Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's a Gratin Time to Fall Behind...

I've been back from vacation nearly two weeks, and I'm still catching up.

Sure, I started off with a clean slate in the kitchen -- or, rather, a clean fridge -- but I very quickly restocked on fresh vegetables and then... fell behind.

A prime example: I bought a bulb of fennel at last week's farmers' market and have meant all week to make a gratin with it. But it wasn't until this evening that I had time, energy, and inclination all together to propel me into new recipe territory.

Though I meant to follow the recipe from Local Flavors to the letter, a discussion with the Archivist on the merits of fennel with potatoes and lemon persuaded me to adapt the recipe. I ended up using local garlic scapes, local fennel, and CSA potatoes along with plenty of lemon peel, organic cream, and Parmesan cheese to make this fragrant and filling dish.

I've also fallen behind on my blog-reading and link-sharing, so I'm just going to have to offer you a hodgepodge of other reading to carry you into the weekend:

--If you're like me and buy more at the farmers' market than you can get to right away, you might want to review these tips on storing produce, offered over at Grist.

--Looking for a good way to use some of the produce you've been drying? (Because I know you've tried it, right?!) Tuck it into your backpack for your next big hike. Of course! Now, if only I could find a mountain nearby...

--I'm a big fan of fellow Ohioan Gene Logsdon and his writings from a real farm. His recent offerings over at Organic To Be include an "ode to horse manure" and instructions for building hotbeds (using that manure). Handy for the day I actually get to homestead myself!

--Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries had a recent post on "How Local Can You Realistically Go?" I think she offers a number of good points, but I sometimes find her blunt realism off-putting. I would suggest instead that in some cases, if you can't find it locally, why not try growing it? I haven't been able to find local dried beans of any variety, which is why I decided to plant favas, garbanzos, cannellinis, and pinto beans this year. I may not get a big crop, but it's showing me what is possible. I'd also like to try grains sometime. Why not think about that, too?

--If you're following my preserving series, don't forget to follow what other bloggers have to say, too. Valerie at Cincinnati Locavore reminds us why it's important to follow the rules in canning, while Janet at Foodperson shows one example of when a little improvising is possible. Sharon at Casaubon's Book has recently wrapped up an online course on food preservation, and everything she writes is worth reading, though I would particularly highlight her tips on preserving food on a very tight budget, developing a method for storing and using your food, and looking at food preservation from the angle of keeping fresh food coming in longer.

--And if you're wondering what's in season before you head to the farmers' market, Epicurious has an interactive map available to help you find out.

That should keep you busy for the weekend while I hole up in the kitchen and plow through my produce (including the giant zucchini the Archivist gave me).

More anon...

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At 8/01/2008 11:41 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

Thanks for the mention as well as a great list of links. I'd say you're cooking again for sure.

At 8/03/2008 10:32 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

I'm certainly trying, Janet. Maybe I'll catch up again one of these days!


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