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Locally Yours: Feeding family well shouldn't take all night

By: Carol Arnold, Special to the Journal
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I have been following a food columnist in the New York Times Magazine for over two years. Once a month I would read his sometimes sentimental, sometimes petulant tirades about his attempts to cook with and for his son. His last column made me want to tear my hair out, or at least rip up the magazine. He is quitting the project. It is too hard for him to cook for his son. He has to continue to open up e-mail after he gets home from work so cooking has to go. I could have told him his project was doomed to failure from day one. If you want to feed your family while they are still awake, you don’t undertake a four-hour recipe when you get home from work at 6 or 7. Do the math. Doesn’t matter whether your children are young or teen-aged or your spouse is kind enough to say they love to eat like the Italians — 9 p.m. is too late to feed the family. Figure it out. Starting a beef bourguignon recipe after you get home from work is just plain goofy. Julie did it in the movie “Julie and Julia,” but she had no children and all of her spare time was spent writing a food blog. Wonder what they ate after she was finished with the blog… If you want to cook for your family, if you think feeding yourself and people you love the best possible food is a high priority, shop wisely and plan on using farm-fresh fast food for the bulk of your meals. An apple, an orange, and a bowlful of salad greens take very little prep time. When combined with quickly stir-fried seasonal vegetables and a quick protein, this food will not only fill your bellies, but will be kind to your bodies. When I decide to make something more exotic, I only pick one dish to go all out on and keep the other elements of the meal simple. Saturday night I made a fancy birthday dinner. We had rack of lamb (broiled), smashed red potatoes, and cauliflower and broccoli soufflé. The lamb and potatoes came together with a few minutes of prep time. I was able to make a more complicated vegetable recipe because everything else was easy and I had time to fuss. The surprise came when the veggie soufflés were easy too; the only down side to this fabulous recipe is the number of dishes used in the prep. I love this recipe. Packed solid with fresh-from- the-farm steamed vegetables, and held together with egg and cream, these soufflés could easily become a main dish. Looking for farm-fresh fast food? Visit the Foothill Farmers’ Certified Markets on Saturday in Auburn and Rocklin, and Tuesday at the Fountains in Roseville. Carol Arnold is general manager of the Foothill Farmers Market Association. Reach her at foothillfarmersmarket@gmail.com. __________ Cauliflower and Broccoli Soufflé 6 cups cauliflower florets 4 ½ cups broccoli florets 2/3 cup heavy cream 3 large eggs Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper) On a steamer rack set over a large saucepan of boiling water steam the cauliflower, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very tender, transfer it to a bowl. Let cool. Steam broccoli the same way for 7 to 9 minutes or until very tender, transfer it to a bowl. Let cool. In another bowl whisk together the cream eggs, and salt and pepper. In a food processor puree the cauliflower with two-thirds of the cream mixture until smooth and transfer the mixture back to the bowl. Clean the processor bowl and puree the remaining cream mixture with the broccoli until smooth. Transfer the broccoli mixture back to the bowl. Divide the cauliflower mixture among eight buttered ¾-cup molds, smooth the tops, and divide the broccoli mixture over the cauliflower, smoothing the tops. Put the molds in a baking dish, add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the molds, and bake in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. To serve, run a thin knife around the inside of the molds; invert the soufflés onto a platter or onto individual plates. Serves 8. You can also use six one-cup molds; increase the baking time to 40 minutes. Note: I use a two cup measuring cup when working with the egg mixture. The measuring cup makes it easier to judge when you have used 2/3 cup of the mixture.