Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Unoriginal Whole Foods Salad


At her blog Months of Edible Celebrations, my Blog Friend Louise is having a picnic. Each person brings -- that is, blogs -- an item, corresponding to a letter of the alphabet, and posts a corresponding blog entry on that item. [Sorry if this was confusing: it's a virtual picnic, based on a kids' game, with bloggers all over the country and maybe further than that.]

I'm not really doing any original cooking and recipe experiments these days, so I volunteered for the most Unpopular letter, and I'm bringing Unoriginal Whole Foods Salad from the Salad Bar. This also gives me the opportunity to talk about Whole Foods Market, one of the places I shop. (Inspiration for my series on shopping came from Blogger Lydia at The Perfect Pantry. This is my Unoriginal month.)


I love to shop for high-quality cheese, meat, bread, bulk spices, olive oil, and produce at Whole Foods. But in a pinch -- like needing a picnic -- they also offer freshly made sushi, a steam table buffet (which I admit to not trying due to steam-table prejudice), a large prepared foods counter (pricy but very tempting), and a big salad bar: today's source of our imaginary picnic.
Whole_Foods3199 Whole_Foods3203 Whole_Foods3205 Whole_Foods3202

So, to play Louise's picnic alphabet game, I say I'm going on a picnic, and I am bringing the following beautiful and wonderful recipes that have been posted:

A- Almond Joy Pie (Marjie) @ Modern Day Ozzie & Harriet

B- Baked Beans (Kasha) @ Grub and Stuff

C- Chocolate Picnic Cake Janet @ Dying for Chocolate

D- Dutch Funnel Cake (Julie) Sporadic Cook

E- Easy Blender Chicken Pie (Juliana) @ Simple Recipes

F-5 Bean Salad-(Barbara) @ Moveable Feasts

G- Granola Bars (Stephanie) @ Fun Foods on a Budget

H- Herb and Cheese Pasta Salad (Reeni) @ Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

I- Incredibly Fruity Raspberry Cakes (Tessa) @ Raspberry & Chipotle

J- Jeweled Picnic Bars Rochelle @ Rochelle's Vintage & Frugal Recipes

K- Kaltschale (Cold Fruit Soup) Petra @ Kaffeeklatsch

L- Long Island Lemonade Cocktail (T.W.) @ Culinary Types

M- Mushroom Tart (Cynthia) @ Gherkins & Tomatoes

N- Nut Roast (Johanna) @ Green Gourmet Giraffe

O- Olive Nut Bread (Chaya) @ Chaya's Comfy Cook

P- Pomegranate Mousse Cake (Chef Dennis) @ More Than a Mouthful

Q- Quiche (Chaya) @ Sweet & Savory(also does comfy cook)

R- Raspberry Chocolate Macarons-(Anne) @ Anne's Food

S- Spicy Glazed Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs (Tamara) @ God's Perfect Promises

T- Turkey and Pear wraps w/ Curried Aioli!! (Heather) @ Girl Chef

U - AND now it's up to me. I'm going to Whole Foods, and select my favorites from the salad bar and maybe a package of sushi too:
Whole_Foods3207 Unoriginal, Unimaginative, Uncreative, and giving me Undeserved status in this picnic game --

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Farmers Market

For several years I've been taking photos of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, which rents stalls only to the primary growers of fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, bedding plants, and meat. Bakers, potters, and other craftsmakers can also sell their own products. Farmers drive in from the area perhaps 50 miles around -- one orchard from Traverse City brings cherries in a few times a year. The cherries I bought today are from closer to home, though. The potatoes were dug yesterday, and the farmer said it's only the second time he's harvested them this year -- so they are NEW potatoes! It's the end of the season for sugar peas -- I hope the ones I bought are really tender.

Obviously, this means everything is local.

farmersmkt3184 farmersmkt3182 farmersmkt3183

Today was my first trip to the market this year. It definitely belongs in my little series on my favorite markets and supermarkets!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Produce Station

Since I seem to be grocery shopping often these days, I decided to post pictures of some of the markets and supermarkets where I am spending my time. The Produce Station offers a wide selection of local fruit and vegetables, gardening plants, prepared meals, and quite a few other things.

Today the most exciting local produce was Michigan cherries.

produce-sta3156...but if you want something more exotic, it's available!

produce-sta3159 Zingerman's bakehouse is marvelous -- the best thing the Zingerman's empire does, as far as I'm concerned. Driving to the bakehouse itself takes a little more time: The Produce Station has around half of the kinds of bread from the bakehouse.

produce-sta3172Plenty of vegetables...

produce-sta3175... and cheese...

produce-sta3169...candy in packages and also bulk candy, nuts, fancy mixes, dried fruit, and even a small wine selection. I took photos of all this, but it's way to extensive to show.

produce-sta3164pizza, quiche, macaroni and cheese, burritos, soups, a salad bar. So many temptations.

produce-sta3143Outside, you can buy lots of herb plants, flowers, tomato plants, cages to grow them on, beautiful flower pots, even small trees. The most amazing thing is that the store is so small that you can hardly get past the other carts.

Thanks to Lydia at The Perfect Pantry for giving me the idea to write about my markets!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quiet, Quiet, Quiet

After our very exciting travel in the Galapagos, we are enjoying a very quiet month. Our garden is beautiful, thanks to frequent rain storms. I am cooking plain but tasty meals with foods from various markets and supermarkets.

I read one good travel and food article in a current New York Times: A Liberian Tour With Fork (and Fingers). The author writes: "Liberian food is my weakness. Hearty, spicy and influenced by the immigrants and settlers who have over the years made this tiny coastal country home, it incorporates the best of West African cooking with traditions from the American South"

I'm reading the endlessly long Les Miserables, having decided to follow up Anna Karenina (read on the long plane ride to Ecuador and on some of the quiet afternoons in the hotel) and Moby Dick (read when I returned from the trip). I don't like Victor Hugo as well as Tolstoy or Melville.

But it's all very quiet. And that's why I haven't posted any new thoughts on food.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Darwin's Dinner

Darwin, like most early voyagers, ate tortoise meat during his stay in the Galapagos:
During our residence of two days at the Hovels, we lived on the meat of the Tortoise fried in the transparent Oil, which is procured from the fat. The Breast-plate with the meat attached to it, is roasted as the Gauchos do the “Carne con cuero”. It is then very good. Young Tortoises make capital soup; otherwise the meat is but—to my taste—indifferent food.
He also described both the land iguanas and the marine iguanas that we enjoyed seeing last week -- and mentioned using the land iguanas for food. (We once tried braised iguana at a restaurant in Curacao -- tastes like chicken.) From Darwin's diary:
We here have another large Reptile in great numbers; it is a great Lizard, from 10-15 lb. in weight & 2-4 feet in length; is in structure closely allied to those “imps of darkness” which frequent the sea-shore. This one inhabits burrows to which it hurries when frightened, with quick & clumsy gait. They have a ridge & spines along the back; are colored an orange yellow, with the hinder part of back brick red. They are hideous animals; but are considered good food: this day forty were collected.
I'm fascinated by the term "imps of darkness" for the marine iguanas. One night during our trip, I dreamed about these creatures as if they were from a Grimm's Fairy Tale. The comparison between them and supernatural imps seems so natural.

Marine Iguana

More from "Nimrod of the Sea"

Yesterday I quoted William Davis's tale Nimrod of the Sea about a meal of Galapagos tortoise and iguana. Later in his story, he describes another night's dinner -- offering the reader a recipe:
Heartily refreshed by the drink, we built a fire under the branches of a tree of fragrant foliage out of wood whose smoke was incense, and we toasted great slices of the terrapin liver, which is sweeter than the almond. This dainty, served on our excellent ship-bread, made a feast fit for a prince. Our cookery was entirely novel; and as it may happen that the reader one day will be enabled to obtain two pieces of lava and a pound slice from the tenderloin of a four-hundred-pound terrapin, I will let him into the secret. Place two such pieces of lava, with spoon-like cavities to catch the gravy, before the blazing fire, until they become frying hot. Then place the meat upon the stone with the largest cavity; lay a piece of sweet fat on top, sprinkling a little salt over it, and cover all with the second lump of lava. In a short time you will have a dish that none but good whalemen or honest landsmen deserve to eat. Having thus dined, and lighted out pipes, we threw ourselves at length on the bosom of our kingdom, and were willing that crowned kings of earth should draw up to dull mahogany, and eat the best of the coarse fare their possessions afforded; better, we thought condescendingly, that they should eat salmon and venison than starve. Another tenderloin from between hot stones supplied us with a night-cap; and after another solacing pipe, and dreamy talk of homes in England and America, we fell into a peaceful slumber, under the enchantment of a moonlight glimmer on the broad floor of an extinct volcano.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dinner in the Galapagos, 1835

Since our return from the Galapagos, I've been thinking about early voyages that obviously didn't make sure their passengers would dine as if they were in a fine restaurant in any city in the world -- as ours did. I read this account of mariners onshore in the Galapagos, from the book Nimrod of the Sea by William Davis, of a voyage in 1835.
A somewhat hasty dinner of fried terrapin scarcely interrupted the coming and going of the carriers, and an hour before sunset a boat loaded to the water's edge with our spoils was dispatched to the ship. We who remained ahsore prepared beds of dried grass under the tent, while the cook make a savory mess of terrapin-meat, with the sweet, golden fat, the rich, melting liver, potatoes, and onions. As the savory odors swept athwart my nose, I almost lost heart and appetite in the roasting of an iguana nearly three feet long, and as thick around as a man's leg. As I turned and basted the horrible beast, it was with less and less stomach for the feast.

Luxurious dogs that we were, to our roast iguana and terrapin stew we added the conger-eels, and craw-fish as large as our lobsters, and equally good. At the going down of the sun, a ravenous crew, seated on the convenient backs of terrapin, gathered about a feast to be treated by fork and spoon, not by stupid pen.
Our trip was different in every way from the voyages of the seamen and explorers of early days. Protection of tortoises, iguanas, and every other creature on the Galapagos means that the only local foods are from the few cattle ranches and from small-scale fishermen. Similar thoughts occurred to me as I was reading Moby Dick -- when the whalers in caught their first whale of the voyage, the cook was roused in the middle of the night to make a whale-meat dinner for some of the crew, who had strong ideas about just how the cooking should be done. These meats are no longer allowed as food for conscientious travelers.

One can view these historic travelers who ate so many tortoises and harpooned so many whales as environmentally unaware, but we may be much worse: all our luxury derives from the use of oil. We fly, we travel in diesel or gasoline-powered taxis or ships, and we drink and bathe in desalinated water. Much of the food we ate was probably flown from the mainland. It's painful to think about the environmental result of our own actions -- currently destroying the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Best-Named Cocktail

Each day, Jimmy the bartender on the Islander offered a themed cocktail. I did not actually try this one. But I loved the name. Here's the namesake:

Blue Footed Booby

Shipboard Dining

Ecuadorian Barbecue Lunch on the National Geographic Islander

The Head Chef on the Islander

Islander Kitchen

Lunch Buffet, Islander

Food on the National Geographic Islander was mainly very good -- the dinners, with table service, offered much less choice than lunch and breakfast buffets, and thus I enjoyed them less. The kitchen and dining room staff were all very helpful. The last night, we learned that the pastry chef is also a singer -- the kitchen staff performed skits, and he sang to us.

During the week we spent on land, we took a couple of cruises. Here's the lunch and the small kitchen of the SeaFinch, a very nice boat that took us for a quite pleasant cruise: