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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tonight was a very special evening for me. I attended my first Slow Food Event, a dinner party that involved making (and eating) homemade pizza! Just hearing what the evening would entail was enough to entice me to be there! I have never met a pizza that I did not like.

Slow Food International started as a concept all the way back in the late eighties. It was a movement to contrast the rising tide of processed and chemically laden food that was weaving its way into our entire world culture. And subsequently removing the whole local natural foods which had sustained us for generations before. in 1989 the international group was founded as a non profit and has gained momentum ever since. There are now chapters in 150 countries. The goals of the organization as a whole are to preserve food culture unique to each area, and support the growers and producers of small scale sustainable goods. All while rekindling the joy of partaking in pleasurable eating experiences.

Olympia, being the savvy city that it is of course has a healthy chapter, with what can only be described as a warm group of welcoming souls who know how to put on a sweet spread. (check out Olympia Slow Food) I have been a little too out of the loop, and have not been to a scene like this in far far too long. And what a treat it was! Tonight’s event was a trip to The Hains House Bed and Breakfast in Maytown, WA, a quaint little farm house in a picturesque setting perfect for hosting guests and groups. The owner Pat is a talented bread maker, and not too long ago she acquired a wood fired outdoor oven that she actually uses to teach bread making classes with!

For our event this evening we were instructed to bring favorite pizza toppings and salad stuff, too. The toppings were laid out on the prep table and readied for us to create our masterpieces.  Dough had been prepared in advance and each of us was given an opportunity to prep our dough on wooden boards with handles and load with whatever we chose.

And then a few at a time our pizzas went into the oven, and came out perfectly cooked! I have not tasted pizza so great in a while. And this being the first of real summer for western WA things like basil and tomatoes are just now coming into season. It was hard to decide what to put on my pie, but so many people brought other pieces around to sample that I ended up getting a little bit of everything.

What is incredible about a bit of good food and a bit of good wine is that it produces good talk and good company. As we sipped and we smiled and we shared stories about our selves, each other, and as you can imagine our experiences with food, joy was felt all around. There is something amazing that transpires in a group like this. I am sure there is a word for it but it slips my mind. At any rate this is heaven for me. A beautiful setting, a beautiful spread, beautiful company…………as human beings there is little more in our world that is worth longing for.

Enjoy your food!

Soup is one of the foods I love best!

And why not? Soup is simple and versatile. It can encompass many different ingredients or it can be made of a simple few. And there is something comforting and homy about soup simmering on the stove filling the air with beautiful smells, giving rise to the anticipation of something delicious.

Minestrone is a personal favorite because it is never the same soup twice. At least not in my kitchen. I make this soup at least once a season. In part because I enjoy it, and in part because it is an excellent go to recipe for raiding the pantry when you are in a fix, or using up several ingredients at once. And there are no real rules when you make it unless you have a very traditional Italian living with you!

So like I said I do this for the seasons. And in each season there are different additions that make it special for its time. Right now it is summer squash season! (remember I am in the Northwest and we are later than most other places due to cool weather) Squash has just come in within the last two weeks and it is beautiful this year. We have had to wait for everything this season but unlike the last two years the waiting has not been in vain. This year the tastes of everything from raspberries to the mentioned squash are full flavored and juicy like they should be. I am in heaven!

This soup was a simple mix of what I had on hand coupled with the fresh veggies from my new CSA share!

onion

carrots

zucchini

diced tomatoes

red beans

pasta

In this case I did roughly a cup of each in that order adding broth after I had sauteed the veggies for a bit to get them started. Don’t let the onions get entirely translucent before you add broth! Then for garnish you see the parsley from my share chopped up and Parmesan, freshly grated. And of course salt and pepper to taste.

A few soup notes here. You can use water instead of broth but you need to season much more to account for taste. Using sea salt can be a positive alternative to table salt and gives rise to a better flavor. And your typical Italian flavors work well here, like basil, oregano, and even rosemary. But don’t just follow my recipe, try your own!

Enjoy Your Food!

For those of you who don’t know I am an avid and active Locavore. That means a person who is working toward a localized food system in a sustainable community. We care a lot not only about where our food comes from but about creating a localized infrastructure to eventually support many different types of local food producers. To see some of what I have written on the subject of local food check out my website at http://www.pure-joy.org (click the writing gallery tab on the left hand margin)

Well I am happy to say that I have finally gotten back with a CSA as of this week! And I am thrilled about it. For those of you who do not know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it means buying a “share” of a farm crop in advance and going in weekly to pick up your box. Back in 2009 I worked on a farm with a CSA after being a member for two seasons and becoming very involved in the food culture we have here in Washington. For reasons I won’t go into I have been unable to do a CSA until now. And I did not realize how much I missed it until I went to pick up my box. When I looked inside I got excited! This food can be fun if you know what to do with it and I have been saving up recipes for this moment.

Look at the first weeks fair!

Already I know there will be a summertime minestrone coming from this batch, a summer squash salad, snap peas with dressing, and potato and carrot “pancakes” which yes I am serious and give me a chance they are super good!

Check back this week to see what’s cooking in my kitchen, as I

Share My Share!!!!!!!!!

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