Thursday, March 31, 2022

What’s cooking in my kitchen and happening in the world

In my kitchen in March, I tried quite a few new recipes for various vegetable dishes, and I want to share them with the other bloggers who participate in Sherry’s blog event called “In My Kitchen.” I’m always happy to see what others have written about their kitchens — but also saddened by a few spoilers who link posts that have no kitchen content, nothing but a recipe, an old blog post, or even just an ordinary post about some unrelated topic. It’s too bad when they do this at Sherry’s blog event or other blog events. Many of the committed participants -- whom I feel are my friends on almost every continent -- share new things they have acquired for their kitchens, which is always fun. So here is a wrap-up of what's been happening in my kitchen, and what I've been thinking about.

Trying New Recipes

Raw carrot salad with dates and almonds. (Recipe here)

Steamed Brussels sprouts: to be cooled & tossed with parmesan and pecorino cheese 
 and dried fruits and nuts. Recipe from combined sources online.

Aloo Gobi: the “dry” version without tomato sauce.
A classic made with cauliflower, potatoes, and Indian spices.

Squash made from a recipe in my Ethiopian cookbook.

Red beans to go with brown rice. A vegetarian version of the Louisiana dish.
I started with a recipe, but used canned beans and smoked paprika in place of
ingredients suggested (source).

Dressing: kefir, mayonnaise, chopped green onion, crushed garlic, dill, fines herbes, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper
Veggies: fresh green bean, frozen peas, and to be added: leaf lettuce

Old Favorites

Shakshouka: the tomato sauce is simmering, the eggs ready to be poached.

Artichokes waiting to be steamed and eaten with melted butter.
Small Campari tomatoes are a winter treat!

Salmon patties, which I made from frozen salmon filets.
My mother's recipe, but she used canned salmon.

Len made a few batches of bread.

Outside my Kitchen

On my week of travel in March: I watched this vendor making tortillas on a tortilla press at the Charlottesville Art Park.

Food Thoughts about the War Zone

Everyone expected the war to end in March, but it goes on and on, increasing the suffering of the citizens of Mariupol, Kyiv, Kharkiv. Kherson, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, and numerous other cities. Haunting images of bombed-out apartment towers, ruined cultural institutions, subway stations turned into bomb shelters, and makeshift graves appear in newspapers day after day, along with reports that supplies of food and safe drinking water are becoming scarce or nonexistent. 

Bread distribution in a subway station in Kharkiv. (source: UN)
One of many brutal Russian actions was killing people in a bread line.

Each day there is a new total for the number of Ukrainians displaced by the war. Endless streams of refugees are arriving in the surrounding countries with almost nothing of their former lives. The refugee total beyond the borders of Ukraine is now more than 4 million! People throughout the affected areas, aid organizations, and local and foreign governments are struggling to provide basic food and shelter to displaced residents, to people stranded in the devastated areas, and to those that have fled across the borders. 

World Central Kitchen, for example, was founded by the chef José Andrés, and is one of many organization providing meals to Ukrainian refugees. World Central Kitchen was recognized for success with previous disaster relief efforts; for example, they were among the most helpful after the hurricane in Puerto Rico a few years ago. They have set up a kitchen just over the Ukrainian border with Poland where large numbers of refugees are fleeing to try to find safety from the invasion.

World Central Kitchen operating in Poland in March.

Hunger and heroism are hand in hand throughout the devastated areas. Here is a description from mid-March of the efforts of one Ukrainian corporation, attempting to deal with the food shortages in cities that are being attacked:

"MHP, the sixth-largest poultry exporter in the world and said to be the biggest food company still operating in Ukraine, is giving away as many as 330 tons of chicken every day to feed thousands of civilians in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol under attack by Russian forces led by President Vladimir Putin. The courage comes in getting the food safely to destinations, bypassing blown-up bridges, maneuvering checkpoints, avoiding bombed-out terrain—and death. There’s no telling how many Ukrainians are living in desperate circumstances, without heat or sustenance, but reports of apartment buildings and hospitals ablaze in residential neighborhoods are frequent."  
“'It’s a humanitarian crisis,' said John Rich, chair of MHP, an Australian who’s running the company from safer ground in Slovenia. 'People in bombed-out areas have no access to anything.' 
"Thousands of drivers in Ukraine are embarking on what Rich called suicide missions to bring vans full of chicken to people who’ve gone days without food. Many of the drivers are new employees who turned to MHP after the closing of other companies, including MHP’s competitors.” (Source: Forbes)

This particular producer is currently struggling to maintain production in the agricultural areas of Ukraine, where the invasion has not destroyed the infrastructure. The spring planting season begins now, and they are trying to establish a way to keep going, and to continue exporting food, despite the war.  Details about their struggles give some insight into how the war is affecting the areas outside Ukrainian cities. (Source: Bloomberg)

The disruption of Ukrainian agriculture is a looming threat to global food supplies, as Ukraine is a major international agricultural supplier; however the immediate threat of hunger and even starvation is an unthinkable part of the life of large numbers of people in Ukraine right now, and my kitchen thoughts turn to them.

Ukrainian grain-processing plant as photographed last year. (source)

Blog post © 2022 mae sander.


DVArtist said...

Love your kitchen and the food you prepared. Bless the people who help those that are hungry. Chef Jose Andres is a hero for sure. I love ready your posts.

Jeanie said...

Wow -- those Brussels sprouts look good. Lots of it looks good. You're an inventive and active cook, Mae, and I admire that. Thanks for saying "World Central Kitchen" -- you saved me having to google Jose Andreas-food to get to the link to donate!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Mae,

All your dishes/meals and the bread look delicious. I watched Chef Jose Andres on the news recently, I am glad to see the Ukrainian people have help with food supplies. Take care, enjoy your day!

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the In My Kitchen blog posts. I'm saddened by people having to leave loved ones behind to survive. But heartbroken that people who've stayed in Ukraine might starve to death. And when this War ends how will anything be restored? Just too awful all around. Your green salad sounds delicious, and as usual Len's bread looks amazing.

Iris Flavia said...

This post made me hungry in more than one way.
To see your delicious cooking and the people standing in line for a bread - and being shot for that.
It´s sad, mad, crazy. My new teamleader is Ukrainian and just came back from Kiev. I nearly cried listening to his words.
Glad they try to keep agriculture at life.

Sherry's Pickings said...

i love brussels sprouts and cauliflower. The brassica family is a fave:) So many people and organisations are helping out Ukraine, thank heavens. Boo to Putin or Putrid Putin as i call him. Thanks for joining in IMK as ever... Much appreciated. Yes let's hope those opportunists who whack their unrelated posts on the IMK link just go away. Salmon patties are fabulous. I too use fresh salmon these days. Great loaf from Len. Here's hoping and praying that Putin gets mm shall we say? taken out!

My name is Erika. said...

Nice kitchen Mae. And you had lots of yummy food. Too bad you can't directly send some of it to those poor people from Ukraine. It wasn't long ago they could enjoy meals like we do, and now they stand in lines for sustenance. It's really sad. hugs-Erika

Divers and Sundry said...

All of my cabinets are closed, but I like the look of yours. It's interesting to see other people's kitchen spaces. Thanks!

The beans look especially tasty and will be perfect with the brown rice. That's how I'm used to it, though your beans have more in them than mine ever do. I need to broaden my horizons and punch up my recipe. I make my salmon patties with canned salmon, too. Easy, aren't they :) The bread looks delicious!

It's encouraging to see people who have the know-how and ability to do something actually doing something. What a blessing!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I want to know more about your refrigerator/freezer. I'm looking for that style and would love any input I can get. Love your kitchen cabinets, too.

Your vegetarian dishes sound great. I was especially interested in the Indian dish, because Sally and I are going to an Indian restaurant soon.

Len's bread DEFINITELY looks good enough to eat!

Tina said...

Chef Jose Andres was one of the chefs submitted for I Haert Cooking Club this round. he didn't get the votes so we are cooking from Dorie Greenspan's recipes, but I did read about him and he's a wonderful humna being.

Love your kitchen and the blue tile. Lots of good meals in your kitchen too.

Debra Eliotseats said...

I should keep a better log of what I cook (besides what I post) and use those dishes for IMK, too. I always appreciate your commentary, Mae. Be safe and well!

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

My mother made salmon patties once a week when I was growing up. She always paired it with macaroni and cheese. The situation in Ukraine is dreadful and so sad for the innocent people of Ukraine. Your kitchen is lovely. Thanks for sharing the full snapshot!

Claudia said...

May God bless those who are helping on the ground, and through donations! I've been experimenting more as well with vegetable dishes lately, getting some good inspiration from Milk Kitchen Vegetables.

Marg said...

My husband would love that brussel sprouts salad!

francesca said...

Very tempting vegetarian dishes Mae.
When will it end, this era of chaos, war, plague and climate disaster. The situation in the Ukraine grows worse each day. Focussing on the issue of food, food shortages, hunger and displacement from home and kitchen is most pertinent in a blog about kitchen stuff. Your extracts were great to read . This is the very human consequence of invasion. It is immediate. Food and food supplies form the very basis of existence. If only our kitchens could help.

Liz said...

Thanks for the picture of the actual place where you cook Mae. You have some wonderful dishes, cheers for your creativity. And the situation in Ukraine is indeed sad and angering. It is inspiring to read about the courage of those who have stepped up to help on the ground.

Johanna GGG said...

You have such wonderful food here - I was just thinking of making a curry with cauliflower today so your aloo gobi looks like something I hope to make soon. Love the fancy brussel sprouts, the green bean salad and the Louisiana red beans. And Len's bread and the street tortillas look wonderful.

It makes us remember how lucky we are to eat well when we see what is happening in the Ukraine - it is so unjust to see how much the ordinary folk are killed and/or traumatised when power crazy leaders are trying to get what they want. It is a terrible situation but it is good to see the kindness and bravery of people such as the World Central Kitchen and the drivers of the MHP