joy of nesting

joy of nesting
California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

Foodie Fetishes California Style

  I have food fetishes.  There, I said it.  I have been known to be difficult if a menu doesn't have sufficient produce type dishes. I'm not a vegetarian, I'm a Californian. Need I say more? Californians are the worst kind of food snobs.  


While traveling last fall with my good friend cum design client Charlene, she saw the Food Beast come out at least once. We had just arrived after about 10 hours travel time to Cape Cod. I'd had nothing substantial to eat and was getting panicky. She took me to her favorite little breakfast place.



If you travel quite a bit and you have food fetishes you can size up a restaurant within 60 seconds of walking in the door.  My antenna sent signals of calories and carbohydrates. The sweet and patient waiter told me in his Boston accent that because it was late in the season there wasn't a single melon or berry in the kitchen. How is November "late in the season"? I don't get this. November is melon season, how can you not have cantaloupe in November? Ugh! There it is...that Californian sense of produce privilege.



On this particular morning my menu acumen wasn't working. I ordered oatmeal feeling it was the safest alternative.  Wrong.  This batch had been sitting on the stove for a few hours and was a glutenous blob. I sent it back and ordered eggs. This time I was successful. With my hissy fit behind us, Charlene took me to the grocery store where to my supreme delight, we found produce.  The week on Cape Cod was saved...I could go back to being mannerly.


Sometime ago I started training my taste buds to enjoy fruits, vegetables, and salads. Colorful foods are high in nutrition and antioxidants. Among the best are broccoli, red bell peppers, asparagus, beets, vine ripened tomatoes, cucumber, leafy greens like spinach and arugula, oranges, mango, berries, and cantaloupe.  Combining sweet and savory ingredients in salad is a current favorite with fantastic taste. My friend Olivette declared me the salad queen and I wear my title proudly.


Local farmers' markets, probably thanks to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, have gained a lot of popularity. Thankfully we are getting back to basics...this from someone who's never grown a tomato! Me that is. Alice has been bringing to us the philosophy of using seasonal, locally grown produce for over twenty years.  She has also been a terrific advocate for the organic movement. I love that her dishes are so simple using the best, freshest ingredients and allowing the produce to take center stage rather than using fancy preparations. My menus today are...

 

watermelon, raspberry, banana smoothie with soy protein powder
and a whole grain Ezekiel English muffin with butter.  

Broiled chicken breast and a salad of red beets, Pt. Reyes blue cheese,
fresh figs, and toasted walnuts with balsamic and olive oil.

 Aidell's chicken portobello mushroom sausages and a large artichoke.

celery and sunflower seeds.
(I am low on fruit so the smoothie and figs will have to do.)

No dessert today. I did a homemade fresh strawberry tart with creme patisserie on Sunday, had two pieces and sent the rest home with David. He can afford the calories. I can't. And my triglyceride count can't afford it either...405?  Really?



Sunday night David and I grilled the wild halibut I had splurged on at Whole Foods. For those few of you who haven't shopped at Whole Foods, it's also known as Whole Paycheck. We grilled white corn on the cob and I made the previously mentioned tart and a wonderful, perfectly delicious salsa of peaches, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, avocado, and tomatoes. I've put peach salsas with fish before and it is so satisfying. There it is, that sweet and savory thing again.


To pass my Foodie Fetish test a food must look good, taste extremely good, be relatively easy to prepare, and be extremely good for you. I haven't read the Mediterranean Diet but I know it consists of fish, nuts, beans, and colorful fruits and vegetables. I like to imagine myself on the Greek or Italian coasts in summer, eating a Greek salad outdoors, lingering late into the night over a glass of cold white wine.  My renditions of Mediterranean food include my roasted red bell pepper soup which is in the archives of this blog; a lovely shrimp cocktail with fat shrimp, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, cucumber, and avocado served in an over sized wine goblet;  



and a favorite dish Jim would make us, a fresh pasta sauce of vine ripened tomatoes with garlic and olive oil.  You quickly blanch the tomatoes with boiling water and remove the skins and seeds, drain, and heat gently with the olive oil and garlic. You can add a little fresh basil to this. The sauce is also fantastic over polenta.   Dishes like I have mentioned today take prep time but not a lot of technique. The ingredients can be expensive but if you use seasonal produce you can shave costs. Trader Joe's has wild salmon in the frozen section for $8 a pound. Also, shopping at farmers' markets removes the middle man and allows more savings. Don't over buy. Produce, particularly in the summer, goes bad quickly. Plan to buy produce once or twice a week.




My shopping list...

Wild salmon
organic free range chicken
Diestel free range turkey, ground
shrimp in moderation

fish I want to buy more often...
sea bass
halibut

blueberries
mango
cucumber
cantaloupe
asparagus
broccoli
raw spinach
arugula
romaine
butter leaf 
strawberries
raspberries
watermelon
red onions
beets, in moderation
tomatoes
sweet potatoes, in moderation
figs
papaya
bananas, in moderation
red bell peppers
oranges
green beans
celery
carrot juice, I don't love raw carrots

sunflower seeds
toasted walnuts
toasted pecans
raw almonds
peanuts, in moderation

black beans
garbanzo beans...love hummus!
pinto beans
red beans

polenta
brown rice, in moderation
whole wheat pasta, in moderation
whole grain breads

feta
chevre
pecorino

olive oil
variety of vinegars
lemon juice
lime juice
cilantro
basil
thyme
mint
calamata olives

Mix ingredients well. With love and good intention, Shiree'. 

Photography taken from  http://www.saveur.com/


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