Thursday, June 25, 2009

Market to Table - June 25, 2009

So you've been to the farmers' market (or in my case, you've raided the market AND you have a wonderful backyard garden from which to harvest). Now, what to do with all those fresh local goodies?

Those of you who have followed my blog for very long know that I'm all about the quick and easy. Good food doesn't require gourmet ingredients or 50-ingredient recipes. And lucky for me, good food doesn't require a great deal of skill. I just follow a technique I call "Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink" cooking. Basically, check out the fridge (or the garden), grab anything that looks good, and run with it. This usually results in an array of incredibly diverse stir-fries, salads, and snacks. And it's all done without the aid of a recipe, because eating locally, or eating in season, means the season determines the menu, not the cookbook.

So, let's see what hit the table this week. As I reported on Monday, I'm harvesting onions, tomatoes, lambs-quarter, green beans, chard, collards, lettuce, sage, cucumber, and basil from the backyard right now. I also have potatoes, carrots, green beans, apples, watermelon, and wheat flour from the farmers' market; and local rice in the pantry.

Breakfasts this week have begun with a cup of tea made from sage right out of the backyard. Once I've been active for awhile and worked up an appetite, I'll raid whatever fresh local fruit that I have on hand. Of course, this week that was watermelon and apples (local apples rock!).

Lunches (my main meal of the day) are usually stir-fries, but this week, I mixed things up with some homemade veggie burgers too (those are boiled potatoes on the plate with the burgers). Regardless of the meal, whether stir fry or veggie burger, I just start pulling goodies out of the fridge and make it up as I go along. This week, most of the stir fries consisted of lots of those backyard greens like collards, lettuce, chard, lambs-quarter and basil, onions, tomato waste leftover from canning pasta sauce, and of course some local brown rice and carrots from the farmers' market.

But you've seen 101 of my stir fries, right? So here's my latest veggie burger concoction:
Pinto Bean Veggie Burger
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans (farmers' market)
  • diced onion (backyard garden)
  • diced carrot (farmers' market)
  • diced mushroom (produce market)
  • 1 cup brown rice (local rice company)
  • salt (local grocer)
  • italian spices (local grocer)
While the beans cook on the stove, saute the onion, carrot, and mushroom in a little olive oil. Add salt and italian spices to taste. When veggies are soft, remove from heat.

As soon as the beans are soft, drain and mash them with a potato masher. Mix in sauteed veggies and rice. Mix well and form into patties. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

When it's time to eat, fry the patties in a little olive oil, turning over once to brown on both sides. Enjoy on your favorite roll and/or with some local toppings like sliced onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and sauces. I ate mine without the bun and focused on a variety of toppings like my homemade pasta sauce on one day, sliced tomato and bread and butter pickles on another. Both were FABULOUS! But don't follow my recipe to the letter. Create your own with whatever you have on hand.
That just leaves dinner. I steamed some local veggies for Dave to eat with his meals (this week, that meant lots of steamed carrots and green beans). As for me, I made dinner more of a snack-fest, nibbling on a little bit of everything. Well, let me just show you...
Easy Vegan Meal/Snack

It's summer here in Texas and when it's 100 degrees at 5PM, the last thing you want to do is eat anything fresh off the stove. But the "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" idea works here too. Just start pulling whatever sounds good out of the fridge.

Starting from the top-left and going clock-wise, there are a few cherry tomatoes (backyard garden), a handful of pecans (bulk section of our locally-owned grocery), green beans (farmers' market), cucumber (backyard garden), and two boiled potatoes (farmers' market). In the bowl above, of course, is some of that gorgeous watermelon I got at the farmers' market last weekend. It was light, cool, and a perfectly delicious evening meal.
Well, that was easy, wasn't it? Ok, I know. Eating locally can be a bit daunting at first, especially if you're trying to feed a family. After all, it's an entirely different way of eating and cooking than many of us are used to. But the rewards are nothing short of the healthiest, freshest, tastiest food ever. So quit drooling over my weekly menu and go invent some local meals of your own. See you next time and, as always, Happy (and mindful) eating!

P.S. So what's local in your neck of the woods?

4 comments:

blondeoverboard said...

so i stopped by the farmer's market this morning on my way home from work and i see these big bags of interesting looking greens. i'm curious and feeling adventurous so i step up, plop down my money and walk away with a bag of what turns out to be sweet potato leaves. seriously? i say to the woman behind the table. sure, she assures me. you can cook them like spinach, use the large leaves as wraps, eat them raw and loose or put them in a stir fry. so of course i thought of you :) now i'm all excited to try the leaves for dinner tonight (along with some eggplant and cucumber from my garden and a fat purple tomato i picked up at the market). last week i planted sweet potato slips (could there be an easier plant?! buy a potato from the grocery store. let it sprout. snap off the sprouts and jab them in the ground... no need to even wait for roots. each slip should produce around 8-12 potatoes of its own not to mention somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 feet of vines... think of all those leaves!!) i got so excited about the sweet potato leaves, i forgot all about the honey i went to buy :) oh well, there's always next weekend!

Heather @ SGF said...

blondeoverboard - SERIOUSLY? As soon as I harvest my sweet potatoes, I'm SO going to stir fry some of the leaves up. Very cool! Let me know how you like them...

blondeoverboard said...

heather,

they were delicious! i tried one raw and while it was ok i think it's an aquired taste... not bad just new. i took a handful and stir fried them in a little olive oil with some chopped onion. YUM! the best part is that you don't have to wait until you harvest the potatoes to enjoy the leaves. they ca be picked as the vine grows. the woman i bought them from tells me that you can pick a large amount of the leaves from each vine and as long as you don't remove all the leaves, the plant will tolerate it just fine.

Heather @ SGF said...

blondeoverboard - That's GREAT to know. As soon as I'm done eating up all the greens I planted this spring (way to many, but you don't know until you try) I'll start in on some of the sweet potato leaves. Yum! I'm really looking forward to seeing the flowers. I hear sweet potato flowers are really pretty...