Yesterday’s square on my wall calendar contains a blue highlighted rectangle around the words “check vinegar.”
For weeks we’ve peered at the concoction through the cheesecloth, swirling it around, leaning in and smelling its stronger-than-apples scent. From the side it looked right, the same color as the cider vinegar I buy at the store with tendrils floating on the bottom of the bowl. It made me feel like humming. I’m making apple vinegar right in my own kitchen!
But when I lifted the cheesecloth, there were dots of mold on the surface and tiny ones all over the inside surface of the bowl. Dah! A month is a long time to wait to find out that an experiment tanked. Which is, I suppose, the tension involved with experiments in the kitchen. Or anywhere. You may not know until the end if it’s turned out alright.
Well, I may not be making vinegar in my very own kitchen this week, but I am grateful for the quietness, the return to routine. It’s the season to be inside, using things like the pretty measuring cups from my brother and his fiancée and the salt mill my husband splurged on several years back. And I’m enjoying the light.
“Dinner is not what you do in the evening, before you do something else. Dinner is the evening,” Art Buchwald said. I’m enjoying that, too. When I can I’m settling into a spot at the counter in the late afternoon with a collection of vegetables and a chef’s knife. Yesterday a pretty winter slaw emerged that we ate alongside diner-style sandwiches the kids and I put together (mine was grilled cheddar and parmesan with browned shallots and chimichurri sauce). The slaw is simple and the soothing green of sea glass. It’s bright with lime juice and ginger. Make the extra effort to buy and break open a pomegranate – a few seeds on top as a garnish makes the dish.
Green Winter Slaw
½ cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 2 small limes : separate
1-inch piece of fresh ginger : grate and separate
½ head green cabbage : slice thinly
1 celeriac root : julienne
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple : grate, skin on
sesame seeds : toast
almonds : chop and toast
Combine oils, half the lime juice and half the ginger in a jar with a tight lid. Shake to combine. Taste and add sea salt. Shake again and adjust with more salt if necessary.
Prepare cabbage and celeriac. Toss to combine in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss well to combine.
Whisk the remaining lime juice and grated ginger in a medium bowl. Add grated apple and stir well to coat. Add apple mixture to cabbage and combine.
Garnish with sesame seeds, almonds and pomegranate seeds and finish with salt.