CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Editor's note: Today is the debut of Amanda Stone’s column. It will appear here each Wednesday. Send address correspondence to Amanda Stone, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.
Food is fuel. I want to know where my food is coming from, and I want my young daughter to know where food begins.
Ideally, we would only eat whole foods. Prepared food would only have a few ingredients, all of which I was familiar with. Nothing from a crinkly package, for sure. But I’m realistic. I have plenty of weak moments. Overall, my goal is to eat and prepare “fuel” for our bodies that has been as minimally processed as possible.
I was born and raised in Carthage, moved to Kansas City at 20, and came back to Carthage shortly after turning 30. I traveled and worked abroad, had great friends and lived a fun, exciting life. But after my daughter was born, I yearned to come back to small-town life and raise her as I had been raised. I also missed my mom. Desperately. So, I dragged my techie, city-dwelling fella and our infant daughter to the land of spotty Wi-Fi and criminally slow Internet.
Nearly three years later, we live in town, so I have a modest vegetable garden. I have this romantic notion of growing all the food we need. There would be a surplus for sharing with family and friends, and plenty left for canning and freezing, which would sustain my small family through the frigid winter. And, of course, everything would be organic. Humph. As I write this column, the squash beetles are ravaging my zucchini, and we’ve already gone through the potatoes. A creepy, ground-dwelling caterpillar ate the lettuce long ago. There are tomatoes aplenty, though. Hope lies in the tomatoes.
I feel like I have the right idea. Ideally, we would grow our own food. And if it can’t be grown, we’ll get it from local farmers. We’ll prepare it ourselves and eat it mindfully.
Here are a couple of simple summer recipes I’ve adapted for my family. They are a great way to prepare those garden-fresh veggies.
Beet and tomato salad
6 beets, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
Lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper
A few fresh mint or basil leaves
Arrange the beet slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring once. After beets are completely cool, toss them in a bowl with the heirloom tomatoes. Squeeze the juice of an entire lemon on the salad, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Throw in a few mint or basil leaves and your beautiful summer salad is complete.
Sauteed summer squash
2 pounds squash, cut into bite-size pieces (I like a combination of yellow squash and zucchini)
1/2 yellow onion
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I prefer mozzarella or feta)
Basil and/or oregano, fresh or dried
Drizzle a large skillet with olive oil. Warm the pan on medium heat and add the onion and squash. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the onions and squash are beginning to soften. Stir often. Add the cherry tomatoes and a liberal amount of basil and/or oregano. Cook for a few minutes longer. Remove from heat, sprinkle with cheese, cover and let stand for a few minutes or until cheese is melted.