Friends and Vegetables

September 8, 2009

This weekend, friends from all parts of the country got together to celebrate a birthday on the Monterey Bay.  With ten people at a beach house for three nights, we decided to share meal duties.  Our night was the first night, Friday night.  Having had a full day of work and trying desperately to leave the Bay Area by 5pm, I scrambled at 5:15 to pack a suitcase and create a time machine that would let me go by the grocery store and still get to Santa Cruz in time to make dinner for 10.

Huff.  I open my Oakland fridge and start grabbing:

A medium size bag of green beans (Farmers Market)
Two zucchini from the garden
Half a bag of okra (Farmers Market)
Three cobs of corn, cooked (Farmers Market)
5 Mild Italian Sausages (Whole Foods, Nor. Cal. Pork)
5 Heirloom Tomatoes (Farmers Market)
12 eggs (Trader Joes)
1 large red onion
5 small potatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 jar chicken stock
1 bag of farmers market mushrooms, mixed
3 limes (neighborhood tree)
3 large nectarines (Farmers Market)
2 gallons of Whole Milk (Straus, glass bottle, for ice cream)
1 small container whipping cream (Straus, glass bottle, for ice cream)
Off the shelf:  brown rice, 4 cups of sugar, a jar of pine nuts, a container of dried fruit.

Get in the car.  go. go. go.

The beach house was beautiful, mostly because it was full of friends.  I skipped the grocery store, willing the forces that be to multiply the loaves.

When we arrived, the group was gathered at the beach watching the foggy sunset.  My husband and I headed to the kitchen to start a weekend of good food and good people.

Here’s what we were able to contribute to the weekend’s menu from my Oakland fridge foraging.

Dinner:
Sausage Gumbo
Saute onions, and garlic in a big skillet, add sausage to brown (cut up into bite size pieces), squeeze all the lemons over the sauteing food in the pan.  Dice tomatoes and zucchini, chop up green beans and okra into bite size pieces, and add to pan to saute.  As the juices started to form, I added a bit of chicken stock until the pan could really hold no more food.  Then I put a lid on it (actually, another frying pan, we couldn’t find a lid) and let it simmer till the east coasters were done gazing over the pacific.

In a second pot, we made all the rice we could (about 4 cups), using chicken stock as well as water for softer brown rice.  (More chicken stock would have been better.)

Serve the gumbo over rice.

*I forgot the add the corn, so it went into corn salsa later:
Corn, cut off the cob.
1 large heirloom tomato, diced
1 cup of black beans, left over from breakfast (gallo pinto)
diced union
salt and pepper to taste

What about the nectarines:
Nectarine Crumble
Slice nectarines and put in a baking dish.  Cover with “crumble” and bake for 4o minutes.  For the crumble, crumble flour and sugar with cold butter.

And all that milk?

Vanilla Ice Cream:
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
1 gallon of whole milk
1 small bottle of heavy cream
2 tbl spoons vanilla
1 tbl spoon rum

Whip egg whites into meringue, set aside.
Whip heavy cream, set aside.
Mix sugar with egg yolks and add about a cup of milk. Add vanilla and rum.  Fold in whipped ingredients and add to the churn bucket.  Add the rest of the milk, and pack the mixture in the bucket with ice and rock salt.  Start churning.  The best part of homemade ice cream at the beach is the free child labor.  My church has an electric crank, but I prefer to watch the children hand churn till they can’t turn the handle anymore or until the get distracted.  So after about 20 minutes of 3 to 5-yr-old churning, we had a thick but fluffy bucket of white snow.  The kids got a small bowl, the rest was put into the freezer to continue to firm up.  Served over chocolate brownies.

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