The workday, at last, is winding down. Tired and dirty, we can’t imagine doing anything other than showering and going to bed. And yet we must eat. It’s time to grab a basket and fill it with dinner ingredients: a few heads of lettuce, torpedo onions, a handful or two of pole beans, the first eggplant, and a fragrant bunch of herbs.
Our world revolves around our kitchen and our long dinner table. Gordon and I cook three meals a day, usually five to six days a week. The meals we eat out are often potlucks, so suffice to say, most of our free time goes to cooking and eating. We’d have it no other way. Farming, for us, is a means to an end: we farm to eat, and eat well, year round.
We cook by the season, drawing inspiration from the garden and what we have in abundance. There’s very little waste on our farm, in part because we’re able to turn surplus into dinner. Cherry tomatoes came in strong this week, and the basil needed topping, so we made tomato confit and a big batch of pesto. We cook by instinct, letting our senses and appetites guide us. Summer squash was on its way out, so we made zucchini fritters to get one last taste. Just-cured garlic is tender and not too hot, so right now we’re eating it with every meal, pounding it to make dressings for salads and roasted vegetables. Eggplant is particularly tempting because it’s been nearly a year since we’ve tasted it. Not to mention, it’s gorgeous. What else do we eat that’s such a luxurious shade of purple?
Vegetables are at the center of our cooking. We often joke that if we were CSA members, we’d have to sign up for four CSA boxes a week. But seriously, that’s not a joke; we eat a lot of vegetables. Most of our meals are a heap of a vegetable or two, maybe with a grain of some kind worked in, and often an egg or two on top. For us, meat is more of a once-a-week treat than everyday fare, and we try to buy it from friends who raise pastured animals.
Summer cooking is about feeding our farmer appetites without heating up the house and maximizing our time at the table. In winter, when we have more time and energy, we make more elaborate meals. But all year round, our cooking is pretty rustic. Just-picked vegetables are so full of life and flavor that they don’t need much done to them. Yesterday, we roasted eggplant while the oven was still hot from the tomato confit. I tasted a piece before packing it up for today’s lunch—with only olive oil and salt to season it, it was close to perfect. All of the work to bring that eggplant from seed to our kitchen seems slight in comparison to that moment of delight.