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To the Market and Kitchen – Wish Me Luck

July 15, 2008

After publicly admitting my food sins, I knew that I couldn’t change my course alone (if I could, it would have changed about 20 years ago). To combat my “lonely chore” perception of cooking, I asked for company from my sister and nephew. And to address my “I don’t know what the heck to do in the kitchen” barrier, Michelle Ward of Seasonal Custom Cuisine quickly came to my rescue with some recipes and guidance (thanks for the tips on how to cut corn off a cob – that could have been ugly and dangerous left to my own devices).

Armed with a couple of totes shoved deep within the dark recesses of my cupboard, some cash, and a list, we headed off to the local farmer’s market (knowing that there’s a great, local grocery within a block should I hit a snag).

Fresh Corn & Basil Salad (serves 4-6)

  • 5 ears  corn – cook briefly in boiling water, just till starch is gone, about 3 min. cool & cut from cobs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped organic red onion  (already in the fridge from my Cal Poly CSA)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (again, in my fridge from the CSA)


  • 3 TBS cider vinegar
  • 8 TBS good quality olive oil (Michelle likes the Kishiyama’s Oleo Nuevo – He’s very cool BTW and supports our Earth Day Food and Wine Festival – my sis had some in her cupboard)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I actually had that on hand)

Whisk dressing, toss with corn, onion, basil. Best flavor served at room temperature.

Chicken, Grape & Walnut Salad with Tarragon

  • 1 bunch local red grapes, halved (bought at Nature’s Touch, a local grocery)
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped (not enough time to get into the morbid details here)
  • 1/4 cup organic walnuts, toast if desired (bought at the farmer’s market)
  • 1/4 cup organic celery, diced (same as above)
  • 1 shallot, minced (couldn’t find it…. all the farmers said they were hard to grow, so I used a red onion instead 🙂


  • 1/4 or so creme fraiche (Cowgirl creamery brand at Nature’s Touch is SO good – I didn’t know what this is – someone said it’s sort of like sour cream)
  • 2-3 TBS mayo (woo hoo – in the fridge!)
  • Fresh tarragon (or dried) salt & pepper to taste

Blend dressing ingredients, toss with chicken, grapes, walnuts, celery & shallots

Serve on spring mix or in a pita sandwich.


The shopping was easy and fun (thanks to Coop and Kyle). I only spent about $30 (we ate the stuff all weekend), I did all the chopping and sauteeing by myself (with moral support from my sis) and it only took about 30 minutes. I didn’t cut myself and I didn’t cry (which is definitely a plus), and the food was FABULOUS!

OK – it’s embarassing – but aside from eating corn on the cob, I’ve always eaten corn from a can. But can I tell you, that this was FABULOUS! It was so tasty, I could hardly stand it. I was actually a bit suprised at how different the flavor was mixing just a few fresh ingredients. And the chicken salad on pita? My son asked for seconds….

This may not be a big deal for about 90% of the world, but for me, it was a huge victory. I’ll keep you posted as I continue to resist take out and pizza.

Working for the Central Coast Vineyard Team, Kris O’Connor scours the region for members’ wines and stories, trying to taper off her technology addiction. She’s always looking for a fun excuse to break away to enjoy experiences with friends and family that don’t require an internet connection.