Archive for the ‘Vegetables’

Baked Green, and Not-So-Green, Tomatoes

October 16, 2016
By Holly Jennings

oven-baked-tomato-dinner_with-text

Leftovers from a dinner of oven-baked green and half-ripened tomatoes, roasted okra, and fried bacon, a happy threesome if there ever was one.

One evening, I burnt the tip of my left index finger while frying green tomatoes in a cast-iron pan. Instead of using a spatula to flip the cornmeal-dusted rounds, I got right in there, with my fingers. Now, a week and half later, the spot looks like the veneer on an old piece of furniture, yellowed and crackled, and feels like dried wax, as if I’d had a run-in with a molten candle instead of hot bacon grease.

 

The altered condition of my fingertip made me think of a film I saw some years ago called Illégal in which the main character, Tania, deliberately burns her fingertips on a hot clothes iron to obliterate her finger prints. She does this to avoid identification, after slipping into France for better work opportunities, and to avoid deportation, if she is found out.

 

This spring I applied for entry in the Global Entry program that allows for speedier clearance into the U.S. upon returning from foreign travel. As part of the application process, your photo is taken and your fingerprints scanned. I used it the first time this (more…)


Smothered Cabbage

May 06, 2016
By Holly Jennings

Overwintered cabbage, refusing to be contained it its square-foot home

Overwintered cabbage, refusing to be contained in its square-foot home

Last weekend, when looking for a recipe to smother an unruly head of overwintered cabbage into delectable submission, I came across these can-do words in Mary Randolph’s book The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook:

 

It will much ameliorate the flavor of strong old cabbages, to boil them in two waters, i.e., when they are half done, to take them out, and put them into another sauce pan of boiling water.

 

Boy have I got one of those, I thought to myself.

 

The specimen I had in mind to test Randolph’s method was eight months old, and had been growing in my garden plot since last summer when I direct sowed some Early Flat Dutch cabbage seeds, hoping for a late fall harvest. I misjudged timing and gave the poor dears too late of a start to reach their cabbage potential before the first frost came—even though in Richmond, Virginia, that can be as late as late October. When it was time to prep the plot for winter, they were just one-tenth of their cabbage selves, but I didn’t have the heart to (more…)


Overwintered Mustard Greens

April 16, 2016
By Holly Jennings

Mustard greens in garden and in bowl copy

 

Overwintered mustard greens. Lovely sounding, isn’t it? I love what those three words evoke: a food with a stand-up-and-take-notice personality and a patina of flavor possible only after enduring hardship—the freezing depths of winter.

 

Right about now, you might find OMGs featured on the menu of some season-driven, farm-to-table restaurant in some food-lively town, along with other locally grown or foraged foods described with equally telling adjectives that marshal a world of artisanal food production: hand-pressed, pickled, preserved, house-cured, tree-ripened, aged, fermented, cellared.

 

But that’s not where I spotted my over-wintered mustard greens. I found them in my community garden plot early last month, after a premature burst of overly warm weather spun me into a frenzied gardening mode.

 

After a spate of seventy-degree days, off my husband and I went to our plot to prepare it for spring planting. That was when I discovered the mustard greens that I’d left in the ground last fall as an experiment had made through the winter admirably well. That was in mid-March.

 

Since then we’ve had two hard frosts, which had me scurrying back to the garden to throw plastic over the small seedlings that had begun to emerge, like tadpoles, around the (more…)


Holly’s Cow Peas — Authentic Country Cooking

October 13, 2015
By Holly Jennings

Holly's Cow Peas

It’s honest, simple food that speaks plainly of its origins, its parts, and aspirations. It’s the humblest of food that fit for a king, and it’s startlingly delicious.

 

Like Hank William’s “Lost Highway,” it’s direct and from the heart; it cannot tell a lie. Like the vernacular dogtrot house or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, it springs naturally from its place, its environment.

Dogtrot house

Dogtrot house

Fallingwater

Fallingwater

That’s what authentic country cooking is, and that’s what Holly’s Cow Peas are. Or, at least, they’re made in the spirit of authentic country cooking. The browned onion topping and garnish of chopped parsley probably never appeared on a bowl of cow peas back in the day, but this is now.

 

Country cooking’s unfussy ways are the secret to its success and the root of our modern day disappointment with it: More than any other type of cooking, it’s only as good as the ingredients used.

 

That’s why the food revival going on in the South right now is so (more…)


Bean Cuit

October 01, 2015
By Holly Jennings

Bean Cuit

 

I wrote this post more than a month ago, when green beans were still plentiful. Then, before I had a chance to put the finishing touches on it, I got a story assignment, my first since moving to Richmond. (It’ll be published in the November/December issue of Edible Richmond Magazine). Of course I fell into that deep hole of writin’ and researchin’, like I always do when I get a chance to have a byline, so Bean Cuit had to wait. Hope there’s still lovely fresh green beans about somewhere. Considering how this method has you cook green beans to smithereens, I would think that a frozen stash of summer’s abundance will work just as well.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I may end up being one of those old people that you can’t let in a kitchen anymore because they’ll leave the stove on and burn the whole friggin house down. It’s going to suck to not be able to cook.

 

Several weeks ago I made a pot of slow simmered beans and peas: a couple of handfuls of pole beans from our 12-foot-tall Turkey Craw pole bean plant in our courtyard, the remaining bush beans from the plant in our community garden plot, and some shelled pink-eyed peas, also from our garden plot, added sequentially in descending order of size to a pot of water seasoned with a healthy teaspoonful of sea salt and even healthier spoonful of bacon grease. When the beans had become withered and dull in color and velvety soft, and when the water had transformed into nutritious pot liquor, I turned off the heat and went for a walk.

 

Upon returning, I thought I heard my husband in the shower, but at that moment I realized the sound I was hearing was the sound of the last amount of pot liquor evaporating into the air and sound of beans sizzling on the bottom of (more…)


Succotash—More Than the Sum of Its Parts

August 23, 2015
By Holly Jennings

Succotash #1

Two versions of Succotash (#1 in the foreground)

Succotash is a perfect subject for this posting, my first on the foods of Virginia. You could argue that no dish is more Virginian than succotash, going way back, as many claim, to the Powhatan Indians, a tribe that lived along the eastern shore of what is now called Virginia. And it’s the dish that made me feel at home here during my first summer living in Richmond.

 

Last August, heading home from the Richmond airport on Route 5, past vestigial farm fields sprinkled among small businesses and light industry, I spied a tented farm stand on the left side of the road. After doing a quick maneuver, I pulled in next to the table of colorful produce.

 

“Do you add tomatoes to your succotash?” asked the farmer, as soon as I’d made my selection of tasseled ears of corn, shucked fresh lima beans, and bright red tomatoes.

 

Her question caught me off-guard. I hadn’t given the dish much thought, perhaps not since (more…)


Collards—from Sir Prince to Ethiopia

November 30, 2011
By Holly Jennings

It was at 2551 Kennilworth Road in Cleveland where I had my first taste of collard greens. They were a gift from “Sir Prince,” who dated Miss Anna Szolnoky in apartment 2B, across the hall from me. A retired school teacher who still sometimes substitute taught, Anna evoked another age: She typically wore dresses, accentuating a (more…)


A Plea for Soft-Cooked Vegetables

October 26, 2011
By Holly Jennings

“Mellow, “unctuous,” and “melting away in the mouth” are some of the words Lesley Porcelli uses to describe vegetables that have been cooked using “The Soft Approach,” a form of low and slow cooking and the name of her story, part personal revere and part well-defended thesis, published in this month’s Saveur magazine.

I like the way she thinks. After all, (more…)


Lunch for Lynne: Grilled Antipasto with Basil Oil

August 27, 2011
By Holly Jennings

We’ve had great weather for grilling enthusiasts this summer in Vermont. Until one day last week when I planned a lunch with my friend Lynne. With constant rain coming down, and a wounded chicken to tend to, I decided to cancel our lunch date. The ingredients couldn’t wait until Lynne’s next day off from the library, where she (more…)


Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

December 14, 2010
By Holly Jennings

This is yet another great recipe from Entice with Spice, an Indian cookbook from Shubhra Ramineni. Aloo Gobiis one of the most popular vegetable dishes in Indian cuisine: If you’ve eaten at Indian restaurants, you’ve probably seen this yellow-tinged medley of potato and cauliflower on the menu or listed as one of the specials of the day. In this dish the vegetables are sautéed rather than cooked in a curry base, making it a perfect food to pick up with torn pieces of fresh Indian flatbread. Its dry consistency also makes it a practical travel or lunchbox food. In the introduction to her recipe, Ms. Ramineni mentions that her mother sometimes makes an “Indian burrito” with Aloo Gobi and Indian flatbreads for her father’s lunch. (No worries about a turmeric-laden curry sauce dribbling on and staining your best office clothes.) And because this subtly spiced dish is relatively mild¾it has a lovely tingle of chili heat¾it is a great choice when deciding what to serve to friends or family who are new to Indian cuisine. If you serve this with Ms. Ramineni’s recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, you will have some converts on your hands.

(more…)



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