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Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Congrats to winners Jon and David—and a very hearty thanks to all who shared descriptions of their drool-worthy meals. Please join us over in HOMEGROWN's summer book club! We can't wait to cheer/rant/celebrate/sympathize and share all kinds of thoughts on the book soon.

HOMEGROWN has two copies of Cooked, the new book by Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food), burning a hole in our shelf. Want one? In 250 words or less, describe the best meal you’ve ever made. Mouth-watering details, please! To submit your entry, just paste it into the comments box below by Friday, June 14, 2013. The two juiciest responses will score free books.

The fine print: Yep, there is one catch. We’re asking that the book recipients join and help shepherd the book club. Sparkling conversation, stimulating reading, HOMEGROWN togetherness. What’s not to love?

And for those who don’t manage to snag one of the freebies, don’t despair! HOMEGROWN will host a Cooked book club throughout the summer, and anyone who gets his or her hands on a copy is encouraged to join in. We’re thinking one chapter per week to keep the reading load light, but logistics are TBD by those who end up joining the club.

Got questions? Concerns? Post ’em below and we’ll respond ASAP. Good luck! We can't wait to hear what you've got cooking.

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This is a FANTASTIC read! Good luck to all entering!

Well, I have a hold on it from the library but it would be great to get my own copy of the book!  And a book club sounds like a great summer idea!  

Let’s see, the best meal I ever made… in memory form.  Here’s what’s coming to my mind:

Standing over the grill and smelling the wonderful smell of fresh bread.  That’s right, bread.  On the grill.  Well, okay, it’s flatbread, or pitas, cooking on a grill-proof baking stone.  With the intense heat of the charcoal the stone is dangerously hot (as I'll find out later when I brush it accidentally with my hand after it’s been removed from the heat).   I bask in the radiating heat sipping a cold homebrew.  The pitas cook very quickly, puffing up inconsistently and yet beautifully in just moments.  With the pitas cooked and the stone removed, I follow with kebabs of garden-fresh striped eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, multiple types of peppers, sweet onions, and lamb sausage from a local butcher. 

The meal that follows is mezze style, with many different foods to dip in or stuff into the pitas.  In addition to the kebabs there is tzatziki sauce made with garden fresh cucumbers, homemade hummus with plenty of garlic, diced tomatoes with olive oil and oregano, and a Greek salad with tons of feta.  I alternate between making gyros and just using the bread as a utensil to spoon the many amazing flavor combinations into my mouth.  

Almost everything is homemade and most of the produce is homegrown.   We are sharing the experience with good friends, the weather is perfect, and it is a great summer meal.  As far as I can remember it is the best meal I have ever made. 

When I graduated from high school, in 1975, my friend Paula and I bought Greyhound Ameripasses which allowed you to travel across America for six weeks.  We left from New Jersey and were supposed to be staying with extended family for a week or so at each place.  Halfway across Pennsylvania we met a retired couple on the bus also traveling on Ameripasses. They had been so many places! We decided to broaden our trip but our money was very limited. We wanted to see New Orleans and we wanted to dine at a real restaurant there.  So we scrimped and for five weeks our diet consisted mostly of apples and cheese we bought at grocery stores, all you could eat pancake breakfasts at IHOPs, and granola that we would make on the occasional stop with family.  

Finally, we arrived in New Orleans.  We decided to eat at Galatoire’s.  We couldn’t afford a whole meal so we chose an appetizer each and a dessert to share.  I ordered the Crab Galatoire for my appetizer.  The first bite was a revelation.  It was packed with chunks of tender crab barely held together with a spicy, tomatoey mayonnaise sauce. There were fresh herbs and small crunchy bits of celery and onion that played against the rich crabmeat. I had no idea food could taste like that. It played a major part in both my eventual decision to become a professional chef and the kind of experiences I've wanted my customers to have.

Homemade pizza on the grill with sautéed wild morel mushrooms foraged in the Pacific Northwest, goat cheese from the farmers market, a bunch of arugula from the garden along with home made sun dried cherry tomatoes. The pizza crust was cracker thin and grilled to perfection. This, along with some local wine...simply perfection.

There’s nothing quite as fulfilling and absolutely delicious as that first steak from your very own bovine. For me, that was two years ago when we picked up the meat from our first steer. My wife prepared all the fixin’s: potatoes, green beans, garlic bread… You know, the works. As I placed that ruby red piece of meat straight from the package onto the grill, the smell that wafted through the yard was unlike anything I’d ever smelled before. I honestly believe I could have feasted only on that aroma. Then slicing into that medium-rare piece of meat… Wow. It literally melted in my mouth. Pure beef, no seasoning… Beef that two weeks prior had been eating my hay. As the platter went around the table and everyone smiled from the perfect flavor and tenderness, all I could see was a picture of what eternity will be like. Partaking of beautiful food, bordering on a work of art, with family and friends and giving thanks to our Lord was what created the very best meal I’ve ever cooked. 

Thanks for the network

Congrats to Jon and David, winners of the two giveaway copies! Thanks so much, guys, for agreeing to help spearhead the book club, and thank you, Robin and Barbara, for sharing your mouth-watering meals with HOMEGROWN. Yum! An open invitation to all interested readers: Please join HOMEGROWN's summer book club and read along with us! (We've heard reports that many local libraries have copies available.) Hope to chat/cheer/rant/share thoughts on the book with you soon!

David, your description of your steak was wonderful!  I now totally want to raise my own too.... perhaps some day I shall be so lucky.

Thanks Jonathan,

I planted cilantro to try and spice up the steaks with a bit of salsa. I will have to try the flat bread as you mentioned on the grill along side of it. I can almost taste it now as a cold sandwich the following lunch. 

Jonathan Spee said:

David, your description of your steak was wonderful!  I now totally want to raise my own too.... perhaps some day I shall be so lucky.

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