Thursday, June 4, 2009

kohlrabi for all

Yesterday marked week one of my CSA season, and I picked up my share at the Wednesday Downtown Farmer's Market from Gathering Together Farm.  In this first batch I received 2 heads of lettuce (1 red leaf, one romaine), 2 cucumbers, yellow swiss chard, about 6 purple potatoes, green garlic, fresh onion, choy, carrots and a pie's worth of rhubarb.  Living alone, it will be challenge and sometimes-chore to consume or otherwise utilize a share of vegetables that is supposed to feed a family of four.  Fortunately I can usually eat as a family of four, so it shouldn't be that much of a problem.  As I was preparing tonight's dinner I realized that this might be a good excuse to get me back in the blogging game-journaling my CSA consumption, and could even make for some cooking reference-for me, of course. 

I got through almost half of the carrots while at work yesterday, snapping them from their leafy tops when a hunger pang struck.  Funny how a carrot just doesn't fill the same afternoon void that a small handful of Cheez-its can.  So, I ate many carrots hoping they would simulate the cheez-it effect somewhere in the fullness-registry process.  Dinner I had out, so my first official CSA meal was for lunch today.  I quick pickled some cucumber and red onion with white vinegar, salt, pepper and a little sugar.  Washed some red leaf, made a lemony tuna salad with some of my fresh onion, and voila, I'm down by one quarter of my lettuce and cucumbers. 

Tonight, after more hemming and hawing than I like, I decided to attack the kohlrabi.  I was planning on slicing it thin and eating it, along with other crudites, for lunch tomorrow with fresh hummus, but started having second thoughts.  Wouldn't it be better in a bagna cauda? And who can bother to make bagna cauda for one?  Or should I make one this weekend? Researching Kohlrabi in my cookbooks, most of what I gleaned is they cook pretty much like turnips and rutabaga, vegetables I love but
 struggle to make 'relevant'.  Out of literally no where, I decided to make a giant latke or rosti with my kohlrabi and one of my potatoes.  

From the beginning, I knew this was probably going to be a disaster.   I've never cooked with kohlrabi, never made a vegetable pancake with a turnip or rutabaga, nor a purple potato for that matter.  Are they more waxy or starchy?  Or is their distinguishment gluiness?  We would soon find out.  I peeled then grated the root vegetables, grated a small onion, threw in some parsley and one egg, for adhesiveness.  This may have been the error, may not.  I couldn't bother to look up a recipe at this point anyway.  
Into a butter-and-olive-oil primed pan went the pancake.  Things were looking good.  I was patient letting the bottom brown slowly as I tackled the dished and played with the camera.  I got a nice shot of some oil licking up the sides of the pancake.  But as I went to survey the doneness with a metal spatula, I began to realize that there would be no successful flip--even with the flair of a short line cook with an inferiority complex, this 'cake' was far too delicate to turn over.  Should have added some potato flour, or squeezed more liquid from the vegetables, or even consulted a recipe.  

As techniques were cross-wiring all around me, I thought about Julia Child's omelet demo and coaxed the pancake down to the bottom of the pan, nearest to me.  And with admirable wristing, I did a decent omelet turn, only it wasn't at all what I wanted to do.  Ten second later, I had the pancake more or less flipped over, with some jagged edges.  It continued to cook until it was edible, and I ate with a dollop of yogurt and a salad comprised of the rest of the red leaf lettuce.  I'm so excited about all the roughage in my diet now.  
I am thinking of all the recipes for vegetable pancakes--Italian, Korean, German, that I have in my library and have yet to make, and what a sad shame it is that this poor kohlrabi met such an unsatisfactory end.  I need to remind myself that I am a good cook, just as much as I need to remember I'm a perpetual novice.  Here's to hoping our next meal will be redemptive.  

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