I grew up in a family of self-proclaimed “foodies.” They watch cooking shows, read cookbooks for fun, and eat like it’s their job. My mother is an incredible cook, and her talent seems to have been handed down to each of my siblings in a different way.
One of my brothers is a master chef just like my mother, and mixes delightful combinations of flavors. My other brother would have salad for every meal if he had his way, but then he’ll cook up a flaming bananas foster just for fun. My brothers have a standing contest to outdo the other’s steak rubs, salad dressings and cocktail sauce recipes. My sister eats dairy- and gluten-free, and brilliantly folds nutrient-packed ingredients into veg recipes.
For years I seemed to be the only one who didn’t have a place in the kitchen. I would help out my mother if she asked, but my cooking prowess paled in comparison to my brothers’, the chemists, and my sister’s, the nutritionist. But then one day I woke up and discovered that I had become the family food anthropologist.
My food sensitivities required me to know all of the components of my meal, and I became fascinated with reading and researching food. I wanted to know how something was made and what was in it, and then I wanted to know where those ingredients came from and what they were about. I began to understand the characteristics of an ingredient, like flavor and texture, and I realized that was all I needed to cook with it. That’s what cooking is: understanding the ingredients you’ve got and figuring out how to put them together. I still feel daunted in the kitchen sometimes, and I call my more experienced foodie family all the time for help. I’ll call my brother before I’ll search Google for a recipe.
My body doesn’t digest meat well, so I try to keep a pescetarian diet. My mother often tells this anecdote from my childhood that I find delightful: once when I was five or six years old, we were sitting down at the dinner table and my mother had just served dessert. I was allowed to have dessert because I was a member of the “clean plate club,” having eaten all of the fish and vegetables on my dinner plate. After a couple spoonfuls of ice cream, I looked across the table and said, “Mommy, this tastes good, but what I really want is more orange roughy.” My mother laughed and served me another helping of fish. I guess even as a kid I knew what worked for me.
Living in New England is perfect for a pescetarian diet, and the meal I made this week features scallops from Jordan Brothers Seafood in Brockton, MA. They fish right off the coast of Massachusetts all year round, and they have a table at the Natick Farmers Market. This past week kicked off the summer market, so the vendors are now outside on the Natick Common. Be sure to get there early because everything sells out quickly!
Scallops and Asparagus with Potato and Beet Hash
Makes four servings
Total time: 35 minutes
In my basket:
3 medium yellow Potatoes (from Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm, Millis MA)
3 large red Beets (from Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm, Millis MA)
1 bunch of asparagus (from Freitas Farms, Middleborough MA)
1 lb fresh Scallops (from Jordan Brothers Seafood, Brockton MA)
From the pantry:
5 tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic
Salt and pepper
- Wash all of the fresh ingredients. Small dice the beets and potatoes. Snap the hard ends off the stalks of asparagus. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper.
- Heat large non-stick pan over medium high until hot, add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add 3 cloves of garlic when the oil starts to sizzle, cook for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and beets, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving dish when done.
- While the potatoes and beets cook, heat olive oil in another non-stick pan over medium-high until hot. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, then add 1 clove of garlic when oil starts to sizzle. Add asparagus, cook for 3-4 minutes or until asparagus is bright green. Transfer to a serving dish when done.
- While the potatoes and beets continue to cook, heat remaining olive oil in the pan used to cook the asparagus. Add scallops in a single layer; cook 4 minutes per side until golden brown and opaque all the way through.
- Serve scallops immediately with the asparagus and hash. Enjoy!
Alice Kathryn Richardson is a new media photojournalist based in Boston, MA. She created The Clean Food Club in 2016, and previously spent two years working on Deserts in the District, a series of short-form documentaries exploring food access and hunger in Washington, DC. She is committed to supporting local and sustainable food businesses by telling their stories with photo and video. Follow her on Twitter @AKR_Pictures.