Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eating in the Dark and Other Such Tales of Winter

Although it is cold and dark outside most days, most of the day, there are still those out there who are digging in the frozen soil, checking on the roaming pigs, and milking the cows through rain, snow, ice,  and mud.  I have tried very hard to not break down and buy any vegetables this winter from anywhere but the Main Street Farmer's Market and so far have succeeded.  There was one week though where we got awfully tired of cabbage.  Fortunately there is a nice supply of various kimchees in the fridge and pickles, sauces, and relishes in the freezer and on the shelf.  There is still cheese, grits, bacon, honey, sorghum, and pecans at the market.   And every now and then, if we're lucky enough, there is lettuce for salads, sweet crunchy carrots, beets, turnips, kale, and even tender brussel sprouts.  The produce in my fridge is confined to the produce drawers instead of sprawling everywhere, but sometimes it's nice to have an empty spot to stick a pot of chili.

This meal took me maybe 20 minutes and is most comforting and delicious.

For two very hungry folks:

Williams Island Carrots and Lemon-Orange Tahini Dip

I was lucky enough to receive a case of biodynamicly grown oranges and grapefruit for my birthday in November.  Even if you aren't that lucky it's kinda locavorily allowed to buy citrus this time of years,  tis the season after all.

  • 1 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon, more or less, ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon or so chopped ginger
  • 1 close garlic, chopped
  • Salt to taste- about a big pinch
Puree everything in a blender til super smooth.  Taste for seasoning and add juices, salt, or spices as desired.  Serve with super fresh and crunchy carrots.

Steamed Kale with Muscadine Vinegar and Sorghum

I am also lucky enough to have a (vinegar making) crazy father.  He recently blessed me with a growler full of muscadine vinegar.  It tastes of the clear blue skies of autumn and a twang of muscadine goodness.   Sorghum, I am realizing, goes well with everything.  It has a rich earthy sweetness that almost isn't sweet anymore and compliments almost every flavor in the world.

  • 1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped or torn
  • Splash of vinegar, muscadine or otherwise
  • Drizzle of sorghum syrup
  • Dash or pinch of salt
Steam the kale with the vinegar and salt in a bit of water til wilty and tender.  This time of year greens start getting much tougher and more bitter.  Sometimes, although it is not in vogue, it is nice to steam them a little longer. Drizzle in the sorghum at the very end.  Serve warm.

Udon Noodles with Homemade Miso and a Little Bit of Beets

Of course I am not crazy enough to make my own noodles, I buy them at the Asian Food Store on Hixson Pike.  I AM crazy enough to make my own miso, but one fit of insanity can last you several fruitful years.  I made black bean miso over three years ago and it is still doin' me good.    The recipe I used was from Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation- the best "cookbook" in the world and there is no excuse not to own it.

  • 1 bundle udon noodles
  • 1 beet, grated
  • 1 tablespoon miso, handmade or otherwise
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • Splash of tamari
  • 1 teeny tiny drop of sesame oil
Bring a pot of water to boil, and add the noodles.  Make sauce by diluting miso with hot noodle water and then adding ginger, tamari, and sesame oil.  Add a bit more water to make a thin-ish sauce that can coat the noodles.  Toss noodles with grated beet and sauce.  Serve warm.

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