I’ve found some new inspiration. Something I’d forgotten, but an integral part of my cooking and my kitchen life has been brought back to life. Basically, it’s just a simple phrase found in the pages of a cookbook handed to me this morning. The phrase is “what grows together goes together” and the cookbook is Tender by Tamara Murphy. Tamara has always been an early and staunch proponent of local food, of supporting the farmer that grows what you eat and savoring the flavors of the table. She has been a friend and supporter of Full Circle for many years and has just recently released this self-published book.

When Andrew handed me his copy to browse today the first thing I noticed was the smell. Soy-based inks smell like nothing else – like following a bio-diesel truck running used doughnut frying oil down the road – the scent of vegetables and dirt in the inks are familiar and easy to remember. the cookbook is also beautiful, heavy, with thick pages and large pictures, because what’s a cookbook without great pictures? But what really got me was her gentle admonition to slow down and start eating naturally again. Stop trying so hard and just put together what grows together.

I found a few recipes I love, which I’ll share after I’ve tried them, but they sound delicious, and above all – they sound easy! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Believe me, I have many cookbooks that contain incredible recipes that take a day or more to prepare, and while these books are awesome and the food contained within is amazing in its complexity, it’s also a little daunting. Which I suppose is why they’re also a little dusty.

Within Tender I found a few recipes I am already excited to make. Mediterranean Carrot Salad, Spinach in Risotto with Shell Beans and Bacon, Smoky White Bean and Ham Hock Stew (this one has lightly wilted kale greens in the soup and calls for a lightly poached egg on top. I’m already sold, anything with an egg on top and you need not say more)!

A lot of the recipes seem too easy. I mean, they are almost so simple I thought something was missing. But that’s part of the beauty. When you have the quality of produce that we are lucky enough to get, we don’t need much more. No frills, not a lot of heavy seasoning or pounds of butter. Just food, simple, nourishing and delicious.

So that’s what I’m going for in the weeks to come. I’m going to rediscover the flavors of my Farm-to-Table box in all their natural glory. No substitutions this week,  I’m just going to work with what I have (well maybe I’ll sub out the kiwis for some red chard). So my box contents look like this:

Cucumbers
Parsnips
Spinach
Red Onions
Eggplant
Bunched Carrots
Green Leaf Lettuce
Green Kale
Fairchild Tangerines
Red Chard
D’anjou Pears
Cameo Apples

Cucumbers and red onions will make a nice Greek salad, along with some tomatoes, and as my co-worker suggested, some mandarin slices and fresh oregano. Parsnips will join some red potatoes in a masher heavy with roasted garlic. Eggplant will get grilled in strips for a side dish or blended in baba ganoush.

The carrots I’ll make for next week, using Tamara’s Mediterranean Carrot Salad as a starting point. Green leaf will hold some spiced beef strips, fresh basil, bean sprouts and fermented bean paste in little burritos served alongside some basmati rice. The kale and chard I’ll probably make in my new favorite style!

Not sure yet what the fruit will go with, maybe lunches or desserts, though I’m happy to report our new fruit juicer has made a strong introduction in our house with a New Year’s day brunch Bloody Mary bar and some fresh apple-pear juice with ginger. I think that’s about it, let me know if you have any box veggies you can use help with or need recipes for!

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week when my box arrives and I make – Mediterranean Carrot Salad

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