Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ginger is the thing

A few years ago, Rachael, the brilliant herbalist at the Common Ground Health Clinic, advised me to increase the ginger in my diet, as a corrective to being "a little too yin." So, I try to have some every day, in one form or another, to bring some internal heat and improve my circulation. Lots of days I just drink some ginger tea, and add ginger into any stir fry or peanut sauce I'm making. This winter, though, I've branched out a little.

For our Yule Ball this year, I made these chocolate ginger cookies and WOW. I am not vegan but I have had many a vegan cookie in my day (good, bad & ugly), and these were by far the best I've tasted. That's right, not just the best vegan cookies I've ever made, but the best I've ever tasted.

I've also been making an extra-gingery version of the African groundnut stew that I've been eating at camp every summer for several years. I've seen a lot of different recipes for this stew, but I use Rowe Camp chef Dan's basic recipe as my starting point:

Oil. Onions. LOTS of Garlic and fresh minced Ginger. Sweet potatoes and I'll dice up some yukons and carrots to make it thick by the end. Veg stock, diced tomatoes in juice and some apple cider for sweetness. Some PB. Stew til its how you like it and season w/ S & P, Sriracha if you want, and fresh cilantro. YUM! garnish w/ more cilantro and toasted peanuts.

So, no amounts listed, I just eyeball things. Also, I usually make a day ahead, which improves the flavor, I think. For a big pot full of stew, I use about 4 sweet potatoes, 2 yukons, 2 carrots. 1 onion, lots of garlic and even more ginger. 1 big can of diced tomatoes, 1 big can of crushed tomatoes. 1 box of veg broth & another of water. When I add the PB, I pour hot broth into half a jar of PB, stir it well. I don't use cider or cilantro, but I add a little cayenne. Also, when it's mostly soft, I use a potato masher on it for a bit, so it's thick yet still chunky.

I sometimes have it over rice. I always have it with salt and sometimes with peanuts and lime juice.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love Letter to Brooklyn

I've never lived in Brooklyn. I probably never will. I identify so strongly with the south, I don't know if I ever would really feel at home long term somewhere else. But anyway, for the past eight years I've spent 2-5 days a year in Brooklyn, as part of my comings & goings to/from camp in Western Massachusetts (another second (third?) home), and it's become a favorite, full of favorites.

Nash & I just got home Friday night from three days in Brooklyn, in Crown Heights, Prospect Heights & Park Slope. We revisited old favorites - the Superhero Supply Store, Tom's Diner, Chevella's, Naidre's - and had some new adventures. We schlepped to Fort Greene to shop at Green Light Books, to Williamsburg for coffee at Second Stop, and all the way out to Queens to visit the NY Hall of Science.

We didn't have time this trip to go to that cafe in Boerum Hill where I've had the best Thanksgiving dinner themed sandwich ever, or into Manhattan for borscht at Veselka, or down to Coney Island or out to see our friends who live in Bushwick... but it was good. We saw friends and bought books and ate well everywhere we went.

In my neighborhood, Algiers Point, there is a brochure that calls Algiers "the Brooklyn of the South." I have no idea who coined this or what it is supposed to mean, but I have experienced Brooklyn as a friendly place, way friendlier than, say, New England tends to be. Last summer, Liam & I were in the city for two days, just the two of us, staying with a friend in Fort Greene. We had to take the bus somewhere, and though we'd been told to have "exact change", we both imagined that that meant what it does in New Orleans: A combination of paper dollars and coins that add up to the exact amount required. Not so strange an idea, right?

But, no. We got on board and were told that we needed coins or a metro card and we had neither and I felt a little panicky - going to the park to meet up with friends was totally not going to be worth whatever weird bus humiliation was about to take place! But, again, no. The bus driver said, Are you from out of town? Yes. Then why don't you just have a seat and enjoy our New York hospitality!