May 8, 2012

Pulled Lamb Tacos

Lamb. It’s the quintessential spring food, isn’t it? A sign of new life and beginnings. The promise of flowers and rain and sunshine. Well, this is kind of the end of spring. It’s also kind of the end of this lamb. But it’s totally the beginning of a new season and a new taco!

Summer is always a time for dreaming and adventuring. For me, this summer will bring a new adventure, one a little bit more ambitious than past adventures. It’s grown-up hour in here. Which always makes me feel like I need glasses and a nice blazer. Aren’t those the signs of being mature and business-y? Even if you’re wearing your blazer with jean shorts and cowboy boots? I think the hallmark feature of being business-y is not turning the word business into an adjective. I don’t think I’m there yet.

What are your dreams and adventures for the summer?

My dreams are about this lamb. This lamb came from the rancher who was featured on last week’s post over at JH Grassfed. So, if you’re local you should catch up with some of this lamb. If you’re not, you should make these tacos for… Siete de Mayo? No, not a thing? We’re a little behind over here because we have some news. Some big news that I’ll let you in on later this week. News that benefits me, you, and your belly.

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April 19, 2012

Cactus Salsa

I think we forget a lot about the food that is already around us to begin with. To eat locally is a sort of a dual concept. There’s an idea about how far food travels to reach your plate. Then there is this other idea, one we think of less, of eating something that is native and indigenous to the area that you live in. It doesn’t get any more local than that.

Arizona doesn’t grow much without a little help. The things that it does grow, however, are extraordinary. Here are plants that can survive 120 degree days, months without rain, unrelenting sun, and still produce something that can sustain you. Tepary beans, agave, and, of course, the ubiquitous cactus.

The prickly pear cactus in particular is a hallmark of the desert landscape. And not just my desert, but deserts all over the world. They are known here as nopales, in Israel as tzabar, in Egypt as teen shouky, and in various places as some play on a ‘thorned fig’. Which is about right, because inside the paddle of the prickly pear is a juicy, sticky, and sweet flesh that’s maybe just a little bit sour. It makes your mouth water. It tastes like the color green and spring. It’s totally a fig. And we’re going to make salsa with it.

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Have you ever had a bad reputation? Did an event or a name or a connotation ever just stick to you, no matter how hard you tried to change it?  I have a reputation. It’s the kind I’d like to get rid of, but also the kind that drives me to do even better. Kind of like how I imagine brussel sprouts feel.

I have a little reputation for not following through. Not following through on projects that I start, commitments that I make, my education. It’s not true, it’s a perception of me. And while I don’t especially care what people think, I sure do love proving them wrong.

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Swiss chard. It’s probably the most beautiful leaf. The way yellow, white, and fuschia veins spread throughout the thick leaves and color the spine. It’s stunning and eye-catching and every time I pass by it in the farmer’s market I do just that… pass by it. Okay, I’ve used swiss chard a couple of times. Wilted it with garlic and wine, used it in salad. But I wanted something different. Something that showcased it’s super rich and deep flavor. Something that made me want to eat swiss chard with a spoon, which is really the preferable vehicle for chard, as it turns out. That or a chip.

Enter chard pesto. Chard dip. The way to make your spoon swoon, your chip weak at the knees, your pasta better than all the rest. I ate it all, still warm, right out of the food processor. Yes, all of it. With a spoon and a couple of chips. That isn’t to say you couldn’t save some for your friends. You could put it on pasta. Spread it on a taco. Mix it in with salad. But sometimes, it’s just good to eat something the way it is. And with a spoon.

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I think you should make this. I think you should make this for yourself. Just for you. Say hello to summer just a little bit early with this drink.

It’s that time of year where I long for summer break. Cut-off jean shorts, cowboy boots, and tank tops. A good patch of grass and a rainy summer day book. Campfires and maybe even mosquito bites. Maybe not. This drink is your gateway to summer drink. It’s still a little springy, still got a hint of winter, but mix it with some ginger beer and you’ll be good to go. If you’re already over the heat, crank up the AC and make it a hot toddy.

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