Locally grown!

We have a lovely vegetable market here, that sells all sorts of locally grown lovely things. We live not far from Vidalia, Ga, home of the famous Vidalia Onion, and yes, we can get them as tiny spring onions…oh boy…

Also, melons grow here…cantaloupes, watermelons, honeydews, crenshaws…all those melony things that are delicious in so many ways, my favorite being an addition to lemonade. Oh yes…Around here, you buy a watermelon at the Farmer’s Market for $2, cantaloupes from $1…jealous yet? My husband grew up in Cordele, Ga, The Watermelon Capital Of The World, and will only eat the heart of the melon, considering the seeded part trash, and please, don’t even get him started on seedless melons (“flavorless” is the kindest thing he has to say about them).

To make the lemonade addition, cube up the melon meat and freeze it in cubes on a cookie sheet liked with plastic wrap. When it’s frozen, put them in a bag for storage in the freezer. Then, when you make lemonade, put it in a blender with several cubes of melon and whizz it up. Voila! Melon lemonade! A mint leaf or two is a lovely addition.

Tonight we’re having company for dinner. I am going to smoke a pair of chickens stuffed with lemon slices and fresh oregano. (coat the skin with olive oil and cracked pepper).

Sides will include a (locally grown and organic) roasted corn and black bean salad (local bell peppers, tiny green Vidalia onions, cilantro vinagrette)and oh mah goodness…

Huge sliced tomatoes, (local of course) beefsteak tomatoes perfectly ripe and picked earlier in the day. Not grown by me, alas,my garden is late, but by a local farmer who is better at gardening than I am. Those thick slices will be sprinkled with fresh chopped herbs (oregano, basil and chives) from the garden.

Pictures? Maybe. If I think of it…


All that fresh produce!

I’ve decided to attempt vegetarianism for the Summer. Not out of any real uppity sort of Save The World And The Baby Animals sort of thing, just…I don’t know. An evaluation of my diet resulted in the realization that I don’t *NEED* meat. Sure, I like a steak as much as the next person, if it’s cooked properly, and I LOVE me some smoked bacon…but to need it? No. Notsomuch.

I already eat quite a bit of whole grains, bake all our bread (except for the occasional English Muffin someone brings in…and bagels.), and cook with legumes. Now that school is out for the Summer, #4 son (he’s 13) will be released from the concern of digestive side effects from the beans. He doesn’t particularly mind them, but everyone else in the classroom does.

So…vegetarian it is. I will still eat eggs,and dairy (occasionally) in the form of high quality cheeses and yogurt and butter on the breakfast toast. For some (probably hypocritical or poorly thought out) reason I have issues with the chicken farming of birds we eat, but no such sensitivities toward the poor hens that churn out eggs day after day like avian Pez disensers. I also know with relative surety that dairy cows tend to be well cared for…the ones around here are, anyway.  I also know of a source for local yard eggs and have a friend who has a friend with a cow, so it is possible I may have a source of Real Milk.  That investigation is for later. Too much change at one time is upsetting to the balance of the universe, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

Now, I am not forcing this lifestyle and philosophical change on my family.  They are men. They want meat. I know this. They don’t mind the (very) occasional meatless meal, as long as it has plenty of pasta in it, but to tell them NO MEAT for an entire Summer would invite all sorts of hysterics and grumpiness and they are, for the most part, good men and I want them to be happy. Therefore, I will grill them small pieces of meat to enhance the (whatever) was prepared for supper.  I am taking the Asian approach, that uses meat as a side dish or even a condiment rather than The Main Event. Unless there’s steak, which will totally be the centerpiece of the meal and I surely will set aside my principles for that.  And ribs, probably.

Ultimately I would like to replace the farmed meat, bought from the store as red blobs wrapped in plastic, and replace that will real meat, from animals that lived in the woods and ate the abundant flora of the Deep South, and were not inoculated against everything with all kinds of antibiotics and given growth hormones and fed dead stuff.  Venison is abundant here, as are feral pigs, rabbits, squirrels…rabbits and squirrels are nice substitutes for chicken.  There are hunters in the family and friends list, who are currently being bribed with promises of homemade smoked jerky in exchange for meat.

But for now, it is not hunting season, and it’s too hot to be eating all that meat anyway, so I am making tasty salads.  Today’s version is an adaptation (and absolute alteration into being no longer recognizable) white bean salad, that I got the recipe from….I think it was an old issue of Fine Cooking.  Anyway, it uses white beans of some sort. I’ve made it with cannellini beans, but being where we are, I can only find those in cans, and with the salt issues, canned is Not Allowed, so I use dried navy beans.  Also, the local produce market, which conveniently sells  (wait for it….) LOCAL PRODUCE had a buncha stuff, so I bought it, thinking “hey, this would be good,so would that, oo look at these!” and by the time I was done, the recipe was no longer recognizable as the one from Fine Cooking and I really don’t care.  So here’s what happened (pictures? Fie on pictures. I am too busy flinging and chopping.)

1-1/2 pounds navy beans.

a whole pot full of water

Put the beans in the water (after washing them and picking stuff out), put the pot on simmer and ignore it for (hmmmm….how long? Let’s call it 4 hours) When the beans are done, nice and soft, look in the pot and realize you cooked too many, and take out about 4 cups of the cooked beans, and use them to make hummus. White beans make tasty hummus with a wonderful texture.

Drain the rest of the beans and set aside.

Now, you want these:

4 ears of fresh local  (and almost too young to pick ) corn. Cut it off the cob and saute in a little olive oil until it has crusty brown bits on it. Try to restrain yourself from peppering it right then and eating it out of the skillet.  If you can’t, be sure and buy some extra corn.

2 small zucchini, cut into small pieces.

4 roma tomatoes, also cut into bits.

The idea is that you want about the same amount of each vegetable by volume, and about the same amount of beans as you do all of the vegetables combined.

2 avocados, cut into small chunks and tossed with a little bit of lemon juice to keep it from browning.

3 green onions, chopped

a good handful each of flat leaf parsley, basil, and oregano. Fresh, please, not dried.

Toss everything together, then make the dressing (O so COMPLICATED…)

1/2 cup olive oil (if I were Ina Garten I’d say Good Olive Oil which translates into $20 per 1/2 pint…but I am not…so use what you have)

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic (next time I’m roasting a head of garlic and using that. The whole thing)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Put this stuff in a jar with a lid and shake it all up.  Pour over the salad and stir well. Serve it all with some crusty fresh bread that’s all warm and lovely.

Now tell me, who wouldn’t want to eat that in lieu (thanks to Ruth for telling me how to spell that properly) of some lump of factory raised meat that might make a man grow boobs?

Also…you could totally use cucumber in there too. however, Terry is allergic to to them so I sub with the zucchini in these sorts of recipes.