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.


Wheat Berries and Bliss

On my bike ride home the other day I saw a firefly.

For me, a baby of the pacific northwest, this was a reason to squeal. Instead, I simply smiled and sent out a silent blessing to the warm evening, my bare, bug-bitten legs and the fact that it is mid October and I was wearing shorts.

Man oh man people, I am so overwhelmingly happy.

When I get this joyful- like I’m going to bubble over-I want to create in the kitchen. Crafting recipes and working with food is my idea of perfection. Having only two days off this month, I plan on spending them in my garden, at the farmer’s market and in the kitchen. I have visions of vegan walnut banana muffins, cinnamon granola and shiitake udon soup.

Yesterday at work my daily recipe for the store was a tilapia dish with an arugula salad. The whole vegan(ish) thing left the tilapia out of my evening meal plan, but I can never turn down fresh, local arugula. Walking through the store I got inspired by the beets and decided to do a fall wheat berry salad.

The day before yesterday I found my bliss in fireflies.

Yesterday it was wheat berries and sipping whiskey in a dark bar with a boy I fancy.

Seek it out, and I guarantee it will be there.

Fall Wheat Berry Salad

Adapted from my brain

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 5-6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for the dressing)
  • A little less than 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You will first want to start your wheat berries. To make this process faster, soak them overnight. I didn’t do this, and I knew it was going to take forever to cook them. Put the wheat berries in a pot over low/medium heat and cook. Forever. It really only took a little over an hour, but that is basically an eternity when you are hungry.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and chop up your sweet potatoes and beets. I did balsamic roasted beets because it appears I wanted vinegar in every single dish… Also, because it is so freaking delicious. To make the balsamic roasted beets, toss them with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2-3 tbsp of vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I did the sweet potatoes and beets on different trays because I wasn’t sure how balsamic roasted sweet potatoes would taste. Do whatever tickles your fancy. I tossed the sweet potatoes in the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and also sprinkled with salt and pepper. You will want to let these cook for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While all of those things are cooking, wash your arugula and set aside.

The next step is to make the dressing, which means you mix the 1/4 cup oil with the less than 1/4 cup vinegar, pop in the chopped garlic and salt and pepper and call it good. This will make more than you need for the dish, but who doesn’t love left over salad dressing?

Once everything is done roasting and cooking, mix the vegetables with the wheat berries and let cool. Then, toss in some salad dressing (to taste) and spoon over the arugula.

Tastes like fall in a bowl.