This week we got: six ears of corn, two onions, a bunch of bell peppers, tomatoes big and small, carrots, a garlic, some Yukon gold potatoes, green beans, an eggplant, and a watermelon! I bought peaches, blueberries, blackberries, heirloom grape tomatoes, and a bunch of mint from the market.
I love watermelon–available for a longer season in Memphis where I grew up, it was one of the welcome-to-the-South foods we’d insist on feeding out-of-town guests, who were consistently surprised at the size and quality of the big ovoid melons. The melons in our CSA and at the market are smaller and round–like basketballs–but very sweet.
I have to confess that I turned half of my half into a pitcher of margaritas to share with a friend on Wednesday.
It was a sort of slapdash margarita–I was low on tequila, so we put in more triple sec than usual and a good measure of Rhuby, the strong rhubarb spirit by Art in the Age. They were really, really delicious. If you’re looking for an excuse to try out or use up this unusual spirit, watermelon is your chance.
We also made a spicy texmexy dish because I’m not tired of that yet. Besides, three ears of corn, a can of black beans, a pint of tomatoes, and a cup of rice makes an enormous amount of food, several meals’ worth for two people. Prep time can be a little long with all the cutting corn off the cob, but between the two of us we prepped, cooked, blended a pitcher of rhubarbarita, ate, watched two episodes of Parks and Rec, and cleaned up our mess in under two hours.
Saturday was one of those days when I just didn’t want to leave the house–not least because I learned this week that the foot that’s been giving me a hard time this summer has two stress fractures in it. And ridiculous as it seems with such bounty, I was nonplussed by the food I had on hand. I wanted to save some of the veg, like the eggplant and green beans, for a planned cooking session later in the weekend–and I didn’t feel like cooking them at that moment anyway!–so that left tomatoes and potatoes. An inauspicious beginning.
But I was wrong about that. In fact, tomatoes and potatoes make up a dish I wouldn’t hesitate to order in any tapas restaurant: patatas bravas. There are a million different ways to make it–BBC Food has a very simple preparation, but being me, I just used one skillet for everything, seasoning and browning the potatoes and onions, then adding a few diced hierloom tomatoes, then leaving everything to simmer while I did something else. I poached an egg for a extra protein. I’m very glad to add this simple dish to my repertoire; it would be easy to dress it up (many versions include a drizzle of homemade aioli, for example) or throw it together quickly.
Sunday I was ready to rejoin the world again, so I got up and bussed to the grocery store (normally a walkable distance, alas!) and bought some yogurt so I could make my favorite blueberry muffins by Smitten Kitchen. Well, and also so I could eat fruit and yogurt for the rest of the week, and the rest of my life if I can arrange it. I mixed up the muffins while roasting last week’s beets whole and simmering a giant stock pot of vegetable scraps, because my freezer had gotten full since six weeks ago. Note: if you’ve been meaning to start saving scraps for stock, corn season is a great time to do it. You could probably make a really delicious stock out of only corn cobs and a bit of onion and herb. I had a dozen cobs in my four gallon-size bags of mixed scraps, and they add such a nice solid flavor that I didn’t need to add vinegar or worchestershire sauce, as we sometimes do to make the stock more soup-ready.
Later in the afternoon, my neighbor came over and we stirred up a big tagine with the eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and golden raisins. (It is not a traditional tagine made in a clay pot, but–like the ratatouille–a stovetop version seasoned with traditional spices.) We made something similar to this, from Women’s Health.
While the tagine bubbled, we blended the roasted beets with broth and yogurt, like this recipe from Table Matters. It was messy–since we only had three beets, we didn’t have enough liquid to fully immerse the immersion blender. But aside from little pink flecks all over my arms and face, no harm was done and the result was pretty tasty.
Halfway through the season, I’ve been reflecting on my cooking habits, what works for me and what I wish I could do differently. I find that while I am usually comforted and satisfied by my go-to dishes, I feel the need to try something new once in awhile. So, every year, we add a few more dishes to the repertoire, experimenting and learning from mistakes.