Mukeunji Kimchi Frittata with Lemongrass and Sour Cream

mukeunji kimchi frittata with lemongrass and sour cream bite

 

If you move far from the things that are familiar to you, learning to adapt is essential for your survival. When I moved to Seoul 4 years ago, I found myself drowning in a sea of unfamiliarity. The language, culture, courtesies, smells, sounds and sense of personal space all amounted to a major sensory overload. Communication was difficult and mistakes were made often with hilarious results. I remember once feeling overwhelmed by a chatty taxi driver who assumed that I was able to speak Korean because I said “hello” properly. I tried to say “I don’t know” (mo-lie-yo) in response to his words, but ended up saying “How much does it cost?” (ol-my-yo) which of course confused him and prompted him to ask more questions. Another time, I’m pretty sure I told a nice ajumma on the subway who tried to be polite and talk to me that I hate Korea, when I meant to say I don’t know Korean well. I wondered why our conversation fizzled after that.

 mukeunji kimchi frittata with lemongrass and sour cream 2

 

Food was another interesting matter. Cooking and eating traditions are revered and followed with little deviation. These traditions have worked for a millennium or two, so they must be good. Too good to change. As an outsider, I was completely unaware of what these rules were and ruined many a meal in the eyes of the ladies who served me. Having been accustomed to sushi, I wanted to dip my kimbap in soy sauce. This caused a serious stir in the kitchen as no one could imagine why I would ever want to do such a thing. Did I know that the whole point to eating bibimbop was that it must be mixed thoroughly before eating? Apparently not. Once I’d turned some mushrooms over on the barbeque during a galbi meal, thus spilling all of the water they had collected. All of the Koreans at my table gasped in disappointed embarrassment. It seemed I’d rendered them useless.

 mukeunji kimchi frittata with sour cream and lemongrass

 

When I first arrived, I’d had very limited exposure to kimchi. I found it overwhelming and somewhat offensive to the senses. But, as it is one of the main sources of great pride in Korea, I plugged my nose and tossed it down. I now can’t imagine going more than a few days without eating some.

 

mukeunji kimchimukeunji kimchi 2 

Mukeungi is kimchi’s lesser-known elderly cousin. Where kimchi is usually fermented for 1 to 4 months, mukeungi has gone through an extra long fermentation process, usually about a year (!). It is ripe with flavour and smell. It is excellent for using in stews, soups and mixes gloriously with eggs. 

 

mukeunji kimchi frittata with lemongrass and sour cream ingredients

Mukeunji Kimchi Frittata with Lemongrass and Sour Cream

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups mukeunji kimchi, chopped
  • 2-3 king oyster mushrooms, sliced and chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp lemongrass (preferably fresh), finely chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions

Heat a pan on medium high heat on your stove top, melt ½ of the butter. Add garlic, onion and lemongrass and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly brown. Stir frequently.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their water (about 4-5 minutes). Add the mukeunji kimchi, including any juice, to the pan. Turn heat to medium and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC/gas mark 6.

Spread the remaining butter on the bottom of an 8 inch circular baking pan and transfer the kimchi mixture. Pour in the beaten eggs and add salt, and sour cream. Gently mix with a fork.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes. To check if it is finished, insert a pick or fork into the center. If it comes out clean, it is finished. Remove from heat.

Garnish with black sesame seeds.

Vegetarian Lemon Dill Stuffed Eggplant with Couscous and Portobello Mushrooms + Tiny Kitchen

vegetarian stuffed eggplant bite 3

Cooking with eggplant is like painting on a blank canvas. It is full of possibilities. Bitter and spongy when raw (or undercooked… blech), eggplant (A.K.A aubergine, brinjal, brinjal eggplant, melongene, and guinea squash) melts in your mouth when roasted and takes almost no effort to cook to perfection. It is often used as a meat substitute for vegetarians due to its meaty texture and is known to be a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Dietary Fiber.
 

vegetarian stuffed eggplant bite 4

Eggplant has a delectable ability to transform; when cooked well, it softens, yet stays firm and loses much of its bitterness. It is also very diverse. The proof comes from all the traditional dishes from around the world that eggplant has played a key role in: ratatouille from France, baba ghanoush from the Middle East, mousakka from Greece, tagines in Morocco and curries in India. Eggplant is kind of a cuisine slut. It can’t make up its mind where it belongs. This is good for the rest of us.

 vegetarian stuffed eggplant bite 2

Since returning to Korea a month ago, my kitchen has been trying so hard to be functional and efficient. Unfortunately, it has mostly failed rather disappointingly. My small Officetell apartment has little space, lacks adequate shelving and is missing an oven and other helpful cooking instruments. This is very difficult for someone like me. Cooking is more than just survival; it is art, science and passion. It is exploration, trial and error and creative expression. It is need and desire.

 Tiny Korean kitchen

So, when my laundry rack is in the way of my cooking utensils and the (stupid) glass elements are just not hot enough, it’s far too easy to throw up ones hands and go get a kimbop instead.

 cut eggplantvegetarian stuffed eggplant with couscous

(Un?)Luckily for me, I am unerringly determined to get my kitchen up to scratch. I will fill my kitchen with the wonderful equipment I need and magically find space for them. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 vegetarian stuffed eggplant with couscous 2

All that said, I’ve been dreaming about roasting eggplant with butter, salt and cumin in my non-existent oven. Until then, here is a stuffed eggplant recipe I made shortly before leaving for Korea.

Vegetarian stuffed eggplant

Vegetarian Lemon Dill Stuffed Eggplant with Couscous and Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped Portobello mushroom
  • 3 tbsp chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • ½ a lemon (juiced)
  • ½ cup couscous
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced dill
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven at 375º F/190ºC/Gas mark 5.

Split eggplant lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Leave 1/8 inch of flesh on the skin and leave the skin in tact. Set the skins aside. Sprinkle the flesh with oil and salt and bake for 20 minutes.

In a stove top pan, fry the garlic and onions with oil on medium high heat until golden. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 7 minutes. Add eggplant flesh, celery, carrots and olives. Saute for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Separate the diced tomatoes from the juice. Save juice in a bowl.

Place the fried mixture in a bowl. Add tomatoes, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place uncooked couscous in a small bowl. Pour ¼ cup of boiling water and the juice from the tomatoes onto the couscous. The couscous should puff up and be ready to use within 10 minutes.

Turn oven temperature to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6.

Divide the couscous evenly between the two eggplant shells. Press lightly on the couscous to form a flat, even bed on the bottoms of each shell.

Scoop the vegetable mixture on top of the couscous and pack it in tight.

Place the eggplants in a casserole pan and cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil halfway through baking.

If you desire, grate some Parmesan on top of the eggplant halves 5 minutes before they are ready.

vegetarian stuffed eggplant bite

ps- Happy Birthday, mum! I love you!

Transformations: Dill Scallion Butter Chicken Sausage with Beet Puree and Artichoke Fennel Salad with Cucumber and Wasabi + Your Appetite

chicken sausage with beet cream and fennel artichoke salad 2

Remember that beet salad I posted a little while ago? The tangy, creamy and colourful one? Well, I made a lot of it and started to get really sick of eating it. I love beets and I love salad and have a high tolerance for both, but there’s only so much I can take of any one thing on repeat. It was imperative to exercise my leftover transforming skills in a big way.  

chicken sausage with beet cream and fennel artichoke salad

A beautiful plate and/or presentation of a dish, including bright colours and pleasant forms, can change your hunger level and alter how attracted you are towards any food or dish presented to you (excepting anything with bananas… they will always be evil).  Dishes that are beautifully arranged actually whet your appetite and make you hungrier.  

 

 

Mmm... appetizing
Mmm… appetizing

Colour plays a crucial role in our attraction to food. Studies have shown that blue is the least appetizing colour to eat. Our foraging ancestors learned to avoid toxic and spoiled foods, which were often blue, purple, grey and black (berries, eggplant, etc, excluded). That behaviour has been imprinted on us. So when food is dyed blue, our appetites turn cold. In fact, dieters are advised to use blue place mats, lights, plates, etc… when eating to aid in appetite suppression.  

 

 

Umm... not so appetizing.
Umm… not so appetizing.

Foods that are red, orange, green and yellow (depending on culture) are apparently the most appetizing and exciting to us. Red is the colour of passion, intimacy and enthusiasm and all that registers when we look at our food. Cool.  

chicken sauasge with beet cream and fennel artichoke salad bite

So, in honor of red, I give you beets. Yes, more of them.  

This dish was actually inspired by food items that had to be used from my kitchen. They were either in great abundance or approaching their expiration dates.   I had made some dill scallion butter in the summer when the garden was overflowing with dill. I made a large batch and since butter freezes well, most of it went into the freezer. It’s very easy to make (put dill, scallions and softened butter into your food processor and blend) and really tasty on everything. I use it on popcorn, toast and sometimes to fry eggs. It works gorgeously when frying up an Applegate Chicken and Apple sausage, too.  

The recipe for the beet salad can be found here. Place a cup of it in a blender (adding a bit more dressing for texture) and blend until smooth.  

 

chicken sausage with beet cream and fennel artichoke salad last biteAnd, of course, we have the artichoke heart fennel salad with cucumber and wasabi. Everything about this dish was heaven to eat. And to look at.

Artichoke Heart Fennel Salad with Cucumber and Wasabi

Ingredients

  • 2 steamed artichoke hearts, remove spiky leaves and quarter (you could heat up frozen or canned artichokes, which is a lot easier, but not nearly as good. Avoid the marinated kind)
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, sliced (about ¼ of a whole bulb)
  • 1 cup small seed cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp wasabi paste (or powder mixed with water 1:1)

Directions

Mix ingredients.

Plate the salad with a dill scallion butter chicken sausage and beet puree in an artful way that fills you with passion and feelings of intimacy and piques your enthusiasm.

Look at. Admire. Devour.

Roasted Curry Carrots with Garlic Cilantro Raita + Redwoods of Sonoma

It’s winter and I’m out in the country with little excitement. I was struck with the winter blues about 2 weeks ago, and I haven’t successfully shaken them off yet. The Abode has been extremely quiet and the cocoon of winter makes me feel very internal. Having friends scattered literally all over the world and desiring varying sorts of comfort from each of them, I long for a teleportation device to aid me in quick visits. Anyone have one I could borrow?

 

Roasted carrot campfire
Roasted carrot campfire

 

I’ve been spending my days in alternating periods of busy-ness and sloth, but trying to be as productive as possible. I’ve taken to babying my knees, which have sadly become inflamed (winter!), preventing me from my daily runs. Boooo. I predict knee replacements in the future, hopefully many years from now. Poor little guys.

While visiting my sister in CA, we spent one cold, rainy day in Sonoma County. There, my sister, mum and I went to check out a redwood forest near Guerneville. It was very cold that day, and I was underdressed (having come from the east coast, I was foolishly optimistic about Northern California weather when packing my bag) so we didn’t spend as much time there as we’d have liked. But, we warmed ourselves up afterwards at Korbel vineyard tasting wines and champagnes.

redwood sentialsredwoods and us

 

redwood and meredwood detailCA moss and redwoods

I’ve never really been a fan of baked or roasted carrots. Perhaps I’ve held on to some bad childhood experiences, but until this summer I can’t really say that I’ve ever craved baked carrots.

roasted carrots

The Abode farm yielded an excellent crop this year and there was a tonne of every sort of produce you could desire. Cooks were forced into finding creative ways to use large quantities of produce before the food went off. This is extra challenging due to eaters who are understandably bored of eating the same thing over and over. When faced with a huge sack of beautiful carrots that need to be used right away, roasting seemed like the best way to get people to eat a lot. Luckily, I was right.

roasted carrots 2

The (not-so) secret to carrots is knowing how well they respond to sweet and savory combinations. Carrots are already loaded with natural sugars, and don’t need much more sugar to bring out the flavours. Just a pinch of added sugar will make your curried carrots pop.

Raita is a yogurt sauce originally from India. It is used to cool the palate when eating spicy food. Ingredients for raita can vary from region to region, but often contains cumin, cucumber, mint/cilantro and garlic. Even though the fries aren’t spicy, they pair beautifully with the raita.

roasted carrots 3

Roasted Curry Carrots with Garlic Cilantro Raita

Ingredients

For the carrots

  • A dozen large carrots
  • 1½-2 tbsp Indian curry powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp clove powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup cooking oil

For the raita

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup grated cucumber
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds (roasting instructions below)
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven at 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 4

Peel carrots if they are especially dirty, otherwise, just wash them well and remove the ugly bits. Cut off both ends. Quarter the carrots lengthwise into strips and then cut the strips into shorter pieces. Don’t worry about making the pieces perfectly uniform, and forget about it if using garden carrots. It’s just not possible.

In a large bowl, mix (with your hands) the carrots with the curry powder, cinnamon, clove powder, salt, sugar and oil. Mix until each carrot is well seasoned and lubricated. Add more oil, if needed.

Lay the carrot pieces on (a) baking sheet(s). Allow plenty of space for each piece. Do not crowd them, otherwise, they won’t cook properly. Place in the oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes. Check every 10 minutes to stir the carrots.

While the carrots are cooking, roast the cumin seeds. Start by placing a frying pan over high heat to get hot. Once the pan is hot, add seeds and keep them in constant motion for 2 to 3 minutes. When the seeds are brown and you can smell a warm roasted smell, remove them from heat.

Mix the seeds with the rest of the raita ingredients in a bowl. Try to not eat all of the raita before the carrots are ready (it’ll be difficult).

Dip, slather, smother, scoop, drip, drizzle cool raita on hot carrots. Warning: You may want to avoid kissing anyone on days eating the raita. Raw garlic is not romantic.

Flavour Pairing: Tangy Dill Walnut Beet Salad + Colourful Things in California

beet salad bite

In the past month, in the midst of my job search, I went on a few mini trips for the purpose of pleasure and to visit friends and family (previously mentioned here). It had been many years since I’d seen my sister and even longer since I’d been on the State side of the Pacific, what with the whole living in Asia thing. In fact, the last time I’d been to the west coast was for my sissy’s wedding to her fabulous wife 5 years ago. It was a lovely trip full of fish tacos, kitties and pretty nature.

The Ladies of Hanukah: Bee, sissy, mum and me. Thanks to Erika for the photo!

While wandering, I took a few (hundred) photos of those pretty natural things. Here are some of my favorites:

Green and yellow treesCA treeCA tree detailCA thornsCA mossNorthern CA landscape

4 trees in profile

ColourfulCA moss 2.

Beets are also colourful. And flavourful.

beet salad 

This recipe has converted a few beet haters I know. Beets pair astonishingly well with dill, which has been a traditional gastronomic practice in many European cuisines in various forms. Borscht in Eastern Europe and salads in Italy. With the aid of lemon and Dijon, this salad is an exemplary archetype of freshness. The walnuts add texture and creaminess. Do make. Do eat. Do enjoy.

beet salad 2

Tangy Dill Walnut Beet Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 large beets, peeled and cut into bite sized cubes
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 cup ( ½ a bunch) of chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp of diced red onion
  • 2 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ -2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp walnuts, crushed (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the peeled cubes of beets in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 25-30 minutes. To check if they’re fully cooked, poke a large piece with a fork. Like a potato, it should be soft when done. Do not overcook, or you’ll have beet mash.

Drain and rinse the beets in a colander and place in a large bowl when fully drained.

Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Variation

Replace mayonnaise with goat’s cheese for a saltier, less emulsified creaminess.

Cumin Rosemary and Garlic Sweet Potato Fries + Mohican Ruins?

sweet potato fries

Mum and I went for a walk in the woods last week in the fresh snow. A friend had cleared a new path this past summer that borders the unfriendly edges of our property and we wanted to explore the old ruins found there. When I say unfriendly, I’m alluding to the gun toting, 4 wheeling neighbors who once threatened my mum when she approached their home to get directions. How charming.

 mohican ruins 1mohican ruins 2mohican ruins 4

I can see that my New Year’s resolution of being less sarcastic will be a challenge. (Happy 2013, by the way!)

mohican ruins 5

mohican ruins 6mohican ruins 7
 

Some expert of some relevant subject came to see these ruins and speculated that they might have been built and used by the Mohicans as a trading post long ago. The ruins consisted of a large stone marker and 3-walled structure of some sort, where people would meet and/or leave goods for each other. It’s pretty cool to find this sort of thing in ones own (extended) backyard. It can be easy to forget the possibilities of the past in just about any place (except for maybe Surtsey Island), and especially in an area as quiet (quiet for me, anyway) as the Berkshires. It is unknown whether or not these are actually Mohican ruins, but it is nice to think of that possibility. I like feeling the rich history of a place, whether it’s geological or human. Time has spread its wings over everything.

mohican ruins 3

 

One of the most satisfying winter comfort foods are sweet potatoes. Warm, earthy, orange and versatile. They add flavour and heart to any meal.

 roasted sweet potato bite

Though many cooks like to take the natural sweetness found in sweet potatoes to an even sweeter level (sweet potato pie, candied yams, sweet potato pancakes, etc) I prefer to balance the sweetness by adding salty and savory ingredients. A quick look at my brand new Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg lists a few great ideas, like: garlic, duck, dill, cilantro, cumin, prosciutto, sage, Dijon, chives and more. Mmm.

 roasted sweet potato bite 2

If you’re not that comfortable working and experimenting with new sweet potato recipes, try these fries as a way to practice. You are guaranteed delicious results.

Cumin Rosemary and Garlic Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large sweet potatoes
  • 3 crushed and minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½-2 tbsp of cumin powder
  • 2 tsp of fresh or dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • Cooking oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6.

Peel your sweet potatoes (or leave the skin on and just cut off the ugly bits like I do- when they are roasted the skin becomes soft and yummy. It is matter of taste. Just make sure you wash them well). Using a large knife, cut the sweet spuds into ½ inch slices. Then cut them into long fries.

Place them into a large bowl with all the other ingredients and mix until the oil and spices are evenly coating the fries.

Place the fries onto (a) baking sheet(s). Be sure to give them plenty of space. If they are too crowded, they won’t roast as well and will take much longer. Also, be sure to add any oil and spices at the bottom of the mixing bowl for extra flavour.

Place in oven and roast for about 45 minutes. Check them every 10-15 minutes to stir and turn them. This will prevent burning on one side and ensure even cooking.

Remove from heat when nicely browned and your kitchen is filled a warm, hearty smell.

Eat when hot.

Serves 4-6

Garden Pesto + Job Hunting in Korea

To the minor detriment of finding time to write posts, I have been focusing on finding a teaching job in South Korea for the past few weeks. It’s been a little slow going because I’m being very picky and haven’t actually applied to many positions. Luckily, as ESL teaching positions are quite plentiful, I can afford to be somewhat picky, but a large portion of me just wants it over with. Job searching gives me ulcers. Gah.

 

 

Good things come in threes.
Good things come in threes.

Actually, this won’t be my first time out there. I will be returning to SoKo after a year away. I first left North America (as a dual citizen of the States and Canada, I claim North America as my home) in August 2008. My intention was to stay for a year, but it just ended up being too good an opportunity to leave then, so I stayed an extra 2 and a half years.

 

In that time, I made friends with people from all over the world, traveled to about 25 countries, paid off all of my school loans and ate a metric ton of kimchi. Maybe two. As a Seoulite, I always found plenty of things to do, see, eat and experience. Seoul, like any city, has its plusses and minuses.

#1 plus- the amount of people

#1 minus- the amount of people

I’ll let you ponder that.

 pesto makings 2

I look forward to experimenting with traditional Korean dishes (which is saying a lot- Korean food has such a wide array of strong flavours that experimentation could be extreme) as well as getting to know some more people in food circles upon my return to Seoul. I will keep you updated as things progress. Until then: Pesto!

 pesto bowl

This summer and fall, herbs were ridiculously plentiful in mum’s garden. It was difficult to find ways to use them all. We were stuck with excessive amounts of (among other things) basil, parsley, cilantro, arugula and yellow wood sorrel.

 

Oxalis stricta
Oxalis stricta

 

 

Yellow wood sorrel is a delightful, clover sized plant that happens to be extremely and surprisingly sour. It’s kind of like eating a flat, dry and green lemon. Well… kind of. It grows everywhere and chances are it is growing in a green space near you. You most likely think of it as a weed, but I can assure you of its usefulness. It is wonderful as an extra salad green, gorgeous as a garnish and a delightful addition to anything needing tang. The entire plant is edible (although the stems get harder later in the season) and loaded with Vitamin C. It has some medicinal properties and will help treat skin rashes, swelling and inflammation. It can also be used as an orange/yellow dye. Thanks yellow wood sorrel for being so fabulous and helping to flavour my pesto to perfection!

 pesto in jars

My recipe yielded a very large amount of pesto. Luckily, pesto freezes perfectly and months after making the stuff, I’ve still got containers full and it’s still gorgeous. It also makes wonderful gifts.

pesto makings

Garden Pesto

Ingredients

  • 10 cups basil, arugula, parsley, cilantro and yellow wood sorrel mixed
  • 3 ½ cups walnuts
  • 1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 20 cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½ tbsp salt
  • 2 ¾ cups olive oil
  • water

or for those who lack freezer space

  • 2 cups basil, arugula, parsley, cilantro and yellow wood sorrel mixed
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/8 to ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • water

Directions

Using a food processor, blend herbs, nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil in small batches. Add small amounts of water for extra blending lubrication. Blend until beautifully smooth with bits of green.

pesto spin

Once the ingredients have finished blending, mix the parmesan into the rest until well incorporated.

pesto bowl 2

Pesto can be frozen for many months and keeps well in the fridge.

garden pesto crackers 2

Variations

Omit parmesan for a vegan version and add a touch more salt. Or use a salty hard vegan cheese (any suggestions?).

Roast garlic if you’re garlic sensitive, although I would never recommend omitting garlic entirely.

Enjoy!

Tangy Fried Green Tomatoes

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for their wonderful support and comments in response to my previous post. It means a lot. Every bit.

 Green tomato slice

Fall came quickly this year. We had many unripe tomatoes in our garden when the first frost arrived, and we had to find a way to make something interesting out of them. It seemed my only real option (in my opinion) was to give fried green tomatoes a go. I’d never made them and it just made sense.

Fried green tomatoes with hot sauce splash 

Southern dishes are always such a curious undertaking. Rich, fatty, flavourful and full of character, dishes such as red-velvet cake, deep fried chicken, fatback collard greens and pecan pie are typical staples of southern cuisine.

green tomatoes

Yellow lemon, green tomato

As a Yank, I live vicariously through my Southern friends and the feeling they get about their comfort foods. Wikipedia told me that the most notable influences of Southern cuisine come from the English, Scottish, Irish, German, French, Native American and African American traditions. I enjoy taking moments to step back and savor the history of this melting pot cuisine before diving into my own version. Here are my fried green tomatoes.

Fried Green tomatoes

Tangy Fried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium sized firm, green tomatoes
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 lemon
  • Cooking oil

Directions

Slice tomatoes into ½ inch slices. I do not recommend using end pieces as they don’t hold the cornmeal mixture very well, so be sure to make each slice flat on both sides.

Green tomatoes spread out

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk and lemon juice as well as some of the zest.

Combine all the dry seasoning, flour and cornmeal into a container with a top (or one that is deep enough so you can shake the contents without making a mess).

corn meal shake

Heat a skillet or frying pan in medium high heat. Add enough oil to grease the pan with a (not too) generous layer. Begin dipping slices of tomato one at a time into the egg mixture. Then drop them into the cornmeal mixture. Cover the container and shake for a few seconds. Your tomato should be thoroughly coated in cornmeal.

Place coated slices in the hot pan and fry until golden brown on each side. This could about 5 minutes per side depending on the heat your stove produces.

When cooked to your satisfaction, place the slices on paper towels in order to soak up some of the grease.

degreasing?

Dip in hot sauce and devour while hot.

fried green tomatoes with hot sauce splash 2

Serves 4-6.

Phew! I made it this far without mentioning the movie!

…D’oh!

Where Cabbage is Concerned…

…size does matter.

Cabbage kiss

This beautiful Brassica came from the Abode farm. We’ve formed a little bit of a love affair, the cabbage and I.

He is such a man. He opens doors for me and he pays for my dinner. He’s got so much green he practically gives it away. As you can see, we are a very affectionate couple.

Last night was a big night for us. First, I quartered him and shredded him with a knife and then I put him in a bowl. Then I added some shredded carrots, chopped onions and parsley to said bowl. Oh, how hearty did we party.

Slaw ingredients

Next, I felt we really needed to grease things up, so I splashed in some balsamic glaze along with sesame and olive oil. Things were getting crazy.

Of course, we couldn’t go further without the added excitement of salt, black pepper, cumin, paprika and dijon mustard. We considered inviting mayonnaise (we have a bit of a dependency) but decided to go without.

Light coleslaw

After shouting out his name a few times, my lovely cabbage and I made beautiful coleslaw together. What a night.

Light Coleslaw

Ingredients

    • A Brassica of your own (cabbage), shredded
    • 1-2 Shredded carrot
    • Chopped parsley
    • Chopped onion
    • Balsamic vinegar glaze
    • Sesame oil
    • Olive oil
    • Salt
    • Black pepper
    • Cumin powder
    • Paprika
    • Dijon mustard

Directions

Mix all ingredients to taste.

All spices (including dijon) should be about ½ tsp, but you should adjust according to preference.

Variations

Use a more flamboyant purple cabbage, instead of green.

Lemon or apple cider vinegar could be used instead of balsamic.

Stone ground mustard is lighter than dijon, so if you’re a bit squeamish when mustard is involved, it could be a good replacement.

Mayonnaise. Do it.

Roasted Beetroot and The Bridge to Nowhere

Beet Patterns

Habits. Habits are everywhere. You and I are hopelessly bound to them. We cannot resist them. We take comfort in the ritual of them. We admonish the addiction of them. It’s a love/hate sort of relationship we have with habits.

Year after year, time and time again we do the same things over and over. If someone showed me a chart of my life (they’d be revealing their creepy hobby of charting other people’s lives) I’d be pretty horrified to see which activities I spend most of my time doing (cute animals + YouTube = irresistible). Even still, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into change and growth, or at least, I think I have. It feels important to me to not get stuck in life. Actually, it scares the pants off me to look back on my life and feel like nothing’s changed.

B&W beets

Now, I think most would agree when I say that habits and behavior related to family are the worst. No matter how much I think I’ve grown up and changed, I always turn into the misunderstood bratty teenager around my family. I sit and watch myself go from (relatively) logical to utterly irrational. Fully aware of what is happening, I’m somehow incapable of preventing my transformation to She-Hulk.

Bridge to Nowhere

Last weekend, my brother, sister-in-law and a few family friends came to celebrate my new nephew’s naming ceremony. Baby Amos Ramana was, in part, named after my late father who passed tragically just last year.  I was moved to tears when my father’s memory was honored during the ceremony, which was short and sweet, but the festivities that followed were full of celebratory vibes. The weekend itself was stressful. So many family members falling into their old patterns and habits created enough anxiety for all to share. The next day, we all walked up Mount Lebanon to the retreat area. Our destination was The Bridge to Nowhere, a short, suspended bridge that leads….well, to nowhere. It ends abruptly in mid air and the walker is forced to a shaky stop. The idea behind the bridge is reflective. “You can go no further. Either stop, or find another way” is what goes on in my head when I am on that bridge. And so, I must find another way.

bridge feet

Taking family for granted is a bad habit of mine. I have come to realize that I cannot afford to do that anymore. Things don’t always end up the way I think they will and my family won’t always be around for me to finally work out my issues. So, I’ve gotta just suck it up and find another way around my habits. Change my patterns.

Roasted beets

Beets are the inspiration behind this post. They are very plentiful right now, so I’ve spent a lot of time looking at and preparing them. Their patterns are insightful. I am trying to let the wisdom of beets guide me through this challenging journey. I made some very simple and simply delicious roasted beetroots. Do enjoy.

roasted beets up close

Roasted Beetroot Fries

Ingredients

  • 3-4 of your favorite sort of beets
  • Cooking oil
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven at 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6. Cut the ends off the beets and peel them. Slice the beets into chunky wedges and place in a large bowl.
  • Add cooking oil and all the spices.
  • Mix with your hands (it works best) making sure that the oil and spices are evenly distributed.
  • Spread the wedges on baking sheets or pans. TIP: If you want your fries to get crispy (recommended!), give them plenty of space. If beets are too crowded they will release juices and start to get soggy. This may require the use of several pans.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes (convection ovens will take less time).
  • When they are crispy on the edges and soft to the touch take them out.