nash's farmshare box contents, friday dec 1st 2006
new recipes and deliria from ankur shah and the cooking can be god culinary ensemble
Thanksgiving Day, 2006
In the swirling mi(d)st of the twin understandings that because Everything is to be honored as sacred, Nothing must be treated as such, a Thanksgiving prayer.
Dearest Amazon, divine and tangled mother of all that is and crawls, we bow our heads in awe and thanks and offering of thy colors, thy danger, thy abundance, and thy everpresence, thee who are the diversity of our jungles and the monoculture of our fields, thee who are the terror of our hurricanes and the banality of our air conditioners.
We only begin to understand the contorted depths of our ignorance.
In your honor, bowing to knowledge and to a morality more ancient than our own, we eat this apple whole. [seeds, little wooden stem, and everything]
Dearest Farmers, brothers and sisters in spirit and in toil, we bow our heads in awe and thanks and offering of thy dedication and midwifery, of the most noble and demanding of human pursuits, of the arrogance and fortitude to stand atop the Mother. Thee are the roughest and the finest of our twisted tapestry, the most important and least evolved.
In thy honor, bowing to the forgotten wisdom whose sores cover our sick societies in loving remembrance, we roast this tray of root vegetables with a little salt. [parsnips, turnips, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, rutabega, onions, garlic, carrots, burdock]
Dearest Drivers, engineers, generals, soldiers, explorers and harvesters of that black gold that shines through all our sustenance, we bow our heads in awe and thanks and offering of thy perseverance and perspiration, of thy shoulders bearing our collective sin and violence. Alchemists all of us, we transmute death to life, destruction to creation, violence to love in our every munch and morsel.
In thy honor, bowing to the forces we don't yet understand and the liberation and struggle inherent in our future, and to those whom we must trample in order to survive, we blend together this oil into mayonnaise. [1 1/2 cups of silken tofu, 3 tablespooons of lemon juice, salt, ground mustard seeds, 1/4 cup of raw sesame oil]
A beginning, mind you. Each bite is to be an offering, a present and meditative appreciation of the fragility and contigence of our survival, a celebration of the madness and diversity of existence. Stanzas remain unwritten for the helpful and slaughtered natives, the industrial reserve armies of Latin American workers without whom all of us in this nation would starve, the erstwhile salespeople who sling tons of vegetables without ever losing boots to the morning mud, the dedicated chefs whose love and toil is the spice no Columbus ever found, and, of course, to your mother.
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986
William S. Burroughs
For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive
Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts —
thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison —
thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger —
thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot —
thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes —
thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through —
thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces —
thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers —
thanks for laboratory AIDS —
thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs —
thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business —
thanks for a nation of finks — yes,
thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore —
thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.
Once upon a time a famous bedtime story liked to proclaim, “from each according to her ability, to each according her need”. Let us evolve and adapt, concede to the political reality (so long Donald, it's been grand!), and in full understanding of the postmodern dietary spectrum, let us sing together, “to each according to her culinary ideology, from each according to the farmer”.
-- A typical Quiche Lorraine meets Vegan Radio --
one cup of flour mixed with half a tsp of salt | one third a cup of butter | two or three tablespoons of cold, cold water
For the omnivore, or frenchman, or both. We make the crust in the traditional fashion, singing ballads to lost love (the modern devotional chanting) and cutting the butter and flour together with knives. When the granules are small and even enough to bother the most proletarian princess, add your cold water and massage into a softball and flatten noncommittally. Let the dough chill and introspect as you prepare the filling.
A good half-hour later you can roll or flatten the crust into a lightly greased pie pan, taking care the dough goes up and over the edges of the dish, trimming, and fluting forkwise into a delicate pattern. Every minute you spend fully focused on this task will enhance the taste and appreciation of the final oeuvre.
Get a sense of where the oven is (350 F) and bake the crust blindly. That is, cover it with aluminum and place some weight atop the foil (dried beans work well) to keep the puffing to a minimum. In ten minutes it should be set and ready to fill.
To fill, the old-timers might use half a cup of finely chopped onion, half a cup of crisp bacon, a full cup of grated swiss cheese, four large eggs, two cups of creme fraiche, and some salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to indulge the tastebuds and induce the digestion.
That's the omnivorous, animal-dependent version at least. If you're interested in reducing your ecological footprint, sparing a few lives or calories, or using what came in that earthly smelling box last night, try the following:
Use the same onion alongside a chopped arms of celery and sauté easily on low heat. Halve and eviscerate (it's all love, it's all violence) the delicata squash, halve again, and chop into bite-able, cook-able chunks. Slide the chunks in with some minced garlic when the onion has shined away its water and threatens to brown. Stir the mixture occasionally as you wash, drain, and chop your greens -- I'd recommend the collards (save the others for a salad). Grate a large carrot and place the pile next to your strips of collard. When the squash is tender, add whatever herbs you still have (rosemary, a little lavender, and a touch of purple dried sage?) along with salt, pepper, and the infamous cayenne pepper. Let the forward accents of flavor get acquainted with their deep and durable carriers and when the introductions subside, add green and orange to the mix. The carrots and collards will give off a lot of a water over the next five minutes, and when the steam clears and filling roars back to dry (listen carefully; the volume on the stove will literally increase), you're ready to go.
Note that making a casual sautée of five different vegetables, cooking slightly enough to preserve their fragile egos and flavors, is a lot more work than frying half a cup of bacon. It's not that less work (suffering?) is occurs in a holistic sense, but rather, you are taking responsibility for a larger portion of it. Something to be proud of, perhaps.
At this point, we can inject our filling into the above quiche recipe, mixing with the egg and cream custard (once the sautée has cooled) and pouring into the pre-baked crust.
For either filling, sprinkle more cheese on top and bake until the filling sets (Remember that knife that cut the butter and flour together? Make sure it comes out clean). It should take about forty-minutes and coincide perfectly with your simple side salad (arugula, bok choi, mustard greens, dressed with an emulsion of tahini, red miso, rice wine vinegar, and apple cider) and the kitchen cleaning procedures (with, ahem, a little help from your friends).
To go the extra-mile towards kindness to self, animal-kingdom, and world, we'll need a vegan variation. For those of us stuck in the twentieth century, “vegan” is a diet-lifestyle-philosophy that eschews the use of all animal products due to moral and political concerns over animal cruelty, industrial methods of animal production, and global resource use. I was recently interviewed on Vegan Radio (
The crust substitution is easy enough – use oil instead of butter (try coconut or palm oil for the closest in consistency) and be prepared to pat down the crust instead of rolling it. For the filling, I would recommend roasting a mixed pound of potatoes and parnsips (diced to speed the cooking) and mashing/blending them together with a stock (or water, or soymilk) until you get a thick but pourable custard to substitute for the eggs-and-cream. Then bake until it firms up, as before. Much easier would be to buy a pound package of silken tofu (soybean cheese!) and blend that up to the right consistency. The tofu is going to need some more spices (a hint of mustard, vinegar, chile, or garlic) to carry it through, and for the love of farmland, try to get an organic non-GMO variety or we'll just be spinning our sustainable wheels, now won't we?
Live in Dungeness: The Jerusalem Artichoke
Politics aside, everybody loves it. And the etymological twist -- avoiding any mistaken references to the aphids, now, that the heat has cooled -- is that it's not even from that other, holier, land. Rather, like bygone tomatoes and last week's corn, the jerusalem artichoke (helianthus tuberosus) is a native North American, well-suited to lands from Georgia to Nova Scotia before any colonist or king dared to dream of the American Empire. The "sunflower artichoke" was semitically mistaken due to its Italian name, "girasole", which sounds like a hallowed city if you pronounce it poorly enough. Rather like the evolution of "Seguin" to "Sequim" in our own valley's twisted historical scrawl.
We plant the sunchokes (welcome to efficiency and the modern world, friends. You may take a number.) in April and generally wait until the familiar frost to harvest. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday kicked the 10 foot plants (and many others) into shape, killing leaves and sending sugar down to the roots. In this case, much of the sugar comes in the form of inulin, a carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, well-suited to diabetics and those seeking a natural, mild, appetite suppressant.
Flavor, however, is for everyone who hasn't relinquished sensual desire, and the sunchoke indulges in myriad forms. Grated, sliced thinly, roasted, baked, sautéed, and steamed, it sweetly satisfies. Use it fresh to simulate water chestnuts on your next stir-fry, or steamed and mashed with herbs when you're out (sick?) of potatoes.
If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to put sunflowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You'll meet some special produce there
Roasted Sunchoke Soup
So your erstwhile culinary correspondent somehow woke up in a California farmer's market that seems bigger than our hometown farm. Produce from all climates and attitudes and yet all of it, somehow, local. Giggling breakdowns over November strawberries behind me, I found myself face to window with a starred SF restaurant whose soupe de jour involved the peeled purity of Jerusalem Artichokes and a dollop of hot and heavy cream. Agricultural incomes and dress codes conspired to keep me on the wintry side of the window, but chances are I pieced it together from there...
peeled jerusalem artichokes
half as many peeled yukon gold potatoes
a couple of onions
a cup of fresh cream
Slice your tubers together to pieces and steam then in some salty water. After eight minutes and thirty seconds (give or take a phase of the moon), bow your heads in prayer for Nash and Patty, lost in a foreign land. Silence lost, test the tubers until soft and tasty but not mushy. Drain, preserving some of the water, and blend to consummate smoothness.
If they're too hot to handle and you're too cool to bluff, sauté your onions in the newly liberated pan (using a gentle quantity of light olive oil) until translucent. Keep the fire to medium or less, taking your time and warming up with the roots. Know that parsnips can substitute for potatoes, in the coming months and years. When the onions are soft and threatening to brown, add the tuber puree and stir together. Let them acquaint before diluting with fluid -- water, stock, and preferably (this time around, for the sake of thickness and protection against fog) some cream.
dark olive oil
Let the soup simmer together casually, and take great care with your garnish. The almonds can be roasted until their thinness becomes crispy, the chives finely and carefully diced, and the olive oil drizzled atop after serving.