Gluten-free

A summer zucchini soup in a curry-coconut broth

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Today, I leave you with something short.

The first zucchini I ever saw, I killed it with a hoe.”
— John Gould, Monstrous Depravity: A Jeremiad & a Lamentation about Things to Eat, 1963

This soup is one of my favorite dishes. We leave for Guatemala tomorrow and I could not be more excited (stayed toned on a future post featuring.... I don't know... Guatemalan chocolate maybe?). I've been frantically trying to eat up garden produce before we leave. Nothing is sweeter than summer squash straight from the vine (well, maybe summer tomatoes). This dish originally started with making Hedi Swanson's summer squash soup found in her Super Natural Every Day. The first time I made it was when I was living in Charleston, SC. I've been making it for 3 summers now and it has adapted into my own dish. I hope you do the same to yours :).


Recipe (Serve 4 large servings or 6 small)

Curry paste

Turmeric root (fresh) - 2 small numbs, peeled, about 2 - 3 TB

Hot pepper - 1 (deseeded), chopped in half. (I've used every type of hot pepper here. I've tried jalapeño, ghost pepper, habanero, and thai pepper. My favorite is actually the ghost pepper but used whichever pepper you have or to your heat preference.

Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled

Ginger root (fresh) - One small numb, peeled, 1-2 TB

Miso - 2tsp (I used yellow miso)

Soy sauce  - 1 TB (I used tamari)

Shallot - 1 small shallot, peeled  coarsely chopped (I've also used a few TB of red onion when I did not have shallot around)

Lemongrass (fresh) - 1 - 2 small stalks of lemongrass. The papery outer layers discarded. You only want to use the soft/tender inner parts of the lemongrass.

* Place all the curry paste ingredients in a small blender or food processor. I use a small "magic bullet" type blender for this... it just works so well! Blend until smooth & set aside for later.

Soup

Coconut oil - 4.5TB

Vegetable broth - 2.5 cups

Coconut milk - 16 ounce can (I used light but regular would taste wonderful too)

Zucchini - 1 large zucchini, cut into thin half moons

Yellow squash - 1 small, cut into thin half moons

Tofu (extra firm) - pressed & cut into medium chunks

Soy sauce - 1.5 Tb (I used tamari)

Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup, halved

Red onion - 1/4 a small red onion, slivered

Eggplant (optional) - I had a few baby eggplants that I added this time ( 3 baby eggplants), sliced really thin, like 1/8 an inch.

Fresh basil - chopped (any type if basil will work)

Salt - to taste

* Chop up all your ingredients. Place the squashes, eggplant (if using), and red onion in a bowl together. The tofu & cherry tomatoes can remain separate. Place 1.5 Tb of coconut oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add all of your squash mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5-8 mins. Until all the vegetables are tender but still have a little crunch. You don't want them too watery & soft. Dump the vegetables back out into a bowl.

Place the skillet back over heat and add 2 TB of coconut oil. Add in your tofu and cook on high, tossing frequently, until the tofu gets brown & crispy. After about 5 - 10 mins of crisping up the tofu add in the soy sauce & toss to combine. Dump out the tofu into the bowl with the squash. Then return the skillet to medium heat & add in your cherry tomatoes. Cook for a min or two until blistered. Then dump into the bowl with the rest of your veggies.

Then get out a medium pot & heat it over medium high heat. Add in your last TB of coconut oil. Once it is hot add in all of your curry paste. Stir to combine & let bubble for 1 min. Then pour in your coconut milk. Stir to combine and let it cook for a min or two, until the coconut milk starts to bubble around the edges. Then add in your veggie broth. Let cook for a few more mins, until the broth is thoroughly heated through & bubbling. Add in your basil (reserve some basil for the top - if desired) & salt to taste (remember the miso & soy sauce is already pretty salty). Distribute the vegetable/ tofu mixture into four bowls. Distribute the brother into the four bowls evenly. Sprinkle basil on top, if using.

Enjoy!

* If you are saving leftovers, I would store the veggies & the broth in separate containers.

A deep oregano & chile sauce + roasted mushroom tacos

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You should turn me in for neglect. I'm guilty of blog abandonment. I apologize and I want to commit to once-a-week again with you but I don't want to be called out on broken promises and leave you with that empty feeling. For now tacos (as I always say - the perfect food) will fill this physical emptiness. Although, I am sad to say there is still a void to be mentioned. We lost Gabriel Garcia Marquez last month. I want to thank him for his contributions to magical realism with an excerpt from one of his famous novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and of course, with tacos.


When they woke up, with the sun already high in the sky, they were speechless with fascination. Before them, surrounded by ferns and palm trees, white and powdery in the silent morning light, was an enormous Spanish galleon. Tilted and slightly to the starboard, it had hanging from its intact masts the dirty rags of its sails in the midst of its rigging, which was adorned with orchids. The hull, covered with an armor or petrified barnacles and soft moss, was firmly fastened into a surface of stones. The whole structure seemed to occupy its own space, one of solitude and oblivion, protected from the vices of time and the habits of the birds. Inside, where the expeditionaries explored with careful intent, there was nothing but a thick forest of flowers. - Page 11 & 12 One Hundred Years of Solitude  by Gabriel García Márquez


 Gabriel García Márquez in 1975. Photograph: Isabel Steva Hernandez/Colita/Corbis

Gabriel García Márquez in 1975. Photograph: Isabel Steva Hernandez/Colita/Corbis


José Arcadio Buendeía had not through that this wife's will was so firm. He tried to seduce her with the charm of his fantasy, with the promise of a prodigious world where all one has to do was sprinkle some magic liquid on the ground and the plants would bear fruit whenever a man wished, and where all manner of instruments against pain were sold at bargain prices. But Úrsula was insensible to his clairvoyance.

"Instead of going around thinking about your crazy inventions, you should be worrying about your sons," she replied. "Look at the state they're in, running wild just like donkeys."

José Arcadio Buendía too his wife's words quite literally. He looked out the window and saw the barefoot children in the sunny garden and he has the impression that only at that instant has they began to exsit, conceived by Úrsula's spell. Something occurred inside of him then, something mysterious and definitive that uprooted him from his own time and carried him adrift though an unexplored region of memory...

...But since the afternoon when he called the children in to help him unpack the things in the laboratory, he gave them his best hours. In the small separate room, where the walls were gradually being covered by strange maps and fabulous drawings, he taught them how to read and write and do sums, and he spoke to them about the wonders of the world, not only where his learning had extended, but forcing the limits of his imagination to extremes. It was in that way that the boys ended up learning  that the southern extremes of Africa there were men so intelligent and peaceful that their only pastime was to sit and think, and that it was possible to cross the Aegean sea on foot by jumping from island to island all the way to the port of Salonika. - Page 13 & 15, One Hundred Years of Solitude  by Gabriel García Márquez



Recipe : Makes a large batch of sauce good for eating with friends or for freezing.

Garlic - 6 cloves, chopped

Sweet onion - 1/2 medium, sliced

Mushroom broth - (or veggie) 2 Cups

Oregano - Dried (3TB)

Pasilla chilies - 3 (dried)

Chipotle chilies - 4 (dried)

Tomato paste - 3 ounces (1/2 a small can)

Diced tomatoes - 16 ounce can

Oregano - fresh (1TB) plus extra to top

Filling

Mushrooms - assortment. (shitakes, portobellos, oyster, cremini), quartered. At least 16ounes for 2-3 servings or more to share with friends!

Garlic - 2-3 cloves, minced

Olive oil - 4-6 TB (depending on how many mushrooms you make)

Salt - to taste

Cilantro - chopped

Avocado - sliced

Lime wedges - optional

Sour cream - optional

* Note: If making homemade tortillas (recipe link below), you might want to make them first to have them ready and reheat. Or make them at the very end to have them piping hot.

Place the mushroom broth in a medium pot over medium heat with the dried oregano and dried chiles ( cut the dried stalks off the chiles). Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. Then stir the mixture to get everything hydrated and let it sit to infuse, covered, ideally for an hour.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Chop up the rest of your veggies for the sauce & filling (garlic, onion, and mushrooms). Toss all the mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil, 2 -3 cloves of garlic, and some salt. After the mushrooms are coated, spread it on a sheet pan and place into the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes and then check on the mushrooms. If there is a ton of liquid in the pan, pour it out, and then return it to the oven for another 15 minutes. Check your mushrooms again. I only needed to roast mine for a total of 30 minutes but, depending on your mushrooms - they might need a little longer.

Now back to the sauce. Once the broth is infused, pour it out into a bowl and set aside. Put the pot back over medium low heat and add in the garlic, onion, and 2TB olive oil. Let them soften, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and do your best to stir/incorporate it with a spoon for a minute. Add in the diced tomatoes and bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Then add in the mushroom broth/chile mixture, stirring, until it reaches a simmer. Once it simmers for a few minutes, pour the mixture into a blender and blend several minutes until smooth. Pour the mixture back into a pot and bring to a simmer and let it cook down into a nice thick sauce for about 10 -15 minutes, scraping the pot frequently. Season with salt.

Place your roasted mushrooms in a corn tortilla (recipe here) and then top, liberally, with sauce. Now you embellish: spoon over some sour cream (if desired), top with avocado slices, sprinkle with cilantro, and squeeze over lime juice. Enjoy with loved ones over magical realism.

Herby, scallion & leek pancakes made with chickpea flour


Story 4 in Food & Fiction


My sketchers were mostly white, a little dusty from the walk. I was now standing with the trees to my back. I peered into the field in front of me. There a large rock had anchored itself into the earth, breaking the horizon. I adjusted the stick resting on my shoulder, the contents in the bandana at the end bounced slightly. So far, this was the farthest I had traveled alone from home before. I watched for ticks on my socks as I moved through the tall grass, just how my Dad showed me. The amber bristles tried to paint my legs as I walked. They tickled past me in waves. I floated across the sea. Drifting steadily towards the island.

The rock was part concrete. It was a ruin? A shipwreck? I inspected the base and found old bits of newspaper stuck to the hardened mixture. I was curious at my discovery. I dropped my bundle, crushing the saltine crackers which were so preciously tucked into my knapsack. It was one of the few items I selected for my journey. I tried to read the bits of newspaper, trying to find clues or a date. It was unreadable and I moved on. There were little imprints of leaves hardened into the concrete. I spent what felt like hours tracing fossilized leaf veins with my finger tips. I loved my rock, it was my secret of unknown histories. I climbed on top of my ship and looked out at my grass ocean. It swayed gently, the waters were calm. I sat down and hugged my legs to my chest and sipped on a mini plastic bottled water I brought. I marooned myself.

After awhile I poked through my supplies and I sprinkled the crushed saltines in the grass for the birds. The last thing I packed was my journal. I stared at the cover. It was denim with a rhinestone butterfly. I opened the inside cover and read my own hand, it said "Do not read. Please." I obeyed my own rule and closed the journal. I tried to remember why I came out here by myself, why I wanted to run away. I had been angry, that is all. I could not remember anymore, all that mattered was my oasis. A silent place with something no one else found interesting. From my lookout I saw a car coming down the road that cut through the field. The car kicked up a cloud behind it. I jumped down and hid behind my rock... I did not want to expose my location. The car passed and my hideout was safe. I folded the journal back up into the bandana and tied it in a knot at the end of my stick, like I had seen in cartoons. I began to worry that sharing my saltine crackers with the birds was a mistake... a grave error in my operation. I knew there was more food back at the house... but should I return?

I looked back from where I had come, I could see my house from behind the trees. It's red brick peaking through the planted evergreens.  I wasn't far away from my home after all. I could come back to my oasis whenever in need. I headed back towards the tree harbor... to shallower grass waters of the back yard. I had not even been gone an hour.

Years later, long after the rock was hauled away, the field was leveled, homes were built, and I had moved away; I would think about that oasis. Some things, like that rock, just exist somewhere out-of-place. But really, they are exactly where they need to be.

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Recipe (Servers 2)

Chickpea Flour - 3/4 Cup

Baking powder - 1TB

Egg - 1

Butter - 4TB, melted

Milk - 2/3 Cup

Ground coriander - 1 tsp

Fresh Herbs - 1/3 cup - 1/2 cup, chopped. (I used dill, cilantro, and parsley)

Olive oil - 1TB

Leek - 1 - sliced into thin half rounds

Scallions - 3, sliced thin (using both the white & the green part)

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chard - 1/2 a bundle (enough for a handful or two), chopped

Lemon juice - 1/2 a fresh lemon (scant 1TB)

Butter or coconut oil (of other fat/oil) to coat pan for cooking pancakes

Chop up  leeks, scallions, herbs, and garlic, then set aside. Trim and chop up the chard into slivers. Place in a bowl with the lemon juice and a tiny pinch of salt & drizzle of olive oil. Toss the chard and then place in the fridge to marinate while you make the rest.

Add the 1TB olive oil to a medium skillet on medium low heat. Let it get warm and them add the garlic, toss for a minute, then add the scallions & leeks. Cook, tossing occasionally, for several minutes to soften. Turn off the heat and then dump the mixture into a bowl. Set these cooked onions aside for now.

In a large bowl mix together the chickpea flour, baking powder, coriander, 1/2tsp of salt, and a 1/2tsp of pepper. Stir this together and then make a well in the center. Add the egg, milk, and melted butter. Combine well with a fork until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Add in the cooked scallion mixture and fresh chopped herbs. Combine well.

Heat a small amount of butter or other oil in the same medium skillet - just enough to coat the surface - over medium heat. Once warm, place a heaped 1/4 cup serving of batter into the skillet. Let it cook several minutes, until bubbles are coming up in the center of the pancake. Flip and then cook a few more minutes on the other side. Repeat this with the rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes warm with a generous handful of lemony chard piled on top. You can also serve with a dollop of high-quality sour cream or creme fraiche. This is completely optional. Next time I'd go without - but it makes the photos look nice! Makes two large servings.


No-pity bright winter salad: Cabbage + Arugula + Lemon + Olives + Dill

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Khaos

(a series in food & fiction by Kelly Ridenhour)


I did not know what to expect when I asked my shadow the question. I did not even know if it would work. It was the book that convinced me to try or that is my excuse. Truthfully, it was my longing for something unrealistic to be... not so unrealistic. If I did not work in a library where more books than I could ever possibly read surrounded me, I would never have found the book; the book that led me to the question. I couldn't help but wander long silent corridors and sweetly brush my fingertips along the spines of hardbound books. In lonely corridors I would break dust for the first time in decades. The pleasant dust, a crisp crust on fine crème brûlée. Inside a library, your mind wanders. It is suppose to wander. As an employee, the library's silence, the endless comfort of rows, the organization, it either becomes a meditation provoking thought or something that stirs chaos. 

On the day I found the book, I felt its draw, like a beacon shinning out from the sea of muted books. It was a dusty gray color, the color of muted night sky. The book became a secret I harbored. I could see its history on the backside of the front cover. I always feel a little pity when I discover a book like this one. A book whose existence no one knows of or an existence long forgotten. The inside cover was white, virgin, no inked dates to mar its page. The book's knowledge was all mine and I felt its gratitude. This book was not the type of book the people in my community want me to read. It made the secret dangerous and intoxicating. It was called Nyx. It is a book dripping with modern magic and Greek mythology. I would take the secret out underneath the apple groves that dotted the Utah landscape and read listening to the sound of irrigation runnels. Everything would become still in those hours, so still I became part of the landscape. The deer treated me as they did the apple trees, a solid object, part of nature.

I read for days about gods and goddesses of Greek mythology and the way those concepts and ideas have translated into modern life. Something I never learned before, it did not exist in my world. I was astonished that the ancient Greeks believed in these gods. It was not the incredulousness of these gods but the impressiveness of the things Greeks did to show their affections and loyalty; the things they built! I could not help but feel cheated. How exciting would a world be when filled with mythical creatures, gods who shoot arrows of love, nymphs, goddesses... and a world with scandals between gods and mortals? Even if these gods and goddesses were not real, the attentiveness of the Greeks made them real. I began to wonder about the realities of my own world and the one God that I worship and if someone would discover a book about my beliefs and my God 2,500 years from now. 

In Nyx the author discussed rituals and practices of the Greeks. There was one bit that stuck with me and my brain grew with questions. One question led me to my shadow. A shadow is not just one thing by itself; it is many things. It is light, it is dark, it is the ground, it is you, and it is air. The landscape in this combination is air. Air in Greek mythology is not necessarily one god. Air is the space where everything happens and it is the oldest of all gods, it is Khaos or as we know it, chaos. Shadow has been with everyone, at all times. It was there 2,500 years ago when the Greeks lived and it is here with you now. Think of all it has seen, all of the places it has been, all the space it has occupied and all the chaos that has passed through it. Filled with questions and too dark to read.

Despite what you believe, you know the powers of a full moon, or at least you are aware of the myth. If I told you the full moon produces a special kind of shadow would you believe me? No? You want to believe me don't you? That is how I feel when reading the book. I want to believe everything. Something so different from my world, something to pull me out and take me away. There is not one specific idea that convinced me I could ask my shadow any question I wanted under the strength of a full moon and in return, I would get an answer. It was more an accumulation of knowledge and feeling. Ideas put into practice. I felt my evenings in the apple grove grow more powerful as the moon waxed. I wanted to ask my shadow is magic is real, if myth was real.... and if it was there was it would be myth no longer, it would be chaos. My life as I know it turned on its side and my realities lost. I wanted that. On the night of the full moon I wandered into the apple grove, my shadow faithfully trailing me. I asked my question.

I won't tell you what happened. All I can tell you is that your realities are what you make them. I toss you my apple, I give you the chaos of asking questions.


I can't explain how much I love this salad. It is inspired from my favorite salad in a little greek restaurant near my parent's house. I love to eat it by itself or wrapped up in some flatbread. Or eaten with a side of  flatbread & hummus. Make it your own. It may sound simple but, seriously, it doesn't need any pity :).

Recipe (1 large salad or several small salads)

Green cabbage - 1/4 head of cabbage on the generous side, shaved or slivered

Arugula - 2 big handfuls

Red onion - 1/4 onion, shaved or slivered

Kalamata olives - 6-8, the meat cut off the pits

Olive oil - 2TB

Garlic - 1 clove, small, minced (optional - I don't event do this all the time)

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Dill - 2Tb, fresh, chopped fine

Salt/pepper - to taste

Toss together all ingredients & kind of gently massage the greens with the juices & herbs. Eat right away... or it tastes even better after it sits in the fridge and the flavors infuse for 15-30mins or so. Enjoy.

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Creamy grit bowls with roasted broccoli, poached eggs, & dill

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I'm not sure why I went into the fog. There was something beautiful about the way it creeped. The way it crawled. A slow moving breath that had a thousand floating legs. As if someone was controlling the fog on a silent crank. It dipped down and up the hills of the farm, a caress between the fog and the ground. It was alluring. I could hear voices coming out of it. At first they were whispers. Sweet whispers. They made me remember a time long ago. It crept closer and I could no longer see the pines in the distance. I knew I should go back home, I had things to do. My legs didn't move as fast as they did years ago. A frost was setting in and the grass crunched beneath my feet. The fog gained on me, I could feel its tickle on my skin. 

"Bill! Where are you? Bill?"

He liked to spend a few moments alone on the bench by the lake the mornings, he was such a quiet man. I love that about him. A quite confidence. I didn't like to be without him for long. Years back we abandoned our individuals.

"Bill!"

The fog was thick around me now. It was a blanket; dense, soft, and familiar. I needed to make the cake. We had the kids coming over later for dinner, it was Bill's birthday. Chocolate birthday cake, it was tradition. Bill and I would eat the leftover cake with coffee over the next several mornings, I was looking forward to this. Our kids always declined to take leftover cake with them because they know our sugary secret. When they were children, it was all we could do to prevent them from finishing the cake in one night.

The fog was so thick now it was dizzying. I was lost in a cloud. I sat down on the grass to stop my head from spinning. I was still thinking of birthday traditions. The children... oh how they loved that cake too. I needed to get them to sign the birthday card for Dad. They would scribble in their names and cover the envelope with hearts and XOs. Each of them would have something small they made out of the craft box at home and, beaming, would give it to their Dad. I really needed to get back, the children had been alone for too long! Why did I wander so far?

"Bill!" I yelled. "Bill, where are you?"

The fog started to clear. The pines in the distance reappeared. I stood up and started in the direction of home.

"Bill!"

The fog was thinning quickly, just as quick as it came. I could see a man walking towards me in the distance, wisps of fog making his figure fade in an out. Oh how silly of me. I remembered that the kids weren't young anymore, they were grown. I had no card for them to sign, there would be no crafted gifts. Sometimes I forget.

"BIll! There you are! I need to make the cake."

The last bits of the fog passed away and I reached the man. It was not Bill.

"Mom, I'm not Bill. Bill isn't here anymore remember? Maybe you shouldn't take walks too far away from home anymore. I could hear you shouting for Bill. Are you OK?"

"Oh yes honey, I'm OK, it was the fog... I got confused."

"It is alright Mom, lets go back. We have some Chocolate cake inside."

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Recipe (serves 2)

Grits - 1/2 cup (on the generous side)

Cream - 1/4 cup (on the generous side)

Water - 1 and 3/4 cup

Broccoli - 1 head, chopped off the stalk into smaller pieces

Scallions - 1/2 a bunch, slivered

Garlic - 2 Cloves, minced

Dill - 2TB, fresh, minced

Eggs - 2

Lemon juice - juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - 2TB

Apple cider vinegar - 1TB

Salt/pepper - to taste

Lemon zest, extra dill, extra scallions - to top (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take two eggs out of the fridge and let them rest on the counter. Chop & prep all veggies.  Toss together the broccoli, garlic, scallions, fresh dill, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Spread the broccoli on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 30 minuets, flipping half way through. Meanwhile, place the grits, water, cream, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan, covered, over low heat. Let it slowly simmer until cooked about 20-30 mins, stirring occasionally. After it is cooked, season with fresh black pepper.  

About 10 mins before the grits are done, put about 2 inches of water in a deep skillet with the apple cider vinegar, and heat over medium until it starts simmering. Lower the temperature just a bit to keep the water at a low simmer. Crack one egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Gently slip the egg out of the ramekin into the skillet of simmering water and cook for 5 minuets, so all the whites are set but the yolks runny. Meanwhile distribute the grits between two serving bowls and top with broccoli mixture. Remove cooked egg with a slotted spoon and place over the bowl of grits & broccoli. Repeat with the second egg. Top the bowls with lemon zest, more dill & scallions if desired. 

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Winter fresh rolls with edamame paste & chile carrots

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As I write I am listening to the mixed sound of soft thud & sharp pops that comes from the wintery mix beating down on the skylight above my head. Last night, I kept waking up in the early morning and doing a quick peak outside, hoping for snow, and disappointedly I would snuggle back into bed. I really wanted to see my dogs' paws and noses happily buried into the fluffy snow, I wanted to make oatmeal cookies and hot cocoa and I wanted to curl up by the fire and read fairy tales. Alas, the sleet and ice is here, snow will have to wait until next week. While a good portion of the country is under snow and ice right now, you think I'd have something like hearty warm soups, or a cassoulet, or perhaps a veggie packed shepherd's pie. Nope, I have for you spring rolls.... well, winter rolls. 

After Thanksgiving marathon eating and the patchwork of holiday parties and gatherings that come over these next 3 weeks... some lighter food is needed in between the decadence! Don't worry, the ample amount of ginger and the addition of spicy chile carrots make these fresh rolls satisfying on a winter's day. Unfortunately I did't get many in-process photos... winter's darkness creeps up on us quite quickly. So I'm providing some photos of-late via my iphone :). Don't worry, one of the next posts I have in mind will be extremely winter-appropriate and warming to boot. 

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*Also if you don't want to make these all at once, store the carrots & edamame past in separate container in the fridge and then just assemble to order. :)

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Winter rolls (Makes 15)

Spring roll wrappers - I got a packet of 15

Edamame - 16 ounce bag of frozen/shelled edamame

Scallions - 3 scallions, chopped

Light coconut milk - do not shake it - 1 can - use just the top 1/3 portion - the thick, white part

Garlic - 4 cloves - grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Ginger - 1-2 TB (depending on taste) I used closer to 2TB -grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Greens - a small handful or two of dark greens (I used baby kale)

Carrots - 1lb bag - peeled & julienned

Sesame oil - 1Tb

Rice vinegar - 3Tb

Soy sauce - 1Tb plus extra for dipping (I use tamari)

Mirin - 1-2 tsp

Sesame seeds - 1TB, I used black sesame seeds

Dried arbol chiles - chopped fine, plus a few extra seeds or substitute dried chile flakes

Salt - to taste

Hot water

* This would be extra yummy if you let the chili carrots sit in the fridge overnight, or a few hours, to get extra spicy, but it is an optional step.

Peel & julienne the carrots and place into a bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari, mirin, sesame seeds, & dried chile. Pour the sauce over the carrots and stir together with your hands, massaging in the sauce as you go. Set the carrots aside. 

Set on a medium pot of water over high heat to boil. Meanwhile chop up your scallions, grate or mince your garlic & ginger and add these into a blender or food processor. Once the water is boiling, dump in your bag of edamame. Let the edamame cook a few minutes until they are not longer frozen and they are soft and bright green. Drain the edamame really well and then add it to your blender or food processor. Add in the coconut milk to the edamame mixture and a good pinch of salt. Process the mixture until it is well combined and smooth, stopping and scraping as needed. Taste and adjust for salt. Dump the mixture into a bowl and set it aside with your carrots.

Heat up enough hot water to fill a large bowl halfway, so you can dip the rice papers in easily. Prepare a clean work surface for rolling your spring rolls and set out your rice wrappers, bowl for hot water, bowl of edamame paste with a spoon, greens, bowl of carrots, and a clean platter. Once the water is done heating, pour it into your prepared bowl. Now you are ready to assemble. Dip one of the rice wrapper into the bowl of water until it starts to "melt" and get really soft and translucent. Takes about 20 seconds or so (If the water if too hot to handle, throw in an ice cube or two). Pull the rice wrapper out and lay flat on your prepared surface. Smear on a spoonful or two of the edamame paste across the center of the rice wrapper... stopping and inch or so from the edges. Add in a little pinch of fresh greens and a small handful of carrots, all the while stopping about and inch from the edges. Fold in the side edges of the spring roll and then grab the end closet to you and fold it over the center ingredients, tucking and rolling it over on itself until it becomes a roll! Yay! Place on the clean platter and then repeat with the other 14 rice wrappers. Serve with a bowl of tamari for dipping.

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Cauliflower Caldo Verde

Autumn. 

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This week was an explosion. After the cold spell of last weekend and our first hard frost, the leaves decided that it was Autumn. Sprays of orange, red, and yellow arched over all the roadways and street trees, their clipped canopies look like brightly colored Christmas ornaments dangling over the sidewalk. I love this weather. The forests get excited too, dressing up for a fancy party once a year. I get equally as giddy, how could you not with all these fancy, well-dressed trees around? Fall time is where energy is directed downwards, into the roots, a very building time of year. I've rooted down deep into the things that I am doing, and I am building them. Enjoying my job, building my side business (Forest Things), and working here in the space. I'm excited for this fall time, for root building, and for soup eating.

This soup is vegetarian take on a portuguese soup called caldo verde. It is usually a potato soup with sausage and kale or collard greens. I've adapted my recipe from this recipe on food52. I was particularly drawn to it because cooking cauliflower with paprika is one of my favorites, something my grandmother use to to a lot when I was a kind. Served steamed, drizzled with melted butter and paprika. Delicious. 

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Recipe (Makes 6 servings) 

Cauliflower - 1 large head, chopped into pieces

Yellow Onion - 1 medium onion slivered

Garlic - 2 large cloves, minced

Mushrooms - 1/2 heaped cup, chopped

Mushroom broth - 4 cups

Collard greens - 1 bunch, tough parts of the stalk removed and then slivered

Lemon juice - juice from 1 lemon

Olive oil - 5TB

Paprika - about 2TB

Cumin - about 2TB

Cayenne - 1-2tsp

Salt - to taste

Toasted pine nuts - to top (optional) 

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and chop/prep your cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Toss the chopped cauliflower in a bowl with 2TB olive oil, 1TB of the paprika, 1TB of the cumin, 1tsp of cayenne, and then a few good pinches of salt. Lay the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minuets, turning half way through. 

Meanwhile, heat up 2TB of olive oil in a large pot on medium and add in your garlic and onions. Cook and caramelize your onions for about 20 minuets, stirring frequently. Then add your chopped mushrooms and cook stirring frequently for another 10 minuets.

Once the cauliflower is done roasting, pour a little liquid into the pan to de-glaze. Then scrape the cauliflower and loosen the stuck-on bits into the pot of onions and add in the mushroom broth. Simmer for 10 minuets. Place the soup into a blender and blend for a minuet or two, until smooth (or use an immersion blender if available). Add the soup back into the pot and keep on low, adding in a little water to thin out the soup to the desired consistency. Taste and adjust for spices adding more salt first. Then add in the rest of the paprika & cumin and the cayenne if needed. 

Heat up the last TB of olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat and add in the collard greens, tossing as you cook for several minuets. Add in the lemon juice and salt, cooking it until it is wilted but still vibrant and green. 

Add the collard greens into the soup and stir. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with toasted pine nuts, if desired, and another sprinkle of paprika.

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Figgy baked oatmeal with peaches, anise, poppy seeds, & flax.

Peachy.

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My Dad called me peachy as a child, it was his favorite nick name. Occasionally he will still call me peachy, especially if I am doing something a little childish. The other night I called my Dad and felt like I was making the phone call under peachy's alias. I was calling about my foot. A minor injury I've had in my foot for a good portion of the summer finally screamed "I've had enough" and burst into flames across my metatarsal and toes. My foot is so sensitive, swollen, and inflamed it makes it very difficult to walk, stand, or bend. I've been trying to hit it hard with some anti-inflammatory herbs and rest but it was so painful that night I called my Dad. I needed to tap into his bit of medical knowledge. I was ranting about my unrealistic concerns and spouting that my foot needed amputation or that I had a flesh-eating bacteria in my pain-induced delusion. I wanted him to say that it was ok to go to the ER but, in reality, I needed someone to talk peachy out of going to the ER... which my Dad did of course. I came back to myself, calmed down, took some medicine, complained to Ty, and went to sleep... the next day I still had my foot. Thanks for Dads and for nicknames like peachy. Thanks for peachy and figgy baked oatmeal. I'm still unable to stand/walk very much so I haven't been able to do much cooking but I made this baked oatmeal this morning and my foot is glad that I did. 

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Recipe (Serves 4 large portions or 6 small - also keeps in the fridge well) 

Figs - 2 cups, fresh, cut into a mix of quarters/halves

Peaches - 2 fresh, pitted, pealed, and sliced

Oatmeal - 2 cups rolled oats 

Flax seed - 1/4 cup, ground in a processor or coffee grinder

Almonds - 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Poppy seeds - 2-3TB

Anise extract - 1/2 tsp

Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

Cinnamon stick - 1 stick (or 1tsp ground) 

Nutmeg - 1/4tsp

Sugar - 1-2TB

Butter - 4TB (2TB of it melted)

Egg - 1

Milk or milk alternative - 2 cups

Honey - 1/8 cup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and use 1/2 a TB of butter to butter a casserole dish capable of holding at least 6 cups. Melt 1.5TB of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Once the butter is melted add in figs and peaches, caramelize for 6-8 minutes. Pour in the anise extract, stir, and turn off the heat.  Pour the fruit into the bottom of the buttered casserole dish. If using, break the cinnamon stick in half and tuck into the fruit. (If you are using the ground cinnamon save it to add in with the dried ingredients.) Toss together the oats, almonds, poppy seeds, ground flax, sugar, and nutmeg (and ground cinnamon, is using). Distribute the oat mixture over the fruit evenly. Whisk together the milk, egg, honey, melted butter, and vanilla extract together. Pour the milk mixture over the  oats/fruit evenly, trying to moisten all the oats. Place in the oven an bake for 40-45 minutes or until the oats are set and it is slightly golden. Serve warm and drizzled with a little extra melted butter, honey, or milk if desired. 

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Summer tamales with zucchini, radishes, & corn + tomatillo salsa.

Hot tamale!

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My first encounter with tamales had me swooning. Served up piping hot from a pit dug into the earth and covered with palm branches. I waited for those tamales anxiously, watching the heat waves flicker over the pit causing the snow-capped Andes Mountains to dance in the background over the faint linger of corn in the air. Opening up the husks revealed the steaming little package of masa flour and vegetables. I couldn't wait to dig in. Since then I have had tamales in restaurants, food carts, and at farmers market stands. Perhaps because of the memories I have tied to tamales, I always make the same mistake, a painful mistake. My poor tongue probably cowers at the site of masa because I always burn my tongue. I am too impatient and never wait long enough for the centers of the tamales to cool a bit. It's ok tamales, I still love you.

 

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Recipe (Makes about 15 tamales) 

Coconut oil - 6TB

Corn husks - 15 corn husks + a few extra in case the amount varies. 

Masa harina - 4 cups

Hot water - 2 cups + soaking water for the corn husks

Mexican oregano - 1TB dried or several TB fresh. 

Cayenne pepper - 1tsp dried

Lime - zest of 1 lime

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Zucchini - 2 coarsely chopped

Corn - 1 fresh cob, the kernels cut off

Radishes - 3 small radishes chopped + extra to garnish

Cotija cheese - generous 1/2 cup crumbled + extra to garnish

Salt - 1tsp

Salsa Verde

Tomatillos - 5 tomatillos, coarsely chopped

Jalapeno - 1 small, chopped, remove seeds or not (depending on heat preference).

Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped

Red onion - 1/4 red onion, chopped

Limes - juice of 2 limes

Cilantro - a large handfull, chopped + extra to garnish

Salt - a few pinches, to taste

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Cover the corn husks in a bowl with hot water and leave to soak while preparing the tamales. Mix the masa with oregano, cayenne, salt. and lime zest. Add in 2 cups of hot water and 4TB of coconut oil, mix until combined. Leave the masa mixture to sit while preparing the filling. Chop up all the vegetables. Heat up 2TB of coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for a minute and then toss in the zucchini, radishes, and corn. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and then crumble in the cotija. Stir until combined and then turn off the heat. 

Drain the corn husks and then start heating up your steamer so that it is ready for the tamales. Begin filling up your tamales by pressing in a scant 1/2 cup of masa in the center of your corn husks, leaving a border. Then spoon in the filling, about 1/4 - 1/3 a cup. The filling amounts will vary depending on the size of the corn husks, just do what feels right. Start rolling together the tamales curling the masa over the filing and roll the tamale into a log and then pinch and fold in the bottom and top edges. Kind of mold the tamales together with the palm of your hand to make sure it is compacted. Repeat with the rest of the corn husks and then place them all in the steamer and steam for 30 minutes. 

Place all salsa verde ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until it comes to a salsa consistency.

Unwrap tamales (make sure to let them cool a bit!) and top with salsa verde plus garnishing of cotija, slivered radishes, and cilantro - if desired. 

 

 

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Asparagus & arugula salad over mozzarella with mint & basil pesto

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Right, right, I know, I know, its 4th of July... I'm suppose to give you some grilling out masterpieces for you last minuet scrambling of grilling out plans and corn on the cobb marathons! Alas, I am doing the same thing, and decided to give you this recipe I made a little while back when I saw this salad in bon appetite. There is plenty of summer left for more grilling recipes and veggie burgers, in fact, we are just getting started.

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Recipe (served 4 as a side) 

Mozzarella - 1 ball, ripped into pieces

Asparagus - 1 bunch, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Arugula - Two handfuls, fresh

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - 1TB

Salt/pepper - to taste

Pesto

Basil - fresh, 1 packed cup, chopped

Mint - fresh, 3-4TB, chopped

Shallot - 1 chopped

Sunflower seeds - 1/4cup soaked overnight or at least 4 hours, then drained

Garlic - 3TB, chopped

 

Olive oil - A few TB, drizzled in

Salt/pepper - to taste

Place all the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender, with 2TB olive oil. Blend until smooth, drizzling in more olive oil as needed until it is smooth. 

Rip the mozzarella into pieces and add in 2-3TB of pesto and massage the pesto in until the mozzarella is covered. Place 1TB of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and toss in the asparagus pieces. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until soft and squeeze in the juice of a lemon. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and then toss the asparagus in a bowl with the fresh arugula. Spread the arugula and asparagus over the mozzarella and then sprinkle with a bit more pesto and salt/pepper or lemon if needed. 

Happy 4th!!

 

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Moroccan inspired salad with harissa chickpeas, apricots, & a honey-mint dressing.

Beautiful, happy day.

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Today is a beautiful day. A beautiful day for human rights, a beautiful day outside, and a beautiful day in life events. Plus, I have a lovely friend coming to visit all the way from Athens, GA, so I have a beautiful next couple of days to look forward to. I hope your day is beautiful as well and maybe this salad can help make it so.   

“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

-Tom Robbins Still Life With Woodpecker  

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Salad (Makes about 3 large salads) 

Chickpeas - About 2.5 cups cooked. 

Apricots - 3, pitted and sliced into 8 pieces

Salad greens - I used about a 5oz container or a platter full

Red onion - 1/4 an onion, slivered

Olives - About 6 kalamala olives, pitted and sliced

Dried currants - 3Tb

Harissa -3TB (recipe below or store-bought - usually found canned or near hummus) 

Mint - 1TB fresh

Honey - 2TB (or agave for vegan)

Olive oil - 3-4TB

Apple cider vinegar - 1tsp

Salt- to taste

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Mince your fresh mint and whisk into 3TB of olive oil in a little bowl. Drizzle in the honey while whisking. Add in the apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt, then set aside. Chop up all your veggies/fruit and have your harissa already prepared if making it. Heat up 1Tb of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add in your chickpeas. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in the 3TB of harissa and stir, distributing evenly. Cook for 2-3minutes. Add in two of the sliced apricots. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the last apricot, the red onion, olives, currants, and season with salt. 

 

Toss the honey-mint dressing and your salad greens together in a bowl until the greens are evenly coated. Place on a platter and top with the chickpea mixture. Enjoy, it is a beautiful day. 

Harissa, you can add harissa into a lot of things. Hummus, sandwich spreads, marinades, dressings, etc. This recipe makes about 1 cup of harissa.  

Harissa

Fresno Peppers - 5, deseeded and chopped. (You can sub other peppers) 

Habanero peppers - 2-3, deseeded and chopped

Shallot - 1 large shallot, chopped

Cumin seeds - 1Tb, slightly smashed

Coriander seeds - 2tsp, slightly smashed

Mint - Fresh, 2TB.

Olive oil - 2-4TB, depending on your peppers/juiciness of peppers.  

Salt- about scant 1tsp or to taste

Place all ingredients, starting with only 2TB of olive oil, into a food processor (or blender) and blend. Drizzle in more olive oil as needed. You want the consistency to be a thick paste but spreadable. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use as needed. Keeps about the same as hummus. 

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Baby artichoke & new potato breakfast hash

The Sun.

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Walking home from the dog park yesterday evening the air was so warm and dense on my skin. The day in Denver had been very hot, hot and dry. There were pillows of dandelion fluff rippling along the sidewalk. I've never seen dandelion gather and blanket the ground so thickly before. Little tuffs of the dandelion were floating around, I like to call them fairies. The sun was so low on the horizon that the fairies were illuminated as they bumped along in a sea of orange sun rays. The warmth felt so good, so peaceful on my mind, I closed my eyes to the bright sun rays ahead and kept walking. I allowed my skin to see for me, my eyes remained closed. My whole body soaked up the sun in sweet, warm kisses and the sun's brightness could still be seen through my closed eyelids. It felt like how it would feel to be walking into the sun. I floated along like one of the dandelion fairies. 

A poached egg, with its sunny yolk spilling out and touching everything in this dish; it is that low-horizon sun. 

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Recipe (serves two generously) 

New potatoes - (about 1/2 lb)  rinsed/slightly scrubbed and then quartered

Baby Artichokes - I used 7 but feel free to use a few less, trimmed and quartered

Lemon - 2 lemons

Parsley - 3-4TB chopped (fresh)

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Olive oil - about 4TB

Salt/pepper - to taste

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

Trim your artichokes (Removing the hard outer petals until you reach the softer, paler inside ones - baby artichokes have less to remove and you don't have to trim out the hairy choke (since there is none on the babies, yay!) . Also trim off the top and bottom of the artichoke. If using larger artichokes there will be more to trim and also trim out the hairy, internal choke) then quarter the hearts. Bring a medium pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil, add in your potatoes. Let it low boil for about 5 minutes and then strain.

Add in 2TB of olive oil to a large skillet and turn on medium heat. Add in your minced garlic, let it cook for 1 minute and then add in your potatoes. Let it sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are almost cook and start to brown a bit. Add in your artichoke hearts. Keep sautéing for several more minutes until the artichokes begin to soften.  Add in a bit more olive oil if needed. Once the artichokes are cooked, squeeze in the juice of one and a half lemons and then add in the parsley. Cook for another minute and then season with salt/pepper. Divide the mixture between two plates and cover them to keep it warm until the poached eggs are ready (saving any oil left over in the pan and then add in your last 2TB of olive oil into the pan and set aside for later).

While the mixture is sautéing make your poached eggs. (Tip a cracked egg into about 3-4 inches of slightly simmering water (mixed with 1TB apple cider vinegar) and then use a wooden spoon to gently swirl the water towards the egg in order to keep the whites as close together as possible. Let it simmer for about 4 minutes and remove with a large slotted spoon, let the water drain. Top each hash portion with a poached egg. Place your egg yolk into a small mixing bowl and add in your last half of lemon juice, whisk together. Pour out and discard slightly less than half of your egg yolk/lemon mixture. Slowly, very slowly, drizzle in the oil from your pan (its ok if there are little garlic or herb bits in it) while whisking until the aioli slightly thickens up. Add a pinch of salt if needed, but it should been seasoned from the leftovers in the pan. Drizzle the aioli over the two dishes. Top with more parsley and cracked pepper if desired. Eat in the sun. 

 

 

 

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Sautéed ramps & lemon greens over parmesan hominy

Goodbye Charlottesville, hello Denver.

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This past week has been a beginning and an end, of sorts, for us. We were all set to leave Charlottesville, VA on Wednesday and head to Charlotte, NC to visit family before our move out to Denver, CO. I made my rounds of goodbyes in between packing, planning, cleaning, and daydreaming. There are people here in Charlottesville, as there have been people my whole life, who have been either friends, mentors, companions, acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, and some people have been all of these things and more without knowing it. I need to say thank you to so many of you for opening doors to me, welcoming me with knowledge and friendship; especially at Sacred Plant Traditions, The Center for Historic Plants, and at Mudhouse.

There are several small moments which summarize the magic and love of Charlottesville. You know those little moments where a view, or a voice, or a place, a sound will make your head go tinglely and your whole body will flush with a golden warmness? Charlottesville gave me a number of those. There was a certain bend in the road while driving out to the farm we lived on that was sunken into the earth a bit. This road twisted through a thicket of beech and maple trees, their branches arching over the road to hold hands with their fellow trees on the other side. At nighttime you slowed down a great deal just to see the same clever fox bounding behind the trees and turning back to peer at you with his glowing eyes. There was a moment of unmentioned excitement as I would turn left onto the gravel road that bumped through the property I called home. My dogs would jump up and press their noses to the glass and watch, holding their pants, for any bunnies who have been out nibbling in the fields. The bunnies would twitch their ears in our direction and dart off into the thicker grasses at the sound of the slow, groaning, note of gravel on tires.

Another was the open view of the gently rolling mountains all cloaked in green after circling past the tiny, Charlottesville airport on the way to Chris Green Lake park. Or the way the mountains amused me in the winter after they shed their leaves and looked like the rumps of fuzzy sleeping animals on the horizon. Or the sweet, earthy, mixed smell of hay, blooming flowers, and rotting leaves at the Center for Historic Plants where I interned. Pure little moments that flood into gold before your eyes, like some lost form of alchemy. Many of these moments for me, are in my kitchen. Especially in the morning time when the air is still crisp and the world still. This little meal is an elegant thing and one of the last things I made before we left Charlottesville. There definitely is a moment of gold when you bite into it, you'll be scrapping your fork against the plate to get up any golden nuggets left behind.

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Recipe (Serves 2)

Ramps - a small handful

Arugula - a small handfull

Hominy - 1/2 cup (ground hominy) 

Parmesan - generous 1/4cup grated

 

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced.

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon and a few curls of zest to top

Olive oil - 2TB

Goat Cheese - a few crumbled of soft goat cheese to top

Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse and drain the ramps. Bring 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt in a small pot up to simmer. Once simmering add in your hominy and turn on low. Let it simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes until cooked. After it is cooked add in your parmesan and stir to let it melt. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop out the hominy onto a serving dish.

Meanwhile, trim the root ends off the ramps and clean/trim them up if necessary. Mince up the garlic. In a medium skillet add in the olive oil on medium, medium-low heat. Add in your garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Toss in your ramps and gently sauté for about 2 minutes and then toss in the handful of arugula. Let it cook for another minute and squeeze in the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and season with salt and generously with fresh pepper. Arrange the ramp and greens mixture on to of the hominy and top with a few crumbles of goat cheese and some lemon zest. Serve warm. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dandelion & sorrel pesto for spring.

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esto is one of the best condiments to have around the house. I love to toss it into something; scrambled eggs, pastas, salads, sandwiches, smeared onto toasted pita, etc. One of the better things I decided to do with this was add it into my favorite vegan lasagna recipe. This lasagna is so good, I honestly prefer it over regular lasagna. This pesto is definitely best used in recipes with pesto as the focus. It is such a special spring-time pesto that you don't want it to get over-looked. 

 

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 * Also! There is a give-a-way. I was fortunate enough to have been gifted the lovely and inspirational The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook from my sweet Aunt. She sent it to me thinking that I would enjoy it. Of course, she was right, I love the cook book but I had already purchased it for myself! I was swayed after seeing Heidi Swanson's post and was anticipating it's release. My favorite recipe in here is the edamame dumplings. Ridiculously good, they are steamed in a broth scented with lemongrass. I really like to curl up in bed with a good book... a number of those being cookbooks. Seriously, there are almost as many cookbook on my bed side table as in my kitchen. So now this beautiful book can be passed onto you dears. To enter just leave a comment about what your favorite pesto is or what your favorite way to eat pesto is. I'll pick the winner on Monday 5/6 and then ask you for your address so I can mail you this lovely book.

 

Pesto ( Makes about a scant 3 cups)

1 bunch sorrel - coarsely chopped

1 bunch dandelion - coarsely chopped

Red onion - 1/4 a red onion - chopped

emon - juice of 1 lemon

arlic - 4 cloves, chopped

Sunflower seeds - 1/4 cup

Salt/pepper- to taste

Heat up a medium pot of water to boiling. nce it is boiling toss in your dandelion greens and cook for about 2-3 minutes and then strain out. In a blender or food processor add all you ingredients, make sure the dandelion has drained well before adding it. Process until the pesto is smooth. Store in an airtight container the the refrigerator. Good for about 2 weeks.  I highly recommend that you make this vegan lasagna with it. 

Chickweed goddess dressing over a spring salad + violets. How to forage for chickweed & violet

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Last night I came back from a nice, warm, summer night out that started with listening to Brazilian drumming with drinks and ended with Thai curry. We arrived back home, parked the car in our semi-gravel/semi-grass driveway, I stepped out with my shoes in hand, feet on the earth, and just dead stopped; I was transfixed by the sky. The deep, midnight, blue sky was flecked so brightly with stars twinkling around the silhouettes of budding tulip poplar branches that seemed to arc over me. It was one of those instances where your whole body feels sucked in and swallowed by what you are paying attention to. Like the sky was a giant magnet pulling the top half of your body up many miles to meet with it. I would have given anything in that moment to reach up and cup my hands around each and every star and plant a big kiss on those bright star cheeks. I wanted to say thank you to the earth.

Once spring finally hit us it stuck for one day and then immediately leaped to summer. When I moved a bit further north I thought I would be relieved to take a break from the suffocating heat of summer but now I realize how much I drink that warmth in. How replenishing it is. I wiped the literal sweat off my brow in relief at the return of heat. On an early April day of 90 degree heat I spent most of my day licking up the sun in my cutoffs and tank top while wandering around the woods in search of wild edibles. Successful in my venture, I made this salad and it never felt more nourishing than after a day in the sun. I realize now that as far as I move, as little or as frequently as I travel, I am some weird breed of southern girl. It's landscape, its sweltering humid heat, cicadas, common phenomenon of waving to strangers, fireflies, and biscuits are in my blood. Just as I adore and prefer to be in the woods and mountains, I have the salt and heavy air of the coast flowing through my veins since my birth. As much of a vegetarian as I am I have appreciation for a good seafood recipe and envy that I can't partake in a good shrimp n' grits or étouffée, it is the cajun in me. Some things you can't fight, its the soul speaking. I can't deny that even though I find some southern traditions and politics a little suffocating, I have love for the southern wild. I'm part of it and I will always find comfort in the return of the heat. So thank you chickweed, thank you violet, thank you stars.

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hickweed goddess dressing

vocado - 1, sliced

Garlic - 3/4 cloves, coarsely chopped

emon - juice of one lemon

Chickweed - 1-2 cups fresh, chopped into chunks

live oil - 2TB

Salt/pepper- to taste

Water

Put everything in a blender or food processor (except the water) and blend. Then add water a few TB at a time to thin the dressing out to your desired consistency.

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pring violet salad

Spring mix/violet leaves - Several big handfuls

iolet flowers or other edible spring flowers - 1 Cup

Red onion - 1/4 slivered

unflower seeds - 1/4 a cup

Pumpkin seeds - a handful

Chickweed goddess dressing.

oss the spring mix, onions, and violet flowers together. Then add in the dressing and toss to coat. Then add in the seeds and toss until combined! Adding the dressing before the seeds helps the seeds to stick and distribute more evenly rather than dropping to the bottom of the bowl. 

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Foraging for Chickweed

hickweed is one of those great common garden weeds that has so much overlooked potential. Chickweed is around you, I promise, and once you learn to identify it there is no reason not to thank it, pluck it up, and add it to your diet every spring. In short, chickweed is incredibly nutritious, I will elaborate on chickweed as an herbal superstar and healer in a later posting. Chickweed is a great source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, beta-carotenes, and bio-flavonoids. I have heard the flavor being compared to corn silk. That is not my first thought when eating it but it tastes similar to most of the "moderate" flavors of light, cooling, spring greens to me. You'll find it in open (untreated) lawn areas but also in and around the edges to younger woodlands typically growing in the mottled shaded patches. It is really quite easy to spot once it is pointed out to you once or twice. There really aren't many overly close poisonous look a-likes but of course never eat anything if you aren't sure and always triple check your plants, but chickweed is a great starter wild edible. 

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Chickweed is a low-growing, spreading radially along the ground about 3" tall typically, but it can get up to about 8" tall. It grows in mats up to a foot and a half in size with the leaves ranging from tiny to thumb sized. The leaves are oval, pointed, and opposite (meaning the leaves grow opposite each other on the stem). here are fine hairs on the stem of the plant and delicate white flowers at the end. The first time I looked at the flower I thought it had 10 petals but it turns out the flower only has 5 petals but each petal is so deeply cleft it looks like 10! Usually there are about 2-3 hairy flower buds drooping from the flower end as well. In addition, look up pictures online and familiarize yourself. Plus, if you are interested wildman steve brill has excellent books. Be sure to gather in areas that are not sprayed, are not exposed to a lot of road run-off, and are not a popular pet bathroom spot. 

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oraging for violet

iolet is another one of those lawn "weeds" that you probably already recognize. You know that tiny, delicate purple to white flower you have been admiring while walking along the sidewalk? Yeah that one, you can eat it. You probably have some in your very own yard as long as your lawn is untreated. Violet flowers and leaves are edible, not the roots or rhizomes, just stick to what is above ground. Also don't confuse native wild violet with the African violet house plants... you really don't want to eat those, they are poisonous. The leaves and flowers are great in salads but the leaves are very demulcent so a bit more slimy than your typical green. It is a fabulous cooling herb and rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotenes. It is another wonderfully healing herb which I will expand upon in a later posting. Violent is a low growing, dense, clumping plant. Its flower is five petaled with deep purple, blue, to white nodding flower heads. The flowers grow on a single stem with no leaves on the flower stem. The leaves grown on separate stems and are rather glossy, heart shaped with the "tops" of the hearts typically cupping inward towards the leaf stalk. Sometimes the leaves are cupped so far inwards that they create a funnel of sorts. Violet will grow in open lawn areas in sun to shade. Be sure to gather in areas that are not sprayed, are not exposed to a lot of road run-off, and are not a popular pet bathroom spot. 

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t the end of the day I had happy bellies and happy dogs.

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