In the Wet

The weather has definitely turned a corner in Salem: cooler temperatures, overcast skies, and rain showers have been the norm for the past week or so. Usually we’d have another month or so of pleasantly sunny days, with the leaves in full autumn colors around my birthday in the second half of October, but at this rate, there won’t be any leaves left to turn by that time. Our local farmer’s market only stays open until the end of next month and then I’m mostly stuck with the grocery store, so I wasn’t going to miss out on one of my few remaining opportunities because of a little rain. Nolan stayed home with Daddy while I ventured out with my backpack and an over-sized umbrella.

Clockwise from lower left: Strawberries (from local everbearing plants; we had already eaten a bunch in the photo), orange and purple carrots, radishes and greens, more purple hull peas, treviso radicchio, kohlrabi and greens, heirloom torpedo onions, leeks, several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, green grapes (the first time I recall seeing these at the market!), and eggplant.

Let me just say that shopping at the farmer’s market is so much more difficult with an umbrella in one hand. I dawdled too long at the P&C booth, chatting with Carri about overwintering leeks, and suddenly the drizzle turned into a downpour. The rest of my trip was spent juggling the umbrella, attempting to make purchases one-handed and not drip on or smack people with it. Time to re-waterproof my hooded jacket, I think! Despite the handicap, I managed to lug home more veggies than would fit comfortably in my backpack alone—good thing I brought an extra market bag (or maybe not, considering how exhausted my hands were when I got back home!). So you can bet there will be some more great meals coming up!

With this glorious bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables sitting on my counter, which did I use for dinner on Saturday night? Um, just the radishes.

I ended up making a quick stir-fry with some ground pork and the last of a pile of green beans gifted to us by friends (which I blanched and froze about a month ago). The original recipe showcased just those two items, but I really did want to use some of my fresh produce, and I thought the radishes might work their way nicely into a stir-fry, considering the popularity of daikon in Asian cuisine. After carefully processing and bagging the greens to use somehow in the next few days, I sliced up a few of the ruby-red radishes along with garlic and ginger—mise en place is especially important with stir-fries since the cooking happens so quickly—and then nibbled on a slice while waiting for the rice cooker to go into its final count-down. Holy cow, those were some powerful radishes! The tiny bite I ate raw burned on my tongue almost like horseradish. Fortunately, the basket of strawberries was right on hand to help put out the fire. After that, I was a little nervous to try them in the finished stir-fry, but cooking worked wonders to tame most of their bite, and what remained was an excellent foil to the sweetness of the sauce. And if you care about appearances (not my forte in the kitchen, by any means!), the red-rimmed discs also provided a pleasing visual contrast against the long green beans and white rice.

Szechuan-ish Green Beans with Pork and Radish

2 C trimmed green beans
1 tsp thinly sliced fresh garlic, divided
1 tsp minced fresh ginger, divided
about 4 red radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 lb ground pork
1 tsp cornstarch
1 T neutral oil
2 T hoisin sauce
1 T sugar
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, and/or a pinch of crushed Szechuan peppercorns
1 T soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Combine the pork and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 C water to a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the green beans and half of the garlic and ginger, cover and cook for about 2 minutes, until the beans are bright. Use tongs or a spider to remove to a bowl and discard any remaining liquid. Add the pork mixture to the skillet with the oil, and cook 3 minutes or until pork loses its pink color, stirring to crumble. Return the green beans to the skillet, along with the radishes and remaining garlic and ginger; stir fry for a few minutes, until the radishes just start to look translucent.

Combine hoisin and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; taste and adjust seasonings. Add hoisin mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly coated and heated, stirring frequently. Serve over rice.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light.

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