NOLA and Watermelon Radish Salad

Part of my job is to take pictures of food. I wander through the aisles of the store, down the paths of the garden, and probably get too excited when I see the farm truck drive up in the morning.

New bok choy and carrots? HELL YES. That shit will photograph like woah. (That is the way my brain works. It ain’t pretty)

I also write about food. And Facebook about food. And tweet about food. Needless to say, it has led me to neglect this blog. Which is a bummer, because I love writing this blog. I can swear and ramble and who knows if anyone reads it, but I love it. So I’ll try to get better about it.

I promise.

First, take a look at these strawberries that we got in today. NOVEMBER 29th and we get fresh local strawberries? Oh the joys of Central Austin growing seasons.

Besides food I’ve been dipping my toe into newness. New town, new boy, new life. My heart misses the pine trees, the mitten clad mornings and frosted walks around Greenlake. It’s a unique feeling to choose to move away from all that you know and love, and learn to love all the new.

This was my first Thanksgiving where I wasn’t with all of my family. Instead, we took the long drive to Louisiana. We made our way through the flat Texas country side, where it occurred to me how damn big this state is.

We crossed over long bridges, my sister making mountains out of oil refineries. I spent my holiday weekend in New Orleans. A city that exudes magic.  The moss dripping from trees like cobwebbed tears and those buildings that look like something out of a history book. The city breathes with a vibrancy that is unmatched. It’s alive in a way that only it can claim. I found myself drawn into a home for the weekend, as they catered to my special diet and called me family. Their hospitality only furthered my love affair with the city.

The last night I found myself sitting on the floor of this jazz club in the French Quarter, close enough to the trumpet player that I feared for spittle drops on my leg. Dedicating the songs to my grandpa, tearing up at the saxophone solo and smiling ear to ear.

Filled to the brim with music.

Filled to the brim. That is exactly how New Orleans makes me feel.

So I am taking all of this in stride. Learning how to live as a Texan. Learning how to make happiness here.

I’m learning.

Kale and Watermelon Radish Salad

1 watermelon radish (prepared and pickled)

1 bunch kale

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp thyme

Black pepper

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

First you need to pickle your radishes.

All you need to do is combine 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt in a medium-sized bowl. Thinly slice the radish using a mandoline or chef’s knife, add to the bowl and stir to combine. You’ll want to let that stand for 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to a day before serving.

As your radish’s are pickling, wash the kale and pat off excess water. If the center stems are tender, trim off the bottom inch or two. If the stems are thick, cut or tear them out. Slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons.

In a large bowl combine olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice, thyme and black pepper. Add a little bit more salt, if you’d like. Add the kale and use your hands to massage the dressing in the leaves until they soften and wilt.

Drain the radishes. Toss with the kale. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve.


Politics and Pizza

My mind was in 100 different places last week.

*disclaimer: I wrote this on November 7th, but then my life got busy and I’m just editing it now… oh to work 50+ hours a week, am I right? Still, my overwhelming sense of joy is still present, so all is relevant.

We won! Obama won! Four more years! HIP HIP. I can’t even begin to explain how fast my heart was racing as those silly political pundits paced around their 42 screens (were the sound effects and “ballot cams” really necessary CNN?) for HOURS going back and forth with who would take what state.

When Obama claimed Ohio, I went to bed. He had this in the bag. My vagina (and its right to choose) could breathe a sigh of relief.

To top all of that off, my wonderful home state of Washington approved Referendum 74! Marriage equality! EVEN BIGGER HIP HIP! Oh, and we legalized marijuana.

Um, Washington, way to kick ass.

I mean, I live in the red state of Texas now. On election night almost every part of my being wanted to be home, celebrating with all those crazy kids who partied like there was no tomorrow. Instead, I drank beer and learned how to shoot a bow and arrow.

When in Texas, right?

I got teary eyed over Obama’s acceptance speech, spent an hour or two looking at all the pictures of people celebrating nationwide as we realized we get to see the country continue to move towards social equality. I may have also spent time looking at this.

Funny shit.

Thank heavens for this election. And  to sweeten the deal, I got to spend my post-election joy in sunny, 70 degree weather, celebrating with my like-minded co-workers, while I thought, wrote and brainstormed on all things local, sustainable food.

I wanted a recipe that celebrated that victorious feeling, a dish I imagine would high-five the rest of the country in our win. As a vegan, my victory-lap dish is successfully made pizza. When you remove cheese from a pizza, you have to rely heavily on the rest of the ingredients. I deem my invention a success, and therefore label it worthy  as a representation of four more years with Obama.

In my opinion, a vegan pizza isn’t anything unless it’s exploding with flavor. You want a pizza that has you coming back for another slice. And another. And just one more for good measure.

This pizza does that. At least for me and the boy. We ate some, and then had a little bit more and whoops, there goes most of the pizza.

Who cares, it’s a celebration!

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Kale (Vegan) Pizza with the Easiest Pizza Dough Ever 

*oof… that’s a recipe title for ya. My bad.

For the crust:

  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp honey (if you don’t eat honey, you can use agave)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • cornmeal

For the sauce:

  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 basil leaves, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

For the pizza:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • One bunch of kale
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • Black (or kalamata olives)
  • Nutritional yeast

First you gotta roast the garlic and tomatoes. This will take a while, but the beauty of it is you can start this first, and then go about your business as your kitchen fills with a smell that’s nothing short of heavenly.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To roast your tomatoes, cut them into desired thickness, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.

To roast the garlic, chop off the top of the head of garlic. Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and set on the same baking sheet at the tomatoes. Place all this goodness in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. Check the tomatoes occasionally, flipping about 25 minutes in.

While that’s cooking, start the crust. In a large bowl combine the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, salt, honey and olive oil. Stir to combine. Let dough rest. The dough only needs to rise for 10 minutes, but I let mine rise a bit longer as I got everything else ready, do whatever floats your boat.

While it’s resting, you can start your sauce. This pizza sauce is up for interpretation. I took what I had in my fridge and in the garden (have I mentioned how much I LOVE that basil grows well in Texas? It’s a thing of beauty.) I had left over stewed tomatoes from a recipe, and I just went to town. I mashed the tomatoes as they warmed up, and then threw all the rest of the ingredients in there. The sauce turned out great, full of flavor, and I highly recommend being somewhat heavy-handed with the red pepper flakes. If you’re doing vegan pizza, you want a flavor punch in the mouth.  Let the sauce simmer while the dough is rising and the garlic/tomatoes are roasting.

The last thing you’ll want to do is get the kale ready. With the greens, I washed, de-stemmed and tossed them with oil, salt, pepper and some more red chili flakes (perhaps I like the spice…) I just quickly sautéed them on the stove, and set them aside while everything else finished baking/rising/etc.

I suppose there are a lot of different components to this meal, but if you time it out correctly, it’s super easy.

After you let the dough rise, sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and press the dough into it to a desired thickness. Then spread on the sauce, pop out the roasted garlic (you can just remove the skin and squeeze out the cloves) and scatter those around. I then loaded on the kale, and topped it off with the tomatoes and olives.

Bake the pizza at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Once the crust is golden, remove and let cool. We sprinkled nutritional yeast over top, because a) it’s delicious and b) I will eat that with everything.

Delicious vegan pizza. Yes please.