As of late, I have been struck upside the head with the pure beauty of simple food. I’m not just talking beans and rice simple food (although who doesn’t love a bowl of fluffed rice with soaked and seasoned beans poured over the top? Ultimate comfort food. Not the point). I’m talking about engaging the character, flavor, and nature of what an ingredient is supposed to be. There are sometimes I get carried away with myself and try to cram as many wonderful things I can into a soup, or salad, or scones, etc. There are sometimes that is appropriate (example: Ben & Jerry’s “Everything but the . . .” ice cream. to. die. for.). And there are other times when the food you are working with needs to shine, and not be masked or overshadowed.
And as much as I love recipes and will pour over them for hours, I think there are sometimes when we need to put the cook book down, and simple walk around our kitchen cabinets (& garden, if you have one). What do you want to eat? What do you have? What can you create from what you have been given that will satisfy the soul of your belly? This is when you can have fun. There is freedom and creativity when you put down the book and give yourself permission to create something from what others thought was nothing. It empowers you know that you yourself can pair simple things, and enjoy the quality, taste, character, texture, purpose, and mission of the food you are eating.
I have recently started reading “An Everlasting Meal” by Tamar Adler, and it is utterly beautiful. Her poetry regarding food is breathtaking, and she gives food a movement, a personality, and a reason for being the way it is. She writes as though she were standing in your kitchen, not telling you what to do, but showing you the whys of certain foods, as well as efficient hows. How to make the most of every ingredient, because not one part is there for naught. She is a beast with words, and knows how to make them work for her in such a way that I can comprehend exactly what she means, and the tone and mood in which it was written. Few can do that, even fewer can do it when regarding and writing about food. As a food writer, I know the list of designated “foodie adjectives” is quite short, so that makes me admire her all the more. Pick it up and read it; you will know food and yourself a little better.Here are a few simple dishes I have lived off of lately . . .
Slightly sauteed kale & collards from my garden, quinoa, grilled peaches, and a sprinkling of goat cheese. Sauteed in your preference of coconut oil or olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, and any other thing that inspires you. Fresh & clean & full of hope.
Grapefruit, segmented and nestled into some frozen plain yogurt. The plain flavor of the yogurt is tangy & slightly lemony, and starts your day fresh & clean.
Garden strawberries, mini mozzarella pearls, fresh basil, & a brief glug of lemon juice & olive oil each, with a scant pinch of sea salt. Accompanied by the logistics of life & sunshine.
Roasted garlic bulb. Chop off its top, drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until the cloves are squishy enough to spread onto good bread. Spaghetti squash is simple. Pair with with blanched asparagus, sauteed kale, aforementioned roasted garlic, & some good olive oil, and you have a beautiful meal that speaks its beauty without words.These are the sort of things that make you feel good about life. All of this simple food is what I happen to have on hand at the time. I don’t want to give the impression that I eat overly complicated, 2-hour long prep time meals three times a day, because I don’t, and don’t forsee myself getting to that spot in life. Adler talks about preparing meals from the tails of other meals, meaning using what you have, and what you didn’t use from the last meal, incorporating it into your next meal. Do that, and don’t be afraid to enjoy something so much that you repeat the meal.
I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while because I’m challenging myself to be resourceful. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes I wish I would’ve gone to the store. But I’m learning. We all are, and that is part of the beauty of it. Challenge yourself to enjoy the simplicity, beauty, & quality of the food around you. There are alluring meals waiting to be discovered.