Richard came in from the garden this week bearing gifts. I was so excited to see our first shallots! This brought back a memory from my childhood. My mom was a great cook. My dad was a great gardener. We didn't eat much gourmet food-it was mostly food from my parent's German background.
We ate 'mush' almost weekly. My mom would make it fresh in the morning and my dad would eat it with sugar and milk, like a hot cereal. It was good, but not my favorite. She would chill the leftovers then slice and fry it for fried mush. It was served with pancake syrup and was very, very delicious! It was unusual to have fried mush because there weren't often leftovers!
If you asked people today what 'mush' is they might say something like "what you say to your dogs pulling your dog sled". Today it's called 'polenta' and it's a very popular food dish served by most gourmet cooks. It's not used as a breakfast dish, but rather as an entree with fancy sauces or accompaniments. It always makes me laugh when some chef makes it sound like polenta is the 'new' discovery on the food scene! Yeah, right...about 50 years ago!!!
The other food item that is popular on the current cooking scene is 'shallots'. Once again, this is an item that I grew up with. Under our kitchen sink there was a bucket and it always had 'multipliers' in it. At least, that's what my parents called them. My dad grew them in the garden, and we had enough to last us through the year, and he would then take some of the bulbs and plant them for the new season. Who knew that these little light purple onions were gourmet?
This year we planted shallots for the first time and they are doings so well! Richard brought in the first ones this past week. The picture above shows what was harvested from only 2 bulbs!! You can see why my dad called them 'multipliers'! I'm sure if he was still alive and I told him we grew shallots he would just look at us with that funny face he made! It would be the same look that he would use if I asked him if he wanted some polenta!
Last night for dinner I cooked Zucchini Garden Chowder from the Simply In Season cookbook. It was absolutely delicious! We just loved it. If you don't have this cookbook, you should at least check it out at your local library. It 's divided into sections by the seasons and the recipes coordinate with the food items harvested in that particular season. It's probably my favorite cookbook. The recipes are down to earth and I love using produce found either in the garden or at the farmer's market.
Our second picking of green beans is about to happen and the tomatoes are finally coming on strong. I can't wait to start canning tomatoes. It's one of my favorite things to can. I'll also be oven drying as many as possible, then placing in freezer bags for use through the winter. As of last year, we no longer purchase tomatoes that are not IN season. We loved the ones I froze last year, but I didn't do enough andwe ran out by the end of the year, leaving us with bland salads for quite a few months. This year I'll be sure to do more!
Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with coarse salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a thin slice of fresh garlic and bake until shriveled and dry. Place in freezer bags and freeze. I bake them at 325. The baking time depends on th size of the tomatoes. If you use small pear or cherry type tomatoes, just cut in half and bake. These take a bit longer because they aren't sliced thin. Another tip is to place the frozen tomatoes in a small jar with olive oil and use it to season and serve on bruchetta or pasta. The tomatoes season the oil if you let them marinate in it for several hours.