Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kale and Seaweed Salad. And Qs about Online Sharing

I’ve written three very different versions of this blog post this week. I thought that I was rejecting drafts because I couldn’t get the voice right, but today it occurred to me that it’s the content that was giving me difficulty. I don’t have an answer to the questions that I’m posing; in fact, I don’t even know if they’re the right questions. So this entry is less of a declarative statement than a snapshot of the ideas swimming in and out of focus in my head. Really, I’d just like to grab a beer and have a spirited debate on the subject. So, imagine your favorite draft in hand and bear with me. And this is a soliloquy only due to the format choice – I really would like to hear your point of view.

Why share personal content online? That is the question. Recipes, photos, anecdotes, opinions, musings. Facebook, flickr, blogspot, twitter, Google Buzz, Google Reader. Why share?

That of course begs the question, “sharing with whom?” Because I update my Mom on my latest adventures for different reasons than I post a recipe for a bunch of (very agreeable) strangers. Or at least I think they’re different reasons.

In no particular order: archiving valuable information (recipes, photos) for easy retrieval, getting feedback and thereby validation on creative attempts, keeping in touch/strengthening relationships with distant friends and family, creating communities out of strangers, enjoying hearing myself talk uninterrupted on my soapbox, immediate attention from a wide audience, “popularity” (albeit highly transient…obsessing over hit rates and comment counts…blogging as a gateway drug…).

Why do you share? I bet your first answer is a highly logical, rational, reasonable one. I’m interested to hear that reason, but I’m also interested in the more subconscious one lying just under the surface.

Realization/Confession: I’m an information junkie. My crack is highly concentrated doses of really high quality content, content that pushes my brain to think slightly differently and makes me want to start a discussion with somebody immediately. A juicy local news item pertaining to a business or neighborhood or government institution that I know. An artistically impressive photo that succeeds in communicating a complex set of feelings. A blog post that not only disseminates a recipe but is able to articulate and therefore pass on the meaning buried in that particular combination of ingredients and technical steps. Or the briefest of high quality content messages -- and these days, one I come across with alarming frequency, the facebook update “X has gotten married.”

Quality. À la Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

This is important, because I’m trying to figure out how I want to use this blog and my flickr space. Whom am I posting for? How much personal detail is too much? How can I create and share compelling content while protecting myself emotionally and honoring the privacy of my loved ones? Ironically, I feel more comfortable sharing terribly intimate musings with perfect strangers than with remote acquaintances who know me in real life.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Oh, and this recipe. One of the best parts about living in a place and in a social circle where vegetables carry no stigma is that we’ve learned to expect them to be fun. This recipe honors the ingredients that go into it, producing something that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s one of those rare reasons to love winter produce, that interminable sea of tough greens. The salad itself is fast, flavorful, and incredibly forgiving: change the ratio of greens to seaweed, supplement kale with chard, add mushrooms to make a hearty lunch… you really can’t go wrong. Believe me: we must have made this recipe 5,000 times while I was in grad school. It’s also vegan; translation: Everybody Will Like It. We bring it to almost every potluck we’re invited to between October and March.

Kale and Seaweed Salad (serves six as a side)

1 bunch Kale or Chard
1/2 cup seaweed flakes ("sea vegetable" - dried or fresh. Our grocery sells dried Wakame flakes in its Asian section.
1 Tbs peeled, minced ginger
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
Seasame oil
Soy Sauce

Optional: additional veggies like mushrooms or carrots, sliced.
Optional: 2 serrano peppers, chopped.

If using dried seaweed, let it soak in water 5 - 7 min. Drain and place in the serving bowl. Add 1 tsp sesame oil and the minced ginger.

Soak the Kale in water to loosen any dirt, rinse thoroughly. Chop in 1"x2" strips.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp sesame oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and serrano (if using) and gently sauté for 1 min.

Add the Kale and optional supplemental veggies and 3 Tbs Soy sauce. Sauté at high heat, stirring constantly. Alternatively, if not using mushrooms, turn heat to low and cover, cooking gently for 5-10minutes.

Add Kale to serving bowl, add sesame oil and soy sauce to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

1 comment:

Johanna GGG said...

I think that one of the main bonuses of being on the web is connections - those you want and sometimes those you don't - hence your question about personal revelations on the web. After well over 3 years of blogging I still struggle with how much to reveal but try to keep the boss factor in mind - how would you feel if your boss read this?

Of course there are other great benefits about being on the web - having an outlet for creativity, being able to organise your recipes or content (that is for info junkies like you and squirrels like me), learning from others (oops that is connections, isn't it?)

re the salad - sounds interesting but kale is hard to come by here and although I have three types of seaweed in my kitchen right now (yes that is crazy) I can't quite imagine the seaweed you use in the recipe - but I can't help thinking it would be great with some tofu