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Wednesday, 24 May 2017 13:53

From shower to table — a different segue

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It’s a somewhat sideways segue into a food column. Nevertheless, today’s story is brought to you by shampoo.

 “I left samples of Phillip Adam apple vinegar shampoo and conditioner,” said Elsie K. Neufeld’s note to me as we moved into her English Bay apartment for three nights and four days. “Btw, he got the idea for using apple cider vinegar from his grandmother, whose hair he used to cut and she insisted he rinse it with that! If Dean bites your hair after, you may take the samples with you.”
The next morning, after lathering with a substance so apple-y, it seemed distilled from a crate of Granny Smiths, my fairy fluff hair was glossy. Glossy as a shirt sleeve-polished apple.
 Additionally, I had an impulse to drizzle the contents of that little bottle over ice cream.
I resisted. But a few days later, I did take those bottles with me.
Then and ever since, I’ve been nursing an apple obsession. Not the least of which is because it’s also apple season, and now that we’re back home, in orchard country, the air itself is scented with Grannies, Galas, Swiss Gourmet and Pink Ladies.
It’s a season that simply cannot be allowed to go by, unremarked and un-recipe-ed.
And so, apples became our weekend mission as we popped in and out of our favourite produce and artisan food stops.
 “Apple strudel?” I mused out loud. “Apple crisp? No, pie. Or, well, we could try something fresher, right? Sorbet? Granita? Apple slaw with dressing made with apple cider vinegar? The leftovers of which I could use to rinse my hair?!”
As a food writer, I’m more than a little enchanted by the notion of food-as-self-care. Besides which, there’s another filament to this story that ignites my whimsy.
Phillip Adam, you see, not only cuts Elsie K. Neufeld’s hair into a naturally sophisticated, writerly crop, but when he lived in Winnipeg, his salon prettied the mother of another of my writing heroes: Miriam Toews, who wrote, among other books, A Complicated Kindness, Swing Low, A Life and Irma Voth.
 A Complicated Kindness changed forever the way I look at my own storytelling, and is the reason I found myself able to muster the ink needed to write Mennonite-themed columns for this paper, and the stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance.
Also, in a iPhone incident earlier this summer, Miriam Toews is the very first person that device decided to pocket dial, after shared subject matter led to an exchange of contact information.
I’m not afraid to tell you that I needed an apple danish that day.
Given this story’s sudden and unexpected Fangirl slant, I may soon need And yet, as I consider what kind of recipe is the natural finish to a story that began with shampoo, it’s fresh apples and apple cider vinegar that are on my mind.
Ingredients that, because it’s also the season for the last barbecues of summer, are perfect flavours, not only for showers, but for sitting in the backyard, plate on knees, forking up everything that’s delicious about September.
Apple-Jicama Slaw
1/2 -2/3 whole jicama
2 Gala or other crisp, sweet apples
a little fresh lemon juice
1 large carrot
1/2 head radicchio
3 green onions, green parts only
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch or two granulated sugar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
With a very sharp chef’s knife, peel and trim jicama into a cube. Thinly slice in one direction, then turn the cube and cut through the slices until you have about 2 cups of matchsticks.
Core and thinly wedge apples. Slice wedges into matchsticks. Toss with lemon juice to keep from browning.
Peel, trim and slice carrot into matchsticks.
Halve radicchio. Cut out core and shred by slicing thinly along the grain.
Chop onion greens into 3-inch segments. Thinly slice lengthwise.
In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients until well combined. Season lightly. Toss in vegetables to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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