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Cooking in the new kitchen

Iced wax myrtle
Iced wax myrtle

Some sensible person once remarked that you spend the whole of your life either in your bed or in your shoes.  Having done the best you can by shoes and bed, devote all the time and resources at your disposal to the building up of a fine kitchen.  It will be, as it should be, the most comforting and comfortable room in the house.

~ Elizabeth David (1913-1992), “French Country Cooking”

Winter visits
Winter visits

I had plans yesterday.  With the inclement weather in the forecast and eventually materializing, I thought it would be a good day to catch up with my blog mates.  Unfortunately, the ice must have clogged up our satellite dish or the clouds overhead were too thick.  Whatever the case, my connection to the internet was slow and sporadic at its best.  Better a slow, sporadic internet connection than a loss of power.  Right?  Right.

It was cold and damp, the kind of cold and damp that seeps down into your bones.  We don’t have the luxury of a wood burning fireplace here at the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, although we do have a gas fireplace that might put out enough heat to keep hypothermia at bay if the power should go out during the winter months.  (Isn’t it funny that I’m referring to a wood burning fireplace as a luxury??!)

Do not stand under big trees during an ice storm.
Do not stand under big trees during an ice storm.

So I found myself in the kitchen instead, perfecting a salad I recently enjoyed at the good dog bar & restaurant in Philadelphia.  M and I had dinner there during our recent visit with my family.  We went into Philly for a concert at the Kimmel Center, and met up with our friend, “the circular saw-wielding, book-loving, histopathology-painting artist and instructional designer,” Jenna Hannum, for dinner before the show.

Farro & Kale Salad (called the Kale & Farro Salad at the Good Dog)
Farro & Kale Salad (called the Kale & Farro Salad at the Good Dog)

I need to practice my food photography again.  It’s been a while.  Photography aside, my reproduction of the salad was awesomeness on a plate.  Kale, farro, beets, onions, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, all dressed with an apple cider vinaigrette.  If you’d told me five or so years ago that I’d be eating beets and kale, I wouldn’t have believed it.  I have Jenna to thank, by the way, for her persistence in getting me to try and like kale.  She went to great lengths, including experimenting on herself, to find a recipe that would finally please my palate.

Frozen
Frozen

Want the recipe?  Sure you do.  I don’t have exact measurements for the salad itself so bear with me.  You want to start with some good kale.  I used Lacinato (or Dinosaur) Kale.  Tear the good leafy green stuff off the ribs and chop or tear it up into bite size pieces.  (Put the ribs in a freezer container and save them in the freezer.  When your container is full of veggie discards of all kinds, use them to make a delicious, nutritious vegetable stock.) While you’re messing around with the kale (all that prep with the washing, etc.), have some beets roasting in the oven.  Nothing fancy.  There are a variety of ways to do it.  I scrub them, cut off the ends, rub a little olive oil on the beet, and wrap it in some foil.  Each beet gets its own little foil packet.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the beet/s.

Holiday colors under ice
Holiday colors under ice

Make an apple cider vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar because it has a wonderful apple flavor to it)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • salt if you must, but I don’t think it needs it

You can add a little honey to the mix if you want to sweeten up the vinaigrette.  The beets add sweetness to the salad so I don’t think it needs the honey, but your taste may vary.

Coat well
Coat well

Cook the farro.  One cup of farro to two cups of water will produce plenty of farro.  Timing will depend on the type of farro you’re cooking.  I didn’t know what I had (I bought it bulk at Whole Foods and the label wasn’t forthcoming), but I’m guessing by the cooking time it was semi-pearled.  Do a search online for cooking times.  I put the one cup of farro and two cups of water in a pot, brought it to a boil, covered, simmered it for about 20 minutes, turned off the heat and let it sit for, well, I don’t know.  Five to ten minutes.  Then I uncovered it and let it cool.  All the water was absorbed so I didn’t need to drain it.

Wearing a coat of ice
Wearing a coat of ice

While your beets and farro are cooling, mince some onion and add it to the kale.  Go ahead and dress the salad.  Letting the kale marinate for 15-30 minutes will bring out the deliciousness, and soften it up a little.  When the beets cool, dice ’em up and put them in the salad along with some farro and shaved (or grated, if you prefer) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Add more vinaigrette if needed.  Eat and enjoy.  If you want to go vegan, skip the cheese, and add some toasted nuts.  I bet toasted almonds or pine nuts would be super yummy in the salad.  Better than the cheese, perhaps.

Frozen drips
Frozen drips

Thanks for stopping by today.  The temperature did eventually warm up last night, and all the ice was gone this morning.  It’s been raining off and on all day.  More winter weather is expected tomorrow.  Ice, maybe snow.  I hope it’s snow.

Winterized Queen Anne's Lace
Winterized Queen Anne’s Lace

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

Author:

Robin is... too many things to list, but here is a start: an artist and writer; a photographer and saunterer; a daughter and sister and granddaughter; a friend, a partner, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; a gardener, a great and imaginative cook, and the creator of wonderful sandwiches.

30 thoughts on “Cooking in the new kitchen

  1. Your pictures of the icy leaves and plants outside are amazing. Wow, it looks quite beautiful. Living in a city in an apartment building I do not get to see sights like these.

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  2. I’m going to have to try kale. Need to find some fresher looking than the closest grocery store, though.
    Pine forests look lovely in ice and snow – but they are so fragile and break. We grew pines for timber and worried over extreme ice storms as they ruin trees. There are few pines here – I don’t miss them. Oaks are sturdier and don’t shed all those needles!
    Love the 2nd picture and the last one. The pines are very holiday themed.

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    1. Thank you, PhilosopherMouse. 🙂 I’ve noticed the loblollies are fragile, and there was some cracking to be heard when the ice was at its thickest. I haven’t had a chance to walk around and see what damage there is, if any. More winter weather coming today.

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      1. Slash pines are very weak – they have long long green needles and are lovely, but ice really does a number on them. We only planted them once. Planting then was done by hand – during January….still remember the cold – but also really appreciate trees! Sun today, dog is wild and muddy – but so happy you have to smile…more bad weather in a day or so. Stay warm

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  3. I’m FAMOUS! Hooray!
    I have you to thank for my love of kale because I was pretty “eh” about it until I started making all the kale dishes in an attempt to make you (us) love it. I wanted a green that I could eat seasonally; that’s what started it. Kale will grow even in the snow. Now I love it so much that when people have it planted as an ornamental, flower box plant, I have to refrain from stealing off with it to cook it for myself.

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    1. lol! Of course you’re famous. 😀 If I hadn’t been so busy with the house, I’d have a garden filled with kale right now and you could come pick some of mine.

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  4. Congrats on getting to break in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s nice when the internet doesn’t work well–a good chance to be away from the computer. Your ice photos are amazing. My sister took some in Lexington over the weekend and sent them to me.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  5. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for posting the recipe! It sounds yummy and easy to make. Just the way I like recipes. It looks like I’ve missed a lot since I last visited. Haven’t been keeping up with blog-mates, in fact, finding it difficult keeping up with off-line stuff as well. Hoping to visit every now and then over the holidays. Photographs are awesome as ever! Hope all is well.
    Marianne

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    1. It’s wonderful to hear from you, Marianne! I was just thinking about you last night, and this morning I find your comment. How are you? I hope all is well with you, too, and that the difficulty in keeping up is for good reasons.
      Thank you. 🙂

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  6. A friend introduced me to kale – husband doesn’t like it, I do. But husband eats much differently than I do now. Your salad sounds as wonderful as your pictures – bet it would work well with quinoa or barley too.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. My husband didn’t like kale at first, either, but imagine it’s different with your husband. Farro reminds me a lot of barley, and yes, I think quinoa would be lovely in the salad, too. 🙂

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  7. It can be frustrating when the internet doesn’t work, but it’s also nice. I tried Kale last year and I thought I would hate it but I always heard it’s super good for me. I really liked it.

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  8. Your salad looks good! But nope, don’t want the recipe…I’m not eating beets and kale LOL
    Glad to hear your ice is gone…we’re finally thawing out today and I’ve been listening to the sound of dripping icicles and chainsaws. Sure does look pretty all frozen 🙂

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  9. We still have beets and two types of kale in the garden – a Russian type which self-sows each year (I never bother planting it) and Lacinato, which is new for us. We’ve been eating kale and other hardy greens virtually every day, including lots of kale salads – so a new salad idea is always welcome. Kale is delicious and bar none, about the healthiest food we could possibly eat, at least when organically grown. I now need to track down farro – I’ve been using barley instead, but farro looks so interesting in your photo, I think I need to find some!

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  10. I haven’t tried either kale or farrow Robin, but love beets (we call them beetroot here), especially in salad. I had run out of bottled salad dressing the other day and ended up just drizzling a touch of olive oil over the salad, but my mother-in-law, who was here for the meal, wanted to make a dressing that she makes, and loves, which included canned condensed milk….yuk! Thank goodness I don’t ever keep condensed milk in my pantry or she would have ruined our salad. I’ll try your dressing recipe, it sounds really light and delicious.

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  11. I’m sure glad I picked this post to read. I’m more than 500 behind in my reader. That’s never going to happen.

    The recipe sounds delicious. I am trying to add kale to my diet too, and I have all kinds of New Year’s resolutions waiting for me once we clear out the candy and cookies. . .

    Your ice storm photos are beautiful. I’ve never been quite satisfied with mine. Have a happy holiday, Robin.

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    1. I’m over a month in answering this, Christine, so I well understand being far behind (and how catching up is never going to happen). I hope you got off to a good start with your New Year’s resolutions, and that you’re enjoying a bit of kale every now and then. Thank you. 🙂

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    1. It’s a really delicious salad, Dana. A friend sent me another farro & beet recipe as a friendly farro challenge, and I hope to make it soon so I can post it. 🙂

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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