There are several people who have had a huge hand in transforming the way I cook and approach food. Michael Pollan has definitely had a hefty part in it. That is why I was so excited to finally hear him speak this weekend about his new book, Cooked. He is one of the leading voices of the local food movement, eating “real” food, and getting back into the kitchen and cooking with your family. I love it.
Before we left Oklahoma and moved to Kansas City, I thought I ate rather healthy. But I was still consuming a lot of processed food. I think a lot of people think this way, even when they still eat a lot of processed foods because the box saaaaays it’s healthy. Right? and why would a box or advertising lie to me? right? bonjour? But despite cooking “healthy”, I was getting sicker and sicker every day, literally. Everything I ate seemed to put my stomach into knots or stabbing pain or worse. I began an elimination diet. I came up with a new theory every day. At first I thought it was fatty meat…no meat! Then it was beans.. no beans! then it was dairy…. so I became vegan…. and by the end, I seriously was eating only oatmeal and sweet potatoes for months….MONTHS.
And then I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. At the same time, my cousin Sarah gave me an amazing book by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle. Reading these books were like discovering a deodorant that finally works, or finding the perfect pair of jeans, or realizing that you left ten bucks in your coat pocket last winter! If you are looking for a summer read, I recommend these books. Life…changed.
I immediately eliminated all processed foods. I was on a hunt for local sources of meat and produce. Everything changed…for the better. My health improved. My relationship with food was so much better. I discovered vegetables I had never heard of…what the crap is celeriac???? I grew a garden (helloooo rhubarb), learned to can, make pickles, and preserve food anyway possible. I basically got in touch with my inner grandma. I love it. My inner grandma loves it. My tummy loves it.
Fresh produce doesn’t always require a lot of spices because their natural flavor is enough. However, during this odd time between winter and spring, fresh produce includes greens, or peas, or tubers, or something that was canned from last year’s garden. Don’t be afraid by the long list of ingredients in this curry recipe. I promise this meal comes together rather quickly and yields an amazingly fresh and flavorful meal. Serve with rice or, for a grain free option, make ‘riced’ cauliflower (recipe below).
Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower (adapted from Food & Wine, January 2012)
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 lb grass-fed sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, about 1 cup diced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons madras curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 14 0z can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (light okay)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water or broth
- 1 medium sweet potato, 1-inch dice
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces*
- 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
- cilantro (optional)
- Heat coconut oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add diced sirloin steak and brown the pieces on all sides, about 5 minutes.
- Add onion, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, and salt and stir frequently until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and stir constantly and cook for an additional minute.
- Add canned tomatoes, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, water, diced sweet potatoes, and half of the diced cauliflower. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate heat and continue cooking covered until potato and cauliflower are tender (about 15 minutes).
- Turn heat to low. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon.
- Stir in frozen peas. Turn heat off and place lid on dutch oven, allowing peas to cook through for a few minutes. Add additional salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
- Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro and riced cauliflower (or regular rice). Directions for riced cauliflower are provided below.
*Riced Cauliflower – Place the other half of the diced cauliflower into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until you get rice-sized pieces. Do not over process or it will become puree cauliflower. Place in a microwaved-safe dish with a lid slightly ajar and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir.