Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Playing with Vegetables

I have been reading a lot of books lately, but I don’t especially feel like writing about them, so I won’t.  I have been trying to be a little more creative with my cooking, almost entirely because of the bounty of vegetables we have been getting from our CSA.  Today I made a very tasty pasta sauce almost entirely out of CSA produce.  Here is how to do it:

Pour a very generous puddle of olive oil into a crock pot or slow cooker of your choice.  Chop up four pounds or so of fresh tomatoes and toss those in the pot.  Clean the mud off of your frighteningly fresh onion, chop it up, and add it to the mix.  Then take a moist bulb of fresh garlic, clean it, and peel the outer layer.  Chop up all of the cloves and mix in.  Pick out the fattest yellow squash and zucchini, clean them, and chop them up before adding to the crock pot.  Hack apart a green pepper and throw it in the pot.  Then wash the sand off the fresh oregano, mince the leaves and mix the herbs in.  Toss in some salt and pepper, and turn the crock pot on high.  Let it simmer for a few hours.  If you are carnivorous, brown some ground beef with a little salt and white pepper and add it in about two hours before you plan to eat.  After the sauce has simmered for several hours, you have an almost unbearably delicious topping for the pasta of your choice.  The salt, pepper, olive oil, and beef came from the store, while everything else came from the farm.

The CSA produce is quite delicious.  I am not a very good boy when it comes to eating my vegetables, but there is something about getting fresh organic produce straight from the farm that works for me.  I think the vegetables were so fresh they didn’t realize they had been picked yet.  The stuff just tastes real–full of subtle flavors that our hybridized modern agriculture has lost.  The tomatoes, for example, are oddly shaped and unevenly colored and thus would look terrible in a supermarket bin, but they are full of juice and taste like something other than water and vague tomato flavoring.  Try this out–it’s worth the effort.

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Book, Soup

I thought some might be interested in hearing more about my book project, so here goes.  A few months ago, I received a letter from an academic in California who was editing an anthology of essays on ecofeminism.  He had read my dissertation (which shows a certain amount of initiative, since it is not published and must be ordered through University Microfilms) and thought either of two chapters would work well in his anthology.  I had already published a version of one chapter, but the other had potential.  To make things even better, the chapter with potential was closely related to another article coming out in another ecofeminism book.  I agreed to send in an article and quickly returned the contract.

Because I was a latecomer to this particular book party, I only had a little time to get the article into shape.  I signed the contract in early April and agreed to get the first draft in by June 15.  With classes and the beginning of race season, I didn’t have a lot of free time until after graduation, so I started writing in the middle of May.  I made my editor very happy by turning in an article by June first, and it exactly matched the word count he requested.  Yes, I am an editor’s dream.

The editor also tried to put together a round table panel for the MLA convention, but the MLA convention only accepts boring panel proposals, so we did not get in.  However, the press he is working with wants to publish an entire series of books on ecofeminism, and asked the editor to query the contributors about possible book contracts.  Of course, I jumped at the chance and said I would love to have a book contract.

Here is where it gets even better, and shows that this editor is quite a stand-up fellow.  When he queried me, he asked if it would help my tenure plans, or if it was too late.  When I told him I had to turn in my file by September 15th, but I could add things to it as late as October 15th, he said he would push things to get me a contract in plenty of time for my file.

He then sent me the link to the publisher’s NBO (new book order) form and told me to send it back to him when I was done.  I had it back to him in less than a week.  He made a couple of suggestions to link my project more firmly to the series theme and gave me another week to finish it up.  I had it back to him in two days.

So, the book will be an analysis of the manner in which sentimental rhetoric, the language of feeling, emotion, and empathy, can be used to promote an ecological theme.  I’ll be looking at a number of authors from Susan Fenimore Cooper to Rachel Carson, Barbara Kingsolver, and Michael Pollan.  In the NBO, I set September 2009 as my finish date.  I am hoping I can get a student intern to help out during the year so I can work as quickly as possible.  Here is the press that I’m working with.

And on a completely different note, I made soup tonight with vegetables from the CSA we belong to.  The CSA is a lot of fun, as we get to drive up into the wilds of southern Litchfield county to pick up our share, and we even get to pick some of the things ourselves.  We got strawberries for a couple of weeks, and lately the fresh herbs are ready for picking.  I made a huge batch of pesto with all of the basil we cut.

The past week, the farm had carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, fresh garlic (and if you have only had the dry-husk variety that you buy in the supermarket, fresh garlic is a revelation–it’s so plump and sweet it will knock you over), and herbs.  I decided to make a soup out of it that was remarkably simple to make.  Here is what I did:

Dice up some chicken (optional) and saute in olive oil in a large soup pot.  Don’t be stingy with the oil.  Toss in some chopped onion and a lot of the chopped fresh garlic.  I used almost an entire head of garlic.  When the chicken is cooked, dump in a bunch of water.  How much?  Enough to make soup.  Chop up the squash, zucchini, and carrots and toss those in the water.  Corn is not ripe yet, so I had to cheat and use a can of corn.  In a couple of weeks, we’ll have real, fresh corn, and I’ll have to make some more soup.  Let the whole bunch simmer for a while, adding salt and pepper.  I used a mix of white pepper and black pepper because I like the added bite of white pepper.  At the last minute, toss in some chopped fresh herbs.  I used sage and marjoram, though you can use whatever fresh green things you have.  It was quite delicious.

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