“Here's what's for dinner: two heads of Chinese cabbage, six new potatoes, a bulb of garlic and all the fresh herbs you care to pick.” It sounds like a setup for a Food Network reality show, but fresh-food cooks face similar challenges every day. Whether the pleas to “eat me now” come from your garden, your CSA box or the bag of goodies you bought at the farmers market, it is a voice that must be obeyed.
But how? I think it's a good idea to get one new veggie cookbook every year, and gradually work your way through it. Last summer I enjoyed the companionship of Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables. Before that it was Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind. This year I'm planning to dry more things (the apple trees are loaded) and I'll be looking to Food Drying with an Attitude, by Mary T. Bell, for yummy dehydrator projects.
These resources did not address the spud-cabbage combo on my cutting board straight on, so I went to the recipe database that Debbie Palmer has been building for 10 years for CSA members at Live Earth Farm in Freedom, Calif. There it was — Cabbage, Potato and Cheese Casserole — exactly the recipe I needed. It was so delicious that a second one will soon ride in my back seat to a covered dish dinner.
A day's picking basket often contains such an odd assortment of veggies that fresh-food cooks can never have enough ideas. Hundreds await at A Veggie Venture, created by Missouri vegetable evangelist Alanna Kellogg. This week I know I'll be making her Bubble & Squeak, in which onions, cabbage and potatoes are cooked and then smashed together to form a big pancake before final browning. To complete the dish, Kellogg suggests “an elegant drizzle of ketchup.” Sounds like my kind of eating!
Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on Google+.