To the Next Superfood
To whom it may concern
and who has ears to learn,
what passes the test one
day will fall out of favor.
Even now, I try and savor
my name in newsprint,
the widespread popularity,
my far-reaching availability,
and the rich talking points
that come with this gig each day:
high in iron! Vitamin C, A and K!
Carotenoids! Flavonoids! Iron!
I can’t shake that while it’s all true
why you buy me is because I’m “new.”
Ask acai or broccoli, salmon or spinach.
Every superhero has its moment
to be eclipsed by what’s current.
I will still be as valuable when I’m
no longer en vogue. Just look at
my role in the Middle Ages, what
a supplement I played in WW II.
So even when you say you’re through
with my curly green edges or you’ve
tired of crisping me into cheesy chips,
I will keep growing and begin to regale
because nothing not even turmeric
can take on brassica oleracea, the mighty kale!
© Annelies Zijderveld. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or post without attribution.
Greens in Winter
Stiff edged leaves want
to stick fingers, prick them
if unaware of their nature.
Winter has left us
bereft, for years we knew
what to expect. But now,
farmers throw their hands
out to the fields, then up to
the skies. When precipitation
makes some states quake,
ours is notably barren.
The dustbowl is what came
of December, long remembered
for rain. We ask ourselves if
the Bay area could become L.A.
even as a cloud of smog hovers
where the fingers of fog used
to snake over green hills as cover.
To take a season and shake it up
like a snowglobe is to redistribute
what is known with the unknown,
leaving us to pray for rain for a Fuyu
tree in Anderson valley, to wait and see
if in a year the fruit will blossom and grow.
STINGING NETTLE SOUP
This soup’s bright green color is the perfect pick-me-up for a cold January evening. Sumptuous without being overly indulgent, the almond milk gives just enough of a creaminess with a smidge of warming nutmeg added that lets the subtle flavor of nettles shine. Take note and wear gloves as suggested below. Stinging nettles get their name for a reason when raw, but once cooked, they can be used in similar ways as spinach.
YIELD: 4-6 servings
8 ounces of stinging nettles
3 cups of spinach
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups almond milk
freshly cracked black pepper
Slip your hands into gloves and rinse the nettles. Bring a heavy bottomed pot 3/4 full of water to a boil. With gloves still on, move the nettles and spinach into the pot. Submerge them with a wooden spoon, letting them cook for 10 minutes. Drain them and squeeze the liquid out of the greens between two paper towels .
Meanwhile, chop the onion. Turn the heat under a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and butter until melted. Saute the onion until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, the nettles and spinach. Saute for 4 minutes.
Puree the soup in two batches until it’s smooth, adding 1 cup of almond milk each time. Serve with crusty bread, the kind that has enough personality to be a bit sour.
OTHER RECIPES WITH STINGING NETTLES
Stinging Nettle Spaetzle – Honest-Food
Pasta with Stinging Nettles and Ramps Pesto – Sassy Radish
Stinging Nettle Ravioli Gnocchi – A Hungry Bear Won’t Dance
Nettle and Ricotta Tart – Treehugger
Stinging Nettle Omelette – Nourished Kitchen
I will not write the word pumpkin.
I will not see the word pumpkin.
I will not smell it spiced with cinnamon or sage.
No, I will close my eyes to the round, rippled orbs
and ask more from the September sandwich board.
I will ask it for patience and if it presses, time.
I will mock its fealty to capitalism at all costs
even as it shuns the last crops of peaches,
snubs the new bounty of icebox cold plums.
What begins must end. How we speed cycle
trying to grasp immortality. In my hand, a fig,
and in the other hand, a Purple Cherokee
stained green and red that when cut oozes
juice and jelly. No pumpkin can kiss bacon
and lettuce rightly, nor can it confer to marinara
the flavor of a simple San Marzano tomato.
So, please pass on the Pumpkin Spice latte
until the air curls at the edges like the leaves
drying upon their branches. They too will fall
when the light dwindles at work day’s end.
Until then, savor the Sungold, relish the Roma,
Let the Early Girl catch the worm.
TOMATO BASIL BAKED OATMEAL FOOD POETRY
get the recipe
Nails in hand, hammer in the other we assess the long wall along the Abbey Coffeehouse, already pocked with the absence of previous nails. Along the muted grey hallway, we measured and marked, then hammered and nailed up the Cranberry Lassi Food Poem.
The day started long and lazy, dead center of Independence Day weekend. We lolled about the house, sipping tea and waking up until the clock forced us out into the beauty of an overcast Bay Area day in July. We drove down the 1, one side sturdy mountain, the other breathless Pacific Ocean surf slapping the cliff. This road is deeply woven into our relationship like the gold bands encircling our ring fingers.
A slight rapping of wood on wood came from the backseat as we took a curve quickly, nothing that my balled up jacket stuck in the box couldn’t suppress. In the backseat, two boxes with 21 picture frames in tow propelled us forward to one of our favorite California towns, Santa Cruz.
During July, two of my food poems, the Cranberry Lassi food poem and the Fennel Parsley Citrus Salad food poem will be hanging at the Abbey Coffeehouse. Put another way, I am the featured artist at the Abbey this month. It’s a surreal thing to see your work out in the world, to actually watch as people engage with it or provide their interpretations.
In the main front room where walls already are cheerfully checkered with mismatched mirrors, a barista pulls a shot of Verve coffee, its aroma permeating the room. College students and locals don their coffee tables as appendages much like the requisite open laptops. We scooted in between high top tables, doling out apologies to folks seated against the long wall where we would soon hang 13 frames.
Among the people we spoke with, one guy wore a tattoo on his forearm that clearly stated in block letters, LOVE. As I’ve learned every tattoo has a story, and I wanted to learn a bit of Brian’s. So, in spite of being a bit of a gnat buzzing in front of him, I asked.
I wondered aloud if it might be a relationship- a special person, perhaps? He explained quickly that he saw it as a reminder of a spiritual love. He described it as a post-it tattooed on his skin. And just like that, he turned his attention back to his computer screen, plugging his ears with music.
I couldn’t let it go. We measured and spaced out the first eight Fennel Parsley Citrus Salad food poem frames, later affixing the beet purple picture name tags. Afterwards, once we had gotten the hang of it, we hung the remaining five frames of a food poem inspired by a quote of Martin Luther King Jr’s.
We pulled together and scanned the long wall, taking in the photos of oranges fusing into parsley, and fennel. We surveyed our handiwork and found it to be good. We gathered what tools had accompanied us down to Santa Cruz, as we prepared to exit the Abbey and head to lunch with friends. Before leaving, I meandered over to the counter where Brian stood, talking with friends.
“Love. It’s one of the simplest mandates and one of the hardest to enact.”
He stood, nodding, as I talked about how the notion that we cannot drive out hatred with hatred- that only love can do that, compelled to share MLK Jr’s words and then point Brian to the Fennel Parsley Citrus Salad food poem and how it wrestles with the same issue of how do we adequately love our neighbor as ourselves. The golden rule isn’t honed from a lesser element. For a few more minutes we commiserated, the whine of a cappuccino being frothed in the background as music.
Should you find yourself in Santa Cruz during July, make a trip over to The Abbey for a latte (or Stumptown cold-brew) and a chance to see food poetry in the flesh. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say “in print.” I’m pretty ecstatic about hosting my first exhibit of food poems at the Abbey. Each piece is for sale with a portion of proceeds going to the California Food Literacy Center. The show runs through August 2nd, so if you’re local, jot down the Abbey address and check it out.
Broccoli gets passed over
so easily, perhaps florets
for breakfast don’t appeal.
It’s time to reconsider the
crown for the morning meal.
Break it up with a sharp
knife into bite-size bits.
Toss in fresh lemon zest
and garlic-infused olive oil
to convince an ornery guest.
Start with a humble tostada,
It transforms from tortilla
rounding its back with firm
resolve. Next come the beans,
their assembly questions the term
refried. White beans blend with
lemon, browned garlic, and spice.
Aleppo pepper and sumac turn the
pale hue peach and imbue a bit of
tart to play off the smashed garlic.
Now, smear bean spread on
the tostada, scatter its surface
with roasted broccoli bits and
stack julienne radish for crunch.
Pickle your radishes if you can
stand waiting. That tinge of sour pulls
it all together as your tostada takes
shape on an emerging colorful plate.
Protein, veggies, whole grains too,
tostadas might emerge in a spate
of recipes with no lack of application.
Back to our broccoli breakfast tostadas,
dab on spicy sambal oelek for heat.
And if desired, add a dollop of creamy
labneh on top for a mid-morning treat.
Not convinced? Most of it can be done
ahead. The day before: toast tortillas
into tostadas, make the bean spread,
slice radishes (or quick pickle them!)
and you, my friend are one step ahead.
What remains is to roast the broccoli
and assemble the morning of brunch.
You should score points for flavor,
color and comments from guests like,
This is a brunch that I want to savor.
– for Jacob –