March Letter from the PublisherMar 01, 2022 08:45PM ● By Shanna Warner
Simple Is Better
Simple is better. I remembered this recently when I ate a carrot. Life is so busy for all of us that we often scarf down some nutrition as we are running out the door to the next big thing. When you take the time to sit down, be still and truly enjoy the moment, then the moment will reveal all sorts of wonderful things to you.
Especially if you are outside. In the simplicity of sitting on my back porch, sipping a cup of tea or snacking on veggies, the moment reveals the rustlings of little creatures, the swaying of branches as the wind breezes by, the deep flavor of sustenance that touches my tongue and even the sound of my own heartbeat. Ah, simple truly is better.
The next few months will show this in some glorious ways. Spring is upon us, and with it, the deliciousness and bounty of the Earth will be on full display. Fresh local produce will soon be available, and even the staunchest meat-atarians cannot refuse some fresh corn, salad greens or carrots plucked right from the garden.
When I was growing up on a little farm down in Latimer County, we had a garden. Everyone did. Yes, we had to deal with our fair share of loss from the critters that also loved the veggies, but there was more than enough to go around. My grandmother, Vera Viola, taught me the joys of a sun-warmed tomato picked and eaten right from the vine. She kept a salt shaker nearby the garden gate just for this reason.
And when it came time to cook the veggies (those we didn’t eat raw), the simplest method was usually the best—sautéing, steaming, mashing, roasting. Then just a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Occasionally a shot of some hot pepper vinegar (my dad’s specialty) was added or even a sprinkle of cheese.
I do not live on a farm anymore, but I can step outside and create the flavors that take me right back to farm-fresh cooking, on my rocket stove. Yes, a rocket stove. Mark and I made it out of some extra bricks we had around the house. And we have an abundance of twigs from the trees in our yard. That’s all it takes to fire up the rocket stove. (You can find instructions to build one on YouTube. It’s easy, fun and inexpensive.)
When the fresh local veggies are in season, we make simple sautés outside. Our usual mixture is mushrooms, potatoes and onions. Just a bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Delicious! Soon, when the new green onions are in season and the fresh herbs in my herb garden return, our outdoor cooking adventures will be even tastier.
Simple flavors, simply cooked, remind me how important it is to sit down and truly taste the moment. Get outside, build a rocket stove, visit a local farm or market for local produce, and get cooking! While you are at it, listen for the rustlings of creatures in the grass, birds in the trees, the spring breeze as it blows by, and I guarantee your simple meal will be even tastier than you can imagine.
With love and veggies,