In an article originally published in E: The Environmental Magazine, Christopher Weber writes about a hip-hop movement with a environmental message. Read about it here: Tuning Into Environmental Hip-Hop
Brussels sprouts with bacon is hardly a new idea, but the combination has taken off lately. Now the pairing is a menu meme, a darling of online recipe searches and food TV. But those green brassica balls also go effortlessly and deliciously, for example, in that most vegetarian of dishes: the leafy salad.
Oh beets, with your vivid, royal coloring, the shock of hot pink spiraling through you like Mother Nature’s own blacklight poster. I am so in love, I clicked on a NYT recipe for a salad of shredded you. My eyes juiced your image, regarded only briefly the measurements and directions, and then returned to you, a root the color of guts in my dreams.
Follow the recipe or throw caution to the wind as I did and trust your own gut as it resonates with the most bewitching of vegetable forms. (How could I have ever scoffed at still lifes?)
Let the juices stain your fingers as you shred the mighty beet with your common cheese grater. Squeeze in half a lemon after scornfully discarding the seeds. Taste. Another half a lemon, then, or not. Do the same with oranges.
Drizzle just the slightest bit of olive oil. Tip your palm cupping just a touch of salt. Stir. Taste.
Make a lot. Over days in your fridge, the flavors commingle and mellow. The citrus, less bright. The beet, less earthy.
Like ĺkaros, my ambition spurred me to dig up yet more roots for grating. The passé carrot found new life with sesame oil. Since I posses no mixing bowl and own only, instead, a purple Kool Aid pitcher, I shoveled my pile of three shredded carrots into this container. Sesame oil goes far, flavor-wise, so a few drops was all this dish required. Next, peeled tomatoes, chopped and strained, were added as a second layer. A touch of sweet Mirin and rice vinegar spilled onto those.
A little salt goes a long way in this dish, too. A couple of hearty stirs dispersed the tomatoes and carrots. (Not too many, or the delicate flesh of the tomato may be pulverized.) Once served, top with unadorned avocado.
The woods behind my apartment in Baltimore are full of goodies. It's still a little early, but I am finding tasty bites here and there. Cattail shoots are making a strong showing. Stripped of their leaves, the centers are a perfect replacement for genetically modified, pesticide-laden, supermarket cucumbers. And they're free, easy to find, a breeze to identify and grow in abundance. I'm waiting for them to be a bit taller before I harvest.
Wood violets are also in bloom; the flowers and young leaves make a great addition to salads. The flowers can also be used to flavor sorbets and beverages, and as decorations for cakes and pastries.
Mayapples are sprouting up all over the place, a good indication that morels are on their way. The leaves, stem and root are poisonous, but the fruits can be eaten in small quantities.
I think I may have found spicebush. The berries can be used in the same manner as allspice. I'm holding off on a definite identification until the berries ripen in a few months. Other possible finds include wild carrot, chicory and poison ivy. Not so excited about that last one.
My greatest find was fiddleheads. The young shoots of the ostrich fern are pure vegetative delight. It'll be a few days before they're tall enough to pick, but just locating them was a bit of an accomplishment. The fiddleheads, mayapples and certain trees I've identified suggest those elusive morels are soon to be mine (if the mushroom gods find me worthy and deserving).