I wash each harvest from my garden and I go about it with meticulous care. Each pea pod is rubbed and scrubbed under lukewarm water (I can't handle cold water running over my hands for long periods of time, because, frankly, I'm a sissy). Each spinach, lettuce and basil leaf is cleaned. Pretty soon, each tomator will be thoroughly washed when it's ready and picked for the table.
I find it particularly interesting how much time I spend washing my herbs and veggies. When I buy produce from the supermarket (whether it's organic or not) and I'm ready to eat them, I run them under water and give them a passing rub.
I am under some false delusion that all of these store-bought vegetables have been thoroughly cleaned before I purchase them. They look so bright and fresh under those bright lights.
When it comes to my homegrown produce, I know what's lurking under leaves and around the plants, whether it be minute amounts of pests (so far, let's hope that stays the trend for us) or flat-out dirt. I am aware of how close it grows to the earth and the types of bugs that like to land on it (I saw a white spider with a red V on its back; not harmful to me, but do I really want to eat it?).
Growing my own food has created this relationship, one in which I recognize the big picture of plant life. I get close to the bugs and the dirt; I pull or pinch my harvest from the stem. This is real food and I know there's other real things clinging to it... things I don't particularly want in my salads and sandwiches.
It's about time I started paying attention to the outsides of supermarket produce with the appropriate amount of concern; maybe not to the point where I'm whipping out the steel wool and a gallon of bleach, but at the least a hearty cleansing, on par (if not more than that) with my own produce.
Wash it all twice, whether it's organic or not. It's hard work, but you minimize unnecessary "inputs" to your body.
I had the pleasure of visiting my mom's garden yesterday; she gifted me with some green onions (aka scallions or bunching onions) and some tender lettuce leaves. With those two ingredients in hand, I immediately knew what I was going to do with them.
One of the traditional foods of the Saint John Valley region is the Garden Salad with Sour Cream (or, in French, Salade de Jardin avec la creme sur).
It comes straight out of my memory. I haven't eaten it in years and knowing I was over halfway to making it for myself gave me the giddies (Is that a phrase? If not, I vote it should be.).
It's a very simple salad to create. The ingredients, in addition to the lettuce and green onions, are minimal. How minimal? Think sour cream and salt and pepper.
It's inexpensive, easy to prepare and delicious.
Garden Salad with Sour Cream | Salad de jardin avec la creme sur
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Lettuce leaves should be tender. Romaine lettuce is too dark for my taste, so I stray away from using that. Iceburg lettuce has no taste or nutritional value, so why bother with that either. Try a loose leaf variety. The lettuce cultivar pictured is Black Seeded Simpson.
If small enough, the lettuce leaves can be used whole. Otherwise, rip them in half with your hands. Do not use a knife (lettuce and metal don't mix).
Chop the green onions. Use both the white bulb and the green scallion part of the onion.
Mix the vegetables together and add sour cream slowly until you've covered every leaf and onion thoroughly. For four cups of lettuce and two green onions, I used about a half cup of sour cream.
Mix thoroughly and salt and pepper to taste.
I paired my Garden Salad with Sour Cream with pork loins and pasta. (What am I saying -- "pasta?" More like Kraft Mac 'n Cheese Spirals. But hey! Two-thirds of a healthy meal is almost there!)
This is my new (old) favorite summer salad. In UpCountry, these two vegetables are coming out of the garden, so put them to work in making your mouth happy!
Do you have any simple salad recipes that you tend to make each summer? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!
You might also like: