The Daily Beet

29 Jul Adventures with Ami: Summer Simplicity

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This week brought cooler weather to Saint Louis.  We turned off the A/C and slept with the windows open.  A pure simple gift of summer.  Gentle cross breeze blowing through the house and a sunrise worth noting at dawn.  Pure joy for me! Things have been pretty hectic in my life since March when all of the big boxing events of the year started.  All of our travels and adventures since then have really kept us on our toes.  So when I can close my eyes, listen to the birds chirping, feel the cool breeze and enjoy the moment, it’s a luxurious thing.

This week also produced my first harvest from the three tomato plants I have in pots in the backyard.  A modest harvest compared to gardens past, but it made my day nonetheless.  Over the winter, I shall plot and plan the new garden.  I look forward to a longer growing season than the great north offered us.  I also look forward to checking out the local organic farms and greenhouses for inspiration and seedlings next spring.  Do you have a local source for organic seeds or heirloom seedlings?

On the homefront, I can now cook in our renovated kitchen! My gas stove is in place and connected.  This means I can steam a pot of potatoes or kale at my leisure.  I am still waiting for countertops.  It will be a week until they are ready.  So I am keeping prep simple and not making complicated dishes just yet. I made some amazing things in the crockpot during construction though.  Including a dish that I really look forward to having again.  It was really simple, hearty and flavorful.

Basil Zucchini

5 large russet potatoes

1 large or 2 medium zuchinni – sliced in half moon shaped pieces

1 box of sliced mushrooms

3 cloves of fresh garlic or a teaspoon of garlic powder

5 stems of fresh basil diced

2 cups veggie broth or water

cook 4 hours on high in the crockpot.

*feel free to improvise – add onions, tomatoes, peppers etc. if you’d like.

While sitting on the porch enjoying a salad for lunch, I discovered that we have hummingbirds in our yard.  They are so pretty!  I just love our neighborhood and look forward to getting to know the folks who inhabit our block over the coming years.  We have a quiet street, lots of elementary aged kids who play together. Neighbors who say hello or wave from the rocking chairs on their porches.  We chat over the fence in the back yard or as we round the block while walking the dog.  It’s a very simple comfort being here.

This summer has brought some great new cookbooks and the local produce offerings.  I have been craving simplicity though, single ingredient dishes maybe with a dash of spice.  Corn on the cob dusted with cayenne, a bowl full of melon or my favorite standby snack – a box of baby kale.  I love snacking on the little leaves.  Tender and flavorful without the bitterness that mature kale can have.  I have also been enjoying the fresh nectarines the season brings – probably my favorite fruit.

Growing up in the 70’s meant a slew of public service announcements intermixed with Saturday morning cartoons.  One in particular was Don’t Drown Your Food http://youtu.be/R81T7u9hgnE Often, with so many amazing plant-strong recipes out there, we forget this simple principle.  I know I’ve touched on the subject before, but with harvest season in full swing, now is the time to enjoy the pure simple in season flavors that the garden has to offer.  Do you have a favorite single or double ingredient dish?

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Ami Mackey for Engine 2
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is the Curator of Creative Content at Engine 2. She is also a food coach at Engine 2 and has been plant-strong since 2011. When she isn't attending to all things Engine 2, she is the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She has earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

  • Ami Mackey
    Posted at 11:37h, 29 July

    the zucchini in the crockpot!

  • Rick
    Posted at 17:46h, 29 July

    Loved that little youtube clip. Glad you’re helping people find their common sense.

  • Mitzi
    Posted at 18:08h, 29 July

    There is a really good source for seeds in MO- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, MO. I have grown their seeds in TN and MS with success. They have old American heirloom varieties, as well as varieties from around the world. All non-GMO, non-treated, not even hybrids. They have a demonstration village, and festivals every month March-October, with all but the one in May having free admission. Their catalog is pure veggie art.

  • Kirsten
    Posted at 19:08h, 29 July

    can’t wait to try this recipe…and I still think of that little video every time I see someone put dressing on their salad! Thanks for reminding us of life’s simple pleasures 🙂

  • cena
    Posted at 10:41h, 31 July

    Favorite 2 ingredients: cherry tomatoes wrapped in a basil leaf, eaten in the garden. On a sunny day, of course (vitamin D)

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