Saturday, September 02, 2006

I love food.

Of course that's completely natural, you need food to live, so you'd better at least like it. But there's more to it than that for me, I love to cook it, I love to look at it, and I love to eat it. Plus, I think the kind of food person you are is important in a relationship. For example, do you like to prepare food for guests? Do you like to spend time at the table, having a long breakfast? Or do you just think that food is just one more thing to waste your time, so you don't bother spending much time on it? Food, along with pets and entertainment, can make or break a relationship, I think. Sure, there are other important things, but cat people and dog people don't mix, just like a person who loves to cut the rug and a person who won't set foot on a dance floor might not be so compatible.

Anyway, last week my love of food was given a great treat: a whole carload of fresh vegetables from the family garden. Not only I was pleased, but the bunnies received a sack full of fresh greens as well.

Been spending most their lives living in a bunny's paradise.

Some of the stuff I wouldn't normally buy, like two red beets, and other stuff was just especially delicious, like the tomatoes and new potatoes, because we all know how much better fresh garden vegetables taste than that flavorless stuff you get at the supermarket. So, I was challenged to prepare these delicious things to the best of their advantage, and wanted to try some new things as well.

First we had our regular tomato salad, using fresh tomatoes and onions, along with some feta cheese, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Then I got creative, setting out on the task of preparing borscht, a delicious Russian soup. This is something I've only had one time in a restaurant, and was unsure if I could replicate the pleasing taste, but using a couple different recipes, I came up with my own special blend.

This isn't my borscht, but this is kind of what it looks like.

So, I chopped up the 2 beets, 5 carrots or so, 4 or 5 new potatoes, an onion, and half a head of cabbage and sauted it all a bit in a big soup pot with a bit of olive oil. Then I threw in a liter and a half of vegetable broth, some salt and pepper, a few tablespoons of vinegar, and a couple of bay leaves. I cooked this all until the vegetables were tender but not mushy, then served it up with some chopped feta cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream. Normally this soup would contain meat, but you know me and my strange ways. The feta cheese is also untraditional, but gives the soup a satisfying kick.

I still had half a giant head of cabbage, and after a bit of research, discovered that coleslaw made from scratch is no brain surgery, so I whipped up a batch of that. All you have to do is chop up the cabbage, grate a handfull of carrots, mix it together and toss it with some vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and you've got a delicious, though flatulence-inducing, salad!

Even after the soup and the coleslaw, and a somewhat unusual carrot casserole, there were still 2 big bowls of carrots lying around the kitchen, so I looked into making carrot salad. It seems that in Germany, sweet carrot salad is traditional. I've had this before and it's really good, but wanted to be untraditional and found a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey for spicy carrot salad. So I grated about half a kilogram of carrots, and then prepared the sauce. For this, you take 3 tablespoons of oil, heat it up and saute about a couple teaspoons of dry chili flakes, a chopped onion, and 3 cloves of garlic. Then add a couple tablespoons of vinegar, run that all through the food processor, and mix it up with the carrots. I added a bit more oil, because it didn't seem to be coating well, and a bit of salt and sugar, and this made a crazily spicy carrot salad that I ate for 2 meals in a row, it enthused me so much.

We still have a few ears of corn stolen from a field, so today my task is to think of a use for it. I'm considering making sweet corn cake or perhaps scalloped corn, both of which I haven't had in years, if I can find the time.

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