Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday's Dinner

Tuesday night's dinner was one of the best I've made in a little while. Cooking, I should note, is one of my favorite recreational activities. A disproportionate percentage of my meager income and scant free time goes towards to acquisition and preparation of delicious, usually sorta "weird," food.

The meal pictured is a perfect example. I'm not even sure what to call it, to be honest. Instead, I'll just describe it, on the off chance anyone would like to try it themselves.


-a pound or so of Pork Liver
-Cheddar cheese
-Red Bell Pepper
-Mushrooms (woodear in this case)
-Red Onion
-Acorn Squash
-Maple Syrup
-Chicken Stock
-A dryish White Wine
-noted spices

Here's how it goes together:

Prep your squash the usual way (google it for details), halve-score-butter-cinnamon-syrup, into the oven at 325 with a little water in the pan until it's tender and browned. While that's working-

Cut the liver up into small chunks, call it walnut-sized. Put them in a bowl of water with a little vinegar or citrus juice to soak (they will brown on the outside). Chop your kale into strips and shred enough cheese to cover the liver and kale when they're in the pan later, just make a guess. Set those aside.

Chop a good amount of onion to whatever size you prefer, as well as the garlic cloves, red pepper, and mushrooms. Chop a bit of liverwurst into smaller chunks as well. You may notice that I don't give exact amounts, which is partially because I never measure them, and partially because the amounts will change based on my mood. You know how much food you want to eat, not me.

Drain the liver chunks thoroughly and toss with a bit of salt, pepper, and cinnamon after you chop the veggies.

Put a frying pan on the stove and set the flame to medium-low. Add a pat of butter, then start sauteeing the veggies. First add the onion, then the garlic, then the pepper, followed by the mushrooms and liverwurst together. Stir it constantly, especially to break up the liverwurst and distribute it throughout the mixture.

About halfway through that process, put a cast-iron skillet on another burner, set to medium. Butter it up, then add the liver. Keep it stirring so none of the chunks get overdone on any given side. Once they're browned all over, add the kale and continue stirring until it's starting to wilt and get more vibrant in color.

Add butter any time either pan seems to be getting dry.

Put the veggies on a plate on an unused stove burner to keep warm, then add a bit of white wine and chicken stock to their pan. Scrape to deglaze the residues, add some basil and turn up the flame to get a hard boil and reduce the liquid to a thick sauce.

While that's reducing, turn off the other burner, set the broiler to high, gather the liver and kale all to the center of the pan and lay the cheese thickly on top of it. Put it on the top oven rack under the broiler (the squash may still be on the bottom rack.).

If all this is timed right, the sauce should reach ideal thickness right around when the cheese is getting browned and the kale gets crispy edges and the squash hits perfect tenderness. Divide the veggies and liver dish between however many plates you're serving, pour the sauce over the veggies, and distribute the squash. I cooked for two, so we each got a half.

Then you eat, of course. Try not to think about the dishes.

I'm proud to say this dinner was a hit. I mean, first of all, it was delicious. But I geek out about nutrition- liver being one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, the chosen veggies also being very nutritious and mixing various medicinal aspects, the gelatin-rich sauce being of benefit to digestion, and the squash being a rather non-problematic starch source, I'd consider it a very successful meal in terms of nourishment as well. Most ingredients coming from farmers I know (or land I've worked) is a satisfying feeling as well.

I've entered this recipe in Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday blog carnival- check it out for some great recipes and food-related stuff:


This has been a long time coming.

"Start a blog" has been among the self-suggestions bouncing around in my head for a couple of years now, as something that appeals to my desire to write and be read. We'll see how that works out, of course, but by this point I believe I've got a few thoughts worth putting out there.

The first blog idea I had, back in 2010, was to be called "the Humanaut." Perhaps it's my seafaring-norwegian ancestry, but I've always liked the suffix -naut, coming as it does from the greek nautes, "sailor," and consequently showing up in the term "astronaut" (star sailor). Younger words like psychonaut or gastronaut use the same suffix to evoke the sense of adventure and exploration associated with astronauts, adding new meaning atop the old sailor bit.

Being about to embark on a journey of indeterminate length, with no fixed route nor official home to go back to, "Humanaut" was the term I felt best described my aspirations: my motivation for leaving was quite simply to broaden my experience of being human, both in developing myself and meeting new people.

If that sounds like I went out wandering to "find myself," then the end result must prove the phrase that "you are what you eat." I ended up back in the town I grew up in, pursuing an opportunity to intern on a farm, beginning my DIY-education on how and why food matters. Matters surrounding food have come to dominate my life in the time since, as food seems to be related to nearly all my other points of interest- human health and disease, the capabilities of the human body, our relationship with the rest of earth's ecosystem and damage that is presently occurring, etc.

Food, then, will probably be the dominant topic of this blog. But I couldn't title it "gastronaut," because there are so many other topics I want to explore- human-powered transportation, psychology, social issues, art, photography, media bullshit, education, music... there's a lot in the world to be interested in. But "humanaut" seems to broad and vague to really mean anything anymore, and while I'm largely a humanist my view of reality has become a lot less human-centered.

So just the suffix itself, then, seems most appropriate, and of course I made sure to work it into a bad pun. Not that it's a meaningless pun. Given the issues I care about and groups I identify with, the views I hold and things I do truly do often seem... naughty. I'm an environmentalist who eats mostly animals. I'm a farmer who believes agrarianism is at the root of a lot of our problems. I think Michael Pollan's a good guy but is barking up the wrong tree entirely. I have wheat-related health issues but I don't think wheat's the villain. And I hold that "Forks Over Knives" is the worst "documentary" since "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

Like I said, naughty. But I think I have good reasons to be, and I intend to discuss them right here.

First, though, I'll post some food. Corazon, anyone?