Monday, August 30, 2010

Basil Lillet Cocktail

Because summer is so ridiculously short, this year I've been making an effort to live it up while it lasts. This past weekend that meant lighting luminarias in the yard and making basil cocktails to drink with friends. The recipe is for one serving, which makes no sense, so go ahead and triple it right off for a blender-full. Thanks for one last taste of summer via pretty green drinks, Martha.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Officially Salsa Season

The glut that was cucumbers and squash is now tomatoes and peppers and peaches and eggplants. Cherry tomatoes are literally dripping off the plants, and cayenne bushes look like Christmas decor. I feel like a [nonviolent] pilgrim I'm so grateful for the excess of the nightshade season. Its excess and its fleeting nature are both great arguments for employing some basic preservation methods. Along with fermenting, canning, oil pickling, and dehydrating, though, it's great to revel in the fresh stuff.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simple Dimple

I like being up early in the mornings, before anyone else is stirring. I like to be in the garden while all the neighbors are still quiet, wandering and looking, in slow-mo, while things are still simple, and before my brains get going.

A great thing about late summer is getting to eat food that tastes much like those first morning moments: cucumber and tomato slices with a little bit of olive oil, pepper and salt; boiled whole potatoes and carrots with a spot of pesto; a crispy red pepper rolled into a tortilla; piles of peaches or pears or plums; raw ears of corn. They are exactly what they are, full, large flavors, even, but not complicated. No work for this food, no thought at all, and it's perfect anyway.

Are those paws not the loveliest?
Sure, I get excited to make new, funny recipes like jello with rosé wine (with non-animal gelatin, of course). I get excited by learning there are more flowers I can use in food preps, like forsythia. And I really enjoy prepping for winter eating by putting up some of the great farm foods we're enjoying right now.

It's also nice when things come easy, take no thought, and are better than you could have ever dreamed. Like a cherry tomato in August.

Slime & Broth

Regardless of the weird cool spell, it's the time of year that long-growing produce becomes available, and a very good reason, in my book, to turn to Vegan Soul Kitchen for some inspiration. When I look at what I've got (okra, watermelon, corn corn corn, the most delicious tomatoes), I know Bryant Terry is the right guy to figure out my next meal. And it's working out between he and I: he's not afraid of spice, of a sweet tooth, a foofy cocktail, or even of extreme simplicity.

When I read the "recipe" for sweet corn broth, essentially cobs with the corn cut off for other purposes, boiled in water with a dash of salt, I thought it might be too zen for me, but I did end up sipping some corn broth eventually, and I found it to be quite nice for those times that you want a little something but aren't full on hungry. (Since then, I've come to the realization that I might be a real broth/infusion fan, having sipped mint water, ginger water, pickle brine, bean broth and the like in just a handful of days. Oh miso, oh mushroom broth and seawood broth, oh oh oh.) And I'm not one of those wilting in the heat kinda gals who can barely lift her head for a sip of broth. I love summer heat, and I love food, but these simple (watery) foods are somehow extremely satisfying.

Broths aside for the moment, here's my favorite dish of August so far: lemon jalapeno okra. Terry mentions that he's a slime-phobe, and approaches okra carefully. I've never had a problem with the slikity-slime, but when I once complemented a chef on the best okra I'd ever eaten, he assumed I had the slime block, and shared his secret from Caribbean cooking: citrus kills the slime.

Have at it!

Lemon Jalapeno Okra

- 1 lb fresh, small okra pods, cut in quarters lenthwise
- 1 diced jalapeno
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

I don't fry a lot, mostly because I hate cleaning up spatter, but this crispy okra is worth it. Throw everything in a pan and fry it until crispy! I start with half of the oil and half of the lemon, add the rest of the oil when the pan gets dry, and use the last half of the lemon in the last minute of cooking.

And, before August is through, can, dehydrate, and freeze some things, would ya? It's tempting to laze about in a hammock, but those of us who want good food from around here through winter need to get to work!