Fun with Favas

You may have already heard me talk about this, but I’ve started a tradition at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. Every Sunday I visit the market with a $20 bill. That  and every week I have to buy one thing I have never tried to cook or eat before. Last week I posted about lobster mushrooms. This week my item is a 2-pound bag of dried fava beans. Beans are the starving artist’s best friend: both healthy AND cheap (not to mention delicious). Normally you read about me making recipes with canned beans. And who can blame me? At 89 cents a can, it’s a no-brainer.  But the truth is that dried beans, particularly when bought in bulk, are often even cheaper. Yes, they’re a *bit* more effort, but come on, is it really that hard to throw them in a pot of water and let them sit overnight? And what’s better is that for next to nothing you can impart so much flavor and coax such incredible texture when you cook them yourself. What’s not to love?

I confess I have only had fava beans on a few occasions and don’t really have a memory for their flavor. I went for them because they were unique and seemed worth exploring… after I got them home I learned a very valuable fact: you have to peel them. Every single one of them. And I have two pounds… that is a LOT of fava beans. Though I’m all for taking the time to soak beans, I really wasn’t planning on having to peel the damn things. The good news is that there are so many, I’ll be able to use them in several different ways. But, right now I’m still peeling….

Monday Lunch

Mondays are my favorite day to have lunch. Why? Because Monday is the day after I visit the farmers’ market, which means I have a plethora of fresh produce to choose from. More often than not, my Monday lunch consists of slices tomatoes with kosher salt and (if I have it) some ribbons of fresh basil. I do this partially because tomatoes bought from vendors like this have a very short shelf life. And partially because I just friggin love fresh tomatoes. Sure, there’s lots to be done with them, from panzonella to tomato sauce… but I don’t know, when they’re this good and this fresh, I find it so satisfying just to eat them as they are. No cooking, no fuss, just pure natural goodness. I think next week I will devise something creative to do with them…. a pie, perhaps… but for now, simplicity wins.

Speaking of the farmers’ market, I came home with quite a bounty yesterday. What’s my item of the week? Fava beans. Mmm. Two-pound bag of dried favas for $6. More posts on this in the coming days. Hope everyone is enjoying fall so far!

Farmers’ Market Bounty

Dirt Lobster

So I have become obsessed with the farmer’s market near my apartment in Hollywood, not surprisingly known as the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. I’ve decided that every time I go I will buy something new that I’ve never tried before, bring it home, and cook it. My rule is I bring a $20 bill with me and that is all I get to spend – after all I am the Starving Artist. Last week I took mom and discovered a beautiful thing – the mushroom tent. It is, as you might guess, a tent full of all kinds of mushrooms, most of which I have never seen or heard of before. And what I love about it is that the owner divvies up the mushrooms into little, flat-priced paper bags. I honed in on these little beauties:

You might have guessed from the title that these are known as Lobster Mushrooms, and you can clearly see why. The color is spot on and I have to say that even the texture is reminiscent of lobster. I didn’t want to do anything crazy to them, so I cooked them very simply in olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. I also added asparagus, chives, and finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I ate it with a sliced heirloom tomato, also purchased at the farmer’s market. So fresh and delicious.


This was so successful I’ve decided that each week I visit the market I will buy something I’ve never eaten before and see what I can come up with. I have a feeling I may be on a mushroom kick for a while. And you know what, I’m ok with that.

Farmers’ Market Glory

Well friends, let me tell you, John Williams at the bowl last night was the best concert I’ve been to in a long time. We saw an olympic suite set to footage from olympic games recent and in the distant past. Violinist Gil Shaham brought the house down with a suite from Schindler’s List as well as a suite from Williams’ oscar-winning arrangements of Fiddler on the Roof. A huge chorus from Cal State Fullerton accompanied Williams in a suite from Amistad, which I’ve never seen performed live, not to mention Duel of the Fates from Star Wars Episode 1, which, regardless of how you feel about the prequels, is an epic piece of music. But none of this held a candle to the end of the show when, in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Williams conducted the entire last reel of E.T. live to picture with dialogue and sound effects tracks. There aren’t may ways to make me sob, but that sure is one of them. All in all an outstanding evening with many good friends. And of course, pound cake.

So after an outstanding evening with friends I got up late this morning and walked myself down to the farmers’ market in Hollywood, which, shockingly I had never been to. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of fresh produce and vendor food, but I did manage to escape with what you see in the photo here. I tell you, nothing excites me more than fresh picked tomatoes. I may have eaten them already… like apples… with salt. Outstanding. But don’t you worry, I have big plans for those strawberries.

Tonight I am enjoying an impromptu cookout in Venice. Hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, potatoes. It doesn’t get any better than this. More on this soon.

Hope everyone is enjoying their labor day weekend!