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A Week at My Table: by Paula Redinger

A snapshot of what it’s like in one of our busy volunteer’s kitchens during a typical week

With work back and seemingly trying to make up for lost time, the languid COVID-furlough days of making elaborate layered lasagnas of homemade pasta and CSA greens have evaporated like a dream (or COVID nightmare, depending on the day). Now, my greens are more likely to be tossed into an improvised minestrone (kale), served alongside Josh’s eggs (hon tsai tai), or wilted and stirred into sesame noodles (mizuna, mustards), the sauce for which is composed wholly of bottled and jarred items scavenged from my refrigerator door. On other days, I profit from kitchen tasks of the past, defrosting caramelized onions and turkey broth, both of which land on the table under a slice of broiled Barrio Bread and cheese, in the form of a quick French onion soup. A contrasting fresh punch of crunchy, peppery marinated grated radishes and salad turnips balance the rich tasting soup perfectly.

But sometimes, whether I’m planning for it or not, a different flavor unexpectedly crosses my palate, insisting I ignore work deadlines in favor of a little kitchen play. Last week, too hungry to even walk home from work without first grabbing something to eat, I picked up a stuffed dosa (a sort of crepe made from fermented rice and lentils) from Bombolé, downtown. Blammo! The accompanying cilantro sauce was so delicious, it had me running home and yanking open my crisper drawer, saying prayers that my own cilantro was still good. (It was.) Although I started with a printed recipe, I veered madly off course, making a glorious mess of my kitchen, for what should have been a ten minute project. I ultimately arrived at a cilantro purée flavored with fresh serrano chile, garlic, cumin, amchoor (powdered green mango), and more lemon juice than I ever would have guessed. The result – a tangy, green splash of flavor, which I served atop cauliflower rice, chickpeas, and a bit of their savory broth – will surely become my new favorite strategy for using this perishable herb. And while my little concoction didn’t last long (not because it spoiled, but because I ate it all that same day), the craving for Indian flavors persists. Next up: cabbage and moong dal (peeled split mung beans), with an experimental shaved celery chutney.