Editor’s note: Kim was given the word recently that her tenure as a freelance food writer for The Register-Guard was coming to an end after having written for the paper for over 24 years.
Due to the new leadership’s policy of not publishing farewell notes with freelance columns, her final column, published over the weekend, appeared without explanation of it being her last.
Here’s what she wrote:
“This is my last column for The Register Guard. I have loved sharing stories and recipes with you and will miss our time together.
“Keep cooking seasonally. Keep gathering around the table. And keep an eye out for me at the grocery store. I’ll be the one who forgot to take off her floury apron, smelling the melons to see if they’re ripe, looking for the most uniform bunches of asparagus and always ready to hear what you’re making for dinner.
A trip to the farmers’ market with an open mind is a fine way to plan a summer meal. Walk around, see what looks good and go from there.
Try to choose at least one unfamiliar kind of produce. Ask for advice on how to prepare it. The farmers’ market vendors are knowledgeable and friendly. People standing in line will often offer advice.
The eggplant were particularly beautiful this past weekend, especially the purple and white striped ones. The produce paparazzi were swarming around them. Unfortunately, the prettiness does not last when they’re cooked.
In addition, I found pints of mixed sweet peppers, a shiny red onion and Italian sausage. Pizza! Sliding a loaded pizza onto a pizza stone or barbecue grill can be disastrous, so I partially bake my pizza crust before adding sauce and toppings. Do what works best for you.
I was unable to walk past a pint basket of red okra, a variety I’ve not seen before.
I love okra, especially fried or pickled. Pickled okra is the best Bloody Mary garnish ever. Okra can be a hard sell. What people find objectionable about okra doesn’t seem to be its flavor. It is its descent into sliminess when stewed.
The way around that is not to stew it. Here I’ve sliced the okra lengthwise, keeping them attached at the cap and paired them with shisito peppers, also from the farmers’ market, sliced likewise.
Shisito peppers are mild but occasionally you’ll get one that’s hot. Not take your head off hot, but with enough heat for you to notice. If you don’t want to play pepper roulette, you could substitute any sweet pepper. Or go wild and substitute hot peppers.
Dusted with seasoned cornmeal and flour, spread both okra and peppers while roasting to look like squid. The squidliness might induce the never-okra side to try them, but that didn’t work at my house.
If you’re feeling like gilding that lily, make a bowl of aioli for dunking the peppers and okra.
This is my last column for The Register Guard. I have loved sharing stories and recipes with you and will miss our time together.
Keep cooking seasonally. Keep gathering around the table. And keep an eye out for me at the grocery store. I’ll be the one who forgot to take off her floury apron, smelling the melons to see if they’re ripe, looking for the most uniform bunches of asparagus and always ready to hear what you’re making for dinner.
Farmers’ Market Pizza
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 large clove garlic, grated on a microplane
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- A generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely minced
Combine ingredients. Better if done early in the day so the flavors can marry.
- 1 bag of pizza dough or your own homemade
- 1 medium eggplant
- Olive oil
- 1 pint mixed sweet peppers
- 1/2 pound full-fat Mozzarella cheese, grated
- Two links of Italian sausage, hot or sweet, pulled into small pieces and cooked
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Slice the eggplant thinly into circles or planks about 1/4-inch thick. Put in a colander set over a bowl. Salt the eggplant and let it sit for half an hour. While the eggplant is resting in its salt, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you’re using a pizza stone, put it in the oven on a lower rack to preheat now.
Put the peppers on parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Turn the peppers to coat them and roast them on another higher rack until they begin to slump and have brown spots. Remove from the oven, put them on a plate and cover with an overturned bowl so they will steam for 15 minutes. If the skins are very tender, you might not need to remove them. Rub the peppers to remove as much of the peels as will come off easily. Slice the peppers and set aside.
Rinse the eggplant and drain on a dish towel. Put down a new piece of parchment on the baking sheet; drizzle on the olive oil. Put the eggplant on the oiled parchment, turning the pieces so there’s a little oil on both sides. Roast until softened with some brown patches. This won’t take long. Set aside. Remove the higher rack so it isn’t in the way of the pizza.
Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees or heat your grill.
Roll out the pizza dough and place it on the pizza stone or grill rack. Cook about 4 minutes, or until the crust has set and begun to turn golden on the bottom. Prick any bubbles with knife. Evenly spread the sauce on the crust. Evenly top the sauce with mozzarella. Add the toppings and sprinkle with garlic. Bake until the cheese begins to bubble.
Squidly Okra and Shisito Peppers
- Olive oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Several grindings black pepper
- A dash or two of cayenne
- 1 pint okra, rinsed
- 1 pint shisito peppers, rinsed
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle it generously with olive oil. Set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients in a shallow bowl.
Holding the peppers by the stem and the okra by the cap, slice each lengthwise from below the stem or cap so they stay in one piece. Turn them to cut lengthwise again, making four legs.
Slightly fan the vegetables and swish them in the flour mixture. There should be the lightest of coatings around and inside.
Place the vegetables on the baking sheet, placing them so they don’t touch and fanning them slightly. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 6 minutes then turn them over. Continue to roast for another 6 minutes or so until the cut edges have begun to brown.
Sprinkle with salt and serve. (The stems and caps aren’t edible. They won’t hurt you but they are very stringy and hard to chew.)