Using what you’ve grown and growing more

During the stormy, rainy late winter/spring, my husband and I enjoyed going to Big River restaurant and feasting on their fisherman’s stew.  We were trying to be low carb/low fat/low salt and this wonderful soup hit a home run with us.  Being the cook and cheapskate that I am, I tried to replicate this wonderful dish at home.  Fortunately, I am a collector and one thing I collect is cookbooks.  I am not sure whether I was deliberately looking for it or if I ran across it accidentally, but I did find a recipe that has quickly become a regular favorite.  Nigella Lawson is a cook that I greatly admire!  Perhaps it was the title of one of her cookbooks that reeled me in , “How to be a Domestic Goddess. Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking.”  Obviously I get her tongue in cheek approach.  I am not a goddess, domestic or otherwise.  I’ll acknowledge that I am a good cook.  Somehow that title sucked me in.  I actually read her writing and tried a few of her recipes and I was hooked!  (Okay it was maybe 2 or 3 recipes but she is a lovely, down-to-earth writer!)  So now I am the proud owner of 3 cookbooks.  Fortunately, the banana bread recipe and the speedy seafood stew have more than paid for all three cookbooks.

Before I share this tasty recipe, let’s move into gardening.  There are 10 ingredients in this recipe.  (I have adapted the recipe to include 2 more).  Of these 13 ingredients, it is possible to grow 5 of them here in the Pacific Northwest.  Isn’t that exciting.  A to die for fast, comfort food recipe and I can grow close to half of the ingredients.  Close to all of the rest are local!  It doesn’t get much better than that.  So let’s dish!  Here’s the recipe, with my adaptations and what you can grow:

Speedy Seafood Supper

Pinch saffron threads (Saffron comes from the stamens of the Saffron Crocus.  These crocus grow well in the Pacific Northwest.  You plant them now, they bloom in the fall and you harvest the stamens.  You need quite a few stamens.  I use far more than I can grow in a normal sized garden but, hell, I just like the fact that I can grow any saffron!)

1 cup boiled water

4 teaspoons garlic flavored oil (if you choose, you could substitute minced garlic in olive oil.  Or make your own garlic flavored oil. You can grow the garlic!)

6 scallions, thinly sliced (These are easy.  Growing onions that need thinning=scallions.  Or plant bunching onions from seed.)

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon ( tarragon is easily grown in our climate.  For the spiciest French tarragon, replant every year.)

1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

7 ounces diced tomatoes (these may be canned but how much better to use fresh tomatoes from your garden, seeded and finely chopped)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (I can’t grow that)

1 pound frozen mixed seafood (I use shrimp and a white fish like halibut or cod.  However, I have added clams in the shell.  You may substitute salmon-which is in the Big River version or calamari-which Nigella recommends.  It is really whatever you would like to eat.)

pepper, to taste

fresh herbs, to serve (optional)

I have adapted this recipe to include the following:

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (you can grow this!)

Red pepper flakes

(An author’s note:  I found the Nigella Lawson’s recipe to be less spicy than the fisherman’s stew at Big River, which had a spicy sausage in it. I looked at Cioppino recipes and discovered the addition of spicy salsa.  So I adapted a spicier version.  Initially I added red pepper flakes to pick up the heat.  When I discovered the Ciopppino version, rather than salsa, I simply added chopped jalapenos.  It is a matter of personal preference.  Try it without the heat first and adapt according to your taste.)

Next week I’ll discuss other bulbs to plant!

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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