Friday, September 01, 2006


Last year I learned the value of wearing aprons. This year, I am gaining an appreciation for cooking by recipe. Cookbooks have been, for me, a good read and a source from which to garner inspiration, but not necessarily tools to cook with. I learned how to cook instinctually, throwing things together to form a meal, without refrence to a written word. With my ever increasing bounty of fresh garden veggies, I have turned to my cookbook collection for inspired solutions to my increasingly crowded pantry and refrigerator. Could there be a recipe that calls for a large quantities of dill, a few beets, beans, potatos, and carrots?

Why couldn't I think of this myself? Perestroika!

Never in my life have I seen a recipe that calls for as much dill as it does say beans or beets! I found it in The Native Foods Restaurant cookbook. The prep time is lengthy, and if you don't already have the ingredients on hand, it would be pricey to make. But damn, is it ever so tasty! Peretroika means "rebuilding the system," and I'm guessing it must be Russian. Here's the ingredients:

2 medium gold potatos (boiled, peeled & chopped), 3 medium beets (boiled, peeled, chopped), 2 medium carrots (chopped & blanched), 1 cup chopped fresh green beans (blanched), 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (blanche if frozen), I cup chopped fresh dill, 1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette (I'd hold back a little on this, maybe 1/2 cup), salt to taste. Just toss them all together in a bowl, garnish with fresh dill sprigs, chopped bell pepper. the book suggests garnishing with Quick Tofu Egg: (1 tsp sunflower oil, 4 oz tofu any style/texture crumbled, 2 pinches tumeric, dash salt: heat oil and saute ingredients until color is uniform)

As I continue to pick several pounds of beans a day, I will no doubt be turning to my cook books for solutions. Hopefully canning is a solution in the near future. Otherwise, does anybody need some beans... say 20 pounds or so?

Monday, August 28, 2006

feeding people

there's very little that can compare to the pleasure of sharing food with friends, especially when it is food you have sown, nurtured, harvested and prepared. tonight i had the rare pleasure of entertaining impromptu dinner guests. living as far off the beaten path as i do, i've grown accustomed to making plans for company several days in advance. tonight was a rare treat, with three friends arriving at my doorstep, serrendipitously at the same time as the sun was just starting to set.

i had invited each in passing conversation, because last night i made a large pot of the most amazing soup. i should insert here, for your reference, the pattern of my summer evenings: when i come home from work, i change into my garden bibs and tend to my garden tasks until there's not enough light left to work by. then i take what i have harvested into the kitchen and get to work on finding an immediate use for my bounty. sometimes i fix something quick, but as the quantity of my harvests has increased, i have gotten more ambitious. recent evenings (nights, really) have found me in my kitchen cooking up large entrees that spotlight my garden goods. this usually takes me to about 10pm. if i'm still on a kick, i'll work on preserving (freezing, drying, etc.) or researching recipes for my goods (right now it's beets, beans, basil, dill and okra). i end the whole night off with playing a few tunes on the banjo and then falling, exhausted into bed.

now, the amazing soup! i spent part of my sunday researching recipes that included okra or beets, and i discovererd a soup that i had to make on the spot: Cape Verde Vegetable Soup. since one of my dearest friends has recently moved to cape verde, i was especially drawn to the recipe. (Cape Verde is the western most point of the african continent. it's a volcanic island, and i know little about it aside from a box set of traditional music of cape verde that i used to own.) i am a big fan of vegetable soup made with fresh veggies, but i tend to make more of a thick stew with a heavy tomato base. this soup is very light, perfect for eating in warmer weather. i found the recipe in Sundays at Moosewood. I won't list it here, but the soup has cabbage, potato, okra, fresh tomato, onion, garlic, ground dried chiles, thyme, cilantro, and lemon. we had it with fried green tomatos and bruschetta topped with fresh basil, dill, tomato and feta. all the veggies were from my garden except the cabbage and the dried chiles.

i had planned to put my beets, beans, dill and potatos to use by making a batch of perestroika (russian salad) tonight, but given the time (nearly 1 am!), i think i'll quit with the boiled beets, and assemble the rest of the ingredients tomorrow! i will then update you on last week's visit by the russians, a whole bus load!