Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kale-alicious (No, Really)

I dropped my i-phone down the stairs yesterday, and a troubling lack of screen options has plagued me ever since. My screen looks like a Barnett Newman painting, one of the ones that is white with a black fuzzy line going up and down. Not good. 

So I have no pictures of this fabulous salad that my friend Liz showed me how to make. I was going to have a picture of Bragg's next to the Gomasio, two seriously hippie condiments that I normally try to avoid. Well, I love Gomasio (a mixture of sesame seeds, seaweed and sea salt), but Bragg's is usually in the wool socks-with-Birkenstocks category. I'm not going there. I already decided, a couple decades ago: not for me. 

I softened up a little on the Braggs a couple years ago when I taught a cooking class with a Jamaican woman who was a former raw foodist, and addicted to Bragg's, and very cool and interesting. She made me buy some for the class and we had to use it in a bunch of things. I had to admit, it was pretty good. It's a salty condiment, and how can you go wrong there? Well, the problem is, it's to hippies as Marmite is to Australians: a gross weird thing that people are bizarrely, annoyingly attached to. Then you try it, and then you realize the most annoying thing about it is how passionate everyone is about it. And you can deal with that. (Okay, I've never tried Marmite, but there is something kindred in the passion inspired by these two weird, umami-flavored cult foods; and, how bad can it be?)

Anyway, this was the salad that actually inspired me to buy a small bottle of Bragg's. 

If you kind of sort of like kale -- sometimes -- but you LOVE seaweed salad, and you wish you could figure out how to eat more kale, oh boy do I have the salad for you. 

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale. I have only used the purple kind, which is one of the more challenging kinds in my opinion, so I'm sure it would be even better with the friendlier lacinato/dinosauar kale
Juice of one lemon
Maybe a tablespoon of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Maybe a tablespoon of gomasio (or just plain sesame seeds)
Maybe a couple tablespoons of olive oil

Cut the stems out of the (washed) kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the lemon juice. Add the Bragg's, to taste. Don't let it get too salty. Then add the olive oil and the gomasio. Toss it really well and let it sit for about ten minutes so it can wilt a tiny bit. It's really good, and weirdly like a seaweed salad. 

Then get your wool socks out and find a potluck to go to. There's  no way around it. This is potluck food. 

I will try to blog about the exact meaning of Bragg's, and how it is different from soy sauce even though they are both made from soy... but for now let's just it exist in all its strange and wild mysteriousness.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Post, Finally

I've been so distracted and uninspired to blog, so it's with great thanks to Nicole that I am stepping up to bat here.

Part of the problem is, how many more times can I talk about Mark Bittman?

And yet.... what happens two days ago, but a tutor I work with gives me, unprompted, unasked for, unsolicited, a copy of Mark Bittman's latest book, Food Matters. (Thank you, Michael! Seriously, I'm loving it. )

I'm completely inspired by it, now that I've gotten past the glaring injustice of Mr. Bittman telling us all to eat less meat while he's off blogging about whole-pig dinners and taking pictures of rare steaks to taunt all of us. 

It turns out he's really changed his diet, blah blah blah and he's got lots of inspiring advice for eating less meat, blah blah blah. I'm not going to talk about him anymore. It's my blog, I'm talking about me. 

Our efforts to eat less meat have not exactly gotten off the ground. Hey, I'd be happy to eat at Angelica Kitchen three meals a day. Give me Dragon Bowl for breakfast, seitan curry for lunch and a bunch of raw root vegetables for dinner, and I'm happy. (Well, I don't know if happy is the right word, but I'd be more than okay, as long as I got a burger once a week.) The problem is... the kids. 

My daughter, the five-year-old carnivore who takes after her mother in many respects -- except for her mother being almost 40 and a little more in control of her tempestuous appetite , ahem, a little more grown up -- wants nothing but meat for breakfast. 

This makes it hard, especially as I want thick cut applewood bacon some mornings, too.

Anyway, this is the bulk of my current strategy, in many parts derived from Food Matters:

- Instead of worrying about eating less meat, trying to eat more vegetables. Just freaken packing them on. So if I'm having a slab of goat cheese on a Wasa cracker, I'm putting a bed of arugula or sliced cucumbers underneath the cheese. If I'm heating up spaghetti or rice, I'm throwing on a thick handful of chopped broccoli or kale. This is so awesome. I'm completely into it. 
- Keeping a grain and/or a bean or a soup in the fridge as often as possible, for easy last minute meals.
- Serving two vegetables at dinner instead of one and a starch (this is from my friend Nick).
- We still have the thick cut bacon on weekend mornings, but I've been cutting the whole slab in half, and just using one half to feed us all, along with eggs or toast, or whatever. No one, not even Chris, has noticed. I use the other half in a lentil dish, or slowly throughout the week.

That's sort of it. I already kind of eat this way, surrounded by vegetables, so I'm just amping it up, and hoping it will replace the animal flesh a little more. The problem is, my sort of boundless ability to put back vast quantities of food. Will bushels of greens really keep me from craving steak? Can 2 pounds of vegetables really satisfy as much as a pound of rib-eye? Hmm, toss em in enough butter, we might be onto something.

The other problem: my kids aren't doing it.