Wednesday, February 18, 2009


James planted a lovely winter garden and with all the rain it’s growing like gangbusters. The Swiss Chard is especially inviting (as is that in the markets – so many colors!) so I’ve got three recipes to recommend.

The first, FLORENTINE WHITE BEAN SOUP, actually calls for spinach, but I used Chard this time and it was great. Morgan ate two bowls; Audrey did not reject it out of hand.

The next two are variations on a theme: CHARD AND FETA PIE and CHARD TART. The first is much more rustic (and lower in fat) and the second is more quiche-like and civilized. Morgan liked them both and Audrey had a hot dog because I screwed up the timing of tart shell prep and she couldn’t wait.

Can anyone tell me why you have to chill and then freeze a tart shell (and some kinds of cookies) before you bake it?

A comment on the “lower in fat” above: I was a neurotic dieter for much of my life (during which time I carried around an extra 25 – 30 pounds). Now, I really believe that being present while cooking and eating, eating whole foods vs. processed, and eating things that I have (mostly) made myself are the best strategies. And that home-baked cookies are good for you. (OK, maybe that’s pushing it.) That’s my little rant on dieting, and the low-carb, low-fat ways of approaching eating.

And now, a couple of tips to avoid food waste in these trying economic times.

Tomato paste saver: I honestly don’t know who did this, but little tablespoon-sized plastic wrapped packets of tomato paste showed up in my freezer, labeled in a little Ziploc bag. (I think it was my sister-in-law). I am forever opening cans of tomato paste, using a bit, and then letting the rest sit in the fridge until it dries up or molds. Since I found the packets, I have used them all and can’t wait to make my own!

Bread crumbs: Whole Foods charges a ridiculous price for their whole wheat bread crumbs (in the bakery section in little white bags) and the Progresso kind are full of chemicals. We don’t eat our bread loaf ends willingly, so now, I save them in the fridge until I have 6 – 8 (if this takes you more than a few weeks, store them in the freezer or they’ll mold). Then, I lay them out on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 200 until they dry out. Put them in the food processor and pulse until they get to the desired size. Store in a container in the freezer until you’re ready to use. Fun kid activity!

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