Monday, May 23, 2011

Season's first grilling: Pork shoulder marinated in lime and orange juice

Some friends of ours came up from Richmond to have dinner with us on Saturday night. Of course, somehow we missed the memo that we were cooking dinner until Saturday morning, when we discovered this and became a tad anxious. Thankfully we still had a freezer full of meat (thanks to the Haskins Family Farm CSA we signed up for this year), so I decided to take a gamble and grill a nice piece of pork butt (which is actually the shoulder, but "pork butt" elicits more giggles) that was taking up a lot of space in the freezer and shred it for tacos. That way we could probably keep the kids happier than they would have been with some of my more esoteric meals.

But before I get too far into the details of making that dinner (which finally took place about two hours later than planned), I just have to mention this recipe for eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce, which we had for dinner tonight and was absolutely wonderful. Thanks to Orangette for turning me on to it.

Anyway, back to the pork butt adventure, which at first seemed like it was going to be a fiasco, but turned out reasonably well in the end.

So, I had dinner to make out of a five-pound hunk of meat that needed to be defrosted and marinated and then grilled for at least three hours (or so I thought). I decided to take a chance and marinate the meat while it was defrosting. I made a marinade of

  • lime juice from five limes
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup orange juice (delivered to us from South Mountain Creamery, which delivers our milk to us; yes, we get our milk delivered, and hearing the chink of bottles in the cooler on the front porch every Friday is wonderful, but more on that some other time)
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped finely (I actually got this from my back yard)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
I mixed the ingredients together, placed the frozen pork butt in a plastic bag, and poured the marinade over it. I sealed the bag, pushing as much air out of the bag as possible, and then submerged the whole bag in cold water to try to speed defrosting. While it marinated, I turned it over a few times. I let it sit for about three hours (wish I had thought of it a lot earlier, an overnight soak would have been fantastic). 

At about three in the afternoon, I decided I had to start the grill or we were never going to have dinner. In another first, I decided to try my new chimney starter to start the fire. I wasn't sure if it was really going to work at first. It kicked up a LOT of smoke, but soon the coals glowed nicely, so I was happy. 

While the coals were heating up, I prepared the meat, which was still quite hard and cold, but I had to give it a try. I got the meat out of the bag (reserving the marinade), dried it off with some paper towels, and then rubbed it with a dry rub that I had left over from last summer (dry rubs usually include sugar, salt, dried mustard, cumin, and other dry spices).

Back at the grill, I poured the coals from the chimney starter into one half of my grill. (When you grill a large piece of meat, you use indirect heat, which means that if you have a coal-fired grill like I do, you place all the coals on one side, place the meat on the other side, and close the grill to basically create an oven.) Then I put the grate down, oiled it with some canola oil, and placed the meat on the grill, skin-side up. 

When the meat was on the grill, I decided to take a quick peak at my copy of Steve Raichlen's BBQ USA to get a sense of how much time I was looking at and how frequently I would need to add coals to maintain the heat in the grill. Of course, imagine my shock when he says that it's going to take four to seven hours, and our friends are expecting dinner in three. Oh dear. Well, hopefully it would be good enough to make up for the wait. 

In the meantime, I made a mild salsa with cherry tomatoes (organic from Florida, closest to home I can find right now), some local strawberries, a little spring onion, a sprinkle of salt, and a splash of red wine vinegar. 

After about an hour on the grill, I added 12 coals to the fire per Raichlen's instructions, but I wasn't thrilled with how low the fire had gotten in that hour, so I decided to add fewer coals more frequently (about six every half hour) to maintain the heat. (When you add coals, you want to leave the top off the grill for about five minutes to make sure they light up.) I also mopped the meat with the reserved marinade, which I had boiled for about five minutes to kill any bacteria that may have developed during the marinade.

And so it went. For about four hours, I added coals every half hour, mopped the meat with marinade, and anxiously watched the thermometer (I had pushed our meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and was aiming for 160 degrees). I knew I wasn't going to get meat that was falling-off-the-bone tender in the time frame that I had, but I sure as hell wasn't going to serve my friends undercooked meat. 

It was a long wait. Dinner didn't happen until about eight (half an hour past my four-year-old's bedtime). We had to feed the kids peanut butter sandwiches to tide them over. When dinner did finally happen, I set the candles on the table on fire, so things got a little chaotic but thankfully the house didn't burn down. But the tacos were delicious. The meat was incredibly flavorful, the salsa was juicy, tangy, and fresh. I'll definitely make it again, but next time I will start much, much earlier.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thoughts about the future of food

I have thought a lot about The Washington Post's Future of Food conference, which took place a few weeks ago. In his keynote address, the Prince of Wales raised terrifying issues about our current systems of raising food, including massive losses of arable land to desert every year, ongoing depletion of water supplies, increasing global demand for food as the population increases, and skyrocketing prices for food with attendant social unrest. Add to this the issues that Eric Schlosser raised about the tens of thousands of farm workers being acutely poisoned by pesticides every year and the statistics we've all seen regarding the rise of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and so forth, and you are looking at big, fat, scary mess.

Becoming overwhelmed and complacent in the face of such enormous problems is easy--almost inescapable. But giving up, bowing down to the inevitable, and dancing on the deck of the Titanic as it sinks aren't really options. Human beings have faced enormous, seemingly intractable problems before and found ways out of them. It requires care, courage, will, and persistence. Nothing mysterious, but traits that are a natural outcome of experiencing and coping with being alive.  

In his seven steps for rescuing the earth, poet, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry suggests some ways to move forward are to focus on local solutions and place responsibility for getting it right on every individual, rather than relegate the work to government and policy. He says, "For humans, local adaption is not work for a few financiers and a few intellectual and political hotshots. This is work for everybody, requiring everybody's intelligence. It is work inherently democratic."

Further, he says, in a statement that moved me to tears, "we must make local, locally adapted economies, based on local nature, local sunlight, local intelligence, and local work." In other words, respect the place where you live. Be changed by it. Belong to it. Let the idiosyncrasies of your home imprint themselves upon you. Look around, do you know what's in season right now? Can you tell at the grocery store? Do you know how the weather that you have been experiencing for the last week has affected what's available at the market?

It's hard to explain why the idea of connecting to a place is so powerful to me. Admittedly, my emphasis on localism is more emotional than logical (although I think the Prince of Wales made some good ecological arguments), but I am not sure that's so bad. Emotions are important and valuable influences; it's when we don't understand them and their effects on our actions that they become misguided or dangerous. Localities shape people and cultures in ways they aren't necessarily aware of; they add character, texture, depth to who and what they are. They contribute to the formation of individuals, just as weather patterns, geology, flora, and fauna create unique landscapes. Individuals are works of art and nature. They are sometimes hard to get along with, have edges, aren't always attractive or appealing, rarely agree with you, can be stubborn as weeds--and yet I wouldn't have them any other way. Because they are also funny, delightful, thought-provoking, interesting, textured, rich. They are the difference between a commercial strawberry--big, bright, perfectly shaped but with a watery taste of Essence of Strawberry #XJ909--and a local strawberry--small, often deformed, but sweet with a what-is-that flavor, so elusive, so fleeting, so lovely, and so evocative of this place and time.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that eating locally isn't just about politics and saving the world. It's about art and life. It's a way to go deep and rich. Because local food doesn't taste like industrial food. It isn't packaged like industrial food. Like individuals, it sometimes comes in odd packages, is hard to deal with, doesn't fit the mold of the recipe you have. But, it is special and sweet in a unique way, it makes you think, it forces you to be creative and adaptive. In other words, it makes more out of you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baking our daily bread, step by step

When Mike and I started changing the way we eat, the first thing we did was try to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup and everything that sounded like a chemical mystery ingredient. Doing that obviously meant reading ingredient lists at the grocery store. Turns out, getting rid of unpronounceable chemicals is quite hard. This is especially true for bread. Turn those soft packages with their comforting images of farmsteads, grains waving in the winds, and grandma baking over, and you frequently discover a shockingly long list of ingredients that don't sound like they have any relation with the farm, the soil, and the sun. We must have inspected every package of commercial bread until we found one that wasn't too disagreeable, but the implication was clear: I was going to have to bake our bread from now on.

Now thankfully, I was raised in Sweden by a mother who was a great cook and spent a lot of time with an aunt who was an even better cook, so the notion of baking bread wasn't particularly spooky-scary as it often seems to be here in the United States. Bread baking is a matter of course in Sweden; people often seem to speak of it as an arcane art here (in hushed voices), as much out of the realm of typical activities as blacksmithing. Mostly I was concerned with finding/creating a recipe I liked for a regular daily bread that wasn't too much work (obviously it takes a lot of time for the various rises, but you don't have to do much). And I think I have found it and tweaked it to perfection.

So here's my recipe and instructions for baking our everyday bread. It turns out as a soft, golden-y bread that has a beautiful aroma (especially right after it comes out of the oven and you slather some butter all over it). Another nice thing is that it lasts for at least a week (if it lasts that long at all) without becoming stale or moldy. You can also freeze a loaf to use some other time.

I started with Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for basic hearth bread from The Bread Bible, messed around with a few different types of flour and some different combinations of flour until I came up with this recipe, which my family and I really like. (By the way, if you've only got bread flour or all purpose flour, you can still make this bread, and it will be really good.) It makes two generous loaves.

Step 1: Make the dough starter or sponge

In a bowl, combine
  • 1 and 1/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • 1 bare teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 3 teaspoons honey (this is food for the yeast and doesn't sweeten the bread, although I find that using an orange blossom or raspberry honey can add a very subtle but nice aroma)
  • 2 and 2/3 cups of room temperature water
Beat these ingredients together with a whisk until they are smooth (at least two minutes). You want to get as much air in there as you can. When you are done beating, scrape down the sides of the bowl.   

Step 2: Make the flour mixture

In another bowl, mix together
  • 1 cup oat flour (I am convinced this is what keeps the bread soft and creates such a great aroma)
  • 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
Cover your dough starter (sponge) with the dry flour mixture, ensuring that all the wet part is covered. Sprinkle 3 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon) salt over the top of the dry ingredients. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to develop flavor for at least an hour and up to four. The dough starter will bubble up through the flour mixture, and that's OK! 

(You can also let it develop flavor overnight if you like. To do this, let the bowl stand out for at least an hour to make sure the yeast wakes up, then pop it into the refrigerator. When you want to start making the bread, let the bowl sit out at room temperature for an hour before you do anything with it so that it warms up enough to get the yeast going again. I find that if I leave it overnight, it doesn't rise quite as much and isn't quite as soft, but it does taste good.)

Step 3: Mix and knead the dough

(OK, if you don't have a decent stand mixer and a dough hook, this step will be tough. Your arms will get quite the workout.) Assemble your bowl on the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Start the mixer on low speed and slowly raise your bowl up to the hook (this helps avoid flour flying everywhere). Mix slowly until the flour and the dough starter are completely combined. The dough will be a bit sticky at this point, so let it rest for about 20 minutes to develop gluten and absorb the liquid, and then the dough will be easier to work with.

Next turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it for 10-15 minutes. 

Ha! As it turns out, you don't have to do this. Apparently the rising action of dough will cause it to knead itself, but I still like to let the machine work it over for another three to four minutes before I set it to rise. And supposedly the amount of time that you spent kneading used to be considered a symbol for how much you love your family, so if you feel like proving that, have at it. I knead about half the time; it depends on how much time I have available and how strong I am feeling. 

Step 4: Let it rise, let it rise, let it rise

After you have mixed together the dough, let it rest for 20 minutes, and kneaded it either by machine or by hand, you'll have a nice dough ball. Oil a bowl, put the dough ball in and turn it over a couple of times to get oil all over it, and cover it with plastic. 

Let it rise in a warm place for about two hours (I find a sunlit window to be a perfect place) until it's about double the size:

Now turn the dough out onto a floured board and flatten it with your hands into kind of a big pancake:

Fold the pancake like you would fold a business letter (three folds). (Beranbaum calls this a "business letter turn.") Then place the seam side down and round in the edges and put it back in the bowl to rise a second time. Once again, let it rise to about twice its original size (the second rise usually takes less time, about 1 hour and 15 minutes). 

Step 5: Shape the loaves and prep the oven
When the dough has risen to twice its size for the second time, it's time to shape the loaves and start prepping the oven. First, turn on your oven to 475 degrees (Fahrenheit). If you happen to have a pizza stone, put it in the oven (that will keep the temperature more consistent). I think you can also use clean bricks. Also put a pan that will hold about two inches of water on the bottom of the oven (just the pan, no water yet).

Then oil your pans (even if they are nonstick). (I use loaf pans that are 23.5 x 13.3 x 6.99 cm. Big loaf pans, basically.) 

Turn your dough out onto your floured board and divide it in half (a dough scraper is kind of genius tool for this, but a big knife will do the trick just fine). Try to make the two halves as even as possible, but I wouldn't worry too much about getting them perfect. 

Then, starting with one ball, flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle.

Fold it like you would a business letter:

Next, roll from the narrow end with the seam on the inside of the roll. Keep stretching it out to the sides until you have a cylinder.

Place the roll into your bread pan with the seam toward the bottom. Do the same thing with the second half of the dough. 

Let the dough rise in the pans until it stands about an inch above the edge of the pan:

Step 6: Bake the bread

When it's time to bake the bread, get about a cup of ice cubes and put them in the pan at the bottom of the oven. (Ha ha, you should hear about the time when I tried doing this with an oven-safe, GLASS pan; It didn't go too well, so don't do that.) Then mist the inside of the oven with a clean spray bottle full of water. Slide the loaves in fast and close the door.

Bake at 475 degree for 10 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to 425 degrees and bake for 20-30 minutes (I usually split the difference and it works well). You will know your bread is done when the edges pull away from the sides of the pan a bit and it sounds hollow when you thump it with your finger.

Step 7: Cool the bread

When the bread is done, take it out of the oven and slide it out of the loaf pans (usually it slides out pretty well, but you may need to go around the edge of the pan with a butter knife). Let the bread cool completely on a baking rack. If it doesn't cool completely before you store it in bags, the steam generated can leave the bread damp and ooky, which will encourage mold.

Now have at it! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to cook and dance at the same time

This is a public service announcement: Don't grate cheese and boogie at the same time.

I've been hammering away for days at a tough editing project, so food has gotten kind of short shrift at the homestead (Sorry family). Last night we got takeout. Who knows what we ate the day before. My head has been lost in a thick jungle of words that haven't made a whole lot of sense, and I had been slashing away with my editorial machete until my arms hurt and I lost my sight to a wicked migraine. Finally, today, I saw some light through the trees and finished up a rough section.

In need of a little R&R, I decided to throw on some tunes while cleaning up the kitchen and preparing my favorite go-to pasta dish. Mike and the Boo weren't home yet, so I decided to listen to ABBA--a nostalgia trip (I grew up in Sweden) and an invitation to dance (and not a favorite of my music snob of a husband).

The first song to come up was I Have a Dream, so I start to sway and sing along. Memories of being eight or nine years old, spending the summer with my cousin Tove in Stockholm, and putting on shows for the family with her started to break over me like crashing waves: "I have a dream/a song to sing/To help me cope with anything/If you see the wonder of a fairy tale/You can take the future even if you fail/" Then, the song rises up to "I believe in angels/Something good in everything I see," and my throat chokes up and tears slide down my face, even as I continue to sway and empty the dishwasher. Song after song, it goes like this: I am crying, my throat is too constricted to sing and yet I continue to force the notes out, and I am wondering: What the hell? It's ABBA, for pete's sake. Why am I crying?

But the crying feels good. It has that weird and wonderful cathartic feeling that laughing at a funeral can have when everyone is remembering someone they loved very much, telling goofy stories, and soaking in gratitude for life and the people who are still there with you. It's pain and it's joy rolled into one rich and overwhelming package--like eating something that's sweet and savory at the same time.

Next song up is Gimme Gimme Gimme (a Man After Midnight), the dishes are done. Time to make the pasta. I shimmy over to where I keep the big pasta pot, pick it up, twirl back to the sink and start filling it with water, toss a handful of salt in. While the pot is filling I get some some high kicks (or maybe not so high) going while I holler my head off (of course the back door is wide open, so I am keeping my eyes peeled for the neighbors). I boogie back to the sink, put the pot on the stove to boil. I grab a spring onion, a bundle of asparagus, two carrots, some bacon, and what's left of a box of sweet peas from the fridge.

I slice the spring onion and the carrots; snap the ends off the asparagus and cut it into one-inch pieces; peel some garlic; cut the ends off the peas. The bacon slides from the package, and "Mamma Mia, here I go again/My, my, how can I resist you?/Mamma Mia, does it show again?/My, my, just how much I missed you." Oh bacon, how much I've missed you. I haven't had any since Saturday. I slice it thinly.

The tears have dried up, the sweat is starting to flow, the bacon goes into a hot pan to render and fry into crispy little bits. "If you change your mind, I'm the first in line/Honey I'm still free, take a chance on me/If you need me, let me know, gonna be around." The water is boiling away, a pound of butterflies is in for a dip. The bacon fat has rendered out, the spring onion slices are in the pan, changing the scent in the room. Molecules tickle my nose, my memory, the smell of my Finnish grandmother's kitchen (crazy as a bedbug, I believe, but I remember the mouth feel and taste of her bread, of green salad with some strange but delicious white salad dressing). Mostly, there's a memory of feeling whole, in the right place, family all around, Tove's dad trying to make us laugh and twirling his handlebar mustache, the bowl of salad being passed around the table. Cool Nordic summer light drifts through the window. I am crying again. It all comes from a time when I was little, before my family broke irrevocably, and little has been whole since. In go the carrots, the asparagus, and the peas.

I bring back Gimme Gimme Gimme (a Man After Midnight) and pull out all the stops now. I am dusting off what steps I remember from years of dance classes while the vegetables cook in the pan and the pasta boils. I am busting some serious moves, even though I don't remember my joints being this stiff when I did them before. I am going to hurt tomorrow. I grate the Parmigiano Reggiano while bopping around. Turns out to be a mistake when I slice some skin off my thumb. No blood in the cheese though, and that's what matters.

Pasta is down to about three minutes on the boil, I pour a cup of half and half into the pan with the vegetables and add a cup of grated cheese (more actually, but I always like extra cheese). The sauce thickens in minutes. In go thyme and white pepper. When the pasta is cooked, I strain it, add it to the sauce, and stir. Dinner's done. Mike and the Boo aren't home yet. They went to the park. So I keep on dancing until they get home, and it's time to eat.

Base recipe for go-to pasta (will make enough for at least two dinners, which is helpful if you have little time to cook):

  • 1 lb dried pasta of any variety (butterflies and rotini are my usual picks) (cooked according to package directions--once again, when I make my own pasta, you will know about it)
  • Any combination of vegetables that are in season and hold their shape pretty well (in summer, tomatoes and bell peppers are good; fall, I could go with cauliflower cut into bite-size pieces; spring, asparagus and peas are awesome)
  • 4-5 slices of bacon (or more, if you like), sliced thinly (make sure to render it for the fat to the vegetables in)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup grated Parmegiano Reggiano
  • thyme, white pepper

Instructions (sans dancing)

  • cook the pasta
  • render the bacon and then let it get crispy
  • add vegetables (start with firmer vegetables that take longer to cook) (keep stirring them)
  • add the half and half and the cheese, season with thyme and white pepper (I don't usually add any salt because there is so much in the cheese and the bacon) and let it thicken
  • strain the pasta
  • add the pasta to the sauce and stir it on the heat
  • You are done! (If you feel like it, you can toss some chopped walnuts, pine nuts, grated cheese, or other things on top, but you really don't need it.)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making food from scratch: Mayonnaise and Maryland Blue Crab cakes


I read an article by Kristin Wartman yesterday that made me want to renew my commitment to getting whole ingredients from local producers and making food from scratch. She cites several studies that warn of the dangers of food additives and their additive and cumulative effects. What it comes down to is this: Most food additives are not well studied, but are generally believed to be safe--in isolation. However, on a daily basis people eat dozens (if not more) additives in combination, and we don't really know how they work together. If I have learned one thing from my husband (a molecular biologist who studies obesity, liver disorders, and metabolic syndrome), it's that nothing works on its own in the body.

But making food from scratch is about more than avoiding ill health effects: It's about taking pride in your own ability to make something special. And it's about good taste. Obviously, the results aren't always perfect, and they aren't always consistent. But it can be a lot more fun to exercise your imagination when you have ingredients you've never tried before. It can be surprising when you try putting some things together and discover how great they taste. This purple carrot and fennel salad I concocted to go with some egg sandwiches is a case in point:

Pretty, easy, and delicious: Thinly slice carrots and fennel bulb, add a dash of salt, a splash of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and some chopped fennel fronds. Fennel and carrots really do play well together! Thanks to Shrimp13 for the inspiration.  
Making food from scratch may seem like a lot of complicated work, but it doesn't have to be. Obviously it takes more effort and care than throwing a frozen dinner in the microwave or picking up some kind of super-jumbo cheap meal from McFastFood King, but the results are usually worth it. Mayonnaise is an example of something that's surprisingly easy, superior in flavor when homemade, and really impressive. (Note: It's only easy if you have a blender or food processor; I have no idea how anyone would ever have the arm strength and coordination to do it without one of these tools.) Here's how to do it (I follow the recipe from Williams-Sonoma's Tools and Techniques):

  • Crack two eggs into a cup. Lift out the yolks with a spoon (be careful not to break the yolks, and you'll be able to use the whites for something like else, like meringues).
  • Put the yolks into the bowl of your food processor and place it into a bowl of hot water. Leave it for about five minutes just to take the chill off the eggs. Test it by sticking a clean finger into the eggs, when the eggs are no longer cold, you are good to go. 

  • Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice (you can substitute a well-flavored vinegar if you don't have local lemons and want to stick to local ingredients) and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I am afraid I have not found a local substitute for this one). 

  • Next, combine olive oil and canola oil to get a total of 1 and 1/2 cups of oil. (The original recipe suggests 3/4 cup of each, but I find the olive oil can be a bit strong, so sometimes I use less olive oil and more canola. But there's no reason not to experiment with different kinds of oils to come up with the combination you like best.)
  • Assemble your food processor with the eggs, lemon juice, and mustard. (Do not add the oil yet.) Start it up at a slow speed. 
  • Start pouring in the oil in a slow and steady stream. This is really important: Do not dump it in quickly. It should look like this:

  • Keep adding the oil slowly and steadily until you have poured it all into the egg mixture. It will take several minutes.
  • When it's done, turn off the food processor. Mix in salt and white pepper to taste (I add about a teaspoon of salt and a generous sprinkling of pepper) and voila, you've got mayo!

Of course, you can use it on sandwiches and make flavored spreads by adding herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and so on. 

Or, you can use some of it to make crab cakes! Thankfully Maryland Blue Crabs are definitely local, and I haven't tasted a better crab. I started with Paula Deen's recipe for crab cakes and adapted it to what I had on hand and to my preferences. Instead of using green onions, I chopped some spring onions that I picked up from the farmer's market a few days ago:

They are about to go under the knife.
My knife has done its dirty work. Mwa ha ha ha!
I eliminated the green bell pepper, the Worcestershire sauce, and the cayenne pepper (unfortunately my four-year old son doesn't like hot food) and substituted fresh breadcrumbs for the cracker crumbs. 

Also, instead of dredging the cakes in flour, I coated them with more fresh bread crumbs: 

Then I fried them over medium-high heat for about four minutes per side and served them up with a nice veggie stirfry. My husband said they were the best crab cakes he had ever had! (Of course, I paid him to say that.)

More pretty, easy, and delicious food: Slice onions into strips, julienne carrots, and thinly slice radishes (these were the first harvest from my garden). Heat oil in a wok, add onions and stir quickly until they are translucent. Add carrots and radishes and stir until they are tender. Add a splash of soy sauce. You can pretty much substitute any veggies that you have on hand. If you have greens, add them last and stir until wilted.