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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

cooking can be god: nash's farmshare nov 10rd 2006

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 () and learned all about it.

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?