Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fava Fabulous


Many organic practices simply make sense, regardless of what overall agricultural system is used. Far from being a quaint throwback to an earlier time, organic agriculture is proving to be a serious contender in modern farming and a more environmentally sustainable system over the long term.
David Suzuki

Meet Brian. He is one of the organic farmer's at my local market. He wasn't there last week so I was happy to see him today. Included in his offerings were fava beans and red torpedo onions. Often he offers recipes to go with what he has brought in. Today it included a fava bean salad recipe.

I was at the market when it opened today as my area of Cali is going to hit the triple digits this weekend. More and more I am letting what is in season inspire what I will eat for the coming week. As I knew I didn't want even fire up the grill this weekend, I decided to look for items that would make an easy alfresco dining experience. Local farm cheeses, foccacio rolls, fresh roasted beef and baby arugula were piled into my basket along with a local olive oil, vinegar, cherries, apricots, strawberries and a raspberry mini bundt cake. Not to mention an almond croissant to take home for breakfast.

After I arrived home I made a pot of Teeccino, a wonderful coffee substitute to me that tastes amazingly like a coffee (due to a medical problem I cannot drink coffee for the time being) took a cup of it and sat out in the early morning sunshine on my brick patio (it feels somewhat Tuscan in nature) to shell the beans. It took me back to my childhood years of my Midwestern farm life. Back then I hated the labor of having to shell beans, but now I've come to appreciate the simple comfort of preparing food. The smells of the beans were fresh and hinted of a sweet grass. The birds were singing, a gentle breeze touched the trees which hang over the patio wall and Bella sat at my feet eagerly hoping for a taste.

The salad awaits in the refrigerator, I am taking it easy and catching up with the reading pile I have. I hope your weekend is a enjoyable one.

Brian's Fava Bean and Feta Salad

The delicate flavor of fresh favas in this simple salad is worth the extra time it takes to shell the beans. It takes about 3 or 4 pounds of beans to begin with, if you are buying the favas in their spongy pods. With the pods removed, it should yield 2 1/2 to 3 cups of beans.

2 1/2 to 3 cups of fresh fava beans, shelled and rinsed
1/3 cup of red torpido onion, sliced thin
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Italian style or oil & vinegar salad dressing

Blanch favas in 4 quarts of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes until tender and slight bitterness is removed. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Depending on our preference, you may go one step further and remove the soft outer shell by gently squeezing the beans to pop the tender, brighter green portions out, but the lighter green outside portion is perfectly edible. In a medium bowl, toss onion , feta and salad dressing. Add drained beans and toss. Add more dressing if needed. Chill before serving.

Serves 4.

Cat Power, "Where Is My Love?":

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Farmer's Market Faces

The Farmer's Market is the slowly turning Lazy Susan of the seasons.
Alice Waters via John Hollander
Early this morning new camera and lens in hand, I went to my local farmer's market that had just opened again last week. I was eager to see if the old faces were still there and if any new had been added. Most of my favorites had returned with a few new faces added. I have always loved farmer's markets and seek them out wherever I visit. However, now during this time of recession, I especially want to support the individual farmer. Fortunately other people are still supporting the farmer's market and it was packed.

The stands were full of strawberries, cherries, last fall's nut crop, asparagus, eggs, cheeses, oils, meats, bakers....Let's just say the 2 bags I brought with me were stuffed to the gills by the time I left. My favorite organic farmer's Charley and Ellie had brought black tuscan kale and told me how to steam for a minute, then saute it with garlic, a smidgen of butter and some olive oil. It turned out to be the perfect counterpoint to some chicken tamales I had picked up for dinner.

So find your local farmer's market, it will open up your senses and you will probably make some great friends.

John Mellencamp, "Rain On the Scarecrow":

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.
Sven Nykvist

I've not been around much because I've been learning and playing with light. As I said in my last post I want to take my photography to a new level. And light is the key. I've been out in the early morning mists, sitting in the late afternoon sun, staring at the midnight stars...Light is a match for human nature, just when you think you understand it, it changes again. 

The more I learn I realize the less I know, but I will keep coming back for the lessons.

Anne Lennox, "Shining Light":

Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...