Archive for the ‘homegrown’ Category

Summer Table: Minute-Made

August 4, 2009

When it comes to cooking, I’m a subscriber of the ‘food-on-the-fly’ philosophy – which basically amounts to throwing together any and every item from my pantry shelf or refrigerator door, with a vague hope that the sum of aggregate parts will in the end resemble somewhat of a substantial and flavorful (if not refined) main course.

In most cases, pasta dishes are my go-to, since a box of whole wheat rotini is a permanent food cupboard fixture. Toss hot pasta with extra-virgin olive oil and any number of ingredients – frozen spinach and cherry tomatoes; lemon zest and pecorino romano; fresh arugula and kidney beans; shrimp, white wine and garlic; capers and canned tomatoes; tuna and greek olives; fresh basil and toasted pine nuts… the possibilities are endless and are all pretty delicious to boot.

Now that summer is in full swing, I’ve been switching up routine to take full advantage of the abundance of locally grown produce. It’s my own never-ending salad bar. Same rules apply: any and everything is fair game.

One of my favorite food writers, NYT columnist Mark Bittman (aka ‘The Minimalist), shares my ‘fresh-is-more’ approach and is out to prove it with this July story: 101 Simple Salads for the Season. All, in theory, take less than 20 minutes to prepare with simple ingredients in your fruit and veggie crisper. Fear not, carnivores – there are plenty of entries that include meat and seafood, as well as grains, lentils and noodles. #59 is a personal favorite, as are #41 and #47. It’s summer – time to step away from the stove.

Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
Image courtesy of Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

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To Market, To Market

August 2, 2009
Which is why I am only too eager to pull myself out of bed on a Saturday, hours before any other rational twentysomething, while the morning is still cool and quiet: The Farmer’s Market. There are plenty of early regulars like me, clutching carafes of hot coffee as we sleepily meander through aisles of garden blooms, fresh produce, local vendors. Some, like Rose Marie the baguette lady, know me by name. There’s the bagel bakery, dried fruit stand, french pastry chefs, honey harvesters; the cheese people and citrus farmers are regular stops, too, even if only for samples.
And while the cherry scones are to die for, my favorite part of this Saturday tradition is the atmosphere itself – the small-town-without-pretense simplicity of a stroll in the park, happy dogs on leashes, tee shirts and sweats, friendly greetings of acquaintance. As the crowd begins to fill in, I’ll take my little breakfast to a bench in the rose garden or wander the avenue in a sort of dreamy haze,

One of the necessary results of spending 40+ hours living in a greenish, office fluorescent tint is the acute realization of free time – every moment being so precious that my body has physically adapted to a sense of urgency. Carpe-the-Diem! Which is why I am only too eager to pull myself out of bed on a Saturday, hours before any other rational twentysomething, while the morning is still cool and quiet: The Farmer’s Market.

There are plenty of early regulars like me, clutching carafes of hot coffee as we sleepily meander through aisles of garden blooms, fresh produce, local vendors. Though, I must admit to a sense of elitist camaraderie with this group, the privileged few to share in what feels to be an incredible secret. The rest of the world will soon wake and begin the rush of their weekend tasks; but for now, my biggest effort involves trying to decide how best to spend the $10 bill I’ve allotted myself ($20 quickly proving a wallet hazard). Rose Marie the baguette lady, who knows me by name, is far too easy and I’m a sucker for her kalamata olive bread and perfectly dense scones. Then there’s the bagel bakery, dried fruit and nut stand, french pastry chefs, honey harvesters; the cheese people for reggiano or romano and citrus farmers for sugar-sweet red grapefruit are regular stops, too. I have yet to succumb to the bags of freshly popped kettle corn or the candy-covered apples, knowing it will be impossible to skip over on my subsequent visits. I will, however, shamelessly accept numerous samples.

And while my freshly bought cherry scones are to die for, the favorite part of this Saturday tradition is the atmosphere itself – the small-town-without-pretense simplicity of a stroll in the park, happy dogs on leashes, tee shirts and sweats, friendly greetings of acquaintance. As the crowd begins to fill in, I’ll take my little breakfast to a bench in the rose garden or wander the avenue in a sort of dreamy haze, knowing there is no better place to be.

At First Bite

August 1, 2009

As you can probably guess, I like food. A lot. I can’t think about warm, freshly baked almond croissants without a slight feeling of giddiness, and secretly daydream about kitchen space in the same way most girls entertain fantasies of walk-in closets. It’s not just that I like to eat; think of it more along the lines of “a pursuit of the culinary aesthetic” – an inner craving for  the homegrown, made-from-scratch and authentic in the context of scenes far-away and familiar. Food, for me, is not just flavor or even function; at the risk of sounding cliche, it’s a reference to a series of points along a journey where I find myself the most content – the intersection of the edible and the everyday.