Archive for the ‘Eating Vegetables’ Category

Springtime Deities: Green Goddess Dressing

Tarragon (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Today is a happy-Joni Mitchell kind of day. There’s another kind of Joni Mitchell day which is rather introspective, but this isn’t that kind of day at all. It’s the kind of day where you open all the windows and belt out, “Oh Carey get out your cane / And I’ll put on some silver. / Oh you’re a mean old Daddy / But I like you fine.” The neighbors are probably listening to you, and that’s ok.

The persistent reminder of spring is everywhere in the city. The tree in our inner courtyard is flush with green. There’s a pretty, yellow flower (whose name I just spent 15 minutes trying to find on the internet, to no avail) sitting on my kitchen table. Every market stall is plump with fresh herbs and the vegetables are starting to taste like themselves again. I fell in love with a basket of cherry tomatoes this morning and ate every single one.

Parsley (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Chives (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s the kind of day to make green goddess dressing. Like so many lovely things, green goddess dressing is a relic from another era. According to the internet (that lovely little thing from this era), it was invented in the 1920’s at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in honor of George Arliss, star of the hit play The Green Goddess. In the 20’s, the girls were fast and loose and the men were dandies, hotels were hotbeds of inventions, and there were hit plays that didn’t have an accompanying musical score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. What a decade.
Chopped herbs (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Mayonnaise and sour cream (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

But spring is a time of rebirth, so on happy-Joni Mitchell days, relics live again. As its name implies, the goddess is green, green, green. Chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, and chives release verdant perfume. They’re mashed with garlic and anchovy, lightened with the tang of lemon juice and the bite of salt, then whisked smooth with mayonnaise and sour cream. » Continue reading this post…

A Little Journey: Balinese Gado-Gado

Chopped red onion (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Germany is a country of church bells. They ring the hour languorously – glottal chimes layered one upon the other, deep, dull peals. From my apartment, I can hear three distinct churches. The large, loud bells from the church nearby, which sets off the next two bells like dominoes. They’re further away. One like gleeful wedding chimes, the other low and bored.

The sound of the bells transports me to another part of Germany, to Bremen, where I first recall really feeling the bells. For three summers, my family lived in the city, and I’d wake to their morning clang. The Teerhof, where we lived, was close to the inner city and its many old churches. Maybe because I was young, probably because I was reading a lot of Victor Hugo, Bremen was a magical, romantic city. And when I hear the bells today, I’m swept up in nostalgia. I can smell the moist, rain-laden air and the river, the sweetish apple smell wafting from the Beck’s brewery down the way.

Chopping garnishes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Hard boiled eggs and tomatoes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

For some reason, I notice the bells more in summer. The weather has been gorgeous in Berlin. Though it’s just the beginning of spring, it feels more like summer. On the spring’s first official day, I walked through the city in a loose blazer, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and the sweet breeze.

Berliners love the outdoors when it’s sunny. At the first wan hit of sunshine, they flock out to sit at sidewalk cafés, to lounge in one of the city’s many parks, to wander along the Spree. The bike lanes are choked with cyclists. Even though the weather might not be all the way warm yet, they anticipate the heat. That peek of sun wakes memories of summer lakes and grilling, cropped shirts and sandals. » Continue reading this post…

The Arrival Poems: Berliner Leek and Apple Tart

Leek and apple tart with goat cheese (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Who knows pleasure who does not know the smell of leeks on a stovetop? Fragrant and sweet, soft with butter, the scent is a perfume muskier than onion and green with earth. The leeks slowly simmer down, reducing to the thinnest slimness, translucent and rimmed with butter-burnt brown. Now there is sage in the pan, now salt, now the hiss of hard apple cider.

In this moment, I can imagine nothing more beautiful. I am completely happy.

I have just started to write poems about Berlin. What does this mean? For one, it means that I have stopped writing poems about New York. It means that at least for a while, Berlin is the most tangible home I have.

Baking the crust (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Rolled-out dough (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Tart crust (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Beneath my fingers, flour and butter blend. Light, quick rubs until the butter leaves no more trace than a yellow stain and the dough feels silkily dry. Then there is a whisked egg, drops of cold water. Then the dough is a smooth ball beneath my fingertips. It is rolled and glossy, wrapped in plastic and set aside. It needs to think.

It seems to me that New York is a story about leaving a place you love and Berlin is a story about arriving in a place you come to know. Where we are or where we live is never as simple as choosing what we love. It can be right to live in a place we don’t care for and wrong to live in the place that knows us best. » Continue reading this post…

Show Me the Green: Wilted Kale with Feta and Fried Egg

Wilted kale with fried egg and feta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Apparently I have a reputation for really liking kale. I don’t know where it came from or what I’ve done to start it, but my love is apparently well known. I’m not ashamed. I do love kale. I’m hitting the talking-about-kale bandwagon a bit late. According to the internet, kale’s trending days have come and gone – it’s so last year’s green. (Although The Guardian seems to think that kale popsicles are going to be big in 2014…) But I don’t love food because it’s trendy; I love it because it’s delicious. I love the way crisp and chewy kale plays off shaved parmesan, chopped dates and lemon dressing in a raw salad, the way the curled leaves trap salty pancetta bits, the way a kale chip crunches apart in your mouth, or the way a bitter wilted leaf is the perfect foil for chili flakes and a soft, rich egg.

Kale, shallot, pancetta (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Frying pancetta and shallot (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

That’s what I want to talk to you about right now. The perfect combination of flavors: The heat of chili, the bite of briny feta, the warmth of a fried egg and the all-things-are-better-with-bacon quality of bacon supported by a base of hearty green. Kale makes all this possible.

Chili flakes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Cooking kale (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I first discovered this magical combination (or at least the basics of it) back in 2009, when this blog was in its infancy and I was just starting to shop and cook regularly for myself. Of course I wrote about my discovery back then, and of course I didn’t have the consideration to write down the recipe. (The gall. The gall.) So I’m making up for the error of my ways now, and sharing a dish that’s seen me through a lot of tight budget days and a lot of lazy lunches. Cheap, tasty, and quick. Gimme those greens. » Continue reading this post…

Cornucopia: Thai Pumpkin Curry

Roasted pumpkin seeds (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Berlin seems to have taken a step back to acknowledge my favorite season. Walking through the streets, there’s the slow, steady fall of leaves. In my neighborhood, they are the yellow of barely ripe bananas and small like babies’ palms. There’s a chill in the air that makes you want to snuggle deeper into your coat and your scarf, and the wind blows past the old brewery, wafting the lingering yeasty apple smell of fermenting beer through Neukölln.

The bins in the Turkish grocery stores along Karl-Marx Str. and the rogue Russian grocery on the corner are full of apples, root vegetables, and piles of pumpkins. Fall has always made me feel like building a cornucopia, a shrine to beautiful burnished things, crisp fallen leaves and chestnuts, acorns and other nuts, colorful squashes that look like warty witches’ noses, frost-edged sunflower leaves, apples with matte pink and green skins, tiny beveled pumpkins.

Leaves in Berlin (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Cubed pumpkin (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Garden-grown pumpkin (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Halved pumpkin (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

A few weeks or so ago, I was given a pumpkin, homegrown, heavy and green-skinned. It has been my table decoration for weeks, next to the wicker basket of fruit, the pitcher cum vase from the flea market that never seems to be full of flowers, the tea cup full of sugar – reminding me on my harried travels here and there that no matter how much there is to do, there’s really no rush; a pumpkin will wait for you.

I love that in the midst of the chill of fall, the quickening dark as winter comes closer, nature presents some of her most brilliant colors. That’s some sort of a reminder too. The inside of a pumpkin glows like two halves of sunshine. It’s so enticing, you almost want to eat it raw. But the pumpkin likes to wait, and to convince it to open up to you, you must promise it your time. » Continue reading this post…

Seven Second Lunch: Chickpea Salad with Dill and Red Onions

chickpea salad (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Sometimes, you don’t want to stop watching television on the internet at the same time as you want something delicious to eat. You’re lying on your bed, foetally-curled into a blanket, thinking about how far away the kitchen is, how arduous the effort to open the drawer and draw out the knives. You want someone to magically turn up at your door with a tin of cookies. You want the delivery guy you didn’t order to end up at your apartment and not realize he dropped a fragrant tikka masala off at the wrong door. You want someone to cook for you. You want a maid. And that is almost certainly something that you are not going to get.

Some days, you just want so many things. And while most things you may want, might just be out of your reach, some are not. Lunch is not. Especially when you’ve got a not-completely-empty pantry and the knowledge that lemons and garlic and shredded parmesan can make you feel like all of your dreams really have come true.

It might not be a maid, but a can of chickpeas could save your life. Or at least give you the strength to hit the play button on the next episode, while you lie, foetally-curled up in bed, snuggling a bowl of fresh chickpea salad, soothed by the verdant smell of dill.

dill-icious (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Easy weekday lunch (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

Cooking the Russian Way: Vegetarian Pelmeny & Cauliflower Fritters with Onion Sauce

Vegetarian Pelmeny & Cauliflower Fritters with Onion Sauce (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’ve been cleaning out my room in the ancestral home, sorting through old clothes and bad books, school reports and chemistry notes, rock collections and hardware odds and ends to determine what’s worth storing and what can make the trip to the great green Goodwill in the sky. In the process, I’ve realized that I’ve made quite the habit of collecting old cookbooks – complete with yellowed pages, ripped binding, and strange drawings.

And yet, I love to think of all the hands that have held a cookbook before it gets to me. I love the way old recipes reflect the culture in which they were written as much as the taste of the times. Since I’d just been to St. Petersburg, I paused during my cleaning frenzy before the spine of a book covered with torn paper, Cooking the Russian Way by Musia Soper and straight out of 1961. The book opened stiffly, its browned pages smelling like a dusty library.

Cooking the Russian Way (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Inside, I found the kinds of hearty meals to see you through a cold Russian winter, where rich broths, sour cream, potatoes, cream sauces, butter, and fried onions abounded. These aren’t the kinds of recipes that are featured in your newest food magazine, but the basics handed down from mother to daughter for generations. They’re written for housewives who already know how to cook and who are feeding a family of four. The ingredient list rarely tops ten items and more often runs something like that in this recipe for “Potatoes Stuffed with Meat”: Potatoes, tomatoes, butter, egg, minced meat, sour cream, flour, chopped dill, salt, and pepper.

The book is filled with fascinating recipes, like that for “Moscow Rassolink,” a salted cucumber soup made with ox kidneys, sorrel, soup vegetables, and sour cream. Or “Egg And Wine Sauce” made with eggs, white wine, lemon juice, and castor sugar. » Continue reading this post…

How to Make Your Co-Workers Jealous, the Salad Edition: Roasted Sweet Potato and Salmon Salad

Roasted sweet potato and salmon salad (Eat Me. Drink Me)

Pre-packaged salad sucks. I know, because I work in a part of town where the lunch options are neither pretty nor cheap and very rarely healthy. A pre-packaged salad from the grocery store looks sad with its already wilting lettuce, mealy tomatoes, uniformly cubed cheese, and waxy kernels of corn recently freed from a canned prison. And a good-looking salad from that organic café down the street will set you back a whole 10€. So I’ve taken to bringing my own salad to work.

I think we often get stuck in a salad-is-boring state of mind. It’s just lettuce and vegetables. But a finely crafted salad can be as interesting as any other entrée. What about a salad that balances fruits and nuts, pecans and sweet pear with tangy blue cheese – or a salad that substitutes stale bread for lettuce, but is softened with olive oil and feta and tomato. Or what about a salad made from strips of bologna, spiced up with cracked kernels of black pepper and pepperoncini?

And even if you don’t have much to stuff your salad with, you surely have the ingredients on hand to create myriad salad dressings. » Continue reading this post…

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