Jul 28, 2010

Cook. Eat.

Before anyone starts calling me names and accusing me of being a Dirty Hippy, let me throw this out there: I'll eat (almost) anything. I don't believe subsistence farming is The One True Way, but I do support small-scale commercial farming. I buy some meat from the grocery store, and I don't ask questions about how the Poor Widdle Chickens were raised. (Most of our meat is that which I hunt, kill, and butcher myself. I am in touch with my inner carnivore.)

We bought a share in our local Community Supported Agriculture two years ago and again this year. It's not cheap - a share runs about $500 annually - but it is usually a good value. Yes, it's a gamble. If the growing season goes T-U, the share won't produce much. A good (bad!) hailstorm could destroy half a season worth of crops; last year the area was hit with Tomato Blight and the harvest was minimal. On the plus side, we're supporting a local business, we get to pick what we want from the share each week, and there are several you-pick items that go to "take as much as you can" as the season wears on.

The season runs for 26 weeks; or about $20/week. The share varies, but as an example, today I picked up:
- two zucchini
- one cucumber
- a bunch of carrots
- a large handful of basil
- a head of cabbage
- three tomatoes
- a squash
- a large handful of kale
- an onion

The basil will turn into pesto, the cabbage and carrots will become cole slaw, the kale went into soup, the rest will become salads and sides. From the grocery store, that'd be a hefty bill for veggies, and I passed on the beets, head lettuce, swiss chard, and escarole that were also available. Neither did I pick any extra basil, or green beans, which are both you-pick. (Two years ago we put up about 15 quarts of canned beans and another 15-20 quart bags of frozen beans.)

On the way home from work, I picked up the rest of the ingredients I needed for a soup I was fed last year at Marko's place. (Mrs. Marko is a phenomenal cook, by the by. One of those people that says, "Oh, let me just whip up something," and then sets a gourmet meal in front of you.) This soup has been stuck in my head for a year, and I finally went looking for a recipe.

Sausage and Potato Soup
(this is the base recipe I used, then modified)

1lb sweet italian sausage (links)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 slices bacon, diced
2 T. minced garlic
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 quarts water
3 large potatoes, cubed
bunch kale, stem removed, julienned
1 c. heavy cream
1 can beer (light beers work best)

Place the sausage in a baking pan in a 300F oven for twenty minutes while doing the chopping/dicing/cubing/mincing.

Cook the bacon and onion in a large skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. (Add a splash of olive oil if necessary to keep onion from sticking.)

Put the water and bouillon cubes in a large stockpot, add potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Add the bacon/onion/garlic mix and keep at a simmer.

Pour the beer into the skillet the bacon and onion was cooked in, add the sausage links, and bring to a fast simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the sausage occasionally to cook through (~15 minutes). Remove from the beer and slice into bite-size pieces.

Add the sausage, cream, and kale to the broth mixture, stir well, and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until kale is just tender.

Salt and pepper to taste.


Brigid said...

I'm going to have to try that. I still have a fair amount of venison sausage left. Thanks!

K said...

Just found your blog and am enjoying it, thanks. Tried the sausage and potato soup this weekend, it's going to be popular around my house. Although I did get one comment from the peanut gallery about how it might be better without the greenery...

ZerCool said...

Brigid - if you have a recipe for that venison sausage, it'd be appreciated! We found one we liked for breakfast sausage, but haven't found a sweet italian yet.

K - tell them what my mother told me: "Try a bite and then you can pick out the rest." I think the flavor wouldn't be as rich or as balanced without the kale.