Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the Cob

Okay, I am digging this summer season so much, and I cannot express how glad I am that we are not suffering the cold, soggy reality that was last year at this time. Not only is it amazing what a year will bring might this year be full of miracles – I have eaten cherries sooner than ever before granted seemingly at the cost of the shortest fiddlehead fern season ever. Though today, on my run to the market to drop off my compostibles a single stall had them spiraled up. Corn is in from south Jersey in June!!

Granted, not as girthed as they will be in the weeks to come those sweet white kernels were fully developed all the way to its tip just waiting. Now, you know I absolutely bought some, and let lunch be three cobs of corn stripped of its husk and silks and then consumed. No, cooking just baked in the nascent heat and light of the bourgeoning season. This day clear delineates, a shift for me, to a diet that is going to raw. While a sugar snap or shelling pea might get a bath of boiling water corn, tomatoes, zucchini are all serve au natural. Firstly, it is getting too hot in my kitchen to do more than heat up water for my morning brew. Then all these vegetables are edible uncooked – so why brother to do more then make a great dressing and serve. Though don’t I am converting a vegan, raw diet because there are scheduled bar-b-ques in the coming months where slabs, butts and wings will be bathed in smoke. Mother Nature in all her glory gives us the clues how to eat – on those hot, hazy, humid days a cool, caloric light meal does a body good. And, getting the first niblets of the season does put a smile to one’s face.

Vanilla Infused Dressing - yields approx. 1-1/4 cup
1/4 cup champagne or white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 3 drops Tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients together, save the oil. Then whisk in the oil.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ahh, the breaking light

A new day’s light has just barely broke on the eastern horizon, and my body stirs. I sleep in a bedroom that has a southern facing window that obscures any light by the brownstone on the other side of the courtyard so, why am waking with the first light? Am I that keyed into this solstice that like a morning glory the first rays of another day causes my mine to stir and arms to stretch out? My sleep pattern is completely in sync with the turning of the seasons because I know, come winter, I could sleep the slumber of a hibernating bear. But today, I will live within the full glory of twelve hours of penetrating light ready to retire with the retreating solar emissions.

I view this as the reason I could fulfill a long held fancy to farm – and farm fields of edible flowers and herbs. Walking through acres of fragrant blooms and leaves requiring the summer tilt of the earth to activate the potential growing within. I would welcome every bee in the neighborhood to buzz on by, and enjoy themselves with the hopes that I will be able drizzle some of their product over autumn’s apples.

For the next few months I will be the early bird knowing this the time to enjoy the benefits of the summer months, while keeping a knowing eye on one’s needs as the earth’s axis wobbles onto another angle.

Minted Lavender Iced Tea - yields approx. 2-quarts
2-ounces lavender (of stem and some flower)
8 to 10 stems mint
2-cups unsweetened guava juice

Bring 4-cups water to the boil. Add the mint and lavender and remove from the heat. Let the herbs steep until the water has gotten cold. Strain the water through a fine sieve, into a large container. Add another 2 cups of cold water and the guava ice. Chill before serving over ice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Canvas bag in hand
I stroll stands being seduced
tonight…a bowl of pleasure

Cold Pea Soup – yields approx 4 cups
4-cups freshly shelled peas (from approx. 2-1/2 pounds)
1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
1-packed cup sorrel leaves
1 ripe avocado
1/8-teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2-cup sliced radishes

Place the peas in a sauce pan of boiling water, and cooked the peas for 2 minutes. Drain the peas through a sieve.

In a blender add the lemon juice, sorrel leaves, avocado, fennel seeds, peas, and one cup of cold water. Process until absolutely smooth. Season the pea soup with salt and pepper.

Chill the soup completely. Serve cold garnished with sliced radishes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What a difference....

It is clear that Mother Nature does not use outlook nor does she carry around a personal data device that the rest of us might have access to. With just the first week of June having coming to a close I have already spied cherries!!

In the years that I have lived in this city, and been one of the devoted denizens of the farmer’s market I have never eaten a cherry before July 4th weekend. What a difference a year makes; last year the east coast got drenched with 28 days of rain and very chilly temperature giving us a never-ending April. All the while the residents of Seattle were sweltering under the constant downpour of sunshine.

After suffering a year without strawberries and under-delivering summer pleasure I am thrilled by the prospects of a season busting with cherries, superb strawberries and some the most fragrant lavender in years. Yes, I had to sacrifice an extended fiddlehead fern play-date but I welcome a bountiful summer harvest that requires more warmth and sunshine in order for it to make it to the table. Give me the heat; give the summer; give the earth the occasional cloudburst. Perhaps I will actually eat a sweet, juicy watermelon in August – oh, to dare to dream.

Before I get too ahead of myself I need to take a breath and enjoy what is potent right now, for as we know, Mother Nature could turn on a dime and send in a few hailstorms. All to remind all us that we need to seize the moment with humility but relish it with glee.

Strawberry Salsa - yields approx. 2 cups
2-pints strawberries - washed, dried and hulled; and cut into quarters
1 jalapeno - seeds removed to lower heat (if desired)
1 small red onion - finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon balm - leaves only
1 tablespoon lemon thyme - leaves only
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
2 scallions - finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the jalapeno chili very fine. Be careful not to let the inside flesh of the chilies touch your hands as the oils in this chili, as in most, is very potent. Roughly chop the herbs and then toss all ingredients together. Refrigerate the salsa 1 hour before serving. This salsa, as with many such fresh fruit salsas, has only a one-day shelf life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The season's color wheel

The wheel has started to turn. Since late April it has been market loads of verdant drenched vegetables…ramps…asparagus…fiddleheads ferns…leafy greens. Only the crisp, peppery radish offered any pigmented relief to my plates.

Today, on my stroll, through the market, the first orange bundled possibility was spotted. Long, slender carrots were harvested Рso thin that a vegetable peeler would leave you with nothing. The only way to clean them is a gentle scrub in cold water. After that, I all I dare to do to them would be to snip off their green tops. This nascent staple could never inform a stock or stew for it is yet packed with enough flavor to survive so long exposure in a simmer. Though, saut̩ed in in olive oil with a splash of orange juice is just perfection.

I will run back this weekend and buy a couple of bunches to put-up my first pickle of the year. Drowned in brine with a whisper of cinnamon these early arrivals will now wait until I throw on a wool sweater.

Tonight, I think, I might chunk the carrots, along with radishes, my favorite pucker, sorrel, and make a salad. It is summertime, okay not quite yet.

Chopped Spring Salad – yields 6 to 8 servings
1/2-pound bacon
1/2-pound thin asparagus – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4-pound sugar snap peas – cut into thirds
1/2-cup fresh peas
2 small carrots – sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8-pond garlic scapes - chopped
1-bunch radish
1-cup chopped sorrel leaves
3 scallions
1/2-cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon till crisp, and then roughly chop. Hold the bacon to the side.

Place the asparagus, sugar snap peas, peas, carrots and garlic scapes into a sieve. Pour boil water over the vegetables, and let the water drain through.

In a large bowl add the blanched vegetables as well the radishes, sorrel and scallions. Toss all the vegetables with sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the bacon and serve.