Often times, after dining at a restaurant, I feel compelled to replicate a dish I couldn’t get enough of. Usually this ends up being a 12 hour braised cut of meat, with 15 components including a vegetable mousse, dehydrated vegetables and liquid nitrogen something. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. The dishes I fall in love with are often so complicated that once my wine buzz wears off, I realize how ludicrous my attempt would be. So I scrap it.
I love corn. I mean really, REALLY love corn. Off the cob, on the cob, plain, buttered, in a salad or in a soup. I just LOVE corn. As soon as it hits the markets, I’m buy up as much as I can. I eat my fill during the season but the cravings start in early winter. Luckily, I freeze several quarts and put up jars of corn salsa to keep me satisfied until the following summer.
Locavore living isn’t always easy. The bulk of our winter food consists of root vegetables, beans, grains, greens, frozen and canned stuff. We cheat a bit, mostly with stuff we wouldn’t be able to get around here anyway like citrus and avocados. But for the most part we try to live locally. So when spring arrives and the Greenmarkets start showing evidence of food other than cellared winter produce, you can imagine I get a bit excited. Too excited, maybe. I fill my bags with asparagus, ramps, lettuce and quarts of strawberries, completely ignoring how perishable some items are and there’s only two mouths to feed. I started canning for just that reason, to make sure we weren’t wasting things. Most meals use a little of this and a little of that, leaving me with odd quantities of produce left over, threatening to spoil. In the winter, all these things would easily be tossed into a kitchen sink stew, cooking on the stove or in the slow cooker for hours, maybe with some beef or sausage. However in the warmth of the summer, I want nothing like that. So my kitchen sink meals get a bit more creative.
After being blessed with such an early harvest last year, everything feels late. It’s like spring will never come. Of course, there’s greens (there’s always greens), but I wanted real spring. Asparagus, garlic scapes, strawberries. I religiously follow GrowNYC’s twitter feeds. It’s honestly the best way to see what’s at the markets right now. When I noticed rhubarb had hit the markets I was beyond excited. That is until I remembered I had designated Mother’s Day dessert duty to my sister-in-law. What else could I possibly do with rhubarb besides stick it in a pie, crisp or spoon a sauce of it over a panna cotta?
I’m not usually one to judge, but sometimes there are recipes SO EASY that people don’t even think to try. It drives me crazy! So today, I’m going to be a bit judgy. If you’ve never made your own croutons, and don’t do so regularly, well, I might think a little less of you. And if you don’t try them after I go ahead and show you step by step how easy they are to make and take practically NO TIME out of your normal dinner preparation time, well, then you’ll just make me sad. Nothing’s worse than a sad locavore, burying herself in pint after pint of local Blue Marble Ice Cream. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you? So please, just try it once.