Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things I have learned here: market edition

I thanked my sweetheart recently for his continuing patience and indulgence where our food is concerned. When we lived in Chicago, food came from the grocery store or the produce market, because that is where I knew food to come from. Sometimes, a lot of it came in boxes. I had heard of farmer's markets, made tentative explorations in their direction, found good cheese.

Then we moved.

We moved to Atlanta, and there is a super big year round farmer's market there. I went there weekly, on my own and with my boss, to pick up fruits and vegetables (and cheese). I brought visitors there. We didn't take pictures because you aren't allowed to. After a couple years of this, and reading a book or two, it occurred to me that it isn't the same when the farmers in question live on the other side of the world. Did I really need berries in January?

Then we moved.

Now, I shop at my local farmer's market almost every week. Here's where my gratitude for my sweetheart's continued understanding comes in. We eat stuff now like weird turnips, and mysterious greens and the best polenta on the planet. The stuff we get is seriously tasty. It may not be the prettiest, and I have learned the hard way to wash stuff, and soak your cauliflower in salt water. (Seriously, folks. Soak it.) We eat a lot of plants, and less meat. I have a hard time buying meat, especially chicken, since I know where to get the good stuff. I also know, from actually talking to the person who raises those animals, how bad that other stuff can be. That holds true for a lot of our food. We aren't completely seasonal or local; I confess I bought bananas at the grocery store today. We make a pretty good effort, though. The only berries in my house right now are the ones I preserved. I know where it came from. It's never been subjected to a crazy giant recall.

Flat out, we also spend more on food.

Can we afford it? Probably, no. But I don't think we can afford not to do it, either.

Also, there is excellent cheese.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My role in the end times: chocolate zucchini cake

Yeah, in case of apocalypse, I'll need a farmer. Or at least a good gardener. Preferably one with no cooking skills whatsoever. The sum total of what I have harvested from all my plants this season, with the exception of herbs, is one (1) orange. I haven't even managed a green tomato, which is fine because I don't like raw tomatoes, but REALLY. Here we are smack dab in the prime season for dumping vegetables on your neighbors because you're sick to death of them and all I can do is be a recipient.

And make cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Pistachios

340 g all purpose flour
65 g unsweetened cocoa powder
6 g baking soda
6 g salt
8 g powdered ginger
375 g sugar
110 g butter, room temperature
105 g vegetable oil
2 eggs
5 g vanilla extract
110 g buttermilk
275 g grated peeled zucchini (don't use the seedy center because bleh. Also you could leave the peel on but why?)
175 g coarsely chopped dark chocolate (I used a 54%)
75 g pistachios, unsalted

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13x9x2" pan with parchment and spray lightly with pan spray.

2. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and ginger.

3. Cream butter, sugar and oil together. The key to this is to have everything at room temperature, so it mixes together smoothly.

4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping the bowl between each addition, and then add the vanilla.

5. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the butter/sugar mix. Mix it just enough to combine. Fold in the zucchini.

6. Smooth the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks and pistachios on top.

7. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. You probably should wait until it is cool to eat it, but who am I to judge, since I didn't.

Why pistachios and ginger? Because I like them with chocolate. You could probably use some other nut, or leave out the ginger. But the chocolate chunks really are better than chips, so don't change that part, ok?