All about ingredients!

I took a trip to the Ferry Building farmers market this morning to restock
our supplies. Expecting to find only piles of dino kale and bags of
potatoes, I was surprised to find some beautiful baby golden beets, an
assortment of chicories, the last of the seasons pluots! Winter in California
is pretty darn great. I spent all the money I had, and went back for more.

When I got home, I cleaned the beets and roasted them for the night's salad:

3 bunches baby golden beets
olive oil

Clean and halve the beets. Toss liberally with olive oil and salt. Bake at 375
for 20-30 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through. Let cool and eat in
salad, or serve straight.

The beets came with some healthy looking leaves. Beet greens are great
for cooking. I find them sweeter than chard, and very enjoyable, if you
can get all the dirt out of them. These greens found their way into a beef
stock that had been cooking for a few hours. The stock came out robust
and delicious, thanks to some local ingredients and a little spice.

Also at the market were these trash-bound pluots and persimmons! The
above fruits cost a total of $4 from a guy named Joe at Twin Girls
Produce. He handed me a pair of plastic gloves and a flat of bruised fruits,
and left me to my dirty work. In a few minutes, feeling like a pro, I had 6
pounds of slightly blemished fruits ready for jam!

Pluot Butter

a decent amount of pluots or plums, washed.

Cut all bruised bits off of your fruit. Put them in a saucepan with water
just to cover one layer of fruit. Cover and bring to a boil. Let the pluots
steam while you tend to your soup stock or your roasting beets. Stir to
make sure all of the pluots get some heat. When the skins have split,
remove from the heat. One at a time, cut the fruits in half to remove
the pits (this should be easy. If the pits don't fall free, keep cooking and
try again.). Place the pitted fruits back in the pot with water and continue
to simmer. In an hour or so, puree the whole mixture in a good blender.
Be careful not to trap steam! If the mix is too liquidy for you, return it to
the stove and reduce it further. If you like it where it is (it will firm up in
the fridge), store it in a clean jar and refrigerate.

Chicory is something I've dealt with only a few times. It's beautiful, with
the palest green flecks as the white base turns to purple. These radicchio
come from County Line Produce, where they grow in place of lettuce
during the cold(er) months.

Roasted Radicchio with Broccoli Rabe and Beans

4 small heads of radicchio
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 lb broccoli rabe
1 1/2 c cooked beans of your choice (I used Jacob's Cattle beans from
Fifth Crow Farms)
1 mandarin or navel orange
a good, aged balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Wash the radicchio and section into quarters. Toss in olive oil, salt and
a touch of balsamic vinegar. Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute the broccoli rabe in olive oil with plenty of garlic and
a little salt. When cooked through (2-3 minutes), add some sweet
balsamic vinegar to taste. Remove from the heat, and toss in the
radicchio and the cooked beans. Mix well and taste. If it is too bitter,
add some more balsamic vinegar (the aged stuff is like syrup) or cut
in an orange. Serve luke warm with rice.

And the last project of the day, made sometime after the beets left the
oven and before the persimmon butter tart entered, were the energy
bars. Jesse and I have eaten a lot of energy bars in the recent past, and
these are our favorite so far.

The cubes on either side are made mostly from organic medjool dates.
They are blended with coarsely chopped sunflower seeds and buckwheat
groats, chia seeds, and whatever spices are at hand. The batch on the left
has zest from 1 kaffir lime and 1/2 lemon, plus chopped fresh ginger. The
batch on the right has ground coffee beans for a mid-ride pick-me-up.
They are shaped and baked on parchment paper at 325 for 20 minutes.
Store in the freezer. They will last without refrigeration if you are taking
them out for a trip.

The squares in the middle are mostly buckwheat groats with just enough
date paste to stick them all together. I added cinnamon, chia seeds and salt,
and a little bit of kumquat syrup leftover from making jam. Spread the mix
out on parchment in one block, and bake at 325 for 20 minutes. When it is
still warm, cut the block into small squares and let cool before tasting. These
should keep a very long time, and pack more protein and less sugar than the
date cubes. Use any nuts and seeds you like to make your perfect energy bars.
But don't be surprised when you get addicted.

(the above batches were made with 1.25 lb. unpitted organic fresh dates)

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