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Wednesday

3

July 2019

0

COMMENTS

Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage – A Cooking Show with Rachel O – Ep. 2

Written by , Posted in A Cooking Show with Rachel O, Condiments, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Fruit, Gluten Free, Herbs, Lunch, Main Dishes, Meat, Poultry, Quick and Easy, Salads, Sausage, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like all the things are piled on your shoulders? Where the budget doesn’t balance, there are spiders in the kitchen, and you need a haircut, but remember that budget? It means you’re gonna DIY that summer do. But then you look outside and take a breath (you don’t actually go out because bugs, plus it’s hot). You scratch the dog’s chin and have a moment of clarity. It frees you to be here, typing away, not worrying about whether the sourdough bread will rise, or if the tomatoes will ever sprout (why even haven’t they?!), or why the wasps like your yard so much. Those things will be dealt with, in time. But, they don’t all need attention right now.

This is what I’m learning these days.

If I’m too far ahead, I’m not in the now. I’m missing out on the good, while I try to muddle through the mediocre and sometimes bad stuff. But, sometimes, out of the bad comes something sweet. Not always. But, often.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed I get caught up in my worry and spin into an endless cycle of too many quesadillas (ok, there can never really be too many) and not enough solid and nutritious meals. I get stuck in remembering the work it takes to put a meal on the table, especially if I’ve just finished an 8 hour day dealing with tourists. Sometimes I just need someone to make food for my face hole so I can eat it while watching Heartland or Schitt’s Creek. But, if I can take a step back once in a while, and this summer is affording me the time to be able to do so, I can remember how much I love to cook. How much joy I find in the monotony of slicing veggies the mandoline. How good cooked food smells. How a well paired beverage completes a meal.

This Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage is just perfect for this. It’s quick enough to not be a burden. But, there’s a bit of prep required. Barely any, but enough to make you take a second to quiet your brain and just slice for a minute. Then enjoy the shock as you submerge your hands in the ice water to swish the veggies around. It’s hot out. The cold feels good.

This is one of those meals that can be adapted and made a thousand different ways. I was in the mood for Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage and it paired perfectly with the crispy veggies and their citrusy dressing. Switch things up if you have something different growing in your garden or if you have a favorite kind of sausage. Grill the sausage if you want to get outside. When tomatoes are in season, serve them still warm from the sun, drizzled with dressing. In the colder months, roast some veggies (like carrots, beets, and broccoli) and toss them with the same dressing. You could add a pilaf or quinoa salad on the side. You could serve warm fruit crisp for dessert.

This dish is a reminder to be present, to live simply, and to breathe deeply as you savor the aroma of a good meal.

Happy Eating!

Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 pound Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage
  • 1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 2 Armenian cucumbers, very thinly sliced
  • 3 kohlrabi, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • ice water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • 1/4 C chopped chives
  • Maldon salt, for serving

Directions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot add the sausage, cut side down. Cook, turning once or twice, until it’s a bit browned and is cooked through and reaches a safe temperature, about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  • Submerge the cut veggies in ice water and let stand for about 15 minutes.
  • Whisk together the lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, and maple syrup until it has emulsified, then stir in the chives. Toss the veggies with the dressing, using your clean hands.
  • Serve the salad topped with Maldon salt, alongside the sausage.

This episode has been sponsored by Mazzeo’s Meat Market.

Wednesday

29

May 2019

4

COMMENTS

Udon and Spicy Pork – A Cooking Show with Rachel O – Ep.1

Written by , Posted in A Cooking Show with Rachel O, Condiments, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Herbs, Main Dishes, Meat, Pasta, Pork, Quick and Easy, Sauces, Vegetables

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this space. I’ve missed it. I’ve been dying to be back.

A month ago, I made the decision to make the best of a situation that was beyond my control. It allowed for some time to be spent working from home. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to start doing the cooking show again. So, I’m gonna try. The format is similar, just set in a different kitchen, in a different state (did you know we moved across the country?).

You with me?

This episode is a better than takeout Udon and Spicy Pork. It’s easy. So easy. The featured ingredients are red cabbage, scallions, udon noodles, and ground pork. Umm, that’s actually most of the ingredient list. I mentioned that it’s simple, right? Yeah. I wasn’t joking. 

I cooked the pork. Easy. I added cabbage. Delicious. I found some scallions that had survived the winter and tossed those in too. Then the sauce is a quick whisk together of tamari, Sriracha, Hoppy Valley Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly, and rice vinegar. I whisked it with cornstarch and cold water, then added it to the cabbage and pork. That’s it. Dinner without having to wait for delivery.

It wasn’t as spicy as I wanted it to be. So next time I’m adding a whole teaspoon of Sriracha and more of the hot pepper jelly. For my vegan pals, I think you could substitute immature jackfruit (drained from the brine that it’s packed in) or crumbled tofu in place of the pork. For my gluten-free friends, rice noodles would be perfect. Make it however you want. You do you.

I can’t figure out how to add the recipe plugin that I used to use. It’s been one thousand years since I’ve done this. So for now, just take a screen shot and print out the recipe. Do people still print recipes? I don’t know. I’m going to have a glass of wine and watch Schitt’s Creek.

Happy Eating!

Udon and Spicy Pork – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 red or green cabbage, chopped (should yield about 2 C)
  • 1 bunch scallions, green and white parts, chopped
  • Udon noodles (enough to serve four people)
  • to taste, salt
  • 2 T tamari/soy sauce/liquid aminos
  • 1/4 t (or more like 1 t) Sriracha
  • 3 T (or 1/4 C) red pepper jelly
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 C cold water
  • Crispy onions

Directions

  • Cook the udon noodles, reserving 1/2 to 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid for your sauce.
  • Cook the pork over medium heat until it’s mostly cooked through. This should take a few minutes. Then add the cabbage and cook until it’s tender, but still has a bit of crunch, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute more.
  • While the pork and cabbage cook, whisk together the tamari, Sriracha, red pepper jelly, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and water. Add it to the pork and cabbage mixture and let it thicken. Add the reserved pasta water too. Toss it a few times, then add the cooked udon and toss some more (enough to get everything nicely coated). Taste and add salt if you need it.
  • Top each bowl with some crispy onions (you know, the kind from a jar).

Saturday

15

July 2017

0

COMMENTS

Sunday Afternoon

Written by , Posted in Dinner, Pasta, Short Stories, Thoughts

CarrotPasta-3

The smell of garlic burning brought her out of her daydream. She swore and clicked off the flame. She dumped the scorched garlic into the compost, wiped out the cast iron skillet and set it back on the stove. She minced a few more cloves, setting aside their papery skins to use in veggie stock. The carrots were in the oven already. They’d soon be browned at the edges and sweetened by honey, with a touch of salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cayenne. The bread had come out just before the carrots had gone in. When she leaned in close she could hear it crackling as it cooled. She inhaled and closed her eyes.

Freshly baked bread took her back to childhood. Mom pulling out the fresh loaves of her signature bread, read to be slathered with butter (or margarine, it was the 90’s). It took her to early memories, hazy enough that they could have been a dream. Oma’s hands showing how to shape the Zwiebach buns, her little hands trying to mimic the motion. Praise from Oma, her gentle voice encouraging her young granddaughter as she learned a generations old recipe. Her eyes flitted over to the framed recipe on the wall. Written by Oma’s hand. She would make them again soon aided only by memories this time.

She turned the stove back on and added a bit more oil. She loved the way it rippled when it got hot. She added a big pat of butter and then another and watched as they sizzled and began to brown. She threw in the garlic and the smell wafted up to her nose. She breathed deeply. The garlic just needed thirty seconds. This time it wouldn’t burn. She added some white wine and turned the heat down to low. It would reduce into a simple sauce, perfect to coat the homemade pasta she’d spent the afternoon rolling and cutting. She didn’t mind. That kind of work was good for the soul.

She opened the screen door and the dog shot past her. Hopping and barking at the tree where he’d seen a squirrel earlier. Then running over to her husband at the barbecue. She smiled. She bent over her garden box to see what was growing. The beans had popped up, some squash plants were flowering, and the tomatoes were getting tall. She snipped off some garlic chives and plucked a big handful of basil leaves. The smell was intoxicating. No wonder the bees wouldn’t leave the basil flowers alone. She walked over to the barbecue. Her husband pulled her over and hugged her tight. He smelled like campfire. “Chicken’s almost ready” he said. She smiled and called the dog to come back inside and keep her company.

She washed and dried the herbs, chopping them with her sharpest knife. They’d be passed around the table for people to sprinkle on the pasta as they wished. The salted water was boiling. Huge rolling bubbles, sometimes jumping over the edge of the pot and making the flame sizzle. She added the pasta, stirring so it wouldn’t stick. It would only need a minute. She tasted the browned butter sauce. It had reduced nicely, but still needed to be seasoned. Just salt and pepper this time. She added a bit of the starchy pasta water to the sauce before draining the pasta, then added the pasta to the skillet. She stirred it gently then tasted it. She sighed. It was good. She took the carrots out of the oven. They needed a pinch more salt. The best way to bring out the flavors of a dish.

She pulled the parmesan cheese out of the fridge and scraped it along the grater, transparent curls falling and melting over the hot pasta. The dog ran over, eyes begging for a taste. She laughed and tossed a chunk of the rind that bounced off his nose and fell to the floor. Her smile widened as she shook her head. As she sliced the bread she heard children laughing outside. Not hers. Maybe someday. Her heart ached a little at the thought. For now, this was enough. She walked to the stove and took another taste of pasta. The cool breeze through the open window mingled with the smell of the sauce. They were like refreshment to her soul. She heard voices outside. These she recognized. Their family away from family. The doorbell rang. She took a breath and walked over to open the door.

Sunday

29

January 2017

0

COMMENTS

New Moccasins

Written by , Posted in Thoughts, Travel

Moccasins

I got some new moccasins. I love them. Or at least the idea of them. But, I don’t like them… yet.

They’re made from this beautiful, soft, moose leather. I tried them on when we were in Ontario in September. I’d been thinking about them ever since. I finally bought them at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market on New Years Eve.

I didn’t hate 2016. It had its highs and lows like any year will. At the end it got comfortable, like anything does. I got used to writing 2016. Now we’re in a new year. I have to get used to writing a 7 instead of a 6. That’s the least of my concerns though.

I don’t like my moccasins because they’re a size too small. Done on purpose because their maker told me to. As I wear them the leather will stretch. It will conform to my feet. I will get used to them, and they me. But, right now it’s uncomfortable. My toes are a bit pinched. I want to wear my old slippers. The ones that are so stretched out that my feet fall out if I don’t wear thick socks. The bottoms so worn they no longer retain any warmth. Yet, I long for their comfort and familiarity. I’d rather wear them than the too tight moccasins. They’re easier. But, instead, I’m wearing the moccasins. And with every hour worn they pinch less. My toes stretching the leather gently. Little by little they are becoming mine.

Moccasins2The new year turns the page on a lot of things for us. We’re getting ready to step out of some old slippers, into uncomfortable tight new ones. It would be easier to just make do with the old ones (in this case, Burbank and its ridiculous cost of living). It’s comfortable, our community is here, and we like it. But, it’s not supporting us anymore. Its soles retain no heat. The new year closed the door on our trip too. We’d been gone for so long that life on the road began to feel normal. Ending the trip meant saying goodbye to a season of adventure and wandering. We knew it couldn’t go on forever.

So we came home. We’re packing up, ready to move on. We will cherish the memories of our time in Burbank and our four month adventure, and take on the new uncomfortable road ahead.

Tuesday

17

January 2017

0

COMMENTS

Breaking Up With Burbank

Written by , Posted in Thoughts, Travel

We have decided to move. We could have come back home, gotten jobs, and made Burbank work. But, it feels a bit like when you’re in a decent relationship, but there’s no long-term potential. You love them, but don’t want to marry them. We love Burbank. But, we want more. We want more than living ten feet from our neighbors, no matter how wonderful they are (and if you know our neighbors, you know what it means to say this). We want land and a hobby farm and chickens. We want more than a nine to five that brings in the big bucks. We want meaning and purpose and intentionality.

We have lived in Burbank for six years. Our community is here. We’re going to be leaving behind an enormous piece of our heart. But, it is something we need to do. We can’t get ahead in Burbank. For our lifestyle, it’s too expensive. We will never be able to save money for our hobby farm and used bookstore dreams if we’re spending ninety percent of our income on rent. Someone has to put their foot down and say they’ve had enough. We’ve had enough. We won’t rent for years only to never be able to afford to buy a home. For us, that wouldn’t make sense. It won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The housing market won’t realize that we’re on to something, that the cost of living here is in fact ridiculous. No one will notice. But, it will matter to us. We will be putting our collective foot down. We’ve had enough. We will give you, our dear community, up, because we feel like we have no other choice.

If you’ve met us, we’ve probably bragged about these people. These dear friends of ours. They’ve become family away from family. They’ve walked alongside us, holding us up through job struggles, infertility, and life’s ups and downs. We’ve eaten countless In-n-Out burgers, shared dinners and laughter on our lawn, and pondered life, faith, books and movies for hours on end. Wherever we end up, there are some big shoes to fill.

Anyone want to come with us? It would make it so much easier… I’m not sure we can leave you behind.