Saturday, 7 April 2012

A marriage made.... in the wok

As I stood watching my two year climb a ladder, and my 5 month old laugh encouragingly at his antics, I frantically searched for inspiration for....dinner. I've been having trouble getting back into the swing of domestic things since I've returned from Cuba, and I frequently find myself staring hopelessly, and helplessly into nowhere, lost as to what needs to be done next

. Ah Cuba. Land of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. Simple yet delicious food.

I suddenly had a memory flash of one of the tasty dishes the resort served up. It contained unlikely ingredients, but it was its startling unpredictability that attracted me in the first place: white cabbage and raisins.Yep. I suddenly remembered that I was going to try to recreate this dish once I got home. The trouble is that I hadn't a clue what else was in it.

This is rarely a problem for me.

This lack of knowledge has rarely stopped me from attempting something before. So I opened the fridge.

Well, I didn't have a white cabbage, but I did have a red cabbage- otherwise recognized as purple.

And really, have you ever seen anything more beautiful, more beckoning than this brazen purple?

And  course we all know that we should be eating loads of red/purple/blue foods--in short, this overlooked beauty is a superfood: antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering, aging and cancer fighter. Many of its virtues are extolled here.

Here is what I came up with. It was remarkably similar to what I had tasted in Cuba, but a little different too.

In peanut oil*, I sauteed shallots,

fennel seeds,

ground mustard

 and cumin

in the wok until fragrant.

This combo alone smelled heavenly. YOu could stop here, but it wouldn't really be "dinner" according to most people's expectations.

I then added the cabbage, let it sweat under a lid for a bit, then sprinkled it with white balsamic vinegar. I let it saute some more until the leaves were supple, and the colour had change to be a bit more red than purple (hence its name?). I added a sprinkle more of vinegar, a dash of fleur de sel

because it is the prettiest of salts, and threw in some raisins. Toss it about until thoroughly mixed. The whole thing took about 20 minutes from beginning to end.

I know it sounds unlikely, but as we know in life, sometimes the happiest marriages result from the most unlikely combinations. And cooking is life.

* I always saute/fry in peanut oil. It is the cleanest oil in that it does not add any flavours to what you are cooking- plus it is the cleanest oil in so far as what happens to it when it is heated up. It's virtues can be read about here. The short of it is that peanut oil has been a wrongly maligned oil. It is a good oil. Use it. You will be happy with it.

Ingredient list:

Red Cabbage
peanut oil
fennel seed
ground mustard
fleur de sel
white balsamic vinegar
raisins (sulfate-free)
a sense of adventure

xo Jo

Thursday, 5 April 2012

today I am something shiny

Ok- most days I'm something shiny. Or I used to be. I like the shiny. These days I don't get to wear shiny stuff that often. It's not practical with a baby and  toddler. I fear scratching their delicate skin during a diaper change or losing an earlobe to the baby grip and tug. Further, I don't go many places any more at his point in my life. People look at me as if I am a little daft if I glam it up for grocery shopping.

This is an ode to my more or less glamourous past. 

xo Jo

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

youth and beauty

 “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”- Franz Kafka
I just like this quote. It reminds me to stay young in my mind and heart, to see the world not only through the eyes of my children as they discover the wonders of their existence, but also through my own child-like vision.
 xo Jo

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

love letter to Cuba

Dear Cuba,

I love your funky, retro, ultra cool cars. I love your socialismo and your anti- American determination. I love your laid back beaches. I love your lush dilapidation, your optimism in the face of adversity.

It disingenuous to say that you are generous, warm, welcoming, kind, nice. You are, but I believe that most people in the world are like this. I've traveled a lot and I can honestly say that this is true. Most people in the world are good. You are good, and sexy to boot.

So, what is it about Cuba? What makes people fall in love with your lovely island in the Caribbean Sea? Is it the near- fatal attraction of the love triangle: Rum and cigars and coffee? Maybe that's part of it. Food and drink are good in Cuba. They are clean and untainted. You do not leave the palate wanting, despite the relative simplicity of your food.

Certainly the weather is fantastic- warm, with a soothing ocean breeze, if you are on the coast. Warm days, cooler nights. Hurricane season is probably a different matter, but for the most part it is always quite lovely.

Your landscapes are stunning- topical vegetation, rugged coastlines, manicured gardens, and fine sandy beaches.

La Habana is a cosmopolitan city of joys and sorrows.  A beautiful city that proudly wears the battle scars of your fascinating history, past and present. The city boasts gorgeous architecture influenced by numerous cultures and eras. You display your dilapidation without apology. You have been through more than your share of tough times. But amongst your decay, the sorrow, and the stamps of better times past you bear a marked resourcefulness and  resilience.

The various invasions, occupations and revolutions may have taken their toll, but you are strong; you glow with health, untainted by American junk food and dietary horrors; you are proud and resourceful. You are smart and independent. You defy the commonly held perception that the world needs the mighty U.S.A to survive. You are, despite the challenges you have experienced, your own people.

Yours forever,

xo Jo