Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's Been Cooking

I have a new goal. It will take a couple of years, but I also know I'll get there. I want to start a kitchen garden and shift to cooking meals composed of homegrown veggies and herbs, while we convert to spending farmers market dollars on milk, eggs, butter and meat. Lately we've been shelling the extra money out on local milk and eggs. I have never drank milk that tastes so good; I didn't even know milk could taste good. So thank you Way Back When dairy.

In the meantime, here are a few dishes I cooked while trying to have a meat-free week of meals. These were easy, fast, delicious and about 50% local (from the market: cantaloupe, cucumber, mint, peppers, garlic; the corn was a locally grown supermarket purchase).

Meal 1, July 17
Cucumber, cantaloupe and fennel salad with a honey, lime and mint yogurt dressing, topped with toasted almonds. For this salad, I chopped thin slivers of fennel stalks as a substitute for celery. I thought the fennel would be more refreshing and less bitter.

Sweet peppers stuffed with spicy lentils and feta cheese. These were cooked using mostly Indian spices, but in a mild and simpler way. I also added a few golden raisins to bring a little sweet into the savory. These were very filling, and we each could only eat half of one pepper. So count it as a meal for four. (You brown the peppers in a pan before you make the lentils, stuff the peppers, and then roast them in the oven for about an hour. These photos make it look like I stuffed and served.)

Meal 2, July 19
Creamy fettucini with sauteed fennel bulb, garlic and fresh corn, tossed with arugula.

The recipe called for leeks, but I still had the fennel bulb leftover from when I used the stalks in that melon salad, so, hello fennel substitute, again. Which is to say - I thought fennel served as a terrific substitute for both celery and leeks, and the leaves would surely be a nice substitute for dill if you're looking for a milder, sweeter flavor instead of the tartness of dill.

Those of you who know me know that my thumb is not so green. Any advice or help about starting a vegetable garden is appreciated, beginning with whatever the first steps may be (Like, what is the right month and way to prepare my land? And what is the right month to begin planting?). Just understanding how to prepare land feels like a strange mystery to me.

Hopeless gardener, signing off.

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