Let me share with you a dumb-ass rookie gardening mistake I made this past fall. This is something that I should know better by now…but for some reason it just didn’t click in my brain.
Take a look at the two turnips above.
One has an awesome, plump root and the other has a small, skinny root .
One was sown in a bed that had peas and fava beans grown in it earlier in the season. One was (accidentally sown) outside of the bed in the walkway.
Care to take a guess as to which turnip was grown where? I’ll tell you: The awesome root turnip landed OUTSIDE the garden bed when I planted these seeds, and as a result, the root bulbed out because the soil IN the garden bed had WAAAAAYYYY too much nitrogen.
Why? Because legumes, like the the peas and fav beans are nitrogen fixers. This means they bring in a lot of nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots. This is perfect for plants that are heavy feeders like corn and tomatoes, or for plants that are leafy, like lettuce. Too much nitrogen in your soil is not awesome for fruiting. You will get great greens, but your beets, radishes, turnips…whatever will suck.
This is especially relevant for those who have soil trucked in for raised beds, which I did. In my case, when I built my garden, I had used a combination of topsoil and mushroom compost. This combo was super high in nitrogen thanks to the compost.
Last year I added bone meal and wood ash before I planted anything to add potassium and phosphorous to help balance things out, and it helped. I actually got some radishes. However, I didn’t even THINK about the fact that I had a high-nitrogen bed when I chose to plant the turnips.
I came across a little mantra a few years ago that I filed away in the “I’ll check that out later” folder in my brain: “beans, fruits, green, roots”. This is a simple little crop rotation reminder. The crops are basically planted in order of their nitrogen use.
So…I’m going to rip out the turnips and use the greens for something, then plant potatoes in this bed, since they are a member of the nightshade family (like tomatoes) they are technically a fruit.
Gardening is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be…but I still love it.
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Here’s a little progress update on the the grand Front Yard Project. We (mainly Jefe) have been busy tearing out the chainlink fence that was crushed by a tree that fell during an ice storm a few years ago:
It’s a mess. There was a TON of blackberries and weeds we had to take out. Not to mention trees that actually grew THROUGH the fence:
It’s a lot of work! I still don’t know if we are going to build the new fence ourselves, sovaldi sale or hire it out. We got a quote and…OUCH! I am of two minds about this: we would save so much money if we did it ourselves, but if we hired it out it would DONE in a week and we wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Aside from the fence, one of the first projects in the Front Yard I am going to tackle is converting the ditch in the front to a bioswale, or rain garden. Here’s the ditch:
To give you some reference it’s about 75 feet long. The first thing I am going to do is solarize the grass and weeds with black plastic. It’s going to look like crap, and I am a little embarrassed, but then I have to remember that our yard has looked trashy for years, so what’s another month or two, right?
The landscape designer I hired last year came up with a list of plants for the bioswale that I am starting to source. In order to save money I am trying to start as many as I can from seed, which so far isn’t going all that well. I decided to try the winter sowing method using old water jugs that are turned into mini greenhouses. I planted these back in January and only one has sprouted so far.
Here are the jugs! Not all of them are for the bioswale specifically. Only the Elks Blue and Slough Sedge.
And only the Slough Sedge has sprouted. These plants are suited for wetlands and will be planted in the bottom of the swale because…well…they can handle water. Variegated golden sweet flag, which is another pond/bog plant will also be planted. I actually found some of these at my local Lowes but I haven’t purchased them yet. Also on the list and not purchased yet are dayliliies, which will be planted higher up on the slopes. The other plant I am trying to start from seed is Juncus patens ‘Elks Blue’, another grass suited for wet places like rain gardens. I bought more seeds this week and am going to try going the traditional route of starting them under lights since they don’t seem to like the jug.
And…last but not least…a landscaping strawberry will be planted along the top edge on the street side. I actually have some of these in my back yard I think I can just transplant. Every little bit helps!
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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
I was invited over for dinner and asked to bring a salad. The main course was sweet potato and bean enchiladas. I know how to chop up vegetables and throw them together last minute, buy some dressing and call it a day. On this particular day, however, I had some extra time and a desire to roast nuts in a sweet and savory mix. I made this mix during Thanksgiving as a way to use all the extra pumpkin seeds I had from several huge pumpkins that were left over from Halloween. My nephews were around for the holiday and munched on the mix and begged me to send them some in the mail. Fast forward to several months and I finally decided I had put it off long enough. I wanted to mail my promise. I was thus inspired by the nut mix to make a sweet and spicy mango salad to accompany our dinner.
The nut mix takes no time at all and is incredibly delicious. A great way to snack with healthy intentions. The salad is also very quick and keeps well for at least 3 days once mixed (without the dressing). Heat the oven (or toaster oven) to 350°. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 6 minutes or until they are fragrant and their color deepens slightly. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the spice mix.
In a saucepan, combine the glaze ingredients and bring them to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Stir in the toasted nuts and continue to stir until all the nuts are shiny and the liquid is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Move the glazed nuts to a mixing bowl, sprinkle on the spice mix, and toss them well to coat. Spread the coated nuts on a cookie sheet and return them to the oven for another 4 minutes; check regularly to make sure they don’t burn. Remove and let cool. Makes 2 cups.
Mix together ingredients for dressing in a bottle with a lid. I use old salad dressing bottles. Shake well. Chop 1/2 cup of nuts. Place greens and mango in large salad bowl. Top with chopped nuts. You can dress the salad in the bowl or allow each person to dress it to their liking. The undressed salad will last longer as left overs in the fridge.
I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the final product but alas…I was far to busy consuming it. Enjoy!
2 cups mixed nuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
1 manco, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cups greens
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mango juice
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cayenne or smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
This post will be short and sweet. I don’t have a lot to say. My soap box has been left for this surprising sunshine and I’m feeling like a nap could be a better way to spend my “free time” than writing a long post. These burgers are my own invention upon realizing I had extra ground meat and a desire to get more veggies into my son’s diet. It’s really not all that precise and you could make tons of substitutions. To say he enjoyed these would be so sadly inaccurate. He sucked them down so fast I could hardly remember whether I had put one on his plate or not. This action was coincided with lots of “mmmmm” sounds. This is a boy that will pull spinach out of his eggs….so the fact that he inhaled the greens in this burger just proves how delicious it must have been.
Mix together all ingredients until well incorporated. Shape into patties. Heat frying pan with a scant layer of oil. Fry on both sides about 5 minutes or until cooked all the way through. These could probably be baked as well at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. I didn’t get a chance to try that out but I would love to hear if someone else does.
.5 lbs ground meat
1 cup finely chopped greens
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp ground flax
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup mashed sweet potato (or one egg)
oil for frying
I love making pancakes on saturday mornings. It is usually the first day of the weekend for our family and it feels as though it signals a slowing down and soaking in of all that we cherish. Usually, that is time with one another, and for me, it also means more time for cooking and baking. My little guy, who really isn’t that little anymore, is increasingly interested in helping me in the kitchen. This last saturday we were sans my husband and I wasn’t about to let that stop our little tradition. I mixed together the dry ingredients, gave my 16 month old a whisk and away he went. To say I was proud and possibly moved to tears is an understatement. It’s such a joy to have someone keeping me company in the kitchen, the fact that it is my son is a bonus.
I want to convey that while the pictures show him squatting on the floor, this is not required to obtain a replica of our product. I’m sure you knew that…but thought I would clarify for any hard core literals out there. This recipe is my own, which has been happening more and more lately. I keep forgetting to write down the ingredients and this does not bode well for a blog. I did remember this recipe and it’s ingredients so bonus points for me and lucky for you!
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Obtaining the assistance of a young child is not necessary but does make it more enjoyable. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, and then whisk in the remaining wet ingredients. If you want a smoother batter, let all ingredients soak for 5-10 minutes. Gradually pour the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients as you whisk them together until just combined. Do not over mix.
Bring a skillet to a medium heat, this takes about 4-5 minutes and it is essential to get the pan nice and hot before pouring your first pancake. Lightly oil the pan. When I say “lightly” I really mean it. Make it light folks…it makes a big difference. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. Allow bubbles to come through and the edges to lightly firm and then flip to cook the other side.
Our favorite topping is peanut butter and real maple syrup. Sometimes we splurge and put whipped cream on…ya know…when we are feeling really lucky.
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp + 2tsp sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (1 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or melted butter) and extra for greasing the pan
It’s been a long time. I could excuse myself for a number of reasons. Husband on a business trip for 10 days and I alone with the 16 month old boy. Worst winter storm in 20 years. Power outages. Possible insanity while all this occurred at once. If I were honest, however, it has just been a lack of inspiration and motivation. I haven’t really felt like cooking anything new or inspired by anything I have been reading in the cooking world. It may also be true that I have a really good set of “go-to” recipes that I find difficult to stray away from. Then my husband returned, the snow melted, the power was provided and a fire was lit under me. I went to a dinner party recently and someone mentioned putting beets in their chili.
Beets in chili? This I had to try. It also felt like a fairly easy gate way recipe to new and more exciting adventures. I put together my favorite chili recipe, with a few tweaks, and added some beets. Outcome? Tremendous. The beets add heart and earth to the chili without making it taste like…well…beets. I also decided to throw in some finely chopped greens to up the ante even more. I did learn, however, it is wise to either put everything in the slow cooker for the day so the beets get nice and tender or boil the beets until tender before adding them to the chili if you are short on time. Get adventurous, try this out. I swear your kids will adore it and only the redness of the chili will give away that there is anything different.
If using a slow cooker/ crock pot: Throw all ingredients in, turn to low and let go for 6-8 hours. Garnish with cheese and sour cream.
If using a traditional pot: Place diced beets in tall pot. Pour water in pot until beets are barely covered. Place pot on stove and bring to boil. Boil until beets are tender (15-40 minutes depending on size). Drain water and set beets aside. Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and sauté about 2 minutes more. Add beans, tomatoes, beets, chopped greens, smoked paprika, cooked ground meat and chili seasoning. Bring to boil. Let simmer 20-30 minutes. Add broth as necessary if chili becomes too thick. Garnish with sour cream and cheese. I also made vegan squash cornbread muffins to go with dinner.
1 can beans (chili, black, pinto)
.5 lb ground meat (pork, lamb, beef), cooked
2 beets, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken) or water
1 Tbsp chili seasoning
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup finely chopped greens (collards, kale, swiss chard, spinach)
Garnish: Sour Cream, Cheddar or Cojita cheese.
There is a restaurant in Bellingham, Washington called Man Pies. It opened in the last few years, during the time our family was living in another part of the state. We often visit, however, and decided we had to try any food establishment with such a clever name. Turns out, we were about to get our socks and pants knocked off. The first pie I tried was stuffed with a lamb stew. It was so astounding I have never ordered anything else off the menu because I am so obsessed with the unique flavors married in this dish. I have had it in my mind to recreate this joyful experience at home but have not been handed the time or ingredients.
I assumed it would be easy to find a good recipe. I was wrong. It was nearly impossible. Most people use puff pastry for the top and this was just unacceptable to me. I will admit, it takes about an extra hour to make your own pie crust. It is so totally worth that hour of time. If you just absolutely cannot make the extra time, which I am well aware can happen, a store bought crust will do just fine. Even puff pastry would work but the oven temp and cooking time would be altered based on the package directions.
The dish is a meal all on it’s own and could easily feed 6-8 people. It also keeps very well, refrigerated, for at least a week or two. You can also make the crust way ahead of time and freeze for up to 6 months, just removing it the night before and putting it in the refrigerator to thaw. You can also make the filling of the pie a day ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 3 days, just reheat in a pot before putting inside of pie crust.
As a last ditch effort, this is also a fabulous lamb stew recipe. If you just have 30-45 minutes to make dinner then pick up some rolls or hearty bread at the store and whip up just the stew portion of this recipe. It will not fail you.
img src="http://purehunger.com/images/uploads/IMG_53591.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="413" />
Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat and brown lamb meat (about 4-6 minutes on each side). Add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes and cook another 8-10 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add tomatoes, broth, wine and spices and bay leaf and bring to boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from stew and mix with arrowroot powder until blended. Add mixture back to stew pot, stir and simmer, uncovered, another 10-15 minutes or until stew has thickened. Add frozen peas. If making only the stew then stop here, and serve in bowls with bread.
While stew is simmering, roll out one pie crust and place in 9-10 inch pie pan. If you need more direction on how to roll out crust just look at link for pie crust in side bar. Cover and place in refrigerator. Roll out top of pie crust. If stew is still simmering, put top crust in refrigerator, covered. When stew is 5 minutes from complete, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Once stew is complete, remove pie pan from refrigerator, fill with stew and gently place second pie crust on top. Cut excess crust dough around pie pan and seal edges together with fork by gently pressing all the way around.
Brush top of crust with lightly beaten egg. Place pie in oven and let cook 45 minutes or until crust is browned. Let cool 30-60 minutes or overnight in refrigerator. Slice and serve.
2 Tbsp coconut/olive/canola oil
1 lb lamb stew meat (can sub any other meat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finally chopped or 1 cup
4 stalks celery, diced or 1.5 cups
4 small carrots, diced or 1.5 cups
3 medium potatoes, cubed or 2 cups
2 tomatoes, diced or 1 cup
1 cup low-sodium chicken/beef broth
1 cup red wine (can also use beef broth)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
Frozen/fresh peas (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
The first day of the new year and my feature photo is a huge hunk of meat covered in bacon. Not necessarily what you might have in mind when this is the day most people begin to set goals for health and weight loss. I am not oblivious. This is incredibly intentional. I want to send a clear message about food and health. The contents of this meatloaf are local, seasonal and sustainably raised or produced. Each and every ingredient was purchased from the farmers market or food cooperative. While it may have more fat content and less vegetables than a conventional salad, it probably has far fewer harmful chemicals and additives and far more healthy omega 3 and 6, protein and beta carotene.
My message is not that meat is healthier than vegetables. The message is: there is a balance to everything, including food. It took me years to discover, when you put time and energy into carefully selecting your ingredients, it often does not matter what you are eating. What matters is how present you are when you are making and consuming your dish. The more you stay in the moment, the less it matters whether you are eating salad or meatloaf. If the ingredients are from local, sustainable sources then you can trust that your body is being nourished without being harmed. Remember, however, there is balance. Eating meatloaf every night is neither good for you or the world we live in.
We all try the best we can to follow “rules” for eating well. The struggle, however, is the “rules” are often changing. Hundreds of “experts” have conflicting opinions. Children, work, hobbies and life take a lot of time and energy. We cannot always succeed every single day to get the “correct” amount of food in each of our bodies. What we can do, however, is use a strong foundation for health by visiting local markets and food cooperatives. Even if we are making meatloaf instead of a green salad or vegetable soup, we can feel positive about the balance we are creating in our world and our lives. We are focusing less on what we are eating and focusing more on where it came from, how it was made and how we are going to eat it.
It was also incredibly inexpensive for the large amount the recipe produced. I could have easily fed 8-10 people and still had left overs. Meatloaf is not some delicate art form in the cooking world. It’s the comfort food for a busy family. While many dinners can be a battle to get down my toddlers throat, I knew this would be one he would eat and happily ask for more. I made a side of roasted vegetables to balance the dinner.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all meat loaf ingredients except meat and bacon in a large bowl until well combined and mushy. Mixture will fizz due to baking soda and vinegar. Let sit 10-15 minutes, then mix in meat until well combined. On an oiled pan, loosely form meat mix into loaf. Drape bacon over loaf and slide into middle rack of oven and bake 50-60 minutes or until thermometer reaches 170 when put in middle of loaf.
Combine ingredients for glaze in small pot and bring to boil for 1-2 minutes. Twenty minutes before meatloaf is done, pour glaze over evenly and return it to oven.
Adapted from “The Family Dinner”
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 1/2 lbs ground meat
5-6 slices pork bacon (optional)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
One of my favorite things happened last weekend. I was casually introduced to a new vegetable. While picking out my familiar items such as beets and carrots, I happened to overhear the woman who was making her purchase. She was discussing what she was going to do with her produce and mentioned how rare it is to find the two vegetables she was looking for: rutabagas and turnips. We grew turnips in our garden last year…I was really grossed out when eating them raw. As I found out with my initial aversion to kale, it sometimes only takes the right recipe to bring out the greatness in a vegetable.
After a little more inquiry, I learned you can roast both these vegetables as easily as you might roast beets or carrots. I asked for a few small picks and happily hurried home to give both these vegetables a fighting chance. I had recently learned an incredible secret to roasting vegetables: sugar and high temperatures.
I swear to you, even your children will eat this, as long as they can get past the fact that it is a vegetable. If for some horrific reason, they refuse to eat it, you won’t even argue. You wan’t them to hate it because it just means more leftovers for you. You will want leftovers. Trust me.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut vegetables in chunks. Don’t be precise about this, just cut it about the size you would want to put into your mouth. A little rectangle or square. Place in lipped oven proof pan, coat with sugar, salt, pepper and oil and roast for 30-45 minutes. Roast until they are tender and browning. The high temps bring out the natural sugars in the vegetables and the brown sugar gently caramelizes the top. This can be refrigerated and happily eaten as leftovers for days afterward.
2 Beets (I used golden and striped)
3 cups brussel sprouts
2 tsp brown sugar
2-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Feel free to mix and match any root vegetables or squash in place of suggested ingredients such as potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
Hello there. It’s been a while. Not sure you remember me. I’m the one with the clever, seasonal blog that you have been checking every day for the past two weeks only to be disappointed and heavy hearted when you learn there is not a single new post. Two weeks. Two whole weeks have gone by without even a little peep from this lady that calls herself a “blogger”. Shameful. Shame on me. I will, however, happily pull the, “It’s the holidays” card and leave you embarrassed that you ever thought bad thoughts about me….you know you did.
Well I am about to make it up to you in a BIG way. A creamy, cheesy, sweet and addicting way. It’s not even my own recipe. I straight up stole it from this lady. Sorry Pioneer Woman. Your cheesecake recipe with it’s gingersnap crust and pumpkin goodness is just far to delicious to keep secret any longer. Seriously. I ate the whole thing by myself. I may have given a piece or two to friends but I ate at least half the damn thing in the matter of seven days and that, my friends, took some serious self restraint.
A dear friend of mine had made this a few weeks back and I had ordered her to save me a piece or our friendship would officially be over. I don’t mess around when it comes to food, especially cheesecake. She complied, somewhat grudgingly, I may add, and I wouldn’t blame her one bit. My first bite may or may not have been followed up by some very inappropriate groaning and moaning. This is the kind of shit you sell your first child, and maybe your second, just so you can get one more fix. I’m dead serious. It’s that good.
This recipe is in now way healthy or “good for you” but it is so very very “good for you”. If you make it and feel guilty about eating every single slice all by yourself, call me up and I will happily fly my ass across the country to join you in a slice of heaven and self pity. We could be best friends!
You should follow all the instructions on the original post and do not be afraid if your cake starts to rise and look a bit like a volcano exploding in your oven. It’s supposed to do that and it will return to a preferable shape once it has cooled off a bit. I would also highly recommend setting the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet because I found the butter from the crust would drip into the oven and made my kitchen so very smokey.
An insignificant price to pay for such a sinful treat. I also highly recommend inviting over as many friends as possible to help you consume this cake or you will easily be having “just one more bite” until you realize there are no more bites left to consume and your stomach feels a bit achy. The recipe recommends chilling the cake at least four hours or over night and I tried to push the limit and cool it exactly four hours. I believe this was a mistake. This is a dessert that should be made the day before and just gets better with age, as most things in this world.
The original recipe calls for caramel but my friend and I both felt this cake was rich enough on it’s own. Be your own judge but I would reserve the caramel for a topping, if at all.
Taken from Pioneer Woman
12 ounces, weight Storebought Gingersnaps
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans
6 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 dash Salt
4 packages (8 0z. Packages) Cream Cheese
1-1/2 cup Sugar
1 can 15-ounce Pumpkin Puree (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
4 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream