Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What the Hell Do I Do With... Kale?

Before we started doing this CSA thing a few years back, I had never even heard of kale. I'm familiar enough with it now, but I still seem to always make the same thing with it. It's a sesame kale recipe which basically involves boiling it and then frying it up with garlic, tamari and some toasted sesame seeds. It's really good. Sometimes it's even great. But it gets old. 

So what the hell do you do with kale? Does anyone have a really good recipe for kale chips? I tried those once this spring and was underwhelmed. 

And here are a few ideas of what you can do with turnips, submitted by the awesome readers of my adequate blog. 

Erin tried turnip fries, too, but hers were a success instead of a crushing failure like mine. She coated them in canola oil, topped with salt and pepper and roasted for 20 min in 450 degree oven. 

Sayward said, "I've only ever done turnips one way - the traditional Scottish 'bashed neeps and tatties', which is basically turnipy mashed potatoes. They were absolutely delicious served with a homemade vegan haggis and whiskey reduction gravy. I blogged about it here."

On Facebook, Bill said the only thing he's ever done with them was put them in a stew. 

Donna said that she throws them in stews and soups, too. She also eats them raw. Also, mashed with some Earth Balance. Oh, and the greens sautéed with lots of garlic. She says greens are the best part of the turnip. 

I have a horrible habit of  never getting around to using the greens on top of things like turnips. Note to self: change that bad habit.

Heidi suggested Irish Colcannon. 

And Kris said, "Roast them in olive oil with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic and rosemary for a rockin' root vegetable medley."

Thanks for the suggestions!

We did get turnips in our most recent box (still no radishes though), and tonight I made bashed neeps and tatties for two reasons, 1) It's easy and I already love mashed potatoes and 2) I really like saying (and writing), "bashed neeps and tatties." I didn't make Sayward's vegan haggis and gravy though. Maybe next time.

All right. Now kale. What the hell do you do with kale? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

What the Hell Do I Do With... Turnips? (And a lot of things to do with Radishes.)

So, Turnips...

Actually, first of all, I'm going to post everyone's ideas on what to do with Radishes from last week. Unfortunately, I ended up eating all of ours raw before getting the chance to try any of these out, and then we didn't get any in our most recent box. Hopefully we'll get some this week (if you were to tell myself 10 years ago that ten years in the future I would want to eat radishes, I would have called you a crazy liar).

Jacqueline did this: "Just very thinly slice them up, toss with a tad of olive oil, lay out a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, watching that they don't burn." I think this is the one I'm going to try first if we get more this week. I love chips of any sort and these sound really good. I'll probably end up adding a bit of salt. 

Achim had this recipe for radish soup: "Mainly the green leaves are used. Peel and dice 2 potatoes and 1/2 onion. Cook for some 20 min in 2 c vegetable broth. Chop radish greens, add it to the soup, blend it in a food processor or something, add 1/2 c soy milk and some salt (if necessary). Let some thin radish slices hover on the soup."

Lisa makes dressing, "with a couple radishes, some, olive oil, agave, garlic, and red pepper flakes whirred up in a blender. Spicy!"

Tara (or Nate?) at Vegan Piggy made a tabbouleh out of The Kind Diet and blogged about it here.

Hase likes them raw.

Mangocheeks (great name, by the way) also enjoys them raw, dipped in salt and chili powder. 

The Voracious Vegan likes them roasted, but also raw and in a salad. I like that idea. Salads don't usually do it for me, so then I have to smother them in dressing in order to get the level of flavor I like. But I could imagine radishes doing that trick, too. 

A couple friends on Facebook also said they love radishes roasted. 

And finally, my friend Heidi on Facebook said to, "Smear them with fresh butter and sprinkle with coarse salt." I'll opt for soy butter, of course, and it sounds delicious. 

Thanks for all the ideas!

And now on to turnips. 

Here's what I did with the turnips we got:

Don't those look delicious? Well, they weren't. They tasted way to turnipy. Yes, turnipy.

I used this recipe online and I don't know, maybe I didn't bake them long enough. They weren't crunchy at all and they didn't taste that great. 

So hit me with it. What the hell do you do with turnips? 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Daughter the Monkey-Eater

"I want a rubber band, Daddy," says my almost four year old daughter.


"For my monkeys."

"Why do you need a rubber band for your monkeys?"

"Because I'm going to kill them."

Calm down. Deep breath. Aaaaaand, overreaction!

"We don't pretend to kill animals," I say, knowing full well that we do, indeed, pretend to kill animals. I pretended to kill animals (mostly humans) all the time when I was a kid. It's what kids do.

Did you have a cap gun growing up? Did you pretend to have shoot-outs with your siblings and/or friends? It's make-believe. It's dragon slaying. It's, "I'm Luke Skywaker and you're Darth Vader." It's (not necessarily, but often) a developmentally appropriate part of childhood.

Kids explore taboos, danger and the idea of good vs. evil through make-believe. It's an important way they process the unfamiliar things that they see and hear.

A couple weeks ago, Anna went on a boat ride. Before the boat ride, two of her uncles were fishing. She asked on the way home what they were doing on the boat when we weren't there, so we told her. I get the feeling that her knowledge that these two uncles she loves were out trying to kill fish before they took her on the best boat ride of her life has something to do with her recent pretending to not be vegan. It's a safe, harmless way for her to process the idea of killing animals to eat them.

As an aside, I realize that many vegans probably think that killing animals isn't an idea that kids should have to process. We oppose it, so why should we allow kids to pretend to do it? Well, I think we should for the same reason that we should let them play cops and robbers; for the same reason there's no harm in them picking up a stick and battling a tree that they're pretending is a mean person or a monster. Kids need to learn the difference between make-believe and reality, and they need to process all that they see. They're either going to internalize everything or they're going to express it. I think expressing it (in a way that doesn't hurt anyone) is the healthy way to go.

All of this was running through my head after I said we don't pretend to kill animals. And I decided that she can, indeed, pretend to kill animals. You'd think I would have been prepared for this, since Jen went through this same scenario with Anna about a week ago and we talked about it and said that it was OK. But when your daughter says to your face, in that cute little voice of hers, that she wants to kill monkeys, well, I think I'm allowed an overreaction here and there.

A few minutes later we sit down to the dinner table and Anna pulls out the pretend food. I get an orange with ketchup, Jen gets a lemon with ketchup, and Anna gets a barrel of monkeys (no ketchup). She startes tying them up, one after the other, with a rubber band and then never really pretends to eat them, but says she's eating them.

"So, what's the deal with the rubber band? What are you doing to them?

"I'm tying it up," she says.

"It?" I say, "Don't you mean her? Or maybe him?"

"Her. She's a big sister! She has a little brother."

"How do you think her little brother will feel about you eating his big sister?"

"I'm going to eat him too! I'm going to eat all of them!"

Jen and I just laugh. I try to say something about the monkeys' cousins in the next town, but it's a lost cause.

"We don't actually eat monkeys though, right?" I have to check. Just to make sure.

"I know. I'm just pretending," she says with that little shoulder shrug and slight pursing of the lips that says, "Chill out Dad. This isn't a big deal."

The other day she "prepared" a veggie burger for her, Liam and me. Mine and Liam's were both vegan with vegan sour cream, but hers had non-vegan sour cream on it.

There's a book that I own, but haven't read yet, called Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, And Make-Believe Violence. It will be next on my reading list.

I think we're just going to roll with all this stuff for now (as if we have a choice). It's either that, or kill make-believe. And we don't want to kill make-believe.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What The Hell Do I Do With... Radishes?

We got our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery this week. In the box was:

Baby Dinosaur Kale
Head Lettuce
and an Herb pot

So I thought that each week I'd pick something from the CSA box and write about what I do with it, how it tastes, why it's good for you. You know, stuff like that. 

I'm going to call this project, "What The Hell Do I Do With..."

And this is going to be as much for me as it is for you, dear reader (can I call you "dear reader"?). This is the third (or is it fourth?) year we've done this CSA thing, and I still have no idea what to do with, for example, kohlrabi. Seriously.

So I'm going to say what I do with stuff, but then I want YOU to tell ME what YOU do with it. 

So first up: Radishes. 

Honestly, I just eat these raw. Wash them off. Scratch off any dirt that doesn't wash off (unless you like dirt, which hey, more power to you if you do). And then eat them raw with nothing on them (though I suppose a smidgen of salt might be nice). 

This is how my family ate radishes growing up. I don't remember them served any way other than a bunch of raw radishes, straight from the garden, washed and in a bowl on the table. 

I hated them. 

I hated most vegetables and fruits growing up. I don't know why, and I'm thankful that my children don't have the same aversion I did. Though if I could grow up passably healthy eating nothing but meat and grains, I'm sure my kids could grow up healthy eating nothing but beans and grains. And then in their twenties they'd start eating fruits and vegetables again once they they realized that they were missing out on a WHOLE WORLD OF FLAVOR (I'm in an all-caps (and parenthetical) mood. Sorry.).

So, radishes. They're high in vitamin C, folate and potassium. And they have this really great spice thing going on, sort of like wasabi (which makes sense, since they're both members of the Brassicaceae family, thankyouverymuch Wikipedia). It's the kind of spiciness that doesn't hurt your mouth, but sort of makes your nose tingle. 

I love them.

And while I'm sure that eating them raw is the best way to make use of their nutritional value, I wouldn't mind actually preparing radishes in some way that doesn't just involve running cold water over them. 

So please let me know what you do with them in the comments and I'll post some or all of the replies along with next week's installment of ... "What The Hell Do I Do With..."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Photos at the Children's Museum

Here are some photos from yet another trip to the Children's Museum of Minnesota.

Pony tail before we leave the house.

The first thing the kids usually see is the face-painting station. Anna really took to it this time. Liam, too. 

There was a dinosaur exhibit this time around. I thought Anna might be afraid, but she loved it. I think the reason kids love dinosaurs is that they aren't around anymore. They're these huge monsters, basically, and you'll never ever see one in real life (well, I probably won't, but she might if they're ever brought back a la Jurassic Park). But they were real! 

If you stand perfectly still, he won't be able to see you.

And here it is again, my favorite window in Saint Paul, MN. 

If I can digress for a bit here, I've always loved taking photos of the kids in front of this window. I just love the big circle and the fact that it's so much lighter outside than it is inside. It's a pain in the ass, because the kids are always back-lit, but I see it as a challenge. And I never seem to face that challenge the same way as last time. Here are some other photos of them in front of the window, not from the most recent trip.

This is Anna in August '07.

Anna in October '07.

Liam in November '09.

Anyway, that's just a taste of them. There are a lot more, but I'd have to crack open the external hard drive and, well, there are more photos to show from our most recent trip. So, back to present day:

The water room is always a hit.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dead Birds

I wrote a long post about this and it somehow got deleted and I don't think I have it in me to write it all out again. I'm going to sum it up now.

Photos of the birds suffering and dying in oil are horrible. I agree.

I've seen these photos linked on Facebook quite a bit recently. It makes me sad too and I understand the urge to post the photos and make sure others know what's going on.

It's important to share in the communal outrage.

I feel that outrage. But I also feel something else.

On one hand, it's frustrating to see outrage over the photo on the left and silence when it comes to the photo on the right.

On the other hand, the amount of concern for the animals affected by the oil leak proves that people can and do care about animals even if they don't personally know them. This gives me hope. I wish that everyone could connect the dots and realize that the animals we exploit on purpose are every bit as sentient, thinking and feeling as the Brown Pelican drowning in oil.

There is no moral distinction between the bird on the left and the birds on the right. Both deserve the right to live free from unnecessary suffering and death. Both deserve our consideration and sympathy and empathy. Both live(d) brutal existences (one accidental, one intentional) caused by humans.

The big difference between these two situations is that one is an accident and other is on purpose. Billions upon billions of animals unnecessarily suffer and die every year on purpose.

Which do you feel worse about? But more importantly, why?