Produce!

I moved to the country a few years ago — a city girl set free. I did it on purpose, wanting to embrace that part of me that longed for a simpler life in a place where people remain in touch with the land and their “natural selves.” Some of that wish has come true; some of it not.

Twelve miles from me, there is a town widely known as the “headquarters” of the Northeastern Ku Klux Klan (yes, it still exists). One hundred miles away, men invented a radioactive ray gun intended to kill the President of the United States. In spite of those invective instances, my best ambitions have been honored by the wonderful people who are my immediate neighbors. They have taught me a lot about how to deal with my bounty = 1.5 acres bordering on a two thousand acre wildlife preserve. (That is A LOT of space for someone used to living in a city with postage stamp sized backyards; in South Africa where one can hire a dedicated gardener; and in Paris, where all you get is a dismal room.)

One thing I REALLY wanted to accomplish with my city > country move was to grow enough food to feed myself without having to revert to supermarket produce aisles. I also wanted to be able to teach my grandchildren about “real” food…. where it comes from and how to cook and eat it at its  nutritional best. I have not succeeded at either of those ambitions just yet — mostly because my back can’t manage tilling and planting (alone) a fenced off garden space that is bigger than my entire house.

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My grandchildren quickly rewarded one of my dreams. I dispatched Julian (age 4), to pick tomatoes for dinner, giving him a little plastic bowl to collect the bounty from just outside my kitchen door. After a long while, he didn’t come back. I went outside to find out what was going on and found Julian standing in front of a tomato plant, empty bowl in hand. When I asked him “Julian, where are the tomatoes?” He responded by telling me “Shama, they were yummy in the tummy.” (Goal #2 achieved!)

My first year in the country, I planted tomatoes (three different types: salad, plum and cherry) and herbs (basil, thyme and parsley) in pots. Successful at that, I expanded my repertoire in the second year to include spinach, lettuce and bell peppers — plus herb pots of tarragon and dill. This year, I planted blueberries and escallions in the ground, tarragon in a pot and built a couple of raised garden beds that I am “seasoning” with compost for next year. (If I could ever find help, I would attack the fenced garden and go whole hog.)

Fresh picked escallion

Fresh picked escallion

Today, I picked my first homegrown escallions…. yummy little bulbs that season almost any dish in any season.

It is hard to choose a recipe that includes escallions because they are so indispensable to so many dishes… and I am not aware of a recipe where they are served on their own (maybe they could be roasted?). Here is a dish that marries the ingredients I have in my larder today. I have not tested this recipe yet, but it will soon be cooking on my stove and I will let you know the result.

Shrimp Linguine

Shrimp Linguine

INGREDIENTS

4 tbs oil (olive)
3 tbs butter
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups grape tomatoes (cut in half)
4 stalks escallion (sliced thin with greens)
4 small sweet peppers (sliced thin)
1# shrimp
1 bag spinach leaves (8 oz)
1 box linguine (cooked)

SEASONING

8 leaves basil (fresh, chopped)
1 tbs garlic (crushed)
2 tbs lime juice
1 tsp pepper (crushed red)
1/2 tsp pepper (black)
4  tbs Parmesan cheese (grated)

INSTRUCTIONS

HEAT oil and butter in a large skillet
ADD seasoning (except Parmesan) and chicken stock
MIX well and saute lightly
ADD all other ingredients (except linguine)
SAUTE lightly until shrimp turn pink
ADD Parmesan & MIX well
SERVE over a bed of linguine

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2 Comments

  1. 24 June 2013 at 2:23 am

    Where I’m from we call the juice at the bottom of the pot of beans “pot liqueur”!

  2. 24 June 2013 at 2:21 am

    Congratulations! It’s addictive!


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