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August 17, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
My most and least favorite time of summer is harvest time. It’s my most favorite time of the season because of all the vegetables that invariably cover every available space in the kitchen. It’s my least favorite time of the season because of all the vegetables that invariably cover every available space in the kitchen.
It also consumes much of my time, and time is very precious to me. But I keep telling myself that the extra time I take now to bring in the harvest and preserve as much as I can for the winter, will save me even more time later on when I would rather be knitting, reading or blogging.
Over the weekend I was excited to stop at the Howland Farmers’ Market. The vendors at this market are all local farms, noticeably labeled at every station so you know exactly where your food is from.
Sure, I grow a lot of my own vegetables, but I don’t grow everything. Sometimes it is nice to see what other people are growing. In fact, I made some pretty nice finds at the market and managed to make a pretty nice meal for our Sunday dinner.
There used to be a time when I always made a huge dinner for Sunday afternoon, but now that our nest is empty, we use our day to enjoy other things. On this Sunday, we went to see a movie, stopped to take a few photos for one of the community newspapers and went home to watch the last of the NASCAR race. It was a hot day. Not a day for cooking a large meal. My score from the Farmer’s Market along with a few things from my own garden made a really nice, quick Sunday dinner without much effort and, most of all, without taking much time.
I started by slicing some green peppers and onions from my own garden. I know the peppers look more chopped than sliced, but they are small. These are slices. I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and after they softened, I tossed in some finely chopped garlic. Once they were softened and their fragrance filled the kitchen, I browned the thinly sliced sandwich steaks I picked up from the Miller’s Livestock booth at the farmers’ market. The beef is grass fed with no antibiotics, slaughtered locally and frozen solid. The small package I bought for $5.50 was enough to feed two people I was told, but I found there was probably enough for four smaller sandwiches if needed. The beef was highly colored, not like what you see in the store deli case that is usually reflecting tinted lights from above to make the red-dyed meat appear richer than it really is. Since we did the cooking on Sunday, we thawed the hard brick of meat slowly in the refrigerator overnight.
Once browned – this went quickly because the steak was sliced so thinly you could practically see through it -- I piled the beef onto six-inch sections of French bread, also from the farmers’ market. I topped the sandwich with butter cheese we already had on hand and put the two sandwiches under the broiler for a minute or so to melt the cheese.
While the cheese melted, I added some beef broth to the same skillet I used to soften the vegetables and brown the meat, while scraping the skillet with a spatula to get all the brown bits off the bottom. I poured in about four tablespoons Worchestershire sauce, and let it simmer for a couple minutes to reduce a bit. If you want a thicker sauce, you can add a bit of butter to the pan, but I chose to put the broth in a small bowl for dipping the sandwich at the table. The only thing missing was horseradish, but we work with what we have.
While I made the sandwiches, I also had my water boiling for the corn that, like the bread and the beef, came from the farmers’ market. The corn only had to cook for a minute or two. One of the biggest mistakes made by cooks in summer is to boil the corn too long. Fresh corn shouldn’t be in the pot longer than three minutes.
Clean up was a snap with only two pans, two plates and a few utensils.
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Green peppers and onions saute in a skillet.