Savor The Earth

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Cornporked—a Texas Casserole May 10, 2010

Filed under: Dai Due,easy,eggs,locavore — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 9:34 pm

this was one (c)ornery subject!

My long lost relatives from Wisconsin came down for the weekend, bringing with them a welcome, if blustery, dip in temperature.  We met at the SFC farmers market in Sunset Valley, affording me the opportunity to show off not only the kindergartner’s soccer game across the street, but Austin’s own Dai Due.  Naturally they ordered the brats!  The unexpected chill called for a steaming cup of gumbo, comforting and thick with local meats and shrimp.  A hearty way to warm up for a Saturday of reconnecting, and enjoying and entertaining children.  This week’s charcuterie offerings from Dai Due included salt pork and tasso (fashioned from local Richardson Farms pork), so I stocked up (both keep fine in the freezer), armed to enrich my flexitarian diet.

Tomorrow’s the last day of HEB’s sale on Texas-grown corn at 4 for $1, and the days of comfortably heating up the big oven are becoming a memory.  So grab yourself a couple bucks of ears and pud(ding) ’em together with that salt pork.  Add local cheese and eggs, backyard herbs and organic creams and you’ve got an easy side dish that you might even make a meal out of.  We did!

CORN PUDDING serves plenty

  • 6 cups local corn kernels, from about 8 medium ears of corn.
  • 6 local eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup organic cream.  I like Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • ½ cup organic sour cream. Farmers’ Creamery brand of luxurious slow-cultured cultured cream, crafted without thickeners or stabilizers, is available at Natural Grocers uptown.
  • 6 ounces local cheddar (1½ cups shredded).  I love Full Quiver Farms extra sharp version.  Look for their booths at Barton Creek and Austin Farmers Markets.
  • 7 slices Dai Due salt pork, rendered.  I slice and fry the whole chunk ahead of time and refrigerate whatever we don’t eat or use right then.  Remember to save that precious grease!  Fry your eggs or saute your bean base in it and feast like royalty.
  • 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk and bring in my own (large) container.  The staff tares the weight.
  • scant teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.  Whole Foods sells this in bulk for the best deal.
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.  For the lowest prices, I buy the majority of my spices in bulk, usually at Central Market.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala.  Click for a recipe.
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh backyard herbs.  Basil, chives and thyme combine well.

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Butter up a 2-quart casserole dish.  Set it inside a roasting or cake pan (at least 9″ X 13″) to configure a bain-marie (water bath).  Start heating up water, most coolly accomplished in your microwave.  I use a 1-quart Pyrex glass measuring cup.  A couple or three of those should give you enough very hot water to come halfway up the sides of your casserole.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the corn and return to a boil.  Cook the kernels for 1 minute and drain well.  Process about 3½ cups of the corn in your food processor to yield a rough puree.  Combine the puree with the whole corn kernels and the remaining ingredients.  Turn the mixture into the casserole dish.

Place your bain-marie setup on a middle rack in the oven and pour the heated water into the roasting pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the pudding is set and browned.  You can test it for doneness with a bamboo skewer to be sure.

Carefully remove the casserole from the water bath and place it on a cooling rack.  Let cool and set for 10 minutes before serving.

Tastes great at room temperature too!


Carbonarish April 5, 2010

Filed under: easy,eggs,fast,locavore,noodles — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:17 pm

use your noodle

Already ate your crispy salt pork or crunchy bacon but still have plenty of yummy pig grease?  And whatcha gonna do with all those eggs you bought for Easter?  If you haven’t dyed them all yet, bust out a pound of spaghetti—I stocked up when Central Market had their own brand on special last month—and whip up a cheap meal of spaghetti alla carbonara.  Nobody around here doesn’t like noodles, pig fat and cheese, so this Roman-style classic is a sure-fire winner.

from our radish patch

And if that’s not enough fat for springtime, take the softened butter that you didn’t finish up with your holiday rolls (CM’s brioche dinner rolls are on sale for $2.99 a dozen and they do rule), mix in a bit of Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard you got) left on the knife from dressing your after-school-snack Kocurek frankfurters, and swipe it with your freshly plucked radishes for a fancy treat.

Enjoy a few new local strawberries—(from Barton Creek, Sunset Valley or Austin farmers markets) and a late-season grapefruit for dessert and there’s your whole meal.

MAKIN’ DO TEXAS CARBONARISH serves about half a dozen hungry folks

  • 1 pound organic spaghetti.  Central Market and Whole Foods own brand are good values.
  • a couple good spoonfuls of good grease, such as from Dai Due‘s salt pork or bacon
  • dash of organic or Texas olive oil, optional.  For organic I love Spanish Villa Blanca.  Check out Texas’ own Texas Olive Ranch at our local farmers markets.
  • half a good-sized Texas red onion, or whatever Texas onions you have, chopped
  • 3 bulbs of local green garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup wine, red or white
  • 3 local eggs
  • 3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or 2 ounces Reggiano plus 1 ounce Pecorino Romano.

Get your big pot of water going to cook the spaghetti.  I’m not gonna try to tell you when to salt your pasta water but I always salt it at the beginning.

Meanwhile, heat up your fats and saute the onion with a pinch of salt until softened.  Stir in the garlic to release its fragrance, then add the wine and boil it off.  In a very large bowl, stir the eggs and cheese together briskly until emulsified.

When the spaghetti tests done, dunk a glass measuring cup into the pot to reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water.  Add the pasta and the onions to the eggs and toss well with two large forks to mix it all up.  Splash in the cooking water as needed to create a creamy, emulsified sauce.  You may not need all the water.

Season with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper and top each serving with a nice flaky salt (such a Murray River salt flakes), to taste.

Eat it up hot!


Autumn Scrambled Dinner November 2, 2009

Filed under: Austin Farmers Market,easy,eggs,fast,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:20 pm

For quick meals lately we’ve been relying on good old eggs.  Actually they’re great eggs ’cause they’re local, laid by free-roaming hens.  I believe entomophagy is the solution to humanity’s nutritional problems but usually I prefer to eat bugs vicariously through chicken eggs.  Superior protein and Omega 3’s deliciously yoked in yolks.

With a stash of boiled organic spuds and baked Texas sweet potatoes in the fridge, this skillet supper almost cooks itself.

FALL SCRAMBLED DINNER serves 3 at our house

  • local onions, chopped how you like.  I’m still buying yellows and reds from at the farmers market.  Hairston Creek Farm is selling green onions right now and they’d taste fine here.
  • local sweet peppers, cut up as you please.  I continue to enjoy the sweet little orange gems from Flint Rock Hill.  The baby even eats them raw!  Add a spicy chile or two for an NC-17 version.  I’ve spied some bright habaneros at the markets lately.  Their fruitiness would complement this hash.
  • a Tablespoon or two of tasty fat.  Bacon or poultry drippings, or Dai Due‘s decadent lard work perfectly.  Be sure to look for the Dai Due booth this Saturday (Nov. 7) at the Austin Farmers Market.  Olive oil is fine—try Texas Olive Ranch.
  • 2 medium organic potatoes, boiled
  • 1/2 a good-sized Texas sweet potato, cooked.  I prefer to bake mine, three or four at a time.  The toaster oven works great and I find that the cooked tubers keep very well in the fridge.
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon dried thyme or a teaspoon or so fresh.
  • ½ teaspoon good quality curry powder.  My Caribbean blend plays nicely with the other flavors in this dish.
  • 4 or more local eggs, beaten to blend with some Herbamare (I buy this at Central Market) or your favorite seasoned salt (or just salt)
  • local cheese.  We love Full Quiver Farm‘s tangy white cheddar.  Happily for Austin locavores, we enjoy numerous cheese choices—pepper jack, feta and chevre, just to name three more that play well with eggs.

Saute your onions and peppers (and dried thyme) in your fat of choice until translucent.  Smash the potatoes into chunks with the heel of your hand.  For homey hashes, I prefer this method over cutting with a knife.  I like the rough edges and uneven hunks.  Process as you please, however.  Add the potatoes, curry powder (and fresh thyme) and a healthy dose of kosher salt (Diamond brand’s my top choice) to the skillet and fry, stirring occasionally, until the spuds are browning delectably.  Add the sweet potato (I finely chop the skin and toss it in, too) and mash it around to distribute as the mixture cooks.  Pepper it all up with some freshly cracked black, stir it in and push the mixture to one half of the pan.  Pour your eggs into the bare side of the skillet and scramble them, using broad strokes to form large curds.  When the eggs are almost done to your liking, amalgamate the mass, folding the spud mixture into the huevos.

Turn out onto a large serving plate and top with the cheese.  Share!


Lunching-in, Austin style September 7, 2009

Filed under: dessert,easy,eggs,Slow Food USA/Austin,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:04 am


slowly lunching

slowly lunching


We’re off to Slow Food Austin‘s potluck eat-in at Rain Lily Farm.  We’ll celebrate Labor Day while sending a message to Congress about getting Good Food into our nation’s schools.  I wanted to represent our region with food that’s delicious, nutritious, toteable and local.  For a simple-as-you-please entree I prepared a Texas Frittata.  Dessert rewards kids and grown-ups alike with handy bite-sized Texas puddin’ balls.

TEXAS FRITTATA makes one 12″ round

  • 12 eggs, local
  • fresh goat cheese, softened at room temperature till you can stir it.  Austinites enjoy numerous brands of local queso de cabra.  See “Greening Risotto”.  I used Wateroak’s very creamy chevre.
  • local onions, chopped how you like.
  • local sweet peppers, chopped or sliced. I bought mine from Flintrock Hill at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.
  • local butternut squash,shredded medium-fine to medium.   Flintrock Hill again!
  • local garlic if you find it or still have some on hand.  Morning Glory Farm was still selling garlic this past Saturday at SVFM.
  • backyard herbs.  Not certified.  Organic nonetheless.  I clipped a potpourri of French thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil and garlic chives.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Full Quiver Farm’s cheddar cheese, shredded, or other local cheese, for topping your ‘ttata.

Whisk together the eggs, chevre, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If your goat cheese doesn’t blend smoothly into the eggs, that’s fine.

In a 12″ skillet (non-stick or very well-seasoned is essential here) with an ovenproof handle, heat up a Tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Saute your onions, peppers, squash until softened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add your garlic and herbs and stir for a minute, just to bring out the garlic’s fragrance.  Pour in your egg mixture and cook, stirring frequently with a large heat-proof spatula.  When the eggs look like they’re thickening up, sprinkle cheddar or other cheese on top and stick your pan under the broiler for about 4 minutes, until the frittata looks mostly firm.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes to finish cooking.  Serve now or later!

TEXAS PUDDIN’ BALLS makes 30 or so 1 1/4″ balls

  • 1/2 cup Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice (white).
  • 2 cups local milk.  I buy Swede Farm Dairy‘s goat milk at SVFM.
  • 1/4 cup local honey.  I usually buy Goodflow wildflower honey in bulk at Central Market.
  • fresh bay leaf, if you’re growin’.  Kaffir lime leaf is tasty, too.  Both these herby shrub/trees can be purchased locally for the gastronomically inclined gardener.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Lucky Layla butter (optional).  I find the best price on this product at Whole Foods, $5.99 for the 12 oz. tub.
  • up to 1 Tablespoon Texas orange zest—I save zest from in-season citrus in the freezer.
  • 1 cup toasted Texas pecans, finely chopped

Combine rice and next four ingredients (three if you don’t have bay or lime leaf) in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heatStir, reduce heat to LOW, and cook, partially covered, until rice is tender, about 35 minutes.  Don’t forget to stir occasionally.  A non-stick pan is helpful for this preparation.  Taste for sweetening.  You can add more honey if you’re sweet-tooth’s not tickled enough.  By the way, when I’m not super-localizing this recipe, I include a piece of cinnamon stick, a couple of cardamom pods, lightly crushed , and of course, some vanilla bean!

Put rice mixture into a bowl, stir in butter and orange zest, if using, then cover and cool until close to room temperature before refrigerating.  Chill in the fridge till cold and firm.

Scoop out small balls of the firmed pudding using a spring-loaded scoop (easiest method).  A melon baller or a couple of spoons would work, too,  just not as efficiently.  Roll your balls in your nuts.  Keep ’em cool!


Jasmine Rice and Using Your Nước Chấm August 13, 2009

Filed under: easy,eggs,grains,rice,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:10 pm

nice rice, lady

My all time favorite rice is Texas-grown Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice.  Previously I have always purchased this treasure in 2-pound bags from Central Market and sometimes HEB.  The escalating price ($3.79 now) finally drove me to the internet, where I secured a 25-pound bag for about $35, including delivery.  I don’t know if that’s the greenest way to get it but we’re almost never without a pot of this white gold in the fridge, and I’m saving about 40¢ per pound.  I adore this rice and the intoxicating aroma that fills the house while it’s cooking.  Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Daguid recommend this brand in their wonderful cookbook, Seductions of Rice (great book, btw).  Lowell Farms sells a brown jasmine rice, as well.  I’m not that into brown rice but I welcome your suggestions.

I’ve never had a hard time cooking rice.  Or if I did, it was so long ago in my culinary journey that I don’t remember any particular frustrations.  I find rice preparation to be pretty easy and straightforward (that is, for a straightforward preparation).  You can use a rice cooker, I s’pose, but I’ve never tried one.  Here’s my rice routine.  Be brave.


  • 1 cup Lowell Farms white jasmine rice
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fresh bay leaf–Yes, I have my own bay leaf bush.  So I put bay leaves into most everything.  Don’t go out and buy fresh bay leaves just for your pot of rice, though.  This magic leaf is optional here.
  • a dab of butter

Put everything into a solid 1 1/2 quart (or so) saucepan.  As one of my very favorite cookbook authors, Yamuna Devi, advises in her magnum opus, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine, “thin walled pans are useless.”  Cover the pot with a compatible lid–a dedicated marriage between top and bottom is important here–and bring it all to a big boil on high heat.  Give it a brief stir, turn the heat down to low (lowest on my electric range) and cook for 20 minutes.  Set your timer!  If you put your ear close to the pot–careful! don’t burn yourself!–you’ll still hear the simmering.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest 10 minutes.  Freshly cooked jasmine rice is indeed seductive.  Around here we have to try not to eat it all up plain on the spot.

This is the rice that we eat with whatever needs rice:  beans, stir-fries of all nationalities and fusions thereof, puddin’, even Indian food when I can’t get a batch of basmati rice going for some reason.  A small bowl of hot rice adorned with a spoonful of chutney or Indian pickle (around here, we favor Patak’s Garlic Relish and Brinjal Eggplant Relish and Laxmi Carrot Pickle) makes a satisfying snack.  If you’ve got cooked rice you can even dress it as for bún, utilizing the same accompaniment concept.  And if you’re looking for yet another way to use up your nước chấm, try this variation of the Thai/Laotian  stir-fry known as


  • 1 bundle of bean thread noodles, also known as cellophane or glass noodles
  • 2 to 4 eggs, local of course, beaten
  • 1 to4 kermit (Thai) eggplants.
  • about 1 quarter of a large red onion, sliced
  • 3-6 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • fresh red or green chiles, halved lengthwise if plump, sliced thin
  • nước chấm

Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for 20 minutes.  I put a quart of water in a Pyrex measuring cup and nuke it for 222 seconds.  Then I place the noodles into the cup and go about my prepping.  After the soak, drain the noodles (I use a sieve), place in a wide bowl and douse with a couple Tablespoons of nước chấm.  Distribute the dressing with a fork and cut the noodles into manageable lengths with scissors.  I just go at it in the bowl somewhat haphazardly.

Behead your eggplants (I’m still buying my beauties from Ringger Family Farm), halve them from top to bottom and cut each half into 4-6 wedges, depending on size.  Toss the wedges with about 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, plenty of freshly ground black or white pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.

Heat up a well-seasoned wok or skillet you can trust with your huevos, add a couple of Tablespoons of your choice of fat, and toss in the eggplant wedges.  Stir-fry until you get some browning, it’ll smell great, and add your shallots, then your onion slices.  Give the mix a few stirs, then pour in your eggs and scramble them around.  When the eggs are nearly set dump in your noodles and stir the whole thing around to finish everything off.  Quickly plate it up so you don’t overcook your eggs.

Sprinkle with chile slices and add more nước chấm to taste, if necessary.  Babies like these noodles, too!

Nước chấm