Hello all. I apologize for the lack of posts last week. This blog was experiencing some technical difficulties… the photos that I took for my last dinner cook didn’t transfer to my computer. So I have a little catching up to do before spring break. It’s ok. It’ll work out in the end.
So you might be wondering about this Pineapple Debacle. Why would a harmless pineapple cause a debacle? Why is that even a part of my post?
Well, in order to fully understand the role of the pineapple, we have to look at our menu for Tuesday night.
Very simple and healthy, but still delicious. Mostly seasonal. Except for this pineapple…
But before delving into the pineapple issue, let’s talk about the other food prep we needed to do to make this dinner.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, not like this) is a great grain. The only grain that’s actually a complete protein, it’s a nutritional powerhouse. And they get all cute and round when they’re cooked, with little curlicue tails.
But before you cook the quinoa, you have to wash them really well; the grains themselves have a bitter coating that serves as a defense mechanism against hungry quinoa-eating creatures.
Once those were washed, I put them in a big pot with pineapple juice, water, and soy sauce. Quinoa is a little tricky to cook in such large quantities.. It can absorb too much water, and end up sticky and clumped instead of being separated into nice, little grains. Which is kind of what happened here.. But don’t worry. I MADE IT WORK.
Next, I steamed the edamame (more protein!), and shelled them.
Let’s just say that next time, we should definitely buy edamame that’s been pre-shelled. It’ll make all of our lives easier, I promise.
Next, I chopped up lots of other vegetables/herbs/fruit:
Ginger and garlic.
Alright, here’s the issue with pineapple. Obviously, pineapples are not grown in the mainland United States. There are some grown in Hawaii, but most of the world’s pineapples come from Southeast Asia, or South America, or the Caribbean. So no matter what, our pineapple isn’t going to be local. And considering that most of these countries are developing or undeveloped countries, the workers’ ethics aren’t ideal, to say the least. Workers get only 4% of the final value of pineapple sales, and they work without shelter, exposed to harsh sun and rain. Most pineapple plantations and packing facilities also work 24-hour days, and the work required is physically intensive.
This is the case with most tropical fruits: avocadoes, bananas, mangoes, sometimes pomegranates… So whenever we want to add these fruits to our menu, meal planners will bring it up at the meeting and ask if anyone is against us eating un-local or unseasonal produce. No one usually has a problem with it, especially if we’re only using one pineapple or avocado, but we do try to limit these “special” fruits and eat them only once or twice a month. Trust me, we all love avocadoes and pineapples, and if we could eat them every week we could. But thinking of our food values and the worker’s conditions, we try to do our part and limit our tropical fruit intake.
With that in mind, let’s get to dissecting this pineapple. The way my mom taught me to cut pineapple is to first lop of the top and the bottom so you have a flat surface to work off of. Then cut the pineapple into quarters vertically and cut off the spiney skin, making sure to get the seeds. Also remember to take off the core.. That part isn’t very edible.
Once all the individual vegetables had been chopped and I had my mise en place set up (i.e. everything is ready), I started getting my sauté going.
I started cooking the edamame and bell peppers first, sautéing them in a little oil until the peppers had softened.
Afterwards, I added the scallions, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes. The recipe called for jalapenos, but we didn’t have any.. so chili flakes it was!
Once the veggie mix started getting fragrant, I tossed in the cooked quinoa, stirred, added the pineapple, stirred some more, and drizzled some soy sauce for seasoning, stirring one more time.
I finished this quite early, so once everything was mixed together, all I did was take it off the heat and covered the pot to keep the quinoa warm.
My fellow dinner-cooks were busy making their respective dishes:
Peeling and cutting sweet potatoes into sticks, tossing them with oil and seasonings, then baking them until they turn into sweet potato fries.
Not quite as crunchy as french fries, but nonetheless delicious with ketchup.
The kale salad involved …
A lot of kale. Obviously. Which took a lot of time to de-stem and slice. Because kale stems aren’t the easiest things to chew..
And also sliced onions, which were marinated in olive oil, salt, and pepper to reduce some of their bite.
Then the whole thing was tossed together, and drizzled with a little more dressing. I know raw kale isn’t the most common use for kale.. It’s usually sauteed or baked into kale chips. But the CoOp has been really into raw kale salads lately. When done right, the kale has been well-massaged and tenderized with dressing, and tastes really yummy.
As it turns out, this was a very Whole Foods-y dinner, aka something that you might eat at the salad bar in Whole Foods. I do not have a problem with that.
One bit of sad news: I’m not dinner cooking this week. Because everyone’s going on spring break this week, our 5 hours of chores have been cut down to 4.5. And I opted for granola-making instead of dinner-cooking, which I will be blogging about. Hurrah for crunchiness (both literal and metaphorical).
But anyhow.. Midterms, here I come.
P.S. I got a new camera – the Nikon D7000. The photos this hunk o’ metal takes are absolutely GORGEOUS, and will be featured on my next post. As will videos, because yes, this DSLR has a video function. Get pumped.