Down & Dirty Articles

Down & Dirty: Citrus

By • February 15, 2013 • 15 Comments

Down & Dirty: Citrus

Citrus are winter's glory, the bright spot of sunshine amongst a cellar's worth of dirt-covered root vegetables. There's a fantastically wide array of them, too -- so many that we're taking two weeks to cover them all. Stay tuned for tiny citrus next Friday, because today it's all about the big guns: orange clones, grapefruit's meaty predecessor, hard-to-find Bergamot, and everything in between. (Bonus points if you correctly identify all 8 varieties in the above photo. No peeking!)

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Down & Dirty: Potatoes

By • January 11, 2013 • 7 Comments

Down & Dirty: Potatoes

The last time we talked about potatoes, Marian Bull helped us figure out how to match recipes to the potatoes that suit them best -- starchy Russets for mashing, waxy red potatoes for salads, and more. Today we're digging underground to learn even more about the potato: we'll talk about how they're actually the stems of the plant, what exactly a potato fruit looks like, and what it really means when their skin turns green after storage.

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Down & Dirty: Cranberries

By • January 4, 2013 • 1 Comment

Down & Dirty: Cranberries

Today we're learning all about the jewel-like cranberry as it goes from puckeringly sour in the raw to richly sweet when cooked. Native to this continent and a close cousin to blueberries, lingonberries, and huckleberries, the cranberry is so much more than just a Thanksgiving one-off. As American as apple pie? Try as American as cranberry sauce!

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Down & Dirty: Brussels Sprouts

By • December 28, 2012 • 11 Comments

Down & Dirty: Brussels Sprouts

There's a lingering stereotype about brussels sprouts that says they're mushy, funky, and to be avoided. Not so! Brussels sprouts, which originated in Northern Europe in the 13th century or so, are actually the greatest of all brassicas: they have cabbage's vegetal sweetness, kale's versatility, cauliflower's nuttiness, and more surface area (which equals more potential crispiness) than just about any other vegetable.

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Down & Dirty: Sweet Potatoes and Yams

By • December 21, 2012 • 4 Comments

Down & Dirty: Sweet Potatoes and Yams

 

What's in a name? Well, for starters, sweet potatoes aren't really potatoes -- they're actually in the morning glory family. And yams are in a genus all their own, more closely related to lilies than spuds. The naming confusion can be traced to the American South in the 18th and 19th centuries, when African slaves encountered the sweet potato and naturally linked it in their minds with their native yam. But they're both delicious no matter they're called -- nomenclature aside, today we take a close look at sweet potatoes and yams.

 

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Down & Dirty: Kohlrabi

By • December 14, 2012 • 6 Comments

Down & Dirty: Kohlrabi

We might as well just say it: kohlrabi is a little weird. The name literally means "cabbage turnip" in German (makes sense, right?), and they're as common as cabbages and turnips themselves in Eastern Europe, where they've been around for centuries. Stateside, though, they're a little more unusual -- "you'd think it had just landed on earth," Elizabeth Scneider says in Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide -- so farmers' markets and CSA boxes are your best bet for the hardy, prolific stems.

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