Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kasha Varnishkes Update: Grandma Weighs In

I called up my grandmother Annette the other day to tell her about a beautiful planting at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and when we got done discussing that, she said, "I've been meaning to tell you, that Kasha Varnishkes recipe isn't good."

"I know!" I said, "I've been reading everyone's commentary on the NYtimes website! It's the egg, isn't it?"

As my grandmother and half of New York wishes to remind Mark Bittman, the traditional way of preparing Kasha includes an extra step--the groats are tossed in a skillet with an egg white before cooking, which supposedly keeps them from turning to mush in the finished product. I didn't use this step in mine, and didn't have any problems, but I was using fairly fresh local kasha from the Blew Family's farm in New Jersey. I wonder if older store shelf kasha is more prone to mushiness.

My grandmother also disclaimed the onion cooking method, saying she'd never heard of anything like it. I found the process, which involves softening the onions in a covered pan for about ten minutes, odd but functional, and the result somewhat pleasingly dry, like the kind of onions you would put in a bialy well. However, in matters like these, I defer to my grandmother's honed Eastern European palate. My only issue with the recipe was the lack of mushrooms, easily remedied. Why would you leave mushrooms out of any dish you could conceivably add them to, especially one where they do so much good?

The other question I forgot to ask was: Did I tell my grandmother about the Kasha? Did she just see it in the Times? Is she reading the blog? Grandma, weigh in. Comments always appreciated.

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