WND – Taking the Easy Way Out

August 14, 2008

We were up in Vermont this past weekend for the annual antique car show. It was unexpectedly gorgeous in Stowe – we’d been threatened with a weekend of rain and gloom and instead got clear blue skies and sunshine. However, the drive up and the drive back were both nightmares of bad traffic and inexplicable traffic jams and I was exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday night.

Because thinking about groceries was just beyond me this week I picked the easy way out of my dinner dilemma. Chicken fingers and corn pudding is what I make when I’m too tired to think about Dinner on Sunday night. It’s my default, ‘I’m tired and don’t have the energy to figure out what ingredients something more complicated would require’. Honestly when I’m tired it isn’t the thought of making Dinner that makes me quail, it’s the thought of trying to work out what ingredients I have and what I’d have to hunt for in my grocery store that’s daunting. However, by Wednesday I was feeling guilty about the corn pudding (obviously not guilty enough to not make it, because I can think of about five other things that I could have made but chose not to) so I assuaged my conscience with three bags worth of farmer’s market goodies.

I love the farmer’s market but whatever local produce advocates would like to have you believe, it’s not cheaper than going to the grocery store. It’s a lot better, and tastes like fruit instead of Styrofoam, but it’s not going to help your budget any. I don’t mind because I’m getting spectacular produce and I can afford to support the local economy, but the ‘it’s cheaper’ pitch always annoys me because it’s really not. If you live somewhere that’s along a rural road and you can stop at a roadside farm stand, then possibly it is cheaper but if you’re buying from a farmer’s market in a downtown area it’s more expensive than Whole Foods, although admittedly less likely to make you feel like a yuppie.

The other problem that regional food advocates don’t tell you about is how torturous it then is to spend the rest of your afternoon at work smelling all the amazing produce that you’ve just bought. I know, my life is so traumatic.

Chicken Fingers
Corn Pudding
Dark Leafy Greens
Fruit Salad

Chicken Fingers & Corn Pudding

Recipes previously given: Corn Pudding & Other Gateway Drugs

Dark Leafy Greens
(serves 2-3)
This is the same basic method that I use for pretty much all cooked leafy greens – spinach, bok choi, swiss chard, kale . . .

Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Bunch of dark green leafy thing of choice (swiss chard in this particular instance)

Add enough olive oil to your pan to coat the bottom slightly. Add 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smacked with a knife (you want them to be broken, but not chopped up) and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (adjust according to taste). Cook the garlic in the olive oil over a very low heat for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. The garlic should only barely take on color. You aren’t looking to fry the garlic so much as very gently heat it to soften it and infuse the olive oil.

Chop and rinse your dark greens and leave to drain in a colander until needed. You don’t want them to be too wet, but just damp enough to steam in the pan.

Add the greens to the pan and cover with a lid – don’t worry if your lid doesn’t close, just let it steam for a few minutes and then mix the greens in the pan so the uncooked greens end up on the bottom and get a chance to steam. Cook until the greens are wilted. Remove the lid and continue to cook until tender and to cook off any excess liquid – probably about 3-8 minutes depending on your greens (spinach cooks faster, things like kale and swiss chard take longer). Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg or allspice.

Fruit Salad
Peaches – plums – melon – blueberries



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