Monday, June 28, 2010
The smell followed me around all morning. Their summer sweetness wafted back and forth across the path as I pounded my feet along the asphalt through the sunny breeze of morning. It was there at the farm stand, permeating the air, overtaking the fresh cilantro, basil, and mint. Then again in the car they released a pungent fragrance, a constant reminder of the delicious flavors to come. The perfume bathed the interior of the car, lingering on my salivary glands, conjuring culinary fantasies. They are reeking with joy because it is their time.
Strawberries. When they are gone, they are replaced by stunt doubles. Giant and bland, with only a hint of fragrance. They come from Mexico, South America, and California. A special breed with an indestructible fiber skeleton. They are swollen with water, because bigger sells better, but the memories are more dilute.
The small and sweet little New Hampshire or Minnesota berries would never survive a flight across the country. They are the brilliant red queen of the farm. They command attention, refusing to let me leave them be. There is no need for dressing them up with cream and shortcake, balsamic vinegar, sugar or lime. On their own each bite comes packed with precious childhood memories- Young birthday parties, Saint Mark's Mayfair, Mrs. Vandyke's fruit tart, breakfasts with my cousins in Maine, sailing on the AJ Meerwald, last year's 4th of July salad.
Somewhere between who I thought I was and who I think I want to be, is who I am and who I have always been. In the flavor and the fragrance of strawberries, I can find that girl. She is sitting on a rock, her legs warmed against the dark stone. The sun sets on the horizon, the salty air blows by, and she wears strawberry stains on her shirt.
Strawberry Thyme Salad
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3/4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic
1 tsp Florida pepper (Penzy's) or ground black pepper and lemon zest
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 small head green leaf, red leaf, or romaine lettuce (probably romaine is best)
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to know things"
In the early morning light, I went to the airport and got in an airplane bound for New Hampshire. Half asleep and wedged into my little seat, I looked for something to distract myself with. A magazine, the little safety card, my hardcover book, a neighbor with an 80's perm, a 11 year old child sitting in the window seat. The child was leaning her forehead against the little glass window, her jaw gaping, her wide eyes scanning the land below. I followed her eyes and marveled at the tufts of white cloud against the cartoon blue sky.
Suddenly I felt fully awake. We are flying. We are a group of people, sitting in little chairs and riding through the sky. THROUGH THE SKY!! The child had guided me to a sense of wonder. I managed to hold onto it until the whir of the planes ascent subsided, then I forgot my awe, and returned to my book.
The first thing I noticed when driving through New Hampshire were the pine tree studded mountains, they are groomed and green like a chia pet in full bloom. We drove over the hills and through the woods and to a little house on the lake where my family and nephews were lounging inside. My four year old nephew showed me his train set, and his toy cars. Then I went for a run.
The dirt trail was carved before me, like a wooden track and I felt myself being pushed along, as though a giant finger were digging into my back. I hugged close to the turns and allowed myself to be pushed. The trail opened up to a narrow road, which arched up and down and up again. I imagined myself in a child's toy world. I was a train car, I was moving, noticing, my wheels freely turning. I happened by a garter snake, it reminded me of a rubber toy. I chugged up a steep hill with jolted steps like a roller coaster climb, passed a horses pasture, past a patches of lavender, past a waft of manure, slowly, finally, I reached the top.
Then I was let go. My stomach did a summersault as it shifted from up to down and I went flying, arms flailing, down a steep hill, allowing my legs to turn over. It was quite a ride.
Lime cilantro dressing
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice from 1 lime plus 1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup chopped purple cabbage
Christina's vote: "This salad put the clouds away"
The old man hunched over the table, scattered newspapers spread before him in a table cloth of gray and black. The bend in his back arched over so extreme that it appeared his head was growing out of his chest, and his ears were long and leathered. He hung his head and muttered into his coffee, which nearly graced the tip of his nose. His elbows were anchored firmly in frond of him, and splayed wide in a posture of open assertiveness. Every so often he would gesture, with his hands.
It was this gesturing that first caught my attention. I was waiting at the bar for my embarrassingly large coffee. Though I try to convince myself otherwise, a Starbucks is really just a glorified McDonalds, fast food overindulgence. I was planning to take my coffee and go, so that I could have the illusion of a nice relaxing morning coffee date without the actual nice relaxing morning..or the date. To some people the word coffee is a verb meaning the action of sitting together for a leisurely conversation, lasting anywhere from 1 to 24 hours. Christina and her family define coffee in this way. In Germany, take out coffee is still such a novelty that they actually distinguish "coffee" from "coffee to go". As my German professor used to say "Americans take something perfectly wonderful like a cappuccino, and put it in a paper cup so that they can walk around with it. It defeats the whole purpose of enjoying a cappuccino!" To me, coffee is a beverage that I consume to help me perform my daily activities, much like some people enjoy alcohol to help them perform nightly activities.
The gesturing caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Next I noticed the mans deeply wrinkled skin and freshly groomed appearance. His hair was parted over to the left and was lined with tooth tracks from what was probably a small black comb. The chair across from him was empty, but he didn't seem to notice. He was eagerly relaying a story, and one that had probably been rehearsed thousands of times. "So then I lay the cards out on the table.." he said, cocking his head to the right and leaning in a bit, toward the empty chair across from him. Aside from the fact that he was talking to an imaginary friend, the man seemed perfectly normal. Besides that, the story sounded good. I had the sudden urge to rush over and fill the empty chair, but I didn't want to break his spell. I thought, maybe I could eavesdrop from another table, and I regretted that I didn't have time.
The stories of elderly people are worth listening to. They are like recipes that have been prepared many times and tested on multiple audiences. You just know that they are going to be good. I thought about this as I reflected on season 2 of 90 salads. I am just a baby in the salad world, and thankful for the audience I have. I hope that one day, when my recipes are tweaked and my skills are fully seasoned, some young people will happen by and fill the seat across the table from me to listen.
Sesame Tamari dressing
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil (sunflower oil is nice)
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp tamari
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
a touch of wasabi for kick (optional)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup bean sprouts
3 medium carrots, diced or shredded
3/4 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 small head green leaf lettuce
Christina's vote: "This salad un-levels the playing field"
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The six of us were gathered around two wooden tables, pushed together in the small, crisp demo kitchen of the co-op. The standing shadow that projected to the back of the room was mine, the rest of the shadows were hunched over, sitting tall, or scribbling on notepads. Dark green bottles of oil and vinegar were spread out before me, in a mottled array of shapes and widths. They were staggered like kindergartners in a classroom line-up. Had I been watching my shadow, I would have noticed how much I fidget when I teach, and how my hair refuses to remain in a ponytail. Had I been looking in from outside, I would have marveled at how the bright glow of the classroom lit up the large square window and cut through the warm dusk sky. Instead I stood staring at the bottles of oil, and feeling the sets of eyes which had only just begun tracing me to make an impression. I poured some olive oil into a tablespoon. A hand shot up in the air.
"Could you use an oil other than olive oil, because I find the flavor of olive oil to be too strong. Or is there one that you would recommend we use that is less strong?"
I put down the olive oil and reached for a different bottle."Yes, I like to use grapeseed oil. It has a flavor that is much milder and a more pale color and.."
I stopped mid-sentence. The oil I was pouring, which I thought was the grapeseed oil, was not pale, but bright blue. It looked like dish detergent. I checked the bottle- grapeseed -then checked the tablespoon- blue. I brought the spoon up to my nose and sniffed. I felt the room wince a little, no doubt because I was now sniffing the thing that they would soon be obligated (out of Minnesota politeness) to taste. In a moment of fear I wondered if someone was playing a trick on me, or if I had grabbed the wrong bottle. If I continued on with the class like nothing was amiss I might risk poisoning someone. As I floundered around up front, one of the students spoke up "is it supposed to be that color?" By this time I had the spoon up level with my eyebrows and I was inspecting it, cross eyed. I dropped the spoon and looked up, exhaling a large amount of air.
"No. I have never actually used this brand before." I confessed, feeling stupid yet relieved. Honesty has that effect on me. I took a taste of the oil. It had a greasy finish, which would swallow all of the delicate flavors of the rest of the evenings dressings.
For the remainder of the class, we discussed how the salads you make are only as good as the quality of the ingredients. Using the wrong oil for example, can result in the need to cover up off flavors with additional ingredients. This doesn't mean you have to buy the expensive oil, in fact, I think it is better not to. Expensive oils move off of the shelf slowly and have a higher risk of being spoiled by the time you open them. I go for a nice middle of the road oil, and try to buy small bottles of ones I have never tasted in case I don't like the brand.
The dressing for today's salad is one I had to make over, because I tried to use that blue green oil.
Dill lime dressing
4 Tbsp Salute Sante brand grapeseed oil
2 garlic scapes
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp honey
Blend together in a food processor.
1 1/2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup pea pods
1 small head red leaf lettuce
Christina's vote: "This salad screams 'I love Sunday!'"
Saturday, June 26, 2010
With sharp crampons, stress creeps up soft elastic shoulders. She grapples the muscles with hooks and lines, pulling and twisting as she goes. When she reaches the throat she hangs and rests, gripping tightly, her legs and arms spread eagled. She makes you swallow hard. Up your jaw she continues, and you clench tight to support her weight. She drives her pick into your temples. She kicks open your eardrums, and the once filtered, clean sound enters in a wave of white noise. She is a subtle visitor, but the path she treads is jagged and rough. It is not until she dives from the summit, and you feel her little toes as they spring down and lift off from your forehead, that you realize she had ever set camp. When she is gone, you miss her weight, to which you had grown accustomed. Without her, you find you move easily and you have to relearn how to shift your balance. I stood in the middle of the crowd, feeling my new weight as stress repelled off of me.
I felt myself standing, I was a mountain among mountains. In my right hand, I was carrying a single ear of roasted corn. I held it by the husk, the charred black pointed leaves stuck out beneath my clenched fist like straw on a scarecrow. I had just finished a morning of work at the market, and for the first time in months I had nothing due, nowhere I had to be, no one I needed to meet with. I thought about how, if I wanted to, I could sit down on the stone wall and eat my corn while watching the people go by. I could eat it kernel by kernel if I felt like it. The thought made me giddy.
Walking through the market with nowhere to be, really made me feel connected. I stopped and asked questions. I tasted cheese from 3 different vendors. I pulled in the carnival smells. I shopped for salad ingredients. I was a mountain among mountains.
As I was leaving, I noticed an old Hmong woman sitting on a stool. She had deep wrinkles on her face. She wore a long dress with a kerchief on her head. She was shelling peas and smiling with her eyes. I thought to myself, 'that looks like a fun thing to do', so I bought some shelling peas.Then I made this salad.
Garlic Scape, Red Potato and Pea Salad
4 cups diced, cooked, red potatoes (cook in boiling water, drain, and then rinse to cool)
4 garlic scapes
1/2 cup shelled peas
2 green onions
2 Tbsp fresh dill
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp soy sauce (for color)
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Toss together and serve. Garnish with chive blossoms.
Christina's vote: "From God's ears to my lips"
Friday, June 25, 2010
As I write this post, I am walking 2 mph at a treadmill desk. It is amazing. The desk, which can be raised or lowered at the press of a button, is about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. That is plenty of room for my papers, and my coffee. I could probably even fit a couple of coffee pots on here. The only drawback to this setup is the location. I am in a tiny room in the heart of the library at the VA medical center. In order to be able to use the desk, I have to sign up in advance. Thinking back to a recent experience where I had to complete an exam that required 12+ hour days sitting at a computer, I have to wonder why no one invented the treadmill desk sooner.
During the sedentary month, my back would often ache and my mind would feel stale. The blood would pool in my legs, and my whole body, right down to the toes, would feel swollen and sore. I had to wear arm socks to keep my elbows from bruising. I kept thinking 'I can't believe people live like this.'
I dream of a future where the word desk chair is filed in the graveyard of technological archives, along with the camcorder, the 8-track, and the telephone chord. The chair will be looked back on as a historical torture device, once revered as a symbol of cultural pride, like the corset or the Chinese lotus shoe (which was used in foot binding). It may seem extreme to compare the desk chair to the lotus shoe, which often caused young women to have broken toes and severe disabilities later in life. However, I feel that it is a valid comparison. My reasoning is not entirely scientific, but I did gather some evidence. Christina and I once had a discussion about the prevelence of pain in the American population, she insisted that most people live with pain, I assured her that they do not. The discussion resulted in the formation of a bet. She bet me that if I asked everyone who came through the coffee shop, most people would confess to living with pain. I wish I could say that I won the bet, but I did not. The most common source of pain described was the lower back. The most common job: the desk job.
Here is a link to the treadmill desk http://www.treadmill-desk.com/
This salad is simple and elegant. I added lemon to it at first, and so it was too tart. Christina added soy sauce to hers and brought the tartness down. Then she stood and watched me taste it, and waited for my response. She looked like a proud kid showing me a report card. It was the cutest, but I couldn't let her know I thought so. In the dressing I left out the lemon and the soy sauce, but If you want some more complex flavors, add 1/2 tsp lemon juice and a few drops of soy.
Champagne truffle dressing
1 Tbsp white truffle oil
4 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 1/2 tsp Champagne vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 baby green onions
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 head red leaf lettuce
3 carrots quartered and sliced
1 small tomato
6 asparagus spears
Christina's vote: "I was swirled by a tornado of flavors"
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
When feeling uncertain, uncomfortable, or socially awkward, I find that the best thing to do is to wash dishes. I am not the greatest dishwasher, for which I blame my mother because, growing up, she always offered to wash the dishes if I cooked dinner. I stood in the back of the coffee stand at the farmers market. It was one of my first days on the job, and though I was hired to coordinate demos and report on the radio, I found myself eagerly offering to wash the dishes almost instantly. My boss, who has a background in marketing, likes to introduce me to people, and heavily emphasizes my education. While my credentials may be impressive to her, the farmers know better. To the farmers, the hours that I spend sitting at my desk reading, or researching articles online, represent hours missed working with the plants. To them, my degree program is more a symbol of my lack of experience than of my high qualifications, even though I am studying nutrition. So said the cheese man, who is a former researcher and biochemistry PhD. "No offense" he said "but I make it a point not to hang around with you university types anymore. You don't realize how much you don't know, and are missing. I was a researcher, but I got bored with that. I gave it up to study cheese. Cheese is a moving target... blah blah blah blah" he went on. 'You don't understand.' I wanted to say 'I'm not like them. I'm one of you. I just haven't settled in to my place here yet.'Instead the words came out like this, "Could you excuse me, I have some dishes to wash" and I backed away slowly. In the kitchen I overheard a farmer telling my boss's daughter about high tunnel farming(see link below for article on high tunnel farming).
It is because of high tunnel farming that we have Minnesota tomatoes, grown outdoors in the ground, this early in the season. We also have chubs, which are basically pickling cucumbers grown past their regular harvest time. What we don't have at the farmers market right now, are pickling cucumbers. Why not, you ask? The answer is that nobody will buy them now, because it is not pickling season yet. Food is one area where our culture is slow to catch up with our tecnology. When a new food product is engineered, cultural rules must be abided if the product is to sell. "People seem to forget that their local farmers are trying to make a living, sometimes we have to get creative. People won't buy pickling cucmbers now, so we grow them out longer and call them 'chubs'". The salad below was made with high tunnel tomatoes, which can be found right now at the farmers market. They are delicious!
Spicy Caprese Salad (The watercress gives it spice. If you don't like spice use arugula for a peppery variation, or sorrel for a lemony one.)
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Add salt and pepper
Whisk in 1/2 cup slivered basil
2 chopped garlic scapes
1 slice diced red onion
1 cup chopped watercress (for spice)
lay out mixture on a plate and add 1 sliced high tunnel tomato. Serve with toast.
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel right-justified"
I leaned with all my might against the heavy wind and the force of gravity. The boat had tipped us sideways, kissing her rails to the water. Like an older sibling she teased us, threatening to dump us out and let us fall into the ocean. I knew she wouldn't let us fall, but my hands gripped tightly to her wire shrouds and my toes clenched her fiberglass deck through rubber soled shoes, just in case. I was seven years old, and proud to be a sailor. My mother shouted out at me from the cockpit, volumes of her worry laden voice were seized and escorted away by gusts of wind before they reached my ears. Every so often I could hear a faint
"always keep one hand on the shiiiipppp..", but even when these words reached my ears, they were muffled by my awe. I was mesmerized by the churning, thrashing, dull blue-gray horizon, and the smooth, white sails which were snapped tight. The tell tails wagged approvingly at the authority of the wind. Then there was the sound. Rhythmic like breath, gentle like rain, we rose and fell to the sound of our crashing bow.
"Ready about?" My brother was at the helm. I rushed back to my mothers worried arms.
"Hard to lee" We turned through the eye of the wind, and for a moment the boat went flat and I could feel the wind's breath on both of my ears. Then the ship leaned to the other side. My father took my hand. He smelled like sunscreen and cold air.
"Why don't you go and hang your legs off of the high side, and look for mermaids?"
"Okay!" I said, and I scooted out onto the deck and hung my legs over the side and stared into our foamy wake.
Years later I am still looking for mermaids. As it turns out Christina's mother is a mermaid artist. Born in Minnesota, miles from the nearest ocean, she found herself compelled to create mermaids. They emerged from the depths of her imagination, in all shapes and sizes, with the most curiously beautiful faces. They are too gentle not to be real. As I was going through my salad pictures for this post, I spotted a picture of one of Catherine's mermaids, and I decided to make her this salad to remind her of her home in the sea.
View Catherine's mermaids: http://www.catherinestenhjem.com
Mermaid Tales Salad
Boil water and add about 1/4 tsp salt. Cook pasta for about 10 min, then drain and rinse with cold water to prevent it from sticking. In a large frying pan, add
1 Tbsp olive oil and
1 Tbsp white truffle oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
cook for about 3 min, then add the pasta. Cook another 3 min, then remove from heat and dump into a bowl. Add
2 garlic scapes, diced. Put the pan back onto the burner and add
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 head rinsed swiss chard
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp water, cover with a lid and turn the heat down. Cook until wilted. Remove the lid and let the moisture evaporate. Add the chard to the pasta. When the salad has cooled, add
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 orange pepper
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup diced basil
fresh ground pepper
Place in fridge and adjust seasoning before serving (you may want to add more oil and vinegar)
Christina's vote: This salad stirred me.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I dove my spoon into the shredded cabbage and kohlrabi. I was feeling clever, having just created a rendition of one of my favorite salads in town, a coconut lime coleslaw. The version I made is tropical, but with a hint of garden. I think it is best described as an island ranch dressing. I poured the creamy dressing into the spicy-sweet slaw. It folded over itself in beautiful ribbons, then sank into the porous shreds, glazing the carrots with darkness the way water changes sand. Just then, tiny whiskers interrupted my musings, and a nose poked into view. My eyes followed the little white nose up to triangular grey ears, then back to look straight into the most intensely curious eyes I have ever seen. I cocked my head to match his, and held my gaze as he looked from me to the salad and back again. He seemed so happy to be sitting there watching, that I considered going back to my cooking and leaving him on the counter.
Then I noticed the paw. It was poised and ready to dive. It looked like a snake about to strike. I blinked my eyes wider, and zoomed in on the tan burnt auburn stains on the white fur. My eyes walked further, uncovering a track of brown splatter which led to a drip stained mug whose rim was now tracing the counter. I looked back at Eugene. His eyes bulged guiltily. Clearly he had helped himself to some coffee, and now he was planning to help himself to some salad. I dove for my water gun while shouting "NOOOOOO". He turned his head. The snake paw drooled brown. I shook the gun, sloshing the water ominously. He flinched and ducked. He left me no choice. I fired.
Eugene sat on the floor, licking the water off of his legs. He frowned at me, put up his tail, and pranced away. I continued scraping the bowl with my spatula. Since the first time I read Alice Waters "Fanny at Chez Panisse" I have fantasized about having a child who would sit with me while I am cooking, and to whom I could pass along all of my kitchen secretes. I would set the child on the table in a large salad bowl, and spin the bowl from time to time to keep them pacified. I suppose I should have been more specific in my dreaming and imagined that the child be human and not so naughty as to stick their paws into the salad.
Coconut lime dressing
2 heaping TBSP coconut cream (open a can of coconut milk and just scoop out the creamy part)
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
lots of fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon-thyme (I have a plant of it that I got from the farmers market)
in a food processor, shred 2 medium peeled kohlrabi and 6 peeled carrots. Add 2 diced garlic scapes and 3 green onions (with a tiny bulb on the end). Dress with coconut lime dressing.
Christina's vote: "I could taste melodies in this salad"
Monday, June 21, 2010
The thick, humidity had been hovering for days, and the sky smothered our little city under a blanket of rainclouds. In the dim light the heavy leaves brightened and came alive, like pages of a comic book illuminated by flashlight. I lumbered through the intermittent, heavy raindrops, stepping my boot down awkwardly on the pavement to protect my heel from the piercing blister which tore at my ankle. Many of the veterans at the hospital have the same labored walk, probably from grenade blown limbs and amputated gunshot wounds. My injury was a casualty of gender and fashion. I felt absolutely ridiculous. I let the world turn into a jungle around me on the drive home. I turned where the trees arched over the road and allowed them to engulf me into there once skeletal arms. I was exhausted. I was hungry. It was late.
A hard day of work is refreshing, when your mind and body have been pushed to the edges of your own ego, forcing you to dangle your fingers and toes into the surrounding abyss. Your hair blows through the winds of the unknown, and you don't even try to tie it back. You hope that it will gather lofty messages, and bring them to you so that you too can fly freely around this earth. These messages cannot be contained within the confines of an ego.
I got home and opened my computer. The letter finally came. I didn't get the fellowship I had applied for. I turned into a perfectionistic 7 year old, throwing a tantrum. I began compiling a mental list of my failures. I felt like giving up on school, but instead shared my thoughts with Christina and allowed her to put them into perspective.
"Don't be one of those people that never appreciates what they have." She said. That made me laugh. I said those exact words to her yesterday. I love my life, and I can't stop showing up for it just because I have skinned pride. As I began peeling the beets, I went through my list of failures, mentally erasing each one and replacing it with a gratitude.
E SCAPE dressing
1 tsp raw dandelion honey (it melts like butter and turns bitter tongues sweet)
2 tsp white wine vinegar (it just sounds fancy)
1 tsp ume plum vinegar (a deliciously salty, lovely flavor)
2 diced garlic scapes (crunchy, independent child of garlic
1 tsp french basil (As I poured it into the bowl, I thought of Diane Boutin and of my trip to Quebec, I demanded that Christina and I pack up our things and move to Canada at once. She just started at me and slowly chewed her beets.)
lots of ground black pepper (it feels good to grind)
2 Tbsp olive oil (flavor matters, make sure your oil is fresh and to your liking)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (lighten up, it's summer)
Beet en and Fried Salad
2 small golden beets
2 small red beets
2 small candy striped beets
4 thin carrots
In a frying pan, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the gold beets. Add 2 small cloves minced garlic and 1 sprig rosemary. Add a pinch of salt. Pour in about 1 tsp mirin and saute for about 4 min. Pull the beets out with a slotted spoon and add the candy striped beets, 2 more cloves minced garlic and about 1/2 cup water. When the candy beets are soft, pull them out with a slotted spoon and add the red beets. Cook to desired texture and remove.
Toss 2-3 cups arugula in 1/2 the dressing and pour onto a platter. Toss the beets and sliced carrots in the rest of the dressing and serve (warm or cold).
Christina's vote: "This salad can do no wrong"
Sunday, June 20, 2010
"Hello, I'd like to speak with Annie please."
"Yeah. Hang on a moment. ANNIEEEE" The woman's voice was blase with a hint of crabby. It was not at all what I would expect from the mother of a responsible high school girl scout, especially one who was mature enough to organize a health and nutrition day for her troop. I peered around the pristine church basement. The face of my cell phone was glued to my ear, causing my cheek to burn and my ear to sweat.
"Hello?" said the young voice.
"Hi Annie, I am here. Where is the group?" The heavy grocery bag pulled at my left shoulder and cut into my hand. I set it on the ground, balancing it against my leg to prevent the long green carrot tops that were bursting out of the top from tipping the whole bag over. I could hear the low drone of the pastors voice whispering through the cracks of the room where a Sunday service was taking place. The thought dawned on me that it was a little strange for a group of girl scouts would be meeting in a church on a Sunday for a workshop, but having never been a girl scout, I wouldn't know how these things work.
"Um, actually it was yesterday." She said.
"What!!!??! But your email said the 20th. That's today! I am here today!"
"Yeeeah, we didn't know where you were. Sorry. I didn't email you last night. I meant to."
I had driven through traffic. I had been to three grocery stores. I had been planning for days, researching the origins of different foods. I was going to do a mindfulness exercise with them. We were going to taste-test organic and conventional apples, ethylene vs high tunnel tomatoes, whole carrots vs baby carrots, and foods with hidden salt. I walked out of the church and into my car with the mixed bag of desirable and undesirable goods and emotions.
There is something about a cow pasture that makes me forget that cars are for getting from one place to another. The sky was gathering puffs of cloud, and knitting them into one large white blanket. The streets were flawed with evenly spaced bumps that gave my wheels a rhythmic industrial clank, like the sound of pistons pumping. I thought about machinery, and imagined the robotic arms picking unripe tomatoes on an industrial farm, sending them down a conveyor belt to be gas ripened with ethylene. I imagined the crates being loaded into a truck, tossed and stacked like mail. I took out one of the bright pink tomatoes and brought it up to my nose. Nothing. It felt greasy in my hands. This is the tomato we have come to know. I took out the other tomato from the farmers market, grown in a high tunnel. It felt soft in my hand. It never would have survived a robotic arm, or being packed, stacked, and thrown around in a crate. It was hand picked, and delivered to me at the farmers market. I know because I met the man who picked it.
A large clang jolted me as my wheel skipped over a hole in the road, and I came into the realization that I was driving aimlessly. The heat was steaming the fragrances out of the strawberries sitting in the passenger seat. I felt bad about missing the girl scouts, but recognized how good it felt to have the intention of going. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out my phone, opened up the text window, and sent a message to Christina.
"I think it's time for another round of 90 salads" I wrote.
Her message came back instantly.
Strawberry rosemary balsamic vinaigrette
1 1/2 cups small sweet strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp mustard powder
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Blend together the strawberries and balsamic, and transfer into a small saucepan. Heat for 4 min over med/high heat. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
mixed baby greens with 1 cup arugula and 1/2 cup cilantro
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 cup diced purple cabbage
1 cup strawberries for garnish
1 cup dry roasted almonds
Garnish with goat brie if desired
Christina's vote: "Don't see how it could get better than this, but I am sure it will."