Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing-inspired food

I went to the grocery store today, mostly as an excuse to use my new bright blue umbrella (with white polka-dots!). While I was wandering through the produce department, it occurred to me that I almost never eat the same kinds of foods I write about.

The main character, Kristof, in my weredeer novels talks a lot about food. It's a character trait, but it's also a good way to describe different cultures (useful in a fantasy novel). Kristof's family eats a lot of vegetables and fruits, which I often describe in loving detail. But I don't eat that kind of thing very often.

So I spent way too much today on various fruits and vegetables, and when I got home I was sort of stumped as to how to use them. So I invented a recipe I was going to name "what hath god wrought stew," but it actually turned out good. So I renamed it "summer stew" and here it is:

about 1 lb. beef, cut up
2 leftover BBQ smoked porkchops, cut up small (when I make this recipe again, I'll use cajun andouille sausage and make this into a proper gumbo)
1 onion, diced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, diced
1 can tomatoes-okra-and-corn (Glory is the brand I bought)
3/4 lb. okra, washed and cut up
several carrots, scraped and cut up
a few young yellow squash, washed and cut up
celery salt, salt, black pepper
lemon juice

Put beef (unbrowned), pork, onion, garlic, celery salt, and pepper in a big pot. Drain tomatoes-okra-and-corn into the pot, but do not add the canned vegetables themselves yet. Add water to cover and simmer uncovered for about an hour.

Add the canned vegetables now, as well as the okra and carrots. When the carrots are tender, add squash and more seasonings. Simmer until the squash is tender. Add a generous squirt of lemon juice--I guess I got about a Tbsp from my lemon, without trying too hard.

If you aren't a fierce lover of okra like me, you could reduce the amount of okra and substitute more squash and/or carrots instead. And you could add zucchini if you want. If I'd had celery I would have added it too with the squash. Instead of the canned vegetables, fresh or frozen corn and diced tomatoes would have worked (even I admit the extra okra was unnecessary). And diced green peppers would have given it more zing--or hotter peppers. I would have experimented with cayennes if any of mine were ripe yet. Next time. The great thing about stews/soups is that pretty much anything goes, and summer vegetables are all lucious and delightful anyway.

Peaches for dessert!

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