Monday, January 11, 2010

Perfect Dip and Kitchen Accessories

I had this dip for the first time on New Year's Eve served alongside cut radishes, and I declare it one of my favorite dips ever.
Based on an outline of the recipe given to me by the lovely hostess that night, I have already made it twice. My directions here are a little rough, but you really don't need them to be that precise.

4 ounces crème fraîche (I bet sour cream would taste good too, but I haven't tried it myself)
Several+ raw walnuts, very finely grated (or very finely chopped)
1/2 clove garlic, very finely grated (to a paste)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
A pinch each of salt and pepper, plus more to taste if desired
Spoon crème fraîche into a small bowl. Thoroughly stir in remaining ingredients, adding walnuts until dip reaches the desired consistency (as much as a handful--the more, the thicker). Also, more garlic can of course be added if desired, and other fresh herbs (like parsley or chives) can be used in addition or lieu of the green onion. Serve with raw veggies, chips, or crackers.

The garlic and walnuts I have been grating with a Microplane zester/grater, which is the easiest way I've found to achieve the desired results. The walnuts you just want to get broken down into tiny pieces, and they grate beautifully into fine shreds with this tool. And the idea with the garlic is to get it into a paste, which can also be done using a mortar and pestle or suribachi, methods which may even be superior as far as results go, but the Microplane does a good enough job for me and I love it for the ease it brings to the task. To those who've never used one of these, they are awesome. Seriously. As one reviewer on Amazon puts it, "It's just a grater. True. But it dazzles me with how amazingly well it does its simple chore. The teeth are unbelievably sharp! Like a magic wand, hard cheese, nutmeg, and ginger turn to fine snow at an easy stroke." Among the reviews are also many warnings to watch your knuckles and be careful of slippage, so just be advised (I've never had an issue, but I wouldn't want blood unwittingly drawn due to my recommendation).

Other kitchen accessories that have caught my eye lately:

  • Old-fashioned stainless steel ice cube trays (awesome, but expensive, jeez!)
  • These and these straws pique my curiosity (and there are glass ones, too--crazy!), but can you imagine cleaning them? Plus I don't really need/use straws too often.
  • Glass fat separator I have never used a fat separator but keep seeing them lately and actually just got one (plastic) for Christmas. This glass one looks very cool, but I'll wait and see if I find occasion to use the one I already have now before really considering it.
  • Glass pitcher with lid This looks nice and holds more than the one I already have, which I like--it looks attractive and the glass is nice and heavy-duty--but agree with the poor reviews about the lid (it doesn't actually seal and it causes the contents of the pitcher to dribble when poured--I just remove the lid to pour).

Yes, there is kind of a theme here. These are all items that you usually find made out of plastic, something I try to avoid, especially when it comes to things that come in contact with food and drink. This article talks about the reasons for that, and I am grateful for having this information, but it can also be overwhelming and depressing, and sometimes gives me a very defeated feeling. Plastic is just so very ubiquitous in our lives, complete avoidance is impossible, or very near it (I mean, the keys I'm typing this on right now are made of plastic, as are the glasses I'm wearing--which I love!). But soldier on I will in my efforts to at least keep it at a minimum, particularly around the food stuffs. I really could go on and on about this (coconut milk, my favorite "black" olives, sardines--they all come in cans which are undoubtedly plastic-lined, and I'm not about to give those things up), but I think I've made my point, and I just heard Enrique sing to himself and Zoë, "Twenty-five years later, Mama's still on her blog."

By the way, I expanded this post and then re-published it, so if you saw it earlier today and thought it was shorter, you're not going crazy! It's me that's crazy with my post-publishment blog post editing. It's actually a bad blogging habit I have--I often find myself kind of obsessively "fine-tuning" posts that are already published (usually right after I publish them, something about seeing the "final" post makes me come up with ever-so-slightly different ways I'd rather put things) but it just doesn't feel right. So I'll vow to cut that out right now, with the exception of for the purpose of layout issues (like if there's more space than I want between photos or something), because the "preview post" option isn't really accurate to how the post looks once published.

Update: Updates are, of course, permissable. And, you know what, I've thought it over, and "vow" is really too strong a word. How 'bout "try" instead? Hee hee. I like the feel of that better. I guess I don't really want to make any hard and fast promises about it, but I did want to share. Don't worry, the irony that I just changed my mind about something I'd already published isn't lost on me. I'm just crazy like a fox I guess (does anyone know where that term came from?).


  1. O C D.

    I love it. Change on!

  2. Olive Candy Dandy? Indeed! Ha ha. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. i love google....

    What are the origins of the phrase: crazy like a fox?

    CRAZY LIKE (OR AS) A FOX - ".seemingly foolish but in fact extremely cunning." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. And from a second reference: Crazy (Dumb, Sly) Like a Fox. Smart and resourceful. The fox has been celebrated for centuries as a crafty animal. Its wiles were remarked in the 'Trinity College Homilies,' dating from about 1200. S. J. Perelman made one of the phrases (Crazy Like a Fox) the title of a book in 1944." From the "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

    If you say, "He's crazy like a fox," you are saying that person is smart and can outwit other people. The image I get is that the actions of a fox appear a little crazy but he is in fact acting in a brilliant manner to save himself.