Friday, January 28, 2011

Plain Jane

I haven’t been cooking a lot lately. The idea is, presumably, if you're the kind of person with a recipe-centric blog, that the recipes you share ought to be good, intricate, impressive. The idea is also that you should be cooking these, often.

Do I have the wrong idea?

Clearly, when I make something that fits into the above criteria, I want to share it with you. But what about everything else? I do tend to eat more than once a week.

Today I made an awesome kale salad, made more complex with a kick from lemon juice and crispness from apples, and for once eating raw kale didn’t feel like the meal was better suited for a grain bin, or a troth, or a pasture.

Tonight I made risotto with poached eggs, but forgot I didn’t have any stock on hand, so I just used water. It was a little bland, not my best.

During the down time in between the rice absorbing liquid and the mushrooms browning, I looked out my kitchen window at the apartment building next to mine. My window matches up with another one, shrouded in lace curtains and giving a near perfect view of the stove. My neighbor, whoever she is, was cooking too, bouncing between three different pots on her stove. Stir one, put lid on, check the next, adjust the heat.

We stood there, in separate buildings, stirring and checking and adjusting in what felt like some kind of weird, Hartford-apartment-harmony, and it occurred to me that a lot of people make dinner, often. And what we make, what is permanently in our repertoire (for better or for chickpea-spaghetti-worse), shouldn’t be skipped over because it isn’t grandiose, labor-intensive, blog-worthy.

And so it is that I tell you about my kale salad, involving only five ingredients, tasting like it involves more. I tell you about my boring lunches and bland dinners, bulked up by whole foods bread that I didn’t even close to make, but still enjoyed just as much. Another confession: I ate boxed cereal for breakfast. (The horror.) My food is, for the most part, normal, even plain Jane, and I don’t care who knows it.

Kale Salad with Apple and Red Onion

Note: This is even better with avocado, but you don’t need it. Which is to say this salad is flexible, a kind of culinary free-for-all. Be creative. Also, the ingredients listed here is to serve only one, but I would just eyeball everything based on how much kale is enough kale for you.

2 large leaves kale, washed and ribs removed
1 lemon wedge
1 teaspoon olive oil
A few rings of red onion, diced
1 tart apple, sliced very thinly

Coarsely rip the kale into strips. Squeeze lemon wedge over, and add olive oil. Here’s the important part: massage the oil and lemon into the kale for a few minutes; enough to kind of break down the kale a bit. It will reduce quite a bit in size. (If you can, do this step early, as the kale is best after it has sat for twenty minutes or so.) Gently fold in apples and red onion, and serve.

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