Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

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.



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It is June, it is raining, and it is a Saturday; Farmer’s Market shopping may not happen tomorrow, due to family arriving in town for the first time in over 3 (!) years; you are slightly hung-over due to the accessibility of free wine at last night’s Best of Gage (where, unlike last year, you did not win any awards).

Beautiful Alexis - First Place, Figure - 2009

You are grouse-y about art, painting, and drawing in general, yet you have at least three pieces to finish up before next Friday (one fully rendered charcoal drawing and two grisaille paintings); your hair is snarled and in need of a wash, your apartment needs to be cleaned before the arrival of aforementioned family, and all you want to do is lay in bed and watch reality television all day. You are, in a word, cranky. But! In lieu of sulking in bed all day! You decide to pluck up! And remedy the situation! By combining comfort foods! With! Nostalgia!

My family goes back in Pittsburgh time possibly as far as anyone can remember, as far back as when the Northern Irish blood got booted from the motherland for Emmet’s Rebellion. While my parents both grew up in the city proper (North Side and Wikinsburgh), we girlish offspring were raised about ½ an hour North of the city. Unlike the rest of the family, I flew the coop as soon as I was able; and while I actually did live in the City of Pittsburgh for a whopping 4 years, I would never ever want to live there again. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get nostalgic, and especially for the food:

Bagels with capers and cream cheese and red onion and lox. The real kind, not Noah’s bagels.
A proper falafel, hummus, and kebab in the tucked-away basement Mediterranean Grill.
Decent Northern Indian food. Any decent Northern Indian food.
A crispy boxty at Piper’s Pub.
A comforting brunch at the Quiet Storm.
And, of course, delicious delicious delicious pierogis.

If you were raised in Pittsburgh, or near Pittsburgh, or by a Pittsburghers, you’ll have been fed pierogis from the time you were ready for solids; and, if you were a picky little brat like me, you will have refused to put them anywhere near your mouth because you despised onions. That being beside the point, Pittsburghers cooked up all sorts of pierogis in the kitchen: those made from scratch, those purchased from the little grandmothers at Pierogis Plus, or straight from a box of Mrs. T’s (in the frozen section at your local Giant Iggle). Pierogis were stuffed with onion, potato, and cheese, boiled, then sauteed in butter and onion and served with a dollop of sour cream on the side. Sometimes, fanciness came into play and you’d be treated to an applesauce garnish, or a pierogi stuffed with rattlesnake meat (no kidding). Pierogis could be a meal in and of themselves, or the complement to sauerkraut and grilled kielbasa. You don’t need to be Polish to enjoy a pierogi (although it is a Polish treat), but being from Pittsburgh (a very Polish city) definitely helps.

OK, we’ve got the nostalgia down. Now you understand the reasoning behind my complete and utter need to have pierogis today. So let’s make pierogis, shall we?

There are about 1,001 pierogi recipes out there. While this may be daunting to some, it was easy for me to make my selection: I went with the woman who grew up in Pittsburgh. Viola! I did make a few changes to her recipe, just because I feel confident enough in my pierogi palate to do so: in place of onions, I used leeks (grilled per this fella’s instructions and because I love me some leeks).

Grillings of leeks.

In place of red potatoes, I used Yukon Golds (because they are creamier) and kept the skin on (because I like the skin). Everything else, I kept as-is. Pierogi-making, by the way, is a time-consuming process. Not only is there dough to be made and refrigerated, but then grilling and filling, rolling and cutting, and stuffing and folding. In my split minute decision to make pierogis, I had forgotten that I don’t own a rolling pin; so there was a bit of panic and the remedy of a wine bottle (excellent rolling pin stand-in, by the way) tossed in as well.



I was terrifically afraid that the pierogis were going to fall apart when I boiled them or when I sauteed them with yet more leeks, but guess what? They held together beautifully, I got my plateful of nostalgia, I was distracted enough to be not as cranky, and everyone wound up happy (and full) in the end.

Kocham pierogi!

Music for pierogi-making: Einstürzende Neubauten
Music for pierogi-eating: Hossein Alizadeh

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Taro Root Curry

I first stumbled upon the gnarly, hairy-looking corm (not to be confused with corn) that is sometimes called taro root about two years ago. As I wandered through the produce section of the neighborhood grocery store, I came across a pile of the scruffy things and remembered reading a recipe for them. I had never eaten them before, or even recalled seeing them on a restaurant menu. I really had no idea what they would be like when I bought them.

Gnarly, hairy looking corm.

Taro root is something like potato, but better. It is, in fact, not really a root, but a corm, which is more like a bulb. It’s eaten all over the world; one can find it in places as diverse as Cameroon, India, and Hawai’i. There are any number of ways to make it, but fried and boiled seem to be the most common. I especially like the creamy texture it gets when it has been boiled. Turmeric, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and fresh chilies give the porridge-like taro roots an almost addicting flavor.

Here’s a recipe for taro root curry that I like to make (and eat).


1 lb. of taro roots, 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon of skinned, split black lentils (urad dal), 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt, 10-12 fresh curry leaves, 2-4 fresh green Thai or serrano chilies, with the stems removed and sliced crosswise.

1. I like to use the small taro roots, which are sometimes called sato imo. I’ve tried the bigger variety, but I did not like it since it has a strange, musty flavor that I do not enjoy (or at least didn’t work in the recipe I use). The taro roots first have to be peeled, then cut into quarters, then boiled for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to touch your face after peeling the roots, since the skin contains a toxin that causes itching.

2. Heat the canola oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the skillet, and then cook until the mustard seeds have stopped popping (about 30 seconds). Add the lentils and then stir-fry until they are golden brown (15-20 seconds). Sprinkle in the turmeric and let it cook for about 5 seconds, then add the taro roots, 1 cup of water, the cilantro, salt and curry leaves and chilies. Give the mix a stir, then bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, then cook uncovered until the sauce thickens (about five minutes).

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Being one whose task is to prepare everything other than Indian vittles, I am not to be found toasting or grinding spices; nor do I tear up as I slice tender banana peppers; nor do I futz with ingredients like wet tamarind, curry leaves, or smelly, smelly asafoetida. These things are Paul’s job. Paul is an excellent cook, as evidenced by my classmate (and Indian pop sensation and classical Indian devotional singer) Chandana proclaiming that “most Indians would be happy to eat so well.”

The thing about Indian food is not so much that it’s not as much difficult to make as it is difficult to find the correct ingredients (depending on your location in the US)… and it’s time-consuming. For ingredients, Seattle-dwellers are fortunate enough to have the fresh, fresh (and surprisingly inexpensive) produce at Uwajimaya; for spice-toasting and -grinding, I am fortunate enough to have a coffee grinder and Paul.

Let’s take a peek at one-third of what goes in to a three-dish (not counting the basmati rice) three-hour meal.

A few ingredients:

Okra, Thai chiles, and banana peppers.

And some spice toastings:

"Don't get too close; there are peppers in there."

And some spice grindings:


And then some simmerings and slicings and stirrings that result in delicious foods:

Sorshe Channa, Mirch Ka Salan, and Vendakkai Bhajee

But Annika didn’t request this long diatribe; Annika requested recipes. To be truthful, Paul cooks almost exclusively from 660 Curries. It’s a pretty good cookbook, so long as you don’t try making the kale with fennel and cloves (you will gag). I’ll toss you one delicious (and complex!) recipe to whet your whistle: (more…)

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