Thursday, October 8, 2009

All Work and No Play?

Hey guys.

Life seems to be running on fast forward these days. What with restaurants and writing and schmoozing and new-job hunting, this blog is the last thing I think of on my long list of to-dos. I know that I’m lucky to have all of these great opportunities right now, and I am working hard to take advantage of my many activities. But I miss this blog.

I want to be able to continue to post as regularly as possible, but I don’t want to have to compromise its integrity by throwing up videos and links to other stories when I don’t have time to write them myself. So I can no longer promise regularity right now.


I have been meeting some really really awesome people and attending some really really awesome events in the past month or so while working at the Willamette Week. And, lucky for you, I don’t have the space/expertise/bargaining power/what have you to get to publish all of my experience. So here’s what I’m going to do–all these missed opportunities for the Willy Week will become stories here. I want to be able to tell the rest of Tressa Yellig’s story, I want to bitch about the food quality at the Indulge event, I want to share with you Chris Kimball’s dirty little secrets (hopefully he has some, and hopefully I’ll find out about them next week!). So I will.

So stay tuned for Secrets of an Arts and Culture Intern … beginning very soon.

Today, however, I want to talk about my CSA. Well, my soon-to-be-former CSA.

I was totally pumped about joining a farm share program and signed up with Hood River Organics as soon as I moved back into my house. The first couple of weeks were pretty sweet–so much local, organic, fresh (great buzzwords, all) produce delivered once a week, straight to my front door. But I have quickly realized that this is going to be a long mushroom season and that I can only do so many things with the gigantic purple radishes that keep showing up. I like to eat a huge variety of foods, and it simply isn’t cost effective for me, as a single buyer, to order what amounts to bulk quantities of a few types of vegetables. So I’ve cancelled my subscription and after this week, will return to New Seasons for my weekly grocery run.

The one great thing about CSA monotony, however, was that it forced me to be more creative in the kitchen. I made mushroom tarts, kale quiches, and a totally insane beet and coconut chocolate cake. My most successful venture, which I share with you below, has been radish bread. Going through the fridge, I found six or seven baseball-sized radishes on the verge of mushy. Not wanting to waste, but oh so tired of radish salads and sandwiches, I thought that they might work as a substitute for carrot or zucchini in a quick bread. I looked up my favorite carrot cake recipe, changed it around a bit (reduced the sugar and fat, making it more bread and less cake), and threw in grated, drained radish. The consistency seemed right and the bread smelled awesome in the oven (albeit strangely like bacon-banana bread).

The verdict–a slightly tangier version of zucchini bread–was totally delicious and surprising. (Apparently radishes turn from purple to green in the oven. Any food scientist (Sally) out there know why?) I imagine any unfortunate root vegetable hanging out in your crisper (turnips, parsnips, celery root) would work similarly. So much more exciting than salad.

Radish Bread
(Very loosely adapted from Slow Like Honey)

The original recipe calls for cream cheese frosting, but I found that this doesn’t need it. It’s moist and sweet enough on it’s own. But should your sweet tooth call for extra decadence, mix a softened block of cream cheese with a softened stick of butter, a couple of cups of powdered sugar and some lemon juice and call it done.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups grated, salted, and drained radishes (I do this in a food processor, toss them with a generous pinch of kosher salt, and let them drain, under the weight of several bowls in a colander, for about 30 minutes)
½-1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup raisins
scant ¾ cup sugar
scant ½ cup canola oil
½ cup pear or applesauce
1 tablespoon molasses
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a bread pan.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, stir together the radishes, walnuts, coconut and raisins. In a third bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the pear/applesauce and molasses until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Make sure to mix only until the dry ingredients are combined–don’t overwork the gluten in the flours! Fold in the radish mixture, making sure that all of the components are well distributed.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 50 minutes. I put foil over the top about halfway through because the top had already reached a great color of brown. Insert a toothpick in the center to make sure it’s cooked through–you want it to come out clean, but just barely. Dry bread is no one’s friend.

Let it cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, and then carefully remove the cake and cool to room temperature (ha!) before eating.


  1. The purple most likely disappeared because heating the anthocyanins (the phenolic compound responsible for the purple of the radish) destroyed them. What you had left were more heat-stable compounds (such as chlorophyll a, b--although this would seem unlikely in a root vegetable such as a radish) which retained their ability to color the food product. Just a guess.

  2. That's a good thought. I was remembering that one time I roasted purple radishes and they turned white. Maybe the skin reacted with something else in the batter to make them turn green.