You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market. —The Mgmt.
When seasonal veggies abound (such as, for example, now), it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or how good you are with a julienne attachment. Once in a while you're going to need a little help taming The Bounty. It's not that you couldn't toss together a perfectly edible, even respectable, salad or stir-fry. I know that. Believe me, I do. But if you're going to haul out your knives and bowls and pots and pans, why not transform that veg something inspired instead?
At the quite real risk of stating the obvious, sometimes all you need to take your produce to inspired heights is a little inspiration. These 10 websites are among my current favorites when I'm staring at a full crisper and need a little jolt of creativity. Behind each site is a person or team with a true, unadulterated love for produce and a unique way of expressing that love. These folks find extraordinary beauty in ordinary vegetables. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know them if you don't already.
1. Local Lemons
A fairly recent transplant from Brooklyn to Berkeley, Allison Arevalo turned her contagious enthusiasm for California's year-round farmers' markets into the beautifully photographed and charmingly written Local Lemons. Later this year she'll be opening a restaurant focused on macaroni and cheese. She even had a fight with the legal folks at McDonald's a few months ago. What's not to love?
2. Sprouted Kitchen
Only a little more than a year old, Sprouted Kitchen is a relative newcomer to the blogging world. But with insanely gorgeous photography and a joyous take on whole foods (including lots and lots of vegetables), Sara Morris and Hugh Forte are quickly becoming popular with veggie lovers.
3. Food in Jars
Food writer, teacher and inveterate canner Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars provides an invaluable resource to anyone suffering from fruit and vegetable overload. This site has expert, accessibly written canning advice for those who want to go all the way preserving foods for winter, and many recipes also give refrigeration instructions and ideas for cooks setting their sights on the shorter term.
4. Elana's Pantry
Billed as a gluten-free blog, Elana's Pantry kept showing up in my Google searches for crazy vegetables season after season. Finally, and thankfully, I gave in. Although Elana Amsterdam's well-established blog is no secret, I think it's an under-appreciated resource for produce lovers.
5. Tea & Cookies
Tara Austen Weaver writes beautifully, so I've been a fan of her blog Tea & Cookies for a couple of years now. But she didn't really put me over the moon until she made cookies from dandelion flowers. Need I say more, veggie fans?
6. Food & Style
Viviane Bauquet Farre teaches, writes, and cooks from the Hudson Valley. Her blog, Food & Style, focuses on healthful preparations of ingredients from local farmers' markets. There are French-accented, serene recipe videos, too.
7. Eat More Butter
Written by art photographer Diana Pappas and chef Jamie Paxton, who met as undergrads at Duke University, Eat More Butter celebrates gardens, CSAs and farmers' markets in New Jersey and beyond.
8. Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Nominated for James Beard awards two years in a row, Hank Shaw's inspiring Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is hardly undiscovered. But people, the man makes his own root beer from foraged sassafras and burdock. And he makes it seem like we all could, too. This site is a must-read for veggie lovers.
9. Summer Tomato
UCSF scientist Darya Pino's site Summer Tomato focuses on healthy eating from both a scientist's perspective and that of a local food-loving Californian. It makes for informative, entertaining reading and lots of vegetable-focused recipes.
10. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Recipes
OK, this isn't technically a blog. But Barbara Kingsolver's breakaway 2007 book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of the inspirations behind many of the continuing efforts of today's local food bloggers. The companion recipe site, found here, is an excellent resource for anyone with too much produce on their hands.
What about you? Do you have a favorite blog that you look to for inspiration about seasonal produce? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in New Jersey.