Friday, July 31, 2009

On Food And Cooking

Many things. I have been tired from camp so a laggard poster, but I am back for at least a bit (until I drag Matt to go see Harry Potter). I am recovering from a week of sleep deprivation and alcohol, and this is exemplified by the fact that I am cooking properly again. Last night I made Matt's favorite fried rice as well as a batch of pumpkin bread (slightly dry, hmm) and tonight I bastardized a new recipe to use up all my beautiful summer veggies.

But I also got a bug up my bum. I am a fan of Serious Eats and they have great recipes, but I was reading an interesting article the other day about a writer going a week with no processed corn products in her diet. I think this is admirable. I am fairly certain nothing in my diet that has processed corn products in it is making my life any better (other than that 4pm Butterfinger at work when I think I'm going to die). But one of the commenters busted out something to the effect that the next step is to eliminate all corn, wheat and something or other else from your diet - in her specific words, "eat nothing at all from the Midwest". And I had to shut my computer down. Is this the new frontier? Food bigotry? No sweet summer corn? No Wisconsin cheese? Since when do we delineate good and evil by Coasts vs. Midwest? People, I love the West Coast but we are NOT infallible and perfect and THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE US! I am not pro-huge factory farms but there are good farms and producers in the Midwest too! Sheesh.

Anyways, the bastard recipe is as follows:

1/2 c. polenta
2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. hard cheese, grated - parmesan or I think I used pecorino

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small sausages, your choice (I used chicken portabella sausage), about 8 oz.
1 med. zucchini, diced
1 med. yellow squash, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large meaty tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
1 c. mushrooms (don't cut these too small, they'll shrink)
1 bell pepper, diced
1. Pour the two cups of chicken broth into a saucepan. Add polenta and bring to a simmer. I like to add a dash of Italian spices here or whatever is fresh in the yard(sage, tonight). Stir for about 10 minutes or until very thick. Stir in cheese. Pour into a buttered glass pan - I think mine is 10" square, like I use for brownies. Put it in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

2. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the sausage, zucchini, squash, bell pepper and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sausage has browned and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, and stir to incorporate. Add the tomatoes, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. This is where I add salt and pepper to taste. Keep the stew warm over very low heat while you fry the polenta.

4. Cut the polenta into 4 squares - put 1 square in an oiled pan and brown on both sides. Stick it in a bowl and pile vegetables on it. Makes 4 servings. It's easy to vary veggies, just go for the same basic amounts and try not to let the veggies get too liquidy or it ruins the consistency of your polenta.

No pictures because it was too yummy. Matt's comment "better than a restaurant!" so I say it's worth the trouble. Also, healthy!


drwende said...

Lack of carbs had gone to the commenter's brain. Apples, wild rice, and certain varieties of BBQ all come from the Midwest.

Mella DP said...

And soybeans! I was surrounded by them downstate a couple weeks ago - the most vile smelling plant. And also small fruit things (from Michigan).

Perhaps I'll go to the farmer's market tomorrow and demand California asparagus.

Since when do we delineate good and evil by Coasts vs. Midwest?

To be fair, both coasts and the middle have been doing exactly this forever - but you're right, it doesn't seem fair to involve innocent agricultural commodities.

zooza said...

That sounds delicious. And, yes, I'd love your new "tactful" fish recipe, as you mentioned in my comments. I'm gathering ideas, so the more the merrier. Thank you, Culinary Therapy Consultant (you're not charging by the recipe, are you?).

Laura said...

What a silly thing for that commenter to have said. Plus, corn is grown all across the US.

One of my favorite ways to eat polenta is to stir in lots of cracked pepper and pecorino romano cheese, a little olive oil and serve it when it's still creamy and custard-like, tomato sauce of some kind over top.

Laura said...

Oh, and I meant to say that this polenta recipe looks pretty yummy too!

Anne (in Reno) said...

Mella, I know you're right, but I still don't want to believe it. And the original article with the corn-free diet specifically made an exception for delicious fresh sweet corn when in season. That seems practical to me. It's very weird to demonize vegetables. Or geographic regions.

And Laura, I'll have to try that, it sounds very unusual. I'm used to polenta that's been allowed to set, but I'm sure it's great in the custardy stage too.

Anonymous said...

At first when I read that, I thought you meant the commenter was saying YOU were being anti-Midwest. Hmmm. Weird. I've heard this about the corn--mainly because soooo much of our processed foods have corn in it. I've heard (and I don't know if it's true) that it's showing up in our DNA.