Quite some time back Tom's professor told us about a simple and spiritual recluse he found on a vacation in a monastery. He spent a week leading a monastic life in total silence. I was fairly intrigued and contemplated the idea shortly, then filed it at the back of my head and forgot about it. But then I began hearing about similar vacations some friends and acquaintances had taken or were planning on taking and it took me into a deeper train of thought.
Why vacation in a monastery? The answer was not impassible and lay very much at hand after the year we experienced last year. Furthermore, at our New Year Eve's party and during chats with a few of my close blogger buddies I realized that it was not just us who had experienced a difficult year for diverse reasons. So as of late, I find myself pondering on this question again.
I also ponder on the reason why we share happiness and joy at freewill with everyone around us yet brush the sorrow, sadness and hardships under the carpet in a neat pile so no one will see it. They say when pain and sorrow is shared and divided it decreases and becomes bearable. So, why do we not do it more often?
Our life is stressful enough, right? Long working hours, financial worries, family obligations, not to mention an overbooked social calendar - all add up to an extremely busy life, often devoid of proper rest and sleep and full of worry and weariness. We take vacations to get away from it all - on cruises or in resorts in far away places, but often we end up wrapping ourselves in the vacation hectic and stress. Not everyone has the ability to wind down and rarely do we find pure relaxation. I admit I do have trouble winding down.
As I consider the idea of vacationing in a monastery, I discover more and more the benefits that will help me and us as a family to deal with our daily lives on a better scale. It's not just recharging the body, I believe a monastic experience might provide mental and spiritual renewal. It will be an opportunity to fully retire from the demands of the modern world and our busy lives while enjoying the calm order and slower pace of the monastic lifestyle.
And as I discuss this with my friends here I realize I am not the only one who finds this concept gratifying.
Something simple for such a deep post today, using the lovely produce winter supplies. A kohlrabi turnip gratin - a side that pairs up with almost everything, be it lamb, pork, beef or poultry.
Kohlrabi can be an intimidating vegetable if you have not been around it much. These sputnik-shaped vegetables taste like fresh, crunchy broccoli stems accented by radish. They come in green, which is more readily available or violet and can be eaten raw or cooked.
The word kohlrabi is derived from the German words for kohl, which means cabbage, and rabi is from rübe, meaning turnip.
Although the kohlrabi bulbs look like they were dug up from the earth in actual fact however, the round bulb is a swollen stem that grows above ground. It is not a commonly used vegetable in American cuisine, but it is widely used in Central Europe and Asia. One can also use the leaves of the kohlrabi much like one would do spinach, chard or other greens.
Selecting, Storing and Preparation
Choose kohlrabi with fresh-looking leaves, bright, even color and no soft spots or cracks. Bulbs the size of a peach or smaller yield best texture and flavor.
My recommendation - go for organic kohlrabi - you'll notice the flavor difference!
Kohlrabi can be refrigerated in loosely sealed plastic bags for several days. If leaves show signs of decline and begin to wilt, discard them before storing.
To prepare kohlrabi trim the stalks and the leaves. If the leaves are not going to be used discard.
My tip - chop leaves and freeze to use in pasta dishes or soups. The fresh leaves can be used much like other greens in salads or lightly blanched.
If you would like to enjoy kohlrabi raw simply peel the root to expose the white inner flesh, then cut as desired. I pack kohlrabi sticks in Soeren's lunch box with a simple herb flavored quark. Slice, dice, or grate kohlrabi and add to salads, use on raw vegetable platters or substitute in recipes calling for radishes.
Kohlrabi is an extremely versatile vegetable and can be cooked in a number of ways.
- Bake in a covered dish with a few tablespoons of liquid at approx. 170 - 180 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
- Boil or steam covered for about 30-35 minutes.
My tip: peel kohlrabi after they have been cooked.
- Microwave whole trimmed kohlrabies in covered dish with a few tablespoons of liquid, 6-9 minutes.
- Sauté shredded peeled kohlrabi; first sprinkle with salt and let sit 30 minutes, then squeeze water out.
In this gratin I pair kohlrabi with turnip, add a hint of whole seed Dijon mustard and a glug of cream and then bake in the oven until it's bubbling in creamy juices.
Kohlrabi Turnip Gratin
Printable version of recipe here.
375g kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
375g turnips, peeled and sliced
280 ml crème fraiche
100ml white wine
1 tablespoon whole seed Dijon mustard
handful of bacon bits (optional), fried till crisp
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.
- Place crème fraiche and white wine in a large pan and gently simmer for 2-4 minutes. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper, then add the mustard.
- Add the vegetable slices and cook for approx. 5 minutes. If using add some of the bacon and stir to incorporate, leaving some for the top.
- Transfer the vegetable mix into a gratin dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
It’s a basic and simple dish but with a lot of big time flavor. The sharp tangy flavor of the mustard pairs beautifully with the wine and the richness of the cream intermingles throughout rounding it off wonderfully.
The Monthly Mingle this month is being held over at Sudeshna of Cook Like A Bong and focuses on Winter Vegetables and Fruit. I am so looking forward to this roundup and this Kohlrabi and Turnip Gratin is my entry.
There is still time for you to join the fun party – deadline is January 11th!
You might like these Winter Veggie ideas from WFLH:
|Lime Kale with Beans and Dill and Garlic Tomato Rice||Roasted Thyme Jerusalem Artichoke, Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash||Baked Beetroot with Apple Horseradish Dip|
Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:
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