25 September 2011

Overworking, with a salad

Well, crap.

Someday, perhaps, my life will be my own again, and I'll be able to do what I want, when I want (at least from time to time). I've finally resorted to the Pomodoro Technique at work, and I've seriously considered bringing it home with me. I'm not quite Type A enough to handle that kind of structure.

That being said, there is an end in sight. Work will may return to some level of normalcy come mid-October, and several other things will be wrapping up before Christmas.

In the meantime, believe it or not, I have been cooking. Not much has been blog-worthy, though. I've got a pudding cake recipe that is about 3 tweaks away from perfect; a chewy whole-wheat chocolate chip cookie that, I hope, I will be perfecting this weekend; and several ideas for tarts and cakes that I haven't even begun to properly plan. For dinners we've eaten scads of pasta (tomato sauce made from our crop has been the high point of the past several weeks), the occasional salad, and anything we could think of to eat with salsa.

This is the time of year when I get confused with the food that's on offer. Late summer produce is still everywhere—tomatoes, corn, grapes, peaches—but we're also getting the first fennel and kohlrabi, the prune plums have already disappeared, and local apples arrived just this week. I'm thrilled with all the options, but it's easy to be overwhelmed. Do I embrace the cool, cloudy evenings and use the foods I've not seen for nine months? Do I ignore those and instead just gorge myself on summer favorites, hoping to help me get through the winter?

Not that it's ever worked—I'll be half-dreaming of tomatoes from the day they turn mealy and sickly pink until they return to some level of quality sometime next spring—but that's been my plan so far. We've still got another dozen or so tomatoes ripening on the patio, so as long as the evil mouse-rat that's already stolen at least 5 pounds doesn't get any more of them, I'll be continuing for a little while longer.

Every season, I find some item that I gorge myself on no matter what the price, and when it's gone, I swear that I'm going to eat even more next year. Just as invariably, when that season comes again, I get distracted by something else. Last summer, it was fresh black-eyed peas. This year, it's been corn, and black-eyed peas are but a distant memory (I ate them once, but it was a lackluster dish that we won't discuss). I've always loved corn, and summers spent at my grandparents house in Oregon always included many dinners of corn on the cob, unnecessarily but deliciously coated in butter and salt. Corn is never as good as it is fresh from the garden—like peas, its sugars start converting to starch the minute it's picked. However, even after a few days in the fridge, the right seasonings and a few minutes in a hot skillet will make a meal that I'd never complain about.


Corn-Feta Salad with Tomatoes
Also like peas, corn freezes extraordinarily well. In the spring, this salad would probably be great with Persian cucumbers instead of tomatoes and some fresh-frozen corn (put it in a very hot skillet without thawing, in a single layer to avoid steaming).

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob (2 to 2½ cups kernels)
1 large fresh tomato
2 ounces feta cheese
pinch dried oregano
salt & pepper
salad greens (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil and the sliced onion; sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring well, until tender and beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the corn, mixing well and spreading across the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times, until tender; if your pan is hot enough, you'll get some nice caramelized bits on the corn.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a shallow bowl; set aside to cool to barely warm or room temperature.

Chop the tomato and add it to the mixture; crumble the feta over. Add the oregano, some pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and gently stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to your taste—depending on your feta, you may or may not need more salt.

Serve over a bed of greens, with crusty bread or crostini (or, for that matter, <i>on</i> crostini as bruschetta).

Serves 3 as a main dish, 4-6 as a side, and I-have-no-idea-how-many as a bruschetta appetizer (8-10, maybe?)


  1. this salad looks delicious. And I hear you about trying to eat everything at once in this weird overlap season. I just stuff myself as fast as I can with everything :)

  2. Sorry about the overworking and the evil mouse rat. At least you are still eating well!