Friday, May 27, 2011

Kitchen Reform Tip 15: Power saver

When I turned 30, my boyfriend bought me a palm sander. Friends of ours told him that was not romantic enough, so he bought me something lacy and black as well.

He needn't have bothered. I have no aversion to practical gifts. (To any gifts at all, just an aside.) And in fact, while I no longer have that boyfriend or said lacy garment, all these years later, I still have that palm sander. And believe me, I cannot fathom life without it.

Sometimes, you don't know what you're missing until it knocks on your door.

There will be people who, upon reading this, will feel the need, however subconscious, to say I told you so. Their urge is well-founded. Last summer, when our whole neighborhood went on a Vitamix spree, I turned up my nose. I wasn't here, and it was easy from afar to tar emails of their ravings over a -- dare I now say it - a blender, as the musings of lunatics. It was so expensive, and how could it possibly be that much better? What could it do that my Ninja couldn't?

My Ninja gave up the ghost soon after, but still I resisted. We had two other blenders, for some reason, and I darn well wasn't going to add to the general clutter of my pantry or the earth by purchasing another single function appliance. Especially not for $500.

Then, for Mother's Day, I received a Vitamix. And let me tell you, I put it right up there on my list of life changers. My husband. My son. Glee. Actually maybe higher than Glee.

I needn't have  worried about it being a one-trick pony: in the week since I have had it, I have made soup, sauce, smoothies, pancakes, slushies, milkshakes -- and we were even gone half of the week. It was particularly good timing, as my son is losing his first tooth, as he will tell you often, and can't eat.

For those uninitiated, the Vitamix, well, here's what they say about themselves, which as a journalist is lazy but I would just like to get on with the recipe: "The Vitamix machine is not a blender or a juice extractor. It's so much more. The surgical stainless steel blades rotate at 240 miles per hour, pulverizing whole foods down to the cellular level. Valuable nutrients locked inside the pulp, skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables cannot be absorbed because the phytonutrients are trapped within plant cells which need to be ruptured. The Vitamix machine ruptures the cell walls of fresh, whole foods to make these phytonutrients more bio-available."

More bio-available? Can't argue with that.

Raw Thai Ginger "Noodles"

4 medium zucchini
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mint
1/2 bunch of spring onion

For dressing:
1/2 cup coconut, rice or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
1 knob Thai ginger, or galangal, peeled
3 stalks lemongrass, bulbs and 2 inches of stalk
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 lemon
salt to taste

Galangal, or as I found it, Thai ginger, is not the same as actual ginger, though it does come in a root similarly. It has a pleasant, pine aroma and its aftertaste is far hotter than ginger, though its actual flavor is more mild. I can't imagine how I would have dealt with it without the Vitamix, but am nearly sure it would have drawn blood.

Julienne the zucchini into "noodles" and combine with chopped spring onion and herbs. Put dressing ingredients into Vitamix and pulverize. If the sauce is too thick, thin with more vinegar. Toss together.

Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Kitchen Reform tip 14: OZ

The weather is as fickle as an old Dutchess, fragile and foggy one morning, cheerful and sunny another, blowing 100 knots the next. You never know what you'll find in the backyard. Easter Eggs! Iris!
Fox cubs! 

there are five!

But it is colorful. The spirea, digging the warmth, is so drenched in white blossoms it is in a perpetual sun salutation. The dogwood have shed their ivory canopy all over the front walk, making coming home a celebration.

I am having third spring today. My first was in London in March, where we came from dingy grey Virginia to an explosion of daffodils, green pastures and cherry trees so vivid I felt like Dorothy waking in the land of OZ. The second, in Virginia, came in fits and bits, the crabapples reminding us to open up the windows with its strong, pink scent, the asparagus growing three feet over night, so fast we couldn't eat them all.

And now here I am up north, the daffodils just coming up for the show, the sun becoming more confident, the wind still whipping waves and flags. It has been so wet everywhere there are whole roads washed out, as if the gravel had a race to the lake.

You are like the spring fairy, said a friend last night, when I told him this was my third spring in as many months. Why didn't you come sooner? quipped another.

And it is true; we crave color. Our lives were not meant to be lived in black and white. When we look at old photos, we somehow think of a drabber time, not as much fun as we have now. It can't possibly be true -- I knew my grandparents long enough to know their lives were plenty lively. But black and white makes everything austere, serious.

Even food.

Beet Salad with coriander dressing and roast pine nuts

Boil beets. Sprinkle with cheese, toasted nuts and dressing.


Monday, May 9, 2011


Again, the lure of the hunt. It's a bit like a mystery, piecing together the why of where you find them. How sunny? Which side of the tree? Under leaf cover, or bare ground? It's an addictive game, with the treasure being edible gold.

This time, a mountain road, a friend's new property. They haven't even built their house yet, but now we know that every year, around this time, we can wander up into the woods and, in the leaves rustling at the bottom of the tall poplars, sprouting from the lush ferment of the dead elms, we will find them.

It's just possible the season is over, and that is a mixed blessing. I won't spend my time foraging in the wood, and will get back to my house, and my desk, and the laundry that is threatening to over take the bathroom.

In the minus column, I won't spend time foraging in the wood. Losing my self in the zen of their trail, wandering from tree to tree my eyes on the ground, until one leaf looks like another, until the sun dappled forest floor dizzies me like a kaleidoscope. I won't keep my child up to all hours as we cook up the morels and eat them over pasta, over asparagus, drenched in ghee and olive oil.

Until next year.