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3 days to go, 18 backers, $866 pledged! We still have $2134 to go– if you’ve been thinking of backing, now’s the time to do it.
And, of course, thanks a ZILLION to everyone who has backed so far! Regardless of whether we end up making the goal, we’ll be thanking our backers with a concrete prize of some kind (as yet to be determined…).
Now then– are you in?
Well, friends, we have one week left and we’re $2,259 short of our Kickstarter goal. Since we don’t see any of the funds unless we make the goal, we wanted to ask one last time if you’d consider backing the project:
Although at this point we’d need a Leap Day Miracle to raise our seed funds, your support and encouragement have been really meaningful and touching. Although the book won’t likely be produced any time soon, we’ll continue developing nifty recipes and posting fairly regularly over here on Happy Vegetable Cow.
It took this professional chef, who already owns a successful restaurant, eleven days to raise $39,000 to publish his cookbook, and people are STILL DONATING. It must be easier to raise funds if you’ve already got them to begin with.
We’re dead broke and we’ve raised $606 in 45 days; can we raise the last $2394 with 15 days left?
We can with your help! Please consider dropping in and helping to support our little project. Any little bit would be fantastic!
1. Food and cooking are deceptively simple acts that are encountered by everyone, every day, and everyone has his or her own opinion on just what tastes good. However, as with effective spiritual practice, good cuisine requires both intelligence and wisdom, both individual experience and a willingness to trust the classics and the experts. Instead of The Gospels or the Dhammapada, you’ve got Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Instead of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, you’ve got Harold Mcgee.
2. Sure, people can cook without ever having cracked open a book on the subject. Some people can cook intuitively with very little need for recipes or measurements, but the food they cook tastes so good because of the processes described in the books they don’t read. If I intuit that searing a lamb shank and then slow-roasting it in liquid makes for a delicious lamb shank, it doesn’t make my process any more “valid” than a recipe for “Braised Lamb Shank” in The Joy of Cooking. Studying what the experts have to say give you a foundation for your own practice.
3. This doesn’t mean you have to follow what Jacques Pepin says to a “t”– indeed, the best instructors are the ones who teach you how to improvise every now and again. But, this improvisation isn’t “making stuff up,” it’s personalization. Myths are recipes for spiritual practice, and deviating from them here and there should be encouraged. However, you can’t make hollandaise sauce using rum and tuna fish, any more than you can make enlightenment using Ken Wilbur and ayahuasca.
4. Just as with spiritual practice, if you don’t try to figure out what you’re doing when you’re cooking something, you’re gonna end up screwing up. You can substitute baking soda for baking powder all you want because you think it’ll work, but you’re gonna end up with some nasty cookies. And you’ve got a bunch of nonsense out there, too– no matter how many dumb jerks in restaurants are trying to pass off tilapia as Chilean Sea Bass, there’s a huge difference for those who choose to take the time to understand it.
5. Cooking depends to a great extent on the imperfection of the world, on the need to kill to survive, no matter if you’re killing animals or plants. Nonetheless, it’s also the perfect example of the spiritual seed hidden in all things that can manifest in the simplest form: a perfect brioche, a melt-in-your-mouth grilled sirloin, a piece of raw salmon wrapped in a thin layer of nori.
6. There’s a reason so many food critics describe eating as a “revelation,” or “sublime.” As far as I’m concerned, if the flavor of the tenderest slow-cooked forkful of corned beef with a little caramelized carrot and potato isn’t enlightenment, I don’t know what is. For you, it might be the first bite into a hand-picked tomato fresh off the vine, or a swallow of a perfect Italian vino rosso that doesn’t even have a label.
1. Outsider Art is art produced outside of the “official” art world, created by the self-taught, the do-it-yourselfers, the inspired and the visionaries. The original French term referring to this special kind of art is Art Brut:
Art Brut: literally translated from French means “raw art”; ‘Raw’ in that it has not been through the ‘cooking’ process: the art world of art schools, galleries, museums.
Outsider Artists have no official art schooling, aren’t typically part of the established culture of art, make art for its own sake due to a drive to create. Take, for example, the work of Ferdinand Cheval, a postman from France, who, over the course of thirty-three years, created the Palais Ideal, a massive and intricate temple complex, a visionary dreamscape created without any training or assistance:
2. The contemporary food world mirrors that of the art world; it is largely the realm of celebrity chefs and glossy magazines, expensive theme restaurants and $600 cookbooks. This is not intended as a value judgement; rather, our attempt is to draw parallels between the insular worlds of art and food.
3. Nonetheless, there is an undercurrent of elitism in the world of food as currently manifested in popular culture. Although this certainly has to do with the commodification of every single aspect of gastronomic pursuits, it also seems part and parcel of any tradition requiring skillful adaptation of processes. Those with skills institutionalize these skills, and obtain an elevated status in their communities as trainers or vendors of their services. Again, this is not a value judgement, merely an observation.
4. Some of the most authentic cuisine exists outside of this system of culinary commodification, and this is what we refer to as “Outsider Cuisine.” Outsider Cuisine is cuisine created in kitchens, be they home kitchens, communal kitchens, or food establishment kitchens, by those without formal training, who are creating food because they love to do so.
5. Just as Outsider Art may be inspired by vision and the impulsive drive to create, so Outsider Cuisine may be visionary and impulsive.
6. Outsider Art, as a category, can include “Folk Art”– the creative works of a particular culture, be it an indigenous Amazonian tribe or a colony of Pennsylvania Dutch. Outsider Cuisine, as a parallel, celebrates the culinary traditions of various folk cultures which exist outside of the insular realm of current gastronomic culture.
7. Outsider Artists may derive inspiration from, or use as references, the great painters and sculptors of the past. However, any technical ability they achieve comes from exercising their art. The product itself– the end result– trumps the need for technical skill. In spite of the obvious lack of official training in painting, one cannot help but feel moved by self-taught “naive” artist Henri Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy”:
Similarly, although certain skills are absolutely necessary when cooking (especially baking), the end result trumps the need for technical skill. Any skills required for the preparation of a recipe in Outsider Cuisine are typically self-taught. This autodidacticism might include the study of mainstream recipe books, traditional methods of cooking (be they oral or written in a family or community collection), etc., but also includes a fair amount of trial and error.
8. Outsider Cooks eschew the clinical faddism of laboratory-produced food and so-called molecular gastronomy, instead choosing to focus on real, whole, natural ingredients. Affordability is especially essential for Outsider Cooks, who tend to exist in the lower- and middle-class segments of society.
9. Outsider Cuisine, as a category, doesn’t seek to replace or supplant modern culinary culture. Rather, it is an unrecognized facet of culture as a whole, the domain of home cooks and visionaries, a celebration of the kitchen and those who love to create food.
While shopping for ingredients for our traditional Super Bowl Nachos, it occurred to me that traditional jars of pickled jalapeños (like the ubiquitous versions of Mezetta) can cost as much as $4.00, depending on where they’re purchased.
Sauntering over to the fresh produce section, I find that fresh jalapeños are a mere DOLLAR A POUND!
Plus, they’re more delicious! So, instead of spending almost $4.00 on a jar of old peppers that’s probably been sitting on the shelf for a long time, I picked up $0.50 worth of fresh jalapeños (1/2 lb. — more than enough for a couple of heaping piles of nachoy goodness) and took them home to play.
Warning: cutting jalapeños (or any hot pepper) should be done with care! Those bad boys will burn anything you stick your fingers in after you’ve cut into them (wink wink! What? No, I’m talking about your nose!). You could wear gloves, or you could just be sure to wash the dickens out of your hands, especially under your fingernails, when you’re done preparing.
1. First, slice the peppers into little disc shapes (of course, you could cut them into any shape you think works best, but I’m a traditionalist). (At this point, you could remove the seeds if you want milder peppers, but what are you, a wuss?)
2. Next, put the peppers into a glass container.
3. Next, measure enough white vinegar to cover the peppers and pour the vinegar into a small saucepan. Add 1 tsp salt per cup of vinegar. At this point, you can mix it up a little and go crazy! I tossed in some salted ginger and some allspice. Bring this mixture to a boil until the salt dissolves.
4. Pour the vinegar mixture, still hot, over the jalapeños.
5. Cover, chill for at least an hour, and serve.
Of course, depending on what you add to the mix, the longer these puppies sit, the more flavor they develop. I let mine sit overnight, and YUM!
These should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Did I mention this cost me FIFTY CENTS? Yeah.
Make some quick-pickled jalapeños today!
One of the amazing things about living in Seattle is how one day of sunny, 60-degree weather cancels out about 30 of the darkest, coldest days of the winter. This past weekend brought some of the most delightful sunshiny days in months, and we decided to take advantage of the relative warmth and start prepping the garden beds for an upcoming planting.
I’d covered most of the beds with landscaping fabric during the off-season, since we didn’t do any winter gardening this year (new baby and all), but a couple of plots remained uncovered because we still had some radishes and carrots hanging around in November. The uncovered plots had, of course, become covered in little seedlings, which have to be removed prior to planting.
The seedlings were almost all dandelions, so, rather than simply chuckin’ ‘em into the compost pile, I took the nicest samples and placed them in a bag. We found a few other goodies as well:
From top to bottom: radish greens, stray radishes, stray baby carrots, baby dandelion greens, another carrot, baby bittercress (aka shotweed), some green onions on the side.
We had more than enough to make a nice little salad. It was too bitter for Emily; next time we’ll probably mix the weeds in with some other kinds of greens. I’m more of a fan of strong flavors, so I enjoyed the salad with some oil and vinegar, and I especially enjoyed the fact that it was completely free of charge!
We’re happy foragers, and love looking for wild foods in our local urban parks, but once you’re familiar with edible weeds, you’ll be amazed at how much free food you’ll find growing in your very own yard! And, you don’t have to use it all in salads. We’ve featured dandelion salsa on this site, and will include some other wild food recipes if we can get our book funded.
(Warning: never eat weeds that have been treated with chemicals or poisons, because Yuck! Instead of poisoning your dandelions, pick them and eat them.)
Howdy to our Friends and Supporters! Thanks to everyone who has backed us so far– we’re $331 closer to meeting our $3000 goal. Of course, that means we have quite a way to go if this cookbook is going to be made.
We’ve reached the 30 day point, which means we need to average about $89/day between now and March 2. YIKES! Seems daunting, but WE CAN DO IT! Please consider helping by becoming a backer, or by sharing our little project with anyone you think might be interested.
ANY LITTLE BIT HELPS!