The Brazen Kitchen Manifesto
Expand your palate, one vegetable at a time.
The Brazen Kitchen was spurred by Tom Philpott -- one of my favorite food policy writers. I was reading an article that he wrote on one of his best meals on the road: “It tasted healthy, but not in the way of banal “health food,” full of sprouts and Bragg’s amino acids…”
Then it hit me. Bam! An unexpected Emeril moment.
That’s it! Exactly. I hate that! The perception that the spectrum of plant-based, “health food” spans grilled vegetables with hummus on one end and on the other, Bragg’s-laced brown rice topped with tofu and sprouts. Neither of those are entirely objectionable but (1) its not what “we” eat every single day and (2) that is definitely not the gamut of gastronomic options we have.
So let me show you how vegetable epicuria can have as powerful pleasurable moan-inducing potential as the meat-centric kind. Let’s not forget that we are here on earth because Adam could not resist an apple. ;) An apple! Not a Baconator.
My passion for food is also informed by its role in our health and in environmental sustainability. As told in the gospels of Bittman and Pollan. So YES, good food and good health are not mutually exclusive! While I will leave it up to you to decide what way of life contributes best to optimum health, one thing is inarguable: decreasing our current rate of animal product and processed food consumption and increasing our consumption of plants will only contribute to better health. Read: I am not saying “jump on the veganwagon”. I am saying, “Eat more kale.”
Small steps. Eat more kale. It is delicious. Let’s start there.
It’s really not that hard. Have you ever tried one of Bryant Terry’s recipes? Cooking to a soundtrack? Get out! Or one of Babycakes’ desserts? Seal the deal. Talk about sexy.
So here I am. With my humble manifesto on what guides me.
1. Form + Function.
Modern, post-modern. The definition is fuzzy. I will echo though that we eat with all our senses. Design. Form. I will strive to feed all of yours. And surprise you at the same time that what you just had the pleasure of eating was actually…yep, good for you! Function.
2. Time is of the essence.
In two ways, actually. I know time is at a premium and I am not just saying that (read: I have a day job, two kids, a husband, and a house that refuses to clean itself) so most of the recipes here consider that and have been tested (well, because if I was able to make it… :) But, corollary to that — to make an impact in your life — I ask you to consider that food and cooking deserve time. See: Slow Food.
3. No frankenfood.
All the ingredients that I use are “real” – that is, I do not use “soy protein isolates” or any other chemically processed meat or cheese substitutes. Let’s eat plants in their whole, natural glory.
4. Flavor. Must. Have. Flavor.
I favor strong spices – my favorite mixes are garam masala, berebere, adobo, anything with chillies – fuego! — and even when I cook macrobiotic-style, I tend to amp up one dimension so that it stands out.
5. Monogamy has no place on the dining room table.
I encourage you to put as much variety as possible in everything you eat. For example, we all love wheat. But did you know about spelt, millet, quinoa, amaranth and teff? You don’t have to be gluten-sensitive to enjoy them. They are delicious and you’re missing out if you don’t try them. How about vegetables? Have you tried celeriac, daikon, sunchokes or even those dandelions in your yard? I will even introduce you to new sweeteners such as coconut palm sugar and brown rice syrup. There are already many great cookbooks out there that tackle the usual suspects. My recipes focus on broadening your pantry possibilities and introducing you to new and exciting tastes.
For sure, this blog is not meant to be a soapbox for veganism (or any -isms!) as the only way to go. I hesitate to claim such categorization myself. I would say, at best, I am a lapsed omnivore.
My hope is to inspire you to expand your palate, one vegetable at a time.