When your kid loves yogurt, making it at home makes a lot of sense. When your kid loves Greek yogurt, straining it makes for a more or less inexhaustible supply of tangy whey; the yield is roughly 50/50 so our weekly gallon of yogurt makes a half of each. There’s always some stock around too, either in fridge or freezer, so between that and the whey I never want for rich liquids with or in which to cook dinner.
Category: Vegetarian or nearly
It’s been cold for so long that I forgot what an astonishing difference good weather can make to my level of inspiration. Tuesday was glorious: warm, sunny, smelling of spring—everything I needed to get my own sap flowing. Also, the happy arrival of some new vessels for eating and drinking helped thaw my previously frozen kitchen mojo; besides the box of my grandfather’s glasses that I finally unpacked, I brought a few pieces home from the pottery studio. I make ceramics to inspire me to cook better, and they do, and this batch worked perfectly.
It’s been all about the transitional meals around here lately: dishes that look like colder weather fare, but are actually perfect for the truly lovely weather we have had for the last few weeks. It’s been positively Californian, really; sunny and warm, but cool in the shade and a bit nippy at night. Only without all the Californians everywhere, obviously, which is nice.
This stuffed cabbage took advantage of several different leftovers, and the result was a lovely multicultural mashup of greens and umami. The making was absurdly simple, which only made them more enjoyable to eat. They looked like Eastern European comfort food gut bombs, but were delightfully light and springy.
I’ve written before about leeks in vinaigrette being one of my all-time favorite appetizers. Leeks have a particularly savory completeness to their flavor, an almost meaty umami element that’s extremely compelling and addictive. They take well to all forms of cooking, and their silky texture when perfectly done—slick layers sliding apart under the fork—is hard to beat for sensual pleasure in the vegetable kingdom.
Corn, beans, and squash are the trinity of native American staple crops. The fact that they can be planted all together—beans climbing corn, squash crowding out weeds on the ground—only adds to their iconic appeal. This meal took shape around the happy presence of all three in the pantry, all in different states, and the result was quite satisfying.
Yesterday evening around 5:30, hard at work in the studio, I realized that I needed to go in the house and make dinner or there would be hell to pay. I was not pleased about it, so I was grouchy, and the relative shortness of time made it even less relaxing. Fortunately, a well-stocked pantry came to the rescue as it so often does.
This soup is one of the great peasant dishes of all time, I think, transforming a bunch of humble roots into a profoundly satisfying bowl of complex and nourishing pleasure. It’s fun to imagine the first starving farmer who had nothing but a bag of onions, some stale bread, and a heel of cheese and came up with this miracle of frugal virtuosity. Some good beef stock obviously helps, but it’s not necessary. Before I returned to carnivory, I made this using mushroom stock and it was a beautiful thing.
The cooler weather (crystalline and perfect in these parts lately) combined with the explosive home stretch for the garden—the damn peppers always hit their stride right before the frost—can be inspiring to the point of madness, especially when the farmers’ market throws in even more treats like mushrooms and fish. To wit: yesterday, when as a result of all the bounty I thought it would be a good idea to make tapas. You know, six different dishes, in an attempt to duplicate that wonderful restaurant experience of having a table crowded with plates, all boasting varying colors, textures, and tastes that showcase the best of the season. And the nightshade-heavy late summer bounty positively screams Spain.