PGM In Season | Tending the Table
In the spirit of PGM In Season, we are delighted to fill your screens and your time with one of our incredible community leaders for the Summer 2015 submission period. Meet Sasha of Tending the Table, who pens this heartachingly beautiful blog with copious amounts of personal narratives, impressive photography, and of course seasonal and organic recipes that are to die for. However, as you'll find out, it's not only the notion that local and organic is the best way to be, but a way of life that Sasha explains is the key to authentic, wholehearted green living. Read her interview below and try your hand at her seasonal summer recipe!
5 Questions with Sasha
WHAT 3 WORDS DESCRIBE YOU BEST?
Resourceful, discerning...and playful, although my husband would say that I’m just aggressively organized.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENT?
Maple syrup. While I grew up on the West Coast and live there now, Vermont is the place I call home so I’m pretty picky about my maple syrup. We order a few gallons each year from a small producer there and always get Grade B or Grade B Dark. I like putting it in my tea, in salad dressing and I especially love baking with it. I don’t even think of it as sugar which makes me feel better about the absurd amount of it I consume. I mean, it comes out of a tree, right?
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST KITCHEN ACHIEVEMENT AND/OR FAILURE?
Probably my most expensive and most memorable kitchen failure happened when I was in middle school on a ski vacation with some friends. It was our last morning at the cabin and the fridge was pretty barren, except for a single tube of Pilsburry Crescent Rolls. I carefully rolled each square of dough, meticulously lined them up in a glass baking dish and put them in the oven. When they were done, I pulled them out and set them on the stove-top to cool. A few minutes later the whole pan exploded, sending shards of glass and hot dough flying everywhere. The hot glass melted the linoleum floor which wasn’t cheap to repair, but the worst part was that we didn’t have breakfast. It turns out the burner had been on before I set the glass pan down. I still get made fun of for that one.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY INTO YOUR LIFE?
For me sustainability is all about the choices I make on a daily basis. It’s about making mindful decisions even when the alternative is easier. It means taking care of my body so that I can live a long, healthy life. It means continuously reevaluating what and how I eat. We also try to be mindful every day of the resources we use and try to find new ways to save and reuse.
WHAT DOES EATING LOCAL, ORGANIC, AND SEASONAL FOOD MEAN TO YOU?
For me it’s not just about eating local, seasonal or organic. Those labels are valuable but sometimes become generic standards that conceal the sustainability of a product. I like to think about being aware and find that it’s easier to be aware and well-informed when we are familiar with where our food comes from and pay attention to what is around us. Just because something is local or organic, doesn’t mean that it is sustainable or ethical and our agricultural system often exploits resources to make it so that things are “in season” more frequently than the climate of a particular place would naturally allow. Sometimes it can feel daunting and discouraging because the whole system is so complex and convoluted. But I am inspired by the people and organizations working to strengthen and promote a better way of growing, producing and consuming food. It constantly amazes me when I see the bounty that surrounds us; the bees buzzing from hive to hive, the berries lining the roadside, the way that nature works to provide us with sustenance and the farmers and organizations that help inspire and educate us. I am driven by the feeling that taking care of our bodies and our planet enlivens and enriches our experience in life.
SWEET AND SPICY GLAZED EGGPLANT WRAPS WITH HERBY CORN SALAD AND PICKLED SHALLOTS
Yields: 2 Servings
FOR THE EGGPLANT
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 4 small Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise then cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
FOR THE PICKLED SHALLOTS
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 small shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
FOR THE CORN SALAD
- 6 oz green beans
- 2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon each, chopped basil and mint
Pita bread or tortillas for serving
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and sunflower oil over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and cook until brown and beginning to char on all sides. Meanwhile, whisk together the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic, rice vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, paprika and salt. Once the eggplant is cooked, add the sauce. It will bubble and begin to caramelize. Continue stirring to coat the eggplant, until the sauce is reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small pot combine the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the shallots, and let them pickle while you prepare the salad.
SALAD Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and still slightly crunchy. Immediately pour the green beans into a colander and rinse with very cold water. Cut the blanched beans into ¼ inch pieces. Toss the green beans with the corn, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and herbs.
Warm the pita or tortillas. Top each with some eggplant, a scoop of the salad and some pickled shallots.