So: I’m going to make an effort to try to attempt to give it my best shot and strive to endeavor to maybe have a crack at liking winter a little more. I mean, I can’t complain about it right through until April, can I? (okay, don’t answer that). Well, with inspiration from Alicia’s “Happy Thoughts” at the conclusion of each of her blog posts, I decided earlier today to start the -23C (-10 F) day with three positives of my own. Three reasons to smile first thing in the moring? Well, that’s gotta melt away all that snow and ice anti-winter sentiment, right? And each one of these items, I daresay, is worth a cheer.
#1: Raw Raw for Our Winner!
I was delighted with the positive response to my most recent giveaway and am so glad that you all were as impressed with the company as I was. And as I mentioned in the review, the oils are great for use in raw dishes. Raw raw!
Who won the box of four types of Olivado oils? It was. . .
Number 87, reader Cathy! Cathy wrote:
“I am impressed that they are involved in Fair Trade. And Their recipes look great!”
#2: Raw Raw for Cooking Classes!
[Meghan (on the right) and me. Apologies for the blurry pic. . . darned pocket camera!]
It was great to meet Meghan and observe her über-enthusiastic and friendly demeanor in person. With my recent resolve to continue eating healthfully and introduce in a more “clean” diet over the next few months, I had already decided to consume more raw foods. And, as Meghan commented in her class, raw dishes are the perfect antidote to our natural inclinations during the chilly season, when we are more likely to overdo cooked and hot foods. I knew I’d find some great inspiration for new raw recipes at the class–and I did! (Oh, and we got to spend 2-1/2 hours with like-minded people in Meghan’s cool loft, too).
Here’s the raw “cous cous” salad, one of the many dishes that we scarfed down gobbled up inhaled enjoyed while there:
Raw Raw for Meghan’s cooking classes!
#3: Raw Raw for–Fennel!
[Raw fennel slaw with carrot, beets, ginger and black sesame seeds.]
It’s probably an understatement to say that my sisters and I “don’t like” fennel.
The CFO, for instance, was once out to dinner with some friends when she ordered a chicken and pasta dish. Here’s how the situation played out:
CFO: I’d like to order this chicken and asparagus dish, but I need to be sure it doesn’t contain fennel.
SERVER: No, Miss, absolutely not. No fennel.
CFO: Okay, then, I’ll have this.
The dish arrives. The CFO takes one bite and her face screws up like a beach ball being turned inside-out.
CFO: Ugh! Ptew! Bleh! This dish has fennel in it!!
FRIEND #1: No, it doesn’t. I’m eating the same thing. There’s no fennel in it.
CFO: I’m telling you, there is fennel in this dish.
FRIEND #2: Here, let me taste it. (slurp, chomp). Nope, no fennel.
CFO: It has fennel!
FRIEND #3: Let me try. (chew, chew, swallow). There’s no fennel in that, CFO! You must be imagining.
The others continue to eat their respective dinners, but the CFO won’t touch her pasta. The server walks by.
CFO: Excuse me, server, but could you tell me if there’s any fennel in this dish?
SERVER: No, that dish is made with asparagus and peas. No fennel.
CFO: Are you absolutely, one hundred percent sure? No fennel? No fennel AT ALL?
SERVER [looking a little less confident now]: Well, let me go ask the chef. [he trots off].
The server returns.
SERVER: I asked the sous-chef and he said there’s no fennel added to this dish. We use a pre-mixed spice mix, and we are sure there’s no fennel in that. Besides, we only inclue about 1/4 teaspoon of the spice mix in the entire pasta sauce, which serves 50 people. . . .
CFO: Would you mind checking if there’s fennel in the spice mix, please?
SERVER [rolls his eyes a little too obviously]: Well, Miss, that would require pulling down the original box of spice mix, which is in our pantry behind five other boxes of rice and other supplies. . .
CFO stares at him without saying anything.
SERVER: Fine. I will be right back. [trots off]
The server returns.
SERVER: Well, Miss, I am sorry to tell you that yes, there is fennel in that spice mix.
Vindication! Luckily, the CFO isn’t allergic to fennel (or the conversation would have ended much earlier–like, when she keeled over); she just hates it. Needless to say, she returned the pasta. With a nose like that, I don’t know why she never went into the perfume business.
While I might not be as sensitive to its presence in spices, I am also not exactly a fan of the licorice flavor of cooked or dried fennel (which is odd, since I used to love black licorice–though in that case, I suspect, it had more to do with the exhorbitant amounts of sugar in the candy). When I read about Alysa’s “Hated Veggie Challenge,” I knew immediately that for me, the reviled veg in question would have to be the dreaded fennel bulb.
I’ve often been told that the raw form offers up a milder, sweeter flavor and a lovely crunch that can convert even the staunchest fennel-phobe. And so, I went and bought myself some fennel and concocted a slaw.
I whipped up a creamy dressing that I thought would work with an anise-like flavor. I paired it with grated beet and carrot for some sweetness and familiarity. I sprinkled it with black sesame seeds for visual appeal. And then–I took a tentative forkful.
And I loved it! Whoo hoo! Yay! Yippee! The fennel famine has finally ended!
Perhaps my taste buds have matured since my 30s; perhaps they’ve merely dulled. Perhaps the beets along with the Asian-inspired creamy dressing concealed the major licorice flavor and I am just not recognizing it. For whatever reason, I found the slaw to be a very tasty, satisfying side dish that I would definitely make again. Creamy, sweet and a bit salty from the miso, the ingredients here seemed to work harmoniously for a winning collaboration of tastes and textures. Raw Raw for raw fennel!
Raw Asian Slaw with Fennel, Beet and Carrot (ACD Phase II and beyond)
Diet, Dessert and Dogs (http://rickiheller.com)
This is a really quick and easy side dish or first course to pair with a warm winter meal. Or have it on its own with a hearty slice of bread slathered with almond butter for a light lunch.
For the Salad:
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and shredded (or sliced into thin shreds)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium beet, peeled and grated
about 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into very thin matchsticks
For the Dressing:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) light miso
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) toasted sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp/30 ml)
10-15 drops plain stevia liquid, to your taste
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) water, as needed
1 heaping Tbsp (20 ml) black or white sesame seeds (raw or toasted)
In a medium bowl, toss together the fennel, carrot, beet and ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, tahini, sesame oil, lemon juice, stevia and salt and pepper until very smooth. Slowly whisk in the water until desired thickness is reached (it should be thick and creamy, but just thin enough to pour).
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve. Makes 4 servings. Will keep up to 2 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
Variation: We liked this dressing so much that I used it again the next night in a Broccoli Slaw: I substituted a head of broccoli (including stems), chopped, in place of the original veggies and added about 1/3 cup (80 ml) lightly toated almonds. Fabulous!
Last Year at this Time: Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger Miso Paste
Three Years Ago: Raw Almond-Veggie Pâté