What We Had For Dinner, and Why It Amazed Me

Lahey No-Knead Bread

Lahey No-Knead Bread

I didn't cook it. Well, I made the vinaigrette. I sat down to eat a late winter/early spring affordable feast, made from what we had, and I liked it so much I thought you might enjoy knowing about it. The menu:

  • The incredible Jim Lahey-Mark Bittman no-knead slow rise bread (made with Weisenberger bread flour and a scant tablespoon salt instead of the smaller amount in the original recipe)
  • Elmwood Stock Farm's certified organic short ribs, made according to Dave Lebovits's recipe, substituting a homemade grape jelly/ketchup/soy blend for the hoisin sauce missing from our larder
  • Mashed redskin Elmwood organic potatoes made with butter and local creme fràiche
  • "Available" slaw, made with what we had on hand: 1/3 head grated red cabbage, two grated carrots, and (YEA!!!) fresh tarragon and chives from our herb garden; vinaigrette made the utterly French way (a thumb's length of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and three tablespoons olive oil - more or less).

Why it amazed me?

  • It smelled so good - for hours, thanks to the long cooking time for the chocolatey dark roasted short ribs, and then the bread - heavenly.
  • The bread is as good as any artisan bread from any restaurant or bakery, and that still amazes me, given its great ease of preparation. To sit in my own kitchen eating homemade bread that, before November 6, 2006, could only be had in Europe or a small number of great bakeries and restaurants in the USA - it is still a source of wonder.
  • The fresh taste of our own land in the herbs, so early in spring, making the slaw a crisp, acidy foil for the rich ribs - I am awed to have the growing season already underway, already making meals wonderful at my house.
  • More amazements:
    • Most of the food grew within 15 miles of my house.
    • The world wide food web also made its contribution, yielding the bread and ribs recipes along with the processes behind the creme fràiche and vinaigrette.
    • The big world of food and the essential local world of food came together on a foundation of basic food knowledge, a gift from our many food ancestors: start with what's on hand; treat the ingredients well; savor the results.

The richness of these simple, beautiful foods, and the way the foods brought out the best in each other, guaranteed the savoring. What blessings and riches we find in our kitchens and gardens.