I chose my home in November.
It was the covered front porch, the potential for garden, the location, that it was an old house, and that the price was right.
I fell in love with my home in January.
It was the slant of the light coming through the windows. As the years have passed I have found that I love the way the light enters this house best this time of year. Certainly it has to do with the orientation of the house. Slightly crooked, Northeast to Southwest.
At the kitchen table:
Things preserved are in season.
Risotto is a perfect thing to add dehydrated vegetables to.
I added an egg to the leftovers and made pancakes/patties/rice burgers?
I also added dehydrated peppers and tomato sauce (also dehydrated, like fruit leather) to the lentils.
I could eat lentils cooked like this every week.
make one, mend one:
Little bear beast has acquired a layer of wool.
It's still very cold out there, one of the coldest winters on record according to the record keepers.
Thinking about common wisdom that comes from observation. Someone commented the other day that this was the coldest, snowiest winter they had seen here. I told her that it seemed to me, it happens about every seven years. The next day I read a news report that this winter pattern happens here about every 8 years...
Working on a ragged star.
It suits me.
There's been snow on the ground for the whole week, bitter cold temperatures (the lowest was 4 F with the wind chill), strong winds yesterday...winds that traveled over glaciers...
Maybe more snow tonight, tomorrow and then back to the rain.
This morning's breakfast, a winter's version of Dutch Baby.
This recipe gives the basic steps, although I use a different ratio of ingredients. Mine (for 2 people or one very hungry person) is 2 eggs + 1/2 cup flour + 1/2 cup milk. I don't use sugar or salt in my batter, although most of the recipes I looked at online did. I suspect the salt and sugar is a reflection of what tastes good to most people currently. Sometimes I do add cinnamon or maybe vanilla to the batter.
The topping is caramelized pears(pears cooked in butter and sugar, a pinch of cinnamon). It's a good topping for oatmeal too.
Last day for the weekly farmer's market here. Pretty sure it will mostly be potatoes, onions, and beets.
The food that tasted the best this week was a small sandwich handed to me by a friend. She had placed a bit of tuna and cream cheese on a small bun and offered it to me because she knew I probably wouldn't have eaten much on my own.
The second best meal was a picnic I had packed for myself: an orange, a roll, some cheese and salami. It was cloudy and windy, but warm, so that day my friend and I sat at a picnic table by the river while we had a break from the class we were taking.
Sometimes the best meals aren't organic, local, elaborate, or involved.
They are about companionship and affection.
(This is an old picture I am revisiting.)
This week I didn't prepare much ahead and I didn't eat much. It was, in fact, the kind of week that proves to me over and over that I eat better when I cook ahead.
One thing that I did make on Sunday that supplied breakfast for several days...
Yogurt cake (this recipe) with poached quince and roasted grapes.
When I add fruit to this recipe I usually use about 1/2 cup and add it last, once the batter is in the cake pan. For this cake I stirred the grapes into the batter and then added the quince last.
The quince I am working with is from my garden. I planted a tree about five years ago and it is one of my favorites. It is a beautiful and productive part of the garden.
Quince is according to Nigel Slater in his book Ripe, "the most ancient of fruits." If anyone is lucky enough to find some and needs recipes, Slater's book has a nice assortment. There are also recipes in Local Flavors by Deborah Madison and a recipe for making jelly at "Food in Jars".
For various reasons I didn't go to the farmer's market this week. I still have peppers, the Swiss chard (which was never cooked so it's still okay for soup), winter squash, a cucumber and a few sweet potatoes so these will be the foods I will work with this week.
My goal for tomorrow is to make lentil soup with the squash and Swiss chard, a batch of polenta, and maybe a loaf of bread.
Meals for me always start with a few hours of food prep each weekend. Steaming or roasting a variety of vegetables, cooking a grain and/or beans, lentils, or split peas. Occasionally meat or pasta. These act as components that can be mixed through out the week.
For this coming week: corn, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower.
Cooking this way allows for quicker meals on work nights and easy to assemble lunches but still allows a lot of room for creativity. Nothing is very complicated which allows for cooking without recipes.
A few of the things on the menu for October 8th to the 15th:
salads, enchiladas, and celery soup.
I steamed broccoli and corn and roasted tomatoes and carrots.
And made a batch of lentils.
Lentils + broccoli + red pepper + feta = a salad
Remaining broccoli + lentils + roasted carrots + mozzarella tucked into tortillas topped with a sauce of blended tomatoes + a pinch of spices (mostly cumin and oregano) = enchiladas.
A good foundation recipe for enchiladas is in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen.
Celery (both leaf and stem) + onions + carrots cooked in water and then blended = a soup base. Tried a bit out with cheese and toasted bread and as a sauce with:
zucchini + peppers + mozzarella + pumpkin seeds + olives.
Although it was fine, I wouldn't say that the celery soup base was really successful as a sauce. Probably would have been better if I'd made a dressing by stirring a tablespoon or so into olive oil and vinegar.
It was at it's very best warmed up again with a bit of cream and homemade pasta (here's a link to how I make pasta) added to it.
To me local celery has more flavor than what is available at the grocery store.
So very good!
Does anyone else prepare ahead? If so what is your favorite thing to have ready to go?
No farmer's market this week due to the approaching storm. Right now the forecast is for possible gusts up to 70 MPH...which means the power might go out. I'm making cookies and preparing to defrost the refrigerator...
"I wish more people would try these, know how good they are,"
he said as he weighed the peppers for me.
Jimmy Nardello peppers.
I've tried growing them, but here in my little ecosystem it doesn't get hot enough. 15-20 miles away it is warm enough that they are field grown.
I've thought of this conversation often over the last couple weeks, especially after Grace pointed the way to this...
When one of the people being interviewed spoke of growing up with whole foods and the knowledge of how to prepare them, it reminded me of something that I've bumped into many times as an adult, of how my childhood experience was not average for my generation and the culture I am a part of. I grew up surrounded by fish being pulled from the sea or fruits and vegetables from the garden (and a bit foraged as well).
It worries me that in so many ways we are moving as a society towards not just a disconnect with where food comes from, but of cooking itself. That if you are interested in food that doesn't come from the grocery store, precooked or in a tidy package; you must be a "foodie" as if cooking whole foods is something that become elevated above the common experience.
It worries me that a simple mixture of vegetables, spices and grains seems like something daunting to my co-workers when they ask me what I am eating. That it is outside of their experience to cook something similar.
And it worries me that as a culture, cooking is a spectator sport.
I am thinking it's time to blog about food on a regular basis again. Not on my other blog (bee creative cooking, which I think I want to leave as is; a year's worth of seasonal eating and cooking) but here, each Saturday.
I hope that as I make notes about food, cooking, recipes (even more importantly, how to cook without recipes), or what I might be harvesting seasonally from the garden; that cooking whole foods (mostly fruits, vegetables and grains because that is primarily what I eat) might seem more accessible to someone. That it might be a way to gather at a communal table of some sort for friends and family. I hope whoever comes to visit will share their experiences, the meals that they enjoy.
It can only help us all have more choices, be more resilient.
35 dollars worth of fruits and vegetables from today's farmer's market. Other food purchased for the week: milk, cheese, organic sugar (canning quince this weekend), and some chocolate. The rest of my supplies for the week will come from the pantry.
Next Saturday I'll gather my notes about what I've done with all of this. I won't necessarily eat it all this week, some will be preserved to help me meet my goal of eating locally through the winter.
Tomorrow I'll be back to share a star or two.
$15.00 dollars of organic, local, in season food from the farmer's market. I am curious...does this seem expensive?
It's not my whole week's worth of fruits and vegetables. I have new potatoes leftover from last week and tomatoes, apples and grapes from my garden.
And just a quick idea, it could be translated into stitch...
The first batch of icicle pickles molded because it's too hot!
The method starts with soaking the cucumbers in a salt water brine for day one, two and three. They are supposed to be kept below 75 degrees. We've been somewhere between 75 and 80 for the last week or so and are heading towards 90 on Thursday and Friday.
I have more cucumbers and will start a second batch...they will need to soak in the refrigerator!
Move over pickled peaches (they are tangy but tasty).
This is one of the busiest times of year at work for me.
It is important for me to remember that "work" (a word that never seems like quite the right descriptor to me)isn't my whole life.
There are other things to notice and do.
I was given a bit of wool as a gift.
I spun it into a bit of yarn and used it for part of a baby octopus. It's not quite done. I'm going to needle felt the ends, crochet some more legs and add a bell to it's "guts." The yellowish stripe is wool I dyed with onion peels.
There is chicory along the alley to appreciate.
That blue...it's the sky come down to earth.
There were walnut sized peaches that I needed to do something with.
One solution, a small batch of pickled peaches.
Haven't tried them yet.
I need to remember to eat. An oven pancake/Dutch Baby in honor of fruit gathered at my parents.
And of course, time to sleep.