Grains

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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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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Spring fava bean, quinoa, radish, avocado, & mint salad.

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I am so excited. I'm going to visit my Athens tribe. We are approaching our Denver move date fast! We leave in about 2 weeks. Sure there is a ton to do... packing things up, cleaning, finishing projects, getting things ready for the sublease... but I'd rather go see my dear friends and family who, right now, are about 9 hours away. Come Denver we'll be 22 hours away. I feel this is an adequate reason to forsake responsibility. I'm getting some time with my family too before dipping out to the Rockies but I'm assuming my Dad will use my Denver location as a great excuse to finally come out and have some river time. 

I have lots of things waiting for me in Athens this weekend. Lets see, it is twilight weekend (an international bike race that has athens busting at the seam), there are drinks in the Georgia warmth awaiting, a dear friend who is just back in from teaching in South Korea, brunch with the best, oodles of dogs at dog park time, art school exit show (featuring one of my favorites), desserts (last time we racked up a bill of somewhere around 50 bucks on dessert between 5 of us... uhh what?), a farmers market that I have missed, my best friends and all those lovely faces that I have so dearly longed for being tucked away up here in the mountains and of course no trip to athens is complete without music.

So this week I've been being extra good. Drinking smoothes, eating raw salads, and taking my herbs. This quinoa, fava bean salad is ridiculously good. It is one of those meals that you think while eating it, "I could have this every-single-day of my life and be happy." It really is one of those meals that I think I could have every single day if I actually thought I could eat the same thing every single day. 

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Recipe (serves 4 but makes great leftovers)

Quinoa - 1 cup dried

Fava beans - fresh pods, several big handfuls. (once shelled I had a scant 2 cups)

Radish - 1 bunch

Avocado - 1, sliced into small chunks

Apple - 1/2 and apple, cut into small chunks

Red onion - 1/2 an onion, finely chopped

Olives - I had 6 kalamata olives left in my fridge, I sliced the meat off the pit into slivers.

Feta - about 1/3 cup

Mint - fresh, 3-4Tb finely chopped

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Butter - 1TB

Olive oil - a drizzle

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chop everything up so it is ready to use, except your avocado, save that until the end. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under water while shaking for a minute. Then add the quinoa into a medium pot and cover by a few inches of water. Bring the quinoa up to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Get another small or medium pot out and fill it up half-way with water, this will be to blanch your fava beans. Shell the fava beans and place the beans into a bowl, discard the pods. Once the water is boiling, add in your fava beans and let it get back up to a simmer. Once it gets back up to boiling, don't let it cook longer than 1 minute. Drain the fava beans and rinse with cold water.  Here comes the tedious part. Shell the fava beans and discard the shell, underneath will be this bright, green bean. Once you are done with the quinoa and fava beans, you can put them into a large bowl together.

Heat the oven up to 350 degrees. Chop up the radishes into thin slices. Add 1/2 the radishes into the bowl with the quinoa & favas. Add the other 1/2 the radishes into a small saucepan on the stove with the 1TB butter. Heat over medium heat and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the radishes to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the apples, mint, feta, olives, onion, lemon juice, and drizzle of olive oil to the bowl of quinoa. Stir until well combined. Slice up your avocado and set it aside. Add in your roasted radishes and season with whole thing with salt and pepper, you should not need much salt. Add in your avocado last and stir, gently, until well combined. Enjoy it, I know you will. Why? Because it is just that good.

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Butter roasted radishes & their greens + arugula and goat cheese in a farro grain bowl

spring. 

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Spring is on the tip of nature's tongue here. I am ready for it. I am just itching to break into the delicate spring produce. Yet every time I start to thaw out and accept spring another cold front knocks on my door saying, "you seriously thought that dress didn't need a coat today?" I almost stubbornly produce shop seasonally (with a few exceptions). I love breaking into a new mini era of cooking depending on the season. Fall is heavily drenched in warming spices and squash, winter is for roots and bitter greens, spring for asparagus, sugar snap peas, wild foraging, and crisp spring mixes, summer for all things tomato, fruit, eggplant and, most importantly, ice cream. This dish is a great compromise between winter and spring. The crunchy, colorful satisfaction of radish, the sweet, acidic pop of late season blood orange with the hearty grains of winter turned creamy by goat cheese. Need I say more? I know I had you at radishes cooked in butter. 

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Recipe (Serves 4) 

1 Bunch radishes with their greens

Arugula - a few handfuls (2-3) 

1 Blood orange

Farro - 1.5 cups uncooked

Goat cheese - 3-4TB

Butter - 2TB

Chervil - about 2tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

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Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place farro and 3 cups water into a small pot on low heat. Let cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, divide radishes from their greens. Cop radishes into quarters and cop radish greens into coarse chunks. Take out oven-proof skillet and melt butter on medium heat. Toss in radishes and cook for a few minutes. Add in about a tsp of chervil and season with salt/pepper (about 1/2tsp). Toss in radish greens and stir around until coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the skillet into the oven and roast about 15-20 minutes (depending on radish size) until radishes are softened and a little colored. While radishes are roasting peel blood orange with a knife following the curve of the orange. Cut out the wedges from white membrane of the blood orange and chop. Disgard orange membrane. 

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Take out radishes out of oven and toss in a handful of arugula. Stir until just wilted from the heat of the pan. Toss radish mixture with the cooked, drained farro, blood orange, and another handful of fresh arugula. Crumble in 3-4TB of goat cheese and then stir to combine, the goat cheese will melt into the dish making it creamy. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and another few pinches of chervil. Enjoy over thoughts of spring. 

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