A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Au Natural Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups

Man, oh man! Where has time gone?! No, I haven't fallen into a black hole. No, I haven't given up on cooking (or eating). No, I haven't been traveling in the back country of some exotic place (unfortunately!). My silence has been the result of caring for a new baby in my life. Not a real baby (sorry, Mom)... THIS baby. I started my own photography business. On accident, almost. After photographing this friend and this friend and this friend and many others, it seemed like a natural progression of my work. And work it is! I love it, so it's the best kind of work... but on top of my full-time position here and a home remodel, sometimes it may seem that I have indeed fallen into a black hole.

Well, it is time to emerge at long last.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Candied Citrus Peel

I love citrus. It's so lovely that citrus season occurs in the cold of winter -- those bright, juicy sunshine-orbs ripening to perfection in the darkest days.

I've featured marmalade and cocktails made from our (six!) citrus trees in past blog posts. In the spirit of thinking ahead to holiday gifts and gatherings, I've fallen in love with candied citrus peel.  It's a bit of a process, but the results are worth it! Delicious, flavorful citrus peels last months in a sealed container in the fridge, and they are so pretty. Dipped in bittersweet chocolate puts them over the edge.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Joanne's Linzer Shortbread Cookies

Spending Thanksgiving with 20+ gourmet-minded family members on the east coast was totally inspiring. After not posting anything on my blog for months (and hearing about it nearly every day from some friend, family member or my own conscience), I was happy to return from a week on the other side of the county with ideas and momentum to cook, bake and get out my camera. The past months have mostly been a whirlwind of paperwork, construction, heavy lifting and dust as Bill and I begin the adventure of home ownership, junk clearing and renovation together. This work has indeed been inspiring... but in a very different way. Dreaming of our kitchen-to-be keeps me motivated!

It was nice to spend so much time focused on food this past week -- and to have some time to relax away from the hustle and bustle of all that's been happening at home. We spent Thanksgiving day at our family's beautiful Cape home, enjoying the unseasonably warm sun, looking out at the sparkling ocean. Inspiration is a given in a place like this!

Aside from the beautiful location, some of my food inspiration came from making and eating holiday dishes, some was from hovering over others with my camera.  Mostly hovering over Joanne, who always turns out the most reliably delicious desserts, in copious amounts. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ode to Tomatoes and the Open Face Tomato Sandwich

One of my favorite Pablo Neruda poems is Ode to TomatoesThere is hardly a month when I'm not thinking about tomatoes, and this poem often comes to mind as well. I've included it at the end of this post, if you've never read it, or if you, like me, don't get tired of reading it.  These prolific summer tomato months started for me last November when I fawned over seed catalogs and chose tomato varieties for the coming year. MLK Day marks the time I like to get the seeds planted in the greenhouse and then fuss over them while they grow through to April and May, when they are big enough and the ground is warm enough for them to be planted out.  The next few months involves staking, pruning, fertilizing, and dreaming... then tomatoes everywhere, always for a couple months that only seem precious when they are over. Just thinking about the end of tomato season makes me wax nostalgic. Luckily we're still wading in tomatoes! Rejoice! 

Heirloom Kiwi Tomatoes

Today I don't have an elaborate recipe. I have my own ode to tomatoes of sorts: photos and a suggestion for a  go-to, every day, throw-together meal that I could (and do) eat for days on end. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tamarind Sorbet or Agua Fresca

Yay tamarind! Before you skip over this, thinking tamarind is an exotic and strange thing that you have never heard of, don't know where to find, or don't care about...give tamarind a chance. It is an extraordinary fruit pulp that is quite delicious and surprisingly nutritious. This sweet-sour fruit (officially a legume), contains high amounts of potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium, as well as vitamins C and B and antioxidants. Quite a powerhouse of a fruit -- it's especially unusual to see a fruit with such high levels of iron and Vitamin B. And it is really delicious -- sweet, sour, tangy, addictive. I've used it in savory Indian dishes, as well as in sweet drinks and dessert. I've also seen tamarind candies at the Latino market coated with chili -- sweet and spicy. This recipe is an adaptable summer winner -- it can be churned into a refreshing sorbet or mixed with additional water and ice for sipping in the sun. It's sweet, yet not cloyingly so.

tamarind still in their pods

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blackberry Slump

It's berry time again! As we headed over the Santa Cruz Mountains to our go-to you-pick berry patch, we tried to remember when it was that we made this trip last year. Of course I track dates and time by the food I ate or the recipes I made, so I looked back in the blog. Sure enough, it was the same weekend last year that we hauled home many pounds of blackberries and strawberries. The Daiquiris,  Blackberry Ice Cream and Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt posts tell the tale of last year's excursion.

So what to make with this year's bounty? A slump, of course. What the heck is a slump?! In short, it's stove top fruit dumplings. Unlike a cobbler or a grunt (or other strangely-named fruit desserts), a slump is made on the stove top. It's lovely not to have to turn on the oven in the summer! I like to use a big cast iron pan with a heavy lid. The fruit goes in the pot and a biscuit-mixture is dropped on top of the fruit. The pan lid goes on and the magic happens: the fruit bubbles away while the biscuits steam, making fluffy, fruit-covered dumplings.   You can use whatever berry you have -- blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries -- or other fruit (stone fruit works great). Sugar amounts may have to be altered for different types of fruit.  It's a brilliant idea. And absolutely delicious.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Triple A Salad

Well, it's back to blogging! After many months of wedding planning, celebrating, and then honeymooning, Bill and I spent our first weekend back at home, reveling in the simple pleasure of being married, and relaxing, cleaning out the garage, doing three weeks worth of laundry, making short work of a dozen pounds of ripe plums, vacuuming and hosting friends. Another great opportunity to reflect back on Jack Kornfield's Buddhist book, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.

I really enjoyed planning our wedding weekend, and I absolutely LOVED every minute of the celebration. Now it's also strangely enjoyable to be doing household tasks. Even while dusting and lugging bags to the Goodwill, little wedding memories click through my mind and make me smile.

Here's a sneak peek:

I'll do a post with more photos and details soon, and (hopefully) have a recipe for our wedding cake -- a banana cake that is out of this world. But today's post is a recipe that came to me during a sweet bridal shower hosted by a most creative, generous and resilient friend. She hosted a beautiful brunch, and collected recipes on index cards from all my friends (I'll be posting more of those in the weeks to come -- there are some real winners... everything from savory Bulgarian pastries to Texas sheet cake to Grandma Paddy's ricotta pancakes).

This was the recipe she passed on to me, from Cynthia Lair, a professor at Bastyr University. I frequently make salads, but this is a favorite. The Triple A is named for the primary ingredients = Avocado, Almonds and Arame (a nutrient-rich seaweed, a relative of kelp. Make it with mixed greens, a nice butter lettuce, baby spinach or arugula (to make it a Quadruple A!). I usually like to dress my salad separately, as I'm picky about what constitutes just the right amount of dressing, but this salad is an exception -- I love this dressing and the amount always seems perfect. I didn't do much cooking over the past couple months, but I did make this salad quite a few times -- and that is saying a lot (it was this salad and take out for the last two month rush before the wedding)! On more than one occasion this salad served as a meal in itself.