Three Titans of Taste

As we thaw out from the winter, there are some vegetables that come into season in April and May, that thrive in our delightful and cool Colorado climate. Among those vegetables are three titans of taste; spinach, radishes and asparagus. All three are vitamin and nutrient rich helping to boost healthy lifestyle and overall wellness. Spinach alone is always in the top 10 superfood listings.

Spinach is considered a superfood for many reasons. It has antioxidant and anticancer properties, is rich in protein and vitamins including vitamins A, C and E. Spinach is a great source of vitamin K that plays a critical role in protecting your heart, bone health, and helps your blood to clot properly. Spinach is also one of the best sources of dietary magnesium which is necessary for energy metabolism, maintaining muscle and nerve function, regular heart rhythm, a healthy immune system and maintaining an optimum blood pressure. Many of you may know these health facts already, but did you know some of these odd facts about spinach (courtesy of Wikipedia)? Spinach is a native plant of Persia (modern day Iran), it was most probably brought to Europe in the 12th century and to the U.S. in 1806. In the 1930’s, U.S. growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

Radishes, while not the most popular vegetable on the veggie tray, are not only packed with nutrients, but can add beautiful color to dishes like salad and stir fry. Radishes are a good source of vitamin C. A half cup serving offers about 14% of your recommended daily intake. According to Linus Pauling Institute (focused on vitamins and other essential micronutrients and their role in enhancing health and preventing disease), cruciferous vegetables, like radishes, help purge the body of cancer-causing substances and prevent tumor development. [Read more…]

When to Pick Spaghetti Squash…and More!










We’d love to share this informative article about spaghetti squash from local blogger Lisa Williams, founder of Happy Happy Vegan, a blog focused on demystifying the Vegan lifestyle and providing helpful information and recipes to beginning and well-seasoned Vegans alike!

We know many of you have gardens starting to teem with spaghetti squash, or are finding them in the farmer’s market or local grocery store. But let’s face it, sometimes it can be a little bit confusing knowing how to clean, cut, cook and store this vegetable. That is why we are thankful for Williams’ informative post answering all of your questions about spaghetti squash. We hope you enjoy!…

When to Pick a Spaghetti Squash, and How to Ripen and Store Your Gourd!

by Lisa Williams

So, you’ve grown your first crop and things are looking good. However, knowing when to pick spaghetti squash is almost as important as

Article generously shared by Lisa Williams

Founder of Happy Happy Vegan

Fort Collins, Colorado

Follow on Facebook @happyhappyvegan



MM Local: Preserving Summer Sunshine

As all of that gorgeous summer produce is coming into season, we foodies can have a lot on our minds. Hypnotized at our farmer’s markets by bright offerings that grow steadily larger and more flavorful with each passing week, many of us can’t wait to get home and whip them into something delicious. Those long winter months seem a distant memory but there is always the idea of that rather daunting task, canning and preserving summer harvests, lurking somewhere in the depths of our brains. The idea can be stressful, even for the experienced canner, as summer produce can arrive in all its full-fledged glory and be gone in a flash.

Luckily for those of us in Northern Colorado (and across the state) some lovely fellows from Boulder have taken out the guesswork.  In September of 2009, Jim Mills and Ben Mustin launched MM Local, with the vision to fearlessly provide customers with fabulous, local fruits and veggies year-round through preserving.  They partner primarily with small, organic growers across the Front Range and Western Slope to get produce at the peak of its season and then keep their products pure, simple and scrumptious. [Read more…]

Tara Parr and Lauren Dittmann of Raindrop Retreat

Fresh From the First Farmer’s Market

Last Saturday was my first visit of the season to the Larimer County Farmer’s Market at 200 W. Oak.  Excited to kick off the summer season with some delicious dishes, I headed straight to Tara Parr’s booth, Raindrop Retreat.  She always has something tasty to share and is a delight to visit with.  Lauren Dittman is also working in collaboration with Tara this season.  They helped me choose some mustard greens and  a small collection of delectable strawberries.  I’ve never cooked with mustard greens and I wanted to do something more than just saute them.  Returning to my trusted copy of The Joy of Cooking, I found this delicious recipe.

[Read more…]

The Cook is Back- Coffee making a difference and creative cooking!

     Welcome back to the blog. Summer is now officially moving back to the southern hemisphere. The Cook’s travels have come to a temporary end, but what great travels they have been. The Cook’s never ending search for the best foods of the world has substantiated the Cook’s belief that the best foods come from products which are grown local to the region.

     Case in recent point, while the Cook was traveling in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the Cook found wild blackberries growing everywhere. After picking and consuming many kilograms of these huge blackberries, it became evident that these fresh berries tasted nothing like the varieties available in the supermarkets. They were soft, sweet, aromatic, and extremely flavourful. The same can be said of the local salmon. Wild salmon fresh off of the boats, is a whole taste experience different than the store bought steaks and fillets. It is amazing what an extra day or two of processing and shipping does to food tastes and textures.

     Bottom line: eat in season, eat fresh, eat local, and eat sustainable.

     The Cook was introduced to a coffee that is grown in Laos (Southeast Asia) and is marketed in the local Fort Collins, Colorado, USA area by The Coffee Registry. Laos has been a region embroiled in war for decades. The majority of the population lives in poverty. Bolaven Farms formed a cooperative that helped local residents become farmers; an undertaking aimed at providing jobs, not aid. The resulting coffee beans are organic and akin to many of the Sumatran and Indonesian beans, produce a coffee that has lower acidity, is very distinctive in flavor, fruity, yet full-bodied. This has become the Cook’s favored coffee. Not only is the coffee great, but by supporting this project, the consumers provide jobs to these people; provide them with a sense of worth and dignity. We all want that do we not? (

     A new coffee…my oh my, the Cook never imagined that there would be a deviation from the Italian coffee roots, but never say never. Open the palate to all possibilities!

     The Cook has been asked this question numerous times: “How do I become artistic and inventive in the kitchen?. This is a great question, as we all become patterned or habitual in the ways and menus that we cook. Some people are gifted with creative spirits and some are not. The Cook was not one of those gifted with creativity even though the Cook comes from a family of very talented artists and performers. The Cook had to learn and practice.

     The Cook’s answer is two-fold. Most importantly: learn the basics of cooking with all of the products that you and your family enjoy eating. It may be a bit boring but hang with it. Learn what foods and spices work together. A great book to use for a reference is: Culinary Artistry by Dornenburg and Page, published by Wiley&Sons. Develop a “taste palette” and experiment with your newly acquired basic skills. Once you are comfortable with your favorite menus and no longer need the recipe cards, practice with increasing the artistic look or presentation. Keep it simple! Look at the pictures in the food magazines and try to duplicate them. This will lead to your own ideas. If you are a creative person, then have a go. Who was it that said: “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”? (Bob Ross-artist)

     Open the palate to all possibilities! Once you have a good working knowledge of the basics, you can now experiment with foods not so familiar to you. When you have a success, add that to your basic menu set and try with another food product. Do not be timid. Experiment by tweeking seasonings and garnishes or cooking methods to your basics. Practice makes perfect!


Well – the Cook is out of space so thanks for re-joining the Cook. Next time we’ll get into a few things that the Cook learned. See you then.


The Cupboard Cook