Revitalize your meals with just-picked fruits and vegetables.
Cooking On The Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
As spring and summer spread over the land, RV travelers look for farm markets along country byways. We gather sheaves of leaf lettuce, radiant radishes, and plump peas in the pod. We love the festival mood at market days in colorful villages.
On your way to the lake, pick up lemons and fresh dill for the fish dinner you’ll have later that night. En route to the camping resort, pick up tender beet greens for the gourmet meal you’ll cook after your golf game. Stop at the old mill for stone-ground grits and a jar of the miller’s wife’s mayhaw jelly.
Design a weekend itinerary around a spring food event. Strawberry festivals abound in the United States and Canada. Peach festivals star in Georgia and the Carolinas. Ramp festivals in the South celebrate the wild leek. By carrying your own kitchen with you, you’re a locavore everywhere you go. Here are some recipes for your files.
Tipsy Pork With Springtime Vegetables
For easy cleanup, make this one-dish meal in a disposable foil roasting pan. For easier handling, put the foil pan on a cookie sheet before placing it in the oven.
1 boneless pork roast, approximately 2 ½ pounds
3 to 4 whole garlic cloves
1 stalk fresh rosemary
2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 ½ pounds new carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 pound whole spring onions, trimmed and peeled
1 12-ounce can dark beer
While the oven heats to 400 degrees, trim the excess fat from the pork and place the garlic cloves in slits along the top of the roast. Salt and pepper the roast and place it in a sprayed baking pan. Lay the stalk of rosemary over the top. Cook the roast, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, arrange the vegetables around the meat, and pour the beer over all. Cover with foil and reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees. Relax and enjoy happy hour. Dinner will be ready in 75 minutes.
Remove the meat to a cutting board and the vegetables to a serving bowl. Strain the pan juices into a pitcher to pass around the table. This recipe makes six servings.
Cooking for two? Refrigerate the leftovers, but do not freeze them. Leftovers are even better the second and third day.
Crust-Crowned Ham Casserole
Throw this one-dish meal together in minutes using canned goods from your pantry and an artisanal cheese from a farmer’s market. Ask the cheese maker to recommend a cheese that shreds and melts well.
1 10-ounce can chunk ham
1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits
2 to 3 slices precooked bacon, broken up
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 cup biscuit mix
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 cup shredded artisanal cheese
Set the oven for 400 degrees. Drain the liquids from the ham and the pineapple into a one-cup measure and set aside. Spray an 8-inch-square casserole and scatter the ham, pineapple, bacon bits, and raisins. Add enough milk to the reserved ham and pineapple juices to make one cup liquid. Whisk the biscuit mix, liquid, eggs, and mustard. Pour over the ingredients in the baking dish and bake for 25 minutes until the biscuit is crusty. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake an additional three minutes. Let stand five minutes. Cut into squares and serve. This recipe makes four to six servings.
Zucchini Pancakes With Mushroom Gravy
Start your zucchini season as early as possible by picking them while they are still sweet and almost seedless. This vegetarian dish makes three to four servings.
1 zucchini, approximately 8 ounces
1 8-ounce package corn muffin mix
1/4 cup stuffed olives, chopped and well drained
1 can or jar mushroom gravy
Shred the zucchini. Prepare the corn muffin mix with egg and milk according to package directions. Fold in the zucchini and olives. Cook on a griddle as you would pancakes. Serve with hot mushroom gravy.
Pea Patch Linguini Alfredo
2 cups freshly shelled spring peas
1 8-ounce package linguini
1 small onion, cut in crescents
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 10-ounce jar Alfredo sauce
Shell and measure the peas. In a cooking pot, bring the linguini to a boil according to package directions. After six minutes, add the onion and garlic to the boiling water. One minute later, add the peas. Boil all for an additional minute; drain; and toss lightly with the Alfredo sauce. Cover; turn the burner to low, and allow it to gently heat through. Remove with tongs to four plates.
Crock ‘O Chicken
Do you cringe at crock pot recipes that tell you to brown the meat first? If so, this one-step recipe is for you. Just throw everything in the pot and forget about it while the juices from the chicken and fresh strawberries melt into a delicious sauce.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bunch spring onions, white and light green parts only
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 quart fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and put it in a crock pot. Cover with the sliced onions and garlic. Pour in the soy sauce. Scatter the strawberries over the top. Cover and cook on low for seven to eight hours. Stir and serve over rice or crisp noodles. The chicken will be falling-apart tender and infused with sweet, garlicky goodness.
Rhubarb-strawberry pie is a springtime favorite, but this is easier to make and to eat. It’s also high in healthful oat fiber. Be sure to chop the rhubarb fine so it cooks to a tender mush.
1 ½ sticks butter
1 ½ cups one-minute oats
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown or white sugar
1 ½ cups fresh rhubarb, finely chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
Let the butter soften to room temperature. Use a pastry blender or two knives, held scissors-style, to cut the butter into a mixture of the oats, flour, and 2/3-cup brown or white sugar. The mixture should be coarse and mealy. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and spread the rhubarb and the strawberries in it. Sprinkle with 1/3-cup white sugar and let stand a few minutes. Then sprinkle evenly with the oat mixture and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, and then cut into bars. Lift out the bars with a small, flexible spatula.
Springtime Potato Salad
2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and cut in bite-size cubes
1 small green sweet pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red sweet pepper, seeded and diced
1 small orange sweet pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup asparagus tips
Cook the potatoes until just tender; drain; and drizzle with ranch dressing while they are hot. Then fold in the raw peppers and asparagus and add more dressing to taste. This potato salad can be served immediately or refrigerated and served cold.
Summer Succotash Salsa
Find corn relish in the condiment section of the grocery store alongside the pickles and other relishes. Use parsley for a milder salsa, cilantro for a stronger taste. If you can find fresh lima beans, you’ll need 3 cups.
2 15-ounce cans green lima beans
1 12-ounce can whole-kernel corn with red pepper bits
1 cup corn relish
½ cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro
Lemon juice to taste
Drain and rinse the canned lima beans or cook and drain fresh beans. Drain the corn. Lightly mix the lima beans and corn with the corn relish, parsley or cilantro, and lemon juice to taste. Serve as a relish with sizzling hot meat or fish from the grill.
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Love those first, plump, sugar snaps of the season? Make them into a main dish salad.
1 12-ounce can chunk turkey, drained
2 cups sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
1 medium head romaine lettuce, trimmed and torn up
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Creamy cucumber salad dressing
Break up the chunk turkey and toss with the peas, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes. Toss with creamy dressing to taste. This recipe makes four servings.
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, white and light green only, thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small can (2/3-cup) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese or equivalent in artisanal cheese
Put the crust in a pie pan and flute the edges. Stir-fry the onion, scallions, and shallots in hot oil until limp. Let the onions cool while you whisk together the eggs, evaporated milk, sugar, and nutmeg. Put the onions in the pie shell, scatter evenly with grated cheese, and pour the egg mixture over all. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is set, as for custard. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve in wedges.
A Book For Cooks. Raw is the newest culinary buzz, and many people have gone to a 100 percent raw diet. Now a new book by Stephanie Tourles titled Raw Energy ($16.95, Storey Books) takes you through raw foods from A to Z. It’s fascinating to see the many things that can be made with uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and dairy and non-dairy products. If you’re into the raw diet movement, the book offers delicious tips for energy bars, candy, smoothies, and snacks.
On the minus side, nutrients are mentioned but nutrition values aren’t given. If you’re a diabetic or need to adhere to a special diet regimen, you will have to calculate the calories, carbohydrates, and other values per portion. It’s also a surprise that a book appealing to the “green” lifestyle requires so many plug-in appliances. It takes 20 hours or more in an electric dehydrator to make vegetable chips, and other recipes require a juicer, blender, or food processor. Still, it gets an A for providing appealing and innovative ideas.
Bouquets To The Best. The best new galley product in years is FoldTuk Bakeware (www.foldtukbakeware.com; 804-353-7160). It collapses flat to store in a very small space, yet it bakes in a conventional oven. Many pieces have a snap-on lid to use when refrigerating leftovers (although lids are not to be used in the oven). The product is hard to find in stores but it can be ordered online. FoldTuk is featherlight and is years ahead of other silicone bakeware, which can be floppy and hard to handle.