What We Spent and What We Ate: the purse incident

It’s probably not the best idea to talk about barf in a food blog, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  Here’s what happened: Pat and I took separate cars to the farmers’ market last Saturday.  He was going fishing with the two older boys and I was taking Walter on errands.  In the parking lot, Wally tells me he feels sick.  So when I was getting him out of his car seat and he started coughing, I was sort of mentally prepared for the worst.  My my reflexes are slow, however, and I only had time to back away.  Most of it landed in his lap and in my purse, which I had dropped on the floor in panic.  When Pat pulled up, Walter and I were next to the mini van, Walter naked, standing very still with arms spread out in jumping jack pose and I, with purse in hand, very near hysteria.  Obviously, we had to abandon the shopping, so I had to do without good produce for a few days.  And now I have to look for a new purse.

The best thing about this time of year is the farmers’ markets are bustling again.  McLendon’s was back at the Town and Country farmers’ market Wednesday.  Pat went and said he felt guilty about not going to Pinnacle Farms first.  I really do like owner Janna Anderson a lot–she sustained us through this long awful summer and I always get great stuff from her.  But Tuscan kale and purple kholrabi!  The glamour of McLendon’s is hard to resist.   The first thing Pat saw, however, was his mother standing among a gaggle of foodies, intently looking up at Chef Payton Curry, who was standing in his usual spot behind the cups of fresh herbs.  This is hilarious for two reasons.  First, Pat can’t stand the guy.  Not because of his cooking (he’s one of the best in town), but because he’s always surrounded by adoring women. Second, while Pat  fully expects me to stop and fawn over a guy holding fava beans, he’s always maintained the illusion that his mother is better than that.  Apparently, that’s not so.

Payton Curry knows what every vegetable likes.  He picks up a handful of weird beans and says, “These like to be blanched and then grilled” or “These like to be pounded lightly using a mortar and pestle.”  (I just totally made that up).  His sales approach doesn’t appear to make men want to buy more vegetables, but the ladies sure are linin’ up.  Against my better judgment, I do find  his long curly hair strangely attractive,  but it’s his culinary advice that makes me swoon.  I heard good things about his new Brat Haus, so I asked Pat about it.  I guess Pat’s known about it for months, but never mentioned it.  I was stunned.  Pat not going to a bratwurst place the week it opens would be like me passing up free shoes at Nordstrom.  I asked why we hadn’t gone–I’m sure Curry can make a mean bratwurst—and he just snapped, “That guy is an expert on whatever he happens to be standing next to.  You know what he’s an expert at?  Cultivating those ridiculous ringlets–that’s what.”

I decided to leave that one alone.  Pat will come around eventually.  In the meantime, there is plenty of good food to be had in Phoenix this time of year.


Saturday: The big boys went fishing–Walt and I had salad with pine nuts, avocados and tomatoes.


Sunday: hot Italian sausage, purple cole slaw and kale chips

Purple Cole Slaw from the blog Torview

This coleslaw is the easiest thing ever.  You just pour boiling water over shredded purple cabbage, cover and let sit for a couple minutes.  Rinse in cold water and mix in mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, a little brown sugar, some chile powder, salt and pepper.


Monday: orange chicken

This is pretty easy too.  Since it’s done in a crockpot, you can make it in the morning or right when you get home in the evening.  Dredge deboned bite size pieces of chicken (thigh meat is good) in flour and fry in olive oil until browned.  The meat doesn’t need to be all the way cooked.  Saute some onion and garlic, add chopped celery carrots and orange pepper and cook for a couple minutes.  Add a can of mandarin oranges with juice, a cup of orange juice, a jar of orange marmalade and a little chicken stock if you need to.  Add a couple tablespoons of ponzu sauce and rice wine vinegar, adjust to taste.  Then add the meat and vegetables and cook for 2-4 hours.  You can add some chopped basil for the last 1/2 hour of cooking if you want.  Serve over rice.


Tuesday: curry

Sunny Citrus Curry

I had yellow tomatoes, yellow bell pepper and yellow squash.  Great.  But with my uncanny ability to turn adversity into food, I rounded up some sketchy looking greens and herbs from the back of the fridge, grabbed some coconut milk and green curry paste and set to work.  The result was one of the best curries I’ve ever made—bright and crisp, but substantial.  Take note of the tofu, my friends—I nailed it.


1 container extra firm tofu, cubed

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 yellow heirloom tomatoes

1 yellow bell pepper

1 large yellow crookneck squash

1 can Aroyo D coconut milk

3 tablespoons green curry paste

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon ponzu sauce

zest of one lime

2 cups coarsely chopped baby greens (mustard greens, beet greens, chard)

¼ cup torn lemon basil leaves and cilantro

salt and pepper

lime wedges for serving


1.  Put tofu in a bowl and pour boiling water over it.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain tofu and set on paper towels for 15 minutes (change the paper towels if you have time).  Then put tofu in a bowl until you’re ready to use it.

2.  Blanche tomatoes, peel and chop (remember only keep them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so—they’ll get mushy if they’re in there too long.

3.  Chop vegetables.

4.  In an extra large pan, over medium high heat, fry tofu in about 3 tablespoon of coconut oil or butter.  You’ll need to move them around constantly at first—they’ll stick.

5.  Turn tofu regularly.  When tofu is golden brown (about 10 minutes) remove from the pan and set aside.

6.  Sauté garlic and shallots for a couple of minutes—you may need to add more oil to the pan.

7.  Add 3 tablespoons green curry paste and about ¼ cup of the coconut milk.  Stir until blended.

8.  Add vegetables and sauté for a minute or two.  Then add the remaining coconut milk, ginger and lime zest, bring to a boil. and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

9.  Add a tablespoon of ponzu sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

10.  Reduce heat, stir in greens and sauté until greens are wilted—1-2 minutes.

11.  Stir in basil and cilantro.

12.  Serve on a bed of jasmine rice and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro (and beer).


Wednesday: leftovers on debate night–which, it turns out, was an appropriately boring dinner for a performance by our Commander in Chief.


Thursday: roasted beet lasagna adapted from a New York Times recipe

I fell in love with this recipe when it appeared in the Times last May.  Beets are hard to find in the summer here–but they’re turning up now.  This lasagna was everything I’d imagined.  I used orange beets on the bottom layer and red on the top layer.  It was soooo pretty.  My pictures don’t do it justice as they were taken of the leftovers the next morning.

Roasted Beet Lasagna


6 medium-large beets (3 each red and orange)

4 tablespoons Irish Gold butter

5 tablespoons minced shallot

3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour

3 cups whole grass fed milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, like basil, tarragon and chives

1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles

4 ounces (1 cup) freshly grated Parmesan–I used a little more


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish or lidded ovenproof casserole. Add 1/4 inch water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast 40 to 45 minutes, until the beets are easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Make a rue by melting the butter, stirring, and just before it starts to turn brown, add the flour and whisk.   Add the shallot or onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 or 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, but not browned.  Whisk in the milk a cup at a time and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the minced shallots.  Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped herbs and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a rectangular baking dish. Spread a spoonful of béchamel over the bottom. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon a thin layer of the béchamel over the noodles. Top with a layer of beets and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of lasagna noodles topped with béchamel and Parmesan. Make sure the noodles are well coated with béchamel so they will be sure to soften during baking.

4. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake 35 minutes or so, until the noodles are tender and the mixture is bubbling. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until the top begins to brown. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

I had tarragon and basil to sprinkle on top, but I forgot them.  It was good without, too.


Friday:  Vietnamese spring rolls

Isaac was at his uncle’s house–so this was a good opportunity to have shrimp.  We made spring rolls, which are fun to assemble with kids.  You can make them ahead and put them in the fridge, but it’s more fun putting them together and rolling them up at the dinner table.  They’ll make a mess, but it’s only herbs, noodles and shrimp, so it’s easy to clean up.  It’s good family food, too, because everyone can choose the fillings and dipping sauces they like best.

We julienned carrots, daikon radish, chilies, and green papaya.  Then we washed and trimmed cilantro and several kinds of mint and basil from Le Le Market. (where we also got cute little enokitake mushrooms).  Pat steamed the shrimp in the rice cooker (which was cooking, for the second time this week, sushi rice with a little olive oil and salt).  I put out some ponzu sauce, siracha and sweet and sour chili dipping sauce.  I also threw together a spicy cole-slaw with green papaya.  Right before we sat down, we threw some cellophane noodles in some boiling water for a minute.  It was quite a spread.

To prepare the wrappers, you just put a pie plate of very hot water on the table and dip the discs of rice “paper” in the water.  When they soften up, you carefully remove them to your plate and then fill them like a burrito.  It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but the ugly ones are delicious too.

Little Walter was not impressed with our culinary adventures and tried repeatedly to ruin the fun, but we mostly succeeded in ignoring him.  He wanted a banana.  We told him no and he just looked at us inquisitively.  He cleared his plate and then came back and asked again.  Again we said no.  He got a towel and wiped off the table and then asked again, looking up at us with a last little glimmer of hope in his eyes.  At this point we were cracking up.  He didn’t see the humor in it and spent several minutes sulking (which makes us laugh, too).  Poor thing went to bed with nothing but a little rice and a glass of milk in his tummy.  I can see we have another picky eater coming through the ranks–but this time, it doesn’t even phase me.

This week we spent $202. 58 ($35 of which we spent at the farmers’ market).  Because of the purse incident, we had to do much of our shopping at Sprout’s and Safeway.  We went to Le Le’s though–and that makes up for a lot.



3 Comments on “What We Spent and What We Ate: the purse incident”

  1. df says:

    You are the only person I know who has had someone barf in her purse; I lead a very sheltered life I think! Spring roll night sounded amazing; I’d have eaten Walter’s portion, no problem!

  2. I can relate to the purse incident. I once carried my daughter while pushing her stroller, both covered in vomit, a long, long way to the exit of the zoo. your meals always sound so good!

  3. It was divine retribution for things I did as a teenager.

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