Kimchi & Dals & the Comfort of Daily Habits

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CSA Love (!) and Creamy, Indian-spiced Spring Vegetables

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Sorrel (Sandwiches) & a Cooking Class

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Carrot, Oat, & Nutmeg Muffin

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There's Nothing Like Spring!

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Spoiled Rotten

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Spaghetti Nettle Pie

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Radicchio & Mizuna Risotto

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Oh Yes!

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Deviled Eggs with Sidewalk Greens

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Kimchi & Dals & the Comfort of Daily Habits

kimchi in jar top

Many Koreans eat kimchi, the fermented cabbage and/or root dish everyday, with-or in most meals. Dals, the split lentils, peas or beans cooked into a savory stew with spices, grace tables over all over Southeast Asia, particularly Indian, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and are often simply enjoyed with rice–a protein rich, inexpensive meal.

I am interested in these cultural/culinary traditions, in part because of their daily consumption (with plenty of variation). There are certainly things I eat regularly and I am more and more interested in simplifying and finding variety in nuance and combinations rather than completely new sets of ingredients each day. Having a CSA or shopping at famers’ markets is a good guide as the vegetables change week to week or month to month but the surrounding staples, like shelf-stable fermented foods and long-lasting dry/staple goods like lentils and beans provide constant comfort, if you will.

Both kimchi and dals have infinite variations, from family to family and region to region. I have been making both for a decade or so and have barely scratched the surface of these iconic dishes, learning slowly from folks who grew up with these foods, central to their culture and identity. Sauerkraut is my cultural equivalent (to the kimchi) and though I like it I am much more drawn to the spice and complexity of its Korean cousin.  Tis the season here in the Pacific Northwest for Napa Cabbage, the most central of kimchi ingredients and I will be starting a batch today.

And I particularly love red lentils; the cook quickly, my son loves them, and they’re just plain delicious and easily imbued with all sorts of spices and herbs.

Simple Red Lentil Dal

red lentil dal simple

This takes 20 minutes (at the most) to make and is richly flavored. It’s delicious just with rice or with Sautéed Chard with Ginger, Jalapeño and Sausages or with stewed meats or other vegetables or grains. It is superb the next day and freezes well so by all means double the recipe. You can also stir leafy greens such as spinach, turnip, beet or mustard greens into the lentils a few minutes before they’re done

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1/2 an onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced (omit seeds if you’re nervous bout the heat level) or a whole one if you like spice
Salt
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons brown/black mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Put the lentils in a large sauce pan with the garlic, onion, Jalepeño and water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cover partially. Cook gently for about 12-15 minutes until the lentils are tender and beginning to fall apart.

In a small skillet heat the oil or ghee. When it’s shimmering add the mustard and cumin seeds and stir well. They will begin to pop and spit after 20 seconds or so. Add the turmeric, stir well and cook for another few seconds. Take off the heat and pour all of the spices and oil (scrape out well with a spatula) into the lentils along with 1 teaspoon salt and stir in well and cover. Garnish with chopped cilantro and season to taste with more salt if needed.

CSA Love (!) and Creamy, Indian-spiced Spring Vegetables

Indian spiced creamy peas turnips cabbage

Want to enjoy the freshest produce? Get a CSA.

Want to become a better cook? Get a CSA.

Want to keep your $$ in your community? Get a CSA.

Want to expand your/your children’s/family’s palate? Get a CSA.

Want to save money? Get a CSA. (Because when you already have all that produce you will likely not go out to eat because you want/need to eat the food you’ve already paid for and because if you stock your pantry well and get those weekly veggies you will spend less because you’ll run to the store less. Buy a case or two of lovely white or rose and spend summer evenings on your porch with your veggies and your wine! . . . want to find me? That’s where I’ll be!)

Want to feel connected to your community? Get a CSA.

Want to really be in tune with the seasons? Get a CSA.

Worried you’ll miss the farmers’ market? You can still go and buy fruit and whatever else you’re craving! But get a CSA too!

CSA is not for everyone. If you travel lots during the summer it’s not your best bet. If you hate to cook, don’t get one either:)!

I love my CSA for the above reasons. If you’ve been thinking of giving it a try, now’s the perfect time. I work with many CSA farms including these below. If I haven’t covered your region look here or here.

Sauvie Island Organics (Customized recipes) (OR)

47th Ave Farm (Semi-customized posts) (OR)

Love Farm Organics (OR)

Minto Island Growers (OR)

Full Plate Farm (fall/winter CSA; OR & SW WA)

Mud Creek Farm (NY)

The Good Earth (SD)

Hill Family Farm (TN)

Joy Haven Farm,(AL)

And in someone else’s words:

“I just wanted to let you know that I cooked up a batch of your Sweet Hot and Sour Eggplant the other day and it is absolutely fantastic.  I didn’t have any fresh peppers, so I just chopped up a bunch of Ayers Creek dried cayennes and cooked them down with it.  It’s an easy recipe to throw together, requiring no trips to the store (always nice) and very delicious.  I served it alongside some sesame and scallion udon noodles I got the idea for from whatsername on the NYTimes.  Melissa Clark. Anyway, they played well together.  Thanks for yet another recipe that makes me seem like a better cook than I actually am!” Giana, Portland, OR

Creamy, Spiced Peas, Turnips and Cabbage
–Inspired by Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

The complex flavors in this dish belie the speed with which it comes together. It is a good template as many different vegetables can be used and you can add meats or seafood as you like. I use whatever combination of vegetables I have on hand. You could use asparagus, snap peas and spinach or potatoes and green beans  or winter squash and cauliflower. . . You can also just use a single vegetable.

I sometimes serve it with barely hard cooked eggs to turn this into a meal, with rice.

Serves 4

For the sauce:

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 2-3 roasted (frozen) tomatoes, finely chopped
Scant 1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon  lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons oil
Generous 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Generous 1/2 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 small bunch Salad Turnips or 1 large regular turnip, diced (no need to peel if you’re using salad turnips). By all means use the tender stems and leaves of salad turnips, chopped, if you have them, as well
1/4 small cabbage, cored and chopped fairly finely
2 cups fresh, shelled peas or 1 10-oz bag frozen peas or trimmed and chopped snap peas
Rice for serving

I sometimes serve it with barely hard cooked eggs to turn this into a meal, with rice.

In a small bowl stir together the cumin, garam masala, salt, red pepper flakes, tomato (paste) and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk in the cream, lemon juice and cilantro and set aside.

Heat the oil in  large saucepan or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and wait until they start popping, 10-20 seconds typically. Add the turnips and cabbage and couple pinches of salt. Stir well and cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the peas and cook for a few more minutes until tender and heated through. Stir the sauce into the vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened a little. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon and/or salt and hot pepper to taste.

Serve hot over rice. I like to serve it with just barely hard-cooked eggs–eggs covered in cold water, brought to a boil, then removed from heat and left sitting, covered in their hot cooking water for 7 minutes, then drained and peeled.

 

 

Sorrel (Sandwiches) & a Cooking Class

Constraints really are the mother of creativity. In this case the constraints were: 1) what’s available, any given morning, in my pantry and puny garden in early spring, and 2) what my 9-year-old might/will eat in his school lunch. He loves mortadella sandwiches and I had indulged by buying this classic […] Read more »

Carrot, Oat, & Nutmeg Muffin

These muffins are not particularly springy, but they are particularly good! Lots of nutmeg, freshly grated if possible, make these chewy-but-airy little treats sing. And grate those carrots on the small holes of the box grater and you’ll end up with an elegant texture for this otherwise rustic muffin. My son endorsed […] Read more »

Spoiled Rotten

me that is, not the vegetables. I am spoiled by my CSA. Spoiled by deliciousness, convenience (yes!) and by something bigger, harder to define. Everywhere we look we’re told to slow down, unplug, spend time with our family, be mindful, and of course eat more fresh vegetables and cook from scratch. […] Read more »

Spaghetti Nettle Pie

Spaghetti pies are everywhere, it seems. . . as are nettles here in the soggy Pacific Northwest at the moment. It’s a spectacular combination. Two of my favorite bloggers waxed poetic about this dish recently; Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz. I added lots of nettles, used less cheese, not because I […] Read more »

Oh Yes!

I recently discovered Communal Table. The first post I received has been resonating with me on many levels–it was a welcome note to 2016 and talked about mindfulness and playfulness and food, of course, and included this inimitable line: “I don’t need someone else’s piousness moving in and making way too […] Read more »