Thursday, August 13, 2009

Market to Table - August 13, 2009

Ok. We're going to have a serious dose of reality in this week's Market to Table:

Not all meals work out the way you intend.

It's not that I didn't have some really delicious foods this week like heaping bowls of fresh yellow watermelon from the farmers' market (seen here) or yummy Texas pecans with the last of the farmers' market dates I picked up in California, but I realized I talk endlessly about all the delicious meals that I just make up as I go along, and rarely about the mishaps. Granted, I don't have a lot of mishaps, not because I'm an awesome cook (far from it, to be sure), but rather because when ingredients are this fresh, it's hard to screw it up (yep, even for me).

So what were my adventures in culinary disaster this week? Well, believe it or not, it was stir-fry. Yeah, I know. I eat various forms of stir fry just about every day, so what went wrong? The stir-fry in this photo looks very similar to the stir fries I've enjoyed all summer: squash and eggplant from the farmers' market, chard from the backyard garden, brown rice from just outside of Houston, and my home-canned farmers' market produce like local pinto beans and corn.

The stir-fry pictured here was lunch on Monday. In addition to all the goodies listed above were basil from the farmers' market, collard greens from the backyard garden, and (check this out) corn cob jelly. What?! Yeah, that was my response when my Dad gave me the jar of jelly made by a local friend of his. Corn cob jelly? Seriously?

I tried the corn cob jelly on a piece of toast (with my homemade partly-local bread) last weekend. Kinda weird. I mean, when you eat jelly, you have a fruit in mind and you can taste it, right? Corn cob jelly doesn't taste like corn, but it doesn't take like anything else either and so it ended up just being sweet. Sweet what, I have no idea. Ok. So I'll pass on the jelly and toast. How about in stir-fry like I did with the sweet onion glaze earlier in the year (that was AWESOME)?

Well, I hate to say it, but the stir fry was just off. I was thinking the collards were too long in the ground and had gone bitter, and there was something about the basil that I just didn't like in the dish, so Tuesday, I tried the same ingredients minus the collards and basil... Enh. Maybe the chard has seen it's last days too.

Finally, by Wednesday, I used only the newest chard leaves in the stir fry and again left the collards and basil completely out. What did I end up with? Corn, pinto beans, zucchini, lambs-quarter, the tenderest chard I could find, brown rice, and a heaping tablespoon of corn cob jelly (every last one of those were local). Hmm. Ok. A little better.

Obviously, I don't plan on buying stock in corn cob jelly or anything, but I am impressed that you can pretty much make jelly/jam out of anything. What are the strangest things you've used to make jam/jelly?

Just one other question: Are you willing to let me in on some of your own culinary disasters? I promise, I won't tell...
For more of my culinary misadventures, check out a post I wrote last year, "Oops, that ain't right - Culinary Disasters."
P.S. Re: last year's post, I did manage to find a whole wheat bread recipe that I love :)


Kildare Girl said...

Most of my culinary disasters occur when I don't use a recipe. I wasn't good at improv in high school and apparently it transcends to my cooking as well! I'm better with taking a recipe and tweaking it - although sometimes it requires several goes at it before I'm able to really get the hang of it.

I'm having garden envy for your garden - our Oklahoma garden has pooped out and I'm not sure if some of the plants are coming back despite the recent rain. Our chard was done weeks ago! So sad.

Heather @ SGF said...

Kildare Girl - I'm that way with baking, but with cooking, recipes just drive me crazy. I mean all those ingredients. Do we really need 10 different spices? :)

Chile said...

In a local cookbook, one of the jelly recipes is for pyracantha berries. I kept thinking I ought to try making it until I realized that I don't like the flavor of the berries themselves, so the jelly would just be sweet stuff I don't like.

And yes, Heather, we really do need 10 different spices in some dishes. Curry is a complex blend of flavors, for example. Would you really want to get rid of that?! ;-)

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - That's why I leave the complicated stuff up to you pros. I'l be by for dinner... :)