As some of you know, I was a chef in my first career. In making the switch to farming all I did was move to a different link in the food chain, and to this day I consider cooking and eating to be among the most fundamentally engaging of the necessary activities in life.
In the last century, we moved away from honoring this immensely satisfying and basic need. We let it become compromised by big business, and slowly accepted things into our diets that our ancestors would not have considered food at all. We have let feeding our families become a huge and taxing obligation, filled with negativity, often void of joy, and lacking in actual nutritional value.
I am no dietary expert, but I am a good cook. Braver than most, and careful about only eating food... actual food with flavor, nutritional benefits, lasting energy, and vast amounts of satisfaction.
With these recipe entries, I want to try to remind people that cooking is generally pretty easy, has no real limits, and comes with a good bit of natural guidance about how to combine ingredients.
As I do work a very busy schedule and cook for myself pretty much every day, I also want to share my ideas about cooking meals at home that have diversity, and a system allowing you to make one thing (like the oat risotto down below) then weave that idea into 2 or 3 meals as the week progresses. I think this makes it possible for one to eat a wider range of satisfying and complete meals, especially during the week, when they might not have time to do things like cooking beans.
First and foremost for me, is to embrace the season we are in. But, as I write we are at the height of winter. Not a long list of seasonal offerings available, yet there are still possibilities. Potatoes, both white and sweet, hard squashes, dry crops like beans, corn, and other grains are in good supply, and this is the time of year to historically eat those things.
This is the time for hearty slow cooking that warms the house, and fills every corner with an intoxicating aroma, and the spark of what green leafy things there are available. Take a look at this unconventional spin on a very conventional ingredient, the simple oat. A variation of this recipe, one way or another, probably hits my dining table once a month, with a couple of small baking dishes going into the freezer for the future.
- 2 cups Three Sisters Garden Rolled Oats
- 3-6 cups stock, chicken, beef or vegetable, or water, as needed
- 1 cup half & half or canned coconut milk
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted and finely chopped
- Black Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese
- 6-8 oz. Petite Greens
- 8 oz. Sautéed mushrooms (Button, Oyster, Chanterelle)
- 4-8 oz. Roasted Chiles (Poblanos, Anaheims Jalapeño, or Chipotle)
In a medium pan toast the oats dry over medium heat until golden and fragrant.
Reduce the heat and add the onion and garlic along with a touch of oil, Continue cooking until the onion is golden.
Add the half & half or coconut milk and 1 cup of the stock, reduce the heat a bit to almost low, and cook, stirring consistently until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Add liquid as needed, and continue cooking until the oats reach an appealing, still somewhat firm, consistency and most of the liquid is absorbed achieving a loose risotto texture.
Season with salt, black pepper, or a dash of cayenne to taste.
Possible toppings or last minute additions could include a dry grated cheese like Parmesan, a handful of sautéed mushrooms, chunks of roasted fall squashes, or shredded chicken.
As a center of dinner kind of thing, I usually top with a shredded meat or seafood, and a generous handful of Petite Greens, tossed with a few drops of cider vinegar and salt. The possibilities are truly endless!
I like to add a couple of roasted chiles, blended into the cooking liquid. Poblanos or Anaheims will give that distinctive flavor, with a touch of heat. Jalapeño or chipotle will be more, and Habanero will light a true fire. I try to always put a bag of a few different kinds of chiles in the freezer, for winter cooking.