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No Longer Chicken of Wild Mushrooms

As kids my brothers and I split our time pretty evenly between sports in our backyard and sports out front in the driveway. In the frontyard we played under a lot of rules that pertained to not get running over by a car; there were a few out back but the one I really remember is: “Don’t Eat The Mushrooms.” (more…)

Boiled, Steamed, or Soaked

I have a reputation, I suppose, for being pretty strongly carnivorous.  Based on what I write about in this space that is partly justified but to pacify my concerns for my health and the planet’s I’m trying to get used to eating less meat.  A critical step in this process is eating more protein-rich pulses and grains.  This week it was bulgur wheat.

For beans, lentils, rice, quinoa and friends I can never remember the ratio of water to food so I always need to turn to Google for instructions.  This time I was intrigued (in a “why didn’t I consider that” sort of way) by a comment in this recipe that bulgur wheat can be cooked by boiling, steaming, or soaking it.  Sometimes the agitation of boiling water and stirring is needed to change the physical properties of what is being cooked–risotto is the obvious, best example–but when that’s not the case this rule seems like it would apply widely.  I’m also struck that during the summer when wasted heat in the kitchen matters most a method that involves an electric kettle for a couple minutes would be ideal. (more…)

Beans and Pearls

The finished product: Beans and Pearls

The finished product: Beans and Pearls

With a pantry full of preserved beets, roasted red peppers, and jalapenos a lot of the colour and flavour that we enjoyed most in our risottos, stir-fries, salads and egg dishes last winter came straight from the Mason jar.  Pickled vegetables offered a visual and taste reminder of warmer times when we were locked deep in winter.  The colour they added to dishes made more seasonal options like potatoes, turnips, and cabbage (literally) pale in comparison.  Best of all, we used just as much as we needed and therefore saved our vegetable drawer from the usual decomposing half-bunches of over-priced and imported winter produce.  But now it’s summer again and time to start preserving for next winter.

My starting point for this pickling experiment was the idea that greens beans, especially when raw, are not very flavourful.  They only really shine when combined with butter and garlic.  To me, they taste “grassy” and “green” and that means that I had more latitude when choosing what flavours to combine them with in the jar.  Also, I know that pearl onions would have been more appropriate for the name but I have wanted to try preserving mushrooms for a while and I was afraid that the onion flavour would dominate.