Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Please: DO Nibble a Nasturtium!

Strawberry bread, garlic potato salad, sesame couscous chicken salad, Mexican bean dip, and strawberry soup: these are some of the delicious treats women enjoyed earlier today at my table. No, I didn’t prepare a feast—all I did was agree to host a Simply In Season lunch.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, the Simply In Season Cookbook is a way to bring some excitement to the table. Many of the 18 women who attended our seasonal lunch for Spring say that SIS has made them cook and think about food in new ways. During introductions, the women talked about getting food from their gardens, from roadside produce stands and from farmer’s markets. One gal even confessed to eating some of the weeds she didn’t get around to pulling yet!

Karen G. operates an organic farm and has a passion for raising all kinds of food, including edible flowers. Because she doesn’t have room to host guests, I offered to hostess if she “organized” our SIS tasting party. She came prepared with bags of flowers for the girls who used them to make flower dolls on the porch. The women in the dining room took a quiz Karen had prepared. We examined three vases of leaves and flowers and tried to identify the mysterious greens. One bouquet of flowers was completely edible!

Although we were women of various ages and different stages in life, we were united by our love of good food and our enjoyment of local foods, sustainable and organic farming and gardening--and, of course, eating! Two guests were visiting local women. A friend from Dayton said someone near her compiled a list of roadside stands for exploring purposes. A resident of Virginia said she regularly finds fresh produce at a farmers’ market.

The amazing Simply In Season Cookbook was commissioned by Mennonite Central Committee and published by Herald Press. It already has many fans and it’s own personal blogspot at A site worth exploring, for sure. If you take time to read the quotes at the bottom of many recipe pages in SIS, your consciousness about food will be raised a notch or two. One family shares these writings at the dinner table and talks them over together to help the whole family learn about food issues. And, the upcoming SIS for Kids is looking for material, too. Pass the word (along with the strawberry bread!)

I have a feeling there will be more seasonal lunches in my dining room. In fact, Karen and I picked a tentative date on the August calendar for the next one. Between now and then there will be crops to grow and harvest, weeds to pull, and flowers to eat. But others will be left on display just for seeing and smelling. For the rest of this week, the three lovely bouquets from Karen’s garden will be a beautiful reminder of a memorable lunch.