My daughter asked her two year old for dinner ideas because she was, yes, that desperate for help.
“Emily, what would you like for dinner?”
If it were the middle of the hectic teaching year instead of the middle of summer, my daughter might have gone along with it.
Ah, but it is summer.
What I am loving about food planning right now is that it is based on what is growing at Maywood. (Or hereabouts!) Instead of pondering all the choices of all the foods from all over the world that are all on display at Wegman’s, I start with the mound of produce on the counter and in the fridge.
It’s so much easier! Give me three little choices. I can handle that. Even a two year old can handle that.
“Emily, what would you like for dinner: zucchini, pickles, or roasted beets?”
And her answer will be, “Chocolate!”
(Ok, I made that up. Emily would totally eat any of the above, but we discovered Emily’s fixation with chocolate when she spied a closed box of fudge at our house. She can’t read. There were no pictures of candy on the box. “Is that chocolate,” she asked. “I looooove chocolate!”)
Admittedly, I will not be so optimistic about meal planning when my choices are limited to butternut squash, acorn squash, or pumpkin, and I may be tempted to add chocolate to all of them, but for the moment we are eating really well.
Last night’s meal was as good a meal as one we experienced at an upscale farm-to-table restaurant on vacation recently. In fact, the search for gazpacho recipes came from a delightful Cucumber Pear Gazpacho that was served at the Ebbitt Room in Cape May. The one I made is not their recipe and I would love to have it! In the meantime, I will search and tweak.
Here’s what we ate last night:
Cucumber Pear Gazpacho with Mint
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Roasted Beet Salad with Feta,
Corn sautéed with White Wine, Dill and Lime.
Fresh Blackberry Tart
The cucumbers and mint came from the garden. The pork was already in the freezer. The corn was leftover from a grandkid cook-out/bonfire the night before. And the beets (already roasted!) were from my daughter’s garden. I picked the blackberries in the back yard. My grocery run for that meal was for Greek yogurt and almonds, and I’m thinking I could have used the non-Greek yogurt I had on hand and maybe eliminated the almonds.
Summertime at Maywood brings out the little pioneer woman in me. John hunts and plants while I gather. I gather berries and gourds and then gather recipes online. Instead of scouring the limitless possibilities of “what should we eat?” I ponder “what do we have?” and “how should we eat it?” It’s so much fun to see the abundance of what we already have and make something of it.
And I delight in the time to do it. Once the hectic school year starts, if I do not have summer stored in a jar or a freezer bag, I am likely to join little Emily in eating chocolate for dinner.
Here’s the recipe for Cucumber Pear Gazpacho from Cookthink.com.
1 cup blanched, unsalted almonds, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup water
3 medium cucumbers, chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt (preferably 2%)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
10 mint leaves, sliced
1 Bartlett pear, diced
In a food processor (or blender), pulse the almonds, garlic and salt until finely ground. Then add the water, cucumbers, yogurt, lemon juice, mint, and all but 2 tablespoons of the pear. Pulse until combined. Top each bowl with diced pear.
The gazpacho really needs to be served COLD. The leftovers I had the following day for lunch had the benefit of a good chill and blended flavors. So, even though it is quick to make, it is best not made at the last minute.
I bought non-fat plain Greek yogurt but had whole milk regular yogurt on hand. I might try that next time. The recipe called for almonds chopped in the blender. They chopped into a nice fine powder but still gave a gritty feel to the soup. I didn’t care for that, so I wonder about eliminating the almonds altogether or maybe substituting almond milk for the almonds and the water.
Who wants to experiment and get back to me on that?