Saturday, June 30, 2018
One Fine Meal
When we came to this land twenty-four years ago, my intention was to grow huge quantities of our food much in the manner of Helen and Scott Nearing. Gifts of flowers were seen as a nuisance since all of the opened land was needed for food crops. Our focus has changed as flowers now rule here but some food crops still hold their ground.
Oregon Giant snow peas remain at the top of the list. Their harvest is eaten fresh so no time and effort are spent preserving the crop. It takes all of one morning to prepare the ground and plant two twelve foot long rows on either side of the chicken wire fence. Included in that effort is grinding and spreading last year's fallen hardwood tree leaves after the seeds are planted. Some open ground is left for the soon to sprout seeds but the mulch is pulled in close after they are up and growing. The combination of the water retaining function of the mulch and watering cans of water delivered during the recent drought have these plants in excellent condition.
Enough peas for one batch are picked early in the morning. They are held in the refrigerator until evening. Broken pieces are blanched in boiling water for only thirty seconds. That is quickly followed by an ice water bath. Freshly picked young peas handled this way are extremely crunchy. Their taste is amazing.
Becky closely follows the Sesame Baked Tofu with Snow Peas and Almonds from the Moosewood Kitchen Garden Cookbook. We use only locally processed firm tofu that has previously been frozen. The time in the freezer nearly eliminates the mushy mouth feel of tofu. Chicken or fish can be substituted for the tofu. Sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and freshly grated gingerroot combine to create a truly memorable flavor. We only have this meal when snow peas can be freshly picked from our garden. The quality of the peas and the magic contained in the recipe combine to make these meals well worth waiting for. Many times I am tempted by limp snow peas in the grocery store but I always turn away knowing that they simply will not measure up.
When we visited the Moosewood Restaurant located in Ithaca, NY many years ago, it was a memorable experience. A loose group of young people came together to prepare meals centered on locally grown produce. Housed in an old school building one block west of the main street, the popularity of the place mandated an early arrival. While sitting on an uncomfortable wooden school chair against a basement hall wall waiting for seat in the serving areas, a young long haired man walked quickly by. His tee shirt carried the message "Attitude Is Everything". Those three words said it all. I have found that expression to be a guide on how to live a happy productive life. The message on the shirt was free. The meal was excellent and it inspired our annual special enjoyment of a truly wonderful meal when the cookbook was published.