

With the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the New England Patriots this weekend, we have a clear favorite when it comes to food: The Philly cheesesteak.

You can make your own Philly cheesesteak at home, but you need a sharp knife and a hot pan. The meat is seasoned with only salt and pepper, but the onions really make the sandwich. You can use Cheez Whiz instead of provolone. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’ve had the real thing from Pat’s in Philadelphia, and this homemade version I tried last week made for a hearty homemade weeknight sandwich that hit the spot. Next time, I’ll use even more provolone and maybe some shredded mozzarella and make a little beef broth au jus on the side. Bolillo bread, which is what I used, is the easiest option for sandwiches like this, but they can be a little dry.

RELATED: The best cheesesteak in Austin and 11 other places to get the Philadelphia specialty

Gabrielle Langholtz’s “America: The Cookbook” (Phaidon, $49.95)

Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly cheesesteak recipe is from Gabrielle Langholtz’s “America: The Cookbook” (Phaidon, $49.95), a thick, stately volume with every regional dish you could conjure, from Yankee pot roast to Baja fish tacos, which will come in handy for every Super Bowl and World Series and maybe even an Iowa caucus. From Texas, you’ll find recipes for Hatch apple pie and cornbread, barbacoa, margaritas, migas and South Texas antelope with prickly pear glaze.

For this recipe, don’t skip the freezing of the meat, and you’ll need a sharp knife to get the slices paper thin. Your fingers will get cold, so use a kitchen towel to help grip the steak.

3/4 pound beef sirloin, ribeye or eye of round
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into very thin rings
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices provolone cheese, or more to taste
2 hoagie buns, sub or hero rolls, split lengthwise
Dill pickles, for serving

Place the beef in the freezer for 1 hour. Slice the beef paper thin, then into 1-inch pieces. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over high heat until almost at the smoking point. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and mushrooms (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is wilted and the mushrooms have browned, about 5 minutes. Add the “chipped” steak and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Still in the pan, divide the meat mixture into 2 mounts. Top each mound with the provolone and melt the cheese, then transfer to the rolls. Serve with a dill pickle.

— From “America: The Cookbook” by Gabrielle Langholtz (Phaidon, $49.95)

 

 

Who makes the best rotisserie chicken in Austin? We put ’em to the test

When grocery stores started carrying rotisserie chickens, most Americans stopped roasting chickens ourselves.

We taste six rotisserie chickens from Austin-area grocery stores. From top left: Fiesta, Whole Foods, HEB. Lower left: Costco, Central Market, Sprouts. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Why bother when you can buy an already roasted chicken for not much more than it would cost to buy a raw one?

Rotisserie chickens are now sold in nearly every grocery chain, right up near the front where busy shoppers can pick one up in a hurry.

That’s what I did on Wednesday morning, trekking to six local grocery stores to buy seven rotisserie chickens for a livestream taste test at the office. My colleagues tried all six of them and ranked them. To my surprise, they had an unequivocal favorite, which you’ll see pretty quickly into this video we made.

The bonus bird was clearly identified as a specialty smoked Cajun flavor from Whole Foods, which is rolling out new rotisserie chicken recipes that will entice customers to buy them more frequently. Later that day, we also tasted the new flavors of Diet Coke.

Which store makes your favorite rotisserie chicken? Do you ever roast your own? Let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook video!

 

It’s official: Smitten Kitchen makes the very best meatballs (even better than IKEA)

Y’all know how much I love IKEA food.

The heart-shaped waffles. The lingonberry jam. The salmon pate. The meatballs.

I don’t like IKEA’s veggie meatballs, but the regular ones are a fixture in my freezer, *if* I can get up to Round Rock to go to the store. That doesn’t happen very often, though, so I’ve been trying to make better meatballs myself over the past few years.

I usually bake my homemade Swedish meatballs, but after making “Smitten Kitchen” author Deb Perelman’s chicken Marsala meatballs for dinner last night, I might not make another meatball ever, including the IKEA frozen meatballs.

Smitten Kitchen blogger Deb Perelman shared the recipe for these chicken meatballs in her latest cookbook, “Smitten Kitchen Everyday.” Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

That’s a mighty statement, but these chicken meatballs were moist, gently seasoned and a perfect fit for that creamy Marsala sauce. I didn’t even mince the onions finely enough, and they still had a better texture than most homemade meatballs I’ve made.

Maybe one day I’ll learn how to make spherical meatballs. Today is not the day. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

One thing that hasn’t changed is my inability to make meatballs that are actually round. In the oven or the stove, my meatballs are always extra flat on at last one side, and I haven’t figured out a trick to help them keep their shape in the pan.

The great thing about this recipe is that the sauce alone is worth making, even if you aren’t making meatballs. Pan-fried, breaded chicken breasts or seared chicken thighs will leave a similar fond in the bottom of the pan to season the gravy. You could also replace the egg noodles with rice or mashed potatoes.

RELATED: #30atHome: Trying out a new chili ingredient to amp up flavor

Your friend the spice cabinet comes through on this amazing chicken marinade

Only 10 days left in this cooking at home challenge! I’ve only cheated a few times, but I have my meal plan ready for this week and enough gas in the tank to make it though Jan. 31.

I can’t promise there won’t be at least one more frozen pizza, though.

Let me know what you’re cooking through the #Austin360Cooks hashtag on Instagram! That’s the best way to share your cooking tips and inspiration with other readers, and to browse what they are cooking to get ideas for yourself.

Meatballs Marsala with Egg Noodles and Chives

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the onion
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk or water
Freshly ground pepper
For the sauce:
1/4 cup dry marsala, sherry or Madeira
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup chicken or beef stock
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta:
12 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons minced fresh chives (optional)

To make the meatballs: Place the chicken in a large bowl. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter, and once they are hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then add to the bowl with the chicken, along with the panko, egg, milk or water, 1 teaspoon salt and many grinds of fresh black pepper. Stir with a fork to combine evenly.

Wet your palms and scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture at a time. Roll back and forth briefly to form a sphere and then place on a plate. Repeat with remaining meat mixture.

Reheat that large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter and arrange the meatballs in a single layer. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to work in two batches. Nudge the meatballs after they’ve had a chance to brown on the bottom, and then continue to evenly cook the meatballs, rolling them around the pan, until the meatballs are evenly browned. (They don’t have to be cooked all the way through yet.)

Finish cooking the meatballs and then set them aside to make the sauce and pasta. Heat a large pot of salted water over medium high heat and cook the pasta according to the package, about 6 to 8 minutes.

While the pasta water heats, reheat the meatball pan over medium high heat and pour in the Marsala. Simmer until the wine has almost completely cooked off, scrapping any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the butter to the pan and then whisk in the flour. Cook the roux for 1 minutet and then slowly add the broth, whisking the whole time. Add the cream or milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the meatballs back to the pan, turn to coat them in the sauce, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs.

Place the noodles in a bowl and toss with a little bit of the final tablespoon of butter. Add meatballs and pan sauce on top. Garnish with chives, if using.

— Adapted from a recipe in “Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites” by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)

 

 

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#30atHome: Bergamot adds a taste of tea to blueberry pie

I love Earl Grey tea, but I’d never cooked with a bergamot orange until recently.

What’s a bergamot orange, you ask? It’s a yellow citrus fruit about the side of a baseball with a floral, fragrant rind that has been used to flavor Earl Grey tea since the 1800s.

They aren’t commonly available in Central Texas, but they pop up from time to time during the winter at Central Market and Whole Foods. I found this bergamot orange at Central Market earlier this month, and even though it cost nearly $4, I knew I wanted to experiment with it for my #30atHome challenge.

RELATED: #30atHome: Trying out a new chili ingredient to amp up flavor
Your friend the spice cabinet comes through on this amazing chicken marinade

Even after the holidays, my sweet tooth is still in high gear, so I’ve been baking a dessert about once a week this month. Last week, ahead of a Peace Through Pie potluck with my fellow #30atHome cooks, I decided to bake a blueberry pie with a hint of bergamot.

Kate McDermott’s “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life” (Countryman Press, $35) is one of my favorite pie cookbooks, and her recipe for a blueberry crumble pie called for lemon juice and Cointreau or orange zest, so I used bergamot juice and zest for the pie filling.

The result was a fabulous Earl Grey-scented dessert that caused everyone at the swap to ask: “What’s in this pie?”

I thought it was a little heavy on the bergamot, to be honest, but all the guests assured me that it was just the right amount. (I thought it was just the right amount when I added a scoop of ice cream to balance it out.)

RELATED: How to send Texas grapefruit to your friends who are snowed in
Go ahead and buy that big bag of citrus. Here’s how to use it up.

Even without the bergamot, this is a great pie recipe. Don’t worry about using fresh blueberries — you won’t be able to tell in the final product. Other small adjustments I made: I used a store-bought crust and cornstarch instead of tapioca.

Bergamot Blueberry Crumble Pie

For the crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Pinch salt
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole oats
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
For pie:
5-6 cups fresh blueberries (can use frozen, but do not thaw)
3/4 cup sugar
Small grating of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed bergamot orange juice
1/2 teaspoon bergamot orange zest
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
1 recipe single-crust pie dough

Put the brown sugar, salt, flour and oats in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 20 times until the butter and flour mixture looks crumbly. Add the nuts, if using, and pulse a few more times. Chill the mixture in the freezer while you make the filling.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put the blueberries, sugar, nutmeg, salt, lemon or bergamot orange juice and zest in a big bowl. Mix to combine and then add flour and tapioca. Roll out the pie crust and put in the pie pan. Add the blueberry filling.

Bake for 20 minutes at 425 and then lower heat to 350 and cook for another 20 minutes. Then add the crumble topping — you might have some extra, which you can store in the freezer — on top of the blueberry filling and cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Cool the pie before serving.

— Adapted from a recipe in “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life” by Kate McDermott (Countryman Press, $35)

‘Swedish death cleaning’ this weekend? Don’t forget: We want your cookbooks!

You don’t even have to read the news articles to know that January is the season for getting your body, mind and house in shape.

Ever since Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” became an international bestseller, we’ve seen all kinds of spin-off books about how to keep your house organized so you whole life doesn’t feel so frazzled.

Do you have boxes of cookbooks stored at your house? We are collecting used cookbooks at the Statesman 305 S. Congress Ave. that we donate to local nonprofit groups. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

A Swedish book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your On Life More Pleasant,” that came out last year fits into that general theme, but with a totally different end goal: Paring down your physical possessions before you die so you don’t leave such a burden on your family.

That probably feels pretty heavy and depressing, but the book is actually quite sweet. It’s written by an elderly Swedish woman who explains the concept of döstädning, where you go through all of your possessions and start to determine who is getting what, what should be donated and what you really want to keep for yourself until the very end. (The book also includes, no joke, some gentle teasing about making sure that you’ve probably taken care of your sex toys so your adult children don’t have to discover them unknowingly.)

I’m always purging my house and revisiting my stashes of photos, books and clothes, and since I know many of you are doing the same, especially this time of year, I thought I’d send out a reminder that we are still accepting cookbook donations for our Statesman Cookbook Drive. (I’m capitalizing it now, so I guess it’s An Official Thing.)

If you missed the original memo, about a year ago, I started collecting readers’ cookbook donations. So many of us have cookbooks that we don’t use any more, but plenty of other cooks in Central Texas could use a cookbook or two. I brought in about half a dozen non-profit organizations to go through the more than 3,000 books that were donated last year, and about 500 of them went to the Austin Food & Wine Alliance’s High School Culinary Arts Career Conference.

As we start 2018, I am still collecting cookbooks from anyone who would like to drop them off at 305 S. Congress Ave. Unfortunately, I can’t come and pick up the books, but if you can find a way to get them here, we’ll find a good home for them.

Readers donated many boxes and bags of cookbooks during the Statesman’s recent donation drive. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

 

Will $15 of locally grown produce feed a family for a week?

As part of my #30atHome cooking challenge, I’ve been trying to get out of my everyday grocery shopping habits, which is why I went by two East Austin farmstands last week.

Boggy Creek‘s farmstand is open Wednesday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Springdale Farm, just a few blocks away, is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday.

Between those two places, I spent $14.87 on five items. I was hoping that these would be our veggies for the week. (I still had to stop at the store for apples, bananas and oranges, because with two young boys, we can’t go long without familiar fruits.)

The broccolini was the cheapest at $1.70 ($3/lb.) and the cauliflower the most expensive at $4.25 ($4/lb.). Kale and carrots were $3 each, and sweet potatoes were $2.95 ($2.50/lb.) These are some of my favorite kinds of produce, so I was excited to use them in several dishes, including a kale, carrot and butter bean soup, sauteed broccoli with pasta, roasted sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower.

I was the most skeptical about the cost of the cauliflower, a produce ingredient you can find for less than $2 at most grocery stores, but when I roasted it with minced garlic, the simplicity of the seasoning allowed me to enjoy the small but super flavorful cauliflower head.

Pongol is a lentil dish from India that paired well with roasted sweet potatoes and carrot top pesto. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The roasted sweet potatoes paired so well with pongal, an Indian dish that I picked up at a food swap last weekend from Hema Reddy, a local food business owner and fellow mom who is also doing the #30atHome challenge.

I’ve decided that unless you use the carrot tops, there’s little sense in paying so much for carrots. My $3 bunch had about nine carrots no bigger in width than my fingers, and once I trimmed the green stems and tiny roots, it didn’t seem like much food was left.

Just before I tossed the carrot tops in the compost, I realized that I had the stems from a bunch of cilantro left in my produce drawer and a bag of peeled pistachios that needed to be used up. I put the carrot tops, cilantro, pistachios, a few slivered almonds and peeled garlic cloves in a food processor with salt and lots of olive oil.

Cilantro and carrot tops went into this bright green pesto made with pistachios, garlic, almonds and olive oil. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The combination of the greens created a herbaceous, somewhat grassy flavor that brightened my entire kitchen for the day. I originally made it to serve on that kale and butter bean soup, but it was a brilliant addition to all kinds of foods, from scrambled eggs to those roasted sweet potatoes and pongal.

The broccolini was the ingredient I felt like I got a deal on. Many more stores sell this ingredient that looks like baby broccoli, but it’s usually pretty expensive — and definitely more than regular heads of broccoli, which I love. At less than $2 at Springdale Farm, I bought two meals’ worth of broccolini, a brassica that bursts with earthy notes and just the right amount of bitterness. I’d make the trip to East Austin again just to stock up on it.

The other good news is that thanks to the pesto, not much of that $15 in produce went to waste. I can’t say the same for the cheaper produce I usually buy in the store and accidentally forget about in the fridge. The flavors in the ingredients were more vibrant than what you’d find in their supermarket counterparts, too, and buying seasonally forced me to come up with dishes that suited the produce, not the other way around, which is often what happens when I’m doing “regular” grocery shopping.

Now, did my kids eat any of this? Not really. They had fun with the raw carrots, and my oldest enjoyed the broccolini and roasted cauliflower, but he hates sweet potatoes and wasn’t ready for the pesto. They aren’t huge vegetable lovers anyway, but I ate more vegetables this week, which was my goal after a meaty first half of the month.

How does a trip to a farmstand or farmers market change what you cook? Do you spend extra on local and/or organic produce? Why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via the #Austin360Cooks hashtag.

Carrot Top Pesto

Leafy greens from one small bunch carrots
Large handful cilantro
1/2 cup pistachios
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

— Addie Broyles

 

 

 

How to buy bulk meat without a Costco membership

At a Costco, many shoppers head straight for the meat and produce aisles.

Instead of going to a warehouse store, thousands of home cooks are buying meat through a direct-to-consumer company called Zaycon Fresh, which is based in Washington state but has more than a dozen pick-up sites in Central Texas. Contributed by Zaycon Fresh

That’s where you’ll find mega packs of ground beef, chicken breasts, fish, sausages and pork chops that cost less per pound than what you typically find at regular grocery store.

Buying large quantities of meat can save you money, but you usually have to use the freezer to take advantage of the savings. That’s why a direct-to-consumer company based in Washington called Zaycon skips the middle man and sells large quantities of already frozen meat — we’re talking 40 pounds here — at more than 1,200 pick-up sites around the country. A few of the products, including the chicken breasts, are sold fresh/not frozen.

(Protip: You can order from Costco without a membership through Instacart, but there is a mark-up on the products you buy.)

Zaycon Fresh sells bulk meat, including beef. Contributed by Zaycon.

Zaycon, which was founded in 2009, has several large pick-up days planned for the Austin area. The company offers more than a dozen pick-up locations around Central Texas, and some of the sites have fewer options than the others.

Here’s the upcoming schedule and examples of what they are selling each visit. You can find out more info and place an order at zayconfresh.com:

Monday, February 12: Hickory Smoked Bacon, Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Fillets, Wild Argentine Red Shrimp, Pork Sausage Links
Saturday, March 3: Ground Turkey, Pork Tenderloins, Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Sweet Italian Sausages
Saturday, March 24: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Thursday, April 12: Ground Beef, Applewood Smoked Ham
Wednesday, May 2: Chicken Tenderloins, USDA Choice Chuck Roast, Kansas City Strip Steaks, Pulled Pork
Friday, May 25: Wild Alaskan Cod Fillets, Hickory Smoked Bacon