I haven't cooked anything for the last two days. Not on the stovetop or in the oven anyway. My meals are all raw, all the time.
Tiny black ants invaded my kitchen this week, trailing down a windowsill, scurrying around the laminate counters, making their way to the stovetop. The stovetop! Ack.
Proud of my neat and tidy home, I took their presence personally. I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom and set the oven dial to clean, hoping to roast any unwanted insects that might be lurking within. I also asked for help. Friends consoled me, told me that even a clean home was subject to invasion, but I was despondent, disgusted, at wit's end. Then the lovely Kathleen recommended a product that wouldn't poison me or the dog, and promised it would make the ants disappear within 2 days. I hit the hardware store, bought the aforementioned ant killer, set up sticky little goo traps, and hoped for the best.
Waiting for the magic ant killer to work, I couldn't stand being in the kitchen. The ants were still there, getting themselves acquainted with the goo. And I had to allow them to live, to carry the sticky mess back to their nest and share it with friends.
Watching them gave me the heebie-jeebies.
So I set up shop in the dining room. The table became a temporary (very low) counter top. I brought in my knives, cutting board, bowls, and whisks, pretending the ants didn't exist.
I focused my thoughts on an Asian coleslaw instead, using some of the contents of this week's CSA box: fennel, green cabbage, and snow peas. The CSA newsletter recommended a coleslaw made with mayonnaise, and though I'm sure it's good, I wanted something lighter, cleaner, with the nuttiness toasted sesame oil provides and the crunch of roasted peanuts. The following recipe was made with what was on hand, no stovetop or oven needed.
Cross your fingers and hope that the evil ants disappear tomorrow.
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
1/2 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cups snow peas, julienned
3 - 4 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1/2 of a lime
2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup canola oil, or other neutral vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (I like the lesser-salt variety, if available)
Clean and cut vegetables, removing the core and ribs from cabbage. Remove the core of the fennel bulb before slicing. Toss to combine.
Put the soy sauce, lime juice, minced ginger, and a pinch of sugar into a small bowl. Drizzle the toasted sesame oil and canola oil in while whisking, creating an emulsion. Taste, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Be sure to coat the vegetables in a small amounts of dressing, tossing and tasting, as you go. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts.