Rollin' With The Veggies
It should then also come as no surprise that food is a favourite topic of conversation here at Field Good.
Just the other day, Hailey and I were picking basil and started on the conversation of our all-time favourite meals.
We spent a lot of time jumping from one cuisineto another, travelling the world through memories of rejoicing palates.
One thing that we certainly agreed upon was sushi and rice paper rolls.
Although we've shied away from seafood, our love for these rolls remains, and we've found that we can make our own tasty version using veggies.
If you find the idea of making your own sushi intimidating, I get it. The first few attempts may provide some awkward looking maki rolls. Just remember that while they may not be featured on the cover of a food magazine, they are still going to be delicious.
You can also just pretend that you had intended to make Chirashi.
Less intimidating are rice paper rolls. They are so easy, with the majority of the time being spent in assembly. We always try to make extra for tomorrow's lunch (try being a key word, as we often gourmandize on them).
Two other nice things about the rice paper rolls is that you also get to make a dipping sauce, and that it tends to use up a lot of vegetables.
Here are some veggies we grow which can be included in your rolls:
Keep Stove Off & Carry On
As a farmer, I know not to complain about the weather.
We live in a temperate climate zone which means that generally winters are cold and summers are hot.
When the weather doesn't follow my prescribed notions of what is needed to grow food, I try to remind myself that it could always be worse.
And while I don't have a say about what tomorrows' weather pattern may bring, I do have control over what to make for dinner.
Something that does not involve the oven.
Eating fresh, plant-based meals is the perfect way to stay cool during the heat of the summer but it also does way more than that.
It means that cleanup is simpler, and that I didn't have to remember to take something out of the freezer. And because meat protein is often so expensive, eating plant-based often ends up being more economical.
If you are eating raw, you can also save on energy by not firing up the oven. Win-win-win.
Vegan cookbooks like "Oh She Glows" and the Moosewood Cookbook used to intimidate me. I would flip through their gorgeous pages, revelling at the composition and promises of tasty meals, but fearful of actually trying anything out.
Now that I have a few recipes under my belt I realize that the fear that I held had everything to do with my upbringing. Having been raised on a cattle farm, a part of me held a bias against raw vegan meals. I somehow saw them as incomplete and confusing.
Cue the Vegan Bowl, the perfect gateway.
I started with what is basically a small mound of quinoa topped with a few different vegetables and a killer dressing. Nothing complicated, and nothing short of delicious.
It can be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand making it the ideal summer meal.
No avocado? Use raw zucchini or cucumber instead. No coriander? Basil can be the perfect substitute. No spiralizer? Just grate your carrots with a regular cheese grater, or if you have one, a mandoline slicer.
So while I am still reluctant to try making my own cashew cheese, I am building a culinary repertoire that includes delicious, nutritionally complete, vegan meals.
When we have a weedy garden to tend to, we turn to the stirrup hoe because in our mind, it is unparalleled in weeding speed and accuracy.
It wasn't always the case.
Before purchasing, we hummed and hawed, wondering whether it would be worth the extra price. Now we love it so much that we have it in 4 different sizes, including one that is a wheel hoe attachment.
Yes, we love a weeding tool. This tool has made us love weeding.
A good tool can make you fall in love with something you didn't used to enjoy. It is that powerful.
Truth be told, unlike Ryan, who already had amassed a few recipes when we started dating, I didn't start enjoying cooking until I moved to Montreal.
There was something about buying fresh produce from Le marché Jean-Talon that awoke a yearning to learn the culinary arts. This yearning further developed when we started working at Dalew Farms, and participated in a CSA share.
But my passion did not blossom until Ryan and I received our first good set of knives as a holiday gift from our ex-chef brother-in-law Kyle.
It is amazing how much more enjoyable cooking became. Recipes that I used to avoid because it instructed me to julienne have now been mastered to the point where I have trouble envisioning how I was able to cut carrots with a steak knife.
In a way, investing in the proper cooking equipment motivates us to cook more which then leads to eating healthy home-cooked meals.
While I am in no way an expert in kitchen tools (I'll leave that to Chef Alton Brown), here are some of the tools that have motivated me to become a better home cook:
Step 1, Eat Herbs
A few years ago my grand-maman, who is also a faithful client of ours, mentioned that I should be sharing tips on what keeps fresh longest and how to store produce that doesn't keep as long.
And it only took me 3 years to recognize this as good advice. Sigh, grandkids...
Anecdotally, we've found that it is best to consume produce in the following order:
Knowing that my herbs may be moments away from becoming wilted means that I should plan a nice pasta dish for pick-up night.
You can use pretty much any herb in pasta. Even dill is perfectly at home in pasta salad and the bonus is that it will be even better for lunch the next day.
No time for pasta? Make a herb vinaigrette! No time for vinaigrette? Drying herbs is easier than people would think.
Cut greens are the next on the list of eat-first produce. Real CSA Masters go the extra mile and prepare all of their greens right away so that they are ready to eat.
Truth be told, our greens aren't super happy with the plastic bag we put them in, so the best thing to do is to wash, spin and store:
Ingredients For Success
Last weeks' newsletter discussed how sauces can really make your greens sing.
This prompted one of our CSA clients to email us saying that this message resonated with him and that his guests often "freak out" when they try his homemade dressing.
But he said that it goes even further than homemade, and has everything to do with choosing quality ingredients.
I couldn't agree more.
A scenario to exemplify the above may sound familiar to you:
While at a friends' house, you, as the legendary sauce-maker, are asked to prepare a salad dressing.
No problem, you think to yourself, I'll just whip up my famous balsamic vinaigrette. But first, I must find the necessary ingredients.
You whip open the cupboard to find a rancid bottle of canola oil sitting next to plain ol' white vinegar.
Any chef will tell you that the quality of an ingredient is paramount. And why would we expect it to be any different, since a good recipe is the result of technique mixed with the sum of all parts.
While perhaps it may be a bit silly to buy edible gold leaf or truffle-flavoured fleur de sel, the good extra virgin olive oil, and the fancy balsamic vinegar might be worth the expense, especially if paired with fresh herbs from the farm. And while we are at it, we may as well buy the local honey to sweeten and quality dijon mustard to emulsify.
While certain sauces are less expensive to buy than to make at home, in terms of true cost accounting, your health will benefit from the homemade version and its reduced salt and sugar content. That's because the cheap pre-made stuff typically contains unhealthy artificial ingredients to make up cost.
Most importantly, if we chose flavour over convenience, we may find ourselves eating healthier meals more often.
Pass the salad please.