It appears as though the deeper I get into the world of writing, the less I actually sit down and write. And the deeper I get into the food world the less I make time to actually cook. I’ve been showing up here much more infrequently than I intended, busied by writing article pitches, answering emails, having coffees, and generally puttering. So here I am! It’s early Sunday morning. My dog is passed out on the bed next to me. I awoke at 5:48 to a very strange dream that had something to do with my mother and Gwyneth Paltrow, and I’ve been putzing around ever since.
It’s entirely possible that I am genetically programmed to live in the Pacific Northwest. I look at pictures of friends’ winter Hawaii or Caribbean trips, or shots of my best friend’s new hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and while I may have a momentary longing for the lazy pace of long summer days, I also feel an overwhelming sense of sun pressure. Really, I don’t mind these winter days. I stay plenty active and productive. And somehow the pressure is off: do what you will, the weather says, but I am not going to help you get it done. I walk in the rain, write on my couch, and cook in my kitchen for friends who arrive for dinner at six, long after it’s been dark for several hours.
The one challenge for me with winter, though, is the light. On endless dark and dreary days, I crave warm comfort foods: bread, cheese, pasta, take out (gasp!). I’ve been in a bit of a winter food rut. There is so little that is fresh and in season and there’s only so much kale, beets, and potatoes a girl can eat. I finally broke down this week and bought Mexican bell peppers, out-of-season zucchini, and imported mangoes and avocados from the grocery store. The dark days also make it hard to take any decent pictures of the food I do get around to making, as any natural light fades before I get around to planning dinner.
I did manage to make one winter-friendly recipe this week, and let me tell you this: it is remarkably easy and unreasonably tasty. My friend Lupine’s mom used to cook this winter slaw for her family, pulling heads of purple cabbage and carrots out of the winter garden and mixing them with storage onions for a colorful trio. Slice the cabbage and onion paper thin - if you have a mandolin, (I don’t) now is the time to use it. Add some shredded carrots and cook the veggies down until they are sweet and soft and caramelized.
It's really that easy. Throw the slaw on a corn tortilla with melted cheese and top the whole thing with an not-so-in-season imported avocado: the perfect winter meal.
These make for a warm winter lunch packed with vegetables. Originally derived from cooking all the vegetables still standing in the garden in the dead of winter, this hearty warm slaw adds a tremendous flavor (and nutrient) burst to a classic quesadilla, but could also be served as a dinner side, maybe with potatoes and your protein du jour.
1/4-1/2 small head cabbage, chiffonade
1/2 onion, finely sliced
3 carrots, grated
12 sliced white cheddar cheese
8 small corn tortillas
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely slice cabbage and onion, using a mandolin if you have one or a sharp knife to create fine threads. This will help the veggies caramelize quicker. Grate carrots on the coarse side of a box grater.
Heat a cast iron pan to medium and add olive oil.
Add vegetables to pan with salt and pepper and cook slowly over medium to low heat. Stir every few minutes to prevent burning, but allow vegetables time to caramelize in pan.
Vegetables should continue to cook down for up to 30 minutes. When they have lots most of their volume and begin to take on a sweet, caramelize flavor, they are done.
Melt cheese in an open faced corn tortilla, pile slaw generously over cheese, and top with a totally-out-of-season imported avocado. Enjoy!