Thursday, February 9, 2012

skinny dipping

When my oldest--who is about to get her driver's license may the good great spirit above bless and protect her--was about three years old, the parents at her school decided to produce a cookbook. The idea was to raise a little money for the school, and maybe we did. In the manner of such projects, we did it at such a cost to personal time and energies that it probably would not hold up to careful cost/benefit analyses, were it not for the lasting effect that we all have a copy of this now-tattered cookbook. The thing is gorgeous, thanks to my friend Julie. She had the idea to go all Moosewood and made us hand-write the recipes, and if it is possible to use a scanner lovingly, that is just what she did on dozens of our children's drawings, which illustrate the pages. There is something wild and fantastic about the drawings of a 3 to 6 year old. For one thing, they have almost no self-consciousness about getting anything to look "right," so they draw freely. For another, I think they are still receiving messages from the home planet; I swear I can see antennae crackling over their heads as they earnestly transcribe some wild mental image to the page.

One of the best sections of the book is a compendium of little ways to get reluctant eaters to eat. Two of the most magical methods, which I continue to employ happily with eaters of all ages, are to impale things on a stick, and to serve them with dip. Dip rocks. With dip, persons overcome their objections in many surprising ways. The vegetable is just a utensil, after all, to get more dip.

I have moaned enough about eating travel-weary vegetables in the winter that I could use a few tricks myself to make them go down more appealingly. The main problem I encountered making this dip was fitting my head into the blender container to get all the dip out, and I hope you face the same.

This recipe calls for preserved lemons. If you don't have any of these, use a fat pinch of salt in their place and vow to get your hands on some, or make some yourself.

vegetable lubricant
makes about 3/4 cup

2T tahini
1T raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup or one good handful of flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c good olive oil
2 slices of preserved lemon (about 2T)
2T lemon juice
2T water
1 t cumin
pinch to 1/4 t cayenne pepper or paprika, to taste

Put all of this in a blender and blend, baby, blend. It will be a gorgeous green color. Although I didn't manage it for the photo above, serve it with skinny twigs of carrot, fennel, cucumber, jicama, endive, celery, bell pepper, sweet japanese turnip, radish--whatever looks good. Make the twiglets skinny, so people reach for them without thinking too hard about whether or not they object to that vegetable on principle.


  1. Please scan the entire cookbook and post it here. If it's not too much trouble, I mean. My mother still has the 1970's version of this project, which we did in one of my classes. I explained (and illustrated) how to make pumpkin pie. I believe that I told people to bake it for six hours and whip the cream for an hour. Anyway, the cookbooks were reproduced on that most aromatic of obsolete machines and were ditto-master purple. Then we tied them with acrylic yarn to a construction paper cover. "The swift and inexorable passage of time" indeed.

  2. This looks fantastic, though the title made me think it was something vegetables used when having sex.

  3. You are right. That cookbook is the most often used book on my shelf. And don’t let’s tell Laura or GFL that I have two extra copies tucked in to my kids’ keepsake boxes. Julia has the cookbook in a file somewhere, digital that is.
    xoxoxo Love and hugs and salty lemons in soft boiled eggs served over parsley in a bowl with broken up chunks of toast and a little gouda. xoxoxo S


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