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Another Helping of Green Bean Deliciousness

My green beans are at their peak in the garden right now, so I’m making the most of them! This delicious recipe combines the snap of fresh beans with the richness of shi’itake mushrooms and the heat of Asian spices.

Like any stir-fry, the key to good results is prepping everything ahead of time so you can toss ingredients into the hot pan and cook them quickly for maximum flavor.

Spicy Asian Green Beans

Spicy Asian Green Beans

Green Bean Goodness

I harvested the first of my green beans this week, so it seemed like a good opportunity to find a yummy new way to eat them. This salad uses the beans, plus some fresh fennel, early Gravenstein apples, and sweet walla walla onion from the farmers’ market, all wrapped up with a tangy mustard dressing and crowned with hard-boiled egg. Thanks to Uniquely Yours chef Alex Begovich for the concept, which I have of course tweaked liberally!

Green Bean & Fennel Salad

More Mad River Merriment!

Well, Mary Jane has sold her final pound of Humboldt’s finest and danced off the stage of the Emerald Ball for the last time – at least until the movie comes out next year. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it – as I have of the other Mad River Festival shows thus far.

Mad Lab was everything I’d hoped for, and more. Zuzka Sabata’s The Saga of Spantsa was an eye opener, and not even close to what I was expecting, which made it even more fun – a fascinating insight into a little-told herstory, all from a book Zuzka bought for her mom. And Pratik Motwani’s Goloconda, performed with James Peck and Sarah Peters, is well on the way to becoming a classic Dell’Arte-esque piece in the spirit of The Three Trees (which I could watch a hundred times without tiring of it). Monkey was sheer delight, turning cultural exchange on its head for a rapturous full house of all ages, and I have high hopes for Pansy tonight (Wednesday).

submarine show

Celebrating 25 Years of the Mad River Festival!

2015 marks the 25th year of the amazing Mad River Festival (MRF), and yes, there is a lot more to the MRF than Mary Jane (although this season, MJ has been in exceptionally good form, and if you haven’t seen her yet this year, you have three more performances to choose from). After that, she’ll be gone in a puff of smoke – until the movie comes out next year!

Tickets for all the Mad River Festival shows are available from Dell’Arte’s box office at 707-668-5663 or at www.dellarte.com. I’ll be volunteering at most of the shows, so I hope to see you there!

Mad Lab

Welcome to Muffin Mondays :-)

Early in 2011, I was in the final round of interviewing for my now-job as Technical Writer in the Information Technology Services department at Humboldt State. In a moment of insanity, I promised that “if you hire me, I will make muffins.” And thus was a new tradition born.

Muffins

Every Monday (or Tuesday when the Monday’s a holiday), I bake a dozen muffins and bring them into the office. And every week, there’s a guessing game as to what the flavor of the week is. I have been known to come up with some interesting (some may say esoteric) combinations over the years, drawing inspiration as I frequently do from what looks good in the garden. The last few weeks have produced a couple of first-time favorites – strawberry-tree berries and fuchsia berries – that are both producing plentifully in the garden right now, as well as the ever-popular raspberries that are just starting to be ready.

berries

Strawberry-tree berries are packed with vitamin C, but they don’t have a lot of flavor of their own, so I like to bump them up a notch with some nutmeg or cardamom. Raspberries play nicely with lemon or ginger. Fuchsia berries are deliciously sweet and pair nicely with roasted hazelnuts (as, incidentally, do elderberries). They’re growing right outside my back door, so I’m forever popping a handful in my mouth. Incidentally, they also produce a really blue juice – unlike the purple you might expect from a berry that looks like this:

fuchsia berries

I’ve reproduced my go-to muffin mix recipe below – this amount will make several batches of muffins (depending on the size of your muffins and the volume of additional ingredients you add) and keeps well in the fridge. I’ve also included a sample recipe for 12 standard-size muffins. To create your own muffins, just add fruit, nuts, spices, honey – whatever you fancy! Experimenting with different flavor combinations is a lot of fun, so why not create your own Muffin Monday tradition?

BTW, I‘ll never know whether the muffin offer was the tie-breaker that got me the job, but now even President Lisa Rossbacher has been inducted into the Muffin Monday fan clubJ

Muffin Mix

  • 5 cups whole-wheat flour (I use Beck’s local flour – available at the farmers’ market or the Co-op)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 2T baking powder
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1.5t salt

Mix everything together in a big bowl and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Fuchsia Berry & Hazelnut Muffins

Makes 12 standard-size muffins

  • 2 large eggs (I use duck eggs)
  • ¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • ½ cup safflower or other high-quality, high-temperature oil plus 1t for oiling the muffin tin
  • 1 vanilla pod (you can substitute 1t vanilla essence but I think the seeds add an extra punch)
  • 3 cups muffin mix (see above)
  • 1 cup fresh-picked fuchsia berries
  • 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, chopped
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly brush the muffin tin(s) with oil
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and mix in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla
  3. Fold in the muffin mix, berries, and hazelnuts with a fork until all the flour is incorporated
  4. Spoon the finished mix into the muffin tin(s) – about two tablespoons per cup
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the tin(s) and bake for another 7

Let the finished muffins rest for 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven, then gently run a knife around each to ensure it will come out clean. Place the individual muffins on a rack to cool.

They’ll stay pretty fresh in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

Delish!

 

I’d love to hear other flavor combinations people have made and enjoy – if you come up with something you really like, share it in the Comments below.

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