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Everlasting Meals?

(post, Barbara Brand)

I was intrigued by Tamara Adler's concept in An Everlasting Meal.   In brief, she advises buying the best-looking produce and other ingredients before deciding what to do with them.  On your return home, you precook and store everything.  I roasted a variety of winter root vegetables; celeriac, turnips, carrots sweet potatoes, etc.  together.  They were fine shortly afterward but not very appealing the next day.  The less colorful vegetables turned an un-appetizing gray which came through even in a soup.  I also precooked two bunches of kale in a large quantity of water as she recommends.  Dealing with a large pot of water, in itself, is a challenge.  It takes a considerable amount of time to come to a boil and after cooking the pot must stay on the stove until it cools to avoid scalding the cook.   The kale was fine the following day, but when I tried the remainder after four days in the refrigerator, it was decidedly funky.  I also pot-roasted beef chuck.  When I reheated the meat the sauce was delicious but the meat was stringy.  The standouts were roasted beets and bell peppers.  The beets were delicious in a salad and later in a soup.  Roasted bell peppers also lasted for several days. I added them to several dishes.  I cored and flattened the peppers before roasting them at high heat on a sheet of foil.  When the skins blackened I removed them and enclosed them in the foil.  Once cool, the skins were easy to remove.

I'm still intrigued with the idea of pre-cooking ingredients and recombining them.  I tried a very simple recipe from Marian Morash's Victory Garden Cookbook (1982)

Baked Peppers, Potatoes, and Onions

1 - 1 1/2 lb green and red peppers
1 lb potatoes (I used unpeeled small potatoes)
1 large sweet onion
1/4 cup olive oil (high quality olive oil is extremely important)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut vegetables into 1 inch chunks, pour over the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake ina preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

This is incredibly delicious by itself or with sausages or chicken pieces baked on top.  It is easily re-useable because of the lack of seasoning.  Reheated it is acceptable but not as wonderful.

Yesterday I finished Cathy Erway's The Art of Eating In.  While the book is mainly about her blogging experience she includes the following recipe, from a chapter on foraging, which turned out to be the perfect way of reusing the leftovers of the recipe above.

Baked Potato Salad with Beet Greens and Stems, Wild Garlic, Chives, and Hedge Mustard

6 medium waxy potatoes in 1 inch chunks
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Greens and stems from 1 bunch of beets
2 t. finely chopped wild garlic bulbs
1 t. finely chopped hedge mustard flowers
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T finely chopped wild chives
1 stalk celery, finely chopped

Roast potatoes coated with 2 T of the oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne in a 375 degree oven. Saute beet greens and stems in a Tablespoon of oil.  Toss in wild garlic and hedge mustard.  Combine the remaing T of olive oil with the vinegar and wild chives. Combine ingredients.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.

I had not been foraging so I used the braising greens I had on hand and made a vinaigrette with mustard and regular garlic.  The resulting salad was just as delicious as the original dish.  I just finished it.