March 30, 2010

Cabbage : a Roberts Family Staple.

Cabbage was a big part of my childhood. It was the perfect daily vegetable for my parents, who are both frugal and very into fiber. It is crispy, nutritious, and it keeps in the fridge for a long time. When I tell friends that I ate cabbage on a daily basis as a kid, they are often puzzled and perplexed. How? How could someone eat cabbage every day?

The answer : cabbage salad. It makes a great side for everything, according to my father, Bob Roberts. I was reminiscing with him on the phone about our affinity for cabbage and its nutritional worth, and I asked him what’s so great about cabbage. His response : “I don’t know the chemistry of it, but it’s good for your intestines and it has antioxidants and it tastes good and it’s crunchy.” I also asked him when this cabbage craze started, and he said he couldn’t quite remember, but he doesn’t go long without it now, that’s for sure.

When I purchased my most recent cabbage, I knew that I needed to make my dad’s cabbage salad. It is very easy to make, and I suggest you try it!

Step 1 : Chop cabbage.

Step 2 : Chop green olives.*

Step 3 : Chop a little onion.**

Step 4 : Make dressing.***

Step 5 : Mix all of these things together.

* You might choose to use apples instead of green olives.

** You might want to skip Step 3 if you are using apples.

*** The dressing : equal amounts of very dry sherry and your choice of vinegar and the juice from a jar of green olives. Add that mixture to an equal amount of olive oil. Add seasoning : some basil, dill weed, ground pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

As you can see from the photos, my cabbage salad (made with apples) turned out quite nicely, and I was glad to be able to share it with some friends. (Cabbage is best when it is shared, so thanks to Sunny and Katie Ro for partaking!)

March 27, 2010

Purple Plate, Golden Canvas, Part 2

After making the purple risotto, I decided to paint the golden beets. In a fairly quick afternoon, I managed to fill a canvas:

I want to use the word "whimsical" to describe the motion of the brush strokes and carefree feeling I had while painting. This work also feels less heavy than some of my other paintings; the textures are not as layered and the paint is relatively thin. I could not get away from my tendency toward realism, although I did try not to muffle or mute the orange and yellow. I have been thinking about belief/unbelief recently, and what is possible when we are willing to look beyond our perceived limitations.

I will note that I used a canvas that I had previously embellished with some swirling stitches for texture, and I think this adds to the upward movement and overall lightness of the piece. I altered this canvas several years ago, during another spring following a particularly depressing winter. So I feel that a certain amount of circularity is embedded in this small painting, both in the swirling movement and in my personal history. I realize that the stitches add a certain amount of craftiness. Let it be known that I am not ashamed to be a bit of a crafter; folk art and collage have always held a certain appeal for me.

Perhaps one of the reasons I was so inspired by these orange beets is related to the colors in my dining room. I'm almost embarrassed to show you this:

I've been coaxed to finish up with the beets, so that we can move on to the next Vegetable of the Month: Cabbage. I'd like to ease us into this transition with a nod to The Weekly Veggie: "Golden Beets. Better than Cabbage."

Purple Plate, Golden Canvas, Part 1

Despite my negligence in posting regularly, I assure all of our dear readers that beets and art have been more than just the topics of idle talk. I admit to being distracted; I recently began a new job with Angelic Organics Learning Center, where I'm certain to learn more about eating seasonally and locally. I'm hopeful that future posts will contain vegetables from a CSA share. In the midst of all this business, I managed to put together two beet dishes; one with the standard, deep red (or purple) variety, and the other with golden. There were beet greens involved, too.

This post will focus on the purple version. I was inspired by a beet risotto I enjoyed at Uncommon Ground on Devon (see recent bon appetit review of locavore restaurants) earlier this winter when my parents visited Chicago. I won't list the recipe I used here, as I feel that a better version could be found. I baked the beets in foil, and some of the juices escaped (one had been cut.) Once they were cooled, I peeled and chopped. My primary alteration to the recipe would be in texture; I recommend grating rather than chopping the cooked beets. A few shots from the process:

My lovely friend Ruhi came over to help me stir, and she stayed for a late Saturday lunch. We added seared tuna steaks and peashoots in lemon vinaigrette to the menu.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will explore the Golden Beet.