Monday, July 22, 2013
I have a tendency to go on a lot about my efforts to eat more green things here. It's not that I dislike green things, or am in any way anti-vegetables, but in recent years I've found it to be somewhat challenging to incorporate salads into my daily (and even my weekly) life.
There was a time when almost all I ate was salad. That time was also when I lived in a dormitory and ate in a cafeteria everyday, where the choice was between burgers, fries, pizza, sodium-loaded stir-frys, and the ever popular mystery dinner (which could be anything from lasagna to casseroles of unknown origin). And then there was a salad bar, which I frequented daily. I gave everything else a pretty wide berth (except for the dessert table, which I also frequented daily).
My friends used to look at me askance whenever I arrived at the dinner table with my cafeteria tray piled high with salad, staring at my choice of dinner as if I was mentally unhinged. Everyone thought I was on a diet and denying myself, which couldn't have been further from the truth (especially considering how often I grabbed dessert). Truth is, I like salad, and it was the freshest, most wholesome option available. Every day there was a salad bar filled with greens, veggies, and all sorts of things necessary for making salads.
I invented all sorts of salad combinations during that first year of university - sometimes I went the sweeter route and topped it with raisins, chickpeas, and poppy-seed dressing, other days I went for shredded cheese and a spicy chilli dressing. Every day it was a little different, and somehow I managed to never get bored of salads.
After first year, though, I moved out of residence, and away from my salad bar. Since then, I've never gotten back into the habit of my salad feasts. I still make a good salad now and then, but it's harder to keep a massive amount of greens fresh in the fridge, and sometimes when I come home, all I want for supper is a bowl of popcorn.
However, if I have a good salad dressing in the fridge, this always increases the potential for salad in my life exponentially. When you have a good dressing on hand, salads become so much easier. And last year I finally found the dressing to rule all dressings: creamy miso dressing. I can pour it on pretty much any raw vegetable and it will taste amazing. Add some toasted sesame seeds for extra flavour and crunch, and you're all set.
When I have my miso dressing in the fridge, I get inspired to revisit my salad bar days, and so dishes like this happen. It's essentially everything I look for in a salad: crunchy, filling, fresh, and flavourful. It's mostly cabbage, which I love - it's just a little bit spicy, crunchy, and stands up to dressings well (because let's be honest here, who likes soggy salads).
So go on and get your summer crunch on. You'll be glad you did, I promise.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
"What is sekanjabin?" I found myself asking. I'd seen the unfamiliar word on the cafe's menu for nearly a year and never thought to ask.
Turns out, I should have asked that question a long time ago.
Sekanjabin is a Persian drink (or syrup), flavoured with mint and cucumber. Sweet, with just a hint of sour, the cooling taste of cucumber and the bright flavour of fresh mint leaves, it's utterly refreshing. After that first sip, I knew this was something I had to try making at home.
Traditionally, it's a sweet and sour syrup made with vinegar and sugar, but I opted to make mine on the sweeter side and use lemon for that kick of sourness. Not very traditional, but totally delicious.
It also seemed like the perfect thing to bring along to a summer picnic, so when my fantabulous friend Anna and I began planning our second outing for the Toronto Picnickers, I knew I had to bring some along.
So on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I found myself strolling down to Dufferin Grove Park, a canteen filled with freshly-made sekanjabin at my side. Plastic cups were passed around, food was shared, and a general good time was had by everybody, and now I can proudly say that there are a few more people in the world who know what sekanjabin is, and how deliciously wonderful it is.
You can read all about our delightful adventure in Dufferin Grove here at Swallow - it promises food and recipes! You should especially check out Anna's amazing strawberry cookie snack bars (of which I ate at least four) and whole wheat strawberry scones. Interested in joining us for our next picnic? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - the more the merrier!
In the mean time, go make yourself a glass of sekanjabin, kick up your feet, and cool down.