Archive for July, 2009
I haven’t been posting much, in part because I haven’t been enjoying food much this month.
I seem to have aquired a minor, lingering, hopefully temporary sinus problem that has almost robbed me of my sense of smell. Seriously: I can’t even smell the cat box, or the morning coffee.
What we experience as flavor is as much a matter of our noses as our tongues. For the last two weeks, I’ve only been experiencing flavor through my tastebuds, which reduces everything to sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
This, at a time of year when all the really great local produce is coming to market: Fat, juicy peaches, more tomatoes each week, the first of the sweet corn. … I tell ya, it’s killing me.
I’m still shopping at the farmers’ markets and I’m still eating this great food – because I know it’s good for me and good for local farmers to do that. But I can’t say I’m enjoying it much, except on an abstract, “oh, isn’t this head of cauliflower pretty” sort of way. And I’m certainly not experimenting with new recipes, because how could I tell if they turn out well?
I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to really enjoy the harvest bounty. Tell me what you’re buying and making – I could use some vicarious appetite right now.
Thank heavens for the farmers’ market, and for that magic moment at the height of summer when all the berries converge.
On Saturday, our market still had strawberries – last of the crop, according to the vendor who had sold out by 11. Raspberries were everywhere, the first fat blueberries had arrived, and one vendor even had early Marionberries. Another had ripe, tart red currants, glowing like rubies. I bought some, though I have no idea what to I’ll do with them.
There were also loads of cherries – this seems to be a bumper year for the cherry crop. I bought a bag of those to take to a barbecue, but I saved the berries for myself, and I’ve been eating them by the handful and the bowlful – mostly just as they are, sometimes with a little cream and (in the case of the Marionberries, which haven’t reached their sweet peak yet) a sprinkle of sugar. I did make an easy cobbler with some of the blueberries this morning, heavy on the berries and light on the sugar. That’s breakfast for the next few days.
I’d live on fruit alone right now if I could, but my body has a protein habit. Finding a way to satisfy that with a minimum of kitchen time can be a challenge. Not so this week; the young fisherman who’s been bringing live crab to market also had smoked tuna loins. I threw together a simple rice-and tuna dish that’s a distant cousin to the tuna noodle casseroles I grew up with. You don’t need a recipe for this kind of thing, just a general method.
Last night, after the coastal breezes blew the heat away, I cooked up a pot of brown Basmati rice and put it in the fridge overnight. This evening, I mixed it with some finely diced onion, fresh peas, and about half of the tuna, shredded with my fingers. To boost the smokey flavor, I crumbled up an ounce or so of Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese, mixed that in with the tuna and rice. The zest and juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise to keep everything moist, a sprinkle of parmesan and half an hour in a 350 oven and I’ve got dinner (and a couple of days worth of lunch).
These are the kinds of dishes summer calls for: things you can throw together quickly, filling but not heavy, and full of flavor. Not to mention endlessly adaptable. No peas? Dice up some summer squash, or broccoli, or whatever you find at the market. No rice? Use pasta. Trying to watch the fat content? Moisten the casserole with stock instead of mayonnaise.
And then have berries for dessert.