One of my favorite cookbooks is Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food (amazon) (powell’s). This summer, while the weather is nice and I don’t have nearly the usual responsibilities that I have while school is in session, I want to learn some new recipes, and practice my skills a bit. (And I see that there’s now an Art of Simple Food II. I may need to get that, eventually). I’m inspired in part by Gordon’s posts about making feasts for specific purposes, and using food in his magic. But I’m also inspired by the work I’ve done recently to learn about cheese making, and of course the experiment with mead-making. Oh, I haven’t written about that yet, have I?
Well, I will. Eventually. I promise. Once it finishes aging. Or it explodes. One or the other, right?
Anyway, I’ve been experimenting with food. Making pickles. Making cheese. Brewing mead (fermenting mead?). Various other mysterious things.
But my food habits have gone south in a lot of ways. I had a muffin for breakfast today. I do that far more often than I should. Or I have a little yogurt before I have my coffee. Or…
No matter. I also saw this post, Food is a Pagan Value, and while I don’t have much of a garden (some plants in pots in front of sunny windows), I realize that I care a great deal about eating, and eating reasonably well, and healthily, and sustainably. I know that I want to have a garden some day. And that means, too, that I have to learn how to prepare and make interesting food from my eventual theoretical garden. Which means learning how to do more than cook a chicken now and again, and make soup stock from the bones.
Enter Alice Waters. I’ve liked Alice Waters since I first read about here, and I like her writing as a cook almost as much as I like John Michael Greer as a writer on magical ideas, industrial decline and druidry. She writes clear instructions on how to make dishes, and THIS particular cookbook is arranged in such a way that the first half of the book is some core recipes that teach techniques, while the second half of the book is variations on those techniques to make awesome food. And I like that. I like that a great deal. So. It’s time. Time to learn some new recipes, time to uphold the idea that good food is a value I hold up in my life, and time to write about awesome food (and add some pictures to my blog, which is nice).
Cucumbers in Yogurt Sauce
I think this is supposed to be like a raita, a north Indian cool sauce. But, I used too much yogurt, and the cucumbers didn’t release as much liquid as I think they were supposed to. The water gets released by salting them and letting them sit for a bit after peeling, scraping out the insides, and slicing. And I think that water is what you’re supposed to use as the base of the sauce. I threw it out. Oops. The rest of the sauce is some yogurt (I used too much), some salt, some pepper, some olive oil, and some garlic. It’s pretty easy to make, it tasted good as part of my lunch, and there’s some left over for dinner and maybe for lunch tomorrow.
My feeling is that this recipe is a Success. I think that the combination of Cucumbers and Yogurt tends to make this a cooling dish, and a Watery dish, and so it might be a good addition to a full moon dinner or a new moon dinner. The white-green coloration of the food is strongly suggestive of the moon (and making it a blue dish didn’t hurt), plus the cut cucumbers look First-Quarter/Last-Quarter – like. In general, this is a good digestive aid, too — the cucumbers and the yogurt have a lot of fiber and probiotics for gastrointestinal health.
Could have used more salt though. Page 232, The Simple Art of Food.