Be Simple!More with Less
Have you ever opened a book, heard the author’s voice as she speaks to you for the first time and thought: “I know her! We must have spent time in my kitchen together. Or…she must be reading my mind!”?
It was just this way for me when I opened Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy & Grace. She had just been there beside me, stirring pots, rolling dough, chopping vegetables the whole time. Why had this connection taken so long? Well, and does it matter? We are connected now through her amazing little book. And here’s the thing: it isn’t a cookbook…not really. It’s more of an enchanted survival manual for anyone who wants to eat well with dignity, reciprocity, gratitude and (wait for it….) inner peace.
We eat a lot of oatmeal in our house. All winter long it is only McCann’s Irish Steel Cut Oats, cooked slow overnight in my cute Crockette. But in summer, I need a different approach to getting my oats—something cool and creamy and fast. So, from June to September, I switch to overnight oats, taking full advantage of summer fruits. In this case, in honor of the June Strawberry Moon, I created a play on traditional banana splits to whip up a nutritious, easy to prepare breakfast that’s loaded with market strawberries.
As the sun sets on Earth Day 2022, we may all be a little overwhelmed, a little lost and feeling far from home. Given the most recent report on climate change, we may all be feeling that the home we love—this beautiful planet Earth–has already slipped from our hands, that there are no magic ruby slippers to click to get us back before everything started to go terribly wrong. But I’d like to suggest that just like those ruby slippers Dorothy wore throughout her harrowing adventure in The Wizard of Oz, we’ve always had the power to “go home”–we’ve always had the power to heal and grow a healthy ecosystem right where we live, right in our own backyards.
With stores of hard sweet carrots from my crisper, a sturdy vermillion squash called Potimarron from the pantry shelf and rusty shallots snatched from my basement storage cart, orange becomes the new green! Steaming bowls of antioxidant power and beneficial beta keratin will warm us up and keep us healthy on cold winter afternoons and evenings.
One of my favorite winter greens are those cute little cabbages know as Brussel sprouts. They are easy to fix in a million ways and bring a real freshness to wintertime meals. They are a family favorite with us now, but that used to not be the case. Years ago when I was much, much less experienced in the kitchen I tried boiling them, steaming them—all to everyone’s disappointment. Then I found recipes for shredding them and sautéing them. That changed everything.
This dish is inspired by a variety of eggplant known as Fairytale, and these sweet tiny globes live up to their whimsical name. About “Barbie” size and variegated purple and white, as pretty as a Monet. Really cute and probably only showing up at farmers markets, Fairytales can perplex cooks as they consider how to prepare them. Most regular eggplant recipes just won’t work here. So I had to come up with something new.
I am always looking for new ways to use ground cherries, those golden globes of farmers markets across the Midwest. I’ve been developing recipes for these one-of-a-kind berries (Actually they are a member of the tomatillo family!) since I started this blog way back in 2015.
This year, I decided to try them as a base for a marinade, using fresh basil from my garden and a fresh blonde habanero pepper (just one, as they are HOT).
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent.
I can’t think of a more quintessential summer pastime than a cool dip in a favorite swimming hole, can you? Of course, the dip here is about eating, not swimming. Although, the recipe makes a nice poolside snack, I do believe.
What I love most about my Carrot and Fennel Top Quinoa Salad is that the ingredients help us avoid food waste while encouraging the use of really local ingredients. Furthermore, there are any number of variations you could incorporate into this dish as the market season progresses. So on to cleaning those tops!
When my daughter was little, I, like all good mothers, tried to incorporate healthy snacks into her diet. My goal was to keep her out of her great grandmother’s infamous “candy drawer.” You know what I’m talking about—that drawer with bags of M&Ms, Butterfingers, candy corn and chocolate covered peanuts. At Easter, you could find those bizarre speckled malted milk eggs that turned your lips white, peeps of all colors and big chocolate bunnies—usually solid.
To be fair, we all dipped into that drawer in my grandma’s bedroom. She delighted in our petty crimes. And more than once, I overheard my daughter and my grandma in deep conversations about life, love and justice while sharing a Russell Stover’s chocolate bunny or a “Bit O Honey.” Why would I interfere? Sweetness was happening on so many levels.
We eat cornbread and polenta often in my house. That cornmeal flavor is a particular favorite of mine—polenta for breakfast, cornbread for dinner and even cornmeal layer cake for dessert! I love the way rich corn flavor plays off other ingredients like maple syrup, spicy sauces and even—you might recall this post—apple pie filling for an amazing stuffed coffee cake.
So it was sort of a given that once I fell in love with Zubi’s yummy Tex-Mex sauces, I’d eventually use them in a cornmeal recipe. And I did! Well…it wasn’t cornmeal exactly….it was corn flour—lighter, brighter, with strong corn flavor. This recipe really changes the texture of traditional skillet cornbread, turning it more like cake, which allows the Zubi Salsa and Queso to really shine. And it’s easy! Yes, it is. I see that look. Be brave.
I began the month of November with a feel-good activity—I volunteered with my local heroes at Bring Your Own Glen-Ed, a community-based volunteer organization devoted to ridding our planet of plastic pollution, on a highway cleanup campaign. Times are risky in many ways this year—a year like none other I can remember, honestly. But we planned well, took all necessary “pandemic precautions,” and did the good work.
I love these guys for their unwavering motivation and dedication to heal our planet. So I really wanted to be there for them on that first chilly Saturday morning in November. And being there for others means taking personal care of yourself, yes? Enter The New Hope Network with a blogger box product that is now a mainstay in my house: Iconic Grass-Fed Protein Drinks.
It never fails: every holiday season my daughter makes the same request for my Curried Butternut Squash Soup. And while this is quite the compliment, I try to remind her that I have a whole folder full of recipes for butternuts. She never wavers, and I always give in. This year will be no exception. But that concession doesn’t stop me from encouraging her to explore my other butternut favorites, like the layered casserole I made a couple Christmases ago, or the Blonde on Blonde Pasta dish that has become my personal favorite. In fact, I try something new with butternuts every year, including this year.
We love Halloween in my house—the sweet part of it, right? The little trick-or-treaters in their costumes, the homemade goodies for family and friends at harvest gatherings, the seasonal displays of pumpkins and gourds, squeals and laughter. But we don’t mind getting a little salty either, especially when it comes to snacking: just the right combination of salt and sugar is the magic incantation for those treats so good you just can’t stop eating.
But they should be at least a little healthy right? I mean, if you are going to eat a lot of a snack, it should have nutritional benefit, don’t you think? Okay, before you think I’ve taken all the fun out of Halloween, consider my newest creation: Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas. A little bit corn nut, a little bit Payday candy bar in a protein-packed snack. TaDa!
Last year I made the decision to start ripping up my front yard—eventually I mean to rip up all my yard. The plan is to give back some of my land to the Earth: remember last year’s post She Went Native Right in the Front Yard? With the help of local native plant expert Tom Shirrell and my daughter Heather, I took out several feet of typical, useless suburban turf and handed it over to cone flowers, foxglove, monarda, hyssop, yarrow, milkweed and bee balm. A transformation from “doing something to the Earth” to “doing something for the Earth” had begun.
The kitchen as classroom—it’s certainly not a new concept. A culinary hero of mine, Alice Waters, was one of the first chefs to identify this idea with her Edible Schoolyard Project, a project that has since taken on a life of its own and been replicated in myriad ways globally, helping children understand where their food comes from, that a healthy plant-based diet can be delicious when deliciously prepared, and how cooking fosters skills that we all need. This idea is different from seeing a kitchen as a place where one learns to cook; it’s reimagining this functional space as a place where one cooks to learn.
While I count ice cream among my top 10 favorite desserts—pretty close to number one, in fact—nothing beats a fruity sorbet on a hot summer day. It is sweet, clean, light and cooling to the entire body. I have never met a sorbet I didn’t love, including some off-the-wall ones that combine herbs and ground pepper flakes with standard fruits and flavors. Pineapple, mango and cayenne anyone?
Right now, though, I’m all about berries—blueberries and raspberries, specifically. The farmers markets are brimming with them. They are so good and so versatile, but their season is so short! When you buy, don’t forget to use a little restraint and freeze some for pies this coming fall and winter (I had to remind myself of this several times.). This week, however, I’m doing something frozen and super simple…let’s make a berry sorbet!
It is summer! And for my family this year, it has been the season of gardening and living green. We finally expanded and fenced in our vegetable garden. If the crops fail, I won’t be blaming the deer this year. With a little luck and a lot of faith we may get some tomatoes, beans, potatoes, Brussel sprouts and kale. My little strawberry plant is still too small, but I did spy one tiny berry! I have expanded my herb garden, too, and our front yard is teeming with the pollinator plants I’ve been putting in for the past three years. While we will never be farmers, or herbalists, or native plant experts, it all feels wonderful. So satisfying. So connected to the Earth. And at the end of the day…I’m sore as hell and Don has a smell way beyond sweaty. You, too? I’ve got suggestions, so keep reading.
Well we are closing in on Cinco De Mayo, yes? Not going to a big party? Then let the party come to you! I knew when the latest New Hope Network Blogger Box arrived, my little starter set of Zubi’s Organic Queso de Jalapeño, Crema de Jalapeño and Zubi Salsa were going to be a big hit. So I just didn’t tell Don they were vegan. A slight omission that he never even questioned. He just kept shoving tacos in his mouth and reaching for more sauce.
Kefir is a natural for smoothies, much like a runny yogurt with a bit more tang and TONS of probiotics. When my latest New Hope Network Blogger Box arrived with a sample of Growing Naturals A.M. Energy One & Done SuperShake, it was a no-brainer. Let’s make smoothies!
Ever since the Women’s Movement began in the 70s, women have taken on one challenge after another. While we have won many hard-fought victories, it seems to me that some what we’ve gained is something we’ve had all along… the ability to multi-task. No offense guys, but women are natural organizers.
I have several friends with whom I share a lot of passions—love of the outdoors, farmers markets, gardening, and environmental activism, among many other loves. Food is always top of the list, and I’m sure this is not a surprise to you. Conversations with my friends about food come up all the time, and sometimes these heart-to-hearts on all things yummy, healthy and local turn into something really special—in this case, bacteria. Say what?
You know me: why buy power bars when you can make them yourself? You will have total control over the ingredients, avoid the plastic wrapper and enjoy a much more delightful dining experience. Well, that’s my opinion, anyway. And making your own bars, snack balls and cookies is much easier than people imagine. This recipe makes quite a supply of tasty, healthy, flexible bars that will be ready in your frig for up to two weeks. After that, they are probably still fine to eat, but will lack flavor and freshness. However, I’m guessing that if you make them and eat one, storing them longer than two weeks just won’t be a problem. Yummy.