Remember that cold I told you about in my last post? Well, it turned out to be bronchitis. I've spent the better part of three weeks coughing incessantly, which, by the way, has really helped with the healing from the back surgery. It's been a lot of fun. Ahem.
Luckily, most of that is behind me and I'm finally starting to feel pretty good again. I'm doing everything in moderation, and it's nice.
All this downtime has given me a chance to catch up on my reading. Wes recently gave me Mark Bittman's new book: The Food Matters Cook Book: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living.
I've read and enjoyed Bittman for years in the New York Times, have a couple of his earlier cookbooks, and read his original Food Matters book.
Bittman is a voice of reason in the firestorm and confusion surrounding food and food politics. A few years ago his doctor told him his blood pressure and cholesterol were high, and despite decades as an avid runner, years of living the rich, food-writer lifestyle had taken a toll.
So, he made some changes. He now eats vegan until dinnertime, most days, and has created a collection of recipes that focus mostly on vegetables, with meat in a supporting role. He's lost 35 pounds and his medical numbers are back to healthy levels.
While I don't see myself going vegan, even part-time, I can relate to the idea of eating less meat, less often. I'm comfortable with treating it more like a condiment or side dish than a main course.
And I already limit my dairy intake to yogurt and cheese, since I don't tolerate milk or certain other dairy products particularly well.
But what I like about Bittman's book is he doesn't approach it as an activist -- he doesn't insist you adopt his lifestyle, or anyone else's. It's about getting educated and making your own choices -- doing what works for you.
He offers common-sense advice, stuff we all know: reduce animal products, enjoy plants "with abandon," add more beans and whole grains, avoid processed foods and make room for treats. Don't deprive yourself, just don't go overboard.
With this in mind, the book even contains beef recipes, including this one that instantly appealed to me: Kimchi Rice with Beef. It's so simple, even a sick, injured person can manage it, and so satisfying you'll come back to it again and again.
I adapted the recipe: I used a very good quality cole slaw mix from my local independently owned market instead of a whole cabbage, added a couple of handfuls of shredded carrot, upped the ginger by a tablespoon, reduced the red chile flakes by half a tablespoon, used reduced-sodium soy sauce and added 4 extra ounces of flank steak.
I know what you're thinking, I missed the whole point by adding extra meat. But, again, it's about choices and even with the added amount, the recipe yielded about 3 ounces of meat per person. Moderation, right?
Kimchi Rice with Beef
Adapted from Mark Bittman, serves 4
12 ounces coleslaw mix (or one head of cabbage, shredded)
1 cup shredded carrots
6 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon sugar (I used sugar in the raw, aka Demerera sugar)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces beef flank or skirt steak, very thinly sliced
2 cups cooked short- or long-grain brown rice
Put the cabbage and carrots in a colander and toss well with two tablespoons of salt. Let it sit over a bowl until it wilts at least two hours. Rinse the mixture well and pat dry.
Combine scallions, garlic, ginger, chile flakes sugar and soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix, then toss in cabbage. Allow to sit another two hours.
When the kimchi is ready, put a large, deep skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 3-4 minutes. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is seared but still pink inside, 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef from the skillet.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, swirl it around, and begin to add the rice a bit at a time, breaking up any clumps and stirring into the oil. When all the rice is added, cook, stirring frequently, until the rice becomes nice and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the kimchi. Serve hot or at room temperature.