Easy and Healthful Eating: Recipes from Dr. Goodman’s Garden
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a gardener. My father was a gardener. He made his living as a dentist, but his avocation was the arts (he was a painter, jeweler and furniture maker, exhibiting and selling his work) and his garden. When we moved from the city to the suburbs when I was in the 7th grade, he was able to seriously expand his previously small backyard garden exponentially on our 1+ acre of land. Out front was an expansive flower garden (delphiniums were his “specialty”), and in the back, against the small creek that was our back property line, was his impressive vegetable garden.
I say “his” garden as you couldn’t drag my mom out there, and—initially, at least—I was too “cool” to be caught in the garden. However, after a combination of my being given excess produce to take in a wagon and peddle door-to-door to the neighbors (I got to keep the sales receipts) and a growing curiosity as to where all this stuff was coming from, coupled with the realization that this was a comfortable way to be around my father, I was “hooked.” I have, more or less (depending on where I’ve been living), been a gardener ever since.
For the better part of the past 40 years, I’ve grown most all of the vegetables, and much of the fruit, that my family (and neighbors, office staff, etc.) consume. (When you have a big garden, there always are overages!) As I eat only a modest amount of animal protein (although I am an omnivore), I essentially both eat and season from the garden, eating what’s ripe and putting food down (by canning and freezing) during those periodic garden pulses that overwhelm storage capacity. By the end of summer, my freezer is usually chock full or ratatouille, basil pesto, tomato sauce, grape juice, etc., and the refrigerator or shelves overflowing with roasted vegetables packed in olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, peach preserves, etc.
For the better part of the past 10 years, I have done the majority of my own cooking. As I have a “day job,” I’ve neither the time nor the patience to cook from recipes, especially ones that have 15+ minutes of prep time, and most certainly those that do not deliver a sizable cache of “leftovers.” I thrive on leftovers, cooking only when my son is with me (half-time) or my girlfriend is in residence. I have thought little about my culinary routine, which largely consists of: see what’s ripe in the garden, see what herbs are around, couple with a fairly prodigious array of seasoning mixes, sauces, marinades, etc. I keep on my kitchen and refrigerator shelves, and devise a meal. I seem to have a recipe-less knack of combining and usually end up with an easy, healthful, and quite palatable meal.
It was after one of these meals, as I sat down to write my monthly blog for this site, that my son Sam told me, “Dad, you are so good at combining what’s in the garden for a quick, healthy meal; you should write down your recipes. That would make a good blog.”
Well, I truly have no “recipes”; what I cook is based on one of several themes, governed by what’s in the garden and whatever other ingredients happen to be around at the time. With that disclaimer, I will (here and in several future blogs) endeavor to memorialize several easy, healthy, and tasty recipes for your culinary perusal.