Tuesday’s CSA share brought plums, corn, romaine, basil, peppers, onions, eggplant, cabbage and more glorious tomatoes. The rest of the week brought a flurry of social engagements and two distinct mountains of work.
It seems the cat is finally out of the bag; after two decades working in sexual health and reproductive justice, I am making the move to food. While I won’t officially start until after Labor Day, I am already hard at work behind the scenes preparing and training for my new role as the Executive Director of Just Food. Just Food works with community leaders to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, locally grown food. To say this is my dream job is a bit of an understatement. To say that I am busy is more than a bit of an understatement.
Somehow I managed to knock off the lettuce, plums and most of the tomatoes by Sunday morning. But that left me with a whole lot of vegetables to consume. Add to that the fact that I felt compelled to buy okra, scallions and hot peppers while introducing a friend who is new to the neighborhood to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket and the situation gets comical.
I spent my Sunday strolling Brooklyn for a series of food-fueled meetings. I had it in my head that I might indulge in a little impulse shopping along the way. While I tried on a few pairs of shoes and a vintage dress, nothing really struck my fancy–until I stumbled on Park Slope’s Sunday Down to Earth Farmers Market. It had been a couple of years since I had hit this market, which seems to now focus less on fruits and vegetables and more on all manners of dried, fermented, preserved, juiced, pickled and canned products. Tucked among the stalls was Barry’s Tempeh. I love me some tofu and I love me some seitan. Tempeh, however, has always struck me as a bit dry and dense. But one sample of Barry’s brown rice, quinoa and barley version and I was a convert. I departed with a pound of frozen tempeh stuffed into my purse.
My next meeting was scheduled to take place in a bar with a backyard, but it seems we weren’t the only ones who thought outdoor drinking on a mild August afternoon was a good idea. So we retreated to Four & Twenty Blackbirds for an afternoon “snack” of giant slabs of peach and raspberry crumble pie. By the time I got home, I was pretty sure I was done eating for the day. But by 9:00 I had miraculously regained my appetite. Fortunately, the tempeh has defrosted nicely nestled between my sunglasses and some books I picked up on the street.
Tempeh, Corn & Okra Succotash
- 1/4 cup or so of olive oil, divided
- 1/2 pound tempeh (ideally fresh or fresh frozen), cubed
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 3 cobs of corn, stripped (Freeze the cobs until you have enough to make a killer chowder.)
- 3/4 pound okra, trimmed and sliced into 3/4″ pieces
- 2 medium red tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, chiffonaded
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook until nicely browned on one side. Flip the pieces, adding a little more oil each time until they are nicely browned. (The more oil you add, the tastier and crispier your tempeh will be, so use your own judgment.) Sprinkle liberally with salt and set aside.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil followed by the onions, green pepper and jalapeno pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are limp and starting to brown. Add the corn and cook for another couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and empty into a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the okra. Cook stirring occasionally until the pods have softened and are dark along the ridges. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then dump in the tempeh and the corn mixture. Cook for a minute more. Off of the heat, add in the basil and vinegar. Taste and add additional salt, pepper or vinegar as you see fit.
I made up for my afternoon drinking fail by pairing this succotash with a Sixpoint Sweet Action. For a brief moment, I forgot that tomorrow will be another 12-hour workday. Luckily, I have three additional servings of succotash to get me through the week.