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.
[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]
1. Bake Off the Grid
Making dessert for the Fourth? Instead of these old stand-bys, which, while tasty and nostalgic, pack a corn syrup and spray-vitamin punch, try the most beautiful and intriguing berry tart you've ever baked.
2. Grilling Meat? Do Yourself Proud
Methane controversy or no, mention the Fourth and I promise I'll get all Pavlov's hot dog on ya (and cheeseburger, thank you very much). But I like to know what my ground bits have been up to before they hit the grill. Buy the best, most responsibly sourced meat you can afford, and then slather it with all the ridiculousness your little heart desires.
3. Turn Leftovers into Meatless Monday on the Fifth
Flush with leftover bean salads and veggies on the fifth? Take it as an easy cue to try Meatless Monday on for size.
4. Prefer Fish? Choose Wisely
Download a pocket guide to sustainable fish in your region, and enjoy your independence with a squeeze of lemon. Any guide that gives me the go-ahead for a big bowl of steamers earns a permanent place in my pocket.
5. Make Your Own Mint-Chip Ice Cream
I don't know about you, but right now I can't think of a more welcome gift than a fun, indulgent recipe that makes swift work of two cups of fresh mint leaves. Two packed cups, no less. My ever-expanding mint bounty is about to steep me if I don't steep it first. Thank goodness for David Lebovitz.
6. Donate Time or Goods to Your Local Food Bank
Help someone else achieve independence over the long weekend by donating your time or some food to your local food bank. While we're looking after the planet's pigs, cows, and fish, let's not forget its people.
7. Make a Labor Day Gift to Yourself
Got an empty pot or a little plot of dirt in the sun? Plant some winter squash. In many parts of the country, there's still time. If you get your seeds or seedlings in the ground before Independence Day, you could be feasting on home-grown butternuts shortly after Labor Day. Score one steaming pot of soup for independence.
8. Serve Crazy-ass Crudités
Hosting a big bash on the 4th? Instead of picking up one of those sad, plastic-clad veggie and dip platters at the supermarket, head to the farmers' market without a shopping list. Pick up some kohlrabi, or icicle radishes, or whatever odd little number a farmer looks especially proud of. Arrange them on a platter and act casual.
9. Include the Kids in the Madness
I'm the first to admit that when you're expecting company, it's easier to shoo the kids out of the kitchen than to find ways for them to help. But as those other revolutionaries knew, independence doesn't always come easy. When you include the kids in your food prep adventures, you help them work toward an independent future (and, with any luck, score yourself a breakfast or two in bed one day down the road).
10. Share Your Pioneering Spirit
Have your own easy ways to achieve food independence on the Fourth? Share them in the comments! We'd love to hear from you.
About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in New Jersey.