Kohlrabi, daikon and me

OK, so I was rummaging through the refrigerator yesterday. It was Tuesday, and I was looking for parts from which to form a dinner that wouldn’t resemble Frankenstein. There was some leftover chicken cacciatore (from a recipe in Sara Foster’s wonderful book, “Fresh Every Day”), but I needed vegetables. In the bottom of the bin were, from my recent CSA box: about two cups of snow peas, two kohlrabi and two small daikon radishes.

Give me a power tool and I can assemble anything, so I pulled out the food processor and shredded one cabbagey-tasting kohlrabi and all the peppery daikon. I shredded two carrots as well, for sweetness and color (otherwise, the mixture was a dead white). Some onion might have been nice, but I couldn’t find any. I tossed the vegetables with a bottled spicy ginger miso salad dressing. The result was an Asian-tasting slaw that, although putting it next to the Italian chicken crossed all sorts of boundaries, was refreshing on the warm day. (The snow peas? I just steamed them and let it go.) Call it my Tuesday fusion.

B & B

You know, I really need to stop buying bananas. They’re so much pressure. Now, in addition to the rapidly darkening ‘nanas, I have a refrigerator full of blueberries. I purchased them with the idea of making jam last week, but my friend and I were too pooped after 20 jars of strawberry jam.

So, of course, I combined the two this morning. I took the Bananaville recipe I posted earlier, omitted the pineapple and coconut, and added 1 cup of fresh blueberries, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of mace. Mace is made from the lacy outer covering of nutmeg, and I think it has a little fresher flavor than nutmeg, almost a citrus-like taste. I kept the rum, of course.

The resulting bread is surprisingly dark colored. It looks like I used whole-wheat flour, but I didn’t. I guess it’s the spices and maybe a little oozing from the blueberries. All good.

A toast to The Widow

While reading “The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It” by Tilar J. Mazzeo (HarperCollins, 2008) I found out so many things I didn’t know about both my favorite type of wine and its origins. (I know this isn’t a cookbook, but reading it gives one an excuse to pop a cork and sip on the patio.) For one: Originally, bubbles in wine were undesirable and winemakers spent considerable time and trouble getting them out. Another: That story about Dom Perignon shouting “I am drinking stars!” was a legend manufactured in the late 19th century, Mazzeo writes, and eventually trademarked to a champagne company. The 17th-century monk would have wanted to eliminate bubbles from his wines because no one wanted sparkling wines at that time.

As Mazzeo tells the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who took on running the family wine business after the death of her husband after the French Revolution, she also tells the story of champagne. And a story of intrigue and drama it is, complete with secret shipments to forbidden parts of the world. The Widow Clicquot herself, whose wine is still known as Veuve Clicquot, was unique for the time as a daring businesswoman in charge of what eventually became a huge business. Mazzeo says that she may have been the first woman in history to run an international commercial empire. By the time The Widow died in 1866, she was known throughout the wine-making world and one of the richest people in France.

Because personal records are scarce, Mazzeo does a lot of imagining about the inner working of The Widow’s mind, but little of it seems far-fetched. If anything, the writing is occasionally a little too dry. But with such an interesting story, little embellishment is needed.