Sunday, August 24, 2008

Preserving the Seasons: August, Week 4

As August winds down, I realize that thanks to all the canning and preserving I've done, I really haven't done much cooking for myself.

I've eaten, to be sure, but my home cooking has often been limited to one vegetable cooked quickly for most meals, unlike the more complex dishes cooked at the hands of others (whether by My Wonderful Parents or at the restaurants my family has patronized of late).

For a while there, it looked like my featured local meal for August might look like a dish of fried okra! But have no fear. Once in a while, I do find reason to cook something a little more colorful.

I ended up cooking dinner on my birthday and sharing it with the Renaissance Man and another friend. It seemed to me a more low-key way to celebrate, especially since I had been so lavishly treated by my family the weekend before.

I roasted a bunch of Fairy Tale eggplant, scraped out the pulp, and pureed it with a small amount of tomato pulp the day before my birthday and set it in the refrigerator. Then, when I was ready to throw dinner together, I sautéed some garlic, added the eggplant puree and more tomatoes, sprinkled it with fresh basil and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar, and let it simmer to deepen the flavors before serving it over whole wheat pasta.

Along with steamed broccoli, it was a delicious meal that featured all local vegetables -- except for the salad, but I'm not complaining about that because it, too, was good. And we enjoyed it with the remains of a bottle of blush wine from a local winery.

Alas, I have no photos of that meal, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The photo-featured local meal for this month, then, will have to be the dish of roasted vegetables I took to a potluck today: sweet corn, red and purple potatoes, leeks, and cherry tomatoes, all local, drizzled with olive oil and roasted at 400 F for about 40 minutes (with regular stirring).

Inspired by the tomatillo salsa I made Friday, I also pulled out this week's CSA recipe for roasted tomatillo sauce. I combined the last tomatillos with a small red onion and some garlic, drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them at 400 F for about 30 minutes (until very tender), and then pureed them with lime juice and oregano to make a pale yellow-green sauce to add to the roasted vegetables.

Since there were so many dishes on the potluck table, people only took a spoonful of the vegetables, and I took the remains home for later meals. But by evening, as I was thinking about making a quiche, I decided that instead of whipping up a sauté of other vegetables, I'd just dump the roasted vegetables into the tart shell, cover them with beaten eggs, and bake the lot.

That worked very well! I know it seems odd to have potatoes in a quiche, but it worked out more like a fritatta, and with a little of that tomatillo sauce on top, it turned out to be a tasty dinner dish (and likely a good breakfast or lunch, too!).

Yes, August is quickly slipping away, but at least I know that in a month, I should be about done with canning and most other forms of food preservation. There's still much to do -- more tomatoes to sauce and can, applesauce to make, possibly a last jam, some liqueur, and some fruit butter -- but the end is in sight.

If you've been playing along with this preservation game, you'll be glad to know that soon you'll be able to sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and rest on your laurels.

Fall is coming, and the hard work will end soon. I promise!

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