Kitchen Garden

Cooking in Big Grove

Broccoli Florets
Broccoli Florets

The harvest is strong at the CSA and the abundance has been reason to engage in cooking again. It’s not that we haven’t cooked meals. It’s that there is so much to do in this brief time on the planet that like simmering pasta sauce from last year’s tomatoes, the activity was moved to the back burner.

Our own garden looks to produce a lot of tomatoes, peppers, a few cucumbers, and some celery. There is also a lot of fruit on the apple and pear trees.

There may be an eggplant or two from our garden, kale enough to feed the entire subdivision, and whatever I manage to get in the ground for second crop. At the grocery store on Tuesday, zero is the number of fresh vegetables purchased because we have more than we can possibly use— local food luxury.

The garden got away from me this year, and yesterday I mowed down the garlic patch. The bulbs were too small for kitchen use, and there is a supply of garlic scapes in the fridge for daily use until the bulbs from the CSA have cured. If I get to it, I plan to spade the ground and cover it with grass clippings.

Eggplant is a blessing and a curse. I made a casserole of tomato sauce, chunks of sliced eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and a cooked mixture of onion, diced eggplant, zucchini, fresh cherry tomatoes and kale for dinner last night. It was very tasty, but a person can enjoy eggplant only for so long during the season. Eggplant produces abundantly in this climate, and the rounds I baked and froze last year went into this year’s compost. Will eat it at the beginning of the season, but for how long afterward is an open question.

There is also cabbage from the CSA. Coleslaw is a typical dish. During my recent pantry review, I found plenty of canned sauerkraut— enough to last another year. There is also soup aplenty, so we’ll be sharing the extra cabbage.

 Someone at the CSA made pickles with kohlrabi and freshly grated ginger. I’m seeking that recipe for refrigerator pickles as a way of dealing with an abundance of kohlrabi.

One of the several challenges for a local food system is to prepare the harvest into a portioned, nutritious meal, then to sustain that activity for the entire year. Ingredients are always a combination of garden, pantry, farms and merchants, but it is the knowledge and action of cooking that makes local food viable. Cooking is physical labor and practice more than head knowledge. In a local food system we get plenty of both.