By Debra Chase
An empty belly is the best cook.
– Estonian Proverb
When I was a kid we always had a garden growing. When it came time to pick tomatoes, my Dad would go out to the garden with a salt shaker in his back pocket. In the midst of the picking he would find one that looked especially good to him, sit down, split it open with his hands, bring out that salt shaker, sprinkle on the salt and chow down on the tomato with a gusto the likes of which Paul Prudhomme couldn’t muster. That night for dinner we would have a relish tray of fresh sliced tomatoes, green onions and summer squash sticks, served along side a big bowl of green beans and potatoes cooked together into a stew and served with freshly baked biscuits. For many people today, even this simple meal is a fantasy, so far removed from everyday life that reading about cooking this way causes eyes to roll.
Everyone is working, and finding balance between work and home has become more than a challenge. It has become the “Something’s Gotta Give” understatement of the century. We know that home cooking and sharing food at the same time with all family members present, is good for our bodies, our soul and the environment. But when it comes to cooking for ourselves we might have to rethink the way we perceive the act of cooking. Perhaps we are making it too complicated. The loss of simplicity has turned the act of cooking for most people into a strange and exotic place that is only accessible by way of the cable food channel. Perhaps, we have lost our taste for simple food. The fresh tomato with nothing but a sprinkle of salt is outdone by the 15 ingredient tomato salad. Revive your taste buds and stop eating packaged, processed, pre-made food for one week. Just seven days. Find the flavor of a green pepper that hasn’t been roasted with olive oil and an exotic salt flown in from the Himalayas. You will be surprised at how good simple tastes.
We know that home cooking and sharing food at the same time with all family members present, is good for our bodies, our soul and the environment.
Try this…peel a clove of garlic, slice it in half and rub the garlic around the inside of a bowl. Cut the green pepper in half, remove the seeds and then cut it into pieces and toss it with fresh tomato slices. Sprinkle on some table salt and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. The salt will bring out the juices of the pepper and tomato in such a way that you will not have to add any other “dressing”. Scoop onto a slice of crusty bread and you have the best summer garden meal, ready in less than 15 minutes. Make it your own by adding fresh herbs, a pinch of black pepper or some sliced red onion. You will find that you are supping up the last drops with the bread.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Debra Chase is an environmentalist, naturalist, writer of nature and other tales, vegetarian, farmer, chef of many colors and business woman. Originally from Tennessee she currently lives in northern California on Pheasant Hollow Farm where she resides with her husband Dave and their many animal companions.