Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank God for Organic Vegetables

I am a true believer. Organic vegetables from the community garden are a blessing.


It’s even better when the organic garden is run by a group of Dominican nuns. Maybe I’ll get extra credit in heaven for doing something good for the Earth.

That looked doubtful a few weeks ago, as I’d systematically avoided every available opportunity to do my required 15 hours of work in the garden as part of my share. My afterlife was beginning to look like Lettuce & Lovage & Fire & Brimstone.

You will no doubt rejoice to learn that I’ve averted hellfire and actually completed my first shift harvesting green and burgundy beans. It was hot as blazes, so maybe I just think I’m on my way to heaven, and refuse to accept the inevitable. But it was fun to meet a couple of fellow gardeners and spend a few hours picking vegetables and really sweating for a change. I’m not trying to claim an epiphany or anything, but there is something fundamentally simple, healthy and good about harvesting food and cooking it with your own hands.

It’s a little like Christmas in July each time I make a pick up at Sophia Garden. There’s always something new, and the color, texture and variety is a welcomed challenge to my culinary creativity.

Ten heads of garlic – fresh, tender and sweet – are now the seasoning of choice:

Burgundy beans turn green when steamed, but offer a festive contrast in a salad with cherry tomatoes:

A single head of cabbage becomes a tart, sweet-and-sour soup, worth several days of meals:

And, brilliant yellow summer squash and just-picked onions are sautéed with garlic for a fluffy frittata:

It’s just like manna from heaven. I can’t wait to see what the Garden of Eden offers up next!

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Cakespy said...

TW, I can practically taste the vegetables--rich, full of flavor, and tasting ever so slightly of the sun they were grown in. How wonderful--it always tastes better when you're part of the process!

Susan G said...

Are you sharing that cabbage soup? Looks (uh) heavenly.

Kathy said...

Your cabbage soup looks delicious--care to share how you made it?

Tiffany said...

Amen! I think you may already be in Heaven with all those great veggies!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm hosting our annual Grand Aioli this afternoon, when we take whole heads of garlic and mash them into a paste (by hand, in a mortar, of course!), and then add oil until it becomes a kind of mayonnaise to serve with platters of meats and vegetables. Sometimes when I get the garlic from my local farmstand, it is so strong (sharp) that the aioli is overpowering. Supermarket garlic seems to be milder. Do you think that's a case of the choice of variety of garlic by supermarkets (chosen for longer shelf-life or ability to withstand travel)?

Zen Chef said...

I agree with you. There's something fundamentally good about harvesting, cleaning, cooking vegetables and doing it all with your own hands. Nothing can beat that 'freshness'.

My big bossman has a large garden in the Hamptons and i get to make lots of things from freshly picked produce every summer. It can be bit overwhelming too, there's so much of it!

Rochelle R. said...

Your photo of the beans is lovely. Who supplied the basket? To me it gives the photo a rustic old time feeling. The other photos are great too.

Veron said...

I'm envious of your bounty especially those gorgeous heads of garlic!

Shreya said...

lovely dishes all and great great veggies.. looks so healthy.. the burgundy turning green beans is new to me! and they do look great with cherry tomatoes.. love the cabbage soup!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hi Cakespy! You are absolutely right - I start craving veggies the minute I set foot in the garden, and they all have tasted extra special.

Susan G and Kathy - The Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup Recipe is losely based on a recipe I found in "1000 Vegetarian Recipes" by Carol Gelles. It is:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small head of cabbage stredded
1 cup sliced onions
2 cloves minced garlic
6 cups water
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Stir in the cabbage and onions and cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender. (I did find that the simmering was important to mellow out the flavor of the cabbage, and it was even better a day later!)

Tiffany - I'm going to ask Saint Peter for some baby carrots then, too!

Hi Lydia - that's a lot of aioli! I think that garlic does get milder with age, and what we've gotten from Sophia Garden is fresh out of the ground, and much sharper.

Zen - with all that jam you've been making, you must be approaching sainthood - outstanding!

Hi Rochelle - the garden provides the baskets for harvesting, and then the produce is put into coolers to await pickup. I agree, the baskets added to the atmosphere.

Veron - I'm seriously considering a roasted garlic soup this weekend.

Hi Shreya - little by little, I can feel this is changing the way I eat - I'm craving crunch, which is a good thing!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

WOW WOW WOW - how fresh and delicious everything looks! What a sweet reward for doing something good for the earth! That is what I like to call instant karma!

~~Louise~~ said...

St. Fiacre would be so proud of you! (his feast day is August 30th) Your harvest looks divine. I'm partial to the garlic but, that may just be the Italian in me. What pray tell are you going to do with it all?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Jenn - I can use all the instant kharma I can get!!

Hi Louise - I'm giving serious thought to a roasted garlic soup. What do you think?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Are those purple string beans in that pic? I actually saw red ones for the first time today at the fm, so I'm just curious. And, yes, Amen, indeed!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hi Susan - they are "burgundy beans," crisp and delicious raw, and oddly enough, they turn green when you steam them, so I'm sticking with them straight off the vine!