Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fresh is Best

The subjects of my cookbooks include learning how to cook at home instead of eating junk food in the car, throwing parties for friends and family that you can enjoy yourself, traditional dishes made quicker, spicier, or lighter, a book on good-for-you-foods, especially good carbs and good fats and, most recently, a book on what you should eat to make you gorgeous – on the inside and out.

Its been a real learning experience – one that has led me to the subject that I would like to work on for my next book; the focus of which, is on the underrated, under-explored fresh foods found on farm stands, in fresh markets, in CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes, and in specialty food stores like butchers and fish mongers. It’s about finding the freshest food stuffs available; those that have been minimally processed. For reference, I suggest you read Real Food by Nina Planck and the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

I haunt farmer’s markets. I love getting up very early on Saturday mornings, finding coveted parking close to the trucks carrying farmers' wares. One of my most favorite finds is the heirloom tomato. These come in all sizes, colors and varieties, but have one thing in common; they are grown on vines in rich soil (instead of hydroponically). These are the sweetest tasting tomatoes in the world. I gather so many of them that I eat tomatoes day and night - with my scrambled eggs, on my bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, for an afternoon snack and an in my nightly salads. I roast them, braise them, grill them, stack them (with eggplant), stew them – everything but drown them. Masking that delicious flavor with even a tablespoon of store-bought salad dressing is a crime. Just a drizzle of best quality olive oil and a mere grind of pepper is enough seasoning for me. If you haven’t found a local farm stand or farmer’s market, try to find an “Ugly” (it’s a brand, not a description) tomato in the grocery store and let it ripen on your kitchen counter.

To motivate you to start strolling, let me then offer you a recipe for a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich , which will travel along with you in route to the farmer’s market. You will like it even better the second time you prepare the sandwich, using market finds like organic eggs, Artisan baked bread, organically grown lettuce, heirloom tomatoes and freshly smoked, nitrate–free bacon.

Let me know if you like it. I welcome your ingredient additions or subtractions to my recipes. I look forward to your feedback – oh, and remember to tell you friends about this blog – I need blog hits!!

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