In Defense of Kimchi

_MG_1364

So…about that time I “liked” that thing you posted on Facebook, then quickly “unliked” it because I didn’t want you to know I was thinking about you. That was weird, right? You probably didn’t even notice it. Maybe you did. But I really did like the thing you posted. It was pretty snazzy.

And that time you walked to the kitchen with some loose-leaf tea and I followed you to fill up my water bottle? I guess I was a little thirsty? OK, that might’ve been a little creepy. But you totally do it all the time, too.

Or when “WHOA I was just listening to that!” and “WAIT you watch Jeopardy, too?!”

Sometimes, I let the first train go because I have a small hope you’ll be on the next one.

Serendipity is whatever you want it to be. Choose your own ending.

_MG_1365

So there was this one awful time when I made the mistake of bringing a kimchi sandwich to work. Everyone did the little peer-over-the-computer glance dance from their desk.

Yeah. I get it. It’s pungent, guys. But once you get over the initial aroma, it’s incredibly delicious.

Seriously. It’s so yummy.

And here’s the health spiel: Because of the fermentation process, it’s filled with probiotics and bacteria that aid in digestion and boost your immune system. Plus, it’s got vitamins A and C, along with a ton of calcium and iron. That sore throat I had Saturday night? Gone Monday morning.

Eat that, haters.

_MG_1339

I’ve yet to make my own batch of kimchi, but I hear it’s super easy. A Set It And Forget It kind of job.

Like rice. Two parts water, one part rice. Boil. Simmer. Done.

_MG_1343

Japanese daikon is thinly sliced while carrots are julienned.

_MG_1347

And pickles because I just can’t get enough pungency.

_MG_1367

Kimchi salad

1/2 cup vegan kimchi (it’s typically made with fish oil, but look for brands that leave this ingredient out)
1/2 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup wild rice, cooked
2 Japanese daikon, thinly sliced
1/4 dill pickle, thickly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, optional

Put everything into a bowl and gobble it up like you’re fighting the flu you would’ve gotten but you didn’t because you eat kimchi and drink kombucha.

Advertisements

Farro Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Romano Beans

_MG_1323

When I get into something, I really get into something.

I started crocheting last year and relentlessly hooked my way to coasters, headbands and half-done mittens. I watched epic YouTube how-to videos on different stitching methods. I developed calluses. Now my yarn and plastic hooks are stowed away somewhere beneath my bed.

Last summer’s thing was running. I went from never running ever ever ever to zipping around 5 miles a day. I bought super lightweight shoes because I’d read in a book that running barefoot was a good idea. My knees started hurting. Hello, stress fracture.

But more than a year ago, I had a rampant reaction to working at a summer camp for nearly two months and never once having the chance to cook for myself. So much iceberg lettuce and canned black beans. I don’t want to talk about it.

That reaction was this. And I haven’t gotten calluses or stress fractures yet. And I sure as poop haven’t stowed it away beneath my bed.

Everything’s on the kitchen counter.

_MG_1303

So let’s dive right into it after that brief sojourn.

I’ve never cooked with farro. It’s been a mysterious grain ever since I first learned about it, and I had thrown all of my efforts into finding it. It’s been a long journey through aisles of beans, bulky items, almond milk and the “ethnic” row. I had to answer a few riddles to get there.

I practically cried when I found the stuff. Farro has more protein than quinoa. It’s untouched grain. And there’s no controversy surrounding it just yet.

_MG_1313

Heirloom tomatoes are such babes I don’t even know where to begin.

_MG_1316

I mean, come on. Stop.

_MG_1309

Crispy romano beans. I used to eat this stuff by the bucketload on long hikes. So refreshing. Yum in my face.

_MG_1319

What’s a salad without some dressing, right? Olive oil, dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar add some zing and refreshment that might make you think it’s summer time.

Ooh, that’s a good one.

_MG_1334

Farro and wine. Let’s get Italian.

Farro salad with heirloom tomatoes and romano beans.

adapted from The New York Times

2 cups cooked farro
7-8 baby heirloom tomatoes, roughly sliced
1lb romano beans, trimmed and blanched

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

To cook the farro, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil and add the grain. Let it simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until the grains look like they’ve blossomed. Drain thoroughly and douse with cold water.

While the farro is cooking, chop the tomatoes and trim the romano beans. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beans. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and immediately remove from heat before giving the beans a cold water bath.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Toss the beans, tomatoes and farro in a large salad bowl before adding the dressing. Toss everything together, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Just before serving, top with fresh parsley.

Makes about 4-6 servings, which might be just enough to alleviate at least some of the pain caused by this weekend’s Patriots game.

Sloppy Joy

_MG_1259

Sundays start at half past noon, when you hear the upstairs neighbors recounting last night’s shenanigans and there’s a cat frantically trying to get your attention because she’s hungry. Everyone’s craving brunch and coffee. A smoothie. Can someone just get me a glass of orange juice?

I just want a glass of orange juice so I can spend the rest of the afternoon watching football and screaming as popcorn flies off the couch. Maybe I’ll go for a run. Maybe I won’t. Okay, I’ll go for a walk.

I’ll probably, at the very least, get some face wash and deodorant during halftime and between the 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. games, I’ll throw a bunch of tempeh into a pot and sizzle some fennel.

And I’ll call it a Sloppy Joy because it’s vegan.

_MG_1241

You know how I love tempeh. I put it in sandwiches sometimes. It’s packed with enough fiber to last you at least three days. It’s a bunch of grains packed together. It’s a super duper food.

_MG_1257

It’s pretty hard to eat tempeh raw. It tastes like soft and squishy barley. Because that’s kind of what it is. But if you steam it or boil it for a little while, it softens up and resembles the consistency of ground beef. Except not really. At all.

_MG_1244

So so so so much garlic.

_MG_1246

Mince a prince!

_MG_1254

So many spices!

Sloppy Joys

2 8oz blocks of tempeh
1 red onion, chopped
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
2 6oz cans tomato paste
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cheap beer
4 tablespoons capers, minced
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

In a large pot, place a steam basket with the tempeh and bring about one inch of water to a boil. Steam for about 15 minutes and let the tempeh cool completely. Once it’s at room temperature, shred with a box grater and set aside.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil with the fennel seeds and chili pepper flakes in a large skillet. When the fennel begins to sizzle, add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent. Add the capers, garlic, soy sauce, beer, tomato paste and the rest of the spices and bring to a low boil before decreasing the heat to a simmer. Add the tempeh and simmer until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with warm toast or on a kaiser roll. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, or anything you so choose.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Black Bean, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Tacos

Saturdays are a beast. Try as hard as I might to sleep until noon, the demonic circadian rhythm in me pries my eyes open at about 7 a.m. and there’s no holding that monster back. I toss. I turn. I think about all of the things that make me sleepy – food comas, Bon Iver, rustling leaves, waves – but pretty soon my feet are pulling me toward the door and into the sun.

I walk for miles and get mildly nervous about sunburn. I come home with a Neapolitan tan line on my thighs and dirt from my heels to the back of my knee. How I manage to get so dirty all the time, I may never know.

Then there’s packing. Moving. Looking ahead.

Despite the summer heat, the snowball effect has rolled through my days, making me feel as though I’ll never catch up. Try as hard as I might to get things together, all I have the energy for is a hefty nap and a movie on my lap.

But there’s this little blonde monkey out in California that’s somehow related to me – a brown-haired, brown-eyed giant of a human being – and just thinking about visiting him in three days to celebrate his very first birthday is enough to make me put on my running shoes, clip my toenails and glance at the sky instead of the grit below.

So I get off my keester, go for a run (seriously, where does all the dirt even come from?), take a cold shower and make a home meal for the first time in weeks.

Would you rather eat only black beans for the rest of your life, or never eat sweet potato ever again?

Things to consider: Persistent farting. Skipping candied yams. Not eating these tacos.

Zucchini fried with a splash of olive oil and sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Boom pow.

Porcupining mangoes is the only way I know how to cut these fruits. Also. They’re my favorite. And more went into my mouth than into these tacos.

Cilantro, lime, mango – put some zing into your lunch.

Black Bean, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Tacos

4-8 corn tortillas
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium zucchini
1 14oz can black beans, rinsed
1 mango, coarsely chopped
handful of fresh cilantro
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 lime
small pinch of red chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1/2in cubes. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil and add the sweet potatoes. Blanch for about 3 minutes, until soft.

While the sweet potato is blanching, chop zucchini into 1/4in pieces. Heat some olive oil on a skillet and toss in the zucchini, adding pepper, salt and chili flakes soon after. Saute until slightly softened.

In a small bowl, toss mango and juice from half a lime with cilantro.

Throw all of the ingredients onto a warmed tortilla and eat.

Serves 4-5.