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Friday, October 31, 2003

Ah, the glories of squash. ( I have loved squash all of my life. I was such an enthusiast of squash when I was a small child that I briefly experienced carotenosis -- orange skin tone caused by the vast amounts of betacarotene I was consuming. (My mom stopped letting me choose what to eat, and I turned back to my normal color.)

My Community Supported Agriculture project (the farm I subscribe to) has been deliverying gorgeous winter squash to me, and I've been trying to decide how to use it. The butternut squashes make a delicious pie, even better than pumpkin. They also make that delicious roasted squash and tomato soup that I love so much. But whenever I speak to someone about how to use the acorn or delicatas, they always suggest baking them with butter and brown sugar.

Just recently, a coworker forwarded me this recipe:
sauté walnuts, pecans (!!) or similar nuts in butter until thoroughly coated. cut [squash] in half - lengthwise - remove all gunk - sprinkle generous amounts of salt + pepper fill with butter/nuts and bake ay 375 for approx 35 to 45 min: yummier!!!
The salt and pepper are likely unnecessary, but it doesn't sound bad.

But surely there is more to squash than nuts or sugar?

Of course there is. Last night I had this pumpkin curry ( which made my whole house smell quite wonderful, and which was absolutely delicious. I ate with with brown rice and a simple raita (1 cup of nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup of peeled/deseeded/grated cucumber, dashes of paprika, cumin, pepper, and salt). It was just the right thing!

Also available on the web, are these tempting recipes which I may try: mixed vegetable/squash curry (,
delicata esrom, (, delicata creamy soup (, acorn squash soup (, roasted and curried butternut squash soup (, squash soup with chili puree (same) (mmmmm, chilies), various winter squash recipes (, Pike's Place Market newsletter which includes recipes for a winter squash chili AND a curried mustard greens recipe, Roasted Delicata with Red Chili and Lime Butter (

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:11 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is an amazing, nail-biting documentary that I highly recommend to anyone interested in issues of media control or our southern neighbors. Originally intended as a general documentary about Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, the filmmakers found themselves in the Presidential Palace during the coup d'etat which the US government hastily and suspiciously endorsed, and which the private media admitted to playing a major role in.

-See previously disenfranchised campesinos inspired to read their new constitution and know their rights!
-See private media file false reports on what was happening at protests! [sound familiar?]
-See a coup from the victim's side!
-Hear Venezuelans endorse democracy with a zeal rarely seen in the US!
-See private media pretend that the coup hadn't failed by refusing to broadcast what was really going on!
-Lose what few shreds of respect you may have been clinging to for Colin Powell!

Here in the Bay Area, the film is playing this week at the Castro Theater (with live organ music beforehand!) and next week at the Opera Plaza (a Landmark Theatre).

More information at

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:11 PM

Sunday, October 26, 2003

You may read my blog and think that I like ALL food and that I'm happy with everything I eat. This is not the case. I just try not to waste a lot of time dwelling on the bad food. Like the sandwich I had at that deli right next to the Ferry Building, where you have to order mustard SEPARATELY from everything else, and they won't put it on even if you ask for your sandwich "with everything." Or the Mexican food I ate in Redding and Stockton. Or the sandwich shop on Ocean sort of near City College, where I had a good sandwich back in the early 1990s, but now find they only have two kinds of cheese and NO MUSTARD of any kind, and where they toast the rolls beyond reason. Or the Indian food I had in San Carlos on Saturday night while S was running an errand. The new restaurant, named after a spice I rarely have in my spice cabinet, served the blandest Indian meal I've EVER HAD IN MY LIFE, on plastic disposable dishes, with no condiments. I couldn't even eat my entire dinner, relying instead on a mango lassi while pushing my plate across the table to S. I'm not one to turn down Indian food, and rarely one who can resist seconds. But it was just so bland, I couldn't bear to finish firsts.

I just thought I'd provide that info, in case you thought I like EVERYTHING I eat.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:52 AM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Have I mentioned that Peet's Coffee is now serving pumpkin scones?

Mmmmm. Pumpkin scones.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:28 PM

Monday, October 20, 2003

Space catering! The Taikonaut is eating his choice of 20 Chinese dishes in space! (SF Gate) That's more variety than some people eat here on earth, with a wide selection of options at hand.

[And S asks me why I'm on a mailing list that would report on such things. It's it obvious?]

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:55 PM

Sunday, October 19, 2003

But if it's weeks until I blog again, it's because I'm surfing from
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:46 PM

After nearly a week of back pain and a few days of rest, my back is somewhat better. I can sit without scowling in pain! That's a nice thing.

I have spent what time I have been upright helping S. entertain his cousin. She's very brave: she's eaten everything I've made, and was willing to go to our favorite Thai place. She even had cravings for authentic Chinese food, and so we took her to Taipei (on Ocean, in the little shopping district between Junipero Serra and 19th Avenue, where Jitra Thai and that great bakery Ambrosia [?] are). Sure, she ate her sweet and sour chicken without rice, but that was just a little quirk.

I tried some new recipes on my guest. Yesterday for breakfast we had a veganized version of this banana bread (, a tasty, whole-wheat bread that needs a little extra time to cook. I chose this recipe because it only required two bananas, which is all I had. It's satisfying and substantive. I recommend it.

This morning for breakfast I made a veganized version of potato kugel (, which is a baked, casserole-sized potato pancake. It turned out well, though I think it's better with a bit more onion and a bit of the potato and all of the onion pureed to make a thicker batter. Which I know, because I made both modifications without even trying the recipe as is. Because I know what I like.

This evening our multi course dinner included the always excellent stewed mustard greens (BBC), Indian stir-fried cucumbers (Washington Post), though I left out the peanuts and made a small batch just to test it out (hot! novel, but not fabulous), aloo aur simla ki mirch (potatoes with green peppers) (, which was pleasantly flavored but mild enough not to alarm anyone, and brown rice.

And now I'm really tired from cooking and cleaning up after cooking. So I'll save my other comments until my next writing.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:32 PM

Saturday, October 18, 2003

[I'm suffering back pain that makes sitting upright uncomfortable. I'll post as soon as I feel better...]
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:59 PM

Friday, October 10, 2003

One of my favorite SF Gate columnists, Mark Morford, has an article that I highly recommend called A Casket Full of Cheese Fries. Excerpt:
And this is the wicked double standard, the vicious irony of message wherein Swanson and McDonald's and every major garbage-food purveyor knowingly and with full intent aims their toxic supersize sludge directly at a blindly trusting and increasingly obese public, working hard to keep them all fat and stupid and addicted from childhood.

All while, simultaneously, an entirely different set of corporate snakes yanks the culture in the other direction, telling you how ugly and hideous and embarrassing obesity is and promoting "healthy" cures and pills and diets and liposuctions and flesh-ripping surgeries and anorexic models featuring sunken hollow chests and scowling eyes and puny little nonexistent asses and 10 Steps to a Firm Flat Tummy Now!
The point of the article, which points out that oversized caskets that can accommodate 700 pounds of one dearly departed are selling like prefab hotcakes AND that people are being marketed unhealthy semi-foodlike products, is that only WE can establish a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. It is not in the interests of sales people for us to eat right and exercise. It is only in our own interest.

Take good care of yourself!
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:41 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Web recipe experiment of the week: last night I made zucchini appetizer squares (, using this recipe for biscuit mix ( and my usual egg replacer (a vegan powder that binds like eggs do, but without the icky egginess. There are many vegan egg substitutes you can make yourself (, if you are so inclined.)

My mother used to make a version of this dish true to this recipe, using eggs: it's a very soft, moist, eggy bread with a nearly custard like texture. Since I don't like eggs, my modifications made it much more to my liking, though I wound up adding about a half a cup of water to make sure it was moist enough (egg replacer isn't usually as voluminous as an egg, wetness wise) and cooking it twice as long (since egg replacer doesn't brown as easily). But it was great, especially because of the garlic. Ah, garlic! The garlic flavor remains strong, even after an hour of cooking! I had a garlic aura shortly after consuming a slice for breakfast!

My version firms up overnight, being a bit too custardy when just out of the oven to appear fully cooked. Perhaps if I added a half cup or so of silken tofu in place of some of the water, it would firm up faster. I still have plenty of zucchini from the last few CSA deliveries, so I'll experiment and see.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:25 PM

Vacations and travel are jointly messing up the fine balance I've achieved in my personal food management world.

I have gushed about the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program I belong to, which provides me with a heavy, bountiful crate of very locally grown produce each week. The produce is FABULOUS and organic! Today's box is no exception: long, fresh green onions; fennel (which I really don't know what to do with, since I don't make paella); spicy jalapenos; crisp bok choy; sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes; fragrant mustard greens; tender red and green lettuces; broccoli; green cabbage; gorgeous delicata, acorn, and butternut squash (for the first time this year, in this box!), and many many many potatoes.

This plentiful food poses a challenge for me. After S and I went on a vacation, we got... well, backlogged. There's only so much we can eat when we're not home, and the fresh veggies weren't going to hold up well camping, so... There were so many. And then S went away for a week to visit a relative, and I learned that I really don't eat 20 pounds of veggies each week! And so now my fridge is very very full, and I need to figure out how to prepare dishes that freeze well, despite the fact that I'm not ordinarily a 'freezing' kind of cook.


I'll have another challenge coming up soon: feeding a houseguest from Iowa.

Perusing midwestern cookbooks results in complete hysteria over the combinations of Jell-O, mayonnaise, sour cream, butter, and meat products. I know that the midwest is also the birthplace of fabulous stuffed pizzas, but friends from the midwest generally list Jell-O dishes when discussing what they eat at home, so I know there are some odd things happening in that oddly named region.

As someone who prepares Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and Indian dishes literally every week, I'm not quite sure how to provide "safe" foods while gently introducing our guest to my possibly unfamiliar dietary staples. And then there's the near-veganism of much of my cooking. There's an average of one dairy product in my refrigerator most times (organic, rennet-free cheese) among the soy milk, tofu, soy cream, and flavored oils. Sure, I'm willing to buy butter for a guest. But I own dishes which are "pure" - they have never touched meat, and never will. I'm a bit religious about this.

I'm dreaming up a menu of things that omnivores seem to like when I serve them: apple and pumpkin pies (vegan), olive oil mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing (vegan), minestrone soup (vegan), spaghetti with mushroom/tomato/garlic sauce (vegan)... If she craves meat, she can do what S does and enjoy it at a restaurant when we take her out.

This will be an interesting experiment. (THAT'S what I should tell the houseguest: 'congratulations, you're my next research subject!') I have about a week to prepare. Wish me luck!

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:11 PM

Sunday, October 05, 2003

I have put up a linked index to the recipes and features I've published to this blog so far on my main food page. This covers recipes of my own creation (and a few that were given to me without a source to credit), not recipes I've linked or referenced. Take a walk through memory lane and remember just how food-crazed I am (if you've forgotten).
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:13 PM

Great recipe quote: "1 hot chili (serrano or [Jalap]). Remove seeds if wimpy." That's from a recipe for Malai Sauce (a cream sauce I haven't heard of) within this collection of summer squash recipes, some of which are... interesting. They're not as good as the summer squash feature (which includes the collection of summer squash recipe links), only a few of which are casseroles.


Being a west coast person, I'm still rather mystified by the appeal of casseroles. All casserole recipes seem to be about the same: take a vegetable you like, cook it until it's extremely soft, cover it with milk or canned soup, and bake until unrecognizeable.

My deep personal suspicion is that these recipes were developed in places where you can't get fresh vegetables much of the year, and are intended for the 'iffier,' past their prime veggies. Gosh, I hope so.


I'm pleasantly surprised that there are so many recipes for zucchini bread out there. (diana's There's one thing they all have in common: they all contain about 5 times as much oil as the recipe I have been using, which I am dissatisfied with. I tried adding applesauce to make up for its lack of moisture, but realized when having a store-bought dessert bread that oil is what is lacking. So I'm going to experiment with some of the on-line, more oil loving recipes. I'll report back on the results.


Something I should make much, much more often than I do: cornbread. It's soo tasty! It's so simple! Why isn't this a staple in my diet?
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:10 PM

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Back on the 27th of September, I bemoaned my lack of productivity. I also bemoaned it less actively on the 28th. Well, it turns out there's a cold going around, and I just had a low-symptom version of it.

My recommendation to you: eat LOTS of fresh garlic to try to avoid getting this! (Or just for the sake of doing so, because garlic is great for you!)

This morning I used a head of garlic, along with about 4 potatoes, some bay leaves, some thyme, salt, and pepper, to make a soup to help defend against this cold. (There's a more precise recipe I have used in the past that this evolved from in Deborah Madiso's Savory Way, which is worth trying.) It's simple, and pureed it's quite hearty, just the thing for a cool morning breakfast.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:51 AM

The abundance of veggies provided by my CSA has overwhelmed me, with vacations and a head cold keeping me from consuming my usual allotment of produce. An extra 7 or so pounds of squash is just lingering in the fridge, begininng to wrinkle, along with a few surplus cabbages. I use summer squash most of the year, and dread seeing it go to waste.

Happily, the Ohio State University Extension guide to freezing fruits and veggies provides exactly the information I needed to save some of this bounty for later. The chart at the bottom includes times and useful tips to prepare all sorts of veggies for my underutilized freezer.

Thank you, Ohio State University Extension!
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:46 AM

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