I love cooking simple meals that require only a few ingredients. During the summer months, fresh corn and tomatoes from our garden are regulars on the menu. Our pantry and kitchen are well stocked with spices, assorted beans, chicken and beef broth, sauces and salsa, condiments, oils and baking essentials, dried pastas, varieties of rice and a host of grains. Fresh herbs inhabit one end of the porch in three seasons of the year and winter over in a sunny window near the kitchen.
In the spring, asparagus from our meadow garden is on the menu daily. In July, blackberries find their way into salads and are a perfect complement to a bowl of Honey Vanilla Ice Cream made locally by Nancy and Dominic Giofre. The honey generously added to each pint of this delicious ice cream is collected from the couple’s apiary in Millersburg, MO. Along with their mission to make fabulous, honey ice cream, their bee-covered packaging educates shoppers about the role honeybees play in pollinating the food-producing plants we depend upon.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand in the late 1960s, I had no refrigeration or hot water in my tiny kitchen—just a hot plate and a pie safe in which to store a few food staples. For two years, I had no local market within walking distance, so every weekend I boarded a bus bound for Bangkok’s Saturday-Sunday market where I could literally buy everything from exotic mangosteen fruit to live monkeys. All that stopped me from purchasing every fruit and flower variety available was the fact that I had to tote them on a crowded bus back to the college where I taught on the outskirts of Bangkok’s traffic clogged streets and canals.
Early on, I carried my market purchases in locally made bags and baskets of all sizes. I still have and use my Thai baskets around the house today. Two years ago at the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, I bought a Fair Trade market basket made in Ghana. The rich, colorful designs on the baskets made it difficult to select only one, and also, it was amazingly affordable.
~ Read the rest of Cathy’s column in today’s Journal ~