Monday, April 13, 2009

Gleaning, take #1

A few evenings ago Adele and I prepared hors d'oeuvres for an environmental lecture at the school where we work. Our goal was to show that without intensive labor we could offer a variety of healthy snacks for a very low cost (we spent under $50). We ultimately prepared three bowls of different flavored hummus (cilantro & cumin; tomato & basil; garlic, lemon & pepper) with whole wheat crackers and carrot and celery sticks, as well as three different types of beer bread that we cut into toothpickable, bite-sized morsels. About fifty people turned up for the lecture by green architect Bill Reed, and afterwards students swarmed into the lobby to devour the snacks. Though Adele and I had initially worried that the food would run out, there were plenty of leftovers after the students had gorged on the beer bread (it sounds naughty, but it ain't) and grazed guiltlessly on the veggies and hummus (plural: hummii?). At home, we assembled the leftovers and realized that we had to do something with the several dozen celery sticks and a handful of carrot sticks that hadn't been eaten. Eating them raw seemed out of the question: gleaning to prevent waste is one thing, but eating something that's been out in the open air and picked over by a bunch of people is another. The obvious solution was thus to boil them down and make a cream of celery soup.

The ingredients are pretty basic: celery, which you see boiling here in just enough salted water to cover (the carrots are undercover...), and some chopped onion and minced garlic, which you see sauteeing in a pat of butter.

When the celery is so soft it turns to mush under the slightest touch, throw it in a food processor with the water, the onions and garlic, and process until smooth. Pour some cream into the pot the celery was just in and heat it up for a few minutes. Add the cream to the celery through the feed tube and process again for a few minutes. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve piping hot topped with a bit of dill weed for color and some fresh, hot biscuits. The ones you see here are Sister Esther Perkins' recipe from Shaker your plate: of Shaker Cooks and Cooking which I modified by replacing half the flour for almond meal.

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