Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad

Potato salad - the cool, soft, mayonnaise laden concoction served alongside all number of summer favorites like hot dogs, not dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken. If you're like me you've got a favorite recipe (Mom's), but like to try all those new and interesting potato salads in vogue these days (like Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans). It had been so cool here that I'd been figuring potato salad season was over. I was contemplating soups. And then, on Friday, when I was going to make a Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew, it was ninety degrees. Despair, dismay, I love stew, the sweet potatoes were getting wrinkly, I don't have air conditioning so I can't fake fall, I can't stand my apartment any hotter than it already is or a warm-your-insides meal...

But then - flash! Potato salad. Oh sweet deliciousness! Perfection. I boiled my sweet potatoes, but them in the fridge and started contemplating recipes. It would be a bit different from potato salad with white potatoes of course, but I wasn't feeling the sweet versions with apple slices and nuts. I wanted something more akin to Mom's potato salad, but without the pickles. Something about the combination of sweet potato and pickle just didn't sit right with me.  Ultimately, I ended up with a simple but delicious recipe:


3 medium sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cubed
3 T candy onion, minced
1 small green bell pepper, minced
2 T mayonnaise
Dash of salt

Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Peel before or after boiling as you prefer. Chill potatoes in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When the potatoes are cool, add all the other ingredients and stir. Usually, I'm a big fan of rough chopping and calling a dish rustica, but when it comes to potato salad it's best to take the time to chop your veggies small for even flavor. Recipe serves 3.

While it's not the prettiest dish, (the final product looked a little like baby food and I couldn't get a good photo if it) it is delicious. I served it with some fish I picked up at Trader Joe's, but it would pair well with anything that usually keeps your potato salad company on the plate.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CrockPot Bartlett Pear Butter

Pear Butter on toast

Inspired by the recipe for CrockPot Apple Butter at my favorite slow cooking blog ( and the three pounds of Bartlett Pears in my fridge, I decided to make pear butter. I like apple butter, but I like fresh apples and apple crisp so much that I'll eat through them long before I even consider making a batch. But pears just aren't my thing, unless they're sugared and cooked, and with three pounds on hand I could only justify using one pound for baking (I made pear turnovers).

The pear butter, however, is sweetened with the natural sweetness of the pears and a little clover honey. It's totally guilt-free and delicious.  It makes a good substitute for processed, sugar-filled jellies. This recipe makes about 2 cups of pear butter.


2 pounds of Bartlett pears (about 7), peeled, cored, and quartered
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 cup pure clover honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
 1/2 tsp. ginger (or a little less)

Place prepared pears in CrockPot with the vanilla. Cook on low for four hours. Mash pears with honey and spices. (I think I might've used a little too much ginger, the butter is good when cold, but when I tried it warm the ginger was overwhelming, so alter the amount to suit your tastes.) Cook on low for an additional two hours.

You can easily modify this recipe to match your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. If you've got both apples and pears, use a mixture for apple-pear butter. Don't like ginger? Leave it out. Sick of how everything in the fall tastes like cinnamon? Replace it with some other good baking spices like nutmeg or allspice.

Serving suggestions:
Pear butter on toast
Peanut butter and pear butter sandwiches (my favorite lunch this week).
Stir into oatmeal
Topping for pancakes or waffles
Topping for ice cream

And the best part? The recipe made my apartment smell like cinnamon while it cooked.

Happy Autumn!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Green Eggs

As the weather in Pittsburgh turns cool, onions are a large component of my CSA boxes and greens are once again making there way into my weekly share of edibles. Many of the greens (like turnip and beet) are better sauteed or stewed than served in a salad. While green eggs and ham aren't really my style, I do love green eggs in a different sense: farm fresh, local eggs, scrambled with greens.

Green eggs with a side of green zebra tomato


2 eggs
1/2 small candy onion
handful turnip greens
fresh dill
1/2 T milk (optional)

All these ingredients were in my CSA box except the milk. I love getting eggs in my CSA box because I know I don't have to worry about the salmonella egg recall.  Plus, they're more delicious and better for the chickens, the Earth, and my health. The eggs come from Nu Way Farm in Fredonia, PA - about 75 miles from my kitchen.

The milk was a happy discovery last night. After class I went to the nearby convenience store to pick-up some milk. The only available brand was Turner's. I picked it up and took it home, thinking I'd never heard of the brand before and nothing else. But when I looked at the label this morning, the address was Penn Hills, PA. Just 8 miles from here. With a few minutes research I found out that Turner Dairy Farms has a deal with small dairy farmers within 70 miles of their Penn Hills processing site and all Turner's milk products come from those farmers (all of whom produce rBGH/rBST free milk).

As for the other ingredients, the turnip greens are a little spicy (like arugula) and complement the sweet flavor of the candy onion well. The dill just adds another layer of grooviness.


Heat a tablespoon or less of olive oil in a skillet. Saute chopped candy onion for about a minute. Add chopped and washed turnip greens and cook until wilted. While they're cooking, whisk eggs, milk, and dill. Add to skillet and cook until eggs are ready. Serve with a side of sliced tomato.

You can make this dish as an omelet or scrambled eggs depending on your desire and omelet-making skill level.