In the fall of 1978, during my 3rd year of nursing school (at what was then Good Samaritan Hospital & Nursing School), one of my suite mates gifted me with a copy of a newly published Mennonite cookbook, More with Less. Due to the influence of another floor mate I was already trying to eat more plant-based foods, but hadn’t had much experience with it and up until then, faltered with creativity. More with Less opened the world of lentils, beans, rice, and other unfamiliar grains and gave me recipes for soups like pumpkin, corn and bean chowder, and vegetarian chili. The book became a well-worn go-to book after Mark and I married in December of that year, so much so that the index has been torn away and I treat it with gingerly respect.
I read the front pages with interest back then, and learned more about ways Mennonites lived out their faith through ordinary life (such as food choices), wanting to work alongside God to make the world a better place–a more just and compassionate place.
All this to say, a few months ago Rachel Marie Stone asked me to endorse the 40th anniversary edition of More with Less. We’ve endorsed each others’ food books, and appreciated each others’ voice and perspective on food. She edited this 40th edition and did a marvelous job with it. My copy arrived this week and I spent some time with the front pages, which help people figure out how to eat more simply and well, and how change is an act of faith, and what it means to eat with joy. Then I skimmed through recipes both familiar and new. I let my eyes linger on the beautiful photographs of simple and nutritious foods–stuffed peppers, fish tacos, in some cases showing them being prepared and eaten from around the world.
I look forward to trying some of the new recipes (the fish tacos and peach kuchen for two), and revisiting ones I’d forgotten (I’d like to make home made Grapenuts again–I loved this recipe!). If you are looking for inspiration for eating lower on the food chain, and inspiration driven by a belief that how we eat is a relevant to one’s faith, then you might want to check this out.
Anticipated in the Market
King Richard Leeks
Kale (Dinosaur, Red Russian & Meadowlark)
Zucchini Squash & Summer Squash
Tromboncino & Patty Pan
Marketmore and Green Finger Cucumbers
Copia, Pineapple, & Rose de Berne Tomatoes
Yellow Pear, Indigo, Matt’s Wild, & Snow White Cherry Tomatoes
Black Beauty & de la Guardia Eggplant
Jalepeno, Serrano, and Cayenne Peppers
Chives & Garlic
Pick One or Two
Blue Lake, Yellow Wax, & Fortex Beans
Walla Walla Onions
Baby Cippolini Onions
Leeks are in the allium family, along with garlic, scallions, and onions. They are the mildest of them all, an oniony flavor with a hint of garlic. You can use leeks in any recipe calling for onions, green onions, or scallions. They are my favorite from this family from November through about March, when they taste their best. Mostly leeks are a fall/winter crop, but we grew a variety that begins to mature at the end of summer. Still, this is just a taste, you probably won’t see them again until October, and then we’ll have more available in the Fall/Winter crates you’ll hear about later.
Leeks are native to the Mediterranean and are used a lot in French cooking. They look a bit like giant green onions, and the part that is sautéed is the long white stem. To clean, cut off the tough green leaves where they begin to split from the stalk, and the roots. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and then rinse under running water, thumbing through the layers to remove soil and grit that has taken up residence between the layers.
The recipe of the week features leeks. But as I said, they can be used in any recipe asking for onions, the recipe below just allows them a more front-and-center role.
Sometimes called “vegetable spaghetti squash,” this oblong winter squash works as a good substitute for pasta noodles. The color ranges from ivory to deep yellow, and the center looks pretty much like other squash when raw. Split it, scoop out the seeds (they roast up great, like pumpkin seeds) and bake, steam or boil it. (Or bake it whole and then split and scoop out the seeds). The flesh falls away from the squash like noodles when prodded with a fork. Top it with sauce or eat it as a side dish with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. It’s full of folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. A great fall food.
These little pumpkins are the first of three decorative squash you will get in the next three weeks. None of them are edible. We wonder every year about giving over a significant part of the garden to non-edibles–but mini pumpkins, gourds, and jack-o-lantern pumpkins are charming, and so much a part of fall decor. So in honor of the first week of fall, we are starting to distribute them for your visual, rather than eating, pleasure!
And Autumn Comes…
The Harvest Moon, a name attributed to Native Americans, is the full moon closest to the fall equinox (Sept. 22 this year), so called because beans, winter squash and corn for grinding were ready to harvest. As I drove home from Dundee after dinner with friends Friday night I could see that yellowy-orange disc, looking larger than usual, peeking between the cloud cover over fields recently harvested or ready for harvest. Even though Mark and I don’t tend to harvest by the light of this moon as farmers have done in the past, I look for it every September, drawn to its particular color and the predictability of the coming fall that it represents.
Recipe of the Week
Potato Leek Gratin (adapted from Molly Watson at About Food).
We’ll assume you still have some potatoes from prior weeks, and this is a good way to use some. The ingredients and directions are simple, and great for the cooler days coming up.
2 leeks, about 3 pounds of potatoes, butter, cheese of your choice, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375˚. Meanwhile clean your leeks as described above, and slice them into 1/4 inch half rounds.
Grease a 2 qt. casserole dish or gratin dish liberally with butter.
In a heavy skillet melt 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté the leeks 3-5 minutes until tender and translucent. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes and slice them in 1/4 inch slices.
Lay 1/4 of the potato slices in the casserole dish and then salt and pepper.
Top with 1/2 of the leeks and then salt and pepper.
Layer with another 1/4th of the potatoes (and salt and pepper)
Top with about 3 oz. of grated cheese (swiss, cheddar, gruyere are all good choices)
Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until potatoes are tender, and bubbly and browned on top, about 25 minutes if the potatoes are fresh (and they will be if you are using anything we’ve distributed in the last month). Otherwise this might take up to 90 minutes. Cover again if the top becomes too brown.
Let rest 5-10 minutes and enjoy warm.