Most people who know me will say (hopefully) that I'm a pretty easygoing person. It takes a fair amount to ruffle my feathers, and send me over the edge. The benefit of this, is that when I AM sent over the edge, people take notice. This isn't always good, of course, but it does get people to stop and take pause.
I felt pretty ruffled this week. Not because any one thing had happened to set me off, but I've spent every day this week, from 8:30 until about 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon in meetings, glued to a hard plastic chair, in a drafty room, staring at what by Thursday looked to be the same PowerPoint presentation I'd already seen several times over on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Wednesday I headed back to my office for a lunch break (except I'd forgotten to bring my lunch) and found an e-mail announcing yet another meeting on...Friday afternoon.
This all made for a very cranky, put out, and hungry me by the time I left campus that afternoon. I'm sure I had a black storm cloud positioned, cartoon-like, over my head as I walked to the car. I should have headed straight home, but I had groceries to buy, and on an impulse, bypassed my usual grocery store, and stopped off at Whole Foods instead.
I know there's a universal piece of advice out there about NOT going into a grocery store when you're hungry. Certainly, it's expensive to stop into Whole Foods when your stomach is rumbling, and you have a black storm cloud over your head, and everything looks so good and necessary: the crisp, curled greens, the round, fragrant apples, the rows of carrots, the neat, golden loaves of bakery bread enclosed in their crinkly cellophane, and those fresh cookies! Then, when I pushed my shopping cart briskly past the dried dates and dark chocolate piled high next to the fresh blueberries, I rounded the corner and saw the food sample guy offering up dixie cups filled with the most enticing-smelling stew.
I have a love/hate relationship with this particular food sample guy. He whips up marvelous concoctions, but never seems willing to share his recipes--not even with a fellow foodie like myself. Oh, he's fine with listing the ingredients on a mini chalkboard next to the pot he keeps simmering on the hot plate, but I have never managed to get him to give up the exact recipe, or to even divulge the order in which he cooks the ingredients. At that moment, though, I didn't care. The stew was everything I wanted: hot and tangy, with mysterious mounds of vegetables that dissolved in my mouth. The chalkboard read:
Ginger Tamari Sauce
I dutifully purchased everything but the last three ingredients (I buy the fresh ginger tamari sauce that Whole Foods sells in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle, but you can probably make your own--here's a link to a quick and easy one) and carted it all home triumphantly. Happily, it all came together tasting just like the stew I'd sampled at the store earlier that afternoon. And, unlike the mysterious tight-lipped Whole Foods sample guy, I'll gladly share the recipe with you.
Winter Vegetable Stew
(I wanted to call it Black Cloud Day Stew)
Ingredients (see list above)
I used about 4 medium red potatoes, and four turnips, but you can vary depending on how many people you're cooking this for. I also used four largish leeks, too.
First, wash and peel the potatoes and turnips. Chop into small cubes, or pieces. Put potatoes and turnips in a large pan of boiling water and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. I tested with a fork, to make sure the fork could pierce the vegetables, but don't cook them until they get so soft they disintegrate. Remember, the potatoes and turnips will cook some more in the tamari sauce later.
While the water is boiling, prepare the leeks. I could go on and on about how much Scott and I love leeks, and I buy them whenever I can. Years ago a good friend and wonderful cook showed me how to prepare leeks. If you haven't lucked upon a lesson in leek preparation yourself, and you're intimidated by the whole process, don't be! You can check here for the lowdown on what to do with those beautiful leeks you just bought.
Saute the washed and sliced leeks in olive oil until tender, but not brown. By now the potatoes and turnips should be done. Drain.
In another large pot, combine the cooked leeks, the potatoes and turnips, and some salt and pepper. Add enough ginger tamari sauce to cover the mixture. Simmer for about ten minutes until everything is heated through, and smelling wonderfully.
Serve by itself with crusty bread (we ate ours with biscuits), or over a bed of rice.