Thursday, March 26, 2020

CABBAGE! (+ other storage-ingredient recipes)

I feel like this is the moment I should pitch a CABBAGE! cookbook. Because, o hero of pandemic stockpiling, o green and glorious mountain of crunchy-sweet exquisiteness! Cabbage keeps. And keeps and keeps. Even if you think it didn't keep? It did--just peel off all the discolored, or even fully rotten, leaves, and it will still be fine beneath. It's been predesigned by nature as a kind of matryoshka-Escher experiment in packaging: here's a tiny little cabbage, but we'll seal that inside a bigger cabbage, oh and we'll wrap that one up too inside this other cabbage. . . so that, by the time it's huge, you're dealing with a fully-protected wonder-vegetable. 

Simplest Butter-Sauced Cabbage
We bought 2 enormous cabbages 2 weeks ago, and I have been sawing away at them every night come dinnertime. CABBAGE! I've steamed and roasted and slawed it. I stir-fried and saladed and buttered it. I've shredded it for quesadillas and quick-pickled it for hotdogs. We are living the cabbage dream.

Here's the world's simplest slaw recipe: shred or sliver a reasonable amount of cabbage as fine as you can (a mandolin is great for this), then dress it with the juice of a lime and half its grated zest, a heavy sprinkle of salt and sugar, and a pinch of Aleppo pepper flakes, if you like that kind of thing. Mix it (use your clean hands) and taste it, then add more salt and/or sugar if it needs it, and, if needs more acid, cheat it with a splash of white vinegar (because I am hoardy about the limes--in fact you can use the juice from only half the lime and sub in white vinegar for the rest). Even better an hour later, but good right now, especially alongside something rich or creamy.

Michael once gave me a cabbage for my birthday. To be clear, this was an excellent gift.
Here's what else I got for storage- and pantry-friendly cooking (some of these are recipes I developed for diatribe). Look at the recipe index too, especially if you're baking and/or your like and have tofu and/or you have plenty of eggs. ADAPT AWAY. And be well, my darlings. xo

Roasted Cabbage
Simplest Butter-Sauced Cabbage
Gingery Napa Slaw (this can be adapted for green/white cabbage)
Miso-Lime Coleslaw
Pink Slaw
Red-Cabbage Kimchi
Braised Cabbage (this is Molly Stevens' recipe, and it's sublime)

Other Storage-Vegetable Salads
Winter Bright Salad (root vegetables)
Warm and Fragrant Carrot Salad
Simplest Carrot Salad

Soup from Stuff You Might Have
Red Lentil Soup
Hotlips Root-Vegetable Soup with Harissa
Lentil Soup with Garlicky Vinaigrette
The Soup of 1000 Vegetables (or, like, 1 vegetable)
Broccoli-Cheddar Chowder (swap in frozen broccoli)
Vegetarian Chili for a Crowd
Green, Green Pea Soup with Ginger and Cilantro (frozen peas!)
Masala Dal (Indian Lentil Soup)
Tomato Soup

Beans and/or Pasta for Dinner
Camp Rice and Beans (the recipe is in the final photo caption)
Super-Healthy Chili Mac
How to Have Beans for Dinner
Perfect Pasta for a Crowd
Lemony Two-Bean Penne with Butter-Fried Breadcrumbs (skip the green beans and sub in an extra can)
Whole-Wheat Pasta with Chickpeas and Lemon
Dinner Beans
Chickpeas with Mint, Caraway, and Greek Yogurt (use a bit of dried mint, and don't worry so much about the herbs)
Buffalo Beans
Chipotle-Lime Black Bean Salad
Bean Feast
Socca (Chickpea Pancake) (if you have chickpea flour)
Warm Lentil Salad with Garlicky Sausage
Lemony Hummus
Maddie's So Good Chickpeas

Monday, March 23, 2020

Winner (+ this and that)

Hello, my lovelies. I pray you are well. Just popping by to say a few things!

Judy, early up in the comments, with the time stamp of 2:05 pm, is the winner of the divine The Yellow Bird Sings. Judy, will you please go to the contact page at my website to get in touch with your address? Everyone else: please buy that book, or get your hands on it when the libraries reopen.

example of a not helpful mask
Are you looking for anything else to do? For example, are you making masks to donate to your local hospital where shortage are likely and also likely imminent? We are using this link (scroll down a bit to see the tutorial), because we still have some elastic at our house. Here's a link to sew some without elastic. It is definitely giving us an industrious wartime feeling, making them. But the truth is, I'm not the best sewer. I keep imagining a doctor's face looming over a sick patient, and his mask is made of Scooby Doo pajamas with part of my thumb visibly sewn into them. Still, my goal is to keep one healthcare worker well for one extra day--a goal that feels simultaneously vast and attainable.

Ben and I painted flowers and now we're cutting them up to make little cards to send people who might need a little card sent to them.
I am also enrolling in this (free) online The Science of Well-Being course from Yale. Anyone want to join me? The craft learning site Creative Bug is offering tons of free classes too, and Ben and I are going to start a watercolor class this week. We did a Youtube video last week, and it was so much fun. And, finally, in other homemaking news, we started some seeds in our raised bed. I am a worse gardener than I even am a seamstress, so we are mostly imagining feeding the rabbits our scraggy peas and arugula, like we seem to do every year. Still, it felt good to push a little hope into the ground.

I know you know this, but if you look at the recipe index here, there are tons of recipes that already mostly use stuff you already have: pasta and rice, beans and lentils and maybe the occasional onion etc. I am happy to pull some out, too. Maybe in another blog post!

Please stay well and stay in touch. Sending so much love to you! xo

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sparkles in the Darkness (+ a give-away!)

A stitched card to celebrate a wedding that filled me with grief and joy. I am learning to feel more than one thing at a time.
My loves! Today it is sunny here, and I am sitting with my coffee near the window, cats snoozing all around, one kid out walking in the woods with (i.e. 6 feet apart from) a friend, one kid still sleeping. Michael is filling the bird feeders. Both of my children are under my roof, they are finally resting enough, we are well, spring is coming, and we are counting our blessings. Sitting over a simple meal with candles lit. There is no reason that this should not be a perfect experience, even right now, and I am trying to center myself so that I don't miss the beauty. I leave my phone downstairs at night and fill my insomnia only with books and the sound of purring. When the drumbeat of panic gets loud, I try to go outside or breathe deeply or wrangle a cat into my lap or text a friend or . . . something corny. I'm not sure what to call it. Sending love out into the universe might be the best way to explain.

Our friend Ava painted this for us. Can you even?
What is it like where you are? Every day we say, "Was that just a week ago?" or even "Was that just yesterday?" Are you doing that too?

Somebody's child's artwork, as seen through a rainy car window in the Trader Joe's parking lot.
I have a goal, and it's being a better person when this is over than I was when it started. I'm not sure this is an attainable goal, but right now I am trying to shed some of my smallnesses: money worries; grievances of all kinds; the impulse to grab not only one roll of paper towels, but also the next roll, which is the last roll on the shelf. I have committed to not buying the last one of anything, if there is already one in my cart. How's that for a small victory? (Small is the answer. But still.) 

I thought I might share some ideas here, about things to do and read and make. Please feel free to do the same in the comments.

For example, if ever there were a moment to learn a yarn, string, or thread craft, this might be it, am I right? I might not actually be right. But I still have to use this occasion to repromote my friend Nicole's and my book Stitch Camp, with step-by-step instructions on all the fiber crafts: how to sew, knit, crochet, felt, embroider, and weave, and lots of little projects you can make with stuff you probably already have at home. Underground Crafter excerpted a little weaving project from it, which you can access here. And Storey has some previews of a few projects here. I need to plug the book Unbored while I'm at it. So full of good rattling-around-at-home things to do.

Meanwhile, creative folks are filling the school void so beautifully. The Kennedy Center is hosting the draw-along Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems every day at 1:00 pm EST. Wendy MacNaughton @wendymac is doing a drawing class every day on Instagram at 1:00 pm EST. Full disclosure: Ben and I tried it, and it skewed a little young for us, but we still loved her soothing and lovely Mr. Rogers way of being. (Note that both remain streamable online, so don't worry about the time conflict). My friend Kate Schatz is reading from her wonderful new book Rad American History A-Z and other books in the fab RAD series at 2:00 pm EST on her Instagram channel @k8shots.

I kinda panicked on my final library run. This is the last book I grabbed. Thoughts?
Not for kids, but posted a list of 450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free. And, if your public library is now closed (mine is, sob!) this might be a good chance to see if they have online books you can access. I have not yet myself read an online book ever in my life, but when I run out of Moby Dick, who knows? For now, Birdy has also started a neighborhood leave-it-on-the-front-step system of lending and borrowing books, games, puzzles, and art supplies. 

What are you reading? What is hitting the right spot for you? My friend Jennifer's brand-new book The Yellow Bird Sings is so achingly beautiful, and you don't have to just take it from biased me, since it's getting amazing reviews (I am the first person in the whole world who compared it to Room, though, I must unhumbly submit). Plus, not only that, but she's doing a give-away! Comment here for a chance to win! I'll pick a winner before Monday and then she will PUT ON GLOVES AND TAKE YOUR BOOK TO THE POST OFFICE. (She wanted me to tell you that!) I'm also in the middle of Lily King's new book, Writers & Lovers, and omg. I have waited tables AND been a writer AND dated imperfect men, so this book is banging into me in lots of places. Allow me also to recommend this crushingly perfect photo series and this brief and surreal little video by our beloved mustachioed Maira Kalman.

What else are you doing? We are playing lots of board games and music, going for lots of walks, putting some seeds in the ground, and doing the daily Spelling Bee on the NYT website (I recommend sucking it up and paying for their crossword subscription, honestly). We're trying to limit our news intake to one or two daily doses, texting a lot with our family and friends, telling our parents and kids we love them, smiling from across the street, checking in with our neighbors and friends who live alone, and eating regular, nourishing meals. In fact, the main reason I came here was to post a wonderful dal recipe, but then I kinda got carried away. Let me post it now. If you are at all interested in making the lovely fermented bean-and-rice pancakes, aka dosas, to go with it, then check out the recipe here (you can actually scroll through the preview pages for the full recipe, or you can buy Dosa Kitchen, which is the wonderful book).

Stay safe, my darlings! xo

I make this dal at least weekly but never remember to photograph it. This was leftover dal and chickpeas on a dosa, with a drizzle of the coconut-cilantro chutney from my favorite Instant Pot cookbook.
Masala Dal
This is based on a recipe from the spruce eats website. You don't have to follow it super exactly, but if you have a store nearby that sells Asian ingredients in general, or Indian beans and spices in particular, they might need your business right about now, and you can get everything you need for this recipe. The final sizzled spice mixture is called "tadka," and if really pushes this dal into the realm of the sublime. That said, go ahead skip it if you don't have the spices. The dal will be as close to sublime, still, as possible. 

This makes tons; feed a lot of people, eat it for multiple days, or plan to freeze some of it. 

1 cup moong dal (split yellow lentils that look like yellow split peas; alternately, use all red lentils)
1 cup masoor dal (regular split red lentils that are kind of coral colored)
1/4 teaspoon asafetida*
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne or another red chili powder (depending how spicy you like it--or skip)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
4 tablespoons coconut (or vegetable) oil or ghee, divided use
1 onion, finely chopped
3 quarter-sized slices of ginger, smashed and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sambar masala (or curry powder)
1 cup canned tomato product (crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or tomato puree)
1 teaspoon panch puran** 
2 finely slivered green chilis (optional)
Cooked brown basmati rice, chopped cilantro, lemon wedges, and toasted coconut shreds for serving (all optional)

*This is a wonderfully stinky, garlicky spice ground from a kind of dried sap. If anyone in your house has a gluten sensitivity, make sure you source it carefully, since it is sometimes cut with wheat flour. Also, if you don't have this, then simply leave it out!

**This spice blend is made of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, and fenugreek seeds. If you have any of those, use them singly or in any combination to equal a teaspoon, or else skip this part. 

1. Rinse the dal(s) well and put them in an Instant Pot with the asafetida, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Cover with water by about 2 inches and set the pot to the pressure cook on the "bean setting." (This will pressure cook them at high pressure for 30 minutes.) Alternately, pressure cook them in a pressure cooker, or put them in a pot on the stove and simmer over low heat, partially covered, until they are fully falling apart, around an hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat and cook the onions until they are fully translucent and turning golden (around 10 to 15 minutes). 
3. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute or 2 (until you can really smell them), then add the coriander, cumin, and sambar masala and cook just for a few seconds, until the scent of the spices hits you.
4. Tip the tomatoes into the pan and fry the mixture for around 5 minutes--until the oil kind of lifts up out of the tomatoes and you can smell the spices frying in it again, if that makes any sense.
5. Is the dal done cooking? If you've done it in a pressure cooker, then let the pressure release naturally, or go ahead and release it after 15 or 20 minutes. Stir the dal, stir in the tomato mixture, and taste it for salt. Does it need anything else? Does it need to simmer a few minutes with the lid off to thicken? Or does it need a splash of water to loosen up a little? Let it mingle, either way, for around 10 minutes.
6. The dal can stay on the warm setting for hours now, or you can eat it now. When you're ready, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a tiny pan over medium heat and fry the panch puran and (optional) chilis until the they're very fragrant and they stop spitting, which will take just a minute or two. Stir the spices and oil into the dal.
6. Serve with or without rice and toppings.