Korean warn rice salad with bulgolgi-style tofu, raw and pickled vegetables, and a fried egg
I hold this dish near and dear to my heart. It has traveled with me through many years and places and grown and changed in that time. My first encounters with it were at Blue Cactus in Columbia, South Carolina. I was maybe 20 then and had never been exposed to Korean food in my life. In fact, I'm sure at the time I'd never eaten any authentic Asian cuisine of any kind. I was intimidated. I didn't know what to think of this strange bowl of hot rice, cold lettuce, and unidentifiable pickled things with a big old runny egg yolk sitting on top. What the heck is this thing? Who eats like this? It turns out, I do. Of course, you all probably know that by now, but I didn't know it then. This was totally uncharted food territory for me. The only pickled thing I'd ever eaten was pickled cucumber. This dish was one of the many that began opening doors for me- showing me new parts of food, new ingredients, new techniques. And it certainly didn't hurt that it was served at one of the best restaurants in town. A little hole in the wall place. The food takes forever and it's bring your own beer- but that's part of what made it great. We'd go and spend hours there, drinking some wine and waiting anxiously for our mouth-watering dishes to emerge from the kitchen. If you're ever in Columbia and have a few hours to spare, I highly recommend a visit. And I highly recommend the bibimbap.
A crunchy, yolky, bitter, fresh, crisp spring panzanella that comes together in no time
Something really exciting is happening right now. Spring. Going to the market when the season changes is one of my very favorite things. Just as I'm starting to tire of brussels sprouts and broccoli (that's a ridiculous statement- who gets tired of broccoli?) the asparagus, peas, and young onions appear. To everything- turn, turn, turn - there is a season - turn, turn turn. And that season is turning to spring before my eyes. Everything is waking up, leafing out, and getting down to business. I hacked down most of the winter garden to make way for summer. The weather here is already starting to feel like summer, so I'm fast-tracking all of the garden preparation. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day. After hitting the market this morning though, I wonder what great treasures I mat have unknowingly cast into the compost pile. During our Saturday morning market shop, Chris came across a big bundle of arugula flowers from Sage Mountain Farm. Arugula flowers (which are abundant right about now) are the most unexpectedly delightful thing I have tasted in a while. Only slightly bitter and surprisingly nutty. I grabbed a bunch and some dandelion greens and knew what I'd be making tonight.
A savory, hearty breakfast bowl with pickled radishes and sriracha cucumbers
Everything feels very quiet and still today. Chris left for a conference on Saturday and won't be back until Thursday. I always feel suddenly incomplete when we have to spend time apart. We're both fairly independent people who require a certain amount of alone time, but we've grown very content and comfortable in each other's company and it's just strange when we are apart. Joni said it best- "the bed's too big, the frying pan's too wide". I usually spend the first day after he's gone bumbling around, feeling off and a little lonely, and then perk up around the second day and try to pack it full of things. If I can get swept up in my usual string of passions, I can drift off into a world where I forget that he's not here and avoid the onset of boredom. This morning, I woke up early and decided I ought to head off missing his companionship by cooking a really hearty, savory breakfast dish. Chris and I have been entertaining this idea of savory, vegetable-infused breakfast dishes a lot lately, but we haven't done too much actual experimenting. I think mostly it has to do with time. We get up plenty early, but always manage to fill up our mornings with odds and ends and usually just try to throw together something quick for breakfast. But if I planned my mornings a little better, I could be eating dishes like this every day.
A vegetarian version of a Vietnamese classic
I moved to California shortly after graduating college. I had a bit of money saved up and a place to live, but no job prospects to speak of. But I had a good degree, a spotless academic record, 8 years of solid work experience under my belt, marketable skills... how hard could it possibly be for me to find a job? If you've been unemployed any time since 2008, you're already nodding you're head at me, fully aware of how naive a question like that is. It doesn't matter how qualified you are- these days finding a job is incredibly difficult. So I went through the same monotonous soul-sucking motions as anyone else in that position. For months I spent 6 or 7 hours a day scouring job sites, sending in resume after resume, writing cover letters, taking skills tests. This process is so grinding, so disheartening. I'd send out a hundred resumes in a day sometimes and never hear anything back. So when I did finally get an offer, I jumped on it. So what if it's something I've never done and know very little about? I have loan payments that are going to start coming due next month. I have rent to pay! So I took the job. It was awful. Awful! I was working for peanuts in this lonely office on the other side of town, spending all day long arguing with banks over lost paperwork and unfair denials of loan modifications. If you've ever had to call a bank for any reason whatsoever, you can imagine how truly horrible and infuriating this line of work was. Hold music... talk to a machine for 20 minutes... more hold music... talk to a representative who makes you repeat everything you already told the machine.... get transferred to someone else.... repeat. A month or so later, I started my job hunt again.
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.