Monday, November 9, 2009

Better than........

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Up at dawn and out the door to join 350 – 400 people and participate in a 5K to benefit a local environmental issue. Families, athletes, environmentalist, competitors and non-competitors ran and walked together on a beautiful clear, cool morning. A silent auction, a raffle, speeches, awards and refreshments followed. Better than the gym. Better than church.

On to the Farmer’s Market in Ojai, CA. If you’ve been to Ojai you know that it’s a very artsy town. Quaint and charming and jam packed with artists, healers, authors, poets, stoners, chefs, mystics, actors, theater and wonderful, wonderful. The Farmer’s Market says Organic above most of the vendor tents. I picked up a little bag of fresh Medjool dates. Better than candy.

I sat with the Dutchman for a couple of hours to remind myself what my job will be in two weeks when I run his flower stall for him while he takes a break. The Dutchman’s regulars call him by name. He knows the flowers they prefer. He holds back 3 bunches of Asiatic Lilies for a 70+ woman so they’ll be there when she comes by. This one’s husband is sick. That one is in the garden club. The Union Man has been unemployed for 7 months and is now 110th in line for a union job, up from 236. It will easily be another 4 months before he has a job. I ate a tamale; the Dutchman had something he brought from home. Two hours with the Dutchman in his flower stall - better than a movie.

The NY Times Health and Nutrition column has lots of chickpea recipes. I fixed
Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Casserole. One correction, in the list of ingredients, they left out the sprig of basil you put in the tomato sauce while it’s cooking. Then you discard it before you layer the casserole. The final instruction is, “sprinkle with parsley before serving.” Hold that thought.

Puree of Chickpea Soup is simple enough. The last line, “Serve, garnishing each bowl with a few drops of olive oil or lemon juice if desired and a sprinkle of chopped fresh mint.”

Hello Herbs. Goodbye cheese.

Don’t garnish for your folks, let them garnish their own. Everyone loves it. They’ll be timid at first, but they will grow to love it. Show them how it's done.

On the table, a pretty carafe of EVOO, a couple of lemons cut in wedges, in a pretty bowl and a few little dishes of chopped fresh herbs. Parsley and basil for the casserole, Mint and cilantro for the soup. Or suit yourself and provide sweet marjoram, rosemary, chives, dill. Go WILD.

Of course you’ll have a salad. So throw those same herbs into the salad right before you bring it to the table and toss it there. Complementary flavors, aren't you fancy?

FRESH HERBS, better than cheese.

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