A low sodium reality has made its way into my kitchen. Here: lemme get good and real with you. My beloved Southern butch Ginger has something going on with her liver. We don’t really know what so you don’t have to hear a bunch about it. I do want to say that the one suggestion regarding food that the doctors had was for her to limit her sodium. Doctors, it turns out, don’t have a ton of nutritional training. Mostly they study drugs, and since there are like a BILLION, it’s good that people are studying them. However, I do study food and I want to say there are a ton of things people can do through diet to support a struggling liver. But that’s a whole other post. THIS post is about how I am a girl who loves salt. In fact here is a nice picture of the salt tattoo I have on my right hand. See that blue circle with the line across it? That is a tattoo from the incredible Sam McWilliams. Usually we’ll sit for a few hours and laugh while she tortures me and then we’ll crown a long session with a small hand tattoo. I may be running out of knuckles. Anyhow this is the alchemical symbol for salt. That’s how much I BELIEVE in the magic and power of salt in the world and in the kitchen.
But MUCH more than I believe in salt, I believe in Ginger. I want to make sure we do everything possible to support her health and that means finding ways to make food interesting with NO ADDED SALT.
But here’s the good news for so many of you out there who have to eat a low sodium diet. Not only can you keep your liver safer, your heart, and your kidneys, you can enjoy your food and your life. Sour is good to shoot for. Like salt, it brings out the flavors of things around it like a great supporting actor. Peppercorns are fantastic as an accent. The peppercorns can bring heat to a dish without the acid that peppers bring. Look at traditional Indian recipes as well. There is really nothing more incredible than getting to watch a person who knows their way around a mortar and pestle get busy in the kitchen. My dear friend Amruta Patil once made a bunch of us the best Indian dinner I’ve ever had. We gathered in my basement kitchen in Jamaica Plain, MA. I lived in a house that was sort of like a tree fort and sort of like a ship’s hull. The kitchen was the hull part. We crowded around a small table, we of five countries, and we revelled in the rings of flavor. We made strange noises from our abdomens, sounds that people tend to reserve for endeavors of two (or three if you roll that way) and we talked about art. We argued and we laughed and we ate. I will never forget that night and look back to it often for strength in this time I am having. It is an evening that will stay with me because it gave me a new intimacy model, a sacred appreciation for gathering on a deeper scale, and it gave me this opportunity to thank those friends who shared that meal with me, one of whom that has since left us. She left a little too soon, but then also, dang, that lady burned a benevolent and blinding candle while she was here. Rose Hill, I think of you now as well, with your courage and your humor, your insight and talent. I look forward to meeting you again someday. And in this new time, that evening has given me inspiration to fumble for new tastes. One thing we do a lot around these parts is sour. Here is the latest batch of quick pickles for you. And for Rosie…
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/4 t cardamom seeds whole
1/2 t dill
1/4 t white peppercorns
8 allspice pods
1/4 t coriander whole
1/4 t red pepperflakes
1/2 c cucumber, quartered and sliced
3 gorgeous red radishes, sliced thin into discs
2 red Spring onions sliced thin
Bring the vinegar and spices all to a boil. While you do that, throw all your veggies into a pint jar. Pour the boiling brine over the veggies. Let everything cool on the counter and put your lid on. These will keep in your fridge for about a week. They are great with tacos, over a rice bowl, in a salad, or as a side to a rich curry.