[ vegetarian improvisational peasant fusion cuisine for the 22nd century ]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

cooking can be god: nash's farmshare oct 27th 2006

How many ways are there to divide 10 ingredients into 3 recipes? 4 recipes? 5? 10 ingredients into any number of recipes? A simple mathematical problem (email me your guesses, answer forthcoming...) but which of those divisions (each covering all 10 recipes) is the most beautiful, the most elegant? Why, the Perfect Division, of course. 10 being a perfect number -- naturally -- and a perfect number being -- naturally -- a one of those blessed numbers who are sums along the way, subtotals of your counting fingers. 1. 1+2. 1+2+3. 1+2+3+4. 1+2+3+4+5. You and the Idea understand one another, I presume.

So there we have 10. 1+2+3+4. And, combinatorial hijinkx aside, there you have a structural recipe (a guide in the echoing caverns of possibility) for your meal. Courses of increasing complexity, from the sole vegetable in your starting soup to the zazzy quartet of your finishing curry. Let freedom ring.

(1) curried carrot soup (1)

We're going to be using the oven a lot, for a lot of roasting a lot of vegetables. So the wise would do well to start it early (touching 400, if you will) and to leave it on. This oven affair is also part of the secret to preparing hot food: by the time everybody's eating they've been around the kitchen for long enough that they're no longer cold. This trick shares the same philosophical pedigree as the hidden truth that the true heating power of all that firewood you bought comes out in the chopping of it.

all your carrots
pinches of turmeric and ground coriander

a bit of sesame oil

half a thumb of ginger, minced
mustard seeds

another bit of sesame oil

optional cilantro for optional garnish

Give the carrots a rough dice and gentle rub with oil and then the spices. Oven the tray and roast the vegetables while you continue your preparations -- dicing other vegetables to roast afterwards. Remember, cooking is a mechanical science at times, and with mechanics, you always want to read All the directions before starting.

When the carrots are sweeter, juicier, and browner (tender but not soggy, maybe with the flirty hints of a Crispening), they're done. Sauté the mustard seeds in hot sesame oil -- when they sizzle and pop, add the ginger and continue to stir carefully with all your collected attention and will. The ginger golden, add half a liter of milk, soy milk, vegetable stock, thinned coconut milk, or water. Initial contention aside, you will have a smooth gingery broth steaming ahead of you. Before it thinks to boil, blend you carrots in a blender or robot, stealing the occasional ladle of Fluid from your soup pot when necessary. When the carrot is as smooth as the sailing, thin with a further ladle of Fluid and return the entire puree to the pot. A smooth creamy orange dominates your field of vision, marred with the intermittent mustard seed.

(2) triple warm beet salad (2)

This time, for variety, peel your beets. Admire their striped beauty. Dream of paisely. If you have three beets of equal size

- chop one into matchsticks

- chop one into circles, and each circle into quarter-circles (triangles)

- chop one into grated (hah. fooled you.)

Since this food comes from the Earth and the Far, you won't have three beets of equal size. Adjust accordingly, skimping on the grated if necessary. It's the most work, anyhow. The matchsticks get steamed until tender in the least water you can manage, and the grated ones get sautéed (for a flash, until the water stems off) in a bit of butter or olive oil, but the triangles get roasted so you should do them first.

Lovingly layer your serving dish with whole leaves of spinach and chop the another handful into thin strips. When all three beet styles are ready (only sauté the grated beets when the others approve, keep them covered in water until then), mix like the children of the great American Empire, incorporating thin spinach into fat city, giving it time to warm and to wilt. If you're flush with fall abundance crumble a young handful of the walnuts you candied this morning atop the melange and step back far enough so the shapes (four) and colors (three) and ingredients (2) and love (1) all come into focus. Meditate and Serve.

(3) triple pickle, stove-top style (3)

Late in the game and no chance for a healthy three-stage lactic acid ferment before dinner, your sauerkraut ambitions need not be shelved along with youthful idealism and old wooden flutes. In fact, the latest in psychological research suggests that, to mar a phrase, "there are no shelves".

eighth-ed radishes (halved and halved and halved again)
shredded purple cabbage

whole heads of broccoli
diagonal spears of peeled broccoli stalks

Heat a healthy tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy pan. Look around for dill seed, caraway, cumin, or another potent aromatic seed. Place it next to your jar of whole black pepper and jug of vinegar. When the oil is hot add a couple spoons of The Chosen Seed; when it, too, pops (and everything one day must pop) slide in the cabbage, stirring well to sew together a shiny coat of smooth spice. The cabbage will wilt and soften, asking for vinegar to finish the job. Add minced garlic if the moment moves you (and know that nothing else is moving you besides the moment, the ever-present unfolding of that unique, infinite moment) and the other vegetables. Fry together for a skinny minute and add in the vinegar (at least a cup). Put a lid on the mixture, if available, and allow them to steam and soften, a brutal rendition of the otherwise gentle breakdown that occurs naturally (with no radical denaturing of nutrients) through salty time.

When the broccoli is bright green (she is your mascot, pay close attention to her), test the flavor. Is it too strong? Too weak? And the salt? The vegetables will be soft enough, so distribute most of your focus to the vinegar, to the bite. Adjust until perfect and serve (alongside bread or another course; maybe with rice and the following curry).

(4) prince romanesco and friends (4)

Ah, yes. So good of you to grace our plebian box, Noble Romanesco. We humbly look to your spires and infinite detail for inspiration. For satisfaction.

arugula, roughly chopped / kale, de-ribbed and chopped / red potatoes, steamed and diced / romanesco, in splendid florets

We're going to make a simple sociological curry. The base note of potatoes provides all the hard work and expertise, the flashy greens love being seen and absorb much of the flavor, and prince romanesco himself headlines the event, coasting on kind genetics.

butter / 2 tsp cumin seeds / 2 tsp mustard seeds / equal, heaping spoons of minced garlic, ginger, and green chile

Melt your butter and toast cumin and mustard seeds in the ensuing goodness. Add the tender potatoes (tender, not soft -- if you steamed them too much turn back the clock and do it again) to fry. Before the potatoes brown, add your pungent wet spices (garlic, ginger, and chile) and stir to incorporate. The mixture fragrant and the potatoes browned, drop in the greens.

As the kale is tougher than the arugula, add it first. It will steam and shrink and lose water to the whole -- only then release arugula into the mix. Alongwith the arugula, sprinkle in

1 teaspoon of turmeric / salt to taste (start small) / 2 teaspoons of roasted, ground cumin and coriander

Immediately thereafter, carefully honor the curry with prince romanesco, handling each floret with care and respect. Lower the heat and stir until the romanesco flowers in color, turning bright and vibrant. Add more butter (ghee) and serve with minced red onion and cilantro.

You have arrived -- add salt or soy sauce to taste, optionally minced and wring the optional garnish, and your first course is warm and on the table.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

nash's weekly farmshare contents, october 27th 2006

this week, folks are eating:

red pots
red cabb
nash's red kale
chiogga beets
bunched red onions

any cold-weather hot-food thoughts?

also, so people know, the calendar falls such this year that we wont need to alter out farm-share schedule to accomodate the holidays. pick-ups will continue weely, on fri,sat,sun until the last one on Dec. 29...we've got 10 more left!

cooking can be god in senior nutrition bags, october 25th 2006

[another recipes for the senior nutrtion program at nash's; not your weekly newsletter]

This week, autumn's abundance brings us the turgid farce of televised democracy with a few vegetables tossed in on the side. Farm doctors note a strong correlation between clinical depression and negative advertising as well as cold cabbage-harvesting and bloody fingers. As usual, the doctors are ignored. Our international sales manager, Kia Kozun, was recently the victim of an invisible motor vehicle assailant (we're scratching for the voodoo angle) and hopefully she'll get well soon. Or else.

Rather than a pair of in-depth recipes, I'm going to stroll through this week, offering hints and suggestions along the way. As I've been reading increasing amounts of raw food propaganda -- raw food will keep you younger!, raise your energy!, fight your cancer!, and do your laundry! -- I'll try to overwhelm you with salads, as well.

First, the kale. Diligent readers will remember the Lacinato Massage Technique from the last newsletter.

Green kale, too, benefits from such gentle treatment. For tonight's dinner, I steadied myself with a firm left hand on the counter, and kneaded the kale relentlessly with salt (and then lemon) until all crunching sounds ceased in deference to a silken folding. The brash aural and digestive affront thus removed, you can enjoy your salad in style. On a large steel plate, I mounded the kale in the middle, ringed by grated beets (see below) and topped with carefully slivered almonds. To treat yourself, blanch the almonds first by plunging them in hot water for a commercial break, then rubbing off the skins (a simple motion of thumb and forefinger, like counting your lucre). The treat, to be sure, is not so much the pasty white color of the naked almond (as opposed to his edgy brown undercoat) but rather the satisfaction of having devoted X minutes of your ever-more-limited time on God's Rainy Earth to the loving attention of your diners (subject included in object, hopefully). So rub, and rub well.

If you're over the whole massaged kale movement (that was so early 21st century) I'd recommend a hot green soup. Take a typical soup base and stock (ie, sautéed or roasted vegetables like onion, celery, carrot, and potato) and add your diced kale to simmer for ten minutes before serving. With the kale, chop in a mess of dill and parsley, to swing the flavor and color to leafy dominance. I'd prefer some deeply toasted cumin or lightly toasted fenugreek (small hard square seeds, used mainly in Indian food and available at the PT co-op), freshly ground (by any means necessary, including a wine bottle) to spice the soup, in addition to more traditional salt, pepper, and a squirt of lemon at the end.

On to the cabbage. What are you going to do with that huge green head of cabbage? Your first priority will likely be to cut the cabbage exactly in half, from forehead to heel, and spend the next hour's finer moments listening to Beethoven and staring at the fractal floral essence of the cabbage's phenotype. Rêverie fini, you will see the cabbage as culinary player in a host of new ways. The cabbage is an efficiently-packaged bundle of edible plates, raw tortillas, and organic drip-guards. Mix some of yesterday's beans with today's arugula and Aunt Joan's salsa to have a new take on the burrito concept, guaranteed to be free of genetically modified corn. Or dry it (salt, wait, and squeeze) and pulse it in the robot until finely chopped (powdered perhaps), then use it like you would couscous or bulgar in a salad. Large forkfuls of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, with a generous dress of mint, parsley, lemon, and garlic, can all swim in your powder-fresh ambient cabbage.

Perhaps most imposingly, juice it. Cabbage juice is a mix between your alarm clock and rich uncle's mustard. It's pungent, fascinating, and not often repeated. I'll take it in a 1:5 ratio with carrot juice because somebody once told me it was "healthy". Your sweet carrots, on the other hand, can be used for anything from juice to currency. Late in the season you can sell them to Seattlites on Ebay. But for now, I'd recommend carving some attractive carrot sticks or spears for frequent snacking (and saving the stubby bits for stock-making), or grating them into a salad on their own. They're so sweet they need neither salt , sugar, nor cooking; I'll find myself mixing in a little tahini at the most, for that oily kick.

Arugula. My first recommendation for those brave citizens encountering their prima noctum with arugula is to try a small piece. Be impressed and not overwhelmed by its attitude and you've set the stage for a long and gentle relationship. Since the prime complaint I hear regarding this piquant green is "too strong" the main recipe I suggest is one in which strength is an asset, not a weakness: pesto. Use arugula instead of basil you can't find, blended nicely with walnuts, parmesan (or tofu), garlic, olive oil, and maybe a little cream. Toss it with pasta (some delicately steamed cauliflower or romanesco?) or use it to dress roasted beets or potatoes.

Speaking of potatoes. We're going to skip them. You already know.

Finally, as I mentioned briefly above, a ring of grated beets around a central mound of kale provides a striking polysensual contrast. I'd mix in a bit of soy sauce and orange juice with the beets (less than a teaspoon of each) or some apple-cider vinegar, to help round out the flavor. Or if you want something hot, roasted beets are an easy and timeless vegetable entry -- simply wash and cut them into mouthy chunks, rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and tray into a hot oven at 400 degrees (F). Start checking and shaking after half an hour, when you've finished preparing the salads and doing the dishes, and you won't be long disappointed. Simple beet stir-fries are also easy to put together -- chop your beets into matchsticks (peeling might be worthwhile here) and sauté in 2 tablespoons of oil that you've livened by adding some combination of garlic, ginger, fresh chiles, dried chiles, and mustard seeds. Toss attentively on high heat for almost ten minutes, or until they've cooked off a lot of water, and then add a happy handful of chopped cilantro, mint, dill, or arugula, depending upon your altitude, attitude and lunar phase. The mustardy beginning and dilly finish is hard to, well, compete with.

nash's senior bag contents, october 25th 2006

also, we are doing one last round of senior bags on this wednesday; we are putting the following in the bag:

green kale
gr cabb

Thursday, October 19, 2006

cooking can be god through Nash's farmshare recipes, october 20th, 2006

One angel (of many) recently sent me a cookbook in the mail. Or rather, a not-cookbook, as the author (let's just call him Gabriel) makes strong and repeated claims that all cooked foods are poisonous. He's also in favor of removing all flesh-foods, dairy products, honey, fermented foods, high-glycemic fruits, dried fruits, and grains (except maybe sprouted buckwheat) from our diets.

In a surprising turn of events, the second half of the book is full of amazing recipes, including an avocado-kale salad that I've modified below, to fit softly into this first week of local salmon hunting.

** Almost-Live Kale Salad **

Please note that contrary to popular belief, salmon is not a vegetable. If you're interested in labels, and play the game of choosing amongst them, sometimes you're up against a wall. The original incarnation of this recipe -- with avocados instead of salmon -- easily qualifies as "vegetarian" and "raw" as well as "organic" (if you shop at the farm store), but certainly not "local" (keep running those engines...). My simple substitution adds a merit badge for "local" and loses the "vegetarian" designation. But if you're willing, you can still keep it "raw".

1 bunch lacinato kale
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large tomato

a few ounces of freshly-caught local salmon, cut carefully and hygienically, with appropriate gods, governments, humans, animals, plants, and natural phenomena thanked in turn.

2 tablespoons of good olive oil
2 tablespoons of soaked sesame seeds
1 stalk of celery

Now. The secret to enjoying raw kale is the same secret (come on people, listen to the prophets, there's only one secret) to enjoying Life After Work. Relaxation. And relaxation, for those of us too sophisticated, poor, bored, or health-conscious to pop open a cold local organic fermented ambrosia, is Massage.

Finely chop your kale into a dry, empty bowl with your salt sitting at the bottom. Mix well and massage thoroughly until the kale sighs audibly and gives up the fall's early tension (the water-stress of the past fortnight perhaps) and wilts. Stretch your fingers, straighten your back (is your counter-top high enough to work without stooping?), add the lemon and go again. Massage the lemon essence into the kale until it's fully relaxed, and leave it to rest in its own exuberance while you make the dressing.

Cut the salmon carefully into precious sashimi pieces, reserving a scant third for the dressing. If you find the raw fish dégoûtant you have two options a) Sear each side on the highest heat you can manage until the flesh turns white enough to be palatable, b) Get over it and say Gabriel told you so (even though he didn't)

Otherwise, blend the rest of the salmon with the olive oil, sesame seeds, and celery to create a creamy dressing. Chop the tomato (the farm's meaty black crims are a great choice) and mix the kale, tomato, and dressing together.

Fancy, panted individuals may see the advantages to marinating the salmon beforehand (in tamari sauce and ginger juice perhaps, or maybe with dried cranberries and white wine) or adding additional elements to the salad (crumbled nori, pine nuts, olives). Remember that you can still use the "local" label with some dignity if your exotic ingredients are dried, pickled, or can otherwise reach you by camel.


Collard Greens: Experience the Flavor

Cooking is a mask. As the seasons change and you find yourself face-to-leaf with strange growths in your farmshare box, you might want to experience the vegetable in itself, for who it really is. And often the raw mouthful doesn't quite take you there (like with a potato, say). A simple experiment is in order: heat a cast-iron pan with half an inch of water. Chop thin strips of collard greens, kale, chard greens, and spinach in separate piles. Ready individual bowls of lemon juice and olive oil. Braise each green in the pan for a couple of minutes, just until it turns a brighter shade of green and wilts, and remove.

Now divide each braised green into three piles -- one to mix with a wee splash of lemon juice, another for a bit of olive oil, and a third au natural. You have just created a twelve-course sampler plate to teach yourself what these things really taste like.

Remember to breathe deeply, close your eyes, and chew slowly as you sample each course, slowly working through the different hits and hints of each mouthful. Treat each pile of steamy green as a glass of expensive red wine: the depth and flavor have always been there, in every bite, and are only waiting for you to acknowledge them.

farmshare contents for friday october 20th, 2006

yellow pots
collard greens
lacinato kale
green chard
new england sugar pie pumpkins

Friday, October 13, 2006

cooking can be god through Nash's Farmshare Recipes, October 13th 2006

A few days safely after the new moon, longtime farmworkers Nash and Patty will lay down their shovels and head to Italy for the Slow Food movement's Terra Madre festival. It's a chance for the Farm – and our entire community – to share knowledge, experience, struggles, and wine with hard-working compatriots from around the world. To facilitate jet-fuel expenses and customs bribes, local chefs from Cultivated Palette catering and the Alderwood Bistro are preparing a six course wine-paired feast from (naturally) the farm's organic produce.

Tickets to the benefit dinner for the Sunday 6pm dinner (at the Bistro) started at a clean hundred dollars, and can be ordered through Micaela at 360-385-3283 or your neighborhood scalper.

In honor of Nash, Patty, and the heap of drowned bones in the Lago de Pieta, we're going to vary a risotto. Traditional risotto involves drinking as much wine as it takes to stir a few handfuls of plump arborio rice into a creamy interchange of texture and flavor, in which every grain preserves its advertised individuality while making a lasting contribution to the p(l)easant whole.

Well, rice breaks both the Atkins (may he rest in peace) and the 100-mile (may we see some peace) diets, so I'm going to take a cue from local chef Aaran Stark and suggest a new-world variation:

-- Potato Risotto --

2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of butter
1 large onion
1 medium-to-large potato for 1 medium-to-large person
1 cup of stock, milk, or linear combination thereof, per person
6 wide, healthy leaves of arugula
some broccoli and corn

I've found two keys to risotto – techniques that make the dish worthy of baptism and more than overcooked rice. The first is the type of rice and we're avoiding that issue altogether. The second is the initial toasting process, to brown the rice in oil or butter, thereby infusing extra flavor and precooking the rice. And the third is the stirring.

Rather than the obvious and sensible method of cooking a grain, in which you combine your chosen grain with your chosen water, set to boil, and wander away, risotto requires attention. The large-hearted, old-world grandmotherly attention of adding your cooking liquid one splash at a time. Beyond any pretensions of figs, prosciutto, wild mushrooms, or (gasp) organic greens, it's the love that really counts. And before (and during, and after) time was money, time was Love. So stir. And stir again. And smile. And smile again. And, yes, stir again.

Explicitly now: Dice your potatoes finely and cover with water as you go. If you have a slicer or mandoline, use her for the first stage and then cross-dice your slices. You want the potato pieces to resemble rice as much as you can tolerate chopping. Be careful and save the infamous red risotto only for the most hallowed of guests. When the potatoes are happy, dice an onion. At this point, it should be no problem.

Then, heat your stock in one pan and your olive oil in another. Make sure your stock is carefully salted and peppered – treat it like a failed soup. Add the onions to fry on medium heat in the pan, stirring occasionally until they soften. When soft, add the potatoes and toss well, coating them with the onion's inherent goodness. They will all cook together until dry and you can sense them start to toast.

As you're patiently waiting, shuck the corn and deflower the broccoli. When the stock boils drop in the corn and broccoli to blanch. Cook only briefly, until the broccoli turns the most vibrant of greens, and extract quickly with a slotted spoon (or strain, saving the stock), rinsing quickly in cold water to prevent heatstroke.

Accoutrement ready, stir the risotto and add your first ladle (pour?) of stock. Typically the first ladle of liquid is wine, but until we're out of Ramadan I won't ask you to do that. Wink wink. When the steam and sizzle clears you'll still be stirring, slowly, in a figure-eight pattern, invoking through your slow breathing and calm demeanor the gentle spirits of Piedmontese homemaking. When the potatoes graciously absorb the water and relax their inhibitions, add another ladle. Stir. Continue ad terminus, when the starch from the potatoes plays Garibaldi to a dish of united creaminess. For the final moments, add another ladle of stock (to help the risotto stay moist on the table) and the arugula you've carefully rolled up and thinly shredded, stirring once again.

And, indubitably, the butter.

Freshly grated parmigiano cheese atop, shocked broccoli and corn in an intricate mandala around, and flecks of freshly minced parsley all provide a nice presentation for the each plate's tender mountain of risotto.

Optional first-date tricks include cooking shittake mushrooms or apples along with the rice and last-minute additions of toasted pinenuts or warm drunken figs.

-- A typical cabbage curry --

If that's not enough for you, read on. Tonight, with fewer than ten minutes to cook before exhaustion and the ever-present spectre of the Internet overtook me, i handed together a simple gujarati-style curry to a few willing spices, and ended up ready to serve by the time mom had gone through the mail.

An equal amount of green cabbage and white turnip or, some other week
An equal amount of white cauliflower and red cabbage or, perhaps in the future
An equal amount of red beets and gree romanesco
and a tomato, so small its optional

one healthy tablespoon of sesame oil (not toasted)
one teaspoon of mustards seeds
one teaspoon of ground cumin
just not two teaspoons of ground coriander
a pinch of ground turmeric
a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
salt, brown sugar, and lemon juice to taste

You know it's Indian when the spice list beats the vegetables.

Cut the vegetables to small. You can even pulse them in the robot. I like the cauliflower or romanesco to be almost crumbled, and the cabbage to be very thin but long (more than a joint) strips. High heat the pan, ready the spices, high heat the oil, ready a shield and add the mustard seeds. When they blister and pop lower to medium heat and defend yourself with the lid until they've had their way, then immediately add the cumin and coriander. Brown the spices until you:

a) can't smell anything else
b) start spontaneously chanting the thousand names of God
c) strew plastic bags all along the linoleum floors.

Congratulations, you have arrived.

Add the vegetables and stir well, risotto-style, to coat with the accumulated goodness. After the initial two minutes of sizzle-fry, add the chopped tomato if you have it and some water if you don't. Dissolve the turmeric, cayenne, and salt in the ambient liquid, lower the heat, and lid the pan.

It'll take between ten and fifteen minutes – worry not, Indian food is meant to be overcoooked – to finish properly. When you've finished making a few chappatis (no space for the recipe; you'll have to read my book...), add the final touches and serve. The final touches being a hint of eager sugar and a squirt from a passing, willing, lemon.

Some chopped cilantro on top would be make the old world happy, but at this point, they've got enough on their plates to be worrying about.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

farmshare contents friday october 13th

red pots
Green mustards Greens
bulk Detroit beets
red radish
green cabbage

Monday, October 09, 2006

cooking can be god through Nash's Farmshare Recipes, October 6th 2006

It's too early to be late and tomorrow's already a fading fact so let my delays know lawn care --

-- Potato Salad: the next generation --

two hands of yukon gold potatoes
the greens from your skulking yellow beets
a few cloves of garlic, minced
a hot chile, minced, optional
some dill
a fat cup of yogurt
some juice from a lemon

Wake up and take a clean cheesecloth, rag, or unclaimed t-shirt from its rightful owner. You will be making a version of labneh, a popular Lebanese experience somewhere between yogurt and cheese. Chop the dill with a fine eye and mix it, along with some good salt, into the yogurt. Envelop the yogurt in the t-shirt and hang somewhere unobtrusive for a few hours. After a day the yogurt will have dired into cheese and you can use it for some other dish. For the potato salad, however, only let it hang for a few hours (perhaps 6?) until it fools itself into a thicker, creamier body image. Welcome to the New Mayonnaisse.

Wash your hands and potatoes well (naturally) and steam or boil (again, always, forever, with salt) them until tender (ten minutes, missile time). Roughly chop the beet greens and drape over the cooking spuds for their final moments of glory, just enough to wilt and to brighten the leaves. Remove both leaves and potatoes and let them be cool for an infinite moment. Slice the yukons into delectable bite size morsels and set aside.

Toss the leaves with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Toss the potatoes with minced garlic and optional chile. If Nash had bothered to give you celery or cabbage, they would surely have been invited as well. Bah, c'est notre vie.

Mix enough New Mayonnaisse with the potatoes to coat but not smother, testing for salt and balance. Layer the bottom of your serving dish with the beet greens, peaking out attractively as a pie crust would. Pour the filling onto the crust, dusting with lemon juice and ground cayenne. Chill in the shade or other refrigerator. The hot of the dill, garlic, and chile arbitrate perfectly with the cool of the yogurt, potatoes, and morning air.

-- Oatmeal Goodness Cookies --

For something (almost) completely different, give the following cookie recipe a shot. Remember friends, while baking, quantities are important.

two cups flour
one and a half cups rolled oats
a teaspoon baking soda
half a teaspoon salt
one spoon freshly ground cinnamon
half a teaspoon of nutmeg

3/4 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup butter (or some harmless oil)
one happy cup pureed organic matter
1 teaspoon vanilla

one cup walnuts, brusquely chopped
a half cup of raisins

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, according to Dr. Fahrenheit.

To assemble, follow the general cookie making pattern:
a) mix your dry ingredients together in one bowl.
b) mix your wet ingredients together in another.
c) slowly add the dry to the wet, avoiding clumping or other grumpiness
d) fold in the special children to the cookie dough

The post-punk kitchen, from whom this recipe was gratefully ad(a/o)pted, recommends:

"Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don't spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You'll have enough batter for 4 trays."

What's most important, however, for your box of vegetable lovin', is the sole cup of pureed organic goodness. In their original recipe, the PPK recommends pumpkin. In my first attempt, I used some blanched peaches. Slightly steamed and pureed carrots work well, but I have a lovely nagging suspician that golden beets will carry the day...

Friday, October 06, 2006

farmshare box contents, october 6th 2006

yukon gold pots
red ch-ch-chard
purple radish
golden beets w/ greens
bunch carrots
tat soi

Sunday, October 01, 2006

cooking can be god late september cooking class

Dear Friends,

A new shipment of the books from my official distributor (Madonna, my best friend's mom) in Tennessee arrived yesterday, delayed a bit perhaps because of Madonna's wedding celebration last week. Congratulations Madonna. May the heavens rain Kale upon us all.

The way my mind works means putting together this note is a bit like sifting through the rubble of last year's fun house -- what once seemed shiny and scary now strikes me as lifeless and decrepit. Which is to say, the only thing real about cooking is the firm life-ness of the vegetables and the particular alchemical relation, at that very moment, that arises around you, the food, and your intention -- that strange and delicate energy I hesitate to name, and when I do, I only know is as "The Love".

Which makes the following into an artifact, not a horoscope -- a history to learn from and not repeated. Keep the infinitude of each moment in mind, keep those odious comparisons and executionary expectations safely distant, and ye shall never hunger.

Garlic Rosemary Crostini

Before its recent popularity in small servings on large plates, crostini was part of an age-old and pancultural recycling movement in the kitchen. Alongside the tostada and bread pudding, it's a proven way of getting otherwise discerning eaters to gobble down stale bread.

Beautiful stale bread

A few cloves of garlic

Olive oil

A sprig of rosemary

Slice your bread. The staler it is, the thinner you want it. The result will be a light, crunchy, toast. Mince together the garlic and rosemary. Garlic peels easily after you've sliced off bunching end and smashed it with your knife (or hand). Heat a wide flat pan and pour in a couple tablespoons of oil. You don't need much but the whole notion of needs and wants have been long confused in our society anyhow. When the olive oil heats to fragrant and visions of provence and tuscany dance in your temporal lobes, throw in the minced spices. They will brown rapidly, releasing their essence into the oil and fragrance into your air. Now lay in the crostini, taking care that each slice rests flatly on the pan. Cook this way on medium heat, toasting the bread until the first hint of blackness appears (check every once in a while). Flip all the slices and cook a few more minutes. Before finishing toss them all around, soaking up any remaining oil and spices -- they should leave the pan flecked with garlic and rosemary.

Salt, pepper, top with whatever salsas or pate you have ready, and serve (not just offer, but serve).

Marinated Yellow Squash

Well, as long as you have a wide flat plan nicely lubricated with oil and garlic, you might want to pan-grill some vegetables. Most backwards in time to before deciding the bread was old and slice up some zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, or similar soft vegetable. Slice them relatively thin (around 1/8") and place the slices to marinate in a dish on the side. Marination is the culinary equivalent of watching television -- the slices lay catatonically in a solution beyond their control, absorbing the energy, message, and flavor of what you (unilaterally) choose to douse them in. Be careful with your power. I choose a light mixture of oil and vinegar, generally, and on the infamous day in question used olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and some onion slices.

As with television or any other kind of propaganda, the longer they are indoctrinated, the better. You can use diced onions, roughly chopped fresh herbs (sage, oregano, dill), orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, fresh chiles. If you can do it the night before (I know, I know) so much the better.

After the bread is done, leave the heat in the pan, add a spot more of oil if necessary, and saute the tranches much as you did the crostini. Remember to use simple words from foreign languages to impress your neighbors. When soft and brown and heading towards the blister on one side, flip to finish on the other. If you've cut them thin enough, you may not need/want (it's confusing, it is, isn't it) to flip them at all.

You can serve the slices whole, layered in strange patterns across an open-faced sandwich, or sliced into a backroad of diamonds to parade across your crostini.


If you're going to have a cross-cultural tower of vegetable goodness, you're going to need a salsa (or two, or three) to top the squash topping the bread. You're going to need some pico de gallo.

Onions (or green onions)

Tomatoes are the main event here and Onions ride shotgun. Which is to say, you can put 2:1 or 3:2, tomatoes to onions, and be safely within a palatable range. Add cilantro according to preference -- the better you cut it the more you can add. Keep your lemons at room temperature to maximize juice production, roll them around on the counter a bit, and get every last drop out with a fork. Remember that chiles are powerful...

Carrot Salsa

During the class I pointed out that you're going to need salsa long past the time you can find local fresh organic tomatoes. And rather than forcing the wide world to adapt to our petty desires (through the marvels of the petroleum economy and refrigerated trucking), you might want to adapt your recipes to the world. This salsa uses the same principles as the
pico de gallo, above, but employs local sweet carrots, available all winter long.

Grated carrots

Diced onions


Lemon (or a light hint of vinegar)


Toasted sesame seeds

Combine in the same proportions you would the tomato salsa, repeating to yourself, "carrots are the new tomato" until all the colors blend together.

A Wintry Salad

Once again, looking forward to a winter without lettuce descending upon acres and acres of kale, let's move to a mindset where the greens are a little darker. Instead of using typical lettuce or spinach, we can lightly steam some kale, beet greens, or chard, just until the color brightens and the texture softens. At that point we chill the the greens and mix them with whatever else we desired. Last Wednesday it was --

Brightly Wilted Chard
Quarter-moons of cucumber
Sesame seeds
Diced onion
Chopped tomato
Grated carrots

When mixing, take care to manage the texture between light and soft so it's easy to eat but not mushy. For a dressing I recommend an extended version of whatever marinade you used (above). Think of Beethoven reiterating and joking around with the theme. It's like that. During the class we had an impomptu and marvelous incarnation of a blackberry tahini dressing; a hint of applesauce (and mint?) in your dressings could add a sweet creaminess to an otherwise routine affair.

I'm going to put the brakes on here and get down to town to distribute these hot new books. Thanks so much for playing. Please let me know if you want another class or have any questions or suggestions.

ankur shah