Market Love

(Click title for photos to display properly)

I love a market. You know this already. I am an avid fan of supporting any and all local markets, whether a neighborhood Farmer’s Market or a local farm’s vegetable stand/garden store. This week was wonderful because it was full of markets of all sorts. I’ll keep this post simple. It is a blatant advertisement for you to go to your local markets. Here are a few photos to stimulate your senses.

Happy shopping!

Potato Corn Salad

We have briefly spoken about my love for all things pasta salad. Potato salad is a different story for me, though. I love a simple food. For some reason, I have this idea that potato salad looks simple in form, but is indeed very difficult in compilation. Too many moving parts and pieces. BUT. That’s not really true. It’s just a cop-out.

Truth is, I only partially like it. Potatoes are fine, but not usually my starch of choice. The problem for me lies in the dressing.

Yes, I know. Most potato salad lovers could bathe in the dressing. It’s what they love most. I just can’t get behind it, however. I generally find it to be too bland or too tangy or too thick or…. you get the idea.

Earlier today I planted my herb garden and did some trimming back to ensure greater success. So, I had some lovely herbs to use right away. And one potato. And an ear of corn that needed to find a dish before it found the trash. I sucked up my slight potato salad diversion and did something so completely different that I may never feel wishy-washy about potato salad again. Here are the goods from the garden:

I began by formulating a dressing I would love. I enjoy a mustard-based dressing. I’m not so wild about a mayonnaise-based one. I find it to have a strange mouth feel and generally boring flavor. However, I know that mustard dressing can have its own flaws. It can be too sharp and tangy and kill the salad. The beauty of any salad is that it is many flavors layered atop each other. These layered flavors should complement each other with ease and grace and leave you wanting more. And you can eat more. Because it is salad. And usually good for you.

Potato Corn Salad

1-2 Potatoes depending upon size and how many you want to feed

1 Ear of Corn

2-3 T. Chives, chopped

2-3 T. Basil, torn

2-3 T. Cilantro, torn

Handful of lettuce, use something light. I used butter lettuce.

Dressing:

3 T. Yellow mustard

1 T. Honey

1 T. Deli/brown mustard

3 T-1/4 C. Olive Oil

1 Small clove of garlic, minced into paste

Pinch of salt, pepper, cumin

1. Cut potatoes into even sized pieces, whatever you desire. Cook them until soft, with a bite. This is not as far as you want to cook them for mashed potatoes. Or that is what you will have. Drain potatoes and put in freezer or fridge to cool.

2. Boil ear of corn just until color starts to brighten. Raw corn is perfectly fine to eat and you want a bit of bite and a bit of sweetness simultaneously. This is achieved by not cooking corn to doneness. Cut the corn off the ear and toss with the cooled potatoes.

3. The dressing is easy. Mostly. If you have ever tried to make hollandaise, mayonnaise or vinaigrette, you have come to compete with the laws of nature. These kinds of dressings are known as Emulsions. There are a few different types. They are easy to “break”. Some do not come back from the broken state, like hollandaise. The key is to whisk quickly while pouring slowly. In this case, start with the yellow mustard and pour the olive oil into it while whisking. This mixture will be your base. Once it has come together and added a bit of volume, you are free to add any other ingredients and begin to season. Any ratio of mustard to oil works, as long as you like the flavor and follow the rules of emulsifying.

The left is obviously broken. But the one on the right is lovely. I saved some because it will be a lovely honey mustard dipping sauce in the future.

4. Toss the potato and corn with the dressing. Taste and season for salt. Add the herbs and toss. Taste once more for a balanced palate. Serve atop the lovely bed of greens you prepared earlier.

Happy creating!

The Herb Garden

Okay, so it’s not a garden. It’s a window box with options.

3 days ago I watched a documentary that I cannot stop talking about. No. I mean, really. My friends and family are probably ready for me to shut up about it. But, tough luck.

The film Ingredients inspired me to a level that I haven’t been inspired in a while. There are things I have been interested in and have even been a natural part of my growing up process, but I have never considered them to be a “life path”. These things I would be speaking of are in the general “gardening, eating local, farmer’s market” genre. If you can’t tell that I’m that sort by the way this blog is shaping up, well…I don’t know what to tell you.

ANYWAY, Ingredients was all about farming and the local community. It was about teaching kids to garden and eat the vegetables they’ve grown. It was about our health and well-being as individuals and as a society. It was about a new way of living that is, in fact, a very old way of living. It was about the way things SHOULD be done and what some very fantastic (albeit few and far between) people are doing about it.

There are so many things I could say about the particulars of how it inspired me, but I think the post would go on far too long to keep your attention. Let’s say the inspiration went from a very large, hopeful, thought-provoked pile of long-term ideas all the way down to right now, today, this minute. And what I could do with today.

What I did with “today” was plant an herb garden. I have grown a few herbs in the past, but I didn’t really know what I should be growing and what I would actually use. I didn’t know the best way to take care of them. Then I moved. I started over with Basil and Cilantro but my Cilantro didn’t do so well. Now that my Basil has turned into a lovely and hearty plant, I thought it an appropriate time to start afresh.

Here’s my picture book:

After a little hesitation, I decided to add my Basil in with the bunch. I was afraid of crowding them. However, it worked out well because I had barely enough soil, even with the Basil. I will also be moving again soon, so having them all in one container makes for easier transportation.

Herbs are so inexpensive and great for adding a little bit of organic flavor to anything you are whipping up in the kitchen. Go buy some and let that green thumb of yours have a little fun!

Happy planting!