Food, family, crafts, and other stuff we like


Friday, April 30, 2010

22nd & Irving Market

So, recently we packed up all our stuff and moved from the very awesome,  super hip Mission District of San Francisco to what some folks call "the suburbs". It is also known as The Sunset. Now don't worry, it isn't REALLY the suburbs, it's still very much in the city, and there is plenty of graffiti, concrete, and sirens wailing off in the distance to make a girl feel right at home. We moved for lots of reasons, cheaper rent, more space, less noise, less crackheads, easier parking, and the list goes on & on. But we did not move because we don't absolutely love & adore the mission. In fact, both Matty & and I are still very homesick for our old hood & hoping that we made the right decision. Our new pad is fantastic though, and the kitchen is maybe my most favorite part. I had a list of criteria when we were looking at potential new homes,  one of them was a good kitchen, another was a market that I liked, or at least could tolerate, within walking distance. Well, I lucked out and got a market that I actually LOVE. Now, as I said before, the sunset AIN'T the mission. In the mission you have markets, deli's, coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream stores that specialize in organic, local, free range, fair trade & artisan. All of these things within mere blocks of your apartment. But out here in the suburbs that isn't the case. There ARE actually quite a few grocery stores, markets, and delis near my house, and they are as diverse as San Francisco itself, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, Russian, Indian, Jewish, and Italian. But the best one, in my opinion, is the 22nd & Irving Market, located at, you guessed it, 22nd & Irving. 

This spot kinda feels like a mini international farmer's market. They don't have any frozen foods or meats, and you won't find a jar of mayo (I know because one day I went running out in a panic, needing tuna salad as if my life depended on it, and they couldn't deliver on the mayonnaise). But that's ok. What they do have is tons of fresh produce, and the largest selection of organic produce in these parts. Bulk nuts, beans, grains, and dried fruits. They have a good bread selection, jars upon jars of Italian speciality items (I get the feeling this joint might be owned by someone who either is Italian, or is just really into Italian stuff), a strangely huge selection of fancy preserves, jams & jellies, organic milk, organic butter,  lots of cheese, delicious Italian cookies, soymilk, and even organic peanut butter. 

I am kind of obsessed with grocery stores, small city markets, and farmer's markets, and this one is super cute and has all kinds of delicious and unique items. So the next time you are trying to figure out what to do on a Saturday afternoon, consider this...take the N Judah train to 22nd Avenue, walk down one block to the 22nd & Irving Market,  fill your picnic basket up with bread, cheese, fig preserves, Italian chocolate wafer cookies, heirloom tomatoes, and sparkling lemonade, then set out towards the Golden Gate Park, spread out your blanket in the sun, and smile...

Creamy Brussel Sprouts

My kid is weird.  She loves brussel sprouts.  Aren't they supposed to be the one vegetable kids loathe more than any other?  My other kid doesn't exactly love them, but she'll eat them. What's my secret to getting my kids to eat almost ANY vegetable?  Butter and salt.  Not heart-attack levels of salt, but a little sprinkling over broccoli that's been kissed with melted butter and it's the first thing to disappear from the plate.  "But they'll never eat 'em plain if you always use butter and salt."  Not true.  And if it were, so what?  The point is: THE KID IS EATING VEGETABLES.

So, creamy, lemon-finished brussel sprouts.  I'm pretty sure I found this recipe at, an awesome vegetarian blog by SF gal Heidi Swanson.  Anyhoo, this recipe turns a dinnertime vegetable protest into, well, a dinnertime fork-banging circus.

You will need:

Brussel Sprouts
1/2 cup or so of cream
1/2 of a lemon

Wash your brussel sprouts and trim the ends off.  I peel off the outer layer of skin if there's any discoloration or funk present.  Quarter lengthwise.

Heat a big chunk of organic butter in a skillet on medium-high until it's nice and warm.  Add brussel sprouts.  Let them cook until they have browned sides.  Approximately 7 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour 1/2 cup of cream over sprouts.  Cover.  Cook 3 minutes. Now test them out.  I like them soft but still a bit firm. (The carmelized sides are key to their deliciousness so make sure you start out on a high enough heat).

Lastly, squeeze half a lemon over entire pan.  Stir.  Serve.

Here's what the whole dinner looked like:

Turkey meatloaf, creamy polenta with feta, and brussel sprouts.  Spilled milk not pictured.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quinoa, Feta, and Walnut Salad

I often find myself turning to my jar of Quinoa when I need a quick and healthy side dish. It takes only 10 to 20 minutes to make.
Quinoa is the most complete protein of any grain, and is a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, potassium, and amino acids.
But a boring heap of quinoa is no fun, and the leftovers will often sit lonely in the fridge until I put them out of their misery. So the other day I decided to spruce up my Quinoa with feta, parsley and walnuts for a tasty grain salad that almost beat the grilled sea bass that was served atop it. Leftovers were excellent straight outta the fridge the next day. Once again, the best part about this recipe is that it could be easily customized to use up whatever you have on hand. Couscous, rice, barley, any kind of nut or dried fruits, cheese, herbs, or veggies such as aparagus or peas would be good.

This recipe serves two to four. Double if you want lots of leftovers.

First cook the Quinoa:

1 cups Quinoa
1.5 cups Water
Pinch of salt

Rinse Quinoa well and add water and salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer lightly until Quinoa has absorbed all water and fluffs with a fork (10-20 min). I like to leave the lid on for ten minutes once I turn off the heat in order to steam and loosen the grains, same with rice.

Pour cooked Quinoa into a bowl, let cool for a few minutes, and add:

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
heavy drizzle of olive oil
big splash of apple cider vinegar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt, pepper, red chili flakes to taste

bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Butter Cake with Lemon Glaze

Cake!! I think it's about time somebody posted a cake recipe here at Bee Sting CAKE!! This one is refreshing, "springy" (as in spring time, the season), and super lemony. I love lemon desserts, lemon bars, lemon sorbet, lemon pie, and lemon cake. I made this on easter sunday to follow up our super awesome dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, rolls, and salad. It's easy and really good.

You will need:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
garnish: confectioners sugar for dusting & a lemon slice

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8 x 2 inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together milk, zest, and vanilla.
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a fork inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes.

To make the glaze...
Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice.

Turn out the cake onto a rack then reinvert. Brush top and side of cake with all of the icing and then cool completely. Garnish with a dusting of confectioners sugar and lemon slices.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Salad with Garbanzos and Avocado

Healthy lunch number two.  Crisp spring greens with mild arugula added, warm garbanzos, cucumber, snap peas, avocado, and a warm corn tortilla on the side.  Refreshing yet cozy.

I am getting into beans.  There's currently a bowl of white cannellini beans soaking in my kitchen.  I want them to put on salads and mix with rice or quinoa.  Beans are nourishing, healthy, and really satisfying.  I always crave proteins, or heavy things.  I'm trying to retrain myself somewhat, and hope that someday I'll be content with a celery stick when I've got the munchies.  Ha ha.  Sigh.  But I'm finding if I have some hummus to dip the sticks in, I'm much more pleased.  So, yeah, beans. 

I always make these things when the husband's out of town.   He actually loves homemade beans, but I don't usually make the uber healthy salad meals whilst he's home.  I should.  I shall.  (He's sucking down fresh Albacore sandwiches and Rogue beers in Astoria, OR, lucky bastard).  Don't worry honey, there's leftover quinoa for you when you get home.

So, la ensalata:

Salad fixings. Definitely include avocado.

Warm garbanzos in a pan with a tiny bit of organic butter.

The dressing:

Olive oil
Nutritional yeast
Ground herb/pepper blend

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Leftover Noodles, 2 Ways

Let me start by saying I'm the Queen Of Too Many Noodles. That is to say, I ALWAYS cook too many noodles when I'm making spaghetti, fettucini, capellini, macaroni. Doesn't matter, I always have leftovers. Now you are sitting there saying, "you can't be the queen, I'm the queen!" And I'm sure you are, in fact, I bet there are lots of us. And if you have this problemo too, then read on, and next time you've got a tupperware full o'leftover noodles, try one of these babies out! Oh, and this also works nicely with quinoa pasta, if you are trying to cut down on wheat, or if you are gluten free. 

This first dish is very simply called "fried noodles". It comes by way of my mom, she used to make this for dinner along with lamb patties (not really sure what those were?! I think they were like hamburger patties, only made out of ground lamb, and we would eat them dipped in ketchup. I remember loving them), and frozen green peas. This was always the combo. My mom mostly made dinners with 3 things on the plate, meat, carb, and veggie, and I tend to cook in much the same way, at least sometimes. I guess we all turn into our mothers at some point, and that's cool with me, I like my mom a lot. AND, if you were my mom, you would fry the noodles and then season them with one thing and one thing only. This stuff...

Look familiar? I bet your mom used it too. I must say, lawry's seasoned salt is pretty delicious stuff. A blend of salt, sugar, and other spices. You have to use it sparingly, but it's good on baked potatoes, popcorn, or fried noodles. I have changed the fried noodle recipe a bit into my own hippie version, and so most of the time I use tamari or soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce, instead of lawry's, but every now & then I slip back into childhood and douse my noodles with good old lawry's. Yum. Seriously, yum.

You will need:
Leftover noodles (macaroni or some type of long, straight noodle works best here)
butter or cooking oil
Lawry's OR Tamari, Nutritional Yeast, & Hot Sauce

Heat up a good amount of oil or butter in your skillet. Add your noodles and keep the heat low until the noodles are warm. Once warm, crank the heat and let them fry on one side until they are good and crispy. Flip them and crisp up the other side. Once they are nice and crispy, turn off the heat and season with your choice of spices. I always toss them in a bit of nutritional yeast while they are cooking too because it tends to help them crisp up. Hot sauce is obviously optional. Serve as a side dish with anything! One of my favorite meals is baked tilapia, fried noodles, and some kind of green vegetable or salad. They are great with burgers, sausages, or as a vegetarian side along steamed veggies. Fried noodles! Thanks Mom!

Ok, one more for leftover noodles. A simple stir fry that I made just the other night and figured I would post because it was so darn good. I used to make a lot of different stir fry's, back in the day when I was eating lots of tofu & tempeh and brown rice. I still eat a fair amount of brown rice, more often than I eat white rice I'm proud to say, but the tofu is few and far between these days. I've been trying to get into it again because I just don't think we need to eat meat at every single dinner. When Matt is at work I tend to cook more vegetarian dishes, and this one is super simple and really tasty...

You will need:
Leftover noodles (I would prefer a long straight noodle again here)
Any veggies you might have in your fridge
Hot Chili Sauce
Sesame Oil

Cut your tofu into small squares & fry it up, high heat, in a bit of butter or oil until it's good and crispy. Turn your heat down to medium and add your veggies. I added broccoli, red pepper, carrots, yellow squash, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until they are hot but still nice and crisp. Finally, add your noodles. Get 'em good and hot and then season with tamari and hot chili sauce. Once your stir fry is off the heat, garnish it with a bit of sesame oil. Delicious!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collard Greens and Navy Beans

Since my youngest daughter, Lulu, has eczema, I've been exploring some wheat and gluten-free alternatives.  I'm not certain wheat is causing the skin irritation or not, but it is a likely culprit and one place our acupuncturist suggested we cut back on.  The more I thought about it, I realized we eat a TON of wheat-- pasta, bread, crackers, tortillas... And not always the good whole wheat kind either.  So instead of a major "wheat-free" overhaul (which seems horrible to me), I've started exploring the alternatives and adding some of the yummy products I find into our diet.  Guess what? Quinoa pasta is kick ass.  Tastes pretty identical to classic noodles.  Rice pasta is pretty darn good too.   There's tons of stuff out there, and I'll be posting the tasty things I find here as I go.  This lunch was incredibly satisfying and obviously healthy.  It's creamy and delicious.  My kids gobbled it up, even. Takes about 10 minutes to make, too.  Bonus.
I've begun using organic, grass-fed butter to cook with (also at the suggestion of our acupuncturist), as olive oil is not so good for you at high temps.  I'm hooked.  Butter is freaking delicious to cook with.  AND, I'm hoping to stock up big time on EDEN ORGANIC brand canned foods.  Eden Organics is the only brand I know of whose cans (aluminum) do not contain BPA or other harmful-type-cancer-causing liner ingredients.  Most canned stuff does.  Lame town.  That's the shit that is causing so many people (especially kids) to develop neurological disorders, cancers, disease.  It's in our food.  Ugh. 

I guess this is my health food rant.  I don't end up with 100% organic pure food, but I try my best.  It's more expensive, but it's worth it.  This dish is a complete meal in itself, or would go beautifully as a side with fish or chicken.

Collard Greens and Navy Beans

1 can Eden Navy Beans
3-7 big handfuls of diced collard greens
1/2 tablespoon Better than Bouillon 
Handful of asiago or sharp white cheese

Start with a tablespoon of butter in a warm pan.  Add collards and saute for 7ish minutes, until tender.  Add drained can of beans.  Add bouillon.  Stir for 3 minutes.  Serve in bowls with cheese on top.  I added rice chips on the side for some crunch.