living underground in the real world

revelator (everything in its right place)

(Disclaimer: this post is of the navel-gazing variety that I don’t particularly enjoy, but am putting up because of an intense desire to categorize and document my life that I can’t exactly resist right now.)

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I didn’t really spill the beans about it, but I did two cooking events this week that cast a big long dark nervous shadow over the whole of last week. I volunteer-catered a party for Margaret‘s campaign (the only kind of catering I enjoy and will do these days), then the very next morning I gave a little cooking demonstration at a farm festival. In retrospect they sound like such easy events, but coming as they did at the beginning of my crazy cooking time of the week (filled with 18-hour days that leave me practically breathless with exhaustion), I was worried they would make the entire week altogether too hectic and I would fuck something up horribly. Not one fuck-up occurred, and I am still a little shocked.

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The only time I felt panicky was right before I hauled everything over to the party. But I just took a couple deep breaths and carried cooler bag after cooler bag out to the car, drove to the party and set everything up so prettily that I started smiling long before the margarita took effect.

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Although my love of fast-talkin’ is legion, I’m not the best public speaker and usually get all short of breath and talk so fast everyone just stares at me blankly. But I had so so so much to say about cole slaw, and had practiced my little cole slaw manifesto-class so many times in the kitchen that I felt more excited than scared. I just pulled on my newly-embroidered chef’s jacket

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and started right in with a smile and a friendly wave of my knife.

It helped that not that many people wandered over for my talk. I didn’t even get upset that the particular CSA farm whose harvest festival was the occasion for my talk seems to the be one in town where all the meat-eating yuppies seem to convene. Everyone was nice, especially the awesome women running the farm.

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Right after the class I dove into my cooking week and didn’t come up for air until everything was all done three days later.
And at the end of everything I got a nice treat: a super special super awesome truffle review from Treehugger! “…the velvety-smooth vegan truffles are handmade in small batches and sent out only every six weeks, giving them a heady aura of exclusivity (and attention to detail) and making them one of the best-kept confectionery secrets in the country.” Oh snap!

As a treat for you, here is my cole slaw manifesto-recipe: cole slaw with almond mayonnaise

½ c almonds (preferably raw, with skin or without, organic)
3-4 Tb. lemon juice, to taste
1 c water
½ c grape seed oil
1 ts sea salt
1-2 Tb prepared mustard, to taste
3-4 Tb. red wine vinegar
¼ ts. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
splash Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 medium cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper, slivered
1 medium carrot, grated
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Blend almonds, lemon juice, and water in blender until emulsified. Drizzle in grape seed oil with blender running in a thin stream. Add salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper, and Tabasco and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sea salt, lemon, pepper, or mustard as necessary. Add more water if necessary for a creamy consistency. This makes about 2 ½ cups – 3 cups of dressing, all of which might not be needed.
2. Combine all vegetables in a large bowl and add just enough mayonnaise to moisten the salad. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings again and/or add more mayonnaise if necessary. Refrigerate for an hour to meld flavors. Eat within 2 days.

Variation: Southeast Asian cole slaw: Substitute napa or savoy cabbage for the cabbage and replace up to half of the cabbage with the white and light green bottoms of bok choy. Replace the red onions with thinly sliced scallions. Add a handful or two of mung bean sprouts, if desired. Make dressing without mustard, use rice wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and lime juice instead of lemon. Add 1 ½ ts. powdered ginger, add more Tabasco (if desired), and ½ of a small bunch each mint and Thai basil to dressing halfway through blending. Some of the farms around here (like Huguenot St. Farm) grow a leafy lemongrass – very, very thinly sliced lemongrass tops (leaves) can be used, or mince lemongrass roots as finely as possible (I usually smash them with a hammer first) then blend them with the dressing.

Variation: Mexican cole slaw: Replace ¼ of the cabbage with slivered jícama. Add 2 ears corn cut from the cob. Make dressing without mustard, use white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and lime juice instead of lemon. Add 2 ts. freshly-ground cumin and 1 very small bunch cilantro to dressing before blending.

Variation: cole slaw without cabbage: Several raw root vegetables can be substituted in place of some or all of the cabbage. (When a cole slaw contains no cabbage, it should properly be called simply a slaw.) My favorite is celery root (sometimes called celeriac), which is a delicious, very refreshing root vegetable no one grows around here for no reason I can discern. Peeled deeply and slivered very thinly, it can be used raw. I also love thinly sliced fennel bulbs, alone or in tandem with celery root. Paper-thin sliced peeled beets and turnips can be used the same way with lovely results.

Other additions that can be thinly sliced and used as partial replacements for the cabbage include fresh snap beans, raw asparagus, summer squash (not my favorite, but some people love it), Belgian endive, ramps (wild leeks) or leeks instead of red onion, fresh shelled peas, fresh corn scraped from the cob, garlic scapes (sometimes called green garlic), and swiss chard stems.

Some veggies do not work in cole slaw, including tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, eggplant, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and artichokes. All of these vegetables would, however, be delicious when steamed or roasted (except for the tomatoes – eat those raw) then drizzled with the cole slaw dressing.

Variation: herbed or spiced cole slaw: Many herbs and spices lend their flavors nicely to cole slaw. Dill, caraway seeds, and/or celery seeds are nice, as are chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or tarragon.

Variation: apple slaw: Replace the vinegar in the dressing with apple cider vinegar and replace ¼ of the cabbage with apples cut into matchsticks. Tart apples are best in this salad, and caraway seeds make a nice addition. You could also use Asian (hard) pears.

(Does anyone get the awesome mashup in the subject line?)

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