Friday, July 8, 2011

Where Art and Salads Meet

I bought these currants at the market and I also had some left from last summer in my freezer. I like use currants to garnish salads and make cooling summer drinks, but I was looking for more inspiration, and then I realized it was the first Thursday of the month yesterday. On that day, three Seattle Art Museums are free to everyone, so I went to the Asian Art Museum and forgot about cooking for a few hours.

If you haven't been there, you really must go. For folks on low budgets like me, it's the best bargain for viewing art in town, besides the neighborhood art walks.

I actually had an ulterior motive going there. I'd wanted to see if someone could tell me if a tiny Asian statue I had that looked ancient was worth anything. It's kind of beat up looking, and I'd gotten it at an auction where no one else bid on it. I didn't bring it in and thought I'd look around first.

The first thing I noticed in the museum was everything looked untouched and upscale. Check out this ancient water vessel.

And this camel. I'm attracted to animals wherever I go.

I couldn't help wondering why does ancient artwork always look so perfect? Restoration? Or does no one ever touch it?

A guy in an official vest with a nametag said the museum didn't appraise art. He sounded like he'd answered that question one too many times. Everybody's hoping they've got a hidden treasure, and suddenly my little statue seemed like something you might pick up at a garage sale or thrift store. Maybe not quite that low, but certainly it's obviously not the museum piece I thought I had. It's pretty fragile and the head comes out, like a bottle stopper. You can move it around to different poses and I suppose many people have over the centuries.

My Cooking Assistant wasn't impressed. Let's just get back to the food.

I've made this salad dressing twice. Currants grow wild around here. So why don't I go pick some of my own? Well, first you have to know where to find them. Many farmers also grow them, but they aren't cheap.

The first time I made this currant dressing, I didn't strain the juice and we ended up with so many seeds, it was annoying.

Currants are so pretty and shiny you can see the world reflected in them. I think that's why I'm a sucker for them at the market.

I put the currants in one of those nylon produce bags and squeezed. The ruby colored juice tastes slightly citrusy. The orange currants are sweeter than the red ones. I'd buy them again but for $7, I barely got a cup full.

Last summer I got pink currants from Ayers Creek Farm at the Hillsdale Market in Portland.

Currant juice could be a great alternative for vinegar or citrus people in salad dressings, but I used vinegar in this recipe because I wanted a more complex flavor. Here's the recipe:

Wild Currant Vinaigrette
(Makes approximately 3/4 cup)

1 cup wild currants
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Honey or agave nectar to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the currants in a bag and squeeze over a bowl until all the juice is released.

2. Combine currant juice, vinegar, olive oil and honey in a blender. Blend until frothy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over fresh green salad. Garnish with garden flowers.


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Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks for stopping by!