Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy over Vegetable Stews

Cooking makes me happy. Having a lot of vegetables to cook up and eat, with extra to freeze, makes me especially content.  B. plays various fun R&B tunes at the computer, and I bounce around the kitchen chopping and singing along with James Taylor or Eva Cassidy, clapping sometimes when I put down the dishtowel or knife on my way to open the fridge or oven.

On the way home through the fertile Central Valley last week I bought some okra, not having a plan for it, and this week I happened to see this recipe for Green Gumbo, which I made with deviations from the letter, but keeping the spirit. How could I go wrong with all those favorite ingredients like kale and okra, sausage and bacon? We ate it on rice as suggested, with corn on the cob alongside.

Summertime gardens always make me want to cook up a pot of Ratatouille, a classic that is not complicated but requires a lot of chopping and mincing. I also had to take time to go out to the garden at the last minute to get the parsley and basil to go with onions, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, garlic and tomatoes. My version mostly stews in the oven.

The picture shows it the first time I stirred the stew, after an hour or so. When I opened the oven and took the lid off the pot, the aroma skipped quickly on the evening breeze across the room to B., who cried out in a swoon. Normally this recipe takes three hours in the oven, but this time it was done in two hours flat; must have been the new convection oven.

Turkish Green Beans come out surprisingly and deliciously intact even though they are cooked in a pressure cooker for 18 minutes. It is probably the generous amount of olive oil that helps them keep their integrity, while tomato, garlic and hot pepper add to the flavor.

I'm sorry to say that the store-bought green beans, young and thin as they always seem to come these days, did not turn out as well as my homegrown pickings. I guess even the additions to the pot can't overcome the blandness of those wimpy beans. I put half the recipe in the freezer right away, because their flavor and texture are just as nice after being frozen for a few months.

Right now I just want to get this post up, so the recipes will have to come later, and also will be included when I create a page on my blog -- soon, I hope -- where I can link to all of the recipes I've ever shared, including these beans and ratatouille. There are a few that I haven't written down anywhere else, and I need the reference at least for myself, so I can know whether I've already written about a particular dish, and also to remember how to make some of them that were sudden inspirations.


elle pee said...

Next time, try your green beans in the pressure cooker for only four minutes...delicious!

wayside wanderer said...

What delicious looking dishes! Yum!!!

M.K. said...

I hope a spoonful of that ratatouille revived your swooning husband!! :) And you should be careful with that knife, while dancing about the kitchen. Sounds like you had lots of fun. I haven't had ratatouille since college, when some friends used to make huge batches after church at their little house, and invite anyone -- ANYONE -- who wanted to come eat. What fun we had! I've been wanting a "food" page on my blog too, but haven't gotten around to it, and am not quite sure how to do it. So when you do, please share how to construct one.

Pom Pom said...

Wow! Health and wellness abound! Your vegetable dishes look scrumptious.

Pres. Kathy said...


Left-Handed Housewife said...

I love cooking to music--actually any housework done to a soundtrack is so much more joyful. We're painting today with ITunes. Makes it fun!

Can't wait for your recipes page!


freshfirecoal said...

New convection oven! Whew! I didn't know the remodel included THAT!

Well, I confess that I had strange thoughts while reading this article--thoughts about punctuation, rather than cooking. I teach English literature; I love books. However, I find punctuation necessary but boring. I was reading your blog article and thinking about all of the commas in it: that they are stylistically like the commas I want to put in my writing--and therefore apparently very out of date! I work for a very traditionalist and classical online school, but my "boss" (principal) often criticizes my comma usage. I'm not quite sure but I THINK it's because I use them in places that they are not now used. I understand this--I even understand the new "rules," but really, must we be so rigid? Even as teachers? And what message does this send to our students--especially students from families that are traditional and already have an understanding of the importance of laws in life? Couldn't we take the opportunity of grammar to begin to explain the difference between laws and rules, between usage and policy, etc.? I don't know. In our age we are inundated with relativism and the lack of belief in rules at all, yet it seems to me that making a mistake in the opposite direction will lead us away from truth also.

So, back to Gretchen Joanna's blog. I found a certain self-justification in seeing all of those COMMAs. I did not notice the elements of cooking so much as I saw commas. What can I say? How strange my comments here must seem: I don't comment on food or cooking at all, but on the way in which Gretchen Joanna expressed her experiences with food and cooking. But for those of us write, commas are a food in themselves--a way in which we digest the matters of life and translate them into logical and meaningful matter--even if we are bored with them, as I am.

GretchenJoanna said...

ffc, you are right, there are several commas I could have done without, as well as, I might say, several places where others might have added more! I wonder if I feel the need for more of them when experiencing the "tired brain" phenomenon, to moderate the pace of thought so I can keep up--as I am "chewing" more slowly.

Gumbo Lily said...

I love vegetable stews and cooking out of the garden. I've been making green beans, boiling them about 10 minutes, and then sauteing them with bacon, onions, and lastly nuts. Yum!

Looking forward to your recipes section of the blog.

I also appreciate your dancing and singing with JT as you cook. I'm a big fan of his.


Gumbo Lily said...

Thank you for mentioning Eva Cassidy. After reading your post, I went to listen to her. Lovely, lovely, lovely! I just bought her Songbird album. Thank you, Gretchen Joanna!


Anita said...

Your food always looks so delicious, and nutricious, too! You must be an excellent cook.

Anita said...

I wanted to add, that I am also a fan of Eva Cassidy. Beautiful voice.

Firefly said...

Yummy looking treats you're cooking up! I love okra, but mostly fried (Southern girl, you know ;-), but your recipe sounds so good -- must try it.