Gleaming black olives, dusty purple eggplants, emerald kale, a splash of scarlet tomatoes on freshly made golden corn tortillas. I cook with my eyes. Color matters, texture matters, flavor matters. I rarely use recipes. I find my art supplies at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and my favorite season is now, summer, when the market is brimming with seasonal surprises. Crisp sugar snap peas and sweet baby carrots (with ferny leaves still attached) to snack on. Red and golden beets, pink and white French breakfast radishes, organic blueberries, and Rainbow chard. I can smell the rosemary as I approach the herb table, and can’t leave without a bunch. There are 3 or 4 kinds of kale and pale green lettuces to melt in your mouth. The tomatoes are starting to come in, and little squashes, and tiny orange peppers so beautiful and hot you must use with caution. 6 kinds of mushrooms, purple potatoes, and new things each week. I never eat corn until it’s fresh in the farmer’s market. Cooking with the vibrant, fresh piles of produce that appear before you, rather than buying from a list, makes life intense and interesting. Slender asparagus, spring onions, and in late June, ruby red cherries. In my kitchen, my son and I chop and saute these lovely things, both familiar and new. We arrange our creations artfully, on plain or patterned plates, to appear to their best advantage. A fragrant treat for the eyes, redolent of the sun in which they grew, plucked by the strong hands of the farm crew, and cooked with love. What can I say but thank you.
Jo Cooper just retired after 9 years as Food As Medicine Program Manager and Director of Nutrition Programs at the Center, and is now our Marketing Director.
If you are ready for some fresh spring asparagus that is crisp, lemony and divine—and can be on the table in a snap—our Food As Medicine Executive Chef Rebecca Katz’s recipe is just the thing. Ummmm good.
I asked our popular Food As Medicine faculty member, farmer, teacher and author John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, to take a few moments and view this thought-provoking slide show, Marketplace Photo Gallery: The value of a dollar, in which photographer Jonathan Blaustein photographs a dollar’s worth of various types of food.
A seasonal delight you won’t want to miss: cranberry beans, with their burgundy and white shells. I spotted them at my farmer’s market on Saturday, and rhapsodized over their appearance all day before cooking them that evening. Flat out gorgeous!
I was inspired to create a combination of fresh green beans and cranberry beans by David Tanis in this delightful episode of Alice Water’s In the Green Kitchen video series, each of which features a simple standout dish. David spends half the year in Berkeley as head chef at Chez Panisse and the other half in Paris. Oooh, nice! I love watching him in this video, serenely topping and tailing green beans, the very essence of relaxed mindfulness.
Alas, the cranberry beans turn grayish in cooking, but I still found the final dish a pretty picture. And my friends, the taste! One of those deeply satisfying kinds.
Method: cook the cranberry beans in the shell in boiling, lightly salted water for 20 minutes. During the last 4 minutes, throw in the green beens, which have been topped and tailed and cut into reasonably bite-sized lengths. Drain everything. Shell the cranberry beans and toss them all on a platter (the better to admire), sprinkle with a little high quality olive oil and some sea salt– I used some fleur de sel. Just a little. Sheer delight with corn and sweet potatoes fresh from the farm market!
Learn more about cranberry beans on this nice site called The Heart of New England, which has lots of nice food ideas.
Summer’s harvest is rolling in! See the riches we plundered at the Farm Market on Saturday, including the first corn of the season (white), and little orange ‘Sundrop’ tomatoes, organic strawberries, black raspberries, and small plums (well, everything we purchased is organic), and mountains of greens (kale, chard, dandelion, arugula, baby spinach, Boston lettuce), herbs (peppermint, parsley)… This rainbow cornucopia inspired our first summer feast: steamed corn (several of us thought it so rich and succulent it didn’t require butter or any other spread), green beans with a spritz of lemon and a pinch of fleur de sel, quinoa salad (details below), soft boiled fresh farm eggs and sliced plums with black raspberries.
A simple recipe for the quinoa salad: Start with 2 cups of quinoa, well and repeatedly washed to remove the bitter saponins and cook on stove top or in rice cooker with 4 cups water. Meanwhile, prepare the following: toast 1/2 cup pine nuts in a heavy pan over a flame– shaking to keep from browning too much, and adding a pinch of coriander. Chop a handful each of washed mint leaves and washed parsley. Saute a few cloves of garlic, minced, in olive oil. When the quinoa has finished cooking, squeeze in juice from half a lemon and drizzle in some olive oil. Stir in all the other ingredients, along with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. I made this up as I went along, and it’s really nice– very subtle. It was particularly delicious slightly warm, but Alex enjoyed a taste cold at the office on Monday.
It’s such fun to experiment this time of year, with a glorious palette of possibilities!
ps– I’ll have a wonderful slide show and some other goodies from Food As Medicine shortly.
The Saturday morning scene at the New Morning Farm farm market at Sheridan School, Washington, DC. Most of the food is organically grown
A young MD from Johns Hopkins turned to me at the end of a Food As Medicine training a number of years ago and said, “Great! I totally get it, and I can’t wait to get home and completely change how I eat. But… where do I start?”
Oh, dear. We’ve added more practical bits to the program since then to obviate that question, including one of the most popular sections of our syllabus, called ‘Everyday Food”, with recipes and food profiles of typical days for our faculty members. But ever since that moment I’ve been focused on how to make the science transform in the kitchen, in real life, in real time. I teach colleagues to cook greens at the office, and write handouts with simple steps to take, and, whenever, possible, feed people.
My favorite recommendation to the seeker of good health is to find a nearby farm market. There you will find local, sustainable fruits and vegetables, changing with the seasons, beguiling with new, colorful and often affordable temptations week by week. You’ll also find your neighbors and generously offered recipes for the less familiar offerings. It can become a way of life, as it has been for my family for 22 years, every Saturday morning, rain or shine. This way lies health and a richness of life that only nature can bring.
This blog will be about the food in Food As Medicine. We will share all sorts of goodies to enrich your repertoire, pique your curiosity and expand your knowledge of food.
To your good health!
Love that early morning light!
How can you resist?