You had me at kale

In a few days this (b)log will be celebrating its fifth birthday. It’s fun to go back and read the beginning of what has become, for me, a source of joy in my life. I get to be creative and think about food and words and pictures, and it helps to keep some of the other noise out of my head. I think what I’m trying to say is- I really love writing.

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This is also the second edition of Wisconsin Whisk‘s “All Whisked Up!” For this round I got to make to make something from Vicky Cassidy’s blog, Things I Made Today. Vicky’s blog is beautiful- I am mesmerized by the ever-changing drawn pictures of fruits and vegetables that grace each page- and full of delicious sounding recipes (she also loves blue cheese as much as I do, so I know we’ll be friends.)

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This unseasonably warm November weather has been incredible, but it is confusing my taste buds. The early darkness of the day calls out for soup, but the warmth is crying for something lighter. In the end I decided on Vicky’s kale salad with maple citrus dressing because it all goes back to kale (and I already had a bag of it in the fridge from my friend’s garden.) I also felt bad for badmouthing squash the other day, so I decided to give it another chance. This salad is incredibly tasty. I accidentally devoured the leftovers before I remembered that I was supposed to photograph it, which is testament to the salad, I suppose. I substituted raisins for the dried cranberries (the co-op was out of dried cranberries and I could not bring myself to pay $4.16 for a bag of 11 organic dried cherries) and I used an unidentified winter squash, but I am posting the recipe as it appeared on Vicky’s site, as it was meant to be. We ate bowls full of the salad for dinner along with a Madison Sourdough Co. baguette. It was pitch black outside, but the windows were wide open to the warm November wind.

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Kale, Squash, Quinoa Salad with Maple Citrus Dressing

From Things I Made Today

INGREDIENTS
For the squash:
2 medium sized patty pan squash, cut into small wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

For the dressing:
zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt to taste

For the salad:
½ cup red quinoa, dry
1 large bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS
Roast squash:
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large bowl, combine squash, olive oil, paprika, chili powder, and salt. Mix well so squash is covered. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way, until squash is tender and slightly browned.
Let cool to room temperature.
Make the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for dressing. Set aside.
Make the rest:
Combine dressing with kale in a large bowl. Let sit while remaining ingredients come together.
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
Combine dressed kale, quinoa, roasted squash, feta cheese, and dried cranberries and mix well.

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Enjoy.

To see other All Whisked Up recipes, click on the smiling frog:

Happy today

The truth of the matter is, I’ve been feeling a lot like my sister, the one on the right in this photo, the last few weeks.

There is one glaring reason for my sadness- my beloved tabby cat passed away a few weeks ago and left a void that has yet to be filled. And another obvious one- I haven’t slept through the night in over a year. But there is another underlying issue at the heart of it: While everyone else is parading around pumpkin patches and cooking up squash, I just don’t get all that excited about fall. Yes, the leaves are beautiful and I get to wear my favorite Lebowski-esque cardigan sweater again, but I miss summer. I miss the crickets and I miss the long, warm days. I miss Bob Uecker on the radio and I miss swimming in lakes. I miss my tomatoes that never ripened and I hate spaghetti squash. There. I said it.

Now, I realize that it doesn’t behoove you to write off an entire season, especially when you live in a climate like ours; it’s a considerable chunk of your life here in the upper midwest. In an effort to embrace the season, I’m channeling my two-year-old self: The one, who upon discovering that on Halloween all you have to do is knock on a door and someone will hand you candy, danced up and down her street yelling “Happy today, happy today, happy today!”

So I’m going to carve a pumpkin and whip up some molasses bars. I’ll cheer on the Pack and dig out my ski socks. I’ll daydream; maybe this will be the winter I’ll practice the banjo and learn to crochet. And I’m making stew because when it comes to soup, summer ain’t got nothing on fall. When I first made this stew I used Rancho Gordo heirloom yellow eye beans, which I had bought back when I was employed.

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Since then I have also used good old white pea beans (navy beans.) You can read all about how to cook dried beans here. I start by rinsing the beans and then soaking them (or not) for a few hours (if they haven’t soaked, the cooking time will be longer.) You then cover them with water in a big soup pot, adding olive oil and celery/ onions/ carrots, if you like. Cook the beans at a slow simmer until they are done. I adapted this recipe for bean stew from an article I read in The New York Times all about the Greek island of Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea, where people stay up late, take naps after lunch, and drink lots of wine. Sounds good to me.

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Yellow Eye Bean Stew

Adapted slightly from The New York Times

1 pound of yellow eye peas or navy beans
1 medium onion chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and finely chopped
A handful of chopped parsley
1 chopped carrot
Chopped dill or fennel
olive oil
salt, season to taste

Cook beans until they are almost done (see directions above.) Add the vegetables and herbs. When the beans are done, add salt to taste. Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.

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Serve the bean stew with crusty bread and lots of red wine and toast to the “blooming and singing of the dark” (this comes from another New York Times article which quotes the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki who said, “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”) Have a fire in your backyard. Eat halloween candy. And while it’s okay to be sad, you can also try telling yourself happy today, happy today, happy today.

All whisked up!

My friend Martha says that sometimes if you want something, you just need to put it out there to the universe and see what happens. This is how I felt one morning in August when I opened my computer to find an email request to do some freelance writing and an invitation from this woman to join a new collective of Wisconsin food bloggers called Wisconsin Whisk. With taking the year off of teaching, I knew I wanted to do more writing, but I needed some sort of a cosmic kick in the buns. And that morning I got it. Since then I have written several articles (including this one and this one), been mentioned in a Capital Times article highlighting Wisconsin Whisk, and was a guest judge at a vegan chili cook-off fundraiser for the Alliance for Animals.

And now I want to introduce you to Tara at Yummy Sprout and her farmer’s market biscuits. For a fun Wisconsin Whisk event (All Whisked Up!), we were assigned another blog to read and find a recipe to recreate. I knew as soon as I saw Tara’s biscuits that I was going to try those. If you read my blog regularly (thanks, immediate family), you know I’m not much of a baker, but these were super easy to make and taste delicious.

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I substituted jalapeno peppers from my garden, but otherwise made them just the same.

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Cheddar and Jalapeno Biscuits

From the website Yummy Sprout

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 cup cheddar (shredded)
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. If using a sifter you may need to push organic sugar through as it is a bit courser.  Next add the butter and use your fingers (if you have a pastry cutter you can use that too) to work butter into the flour until you have a course meal, with pieces no larger then pea size.  Add the vinegar to the milk and allow it to sit for a couple minutes, to make buttermilk.  Stir in most of the buttermilk (reserving about 1 tbsp), cheese and peppers, just until mixed.

Knead dough briefly on a lightly floured surface, just until it holds together. Coat a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thick. Cut little biscuits out with any cookie cutters you like. Place biscuits on un-greased baking sheets. Brush the tops of biscuits with remaining buttermilk and bake until biscuits are golden, 10 minutes.   .
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 Happy Friday.

You keep me hanging on

Happy September.

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Summer keeps us hanging on. And with my sister visiting from Seattle the last week of August and beginning of September, we soaked it in. We swam, we kayaked, we cheered on Tom Cruise in Top Gun at the Union Terrace with a bunch of people who weren’t born when that movie was in theaters. And we broke down and bought tickets to Yum Yum Fest 2015.

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There wasn’t much (any) vegetarian food (we’re still not over pork belly?), but thank goodness for cold brew coffee push pops from Forequarter and Barmadillo’s delightful cocktails named after old baseball players. What more do you need, really?

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With this heat, all I’ve wanted to do is eat ice cream and drink booze, but with Half-moon in the picture, I’m trying to be a good vegetarian and eat protein, protein, protein! I’m lousy at grains and feel guilty just from looking at back issues of Bon Appetit that praise the wonders of Farro! Freekeh! Millet! Teff! It makes my head spin. But the other day as I stared remorsefully at the jar of spelt berries on my counter that hadn’t been touched since who-knows-when, I took action. I soaked those suckers in a bowl of water overnight (which was not my intention, but I went to bed before cooking said spelt berries) and the next day I cooked them up and made a tabbouleh-inspired salad with cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and loads of parsley. It hit the spot.

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Spelt Berry Cherry Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups uncooked spelt berries
1/4 onion, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
bunch of parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the spelt berries (you may soak for an hour- or overnight- to lessen the cooking time.)* Once the grains are cold, mix them together with cherry tomatoes, onion and parsley. Make a citrus-y dressing with the juice of a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper (bonus points for freshly smashed peppercorns.) Leftovers are good for a couple of days.

*How do you cook spelt berries? (From the kitchn.com)
• If you want the spelt berries very soft, like steamed rice, add 3 cups of water or stock to 1 cup of spelt, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
• If you like it chewier and nuttier, like for salads, use 2 cups of water or stock for every cup of spelt berries. Cook the spelt like risotto, adding half a cup at a time and stirring after each addition until the liquid evaporates. They should be tender after about 30-40 minutes.

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Enjoy the heat while it lasts, my friends. The crickets’ songs will soon be a memory.

When life gives you carrots

Happy August.

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You know that time-old adage “when someone accidentally brings home a five-pound bag of carrots from the grocery store instead of a one-pound bag, make pickles”? Well, good news: Summer is pickle season! And pickled carrots are just the thing to make on a hot Friday late afternoon. The recipe comes from Ms. Molly and I wish I had the charming Beatrix Potter-esque carrots that she used but I just made carrot sticks. The good old kind that my mom would put on the dinner table every night in a small yellow cup filled with water to keep them crisp.

There is something about making a pickling brine that satisfies this part of my being I didn’t know existed until recently. It’s something basic and primal- maybe my Iowa roots- but you can’t beat the hazy glow of vinegar that hangs in the air while you crack peppercorns and wash quart-sized jars.

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Half-moon watched later that night from his perch on the kitchen floor as we listened to the Brewers on the radio and I packed the carrots into jars and stuck them in the refrigerator. In a week we could crunch into the garlicky, tangy pickles.

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Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme

This recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life.

Ingredients:

2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for topping jars
2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 (5- to 6-inch) sprigs fresh thyme
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Heaping 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Heaping 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 pounds small (finger-sized) carrots, or standard carrots, cut into sticks about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt, and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup vinegar.

Put the carrots in a large, heatproof bowl, and pour the warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature. While the carrots cool, wash 2 quart-sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water.

When the carrots and brine are cool, distribute the carrots evenly among the jars, arranging them snugly. (Hands and finger work best for this; tongs make a mess.) Using a ladle, divide the brine evenly among the jars. The carrots should be covered completely by brine. If they are not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.

Seal firmly and refrigerate for at least 3 days, or, preferably, a week; carrots are dense and take time to absorb the brine.

Note: Covered and refrigerated, pickled carrots will, in theory, last indefinitely, but we try to eat them within a month or two.

Yield: 2 quarts

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Happy pickling!

Blossom and bloom

After a cool start, summer has arrived in Wisconsin. Things here continue to move at a pretty slow pace.

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Hanging out in the mornings with Half-moon while he pulls up a stool at the milk bar, I have been observing summer perennials and a neighborhood romance bloom (watching white-haired, tank-topped Gordy pedal back and forth by our other neighbor’s house on his turquoise bicycle, I started to get suspicious… One day I got to text Dan, “they smooched!”) While the days feel pretty lazy, I also like to play a game called, “What can I get done in the two minutes it takes Dan to change Half-moon’s diaper?” Then I go into turbo-charge: I turned a calendar page (eleven days late)! I made diaper spray (1 cup water + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon soap, like Dr. Bronner’s)! I found the key to the garage in the washing machine! It’s a lot of fun.

We’ve also been experiencing some “firsts.” On Wednesday, Half-moon attended his first gig with his dad. It was at Cress Spring Bakery for their pizza night. Located in a valley outside of Blue Mounds, Cress Spring Bakery is an idyllic place to lounge with a wood-fired pizza and a cold can of beer. Their chocolate chip cookie/ Sassy Cow vanilla ice cream sandwich might be my favorite thing I have eaten this summer.

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This morning we took Half-moon to his first downtown farmer’s market. Yesterday, he met his first donkey at his first music festival, and a couple of weeks ago I actually followed a recipe to make marinade for the first time. And it was really f*$#ing good. The recipe came from my new Thug Kitchen cookbook, and if you don’t know Thug Kitchen, you need to.

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(Disclaimer: I didn’t actually make the marinade for the baked tofu- Dan did- but I called out the ingredients from the milk bar.) I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite way to eat tofu is baked. Not me, the tofu. While the Thug Kitchen cookbook didn’t say this, I like to bake tofu on parchment paper- I think I learned this from Mark Bittman– when you only have two minutes to clean up, this makes it really easy (first press the tofu before marinating, then bake tofu for 10-15 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in a hot oven-  400 or 450 degrees.) We followed the recipe for the ginger-sesame marinade and ate it with the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad. Here is the recipe for the marinade for the tofu:

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And the noodle salad:

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Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

From the Thug Kitchen cookbook 

Ingredients: 

1 package (6.75 ounces) thin rice noodles
1/2 head of lettuce, chopped (or other greens)
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
Lime wedges, for serving
Toasted sesame dressing* (or other Asian dressing)

Directions:

Cook the noodles according to package directions. When they are done, drain the noodles and run them under cold water until they are cool to the touch. Set aside.While all that is going down, get all your veggies and herbs ready and make your dressing.To serve, pile a large mound of noodles in the center of each plate. Arrange the lettuce, veggies, and herbs around the mound while leaving a good amount of the noodles exposed. Drizzle the dressing on both the noodles and lightly around the vegetables. Sprinkle peanuts all over and serve with lime wedges.

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We are now off to our first neighborhood block party. Happy Saturday, my friends.

A labor of love

A baker I am not. But every year, around Christmas time, I inevitably forget this fact and get the urge to create sweet things in the oven. This is actually the third year I have made this recipe and I usually curse it at some point or another every time, even though it is ridiculously easy. And the fun thing about this recipe is that afforded me not one, but two opportunites to bang things really hard with my rolling pin (I believe the first time was a fluke- I don’t anticipate you having to do the same thing.) It took me four days to actually make the cookies, from start to finish. I started the dough on Sunday right before entertaining some guests, which led me to abandon the dough for a day and a half in the fridge. Yesterday I rolled out the dough and used a small jar to form the cookies into circles. Before I could roll out the dough, however, I had to pound it into submission after having let it “chill” (harden into a rock) in the refrigerator for two days.

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Next I baked the cookies, let them cool, and then put them back into the stove so my butter-loving cats wouldn’t attack them when we left for a Christmas party last night. This afternoon, after Christmas Eve yoga and a brunch of baked eggs, I melted white chocolate in the oven, subsequently burned it, added milk to it, and then busted out the rolling pin again to crush the organic candy canes in my new dish towel.

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Somehow, these cookies survived. And I think that’s why I keep returning to this recipe. My version looks nothing like the original, but I love them just the same.

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In the spirit of that wise old saying- do as I say, not as I do- I am going to print the recipe the way that it appeared on Vegetarian Ventures. My adaptations- with the exception maybe of using all purpose whole wheat flour- are not recommended.

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Peppermint Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies

From Vegetarian Ventures

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), divided & at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box of peppermint candy canes, unwrapped and crushed
  • 8 ounces of white chocolate

Start by browning half (one stick) of the butter. Place butter in a small saucepan over low heat and let cook until small brown flakes form. Stir often so the bubbles don’t bubble over the pan or so that it doesn’t burn. Once the butter has browned, immediately pour it into a glass cup and let cool completely.

Beat together the butter (browned and regular) and the brown sugar. Next, add in the flour and salt and continue to beat until a thick ball of dough forms. Wrap dough (with parchment, wax paper, etc) and let chill for at least 30 minutes (this will help keep the dough together).

Once chilled, transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or the top of a round glass to cut out circular shapes. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the cookies in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes while the oven preheats (this will help the cookies keep their shape). Cook cookies for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown around edged. Let cool completely.

Crush the peppermint candy canes anyway you see fit. I put mine in a ziploc bag and went to town using a meat tenderizer (also known as the kitchen hammer!) until they were in tiny pieces.

Melt the white chocolate in either your microwave or over a double boiler. I don’t have a microwave so I used the double boiler method which consisted using one saucepan inside the other and letting water simmer under the first pot while I constantly stirred the white chocolate over it until melted (this was a terrible explanation. If it is your first time using a double boiler, use this as a reference). Once melted, dip half the cookie into the chocolate and then roll in the peppermint chunks. Place on wax paper (this prevents sticking) and repeat with the rest of the cookies. Let cookies chill in fridge for 15 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.

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Merry Christmas, y’all.

Cheese ball

We may not have snow this year in Wisconsin for Christmas, but we can have a cheese ball. This recipe belongs to my Grandma Love, who hosted us in northwest Iowa for Christmas for most of my childhood. At the time I wanted nothing to do with the cheese ball, but I remember it distinctly appearing on Christmas Eve when the relatives first started appearing through the back door that led into the kitchen. Coats were peeled off, pink lipstick-covered lips gave shocks on the cheek when kissed and presents were placed under the tree. I was much more interested in the homemade sloppy joes that were served to the kids instead of the oyster stew that the adults feasted upon and the hard candy that I got if I went to church later that night with Aunt Agnes, but the cheese ball now holds a special place in our hearts- equal parts nostalgia and deliciousness.

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My mom and sister made the cheese ball this week and split it into two- one they brought over for a winter solstice shindig and the other we will enjoy tomorrow for Christmas Eve. Served with crackers and a holiday cocktail, it’s just the thing.

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Here is the recipe, the way my Grandma wrote it.

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Harriet’s Cheese Ball

Ingredients:
2 large packages Philly cream cheese
1 stick very sharp Kraft Cracker Barrel Cheese (cheddar)
1 1/2 dozen or so green stuffed olives- cut up fine
3 T dry onion flakes
(chopped pecans)

Directions:
Soften philly cheese and cracker barrel cheese. I grind up the cheddar cheese and blend the cheeses together, add onion flakes and olives, blend well. Form in a ball. Roll cheese ball in chopped pecans and store in refrig. until ready to use.
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Happy holidays!

A reunion of sorts

There has been a head of napa cabbage from Troy Farm lingering in my fridge for approximately the same time since I last wrote here. The cabbage fared better than my creative self, which has missed taking photos, trying new recipies and bouncing words around in my head. So the cabbage and this site made plans for this rainy November afternoon.

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My sister was the one who first told me about this recipe for smothered cabbage. She read about it on Molly Wizenberg’s blog, who adapted it from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This is the perfect thing to make on a cool Sunday when you can drift around home smelling the onions, garlic, oil, butter and cabbage melt into each other. Next you add broth and rice and then more butter and parmesan cheese. The result is a thick soup that isn’t too easy on the eyes, but makes up for it in taste.

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Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup

From Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by way of Orangette

Ingredients:

1 batch Smothered Cabbage (see below)
2 cups (475 ml) chicken or beef broth*
1 cup (235 ml) water, and maybe more
2/3 cup (about 135 grams) Arborio rice**
2 Tbsp. (28 grams) unsalted butter
About 1/3 cup (roughly 1 heaping handful) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
Freshly ground lack pepper

In a good-size pot (about 4 quarts), combine the cabbage, the broth, and 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, and then lower the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow but steady simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender but firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. If you find that the soup is becoming too thick, add a little water. The soup should be pretty dense, but there should still be some liquid.

When the rice is done, turn off the heat, and stir in the butter and the grated Parmesan. Taste, and correct for salt. Serve with black pepper and more Parmesan.

*I use veggie broth or water to make it vegetarian

**I like to use brown basmati rice

Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style

1 small yellow onion, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) olive oil*
1 (~2-pound / 1 kg) Savoy or green cabbage, quartered, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 or 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. white or red wine vinegar

*I used a combination of safflower oil and butter

Put the onion and olive oil in a Dutch oven (or another pot of approximately the same size), and set over medium heat. Cook and stir until the onion is pale gold, and then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant and looks cooked through, a few minutes, and then add the sliced cabbage. Stir a few times to coat the cabbage with oil; then continue to cook until it’s wilted. Add a couple of generous pinches of salt, a grind or two of pepper, and the vinegar. Stir to mix, and then cover the pan and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 1.5 hours, or until the cabbage is very, very tender. If the pan seems dry at any point, you can add a tablespoon or two of water. When the cabbage is done, taste for salt, and season as needed.

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Happy Sunday. It’s time for me to dig in.

Yellow rockdoor

One of my favorite things about working at the farm is learning the names of the varieties of vegetables. The green curly kale I knelt next to early this morning is named winter boar. The snow peas- since mowed down- were called blizzard and sumo. The garlic we dug out on Wednesday is music and porcelain, and a midnight purple tomato hanging on her vine goes by indigo rose; she could just as easily be in a dusty bar somewhere listening to Merle Haggard on the jukebox. We pull three varieties of beans- maxibell, yellow rockdoor and dragon tongues. Even the weeds sound like a poem to me- purslane, pigweed, foxtail and thistles.

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I am drawn to words. Recently Dan and I biked to the construction zone that used to be Johnson Street to visit the impossibly too-cool-for-school Johnson Public House because I wanted to try a cold espresso beverage they were calling lavendar brown.

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It was tasty. Dan thought it resembled Thanksgiving dinner in a next day’s sandwich. I also recently visited Spring Green’s Sh*tty Barn to listen to a band called Spirit Family Reunion- I had never heard of them, but I liked their name.

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Later that night I ripped that sold-out poster down (with permission) to hang up in what will become my new home. I had seen the house earlier that day and stood in a field on my phone before the show with my realtor (ugh. I think this makes me a grown-up) as we made plans to sharpen our figurative pencils and make an offer the next morning. And to my still somewhat disbelief, the offer took.

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And while I contemplate home ownership, I cook. I turn back to soothing tomatillos and avocados whirled into salsa varde, eggplants roasted and blended with lemon juice, flat-leaf parsley and tahini to become baba ganoush, and I improvise a hearty tabbouleh salad with spelt berries. I bake zucchini bread. And I steam yellow rockdoor beans and cover them with pats of butter and sea salt. Someone else was drawn to those.

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My mom gave me this recipe for zucchini bread- I’m not sure where she got it. She says she likes to eat it with peaches. I like to eat it cold out of the refrigerator.

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Zucchini Bread

Combine:
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs

Add:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup nuts- walnuts or your choice

Makes 2 regular loaves in a loaf pan- metal or glass. Bake 350 degrees for one hour or when it smells good and is getting brown on top. Let it cool a bit before you take out of the pans. I usually grease the pans with a little oil.
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Happy August.