This week’s share: Shell beans, Bok choi, Broccoli, Cabbage, Dill, Garlic, Lettuce, Onion, Peppers, Hot peppers, Satina potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Acorn winter squash
Every year I make the food for the Agricultural Stewardship Association’s Landscapes for Landsakes preview party. I don’t quite remember why I took on the task. I think it was because Liz told me what ASA had paid the caterer the first year they held the event, and I though it seemed like a lot of money.
Just to be clear, I get paid nothing like as much. Nothing, in fact, I started doing it to save ASA all that money. Plus, when I took on the job it involved making a fancy dinner for 20 people and that seemed like fun. A couple of my friends came, and we cooked foie gras and bison and crispy potato cups filled with leek puree and drank some sipping whiskey while we cooked and had a good time.
After two years of dinners, ASA decided to switch to a party in the gallery for 50 people with appetizers. That did not sound so bad, so we kept on doing the food. And ASA kept on inviting more people. Which is why I now have to make appetizers for 200 this Friday. If everything goes to plan, we (Ben, who worked on the farm 15 years ago, still helps me cook) will turn out 10 different dishes in quantities sufficient for everyone to have at least one serving of each.
Over the years, as we have gotten a little smarter about the job, we have cut out a lot of the fiddly work. No more individual pastries, for instance. But there’s still a fair amount of work involved in preparing two to three thousand bites of food. Which is why I don’t have a lot more to say right now. I need to go and smoke some bottom round roasts and grill eggplant and stir up some custard and make pastry and sauté apples and mix cake batter and burn some sugar for caramel sauce and roast poblanos and pickle julienned root vegetables and concoct a spicy mayonnaise. Oh yes, and farm.
Not that I deserve any sympathy. It is all my own damn fault. Plus we have clung to the tradition of drinking while we work in memory of my friend who brought along that first bottle of sipping whiskey. So even if things start out a little hectic, we are generally having a pretty good time by the end of the night.
Vegetable notes: Well, we managed to get another picking of eggplant. Not huge ones, but it is October. They get a little weird at this time of year, so do something with them soon. Fire up the grill. It will keep you warm.
So will the hot peppers. I believe you have met these two before (Paper Lantern–the larger ones–and Kung Pao). They are not lethal, but they do have some heat. I nibbled on a Kung Pao while picking them and it got my attention, but without causing any lingering damage. You could make some spicy sautéed cabbage with a little turmeric and lemon juice. Or puree one (or more) of the peppers in mayonnaise with a clove of garlic and serve it with steamed broccoli or roasted potatoes. Or mince one and cook it with ground beef and cumin and a little pomegranate molasses and maybe a few pine nuts and raisins, and use it as a filling for baked acorn squash. Or add them to all the other ones you have hung onto over the past weeks and make a jar of pickled peppers, which are an excellent addition to just about any sandwich. Maybe not peanut butter and jelly, though maybe. Someone should give it a try. Actually, somebody probably already has. I am sure you can read all about it on the internet.