Monday Night Dinner

I recently ordered a copy of The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook out of a desire to eat better and get more pleasure out of the act of cooking itself.  I haven't made very many recipes out of it yet--my enthusiasm for cooking varies greatly from day to day, and when I have things set up for sewing it's pretty much impossible to use the kitchen--but the few recipes I have tried so far have turned out well.  I am looking forward to trying more.

I have two big grumbles, however.  The first is that the book really needs some menu suggestions.  I find it just... hard to navigate, somehow.  It would be helpful to know which recipes pair well together, and are perhaps easier to cook in conjunction.  So far I feel as though meals made from the cookbook manage to use every single dish in the kitchen (and have been difficult to coordinate time management-wise).  Or maybe it's just that I don't own enough pots and pans...

The other issue is that The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is really written for an audience that lives in a Big City.  My town may be called a city, and back during the gold rush you could get all sorts of spectacular luxuries and delicacies (it was "The Paris of the North"), but these days you have your choice of two little grocery stores with a fairly prosaic selection of food items.  Everything travels a great distance to get here, and is priced accordingly.  There is a farmer's market in the summer, with as short a season as you would expect.  Our summer is intense and brief.

So... reading in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook that one should "seek out the very best of local, regional, preferably organically and naturally raised products" is frustrating.  The author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, often recommends seeking out ethnic food stores--as though everyone has a Lebanese or Greek supermarket just a few blocks away.  It's just such a different lifestyle and world-view.  For all of Jenkins' globe-trotting, I don't think she's every really lived anywhere terribly remote.  There are places in this world where you only have a choice of one brand of olive oil.

Grocery shopping for dinner tonight got me thinking about local versus exotic foods.  Yukon dog mushers often feed their sled dogs salmon because it is found in such an abundance (or was; the local fishery is in trouble as so many are).  And you can get these in the grocery store:
Exotic down south, but certainly a Dawson barbecue and bonfire staple.  They're really very good, if rather pricey.  While not exactly in line with the principles of a Mediterranean diet (which recommends very little red meat), it was a great dinner.  I had snap peas, tomato wedges and grilled zucchini on the side.  This may be one of the only times in my life that I have ever eaten zucchini voluntarily, and it may happen again soon.  I actually liked it!  I put it on the grill at the very end and cooked it quickly, so it was nicely blackened but still firm.

I took advantage of having the grill fired up and, thinking of tomorrow's dinner, threw a few other things on as well.
These peppers and eggplant are for a chilled salad from the book that I have wanted to make for about two weeks now.  I just had to wait for the eggplant to arrive from California!

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