Good EatsPosted: May 29, 2012
We have been eating well lately. In an effort to clean out the refrigerator before our upcoming trip, M and I have become creative with the food that will not hold up well while we are away. I’ve been almost tempted back into food photography, but haven’t had the time to indulge. While the meals have been creative, delicious, and enjoyed in a slow eating fashion, setting up the tripod and camera at the right time of day (because, I’ve found, natural light is best) just hasn’t worked out.
We’ve been feasting on lettuces freshly picked from the garden in salads that include those strawberries M picked the other day. A glance in the fridge on Saturday showed we had plenty of onions, celery, and peppers. Anyone who has ever eaten in New Orleans or watched cooking shows by folks from New Orleans (or somewhere in Louisiana) knows that onions, celery, and peppers are the Holy Trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking so we got some shrimp out of the freezer and made a jambalaya. I usually make a smokin’ good vegetarian jambalaya, but we have another goal that includes making space in the upstairs freezer (the one attached to the fridge in a side-by-side manner). Combining two goals in one shot is brilliant and, in this case, delicious.
Past travels have taught us that it’s best to prepare for things we are not expecting to happen here at home. Hurricane Ike, for instance, blew through here in September of 2008 while we were spending two weeks at the Jersey shore. No rain, just wind. Big wind. The power was out for a week and our poor house-sitter scrambled around trying to figure out what to do with all the food we had in the freezers. As it turned out, she had to let it go. I’d spent weeks preserving the harvest of the season, including 17 lbs. of broccoli and who knows how many bushels of peppers and beans.
We were meat eaters at the time so the loss also included a good sized portion of cow and pig, including some lovely beef fillets. You know, the expensive stuff (but it really wasn’t too expensive as I’d purchased it on sale). We bought the meat from a local farm.
We have a pretty high deductible on our homeowner’s insurance so no reimbursement was possible. The monetary aspects were not what saddened me. It was all the work I put in preserving enough locally grown food to last us through the winter and well into spring.
Lesson learned. And so we have embarked on a quest to eat what needs to be eaten and consolidate the freezer foods in hopes that if anything should happen, a couple of bags of ice might preserve what needs preserving. Thankfully, that’s not too much this time of year. We’re still finishing off the harvest from last year.
Lunch yesterday consisted of ravioli stuffed with arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese tossed with pesto, and one of those salads I mentioned earlier with lettuce from the garden and strawberries from a local farm. Dinner was leftover jambalaya (oh, it’s so much more flavorful leftover!) with some cornbread that M made. But one of the best things we’ve had recently involved the last of the asparagus harvest. I never freeze or can the asparagus. It’s too good fresh. We just eat our fill of it until the season is over which just happens to coincide with having had our fill of it.
I made a roasted asparagus pesto that is simple to make, and yummy. We tossed it with some whole grain pasta. Here are the basics:
- Roast a pound or so of asparagus in the oven or on the grill. (In the oven is easy. Trim the ends, if necessary, from the asparagus. Lay them out on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some freshly ground salt and pepper, and pop it into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until tender-crisp. (Okay, you can cook it until it’s tender if you prefer. I like mine with a little crunch.) I usually turn it once throughout the cooking time.) You can steam it instead, but I really like the roasted or grilled flavor.
- In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of pine nuts or walnuts with a couple of garlic cloves (2-3 depending on how much raw garlic flavor you like) and a little salt if you like. (I leave out the salt if I salted the asparagus.) Add the asparagus and a half cup of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse until the asparagus is coarsely chopped.
- In a bowl, mix the asparagus with a couple of ounces (about 2/3 of a cup) of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- While all the processing was going on, you should have boiled some water and started cooking your pasta. Use whatever shape you like. I like twirly stuff because the pesto nestles down in the little grooves. Cook your pasta until it’s al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
- Add the cooked pasta and the pasta water to the pesto and cheese mixture. Toss, and enjoy.
Because I don’t use much salt, I sprinkle my serving of the finished dish with lemon juice. You can also add lemon zest to the pesto mixture if you want to freshen it up with some citrusy goodness.
We had quite a storm blow through this morning, bringing lots of rain (and some hail at the beginning). It was amazing how dark it got, especially since the early morning weather prognosticators were saying a slight chance of scattered showers. I guess they forgot to look at the big line of storms barreling across their radar screens.
I took some photos, but don’t have time to upload them and look at them right now. I’m still feverishly cleaning house, getting everything ready for the house-sitter. I have to run errands tomorrow and start packing by Thursday afternoon so I’d like to have the cleaning and other preparations finished before I go to bed tomorrow night. Wish me luck.
That should do it from the Bogs for today. Thank you for stopping by and visiting with me. I’ll be cutting back on posting soon, something that will give us all a nice break. In the meantime, I might be able to finish up the Holden Arboretum Rhododendron Garden tour in the next day or two since those photos are resized and ready to go. After that, well, I’ll be adventuring and will post when I can.