‘Tis that time of year! Hodgepodge time!
Now, my modest little garden hasn’t produced enough peas and beans to make hodgepodge. And the potatoes are just in blossom (though I’m sure there’s wee potatoes beneath those towering stalks!)
Thankfully, there’s lots of fantastic farm markets in the Annapolis Valley. All the early vegetables are on the shelves: little hodgepodge potatoes, peas, green beans, and slim carrots.
How does one go about making hodgepodge?
Start with the vegetables. Shell the peas. Snip the ends off the string beans. Brush the dirt off the carrots before cutting off the ends. Scrub the little potatoes until the loose flakes of skin are gone. If you have older potatoes, you may have to peel them. Otherwise, leave the new skins on.
Boil in water with a smidgen of salt. This means all the vegetables in one pot (because you seriously don’t want to wash four pots.)
Once your vegetables are cooked, drain the water from the vegetables. Then you have several options depending on your cardiac health and milk fat tolerance.
I prefer to make my sauce with half skim milk, half blend. Don’t forget to add a bit of butter to make the sauce tasty. Again, depending on your taste for milk fat.
Some people are hardcore and make the sauce from whipping cream. I’m not a cardiologist, but you may want to consider other milk products to avoid what they call a myocardial infarction, aka heart attack.
I like my hodgepodge best in a lighter sauce. However, if you dig creamy sauce, you can always thicken your hodgepodge with a bit of flour or cornstarch, depending on what tickles your fancy.
Serve warm, preferably with fresh bread, biscuits, or buns. They sop up your cream sauce quite nicely when your vegetables are all gone.
Some people scoff at hodgepodge. However, it is a traditional dish here in Lunenburg County that always reminds me of the first vegetable harvest. For many rural people, it would have been the first taste of non-canned vegetables in half a year.
Hodgepodge is light and summery, just like the season. Plus, you get to eat a whole meal made of vegetables. And most of us need to get more of those.