Slow cooker chili talks turkey

Whether you’ve been hiking in the woods or just sprawled on the couch watching the big game, a hot bowl of chili is always welcome on a crisp winter day.  If it’s spent all day bubbling away in a slow cooker while you were playing, all the better.

In preparation for Super Bowl Sunday, I’ve been working on a slow cooker chili recipe for the last couple of  weeks.  We’ve eaten more chili than I would recommend, but the end result is a deeply flavorful stew of home-cooked beans, lively spice and savory turkey.  It’s hearty enough to satisfy the most devoted chili head, yet still low in fat if you don’t pile on the condiments. Continue reading Slow cooker chili talks turkey

“Watermelons” in winter

The first time I saw watermelon radishes, I grinned.  What could be more welcome amid all the leafy greens and dull root vegetables at the  winter farmers market than these aptly named little gems, their bright fuchsia centers proclaiming the promise of spring to come?

Not only were they cute and cheerful, they were crisp and mild, the perfect addition to a salad or a platter of cruditès.  Now, every time I see them at the market, I pick up a few. Continue reading “Watermelons” in winter

Bran muffins revisited

Once upon a time, bran muffins were considered health food.  That was before food processors got their hands on them and muffins became overblown monuments to excess – loaded with fat and sugar, wrapped in cellophane and sold in every convenience store and coffee shop.  Now a single bran muffin from a commercial oven easily can top 400 calories.

The problem, of course is that the earlier bran muffins were hard to swallow. All that fiber-rich bran has the texture and flavor of sawdust and needs to be lightened up before it’s palatable to most eaters.  Sugar and fat are the simplest solutions.  But not the only ones.

These updated muffins are the best of both eras, moist and tasty but not too sweet or rich.  The secret is in yogurt and honey, which improve the texture and boost flavor. Continue reading Bran muffins revisited

Taming the bitter greens

Dandelion greens salad with avocado and walnuts

Anyone who wants to eat with the seasons eventually confronts winter greens.

Piles of kale, mustard greens, chard, collards and dandelion greens dominate the farmers markets where I shop at this time of year. If I’m lucky, there will be artichokes and broccoli sprouts, too.   But the greens are everywhere, challenging me to find new ways to put them on the dinner table.

Lately, I’ve been turning some of the more pungent greens into a salad inspired by Elizabeth Schneider’s “Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables” (William Morrow, 1986).  More than a cookbook, it’s an encyclopedic guide to the produce rarely found in markets before Americans became obsessed with food. I often find ideas there for vegetables few other cookbooks even address. Continue reading Taming the bitter greens