Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Babies, I am learning, as more and more of our friends have them, do not care about your carefully constructed plans for their arrival. They do not care if you’ve decided they will only wear cloth or Seventh Generation diapers; if it’s not working for them, they’ll be sure to let you know.

Our friends Amanda and Quentin hosted us for a fabulous vegetarian Mexican meal at their house in August. Amanda was due in mid-October, and we heard about their wonderful midwife they had chosen, the birthing center across from the hospital where Amanda would birth their son. We also discussed their plans for spending the last few weeks of September and early October cooking freezable meals to be eaten at a later date, because cooking with newborn babies is not something that happens.

Well, as it turned out, Miles Timothy had other plans. He zipped into the world, at one in the morning on September 29th, in their bedroom! Practically perfect in every way, Miles, and his new mother and father – who delivered him! – were escorted to the hospital by some very nice firefighters.

Everything worked out, although Miles’s surprise entrance meant that all those meals that were to be cooked before his arrival never got made. Knowing their time was going to be limited for the next few, well, 18 or so years, I spent a little time on Sunday whipping together some freezable meals for the new parents. Amanda is a vegetarian, so I felt that making a casserole, although filling and definitely freezable, wouldn’t necessarily have the protein she’d be needing. Although some babies have trouble digesting their mother’s milk if she’s eaten legumes, I decided to go with chickpeas and brown rice.

Rice, as well as quinoa, freezes and reheats without any trouble.  So when I started making the dish, I tossed a few cups of brown rice with water, a ratio of 3:1, in the rice cooker. Easy peasy. I dug around my cookbooks for a good recipe for something chickpea-based, but came up short. As it turns out, Deb from Smitten Kitchen, went through the same chana masala quest a few years ago and ended up blending a few recipes. I used hers with a few adaptations.

In order to drop the temperature of the dishes without having them sit out and collect bacteria, I placed the cooking vessels in ice water. After the chickpeas and rice were cooled down, I placed them into freezable plastic containers, and brought them to the new parents. We had a quick visit and got to meet Miles in all his perfect tininess.

Chana Masala

Adapted from a Deb from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, which had also been adapted.  This was a perfect pantry recipe, as I had everything on hand.

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 medium onions, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 fresh chili pepper, minced (Deb called for a hot green one, I found a random Hungarian pepper in the bottom of my crisper and just went with it. Feel free to use whatever hot pepper you enjoy, or leave it out if heat’s not your thing.)

1 Tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 15 ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small (you’ll need 2 cups worth if you’re using fresh)

2/3 cup water

4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon salt

½ lemon, juiced

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 7 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

The Orange Kind

kosher vegetarian

All summer long, I’ve picked up my CSA box at the student union here on campus, emptied the box’s contents into a large canvas bag, handed the box back to the farmer, and carried my bagful of produce back to my office. I store the bag in the big fridge in the office kitchen – after removing August’s tomatoes and peaches, natch – and at the end of the day, I pack everything into my bike basket and head home. However, the past three weeks have shown the flaw in my system, and it has come in the form of melon.

Heavy melons, I have discovered, not only make my bike ride home a bit more challenging — a good thing for my daily exercise — but they have been bruising my soft summer fruits. These are not end-of-the-world tragedies. I’ve definitely still been able to enjoy my bruised peaches. I spooned a compote of rescued peach flesh, lime juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla and a cardamom pod on top of Greek yogurt for a delightful dessert on Sunday night, for instance. But it’s frustrating, nonetheless.

Still though, just a glance towards these melons makes me grimace, as I am reminded of the poor fate of my now- injured bounty. To atone for the destruction they have wrought, I feel I need to do more than just cut them up for a simple breakfast or mundane dessert.

I just love the word ramekin

Well, I’ve come up with a solution: melon sorbet. Without realizing it, I ended up reaching for the same flavors used in this beginning-of-summer sorbet. I swear I didn’t mean to plagiarize; ginger and citrus are just really versatile.

Melon Sorbet

In terms of prepping melon, I’ve discovered the most user-friendly way is to halve it and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place a half cut side down on a cutting board, and, using a sharp serrated knife, cut the rough skin off, starting from the top and following the rounded contours of the fruit. I did cut up the whole melon for this dish, although I didn’t end up using all of it. You’ll use about 4 cups.

kosher vegetarian

Not pictured: A serrated knife

Ingredients

4 cups of melon, prepped and cut into chunks that will fit nicely into a blender

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon sliced ginger

Peel of 1 lime, plus juice of 1/2 lime

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, ginger and lime peel. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Once it has cooled some, place the saucepan and its contents in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
  2. Puree the melon in a blender. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled.
  3. When the puree and syrup have chilled, place the puree into your ice cream maker, strain the syrup into it and add the juice of half the lime.
  4. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Feeling Bookish

I was sick this past week. Like, missed several days of work sick. No television was watched, no books were read. That kind of sick. Actually, we were all sick: me, Rich and even our little cat, who had to spend some time at the vet.  It was only this past weekend that I decided I was up to leaving the couch and head outside for a little walk. My destination was the library, which is less than 10 minutes on foot from the house. I’d already put my name in online for a couple of books, but it will be months before any of them are in my hands. And anyways, there’s something downright magical about a trip to the library. Can you imagine, a whole building full of books and movies and music, all free? Splendid, I tell you.

And there it was, right in the new releases, Andrea Reusing’s brand new Cooking in the Moment. I had read about her miraculous anchovy mayonnaise here, and her wondrous asparagus with soy and butter here. Somehow I figured this book would be on reserve for months before I could get a hold of it. But like I said, the library is magical.

I picked up a few other cookbooks – is there anything one can do with CSA garlic scapes besides make it into pesto? – and checked out the book sale in the back room. I also found success there, in the form of a cookbook devoted entirely to onions and a book of porky goodness for Rich.  And off I went, with my bag full of books.

I’ve done the walk home from the library dozens of times since I’ve lived in our neighborhood, and I’ve have developed the safest route home where I can have my head buried in a book while walking on the sidewalk. I made it through the introduction and was deep into the spring section by the time I’d made it back to my couch where my cat and I spent the rest of the afternoon, intermittently reading (me) and napping (both of us). I imagined what pickled sour cherries would taste like in July, was curious about the spinach with melted leeks and cardamom in late September, and wondered if I could wait until winter to enjoy roasted Japanese turnips with honey.

This is Reusing’s first book, and she writes the same way she cooks at her Chapel Hill restaurant Lantern: using local and seasonal fruits and vegetables. She wrote the book over the course of a year, sitting down when she could, perhaps on a Saturday afternoon in late August, after enjoying an eggplant salad with walnuts and garlic. She literally cooks and writes “in the moment.” North Carolina is of course a bit more temperate than Boston, but certain fruits and veggies have their season, so I dove right into June, excited to see what tricks she had up her sleeve.

I see these two weeks I have the book out of the library as free-trial period. No money down, and I can return it, no questions asked. That being said, if all the recipes are like this one here that I saw and knew I needed to make, well, Reusing has just sold a copy of her book.

I had been bookmarking rhubarb recipes for nearly a month: muffins, compotes, cakes, clafoutis and jams, but none of them felt like a June recipe to me. But when I saw this sorbet recipe, that teams rhubarb with a ginger syrup, I knew I had found what I was looking for. I used about half the amount of rhubarb that Reusing calls for, but left the amount of ginger syrup the same. The result was wonderful: soft, sweet, fragrant and surprisingly creamy for a sorbet. It also yielded about 1 1/2 cups, which is what the original recipe says it will make. I used this for my sieve.

I’ve since announced to Rich that we will now have ginger syrup on-hand at all times in the house. As Reusing points out, there is a touch more syrup made than what is needed for the recipe, and suggests to make a spring cocktail combining it with muddled fresh strawberries, lime juice and vodka, served over ice. Don’t mind if I do!

Rhubarb-Ginger Sorbet from “Cooking in the Moment” by Andrea Reusing

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 pounds fresh rhubarb, thinly sliced (about 2 quarts)

1 1/2 cups Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste

In a nonreactive saucepan, bring the rhubarb, ginger syrup, and salt to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rhubarb turns a deep, dusky rose color and is the texture of very soft applesauce. (It took me closer to 25 minutes to reach that stage, but perhaps you’ll have better luck than me.) Push through a medium (not fine) sieve or colander with a spatula while still warm. It should yield 4 cups. Cool before adding the lemon juice and freezing an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. (We actually put the bowl in an ice bath to speed up the cooldown before mixing.)

Ginger Syrup

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups sliced, unpeeled fresh ginger

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the sugar and ginger and bring to a very low simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Cool the ginger in the liquid and then strain.

Iron Chef: CSA

A few summers ago, I had the privilege of judging a local Iron Chef competition. The secret ingredient was not some creature off the ocean’s floor or an exotic fruit flown in from a far off island. Instead, it was the contents of the contestants’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, to highlight New England’s incredible summer bounties.

The teams used different farms and were assured that they didn’t need to use their entire boxes. To make sure the competition was fair, a list of standard vegetarian ingredients was issued, to be used in moderate quantities to enhance the vegetables: eggs, butter, up to 24 oz of soy products, 1 can beans/chickpeas or up to 2 lbs dried legumes, vegetable broth, garlic, onion,  nuts, flour, rice, quinoa or couscous, cornstarch, cocoa, sugar, up to 6 oz of cheese,  salt, pepper, milk, extra-virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, lemon/lime juice. Contestants were allowed to use any spices but got extra points for fresh herbs.

Some teams really stepped up for the competition and produced terrific dishes, including a refreshing tomato granita served in a hollowed-out cucumber and fresh, homemade pasta. Others, I am sad to report, did not. “A quiche?” I asked one team. “You bring me quiche? Do you want to win?”

(Side note: Before I get a dozen comments from people defending quiche, I just want to say, I get it. In fact, I keep a package of frozen Orinoco pie shells in my freezer, just in case I need to show up at a potluck at an hour’s notice: some eggs, some milk, a softened onion, a jar of roasted red peppers kept in the pantry for this specific food emergency, a fluffy pile of grated cheese. Yes, I get it. But there’s a contest going on, people!)

“Hey,” they responded, “We were at the Springsteen concert last night. It got out late. We didn’t have enough time. The crust is homemade, if that helps.” It helped, a little. Duly noted.

After the parade of dishes, we, the judges huddled upstairs comparing notes, where, a la Twelve Angry Men, I may have provoked a “spirited” conversation about which team should win. My favorite was the first team, which kicked off the competition with fresh summer rolls stuffed with ripe mango, served with a side of peanut dipping sauce. “But Molly,” my judges pointed out, “they broke the rules. There’s no such thing as a mango in a CSA box. There’s no such thing as a local mango, period. It’s New England! And rice papers? Peanut butter? Those things just aren’t allowed.” “But they were my favorite!” I argued. “I loved the mango in the summer rolls; so refreshing in this heat.”

I was outvoted ultimately, and realistically we couldn’t award the CSA Iron Chef competition to fresh mango summer rolls. I relented and begrudgingly shaved points from their score. The winner, I guess I should just mention at this point, was the tomato granita team, which was captained by my sister. Hey, I’m nothing if not impartial.

The fresh mango was such a treat for me. I never buy them, exactly for the reason why my fellow judges felt they had no place in the competition. But here’s the thing: It’s mango season, really and truly. As Melissa Clark wrote last month, springtime is mango season in India and all the hot steamy places mangoes grow. My Facebook feed is now full of photos of friends’ mango trees in Miami, brimming with the orange gems. Considering that we seem to have skipped from winter right into summer (complete with thunderstorms and tornadoes) the time is right for fresh mango summer rolls.

I bought my rice papers at H-Mart in Burlington, but I’ve also picked them up at Super 88 (now Hong Kong Market) at Packard’s Corner. The Thai basil and fresh mint are what makes it taste like a summer roll. I picked up my bunches at Russo’s this time around, but I know H-Mart and Hong Kong Market sells them as well.

If you’ve never made a summer roll before, don’t fret, it’s very simple. Think burrito. Some of the rice papers will rip, but just keep going. And please don’t worry if they don’t all look gorgeous; they’ll still taste delicious. Make sure you have all your ingredients laid out on the counter assembly-line style, starting with a pan of warm water for soaking the rice paper.

To prepare the mango: I peel mine with a peeler, then I stand it up and, with a sharp knife, cut the flesh right up off its pit. For this dish, I slice everything very, very thin, the length and width of two matchsticks.

Most recipes I’ve read for summer rolls call for Napa cabbage, although I’ve never actually been served them that way in a restaurant. After ranch dressing, this is the best use of iceberg lettuce.  I thought that some crisp, sweet red pepper would be nice with the mango, and it was. I also used some fresh tofu, and I’ve seen some restaurants use grilled meat in theirs. I say go for it, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, hello, vegan yumminess!

Fresh Summer Rolls

8 rice papers, but keep more around because some will rip

One head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced. Use a plastic knife if you’ve got one handy; steel knives will cause the lettuce to brown.

¼ cup Thai basil, julienned

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, julienned

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Half a red pepper, cleaned and sliced the width and length of two matchsticks

One mango, sliced the width and length of two matchsticks

One block tofu, sliced the width and length of two matchsticks

Directions:

Fill a large pan with warm water and set on counter. Next to that, place a large plate. If you have room on your counter, place the herbed lettuce directly in back of the plate. If not, place it right next to the plate. Next to that, set your plate of mango, tofu and red peppers.

Take one sheath of rice paper, gently lay it into the water, swish it between your fingers for about 15 seconds, until it softens.

Remove it from the pan and lay it on the plate.

Place about ¼ cup of lettuce near the bottom of the paper. Add a slice of mango (or two), red pepper and tofu.

Fold up the bottom, then the sides, and roll up to the top.

Repeat.

And please don’t get frustrated if the first two or three, or even the seventh, rips. It will happen.

Peanut Butter Sauce

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger

Juice of half a lime

Mix all ingredients in bowl and give it a taste. Maybe you’ll realize it needs more sugar. Maybe you’ll think it needs more ginger. Definitely fine tune it to your own tastes. Also, this makes a ton of sauce. It will keep in the fridge for a few days. My suggestion is to find yourself some steamed broccoli and some noodles. Maybe brown rice. I promise you at no time will you throw your hands up in the air and shriek that you have too much peanut sauce on hand.

Genuine Ginger Beer

We don’t go out very often. I think it boils down to two basic things: 1. I have trouble justifying the cost of most nice meals when I know I can make it in my own kitchen for a fraction of the cost, and 2. When I make it in my own kitchen, I can season the dish to just my liking. When we go out, I become a mash up of Goldilocks and Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally. “Um, waiter, I’d like my porridge to be served in a medium, heated, bowl, but don’t fill the whole thing with porridge, leave room for a splash of heavy cream, and a dash of nutmeg, oh, and can I have a side of honey?”

Although not visible in this picture, this glass of homemade soda is very bubbly.

We met up with friends over drinks in Harvard Square last week, and the Moscow Mule — homemade ginger beer, vodka and lime — caught my eye. Or really, the homemade ginger beer did. I had been thinking a lot about homemade sodas lately. There’s a great raspberry one at Flour Bakery, and  Clover Food Lab has really neat flavors like vanilla bean and hibiscus.

So I ordered just the ginger beer. It was very tasty but much too sweet, and the truth was, could really have used some vodka to cut it. So I ordered a shot of vodka. Then it was good, but not quite there. It was missing lime. So I ordered some limes. Well, after realizing I had just deconstructed and reconstructed an entire drink, I figured I might as well order it the way it was meant to be. But the vodka in the drink overpowered its gingery sweetness. Third time was a charm when I ordered a glass of ginger beer, a shot of vodka and some limes. It was nice to finally have the drink taste just right, but not the most cost effective way to go about doing it.

And, I asked myself, if this bar serves homemade ginger beer, why can’t I?

I sifted through some recipes and was tickled when I realized I could. All I needed was to ferment sugar with baker’s yeast, generating carbon dioxide which would carbonate my homemade soda. Also, this way I could control how much sugar went into the soda.

The recipe I have here is a combination of a few recipes, and I highly encourage you to fiddle with it until it’s to your liking. I think a teaspoon of vanilla would work really well with this basic recipe; a couple of whole cloves or even a cardamom pod would be great, too. I happened on a sale of turbinado sugar last week, so I had that on hand for this recipe, but I would have ordinarily used brown sugar. White sugar would also work. It’s entirely up to you.

You can make the ginger beer and add the vodka and lime to it like the restaurant did, or add rum and make a Dark and Stormy. I’ve recently discovered that Marty’s Liquor has an overstock store in my neighborhood. It’s like Ocean State Job Lot, but for alcohol. With recipes like this one, I will be making frequent trips!

Homemade Ginger Beer

For this recipe, you will need a clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap. Do not use glass, as the pressure from the fermentation could cause it to shatter. A funnel really comes in handy, as does a box grater for the ginger.

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root and its juices.

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon granular baker’s yeast

cold water

Directions

Pour the cup of sugar into the bottle using the funnel

Add the bakers yeast through the funnel into the bottle

Shake to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules.

Grate the ginger and then place it into a measuring cup

Juice half a lemon directly into the measuring cup

Stir to form a slurry

Add the slurry to the bottle

Rinse the measuring cup and add the rinsings to the bottle, cap and shake to distribute.

Fill the bottle to the neck with fresh cool clean water, leaving about an inch of head space, securely screwing the cap down to seal. Invert repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar.

Place in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours. Do not leave at room temperature longer than necessary for it to feel “hard.” The excess pressure may cause an eruption when you open it or even explode the bottle

Test to see if the carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb. It if dents, it is not ready.

Not quite ready, as I can still make an indent.

 

Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill.

Filter the ginger beer through a strainer before serving.

Ummmmami

Not the prettiest of dishes, but I get giddy when I think about how it tastes.

In kindergarten I learned that I had four different taste buds on my tongue, and to prove it, Mrs. S. put salt, sugar and lemon juice on their designated spots on the front and sides. I must have blocked out what we used to taste bitter, and maybe that’s why, on some level, I’ve never gotten used to bitter things like hops and mustard.

That lesson in tastes stuck with me for the next 20 years, and I would dance salty, sweet and sour foods into their “sweet spots” in my mouth. Well, usually. I always did have a little trouble deciding where to roll a Sour Patch Kid. And then, everything changed.  Even though it had been discovered nearly 100 years ago, Umami, roughly translated from the Japanese to mean “meaty” or “savory,” started making headlines about three years ago. Umami occurs naturally in foods like meat, parmesan cheese, soy, red wine, MSG, anchovies and mushrooms. And it is this taste sensation that has me loving this dish.

I make up excuses to cook this stew. We would eat it every week if I didn’t think Rich would mind. The potatoes always get cooked to a perfect velvety texture, and the mushrooms, cooked in the soy and sherry, feel as rich as meat on my tongue. I’ve actually recently read about a new taste, Kokumi,  but I’ll hold onto my umami and savor this dish.

This Chinese vegetable stew is hearty, and I’ll admit, not the prettiest of dishes. The vegetables don’t retain any of their crispness or their color. They turn soft from the slow cooking and get quite dark from the soy sauce. But did I mention how delicious this stew is? Try and keep potatoes on hand at all times, stored in dark cool place, and far away from onions, which will spoil the potatoes more quickly. Although I’ve stuck to button mushrooms for this recipe, dried shiitake mushrooms (which can be found at OSJL for $2 a package) will work great.

Potato Stew from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking(serves 4-6)

Two notes about this recipe:

  1. Although it calls for carrots, I leave them out because they hurt my tummy. I am sure they taste delicious in this recipe.
  2. I don’t actually have sherry on hand, but have used sherry vinegar and am delighted with the results.

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

2 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger, lightly crushed (I use my frozen ginger root, and just take it out of the freezer for about 10 minutes before I cut off the slices)

3/4 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

Cook's Illustrated Tip: Line up your green beans and you'll only need one cut

2 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1 1/2 inch-long segments

6 ounces mushrooms (if possible, with approximately 1 1/2-inch caps)

1/4 cup Chinese dark soy sauce

2 cups water

4 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons shaohsing wine or dry sherry (or sherry vinegar)

Heat the oil in an 8-inch-wide, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry for 15 seconds. Add the potatoes, beans and carrots. Stir and fry for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms. Stir and fry for another minute. Now put in 2 cups water, the soy sauce, sugar and wine. Bring to boil.

Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Remove cover and turn heat to high. Boil away most of the liquid.

You should have about 1/8 inch of sauce left at the bottom of the pot. Stir the vegetables gently as you boil the liquid down. Remove the ginger and garlic, if you like.

Killer Radishes

Killer radishes no more.

When I was a little girl, I hated radishes. Their peppery bite was too much for my young palate, and the “killer radishes,” as I had nicknamed them, would be piled into a white and red tinged mountain on the side of my plate. This process proved successful for my first 21 years. Then one warm Friday night during my semester in Jerusalem, I came face to face with a cottage cheese dip dappled with chopped radishes. I was apprehensive at first — cottage cheese, um, kind of yuck — but I was starving and that dip was the focal point of an otherwise rather mundane meal. I plopped a small teaspoonful on the side of my plate (where radishes belonged) and apprehensively scooped some on a celery stalk. And the killer radishes did not kill me. In fact, they were pretty darn tasty. I basically polished off that dip and walked away thinking, radishes, hmm, not bad at all.

It’s been over a decade since I saw the red radish light. One way to make me swoon: thin discs of radish melted in a pan over butter, sprinkled with a little salt and some chopped green onion. That was my favorite way to eat radishes until I found this recipe. I should first admit that I love just about anything pickled, but there’s something about this dish in particular — the sweetness coupled with a mellowed ginger — that I really really love.

Radishes, I have learned, are pretty darn cheap. We’re talking a bunch for less than a dollar. Russo’s had them this week at two bunches for $1.50. I’ve gotten nearly a pound’s worth at Market Basket for $1. One dollar, people. A dollar. Even better, they are ridiculously simple to grow. If you do have a plot of land, no more than a square foot, or even a pot,  just plop some radish seeds in the soil in late spring. Make sure there’s sun and they are watered regularly, and by July, you’ll be plucking radishes from the land.

(My only caveat is if you live in an older house, please get your soil checked. Most houses around here were covered in lead paint at some point, and lead paint usually means lead in the soil.)

Pickled Radishes with Ginger

Adapted from Gourmet, November 2007

1 bunch of radishes, trimmed and quartered

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 heaping tablespoon very thin matchsticks of peeled ginger

Really, it's frozen!

Note: I keep my ginger root in the freezer. I’ve found that it really extends its life. For this recipe, all I do is set the root on the counter for about 10 minutes. It slices and dices just like a fresh piece does. The frozen root also grates easily with a microplane.

Place the quartered radishes in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.

Drain in colander (do not rinse) and return to bowl.

Add vinegar, sugar and ginger, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Transfer to an airtight container and chill, covered, shaking once or twice, at least 12 hours more (to allow flavors to develop).

Before...

Pickled radishes can be chilled up to 3 weeks.

...After. The pickling makes my red radishes quite pink.