The first day of the rest of

There are some things I’m still sorting through in my mind, but I want and need to get back in the habit of blogging, so here are the results of my major creative / productive impulse in July and August. Most of this was inspired by the summer produce, with the secondary factor that I don’t need to cook to please dad any longer. It’s about a month or so before there will be a hard freeze, so there’s a bit more of this activity on my calendar, but the burden of the summer harvest is over and the farmers are starting to put their beds to rest, with a few planting fall crops now (lettuce will come back after having been absent since July).

Four realizations:

1. I froze a few things, but I am not ever going to want to undertake the sort of volume food preservation that was par for the course for my grandmothers.

The day after we heard about Angie’s death, Obscura kindly invited me to hang out with her and debrief about my feelings while she was canning. I brought her some hot peppers, but mostly just washed cucumbers.

2. Neither do I have the creativity to write recipes. I enjoy perusing cookbooks and watching cooking shows, but I’m just not creative in that way. In these photos, if I started from a recipe, I have added the link, although I am rarely 100% faithful to any recipe. (If you want to make any of these and want to know the modifications I made, leave a comment.)

3. And I really don’t have a strong impulse to eat a lot of meat or carbs (that’s a confirmed response from the last time I moved toward kashrut, back in the 1990s), which means this kind of eating plays havoc with physical energy levels.

4. I don’t want to eat just to be eating any more (whenever possible).

So.

The moment I am living for every summer is the second that a tomato sandwich becomes possible. As I wrote on my RL FB, this is my “madeleine.” I’m currently making them on white toast with Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie) and basil.

With yellow heirlooms

 

with red heirlooms

 

A step up from the ease of the tomato sandwich, a lot of summer produce consumption involves just slicing things. (This may be part of why I like it so much. But at the end of the summer I always have slicing fatigue!)

Cantaloupe. I have been eating 2-3 a week.

 

Cottage cheese and tomatoes — I love this and it’s a 3-4x a week breakfast.

 

Sliced Georgia peaches doused in cream. They’re done now and we’re eating Michigan peaches, which are (dare I say it?) much juicier — maybe because they don’t come so far.

 

Then there are the fantastic fresh soups, which is slicing plus stewing.

 

Carrot ginger soup, via the Food Network. The carrots were so good this summer. I did freeze two quarts of this soup.

 

Pea and carrot soup with rice, via Rachael Ray. I loved the pilaf in the soup. A bit of a messup as I picked this because I thought I had fresh peas and didn’t.

 

Summer corn chowder. This was spectacular, although I have never had this soup at Panera.

 

Mexican Street Corn Soup. This recipe was so promising, but I would not make this again without major adaptation; it didn’t taste much like elote. That said, now I know what happens when you put corn cobs in your broth.

 

Martha Stewart’s creamy celery soup. Never would have made this except for the CSA pushing all this fresh celery at me, and they are right: it tastes nothing like celery from the supermarket.

 

Such great salads are possible in the summer, too (and many of them are just a step up from slicing, i.e., slicing + dressing):

Fresh tabbouleh! I’m definitely in the “less parsley” camp.

 

Kisir (a sort of variant of tabbouleh from Turkey that I used to eat all the time in Germany).

 

This is a watermelon salad that was a real trip out on the limb for me. I would say the rosewater was fine but it would also be good without — and I ate the whole thing!

 

What to do with all those tomatoes? This is just fresh tomatoes with a basil buttermilk dressing.

 

Peach “caprese” — ricotta instead of mozzarella, dressed with “peach balsamic” instead of balsamico di Modena.

 

Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes. OMFG.

 

“Elote” – ish. For the kitchen cook without a grill. I made this a lot for mom the first summer she was sick and it was nice to come back to it.

 

Upping the ante to cooking, I had a “Greek night” after the Bucks won the NBA championship and in honor of the dill ripening:

Fasolakia (Greek stewed green beans). I still think my mom’s main method of preparing beans (blanching and serving with salt and butter) is the best, but this comes in a close second.

 

Who doesn’t love tzatziki?

Pasta dishes:

There’s a wild mushroom forager at our market, and he suggested black trumpets (a kind of chanterelle) with sweet corn. It was pretty good, but I don’t know if it will make the permanent rotation. Here, with spaghetti.

 

Sheet-pan gnocchi. I never would have guessed this method would have a chance of working, but indeed, the gnocchs plump up and then get a bit crispy and it is SO yummy. The main taste is the roasted summer vegetables, but the arugula / parmesan combo is a secondary pleasure.

 

“Blushing” angel hair. I watched Alex G make this on TV on morning and said “that’s for me.” Excellent and this could be made in winter, too. Hers looks a lot better than mine. I’m so clumsy at plating.

 

On to the fish. With no one in my family fishing anymore, I am now depending on the market, so I imagine fish will become a rarer pleasure in my life.

 

Poached salmon and leeks with dill sauce. Made because I crave dill while it’s in season. Sorry for the horrid plating again!

 

THIS. It’s called salmon chraimeh and it’s my new main dish for Rosh Hashanah, which is Monday already. Smoked paprika is my new best friend, too. Here with some leftover Rachael Ray pilaf (above).

 

And although I do not love baking I did make three fruit desserts:

My fave lazy raspberry “pie.” The everbearing raspberries had a great summer this year.

 

And a German Zwetschgenkuchen. I actually found a farmer who had Zwetschgen (a kind of plum) this summer. August joy!

 

While the plums were ripe I stumbled over some Quark at the grocery story so I made mascarpone Quark with plum sauce. A little goes a long way!

 

And then, in the category of “I don’t know what I was thinking”:

Watermelon curry. With apologies to Rajasthan, I thought this was very strange.

What are you cooking?

~ by Servetus on September 1, 2021.

55 Responses to “The first day of the rest of”

  1. Looks like you’re a very healthy eater! I wish I were, but I’m just not a good cook and i don’t enjoy it at all. Your pictures look yummy!

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    • I’m not — or in any case I refuse to stress out in any way about what I eat. I do eat a lot of milk fat like everyone else in America’s Dairyland, and I like things that have a really distinctive taste. I know many people in your situation — not esp liking to cook — and it’s totally understandable.

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  2. Oh my word, so much goodness! I think there is something very therapeutic about cooking and eating what you have grown 😊 I have bookmarked a good few of these recipes for future reference! Thanks!

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    • well, I don’t enjoy gardening (my grandmothers both had huge gardens when I was little and I didn’t like helping them). But I do enjoy the friendships that get built up with the growers and I like knowing where the food comes from. And I definitely have the bug for very fresh food! Good luck if you try any of them.

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  3. These all look delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Des fruits et des légumes de saison cuisinés frais , c’est le meilleur choix pour leurs vitamines et pour la protection de la nature. En plus, en préparer pour l’hiver, c’est encore plus louable… La cuisine de votre nouveau logement est baptisée, semble définitevement adoptée. Occupation idéale en fin de vacances!
    🙂 Bon appétit! Bon courage pour la reprise!

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    • it’s very diverting and endlessly interesting. Last night I made braised celery with tomatoes and olives which I was thinking would not be that good — but I was pleasantly surprised.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t canned a single piece of food since I moved out of the home I grew up in. I hate it that much. I spent every summer growing up planting, weeding, harvesting, canning and it left a bitter taste. Nowadays, I have a mini garden where tomatoes, cucumbers and sometimes peppers and zucchini grow. This year was Tomato nirvana weather. Hot and dry. My cherry tomato plant grew to a bramble with so many tomatoes I can’t eat them fast enough. It over grew my regular tomato plant putting it so far into the shade it barely produced. Is it enough that I know how to can food? I do feel the pangs of guilt when I see a prolific cousin posting her canning bounty. I just cannot bear to spend my energy in the garden-a take away from my early years, I know. Now flowers, that’s a whole different thing… I’ll be worthless in the apocalypse. I have pocketed some of your recipes and enjoyed your food blogging this summer.

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    • Congrats on your tomatoes! (we did not have a great tomato year here). Did your special tomato seeds bear? Or was that the summer before last? I totally have pandemic related time confusion.

      I’m totally with you on this. Both my grandmothers had Victory Gardens before that was a thing and preserved food as if the apocalypse was imminent (to be fair, they did both live through the Depression as teens). One of my grandmothers’ goals was that they should not have to buy any groceries except sugar and spices and treats on holidays (e.g., shrimp at Xmas). And they didn’t eat badly at all. They also sold a lot of it, especially berries and nuts. But what was a virtue in the 30s and 40s was really onerous by the 70s, particularly from the perspective of little girl me. I also don’t especially enjoy being outside or in especially steamy environments (although whether that is cause or effect, I couldn’t say). I can see an argument for making pickles if you’re really skilled at it.

      I had a twinge this summer when I ate my peas. When I was a kid we blanched and froze them and had them at holiday meals throughout the year and they were good that way. But I think in general I’d rather enjoy the moment. So they gave me the desire for good fresh vegetables — but unfortunately not the industry to raise them myself.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I like that! The desire for fresh veg but not the industry. That is me to a T.

        My tomato seeds did grow very well. I got enough tomatoes to save more seeds. I didn’t plant them this year because, well, laziness mostly.

        I’ve been think a lot lately about what made my parents who they are and growing up post depression and deeply Mormon had resounding consequences. The skills they valued that have little use in my modern world and often leave me feeling adrift and useless. I suppose it’s a symptom of age, but looking back I wish I hadn’t been raised by the Great Depression.

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        • “raised by the Great Depression” — this is such a trenchant comment that I’ve been thinking about it off and on the last day. Yes, I have all these sort of pointless skills. Also, yes, I have attitudes because of that that have been useful to me (not being interested in lots of new clothes, or driving the latest car). Also, yes, the saving things because you never know when you could use them turned into a huge burden for dad and eventually for me. So much to unpack there.

          Liked by 1 person

          • So much to unpack. It gave me a visual of me struggling with the bolt of a towering steel shipping container. Finally pulling open the door with the screeching complaint of rusted metal, I’m faced with a wall of boxes in every shape and size. I know the authentic me is in here somewhere but I’m already exhausted at just the sight of so much to unpack. Still buried by the fears, expectations, memories, and unfulfilled desires left by my parent’s generation. In the words of John Deacon and the voice of Freddie Mercury – I want to break free!

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  6. I don’t think I’ve canned anything ever in my life. Well, we did make jam once from an abundance of plums in our old garden. Fun for one time but not something I’d be eager to repeat. I’m impressed that you do can. 🙂 And wow, every single dish here looks delicious!

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  7. I am salivating over your raspberry pie…your dishes look delicious and provide some inspiration (which has been sadly lacking in my kitchen recently!) Many thanks for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • you have the spring coming now, no? Is the growing season different in the southern hemisphere? I find that seeing the colors of the new foods very provocative.

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      • Yes, spring is nearly here. Looking forward to some heat after a relatively chilly winter here in Perth. You are so right about the colours being provocative; I love the shade of red of raspberries and a blush on a peach skin is very appealing…Talk about 50 shades of fruit n’ veg!😉

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        • I feel like there are certain foods that just taste like sex. I can’t explain it. But peaches and asparagus and strawberries and raspberries and basil for sure.

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  8. Mmmmh, this looks yummy!
    Like Helen I bookmarked this post for some of the recipes…
    We hadn’t a good year for tomatos either, but I enjoy eating homegrown salad from our garden at the moment which tastes much better than the one you can buy in the supermarket.
    Canning was some sort of group event during my childhood. My grandmother, my mum and her sisters did a lot of it every year and made jam and jelly too. Some good memories but I am glad we don’t do that anymore to this extent.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Prendre de son temps dans la cuisine ne sera plus jamais une perte de temps. (moins de temps perdu dans des courses où le marchandising tente de vous attirer à acheter des choses inutiles). Vous gagnerez en qualité de vie avec cette nourriture préparée de manière saine car moins d’additifs synthétiques y compris sucre et sel) De plus il y a un sentiment positif qui grandit sa propre estime de soi.

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    • I’ve always cooked with fresh ingredients where possible because that’s what my mom and grandmothers did. I refuse to stress out about what I’m eating (whether it’s healthy or not, etc.) The main difference here is not the style of ingredient but rather that I am making dishes that I enjoy as opposed to trying to keep my father fed / gaining weight.

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  10. Some serious food porn here! The meals look so colourful and appetising. I am cooking a lot just for myself at the moment and it is so liberating to be able to eat what I want, when I want. Smoked or peppered mackerel with watercress, orange and beetroot is a favourite of mine, sometimes with couscous, avocado and pumpkins seeds.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Shanah tovah S! Been thinking of you and hope your new year will be sweeter and better. I’ve seen loads of honey cake recipes recently, food insta and recipe pages are great escapism. I might get more apples in my fortnightly veg box, so will try one 🙂 I case you need yet one more recipe of one, thought it would be fun to share with you a Nigella one 😉

    PS before i copy it here meant to say i’ll come back on food , love some of the ones above, must try! yuck on the watermelon curry tho..

    So here is, from Nigella’s website https://www.nigella.com/recipes/honey-cake-with-dates-and-apples?utm_source=mailer_rotd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Honey_Cake_with_Dates_and_Apples_20210906

    Makes: 12 slender or 8 chunky slices
    Ingredients:
    generous ½ cup finely chopped dates
    2¼ cups Braeburn or Honeycrisp or Gala apples (chopped into small – about 1cm / ½ inch – pieces)
    1 large orange
    ½ cup regular olive oil plus 1 tablespoon more, plus extra for greasing
    ½ cup honey plus 50g/ 3 tablespoons more for glaze
    ½ cup dark brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon orange blossom water
    1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
    ½ cup almond meal
    1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    1¼ cups walnut halves
    1½ teaspoons baking soda
    1½ teaspoons hot water

    Method:
    Drop a paper liner into a 20cm/ 8 inch Springform tin, or line the base with parchment and lightly oil the sides. Get out a medium-small heavy based saucepan that comes with a tightly fitting lid. I use one 18cm in diameter, and I wouldn’t advise going much wider.
    Finely chop the dates, and set aside for now. Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut them into small pieces, about 1cm/ ½ inch, and drop them into your saucepan. Finely grate the zest of the orange into the pan, add 3 tablespoons of juice, followed by the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the pan, and cook over medium-low heat (lifting the lid to give the occasional stir) for 7 minutes, by which time the apples should be almost cooked through. Add the chopped dates and a further tablespoon of orange juice, give a good stir, and then cook without the lid, stirring and pressing down on the apples, for 3 minutes or until you can mash the apples and dates to a rough puree with a fork.
    Take the pan off the heat and leave for 10 minutes, during which time you can heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC Fan/350ºF and measure out all your other ingredients.
    So, pour the oil in a wide-necked measuring jug, followed by the honey, dark brown sugar, eggs and orange blossom water. Whisk to mix just with a fork; you don’t want to make this very aerated.
    Measure the flour in a bowl, and stir in the almond meal, unsweetened cocoa and salt. With the walnuts in another bowl, use your fingers to break them up well. I find this better than chopping them as it’s easier to end up with nubbly pieces rather than a lot of splinters and dust, too.
    Pour the jug of liquid ingredients into the pan, and mix to combine with the fruit. Make sure you scrape out every last bit from the jug.
    Now tip in the dry ingredients and just stir until you see no trace of flour – you don’t have to beat madly; indeed, in a smallish pan, it wouldn’t be wise – followed by the crumbled walnuts. Finally, spoon 1½ teaspoons baking soda into a little cup, fill another little cup with hot water, then add 1½ teaspoons hot water to the bicarb – it will fizz up gently – then promptly tip and scrape the baking soda paste into the bronzy-buff-coloured batter in the pan, and stir well to incorporate.
    Scrape the batter into your prepared tin, and bake for 45-50 mins, or until the cake risen and a deep dark brown on top, and a cake tester will come out clean apart from a few damp crumbs. While the cake is still very good to eat (I actually prefer it) when the top is still slightly soft, it will sink a little on cooling, so make sure the top feels firm on the surface if you want to avoid this. But don’t worry about any cracks, please!
    Put the cake in its tin on a wire rack. Stir the 50g/ 3 tablespoons honey with 1 teaspoon orange juice just so it is a little more fluid, and brush about a half of it over the hot cake. Leave for 10 minutes and then brush on the rest, then leave the burnished cake there to cool in the tin.

    STORE NOTE:
    Store the cake in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped in food wrap, in a cool place for up to 1 week.

    FREEZE NOTE:
    Can be frozen, wrapped in a double layer of food wrap and a layer of foil for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap and put on a wire rack at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Individual slices can be frozen wrapped in food wrap and put in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

    PPS can replace orange blossom water with just plain oj

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  12. Wow, those dishes look delicious!

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  13. I do with I could eat more tomatoes — often they give me heartburn, though. I have fond memories of toasted tomato sandwiches with mayo that my mum really loved. Your salads look wonderful. I am amazed by how much cooking you are doing for yourself (when I lived on my own I generally ate bits of this and that)– but on the other hand, who better than yourself to pamper with good meals?! I like to eat a lot of vegetarian meals, but if I cook them, my husband always complains that there is no meat! Hope your blogging habit sticks!

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    • “wish” not “with”! (I also wish I could type! 🙂 )

      Like

    • I don’t think I will continue at this pace (more or less three to four new meals a week) forever, but I wanted to shock myself a little. When the hard freeze comes it will be a lot of legumes and rice as I don’t like to buy produce that’s trucked in from afar.

      Tomatoes: have you tried buying heirloom tomatoes and then letting them ripen until they’ve almost rotted? I find then that they are sweet like I remember from childhood.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, also, if you enjoy cooking, then it’s probably not so bad.
        I’m not sure I’ve ever even bought heirloom tomatoes!

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        • The cooking itself has never seemed like a chore for me. The deciding what to eat within dad’s narrow parameters was really hard on me, though. I’ve also had the luxury for most of my life of not having to care what others wanted to eat. My mother was a great cook who hated cooking because of the deciding aspect (among other things).

          Heirloom tomatoes: apart from their appearance on restaurant menus, you would only find them at a farmer’s market in season or an organic / specialty market. They have the huge advantage of skirting all the problems created by breeders’ attempts to come up with a shelf stable tomato for supermarkets and one that’s easy to grow for home gardeners. They’re not easy to grow and they don’t hold up well. But they are meaty and juicy and sweet.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I like cooking much better now that the pressure to have it done by a certain time and not be the same (comforting) foods. Somehow I felt pressured a bit when my older son lived with us. He had an early start and a physical job and needed to eat by a certain time.

            We do have farmers’ markets around here although I haven’t been in a long while. Next year, maybe.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. […] The first day of the rest of […]

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