Cecilia Mazumdar Stanger
Mushrooms, the bane of picky eaters at pizza parties, pack a savory, secret weapon: umami. Umami is the rich, “meaty” flavor that comes about when glutamates are in food. Though Dr. Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo studied and named “umami” more than a century ago, it only recently joined the ranks of the basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
The few campus stragglers who have nowhere to go during Thanksgiving weekend shouldn’t feel depressed. Why not band together for a simple meal? Thanksgiving, in practice, is warm and inviting. It doesn’t rely upon receiving gifts, instead focusing on self-reflection and gratitude, familial connections and pigging out. These qualities can be practiced anywhere, including a tiny college kitchen.
After the supply of stale crackers and canned meat dwindles, coming across a cellar filled with preserved vegetables is a godsend in your typical post-apocalyptic narrative. Likewise, preserved vegetables can brighten up meals during those dystopian collegiate months when a trip to the grocery store sounds like climbing Mount Everest. Boasting most of the fiber and some of the vitamins contained in fresh vegetables, preserved fare renders winter less dreary. With the aid of refrigeration, home pickling is far from daunting. Pickled Pink
Yogurt is arguably one of the most useful refrigerated products. Lauded for its gut-friendly bacteria, yogurt has many applications: It works as a tangy substitute for buttermilk and sour cream, and marinades and smoothies demonstrate that it works in both sweet and savory preparations. Blending your own lassi is great, but handcrafting the fermented food that composes it is even more impressive.
Gathering around a heap of pasta lifts appetites and spirits. Noodles conjure memories of spaghetti dinners, sleepovers and family meals. Maybe the tomato’s natural MSG makes the dish accessible to people of varying ages. Regardless, pasta and meatballs are easy to prepare. While there are many brands available in grocery stores, homemade tomato sauce is an ideal food to develop into your own “signature formula.” My non-Italian mother has done just that with her “red sauce” and meatball recipes.
Taco night is easy and accessible — it’s an all-around good time. Tortillas, pre-shredded cheese, pre-cut lettuce and meat, seasoned with a packet of tasty powder. But what keeps the lettuce crisp? What is the mysterious coating on each individual cheese shred? And why is that tasty powder so darn tasty? Processed ingredients are the “Mean Girls” of the grocery store: Their perfection is misleading. With a little extra time and effort, you can leave behind the popular kids and get to know some wholesome taco pals with these recipes.
Just steps from the Green Line light rail sits a vibrant new night market that intends to showcase St. Paul’s Asian business and cultural district. This summer, the Asian Economic Development Association created a new event to celebrate and stimulate their neighborhood. Relying heavily on volunteer support, they conceived the Little Mekong Night Market — a community-oriented event that seeks to provide economic opportunities for local businesses.