By Jennifer Crain
The ATV is low on fuel so Zita leads me back to her garage so we can take the RAV4 instead. She pulls onto the street and back along a driveway at the edge of the 15-acre lot in Tumwater where she’s lived with her partner for 20 years.
Beyond the first fence a grove of young Douglas firs, cedars, and hemlocks stands between the vehicle and a pasture at the back of the property. Zita forges through narrow openings in the trees, driving over the stumps (“We had the trees thinned just before that big ice storm,” she explains), then guns it to push through some deep muddy ruts.
We stop and get out. Beyond the second gate are the cows, lazing in the sun near a Transparent apple tree. It was their only fruit tree to survive the 2012 storm.
“They use that tree as a scratching post.” Zita shakes her head and laughs, two hands resting lightly on the red rolling walker she uses to get around.
When the cows see her, they start to walk toward us. She coos and sings, putting a hand out as they approach. “Pretty little Lindy. How’s my beautiful girl?”
Zita (she goes by her last name) has kept beef cattle ever since a health crisis landed her in the hospital in the late ‘90s. Her doctors recommended a two-pronged recovery strategy: fewer marathon workdays in front of the computer and more meat.
For a research physicist and a vegetarian, this was a sea change. She decided she’d navigate it by becoming a farmer.
“I had always felt that I couldn’t eat what I couldn’t kill…so I got roosters,” she laughs.
She soon upgraded to a flock of hens. The next year, 1999, she acquired a few steers. Not long after, she bought a few calves from a dairy farm and started her own herd.
I met Zita at the Women in Agriculture Conference in early March, a gathering of more than 500 women at 27 geographic locations across three states. Farmers from Tumwater, Tenino, Lacey, and Grays Harbor gathered at a local campus to discuss farm management, acquire business tools, and learn from a panel of successful local food producers. The event was co-sponsored by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) and Washington State University Extension.
According to the Census of Agriculture, Armstrong-Zita Ranch is one of more than 7,500 Washington farms with a woman at the helm.
“Conferences like this have supported women operators in the state of Washington for several years now,” says Chris Mertz, Regional Director of Washington’s NASS office. “(There were) women with very different backgrounds, very different stories. But there was no mistaking the passion they were showing for their craft.”
The popularity of Zita’s product testifies to her passion for farming and devotion to the animals on her land. Each year she sells out of her organic beef in the spring, even though the slaughter doesn’t take place until early summer.
After a farm accident last year, she discovered that the loyalty of her customers and other supporters goes beyond a yearly shipment of steaks. People surrounded her for months, helping out while she began a long road to recovery.
Zita had been on haystacks hundreds of times. But last spring, as she was strapping down a double stack of 700-pound bales, she lost her footing and fell 14 feet to the ground. The impact shattered the top of her tibia.
Landing on her feet saved her life. “But I’m not a cat,” she quips. The accident left her bedridden for three months. Her daily tasks shifted from mending fences and slaughtering chickens to intensive physical therapy work. She still can’t check on her cows regularly. And even though they hired a farmhand to keep up with the chores, a lot of work goes undone.
“Farming is a really dangerous job,” she says. “Haystack falls are a common cause of farm injuries and farm deaths.”
The fact is a sobering one, but it highlights Zita’s luck and fortitude. Her doctors didn’t think she would be walking yet but she’s way ahead of her recovery schedule, navigating over rocks, ruts, and straw strewn pasture using only her walker.
She’s back to her day job, too. Zita still works as a physicist, teaching classes at The Evergreen State College.
Hearing her talk about her work with fusion energy is a little like watching her interact with a cow: she’s captivated by a beast that is complicated, demanding, and powerful. In both cases, the relationship even seems reciprocal.
“It’s very dynamic,” she says of magnetic confinement fusion, a concept she explains to me over a cup of chai. “It’s like a wild creature.”
Like the other women farmers I met at the conference, Zita’s sentiments are with the land and with the well being of her animals. She describes the bull she kept for four years as “a pussycat. I could lead him around with a rope and a bucket.” But farming also demands pragmatism. The bull, she says a moment later, is in the freezer. The filet mignon from him was tender and delicious, a fact that astonished her, given he lived to be four years old.
“He just had an easy life.” Zita smiles. This is what she believes makes for good meat.
For information on purchasing beef from Armstrong-Zita Ranch, click here.
All photos by Jennifer Crain.
Submitted by Casey Dilloway for Community Sourced Capital
Olympia-based 8 Arms Community Bakery has been making delicious and healthy baked goods for its community since 2007. Owner Jen Ownbey has been growing the business alongside her community, adding new products and employees as the business could afford it. Now, Jen is taking her community business to the next level by asking her customers, friends and family to take part in a community-sourced loan to finance new equipment for the bakery.
8 Arms Bakery is operating this loan through Seattle-based finance company Community Sourced Capital (CSC), and hopes to borrow between $4,000 and $10,000 to fund different equipment purchases.
CSC makes it easy for anyone to participate in the loan for 8 Arms Bakery by buying something called a ‘Square,’ a $50 unit of the larger loan for the bakery. “Squares themselves are simple loans and they act like this: you put $50 in and you get $50 out. It’s not an investment. It’s not a donation. It’s a right-sized mechanism for moving money to a business in your community while still getting paid back,” says Alex Mondau, one of CSC’s employees and an Olympia native.
“When I started my bakery, I wanted to have a relationship with the people that purchase my baked goods,” says Jen. “This is a cool opportunity to have a financial relationship with them too. As the loan is paid back, I’m excited to see if the repayments go to fund loans for other businesses in Olympia too.”
Community Sourced Capital aggregates dozens of ‘Squares’ into a single loan for a business and manages repayments and monthly communication back to ‘Squareholders.’ Since lenders do not earn interest on their small loans, neither does CSC.
CSC charges small flat fees to businesses using its online lending system. Since launching its first loan last year, CSC has engaged nearly 2,000 Squareholders to fund $300,000 in loans for 17 small businesses in Washington State.
Since Jen’s Square Loan campaign launched earlier this month, 35 people have taken part in funding $3,100 of the loan. To keep with the “local finance” element of the lending system, CSC reports out on local finance statistics.
For 8 Arms Bakery, 95% of the Squareholders, so far, live in Washington State and over half live in the Olympia-Tumwater area. A recently completed loan in Kitsap found 90% of a company’s Squareholders lived within 40 miles of the business.
Jen is excited to continue expanding her business and its place in the community. You can find 8 Arms baked goods in local cafes, wholesale, and also as part of a local CSA program. Anyone can buy Squares for 8 Arms Bakery through the end of April at www.communitysourcedcapital.com/8-arms-bakery.
By Nikki McCoy
It all started at a birthday party. As ten-year-old girls swarmed around Brighida DeVargas and Michelle Jackson, the two moms plotted plans for an urban farm and garden center, where their combined knowledge could be a resource.
One year later, their dream has come into fruition. The Eastside Urban Farm and Garden Center, located on Fourth Avenue in the space previously occupied by Curtis Lumber. The dynamic moms, joined by Michelle’s husband, Billy Jackson, opened the urban gardening store in March.
“Our first month has been really great,” says DeVargas. “A lot of folks are coming in and letting us know that they are really happy we are here. It feels good to know that we are meeting a need in the community and filling a gap.”
Walking into the store, the sound of peeping chicks fills the air, the rustic look of exposed wood beams and re-purposed shelving from pallets greet the eye, and displays, like top-bar beekeeping and cold frames for gardening, pique curiosity.
Products, like non-GMO seeds, bulk feed for poultry and supplies for husbandry line the shelves on the 10,000 square foot space that used to house Curtis Lumber. Bee-keeping supplies, gardening tools, and cheese-making kits round out the variety of items stocked at the new store. Gardeners are invited to feel the texture of the soil they buy by sinking their hands into bins of organic material. A large nursery and out back holds 1,000 berry vines and 400 fruit trees. A smaller greenhouse nourishes veggie starts from local suppliers, including Rising River and Scattercreek farms.
With extensive experience in farming and gardening, opening the center was an appropriate next step for DeVargas and the Jacksons.
DeVargas has been involved in the landscaping industry both in the UK and the Pacific Northwest, and is principal landscape designer of DeVa Designs. Her background includes design, permaculture, general construction, and fine horticulture. She raises quail, chicken and dairy goats all on a city lot.
“I think opening up (the store) is a natural progression for me,” says DeVargas. “Helping people to produce more of their own food closer to home has been the focus of much of my life’s work, and I think that both the Jackson’s and I truly believe that growing at least some of your own food is one of the most important things a person can do to improve their health, community, and local economy.”
Michelle and Billy have over 20 years combined experience in urban farming and keep a variety of animals on their small farm located just two miles from the store. The Jackson farm includes more than 30 varieties of unusual and rare-breed poultry, a herd of mini-La Mancha goats, small breed swine, honey bees and fiber rabbits.
Their experience of managing a growing farm helped pave the way for what type of products urban farmers need.
“We’ll have a little of everything at the store,” says Michelle. “We’re trying to accommodate city dwellers. When I lived in the city and just had a few chickens, I didn’t want to buy a 50-lb bag of feed necessarily…or if you have mini-goats, you don’t need a big old bucket (for milk) you need something to fit under your goat that is only 20-inches tall, so we’re trying to specialize in that urban feel.”
Another aspect to the store is the education room, where the community is welcome to sit and read reference books on everything from soil to fermentation. On certain weekends, the room transforms into a workshop, where a variety of topics will be taught by regional experts. Two organic gardening classes have already been well received.
“The class will continue throughout the year, letting people know what needs to be done in the garden each month and season,” explains DeVargas. “We are pretty lucky here in Olympia. We can grow food year-round, unlike most of the country. The gardening classes are fairly informal, with a lot of discussion and laughter all around, but packed with a lot of great information.”
Eastside Urban Farm and Garden Center continues to grow. At any given time, the store is busy with the hustle and bustle of individuals and families preparing for spring. Children giggle as they hold a fluffy chick, bales of hay will be loaded into the back of someone’s pick-up truck, and maybe, two friends will be busy plotting their next big dream as they dig their hands through soil.
For more information, visit eastsideurbanfarmandgarden.com or stop by the store at 2326 Fourth Avenue in Olympia.
I have a confession. I love to mess up a perfectly good recipe, on purpose. I adore any recipe writer who is detailed and precise about their explanations and measurements. It helps me figure out how far I can veer before crashing into disaster. Becoming a decent cook is similar to any skill in life. Once you learn the basics you can begin tweaking, fiddling and meddling until you find your pulse. Your mark. Your touch. Typically, I try to follow a recipe exactly as written on the first attempt. Any attempt after, however, is fair game. Even at first attempt, I am liable to cut diagonally instead of vertically. I might add a handful of chopped basil instead of measuring it out precisely to 1/4 cup. I want to stay within the confines of the recipe without letting it confine my spirit, my passion for food. I, more than most, can become so lost in perfectly executing the details that I completely forget to enjoy myself. The final product may look and taste perfect but it will lack heart, soul and passion.
I’m really trying to remind myself of this lesson, especially lately. I fear I have gotten into a spell of looking a life as far to precise and perfect. As a set of skills I must develop and execute to succeed. As though anything in life that is executed perfectly, without heart, ever inspires anyone, including me. Inspiration is a feeling you get when you see someone else showcase a part of themselves that comes from a deep spark within. Perfection has nothing to do with that spark. This recipe falls right into that opportunity. Originally taken from Molly Wizenbergs book “A Homemade Life”, it is dictated with precision. She tells you how much to use, how thinly to slice and which way to cut and shape each vegetable. It doesn’t really matter. Really. I chopped and seeded with abandon. I measured and guessed. I threw in a bit of curry powered, garam masala and nutmeg. It still tasted delicious. In fact, I got so wrapped up in the process that I completely forgot to take a final picture. I think, in spirit, that is best. Then you never know what it was “supposed to” look like. You will only know what you created, how it tasted on your tongue and the way it made you feel when you were creating and that is all you need to know.
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant rounds in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in small bowl and brush onto eggplant. Flip slices and brush second slices as well, taking care that each as a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step a day or two ahead and refrigerate)
Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10—12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Add a bit of oil if pan is dry. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but now browned, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, over and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini, stir to incorporate and cook until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard bay leaf and stir in basil.
Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling. This dish is even better a day or two later, as the flavors get time to mesh.
1 lb eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 lb zucchini, trimmed, halved, lengthwise and sliced in to 1/2-inch thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
I will begin this post with a great deal of apologizing. It will be the kind, however, that is done by any good friend that has been gone for far too long. The kind of apology that occurs after I knock the door, you open and I thrust a delicious dessert, still warm from the oven; begging to be drenched in vanilla ice cream and consumed. That is the only way to apologize for such an unexplained absence. I am not only apologizing to you, my dear friend, but to Molly Wizenberg. Writer of “A Homemade Life”, creater of the blog “Orangette” and my current personal hero. I believe the next few posts will be a direct copy of every recipe from her book. I can’t help myself. In my defense, she really should not have written such beautiful stories and recipes to match. As with any good idea, I want to try everything she writes about because she makes it all sound not only incredible, but familiar.
Familiar in the way you feel about your best friends spaghetti sauce and the way it always fills your house with the smell of love, comfort and safety. Familiar in the way that your favorite cookie recipe automatically makes everything feel right, even if they whole day fell to pieces. I want to make every recipe in Molly’s book because I feel like I know her and thus know the food she makes. I not only want to taste it all, I want to feel the way she feels when she eats it. Powerful stuff. So forgive the next few posts as I lavish adoration and attention. She may or may not be my idol right now, but I’m sure it will be evident the former is true.
I hope, only hope, to find some way to convey that feeling to everyone here. I want you to try these recipes that I create, not only because they will feed your bellies but because they will nourish your soul. I want to become familiar with y’all. In that spirit, I’m going to make it clear that my absence has occurred due to a family move to Austin, Texas. We are simultaneously settled, settling and unsettled. I’ve been inspired and found a renewed energy around being in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been doing. Tonight, however, I start with Molly’s Tarte Tatin.
It doesn’t look glamorous, and isn’t even the very first thing I would choose if waiting in line at a local bakery. I would be the fool in the end. This is astounding. My husband likened it to “creme brulee but better”. It is really best warm and served with a simple vanilla ice cream. I landed on this recipe because Molly described it as “a housewife in stilettos” and “it doesn’t dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table”. Who wouldn’t want to eat something that is described with such passion? I know I am first in line. In fact, bakeries should really start describing their pastries in a similar manner…I would love to see what they invent.
Molly recommends puff pastry and I bought what I thought was puff pastry but was called Filo Dough. I’m not sure if they are really the same thing but it worked just fine. I just skipped the step where she asks you to roll out the dough really thin. I actually think I put to little dough in the pastry and would just put all of it in next time. It was still heart stopping and phenomenal…I can’t imagine how much better it would taste with even more dough. I may have just fainted from elation while writing that last sentence.
I also made a choice to buy whatever crisp, sweet apples I could find and used whole wheat pastry dough. Small changes but it didn’t seem to alter the incredible complexity of taste…as long as butter and sugar is involved…you are typically set. Since I don’t want to completely steal Molly’s thunder, I am making you go to her original post for directions. It’s the least I can do for a woman who talks about food the way a person might talk about a lover.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5-6 large Apples
6 Tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
About 14 ounces puff pastry
A friend of mine had posted a link to a recipe for home made goldfish crackers a few months ago. I tried the recipe and my son gobbled down the entire batch, along with an entire group of mom’s I meet with on Monday mornings. It was such an enormous hit I thought often about making them again. Just as I got up the motivation I saw another post by a food blogger I follow that made spinach crackers. Whoa. The two recipes began making love in my mind and made this little baby. It was born from a desire to make great crackers with even more nutritional punch. My first attempt was soggy and sticky. I added more flour and less water and got a winner.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Or just use 1 baking sheet and bake 2 separate batches like I did. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, dill). With a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. In a blender, blend the water and spinach until smooth. Now pour this into the flour and butter mixture. Stir this mixture until it just comes together and then gently knead with hands until it forms a ball. Be sure not to over handle the dough.
Split the dough in half. On a non-stick mat or lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough very thin (1/16th inch). Cut with cookie cutters or with a pizza roller. Gently lift off with fingers and place on prepared sheet (no need to space far apart as they don’t spread). Repeat as necessary. Sprinkle with more salt (I used Herbamare and it tasted amazing!) Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating pan half way through baking to ensure more even baking. Crackers should be lightly golden when ready. My crackers took 10 minutes, but watch closely after 8 minutes. Be careful because they burn quickly. Cool completely on baking sheet and serve immediately. Store leftovers in a glass container.
1 & 1/2 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp), plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp dried dill weed (or other herbs/spices of choice)
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh spinach (30 grams)
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, grated
I know at every post you read you deeply wish I would just show up on your door step with everything cooked and ready for your immediate consumption. I know your drool at every photo, short circuits your keyboard and you’ve bought 100 in the last two years I have been posting. I know you bookmark the recipes with every intention of trying them on some night when inspiration and energy consumes you, only to discover you end up falling asleep on the couch every night with a empty bowl of ice cream on the coffee table. Oh I know. I know because I do it to. I bookmark recipes from other blogs and tear out photos and inspiration from magazines and Pinterest. All the while wishing they would just materialize in front of me so I could eat it. Sometimes it is not the baking and cooking I enjoy so much. It is actually just the eating. I also know how excited I would be if some of my favorite bloggers were just happening to sell their baked goods. I would probably pee my pants due to complete elation if I knew I could buy these goods and the proceeds would go to benefit my local food bank. I just might have a heart attack if I could also meet these bloggers. Guess what? It’s happening. Jenni from The Plum Palate is putting together an incredible event to benefit the Olympia Food Bank. You should check out her write up for the full details but I can promise incredible food from eight local food bloggers at only 1$ per item. Seriously? You gotta do it. Oh and did I mention there will be a raffle to win gift certificates to some incredible local bakeries such as Bearded Lady, San Francisco Street Bakery, Blue Heron Bakery, 8 Arms Bakery, and Bonjour Cupcakes.
Both cash and food donations will be valid for tickets you can exchange for baked goods. And remember, the food bank accepts both perishable and non-perishable items. That means you can donate almost anything, from a package of pasta to a bunch of carrots. I will be there from 5-7 and I will be making the following:
Visit our Facebook event page. Come down. Enter a raffle. Donate and eat some food all for an incredible cause.
Friday, April 27 from 5-10
Located at Make Olympia street market at Arts Walk, 100 block of Columbia
All proceeds benefit the Olympia Food Bank
1$ or food donation for each baked good
Raffle with gift certificates from local bakeries
Bloggers that will be participating:
My son is at an age now where he can legitimately help out in the kitchen. The tasks must be simple and supervised but it is a fantasy fulfilled. When he was much younger my sister bought him a full chef kitchen kit. Even though he was no where near old enough to utilize the toys, I pulled them out and he used them as rattles and items to chew and drool upon. I still dream of the day he will pick the recipe and I will help him in his determination to make our family a meal. I’m far ahead of myself but these small moments prep me for a completion of that dream and fill my days with little moments of contented bliss and fulfillment as a human being.
There are days when I am multitasking a boiling pot, frying chicken and roasting vegetables that I wish he didn’t have such a keen fascination with what I was doing in the kitchen. On this particular day, however, I prepped the meal during his nap, excited for his participation once he woke up. I lined up all the ingredients and he stood on a chair and diligently placed one layer on top of another. The focus and concentration out of this kid at such a young age still astounds me. The meal was incredible and tasted even better with that special layer of dreams and fantasies fulfilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make white sauce: Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and cook until mixture darkens slightly in color, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Smash and peel garlic. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and add the garlic. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thick (about the consistency of yogurt), about 20 minutes. Season with salt, cayenne and nutmeg.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. Add lasagna noodles to boiling water and cook until ardent. Drain, but do not rinse and lay each noodle out flat on a work surface.
Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil. Use hands to squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach (if frozen); set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook meat or mushrooms with spinach and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until meat is no longer pink or mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Tear basil leaves over the mixture and toss.
Cover bottom of the prepared baking dish with 3 of the noodles. Top with 1/4 cup grated cheese, 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup white sauce and 1/3 of the sausage/mushroom mixture. Season with black pepper.
Add another layer of 3 noodles. Repeat twice and dot the top layer of noodles with the remaining tomato sauce, white sauce and grated cheese, making sure to dot some tomato sauce around the edges so that the noodles don’t dry out. Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This will freeze really well. After baking, let rest and freeze whole or in portions.
Adapted from “How to boil water. Life beyond takeout” by The Food Network
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
10 oz fresh or frozen spinach (if frozen, thaw)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 oz ground beef or chopped mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
2 handfuls lightly packed fresh basil leaves (optional)
1 1/4 cups freshly grated grana-style cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
3 cups prepared tomato sauce at room temp
Freshly ground black pepper
Tis the season that the weather begins to tease and taunt. Currently, the sun is out and I’m donning shorts and sandals. Tomorrow I could be in three layers of clothing and shivering as the rain pelters my face. This brings me no delight. It’s downright frustrating. It’s like someone giving you the most amazing bite of food you have ever had in your life and as you beg for more they just smile and say, “You will get more at some point but I’m not gonna tell you when”. Begin meltdown and an adult tantrum. This cake, however, is the ideal tantrum tamer. It’s like and flakey with a touch of apples, which happen to be in season at the farmers market, leftover from last September. It is also dense enough to go with a warm cup of coffee as the rain smothers your windows and you glare at the clouds.
I would love to try this recipe with whole wheat pastry flour, less sugar and butter and some flax in place of one egg. For now, however, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Sugar and all. The original recipe is from Honey and Jam. She is incredible. I love anything I have ever made from her blog. Simple. Authentic. Perfect. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch round baking pan.Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on a low speed just until incorporated. Pour (more like spoon, it will be very thick) into the prepared pan.
Score the peeled side of the apples with the tines of a fork and arrange the apples atop the batter around the perimeter with 1 slice in the middle (I cut each large slice into 3-4 small slices)
Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sometimes the batter around the apples looks slightly underdone, but don’t worry; it’s just the moisture from the apples.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 6 pieces
2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
Our family recently traveled to Austin. The reasons for travel were mostly business and SXSW related tomfoolery. It’s an amazing world. Really. Another world. It doesn’t even feel like a state that’s connected to the United States of America. It’s warm. All. The. Time. The people are unbelievably friendly and charming. They really live up to the stereotype of southern hospitality. It was a mecca for our family. It was a trip I enjoyed from the third day to the last. The first two days it rained. Hard. Everyone came outside to watch as though it were some bizarre anomaly like a comet dipping out of the sky on to the ground or a leprechaun really appearing at the end of the rainbow. I was, however, grumpy. I flew five hours with a toddler for more rain? No thanks.
Then on the third day the skies opened like a dark curtain on a stage and the sun made its grand entrance.We spent an unmentionable amount of time outdoors and consuming food, all with very close friends. This recipe is for a deeply good friend. He took us to a place called Uchiko. We waited almost an hour to get inside. I was ready to throw in the towel. My toddler was ready to throw everything. I was starting to get “hangry” a vicious combination of hungry and angry. I’m so glad I stayed. Each dish was an orgasm just waiting to happen inside my mouth. I believe I may have unintentionally reenacted the scene from “When Harry Met Sally”. You know the one. The first dish was roasted brussel sprouts in a thai chili sauce. My tongue wasn’t prepared for such an onslaught of amazingness. I vowed I would come home and replicate it and I think I did.
Cut brussel sprouts in quarters and place in 13x9 glass baking dish. Coat with olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until very soft and golden. Remove from oven and stir. Switch temperature on oven to a low broil. Broil for 5 minutes. It’s okay if it burns a bit on the edges….it supposed to give it extra crisp. Remove from oven and cover with sweet chili thai sauce. Consume happily. Chopsticks make it even more fun. The measurements for ingredients are not rigid. The recipe can easily be sized down for just one or increased for a party. Add more brown sugar if you want it sweeter or more spices if you enjoy that blow to the mouth.
2-3 lbs brussel sprouts
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Olive oil
salt and pepper
Bottle of Sweet Chili Thai Sauce (found in most stores)
I once wrote about my dear dislike for granola, the store bought kind, only to happily discover that it came alive when cooked at home. The belief that I knew what I did and did not like began to adjust itself. I realized that most anything I can make at home I really enjoy. Most anything. There are a few incidents that we never speak of and won’t dare mention here. I have also taken a stab at granola bars. While enjoyable, they are loaded with sugar and jam and don’t speak to that sweet and salty mix I really enjoy in the perfect snack.
A friend of mine shared that she was trying to decrease the amount of packaged and store bought goodies. Replacing them with as many home made versions as possible. This woman has two small children and a husband who is in the depths of his medical internship and thus rarely home. I admire her and was shocked she has the time to make anything. She insisted they were terribly easy so I requested the recipe. It really is incredibly easy and quick and delicious. When I hear those words combined, I usually do a somersault of glee and put it on the blog. In that order.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ground flax seeds and water. Set aside. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in mixing bowl. Stir in raisins and chocolate chips. In separate bowl, combine maple syrup and nut butter and mix until smooth. Combine nut butter mixture with flaxseed-water mixture.
Add wet mixture to dry and stir well. The mixture will seem dry, but keep stirring until fully integrated. Press mixture into 8x8 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow pan to cool slightly, then cut into bars and transfer to cooling rack.
Peas and Thank You Cookbook
3 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup nut butter of your choice
I also added about 1/4 cup coconut flakes.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging about food and telling stories about my personal life. It has, however, become a large obstacle in my desire to post at least twice a week. The thought of creating a story, theme and some clever words, leaves my butt cemented to the chair in protest. I believe it has to do with this wonderful change in life where I have very interesting, incredible and exciting things occurring every day. The thought of staring at a computer screen while my boy naps is always on the bottom of my list. It is not as though I haven’t been in the kitchen. Quite the contrast, I can seem to stay out of it. Even to sit down and write a little post about what exactly I am doing in that very kitchen. So today, I am going to share a recipe and commit to sharing at least two recipes a week.
The story may not be as clever, the pictures may not be as plentiful or in depth, yet I am sure that is not what has really mattered to anyone. What really matters is whether the food that comes out at the end is any good. Trust me, it is always good. The original recipe came from Olympia Seafood Company, a local seafood supplier. The woman actually just told me the bare bones while exchanging fish and money over the counter.
Set your oven for 380 degrees and line a baking dish with foil for easy clean-up later. In a fry pan, sauté your onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil until desired tenderness and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Once it’s not blazing hot, stir the sour cream into the onion/garlic mixture. Place the fish in the baking dish and pour the sour cream and onion mixture over the top, smoothing it out evenly. Bake for about 18 minutes and then check for doneness. Enjoy!
1 pound fresh white fish, skinned (servings for 2-3)
1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, diced
1 carrot, diced
4-5 oz mushrooms, diced
1T olive oil
¾ cup sour cream
I was lavished with food and gifts a few weeks ago by some incredible friends in Seattle. My husband was in Africa on a retreat for his job. He claims he worked but I have yet to see a photo to substantiate this claim. There were many photos, however, of the beach, food that made me drool and shorts. Lets get back to me and my son and the snow storm that ensued while he was away. Just before the storm, my son and I stayed with these women who I love dearly and who love my son dearly and that makes me swoon all over them in a somewhat inappropriate manner. The meals they prepared were magazine worthy and one dish in particular made me go back for at least four bowls.
It was a soup made of quinoa, kale, potatoes and love. It sang gently of comfort and health, and was exactly what we needed while my husband was so far away. I was not able to obtain the recipe from my friend but decided to get creative one night and make something as close as possible to what we had eaten but using only my own personal knowledge and “expertise”. I have to say, I really hit it out of the ball park with this one. I made enough to give to a friend and she raved and demanded the recipe. I fluffed my chest out appropriately and informed her it was actually my very own recipe. I may have strut a bit when I walked later that day, maybe.
Saute onion and carrots in oil over medium heat until softened. Add garlic cook another 30 seconds.
Add broth and beans and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes.
Add potatoes and rutabaga, cover and cook another 30 minutes.
Return to boil. Add quinoa, spices and greens, reduce heat, cover and simmer another 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is soft. Remove from heat and serve with thick, hearty bread.
I also added a bit of leftover shredded chicken that was in our fridge. I think it was a wonderful addition but not at all necessary.
1-3 Tbsp oil (I used coconut)
2-3 carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dried beans (soaked for 8 hours or overnight)
2 cups vegetable broth or water
3 small potatoes, diced
1 rutabaga, diced
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 bunch greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard), finely chopped
spices as desired *
salt and pepper to taste
* I used 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder and 2 tsp thyme