Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 12, 2012

Easy Kale, Shallots, and Pasta

Ingredients
Half a bunch of kale
About half a cup of vegetable broth
1 giant or 2 normal sized shallots
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/2 box of pasta
Handful of walnuts (toasting directions below)

Process
Set walnuts onto a toaster-oven safe plate and toast for about 10 minutes.

Set a pot of water for paste to boil.

Chop shallots and sauté in olive oil. They should get brown around the edges and ideally a bit crispy.

Chop the garlic and toss into the pan with the shallots.

After sautéing them together for a few minutes, add the broth and stir. Then add the chopped toasted walnuts.

The sauce should thicken a bit. Chop the kale and when the water is boiling, add it to the sauce. Cover and remove from the heat while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is nearly ready, turn the heat on the kale and sauce. Stir around until heated through and until the kale has wilted.

Combine the pasta and sauce and serve!

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September 11, 2011

Amazing Roasted Eggplant Soup

This completely life-changing roasted eggplant soup is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, although we made a few notable changes.

1 mid-small eggplant
3 mid sized tomatoes
1/4 a jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
1 large onion
8 cloves of garlic
Parsley
4 cups veggie broth (2 cans)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese to top

1.  Lightly oil a baking pan and preheat the oven to 425

2.  Cut the eggplant, tomato, and onion into 1/2 inch thick slices and spread out on the baking pan.  Peel the garlic and lay the cloves, uncut on the pan.  Also add your slice of jalapeno pepper – but make sure you keep track of where you put it.

3. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove the garlic.  Put the rest back in the oven, turn the heat down to 400 and roast another 15-20 minutes.

4.  Remove the pan and put the onion, garlic, eggplant, and tomatoes in a soup pot.  Remove the jalapeno completely – just the oil from baking it will be plenty hot.

5.  Add the veggie stock to the pot and bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling, turn down the heat a little and cook until the veggies are all tender.  About 10-15 minutes.

6.  Blend the whole soup in a food processor until completely smooth, then return to a low heat.  Add the cream, milk, and a little less then 1/4 cup grated parmesan.  Cook, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and eat with bread (and joy).

A note about pictures: because this soup ends up a cooked-eggplanty brown color and is blended to be largely textureless, it is not super photogenic.  Use your imagination and believe that it is worth the time and effort.  Really.

July 4, 2011

Hydro-Fracking in Upstate New York and Local Food

Okay, so this is not a post with a recipe in it, and it’s not even a meditation on the glories and downfalls of seasonal eating.  What we have here is a plea, a call to action, a rant against a society so committed to fossil fuels it is willing to consider poisoning the water table with radioactive and toxic chemicals for a little more natural gas.  But mostly this is just some information, and the hope that whoever reads with will respond by sharing the information and contacting their representatives to urge them to ban hydro-fracking, here in New York and everywhere else.

Central New York lies on top of something called the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation with veins of natural gas trapped between layers of rock.  And so gas companies want to mine it using a process called hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracking, or just fracking.  The process of fracking involves shooting water and chemicals into the ground horizontally to force out the natural gas which can then be captured and sold.  Right now I’m going to focus on the problem of loss of agricultural land and threats to agriculture.

Agricultural land loss:  New York has many, many farms, and central New York is particularly rich in farms, especially including small generally family run farms (both organic and conventional).  Farmers are an ever-shrinking population in the United States and the amount of arable farmland we have decreases each year.  We need out farms, here and everywhere.  In the most basic, most simple sense, we need our farms because we need food and as we lose farms we lose our connection to where our food comes from and we will be forced to buy imported food which is not fresh, not as healthy as local food, and which does not support the local economy.  But fracking has serious implications for agriculture.  The chemicals used in fracking are related to illness and infertility in livestock as well as lowered yields in crops.

In addition, at the end of the day, farmers, small family farmers, are left with the both the liability and the damaged and often toxic land.  The way that gas companies go about hydro-fracking is like this: gas companies sign leases with landowners, mostly farmers, that allow them to put more or less (depending on the lease, but often unknown to the farmer) whatever they would like on the land.  They can drill wherever they want, they can put up trailers, work all night and all day, and bring in lots of traffic.  And at the end of the day, the farmer is left with the toxic land because it’s a lease, not a sale.  The damage to land that has been fracked means that if New York goes forward with fracking, we stand to lose a lot of farms directly.  In addition, we stand to lose farms that go out of business due to decreased demand for food grown in areas where hydro-fracking is going on.  The Park Slope Food Coop has already made this clear.  Hydrofracking is a rural issue with urban and suburban impacts.

As we move into a future  where the combined result of climate change, population growth, and increases in the cost of fossil fuels mean that food shortages around the world will be growing, we need our farms more than ever.  We need farms here, and as we move into this future, the worst thing we can do and throw away tomorrow’s food source for some last hopeful gasp of fossil fuels.

July 3, 2011

Roasted Veggies and Salad

Our salad days are beginning:

Tonight, a balsamic and parsley glaze over roasted beets, carrots, and turnips with a cilantro and chickpea salad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Beets, Carrots, & Turnips:
4 beets, cut into small pieces
6-8 small turnips (3/4-1/2 inch diameter), roughly chopped
8-10 small carrots, roughly chopped
1 small spring onion, chopped small
a medium handful of garlic scapes, chopped small
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced OR a teaspoon of scape pesto
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

What to do:

1. Put the beets, turnips, carrots, onion, and scapes in an 8inch pan and toss with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Roast at 400 until somewhat soft, not mushy.

3. While the veggies are roasting, combine the parsley, garlic/scape pesto, and walnuts in a saucepan.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and a teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or more if you like).  Cook over very low heat for several minutes then set aside.

4. When the veggies are ready, pour the glaze over the top, stir a little, and eat.

Chickpea and Cilantro on Salad:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Handful of cilantro (maybe 6-7 stalks), chopped finely
Generous handful of snap peas, shelled
6 small radishes, chopped finely
7-8 garlic scapes, chopped finely
Green part of 2-3 scallions, sliced
Enough salad greens to fill your salad bowl (we added some spinach to the mixed greens & head lettuce)
Olive oil, salt, pepper
Dressing:  More olive oil & vinegar of some kind (chive is excellent; white wine or balsamic is great too)

1. Chop up the cilantro, shell the peas, chop the radishes and garlic scapes, and slice the scallions.  All of these things are optional except for the cilantro so mix & match to your heart’s content.  Put it all into a bowl and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir it together well and set aside.

2. Wash your salad greens and tear/cut them into pieces of a manageable size.  (Librarian has a certain aversion to too-large salad greens, but feel free to skip this step if you’re not so inclined.)  Put into big ol’ salad bowl.  I like to add some salt and pepper to the greens and mix it all around a bit.

3. We mixed together the two parts of this salad (greens vs. cilantro/chickpeas/radish mix) individually, and added oil and vinegar to taste.

Homemade Croutons:

Then, on top of the salad, these excellent croutons, from the closet-dweller’s brother-in-law:
Eaqual parts olive oil and butter, salt, pepper, slices of bread, cut or torn into small pieces.
1. Melt the butter in a frying pan with an equal amount of olive oil.

2. Mix in salt and pepper quickly.

3. Put the bread in and stir constantly over medium heat until crispy and delicious.

4. Eat.

June 4, 2011

Veggie List June 4th: Forbidden Fruits

This week, these long dreamed of things appeared at market, and were bought by us:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the list of joy:

1 bunch of chives

2 bunches of green garlic

2 bunches of asparagus (on it’s way out)

2 bunches of parsley

1 bunch of kale

1/2 lb spinach

1 quart strawberries

a handful of tomatoes

15 portobello mushrooms

May 22, 2011

A Delicious Meal of Potatoes and Righteousness

Potatoes:

  • 5-6 potatoes, in very thin slices
  • 3 mushrooms, chopped small
  • chives, finely cut
  • ramps, finely sliced
  • green garlic, minced
  • shallot, minced
  • Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • drizzle of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  1. Cook the ramps, mushrooms, garlic, shallot, chives, nutmeg, salt and pepper in olive oil and set aside.
  2. Peel and boil the potatoes until mostly cooked, then julienne them.
  3. Layer the potatoes and the mushroom herb mixture in a Dutch oven and top with butter and Parmesan.
  4. Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes
  5. Serve with delicious righteous kale recipe from The Closet Dweller’s Reign, except without the pasta.
May 7, 2011

In which English Cream Tea is sought and eventually found

Imagine it like this: you are in the country known more or less for bringing tea to the western world; and you are a serious tea lover who depends on it every morning at eight and again around four pm.  And imagine that you are craving this traditional English specialty: cream tea.

Imagine cream tea like this: a nice hot pot of tea, several warm scones, strawberry jam, butter, and Cornish clotted cream.  If you’ve never heard of clotted cream, or if this combination sounds disgusting, don’t be afraid.  It is actually completely delicious and will more or less make your day.  It may sound odd, since the cream isn’t, as a rule, in the tea, but then, “tea” can be a wildly varying term in Britain, encompassing everything from your cup of it in the morning to a full evening meal.

So, there we were in London, trying to find ourselves some cream tea.  In London, everything is expensive and the costs of cream tea ranged from £12-20 each.  So we abandoned that one and enjoyed a scone-free London, Cambridge, and Sheffield.

But finally, enter The Peak District!  After several hours of hiking through the truly beautiful Wye Dale, an old friend and I came upon the lovely little Assiford Tea Room in Ashford-on-the-Water.  Finally, cream tea!

That’s right: warm scone, delicious strawberry jam, and clotted cream.

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April 20, 2011

Veggies and What A Closet-Dweller Did With Them

When it’s a thundery April night and one is suffering the effects of over-indulgence, be it chemical or emotional, there’s only one way to woman up and fly right. (And I dare you to listen to this song, sober or otherwise, and not end up feeling like you’ve overdone it)

So, now that you’re suffused in the light glow of melancholy, here’s what to do: eat a bowl of virtue. Specifically, eat a huge bowl of kale. “But closet-dweller!” I can hear you say, your voice small and muffled by ions and tubes and pictures of cats (that’s what the internet is made of, right?)

“I thought you were one of us! The great unwashed and unrighteous legions of lazy vegetarians who eat kale with a sense of dull, anhedonic, puritan purpose, much like a tethered cow sullenly chewing its cud!”

And I say to you, fear not. For I have tried kale anew. I have doused it in warm olive oil and balsamic and garlic. And lo, it is good. It also tastes extra tasty cause I got the idea from a farmer at the farmer’s market, where I went and handed over money for vegetables and did not even cry, not even once, not even alone in the parking lot.

So, do what I did, and chop all this stuff that’s in the conveniently placed photograph up (not the kale, wash that and put it in a bowl. And really wash it if you give the farmer’s market your custom, or you could inadvertently eat some bugs you’ve just killed in hot oil and have to turn your back on your whole way of life). Put it all in a pan except the kale, with lots of oil, more than is appropriate. Put salt and pepper in there, and a splash or two of balsamic. Then, when everything is soft and fragrant and smelling of righteousness and vitamins, pour it over the raw kale, and let it sit while you check your email or pick the lint out of your bellybutton (or both, who am I to limit you?) Then eat that beautiful big bowl of greens, and you’ll feel a little better.

Righteous Ingredients

Bowl of Virtue

And if you don’t, heat up a big bowl of pasta and cheese and go to town. I won’t tell.

April 15, 2011

Closet-Dwelling, Egg Sandwiches, and You

I have a few controversial opinions, and this is one:  I like my egg sandwiches like I like my men: Cheese, Stress, and Accessory free.

This is awesome.

My basic philosophy behind the egg sandwich is as follows: Of course you can dress it up.  Put cheese on there, avocado, tomato, bacon if you can stand the guilt, fancy lettuce, mushrooms. Go all Richard Gere dressing up Julia Roberts on that sandwich. It’s going to be delicious. But it’s not what I think of when I think about egg sandwiches. (Insert your own “what we talk about when we talk about blank” Raymond Carver bullshit here. Seriously when are people going to stop doing that? Am I the only one who notices this?)

This is bullshit.

But in the same way that I find Julia Roberts more fun and appealing as a prostitute than as a rich prostitute, an egg sandwich can be even tastier when left alone. An egg sandwich is about having no money and no patience and no creativity. You can make one when you wake up in the afternoon starving and the fridge is almost empty. Or right before you go to a party where you’re scared there won’t be any food you want to eat. Or when you come home drunk from a party and need to put food in your stomach immediately and are too poor for the all-night diner and too dignified to just eat uncooked bread. If you have friends and do things like go to parties and don’t live in a closet in small-town New York, that is. The upside of which is I can eat an egg sandwich literally any time, because I am always home.

The Julia-on-Sunset egg sandwich is the opposite of fancy, the opposite of carefully arranged gruyere and goat cheese and extraneous vegetables getting between me and hot egg yolk that has just sizzled in butter being in my mouth. Save the drama for your mama, put a fried egg on a hot piece of bread, salt and pepper, take a moment to gaze in wonder at the beautiful golden drippiness, and then shovel it into your mouth. And then you should probably eat another one, too. Here is a picture of what I mean. It is not a good picture, because I don’t have a nice phone or steady hands.

With all this said, if you want to put more shit on there, I’m certainly not going to stop you. This is America. You can put whatever you want on your sandwich. If you can put an undead baby bird on it, then you can put some cheese on it too, let’s be real.

Tomorrow I brave the small-talk wasteland of the farmer’s market.  (Sample dialogue: Nice Farmer: “Hi!” Pause as he or she tries to place where they know me from, namely me hovering behind my roommates while they “normally interact” every weekend. “Where are the non-closet-dwellers?” Me: “Oh! (Exclamation because I am relieved I know the right answer) They’re in England…” Pause as I try to remember their name, almost say it, then as I am saying it I decide that’s not the right name, which results in a winded snort-giggle.  NF: “That’s amazing! What are they doing there?” Me: “Oh, like, stuff. Your basic England stuff.”  Long pause while we smile at each other. Longer pause while I shove some potatoes onto their scale, drop some on the floor, and then crawl on the floor to retrieve them, escaping from this suburban hell-scape only after becoming so verklempt I  forget how to count money and the farmer finally takes what they need out of my hand, giving me a pitying head shake, as if to say, “Now I understand why your role is to hold the bags and smile into the middle distance”)

Oh well. For this, and many situations, I listen to this song. If you’re going to have cheeseless opinions about breakfast foods, if you’re going to live in a closet, if you’re going to drop the entire bag of beer bottles you’re bringing to the grocery store so that they roll all over the lawn and street, glinting in the sun and clinking merrily to broadcast your alcohol consumption to the neighborhood, if you’re going to be dumb, in other words, you gotta be tough.

April 13, 2011

In Which The Closet-Dweller Goes It Alone

A door creaks open in a central New York Apartment on a blustery April day. A trembling, blinking creature emerges from the dark recesses within, moving slowly into the harsh afternoon light, a la The Beast of Disney fame. Who is this pale and disheveled form, you ask, wearing a bewitching mix of leggings and marinara-stained t-shirt with mismatched socks, inquiring of the cat as to the time?

It is I, the closet-dweller. I, who revels in the dark embrace of the closet by day and gazes, hypnotized, at glowing screens by night. I, who wrangles toddlers and recycles all those beer bottles whose labels I have not torn off in a frenzy of unused energy. I, who provides almost no monetary but much comedic support to my steadfast and lovely roommates. And where, you might ask, are these providers of vegetable knowledge, givers of gentle prodding into the warmth of the kitchen? Whither, they not of the closet?

My fellow denizens of small-town America have fled to England, leaving me to face alone the yawning cupboards empty of onions and greens and the anxiety-producing prospect of a solo farmer’s market. But I will not quaver! For they have also left me to indulge pleasant pastimes: Washing the dishes in one’s underwear whilst belting hits of the lovesick-country variety. Feeling no compunction about eating ice cream for breakfast. Talking to the cat freely in his natural tongue.

So I will press on, knowing as I do the shadowy contours of the apartment, the insomniac secrets of its culinary abundance. Join me, on this journey of discovery and peril, of fear and opportunity, as I leave the closet and prepare to fend for myself.

Tonight’s adventure involves pasta, mushrooms, butter, three-buck chuck, and the musical stylings of Ms. Dolly Parton. Let’s begin:

You might want to start by tying a red ribbon around your ponytail and clearing away some dishes, while listening to this song.

Ponder the contents of your fridge while you do so, and the big questions, such as, why exactly is food at the bottom of the drain so much less appealing than food on a plate? What does the mime in Dolly’s video symbolize? Where can I find those suspenders she’s wearing?

Congratulations. You have earned your first glass of wine. This can be consumed while cutting up some garlic and if you’re me, your second-to-last shallot. Chopping can be soothing but also boring, so you should listen to this awesome song. I give you my full permission to dance around singing the chorus into a wooden spoon, as I know you want to. Go on. If you can’t be undignified and cliche in front of your cat, you’re depriving an animal of the chance to harshly judge your melodramatics, and what kind of responsible pet owner would do that? Think of the animals!

If twangy, confusing, and unrequited love is not your thing (and if not, why not?) this is also a good opportunity to call someone you love but who lingers on the phone, as one: you have wine, and two: you can say, “I would love to talk some more, but I have to put these shallots and garlic onto the stove in a frying pan with a shitload of butter and salt and pepper. Goodnight!” (See what I did there? Subtle recipe instructions!)

Now, on to the improvisation portion of the meal. While the shallots and garlic are making sweet love to all that butter, fill a pot with water and set out the pasta of your choice. (I find it satisfying to methodically rip off the top of the box, but to each her own.) Cut up a hefty portion of portobello mushrooms. Throw those in with the other stuff. Here is where my night got tricky. I decided to be bold and go for a creamy sauce even though I had no cream. You could also take this recipe in the direction of the tomato-y balsamic if you have access to such things. What I did is perhaps unconventional, but turned out, well, let’s be honest, pretty ok: tear up some cheddar cheese (white, extra sharp, just like yours truly, heyo) and pour in the heaviest liquid dairy you posses, but not sour cream or yogurt, obviously. You want to keep the liquid in proportion with how much you chopped and how much pasta you’re making. With that in mind: pour a little bit of the wine from your glass into the pan but much more into your mouth. I also put some vegetable stock in there, cause it was in the fridge, and my mushrooms were a little withered and I thought it would perk them up. And yes, I realize this recipe is just to put a little of all your dairy products over pasta and mushrooms and eat it, but sue me. I’ve been living in a closet for six months.

I know you’re as smart as you are pretty, so you’ve remembered to cook and drain your pasta during all the above innovative saucing. Mix all the stuff you’ve cooked together and put a bunch of stuff on it: salt, pepper,  more cheese. And pour another glass of wine. You deserve it.  And let me know how it turned out. For me, it was sort of weird, but I liked it. That’s what she said. Closet-dweller out!

 

Stuff On Pasta, With Cat

I took a shitty picture with my phone. You can just see the cat and the beer bottles in the background.