Sunday, 1 January 2017

January 2014: roots to the subconscious


Summer is a time for action, winter for reflection. Modern life is not quite like that, unfortunately, but it makes sense to remember this. The weather, the dark, all are meant to draw us into ourselves, and recuperate.
Food is supposed to help us - both with the weather and with the recuperation. Do you really fancy those runner beans dragged out of the freezer? It's easy, yes, but give me a couple of leeks any time.
Did you know that lettuces produced in winter can contain eight times as many nitrates as the summer ones [1]? There are some greens - corn salad, rocket, radicchio - which will still thrive outside naturally in the cold, but the stuff we eat in warmer times is not at all happy to be growing now.
It makes a lot of sense to eat vegetables of the season, and what better in winter, than roots. They are versatile: you can grate them raw with a nice cooking apple for a salad. Or cook them to eat as they are, or mash them in all sorts of combinations.

The Ayurveda, ancient Indian philosophy and medicine, says that root vegetables literally "root" you to the earth. When it gets colder and you feel the need for more warm, grounding foods, adding root vegetables to your diet benefits both your body and soul.
Modern medicine, too, points at the health benefits: many roots are high in vitamin A or beta-carotene, which improves the eyes, the health of the skin and prevents acne and other skin disorders. They are also high in vitamins C, D, E, and K as well as fiber and other phytonutrients. Eating them can help us lose weight as they reduce craving for sweets. They contain natural sugars that elevate blood sugar gradually rather than delivering the quick, unhealthy jolt given by refined carbohydrates. They are healing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and aid in the removal of toxins from the body. They may even relieve menstrual cramps and PMS.
And here they come:
Carrots: one of the richest sources of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant. My mother always added butter before serving: this helps your body take it up.
Parsnips: fiber, potassium, vit. C, folate, vit. K. One large parsnip contains 25% of a woman's daily fibre requirement, plus natural sugars for an energy boost.
Radish: (red, white and black!) fiber, folates, vitamins C, B and K, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, sodium, copper and zinc. Plus cancer-protecting isothiocyanates. 
Swede: member of the crucifers, which protect against cancer. Also contains beta carotene and vitamin C. Who needs citrus?
Beetroot: fiber, iron, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidant rich source of folic acid (particularly important when you're pregnant). And iron.
Celeriac: anti-cancer anti-oxidants, B-complex, phosphorous, iron, calcium, copper and manganese. Raw celeriac (lovely in salads!) is a rich source of vitamin K, which limits Alzheimer's damage.
Turnip: calcium, vit. K, vit A, beta carotene.

To sow/plant:
if the weather is suitable: early peas, broad beans. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen. Certain kinds of garlic, like 'Flavour' (Garden Organic).

To eat:
Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, celery, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.
Meat: game is bountiful now, cheap and good for you. Game is leaner than intensively reared animals. They have lived in a natural environment where they have to run, fly etc. So they burn off fat supplies that would be encouraged in reared animals, as extra weight means extra profit. Also, as a result of their diet, there will be nutrients and trace elements in their meat that you won't find in tame animals.
And let's not forget the anti-biotics and other medications, often given to reared meat, often in their food.
For recipes, see for instance

200g mixed roots like carrots or parsnips, 2 chopped red onions, 2 chopped garlic cloves, ginger, cayenne, 1tsp ground coriander seeds, 1 tsp curry powder, water, 1tsp cumin seeds, parsley.
Fry onions, garlic and ginger, cayenne, coriander and curry until beginning to brown for a few mins. Add chopped roots and liquid to cover. Simmer for 10-15 mins, mash or blend. Fry cumin separately until they begin to pop. Stir into soup, season. Add parsley.

CARROT and SWEDE MASH,  serves 2.
200g chopped carrots, 200g chopped swede, 2 tbsp butter, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp chopped, ideally flat-leaf, parsley.
Cook veg in salted water. Mash (don't worry about lumps), add butter, stir, season, add parsley. 

MINCED LAMB for 3-4.
300g lamb mince, 200g mixed vegetables (diced onions, celeriac and carrots; sliced garlic) oil/butter, sea salt, bay leaf, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 3 tbsp flour, ab. 300ml water/stock.
You can use this in shepherd's pie, with grain, pasta or potatoes.
Sweat the veg for 3-4 mins in oil/butter, then add mince and a good pinc of salt. Break down the lamb to avoid having big lumps. Add bay and tomato, stir. Sprinkle the flour over it, stir well. Add stock/liquid, cook for 2o mins.

HONEY-ROAST PARSNIPS with THYME for 4 as a side dish.
4 large parsnips, a thick slice of butter, a little olive oil or beef dripping, thyme, 3 tsp of honey.
Set oven at 200°C. Slice parsnips in half, or quarters if huge. Put into tin with thick slice of butter and a spoonful of oil/dripping. Season, roast for 35-40 mins until soft. Add thyme with honey, turning the parsnips over as you go. Continue to roast for 20 mins, till surface is sticky and golden, flesh soft and tender.
1½ kg carrots, 550g beef brisket, 1½ kg potatoes, 350g onions, salt.
Wash brisket and put on with 750ml salted water. Cover and cook for 1 hr. Add 1½k carrots in pieces, 1½k quartered potatoes and 350g quartered onions and cook for 25-30 more mins. You may have to add some water, but keep it quite dry. Take out brisket and slice. Mix veg, season and put brisket on top.

1 pheasant, potatoes, carrots and/or swede and/or parsnips, 40ml olive oil, chopped rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper.
Stir rosemary and thyme into the oil, set aside. Rub pheasant inside and out with salt and pepper. Place into a pan with the vegetables. Pour herb oil over everything and make sure all sides are covered. Bake for 30-60 mins depending on size. Baste regularly with the hot oil and juices from the pan. Remove from oven and let rest, covered, in a warm area for 10 mins before slicing.
If you cut up the pheasant before putting it in the oven, it will not take so long. 

300g potatoes cut into large pieces, 600g celeriac, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1 tart apple, cored and quartered; 80ml warm milk/cooking water, 1 1/2 tblsp butter and/or walnut oil, salt, pepper.
Cook potatoes, celeriac and apple in salted water, about 1/3tsp. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer until tender, 15-20 mins. Drain. Mash. Whisk in the milk/broth until it's a bit fluffy. Add butter/oil, stir until it melts,  season.

CARDINAL STEW for 2. Supply bibs!
350g potatoes, 150g beet, 1 large tart apple, 25g hazelnuts, 1 onion, butter, (ginger,) seasoning. 
Grate beet, cut up potatoes and apple. Chop hazelnuts in 3 or 4. Cook the veg together till the potatoes are done, mash. Meanwhile, fry the chopped onion and hazelnuts in butter. When veg is done, mash and add the onion, nuts and ginger if you like. Season.


Coming next month: DEPRESSION.