NeverSeconds, food blogging, and summer bounty

I have an embarrassment of riches. Summer gardening and harvesting season is here in north Georgia, and the squash and figs are coming in! A friend gave me a bag of figs, and a bag of squash yesterday, and they are delicious! Blackberries and blueberries are coming, too. I am so blessed to live in abundant land, where not only is the food to be scooped up off the ground, (figs, blackberries, pecans), but talented and dedicated gardeners nurture their crops to such fullness. And thank goodness they are generous! Thank you one and all for the fresh local food!

See?! I told you they were huge!

One of the bounties yesterday was fresh pineapple that another friend shared with me. I have about a half dozen slices. Since the leeks turned out to be such a tasty surprise on the George Foreman Grill, I am going to grill the pineapple slices too.

I made a quinoa salad yesterday that was fantastic! I had cooked quinoa on hand from the last batch I’d cooked to use with the mustard greens. It is best to cook extra and use the stove only once. It saves on electricity and it saves from heating the kitchen up two times. It also helps the fridge with cooling. It is easier for a fridge to stay cool with more in it than if it is trying to cool empty air. The trick is always to use the extra so that is not wasted. It really hurts to see the food waste on Hell’s Kitchen.

I use red quinoa.

I had craisins on hand and also regular raisins. I plumped them in a steamer for a minute, and tossed them into the cooked quinoa. I added some crushed pecans and a seeded diced cucumber. I stirred in some mustard vinaigrette I’d had on hand. You can add any kind of dressing you like, or none, that is the beauty of quinoa. It holds its own and the craisins added a burst of flavor anyway. But I did add a tablespoon to hold it all together. It was a very, very good dish.

I also made a blackberry cobbler yesterday. Cobbler is soooo easy to make, even a person like me who hates to bake can do it.

This morning was a boiled egg on ciabatta bread. Now, usually artisan bread is too expensive for my budget, but this was reduced. It gets reduced because it has no preservatives (yay!) but it has a shorter shelf life. People around here don’t go for artisan bread so much, sticking with their tried and true biscuits and cornbread. So I scooped the loaf up.

Ciabatta bread

The thing is, it is a little hard. So naturally I toast it harder, and that way it can hold up a soft-boiled egg. Another good thing to do with hard bread is to toast it and put summer tomatoes/garlic/olive oil on top for a hearty bruschetta.

Speaking of food, I ran across a food blogger I really enjoy. She is nine years old! She lives in Scotland and started blogging about her school lunches, ‘dinners’ as they say over there. She had permission from her teachers, and each day she would take a photo of the lunch, describe it, and rate it. She also explained what other choices there were available and why she chose the one she did. She was incredibly fair minded, witty, factual, and charming. Her blog is called NeverSeconds.

For example, one day she wanted to know where the chicken in her fajita came from. “I know it comes from a hen. I just want to know where it lived.” One day she has sticky rice, commenting dryly that “it’s amazing that they stick together but not to my fork.” And noting that when eating peas and corn, “dropping is not popular” so she tried extra hard not to be messy.

As one student from the western US sent in her photo of her lunch, Martha noted that her lunch tray has more compartments. Kids!

As she received more notoriety she decided to use it to raise money for a school lunch program in a Third World country that feeds children, (Mary’s Meals) often the only meal they get that day. So she is also a generous kid.

Her name is Martha, nickname ‘veg’ and she started her blog in April. She raves about the soups, loves licking the frosting off the cupcakes, and generally is all around charming, She encourages children from around the world to also send in their photos of school lunch, which they did. Her blog turned out to be a viral hit, and received over two million views in two months. She got the notice of a UK celebrity chef, praising her for advocating for more fruits and salads, and was interviewed on radio and newspaper.

So of course the School Board banned her from taking any more photos. They shut down that kid so fast it made her head spin.

But thanks to twitter, other social media, and generally negative newspaper and radio publicity, the School Board recanted their ban, and will now allow Martha to food-blog school dinners again. Even the Scotland School Superintendent said that the local board was “daft” for censoring the girl. A famous UK crime author wrote in, too. “Ian Rankin, the best-selling crime author, tweeted to Argyll and Bute Council: “I spent yesterday trying to enthuse school pupils about creativity and the written word. So thanks a lot.”

He has a point. Martha is being creative, showing initiative, demonstrating generosity, honing her observation and writing skills, reaching out to other children (who hear a message from a peer better than an adult), causing positive change, and being a good role model. I can’t say the same for the adults in authority. I’m glad they recanted.

So thanks to the internet, one never knows where the next great food blogger will come in! I read all her entries this morning and they were a delight.

Something she said I agree with for myself: a reader wrote in to her saying how lucky she was to have lunches at school. She said, “They are right!” and it sparked her Mary’s Meals charitable initiative. I am also grateful to have access to so much fresh food. Thank you Lord for your provision. Whether it came from my paycheck, generous friends, or a bountiful yard, access to fresh, healthy food is something not to take for granted.

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