A perfect sea urchin


The Pantry Corner

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Rainbow Riches

Lots of poetic titles this month, but sometimes they just fit. I start with last week's vegetable star. The Farmer's Market aws picked over. Tropical Storm Lee took her toll on the Northeast where it is harvest and messed up shipping and...there were dandelion greens for $1.49 for a bunch as long as my arm. I bought them. I knew it would take close to an hour to pick them over. I knew they would leave some waste behind, but I got plenty of greens. They are both bitter and sweet. I don't know their botany. I should look it up. They are an interesting change from kale and collards, the two most common greens I buy. I also buy chard and escarole, but not this week.

This week I treated myself to two golden beets that I am going to blanch along with some carrots and add to macaroni and butter bean salad. The pasta is whole wheat. Sometimes I feel like both a radical and a fanatic. I also lucked into a mostly seeded out chunk of calabaza. At .49 a pound it was a steal. I am going to try to knife peel it and roast it with carrots, dried tomatoes, and other savory ingredients, a kind of Mexican calabaza for a side dish.

My fruit bowls are my true pride and joy. I always think of a fruit bowl as the essence of civilized hospitality. Fruit is the favorite dessert of serious adults with good taste and breeding. A well-run kitchen has plenty of fresh fruit around. There are red pears (not yet ripe) singing from their ripening bowl on the table. There is something about their rich ruby color that really does make them sing. They are that much an exotic treat. Their novelty never wears off. Also ripening are Flavor Heart pluots that are dark purple and which have a point at the bottom. They looked so pretty, I had to buy a few. The star of the fruit show this week is gingergold apples and Big Daddy pluots. These last get sweet and tastey before they turn mushy. Some people call this a mealy texture. I think of it like apricots. Less water. More sugar, and a lot of taste. Pluots are one of those rare fruits that look as good as they taste.

I don't have to cook anything tonight. My shoulders are a bit sore from hauling all my fine groceries. The house is well stocked. That makes me feel peaceful. I don't feel deprived due to my diet. I guess all of that is a good thing.

Eileen H. Kramer -- September 18, 2011

Memories of Vegetables

I remember lots of good vegetables since I started my Healthy Wage diet. I made calabaza with sliced pears on top. No sugar needed. I made sauteed black eyed peas and kale with a polenta topping. I made roasted boniatos, chayotes, and yellow beets. Last night I made roasted cauliflower and turnips seasoned with Spike Seasoning. This was one weird looking vegetable. It was all white. It was not one bit bland, though the cooked cauliflower came out almost too tender. Can cauliflower ever be too tender?

I saw heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods on Sunday. They came in every olor of the rainbow. I started feeling them even though the price of five dollars a pound was utterly prohibitive. Most of them were overripe and mushy. I realize there are people who like tomatoes at this stage, but I want my tomaoes not to be mushy. Oh well, I saved some money.

Vegetables and fruits really do taste good. Not every body likes every vegetable, but the northern nectaries I've enjoyed this week and the fresh ginger gold apples give bakery cakes and commercial baked goods, and even some not-so-well made home made speciments a serious run for their money. In fact they kick butt.

Cauliflower is delicious and somewhat of a delicacy since it sometimes prices itself out of the market. Turnips are a substitute for rutabega which is not quite in season yet. Greens make one feel nourished and deliver a pleasing kick along with their color of deep jade.

Field peas are the sirloin steak of the vegetarian world. They require shucking, but they are sweet, smooth, and have a slight acridness from the oligosaacharides. In short, they have a good, delicate flavor that does not need to be drowned in sauces, though a little salad dressing does help as does salt and oil or butter, but they don't need too much salt. They are well worth the work of shucking. They take between ten and twenty minutes to simmer. That's it.

Even the creamy radicchio vinagrette has been wonderful. Radicchio is Italian cooking lettuce sold in pricey, red, compact heads. It keeps well and can be predressed. That alone is worth the price of admission. Of course what makes everything terrific is Batampte Bread and Butter pickles, eaten in moderation of course.

Eileen H. Kramer -- September 9, 2011