Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vegetable torture

The zucchini and the summer squash from our CSA were trying to invade my kitchen and take over all our counters and shelf space.  So I put them on the rack.

Dehydrating squash.

My homemade drying rack, that is. Made (from the ground up) of

  • a little red wagon, 
  • a wide base made of a few fence boards, 
  • some trash-picked framing boards to hold the screen, 
  • a discarded window screen,
  • more trash-picked framing boards screwed to a plexiglass storm window.
After just two days in the sun (not to mention an overnight under the moon), a half-a dozen zucchini will dry up enough that they can fit almost into a single quart-sized canning jar.  They're not quite like potato chips, but they are much more snack-like than before dehydrating. And this way, I can also save them for winter-time soups. Ymmmmm . . . 

So much of converting plants into food --- that is, so much of dealing with our massive abundance of fresh vegetables that seems to overwhelm us this time of year --- sounds like torture.  I wield my knife with abandon.  I rub salt into the wounds. I throw acid (vinegar) over everything.  I dump boiling oil -- or at least, oil -- on the poor, unsuspecting victim.

And the vegetable torture usually yields the desired results.  In fact, there are a couple of recipes I make and leave on the kitchen counter, knowing that they'll disappear even before dinner time.  All three of the recipes below involve both good cop/bad cop methods of interrogation.

Tomato salad:
  • bad cop torture:  wield the knife to slice the tomatoes, then do the oil, salt, vinegar treatment.
  • good cop additions: basil (fresh if you're lucky enough to have it) and chopped walnuts.  Tonight I added chopped peaches, too, since they've been lurking on the scene.
Swiss Chard salad:

  • bad cop torture:  wield the knife to slice the chard as fine as you can, then do the oil, salt, vinegar treatment.  
  • More bad cop: add chopped hot peppers.
  • good cop additions: garlic, parmesan cheese.  Oh, lordy, this is good!
Beet salad:
  • bad cop torture:  wield the knife (cuisinart) to dice the beets like coleslaw, then do the oil, salt, vinegar treatment.
  • more bad cop torture:  bring in zucchini or carrots for similar treatment.  Also, hot peppers.
  • good cop additions: garlic, black pepper.  
There's something about slicing vegetables finely that makes such a difference -- perhaps it's merely increasing the surface-area-to-volume ratio, so the dressing has more effect. But it's also truly wonderful to have bite-sized morsels of fresh vegetables so ready at hand (or at mouth).  

Tomorrow we're taking on the peach tree.  

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