Last week, I discovered the biggest head of cauliflower I had ever seen.
It was heavy, the florets culminated in little conical peaks, and the surface was almost furry in appearance. This cauliflower was completely unlike any I had ever purchased in a supermarket. It looked real and it was beautiful.
Also in season right now: eggplant. If you head to the farmers' market, you'll soon discover that this vegetable comes in more shapes and sizes than the dark and familiar oblong two-hander. Some are long and skinny, others squat and round. Not only that, but you'll also see stark white, creamy lavender, and dramatically streaked varieties. They're all lovely, really.
A couple bundles of fresh herbs, blueberries so plump they looked as though they might burst, and a few brightly colored heirloom tomatoes found their way into my hands as well. I'm truly loving the markets this year.
And I also must say that Chris and I are loving the new flavors that we've been experiencing in attempting to think about food in different ways. We both love cheese, and it's easy to make something, anything really, taste amazing if you stuff it or cover it with enough cheese. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I could see myself very quickly settling into quite the cheese rut here every Monday if I weren't pushing myself to keep things dairy-free as well. And in such a rut, I'd have never thought to stuff eggplant with cauliflower.
How, you ask? A random act of stupidity. Despite having taken AP Chem way back when, I managed to thoroughly confuse Fahrenheit and Celsius and the corresponding boiling points. This led me to think: Perhaps I shouldn't have spent so much time screwing off with my lab partners and trying to find hilarious ways to make a joke out of each assignment, while still narrowly satisfying the requirements. It's not that I was ever the class clown or a naysayer of learning (quite the opposite, in fact), it's just that seating me next to these two particular guys created a volatile comic combination. This is probably why, early one morning, eager to make a loaf of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free wonderful bread, I (this is so embarrassing) forgot that water, and thus I assumed milk, boiled at 100 degrees...Celsius.
I live in America, land of Fahrenheit and non-metric ruling. When I read that the yeast for this bread needed to be added to 110 degree milk, something didn't click. I'd like to say that I consciously assumed that Bob was suggesting that the milk be 110 degrees Celsius, but the sad, sad, oh so very sad truth of the matter is that I remembered that the boiling point is 100 degrees, and whether that was F or C just never crossed my mind. I was perfectly confident that bringing the milk to a boil would create a warm and cozy bath in which my yeast would foam and flourish.
But I killed it instead.
Needless to say, my bread never rose, and though it puffed up magnificently in the oven, it promptly slumped into itself as soon as it was removed. It was still crusty and had a great flavor, but was unfortunately dense. This was not necessarily going to be edible as bread, but I made an effort to transform it into something else. It would not have been made in vain.
That very morning, my collapsed bread became some tasty French toast.
And a day later, we had a light and delicious Almond Peachberry Stratta.
When I was in high school, I was in a production of Into the Woods. At one point during the show, Cinderella’s stepmother throws a whole pot of lentils into the ashes of the fireplace, telling her stepdaughter that only after she picks them all out can she go to the festival with her stepsisters. I remember thinking, What on earth are lentils? I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’d ever heard the word. For some reason, I pictured them as small, squiggly little things, sort of like the germ that separates from the grain when you cook quinoa. Though at this point, I'd never heard of quinoa either.
I didn’t actually meet one of these tiny legumes until I started at my current employer. I was working as a receptionist at the time and was ordering a salad online for one of the partners. “He sometimes likes lentils in his salad,” I was told. There was that word again. Lentil. What the heck is a lentil?
Determined to get a tangible answer, I decided to add them to my own salad that day as well.
When my salad arrived, there were dozens of small, round, gray-green things scattered throughout the greens. Ah, so those were lentils. Maybe not what I expected, but it confirmed one thing: Cinderella’s stepmom was mean.
Welcome to the very first Meatless Monday here on GF in the City. Starting today, I will be posting a new meatless recipe every Monday. In addition to being free of meat, I am also going to make every effort to make these recipes vegan. But I think I should remind you that I was raised in Wisconsin, so I hope you will forgive me if a little cheese sneaks in every now and then.
So why meatless? Why me?
I am doing this for many reasons, one being that there are health benefits to reducing one's meat consumption. I've mentioned before that, while I absolutely understand and fully respect the choice, I do not intend to ever be a vegetarian. I believe from an anthropological/evolutionary perspective that humans are built as a species to be omnivores (that and the whole meat being super tasty thing). I do, however, acknowledge that the way we eat now is far from the way nature intended and am of the mind that upping our intake of plant-based foods even once a week is a positive thing.
Also, in addition to making an effort to buy naturally raised meat, I feel as though making the choice to cut it out completely on occasion is one more small step toward reducing the overall demand. Less demand translates into a decreased need of supply, which means we can hopefully begin to move away from the current methods of mass meat production and back to a more humane way of doing things.
Oops, was that my gosh-darn soap box again? Let me just move this off to the side for now. Wouldn't want anyone to trip....
In short, there are many reasons to go meatless, even for a day. If you want to learn more about this movement and find how how you can get involved, click here.
In preparation for my very first Meatless Monday dinner, I ventured down to the Union Square green market. You can't really go wrong here. Weaving in and out of the farm stands, you're bound to find something that looks good, and something else, and just one more thing, until you've got the makings of something fresh, delicious, and wonderful. Just let your creativity (or a quick recipe search) guide you from there.
Yesterday was a fantastic day. Not because anything wildly special or out of the ordinary happened, but because we took it one hour, one minute at a time. Everything that I did yesterday was exactly what I wanted to be doing in that moment. How often does that happen? Um lately, for me, pretty much never. So, technically, maybe it was special and out of the ordinary. Whatever you want to call it, it was bliss.
I slept until I woke up and came out into the living room to find Chris and Nilla crashed out on the couch. She has not been sleeping well lately, waking up in the middle of the night to go potty and then barking incessantly until she finally gets to be in the bed with us. She's smart, that one. The other night, however, she decided that, rather than curl up behind my knees, it would be more fun to climb all over us as we tried to sleep. And when she tired of that, the barking recommenced. So Chris wound up in the living room with that crazy little girl, up and down for most of the night, I'm sure. By the time I woke up for the day, they were both spent.
So what's a girl to do when the rest of the fam is fast asleep? Well, I spent some time doing a bit of reading and writing and internet surfing. Got up and made a pot of coffee, after which I stared mindlessly into the fridge for a few minutes, imagining what I'd need to get at the store to make a proper breakfast. Oooh, but then I saw the ricotta. Still good? Yup. Ah-ha, and blueberries. Could I use that container of Greek yogurt for something? Hmm, a little crazy but it just might work....
I feel like I've been away from here for a month. This past week was madness at work, so many things have happened, and all I've really wanted to do is write. It's funny how one's sense of time's passing can be so contextual. Days at work felt rushed and chaotic, like there weren't enough minutes to accomplish everything that just absolutely needed to be done. Yet, at the very same time, with the days and hours speeding by, the time since my last post seemed to stretch on and away from me, looking like weeks becoming months.
But here I am. Safe and sound in the languid hours of a lazy Saturday. And I want to talk about movies.
I saw two movies within the past week that I'm sure nearly everyone who loves and lives food has seen or will see. It's been a very long time since I've walked out of a theater feeling different for the experience, but both of these movies affected me deeply. Honestly, I feel changed.
So come along with me while I share with you my very different experiences with two very different films. I'm warning you, this isn't likely to be brief.