Vegetable Fritters

March 4, 2015

Fritters are a wonderful way to use up knobby bits of root vegetables, spicy radishes, or the cabbage that just keeps coming from our winter CSA. They are also the secret to surviving zucchini season if you are one of those people who sees zucchini as a pointless, watery, tasteless vegetable.

I borrow Deb‘s approach to fritters, which is to say that I finely chop or grate a pile of vegetables, stir in a beaten egg or two, and enough flour to bind, and then fry them up like adorable little latkes.

Last night, I grated green meat radishes, carrots, parsnips, jerusalem artichoke, and celery root until I had about three cups of grated vegetables. I stirred in two beaten eggs and 1/3 cup of floor, then fried them up like little latkes. I think I could have made this with 4 cups of vegetables and maybe a little extra flour, but Ava had reached her limit for letting me grate vegetables without her.

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Onion Tart

May 24, 2009

My roommate believes this to be the best quiche she has ever tasted – it’s very rich and flavorful and earthy. Here’s the recipe.

Crust from Pie Everyday:

Stir 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a cup and a half of flour. Cut a stick of butter into the flour. Once the flour looks like coarse sand or gravel, add cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just holds together. According to Pie Everyday, it will take about 4-5 tablespoons. According to my experience, it’s more like 8-10 tablespoons. Or 20. But if you add 20 tablespoons of water the crust will not brown, so try to restrain yourself when you add the water.

Once you’ve got the crust all mixed together, mold it into a disk, wrap it up in plastic, and stick it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks, Kale, and Lentils

April 6, 2009

I’ve had a bunch of kale and squash in my freezer for weeks, and I decided to make use of it yesterday. This is what I made.

Ingredients:

3 leeks, washed, trimmed, and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, washed and chopped

small bunch of parsley, chopped

1-2 bay leaves

pinch of salt

half a butternut squash, cut into half inch cubes

colander full of kale, chopped

1 cup of lentils

1. Make the stock: Put the green parts of the leeks, the carrots, the celery, the bayleaf, the parsley and a little salt in a big pot. Add about eight cups of water, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat. Let the veggies simmer for about half an hour, taste for salt (if it’s too salty, add more water and simmer a little longer; if it’s not salty enough, add more salt), then strain the stock. (I put a colander in another big pot, pour everything in, then lift out the colander and discard all the boiled-to-death veggies).

2. Saute the white parts of the leeks in a little olive oil.

3. Put the leeks, squash, and lentils into the pot with the stock, bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat.

4. Once the squash is soft and the lentils are almost done (about 20 minutes), add the kale.

5. Keep cooking until the kale is done (about 10 minutes), then taste for salt. Add more water if you like – the water in the soup will evaporate while everything’s cooking, so you may need to add a cup or two of water once in a while. Alternatively, you can just let everything cook down into a stew and it will still taste good.

Update: my grandmother just called to say that she made this with a little vinegar and salt and pepper for extra flavor, and a little brown sugar for the butternut squash.


Why I Don’t Eat Fish

February 9, 2009

In 1994, humans extinguished the Atlantic cod populaton off Newfoundland’s coast. The collapse of this fishery was unthinkable – a century ago, cod were the most abundant fish in the Northwest Atlantic. They had supported a viable fishery for 500 years. At one point in time, people thought that they couldn’t deplete fisheries – the oceans were too big, the numbers of fish too vast, for human activity to have any significant impact.

Thanks to modern technology, however, we can have a significant impact on fish populations, and we do.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that about 10 percent of the world’s major fisheries are significantly depleted, 18 percent are overexploited, and 47 percent are fully exploited, leaving just one-quarter of the world’s marine fish populations at sustainable levels.*

Between 1960 and 1975, humans caught as much cod as they did between 1500 and 1750.

Folks, we are catching fish a lot faster than we ever have in human history and it is causing serious problems. Depleting commercial fish populations is obviously going to have a huge impact on ocean ecosystems. More importantly, it is an enormous threat to our food supply.

Twenty percent of the world’s population depends on fish for their protein source, and most of those people live in developing countries. If we wipe out our fish populations, most of the people who really, truly depend on fish as a food source will have great difficulty finding alternative sources for protein. Most of these people are very poor, and may not have the cash to purchase other kinds of protein. The collapse of the fisheries will place even greater strains on their economies: fishing is a major source of both food and cash in developing countries where most of the population depends on fish for protein. If the fisheries collapse, people will have far fewer fish to catch for subsistence, and less cash to buy protein produced somewhere else.

Some people really don’t have a choice about whether they eat fish – if they don’t have fish, they don’t have a viable protein source. Many of us, however, do have a choice, and I think we have a moral obligation to make sure that our choices do not contribute to the elimination of a food source that 20 percent of the human population depends on.

So I think we should stop. We should stop eating fish until their populations recover. We simply can’t afford to wipe out this food source, and that is what will happen if we keep doing what we’re doing. Anyone who has any choice in the matter should stop, so that the people who don’t have a choice can live.

So that’s why I don’t eat fish, in case you were wondering. I’m one of the people who has access to alternative sources of protein, and I think it’s wrong for me to take fish when other people need it and I don’t.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you, too, live near a grocery store that sells beans and split peas and lentils and edamame and tofu and chicken and eggs and milk. Those of us who have ready access to the Internet generally have the cash to buy beans and rice – in fact, it’s considerably cheaper than buying fish. So we have a choice, and I think we should let the other folks – the people who really, truly need to eat fish because they don’t have viable alternatives – have the fish. We can eat something else.

* Quotation from Rasband’s Natural Resources Law casebook.
** Click here for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s definition of depleted, overexploited, and fully exploited.
***If you can’t bear to give up fish, there’s a list of fisheries that are in pretty good shape. Print out the list, and take it with you when you go shopping.
****And no, farmed fish are not the answer. It takes about two pounds of ground-up wild fish to produce one pound of farmed fish.


The Source of the Vegetarian Ripple Effect

February 4, 2009

Vegetarianism has a tremendous ripple effect. I’ve been thinking about why this is, and I think it’s because of our deep and abiding desire to share food.

Eating is a deeply social act. At the start of our lives, it’s literally impossible to eat without another human being. As infants, we always eat in the company of another person, whether we are breast or bottle-fed. As school children, we eat lunch with our class mates. If we’re lucky, we eat breakfast and dinner with our families. When we have a birthday, we share cake with our guests. When we come home from college, or a far-away jobs, our parents’ immediate impulse is to feed us, no matter how old we are and no matter how late it is when we get home.

Sharing food is instinctive. If our friend forgets her lunch, we share what we’ve brought from home. When someone says, “that looks good!”, we offer a bite. If we give a toddler a snack, he’ll feed us cheerios whether we like them or not.

The impulse to share is so powerful that it often trumps food preferences. Most of my family and friends really enjoy eating meat, but I can always count on them to feed me something I can eat. If we’re at a restaurant, it’s not uncommon for a friend to order a vegetarian entree or appetizer so that I can have a bite too. It doesn’t mean that the omnivores in my life stop eating meat, or that they stop eating meat when I’m there, but it does mean that they incorporate more vegetarian food into their lives.

When it comes down to it, the vegetarian ripple effect depends on the love of omnivores. It’s our impulse for sharing, our desire to nurture others, that makes the ripple effect possible.


Red Coconut Soup

February 3, 2009

coconut-lentils2

1. spices 2. coconuts 3. red lentils

My mother sent me the most divine soup recipe the other day. Here it is:

Olive oil or butter

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved in water will do, or you can use the stock recipe I’ve posted after the jump)

2 big cans of crushed tomatoes (2 lbs. 4 oz. altogether)

1 can of coconut milk

1 cup of lentils

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil and butter for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add everything else and cook for about thirty minutes, until the lentils are soft.

I had to make some substitutions as well as my own vegetable stock, since I didn’t have any bouillon cubes on hand. My version’s after the jump.

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First, Saute Some Onions and Garlic

February 2, 2009

mosaic717728

1. scallion trolls 2. golden onion 3. glass onion 4. red onion

From there, you can make just about anything: curried chickpeas, lentil soup, vegetable stock, red beans and rice, pasta primavera.

Here’s a basic template for starting with onions and ending with deliciousness.

1. Peel and chop the onions and garlic.

2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, then add the onions. Let the onions cook until they get soft, stirring occasionally. Add a little more oil if the onions are starting to burn or stick to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes, until the onions are starting to turn golden-brown and everything smells delicious.

3. Add some spices. If you’re making Indian food, throw in some curry, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. If you’re making Italian food, throw in some rosemary and oregano. If you’re making Mexican food, throw in some cumin, coriander, and a bit of cayenne or chili pepper.

4. Add some chopped vegetables. Cauliflower or parsnips or sweet potatoes or greens might be nice with Indian spices. Eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes are lovely with Italian spices. Bell peppers would be utterly delightful with Mexican food.

5. Add some beans or lentils. Chickpeas or leftover lentils would be good with Indian food, chickpeas with Italian food, and black or pinto beans with Mexican.

6. Serve with rice, pasta, tortillas, cornbread, focaccia, or something equally delightful. I think the a whole-wheat version of the focaccia with a bit of cumin on top would be really good with both the Italian and Indian versions of this meal.

7. If you’re feeling fancy, squeeze a bit of lime or lemon on top of everything. The Vitamin C will help you absorb all the iron from the beans and greens.

Note on timing: I find that things go best if I do them in the following order: 1)start the starch – mix the bread and put it in the oven, put the rice on to cook, start a pot of boiling water for pasta, etc. 2)chop all the veggies you’re going to use 3)saute some onions and garlic 4)add spices 5)add veggies 6)add beans 7)dish it up.

Note on vegetables: Add the thicker, tougher vegetables first, and the delicate, thinner vegetables 2-3 minutes later. In the Italian dish, for example, I would put the eggplant in first, the mushrooms in second, and the green peppers and tomatoes in last. Spinach cooks almost instantaneously, so always put that in last. If you’re cooking something really hard (potatoes, parsnips, winter squash, etc.), you might want to plunge it into boiling water for a few minutes beforehand so that it gets a head start.