Ellen & Abs on Pomegranates | Video

Pomegranate seeds are tart, crimson jewels with a flavor that embodies the autumn season. In this Google Hangout, Ellen and I offer two delicious takes on serving pomegranates. (And, gosh, isn’t she adorable?)

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Ellen & Abs on Apples | Video

I’m lucky to call Ellen one of my best friends. With her massive green eyes and gorgeous smile, she’s a total beauty. But what makes her irresistibly sexy are her hands:  She’s a California farmer who works the land almost every day, and her hands–rough and calloused from the ranch–testify to her passion.

Ellen and I have always connected through the kitchen–we love seasonal, regional whole-foods prepared simply. In the below Google Hangout, she and I catch-up from our respective homes across the Atlantic, talking about a favorite fall treat: Apples. xoxo, abs

Hora de Feliz | Guest Contributor Ellen Roggeman

Coming straight to you from Mexico, regular Eating with Abs contributor Ellen Roggeman dishes on South of the Border-style happy hour–which, in Spanish, translates as hora de feliz! A United States native recently married to a Mexican man, Ellen has lately been spending a good deal of time outside her native country. One thing she longs for that intoxicatingly evokes the flavors of home? Whiskey. In this video, she puts a cool twist on an old favorite–the hot toddy. Oh, how I miss you, my darling!

Guest Columnist Ellen Roggeman Dishes on Agricultural Biodiversity

For several years, Ellen lived in Thailand, where she became interested in agriculture while working on awareness campaigns about the effects of international trade regulations on the lives of small-scale farmers. Currently based in San Francisco, Ellen is completing the final weeks of her two-year stint as a product developer and gardener at McEvoy Ranch. In the following essay, she reflects on the farm’s failed stone-fruit crops this year; rather than letting the low yield portend failure, she came up with a creative solution for launching the McEvoy’s new boutique jam and jelly line. (PS: This will be Ellen’s last contribution from California, as she is relocating south of the Rio Grande, to Mexico, to be her fiancee. Her future posts will likely feature more tequila and tacos–oh, how I hope!)

Oranges

“Let’s just call it a wacky year and forget about the white tape.” That’s what McEvoy Ranch head gardener Margaret Koski-Kent and I decided. Why mark the trees that didn’t bear fruit with white agriculture tape if that would mean flagging 2/3 of the orchard?

Remember that week of summer sometime in May? Well, when it quickly turned back into winter our hopes for summer fruits were dashed. Once a stone fruit tree (think necatrines, peaches, plums) blooms it is very vulnerable. Rain can ruin the buds meaning that fruit never develops. And fruit that does “set” might not ripen if it doesn’t get the heat and day length it needs to sweeten.

So all summer we picked only five trays of peaches, about six very absurd looking necatarines, and maybe ten plums….maybe. Funny year to have started a jam line, no?

Apple Lavender Jelly

But life did give us lots of lemons. So, we made Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Crabapple Meyer Lemon Marmalade and a small batch of Elderberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

Lovely things can come from scapping a well-developed plan and then just working with what you have. A nice crop of cherries was turned into Cherry Lemon Verbena jam, which is available at our Ferry Building shop as I type. And an early flush of apples was quickly turned into Pink Pearl Apple jam, Apple & Lavender Jelly, Wild Fennel Applesauce, Apple and Almond Conserve, and other fun creations.

If this was a children’s story I think the moral would be: three cheers for biodiversity! Without it we may have only been able to offer some mint jelly and a “we’ll try again next year.”

Lisbon lemons & plums

It reminds me of the rice farmers in Thailand who first taught me about farming and what it is to depend on a crop for one’s livelihood. They spoke of a day years ago when they grew multiple varieties of rice. From one small province, Surin, there were over 100 varieties of rice grown. Some could float on top of the water in a really rainy year. Others were perfectly happy when water was sparse. So the switch to nearly everyone growing solely Jasmine rice was a dramatic shift. Suddenly if the weather wasn’t right or a pest invaded, a whole crop could be lost in a flash, and with it, a year’s salary.

It’s years like this one which make me thankful that Margaret is committed to biodiversity and that our customers are adventurous enough to try Rhubarb Orange jam instead of the strawberry standard. It wasn’t a typical summer, but it was a creative one, and, hopefully, that creativity will hold us until next summer when, fingers crossed, plums abound.

If you live in the U.S., you can find a selection of Ellen’s newly-released estate food products, including Apple and Lavender Jelly, Rhubarb Orange Jam, Crapapple Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Cherry Lemon Verbena Jam and Tomato Jam, in McEvoy’s San Francisco Ferry Building shop. To order, call +1-415-291-7224.

Ellen ‘n’ Abs Prepare Salads on Opposite Sides of the Atlantic

She’s wicked-cool, a California farm-to-table maven, and also one of my best foodie friends: Eating with Abs Contributing Columnist Ellen Roggeman. Last week, she posed a DIY summer side-dish challenge. Using regional produce from our respective residences—-Ellen is in San Francisco, and I’m in Berlin—-we agreed to create scrumptious, five-ingredient salads bursting with surprises. Creativity excels when constraints are imposed upon its production, and culinary art is no exception. She and I each spent Saturday afternoon at our favorite farmers’ markets in search of the following locally-produced and -crafted sum’n sum’ns:

  1.  Leafy Green
  2. Fruit
  3. Herb
  4. Cheese
  5. Chef’s-Choice Surprise Ingredient
Ellen's Grilled Lettuce filled with Straus Sour Cream and topped with Bing Cherries and Almonds

Ellen’s Grilled Lettuce: In our 5-ingredient salad challenge Abs and I decided to compare what is seasonally delicious in our two distant homes.  We’ve always loved to cook together–that’s how we met, in fact–so why let a huge ocean get in the way?  Our mission was to create something tantalizing from a green, a fruit, an herb, a cheese, and a secret ingredient.  Berlin or San Francisco, NJ (my home state) or Texas (hers)–no matter where you live or where you come from seasonal can always be yummy.

Inspiration for my creation came from a wacky idea introduced to me by one of my farmer’s market customers years ago:  grilled lettuce! And what better day than at a friend’s festive barbaque?! Grilling isn’t for all lettuces.  I can only imagine the smoldering mess that would become of an iceberg head or floppy red leaf.  But grilling is perfectly suited for 1) Little Gem lettuce, the adorable result of a bubbly Butter lettuce falling in love with a stately Romaine.

Texas-shaped cutting board!

I sliced the small heads in halves on my friend’s Texas shaped cutting board, which of course made me think of you, Abs.  Sprinkled them with 2) olive oil and tossed them on the grill and let both sides get a bit charred and wilty as I sipped on some Calistoga white wine.  Chopped up some 3) sweet Bing cherries, made a thyme dressing with 4) Straus sour cream (Abigail, this is their newest product and I’ll have to bring you some when I visit you because it is ridiculously delicious), and crushed a few Massa Farms 5) raw almonds for crunch factor.  It was a real masterpiece.

Abs' sauteed Arugula lettuce and summer squash topped with basil, blueberries, and Roquefort
The goods!

Abs’ Super-Swell Summer Salad: I prepared a hot salad, too! I sauteed 1) Arugula (green) with 2) yellow summer-squash (surprise ingredient) and topped it off with fresh 3) blueberries (fruit), 4) basil from my window box (herb), and 5) Roquefort (cheese). An elite, sheep’s milk blue-cheese that comes from a highly-specific, discrete region in the South of France called Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, French law actually regulates that only cheese from this region can be called Roquefort, sustaining a centuries’-old legacy of this artisanal dairy product.

Guten appetit, y’all!!

xoxo, abs

Cooking Show | Roasted Cauliflower & Potato with Fresh Herbs

It’s finally here! The VIDEO COOKING SHOW dish on intuitive eating, intuitive cooking, and some of my favorite crucifers and tubers! Big love and thanks to my collaborator Ellen Roggeman, cameraman Jason Ditzian, and music by Charming Hostess.

Peep Show! | Video

Futzing with the Panasonic HVX200A Film-Quality Cam

Hey, lovers. Consider these pictures a sweet teaser for the soon-to-be-released, first-ever Eating with Abs cooking show! Coming atcha next week, with chills, spills, and…cauliflower. A cruciferous-vegetable must-see!

With Ellen Roggeman of Radical Radish as my cuisine queen and kitchen charioteer, we totally rock it with farm-to-table style. I’m excited to bring you the deets on intuitive eating, when you let your palate be your guide. Your body, once it’s flushed of processed, packaged foods, knows exactly what nutrients it needs to stay strong. You just have to listen to your body when it speaks up!

Ellen, in her pink button-down, looks super-profesh.

Hankering for an apple? Your body is telling you it needs some vitamin C and a low-metabolic sugar kick. Can’t get enough cashews? Your body needs mega protein, iron, and fat. (Yes, fat is good for you! It’s best when present in the whole food itself–think, avocados and almonds—rather then derived, like bottled oils.)

But there’s one caveat! Sometimes, it’s okay to ignore your body, because sometimes it’s a nag…like if it’s craving convenience store cheese puffs. Ef it.

Brought to you by hella-hokey yours truly,

Abs