March: It’s Celery’s Month

Does anyone out there know who decides which events, foods, people will be celebrated each month of the year? I ask because March is National Celery Month. (It is also Nutritional Health Awareness month, Women’s History month, and frozen foods month.) Why does celery deserve a whole month of celebration?

Sausage pizza with cornmeal crust

Celery: only good as a supporting role?

Personally I get it. This blog owes its existence to celery (or rather our lack of it) when we lived in Japan and pined for days when we could buy more than one stalk of celery at a time. Silly us. Now in Los Angeles, we always looking for new ways to use a full head of celery before it goes limp.

After all, there has to be more to celery than mirepoix and hors d’oeuvres?

Moving beyond Ants on a Log

Last March, Jean-Francois wrote about a surprisingly refreshing tall glass of celery. What he did not mention Pepsi’s attempt to market cucumber soda in Japan for a week or two. And Dr. Browns sells a celery soda. Maybe drinking celery (and cucumbers) might be fun way to bring out our Irish this week.

Celery is crunchy, naturally salty, and nutritious. It can be grilled, pureed, creamed, steamed, fried, pickled, infused, baked, and braised. Huffington Post has some fun ideas for celery, including a salsa with green olives and mint.

Yesterday, cooking for one, I attempted to make celery and mushroom ravioli. If you are vegan, try substituting wet okara or soy-cheese for the egg and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 wonton wrappers

Recipe:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet.
  2. Add onions and celery. Cook until translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms and salt. Cook until all water evaporates.
  4. Transfer onions, celery and mushrooms to food processor. Add cheese and egg and blend into a paste.
  5. Put about 1 teaspoon of paste in each wrapper. Use water or egg to seal the wrappers.
  6. Cook ravioli in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes.

I ate these bundles with a lemon butter sauce. However, I have no photo to share because I ate them in 3 minutes flat. But I will try this again, maybe adding nuts to the filling to help give the meal more weight. And I will take a photo.

In January, The New York Times published five celery recipes that put my creative effort to shame. I can’t wait to try the “Pan-Cooked Celery with Tomatoes and Parsley” and “Celery Risotto with Dandelion Greens or Kale”.

Healthy Family, a blog dedicated to living organically and healthfully, also shares four celery recipes for March, including a breakfast drink, a soup, a salad, and a treat with salmon.

By the way, 22 March is World Water Day. May we all slake our thirst and raise our passions with a stick of celery, an ice cube, and Betty Friedan.

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A tall glass of celery

In Japan, celery is not cheap. It’s not sold in bunches; it’s sold by the stalk – and a stalk costs about a dollar.

Celery-ginger limeade

Really the real thing

Strangely enough, I miss that.

I don’t miss the price so much (though it did have the virtue of discouraging waste), but I do miss being able to buy just what I need. Maybe it’s my imagination, but bunches of celery seem much bigger than they were 15 years ago – and buying that much celery makes me uncomfortable. I wonder if I’ll be able to use it all before it shrivels up and becomes unusable. When you’ve thought in terms of individual stalks for so long, the thought of half a bunch of celery in the bin feels … well … just a little bit obscene.

So, since I’ve moved to the US, I’ve spent some time experimenting with things I can do with celery that has lost its crunch (besides throwing it out). One of the easiest is to toss it in a blender with some water, a bit of sugar or honey, and something to add a little extra flavor, like lime, ginger or vanilla.  It’s better tasting than a soft drink, better for you, and better for the planet – and if you miss the fizz, you can always get a soda maker.

The recipe for the version I made yesterday (which was pretty tasty) follows.

Celery-ginger limeade (2 servings)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 6 stalks celery (about 18 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • I lime, peeled and quartered
  • 1 piece ginger root about the size of your thumb, coarsely chopped
  • 2.5 Tbsp sugar (or to taste)

Directions

  • Blend ingredients on highest speed until liquified.
  • Filter through a cotton kitchen towel, or wire mesh strainer.
Fun facts
Celery per serving 3 stalks
Length of celery per 12 oz serving, if stalks laid end to end about 99 inches
Average distance from the Earth to the moon 238,855 miles
Number of 12 oz servings it would take to use up the amount of celery which, if laid end to end, would span the average distance from the Earth to the moon 152,867,200
Amount of celery-ginger limeade every American would have to drink to save that amount of celery from landfill 5.8 oz – ½ of a 12 oz serving
Average annual consumption of soft drinks per person in the US 57 gallons – 608 12 oz servings