I was walking home tonight, thinking about what to make for supper. I wanted to eat garlic, having just read an inspiring paragraph about its health benefits in the book Food Security for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler (a fabulous older woman and skilled herbalist here on the west coast). Her book is about how to survive a food crisis:
Disaster has struck and you absolutely can’t get your heart medication filled? Well, get a load of this, high quantities of garlic (three to six crushed cloves per day) will reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of thrombosis, and lower blood sugar. Not only that, garlic is a broad range antibiotic with anti-histamine properties. It helps with skin infections and is great in hummus… Maybe if you take enough of it, you won’t need those prescriptions.
OK, I think, so garlic is in. Also my fridge has a lot of my very favourite root vegetables right now: German Butter Potatoes from Penticton and carrots from Lillooet. I’ve also got some leftover fresh herbs from my Quinoa Fennel and Pomegranate Salad that should get used. I end up throwing in some other drowsy-looking produce from my fridge (mung bean sprouts, cabbage and celery). We’ve also got some beautiful tart yogurt and eggs from our local farm.
Why am I emphasizing all these ingredients? Granted it is part of my cooking process, but I’m also quite satisfied with how local or potentially local all these ingredients are. Sometimes it can feel very bland to try and eat within a 100 mile diet here in the north in the winter. I remember when I worked in a produce department at this time of year. Some folks would come in and ask me what was local and in season. This is what we had: onions, mushrooms, potatoes and carrots. Some people would balk or sneer a little bit when I told them that. (Customer service sure can suck sometimes.) But I won’t forget this one young man who looked like he might have been a grad student at UBC who asked me that question and then proceeded to quietly and earnestly fill his basket with mushrooms, potatoes, onions and carrots. Bless his little heart!
As I’ve learned more about gardening and food systems over the years, however, my eyes have been opened to many more possibilities for wintertime food. A lot of it really is planning and doing things before winter or even fall hits. These include canning, other preserving methods, curing, proper storage, planting crops in the summer for a winter harvest and including animal products in your diet. Then there’s sprouting which can happen all year round and is a lovely, fresh, nutritious kind of food. I go through bouts of sprouting every now and then. I go through bouts of a lot of those techniques now and then. I would like to participate in them all the time, but it is nearly a full-time job especially when you are beginning and learning and don’t live in a culture where that’s the way you eat.
This salad turned out pretty damn good and it could get better! It is blessed with the flavour of spicy vegetables. I love that flavour. It also has the tartness of the yoghurt, the creamy sweetness of the potato and the little surprise celery and egg bits. I think it could stand a bit more fat to carry that tasty flavour. It would also be amazing with sprouts that have a bit more of a bite than mung bean. I keep envisioning a tomato with this salad. Don’t know what that’s about. I love tomatoes… I was also thinking about cracking an egg into the blender to make it into a mayonnaise based dressing. I’ll be making this one again.
- ~2 lb. of your very favourite winter variety potatoes (mine are German Butter), chopped to a size you like and boiled until cooked but not mushy
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and crumbled
- ~2 c. mung bean sprouts (or any sprouts)
- ~1-1/2 c. cabbage, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
Herb Yogurt Dressing Ingredients
- ~2/3 c. plain yogurt
- ~1/2 c. olive oil
- handfuls of leftover herbs. I used dill, green onions and cilantro
- 2 cloves of beautiful garlic
- salt to taste
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Once the potatoes and eggs are finished cooking, throw them in a bowl together with the sprouts, cabbage and celery.
- In a blender, put the yogurt, herbs, garlic and a bit of the olive oil. Blend and add more oil to thicken. Taste the dressing and add salt, pepper, lemon or anything else you fancy to taste. Keep blending in new things and tasting until it’s really good. I find that salt always has a sweet spot with dressings where it really makes everything shine. Try and find that.
- Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss. As with all potato salad, it will taste better if you have the patience or time to let it sit for a few hours and let the potatoes marinate.