Archive forMay, 2011

Feijão (Brazilian Beans)

I’m currently reading Heliopolis by James Scudamore. One interesting fact is that right before we went to Charleston a few weeks ago, I was reading The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt (and by “right before”, I mean I read the last sentence as Mark pulled into the airport parking garage), and the main character’s name in that book is Ludo. Well, we’re gearing up to go to Charleston again in a couple of days – I may well be finishing this book at the airport – and the main character in this book is named Ludo. Okay, maybe not that interesting, but I thought it was a funny coincidence.

Another, perhaps more interesting, thing about Heliopolis, which takes place in São Paulo, is this Ludo and his mother were rescued from a favela by a very wealthy family after his mother served the wife a humble but delicious meal of feijão. The wealthy woman asked how Ludo’s mother could possibly have made the beans taste so good when she could not afford to buy anything to season them with. Ludo later believes this impressive feat is what caused Rebecca to hire her as a cook, and subsequently the family to adopt Ludo. So basically Ludo’s life was saved (he firmly believes he would have died young, like so many others, had they stayed in the favela) by a bowl of beans. Beans, and other food, play a predominate role in the book: Ludo has inherited his mother’s love of cooking, and the types of food characters eat and enjoy is often used as a way to judge their character.

So of course I had to make feijão, right? Feijão just means beans. And after doing some research, I’ve found there really is no particular way you have to make or flavor them to make them particularly Brazilian, nor are there even particular beans you have to use. Really, you just pretty much cook some beans however you want and that’s feijão. I imagine it’s akin to saying, “I’m making some beans” in English. So I really don’t have an exact recipe for you, but that’s totally in keeping with the book: before she moved to the Carnicelli weekend farm – and even afterwards, when her access to ingredients was vastly improved – Ludo’s mother makes beans just however she can.

Pintos and black beans seem to be especially common, but any bean is okay. Pintos are my absolute favorite bean, but I decided to make black beans for a change. Here’s what I did, but definitely don’t copy me: do whatever you want with your beans!


1 cup dried black beans, soaked over night in cold water or speed soaked for one hour in hot water
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 Tbsp bacon salt (Bryanna’s is not very salty; this would probably be way, way too much commercial bacon salt)
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp smoked pepper
1 Tbsp vegan “bacon” bits
vegan broth to cover the beans
smoked salt, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
lime wedges, for garnish

Heat some oil in a heavy pot, then add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are beginning to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are soft (an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how old your beans are). Remove the bay leaf.

Serve with rice, drizzled with lime juice. If desired, top with hot sauce and/or vegan bacon bits. I also made some turnip greens and corn on the cob. I think Mark was worried when he saw the turnip greens (which I knew he would refuse to eat), thinking he wouldn’t get enough to eat. However, after his first bowl of rice and beans, a propos of nothing, he announced, “this rice and beans is so simple but so f’ing awesome!” He didn’t realize it, but that was the perfect thing to say. Then he excused himself to retrieve a second bowl.

To elaborate, Mark would like me to tell you that “Bac-o-Bitzzzz is the shitzzzz and Tabasco Sauzzzz is the bozzzz.” Also, he had some wine. He adds, “wine makes me shine!”

Mark has just instructed me to reverse engineer bacon bits, because I will then rule the world. He wants me to call them “Smark-o-bits”. He sure loves bacon bits.

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I consider pizza one of the greatest foods in the world, and I can happily eat it the same way week after week. I consider myself very good at making pizza. Sometimes, though, I like to try something different. Today I thought I would use the dough I’d set aside for this week to make calzones instead of pizza. Calzones use the same ingredients as pizza, just wrapped up inside instead of spread on top, except the sauce: there is no sauce inside a calzone. Instead, you top it with the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side for dipping. Here is what I did:

First, I removed two containers of frozen pizza dough from the freezer (I made this batch with half white whole wheat flour) and let them rise in the refrigerator for a couple of days (overnight is fine). Then, a couple of hours (at least one hour) before bake time, I removed them from the refrigerator.

I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and chopped half a head of broccoli into small florets and put them in a baking dish. Then I chopped about 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes in half and put them in another baking dish, to which I also added several cloves of smashed garlic. I sprinkled both with flaked salt then drizzled with olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. The broccoli I roasted for about 15 minutes …

… and the tomatoes 45 minutes.

I removed them from the oven and increased the oven temperature to 500.

I made a tofu ricotta by putting about half a pound of firm tofu in a bowl and adding about 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, some flaked salt, one frozen basil cube, and the juice of half a lemon, then I squeezed all of that together until it was an even consistency. Then I mixed in a hand-full of Daiya mozzarella and a little bit of Daiya cheddar.

I made a marinara by pureeing a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes. I heated some olive oil in a small saucepan, added several pressed cloves of garlic, some chili flakes, flaked salt, and freshly ground pepper, and after sauteing for a minute or two, I added the tomatoes, some dried oregano, and a frozen basil cube. I brought that to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered, and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next I formed the pizza doughs into circles, though not as thin as I make them for pizza, maybe 1/4″ thick. I placed some of the broccoli, roasted tomatoes, and “cheese” mixture in the middle of each, …

… then I folded each over in half and sealed the crusts closed. (You can brush the edges with water to make them stick if you need to.) I poked some holes on top and brushed them with some garlic oil.

They both got transferred to the oven and baked for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serve with a tossed salad, with the sauce on the side (or spoon the sauce over the calzones).

I tried to get a picture of the inside of the calzone, but we’d gone downstairs – where it is quite dark – and all I had was my phone. I’d probably be better off just not having any picture at all, but I went through the trouble, so here you go:

This was an interesting change of pace but will never replace good old regular pizza in my book.

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Chickpeas in a Spicy Cilantro Sauce, and BABY RACCOONS!!

This is my adaption of Madhur Jaffrey’s chickpeas in a mint sauce recipe from World Vegetarian. (I’ve linked to a blog that has the original recipe, but I got it from the book itself and I highly recommend it.) I adapted it mostly because I didn’t have any mint, and anyway, I was a bit skeptical about getting Mark – who claims not to like Indian food – to eat anything that tasted too minty. I also made substitutions for other ingredients I didn’t have.

Chickpeas in a Spicy Cilantro Sauce

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked (if you have a pressure cooker, you can use non-soaked if you must)
1/2 cup toor dal (the original recipe called for chana dal, which I thought I had but didn’t; you can also substitute yellow split peas)
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 large tomato, chopped
fistful of tamarind, or a few tablespoons tamarind paste
1-2 Tbsp chopped ginger
5-6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 jalapeno, chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, or, in my case 2 cubes frozen cilantro (from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (I used the version in World Vegetarian)
1/4 tsp ground cumin

I actually soaked chickpeas when I left for work this morning, but managed to somehow overcook them when I started making this dish (I saved those for hummus), so I ended up using non-soaked chickpeas. So my time in the pressure cooker may be different than yours. Try just 5 minutes if pressure cooking soaked chickpeas, in water to just cover. I pressure cooked my non-soaked ones for 15 minutes in water to cover by about an inch. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook the soaked chickpeas in about 5 cups of water for an hour.

Measure the toor dal (or chana dal, or yellow split peas).

When the chickpeas are just barely tender, release pressure if pressure cooking, and open the cooker. Add the toor or chana dal and about a cup and a half of water. Bring back up to pressure and cook for another 15 minutes. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until both are tender.)


If you are using tamarind in non-paste form, place it in a glass and cover with hot water, and set aside. (These Luminarc glasses are a great size for this; they are kind of wide, which will later allow you to stick your hand in there.)

Hmm, that looks a little disturbing, but it’s really quite awesome.

Measure out the curry powder, ground coriander, garam masala, ground cumin, and salt.

I used Bolst’s curry powder.

Place the cilantro, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and 1/4 cup water in a spice grinder or food processor.

Process until smooth.

Finely chop the onions.

Chop the tomato.

Stick your hand in the glass of tamarind and squish all around until it forms a paste.


When the chickpeas are done, set them aside. (You can boil off extra liquid first if you need to.)

Heat some oil in a wok over medium high heat and add the onions.

Cook until browned.

Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down.

Add the cilantro mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chickpea and toor/chana dal mixture. If necessary, add some water to make it kind of – but not overly – soupy. Add the spices, then the tamarind paste to taste. (By the ratio of the original recipe, this would be a bit more than 2 Tbsp, but I like a lot of tamarind in mine so I added about 1/4 cup.)

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover, and cook for half an hour.

Remember how I said Mark thinks he doesn’t like Indian food? Guess who had two large servings of this? Guess who said these were the greatest chickpeas in the universe?! Smark, that’s who!

In other news…

So we’ve been visited by a couple of raccoons for a while now; I call them Rocky and Rachel. They used to enjoy overturning our recycle bin. I was always excited to see them because I love raccoons. When Brachtune was alive, though, she HATED the raccoons. She would scream like a banshee! You never heard such terrible noises come from a cat. Gomez and Torticia are more accepting – when a raccoon peers into one of our sunroom windows, they just silently stare back.

Several weeks ago, the cats and I heard footsteps in the attic. I knew it was a raccoon because they were heavy steps, but Mark NEVER managed to be in the room when I’d hear them, and he insisted I was insane. I also saw Rachel scaling the side of the house, but still Mark denied there was ever a raccoon in the attic. I only heard her periodically, though, so I never did anything about it. As far as I was concerned, she could stop by to visit if she wanted.

Last week, though, I started hearing the noises not just above the sunroom, but above our bedroom – which is at the opposite end of the house – as well, and I realized we probably now had a new family of raccoons. They’re mostly nocturnal, so there was a lot of creaking and thumping around right over our heads all night long, which drove us out of the bedroom and made me sleep-deprived for days. And then the chattering began. You may not know this, but baby raccoons make a kind of purring noise that could easily be mistaken for birds if you don’t know what it is. It’s actually really cute (search for “raccoon chatter” on youtube), but when it’s right over your head and you’re trying to sleep – not so much.

I know a little bit (and am gradually learning more) about wildlife laws in Virginia, and I knew that we have a really, really, really stupid law that says that if you remove a wild animal from a property, it must be “euthanized” (read: murdered). Most wildlife removal services (in this state) will kill whatever they remove from your house; sometimes they lie and say they “relocate” it, but if that’s true, they are breaking the (very stupid) law. I didn’t want that to happen, so I told our landlord I would handle everything (except paying for it! I love renting!), and called our local wildlife rehabilitation organization, who directed me to a company that will not harm the animals.

So the guy came out, went up into the attic, and very quickly snapped up three baby raccoons while the mother watched, popping them into a soft, fuzzy bag. He came back down from the attic and let me pet one. There are three of them, they are two weeks old, their eyes aren’t open yet, and I nearly passed out from the insane cuteness.

Then he climbed the roof with his bag o’ babies and tried to get them to cry for their mother, hoping to entice her to come out through the attic fan (which is how he figured she’d been coming and going) and rescue the babies. (Seriously: ridiculously cute. Look at their little tails!)

Rachel wasn’t being cooperative, however, and refused to come out. This meant extra work for the guy, but secretly I was glad because while he spent 15-20 minutes closing up holes, installing a one-way door on the attic fan, and putting together a box for the babies, my job was to play with them!

Baby raccoons are crazy cute. I mean, THE cutest. They are about 1,000 times more cute in person than these pictures show.

They have these amazingly dexterous hands, which were already gripping me. It’s easy to see how when they get older they will be able to root through my garbage and pull it apart. They are also incredible climbers, and these little guys were already trying to climb around, even though they can’t see!

When I was finished petting and cooing over them, I put them back in their fuzzy sack and sat it on my lap to keep them warm. Do you know how awesome it is to have a sack of baby raccoons on your lap?! (I’m not kidding. These were the cutest things I’ve ever seen.)

Meanwhile, the raccoon guy had put a special box on the roof, and once he was able to wrest them away from me, he put the babies in it. It has a flap the mother can use to get in and out. Raccoons have many alternate dens available at all times, so usually if they don’t come out right away, they’ll come out that night and rescue the babies. Unfortunately, our Rachel only collected one of the babies overnight and we still have two on the roof (who were at least fed while mom was around). The raccoon guy is coming back tomorrow to check on them. Hopefully the last two will be gone as well, but if not, they’ll be taken care of. If the mother ends up abandoning them, they’ll go to a rehabilitator until they are old enough to survive on their own, then they’ll be released back into the wild.

Raccoons are beautiful, fascinating, wonderful creatures. If you find yourself in the situation we were in, where they, or any other wildlife, have invaded your house, please research the laws of your state – Maryland and DC have the same awful one Virginia does – and find someone who can humanely evict them for you.

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Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions

Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is probably my favorite cookbook to turn to when I want something simple but amazing, when I have fresh produce that I want to showcase. I love tofu and seitan as much as the next vegan – don’t get me wrong – but there is something very refreshing about a vegan cookbook with not a single mention of either one: it’s all “naturally vegan” recipes from the Mediterranean. When I needed to use up two tomatoes I got at the farmers market on Saturday, I thought immediately of the baked tomato recipes from this book. There are two baked tomato recipes; I made the Sicilian. I was in a quandary because I wanted to share the recipe, but didn’t want to alter its simplicity to make it enough my own. But then I found that it’s on, so I guess I’ll go ahead and post it. But not without urging you strongly to check out this cookbook. It’s really good. As the author suggests in the book, I made the baked onions at the same time. The two recipes are nearly identical, so I’ve just combined them.

Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions
slightly adapted from Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

2 large tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, peeled
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked salt, or other flaked, kosher, or sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the onions.

Place onions in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside until cool enough to touch.

Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, and use your finger to poke all the seeds out. Drain them as well as possible.

I also cored mine.

When the onions are cool enough to touch, cut them in half.

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Put the tomatoes and onions into a baking dish into which they just fit.

Fill the holes of the tomatoes up with the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle some more on top. Also sprinkle the onions with the bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and onions.

Bake for an hour and a half (yes, really!). Let sit for a few minutes, or allow to come to room temperature, before eating.

Donna Klein suggest serving both of them together over rice or couscous (quinoa would also be good), which I’ve done before and it’s great. Tonight, though I was also having white beans and a salad, so I just served them on their own. The beans are pressure-cooked Great Northern beans, with sauted spring onions, a lot of garlic, imitation bacon bits, and sage, and a generous addition of Bryanna’s bacon salt.

This is the sort of thing I like eating when I want to feel particularly healthy! I served it all with Italian wine, and while it was cooking read some of a funny and very enjoyable Italian book.

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Russian Kale

I’m so glad the farmers markets are open again! I was so happy wandering around there on Saturday, even if not much is in season yet. (Half of the offerings seemed to be seedlings, or vegetables in progress.) I managed to fill my basket nonetheless:

One of the things I picked up was kale, but I wasn’t sure what kind of kale until I got home and did some research. It’s Russian kale, a gentler, more delicate variety.

Russian Kale

1 bunch Russian kale
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
red chili flakes, to taste
wine or broth to deglaze the pot
your favorite salt or seasoning salt, to garnish

Thinly slice the onion, and mince or press the garlic.

Wash and chop the kale.

Heat some olive oil in a pot, then add the onion …

… and saute until soft, then add the garlic and red chili flakes and cook another minute or two.

If necessary, add some white wine or broth to deglaze the pot.

Add kale …

… and cook, stirring, until wilted and cooked down a bit.

Continue to cook until the kale is soft and about a third of its original volume.

I bought Bacon Salt (the Hickory flavor is vegan) this weekend, which I thought I would try on the kale. If you don’t want to buy it, Bryanna has a recipe for it (of course she does; she has a recipe for everything!). I actually made Bryanna’s Friday night, so it’s kind of weird I found the real thing on Saturday. Anyway, it was pretty fun on the kale, but I don’t usually think vegetables need to or should taste like bacon, so by all means use your favorite regular salt, or whatever seasoning salt you like.

What’s absolutely amazing about this kale is Mark liked it. He doesn’t even know he ate kale; I guess he’ll be finding out when he reads this post. He never would have eaten if if I’d told him what it was, and in fact, I made asparagus as well figuring he wouldn’t touch the kale. When he asked what “the green stuff” was I told him it was “delicious yumminess,” which somehow convinced him to put a small amount of it on his plate. After eating the few bites he put on his plate, he excused himself while we were watching television to go upstairs and get a big helping of “the green stuff”! And he did! He went all the way up there and got a huge portion of it, all of which he ate! Russian kale, I love you!

I served this with glazed “ham”, but I can’t share the ham recipe because it started out as a disaster yesterday! I rescued it and ended up with something edible, but it was a mess at first. The glaze is the zest and juice of a tangerine, some agave nectar, champagne vinegar, and a touch of oil, whisked together, then poured over the “ham” slices, which had been studded with whole cloves. Baked at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, covered, for 45 minutes.

My little Tortellini:

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Recipe index is up, and Happy Mother’s Day

Good news, everyone! I finished categorizing my recipes and have finally made them available in an index to the right, in navigation panel. If you notice any problems with the index, or have any suggestions to make it more user-friendly, please let me know. And if there is anything you would like to see me post, feel free to request it – I could use the inspiration. I also swapped out the default WordPress search, which sucks, with a Google search engine, so I think things will be much easier to find from now on. Believe me, I had problems finding things before, so I know it was a mess.

In other news, it is Mother’s Day here in the States, so enjoy my favorite picture of my mom:

Isn’t she pretty?!

I’ve replaced the earlier photo I had of my mother here with one she just sent me where she’s actually smiling. I also look less block-headed and have hair. You even get a better view of our awesome sofa. Altogether a superior picture.

Mom smiling again! Because I’m getting married! And she’s in a castle!

Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!

And while I’m at it, Happy Mother’s Day to my mother-in-law – I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mothers out there. And, uh, everyone else, too.

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Ramp Soup

I worked from home today, partially to recover from last night‘s ridiculous commute. When I went to bed last night, I had intended to go into the office today, and so had packed a lunch, which included a bowl of some vegetable soup I’d made a pot of on Sunday night to use for weekly lunches. But when lunchtime rolled around and I was at home, I felt as if I were depriving myself of the opportunity to cook if I just heated up the soup I had packed. On the other hand, though, I was working and didn’t have time to cook. So what did I do? Made a different kind of soup, of course. There’s something wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with the soup I made, though, in fact, it was fantastic. You see, I had some ramps from last night left over, and what do I do with most leftovers? Soup!

Ramp Soup

1 lb potatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 oz ramps, cleaned well, white parts chopped, green parts roughly chopped
4 cups vegan broth (I used “chicken” flavored)
freshly ground pepper, to taste
lemon wedges, for serving

Dice and chop the potatoes, celery, carrot, and ramps, and place in a soup pot. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft. Season with pepper. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. To serve, drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Here are all the awesome things about this soup:

  1. Next to no effort: a little bit of chopping, and then a little blending. In between, you can do other things. This was great for working from home: I got the satisfaction of a homemade soup, with very little interruption of my work.
  2. Fast: if you dice the potatoes small enough, and boil the water in a kettle while you chop, this can be ready in as little as 20 minutes.
  3. Fat-free: Not only did skipping sauteing the veggies save time, but there was no need to add oil.
  4. It involves ramps!
  5. It tastes great!

Really, this soup was great. I’ll make it again. I served it with a “chicken” salad sandwich, served on a Five Grain Levain roll (I try to keep a bunch of these in my freezer). I thought when I made the sandwich that it looked like a dinosaur head, but when I looked at the picture later, I thought it looked like a human skull. Either way I’m probably crazy, eh?

Other than my delicious lunch, today has been quiet. The cats are probably confused because although he’s at the office today, Mark works from home 95% of the time and I work from the office 95% of the time, so it’s unusual I’d be here and he wouldn’t. They don’t seem like they’re letting this oddity bother them much, though.

Torticia stuck her tongue out at me when I wanted her picture:

And I’m just boring Gomez:

Doesn’t he look like a bear?!?

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Pasta with Ramps

It’s been two weeks since I last posted?! It’s not from a lack of cooking, but I haven’t made anything new or blog-worthy recently. Ironically, I have spent much more time working on this blog than usual over the last couple of weeks, you just can’t see the results yet: I’m putting together an index of recipes. I also thought I’d spice things up by truncating some of my database tables! Wooo! That wasn’t the first time I’ve had to congratulate myself for backing things up nightly, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Anyway, hopefully I’ll have that up soon if I can manage to do it without destroying everything…again. It’s been interesting categorizing all my recipes; I discovered trends I wasn’t expecting. I apparently cook a lot of Mexican food?

In the meantime, brace yourself for the same old story: Northern Virginia, grrrr! I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN LAST HERE. My office is 10 miles from my house. Sometimes I mention that to someone who does not live in this area and they respond, “oh, so you’re close to work; that must be nice.” I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or punch the person in the face when I hear that. It’s normal for my commute to take an hour. If I’m very, very lucky, it’s 45 minutes. Sometimes, though, it’s even more than an hour. Today it was TWO AND A HALF HOURS. To go 10 miles. It’s the sort of thing that can drive (no pun intended) a person crazy. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I weren’t able to read books on my phone. I read a few hundred (yes a few HUNDRED) pages of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White while sitting in traffic (iPhone pages, yes, but we’re talking about 20% of a rather long book), and it kept me incredibly calm. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend The Woman in White for reading-while-driving, by the way. It’s a peculiar kind of reading that not all types of books are conducive to, but I’m really enjoying this one. (Wodehouse is also good reading-while-driving material. Zola, not so much. By the way, everything I read on my phone is free from Project Gutenberg.)

Anyway, after nearly three hours in traffic, with a headache and cramps, I was tempted to skip the grocery store visit I had planned to make, feeling justified in just wanting to go home and curl up in the fetal position. I rationalized that I’d feel better about life if I managed to accomplish the task I’d set out to do, though, so I forced myself to stop at Wegmans. And I was rewarded with ramps! Rather overpriced ramps, but ramps nonetheless. Pasta with Ramps was sounding like the perfect antidote to my miserable afternoon. It wasn’t until after I’d already written up most of this post, made the dinner, took the photographs, processed the photographs, and then tried to upload the photographs that I realized I posted almost the exact same thing last year. I really should have known this considering I spent several hours this weekend categorizing all my past posts! Anyway, I’m posting this one even if it is a near-duplicate.

This is Mario Batali’s recipe. The internet pretty much agreed it is the best ramp pasta recipe, and it was so simple (and vegan!) I didn’t see reason to mess with it. I did scale it down to two servings, however.

Pasta with Ramps

8 oz dry pasta of your choice
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz fresh ramps
1 tsp – 1 Tbsp red chili flakes, depending on the heat level of your chili flakes and your love of chili flakes
kosher or Maldon flaked salt, to taste
1 Tbsp breadcrumbs

Boil a big pot of water. I don’t always salt the pot when I cook pasta – it depends on what I’m doing with the pasta – but it matters in this dish, so once it’s boiling, add about two tablespoons of salt to the pot, then add the pasta, cook until al dente, then drain.

Wash the ramps very well. They are dirty little things. Line the root ends of a few at a time up and trim them, then repeat for the others.

Line all the ramps up and slice the greens from the white parts.

Chop the white parts.

Roughly chop the green parts.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the white parts of the ramps and saute until soft.

Add the chili flakes and the salt and cook a minute or two.

Add the green parts of the ramps.

Cook, stirring, until they wilt.

Toss in the pasta and stir until coated with the oil and ramps.

Sprinkle with bread crumbs to serve. I served it with some asparagus, which I grilled then drizzled with lemon juice + lemon zest, some smoked Maldon, fresh pepper, and a tiny bit of olive oil. I peeled the asparagus after seeing this survey on The Kitchn and being completely confounded by the very idea of peeling asparagus. (Note: I don’t intend to do it again.)

A final comment about this dish (until I make it again next May and try to post it a third time): LOVE the pasta you choose. I was totally not wild about that kamut and quinoa stuff I used tonight. I love trying alternative grain pastas, but some are better than others, and this just didn’t work well with the ramps. You really need a very pasta-y pasta.

In other news, I finally got to see the Julia Child kitchen display at the Museum of American History. Mark and I occasionally take advantage of our proximity to the nation’s capital and visit some of the Smithsonian museums.

I like Julia Child’s kitchen because it’s totally my style. Which is pretty much hanging stuff everywhere! I will never have a sleek kitchen with all my tools hidden away. For one thing, I have too many tools. And for another, I like them to be accessible. And what’s more, I like LOOKING at them. I couldn’t have worked in Julia’s kitchen because she had all of her counters raised 5″ to accommodate her height, but I love the peg boards and the super homey feel. You want to BE in Julia’s kitchen. People seem to want to be in my kitchen as well. People often tell me they love my kitchen, which I always find weird because it’s a rental house and basically I’m just making do with what I have. But then again, my kitchen IS about as awesome as a rental kitchen can be, mostly because it’s mine. It is, however, much smaller than Julia’s, although hers is not humongous.

And with that, goodnight and thank you.

 What? Kittens? Sigh. You’re so insistent. Okay. I needed an updated picture for things like my new About page. So I took some photos of myself. Some of the outtakes are amusing. This is a frequent happening:

I walk around the house like a pirate with his parrot half the time.

This morning BOTH cats jumped on my shoulders AT THE SAME TIME. I wish I’d been in front of the camera for that.

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