I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been eating the same-old, same-old for the last few months. Maybe I let my meals become as dull as the winter weather. Maybe I was just a little lazy. Either way, spring is now here and there is an influx of greens at farmers markets adding flavor and color to dinner. This week I had the most amazing, quickest, delicious stir-fry for dinner.
Pea Shoot and Spinach Sauté
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 T. grated ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 cups pea shoots – cut into 2 inch segments
2 cups spinach – cut into thin slices
1 T. soy sauce
1. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, sautéing for 3 minutes – don’t let garlic brown! Add pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
2. Add greens and mix until they begin to wilt. Toss in soy sauce and mix, cooking for an additional two to three minutes.
Simple, easy, delicious and a great change from the winter blahs.
Over the last nine months I’ve been working for Schenectady Greenmarket. In that time, my life has changed quite a bit. One main area of change is my kitchen. Sure, I have always been a pretty ardent home-cook, rarely eating out, rarely purchasing prepared foods – but I haven’t the kind of person that eats truly seasonally. All that has changed since now most of my grocery shopping is done on Sundays as I run around the market.
Among the celeriac, beets and kohlrabi, there has been one humble reawakening – carrots. This cooked carrot salad is now a staple of my weekly dinners and lunches. It brings sunshine and warmth to my day regardless if it is actually sunny outside (and -12) or snowing.
Spicy Cooked Carrot Salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 lb. carrots – diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped parsley
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1. Boil the carrots in salted water until tender but not soft (about 3 minutes).
2. In a large bowl, smash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir in the paprika, hot pepper flakes and lemon juice. Whisk in the oil.
3. Add the carrots and half the feta cheese. Toss until fully combined. Sprinkle the remaining feta on top and serve.
This salad is wonderful on its own for lunch, perfect wrapped up in a pita with falafel or grilled chicken and amazing served for dinner next to some freshly grilled chorizo.
I have a friend that recently went through an amazingly traumatic event, but one that thankfully she will recover from. When I sent her a get well note this morning, I added a prescription of my own: eat lots of ice cream…chocolate ice cream make everything better. It got me wondering about all the little things that make hard times a little easier to bear.
For me, the list would include:
- Chocolate milkshakes
- Pink champagne
- Cheeseburgers & beer
- Mac & cheese
- Chicken noodle soup
- Hot water with lemon & honey
- Spice cake
All of these work when I’m not feeling well both physically and mentally, but chocolate milkshakes are the most powerful of all cures. They just make me feel better. And who could deny that pink champagne makes you happy? The simple act of saying pink champagne brings a big, bright smile to my face and my soul.
What are the simple pleasures that make you feel better on a grim day when you are sick or sad or plain cranky? Sometimes the best medicine can be found right in your kitchen.
Without my realizing it, my world has shrunk. I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad thing – just that the realization came as a bit of a shock. I don’t know how I feel about it honestly. I like my quiet life. The roads I travel, the people I know and meet. And trust me, I travel a lot of roads – but more and more they are the same-old, same-old. I haven’t stretched myself in a really long time and I didn’t know I missed it until I missed it.
And I almost missed a chance to do something new.
So, this is the year when I seek out new experiences, new risks (and their rewards), new faces and a larger world. And trust me, the direction life is taking me this year is farther and farther than I have ever ventured before – all for the good and all for me.
I’ve been spending a lot of time the past few weeks thinking. Thinking about my past, thinking about my present and future. Thinking about where I’ve gone wrong and where I can do right. Granted, I just had surgery and haven’t been able to do much more than sit and think. All this personal introspections, I suppose, comes at the right time – being the beginning of the year and all – but I feel like I’m always in the throes of one self-examination or another and never really fix anything.
Is that how things are supposed to be? Always striving to be a better person and never really feeling like you’ve gotten there? If it is, the whole process is exhausting.
Anyway, as part of this “life thus far” review, I took the time to print up all 218 posts from the blog. The past three years of my written life were then divided into four categories: Farming, Food, Observations and Relationships. It is so interesting to step back and see things in nice, neat piles. But where do I go from here? And what, if anything, do I do with the information I already have?
I don’t have the answers to these and other questions yet. I guess it will require a little (or a lot) more thinking on my part.