Posts in Category: sides

Noshed in a Book: Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own

“I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found…”

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When trying to pin-point how I came about this book, I decided to trace my internet searching steps back to a certain piece or key phrase I had found, but to no avail. The transient nature of a browser search should not be lasting, that might make life a little too convenient.  Thus, all I can say is that I’m grateful I found this book and Kate Bolick’s writing.  Though I am a happily married woman to a very lovable man, this book called out the the independent woman in me that has never been stifled by coupledom.  I don’t mean this as an affront to the love I have for my life partner and our commitment to one another, but more as a compliment to the love I also have for myself and for the person I hope to be. The lifelong assignment of finding out what this life of mine means is a most unique gift and there’s not a day that passes wherein I don’t contemplate how I want to share it, who with, and what drives my mind and heart.  Being cognizant of this, let’s take a look at Kate Bolick’s first book.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

“In my early twenties, the “spinster wish” was my private shorthand for the novel pleasures of being alone.  As I grew older, and felt more strongly the cultural expectation of marriage, the words became more like a thought experiment, a way to imagine in detail what it would look like to never settle down.  The word wish is crucial.  A wish is a longing, not a plan of action.  It was perhaps precisely that I conjured such an escapist fantasy, not because I didn’t want such relationships, but because I also wanted to find other avenues of meaning and identity.”

Through honest yet discreet personal accounts, Bolick delivers a book that’s well-worth a read for anyone who’s ever questioned societal norms. It’s obvious from the carefully designed structure of her book that Spinster was a labor of love that flowed from a most genuine and natural place.  Bolick utilizes different women writers–you’ll have to read her book to find out who they are–that she refers to as her ‘awakeners’ to unfold her thesis that a woman’s role in life is that for which she makes it, and the drudgery of societal impressions of marriage should never be a factor in marring your personal and artistic process of becoming a fully developed woman.  What is more, though her text does speak directly to women, I happen to feel that her message could be palatable to any gender.  Bolick embarks on a journey through this book that rarely transcends where she starts, but the text does anchor its message in taking comfort in one’s circumstance while being aware of its impact, be it good or be it bad, on one’s identity.

“The term bachelor girl was coined in 1895 to describe a specific breed of middle-class woman who chose to pursue the  new educational and vocational opportunities opening up around her, which allowed her to live alone and support herself–so very unlike her sister the spinster, who was closely associated with the home, and the working-class women for whom work was an economic necessity.”

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Is it all really just a matter of diction?  What’s incredible about Bolick’s deductions about the term “bachelor girl”, versus “spinster”, is that she establishes the imposed separation of the terms while embracing a generalization that a woman in pursuance of her own life, independent of a man’s financial support, is whatever label she chooses for herself. Bolick does seem to struggle with absolving herself of guilt from passed relationships by qualifying her actions as those which were necessary to lead her on her path of independence.  In this, I feel her concept is flawed.  She posits that a woman must give something up in joining to a partner, yet bases this observation on her own experiences of becoming complacent in the routine of in-practice monogamy and her awakeners experiences.  However, she juxtaposes this idea when speaking about becoming complacent and stale in her single life as well.

“How do you embark on your adulthood when you don’t know where you’re headed?”


 

“It was like looking into the future and discovering that my unremarkable self had somehow become a person of consequence.”

Finally, and what’s most moving about this book, is Bolick’s meticulous and attentive vision of the agony of self-discovery and the joy of finding one’s voice.  She’s able to speak about feminine self-loathing without belaboring the point or projecting an heir of desperation, because, let’s be honest, if there’s one thing women need less of, it’s another voice that harkens negativity.  Bolick’s well earned confidence is why she’s able to conjure a book that would surely have made her awakeners proud, and should make all of her readers grateful.  Reading this book was a pleasure, and more than anything, it helped me understand that’s it’s okay to be joined in matrimony to someone and still have a singular identity. In fact, it’s imperative.

“It never ceases to astonish me how readily we presume to know ourselves, when in fact we know so little.”

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As for edibles, I decided to utilize Sarah Britton‘s The Life-Changing Crackers to touch on the simplistic, yet enriching approach to food Bolick speaks about in her book.  It’s not my intention to imply I think she would have any interest in preparing this cracker, but I do think this recipe represents an alteration in routine, which is just what Spinster speaks about.  So here’s to crackers, life-changing crackers!

  • Because crackers are a wonderful food for writers who are mulling over an idea.  They’re crunchy and can be paired with many a side dish be it savory or sweet treats like Bolick did with her father over lunch.
  • Because crackers remind me of autumn , which reminds me of change, shorter days that lend to hibernation and strength in warming foods that ties back into crackers. 😀

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What are you thoughts on this text?  Did you find that any particular yummy food ideas popped into your mind while reading?  In the theme of changing routines, I am sad to say that the frequency of my posts has lessened as I’m sure you’ve seen, but please know that Connect a Bite is still very special and important to me.  I have started a new and exciting job, and my routine has been sufficiently shaken.  Fear not! Once the dust settles some, I hope to be back in full-force with content!  And with that, I’ll leave you for now.  Check out more Noshed in a Book posts and share some of your own #noshedinabook thoughts with me.  Join me in my next reading selection, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: The First Bad Man

“My eyes fell upon the grey linoleum floor and I wondered how many other women had sat on this toilet and stared at this floor.  Each of them the center of their own world, all of them yearning for someone to put their love into so they could see their love, see that they had it.”

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I’m rarely in step with reading an author’s work within a year of a new release, much less their debut novel, but Miranda July is a writer that I both admire and who’s work I relate to on a subconscious level. Thus, I couldn’t let too much time pass before feasting my eyes on her first novel.  No One Belongs Here More Than You , July‘s first book is a series of short stories that, for whatever reason, took me a few months to get through.  Don’t misunderstand my lengthy drought in reading for exhaustion with her writing.  More than anything, I just wasn’t in the right head space, nor did I devote as much time to reading as I do now.  I go through phases.  All this to say, these stories are not the easiest to digest; they are tormenting and at times confusing.  They resonate because of their raw and intimate understanding of the darker side of the human condition.  My confusion came from trying to understand why July would write such pitiful fictional characters into the world and leave them their, waiting.  The answer? It’s reality.  Life doesn’t tie itself up into perfect bows, most of the time.  July’s writing is the gritty dirt under your toenails and the dried booger you find as you graze your hand under the multi-generational office desk chair that squeaks every time you move.  Now that I’ve left you with this delightful bit of imagery, let’s move on to the novel at hand.

“I had spent years training myself to be my own servant so that when a situation involving extreme wretchedness arose, I would be taken care of.”

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The First Bad Man by Miranda July

July’s first full-length novel is the kind of book that makes the confident, self-conscious and the self-conscious, wildly neurotic. I was bewildered and engrossed in this book and in Cheryl’s– our protagonist’s–world, if only because she made me once again question why it is we use the word insane to describe those individuals who are mentally disordered, and the word sane for those who are in their ‘right’ mind.  I was once a barista, and one of my lady barista co-workers and I would talk about the saneinsane topic and spout scenarios to one another wile frothing and stirring.  Any book that makes you question ‘things’ has redeeming qualities.  July reveals nothing but fearlessness in her writing and distinguishes the idea that women cannot write wry and honest material.

The text did feel unpredictable at times, but this too felt like a purposeful act by July to create a character within the tone of the book.  However, I cannot say I enjoyed this aspect of it the book.  Countless narratives have a moment of truth and muddy sadness by the middle of the book, and though July took no restraints in making her characters suffer, it felt as though she herself may have been a bit lost in the structure of the book by mid-way.  Fortunately, the story remained intact and the uncensored nature of her writing races you through the rest of the text.  July eloquently, and without excessive crudity, exposes the rigid nature by which many humans handle matters of sexuality, and the gross dishonesty that’s tied to instinctual behavior.  July also presents a realistic impression of the sexual subconscious as a being that’s wild, unwieldy, fickle and unpredictable.  By the end of this book, I felt as though July was setting up a challenge for me to dig a little deeper into the way I manage my perspectives and realities, and for this, I’m grateful.

“I had accidentally been cruel; this only ever happens at times of great stress and my regret is always tremendous.”

“‘I think I might be a terrible person.’ (he said) – For a split second I believed him–I thought he was about to confess a crime, maybe a murder. Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people.  But we only reveal this before we ask someone to love us.  It is a kind of undressing.”

“There had been options, before the baby, but none of them had been pursued.  I had not gone to nightclubs and said ‘Tell me everything about yourself’ to strangers.  I had not even gone to the movies by myself.  I had been quiet when there was no reason to be quiet and consistent when consistency didn’t matter.  For the last twenty years I had lived as if I was taking care of a new born baby.”

“But as the sun rose I crested the mountain of my self-pity and remembered I was always going to die at the end of this life anyway.  What did it really matter if I spent it like this–caring for this boy–as opposed to some other way?  I would always be earthbound; he hadn’t robbed me of my ability to fly or live forever.  I appreciated nuns now, not the conscripted kind, but modern women who chose it.  If you were wise enough to know that this life would consist most of letting go of things you wanted, then why not get good at the letting go, rather than the trying to have?”

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As for edibles, I chose to make a simple kale dish as a dedication to Cheryl and her system.  I even used the same white plate I served this kale on to eat another dish later, before cleaning it.  We must have a system!  No matter the season, there’s nothing more savory and satisfying to me than wilted greens and I thought there could be no better time to share my recipe with you all than in conjunction with this book.

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Wilted Kale for Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 large bundle kale of your choice (rinsed, ripped into pieces and massaged by hand; I used purple kale)
  • 1 bulb shallots (thinly sliced; mine worked out to about three ‘cloves’)
  • 3 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium flame and toss shallots and garlic gently for 2 minutes  (take care not to burn garlic)
  2. Add kale in handfuls, and using tongs, shift kale around to coat all leaves with oil
  3. Once kale is bright and shiny, begin to add fleur de sel, red pepper flakes, and vinegar and use tongs to mix everything together until kale is bright green or mildly wilted
  4. Turn off heat and enjoy!

Notes:

  • I like to use my cast iron skillet to make wilted greens because it adds to the flavor and they cook down perfectly
  • Feel free to use whatever salt you have on hand if easier and cut out the spice if you’re not into spicy foods, but be aware that the flavor will not be as bright and tangy

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After reading Miranda July in the month of July, I feel happy to know that I’m on target with new releases and with an artist like her.  I hope you all got as much out of this book as I did!  What are your thoughts?  Did you chow down on anything in particular while reading this book?  Share some of your #noshedinabook photos with me and check out what else I’ve been reading this year.  Join me in my next reading selection, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

 

 

Noshed in a Book: Ghost World

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When I discovered the film adaption of this graphic novel, I was a teenager, and the story felt, “like, exactly how I feel about life.”  I remember obsessing over the music from the film, spending hours searching for tracks on limewire, kazaa, napster–the appropriate, or maybe inappropriate, sources for music ‘downloading’ of the time. I remember Enid’s–our protagonist–unique style and non-conformist attitude, would later move me to cut off my long locks before I started college–my friend and I had been growing out our hair anyway for Locks of Love–hoping to ‘become a new person’, only to realize, I was still in the same skin.  Moving from adolescence to, what I like to call, ‘semi-adulthood’, is one scabby knee that takes awhile to heal, and the fact that there were films like Ghost World out there helped get me through the worst parts of the scabbiness.  Cutting your hair, dying your hair, piercing and tattooing your body, changing your look dramatically from day-to-day, and so forth; these changes won’t make you a different person inside.  More on this in a bit.  Reading Ghost World the graphic novel in my twenties, years after my first of many watches of the Ghost World film, was an entirely different experience.  Thanks Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff for these creations. They changed me for the better.

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Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Detached from expectations, I tried to approach this book with an unbiased mind–unsuccessfully–especially considering that I saw the film adaptation first.  Clowes immediately dunks you into the world of Enid and Rebecca, two young women whose friendship is beginning to waiver and lose its stability outside of the confines of High School normalities and their boring ghost of a town.  One young woman more straight-laced and seeking stability, while the other is hanging on to the last vestige of her superiority–both of intellect and uniqueness–the audience is never unsure of the protagonists’ determination to bash anything and everything that is remotely mainstream within their sight.

 

What’s important to keep in mind about Ghost World, is that the characters are all real people facing real situations, which felt like a perfect follow-up to Madame Bovary–also falling in the vein of realism.  I don’t know about you, but I still feel like I experience random, and intermittent bouts of identity crises and because of this, I have a love and appreciation for most coming of age tales.  That is, in many ways, what Ghost World is.  It’s the story of two young women who aren’t quite sure who they are, who they want to be or where they are going, whether that means backwards or forwards.

On the topic of time and ghosts, it could be said that Enid, our not entirely likeable protagonist, is haunted by the ghosts of other people’s pasts and her decaying town.  She’s fascinated by old ephemera, media, fashion, and most relics of the past and because of, or in spite of, this obsession, Enid is somewhat afflicted by these spirits and doesn’t know how to handle the transition of time she’s experiencing.   This transition is made especially difficult by the city in which she lives, which is drowning in homogenized businesses and a corrupt political system; ya know, the stuff of most American towns.

Ghost World also touches on the imposed ideas of femininity and the entire artificial world of feminine culture that’s created for young girls through magazines–like the fictional one Sassy in which Rebecca is reading–and music–like the childhood record Enid is searching for titled, A Smile and a Ribbon.

However, amidst the grime and struggle, Clowes manages to bring us back to the core of Ghost World‘s message with blue-hued illustrations, setting the tone of this piece from the very first panel.  This books legitimacy is strengthened not just in its writing and flow of the narrative, but in its raw and honest images.

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As for edibles, I decided to make something that Enid orders in one of her excursions to the “original 50’s diner” Hubba Hubba.  Really, I can only imagine her diet consisting of processed, prepackaged food, so I tried my best to combine a little bit of my world with her world.  I hope you enjoy these onion rings!

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Crispy Baked Onion Rings (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup garbanzo flour (or quinoa flour)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion granules
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic granules

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions (peeled and sliced into 3/4″ rings, separated)
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 6 tbsp warm filtered water
  • undetermined amount of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine ground flax and water in a small bowl and whisk together; place in refrigerator for 25 to 30 minutes to sit
  2. Mix together all wet ingredients excluding onion rings
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients and use fork to break up any clumps OR sift all dry ingredients together
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F
  6. Pour wet ingredients into shallow dish
  7. Place dry ingredients into shallow dish
  8. With clean hands, dip individual onion rings into wet mixture, then into dry mixture and then onto lined baking sheet(s)
  9. Once all onion rings have been coated, spray or lightly sprinkle olive oil over dressed onion rings
  10. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip, baking for 4 to 5 minutes more until crispy and golden brown
  11. Enjoy plain or with your choice of dipping sauce (preferably something spicy!)

Notes:

  • I discovered that a little bit of mixed dry ingredients go a long way, so don’t over dip or you’ll get an onion ring that’s too flour crusted.
  • These would be especially tasty with a chipotle dipping sauce.

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If ever you wanted to read a book that would help you exercise a friendship demon or feel less weird and alone in this crazy world, Ghost World should be added to the list.  Our outer-expression is special and certainly a part of our unique self, but using this expression to escape yourself should never be the answer, and I think Clowes truly touches on this in Ghost World.  With Independence Day on the horizon,  whiz through this book and chow down on some onion rings while you’re waiting on your grilled veggies and tasty desserts, and of course chat about changing the ghost of a town you might be living in into a burgeoning hot spot for unique shops and creative thinkers.  What did you think about Ghost World?  Did you read the book first or see the film?  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me in my next reading selection–POETRY!– Live or Die by Anne Sexton.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

p.s. A track I love entitled Ghost World–with relevant lyrics–by one of my favorite musicians.

 

 

Noshed in a Book: House of Incest & Bird by Bird

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There are entire sections in bookstores devoted to self-help and existential crises–strings of volumes about a particular topic that ails your mind or social life–but I have found that the most inspiring and motivating writing, cloaks itself in books and pieces that you may not have imagined moving you in such a way at the onset.  The pairing of these two books, came not because of some underlying connection I foresaw between them, but rather their inherent differences; one book comments about guidelines while the other is stripped of a typical structure and speaks to its reader through a kind of stream of consciousness.  My introduction to Bird by Bird began a few months ago after taking a class and being given some lines from the text.  Intrigued by the no-nonsense nature of Lamott’s writing, I purchased the book in no time.  My acquaintance with Anaïs Nin started on an unspecific date some time ago and I’ve wanted to read her writing in more depth ever since.  I chose to start with House of Incest because, though obviously personal to Nin, this short text is connected to dreams and the relationship a person can have with them.  I loved the idea of pairing dreamy and practical prose together and seeing where my hunger would take me.

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House of Incest by Anaïs Nin

There were many directions this piece of fiction took my mind.  A short, seventy-two page text that, without me telling you what it is about, grips onto reality and pulls down her unmentionables.  There were times when I felt as though I was caught in a loop of words, twirling in her dedicated syntax and palpable mission with her diction.  It’s the kind of text best read in one sitting, although I didn’t have this privilege; I was guilty of re-reading pages, just to take in her fluidity with language and mood once more.

Nin camps out in a world of dreams–or a stream of dreams, if you will–and we the audience come along as her fellow camp kids, getting to hear her stories of sameness and the selfish human lust for anything that’s accepting and similar.  Never resting too long on any one particular message, Nin quickly morphs her audience–along with her characters–into a relationship of trust.  Do we, as human beings, find oneself in another person and call this love, or are we infinitely selfless in our love?  She posits that love, and our interpretation of it, is questionable, and her challenge of this idea is aptly put.  Nin also depicts moments of consciousness directly beyond the womb and the trauma of birth.  She comments on human fragility–particularly female fragility–and what it means to feel as if you could be vanquished at any moment; the gulping hedonism that tears us all open and exposes our lesser side.  This text is one for which you should begin with an open mind and heart.  I felt confused and unnerved with some aspects, yet in love with others.  This book was an inspiration for writing TO your ideas and feelings, not structuring them.

Additionally, the particular edition of the book I read had incredible photo montages by Val Telberg, a visual artist of the early twentieth century, which truly added to the intensity and brevity of the text.  If you can find this edition, I highly recommend!

“When human pain has struck me fiercely, when anger has corroded me, I rise, I always rise after the crucifixion, and I am in terror of my ascensions.


“I could not bear the passing of things.  All flowing, all passing, all movement choked me with anguish.”


“The world is too small.  I get tired of playing the guitar, of knitting, and walking, and bearing children.  Men are small, and passions are short-lived.  I get furious at stairways, furious at doors, at walls, furious at everyday life which interferes with the continuity of ecstasy.”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The subtitle of this book is Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and Lamott is true to her word.  This book was as much about giving thoughtful advice as it was about writing, and without spoiling too much, let me say that you will not come away from it without some stronger sense of purpose for your position in life and how you approach it.  Our propensity for writing comes from an internal drive to ignore the inertia that may take over otherwise.  Art is not always something that most have a natural and innate aptitude for, but rather is something that is learned and practiced with dedication and grit.  If any of us hope to be good at, or aim to succeed at, anything in life, it is just that we should commit to being devoted and steadfast in our wish to learn and improve. Only then can we unleash our skills and talents and, most importantly, learn to trust in ourselves and others.  Lamott contends that a life worth living is one for which we’re lucky enough to wrestle with our demons long enough to find what we’re willing to practice and dedicate ourselves to, long-term.  This is our lasting gift, if we choose to let it reveal itself to us.  I would recommend this book not just to writers, but to anyone who wants a more genuine and practical take on living life to its fullest.

“My deepest belief is that to live as if we’re dying can set us free.  Dying people teach you to pay attention and to forgive and not to sweat the small things.”


“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along with way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

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As for edibles I decided to make something with pumpkin seeds.  I wanted to utilize food that was high in a particular amino acid, tryptophan, known for raising serotonin, which stabilizes sleep, mood, and anxiety.  Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of iron as well, and happen to be one of my favorite noms.  House of Incest and Bird by Bird call to attention not only the necessity of dreaming, both literally and metaphorically, but what we can learn from the act of sleeping and dreaming soundly.  There could be no better fit of a foodstuff to pair with these two books than pumpkin seeds.  Reading does not require a person to be relaxed nor does sitting down for a meal, but both tasks remain more approachable and filled with joy if we’re rested and calm.  Additionally, you all know how much I love mint, and our most recent CSA box had the most beautiful bundle of mint; I couldn’t wait to put it to use.  In fact, my mind is brimming with ideas for mint this summer so maybe I’ll be able to share a few more of them with you.  For now, enjoy the delightful flavor of this pesto and have sweet, vivid dreams.

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Pumpkin Seed & Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves (discard or set aside most of stems/rinse)
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. In dry skillet, spread pumpkin seeds out and toast for a few minutes over a medium flame or heat until they are golden.
  2. Place garlic cloves, pumpkin seeds and mint in food processor and pulse three or four times until roughly chopped and blended.
  3. Now, add in remainder of ingredients and blend until smooth but still modestly chunky.
  4. Enjoy with zucchini noodles (as pictured) or with pasta, as a dip, on pizza or whatever suits your fancy!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the close reading of these two books.  Insight shows itself in unexpected places; open yourself up and you’re sure to be filled by some wonderful words of wisdom.  If you’re interested in reading other Noshed in a Book posts, I’d be delighted, and please take a second to share some of your #noshedinabook thoughts and pics.  Join me in my next reading selection Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Salt: A World History

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Salt and pepper shakers were always on our table and near the stove, growing up.  In fact, salt, specifically, was the seasoning used in most of our meals besides maybe garlic salt.  I remember sitting down to meals with my family and the first thing my parent’s would reach for–even before tasting their food–was the salt.  It always seemed strange to me to not taste food before salting it, but from inception to completion, I can’t imagine preparing a savory dish without at least a pinch of salt.  A few months ago, I spent hours–I kid you not–searching around for salt and pepper grinders that suited me, considering coarseness adjustment ‘settings’, grinding mechanism durability, aesthetics, and more, I’m sure.

Salt, generally, plays a bigger role in our lives than we know.  And to think, I can’t even remember being told what salt was as a child; I just remember it being around.  A staple.  If my throat was sore, I gargled with salt water.  Stainless still sink looking a little grim? Start scrubbing with salt.  A rare Texas Icepocalypse? Throw salt out on the driveway and sidewalks so as not to slip and fall.  Of all the kitchen table adornments, this functional and ubiquitous substance has made its presence known, as Mark Kurlansky proves in this week’s ‘Noshed in a Book’ outing…

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Salt:  A World History by Mark Kurlansky

An undertaking to be sure, get ready to be instantly transported into the world of salt in Mark Kurlansky’s historical homage to this special crystalline substance.  Contained in these pages is everything you ever wanted to know about salt, save for present day practical purposes and a specific break down of types of salt to flavor.  If you’re a foodie or just a seeker of historical knowledge through a different lens, this is the book for you.  Within its first hundred pages, enticed by the exploration of far-away places and the excavation of salt, but as the book wore on, I began to be turned off by the commentary on human and animal slavery and pages and pages in succession about curing animal flesh and the like.  Don’t misunderstand my feelings for this subject as impatience; what I was feeling was an immense discomfort with our societies’ usage and abuse of other beings.  Our sense of privilege and drought of unquestioning behavior is disturbing to me.  Being a human of the twenty-first century–with many centuries behind me to learn and understand–it is imperative to never let the history of the world become forgotten, but sometimes facing those truths is difficult.  Difficult because we are faced with the physical and moral abuse of others for the luxuries we now all partake in. Luxuries like, yes, salt.

On superstitions and word origin.  People’s credulity is endearing to me as I’m a superstitious woman. Here are a few excerpts from the text that may surprise you.

“A high-fat diet was considered a sign of wealth, and city people luxuriated in more fat than peasants” – In Hungary, 16th Century


“The Romans salted their greens, believing this to counteract the natural bitterness, which is the origin of the world salad, salted.”


“The Roman army required salt for its soldiers and for its horses and livestock.  At times soldiers were even paid in salt, which was the origin of the word salary and the expression “worth his salt” or “earning his salt.”  In fact, the Latin world sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the world, soldier.”


“Every important period in ancient Egyptian history produced tombs containing detailed information about food.  |  The poorest may have had little to eat but unraised bread, beer, and onions.  The Egyptians credited onions and garlic with great medicinal qualities, believing that onion layers resembled the concentric circles of the universe.”


“The medieval French, Like the Chinese, believed that the presence of women could be destructive to fermentation.  In France, a menstruating woman is said to be en salaison, curing in salt.  It was dangerous to have a woman in a room full of fermenting food when she herself was in fermentation.”

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On non-human animals as important figures.  The human body necessitates a certain amount of sodium intake, as do other animals.  Animals in the wild–in search for their regular intake of ‘salt’–came upon deposits with salt that they could consume in intervals to stay healthy.  They would return regularly to these spots, which would come to be known as a salt lick.

“In fact, it was animals, not so-called trailblazers such as Daniel Boone, that had carved the original trail across the Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio River Valley.” -On salt-licks

On something small starting something big.  In the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, the Indian National Congress was under British rule and one of the tools to set this change of rulership in motion was the salt campaign, or the salt satyagraha.  Mohandas Gandhi, a peaceful leader of independence, saw salt–something so small–as an “example of misrule that touched the lives of all castes of Indians.”  Gandhi went on to lead a march of thousands because of how symbolic salt was to the freedom of the Indian people.  Salt has changed lives for the better.

“Gandhi would resist with satyagraha–the force of truth, a force that, he said, would lift both sides.” – On Gandi’s view of striking against British higher powers

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As for edibles, I decided to make easy picked veggies.  Brine and pickling has been a prevalent usage of salt all over the world for centuries, and while I’ve tried my hand before at making kimchi, I’ve never tried pickling other veggies.  I wanted to make something I could enjoy sooner rather than later, and with certain veggies starting to pile up, pickling some of them was a perfect way to put them to use.

” Traditionally, though less so today, a Japanese meal ended with pickles, and in the north pickles are served with afternoon tea.”

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Overnight raw pickled veggies

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 3 medium to large parsnips (julienne)
  • 3 medium to large carrots (julienne)
  • 5 or 6 green onions (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/4 cups spring water
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. After rinsing and cutting all veggies, mix them well in a medium-sized bowl using your hands.
  2. Separately, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and coconut sugar. Simmer, then turn off the heat.
  3. Using the jar(s) of your choice–I used two different sized mason jars–fill each with the ingredients until just under convex portion of jar and edges.
  4. Pour liquid brine into each jar until veggies are covered, completely immersed.
  5. Place lid on each jar and set in the refrigerator.
  6. Best to let these sit overnight, maybe two nights for a more tender veggie.
  7. Enjoy in a salad or maybe even as a side dish.

Notes:

  • Feel free to mix up the veggies you use: try red onion slices, radish slices, jalapenos, etc…
  • If these veggies are too spicy, cut out the red pepper flakes.

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The world of salt was, and will probably continue to be, one that has its dark chapters.  Sadly, some of the most important materials and commodities in our world have a doleful past, but education and recognition of these events is a step in the right direction.  Without teetering on melodrama, I hesitate not when I say that buying and using salt will never be the same for me again after reading this book, but I’m grateful for the knowledge.  If reading a 400+ page book about salt doesn’t turn you on, I get that, but this book is more than salt, it’s discovery, revolutions, culture, myths and most importantly, salty.  What did you think about this book?  Did it make you feel more connected and aware?  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me for my next reading selection, A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: Blankets

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When I was in college, I remember being on a waiting list for a Graphic Novel class, and much to my chagrin, I didn’t make it in.  Being lower on the totem pole and a Junior at the time, my eagerness did not measure up to be enough to reserve a spot for me, but I wasn’t discouraged.  At least one thing has been clear since childhood; I will forever be, happily that is, surrounded by comics, trade paperbacks and toons galore.  I have gone through phases where, in my pretension, I denied my love of illustrated stories, and mind you I’m particular, but Blankets by Craig Thompson asks nothing of its readers but time and opposable thumbs to turn the pages.  I know it took me years to make my way around to this particular bundle-of-life illustrations, but I’m very grateful to have been gifted this book by my loving husband and to have had the chance to read and delightfully scan the images of these pages.

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Blankets by Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson explores a life of insecurity, artistic exploration, growth and emotional healing in this illustrated, coming of age story.  We follow the life of Craig Thompson–our author–as a boy, through a semi non-linear structured telling of his dealings with Christianity, bullies, and first love.  From the very first panel to the very last, it is as if you’re driven through a life zoo with a motorcade, protected and invulnerable.  Thompson’s work stirred up a lot of emotions in me and lent itself to gasps and oral exclamations of frustration.  Much like another graphic novel I read this year, Blankets cocoons you within its world, only for you to burst free afterwards fully formed, understanding a little more about the human condition and the symbolism that’s working its magic within the story.  When I think of a blanket, I think of warmth, nostalgia, heirlooms, coziness and reading a book. Blankets can represent bravery, when grappling with a bedtime ship in a sea storm or they can become cowardice when hiding from a situation with a grown-up rather than confronting it.  Thompson elucidated these ideas and more with ease.

Not every personal account of an individual’s life is one of supportive upbringing, innocence and security.  Craig Thompson opened a window–or at the very least left one open–for honesty.  His story, visual depictions and fluid writing  style are a comfort and a discomfort.  He at no time asks for or hints at wanting to amass even a tinge of ‘pity’ from the reader.  Never mourning his losses, Thompson teaches us by example to take what light in life is given to us and use it while we can.

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As for edibles, I decided to make sweet potato fries.  In his youth, Craig Thompson followed a plant-based diet–I’m not aware if he still does–and there are obvious moments throughout the book wherein he depicts being lovingly offered fast food, but cannot eat any of it except the fries. Out of courtesy, of course, he gobbles them down.  Straying away from the traditional type of fry, I wanted to make something crispy and flavorful using a vegetable I love, sweet potatoes!  Sweet potatoes are a desert island food for me.  This is a recipe I created awhile ago, and with sweet potatoes in abundance at our house, sharing this recipe seemed all the more necessary.

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Crunchy Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (cut into thin strips)
  • 3 or 4 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat  oven to 400ºF
  2. Place sliced sweet potato pieces in medium-sized bowl
  3. Toss with oil and the remainder of ingredients
  4. Place slices on baking sheet in rows (not touching, making sure to space them out evenly to not steam the fries; multiple batches may be necessary)
  5. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake 8 to 10 minutes more or until crispy
  6. Fries should be nice and crunchy, enjoy!

Notes:

  • With the coming heat–at least in TX–try using a toaster oven and make smaller batches to keep your kitchen cool.

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Blankets intersperses the agony of what it feels like to grow up and feel lost, with the deep feeling of love and passion for life that’s impossible to turn your back on.  Thompson helps us to understand that holding on is just as important as learning to let go, and because of this we allow ourselves to grow and embrace life.  I felt blanketed in this book and I hope you do too.  Let me know what you think of the Noshed in a Book series and if your tastes buds drove you a certain direction during this reading.  Join me for my next reading selection, Just Kids by Patti Smith.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: Yes Please

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Often when I begin a book, I don’t like to read the introduction first because it can impact the manner in which I frame the rest of the text. For Amy P0ehler’s Yes Please, however,I wanted to read every last typed symbol.  I absolutely ate this book up and would have literally, had it not been for the fact that book pages give me really bad indigestion more often than not.  I jest, but I hesitate not at all when I say that I felt addicted by the scintillating wit and hysterical, self-conscious nature of this book.  I’m the type of reader, with text in any form, who’s constantly taking notes, looking things up and relishing in long pauses to contemplate, and I must admit that this book was drenched in all the above.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“Decide what your currency is early.  Let go of what you will never have.  People who do this are happier and sexier.”

 

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught.  It takes years to find  your voice and seize your real estate.”

A humorous and thought-provoking memoir by the comedian, writer, and actress, Amy Poehler, that assures any reader–taking the time to swathe themselves in her pages–that they are capable of self-love, self-actualization, and increased self-esteem.  She does this by exploring segments of her life as decisive moments and markers of her purpose rather than inconclusive moments of failure.  That’s not to say that Amy doesn’t comment on real struggle and genuine fear of failure, but she speaks to admittedly not struggling much throughout her life, and when she does speak of struggle, it is transformed into a right of passage.  Amy never hesitates to take an emotion or feeling that may seem mundane and turn it into a real life battle or truce.  This book embraces the concept of working hard and reaching a desired outcome, but understates that often times the ‘desired outcome’ can be exhausting, exhilarating and feel incomplete.  Really, for me, that is the point of her book; feel comfortable in the fragmentary manner in which life hands you victories and defeats.  I have to admit the incessant need to name-drop–which may be difficult to step away from in the celebrity world–turned me off.  However, when you know as many ‘cool’ people as Amy Poehler, it might be worth it to name a few.

[In response to CPAP Machine results.] “I just started this crazy mask and accompanying gurgling device next to it and just couldn’t wait for the instructions to be over.  I looked at it the same way you look at a plate of vegetables.  You know it’s good for you but most of the time you don’t feel like it.”

 

[Arrival in Chicago.]  “I would smoke in the morning and listen to Bob Marley.  I would wear headphones and buy records and comic books.  I would make mac and cheese while watching Deep Space Nine.”

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As for edibles, there were not many reflective moments in the text on noshing, and in response to veggies, there’s even commentary about avoiding them (see above).  However, as this book speaks a lot about personal acceptance and self-gratitude, then I’ll have to say one of the best ways to approach a meal in this head-space–and most–is with gratitude.  At the risk of being too literal, I chose to make a macaroni dish to finalize and celebrate this memoir.  It felt like this meal was–even if by accident–a transition food in Amy Poehler’s life.  Food can be and often is a lifestyle, and it seems obvious that for Amy, it was.  I wanted to add a bit of a spin on your average boxed mac and cheese dish, so I made a recipe all my own, inspired by one I tried long, long ago.  I hope you enjoy this dish as an extra savory and protein filled treat.

 

Delicata Squash Macaroni and ‘Cheese’ with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

‘Cheese’ Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 delicata squash [rinsed, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and pulp scooped out]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (new edit: 3/26/15 – because cashews can cause digestive troubles (ahem) cutting the nuts out all together and adding in a legume: white bean, navy bean, chickpeas–same proportion)
  • 3/4 cup no salt added vegetable broth
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp nooch (nutritional yeast)
  • 2 or 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Sauce instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place all ingredients except squash and oil into blender or food processor–reserve 1/4 cup broth for if the mixture clumps up in blender once adding squash.
  3. Increase blending speed until mixture is creamy, but not over blended and splattered on all walls of your device.
  4. Rub olive oil on squash flesh, not on the skin and place all four sides, face down onbaking pan, use a fork to pierce skin a couple of times on each piece.
  5. Place on the top rack and bake for 30 to 45 minutes [varies by oven].
  6. Once squash is cooked it should be tender.  Let it cool for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Scoop out each side of cooked squash into the blender with other ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Add in the remaining 1/4 cup broth to move the blending along.
  8. Set aside.

Macaroni Mixture  & Roasted Brussels Sprouts Ingredients

  • 1 serving of ‘Cheese Sauce’ [see above]
  • 1 package gluten-free macaroni pasta [I use Tinkyada pasta]
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk [or non-dairy milk of your choice]
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 package brussels sprouts or approximately 16.5 oz [rinsed with hard base cut off and cut in half from base to top]
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • Paprika to garnish

Instructions

  1. Coat brussels sprouts with olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt and garlic granules and place in 425°F preheated oven on the bottom while cooking squash.
  2. Cook brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Reverse rack position between squash and brussels sprouts after 20 minutes of cook-time on the sprouts.  Toss brussels sprouts before placing back in oven.  Remove when they are tender yet firm and have become golden on the cooked edges and sides.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions in large pot [cook to al dente].
  4. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and the milk of your choice until there no longer formed lumps; set aside.
  5. Drain and rinse pasta and place it back into the large pot.
  6. Add arrowroot mixture to pasta and mix thoroughly.
  7. Now, add in ‘Cheese Sauce’ and gently mix together making sure to not break apart pasta [gluten-free pasta can become mushy and crumble easily].
  8. Over medium heat begin to warm pasta.
  9. Serve and enjoy your macaroni and ‘cheese’ with delicious brussels sprouts on the side.

Notes:

  • After plating the mac, sprinkle a pinch of paprika on top.
  • You may need extra almond milk if your mixture becomes too sticky and thick.  The milk will thin out the ‘cheese’ but keep it creamy.
  • If you have the time, conserve the squash seeds, rinse and toast them and have a crunchy topping for the mac.

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As an ultimate comfort food for many, take a big bite out of this one and let me know your thoughts on the book and how you dig the mac!  Really, as this is my third book into the year, I can’t tell you how fun it is to connect reading to eating; a natural pairing.  Both require you to be present and both incite joy.  Thanks for checking out Noshed in a Book and remember to share some of your #noshedinabook moments for the year.  I hope you can read along with me for my next book choice, this time a graphic novel, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Imperial Bedrooms

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If I had to dislike a book this year, I’m glad I got it out-of-the-way early.  You guessed it, I did not enjoy Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis.  I cannot say it wasn’t a page-turner, however, there were times I was turning the page just to skip past a point in the book that felt vial and unnecessary.  Perhaps I’m just not cut out for his writing anymore.  My first year or two in college I really enjoyed his work. Back then, it felt exploratory, almost like I was doing sociological research into a world of personality types I was very uncertain, but curious about.  Now, as I’ve come more to like the skin I’m in, reading his writing feels dirty, and not in a good way.  It has been awhile since I read Less Than Zero, which I remember really enjoying, but I can’t say I remember the connection of the characters from it to Imperial Bedrooms.

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Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

A scavenger hunt of self-involved, misogynistic and manipulative events occur to–and because of–the protagonist, Clay, a screenwriter who has found a way to make it in the film business.  Through a myriad of mishaps and sexual exploitations, Clay manages to endanger not only his life, but the lives of the seedy characters he has become entangled with.  The gross ineptitude that Ellis displays in his characterization of human beings–but women, more specifically–was nauseating to me, especially throughout the last three-fourths of the book when rape scenes and the physical abuse of women was the major focus.  Although I understand the necessity to chronicle a certain type of character, it felt at times as if the author just ran roughshod over his editors.  I felt as though I was reading the first or second draft of this novel before publication; a character’s dossier, if you will.  Ellis manages to make you hate the protagonist in a way that leaves little room for recovery by the finale of the book.  Not a re-read or a “suggest to a friend” book for me.

As for edibles, somehow most of these characters manage to sustain themselves on sparse, overly priced appetizers, booze, weed and pills for the entirety of the book, but there was faint mention of hors-d’oeuvre.  Playing off the idea of a starter dish, I decided to make something sparse, clean and often times associated with fine-dining; a vegetable sushi roll.

 

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Sunshine Sushi Roll

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 cup filtered water and water for rinsing rice
  • 1 tbsp rice cooking wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 nori wrappers
  • 1 medium carrot [julienned]
  • 1 avocado [cut into thin slices]
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes [cut into strips]
  • Sesame seed mixture (black and plain) *optional*

Instructions

  1. Begin by placing rice into a bowl and covering with water.  Mix rice and water with your fingers.  Rinse rice in sieve and continue this process until rice water is nearly translucent and no longer a foggy white.  This will help make the rice stickier.
  2. Place rinsed rice into small saucepan and cover with 1 cup water.  Bring water and rice mixture to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook until all water is absorbed.  Turn off heat and let rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. While rice is cooking, prepare veggies.
  4. After the rice has set for 10 minutes, add the rice cooking wine and salt.
  5. Mix together gently with rice paddle.
  6. Set a nori sheet on a flat surface with horizontal lines aligned with your body.
  7. Begin to spread rice over the surface of the nori sheet in the middle and in the same direction as the perforated horizontal lines.  Make sure to spread rice to the edges of the nori.
  8. Next, place slices of avocado along the edges of the rice, layer the carrots on top of the avocado, and line the sun-dried tomatoes on both sides of the carrots.
  9. Gently grab the edge of the nori that is closest to you.  Using both hands, fold the nori over the first half of the veggies, holding them firmly. Continue to roll the nori wrapper until you have a tube.  Repeat for the remaining three nori sheets.
  10. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the roll into 3/4 inch pieces.
  11. Align on plate and sprinkle with sesame seed mixture.
  12. Enjoy plain or with your choice of sauce.

Notes:

  • Serve with tamari, horseradish, soy sauce, whatever sounds yummy to dip.  I want to experiment with sauces to drizzle on the top, but more on that in the future. :)

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I hope you enjoy rolling your very own sushi roll and noshing down, while you try to forget about this book.  If you haven’t read Not That Kind of Girl, check it out, and read along with me for my next #noshedinabook choice, Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  Let me know what you thought, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Kitchen Letters #2: There’s something about turnips

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Dear world,

What’s happening where you are?  My story this time begins with turnips.  Yes, this wildly underrated root veggie has easily taken the spotlight in our kitchen the past couple of months and my creativity was put to the test.  CSA boxes are sort of the ‘Chopped‘ of the everyday kitchen world, but the catch is it’s all produce and the only time limit on creating a delicious recipe is the shelf life of what’s inside the box.  Now, after trying a few different things with this hunky root, what sounded most delicious one afternoon was fries. After perusing a few Pinterest boards to figure out what other people have done with their turnips, I found some that suggested making fries.  As none of the recipes I came across suited me, and I’m not much for deep-frying anything, I decided to tweak a recipe I use for crispy baked yams and apply it to turnips!

A bit of turnip history for you all; did you know that turnips have been around for about 4000 years?  Their original purpose was less for mastication and more for well, throwing at those you didn’t like.  Glad that’s no longer a popular practice!

Turnips are part of the Cruciferae family of vegetables, and this does mean they could lend to a more gaseous evening, so I would recommend a digestive enzyme before consumption and lighting a sweet-smelling lit candle.  I don’t mean to be gross or crude, but I think it’s only fair that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a given you’ll have a tummy-taming evening, but knowledge is power my friends.

When my husband and I committed to buying shares in a farm, it was our hesitation initially that we would end up with more produce than we could use. There are only two of us and, though we have voracious appetites, often times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. However, once we began to understand what it meant to buy directly from a farmer who was producing organic, delicious, and fresh produce, all of our doubts peeled away.  There were excessive patches, like our summer boxes which were overflowing with small, sweet peppers and some spicy peppers.  It became hard to keep up, but the great part was I started to get more inventive, and that’s where the turnips come in.  At any farm, some fruits and vegetables are in abundance and because turnips are often the food of farm raised animals, we lucked into an abundance as well.  The trick… not wasting anything.  We’ve certainly had our guilty weeks, where no matter how much I shared or prepared, we just weren’t able to go through it all, but I’m trying harder everyday to get better about not wasting precious produce.  We’re very fortunate to have such delicious noms at our fingertips, and anything I can do to utilize these goodies I will do.  Quick fact about food waste; America wastes 3,000 lbs of food every second.  If you’d like to learn more about food waste, here’s a link to the website of an eye-opening documentary that focuses on just this topic.  Dive! The Film

Are some of you still a little turned off by the idea of even messing with turnips? After taking many nutrition courses and my memory of learning about foods growing up, the benefit of assorted veggies and fruits was often a topic, but turnips never landed in that list of ‘go to’ veggies for a dense nutritional fix. Though not the most obvious choice for a nutritionally full snack, they have more to offer than you would imagine.  Turnips, though a starch vegetable, are lower in calories than potatoes and are packed with vitamin C, which helps with our immunity and, just as important, tissue repair–this helps in the healing and aging process.  Often overlooked as a source of vitamin C, just a cup of turnips can help fulfill daily requirements.  Additionally, turnips contain a range of B vitamins which aid in protein and carbohydrate metabolism that’s key for having quality digestion and absorption. B vitamins also help in creating quality skin, hair and liver health.  And who doesn’t want healthy skin?  These are just a couple of the nutrients that help to make the turnip the amazing veggie it is.

 

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 Crispy Turnip Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 large turnip (regular variety), peeled in rough areas
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • two shakes freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (non-gmo)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF
  2. After rinsing and pealing rough areas of turnip, slice it in half and then make 1/8” sticks (julienne)
  3. Grab a medium sized mixing bowl, place turnip sticks inside and sprinkle all ingredients on top, then drizzle the oil
  4. Toss together turnip sticks and spices until everything is nicely coated
  5. Arrange each stick on baking sheets in fine rows keeping each fry about a 1/4 inch or more from the next (we’re not trying to steak or roast this buddies, we want them crispy)
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
  7. Enjoy crunchin’!

Extras:

  • Try with dried thyme or cayenne for a kick; note, a bit of thyme goes a long way

 

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A quick note on a couple of ingredients.  Turnips have a mild bitter flavor to them, and because of this I chose smoked paprika, which has a savory and sweet flavor to balance out the bitterness of the turnip.  Thyme is one of my favorite herbs and it has a pungency that matches well with turnips. I recommend trying this when you make your first batch.

Overall, these crispies have been one our fave snacks lately and have easily become a comfort food this winter.  We like to enjoy them with veggie burgers and black-eyed pea salad sandwiches.  I hope you enjoy experiencing this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Sources:

food waste 1

food waste 2

Check out more kitchen letters here!

Meow. Bump the Grump w/ a Recipe to Help!

http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Today’s one of those days.  I don’t like to fall into the cliché before dinner category, but alas I think I have to for now.  What I’m about to say may come off as self-important and annoying to some, but I must be honest and forthcoming, some of you may come to like this about me and some of you may not.  I feel pretty good most of the time, and when I don’t feel splendid I make myself feel good in some shape or form, food helps 😀 .  I hover around a Marry Poppins like attitude, because I don’t want to be the grumple in the room, do you?  However, in spite of all my efforts, there are indeed those days when I too must grumple it up because maybe I just need to or maybe the ick did in fact get me.  [side note:  grumple is a word I have come up with that characterizes a being of grumpness]  Reflection;  This is okay, but don’t make a habit out of it.

I’d like to share a couple of ‘things’ with you; one is a list and one is a recipe (two of my favorite things).  I made the dish recently and I aspire to help perk-up the best of em’ and distract one’s mind from avalanche thoughts.

I will start with the list.  Milton Glaser is a famous graphic artist who’s best known for his I <3 NY logo, and many more iconic symbols, but recently I appreciate him mostly for his ‘rules about life‘.  Many of them have struck a nerve with me and in my grumpdom I thought, not a better time there could be for me to share them with all of you.  I think there is not a more optimum time, than when you’re feeling a little melancholic, to harken upon life’s ‘self-help’ section and find some principles to guide.  His remark on ‘How You Live, Changes Your Brain’ helps me understand a great deal about our moods and how they affect not only us, but others.  Reflection; it’s okay to centralize  your thoughts and funnel them down to a purpose, I think simplicity can occasionally keep us sane, especially under high-stress or when you’re feeling, well grumple.

Recipes aren’t just organized ideas about food prep, they are so much more, here’s why.  Distractions in life help us and for those who like to cook, and I dare say even those individuals who do not like to cook,  being immersed in a recipe or creating your own culinary masterpiece is the best  cure for feeling out of sorts.  Don’t get me wrong, if you’re bordering on sick-state, then I think it best you steer clear of the kitchen, but in general trying to master any delicious treat be it savory or sweet can take your mind off of what’s ailing you.

Without further delay, here’s something for you to try out;

Roasted Potatoes with Gluten-Free Fettucine & Sautéed Brussels Sprouts & Baby Bellas

(Try using local produce if available).  :)

  • Japanese Yams and Sweet Potatoes (your choice depending on how many you’re serving) Rinse well and chop into medium size chunks – do no remove skin unless the potatoes are not organic.
  • Season these with; olive oil, rosemary(dried or fresh), Himalayan Sea Salt, Crushed black pepper, and a Cajun style mixture (you can make this yourself).  If a Cajun mixture is not available, try sprinkling cayenne and paprika.  Drizzle olive oil over potatoes liberally until that have a nice ‘sheen’.  Now  add in the spices and herbs.  I used two Japanese Yams and one Sweet Potato of moderate size, and I probably used about 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp of each, though to be fair I’m not big on measuring.  I’m getting better though!  USE YOUR HANDS and toss the potatoes with all your yummy seasonings.  Place your oven on 425°F.  Lay out potatoes on baking pan, spread them evenly.  Once oven has preheated, cook vegetables for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for 7 more minutes.  Perfection!
  • 1 Package of Tinkyada’s gf (gluten-free) fettucine boiled and drained with 1 tsp. olive added after cooked, to help prevent clumping.
  • Brussels Sprouts and Baby Bella mushrooms; (again, amount varies on how many you’re serving).  Rinse and chop of the ends of the brussels sprouts.  Next cut them in half, length-wise and  set aside.  Now, rinse bellas and slice them length-wise as well, into thicker pieces.  Heat a skillet to medium-flame (heat) and add grape seed oil.  I was heavy with the oil for this recipe, but if you’re looking for a lower-fat dish, avoid extra oil.  Begin bysautéingthe brussels sprouts until they are almost golden. At this point add in the mushrooms and toss the two veggies together until the mushrooms are tender.  Add Himalayan sea salt, rosemary(dried or fresh) and garlic granules or fresh diced garlic.  Serve on top of fettucine.

I hope you enjoy and preparing it makes for a happier you.

Share with me your thoughts after you’ve prepared the dish, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Healthy and Un-Grump Regards,

~RAM~