Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, onion and Bragg’s cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
We’ve had a few rainy days. The first since July 1 and I love every second of it. Although irrigation keeps the crops lush, the grass around the fields, the trees and wildflowers have all had their heads bowed for weeks. There have been many insects, birds and amphibians finding an oasis at our irrigation headers when we are watering. It had become the miniature Serengeti watering hole; a good place to view all of the local creatures.
I have been waiting for a rainy day to get caught up with paperwork, canning, cleaning and updating our blog. I need more rainy days. I need many of them. I am starting with the blog. When I am out in the fields, weeding, harvesting and spending time with the plants, I often think of things that I would love to tell everyone about them. (I really can’t say I ever think that much about cleaning or paperwork, at least not when they are out of sight.) Then I come inside to make dinner and ‘POOF’, the thoughts are gone.
I do, however, manage to get excited about the armload of vegetables that I bring in for dinner each night. Our meals are almost always later in the evening (much later than they should be) and the goal is often to make something in a short time frame with a quick thought to what is needed the most that day; carbs, protein or something light? Then I look at my husband and consider how much longer he can go without food; are we in an emergency situation? (He is a hard worker, but sadly, not a chef.) If so, the solution usually involves eggs and/or tortillas or pulling some bacon out of the freezer for BLT’s and O’s (onions). If we have a little time to spare, a frittata, omelet or Quiche or a quick stir-fry, likely seasoned with ginger, soy sauce, chili and sesame oil.
I love to cook, but let’s be clear that I don’t make any claims to being a great cook. I can’t say that I really ever measure ingredients, so if I think that a meal is worthy of writing down, doing so after the meal has been made is tricky. I think adjusting recipes to suit one’s taste is the best way to cook unless you are unfamiliar with the spices that are called for. I find that this principle rarely works when baking though. A pinch of this and a handful of that usually ends poorly. Someone told me once that cooking is an art and baking is a science and that flipped the light switch on for me. Now I have an excuse to avoid baking (too scientific) unless it involves free artistic license after the science project has been completed!
Quesadilla with purslane leaves
Before I pat myself on the back again for cooking though, I have to emphasize that it is hard to fail if you are working with the best and the freshest organic produce. I think that the only way to ruin a meal that starts with fresh, organic vegetables is to overcook or burn it badly, spill the salt into it or mistake the cayenne pepper for paprika. (Too many jalapenos might ruin it for some, too.) Once you learn what fresh, clean food tastes like and you become accustomed to eating it on a regular basis, your body will send out the “danger” signal when you eat processed foods. The trick there is not ignoring that warning when you hear it and you will be adding years on to your life.
We are halfway through our CSA season. School will be starting soon, days will be shorter and for many, time to cook will be challenging. I am hoping that our members have been getting in the habit of putting great meals together from their CSA boxes each week and will continue to do that as the days shrink into the next seasons.
Here are a few of the quick meals and other things that we have made this summer:
2 delicious versions of broccoli quiche
Summer Vegetable Spaghetti Pasta with purslane
Quick-browned Green Beans and Summer Squash
Spicy fermented vegetables
Canned Dilly Beans and Tomato Sauce
Juice with cucumber, tomato, carrot, collards, Sweet pepper and Fennel