From the vine to the belly within hours
Henri was thrilled the other day to receive an unannounced visit from Jonathan, whom I hadn’t seen since shortly after I arrived in Chico and hired him to build my raised beds and plant my seeds. Of course, he was a bit flummoxed at the sight of Colette—who happened to be leaving for our weekly GRUB CSA pickup just as he came to the door—but seemed relieved to learn that she was only ma soeur, in recovery mode after divorce number five, her dear brother, the saintly Henri, having opened up his home for her long-term visit.
We talked over old times—over Tanqueray and tonics, of course—and I showed him my Big Boys. He was duly impressed. He said the bed was still perfect.
Turns out he has continued to garden and in fact has become what he calls a “chronovore,” not to be confused, he stresses, with the mythical creatures of the same name that “eat time.” Just as a locavore tries to eat food grown as locally as possible, a chronovore tries to eat food harvested as recently as possible. And while it’s certainly not news that the fresher the food the better, the goal of the chronovore is to eat food the very day that it’s harvested, ideally within hours.
In Chico, especially in the summer, this is quite doable, whether it’s with herbs and vegetables from your own garden or produce from farmers’ markets or any of our CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture organizations), such as GRUB (grubchico.org). Just be flexible: Instead of planning your meals ahead of time and then shopping for ingredients, shop for whatever’s fresh, and build your meals around what you find.
This year for the first time, Colette and I are growing potatoes—red and Yukon gold—and have been astonished at how much better potatoes taste if eaten immediately after harvest (sometimes there’s less than an hour from garden to plate), akin to tomatoes fresh off the vine. Her Hella Bomb Potatoes, as she calls them, are absolutely divine. Here’s how she prepares them:
4 or 5 medium potatoes (or 8 to 12 small reds or yellows)
1 red onion
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
3-5 cloves garlic
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 375. Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds, and cut onion into paper-thin slices. Place both in bowl. Pull the spears off the rosemary sprigs and chop, then mince the garlic and add to mixture and toss with olive oil or melted butter (just enough to moisten). Spoon into shallow baking dish and cook for 30-45 minutes, depending on thickness of potato slices.
We also love the weekly GRUB newsletter recipes, all of which use ingredients from that day’s pick-up. This cucumber salad, for example, is delicious—and wonderfully refreshing on hot summer evenings.
1 garden cucumber (or 2 or 3 lemon cucumbers)
1/2 red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
coriander-seed powder (optional)
Slice the cucumber and onion as thinly as possible, halve the tomatoes and chop the basil. Toss together in a small bowl and mix in yogurt. For a “little Indian flair,” sprinkle with coriander and cumin. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
Note: you can also dress the cucumbers, onions and tomatoes with rice vinegar—always good with cucumber. Sprinkle in a dash of sugar for just the right sweetness, and salt to taste. Also delicious.
For more on eating locally and “chronovorally,” check out the quarterly Edible Shasta-Butte magazine (www.ediblecommunities.com/shastabutte), “celebrating the abundance of local foods, season by season.” You’ll find recipes, listings of farmers’ markets and CSAs, and profiles of farmers, gardeners and chefs. Available at S&S Produce and other locally focused markets.