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Cook with What You Have: Eat Seasonally, Save Money and Enjoy More

Jul. 28, 2014

By Slow Food USA

“What do I do with all this produce?” We often hear this question at this time of the year, when farmers markets and home gardens are overflowing with fresh ingredients. To the rescue, Katherine Deumling, owner of “Cook with What You Have” and out-going chair of the Slow Food USA Board of Directors. We sat down with Katherine to learn more about her approach to making the most of every season.

What inspired you to start your "Cook with What You Have" program?

Friends and acquaintances asking for help in figuring out what to make for dinner (instead of getting take-out or going out), how to put dinner on the table more quickly, how to cook vegetables and how to reduce their grocery bill.

What are your favorite seasonal ingredients - the ones that you most yearn for in spring, summer and fall?

This is both the most impossible and wonderful question. I love vegetables so much - it's like having dozens of children and I can't really pick favorites so… purple sprouting broccoli, snap peas, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, Savoy cabbage, fresh shelling beans, winter squash, Brussels sprouts and chicories.

What three things are always in your pantry?

Again, only three?! Impossible, but I always have good olive oil, a jar of thinly sliced red onion in red wine vinegar and eggs.

What can you find at your local farmers market that you rarely see elsewhere?

First, delicious varieties: Gilfeather rutabagas - a wonderful varietal that is sweet and creamy and will make you become a rutabaga fan (though not yet - they won't show up until late fall!) This is a perfect example of farmers markets and CSAs as the place to find produce that is delicious, bred for certain climates and characteristics and suitability to organic cultivation rather than the typically blander, more common vegetables/varieties we see in many grocery stores.

Second, different parts of familiar plants and varieties: in the spring, farmers markets sell "green garlic," the immature stalks of the garlic plant, as well as "garlic scapes" - the flower stalk that hard-neck varieties produce. We don't typically see either of these in stores and they are tender, sweet, and wonderful - and enliven many dishes. And in this same vein you can find the flowering stalks of collard greens or Brussels sprouts or kale (often sold as raab) in bunches at markets. These are just two examples of the many ways farmers bring us flavor year-round and help us use more of the plant.

What one tip do your students seem to find the most beneficial?

Use herbs in quantity! Use parsley, cilantro, basil and mint like salad greens. You can keep the leaves whole and add them to salads. I add 3-4 cups of whole herbs to cold rice noodle salads. Make a sauce out of an entire bunch of parsley (except the toughest stems) and use it as a dressing or dip. Or use parsley, dill and tarragon in combination with some lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, maybe an anchovy or two and/or some capers. This is perfect summer food! Fresh blanched or roasted vegetables with herby sauces.

If the Slow Food and the food movement are effective in the USA, what will have changed in 10 years?

Many more people will cook and buy the majority of their produce from farms (via markets, CSAs, well-sourced stores, etc.) and many more people will have access to this produce thus supporting many more farmers. For this to happen we'll need new methods of distribution and systemic support for earners and farmers alike.

Katherine has generously offered a one-week trial of her new "Seasonal Recipe Collection" for Slow Food USA supporters. This curated collection includes 10-25 recipes per vegetable (500+ total), tips and resources for making the most of each farm-fresh vegetable and herb.

To access this offer, go to the Cook with What you Have website, click on "Individual Membership Subscription" and enter discount code: 405021C71A. You won't have to enter any payment information, unless you decide to continue your subscription at the end of the trial period.

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