Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Somewhat Natural Some of the Time

Last Saturday Market, while picking up perfectly enormous celery at Hedlin Farms, I got into an interesting discussion with a woman who was buying eggplant. She was raving about the "Weeknight Curry" recipe she tried from a new cookbook entitled Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. Apparently there were so many holds on the book at the library that she took the plunge and bought the book, all untested. Everything she had tried so far was delicious, original and garnered rave reviews--even her father, who "hated soup" loved Heidi Swanson's green lentil soup. And what did she plan to do with the darling little eggplants from Hedlin? Try Heidi Swanson's "Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant with Tempeh," of course.

Always on the lookout for a silver bullet, I was sorry to hear the recipes admittedly did not win over her picky-eater son (the other son liked some of the offerings), but I nevertheless did put the book on hold at the library and do a little cyber-stalking of Heidi Swanson. I'm happy to report she has a lovely blog which probably everyone on the planet has already heard about because it's won lots of awards and such, but it was new to me. I especially appreciated the recipe archives, where you can search by ingredient. No idea what to do with that kale you bought at the Market? Hit Heidi up! She covers it all, from cilantro to spinach, lentils to lilikoi. As she describes them, her recipes are "flexible." If you don't have the exact ingredients, substitute ones you do have--perfect if you try to cook according to the seasons and what's available at our Market. Asparagus might give way to green beans or zucchini to cauliflower. No harm done.

Cookbook aficionados probably already know that what some people claim to cook "every day"--what they whip up in the kitchen after a long day at the office--doesn't always tally with what the more-beleaguered of us feel up to, come five-thirty. I'm still waiting for someone to put out the Compromise Cookbook--not all from scratch (no, Heidi, I cannot mix and grind my own curry powder tonight!), but not all from cans and boxes. When I find myself serving a compromise meal, such as offered below, I try to accompany it with something "pure," like simple sliced fruit or cucumber slices dashed in seasoned vinegar. In fact, that is exactly tonight's menu.

Instant Black Bean Soup (adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

2 cans of black beans (or substitute 1/2 lb of Alvarez Organic Farm dried black beans, cooked as here)
1/2 cup salsa (I'm using the salsa I made with my neighbor!)
up to 1 Tbsp chili powder, depending on how much heat you like, and the heat of your salsa
2 cups chicken broth
garnishes like crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, grated cheese, cilantro

Throw it all together, except for the garnishes, and leave it in the slow cooker on LOW for a few hours. Or do it on the stovetop: bring to a boil, reduce heat to LOW, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with garnishes.

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