A bit of crunch

Jicama Salad

I wasn’t even going to post today. It’s been one of those weeks, yet again, where we have no bread in the house, a random assortment of groceries we’re unlikely to get to, and a few too many takeout bills. But the lure of blog-related procrastination is a bit too much for me, it seems. Especially when I have a research proposal to write (due tomorrow!) for an experiment I’m not sure I’ll have time to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this isn’t a real post. It’s just a place to share a few thoughts, and a recipe I wasn’t really sure I was going to share (notice the lack of prep photos?).  If you only have time to read one thing, check out Nathaniel Johnson’s article on raw milk in Harper’s Magazine (which I found via Bitten). It touches upon the history of pasteurization, what kind of farmers pasteurization regulations are actually trying to protect us from, and all in all, presents a pretty scary picture of the industrial dairy industry in this country. For the record, I’ll take my grass-fed raw milk from the friendly local farmer at the farmer’s market, thanks. Luckily, I have that choice here in Connecticut.

Otherwise, today was one of those days where it rains and rains until you think it’s never going to stop, and then transforms itself into a glorious, crisp evening, with streaming sunlight, chirping birds, and all sorts of other gorgeous signs of spring. The tulips even opened up, after a two-day hiatus. So what did I do? I went for a run, in my new, very funny looking shoes. I think they’re kind of hilarious, and I’m certain I look like a bit of a circus act running in them, but normal shoes seem to cause me trouble, so I thought I’d give them a try. They’re comfortable, and kind of awesome — provided you don’t spend too much time on concrete.

All this faux-barefoot running takes me back to about 18 years ago now, when I’d run around my grandmother’s neighborhood like a hoodlum, without shoes or fear of anything but the boy down the street that I sort of had a crush on (but only because I’d kissed his cheek when we were playing house one day, and it seemed appropriate somehow).  I’d run and run, playing pirates or princesses or some other nonsense, until it was time to go home for dinner, and I had to be coaxed into the car for the trip home. If I had been cooking back then, I think this jicama salad would have been the perfect antidote to a long day of playing pretend in the burning San Joaquin valley sun.

Spicy sweet jicama salad

Serves 2.

You can add whatever you like to this. I like the sweet/spicy contrast, and the simplicity of the salad, but would probably beef it up a bit with some black beans or perhaps a bit of quinoa for protein.  It’s best if you make it a day in advance, so the dried chipotle powder and lime get a chance to mingle with the other ingredients.

  • 1/2 large jicama, cut into long, thin, rectangular pieces
  • 2 oranges, skin off, cut into wedges
  • 1 mango, cubed. This is pretty much how I do it.
  • small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Chipotle or chili powder, to taste (I probably used a teaspoon, but your spice tolerance may be different than mine)

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a large container, refrigerate overnight, and serve cold.

Really, that’s it!

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6 Comments

Filed under cilantro, limes, local farms, milk, quick meals, running, stories, vegan, vegetarian

6 responses to “A bit of crunch

  1. This looks delicious, with really fresh ingredients. Nice colors too!

  2. pshazz

    “In the fall of 2006, for instance, California officials announced that raw milk tainted with E. coli was responsible for a rash of illnesses. It is legal to sell unpasteurized dairy in California, and the tainted milk came from Organic Pastures, in Fresno, the largest of several farms that supply the state’s health-food stores.”

    uhm?!! that is where I got my raw milk! I guess it strongly hints later in the article it -probably- wasn’t from the milk…. that is still a little scary.

  3. That reminds me of a dish I eat in Singapore.. It’s called “rojak” (meaning everything toss together) and has slices of green mango, sesame. fried bean curd..etc) in it. Sweet, sour, tangy and crunchy!

  4. liz

    Thanks, Jessica!

    P — Yah, I know — hence my slow “test” of the raw milk we buy (though it probably wouldn’t have made a difference if it was tainted). I basically figure it’s the same risk whether you’re drinking raw milk or eating lettuce from a big supplier. But it’s scary anyway … I think the point is we keep messing with stuff we don’t fully understand, and end up with consequences we didn’t anticipate. None of these problems are straightforward, even if we’d like them to be …

    Daphne — That sounds awesome. I just found a recipe for it, which includes cuttlefish and prawns? If there’s any hope of replicating it here, I might just have to give it a try!

  5. The whole raw milk thing is interesting to me. I agree very much about industrialized farming practices being the root of many health-related evils – but, the scientific part of me isn’t quite convinced that it’s pasteruization that’s the culprit so much as grain-feeding of our cows, antibiotics and feedlot conditions. That, and other lifestyle choices that people are making must contribute to our general lack of immune systems these days (can anyone say Purell? Seriously… I’ve never used the stuff and I don’t get sick often. And I work partly in a hospital). I’ll admit that raw milk scares me; I’ve never tried it, though I’m not necessarily opposed.

    Pasteruization strikes me as a similar issue (in one respect) to irradiation in meat. I actually think irradiation is a decent idea, save for one thing: we’re telling meat packers that it is okay to have the feces on what we’re about to eat — they can just zap the hell out of it. Same thing with milk. The act of pasteurization covers up a lot of other bad things.

    It does, however, crack me up that the government cares so much about what people drink. Raids in biohazard suits over raw milk? Ha!

  6. liz

    Rachael, I totally agree with your comment. I think it’s definitely hard to point a finger at the root of the problem (if there’s only one), and pasteurization’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the way it’s trying to serve as a band-aid for a somewhat larger problem might be.

    As an aside, I think the passage in that article that sickened me the most is the image of all sorts of dead pathogens floating around in my milk. Same with the meat, really … I’d rather support farmers who raised their animals in decent, clean conditions, thank you!

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