02/01/2014 by syrbal-labrys
Let’s step away from the cookbooks proper for a bit, shall we? I’m a bit fed up with food rhetoric at the moment, having just read how Pringles and other potato chips will kill me, and not just because I am nightshade allergic; and how a guy that makes high priced dog food wants you to know you are killing your dog with the cheap shit. (No, I am not linking the self-promoting asshat —just go to a grain-free dogfood and call it good, ok?) Everyone screams about food for people and dogs and cats when half or more folks would just like to have a sufficiency OF food.
That is, as I’ve noted, why the Minotaur and I have somewhat simplified our meals here to what very well-off peasants might have eaten. I hate the way meat is commercially raised in this country and I have doubts about its safety for human consumption. So we now eat less of it, since we cannot possibly afford organic and grass fed meats and wild caught fish at the normal rate of American consumption. Psst — here is a big secret; if Americans ate HUMANELY raised flesh only and DID consider that sugar is not your BFF, a great deal of the obesity and diabetes crisis would go away. Well, that and if some REAL nutrition was still taught in schools — but enough preaching. (By the way, my blood pressure — normally around 120/72, was at it’s high mid-PTSD-crisis 133/86. After less than a month on recovered mental equilibrium and our new eating plan, it is now 102/60 and I’ve lost three pounds without denying myself food! I do attribute less stress more than the food…but who knows!?)
A recipe that made me peasant-happy, I made this for supper last night. It is a room temperature salad that doesn’t make you shiver even in winter!
Peel and seed a cucumber, peel and dice a small zucchini. Place these in a wide shallow bowl. Peel and mince a small sweet onion. Warm 1/4 c of olive oil in a small skillet and slowly cook (or ‘sweat’ as it is called) the onion without excessive heat or browning. Add about 5 or 6 minced garlic cloves, and 1 or 2 seeded, finely minced green chiles*. Cook only until the fragrance is noticeable. Turn off the heat.
Open a 14 oz can of chickpeas and drain them of fluid. Add the chickpeas to the onion/garlic/chile goodness in the skillet —this is to slightly warm and flavor the chickpeas and cool the onion mixture. Add another 1/4 c olive oil and squeeze the fresh juice of a large lime or medium lemon into the pan. Let this rest after stirring, to marinate a bit.
Now finely chop up 1 c of Italian parsley and about 1/2 c cilantro — or reverse those proportions if you like cilantro better than parsley! Mix these into the cucumber and zucchini. Now break up about 4 oz of feta cheese into small chunks. Pour the chickpea-onion-dressing mixture over the mix in the bowl, and stir it up somewhat. Top with the feta cheese chunks and serve with some na’an type bread if desired and a bit of hummus or baba ganouch on the side! DELICIOUS!
(This is an adaptation of a recipe from a delightful cookbook called “Falling Cloudberries” by Tessa Kiros)
Now about those chiles with the *? I cheat, using a recipe from the same cookbook, but that I’d seen elsewhere as it is a classic technique: Oil Preserved Chiles
You must begin with a good pile of chile peppers — I have used jalopenos, scotch bonnets and others. You also need kosher or pickling salt and olive oil and a jar with no metal parts on the inner edges…like that one on my Haven’s ‘kitchen’ window!
Wash and dry the chiles. Cut off the stems and scrap out the seeds. Slice the chiles into rings or strips and put them in a colander or net strainer. Now, set this over a bowl to catch liquid and generously cover the chile-bits with coarse salt! Lay a plastic wrap/bag/etc atop the chiles and salt and put a weight on top of this. Now leave it sit overnight. The salt will take all the liquid out of the chiles depositing it in the bowl beneath…this salty liquid can be used in cooking if you desire, I suppose.
Now, shake off most of the salt —I save it to use again by drying it out and putting it back in a jar. Put the much reduced in volume chile-slices into the glass jar. Cover generously with olive oil and shut the lid. Leave it alone for a week or two. It will keep at room temperature. The oil will be deliciously flavored, the chiles will be made mild and flavorful. I cooked my onions in the salad recipe in this oil and used these ‘preserved’ chiles instead of fresh ones. I sometimes cheat and add more plain oil so as to have flavorful oil for cooking. The chiles must be kept covered at all times with oil!