I have been thinking about real food, not just carbs, you know. I made pesto-veggie pizza, black bean salad, and a long string of Asian vegetable dishes. I’ve been drooling over homesteading blogs, cooking, I baked up a storm (did you know how easy it is to make cinnamon buns at home? No, me either. Plus, I just made my Daring Bakers contribution… stay tuned), and I even went out to eat at 2amys, the best-loved pizza place of most people in this city. Unfortunately, baked goods are relatively easy to photograph in poor light with a bad cameras; while showing off the vivid colors and tangles of vegetables is much more difficult. It’s driving me crazy to have to post pictures taken on my cell-phone camera. I’m officially looking for a used one, and until then, I beg for your patience. There certainly are a lot more of you lurking around in recent weeks, all of a sudden, and I hope you stay (and talk to me!) while I try to upgrade my technology over here.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the veggie pesto pizza, one of the most satisfying kitchen experiences I’ve had this year. Two things made it special for me– first, I have finally figured out the trick to making my yeast doughs rise properly. This was the third yeast-dough recipe that came out perfectly, and all because I was too silly– for years– to recognize that regular room temperature just isn’t warm enough. Once I learned to preheat the oven to 200 for one minute, turn the oven off, and let the dough rise in a spot that was actually warm, my bread stopped taking much longer than it should and still turning out leaden. Yay!
The second was that this is the first thing I’ve ever eaten out-of-season that I prepared ahead of time. Yeah, I know that I’m a little preachy when it comes to the local, in-season stuff, but the truth is that I’ve always been afraid of canning, and that things tend not to last so long in my freezer. The trips to the farmers market and eating what happens to be in season or other people have stored up had become too common. This pesto, though, came out of a carefully marked baggie frozen in July, when our CSA had “take all you want” basil. I took lots, ground it up with garlic in our small “mini-chopper”, and added some oil, sticking the bag in the freezer with a date.
5 months later, I made some pizza dough, spread the pesto on it, tossed some onions and garlic that had been sauteed in olive oil with red peppers and parmesan, and created a “salad topping.” Topped the lot with Blue Ridge Dairy’s fresh mozzarella (I’d love to learn to make my own, but right now I don’t have a good local milk/ cream source– and besides, I just love the farmer who runs their stand), and baked until the crust was golden and the cheese bubbly. It couldn’t have tasted better, even if I had made it in July with everything at its’ peak. No, this was satisfying in so many more ways, and motivated me to get my butt in gear for canning next summer. After all, I’ve got many months to strategize.
And, while I’m talking local, please meet the two new bloggers on my blogroll. The first, WhereInDC, must live and work in my neighborhoods, because she certainly eats at a lot of my haunts. She posts regularly, and frequently her posts contain yummy looking and easy to follow recipes– plus, she’s ridiculously sweet! The second is The Slow Cook. I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I am with what he’s doing. First of all, he’s an urban farmer (excuse me, gardener. What I consider to be a small-scale farm is, in fact, a food garden in front of his house– right here in the capital). But he’s not just growing and eating local; he’s helping area farmers out with big projects, and teaching children how to appreciate real food in my very own city. He’s my kinda cook– plus much more experience, knowledge, space, and dedication and apparently a wife who’s a fabulous baker. Check it out!