Friday, May 19, 2017

Watercress and avocado salad with apple onion dressing


Hi all! I was supposed to have a couple of relaxing weeks, but then congress set healthcare on fire. Since all of the legitimate activists in Utah were busy with Bears Ears and the rapidly imploding justice system, I ended up spending yet another week making snarky, desperate signs for my congressman to ignore:



In addition, I'm on week four of a new job and have two (awesome!) new roommate/landlords who came with dogs, a cat and a gluten allergy. I'm also up 23 baby leek plants that keep threatening to freeze to death, community permission to get ducks (!), and did I mention that congress set healthcare on fire? I feel like all my friends in medical school... except, you know, they're doing real person important things and I'm freaking out about how to stop bugs from eating my spinach.

On the bright side, spring in Utah brings a flush of volunteer edible annuals and perennials that remind me why I love my pseudo hippie-commune so very very much. Sage, sorrell, lavender, arugula, parsley, horseradish, more mint than I can handle... the wild areas of our community are erupting, and I want to eat it all, and right now. I find myself slightly panicked by the approaching summer. I've already missed the two week window where dandelion greens are edible and will have to wait for next year. What can I preserve? What do you do with three pounds of horseradish? How can I take advantage of it all, consume it all at once? Why, with this bounty literally in my backyard, am I eating so many tortilla chips? How does time keep passing so fast?


Do me a favor and don't psychoanalyze this one, ok?

Just last week I found out there was a giant patch of watercress behind my friend Kellie's house. Turns out one of my hippies, the one who was going to teach me how to eat dandelions, has been cultivating it for a couple years, growing it the unused space next to a spring. I've walked past it hundreds of times without recognizing it as watercress, or even as food. I would make the world's worst forager.


Nonetheless  I picked an entire basket before realizing I didn't have any idea what to do with it. Luckily for me the internet provided, and in the first couple lines of Google's search results I found a solid use for watercress and the best salad dressing I've made in years. It's got grated apple and onion and soy and rice vinegar and the special power to make a two ingredient salad (just watercress and avocado) taste so delicious even the most anxious among us can relax into spring.



Watercress and Avocado Salad with Apple Onion Dressing
Stolen from Epicurious

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp grated yellow onion
1/4 cup finely grated peeled apple (any Gala-like variety)
3 Tbsp neutral tasting vegetable oil
1 avocado
6 cups watercress, leaves and thinner stems only

A note on grater size: As directed, I used the large holes of a box grater for the onion and the smaller ones for the apple. If you have a four-sided box grater, I trust you to figure it out. You have a fancy box grater. You've got your shit together.

Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, onion and apple in a jar and shake until you're pretty sure the sugar has dissolved. (Alternatively, you could do this in a bowl with a whisk, but you know I'm all about salad dressing in jars. Built in storage!). Add vegetable oil, then shake or whisk again until mixed.

When you're ready to serve, put the watercress in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing- I'll leave the exact amount to you, but I like mine dressed pretty heavily. Pit and peel the avocado, then cut it into chunks and toss with the dressed watercress. Eat immediately.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cucumber Mint Lime Soda

What season is it where you are? It's been waffling recently, but here in Utah it's decidedly spring; the mountains are melting, I'm sneezing non-stop and the mint has returned to take over everyone's yard.

See that stuff in the bottom right threatening my neighbor's flowers? Mint.

I used to think of mint as an expensive ingredient- I made mojitos a couple times in college, and between the tiny packages and the three-minute shelf life I always felt slightly cheated. Shows what I know though, because around here it's considered a weed: my neighbors actually thank me when I steal it from their yards.

I stopped drinking when I moved to Utah, which is a little confusing because I'm not at all Mormon. A couple of times, when eating at a restaurant, I have seriously considered ordering a glass of wine and just leaving it in front of me... you know, as a signal? "I'm not drinking, but I believe in gay rights! " Utah culture shock can be a bit much. 

These days I'm used to it, and this soda was inspired by a thoroughly addictive one I had while visiting my sister in Brooklyn a few weeks back. I demanded they tell me what was in it, and voila! I'm celebrating spring in style. Since it's basically a virgin mojito, I'm sure it'd be great with light rum, or even tequila, but I can tell you for sure that it's delicious as is.



Cucumber Mint Lime Soda

Note: I made my own mint simple syrup, but I'm pretty sure they sell this stuff in stores nowadays. If you don't live in a hippie commune full of mint and lovely neighbors, I highly recommend buying it.

2 Tbsp (1oz) Mint Simple Syrup
2 Tbsp (1oz) lime juice (aka ~one lime)
1-inch chunk of cucumber, cut into pieces
seltzer water / club soda

Fill a pint glass with ice. Thoroughly muddle cucumber, mint syrup and lime juice together- I did this in a mason jar with the back of a spoon, but if you have a cocktail shaker you should use it. Strain the contents and pour over ice; fill with about a cup of seltzer and stir well. If you're feeling fancy, garnish with mint and cucumber slices.

Cucumber Mint Syrup:

Chop ~3/4 cup packed mint leaves, and add to a saucepan with 1/2 a cup each water and sugar. (As long as you stick to a 1.5:1:1 ratio, the exact amounts don't matter). Bring to a boil, then take off the heat and cover. When the syrup is cooled, strain thoroughly and enjoy.




Sunday, April 16, 2017

The sum of its parts


Hello world, I'm back! I'm feeling juiced. I've got a new job, I've got new chickens... I could learn my lesson and just give up like a sane person, but instead I'm going to keep running into a brick wall. Is that a real saying? What with this being, like, the eighth time I've attempted this particular project, I'm starting small with some easy white-girl tacos I probably could have made in my dorm kitchen. 


But enough about that because LOOK AT THE CHICKEN BABIES!

Chicken babies 󠀽= not excited about being photographed.

I've finally committed to spending the foreseeable future in Utah, which has enabled me to check one chicken-related item off my life list: the yellow ones are named Click and Clack! They live under a heat lamp with some other chicken babies, where they practice the arts of huddling in a corner and not paying attention to me... even though I let them poop in a box in my living room for 24 hours. Ungrateful chickens. They don't even make eggs yet!


Luckily for me, my hippie commune also has 17 adult chickens, who are celebrating this warmer weather by laying eggs as fast as we can eat them. They're gorgeous- deep orange yolks, shells that are almost comically difficult to crack, and that distinctly emphasized taste of egginess that's hard to find in store bought eggs. 


They also make some bang-up tacos, which can be made in about 8 minutes and have been my dinner three times this week. The idea came from Food52, and is the kind of loose-form, easy recipe that seems almost silly to write about, but is often exactly what I want: inspiration for when I'm hungry, lazy, and haven't gone to the grocery store. Somehow the stupid-simple combination- egg, avocado, cheese, tortilla, hot sauce- makes something so much better than the sum of it's parts, and is effortless enough (did I mention it takes like 10 minutes) for an exhausted graduate student, overworked millennial or, in my case, a lazy-ass Utahn.


Scrambled Egg Tacos
Adapted slightly from Food52

3 small corn tortillas
2 eggs
1/2 an avocado
cheese
hot sauce (my favorite with eggs will always be Cholula)

Char the tortillas over an open flame. You really do want it to get blackened in places, which is great because I like burning things. I do this by turning on one of my burners and just dropping a tortilla on top of it, but if you're more responsible I suppose you could hold it with tongs. Cut the avocado half in thirds, and put one third on each tortilla. You could be all fancy and make slices, or be a normal person and just smash it with a fork. Scramble your eggs however you like- I do mine with salt and pepper in a little butter- and divide them between the three tacos. Sprinkle with cheese, douse in hot sauce, and enjoy.