The first day of autumn - I can't believe it! It sure doesn't feel like fall here in NC today - it's warm and muggy. While I love fall and its colors and the cooler temperatures, I sure am going to miss the tomatoes. They're not completely gone yet though - my tomato plants have slowed down but I'm still getting a few cherry tomatoes, and there are plenty of tomatoes at the market. I'm trying to eat as many as I can before the first frost. Love the colors in the photo above.
One good thing about buying from the people who actually grow your food is that they can tell you how to cook things you've never tried before. Here's a meal I made a couple of weekends ago using two brand-new (to me) ingredients.
First are padron peppers. When I saw the sign that said "Spanish tapas peppers," I knew I had to try them. The farmer told me to saute them over medium high heat for about 10 minutes and then put some coarse salt on them. He also told me that these are sometimes called roulette peppers since every once in a while, you get one that's really spicy! These are so tender that you don't have to remove the seeds and stems, you can just cook and eat them whole. Delicious (and I didn't get a super hot one this time).
Here's a case where you can't judge a bean by its cover (or shell). I was familiar with Christmas lima beans because they are pictured on the cover of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver (a great book!) and I was excited to find them for sale at the market. The farmer told me to shell them and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. They are easy to shell because the beans are so big and as you can see, the beans inside are absolutely beautiful.
I made a quick salsa using cherry tomatoes and herbs from my garden, and onions and garlic from the market.
Here's the final product. I put some salsa and pecorino on the Christmas lima beans. The beans turn brown when you cook them, and they are so delicious - great flavor and texture. And the peppers were wonderful too. Everything in this meal was locally grown except for the olive oil, pecorino, and the salt.
Some cool stats about the impact of eating locally from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle":
"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast."
There's so much great info out there about the many advantages of eating locally and the alternatives to the crappy American corporate food production monolith...."The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan are both great reads, but I really love "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" because it's the story of one family putting it all into practice...one year of eating locally and sustainably. Beautifully written and has recipes too. Plus a chapter about their trip to Italy!
And speaking of food, farming, and all the positive changes happening across the country....I highly recommend this documentary that I rented from netflix. Farmer John is a third-generation farmer and an artist who almost lost his farm and went through some incredible trials but today has this amazing organic farm that supplies thousands of people in nearby Chicago with beautiful food. Very inspiring story and Farmer John is such a cool guy. It's a great movie!