Monday, July 18, 2011

Bubbe's Kasha Varnishkes

When I was a kid, my mom would always try to persuade me to eat kasha varnishkes, and I would tell her that I hated it because it tasted "like dirt." This is probably because I hated anything that was whole-grain until I was about ten, and kasha is made of buckwheat groats, which are very whole-grainy-seeming to a little kid.
Now, you may ask, what even is kasha varnishkes?
Well kasha varnishkes is a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish made of buckwheat groats with bowtie pasta, and it often has onions and mushrooms as well. I myself have more or less refused to eat kasha varnishkes since about forever.

Well, one of my grandmother's favorite activities is to bring food to me (we live in the same neighborhood.) In the last few years, this has been a bit of a problem for her since she's somewhat overwhelmed by the idea veganism and vegan cooking. Lately, the main thing that she seems comfortable making without any meat or eggs or dairy is soup.
Soup! In July!
So I told her, Bubbe, it's the summer. You have to stop bringing me soup to eat because I'll just put it in the freezer til the fall, anyway.

So do you know what she brought me instead?

Well if you guessed kasha varnishkes, you guessed right.
And I tried it.
And it was delicious! I mean, really really delicious! I ate the whole container full of it.
I think the reason I didn't like it when I was little was because it has a very earthy flavor--maybe because of the minerals in it? Kasha is a good source of iron and phosphorus, and if my Bubbe cooked it, it's also a good source of onions. It's traditionally made with an egg, but this is Bubbe's veganized version.
Incidentally, she says this is "a pain in the ass" to make. I say, totally worth it.
You can eat it hot or room temperature. Oy! So good.

Chop one large onion, and cook it in a saucepan over low heat in some olive oil. Add 1 cup kasha and cook until the kasha is toasty. Add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt (Bubbe never adds salt, but I do.) Cover the pot, and simmer for about 12-15 minutes over medium-low heat. You want to cook it until the water is absorbed and the kasha is fluffy.
Meanwhile, cook 1 lb bowtie pasta (farfalle) in boiling water until it's tender, around 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown 8 oz. sliced button mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil.
Once the kasha is finished, fluff it with a fork and add the mushrooms and bowties.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three simple steps to make your summer better

1. Slice a ripe banana
2. Fry it in Earth Balance margarine over medium heat for around five minutes
3. Put it in a crepe, or on top of some ice cream, or on your pancakes, or on your waffles, or french toast (get the idea?)

You're welcome.