Cooking Joy

Several people I know are skilled at carpentry, metalwork, sewing,
and other constructive arts. Just about the only thing I know how to make from
raw materials is dinner.

Early evenings, I love to close my laptop, turn on NPR, and cook.
Whatever I find outside has first priority; second is what’s fresh from the
nearby farmer’s market, or the organic grocery. I choose local to encourage farming
infrastructure and local prosperity, and organic to avoid poisoning farm workers.
When fresh vegetables are not available I use what we canned or froze last fall,
foods untouched by corporate hands.

This week: vegetable soup with green beans and tomatoes from last
summer’s garden; Indian chickpeas from garbanzos frozen last fall; vegetarian
tamales with last year’s jalapenos and cherry tomatoes, and fresh spinach and spring
onions; roasted vegetables including garden asparagus and organic sweet
potatoes; salads of garden kale and spinach and new lettuce. At table we say
grace over the dishes, their ingredients, and the friends who helped supply

Last night, listening to All Things Considered: broccoli-cheese
souffle of farmer’s market eggs, last year’s broccoli, and milk, flour, butter,
cheddar cheese, all local. And an amazing tomato chipotle soup: saute onions
and garlic; add canned tomatoes and almond butter (the recipe said roasted
pecans, which would have been exquisite if I had some), and half a chipotle
pepper. Hit it with a hand blender. Add last year’s corn. I wish you could
taste it. It all took about an hour.

Last summer a friend introduced me to a woman who had turned her corner
lot into an edible Eden, outlined in strawberries and sweet potatoes. When I
sat down, her two chickens climbed into my lap. She inspired me to mix more
foods into our own flowerbeds (see Monday’s post on apples, berries, greens,
and herbs). I also learned that the daylilies that keep expanding are edible,
as are the redbud blooms. Each adventure invites another.

Some call cooking work. I call
it creativity. Eating out is fun sometimes, but most restaurant fare is not
worth the losses to pocketbook, principles, and diet. Prefab grocery store
meals in boxes, cans, and frozen trays are high in price, packaging, salt,
corn, and unpronounceable substances. Cooking makes us stronger: healthier, aesthetically
richer, calmer, more accomplished. It’s one of our most reliable introductions
to our own community, both its people and its plants. Through daily food
choices, we vote for the future we desire.

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