Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Turkish and Lebanese Delights

Sometimes we like to go all out. To feast like kings and queens.

In the past, this impulse, when paired with the desire to see our friends TY and SK, has culminated in a Sichuan Feast and a Mexican Fiesta.

This time around, a Mediterranean-inspired spread, with nods to Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. I've linked to some of the recipes or sources below, but let me know if you want more information about any of these dishes--they all turned out wonderfully!

(1) A spread of marinated goodness: artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, home-canned dilly beans with garlic cloves, and home-pickled beauty heart radishes; and
(2) Hummus, Vegan Muhammara (an amazing walnut-roasted red pepper spread), and Baba Ganoush, with whole wheat pita:

Turkish Red Lentil Soup (super simple, and really hearty) and Turkish-Style Braised Green Beans (made with green beans I'd frozen from the market last summer):

Spinach and Black Eyed Peas with [lots of extra] Caramelized Onions (Roden's Arabesque, p. 268), and Eggplant Pilaf (Roden's Arabesque, p. 170):

Orange, Olive, and Onion Salad (Roden's Arabesque, p. 48), and Pistachio-Rosewater cookies:

The book from which many of the latter dishes came is Claudia Roden's Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon. SK and TY owned this book and were eager to try it out, which was one of the motivating factors that led us to choose this cuisine as our focus.

Also, because our friends (along with TY's favorite food blogger at Serious Eats, Kenji Lopez-Alt) were having a vegan February, all the dishes were modified to be vegan, if they weren't already.

A fantastic meal, all around! I'm hungry just thinking about it.

What cuisine should we tackle our next go-round? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Food, Memory, and the Environment

I've got a guest post up over at A Liberated Life:

Food: Health, Community and Memory!

Please check it out, and let me know what you think!'

A sneak peek:

How might crafting stories help us to live in a more environmentally sound way? What's the connection between individual food memories and a larger politically-engaged food movement?

These are the questions I've been pondering as I set out on the adventure of teaching an undergraduate seminar called “Eating and Memory.” My students all live in the University of Wisconsin's GreenHouse, an environmental living community in one of the campus dorms. These students are vibrant, passionate, and really bright. So I figured if anyone were able to help me answer these questions, it would be these folks.

On its surface, a class about food memories doesn't immediately seem to fit into a environmental curriculum. It's less tangibly connected to sustainability than, say, a class on wind turbine design or on how to build a composing toilet. And yet, it seems to be a crucial piece of the larger picture...


Monday, February 13, 2012

An Arctic Feast

The 2012 Global Meal season at the UW GreenHouse started out in style, with an Arctic Feast!

Our close friends Andrew and Ariana curated a feast of "caribou" stew (actually made with venison because of caribou sourcing issues) and white fish with cranberries:

Macaroni salad, Caesar salad, and fresh dinner rolls:

And an English trifle(ish) dessert!

And what made the Ariana and Andrew qualified to present this feast with the eager students was the two years they spent living in Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, on the very northern-most tip of North America, just 50 miles south of the Arctic Sea.

With a backdrop of evocative photos, the As wove beautiful and intricate tales of their time in Inuvik, sharing with the students stories of how the community finds food (hunting, trapping, gathering, growing, sharing, buying), of their travels to the north, of the ethnic makeup of their town, of their night sleeping in a hand-made snow cave in dangerously frigid temperatures, and of enduring months with no daylight and months with no nightfall.

They also brought beautiful objects of show and tell, to display the different ends to which animals killed for meat are put--hats and slippers and mittens and boots made of seal and beaver and caribou and squirrel.  Ariana even learned from some of the village elders how to sew animal hides using sinew (animal tendons), and showed off some of the slippers she had sewn herself.

The whole night was awesome and eye-opening. So many of the residents commented on how fascinating it was to learn about this place that no one ever talks about, and to have a sense of this small community whose world is so shaped by the harsh environment and deep historical roots.

Global Food for Thought at its finest!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Fresh Starts

Ok. After celebrating Dining and Opining's One-Year Anniversary and then taking a few days off to regroup, I had high hopes for my return to this blogging space. I hoped to come up with some clear, clever structure that would allow me to post less frequently, but more thoughtfully and usefully. One day on "dining" (with photos/recaps of actual food/cooking experiences) and one day "opining" (with more discursive essays on food culture, politics, or history)? Or one recipe and one article analysis a week? Or maybe some riff off those photo-a-day projects, where I tried to post one photo each day that chronicled my experience with food during that day, along with some creative nonfiction that put the photo in context? Or a focus on food memoir, to go along with the course I'm teaching this semester, where I shared stories from my food-filled past?

All these ideas whirling around, but as is often the case with good ideas--they all started raising my expectations and leaving me feeling more and more anxious about my return to the new and improved D&O.

I imagined all my eager readers, holding their collective breaths until I unveiled my grand return. And then those same eager readers (all 10 of them!) feeling disappointed when that return didn't turn out to be so grand after all.  

So, I psyched myself out. And stopped posting altogether.  But that's no way to be, is it?

Now I want to lower those expectations, remove the pressure to post each and every weekday, and just write and reflect when the spirit moves me. Perhaps as I begin to get into this new groove, one of those earlier clever structures will reveal itself as appropriate, and I'll settle into another rhythm. But perhaps not. You'll all bear with me one way or another, I hope?

To make sure I don't feel off the wagon entirely, my goal will be to share at least one post per week, with Friday as a deadline for the end of each week. But hopefully this will happen automatically, without my forcing anything.

Some things I have on deck for all of you:
And so much more! As always, I'd love to hear from you...