People are always asking me for recipes. I respond with techniques. As someone who attempts to eat mainly locally (within reason), recipes don’t really work out for me. I’ll read something in a magazine and love the idea of it, only to make my way to the ingredient list and realize I can’t make it. Asparagus and citrus salad isn’t happening for me in the middle of the winter. Or possibly ever; there is no citrus growing near where I live. This is not a judgement call. It’s just how I choose to eat.
It can get pretty dull during the winter. Now that my farmers’ market is bursting with life, I’m overjoyed to the point of acting ridiculous. I tried to hug my favorite farmer this morning when she told me I had to get out of bed earlier next week as she would have peas. I love peas more than almost anything. And I love that she was teasing me (I am never the early bird; I write late at night).
My weekly shopping goes like this: I basically troll the market and blow all of my money. And then I throw it all together however it makes sense night after night until it is time to go the market again. I use printed recipes sometimes as thoughts or guides. But mainly I ‘m a technique-girl: I saute, roast, bake, and so on. Or I eat it raw. I’m a capable cook, but mainly I’m an excellent shopper.
Here’s a great example of my kind of “recipe” from the amazing Joan Gussow, reprinted from The Conscious Kitchen.
Joan Gussow’s Roasted What’s-In-The-Garden
This isn’t really a recipe–which makes it the perfect recipe. It’s seasonal and doesn’t call for anything that isn’t growing in the same region (Gussow’s yard!) at the same time. Plus it gives wonderful insight into the mind-set of a deeply green thinker. “I tend to make things that are related to what I have. I save recipes when they come along, but I don’t make as much use of cookbooks as I might. They have an assortment of things I might not have. If I were thinking about dinner during the day, I am thinking of the fridge: What’s in it should I use up? What’s in the garden I should use up? I’m aware of what I have at a given time. I had my first Burbank russets this year that were big. I love to dig potatoes. It’s a pleasure, like finding gold in the earth–a wonderful bucketful of potatoes comes out of the ground. I rolled them in oil and stuck them in the hot oven. Then I thought, I’m not going to waste that oven heat.” She remembered that a friend had done a potato-and-green-beans thing, and called her to find out how to proceed. She wound up roasting potatoes, green beans, and Jimmy Nardello peppers on separate sheets in the oven for about a half hour. “It wasn’t a meal,” she says. “It was potatoes and green beans and peppers on a plate. And it was delicious.”
Sounds good to me. What’s your favorite non-recipe?