Sunday, June 26, 2011


I've been working my way through the alphabet, using each letter as a jumping off point and seeing where it would take me. Z brings to a close three years worth of letters.
Last weekend I was in South Burlington for another ending - my niece's graduation from 8th grade. The class speakers were quick to point out that graduating from 8th grade was also a beginning. The niece is moving on to high school. When I went on to "the big house" in 1980, it was scary stuff, from an 8th grade class of sixteen at Charleston Elementary to the huge and overwhelming North Country Union High School in Newport, VT. It was a new beginning and Z is a new beginning. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I may just work my way back down the alphabet; there's a lot more food.

Two weeks ago I made a pesto of radish leaves. I always used to cut them off and toss them. I'd tried cooking the things before but really didn't enjoy the taste - bitter - the pesto was another story. It got me to thinking about other foods I wasn't using to their full potential and so I immediately made the leap to zest (Z was already on my mind so it was a more of a short hop, kind of how I do the Electric Slide).

I don't usually bother scraping off the rind of lemons, limes or oranges. Usually it's about the juice. I squeeze the heck out of them, hoping I don't get any seeds into whatever it is I'm making and am done with them. Today I zested them and it felt positively zesty. 

I'm sad that Zestfully has been used. Zestfully clean. Why can't marketing people leave good words alone? Apple, Windows, Zest, Coast, Dial, Irish Spring, Dawn, Clorox... Zest soap was the one that didn't leave a film. I went through a phase where I was using the deodorant soaps (didn't everyone?) I was mostly an Irish Spring guy who kept his  brogue down to a whisper in the shower. 

So, what do you do with zest? I'm still figuring that out. This zest went into some coconut flour muffins. I think it'll be a nice touch in beverages, on top of fish, on the side, on chicken, adding a bit of panache to vegetables. If you're left with lemons, make lemonade and zest them - the smell alone is worth it.

There's Z, an ending and a beginning.  

Friday, May 6, 2011


Yampy Bin, C-Town, Inwood
I came across these little fellas in a bin close to the floor in the produce aisle of the Inwood C-Town (I do a lot of shopping there for whatever I can't get at the Farmer's Market or the CSA). The Inwood C-Town has a pretty good selection of vegetables and tubers for Caribbean cuisine. I'd just started experimenting with yams and sweet potatoes. "Yampy" sounded like a cute yam to me so I decided to see what I could do with them.

Knowing that just about anything works fine in a tagine (except for unsliced kumquats) I peeled (somebody went all out waxing these things) and sliced them up and added them in. 

Raw yampi are described as mucilaginous which is not how I want to think of any food, especially during allergy season. I'd prefer to say they are slippery when peeled (there's a title for an album). Thankfully, this slipperiness cooks away, and in the case of a tagine, you are left with something like a boiled potato except yampis are even less tasteful. They do do a good job of taking on the taste of the food around them and are a nice change up texturally. 

If you come across them, why not give them a try? Look for Yampy, Yampi, Cushcush, Indian yam, napi, Yampie (Jamaica), Maona (Peru), Mapuey (Puerto Rico), Aja (Cuba); Cara doce (Brazil) or if you want to get scientific,  Dioscorea trifida.