Savoring the Seasons: Dear Friends, Yummy Food

  • Mary McClintock and Pat Lively in Conway, 2016. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MARY MCCLINTOCK

  • Pat Lively cooking in the Queen Charlotte Islands, 1986. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MARY MCCLINTOCK

For The Recorder
Published: 9/20/2016 3:07:54 PM

My first big sea kayaking trip was in 1986 when I spent 10 days paddling with two other women in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands. One of those women was Pat Lively. Now, Pat is my dearest friend, although she lives in Seattle.

Pat’s a superb cook and we’ve shared many yummy meals. You’ve read Pat’s recipes in this column and I often call her up to ask, “what should I do with (insert ingredient here)?”

Pat’s visiting and we’re making the most of all the wonderful local foods available as we shift from summer to fall. We’re enjoying apple/blueberry pancakes and “scromlets” made with local eggs, cheese, green beans, tomatoes and onions. For our trip with friends to Maine last week, Pat made a superb chicken/onion/potato/green bean/corn/spinach/herbs soup. This week, before Pat heads back west, we’ll make a variation of Wendy Marsden’s Yummy Touille.

How do you use end-of-summer vegetables you have on hand? What recipes do you share with your dear friends?

This week we’re eating… Yummy Touille

Wendy Marsden, Greenfield

This recipe is specifically designed to mix up late summer vegetables, so using what you have on hand is pretty much the point. It starts with my frying pan. I heat olive oil in it and dice up some garlic and onion. While that is browning, I finely chop a hot pepper or two and add that. Most of the time I added a pound of hamburger to brown, but the time it turned out best I browned the hamburger by itself in another pan. I added salt at this step.

To the greasy/oily mix, I add chopped-up eggplant. I don’t peel it or anything, just cube it. If there isn’t much oil in the pan, I added more for this step. I think it improved the eggplant for it to soak up olive oil instead of hamburger grease, so I liked adding the hamburger after the next step.

While that is browning, I start coarsely chopping any tomatoes or tomatillos I have available. I toss them in as soon as things are browned. Usually, I have a bunch of tomatoes but last time I only had a couple and then I had a bunch of firm, hard tomatillos, so I cut those up and added them. Because it didn’t have enough tomato liquid, I added two cans of diced tomatoes with peppers. I added the beef and covered that and let it cook for a while.

I remembered I had a zucchini that was starting to go by, so I chopped it up and added it. Note that my husband doesn’t like peppers, so I don’t add bell peppers, but they belong here for anyone else. Oh, and there was some cilantro, so I chopped that up and added it. I opened a can of chickpeas, rinsed it thoroughly, and added it to the mixture.

I let them heat into the stew for a while (the chickpeas were pre-cooked in the can) and served it with parmesan cheese. It’s a full-bodied chili/stew that doesn’t need rice or pasta and it uses up every eggplant and tomatillo I have lying around from my farm share. I called it a form of “ratatouille” but my boys thought that sounded disgusting so I changed the name. I LOL’d when I read that “ratatouille” means “traditional stewed vegetable dish with eggplants.” Um, yeah.

Once you start eating locally and in season you discover that you’re doing a lot of “traditional” recipes. Duh, that’s how they got to be traditional. You’re staring at a counter filled with eggplants, peppers, onions and tomatoes — your choices are going to be a bit constrained at that point.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals and writer-editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmclinto@yahoo.com


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