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January 25, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

inspiration from the farmers market…

Basket of "Lisa" variety cherimoya from Rincon Del Mar Ranch, grown by farmer Anthony Brown and family.

Basket of “Lisa” variety cherimoya from Rincon Del Mar Ranch, grown by farmer Anthony Brown and family.

Dinosaur eggs?!!  Cherimoya!

These gorgeously hued, oddly-shaped globes are full of rich, custardy fruit.  The flavor is often describes as tropical, a combination of papaya, banana, and even pineapple.  Personally, I taste a combination of sexy guava and creamy banana.  It’s truly a unique flavor, and crazy delicious.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more, here is a great article from David Karp of the LA Times.

Because of the large, black (inedible) seeds that reside in the soft fruit, I like to use cherimoya in a smoothie, or squished into a bowl of mixed fruit (think tropical, like mango, pineapple, and papaya).  The cherimoya acts like a slightly chunky dressing or “vinaigrette” for the other fruit, adding a rich, aromatic note to the mix.

Found at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

January 23, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

ken’s soup that kari makes…

Smoky Beans + Collard Greens Soup with Andouille Sausage

Smoky Beans + Collard Greens Soup with Andouille Sausage

Over the holidays, we visited family on the East Coast. As typically happens with the holidays and family (at least in my experience), lots of eating is involved.  We ate our way through New York City, nibbling on Cronuts, fantastic sushi, and even took a food tour through Greenwich Village. However, there was one meal in particular that I was excited to recreate when we returned to the bungalow.

On a very cold New Year’s Day, tired from our travels and the previous night’s festivities, we sat down to a beautiful soup that restored our health in a particularly lovely way. Upstate at my mother-in-law’s snowy country house, Ken’s soup was exactly what I needed in that moment.   The broth-y, garlicky mix of smoked Spanish chorizo, diced tomatoes, and wilted baby spinach slowly warmed me from the inside out, breathing life back into my cold, tired body.  The soup is Andalusian in origin, a peasant-style combination of what was on hand during cold winter months (maybe minus the fresh baby spinach!  thank goodness for modern times, right?!).  Spanish chorizo is more like salami than the crumbly Mexican chorizo that is more common in Southern California.   The chorizo lends a rich heartiness to the broth while wilted baby spinach bob around, silky and bright.  The sweet, acidic tomatoes were a perfect counterpoint to the spicy sausage.  Served with crusty bread, I could not help but lift my bowl to lap up every last drop.

When we returned to the West Coast, I could not stop thinking about this soup.   Los Angeles is (obviously) much warmer than upstate New York, but the bungalow can be drafty in the winter and I was craving something warm and healthy.  I decided to use Ken’s soup as inspiration and make my own southern-style version using Andouille sausage and collard greens.  Andouille is what most people know as Cajun sausage, the flavorful smoky sausage that shows up in gumbo, jambalaya, and so many of my favorite dishes in Louisiana.  I had some reddish, kidney-style beans in the pantry, so I decided to incorporate them into the mix, along with the tomatoes for sweetness and acidity.

The result was equally as satisfying as the original, rich and broth-y and full of greens and beans and smoky bits of sausage.  It was crazy good!  I loved it.  My husband loved it, and we ate bowl after bowl for almost every meal until it was gone.

I hope you feel the same way.

 

January 23, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

Smoky Beans and Collard Greens Soup with Andouille Sausage

Smoky Bean + Collard Green Soup with Andouille Sausage

Smoky Bean + Collard Green Soup with Andouille Sausage

 This soup is tasty but not very pretty.  Serving it in your finest china (or a mis-matched set you found at a thrift store!) makes it feel fancy and special.

2 cups of dried beans, red or pinto or really any type of bean you like

1-2 T olive oil

6 oz andouille sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces

6-10 cloves of garlic, more or less depending on your taste, chopped, sliced or minced to your taste

1-2 T cajun seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s, optional (you can also add a pinch of dried thyme, oregano, and/or cayenne pepper if you want to add flavor but don’t have cajun seasoning on hand)

1 bunch of collard greens, middle stems removed and saved for another use (like your morning smoothie), then chopped into bite-sized pieces or sliced into thin ribbons

1 14.5 oz can (the small size) of diced tomatoes (regular or smoked or spicy, i.e. Rotel)

1 T apple cider vinegar, or more to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

crusty bread for dunking and lapping up every last drop

Soak the beans overnight or heat to just a boil then allow to soak for one hour.  Drain, rinse and cover with fresh water, then simmer beans with a flavoring element (smoked tomato, smoked jalapeno (chipotle pepper), ham bone, etc) until soft and creamy but not falling apart, approximately 1-1.5 hours, depending on the age of your beans.

Heat a heavy-bottomed enameled cast iron pot (such as a Le Creuset) over medium heat, then cook sausage in olive oil until browned and a little crispy on the edges.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the tomatoes with their juice and then add an additional can of water, being sure to scrape all of the delicious cooked bits clinging to the bottom of the pot.  Add the cooked beans, along with their delicious broth, and then add the collard greens.  Bring the soup up to a simmer and cook until the collard greens have softened, 15-20 minutes.  You may need to add more water (or flavored broth, like chicken or veggie), depending on how much liquid was leftover from cooking the beans.

The soup is ready once the collard greens have softened.  Be sure to check for salt and pepper ~ and add more if needed ~ according to your taste.  A drizzle of cider vinegar will round out the flavor and give it a punch.  As with most soups and stews, the flavor of this soup is even better the next day.  The collards can be cooked and cooked and cooked again, so it’s a great dish to make ahead.

~enjoy

January 18, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

inspiration from the farmers market…

pink lemons

Beautiful pink lemons from JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch, grown by farmer Laura Ramirez.

Gorgeous pink lemons found at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

These beautiful lemons are begging to be made into pink lemonade, but you can use these as you would any yellow Eureka (sour) lemon as well.

pink lemons

The pink hue of these lemons is natural, a genetic deviation in the standard Eureka (sour) lemon. The pink lemon was first discovered in Burbank, CA, in the 1930’s.

January 16, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

delicious resolutions…

We received this bag as a gift, part of a delicious holiday gift basket from Zabar’s deli in NYC.

market bag

I love the simplicity of this list, and felt it was worth sharing.  These are good suggestions to follow always, and as someone who enjoys to setting intentions for the new year, this bag serves as a cheerful reminder that our choices, however big or small, can really make a difference.  So as the year continues, we’re going to try our best to adhere to these principles and make a difference in our little corner of the world.

And I’m going to add my own number 7: savor always.

Cheers to a healthy & delicious 2014!

January 11, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

inspiration from the farmers market…

A beautifully arranged table of radicchio and frisee at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

A beautifully arranged table of radicchio and frisee at Maggie’s Farm stand.

Gorgeous greens found this week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market!

A beautifully arranged table of frisee and heirloom lettuce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

A beautifully arranged table of frisee and red little gem lettuces, also at Maggie’s Farm.

January 10, 2014 / theyellowbungalowla

orange is the new red & green…

Fresh mandarins piled in a pretty container help ring in the New Year in style.

Fresh mandarins piled in a pretty container help ring in the New Year in style.

When I was a kid, January felt like the most depressing month of the year. Christmas was over and with it, the endless parties, treats, and gifts. Our house felt barren and empty, the tree, lights, ornaments, and holiday decorations packed safely in their boxes and stored in the basement. With all of the glitz and glam packed away until next year, it was hard not to feel lonely for the recent past, or very distant future, of the holiday season. “Winter blues” was not a label I was familiar with as a kid but understand now as an adult. After a month spent in a frenzied state, the January routine is bound to feel like an abrupt reality check, and even more so when you’re a kid.

To kick off the new year, I’d like to share a piece I wrote last January for a writing class I had enrolled in. I’ve found a way to ring in the new year and embrace the “winter blues” with brilliant hues of orange, health, vitality, and sweetness. All it requires is a trip to your local farmers market (or grocery store), and an appreciation for the bounty of the changing season. It’s going to be my new year’s tradition, and I hope it becomes yours too.

Happy 2014, dear readers. It’s going to be one delicious year!

January is not my favorite month. In fact, January may be one of my least favorite times of the year, with promises of blustery winds and dry skin, shriveled tomatoes that have not known the warmth of summer for months, and bare tree branches no longer twinkling with the lights from the holidays. Coughs and sniffles interrupt conversations, and thwart dinner plans when they develop into full blown sickness. We’ve traded endless parties and holiday treats with resolutions that typically involve cutting back on sweets and exercising more, which more often leaves me feeling deprived, exhausted, uninspired, and sore.

And yet as I wandered through the farmers’ market last week, as I do each Wednesday, I was reminded once again why I live to eat, and why the winter growing season is no less beautiful, delicious, or incredible than summer, spring, or the bounty of autumn. The market was overflowing with oranges, almost every stand piled high with brightly-colored orbs, each one bursting more fresh, sweet juice than the next. My eyes feasted on the endless hues of orange, bright neon tones that veered toward the yellow end of the spectrum; others with deeper, more serious tones that bordered on red. Some of the oranges were even mottled with tiny red dots, hinting at what might lie inside.

I feel myself in an almost trance-like state, wandering from stand to stand, buying as many different oranges as I can, handing over the money without a second thought. Soon my bags become heavy, too heavy to continue wandering, and I am forced to abandon my weekly errand because my gluttonous habits from the holidays have gotten the best of me . As I walk back to my car, the heavy bags dig into my shoulders and are a painful reminder of my lack of self-control amidst all of this glowing fruit.

I arrive at home with my bounty of juicy, orange-hued treasures, hoping that all this beautiful fruit will bring a sense of life and health and wellness into our home. In early January, winter seems to infiltrate the house with its chill. The holiday decorations have been put back into the garage, the gorgeous pine tree has gone out to the curb, and all the lights have been stowed away until next year. Holiday cards no longer fill up our mailbox and family has returned to their homes and separate busy lives, leaving our house feeling barren and quiet.

Does something as simple as a seasonal fruit really have the power to transform the energy of a home? I like to think so, or at least hope for my own sake because I bought so many oranges! I bring in the bags and pile them on the kitchen counter. Then I begin my search for all the beautiful bowls that populate our cupboards. I begin to pile the navel oranges into the footed antique bowl that I hunted down at a local flea market, the swatch of rust on the bottom side of the bowl provides an interesting counterpoint to the freshness of the orange rind. The satsumas are next, their wrinkly skin and still-attached leaves are begging to be nestled into a shallow bowl where they can be plucked and eaten as a snack in front of the television, or grabbed as a sweet treat on the way out the door. The mandarins find their home in a bowl that was handmade in Italy, with a blue and yellow design that highlights their beautiful deep orange hue. Cara cara oranges are my next target with their lovely orange-pink skin, which hints at a similar but deeper pink-hued flesh. The cara caras get piled in my beloved wooden salad bowl, hand carved from a single piece of found wood and given to my husband and me as a wedding gift. It is one of my favorite treasures, and is a perfect resting place for the pink-hued fruits.

I continue unpacking the bounty of my morning excursion, and then strategically place the bowls all over the house; in the kitchen, on the buffet, resting on the coffee table. Immediately our house comes back to life, not with the decadent, celebratory energy of the holidays but with the hopeful, healthful energy of the new year. Orange has taken the place of red and green and gold, and brought a sense of life back into our home.

The pops of brightness catch my eye and beg for my attention, ready to be plucked from their bowl and peeled for an afternoon snack, squeezed into a glass of juice, or trimmed of their beautiful rind and plunked into a healthy fruit salad. The oranges are the perfect swap for the parade of cookies I indulged in each afternoon in December, their natural sweetness and brightness not competing with buttery, sugary holiday indulgence but a delicious reprise, juicy, spunky, and full of flavor. The health properties of oranges are no secret; they are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other compounds that fight off the common cold that is all too common at this time of year. Perfect, beautiful, life-giving health in the palm of my hand.

Can a simple piece of fruit transform a home, heal a body, and brighten the dark days of winter? I believe it just did. Sometimes life often gives us exactly what we need. And in this moment, what I need is a bright, juicy orange.