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Archive for July, 2010

There is not much to write about art or math, because we have been busy doing art and math until art and math seep from our pores.

Wait, scratch that.

Paul has been busy doing math (basic algebraic sequences) and reading up on fractals, while I have been busy beating my head on the desk illustrating a drawing book. I could rehash our discussions on color harmonics, temperament, and mathematics-within-nature-within-beauty; and I could natter on about t-squares and compasses, or plotting a star from a pentagram from a vesica piscis, or the steady stream of curse words that flow when the ink bleeds out, but…

I just won’t.

Tip of the iceberg.

I mean, why rehash it at all when I’d rather talk about the delicious foods we’ve been making and how happy they’ve made me?

Massaged kale salad, beans with sesame, and eggplants with yogurt.

Understand this: I could eat kale ’til my eye-whites turn green and Paul has this thing for all things Turkish.

And this is what happens when you combine a Massaged Kale Salad recipe (yes, “massaged”) with The Ottoman Kitchen cookbook:

I’ve eaten raw kale before, so I had my doubts about the salting; but much like with eggplant, salted kale loses any trace of bitterness and becomes utterly tender and luxurious without losing a lick of its nutrients. (For real, you get in there and massage the high heck out of the kale. It is so satisfying!) I don’t care for sunflower seeds much, so I substituted toasted walnuts, and used dried cranberries in place of the currants. The finished product was so bright and beautiful and full of contrasting flavors and textures and KALE and, for such autumnal ingredients, it made me want to run under a waterfall and grow 100 new freckles. I could eat this salad forever.

See? Happy!

And my other favorite part about the meal? Oh my god, strained yogurt!

Binnur, from The Turkish Cookbook writes:

About a thousand years ago, Central Asian Turks were the first to make Yogurt. As it was first spreading into Europe, this dairy product was used for therapeutic purposes. The word comes from the Turkish word “yoğurt”, deriving from the verb “yoğurtmak”, which means “to blend” – a reference to how yogurt is made. It is consumed plain or as a side dish or to make soups, desserts, sauce, to marinate meat and it is a big part of Turkish Cuisine. You can’t find a Turkish house without yogurt.

You should eat yogurt every day, at least one cup. Yogurt has beneficial bacteria, calcium and protein. We believe yogurt cleanses the body from toxins and poisons.

But to make? It involves a lot of squeezing and straining and waiting (the stuff I enjoyed was strained overnight), but in the end you’ll have crazily thick, tangy yogurt. Blended with garlic and mint, then spread on roasted eggplant? Delicious! With a sprinkle of sugar and nuts, or honey and fresh thyme? Delicious! And don’t forget that it contains friendly, live acidophilus cultures (a probiotic).

See? Even more happy!

And for dessert? For me, it is fresh-squeezed lemonade with macerated mint and Twin Peaks. For you, it’s recipes for delicious Turkish mezes.

(more…)

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It’s been overcast lately. Obscenely and depressingly overcast. Inexcusably overcast. While the weather report does hold some hope for the days to come (up to 89°, if weather.com is to be trusted), that doesn’t stop one from doing several vitamin d-deprived sulks around the house.

Screw this.

Last time I’d been in a mood like this, I made a nostalgia-ridden comfort food (pierogis); this time, I’m simply going for flat-out comfort with no nostalgic ties: mujaddara.

I highly doubt that this is an authentic recipe, as I pulled it directly from the pages of Veganomicon; but, to be fair, it doesn’t look as if there is any one recipe (or name or origin) for mujaddara that is considered the be all and end all of this ridiculously simple, yet utterly homey dish of lentils, onions, and rice.

The loveliest thing about mujaddara is that you’re not simply dealing with onions… you’re dealing with caramelized onions. And I do love me a caramelized onion. I’ve had problems with them in the past, as I’d stuck with the stove for my endeavors, but Veganomicon taught me a convenient trick: use the oven! Genius. I usually use 2 lbs of sweet yellow onions cut into thin rings and thoroughly coated in ¾ c. of olive oil; today, I used Walla Walla onions from the farmers market, because I adore these sweet Washington State friends. Veganomicon informs me that I only need to turn my oven up to 400°, pop my onions in, stir frequently, and in 25-30 minutes there will be beautifully caramelized onions waiting for me. Not so! I’ve gone up to an hour+, checking and stirring frequently, until my onions are golden brown (with a few burnt edges), sweet, and fragrant.

I have no idea how long I spent caramelizing my onions today, as I was preoccupied with working on illustrations.

Aren't they pretty?

Some folks like green or brown lentils in their mujaddara; but I really enjoy red lentils here, because they mash up so nicely. I soak 1 c. of my red friends while simmering 4c. water, 1c. of basmati rice, a cinnamon stick, and a few whole cloves for about 15 minutes. All ready? Time to gently fluff the rice, then in goes 1c. red lentils, ½tsp. allspice, and 1½tsp. cumin. Bring everything back up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45min.

Red lentils, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, and basmati rice.

This is where you may want to go back to something like, oh, working on more illustrations. Just be mindful to watch the clock, or you’ll have sad, inedible rice and lentils burned to the bottom of your pot. Turn off the heat, let everything sit still covered for about 10min, then fold in all of those ugly as heck beautiful caramelized onions and any remaining olive oil.

Despite its wonderful flavor, mujaddara is possibly one of the most homely looking meals imaginable. Easy solution: grilled asparagus and (!) lemons (!) offset an unimpressive plop of beige in the most delicious of ways.

Have I mentioned how good grilled lemons are?

שמחה ,والسعادة, ευτυχία, mutluluk

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