This morning I had a real cooking the kitchen moment after the immediacy of taking care of a few chores. My cooking the kitchen moment occurred when I decided to cook this Moosewood recipe for Kasha Pilaf (a/k/a Buckwheat Groats).
I was being a superstar this morning. Woke up early, immediately opened the curtains to let in the light, and made my bed, a la Marie Kondo advice for living an uncluttered life. Opening the curtains, I noticed a parking space, quickly got dressed and moved the car from a Tuesday to a Friday spot. Now, I do not have to think about moving it again for most of next week.
As to my cooking the kitchen moment, I was going to pick out a couple of recipes for the week, print out my shopping list and go to the food coop to shop. But then I decided to eat some breakfast first. As you know, if you shop while hungry, you will make many impulse purchases for fast food items, and even select a chocolate almond croissant from one of the fresh baked goods bins at the coop.
There was little in my fridge, but I had bought some kasha last week, and had most all of the necessary ingredients in my veggie bins to make this recipe for Kasha Pilaf. What I did not have could be replaced with substitute veggies.
I came across this recipe for Kasha Pilaf while looking through the indices of my Moosewood Cookbooks. My intention was to find my favorite kasha recipe involving red cabbage, and found Kasha Pilaf instead. Since I did not have any mushrooms as listed in the recipe ingredients (kasha, mushrooms, and onions are a classic, often used in kasha varniskes), I decided to sub in my red cabbage. Also because unfortunately I did not have dill, which to me is the tase of spring, I made due by chopping up some parsley.
While the podcast WTF with Marc Maron played in the background, I chopped up my veggies for the mise en place and continued from there. Kasha is a nostalgic food. I grew up eating kasha varniskes, and my Grandma Clara's best ever kasha knishes. Kasha, one of the foods of my people! I hope you will try this recipe for Kasha Pilaf, and enjoy!Jump to Recipe
This, that, and the other...
The other night I went to the St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO to see the play "Grief is the Thing with Feathers." (*1; *2 *3) I'm not sure what I was expecting. The title made it seem that it could be cathartic. Since losing my husband Dan in June of 2016, grief is a companion, that large or small, always sits on my shoulders.
It was only the night before going to see the play, when reading a review of the British production from "The Guardian," that I learned that the play was based upon the book, "Grief is The Thing With Feathers," by Max Porter. Max Porter's book was adapted by Enda Walsh, who then directed the actor Cillian Murphy in this production. To quote from a note in the playbill, written by Enda Walsh:
When my father died I experienced grief for the first time. I felt poisoned, cut up. It felt like I was half-there. The world around me was altered too. It was blank, senseless. I slept a lot and lost my sense of time of what my day used to be. Then one day the grief began to shrink. It narrowed to a manageable ball of sadness that to this day I can still feel in my stomach when I think of my dad.
In his book, "Grief is The Thing with Feathers," Max Porter finds a non-linear narrative, a disjointed, scrapbook of scenes and emotions that wonderfully captures this set of grief and loss. It morphs from fable, to drama, to the domestic, to the mythic, to essay and prose and petry and lists and exam questions. It is a beautiful shapeshifting thing. Jarring a chem ical and wild - but always very true to its theme.A Note from Enda Walsh (Playbill to "Grief is the Thing with Feathers," at The St. Ann's Warehouse.
I arrived early at the theater and decided to purchase a sandwich from the Vinegar Hill service. Then wound up sitting at one of those smallish high round tables with bar stools. I was politely asked by one woman if she could share the table. Then two other women on a reunion kind of weekend in NYC asked if they could sit as well. Maybe it was because they were all out-of-towners, but shortly a lively conversation followed, which was refreshing to experience.
The two women, originally friends from high school in Savannah, Georgia, but now living in Seattle, got the ball rolling. They asked the other woman at the table what book she was reading. From there we learned that the book reader (The Argonauts) was from Seattle where she was getting a degree in occupational therapy. Therein ensued a conversation about P.T. vs. O.T, as a career. I chimed in as well, citing my niece's experience at school in Pittsburgh for a degree in P.T.
As the bell rang in the lobby for us to take our seats, one of the women from Seattle mentioned that they were there to see this play because she had such a crush on the actor Cillian Murphy. Little did I know, that most people attending the play, were there to see him act in person, as well.
I learned more about this once I took my seat. A couple to my left started talking with me. They told me that Cillian Murphy was a favorite of theirs for his portrayal of Tommy Shelby in Steven Knight's "Peaky Blinders," for BBC TV. I could hear the group in the seats to the right of me reiterating the same, as well as the people in the row in front. Never having heard of the show, I will now have to check it out.
The couple to my left were young parents, their own parents babysitting their two young children at home. The couple had driven in from New Jersey, for their date night. They seemed to be too young for this play and it's encounters with death and grief. Parts of the play were a physical assault on all of the senses. I imagined this couple felt battered while driving back to their home in New Jersey. I wondered if they were glad to have attended the performance.
There was silence and deep concentration on the part of the audience throughout this production. Nary a laugh, even at the few funny lines. Except for one where there was the sudden release of all that tension with laughter throughout the group. At the end, the audience rose to their feet as one, in appreciation of their star, Cillian Murphy. His physicality in the part of the crow was amazing. And he was touching in the part of the Dad, with his two sons.
Most of the time, when leaving a play, I can hear some discussion by other audience members. But this time no one said hardly anything, except, "that was intense."
"Kasha, a high-fiber, lysine-rich grain made from buckwheat groats, is common throughout Eastern Europe. It has a distinctive earthy flavor, so some people consider it an acquired taste, but many of us at Moosewood like it a lot. Like rice, kasha can be eaten plain alongside a juicy main dish such as beans or sautéed vegetables, but it has the advantage of being quick-cooking - a mere 15 minutes and it's ready.
This savory pilaf can stand on its own as a side dish or serve as a first-class stuffing for tomatoes, bell peppers, or winter squash."
- 1-¼ cups chopped onions
- 1 cup diced celery
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil (I used EVOO)
- 1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
- 1-⅓ cups water
- 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- ¼ cup dry red wine (I used water)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons dried)
- ground black pepper to taste
- garnish with a few fresh dill or parsley sprigs
- garnish with tomato wedges
In a large skillet saute the onions, celery and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add the kasha and saute for another minute to lightly toast it.
Pour in the water, add the carrots, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, red wine, any sauce and dill. Cover and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the kasha and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add pepper to taste. Served garnished with dill or parsley sprigs and tomato wedges.