Monday marked the ninth anniversary of Come Home to Cooking. And even though our freshly stocked pantry and intentional reserve of leftovers so easily reflects how much we already feel just as much at home here in the deep southwest of France, it also reveals how quickly one can both adapt to and take advantage of readily available regional differences. While I always major in fresh fruits and vegetables back where we’re lucky enough to normally live in the bounty of northern California, I don’t keep smoked lardons, serrano ham, duck confit, goose rillette, AND foie gras all on hand as a matter of course. But right now along with all the produce, every one of those normally special occasion items is in our much smaller refrigerator here in France.
I took these shots last Thursday, when we’d just come home from the Marin farmers’ market, and the seasonal abundance in all that we’d found there was already filling me up with joy. Tasting our way through samples of all the ripe peach, nectarine and heirloom tomato varieties on offer had definitely primed the pump, and now our overflow of purchases was finding its way from bulging baskets into the awaiting fridge and worktable bowls. Everything carefully placed to keep track of for inspiring creations yet to come.
Decades of professional cooking long ago firmly rooted me in the critical practice of making sure both my hands and equipment were thoroughly clean before starting to cook with them. And I’ve always been particularly concerned about the potential build-up of unhealthy germs and bacteria on machine parts hidden inside mixers, processors, blenders and grinders — especially when they might be left to set for the next use without cleaning in between.
Even though it’s best to keep melons at room temperature so they can fully ripen, you don’t want to end up losing track of and then throwing them out by the end of the week.So as soon as their heady perfume starts to grab you when you walk in the room, why not capture and preserve that sweet essence while you still can?
As I move forward with essential Come Home to Cooking concepts and practices already well established, I want to keep making it easier and more fun for you to learn how to set yourself up to make the most of everything — including life’s opportunities. And a pantry kept freshly stocked with ready possibilities has proven to be one of the most vitally dependable support systems ever.
When It’s Raining Lemons and Our Palates Need Refreshing —
Feeling seasonally dulled down after all the holiday excesses, lingering long dark nights, cloudy skies and looming taxes now due too soon? Fortunately, sunny citrus fruits always seem to arrive in the nick of time to reawaken our senses like the flush in a sneak preview of spring. And year round, this truly simple dressing is always dependably clean and bright, as well as extremely versatile. What with no concerns about which vinegar(s) to choose in the making of a vibrant vinaigrette, this citronette leaves you free to focus only on the acid (in lemon and mustard) versus salt balance. So just whisk it up and tweak as needed to please your own taste buds and particular brand of mustard. Then make the most of it as your reliable go-to with both tender and hearty greens, asparagus, artichokes, baby leeks, new potatoes, carrots, cabbage, salads of all kinds, seafood, poultry…