Local eating may save the planet, improve the economy of your community, and make you spoiled for most anyone else’s meals, but it requires the necessary act of food preparation. I complained about the cooking thing the other day to David “Hat” Hammond. He rejected this critique of local. Podding peas. “I like it,” Hammond said. “Beets?” I asked. “Piece of cake,” Hammond countered (although I don’t believe). So, I admit that cooking, including the initial prep is rewarding to some. I will still counter that many people just do not have the time. I’m blessed to local with my ability to work at home. The challenge of having time to prepare food is the hardest part of local eating I maintain.
I specifically do not need to do the weekend cooking thing. I usually have time to make meals to order. Still, a desire to be productive yesterday as well as the knowledge that many of the kinda foods I want to eat can be made in advance, I took to the stoves. I also wanted to make some headway in our over-crowded fridges and deal with some aging items. Those challenged for dinner each night can mimic these dishes. Even without these specific dishes, they should well consider a little advanced cooking.
- Cabbage salad – Don’t call this one cole slaw. My kids and I both have taken a real shining to this Greek inspired dish. It requires two elements. First, the cabbage must be shredded as finely as possible. Second, one must use much more salt and finely minced garlic than thought possible. Otherwise it is simple. Combine the above ingredients, plus some chopped parsley–adds color and an important brake on the other flavors; white wine vinegar. Taste to make sure you have not gone over the edge, then add some olive oil for lubrication and balance.
- Fennel Marmalade – This one was based on something I saw Lida Bastianich do as well as something I recently saw in an Alain Ducasse book. The essential idea, that fennel takes very well to long, slow cooking. Another easy one after getting rid of all of the inedible parts of the fennel (a plant with a lot of waste). Rough chop. Cook in about 1/4 inch of olive oil over medium-low heat, a clove or two of garlic flavoring too. Just cook until the fennel is really soft. Then, add a spoonful of honey and a chopped herb. I used tarragon to play off the anise element. Jar, topping with a bit of the cooking oil, and use as a side or topping to bruschetta.
- Grilled vegetable salad – Rex is one of these places that should be a LTHForum GNR if more people talked about it. When I look at all of the good foods on display, I also ponder how much better they could be if made with local ingredients. Since I espied their grilled veg salad a few weeks ago, I have been wanting to do such myself. I toyed with lighting the grill, but went lazy and used a cast iron grill pan. I grilled eggplants and red peppers, no oil, then marinated the cooked veg with about equal amounts of oil and white wine vinegar. They rest in their bowl with several crushed cloves of garlic.
- Roasted red peppers – Not so much a recipe but an ordeal. I took care of six large red peppers that can serve a lot of purposes in the coming week.
About 90 minutes, if that much, of cooking on Sunday, and I have lotsa good local food to enhance my week. I could have put in more time, made more dishes, but like I say, I am blessed with weekday time. For those without such luck, make local more possible by getting a head start.