This Little Piggy Stayed Home

As our weather starts warming up, my thoughts are full of ways to utilize our gas grill. I love virtually anything grilled, from veggies, to pizza, to skewers, to ribs. I recognize that this is my second post in a row using my Ras el Hanout spice blend, but it’s so extremely versatile. Here I use it in both the marinade and the basting sauce. I can’t stand over-cooked pork, and this treatment is fool-proof using the combination of boneless country-style ribs that are marinated and basted with a blend of marinade and honey. They are served over roasted sweet peppers and red onions.

The relish, really compliments the grilled skewers, with bold flavors of grilled onions, olives, capers, balsamic vinegar and parsley. I could easily see this relish on grilled flank steak as well. I was recently gifted with a bottle of 18 year balsamic vinegar, which put it over the top!

MARINATED PORK SKEWERS WITH ONION, CAPER RELISH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated on micro planer
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 2 onions, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, seeded and cut into 6ths
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 cup red grape tomatoes

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, Ras el hanout, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of marinade to small bowl and set aside. Combine remaining marinade and cubed pork in 1-gallon zip lock bag and toss to coat. Press out as much air as possible and seal bag. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place peppers, red onions and grape cherry tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until soft and slightly charred. These will be served a room temperature.
  3. Preheat gas grill on high for 15 minutes. Skewer onion slices on metal skewer and baste with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Clean grates, turn down to medium and grill onions until soft and slightly charred. Bring in and set aside.
  4. Whisk reserved marinade with honey and microwave until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Remove pork from bag and thread tightly on 2-3 metal skewers.
  5. Place pork skewers on grill (it’s already heated at medium), cover and grill, turning every 2 minutes and basting pork with honey mixture; until pork in browned and registers 140 degrees. Remove and let rest while you finish the relish.
  6. Chop grilled onions, and combine with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, olives, capers, balsamic vinegar and parsley.
  7. Place roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes on platter, top with pork skewers. Pass relish.

Serves 4-6

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“Looks can be deceiving, it’s eating that’s believing!” –James Thurber

Talking Heads

We absolutely love vegetables. I guess that is one of the reasons that we are vegetable farmers. I have seen multiple recipes for roasting whole heads of cauliflower. In fact I think it’s a ‘thing’. Two years ago I created a Ras el Hanout spice mix that I have used on endless things, from Lamb Ragu, to Moroccan Almonds, to this roasted cauliflower. The mix is savory more than just hot. I feel that you have a party in your mouth when you taste it. You can find this mix in my new cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat! It is also available on this blog by searching for Moroccan Almonds. This would accompany anything on the grill, particularly lamb chops. We ate it with leftovers and were swooning!

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium to large cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Several grinds of fresh black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a pot large enough to hold the head of cauliflower, fill with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Clean cauliflower by removing outside leaves and cutting core horizontally so it sits level.
  2. Bring water to a boil and place cauliflower head in the pot with the core on top.  The whole head does not have to be submerged. Cover with lid and cook for 6 minutes. Lift with slotted spoon and place in wire mesh strainer for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place head of cauliflower in a casserole dish that gives it several inches around it.
  4. Melt butter, oil, salt, pepper and Ras el Hanout over low heat. Baste with butter and spice mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Baste again. Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Your cauliflower will take from 45 to 90 minutes depending on its size. Baste every 25 minutes until a metal skewer inserted in center indicates that the cauliflower is soft. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slices into wedges.

Serves 4-6

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Laughter is the brightest, in the place where the food is.”  –Irish Proverb

The Best of Both Worlds

Now that our shelter in place order has been extended to May 15th, we are all seeking comfort through various ways. For me, cooking and food are my go to sources for calming myself. It is gradually getting warmer, we are planting in our greenhouse, the garlic is growing, and my daffodils are blooming.

These days, when I ponder what to make, it comes from a place of what is available? It becomes a combination of home-canning, frozen, fresh and pantry staples. I must say that when you put a little thought into it, you will be surprised at what you can come up with to warm the belly. This time it was a fusion of both Greek and Italian cuisines that worked quite well together. I love to make spanakopita, but was out of phyllo dough, I had my quarts of roasted tomato sauce and uncooked lasagna sheets. Then it hit me, why not combine the spanakopita in a lasagna? Bingo, the best of both worlds. It gave us a couple days of comfort food.

SPANAKOPITA LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 sheets of oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounce bag of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained in a wire strainer
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 green onions, using both white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 10 ounces crumbled feta
  • 16 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 quart of roasted tomato sauce (or equivalent of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 ceramic pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the drained spinach in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the remaining water. Place spinach in a large bowl.
  3. Add lemon zest, dill, green onions, garlic, eggs, feta and goat cheese. Mix gently but thoroughly until combined.
  4. In a bowl, combine your pasta sauce with the two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Place a ladle full of pasta sauce in bottom of baking dish, and evenly spread it. Place three oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 cup of filling on each sheet and distribute evenly. Top with three more lasagna sheets, repeat with filling. Repeat one more time. You should have 3 layers of spinach mixture.
  5. On the top of the final lasagna sheets, pour an equal amount of pasta sauce over the 3 groups of layered sheets. Top with mozzarella. Cover with foil and place in pre-heated oven. Bake covered for 25 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbling.
  6. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6

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“A good cook works by the fire of imagination not merely by the fire in the stove.”

Robert Coffin

We Eat With Our Eyes

It is often said that we eat with our eyes.  I believe this is true.  When a dish looks appetizing and beautiful we want to savor it; we might eat a little slower so we can stretch out the experience.  I have made many quiches; some with, some without a crust, but this technique makes the final product a feast for the eyes.  We are fortunate to raise chickens that lay eggs with extremely dark yolks.  This made the color of this quiche a bright yellow, which only added to its appeal.  It is made in a spring-form pan instead of a pie plate.  This allows for a nice deep well for the filling, which I appreciate; but the real joy comes from using hash browns as the crust.  It literally comes out looking like a work of art.

Feel free to change up the ingredients in the filling to suit what you have or your taste preferences.  You can use arugula instead of spinach or a combination of the two.  You can also use Swiss chard.  Vegetarians can leave out the bacon, and you can use Comte instead of Gruyere.  You decide. It will all taste delicious.

SPINACH & GRUYERE QUICHE WITH A HASH BROWN CRUST

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INGREDIENTS:

FOR HASH BROWN CRUST:

  • 1 package frozen hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 farm-fresh egg, light beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

FOR THE QUICHE:

  • 1/2 cup red (or any color you have) seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 farm-fresh egg whites, and 3 additional farm-fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or Comte cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups lightly packed spinach and/or arugula mixed
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with olive oil, then line both bottom and sides with parchment paper; brush with oil again.
  2. Combine the hash browns, melted butter, garlic salt and egg.  Mix thoroughly and press into spring form pan, pushing them up the sides.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hash browns start to crisp up.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUICHE:

  1. Fry bacon in skillet, drain and crumble.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onions, red pepper and garlic for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add spinach and saute for another 1-2 minutes or until spinach has wilted.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, combine the egg whites, whole eggs, 1/2 and 1/2, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Add the cooled onions and red pepper and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into hash brown crust in spring form pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

Serves 6

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Note:  This recipe is from my new cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat.  You can purchase it at our website

“The kitchen is seasoned with love.”

Shelter From The Storm

As we wind up week six of social distancing, I am recognizing my emotions looming large.  One minute grief, then anger, jumping to anxiety, then surprising me completely by hope. I can be washing the dishes or folding clothes and I find tears running down my face.  I listen to the news and feel angry at people who aren’t taking this virus seriously.  I’m furious at the misinformation and lies.  I wake up during the night and process thoughts for 2-4 hours.  There are times I think, “What’s wrong with me? Am I losing my mind?” The truth is, I am completely normal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I am simply leaning fearlessly into my emotions. I want to know what is below the surface of my packaging. The average person didn’t see the corona-virus coming; and then the world came to a collective pause. Everything changed. Nothing is as is was.

We are in shock. I keep hearing people wanting to get back to normal. Yet what does that look like? Why long to return to an existence that was not working for most of us? I for one, have no desire to return to the times of collective exhaustion, greed and disconnection.  In this collective pause why not dream of a better way? Why not take these precious  moments and rein-vision something that sustains and nourishes us? We already know how to distance. We’ve been running away from healthy solutions for humans and the planet for generations, chasing our desire for bigger and better until the world couldn’t take it anymore.

For now, cooking and my kitchen help to steady my emotional tides. Preparing food for me is like meditation or prayer for some. One thing I do know: we need to practice a lot more kindness and compassion for each other. Our world is not a virtual reality; it is the reality. Right here, right now. We all yearn for shelter from the storm.

 

 

 

Spring Green

During these times of perceived scarcity, it’s always good to recognize that nature offers up gifts to those who’s eyes are willing to see them.  Our land during Civil War times was a brickyard.  The clay was ideal for profits from this product and bricks were shipped by rail between Detroit and Chicago.  In World War II, the land was turned into an onion farm to help feed the troops.  This is where our story begins today, as the land is covered with wild chives by the thousands waiting for someone to notice them.  I dry them in our food dehydrator to use in the winter, but the real treat is when they are turned into pesto.  Now there are as many pesto recipes as there are cooks, but isn’t it wonderful when you have something randomly growing that can be used?  I think so.

This morning I put a teaspoon in my scrambled eggs; whipped it into the eggs with a little half and half and it was delicious.  The options for using wild chive pesto are only as limited as our imaginations.  Try using it as a base for a vinaigrette, or thinning it with additional olive oil, vinegar and mustard then tossing it with hot red-skinned potatoes for a French take on warm potato salad.  Don’t be afraid to add other herbs to it like dill or parsley; it makes a good dip when mixed with sour cream or Greek yogurt.  Swirl it into a brothy soup for a touch of spring.  I think you’re getting the idea.

WILD CHIVE PESTO

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups cleaned, lightly packed wild chives, cut into manageable lengths with scissors
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts or pistachios)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil

 

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. You will need 3-4 4 ounce canning jars ready, as these are perfect size for freezing this pesto.  Then with your food processor running, drop your garlic cloves in one at a time until they are minced and clinging to the sides of the bowl.
  2. Open up your food processor and place your 4 cups of lightly packed wild chives in the bowl.  Add to this your pine nuts, and salt.
  3. Pulse your ingredients for about 5 times, so they are blended together; then with you processor running, slowly pour in a 1/4 cup of your olive oil.  Stop your processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Turn your processor back on and pour an additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Open your processor and check to see if it’s at the consistency you want (I usually look for a loose paste).  Taste to see if the salt component is to your liking.
  5. Spoon into 4 ounce canning jars and top with additional olive oil.  This will easily keep in the freezer for up to a year.

Yield: 3-4 4 ounces jars

“The real voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”

—Marcel Proust

 

Grandma Knew Best

Entering week five of sheltering in place, during the novel corona-virus pandemic; and  I’m discovering skills I didn’t know I had.  I’ve never been much of a baker.  Not because I don’t like wonderful baked goods, but because I have an aversion to measuring.  Writing cookbooks was challenging when trying to deliver a consistent product.  I basically wing it, taste, adjust, taste again as I go along.  Being at home consistently for this length of time has taught me several things.  One, why should I be talking myself out of something, when I really should be talking myself into something new?  I’ve always played with food, why not play with baking?  So I’ve been starting with savory quick breads and muffins with great results.  If there’s a down side to this exploration, it’s that  I’m now slightly obsessed, and one thing is leading to another.

This week it’s soda bread.  My wife Val inherited a 100 year old cast iron skillet from her Grandmother years ago (along with a classic potato masher), so I wanted to try out a soda bread using a skillet, rather than a free-form shape.  I’m coming around to the beauty of these old skillets for many uses, and I enjoy the historical continuity of using something that was handed down from a previous generation.  I mixed the bread in my Grandmother’s pottery mixing bowl, so I was channeling traditions from both families.  It felt wholesome somehow, and a basic quick bread like this could have been made by either of our Grandmother’s.  Val makes a delicious golden raisin and candied ginger scone that I love, and this reminded me of that texture with a savory profile.

I’m afraid that I will run out of flour, before I run out of ideas; but the experimentation was certainly worth it.  Next challenge, homemade pasta.

SKILLET SODA BREAD WITH ROASTED RED PEPPERS & FETA

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper, (I used jarred), drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, oregano, black pepper and cubed butter, using a pastry cutter or fork to incorporate the butter.  The mixture should resemble course crumbs.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk and add it to the flour mixture.  Combine the dough using a large wooden spoon or spatula until it’s almost incorporated.
  3. Add the roasted peppers and feta and finish mixing.  Kneed the dough with your hands for a few minutes until comes together and transfer it to a greased cast iron pan (I use ghee).  Using a serrated knife, score the bread into four sections to help prevent it from bubbling up in the center.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Serve warm with butter.

Serves: 8

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“People who give you their food, give your their heart.”  –Cesar Chavez

 

Made To Order

Well, we’ve been self-sheltering for a month now and we are entering that phase of searching through the freezer, pantry and reduced items in the refrigerator.  As vegetable farmers we are fortunate that we do a lot of canning and freezing during the optimal summer months; and for that we are grateful.  With a little thought and creativity, it’s amazing just what you can come up with that is not only inventive, but delicious!

We don’t eat many sweet things in our household.  We lean more to the savory spectrum.  I can enjoy a quick bread like zucchini or pumpkin as well as the next person; but this….this savory quick bread has multiple options galore.  Remember that piece of ham you froze during the holiday’s?  Perfect.  That hunk on cheese in your refrigerator?  Yes!  Don’t like Gruyere ?  Ok…use cheddar.  Those herbs in your crisper that need to be used or composted soon? Yup.  Vegetarian?  Leave out the ham and toss in some olives, or sun-dried tomatoes.  You can make two loaves and freeze one.  I love it toasted the next day with butter and a fresh slice of tomato and sprouts.  You are only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy.

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SAVORY QUICK BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), melted and cooled
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup ham, chopped in small cubes
  • 1/4 cup scallions, using both green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or dill, chives or tarragon)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) Gruyere, Swiss or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk *

Note:  If you find yourself without buttermilk on hand, use 1 cup whole milk and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar.

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a metal 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power, salt and baking soda.  Stir in chopped ham (or olives and sun-dried tomatoes), scallions, herb of choice, and all but 1/4 cup of your selected cheese (you will use the rest for topping).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs and buttermilk.  Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  The batter will be thick.
  4. Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan.  Spread batter out evenly with a spatula.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed, about 45-55 minutes.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from loaf pan and let completely cool on wire rack.

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Yield: 1 loaf

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Give Me Shelter

As I sit at my desk right now, my home is silent and I recognize the daily importance of silence in my life.  Silence is a dear friend, the kind of friend that can sit with you and not feel uncomfortable when listening to the sound of the heart.  We are so bombarded with noise; we are plugged in and turned on.  Unabated noise can be an onslaught of constant stimulation in a way that confuses, rather than comforts.

During this period of sheltering in place or social distancing,  we are offered an opportunity to listen to our own thoughts. Living a rural life offers periods of time when you don’t see many people, yet I am never lonely.  Our social time largely centers around our weekly appearance at our farmers market to sell our wares.  I can be quite a talker and this is a great time for discussion and sharing.  Now that this is not an option, I do miss the absence of that scheduled human contact; the hugs, the warm conversations with customers, friends and vendors.  However this extended time away from our social connections, allows us to pare down even further in the discovery of what we really value in our life.

Adversity has the power to change us if we are open to that change.  It is my sincere hope that people pause and reevaluate what is most important to them and then act on that knowledge.  May this challenging time provide the reset needed, and the catalyst for manifesting better lives for ourselves and each other.

SALMON WITH ARTICHOKES, CAPERS AND SPINACH

Make sure you have all you ingredients measured and prepped, as this comes together rather quickly.  You don’t want to overcook your salmon!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-4 wild caught salmon fillets, weighing approximately 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can 15 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  You will want to sear your salmon in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet.  Generously salt and pepper your fillets.
  2. When your oil is hot, add salmon fillets flesh side down (skin side up).  Sear for about 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and turn each fillet over (skin side down).  Sear for another 4-5 minutes until salmon is almost flaky.
  3. Remove salmon from skillet.  In the same skillet, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, grated garlic, chopped artichokes and capers. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add fresh spinach, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spinach wilts, 1-2 more minutes.
  5. Add heavy cream and paprika.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Add fillets back to pan with vegetable and cream.  Heat gently for about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve with sauce spooned over fish.

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“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.  –Proverb

Opportunity Knocks

As we all creep forward during this time of uncertainty; nature, reading, planting our vegetable farm and cooking are keeping me grounded and hopeful.  Rural living is a calming lifestyle that continues to nourish us.  Even with the farm year slowly ramping up, we have an established rhythm for daily life, that is forward thinking and hopeful.  Regardless of how this crisis plays out, if we can’t get to the farmers market to sell our food, it will certainly not be wasted.  We will be canning, along with making sure that our neighbors have access to fresh food. I respect that our farmers market is staying open, with a plan of action and necessary precautions.  Young farmers and businesses need to serve their communities and stay open as long as possible.  As elders, with my wife having a compromised immune system, we have been self-sheltering with the understanding that growing food is the very best use of our time.

It is often said that the character of a individual is how they respond to adversity.  After all happiness is an inside job; but I admit to having several sleepless nights. I am keenly aware of my privilege in feeling relatively safe during this time.  My heart hurts for people who have lost their jobs, businesses that have had to close, people without a sufficient safety net to get them through this time of uncertainty.  I trust the creativity and innovation of people, much more than the total lack of leadership at the federal level.  I know we will collectively get through this stressful time.  It is my hope that lessons will be learned that can lift all of us up, in the face of future challenges.

Actually, self-sheltering has been our rural life style.  When people come to the farm to laugh, cook and eat with us, they often say how they need to be a part of something with purpose.  Urban living has its own forms of signature stress.  They see a well lived in home, with a rich history, surrounded by land and vegetables, as something distant from their own reality.  We look forward to being able to welcome our friends back into our home and break bread together.  In the meantime, reading, writing, planting and preparing food is our devotion.

I usually make the following recipe during the summer months, but I have found that the use of frozen corn and the frozen cherry tomatoes that I put up during the last farm season create a beautiful and delicious alternative.  Depending on your circumstances and location, most grocery stores have cherry tomatoes even this time of year.

FRESH CORN POLENTA WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ears of fresh corn (or 6 cups frozen)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 7 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen cherry tomatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish

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INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE TOMATOES:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour cherry tomatoes and garlic onto sheet pan and drizzle 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.  Roll the tomatoes around with the palms of your hands to evenly coat.
  2. Sprinkle the tomatoes and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and toss the tomatoes.  Return to oven for 20-30 minutes more or until the tomatoes have slit and are slightly brown in some places.

FOR POLENTA:

  1. If using fresh corn, peel the leaves and silk from each ear, then chop off the pointed top and stalk.  Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels, taking care to remove as much of the ‘milk’ below the kernels as possible, while stabilizing the cob on a cutting board.  You will need 6 cups of kernels.
  2. Place the fresh or frozen kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with water.  Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer.  Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid in a Pyrex measuring cup.
  3. Process for several minutes; you want to break as much of the kernel case as possible.  Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
  4. Return the corn paste to the pan with some of the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10-15 minutes; or until the corn mixture thickens to a mashed potato consistency. (the more liquid you use, the longer this process will take; watch carefully in case it sputters)
  5. Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Spoon some of the polenta into individual shallow bowls,.  Spoon roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic on top.  Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.

Serves: 4

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“When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them— some food, a place in our homes, our time— not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched.”  —Pope Francis