living underground in the real world

Monday Miscellany: salt, bikes, food, a totebag you must buy, and, just maybe, me poisoning myself.

 

Mysterious mushrooms with foraged pink peppercorns and greens from the garden, over pan-fried polenta cakes with caramelized onions and red wine-balsamic reduction: if a meal's going to kill you, it might as well be this one.

If I die in the middle of this post…well, how pathetic will it be that I spent my last minutes on earth writing a blog post?

The facts of the case are these:

My sweetheart’s dad brought us a bag of mushrooms foraged by a friend of his just as I was starting to make us lunch. Ravenously, I sautéed them up without following the mushroomer’s (as well as X Files’) credo: trust no one. I sat down to a big plate of them, and am now feeling quite pukey indeed. I haven’t actually puked, and am pretty sure the wooziness is of a confluence of factors including said meal being the only thing I’d eaten all day; eating ridiculously fast; and that a new mushroom, even a perfectly edible one, can upset even the most seasoned ‘shroomer’s stomach if gulped down in huge quantities without chewing. Also I am 5’8″ and weigh 106 lbs (see: previous post re: nonstop working) and am feeling fantastically weak lately–tomorrow I’m embarking on my annual hiking/walking/swimming exercise regimen, which will toughen me up for a month or so, until regular life steps back in and I become a ball of hollow flab for the next 11 months.

On the other hand: years ago this same aforementioned quasi-father-in-law took us foraging for psilocybin mushrooms in the cow pasture behind his house (yes, I settled down with a boy whose parents’ hippy quirkinesses sometimes match those of my own, sigh) and, while the resulting day at the beach was quite entrancing indeed, years later when taking mushrooming classes I found out that the “rules” he taught us that day about foraging didn’t really hold up—not all mushrooms growing in cow patties are edible. But we survived, and I suspect I’ll survive this little adventure too, so let’s get on with some links, shall we?

When not tempting fate, I’ve been being a model relaxer on this little sabbatical (I’ve pulled out “let’s start hiking tomorrow” for more than one day, how did you guess?). Today was one of those wild Hawaiian rainy days where thick sheets of rain pound the ground and even zipping out to grab some baking powder to make waffles for tomorrow’s breakfast seems like too much work, but no matter. I read two Busts, one New Yorker, answered all my email, made the aforementioned potentially lethal lunch, and settled in with a glass of wine to check in on the internet.

Here’s what’s shakin’ that you might be interested in:

The Meadow, the super fancy Portland salt + chocolate shop where my super fancy salt for my super fancy caramels and truffles and vulvas comes from, has opened a NYC outpost! Very exciting. In order to open a wholesale account with them, I first had to pass an interview by the owner: “So, which of our salts do you use?…Hmm…OK, good choices. And what do you use them for? Hmm. OK, well, let’s open an account for you.”
My pal Randy has written a beautiful post all about the importance of buying handmade—-in his case, handmade bikes.

Via Not Martha, a new Seattle veg restaurant! Let me know if you’ve tried it!

Also, via Vegans of Color, who have great taste in blog layouts, a vegan Filipino place in Oakland!

Speaking of restaurants, last week Jacob and I were treated to a free night in LA, courtesy of an overbooked flight and a relaxed vacationy attitude on our part–a nice hotel room, travel vouchers, and vouchers for airport food that were so utterly useless that we finally gave up and gave them away. (P.C. freak that I am, I scanned the terminal for person who I figured society had given less freebies to than anyone else at the gate and came up with a 6-foot-tall black dude wearing extremely baggy jeans. “Hey, we got these vouchers for food in the airport, but our flight is leaving and we didn’t have time to use them. Do you want them?” He was sort of insanely excited, and it wasn’t until we got on the plane that I realized his chances of using them for vegan food were fairly slim (mostly because there literally wasn’t anything but chips and water in the whole damn terminal). Alas.

Our 24 hours in LA were lovely though–strolls around LACMA, lunch at M. Café (a perfectly lovely salad and wonderful croissant, a reminder that Babycakes cupcakes are ludicrously horrid, and a note not to drink lemonade sweetened with brown rice syrup) with requisite LA celebrity sighting (that dude from Community, Donald Glover, [sort of insanely cute, OK?] plus probably lots of other people I didn’t try to figure out), friend hang-outs galore, and a spectacular dinner with pals at Rahel Ethiopian restaurant—amazing! On the way to Newark at 4 am the night before (when I had been up for 24 hours [see: previous post re: nonstop working] and was in the middle of one of those weird talking jags that sometimes come on when you think you will never sleep again) I was telling the pal who drive us to the airport about this amazing Chicago Ethiopian restaurant my mom goes to, and just thinking about endless injera, chickpea wat, and stewed greens got me salivating—so when some Googling turned this up eight hours and no sleep later, not only was it a perfect compromise for the Constant Heated Discussion, it was also the most wonderful meal I’d had in weeks. Yes, for weeks I’d been living off whatever sad leftovers I could heat up in five minutes while throwing more chocolate in the tempering machine, but even if I had had a proper meal in ages, it still would have been the best. Vegan! Ethiopian!

Oh, and!! In yet another instance of p.c. hilarity, while waiting for our dinner companions we browsed around Little Ethiopia, and I got some opium flavored incense (!)–it was in a bin marked .75, but the woman rung it up as $1.50. As my friend Than once explained to me when I asked why things seemed to be cheaper for him at hole-in-the-wall Asian markets in Chinatown than they were for me—it was a white people’s tax, and I paid it with no complaints, even though I had just quit one of my two full-time jobs and was headed into a month of making no money.

Reparations, my friends. I am single-handedly paying them.

More links:

So what if I own 200+ tote bags? I WANT THIS ONE.  God Hates Bags!!!!!! Oh my god I want it worse than I wanted Vegan Means You’re A Sex Machine, which is, who knew?, really freaking embarrassing to tote (yep) around.

And:

I’ve long wanted to try cooking vegetables in salt crusts—I bet whipped flax seed snot (uh, maybe google around on this here blog if you don’t know what I’m talking about) would make a fine egg white substitute…hmm. Try this and let me know how it goes!

Speaking of mushrooms (I have not died yet!), I once took a truly wonderful mushroom workshop with the fantastic Bill Bakaitis, and spent half the workshop thinking that he is one of the coolest dudes ever—turns out his wife, Leslie Land, has a wonderful gardening + cooking blog. Oh, upstaters.

And finally:

Wow, these photos of Parisian women are such an eye-candy treat. If they’re the last thing I see on earth that will probably be OK.

One more: Ricky Gervais on atheism = pretty rad.

Still not dead!

5 Responses to “Monday Miscellany: salt, bikes, food, a totebag you must buy, and, just maybe, me poisoning myself.”

  1. Altin

    Hi,

    So, I’m a bit late on this one, but in case you’re still interested: I had a go at flax seed gloop as a substitute for egg whites in salt crusts. I went the lazy route where you use ground flax + water to make the gloop (rather than the boil-n-strain method) since I figured I wouldn’t be eating the gloop anyway.

    So the good news is that it works! I wrapped the vegetables individually because I was just messing around and didn’t want to use a bunch of salt (and also, I figured that was a better test for the structural integrity of the thing.) You have to go a bit easy on the gloop because it won’t harden as quickly as eggwhite would, and if you have a vegetable that releases juices (say a beet that has had its tail cut) the crust can break before it has had time to set as the salt draws out moisture from the veg. But you can usually fix things in mid-bake if this happens as the gloop stays pliable for quite a while. The crust does set eventually, breaks apart in a dramatic and pretty way when you want to release the vegetable and gives you a very tender, moist, evenly roasted vegetable that is not quite like anything else I’ve ever had.

    The bad news is that the vegetables come out quite salty, not unpleasantly so but enough to kind of drown out the other flavors in the crust. I tried the beets in coffee crust from the Ideas in Food website but I wasn’t really getting much coffee flavor or perfume in the finished beets. Perhaps it would be better with stronger flavors that could cut through the salt more easily? Ginger? Citrus rind?

    Anyway, this just as a thank-you for sharing your recipes and know-how on your blog – everything I learnt about vegan cakes is basically thanks to you, and I’ve gotten quite a lot from your savory cooking as well, so I wanted to give back a little bit.

    Yours,
    Altin

    Reply

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