It’s no use boiling your cabbage twice…Irish Proverb

So let’s just boil the cabbage once or even not at all! Oh, those beautiful cabbages, the red one, the green one. The humble cabbage turns out to be one of my favorite veggies. I make red cabbage slaw, green cabbage slaw, potato and cabbage soup with fresh dill, cabbage steaks with mustard sauce…and tonight I’m making stuffed cabbage rolls. This is an easy recipe as well as delicious. I use this filling in other stuffed veggies as well — grape leaves, summer squash, peppers. It has happened on occasion that the filling never made it into the veggies, but tonight I’m determined.

STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

Ingredients 

  • Cabbage, one head
  • Brown Basmati rice, 3 cups cooked
  • Mushrooms, sliced and pan roasted, 1 lb.
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Za’atar, 1-1/2 tsp. (Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mix of herbs, available in bags at Butera, Garden Fresh and online – substitute with thyme and oregano to taste)
  • Olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Tomato juice
  • Lemons, juice of 1-2

Directions

  1. Cook 1 cup of dried brown Basmati rice (which will make 3 cups cooked)
  2. Pan roast the sliced mushrooms until the liquid cooks off.
  3. Put the rice, mushrooms, 1⁄4 cup of olive oil, seasonings and lemon juice to taste in the processor, and pulse a
    few times.
  4. The mixture should be gravelly and cohesive.

To prepare the cabbage:

  1. Bring water in a large pot to simmer.
  2. Cut the core out of the cabbage and place the whole head in the simmering pot for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Take the head of cabbage out, remove outer leaves carefully and set aside to use.
  4. Place the remaining head of cabbage back in the pot for a couple of minutes, and again take out and remove leaves. Repeat this process until you have removed all the good-sized leaves.
  5. Chop the remaining cabbage to add to the bottom of your cooking casserole.

To make up the rolls:

  1. You can shave away some of the thick rib to make the cabbage leaves easier to roll.
  2. Place 2-3 Tb of the filling across the base of each leaf, and roll from the stem end up tucking in the
    edges along the way.
  3. Place in casserole with seams down.
  4. Add tomato juice to almost cover the rolls.
  5. Squeeze lemon over the rolls
  6. Cover withfoil, and bake 350°F for 45 minutes.
  7. Garnish with a bit of parsley.

This week we’ll receive kohlrabi again. I’ve tried it now stuffed and as a low carb “potato” salad — and I’ve pickled it. I think my favorite way to eat it is just sliced and used to dip into delicious Middle Eastern spreads like hummus or Muhammara. The bok choy made its way into a delicious stir fry my son made for us — and a soup with soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles. If you make a double batch of the mushroom and rice filling, you’ll be able to stuff the summer squash with them as well. Middle Easterners use an apple corer to hollow out the middle of the squash lengthwise, which makes a very pretty dish. Save up your garlic scapes for more of that pesto recipe I gave you a couple of weeks back. Use lots of basil with it and some summer greens. Speaking of greens, we’re still enjoying our summer chard omelets, and we can’t get enough of those greens like kale and kohlrabi greens — even cabbage and sometimes bok choy — in our morning smoothies. What a wonderful way to start the day!

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Eat your pesto spread on bread or saucing up a cabbage head…

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 7/5/2017

I’m excited to know that we have garlic scapes coming through again this week along with Bok Choi, kale, cabbage and Swiss chard, all favorites among my family and friends.

Garlic scapes and chard

My son makes a dynamite chard omelet for us all every Sunday as part of our traditional shared meal (and why not — he grew up on them!). Last week I made garlic scape pesto, and it was so good I’m looking forward to trying it again this week to slather on homemade bread or mix into pasta.

Bok choi I like to chop roughly, keeping the stems separate from the leaves. I stir fry the stems with loads of onions, green onions if I have them, thin-sliced regular onions otherwise. I add in the leaves for a moment and season. It’s a delicious part of lunch for me. Alternatively I add carrots Julienne to the stir fry and cook up brown Basmati rice to add to the mix with Asian seasoning. The peas coming in this week will also make a nice addition to that stir fry or to salads.

Here’s a delightful kale salad with a light, slightly sweet, slightly salty flavor. This recipe is from Israeli Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and Palestinian Chef Sami Tamimi, co-owners of stellar restaurants in London and co-authors of some beautiful cookbooks.

Kale Salad with the spelt challot I cook at the shul on Fridays, see what I can come up with to add to Shabbat dinner or kiddush on Shabbat morning…

KALE SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped into ribbons or shreds (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated (about ½ cup)
  • 1 crisp apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup sliced raw almonds
  • 3 tablespoons pitted oil-cured olives (about 9 olives), halved
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

Note: Instead of steps 1 and 2, especially if I am short of time, I make a dressing of the olive oil, juice of the lemon and seasonings, drizzle it over the kale and toss in.

1. In a medium bowl, combine kale and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage kale until olive oil coats the leaves and they begin to wilt, about 1 minute.

2. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, cumin and turmeric. If you like these seasonings, you can add more, but begin with the recommended amounts. Add mixture to kale and continue to massage the leaves until well combined.

3. Add carrot, apple, raisins, almonds, olives, and toss until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Let the salad rest for 10 minutes, then serve.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

I didn’t have my good camera with me at the shul where I was cooking, and that garlic pesto on the lower right of the pictures doesn’t show up well. We used homemade pita chips to dip in it or just slathered it on the spelt challah in the next picture.

Great to spread on bread, and in thinking up a title, it occurred to me it could make a great “sauce” for cabbage steaks.

Ingredients

  • Any sweeter flavor leaves, 2 very big handfuls (I use spinach when available — this week I used kohlrabi greens
  • Basil leaves, 1 very big handful (I tried it without the basil since I shared it with someone who doesn’t like basil, and it was good, though I prefer it with basil)
  • Pine nuts, 1/3 cup
  • Garlic scapes, woody stems and all, 6
  • Salt, 1 tsp.
  • Pepper, 1/2 tsp.
  • Crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp.
  • Lemon, juice of one small (about 1/8 cup)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Cut up the scapes and process them briefly in a food processor.
  2. Add all leaves and pulse until even and granular.
  3. Add everything else and pulse, then blend, to uniform texture — but do leave texture.
  4. When plated, top Middle Eastern style with a little additional extra virgin olive oil for garnish.
A few root veggies and some kohlrabi, washed and ready to cut up for dipping in hummus and muhammara. I’ll take a platter to a July 4 party…

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

From the farm. Love seeing all those beautiful greens coming in:

Beets and Kohlrabi and Carrots Oh My

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 6/28/2017.

I hope everyone is enjoying the greens of summer as I am. I used every single leaf this week, every green turnip top, every spinach leaf. My husband, Andy, who isn’t big on eating his spinach, looks forward to the greens-packed smoothies I make him every morning. Today I used kohlrabi greens. “Greenies” are our new regular breakfast, and I’m looking forward to greens during the winter from Farmer Bob’s new greenhouse.

This week we’ll see lots of other colors in our Meal Boxes as well: bright orange carrots, purple and white kohlrabi, deep ruby beets. I sampled a beet this past week, and it was the perfect addition to a big jar of Middle Eastern style pink pickled turnips. You’ll find that recipe in last week’s newsletter. I confess it was hard to get enough turnips to fill my jar, though, because I kept nibbling those tender, crispy, spicy nuggets.

Here’s another Middle Eastern favorite, Moroccan Beet Salad. You’ll find some version of it in many Moroccan Jewish cookbooks. I used to serve this one in my cafe, and even those who inexplicably didn’t like beets were addicted to it. I love it because it doesn’t use added sugar, just lets the delightful, sweet natural flavor of the beets come through.

Our beets will be smaller than I originally used with this salad, and we’ll probably have fewer, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

MOROCCAN BEET SALAD
Ingredients

  • Beets, 6 large
  • Red onion, 1/4 large (3 oz.)
  • Lemon, 2 lemons, juiced (about 4 TB)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 6 TB (if you must refrigerate before eating, use canola oil so it doesn’t solidify)
  • Salt, 2 tsp. (to taste)
  • Cumin, 2 tsp.
  • Szeged Hot Paprika, 1-2 tsp. (to taste)
  • Cilantro, 1/4-1/2 cup chopped

Directions

  1. Place whole, unpeeled beets in water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until done. Don’t over-cook, but you should be able to pierce the beets easily with a fork.
  2. Cool the beets in the cooking juices and rub off the skins.
  3. Julienne the beets.
  4. Add olive oil, lemon juice, spices.
  5. Slice onions thinly into the bowl with the beets, 1″-2″ long slices.
  6. Add chopped cilantro to the bowl.
  7. Stir all together gently, adding lemon, salt and hot paprika to taste.

Of course, these young beets at the early end of the season are so sweet and tender that you can just use them raw in salads. The same high-powered blender that makes your delicious greenie will also make an extraordinarily beautiful ruby red soup or smoothie.

Finally carrots, beautiful orange carrots. Another time, I’ll share some great carrot recipes, including Moroccan Carrot Salad. I also like to make a creamy carrot soup without an ounce of cream — it’s amazing what a blender will do!

But I’ll end as I began, with smoothies. Of course, I often use carrots in my smoothies. They actually help sweeten a smoothie in which there’s no added sugar — and straight-up carrot smoothies with some light-colored fruits to retain that bright orange color, maybe a little ginger or cinnamon, will please your kids or kid at heart, like my husband, Andy.

So get ready, get set, here comes another beautiful Meal Box from Farmer Bob thanks to some wonderful, soaking rains…at last.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Torah Ecology: Chukat (Num. 19:1-22:1)-Balak (Num. 22:2-25:9)

The portions during these last two weeks have been so full and rich that it’s hard to know where to start…and I confess, I’ve been short on time so haven’t been able to give them the attention they deserve.

Taken together, though, these two portions continue the story of shaping a people wandering, often aimlessly, despite the amazing opportunity and mission put before them. A people who “murmur” and complain despite their many reasons for gratitude, a people of fragile faith easily led astray despite the signs and wonders they witness.

In Chukat, we read of the Red Heifer, whose blood causes impurity and purifies. Miriam dies, the people complain they have no water. G-d instructs Moses to speak to the rock and water will come forth for the Children of Israel and the cattle. Instead Moses strikes it twice, saying with some aggravation, “Hear now, ye rebels; are we to bring you forth water out of this rock?” We can almost hear his disbelief.

Aaron is stripped of his garments, which pass on to his son, then dies and the people mourn him even as Moses learns he, too, will not enter the Land with those whom he leads: “And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron: ‘Because ye believed not in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Num. 20:12)

Once again we learn that those who journey through the wilderness are tragically flawed as are their leaders. These passionate people show that holiness in the world is aspirational not fully actual. One cannot live life in the real world without treading on it, one can only strive for full consciousness, mission-awareness and faith. Despite “best” efforts, failure brings consequences. Despite failures, they continue to move history forward.

The story told in Balak begins in Chukat and continues into the following portion, Balak. Balak son of Zippor, King of Moab, calls upon Balaam son of Beor to curse the Israelite “hordes”poised to enter the land of Moab. The story repeats a familiar theme: despite human desires and human failures, history moves forward according to G-d’s plan offering those whom G-d chooses the opportunity to participate consciously in moving the plan forward…or to blindly resist it.

Three times Balaam’s ass balks when he sees an angel blocking the path — an angel Balaam himself cannot see. “Even” an ass is more in tune with G-d’s intention than this prophet. Even an ass can see G-d’s messenger in the world.

Three times Balaam plans to curse the Israelites as Balak requires him to do and three times utters a blessing instead. Only with the third blessing does Balak see: “And he took up his parable, and said: The saying of Balaam the son of Beor, and the saying of the man whose eye is opened; The saying of him who heareth the words of God, who seeth the vision of the Almighty, fallen down, yet with opened eyes.” (Num. 24:15-16). What the rest of the creation knows effortlessly, human beings resist.

As it is so often, here again the message is that righteousness is about breaking down the barriers of consciousness, the self-absorption that alienates us from ourselves and the rest of creation, our purpose in life and the flow of history. Three times bested by a humble and patient talking ass who accepts his mission and immediately sees the messenger of G-d that Balaam cannot see. Three attempts, two with 7 altars and the sacrifice of 7 bullocks and 7 rams, an extravagant display…and only on the third attempt, without all the fanfare, does Balaam finally see and accept his purpose.

As history continues its drive forward, each nation in turn swallowing the one that preceded, Balak and Balaam return to their homes unceremoniously. We are left wondering if they, like the Israelites, will return to their blindness and self-absorption, leaving perception and conscious choice to other creatures less encumbered with their sense of themselves.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Torah Ecology: Korach (Num. 16:1-18:32)

The most dramatic moment in this dramatic story of rebellion and punishment comes in verse 16:27 with this poignant image: “…and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, and their sons, and their little ones.'”

It’s those words, “and their little ones” that rivets our attention and holds it through the following verses when the ground opens her mouth and swallows them up, when Korach, his men, their households and all that pertain to them  “go down alive into the pit.” That image of the little ones standing at the door of their tents with their older brothers and parents lingers as we contemplate the earth swallowing these innocents alive.

It’s a repeat motif, pride, the “murmuring” that spreads fear among the children of Israel, the lack of trust, the failure to embrace a mission, the desperation that results from wandering aimlessly in the wilderness (“We perish, we are undone, we are all undone” – Num. 17: 27).

These are indeed children of Israel, yet they can hardly afford to be children. They are also a subsistence community, on the march through the wilderness, and the actions of some affect all, first with the earth swallowing up those who transgress ethically and everyone and everything associated with them, then with fire that engulfs the co-conspirators and their families, then with plague threatening those who lost their way and their families.

As we saw before, the natural world is permeated with the ethical consciousness that flows throughout creation. It rebels against those whose pride or fear causes them to lose their path and sense of purpose, striking first by swallowing up alive, then with fire and finally with plague. These natural disasters threaten the Israelites as much as they threatened the Egyptians in the land which the Israelites came.

But it is that image of the little ones and their brothers and mothers swallowed up along with their rebellious fathers that stays with us reminding us that in addition to nothing new, there is no such thing as innocence under the sun and that the actions of one put us all at risk.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Fridays I like to cook at the shul

Our kitchen at the shul needs a little work, but it’s big and bright and airy, and I like to cook there on Fridays, prepare a little something for our Friday evening dinners, which more and more of our little family on the prairie are coming to enjoy, and Saturday morning kiddush. During the warmer months, I include veggies from my CSA box as much as possible.

Spelt vegan challot are a standard part of what I do, a couple for Friday evening and a couple for kiddush on Saturday. This week, in addition, I made a stir fry with green onions, red onion, lots of good greens, carrots Julienne and topped with a special treat, snap peas — all from the farm.

Somehow I feel as though the path to resolving the many issues that face us in these times is through food justice in all its dimensions. That’s a thought that will need to wait for another moment for unpacking. Right now I’m just immersing myself in the pleasure of planting, nurturing, harvesting and preparing things that are good to eat.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Remembering Pauline

Today I turned off the news and social media to sit outside and watch the clouds drift overhead while I think and write. Once again, Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, עליה השלום, entered my thoughts as she has so often in recent months since she died.

Pauline was Managing Editor for the Chicago Jewish News, where I came to know her. She was also vegan and an animal rights activist long before I considered it. My journey included many detours,  and for years, I wandered back and forth between meat-eating and vegetarianism. Veganism was out of reach for me during most of the years I knew Pauline, an exotic idea somewhere on the fringes of my consciousness.

That is, until it wasn’t, and that is when I really started to appreciate Pauline, her unerring sense of ethics, big heart and impatience with fake news, foggy thinking and peripheral issues. Exploring 100% plant-based eating opened my eyes and consciousness to so much, healed so many mental and spiritual disconnects, that I marvel I didn’t see years ago what I see now. And I miss connecting with Pauline to ask her questions or benefit from her clear-eyed insights.

One day I shared with Pauline a post I had written when Cecil the Lion was killed in a sanctuary. She reminded me that Cecil was one animal, and we cause suffering to and kill billions of animals every day without recognition or comment. When I wondered about eating eggs from backyard chickens, she opened my eyes to the ways in which even backyard chickens happily living out their lives are part of a brutal system.

Pauline always urged me to expand my boundaries of awareness and think more deeply and consciously about the choices I make. At the same time, she never pushed me. Rather, she offered me a friendly, humble but compelling example and responded to my questions directly and with solid information.

I shared another post with Pauline a year after I began a serious exploration of veganism. It was about the mental and spiritual disconnects that happen every day in our lives. I sometimes wonder if full awareness of suffering on the planet might not otherwise overwhelm us.

I first stopped eating animals 45 years ago because I didn’t want to do what was required to put them on my plate. I didn’t want to buy their remains neatly wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, completely removed from the life that was and removing me from conscious responsibility for that death. Then one day after a year of eating only plant foods, I looked down and noticed my leather shoes. How did I miss the fact that my shoes come to me in the same way?

That sudden awareness reminded me how easy it is to put up fences in our consciousness. I thanked Pauline for inspiring me to do the work of breaking down those fences.

Pauline’s compassion was active. She volunteered for a no-kill animal shelter in Evanston, and she was active with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). I follow them for a while, then unfollow them when their often graphic pictures overwhelm me. Pauline’s deep compassion for all creatures rested comfortably side-by-side with her tough realism.

Thanks to Pauline, I gradually expanded the range of what I can tolerate seeing and knowing in this world. Breaking down barriers of consciousness in relation to our treatment of animals generated a similar process in other areas. I read and understand U.S. history differently as I do what I read and see in the daily news. I relate differently to the planet on which I live. Never more than superficially political, I began to understand the profound connection between politics, policy and life on the planet. I read the Torah differently and appreciate more than ever the expansiveness and inclusiveness of its ethical consciousness.

And so as I sit to enjoy this extraordinarily beautiful day, watching the clouds overhead, I think of Pauline and wish she were sitting here on my porch with me so I could thank her face-to-face, ask about her thoughts on the news of the day — and serve her a delicious vegan lunch.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Saving The Planet: Eat Your Greens, But Don’t Forget Those Roots

Published in Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA Newsletter, 6/21/2017.

If you are interested in sustainable agriculture, and your CSA membership says you are, you probably know that those veggies are a lot easier on the environment and our water resources than animal agriculture — so much so that Frances Moore Lappe suggested in 1972 in Diet for a Small Planet that we would be better served to eat the grains we grow for animals than to feed them to animals and eat the animals.

So I’m always excited to bring home my box of CSA veggies! It is one contribution I make to taking care of this beautiful earth. As with last week, we’ll see a lot of greens, wonderful greens, a sure sign that it’s early in the season, and we have many luxurious, fresh vegetable-filled weeks to go. So I want to say a word about greens, but I want to focus this week on turnips and radishes, root veggies which we are also enjoying now.

GREENS. Today was a banner day for me. This morning I enjoyed a kale, spinach, soy milk, seeds, fruit and ice cube “Greenie” for breakfast, a delicious way to start the day.

For lunch, I enjoyed the rest of my greens from last week, two lettuces, one red and one green, some mizuna, tokyo bekana, and kale, topped with red onion, radishes and walnut pieces and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. Be sure to mince the stems and throw them into your salad along with the broken walnuts. Any little bits of veggie waste can go into compost.

ROOT VEGGIES & THE ENVIRONMENT.

Cooked white beans, roasted turnips, chopped & sauteed turnip greens, olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

I just learned this week that of all the veggies, root veggies are some of the easiest on environmental resources. Last week we received two kinds of turnips, white Hakurei turnips and red turnips. I cut mine up, coated them with extra virgin olive oil and roasted them, chopped and briefly sauteed the turnip greens with olive oil, garlic and seasonings, then mixed both with cooked white beans. With the addition of a little more olive oil, white Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, I had a lovely dish to eat warm or cold (as a salad).

RADISHES are also great roasted. They’re delicious as an unusual side dish or make a colorful addition to a roasted veggie platter.

One of my favorite things to do with turnips is to pickle them, Middle Eastern style.  Beets thrown into the pickling mixture give the beets their pink color, which deepens with more beets or longer pickling.  On the occasion pictured here from last summer, I enjoyed my pickled turnips with scrambled  tofu and greens — and beautiful tomatoes included in my box. Next time I make beet pickles, I’m going to try it without the vinegar, let them ferment to get that tangy flavor, which results in a denser population of probiotics.

PICKLED TURNIPS
Make a brine of 4 cups water, 1 cup vinegar and 3 TB kosher salt. Set aside. Wash a wide mouth glass jar. Prepare your pickling veggies, in this case turnips, by washing and cutting (peeling for older or larger turnips). Add sliced garlic if desired. Pack the veggies into the jar, and pour brine over the veggies until the jar is filled, stirring the brine as you work to be certain it stays evenly mixed. you may need a small dish held down by something with weight to keep the turnips under water. If you put your pickles directly into the refrigerator, it will take a couple of weeks for them to pickle. Alternatively, let them pickle on your kitchen counter for 2-5 days, and move to the refrigerator when they taste as you would like.

I love these spring and summer veggies!

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Torah Ecology: Shelach (Num. 13:1-15:41)

This portion uses an unusual construction of the phrase “Children of Israel,” namely congregation of the children of Israel, pointing repeatedly to the idea of community. Like the preceding portion, it illuminates how the community is so easily led astray by the “murmurings” of instigators. Whereas in the last portion, it was the mixed multitude (“rifraff,” according to some translations) who fomented insurrection, in this portion, it is representatives of the princes of Israel who divert them from their purpose by generating fear.

Interestingly, the evil report of the spies is framed in terms of food: “The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof…” (Num. 13:32). The people pick up that motif and view themselves as “animal food” for predators: “And wherefore doth the LORD bring us unto this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will be a prey…'” (Num. 14:3) Joshua and Caleb reverse that theme, turning it on the current inhabitants of the land, when they say, “…neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us…’

Finally G-d picks up the theme, returning to the idea of the Israelites as animal food: “…your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.” (Num. 14:29) … and “…your little ones, that ye said would be a prey, them will I bring in…” (Num. 14:31), and then, “But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness” (Num. 14:32) and “…until your carcasses be consumed in the wilderness (Num. 14:33).

What distinguishes the community of Israel from others is nothing intrinsic. Only to the extent that they understand themselves as a community of people with a purposeful mission, and only to the extent that they live in fulfillment of that mission, are they anything more than animals, and like animals, they can become food.

What is the mission? The text tells us explicitly at its conclusion, “‘…that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.'” Fulfilling this mission brings benefits: possession of the Land and a higher rung on the food ladder than other animals. And distraction, lack of focus, lack of commitment, susceptibility to “murmuring?” That leads to a land that “vomits you out.” It leads to a world where you are not only hunter but prey, where you claim no role of privilege in the food chain, a world of biological pre-determination.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

5 Ways to Use This Week’s CSA Veggies

Prepared for Bob’s Fresh and Local CSA. Visit them on Facebook.

This week we’ll enjoy a wonderful variety of spring greens, mostly Asian and from the mustard family, including Mizuna, Tokyo Bekana, Hon Tsai Tai and Tatsoi as well as the more familiar spinach. We’ll also receive radishes, Hakurai, red stem turnip…and maybe some chives.

Greens, spinach, radishes and carrot with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt.

Most of these greens have a slightly peppery flavor. Hon Tsai Tai, somewhat similar to broccoli raab, is a bit more mild and delicious from stem to flower. Tokyo Bekana, closer to lettuce, is a little sweeter and crunchy. Tatsoi has pale lime green leaves in rosettes. The mixture makes beautiful salads, and I always like to make a simple one as soon as I get home with my Box. Spring radishes are a perfect addition. I dress these salads simply with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper.

But salads are only the beginning of what you can do with those flavorful greens! Here are five other ways to use your greens:

  1. Soba Salads or Entrees. Soba is a buckwheat Japanese noodle available packaged in many grocery stores. Prepare according to directions. Saute minced garlic and fresh ginger root in extra virgin olive oil. Add radishes and even turnips Julienne to the saute if desired. Add the greens and wilt. Turn off the heat. Add a little of salt or soy sauce to taste. Stir into the Soba noodles, or just top them off with a crown of sautéed greens. Serve warm or cold (for a salad).
  2. Patties. Make your favorite veggie patty. I like the Middle Eastern way (falafel), in which the beans are not pre-cooked, just soaked overnight. Try this: 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas rinsed and soaked in a covered container overnight, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 Spanish onion in chunks, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. hot paprika and 3-6 oz. mixed greens, chopped. Using a food processor, place the garlic in first, then the chunked onion, the chickpeas, the seasonings and rough chopped greens. Place everything except beans in bowl, and pulse about 10 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then run for about 30 seconds. Scrape down, add the beans, and run another 30 seconds or more, scraping sides periodically, or until you have a uniform gravelly mixture that holds together. If you plan to fry, form the mixture into (falafel) balls. If you plan to saute or bake, form into small patties (I use a 3/4 oz. candy scoop). Deep-frying, the balls will take 3-1/2 minutes. If you saute, you might need to experiment a little. The patties should be browned on the outside and soft but not raw inside. Enjoy with pita, Middle Eastern chopped salad and tahini dressing.
  3. Soups. I’m a soup-lover, in the summer too. Ramen soup is very easy. I use three items that I always keep on hand in my home: 1) Costco has a great Millet and Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods, 2) I order Mori-Nu Silken Tofu Organic Firm by the case from Amazon, which can remain unrefrigerated until opened (I just open one 12.3 oz. package from the case at a time), and 3) quality Miso. Make a delicious Miso broth, and when the broth boils, drop loads of roughly chopped Asian (or other) greens. Finally, drop in a square of Ramen for a moment or two until you can pull it apart. For a more substantial dish and a protein boost, add a few squares of Tofu. The chives would work nicely with this soup as a garnish and for added flavor.
  4. Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, “Shakshouka.” Those of you who get eggs with your Meal Box remember to enhance all your favorite egg dishes with greens and chives! You’re probably familiar with omelets, frittatas and quiches, but Shakshouka might be new to you. Traditional Shakshouka, made with tomatoes and peppers, originated in North Africa. When the rich and aromatic tomato and pepper sauce is hot, the eggs are cracked into it, poached briefly in a covered pan, then served. In this version, saute some garlic in extra virgin olive oil, add the greens, salt, pepper or other seasonings to taste, and when you have a hot, saucy mixture, add the eggs for poaching covered.
  5. Pizza! Make or buy a whole wheat pizza crust — or use 6″ whole wheat pitas. Pre-heat the oven to high heat (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a small pizza oven). Oil the top of the crust. Add briefly braised and wilted greens to the crust, then thinly sliced onions and halved grape or cherry tomatoes, some pine nuts if you have them, seasonings (oregano, salt, crushed red pepper). Bake until the edges of the pizza crust begin to brown a little. Enjoy!

Next week I’ll write about turnips and radishes, spectacular veggies we take for granted. For now, save those turnip greens to use with other greens in your soups and egg dishes, or just to use as a (sautéed and seasoned) bed for roasted turnips.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.