Cooking Seasonally

The other night a friend told me I should give cooking classes. "I'm an accidental cook," I told her.

"You're always cooking something new," she said. "I'm in a rut. I cook the same things all the time."

It wasn't until I hung up that I realized eating seasonally doesn't accommodate cooking ruts for long. Sure, the guy I feed doesn't believe that there is ever a season without chard or kale and it's seeming like he may be right, but logically I know it can't grow year round.

Last summer when I was picking up speed with the summer squash the season ended. Same with the tomatoes. I was ready to live on them forever and then one day, they were done and it was time for winter squash. Now we're eating carrots and cauliflower.

Eating seasonally forces change or rather, it inspires creativity. The food informs what we're having for dinner more than I conform preconceived ideas to a meal. That's what happened when I accidentally cooked Indian food this week.

It started with a head of cauliflower I didn't quite know what to do with. And then I bought another head and another because, well, because they were so good looking. I know, I have a problem. But then I found a recipe for ginger cauliflower soup seasoned with curry powder. No more problem!

I found half a bag of yellow lentils hidden in the back of the potato drawer and decided to make dahl. I've always wanted to make dahl. I used summer peppers from the freezer, ginger from Fresno and local garlic that made my fingers smell from peeling it. I sprinkled in turmeric and we had dahl like it tastes at the restaurant, but better.

And lastly, since I believe that dahl and nan are the perfect marriage, I made nan. Oh, heaven. I made nan. And a cilantro pesto with olive oil and more ginger. The guy and I are still swooning.

And to think this meal would never have happened if tomatoes were in season year round.


Anonymous said...

Katrina, you so right. I love that each new vegetable or fruit is a mystery, where I have to find the perfect recipe to make it sing. Since I started eating seasonally I've purchased several cookbooks that have opened my world to great quick foods. And I've become a better cook: it's easier to experiment successfully, I'm becoming more in tune to the characteristics of each fruit or vegetable, and - gasp - I really enjoy cooking. And I enjoy seeing the pleasure someone else shows when they take a bite into the yummy goodness I've created...

Kale for Sale said...

Melinda - ... to make it sing. Well said. I'm liking cooking too and especially the putting of food on the table to a group of hungry folks and yes, watching them enjoy or the easy laughter when a dish is not quite right (which happened recently!).

Green Bean said...

Great point, Katrina! I truly believe that eating seasonally is more healthful and naturally prevents "ruts" and gives us the nutrients our body needs. I never get tired of anything and am always happy to embrace the next new fruit or vegetable.

Anonymous said...

At a recent dinner party, we discovered that the easy laughter was the real nourishment. During a minor flavor catastrophe, we were called to the kitchen to work collaboratively sparing our palates from the explosion of fenugreek in the aloo gohbi. With the addition of onions and cinnamon, disaster was narrowly averted. And oh, the swoonable nan. The only thing that beats locally-grown food is locally-grown friends.

Kale for Sale said...

green bean - What's next? The citrus are on their way out and I have no idea what the next wave of fruit is going to be. I know I could look it up but I like finding the next new thing in a small corner of the market. The cute guy does get tired of the same thing through the season much more quickly than I do but he's good natured about it. Plus he gets his out of season fix at lunch when things get too green.

edgie and daybreak - The fenugreek was a catastrophe, wasn't it! But I'm still laughing too. You were great guests and the cinnamon did save the food. Thank you. And yes, local food tastes better when it's shared.

Kale for Sale said...

PS -- Great names!