Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rrrrrradicchio have rrridges

Ooops- singular - "has" ridges....Singular or plural, some food names are just fun to say.  

Last week for instance we had Pink Chiogga beets.  Not only were they gorgeous once prepared, they were fun to talk about.  Treviso Radicchio, likewise.  Albino beets?  Check and double check. 

When I am throwing such terms around casually in conversation, I just sound so much more cosmopolitan to my own ears.  And my own ears are the ones I care most about.  You too?

Last night I managed to work the phrase "Treviso Radicchio" into our dinnertime conversation about 43 times.  "Hang on!" I started, "Dinner is almost ready.  Just as soon as I get this Treviso Radicchio plated I'll be right out.".  And as I was walking in, "Would you take a gander at this radicchio?  You don't see colors like that on your dinner plate too often." Or eventually, "Don't you just love this Treviso Radicchio, sweetheart?" mumbling now with my mouth full.  

Due to my "recovery" status with more complacently accepting my spouse's personal food likes and more pertinently, dislikes, we won't go into his answer to that question at this point.  Suffice it to say I managed to chatter on about the radicchio and how next time I will prepare it differently to suit his palate even though it was certainly wonderful just the way I'd fixed it already.... Yep, I pretty much had all the fun my husband could stand,  just saying the name.  

Last night's Italian Chicory (ha - you thought I was going to say radicchio again) was prepared using a combination of the recipe provided in our Basketeer newsletter along with a slightly different dressing I already had on hand.  I'd never have tried grilling a head of  lettuce but after some quick checking, grilling is a very typical way to prepare and serve this variety.   I thought the novelty of hot salad with cool dressing would be a nice treat, and certainly the colors on the plate were delightful, even if my husband is now fairly well convinced he is not a radicchio aficionado.  Oooh- there's another great one...radicchio aficionado -just rolls off your tongue.

So I cut the radicchio in half, oiled it up, grilled it, and then threw the dressing on, wiggling the leaves around a little to let it slide in between, before cutting the stem end off to plate and serve. Although it did require a knife and fork to eat, it was still tender and nicely peppery tasting.  

I read in one recipe to try soaking radicchio for an hour or two in ice water to temper the bitterness it can develop, and will perhaps try that before offering my husband his next batch. [Note to self: In future try researching recipes earlier than 15 minutes before dinner is due to allow for prep time] And there will certainly be at least one or two more batches for dinner.  Fennel I have tried out on him 3-4 ways, and he simply doesn't like it.  So all fennel bulbs now go to my son.  But radicchio we've only tried in salad (which was fine) and grilled (which was not).  So I have my radicchio work yet cut out for me.

We also had our albino beets, and I tried roasting these in the microwave as a time consideration.  Worked like a charm, only took 18 minutes, and the beets were amazing with just a little butter, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  And yes, I am aware, cooking in the microwave is not technically "roasting", but the taste and texture are so similar, and there are simply those nights when I need that extra help time wise.  Not to mention how much easier it is to stay in the kitchen in Central Texas during hot weather months without the oven on.  And yep, it is not hot here yet, really.  But close enough.    

So last night I feel I carried my weight - basket wise - using two of our week's veggies towards the cause of Our Healthier Dinners. Tonight I have plans for last week's turnips, scalloped of course, and perhaps I'll give the collard greens a go as well.  Not sure what our protein will be, but cruelty considerations aside, that is the easy part of our meals recently.And when I say cruelty considerations aside, I only mean to say that, except for trying to take into consideration that we are trying not to use protein sources that come at the expense of cruelty to some animal, I already know a myriad of preparations for meat.  It is tricky purchasing meat or eggs or fish without knowing where they came from and what they went through before being offered for sale, and my conscience will no longer allow me to eat protein without factoring that in.  

It's just getting harder to be a carnivore and pretend to be a caring person over all.  Which I am hoping will lead to major reforms in the industry because I am just not ready to swear off beef or pork or chicken or eggs yet.  Not anywhere near.

So those beef patties you see on our dinner plates came from an outfit that lets the cattle out to play with the deer and the antelope.  These cattle are grass eaters all the way, no antibiotics, discouraging words or hormones.  I think they even sing them to sleep at night.  My kids should have been so lucky...

Except for a small inland sea of lettuce mix still inhabiting two drawers in my refrigerator, I feel I am nearly back on top of the "Use Up Your Vegetables Before They Molder" game.  I still have a couple of non-pickled red beets, but now that I know I can use the microwave, they will be easy to work into an upcoming dinner menu.  

And before I go for now, I just have to ask you - isn't this the most gorgeous Treviso Radicchio you've ever seen?


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