Saturday, May 13, 2006

Forget Recipes

If you're eating locally, as Cranky and I have been doing this month, it's not always easy to pick out a dish from a cookbook and try to make it from what's available within a 100-mile radius.
No sukiyaki for me, in other words — tofu, shirataki, soy sauce are off limits. No spaghetti carbonara, even if I seldom use a recipe for it — wheat pasta is off limits (sadly, because everything else in the recipe is available within my region).
No scones.
No chicken satay with peanut sauce.
No paella.
Ah, so what.
We're eating à la availabilité.
I'm constantly thrilled by how good food can be when you didn't really choose in advance what you'd want to be eating. When you just take inventory, let the brain do a little arithmetic, and come up with possibilities. Brilliant possibilities, recipes be damned.
What's in the larder that's local? Well today, it was a sack of mushrooms, some frozen roasted tomatoes, a little half & half, some spring onion, butter, red wine, chile flakes. Salt. (Hah! Local!) On the patio, bay leaves and thyme.
Therefore, tomato soup.
I've never had this soup before, but I might have it again.
Then again, I might not. It was a product of provisions.

Seasoning note: I accidentally let the butter go brown while I was slicing the mushrooms, but I pulled it off the heat in time to save it from burning. Oh, wow. What a flavor enhancer. I did add a little fresh butter to sauté the mushrooms in, but in the finished soup I could really taste the sweet, nutty flavor of the brown butter. Recommended.


Greg said...

Put brown butter on tennis shoe and I'll eat it. Good looking soup.

Jamie said...

That does look good. Me, I just noticed I have the ingredients (more or less) for a Greek cornmeal pie with greens. I don't have much feta (only a nubbin that predates the beginning of the Challenge), but I figure I can combine it with a little bit of Thomasville Tomme, or maybe just skimp. And everything else is super-local. :-)

I think cooking is more fun with restrictions in play. It forces you to be more creative, and the results are almost always delish.

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: Ha ha! Thanks. (Don't dare me; I'll cook you up a Nike.)

Jamie: It's an odd intersection. Restrictions are in play, but it forces us to "break rules" and eschew (blessyou) the canonical cooking lore.
Greek cornmeal pie! I do miss cornmeal during my month of local.
(Have you learned cheesemaking yet?)

Catherine said...

Okay, wait -- I just had spaghetti carbonara tonight and was getting ready to post about it, so maybe you're wrong? The wheat may not be grown here, but the pasta is made here...doesn't that count enough? So you take pasta from Bezerkeley, eggs from Marin Sun Farms, onion from Capay, bacon from Prather Ranch (pigs raised locally even!) and Old World Portugese cheese from Spring Hill Farms (my Parm sub.) and you're there! Maybe you cheat on the salt and pepper, but come on, you've earned it!