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Though I have not worked at the Oil & Vinegar store since December, I have a good stock of product and continue to cook with  superior ingredients. My dinner last night was a duck breast marinated in Cara Cara Orange/Vanilla balsamic vinegar and Lemon infused olive oil. Cooking for one is a challenge both in proportions and in getting up the energy to eat alone.

More interesting is the cooking style I’ve developed lately, while spending three days a week with Gunther and Elise. Our routine has evolved and I often cook lunch for the three of us while she is out at appointments or running errands. They traditionally eat a hearty farm lunch, full of fresh organic vegetables, salads, grains and small potions of meat. Before Elise leaves, we lay out the ingredients. When Gunther is napping, I putter around in the kitchen, watching the birds and reveling in the preparations. There is no microwave, though I learned to use the convection oven and it seems far superior. She too uses oils from my former store and all manner of vegetables are sautéed on the stove while the tea kettle whistles.

Working in another woman’s kitchen is an adventure. Different implements, traffic patterns between stove, sink and refrigerator, pots and lids that are so well used and known by their owners are foreign to me. Over time, I’ve learned where things reside and have developed my dance between the prep stations.

Today’s lunch was leeks and cherry tomatoes sautéed then set aside; the Kasha was sautéed with an egg yolk then simmered with broth. The leeks and tomatoes went in and it sat on a warming burner. Next I cleaned and chopped sugar snap peas, green onion, red and yellow peppers; slipping them into simmering butternut squash seed oil.  Last week I made a carrot and parsnip soup when Elise  spent the morning having dental work. Their farm produces a fair amount of what they eat. Chickens, cows, goats, and sheep produce eggs milk and cheeses; she shops almost daily for other fresh organic items. The bread is always rich and dark, the tea cupboard stuffed with herbals for every mood, and the fridge overflowing with berries I parcel out slowly to Gunther like candies.

Most days when he rouses from a nap he sits with me as I cook; he watches the birds and comments on the squirrels and chipmunks who  dance under the feeder.  I finish up the cooking and set the table. Lunch dishes are the lovely blue and white set, cloth napkins and a jug of cold water adorn the table. It is sometimes a chore for him to get through the meal without help. There is no shame or embarrassment. Elise or I merely shift our chairs so one of us can give him a hand. He was 12 years old when World War II broke out in his home country. No food is ever wasted and every bite is savored.

Food binds us together. Preparing food is to give of your heart.

organic tomatoes and lettuce

16 comments on “Still Cooking, more local and healthy

  1. This lunch makes me thankful that today is our farmers’ market – I think I need to look for more varied oils!

    1. Thank you Susan. There are lots of healthy, interesting oils out there. I learned about REAL extra virgin olive oil when I managed the store and good oils can make a huge difference!

  2. julieallyn says:

    What a beautiful, hearty, lovely essay!! As always, your writing is so real and from the heart.

    A few years ago I tried a new recipe, or rather made something using a new (to me) ingredient: parsnips. It tasted wonderful. I’d be interested in checking out your carrot & parsnip soup recipe if you’re inclined to share!

    1. I love parsnips, Julie! The soup is basically just cooked down carrots and parsnips (I saute the in a good oil and let them sweat) then add spices and vegetable broth, wizz it all up with a blender and it’s great hot or cold!

      1. julieallyn says:

        What spices do you use or recommend?

      2. I go savory with lots of corriander and basil or go sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg!

      3. julieallyn says:

        Either way – it sounds delicious!!

  3. cheryl622014 says:

    Spicy parsnip soup, carrot and coriander soup, broccoli and Stilton cheese soup, with sundried tomato bread made with some of the oil the tomato was stored in…even in our so called “summer” lunches are special when given time to savour and chat and watch the garden…my idea of heaven

    1. Summer lunches are so different and wonderful, Cheryl. While I love comfort food when the wind is howling, there is nothing like summer soup from the garden!

  4. Oh Lady! You and I should be cooking together! If this election turns out as predicted, I may just move ‘across the pond’ and we can open a cafe.

  5. Touring NH says:

    Sitting down at a set table for lunch is something almost gone by the wayside. Today, few people take the time to properly enjoy a meal.

    1. I hadn’t thought about it but you are absolutely right, Laura. Perhaps that is one more reason I feel so blessed to be part of their lives.

  6. Marie Keates says:

    Just reading made me hungry! I like to use fresh ingredients too and meat from the local butcher that I know comes from nearby farms.

    1. It does make a difference, doesn’t it?

  7. Great post! Thanks for your sharing!

  8. 9recipes says:

    Looks so great! Have a nice day

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