Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Exceptional February Exceptions

Turkey, mayocoba beans, coffee. The beans are from Mexico, probably closer to me than most beans grown in the USA. The good news is that I am not sick of anything yet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Leek season

All the papers said that the first lady wore a dress the color of lemon grass, but I know she was really aiming for leek. Leeks are the perfect choice for this time of the year. The color is rich and buttery, with a hint of the spring that maybe will come soon. The flavor is warm and creamy, even before any potatoes are added. They taste expensive but are a cinch to grow, so much easier than onions or garlic. I am cooking them every day.

It has been cold and rainy, so I like to have a big mug of vegetable broth in the mornings, after my coffee.

Local leek broth

Leek tops

Celery ribs and tops

Fennel bulb

Parsley stems and tops


Wash the vegetable leaves individually to remove all sand and dirt. Slice the vegetables into thin strips and cover with water. Add thyme, salt and a dried red pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and decant into serving mugs.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

I had given up coffee before, but never both coffee and caffeine together. How hard could it be? My first challenge (other than the constant headache) was when I shopped at a conventional store. Originally I had misunderstood the local challenge ground rules and picked beans as one of my exceptions, believing that any type of bean would be acceptable. The morning of the New Year’s Day potluck, I made a big pot of lentils. At the potluck, I found out that I was stuck with lentils for the whole month. Good thing I didn’t eat those New Year’s Eve black-eyed peas for breakfast!

I also found out at the potluck that my definition of food was way off. I had planned to pick soy or rice milk as one of my foods, but Oh No! they aren’t individual foods. I had to consider all the ingredients. In my mind, soy milk is a food, and so is tofu and soy sauce and curry. On the other hand, Lunchables are not food, or any other plural selection like Skittles, Honey Nut Cheerios, Uncrustables and Cheetos, except bagels and, of course, lentils.

I had already cooked the lentils with a bit of ham. Is ham a food?

“You know what, I am going to eat the ham,” I told myself.

Anyway, after a couple of days of ham and lentils and lentils and ham, and lentils and Spam without the Spam, I was off to the store for more lentils and ham. When I got to the ham aisle, I became overwhelmed. There was black forest ham and honey-glazed ham and smoked ham and a Smithfield ham, all with non-named and probably bad-for-you ingredients all from different foodsheds and maybe even different continents. I picked the cheapest one.

I turned to the next aisle and there was the kiosk where the young woman in a chef hat and apron hands out free food from an electric wok. FREE FOOD! And I start doing the free food bee dance and when I get closer I notice, WOW! they have a large pot of coffee with full-sized cups. Last time I was here, they were still making the coffee, and I had to sample three kinds of pie and some roasted vegetables and listen to the speech about the rosemary gravy and drive the cart around a couple of times before the coffee was ready to drink. But this time, I’m thinking the coffee is ready, so I won’t have to eat all that non-local pie and the jumbo fried shrimp first. Before I can think, I am staring down at the cup of coffee in my hands, and I think of David Byrne, saying,

“You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile,” and I truly don’t know how that cup of coffee got there. I couldn’t throw it out (its about those starving children in Asia) so I drank it. I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t inhale, but my headache went away for the day.

It took me ten days to lose the coffee headaches. I went out of town twice during January, and each time I managed to get to a bit of coffee.

This month I was going to continue with brown rice as an exception. But, the morning was cold and I decided that it would be better to wrap my hands around a warm mug of coffee instead of a warm bowl of rice. And this whole month, I am going to inhale.