Nobody loves a swim more than Theo. He happily spends his entire day in The Bay. We recently celebrated the first long weekend of the summer; Victoria Day. This annual holiday feels like the launch of summer. The air is warm and fragrant with fresh blooms, and The Bay calls for a swim.
It seems these days that one of life’s big questions is “to go organic or not to go organic?” Is this a trend? Is it part of the current inclination toward artisanal living, and the “locally grown” movement? Does this big question deserve careful consideration? Does the world really need another voice adding to the conversation?
I’ve been giving this debate a lot of thought lately, and one thing that comes to mind is my late grandmother’s perspective on food during the last decade of her life. You see, she loved food, and she was utterly convinced that “nothing tastes like food anymore”. We weren’t sure if it was her age: nostalgia mixed with overly romanticized memories of days gone by.
But, I have come to believe that she was absolutely right: food does not taste the same. Meaning, organic produce, poultry and beef taste very different, and far better, than anything that’s been grown (or raised) with pesticides, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics.
For example, fresh naturally grown garlic tastes incredible: an explosion of flavour. The taste of organic garlic is a lot like watching the sunset over Georgian Bay in July, versus merely looking at a picture of the same sunset. Store bought garlic is like the picture of that sunset. The powerful flavour of organic garlic is the difference between tasting garlic, and merely looking at a picture of garlic.
Our dear friend provides us with the most exquisite, delicious, naturally grown olive oil. Her family in Greece grow the olives and press the oil, and we’re lucky enough to get some of the harvest every spring. The taste is divine! Here’s an interesting fact to ponder: Theo loves the olive oil from Greece, but he will not eat olive oil bought off of a shelf in the store. He has a very discerning palate!
Hence, we recently embarked on what began as an experiment, and is now a way of life. Every Thursday I look forward to our evening delivery of organic produce. Also, for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on, we feel so much more grateful for the food … each piece of fruit and each vegetable is just so much more beautiful; so much more special.
Each piece is unique. It might be a bit lopsided; it has it’s own individuality … it’s own character. It has occurred to me that things found in nature are not supposed to be identical, like the perfect spheres of hothouse tomatoes. Allowed to grow naturally, tomatoes are never quite the same shape or size.
And then there’s genetically modified food. “Non-GMO” is popping up everywhere. Doesn’t anything genetically modified seem to bear the potential to go very wrong? “Genetically modified” just doesn’t sound right at all … so enough said on that topic.
So, for us, the answer to the big question is yes, eat naturally grown food whenever possible. Organic produce just tastes better. It’s as simple as that. And I’m sure my grandmother would agree. Quality wins over quantity in our kitchen. The best ingredients taste better, and make every dish taste better too. I’m also pretty sure that they’re packed with more nutrients as well.
My grandmother would have told me that this is not a special debate whatsoever. She would wonder what all the fuss is about, as she simply felt that people should eat naturally grown, delicious food. After all, isn’t that what she did for most of her life, without thinking there was anything special or ‘lifestyle choice’ about it?
So, on to today’s recipe for Cawaja Cooks. We had a lovely beef curry lately. I used to make curry from a jar, and that’s still a delicious option. But when I’m willing to fuss, making it from scratch really does kick it up a notch. And you can be sure it contains plenty of organic garlic. Enjoy!
1 large flank steak (or other cut of beef that you prefer)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 yellow onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
small bunch of fresh cilantro
a pinch or so of chili flakes (to your liking)
2 – 3 cups of water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
3 or 4 small tomatoes, chopped
Cook the flank steak to your liking. We prefer to BBQ it, but when that isn’t an option, we sear it in a cast iron skillet. To prepare the curry sauce, in a large cast iron pan over medium heat, dry roast the onions, stirring often, until the edges are brown and start to curl. This takes about 6 – 8 minutes. Add ½ cup of water, scrape the onions and liquid into a small food processor with the garlic, ginger, cilantro, chili flakes, and a couple pinches of salt. Puree into a paste. Using the same pan heat the olive oil (on low heat). Fry the paste until brown, stirring frequently (about 5 minutes). Add the ground spices, cinnamon stick, garam masala, turmeric, cardamom and cook for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes, the remaining water and stir well. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about half an hour or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Add the cubed beef to the sauce and stir. Serve with basmati rice, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Add your favourite vegetable side and enjoy the feast!