(photo courtesy USDA.GOV)
Once upon a time, well actually, less than a century ago, our ancestors knew how to farm the land with out the use of chemical fertilizers, weed killers, excessive pesticides, and genetically modified seeds (seeds that had been scientifically and biologically altered from their natural state). Farmers as they had for many generations before them, saved the seeds from their own heirloom crops from year to year. They nurtured their land, farmed responsibly, and provided food for their families as well as the local community. People ate with the seasons, preserved the bumper crops, and food did not typically travel more then 50 miles to the table it would eventually be served on.
Today life is much different then it was in those good old days. Science, industry, technology, and the population have all experienced rapid growth. Our communities are no longer self sustaining and many of the things we buy including our food, comes from other countries. The contents in an average bag of groceries has often traveled over 1,500 miles before it has found its way into our home and many of the items we buy are made with ingredients we can not pronounce. The safety and integrity of these products are no longer in the hands of the traditional farmer, but in the hands of major agricultural companies such as Monsanto. Companies that play an interesting role in the future development of farming practices and the current production of many of the United States’ major crops. Read more…
Notes from my kitchen
If you have ever tasted the delicate flavor of the first baby lettuce of the season or have experienced the joy of standing in a backyard garden while eating early garden peas right from the pod, then you know the pleasure the first crops of Spring can bring. Truly nothing can compare with how complex, rich, and concentrated their flavors are, especially just moments after they have been harvested.
The first produce to hit the local markets is bright, colorful, and crisp, its aroma alone could almost be considered hypnotic. Strolling through the farmers market it takes quite a bit of restraint not to overfill your basket and just run with it like there is no tomorrow. Instinctively, our bodies seem to respond to this colorful array with a pent up longing for the potent vitamins and minerals that we have been lacking through most of the winter. Not surprisingly, the items you find will offer your body exactly what it needs to shake off the last of the winter blues, energizing you for the longer days ahead.
If ever there was a time to temporarily discard recipes, prepare food by instinct, and serve it closest to its natural state, this would be the time. A light splash of lemon juice, a good olive oil, and the tiniest bit of sea salt is all you need to dress a salad right now. There is no need for anything complicated, the greens which are always most tender in the spring, speak volumes all on their own. The fruit is absolutely luscious and seductive dripping with juices when you bite or cut into it. Drizzle raspberries with the tiniest bit of local honey and serve them on thin baguette slices, which have been spread with an almost sheer layer of mascarpone cheese… one of my all time favorite treats! Truly, with very little effort, it is really quite painless to eat like kings and queens when you pause from cooking and merely assemble your food. Read more…
Sometimes I like to pause, take a deep breath, and really give my senses a few minutes to absorb and truly connect to the moment I am in…
Today as I do this, I reflect that Spring is still a couple of days away, yet it is warm enough to have opened some windows. I watch entranced, as our sheer white curtains are illuminated with the sunlight and billow softly in the breeze. The air around me is ionized and literally charged with the fore coming birth of a new season. Outside my window, the bright cornflower blue sky drapes over my city like a luxurious swatch of rare silk. Resting below it are the new blades of bright green grass that carpet the freshly awakened rich black soil, bestowing on it a sense of renewal and no doubt setting the stage for what will be a brilliant performance in the days and weeks ahead. Listening closely I hear the faint flutter of wings and the chirping of baby robins just a few feet away.
Who I am not:
I am not a chef, I have never been classically trained in a 5 star culinary school in an exotic location, I do not own or work in a trendy café, I have never worked on a farm, or run a booth at a local produce market, my gardening attempts are amateur at best, and I can honestly say that I have never really written for an audience before.
Who I am:
I am a home cook that is very passionate when it comes to the food I make and serve those I love. I believe Saturday mornings were created to be spent leisurely wandering through a local produce market or farm stand absorbing the sights, colors, fragrances, and flavors of the season.
When traveling or on vacation, the local markets are always high on my list of tourist attractions. My poor husband has been dragged through so many of them, that I have often wondered if maybe he wishes he married another woman, the one that can not stand to cook and does not created mountains of dishes and ransack the kitchen from time to time.