Previous month:
February 2008
Next month:
April 2008

March 2008

ROASTED ROOTS with ROSEMARY

It was just delicious. Roasting is a great way of cooking a variety of vegetables. I love the texture, the bright colors, and especially the flavor. Everything was made sweeter by roasting.  And when John walked through the door, he said it smelled like barbeque - high praise from a former ommnivore. PLUS Ben's friends liked it, too.  Here's the recipe:

ROASTED ROOTS (AND TOMATOES) WITH ROSEMARY

Beets, chopped into smallish pieces (so their cooking time will be the same as the others)

Carrots , chopped into 1-2” chunks

Tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

Onions, halved or quartered depending on size

Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil

A few tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450. After washing and chopping the vegetables, place them in a large bowl.  Shake together the vinegar and oil (1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil). For a large bowl of veggies that spread out to cover two baking sheets, I used 6 tablespoons of oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar. Pour the dressing over the veggies and place on a baking sheet (or two).  Sprinkle with rosemary and lightly salt and pepper. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Stir veggies around with a spatula, return to oven, and bake an addditional 15 minutes - or so.  Mine took longer due to the amount cooking at the same time. I rotated the baking sheets from top to bottom rack every 15 minutes for a total of 45 minutes.

I served ours on polenta, which would be a great locavore dish if we still grew hard corn (rather than the ubiquitous sweet corn) around here these days...  It's easy too:

POLENTA FOR SIX

4 cups water

2 cups cornmeal

1 tsp (or so) of salt

Bring water to a boil.  Add cornmeal slowly, stirring with a whisk as you go to prevent lumping. Have a pot cover handy to throw over it if it starts to splatter (flying pieces of boiling sticky polenta is not only messy but painful if some lands on you).  Turn down heat and simmer, stirring often for 5-15 minutes depending on how coarse your cornmeal was.  You can add grated cheese to this for more protein and flavor.  The roasted veggies had enough zing off their own, I didn't add any. It wasn't missed at all.


Jammin' with the Farmers' Market

A_harold_and_annalee_coday B_fruits

C_roots D_jared_swett_market_manager

The Farmers’ Market at 441 was holding its Spring Festival last Saturday and we came home with all kinds of good stuff, including a flat of strawberries for jam-making.

I’ve made blueberry jam in the past, but this was my first time with the strawberries.  If I had to do it again, I think I might add the ½ teaspoon of butter the recipe called for to decrease foaming - although when I opened a jar this morning and mixed it around a bit, it was fine.  Just an aesthetic thing.   Making the jam was pretty quick and easy, following the recipe in the pectin package; I think I’ll do it again before the season is over.  I like the idea of just putting up a batch at a time regularly rather than making an all day thing of it.

Strawberry_jam 

Today is a big cooking day for me.  For the last couple years Ben has invited friends over for “Wednesday Night Dinner.”  It started out as a way to socialize when his immune system was so suppressed from his cancer treatment that he couldn’t go out.  But even now that he’s well, we have a regular little group of folks who come to eat and hang out. It’s sweet, and I’ll miss it when it’s over.  As every middle-aged parent in the world is fond of saying: “It goes by so quickly.”  And since they seem to enjoy the garden/local veggies, tonight we’ll be having roasted beets, onions, carrots, and tomatoes with rosemary served on polenta with a side of lettuce/sorrel/garbanzo salad and homemade cheese bread.  Left over strawberries on ice cream for dessert.  We still go all out on Wednesdays. (bold=local farmers, bold+italics=home garden, everything else local grocer) 

If this were going to be a totally locally-grown meal, I would have to leave out the grain (bread and polenta), garbanzos and ice cream.  I’d put boiled eggs on the salad for protein and maybe serve the strawberries with cream (we have a local dairy).  As it is, it fits the locavore guidelines at least - not to be too dogmatic about it. 

I’ll post the recipe after we see how it turns out.


Practice Resurrection

Wendell_berry

Gurney Norman and Wendell Berry, c. 1973

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.


Mess o' Greens

Collard_row_3

The other night, a college-age friend asked me if collard greens were a pain to cook. They were thriving in her community garden plot, but she didn’t know what to do with them.  She had heard that they took too long to wash, prepare, and cook.  I decided to time myself from garden to table and see if the rumor was true.

I wanted to confront the collard slander for a few reasons.  One, they grow really well here. You can pick the outside leaves, leaving the rest of the plant intact, and it will produce from October through April without bolting.  And even temperatures down in the 20s this winter didn’t faze mine. The other reason is that they’re really good for you.  Chock full of iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, the lowly collard helped sustain the starving South during the Civil War. African slaves had long been preparing and eating the tough greens - collards, turnips and mustards - which were often fed to farm animals.  Cooked with discarded meat scraps, they provided a one-pot meal, traditional in African culture.  This inexpensive, nutritious dish became a staple for poor southern families - black and white. Today southerners feel about collards like we do about grits. They belong to us.

Now, I do remember my grandmother washing greens with a hose outside in a metal tub to get the sand off. But it has been many years since I've bitten down on a gritty green. When I grow my own, I mulch them like I do all our vegetables, and either the local farmers do that too, or they wash them well before bringing them to market. I find they only need a quick rinse.

Due to their size it's easier to rinse them after they're cut.  Here's the procedure:

Collards_destemmed_2 Collards_stack_2   

Collards_roll_3 Collards_slice_2

1) Remove stem from leaves, two or three at a time,  2) Stack 5 or 6 leaves,  3. Roll leaves, and 4) slice.   

Rinse sliced greens a handful at a time by sloshing them in a bowl of water. Set aside without drying them.

Now my grandmother would have put these in a huge pot with a hambone and cooked the whole thing for hours - "cooking the dickens out of them."  I use a different recipe:

Greens and Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

10 cups cut and washed greens

2 tablespoons vinegar (I used rice vinegar)

2 tablespoons honey

2 cups small red beans, cooked

Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until golden. Add rinsed greens without drying them first; the water on the leaves will provide the moisture for cooking. Saute for a minute or so, then put the lid on, turn down the heat, and steam for 10 minutes or until tender. Check frequently and add water if necessary to keep from sticking.  Add vinegar and honey. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in red beans with a little bit of bean broth.

Greensnbeans

I admit I really like this with rice.  But tonight we just had it as is - with a little peach/pepper hot jam from Graham Farms. A fancy (and beautiful) locavore-ish meal might include oven baked sweet potatoes with garlic aioli, and cornbread. In fact, I think I might try that later this week 

It took about 30 minutes to get the greens from garden to table. I'm pretty fast, but I don’t think it would take anyone more time than driving to a nearby restaurant and ordering. And this is the kind of work that’s easy and pleasant to share. A little (southern) music, some good conversation… and before you know it - a mess o’ greens.