Jimmy the Ground Hog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin said spring would come early in Wisconsin. And it is. Lately, we’ve had days of 33 degrees on which kids descend coat-less from the school bus exclaiming, “It’s so WARM!” A few birds are tentatively singing. And when the snow falls, some of it even melts. But this melting is not all good at the end of this Wisconsin winter. Melting means that the snow which melted into water must now go somewhere. And when the snow on the roof melts, where will this new rooftop river run when the gutters remain packed with 9″ of ice? This ice dam is too high for the water to surmount, so instead that water flows through the roof and runs down the inside walls of the house. A waterfall right in the house. Such is the stuff of dreams.
Time for a food dream, – a summer food dream. It’s the only path past winter frustration. Must dream of food symbolizing summer. Must make summer salads. Must make herbed Greek salad with cucumbers! Read on for the recipe.
Valentine’s Day is past. Mardis Gras is over. The last of my chocolate cakes have been eaten. Time to get back to eating healthy foods again. It’s the boom and bust cycle of affluent eating. We can afford to eat fattening, tasty foods so we do. Then we regret that we did so we resolve to eat healthy foods… again. A lot of us made this resolution on January 1st. But by February 1st, we’d slipped. Yet how could we help it? Valentine’s Day is a whole day dedicated to eating chocolate. Mardis Gras is a whole night dedicated to eating in excess absolutely everything we want. The holidays and advertisers conspire against us…And now, here’s Lent. For Christian believers, Lent is 40 days of back on the wagon of healthy living. But not to despair, chocolate Easter bunnies are coming. In the meantime however, we need healthy foods that also taste good.
My first contribution to this post-Mardis Gras season is this recipe for cauliflower broccoli salad with apples and raisins, except as usual, I substituted cranberries for the raisins. Cranberries are a super-food that’s super healthy. But more to the point, I love cranberries. Keep reading for the recipe.
Just to let you know, my mom is not the only cook who neglects to specify proportions in a recipe. Linda and Roger Petterson, members of Wisconsin’s Harmony Valley Farm group, also seem to think dictating quantities superfluous. Their recipe for French Ratatouille is an excellent example of how the Petterson’s leave a cook room for creative interpretation. The recipe calls for zucchini, eggplant, onions, green pepper, tomato, parsley, basil, and olive oil. How much? You decide. How big is your pot? Or your appetite? Now the Pettersons do specify the quantity of garlic, – 1-2 heads (or do they really mean cloves,? Is a head one bunch of cloves? Probably in this recipe it matters little since everything else is relative). Yes, this recipe is the dream recipe for those cooks with attention-deficit disorder who have trouble following recipes to begin with.
In honesty, I am one of those recipe-following-challenged cooks. Perhaps my tendency to wander from obeying a recipe’s stated proportions is genetic, or perhaps it just plain results from being too-easily distracted. But none-the-less, I like recipes that lack stringent guidelines. I’ve more room for error that way, – error that needn’t be defined as error because, well with quantities lacking, who knew? Yes, the preparation of such recipes are more like experiments. So I am a kitchen experimenter. I couldn’t say scientist however, because I never record notes on my procedures or outcomes. Rather mine is a dance of whim that more and more often results in edible food.
So I was drawn to the Petterson’s recipe for French Ratatouille. And if you continue reading I’ll tell you the assembly procedure they do recommend. But first let me urge you to try making it yourself for reasons beyond any acknowledged cooking ineptitude. You should make this recipe because it its healthy. It’s all vegetables baked in healthy olive oil. No, it won’t look pretty, but in post-holiday winter neither do we. In Wisconsin we’re too bundled up for anyone to discern whose figure is svelte and whose isn’t. Which is all the more reason to make a lot of this vegetable dish now and eat it. Make a huge quantity, take it everyday to work for lunch, and by spring you will be as skinny as a string bean. This is a healthy way to eat, to diet, to enjoy food. Bon Apetite!
All 39 tomato plants in my garden are doing well. My care of them as seedlings must be paying off because now, despite my current neglect, they are producing a bumper crop of tomatoes. Pictured is one day’s harvest. In my search for ways to use up tomatoes, I found Anne Tedeschi’s recipe for Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce, and every day or so I make it. I modify it a bit by adding grated zucchini to the sauce because I’m trying to use up the zucchini in my garden also. Then I freeze the sauce in plastic bags for winter-time use.
But I’ve been enjoying the sauce right out of the pot too. It’s great over pasta. And the other day I tried Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm’s recipe for Easy Eggplant Cheese Casserole. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe.