Tofu Eggplant Stir Fry

tofu stir fry

Another weeknight, another stir fry. Sam Sifton of NYTimes Cooking recently re-pointed out his list of Asian essentials to make weeknight meals more easily delicious, and I am in utter agreement. Buying sesame oil, miso, and rice vinegar is well worth the initial investment.

There are a few important components of a stir fry—although if you’re in a hurry and neglect one or the other, sometimes good quick food is better than the best food (not a philosophy I generally subscribe to, but no one likes being hangry, and the beauty of stir fries is that they can still be damn good)—how you chop the ingredients, the order you put everything in the pan, and the amount of seasoning.

1. Chop everything so it’s all the same size. I tend to like long rectangular pieces.
2. Cook on high or medium high (and keep watching and stirring!), but make sure to put in the harder vegetables, and tofu, in the pan first. That way they can cook a bit before the flash-cooked ingredients, like green beans.
3. Season well! Add a variety of sauces, taste as you go, keep adding, let it cook down a bit, taste more, try something else… have fun!

I’m sure this would be better in a wok, but I don’t have one so I shall continue to praise my lovely cast iron.

An update re: life on Mars (thanks, Modern Farmer): apparently we should be able to grow crops there! But they’ll be missing some key nutrients that we may have to import, and could be lethal if we don’t rinse the soil. Wash your dirt and save your poop, kids. 

In keeping with the end of eggplant season, this particular stir fry (and another similar one the next week) made the vegetable a star, with a few chunks of crispy tofu and other veggies thrown in too. Add whatever veggies you want. I’ve been enjoying sweet potatoes recently, and onions of course, and something green like broccoli or beans or kale.

Tofu eggplant stir fry
8 oz tofu (or whatever you'll eat)
1/2 large eggplant, or 1-2 smaller ones
Sweet potatoes, or carrots
1/2 onion, or more if you like onion
Hot peppers or red pepper flakes, if you feel like it
Green beans, or other green vegetables
Garlic
Ginger
Vegetable oil
Sauces! Sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, maybe miso
Scallions, parsley, cilantro if you want

Start by chopping all the ingredients, at least roughly the same size (carrots I cut in half lengthwise, then in slivers, so you get thin half-moons that will cook quickly). Peel the ginger and mince, along with the garlic (large pieces are fine). If you have time to marinate the tofu in soy sauce, do so.

Heat up oil in the pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add tofu and a little soy sauce and fry for a few minutes on each side until slightly golden, flipping around a few times. Add the eggplant and sweet potatoes or carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring often (you stir and it fries). At this point, start putting in a few other sauces, tasting, and adjusting. If you use miso, dissolve it in soy sauce or something else first, or you’ll get little potent chunks. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic and cook a little more, then the beans (I like my beans remaining nice and crisp). Taste and make final adjustments, then turn off the heat and add the scallions and any other last additions.

Serve over rice. Or become full picking right from the pan.

bean tofu stir fry

P.S. You can grow fruit on tiny tiny (bonsai) trees! Sounds like my dream.

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Italian Eggplant Salad

eggplant salad

I have been fixated on eggplant of late. It doesn’t help that my roommate is also obsessed, so I’ve been buying it more frequently than I would otherwise. I used to not even like it at all—the texture, mostly—but like many childhood aversions, I am quite over it these days.

Over the moon about it, actually (had to throw in a moon pun after yesterday’s activity). Although not everyone is, since it is one of the less nutritious of the vegetables. I suppose on top of an actual salad (well, I made it on a kale salad, so it’s full of good kale nourishment) makes it a double enemy for those seeking nutrition and fooling themselves by eating mostly water. However, it’s far better than chicken nuggets, or whatever else one might be eating, so I am quite content. Plus, eggplant. Delicious.

This is one version of eggplant salad. You could also prepare it similarly but top with an Asian dressing (say, miso, ginger, and rice vinegar, or fish sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and sesame oil) instead of balsamic, basil, and goat cheese. Something to try for next time (better make it quick, eggplant is on its way out).

How long before we can grow food on Mars, now that we’re almost certain there’s water there? Sooner might be better than later—we are becoming dangerously war-torn here on Earth, to the point where seeds had to be extracted from Norway’s seed vault for the first time, due to the Syrian war (yikes), but, we should probably figure out our own problems before messing with another planet.

Maybe the aliens will befriend us if we feed them eggplant.

Italian Eggplant Salad
2 Italian eggplants
Kale
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Basil, or pesto
Goat cheese, in olive oil if you can swing it (Appleton Creamery is the best)

Cut the eggplant in half, prick vigorously with a fork (don’t stab yourself), and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil for 20 or so minutes, until the skin is blistered and the inside is very soft—an entered fork should meet no resistance. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, wash and chop up the kale. Drizzle with olive oil, then massage with your hands until it softens, achieving a salad consistency.

Take the peel off the eggplant and discard. Separate out the inside and break it apart into chunks with a fork.

Place the kale on a large platter, and top with eggplant, then basil. Drizzle with balsamic, then crumble goat cheese and olive oil on top. Peppercorns (in my goat cheese) are a good plus too, for aesthetic and flavor piquancy.

I made this for a potluck and was having difficulty not stuffing my face before leaving. Easy to eat an abundance.

eggplant salad

It looks pretty, and I love taking pictures of my food. Just don’t forget to enjoy the company, place, and time of your food as well (a beautiful article, written by a college friend of mine).

Roasted Beet Potato Salad

beet potato salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

Yes, Isabel, I have been enjoying potato salad of late.

There was a time when I hated potato salad, but I kept trying it again, and finally had to remind my dear friend Isabel to tell me not to eat it. Not the case now, I have met a number of potato salads that I rather like (one in particular that is closer to classic than this, but with raw fennel and a light creamy herby dressing. One for another time).

“Let’s cook beets” turned into dinner here through a little cream cheese, a few extra herbs, and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Not bad for an open-the-fridge-and-see-what-we-find meal. Sour cream would also be acceptable.

In other news, fall!

Additionally, I am planning a trip to Germany at the end of November. I imagine I shall be taking a two-week hiatus from Dancing Tree as well, but promise to have plentiful food photos from my travels!

Beet potato salad
5 or 6 medium beets, or fewer large ones
5 or 6 small potatoes
Olive oil
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup cream cheese
Chives and parsley
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (roast in oven with salt for a few minutes)

Roast the beets first. This may take a while, and can be done in advance. Chop, put in a pan with some oil, and roast at 350-400º for at least 30 minutes. Roast the potatoes the same way, although I recommend a separate pan if you can swing it, since beets have a little more water and it’s nice to let the potatoes get a bit crisp. Once they are soft (stab them with a fork or knife to determine pliability), remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, chop up the red onion and other herbs. Place the onion in a large bowl and add the semi-warm beets and potatoes; mix. This will take the bite off the onion just enough to add a little kick without being overwhelming. Mix in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt a little in the warmth, and then the rest of the herbs. Taste and salt and pepper as needed. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy with a side of toast (not required but recommended).

Switchel

switchel in mason jar

Before the hot weather entirely disappears, whip yourself up a batch (or two. Or four) of this to swig in the morning, post-exercise, or after work mixed with a little whiskey.

Look for raw apple cider vinegar with the mother, because a) it has more probiotics and b) it might continue to ferment a little and get a little fizzy on its own. No need for seltzer after all!

Also known as haymaker’s punch, switchel is a classic colonial farmer drink (because you need another reason to thank our agrarian heritage), starting to be popularized by homegrown hipsters. There are so many good qualities to this beverage: it’s full of electrolytes and probiotics, can be made entirely with local ingredients, and is also super delicious. I’m not really a drink person, except for tea, wine, beer and the occasional fancy cocktail (not soda or juice, is what I really mean I suppose)—but this is a fabulous exception and one I would like to see proliferate. Bring this instead of lemonade to your next grill session.

Speaking of (sort of) historical dishes, restaurants are increasingly trying to convert traditional cuisines to a modern palate. Inspiration, not replication, they say. I’m most excited about a reinvention and popularization of Native American cuisine, because I think we still have a lot to learn from the people who created dishes directly from this place we now live, instead of bringing in our immigrants techniques and ingredients.

That being said, some of the thing those settlers came up with are fabulous too. Case in point:

Switchel
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (raw if possible)
1/4 cup honey (maple syrup, molasses, or sugar is also acceptable, but I like honey best)
A thumb of raw ginger, or 1 tsp ground ginger, or a combination
A few cups of water (as much as will fit in the jar—you can add more later)
Seltzer

Mince the ginger—large-ish chunks are fine. Combine everything except the seltzer in a mason jar (or other container, but you achieve a retro coolness factor with the mason jar). Shake and refrigerate for a few hours. Strain before serving if you don’t like eating chunks of raw ginger (I find it a little exciting), mix in some seltzer (depending on how concentrated it is), and some whiskey if you want to go the cocktail route, and imbibe at will.

Other additions: mint, basil, elderberry juice, blueberries, or anything you might add to lemonade. Would probably be excellent mixed with kombucha too.

Disclaimer: Photo from Instragram. Taken by me, but has been filtered. 

Fresh Tomato Essence Sauce

fresh tomato sauce

There is something quite magical about a fresh ripe tomato.

Sweet, acidic, juicy, and maybe umami (which I admittedly don’t quite fully understand yet, but tomatoes have it). Occasionally I find dishes missing a certain satisfaction; adding a tomato frequently fills that void.

There’s all sorts of interesting science cropping up in the news lately about grocery store tomatoes, from ripening them in a hot bath before chilling them to developing hardy tomatoes with Actual Flavor (what a concept!). But, I would much rather eat heirloom tomatoes, despite their long and convoluted history. Plus, I can grow those in my own garden (!), collect them from friends when they are perfect, and freeze the ones I can’t use for winter soups and sauces.

Currently, however, it is still summer (yes, I realize it’s September), and I want to be eating fresh tomatoes. But I also want sauce. Something to slurp up with pasta and absorb that rich tomato flavor, but keep some of the freshness.

Friends, there is a solution. It happens to reduce prepwork too, as long as you don’t mind skins and seeds (helpful when you still want to be swimming all day). By flash cooking the tomatoes, you get them to release their juices; then strain out the chunks and put them aside; boil down the juice to get the thick, deep, orangey essence of tomato. Stir back in your barely cooked tomatoes and you are good to go (there’s garlic in there somewhere too).

I would use your medium-grade tomatoes for this. The fresh fresh perfect ones you eat on the spot. The rough and tumbley ones you blanch, peel, and make into freezer sauce or can (or, just freeze whole and when you take them out and start heating them, the skins slip right off). Somewhere in the middle are fresh sauce tomatoes, that require minimal processing but still aren’t quite perfect—maybe a little too soft on some sections, or unevenly ripened. From this you distill your essence.

tomato essence

Fresh tomato essence sauce
1.5 lbs fresh tomatoes, any variety (a mix is good—some juicy ones, some paste, even a few cherry tomatoes)
4-5 cloves garlic
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

Mince garlic; large-ish chunks are fine. Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat until slightly shimmery, then add garlic and fry briefly, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile (or ahead of time if you want to make sure to have a proper mise en place), chop the tomatoes into large chunks, removing any areas that are extremely soft, and large cores. When garlic is slightly golden, add your tomato chunks and stew for a very brief minute or two, just enough time for the tomatoes to release most of their juices. With a slotted spoon or a strainer, or most likely a combination of the two, remove the tomato pieces and place in a strainer over a bowl, to catch the rest of the juices. You will probably end up collecting most of the garlic chunks too, that’s good, since you don’t want them to boil too much (although any that you miss won’t be a problem).

On high, boil the tomato juice until you run out of patience, or it gets very thick; add in any additional juice from the draining tomatoes every so often. When thick, turn off the heat, and add back in the tomato chunks.

Stir, and serve. I recommend a few torn basil leaves, and a little cheese if you feel so inclined. Excellent, of course, with pasta, or on toast, or just eaten by the spoonful. It’d be worth making fresh pasta for this—once you have one fresh component, may as well go for the whole meal, right?

fresh tomatoes draining

Vegan Tahini Rice Bowl

chard rice tahini bowl

Okay, I know this is a little out there for some: every once in a while you get a craving for a nice creamy vegan rice bowl. Lots of almost bitter tahini dressing, a bunch of dark leafy greens, probably some seeds and a heaping of flavorful brown rice. It’s the kind of thing you find at a place like Life Alive in Cambridge. They’re right, it’s the kind of food that makes you feel great after eating it.

And during, too. I find that the more veggie-based meals I eat the more I want them,—I’m establishing a craving. Try it at least once, and I suspect you’ll return.

Besides which, it’s very easy and comes together quickly for a good weeknight meal.

You may be eating this alone, as one does when living alone (or when living with others, for that matter) during the week (more people these days are dining alone, apparently). This is not such a problem, however, as long as you take the right approach. Decide not to have dinner alone, but to eat with yourself, and enjoy your own company. Alone time is important.

Rice tahini bowl
Brown rice
Coconut milk
Chard, or other dark leafy green
Sunflower, pumpkin, or other seeds or nuts
Tahini
Apple cider vinegar
Garlic and/or ginger (optional)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, and other spices as desired

Start with the rice. I highly recommend cooking it with coconut milk (adds an extra depth); cook as usual (cover with a half inch or so of water, bring to a boil, then simmer until cooked). Add more hot water if necessary to prevent burning.

Chop the chard and sauté with a little olive oil. When almost cooked (it will go fairly quickly; although kale takes a little longer to get soft), stir in some apple cider vinegar.

Make the dressing: Stir a big spoonful of tahini in with a little vinegar and some more oil, if desired. Add finely minced garlic and ginger (doesn’t need much) if you like as well. I recommend mixing in a jar and then putting on a lid and shaking it up. Taste, add salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Rice-chard-seeds-dressing. Mix, taste, adjust, garnish with fresh herbs, lemon, and/or tomatoes if you have any lying around.

Dive in, and be happy.

It’s good with tofu too, other vinegars, coconut flakes, avocado, other veggies… and you can add cheese or stir in a little yogurt if you like too.

P.S. I would like to very much thank Edibletcetera for nominating me for Leibster award! I’ll get to it this week, promise.

Corn Salsa Salad

corn salsa salad

Corn! How exciting. And so many ways to eat it. Raw on the cob, raw off the cob, roasted, grilled, in a tart or pancakes… or in salsa. Or a salad.

I’m calling it a salsa salad because it could be either. I was happy eating it as a meal but it would also make a good potluck dish or topping for tacos or in a burrito. It takes approximately five minutes to throw together so you’re in luck if you’re running late to a party or to your empty stomach.

Corn gets a lot of flak (which, by the way, is different from flack, a person who deflects criticism. Although someone receiving a lot of flak might need a flack) in the media these days for being one of the single crops causing America’s obesity epidemic, either in the form of syrup in everything, as animal feed contributing to suffering, or because it’s often a GMO. There was a fascinating piece about corn wars with China in the New Republic the other day, reflecting the importance of research money, the power of corporations, and the grandness and challenge of trying to feed a political world. You may also be interested in “How corn made its way into just about everything we eat” from the Washington Post. Or checking out the picture in Vox about the evolution of corn (and other crops). Humans are good at making things work for us. Corn also plays a significant role in sustainable ag of the future, especially where it was native and there are still people to uphold its traditional uses and growth patterns.

Most notorious corn is not that which we eat, but whatever is grown for animal feed or biofuel. Sweet corn, the kind we’re used to consuming, is not a large part of the corn production in the U.S. It is instead a happy contribution to summer, and perhaps to your next meal.

Corn Salsa Salad
3 cobs of fresh sweet corn
2 scallions
1 zucchini or summer squash
Olive oil
1/2 lime
1 large tomato
Cheddar
Hot pepper or a dash of chile sauce

Shuck the corn, and cut the kernels from the ears. Chop up the scallions and the zucchini.

Heat up a little oil in a pan over high heat, then add the scallions, zucchini, and corn. Stir frequently until soft, squeezing in a little lime halfway through; the corn should get toasty in the high heat and the scallions will wilt. Chop up the tomato (and pepper if using) in the meantime, and grate the cheddar. Put the corn in a bowl with more lime, the hot sauce/pepper, and the chopped tomato, then add the cheddar and mix it all up. Toss with a little salt too, to taste. Serve over rice, with beans if you like; an avocado would also definitely not be amiss. Good hot or room temperature, but best eaten fresh.

Eggs Florentine

eggs florentine with runny yolk

Otherwise known as The Best Brunch Eva or The Sauce I Am Always Thinking About. Hollandaise is a phenomenal invention. Light and airy but rich and bright, so satisfying on so many items.

I’m presenting it with eggs because it’s where I first discovered it, and the classic, but please please please do not stop there. Asparagus, green beans, fish, fiddleheads, on a spoon—this sauce could go on anything.

Eggs Florentine is much like its cousin Benedict, except that it has spinach to go along with the poached eggs and hollandaise instead of ham (there’s also Arnold, which has smoked salmon). I like spinach better, both for the purposes of decreasing meat consumption (I never have ham lying around) and to make it a little lighter, fresher, greener. Chard or kale is also lovely (make sure to cook the kale enough, since you want it soft and velvety so as not to disrupt the luxurious smoothness of the hollandaise). Mmm.

eggs florentine

So, three different components to this dish: 1) Poached egg, 2) Hollandaise (yumm), and 3) Spinach/greens. The third is by far the easiest, and can be creamed or just sautéed (creamed=sautéed with cream and maybe a little nutmeg). I prefer a light sauté with some olive oil, to keep it fresh and light. Item 1 I find the trickiest to get quite right, I suspect because I haven’t done it much. I manage it successfully much more often than not, I just flail around a bit when it’s cooking and get all nervous. The Kitchn has some good tips if my instructions aren’t clear enough.

There are a bunch of ways to make hollandaise. The classic (Julia Child’s version) is to cook egg yolks with lemon juice first (whisking constantly), then add soft butter and whisk like mad until it’s emulsified. On the other end of the spectrum is blender hollandaise, where you put eggs yolks and lemon juice in a blender and blend, pouring in melted butter while in progress. I like the mid ground, where I get to whisk a bunch and feel it come together and get all foamy, but it remains relatively foolproof. I imagine that whisking and cooking also achieves a thicker sauce than the blender version, because you cook the eggs a bit first, other than just being heated by the melted butter.

whisk like mad!
Whisking like mad

If you really want to be fancy, you can clarify your butter before you begin, by melting and skimming off the foamy bits and or even straining them out. Clarified butter has more fat (you are skimming off water content and milk solids), so you can use a little less of it. I haven’t been bothered yet, but I shall have to try it just for experiment’s sake sometime.

eggs benedict prep
Ready, set (note the container for freezing egg whites!)
Eggs Florentine
Eggs
Toast, or English muffins
Spinach
Olive oil

Hollandaise sauce
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, melted
Pinch cayenne
Salt

Put a pot of water on to boil for the eggs, then prep the spinach: I like mine sautéed gently (it should be soft) with a little olive oil and some garlic. Add cream if you like.

To poach an egg: Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add vinegar. Turn down the heat so the water isn’t rolling, but at a light simmer, and start swirling the water so it spirals. It helps to have an assistant here, but is doable solo too. Crack in your egg and keep swirling so the whites wrap around the egg. Cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the egg and how runny you like it (ideally the white is cooked but still soft and the yolk is runny). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a towel, being careful not to break the yolk. If making for company, you can poach a bunch of eggs ahead of time and then right before the hollandaise is ready, put them back in boiling water for a scant minute to warm up again. In that case, definitely go with a shorter cooking time in the beginning because you don’t want to overcook them.

And now, the Sauce. Mm. Melt butter in the microwave (or stovetop if you prefer), preferably in a glass Pyrex with a pouring spout. In a double boiler—not heated yet (I use a glass bowl and later place it over a small pot of boiling water), whisk yolks, then whisk in lemon juice, and keep going until it gets foamy and a little lighter. Heat until slightly thickened, whisking constantly (you don’t have to do this for long, just until a little thicker). Continually whisking, add the melted (clarified if you like) butter in a stream. It should emulsify and become yellow and light. Whisk in cayenne and salt, taste for lemon and add more as needed.

Serve: Toast an English muffin or bread, top with spinach, warm egg (dunk in boiling water to warm up if needed), and warm sauce. If sauce gets too thick, whisk in a little water. If you wait a little bit to serve it, keep warm and whisk often (I decided to take hollandaise to a brunch potluck once and as I was driving over I was reaching over to the passenger’s side to whisk frantically every few minutes to keep it emulsified. Turned out splendidly and was well appreciated, and I didn’t crash to boot).

Broken sauce tips here (fear not, it’s probably saveable).

eggs benedict
Good without spinach, ham, or salmon, too…

Weeknights: Sautéed Cabbage with Additions

cabbage with mustard and seeds

It feels almost like I’m cheating myself when I do recipes like this. I could provide you with so many more if they weren’t so discretionary! But this is about empowering you to create your own exquisite dishes anyhow, not about me.

At the risk of writing something that is too similar to the NYTimes Cooking Newsletter (which is worth subscribing to, by the way), today I offer you a quick sauté. Kind of like a warm salad?

Salads are important summer staples. As long as you keep around an assortment of seeds, nuts, beans, cheeses, vinegars, and other random additions (meats, other veggies, avocados, fruit, grains, hummus!), once the greens start coming in you no longer have to think too hard about what to bring to lunch. Very helpful. I’ve probably mentioned that before.

Well, you can do something similar with non-salad greens, too.

(Make sure to include the fat! Which might taste a little bitter by itself but is important enough to be its own taste, as of recently.)

This isn’t really recipe worthy but for consistency’s sake:

Weeknight cabbage sauté (warm salad)
1/4 small cabbage (per person)
A large scallion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
A large dash sesame oil
A large spoonful whole grain mustard
Pumpkin or sunflower seeds (toasted, preferably)

Chop up a bunch of cabbage and a scallion or two and throw them in a pan with some olive oil and a little sesame oil, if you feel like it. Pull out that fancy mustard we used last week, add it to the cabbage, toss in a few pumpkin seeds or other seeds and voila! Dinner.

The beauty of this is that you can do it with anything. Kale, napa cabbage, chard (although chard is a little more watery), throw in ginger or turmeric if you want, or apple cider vinegar instead of sesame oil, almonds as well as other seeds… you get the gist. 15 minutes, tops (cabbage is super quick to chop).

cabbage with mustard and seeds

We Millennials might be so food-obsessed because it gives us a sense of control. I’ll buy it; I feel better about my way of life when I know the origins of what I eat, and that it is grown without too much suffering (except perhaps from the vegetables, as it turns out). It is also true that we should use food as a lens to view larger issues within our society: sustainability, justice, equality… Food happens to be a good entry point because everyone has to eat, and luckily most of the time tastier food (well, once you’ve acclimated to non-super fatty/sugary foods, which is certainly a larger hump than I’m making it out to be) is more sustainably produced and nutritious. There are parts of the food chain that aren’t so pretty; maybe if we worked to make our lives AND everything that contributes to them Instagram-worthy, we’d live in a better place. I’m clearly putting far too much faith in the the visually appealing here, there are delicious and -beautiful- things that would not make it on Instagram (this cabbage, for example). It’s a start, anyway.

Kohlrabi Apple Matchstick Salad

kohlrabi apple salad with hazelnuts

Crunch, crunch.

Everyone knows that apples and cheese and mustard go together, right? What they may not know is that kohlrabi is adds an important edge to the mix. Just enough zing to tie it all together and a very pleasant crispiness, especially since it’s not apple season and your apples may not have the ideal firmness. (This was my roommate’s idea, by the way)

Cutting up anything into matchsticks makes it more fun, too (besides the bit where it takes dressing more handily). I recommend peeling kohlrabi, cutting in half and then thin slices, then take half of that, flip it sideways (on the flat side) and cut more thin slices. You can kind of do the same thing with apples (don’t peel, but core them), but it’s a little trickier with the core gone. I bet there’s some ridiculous fancy kitchen gadget that will do matchsticks for you, if you really can’t stand cutting them up.

To elucidate some comments I’ve made previously re: farm tech, the problem with technological change is much the same problem as GMOs: copyrights. Farmers end up needing to hack into the systems of tractors and other equipment in order to use them. When you reach the point that the farmers are seeking out old versions of tractors just to avoid this problem, you know there’s something wrong with the system. The same could potentially be applied to seeds—the only reason we get so excited about heirloom (historic) seeds these days is because we haven’t been breeding for the right traits (i.e. flavor), so important qualifiers have been lost over time, and some of the newer interesting seeds have weird patents on them. Harumph.

There are some cool new developments though (well, a combination of new and old, like many of my favorite innovations), like a tree that has been grafted to produce 40 different kinds of fruit! Trees are so neat. I need to get an orchard when I have a real place, whenever that will be.

It’s almost tomato season and I am beyond thrilled. Stay tuned.

Kohlrabi apple matchstick salad
2 kohlrabi bulbs
1 apple
2-4 oz. extra sharp cheddar
Parsley
1 small scallion, or 1/4 red onion
Chives
Nuts, if desired
Dressing: 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 large spoonful mustard (more than you would put in an ordinary salad)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon
Honey, if desired
Tahini or cream, if desired
Salt and pepper

Cut up the kohlrabi and apples into matchsticks (see above for technique recommendations). Matchstick the cheddar as well. Chop up parsley, green onions, chives, and any other additions you would like. Toast nuts, if using.

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss, making sure cheddar pieces separate from each other.

Serve with toasted nuts on top.

Other variations: More lemon; mint instead of mustard; parmesan instead of cheddar; add radishes for an extra bite or cucumbers to make it milder.

Picnic time!

kohlrabi apple salad

P.S. I added my Instagram to the side of the page! Now you can see all my pretty pictures even without an account. You’re welcome.