Thursday, November 4, 2010

Constant Kale Salad

At this time last year we were doing the first winter C.S.A. distributions. Some people were thrilled to get sweet fall kale, and others grumbled, complaining that there was always more kale than anyone was interested in eating. Brussels were a contested item, too, but there were more than a few converts when members shared a recipe for roasting them with a touch of maple syrup.

I get this and I don't. I love kale every which way and every day, and eat it straight off the plant. But I understand, too. I don't love broccoli rabe as much as the rest of the world, so get that some bitters need just the right ingredients combined with them to be palatable for some.

My latest favorite way to eat kale is a combination of two other kale recipes I love, one lightly cooked with pine nuts and cranberries, and one raw with lemon, garlic, and agave (like they serve at Bonobo's).

My new fave is raw, fast, and skips the agave. I often skip the garlic, too. It tastes delicious, looks absolutely beautiful, and is one of those foods that makes you feel invigorated rather than putting you to sleep. Make it with purple kale for special occasions!

Raw Lemon Kale Salad
  • Two bunches of curly kale
  • One lemon
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 seriously tiny clove of garlic
Remove the kale leaf spines, and slice the leaves into narrow ribbons. Bruise the leaves by squeezing handfuls. Do this until the bulk of the kale reduces by half. Mince the garlic and mix it with the juice of the lemon, the oil, and the cranberries. Stir into the kale (well) and let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least fifteen minutes. Tastes best served at room temperature.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kimchi Pancakes

Yup, that there is vegetarian kimchi with a clever emphasis on ginger and fresh chilies, and garlic downplayed.
It's much like having to finish meals as a kid because of starving kids in China: you really ought to be enjoying lots of kimchi because people in South Korea are freaking out over their shortage.
As promised at our kimchi shindig, we'll be posting a bunch of great recipes here that use kimchi. (If you're making your own kimchi, there are a zillion recipes available for that, too.)

Let's start with KIMCHI PANCAKES, adapted from the NYT.

for the pankcake:
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c potato starch
  • 1 mashed potato with 1 t flax meal folded in
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long pieces
  • 1 1/2 T garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 T Korean red pepper powder or 1/2 T cayenne
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c prepared cabbage kimchi, cut in 3-inch-long pieces
  • 2 T kimchi juice
  • 6 T vegetable oil

for the dipping sauce:
  • 1 T tamari
  • 1/4 t sesame oil
  • 1/4 t vinegar
  • 1/4 t minced scallion
  • 1/4 t ground sesame seeds
1. Make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, scallion, sesame seeds and one-half tablespoon water. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, potato starch and mashed potato until smooth. Add scallions, garlic, red pepper powder, salt, kimchi and its juice. Mix well. Batter will be pale pink.

3. Place an 8- or 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. When oil is hot, pour in one-third of the pancake batter. Fry until golden and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Lift pancake with a spatula, add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl it. Flip pancake and fry other side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again, without adding oil, and fry for 1 minute. Flip one more time and fry 1 to 2 minutes. Pancake should be dark gold.

4. Repeat with remaining batter and oil, making 3 pancakes. Remove to a large round plate and cut each pancake into 6 wedges. Serve with dipping sauce.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kimchi Fest

Our kimchi always causes a fuss at the market. Sometimes that means people stomping and hollering over the heat, groups of Koreans excited to find a familiar flavor, people yelling at us for not warning them properly about the spice level before they taste, and vegetarians excited to finally find a fish-free version of this beloved food (it usually contains anchovies and fish sauce). Besides the spice and ferment phobic few, most people are incredibly happy to find kimchi at the market, even if it is made by a white girl. We're often scolded for not making enough of the stuff.

The main ingredient, nappa cabbage, is in shortage this year in Asia, but growing in abundance in the Hudson Valley. There should be a ton of kimchi as well! At market, after the sweating and yipping are past, and as people are tucking jars of kimchi into their bags, they often ask for ways to serve it.

And so Kimchi Fest is born. We've made three times the amount of kimchi we usually do, and will be cooking up some sample ways to eat it. These may include kimchi pancakes, kimchi guacamole, kimchi soup, and more. Come try this treasured Korean staple for yourself.

Growing Brazil

Here are a few photos taken in the spring of this year of various farming methods in the Northeast of Brazil. I guess I saved them to look at again on a chilly day.

Banana, coconut, and mango trees in a valley, Areia, Paraíba, Brasil.

Raised garden bed using plastic bottles, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Tiered hillside farm, in the countryside in Pernambuco, Brasil.

Sugarcane fields with small patches of jungle still visible on the hilltops. near Tamandare.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Season

frozen peaches
This time last year was a flurry of activity in preparation for the winter C.S.A. We'd been working hard since March, but the first touch of cold kicked us in the pants and made us very aware that we had limited time to prepare and store food for all our member families. This winter, the C.S.A. won't be operating, but all that means is that people who've had a taste of what it's like to eat local food through the winter need to take a few steps to make that happen. Saving food for a bunch of families is a challenge, but it's really not that hard to do it for just one.

I recently led a fermentation workshop with the Putnam County Holistic Moms, which was great fun, and we also had a discussion about easy things to do to extend the harvest. Cold mornings may make you think the growing season's all over, aside from a winter squash or two, but that's far from the truth. Here are some quick (and incomplete) lists I shared with the mothers:
Top 10 Tips to eat local year-round
  1. Befriend your freezer.
  2. Rig up your own root cellar.
  3. Cover your crops.
  4. Dehydrate.
  5. Learn about wild food.
  6. Plant edible perennials.
  7. Ferment.
  8. Can like granny.
  9. Sprout.
  10. Plant in sunny windows.
There's nothing complicated in that list, and detailed information online about all of it. Type "solar dehydrate onions" (for example) into search and you've got everything you need.

If you're thinking you're done in the garden and that its time to sit by the fire with soup, you're wrong! (Save that for January.) For now, there's work to be done.

September has passed, but I'm including some Sept. chores because there are some that still apply:
  • Freeze & can peaches
  • Freeze raspberries
  • Freeze red peppers
  • Freeze zucchini
  • Freeze greens
  • Dehydrate tomatoes
  • Dehydrate beans
  • Make hot pepper sauce (I'm doing this today!)
  • Ferment everything
  • Can pears and apples
  • Freeze cooked squash & pumpkin
  • Dehydrate herbs
  • Freeze pesto
  • Freeze greens
  • Peel & dry black walnuts
  • Eat pawpaws & kiwis (they'll make you feel like you're in the tropics)
  • Pickle wild grape leaves
  • Ferment everything
  • Cover garden
  • Make sauerkraut
  • Root cellar apples
  • Root cellar potatoes
  • Freeze greens
  • Root cellar turnips, radishes, etc.
  • Move mushroom logs to basement
  • Ferment everything
  • Root cellar carrots
  • Eat last covered garden vegetables
  • Prune perennials
  • Can fancy, time-consuming recipes with frozen produce
  • Visit winter farm markets
  • Ferment everything
If, like me, you find yourself with a gazillion berries or apples or tomatoes all at one time, preserving makes great sense. Nothing goes to waste, and with a little effort now, winter is far, far tastier.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Brooklyn Figs

After the demise of my own fig tree, I thank the goddesses that I spend time in Italian Brooklyn neighborhoods. There, though there is a chill, I am still enjoying figs off the trees.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodbye, Huguenot Street Farm

After 12 years of veganic farming, this 76.5 acre farm and C.S.A. in New Paltz is for sale. There are a lot of interested buyers, but none, yet, that will carry on farming the land without animals. It'd be a fantastic farm school, a beautiful source for New York City's vegetarian restaurants, and, of course, a great veganic C.S.A. If you know anyone interested and able, get in touch with the Khoslas, who are willing to give a deal to someone with plans that honor the land's history. Only contact the sellers with serious inquiries, please.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Freezer Pickles Demystified

Conceptually, I've been weirded out by the freezer pickle. Pickles are fermented, or soaked in fermented products (vinegar), and freezers put a stop to fermentation. Great pickles are crunchy, and freezers can make watery veggies, like cucumbers, mushy by bursting their cell walls. A useful thing about pickles is that they can be stored at room temperature, therefore not using any energy. Freezers are all about energy.

So what is the deal with freezer pickles?

I picked a week where I was beyond busy to investigate. That turned out to be okay, because let me tell you the secret of why people make freezer pickles: it's the fastest, simplest way.

There are limitations, of course. There will never be a freezer nuka pickle. There will never be a deeply fermented spicy garlic dill, with all those naturally occurring probiotic bacterias that feel so great in your belly and have such great flavor.

But if you're a fan of bread & butter style pickles, or super crisp pickle chips, or sour flavors, the freezer isn't a bad way to go.

Again, here I tread in dangerous waters that show my lack of understanding of chemistry & other high school sciences, but, sugar & vinegar are necessary ingredients. The sugar keeps the cucumbers extremely crisp, and the vinegar keeps the cukes from freezing all the way. Where the freezing air comes in is this: it expands the cells enough to let the flavor of the vinegar & spices in, fast. Then the vinegar goes on duty, keeping the hard freeze at bay, and keeping the texture from going mushy.

If you've read this far, you've spent more time reading than it takes to make freezer pickles. I had a mental block against this pickling method, but I have to say, freezer pickles are sour and sweet supercrunch satisfaction.
Simplest Freezer Pickle Recipe Ever
  • 8 c small cucumbers, cleaned & trimmed
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 T coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c white vinegar
  • 1 T whole celery seeds
  • 1 T whole mustard seeds

Place cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and stir to mix. Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature. (I'm a pickler, and solidly believe in this step. Still, mine only had time to sit for about 15 minutes.)

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seeds and mustard seeds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then pour over the cucumbers in the bowl. Stir well, let cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours (more or less), stirring occasionally. (I skipped the refrigeration altogether.)

Transfer to individual freezer containers or zipper-top bags and freeze for a minimum of 24 hours. Defrost and eat, anytime.
I was a bit aghast, but my freezer pickles, from a simple recipe where I'd cut corners even further, got raves.

Cabbie Gardens

Big, yellow blossoms drew my attention to a plant at the Beacon train station recently. It's sort of miraculous for me to notice anything at the train station, since I'm there not-yet-awake in the very early morning, and dog tired after dark. So let's just say they were bright, miraculous blooms.

I kept watching this particular plant, and grew more interested when it became clear that it was a) a cantaloupe; and b) thriving. I had designs on one of the huge fruits I saw growing there, but realized it must belong to someone: someone must be tending it. That was confirmed when the biggest of the fruits was one day intentionally "hidden" by a clump of dead grass.

I had a chat with Raphael of Raphael Taxi this morning. You see, this particular plant is right by where all the cabbies line up to vie for fares when travelers get off the train. Yup, this plant (and the several others Raphael pointed out to me) are planted and nurtured by the cab drivers. They're particularly proud of that watermelon sized fruit that caught my eye.

It's exciting to see that people all over Beacon are claiming unused space to grow food!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Basil Lillet Cocktail

Because summer is so ridiculously short, this year I've been making an effort to live it up while it lasts. This past weekend that meant lighting luminarias in the yard and making basil cocktails to drink with friends. The recipe is for one serving, which makes no sense, so go ahead and triple it right off for a blender-full. Thanks for one last taste of summer via pretty green drinks, Martha.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Officially Salsa Season

The glut that was cucumbers and squash is now tomatoes and peppers and peaches and eggplants. Cherry tomatoes are literally dripping off the plants, and cayenne bushes look like Christmas decor. I feel like a [nonviolent] pilgrim I'm so grateful for the excess of the nightshade season. Its excess and its fleeting nature are both great arguments for employing some basic preservation methods. Along with fermenting, canning, oil pickling, and dehydrating, though, it's great to revel in the fresh stuff.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simple Dimple

I like being up early in the mornings, before anyone else is stirring. I like to be in the garden while all the neighbors are still quiet, wandering and looking, in slow-mo, while things are still simple, and before my brains get going.

A great thing about late summer is getting to eat food that tastes much like those first morning moments: cucumber and tomato slices with a little bit of olive oil, pepper and salt; boiled whole potatoes and carrots with a spot of pesto; a crispy red pepper rolled into a tortilla; piles of peaches or pears or plums; raw ears of corn. They are exactly what they are, full, large flavors, even, but not complicated. No work for this food, no thought at all, and it's perfect anyway.

Are those paws not the loveliest?
Sure, I get excited to make new, funny recipes like jello with rosé wine (with non-animal gelatin, of course). I get excited by learning there are more flowers I can use in food preps, like forsythia. And I really enjoy prepping for winter eating by putting up some of the great farm foods we're enjoying right now.

It's also nice when things come easy, take no thought, and are better than you could have ever dreamed. Like a cherry tomato in August.

Slime & Broth

Regardless of the weird cool spell, it's the time of year that long-growing produce becomes available, and a very good reason, in my book, to turn to Vegan Soul Kitchen for some inspiration. When I look at what I've got (okra, watermelon, corn corn corn, the most delicious tomatoes), I know Bryant Terry is the right guy to figure out my next meal. And it's working out between he and I: he's not afraid of spice, of a sweet tooth, a foofy cocktail, or even of extreme simplicity.

When I read the "recipe" for sweet corn broth, essentially cobs with the corn cut off for other purposes, boiled in water with a dash of salt, I thought it might be too zen for me, but I did end up sipping some corn broth eventually, and I found it to be quite nice for those times that you want a little something but aren't full on hungry. (Since then, I've come to the realization that I might be a real broth/infusion fan, having sipped mint water, ginger water, pickle brine, bean broth and the like in just a handful of days. Oh miso, oh mushroom broth and seawood broth, oh oh oh.) And I'm not one of those wilting in the heat kinda gals who can barely lift her head for a sip of broth. I love summer heat, and I love food, but these simple (watery) foods are somehow extremely satisfying.

Broths aside for the moment, here's my favorite dish of August so far: lemon jalapeno okra. Terry mentions that he's a slime-phobe, and approaches okra carefully. I've never had a problem with the slikity-slime, but when I once complemented a chef on the best okra I'd ever eaten, he assumed I had the slime block, and shared his secret from Caribbean cooking: citrus kills the slime.

Have at it!

Lemon Jalapeno Okra

- 1 lb fresh, small okra pods, cut in quarters lenthwise
- 1 diced jalapeno
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

I don't fry a lot, mostly because I hate cleaning up spatter, but this crispy okra is worth it. Throw everything in a pan and fry it until crispy! I start with half of the oil and half of the lemon, add the rest of the oil when the pan gets dry, and use the last half of the lemon in the last minute of cooking.

And, before August is through, can, dehydrate, and freeze some things, would ya? It's tempting to laze about in a hammock, but those of us who want good food from around here through winter need to get to work!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Turning on the Oven in Summer

It's a transition day! When you try to eat with the seasons, the year becomes a series of phases: when you first get to eat wild weeds in the spring, the first blossoms on your veggie plants, the first ripe berries, the first fresh pesto, the first flower you pop into your mouth, the first bulb of garlic, the first pepper that turns red, the first watermelon, the first pumpkin, the first freeze, the first food out of the root cellar, the first window sill greens, and back around. To me, everything tastes new each time, like a revelation.

Today, this last day before August and after many meals of summer squash, we have produce we've been waiting for: tomatoes, eggplant, and corn. (That came out sounding like I don't marvel at the arrival of summer squash, which I do.) Surprisingly, it was also cool this morning (in the fifties!), so after I threw a peach raspberry tart in the oven to warm my shivering self, I got to work on roasting a batch of eggplants for baba ghannouj.

While everything was in the oven, I marveled for the umpteenth time about how The Joy of Cooking is not the mayonnaise-y casserole-y tome I sometimes think of it as. A re-read of the "Condiments, Marinades & Dry Rubs" section alone shows it's reach: Georgian garlic and walnut sauce, picada, harissa, chutneys, flavored oils, sambal, mojo, curry pastes, and recipes for ketchups that actually taste good—unlike those we're familiar with eating out of squeeze bottles.

I heartily welcome August with baba ghannouj, bruschetta, and pickled corn rounds.
Smoky Baba Ghannouj Recipe
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • 10-12 Chinese eggplants
  • 1 1/2 T tahini
  • 2 T sesame oil that's gathered on top of tahini paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 3 small lemons
  • 3/4 t smoked sea salt
Pierce eggplants and oven roast in a pan with a little water and little vegetable oil, approximately 45 minutes. Eggplants should be soft, and the flesh should separate from the skin relatively easily. Let cool, then scrape flesh into food processor, composting stems and skins. Yes, you can keep the seeds in. Add all other ingredients and pulse until smooth.
Now, to find a source for good local bread . . . .

Friday, July 30, 2010

Was Away

and now back....

Monday, July 19, 2010


I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a great gardener. Still, growing dill shouldn't be difficult. My dill plants stay small, droop, and certainly never volunteer. This is a sad thing for a pickle maker. I'm plush with grape leaves from all the wild grape vines in the area. (Grape leaves keep cucumbers crunchy while pickling, especially in warm weather.) I'm okay with garlic, too. But great quantities of dill have been elusive.

So what happened this weekend is a great thing: I set up a dill barter.  I met a farmer who has lots of dill that grows perennially, like a weed, and the plants are more than five feet tall. In fact, he has too much dill, since it's spreading and taking over a bit. Both he and I think that a big jar of pickles for a load of unruly dill is a great trade.

Some things grow fantastically without any help from me. Take this plant that shot up amongst weeds in a neglected spot: it was eight feet tall before I noticed it. Now it's about ten feet tall, and it has a sibling coming up about twenty feet away. I'm not familiar with this plant—are you? For a minute I thought it's jagged, five-fingered leaves might be hemp, but a quick plant ID ruled that out. (Yeah, you can laugh at my naivete here.) Hemp's leaves have long, witch fingers, whereas this plant's leaves are more like paws, like classic maple leaves. And they're huge. One leaf is nearly a foot across.

If you know, help me out!

And, on a totally unrelated note, it's the time of year where I'm in awe every single day over hydrangeas. They're so plush and over the top!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mary with Pickles

I ran into my friend Karen in the NYTimes the other day. She was in a video making bloody marys which was funny, because I'd just been making bloody mary mix with pickle brine. I don't see Karen that often, because she's always working—that's what happens when you're the manager at a schmancy restaurant, in this case one that has an extensive bloody mary menu. She reminded me how good pickles go with bloody marys, and the most important takeaway: don't forget the fresh lemon. Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Air & Water

For years, we've been feeling naive about having bought our house: a too-big fixer-upper that we'll never have the money or skills to fix up. It wasn't in the neighborhood we wanted, we thought it was ugly and run down with too many weird small rooms, and the yard a steep triangle, but, and that's a big but, it has three porches.* There's one glass porch with old paned windows, one screened porch that feels like a treehouse, and a huge open wraparound porch.

It's this third porch that is lately making the house feel like a genius move. It's been beautiful, with views of the mountains and lots of moving air and lots of cats. We've sat on the porch to watch the World Cup, to work, to eat meals, and to watch the moon rise. Getting to be on the porch during all the summer rainstorms has definitely been the kicker.

The old crumbling porch has proven to be more satisfying than the not so old, falling apart pool. Excuse me while I get back to patching.

*and a rootcellar!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pictorial Tutorial

For my friend who wants cool summer rolls all the time, has the recipe, and still won't make them. LOOK, it's easy.

Everything won't always be perfect, if you're just learning to roll, for example, or if you stray from your regular brand of wrappers. But choose ingredients you like, and they'll taste great regardless. These were made late at night when I was exhausted, wrappers crumbling, and without perfect ingredients. They weren't beautiful, but we were really glad we had them to nibble on for the next couple of days.

Rice noodles, rice wrappers, veggies, and herbs equal multiple tasty lunches, done cheap and easy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Drinking and Smoking

I get obsessed with things that I can't explain.

One current obsession is smoked flavor, as in, smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked chipotles. Besides the chilies, I don't yet know how to use these flavors well, but am experimenting a lot.

The other thing that's come out of the blue is wanting to infuse vodka.

Now, I'm not a big drinker. When I do have a drink, vodka isn't usually my choice. I prefer old tequilas, rich ouzos, varieties of cachaça, and drinks that are like meals, such as rich dark beers with chili powder, salt and lime, or thick spicy bloody marias with tons of celery. But lately I want to see veggies, herbs, spices, and fruits floating in jars of vodka so that I can experiment with the outcomes.

I guess it's not entirely out of the blue: I've always liked a pretty cocktail, with frozen currants in place of ice, or with the lip of the glass spiced, or with a couple of raspberries muddled in for color. And, I've always loved seeing preserved things floating in liquid, which explains why I enjoy both fermentation and the Mütter Museum.

My first infused vodka experiment with be with these tiny local plums. They're sweet and tart and colorful, and so far haven't made it any further than getting popped in my mouth whole, making me smack like a horse in Brazil eating mangos.

Do you have any experience making infused liquor with homegrown ingredients?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Some weeds are tastier than others, and the lemon crunch of purslane makes it really desirable to eat. Yeah, yeah, it's great for you and all that (more Omega 3s than any other land plant), and free and growing in the cracks of your sidewalk, but its flavor makes it one of those plants that makes you wonder why you haven't always been eating it.

Purslane is a succulent, like a jade plant or aloe or cactus. It's the kind of plant they tell Southern Californians to plant close to their house to help save it from wildfires. Succulents store a large amount of liquid in their leaves, or their stems or roots. The liquid in purslane can be used as a thickener in soups, similar to okra.

But the tastiest use of purslane by far is raw, in salads, or added after cooking, and the leaves, flowers, and stems can all be eaten. Greeks and North Africans have made use of purslane the longest, so its no wonder that the majority of purslane recipes combine it with cucumbers, mint, parsley, or yogurt. Mexico uses this plant as their parsley (called verdolagas), adding it raw to cooked foods for crunch, color, and tang.

Here are two recipes that make good use of mid-summer produce:

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Purslane and Tomato
Gourmet | August 2002

  • 1 t finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T finely chopped shallot
  • 1/4 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing zucchini
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 3 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 zucchini (1 3/4 to 2 lb total), halved lengthwise
  • 12 oz purslane, thick stems removed (4 c)
  • 10 oz pear or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Prep Prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill. Make dressing: Whisk together zest, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until dressing is emulsified. Whisk in pepper and parsley. Grill zucchini: Lightly brush zucchini all over with oil. When fire is hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds), grill zucchini, cut sides down first, on lightly oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning once, until zucchini are just tender, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and cool slightly, then cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss zucchini with purslane, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

Chopped Arabic Salad
Gourmet | May 2004

  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 (1/2-lb) cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/3 c)
  • 1 lb tomatoes (3 medium), cut into 1/3-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 c finely chopped red onion (1 small) or 1 cup chopped scallions (about 5)
  • 1 c purslane leaves and flowers (break off with your hands rather than chopping to keep the visual appeal of the plant)
  • 1 c finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 1 large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
prep Cut peel, including all white pith, from lemon with a sharp paring knife. Working over a bowl, cut segments from half of lemon free from membranes and transfer segments to a cutting board, then squeeze juice from membranes and remaining 1/2 lemon into bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons juice to a large bowl, then finely chop segments and add to measured juice. Add salt, pepper, and oil, whisking to combine, then stir in remaining ingredients.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dilly Susan K.

My friend Susan died this week after a six year struggle with cancer. Being who I am (and not knowing yet what other memorial will take place), I made her dilly beans. Or rather, made them in her honor.

Beans are high on the best anti-cancer foods lists because they act as protease inhibitors. All dark red and purple foods appear on that list, too, because of their flavenoids. Susan was a photographer and had an eye for beautiful things, so purple beans seem right.

Note that the purple color will disappear into the hot vinegar, turning the vinegar dark, but leaving the beans green.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pelé & Pickles

I've been a bit distracted from the food business, what with all the soccer and kittens and the dyke marches and hot days that require dipping in lakes, streams, baby pools, and oceans.

Yes, we've trapped some kittens at the Beacon train station that need homes, so if you know anybody interested and responsible, please have them email The three we've caught so far are all boys, all super playful and sweet.

One of the rescued kittens we're trying to find a home for got named Pelé. I was obsessed with Pelé as a kid, since my #1 soccer team was green and I was #10. Alas, I wasn't great at the sport. (I was obsessed with Muhammad Ali, too, but never inspired to take up boxing.) I'm not much of a sports follower, since I think they're much nicer to participate in than to watch on tv, but the World Cup is an exception. I was proud to be sitting under a magazine cover of Pelé while watching Ghana knock out the U.S. Thank goodness we had vuvuzelas, because we would have otherwise been unheard in that sweaty little bar of people chanting "U.S.A.". Rooting for other countries elicits funny responses from people: the Brazil flag hung outside our house got our neighbor to immediately put our her U.S. flag. She's not interested in soccer, only patriotism.
wintergreens is struggling to figure out its future (it's cool to be transparent about this, right?), since running a food biz or org these days is challenging. Other handmade food biz people talk about how amazingly time-consuming and expensive it is to do, and it's true, it is. It's outrageous! I shouldn't have, but I bought a huge watermelon this weekend that, of course, was shipped from far south, since our watermelons won't be ripe for a long time. All that shipping and handling, and all the effort to grow that melon, and it only cost $2.99. And it's one of those creepy seedless kind, so you can't even save the seeds to plant next year. How are small food producers to deal with this? It's hard for me to resist my frugal impulses, even, with all the information about food systems I have, and while in the middle of a struggle to promote food-done-right. Exhibit A: cheapo seedless watermelon from far away.

I looked at the wares of Brooklyn pickle makers Brooklyn Brine and McClure's in Whole Foods in the city. I support what they're doing, but would I have to can or vaccuum pack my pickles (kill off half of their good qualities) and sell them for $11 a jar to make it? To many, that price tag would be laughable.
Thinking about all this is a bummer. And I read this dumpster diver's blog and think that if I were truly brave I'd cut out some of my (personal, not business) costs this way. Back in college, when Dunkin Donuts instructed their employees to dump bleach on the donuts they threw away so that the homeless people wouldn't eat them, my friend invited all the neighborhood homeless people to the shop an hour before closing, gave them all the donuts, and served free coffee. She was fired, so her good deed and hard work doing outreach went unrewarded. How do you make good work rewarding enough that you get to continue it?

So let's just say I've been happy to be in kitten land and soccer land, and plot how and when I'll get to the beach. I have to get back to work though, so help me find these kitties homes, and send your hot tips for how to survive in the handmade food business.

I promise, new recipes, tales of prison food, and much more coming soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

" '10 was a good year...."

If kombucha tastings worked like wine tastings, that's what the sniffers and swirlers would be saying about wintergreens' lastest bottles of kombucha. These are (left to right) bilberry, lemon ginger, and elderberry, and they taste fantastic.

We can't get local sugar or tea leaves, but we can use local flavorings, so watch out for forthcoming flavors: currant, mulberry, wild blackberry, rasberry, pear, lilac, and juneberry.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fresh Peas & a Home Haircut

A shrink I had many years ago told me I self-medicated by eating enormous amounts of peas.

I don't know if she was referring to all the sugar or if peas have some other magical happiness-boosting component. I can say that squatting and picking peas for hours this morning under the big sky felt great, and that I did consume at least a pound between the time spent picking and the trip home.

I gave myself a haircut this morning, too, which also makes me happy. When people cut their own hair in movies they're usually experiencing a break. Think Jodie Foster in The Accused or Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. Actually, didn't that gorgeous actress playing crazy in Betty Blue chop her hair, too? Since I cut my own hair often, I'd like to think that my chops are not the result of trauma, instead, just plain cathartic. To me, it feels much like tidying up the kitchen. Clean, fresh, ready for anything.