Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving--the true Pleasure of Eating

Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I would put forth one of my favorite Wendell Berry excerpts--all about the true pleasure of eating. Thank you all for your support--from turkeys to salad greens, from farmers markets to CSAs--you should feel proud of your connection to the land and community that is embodied in this very special meal.

An excerpt from Bringing it to the Table (2009, Counterpoint Press):

" The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge of the good health if the garden relieves and frees and comforts the eater. The same goes for eating meat. The thought of the good pasture and of the calf contentedly grazing flavors the steak. Some, I know, will think it bloodthirsty or worse to eat a fellow creature you have known all its life. On the contrary, I think it means that you eat with understanding and with gratitude. A significant part of the pleasure of eating is one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health. And this pleasure, I think, is pretty fully available to the urban consumer who will make the necessary effort.

I mentioned earlier the politics, esthetics, and ethics of food. But to speak of the pleasure of eating is to go beyond those categories. Eating with the fullest pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend. ..."

(Wendell Berry from the 1989 essay "The Pleasures of Eating" as republished in Bringing it to the Table, 2009.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Unusual Roots--Salad Turnips and Winter Radish Recipes

I have to give a final plug to these three unusual but delicious roots. First the sweet and mild salad turnip--one reporter finds them almost better than chocolate. These tender turnips are the perfect addition to crudite platters and winter salads (see recipe at the end of this posting)--they have all the sweetness and texture of a radish with almost none of the heat.

Next is the Watermelon Radish, their main virtue is their amazing inner coloring--I found this great recipe for watermelon radish chips on bucks county CSA Blooming Glen Farm's website. I tried it out immediately--the chips are delicious, however it made the house smell like a Chinese restaurant. I also discovered some recipes where you make baked radish chips. I look forward to seeing if this cooking method is a little less ordor intense, either way it certainly lessens the oil intake which makes these delicious snakes all the more healthful.

Finally I want to highlight the Asian cooking staple the Daikon Radish. I like to use Daikons in stir fries, soups, and stews instead of turnips--they cook a little faster and have basically the same taste. Here is a chicken soup recipe from the new New York Time's recipe blog Food52. A more traditional way to enjoy Daikon Radishes is after they have been pickled--check out Food In Jars Pickled Daikon recipe.

Enjoy your roots!

Baby White Turnip Salad With Toasted Pecans And Bacon
Time 5 minutes Serves 4
4 small white turnips with their greens attached
1/4 c. pecan halves or pieces
3 oz. bacon
1 green garlic stalk or green onion, sliced on the bias
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
How to make it
Preheat the oven to 350.
Remove the greens from the turnips. Tear the leaves with your hands into medium to large pieces and set aside.
Slice turnips as thin as possible (use a mandoline if you have one). Put into a bowl of iced water.
Toast the pecans in the oven just until they start to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a non-stick pan, saute the bacon until crunchy on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside, reserving the fat.
Prepare a simple vinaigrette: combine vinegar with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in about 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil. Set aside.
Heat the bacon fat in the same pan. Once hot, add the green garlic/onion and saute until tender. Add greens to the pan, season with salt and just a splash of balsamic vinegar and cook until they are wilted.
Remove the sliced turnips from the iced water bath, dry them with a kitchen towel and toss with the vinaigrette.
Arrange the turnip slices and their greens in a mound and sprinkle bacon and pecans on top.