Winter

Avocado Pizza + Arugula, basil, & lime

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You guys. I won't disappear for months again, OK. I've got it together now. (Fingers crossed). This pizza is surprising. Its creamy rich avocado-y goodness baked into the crust. Balanced by the bitter/sweet arugula/lime/basil topping. OH MY. Seriously. Don't add cheese. It is SO good without. You want to let the beauty of the avocado shine on through.

Keeping on with that plan is another works in Food & Fiction.


SPIDER BY THE LIGHT

A gift in the night

from the spider by the light.

Four soft, tiny wings

fell gently where the door swings.

Spider's full belly

wing skeletons for kelly.

It once was a moth

flying on wings of silk cloth.

Guilt entered my mind

To all but light, moth was blind.

I turned off the light

no capture of moths tonight.

Palm spread eagerly

gathering wings gingerly.

The wings are not waste

death. beauty. forever encased.

A gift in the night

from the spider by the light.


RECIPE - Makes 2 pizzas (feeds 4)

Dough (Slightly adapted from Peter Reinhart's neo-neopolitian pizza dough)

2 Cups + 2TB - unbleached bread flour (or all purp flour)

1/2TB - Honey

3/4tsp - active dry yeast

1 Cup + 1TB - warm water (between 100 - 110 degrees F)

1TB - Olive oil

  1. Combine the warm water, honey, and yeast in a small bowl. Whisk until dissolved & let it sit aside for 5 - 10 minutes until it starts to bubble/foam. Then combine your yeast mixture, flour, & salt into a mixer & mix on low speed for 1 minute with a dough hook. (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon). Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes. This step lets the dough fully hydrate.
  2. Change your mixer speed to medium-low for 2 -3 minutes (or continue mixing by hand). The bread is done when it feels somewhere between tacky & sticky. It should still be really easy to work with. If you feel it is too wet add another TB of flour. If you feel it is to dry, add another TB of water. Turn the dough out onto an oiled sheet pan & divide into two pieces. Form these two pieces into rounds & place equal distance a part on the sheet pan. Cover the top with plastic wrap & place in your fridge overnight.
  3. 1.5 hours ahead of pizza baking time, remove the pizza from the fridge so it has time to warm up & proof in room temperature before baking. Now move onto pizza baking step.

Avocado Base + Toppings

2 - Avocados

4 - garlic cloves, peeled

6TB - Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Handfuls - fresh arugula

1 Handful - fresh basil

1/4 - Medium/small red onion, slivered

2 - Limes

Salt/pepper - to taste

  1. After letting the pizza dough ferment in the fridge overnight, take the dough out of the fridge 1.5 hours prior to baking to let it warm up to room temp. Place a baking stone in the oven & preheat it to 500 degrees. If you do not have a baking stone then get out a large baking sheet & lightly oil it, but still preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a small blender such as a smoothie blender or small food processor, combine the avocado meats, 5TB oil, garlic cloves, juice of one lime, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. It should be spreadable but still thick. The thickness will depend on the ripeness of your avocados. If you think it is just too thick, thin it out with a tiny bit of water. Set this aside.
  3. In a large bowl toss together your arugula, basil, and red onion. Whisk together the lime juice of your other lime and last TB of olive oil. Toss this together with the arugula mixture and lightly season with salt & fresh ground pepper. Use your hands to toss this mixture together (slightly massaging the greens). Set this aside until later.
  4. Roll out one of the pizza dough rounds on a floured surface and if you are baking using the baking sheet, place on the oiled baking sheet. Top the pizza with half of the avocado mixture & spread evenly with a spoon. Then transfer it into the oven & bake for about 15 -20 minutes (until it is cooked & the crust starts to golden). If you are baking on a pizza stone then open your oven & use a glove to pull out the rack the baking stone is on. Drop on the pizza crust, quickly top with half of the avocado mixture (spreading with a spoon), and close the oven. It will be done in about 10 minutes or less (until it is cooked & starting to golden in spots).
  5. Once the pizza is cooked, remove from oven either with a metal spatula or with mittens & place on a cutting board. Top with half of the arugula mixture, slice, & enjoy!
  6. Repeat process with second pizza dough.


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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Cardamom spice pudding + Rosewater scented whipped cream

Plights.

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When I started this blog I had grand ideas and visions of combining the folklore of food with recipes in every post. Despite my love for reading and learning the beginnings of specific dishes, the folklore surrounding herbs, and the strange stories of food; it is a difficult task. With all this reading, I can't help but be motivated to write. Not just to write anything but to write description, to write fiction. I am called to the endless creations that are born from unreality. I love to sit with a meal and read a fiction, a fairytale, or watch a movie. Eating and cooking food can be (and should be) a personal, and creative event. So many of us flock to recipes, cookbooks, blogs, publications because we are drawn to it; as we are drawn into a good novel. I want to re-evaluate my time here. I've been working on small fictions... little stories spun from the threads of travel, fantasy, and the outdoors. I want to bring you a meal, a delicious meal, and a story with each post. I want to feed your belly, feed your soul, and feed your imagination. This also will prove to be a difficult task but, I want it. It is true to me. I am approaching one-year of blogging here in a few months. It seems appropriate that I come full circle on the idea behind LORE. Here is a warming winter story with a warming winter pudding. A  fiction and food.

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Plights

Flecks of splintered red berries exploded on the ground as I sat on my pebble. Globs of red goop stained the white snow and splattered across my trousers. The crow perched above was the source of the mess, with a fresh meal of winterberries.

“Out of all the trees in the forest…he picks this one. Pinecones… the gall of that bird” I mumbled to no one.

I flicked the chunks of fruit off my clothes and wiped my hands clean.

"Would you cut it out?" I yelled up.

 

The crow continued to gorge himself. It was the response I expected. I wrapped up the remains of my mushroom stalk. I only had time for a few mice sized bites from it and appropriately so, after all, I am a mouse. My lunch break was over and I still had twenty more trees to fit in before the day ended. This year was particularly busy for tree-tuners. As if our job of solving plant growth problems wasn’t difficult enough. We were the ones to fix the plants when they  didn’t follow in line with the climate. Replacing bits of their internal clocks so that they could grow properly.  

 

The unusual changes in the weather had the trees’ internal clocks all out of whack; like a groundhog without a burrow. I was headed down the hill towards a cluster of oak trees still holding onto their leaves and acorns, despite the snow on the ground. I knew exactly which gear needed replacing and before the day was over, the oaks would be set right; their leaves would begin to shed by nightfall. The squirrels over in thicket knoll had lodged the complaint… in their family, they didn’t like climbing trees to fetch acorns. Some squirrels they are.

 

Tree-tuning happened to be a very old profession, usually passed on through families… but it was very stressful. The forest population is always keen to complain when the redbud flowers dropped too soon or their favorite gumballs are rotten. They always let me know when things aren’t right but when they are, they never say thanks. Would it really have been so difficult for that greedy crow to have said thank you and taken his mess over to the next tree? Especially after I spent three hours hammering out a custom brass piece for the winterberry bushes per the crows’ request? No one knows the plight of a tree-tuner. I felt like the most disrespected critter in the forest.

 

I scurried along towards thicket knoll. The path was beaten down; it had been well traveled that morning, the dark bed of leaf matter showing from underneath the snow. I hoped to spend my time working in solitude, and my interaction with the crow was enough for one day. I rounded the bend heading down into the blackberry thicket, quickly passing by the thorny stalks that hung dormant like skeletons.

 

“Oh, thank goodness!” A voice called out from the quiet.

“I worried I’d be stuck her all day before someone came by. Could you please help me? Some of my bristles are stuck.”

 

I looked around, clearly, I was the only critter about; I had to respond. I sighed, once again, someone needed me to fix something.

 

“Hhumm. Yes, of course, just a moment.”

 

I rumbled through my toolbox for the woodcutters and then scampered into the thicket. After my eyes adjusted to the change of light I looked around for the source of the voice. There, stuck in a net of broken brambles, was a woolly bear caterpillar.

 

Great. I thought. These things are always so cheery. I’ll just work quick to free him and be on my way.

 

“Just a few snips…. one there…  and you’re loose.” I turned to leave.

 

The caterpillar celebrated. “Thank you! Oh, just great! Wait… don’t leave, I haven’t really thanked you yet. Hey, wait, where are you going? Can I come?” Without turning around I stopped and rolled my eyes.

 

Hesitantly I responded. “Well, I suppose, come on then.”

 

I waited for him to catch up and we moved down the path together.  The woolly bear followed after me, the ripple in his bristles rolled through his body as he moved. I wanted to make the trip quick; walking with the woolly does not help my reputation. The woolly bear caterpillars are the most hated in the forest. It is believed that the color of their bristles makes the winter long and cold. If their stripe is narrow like it is this winter, they are hated, for it brings a severe winter. At least the confused oaks weren’t too far ahead and I would be rid of the woolly.

 

“So, it was lucky you had all those tools with you, what do you do?” The woolly asked, gasping a little as he walked.

 

“Oh. Those. Well, it really isn’t that interesting.” If I told him I was a tree-tuner, I didn’t want to hear about what herb or plant he needed me to correct.

 

“Sure it is! I mean I’m a caterpillar. I don’t have much going for me until I’ve transformed. Try me.”

 

He did have a point.

 

“I’m a tree-tuner.” I said quietly.

 

“Fabulous! What a wonderful job – being outdoors everyday, meeting all of the other forest creatures, talking, having responsibility…” The woolly went on with compliments “… not to mention solving problems!”

 

I cut in “Stop it. You have NO idea what it is like!” Oh Mr. Mouse, says the woodpecker, this tree was suppose to die last week and we haven’t been able to move in yet. Mr. Mouse, where are the crocus blossoms? Mr. Mouse, this tree only has one fruit. Mr. Mouse this is supposed to be an evergreen. Mr. Mouse where are the leaves? Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse! Pinecones! Where is the thank you Mr. Mouse, thank you?! Tell me that!

 

The woolly caterpillar was silent for once. I’m sure he had never considered my discomforts. Serves him right, what did he know?

 

“Mr. Mouse. Thank you, truly, the forest owes much to you.” The caterpillar sniffled.

 

I was stunned. I didn’t expect to receive gratitude. Now that I had it, I was not really sure what to do with it.

 

The woolly continued “—and not just for  your work as a tree-tuner… thank you for stopping to help me… thank you for not blaming me for your troubles. I’m sure you know I am not among the most liked in the forest. The others blame me for the weather, based on my appearance. They say it is my fault that the winter is too long or too cold but my brown band is not something I can control. What can you do when animals only value your appearance? They blame me for their discomforts. Do they even know that winter is hardest on the wooly caterpillars? Do you know that I will freeze solid for all the months in winter? I might as well be a rock. Actually, as a rock I would not be hated.”

 

Pinecones! I had never thought of how the woolly feels. How could I do this? I sit here day after day, complaining that no one knows how I feel. I’ve never considered the wooly, or the squirrel, or the rabbit, or the crow. I suddenly feel as if I am no good at fixing problems. No one can fix a problem alone.

 

“Woolly bear, would you like to learn how to tune a tree?” I asked.

 

The woolly bear brightened up instantly. “Oh, would I! There isn’t anything I’d rather do more.”

 

The forest was never silent of stories about mouse and caterpillar. No longer were the complaints for mouse or woolly alone. It was all about what they could accomplish together, for neither of them had to travel their plights alone.

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Recipe (Makes 5 puddings)

Whole milk - 1.5 cups

Half & half or light cream - 1 cup

Heavy whipping cream - 1 cup (for whipped cream, optional)

Sugar - 1/3 cup + 3TB

Rosewater - 1TB

Cardamom pods - 1TB heaped, slightly crushed

Cardamom seeds - 1tsp

Ground cardamom - pinch or two (optional... for extra cardamom flavor)

Cinnamon stick - 2

Peppercorns - a small pinch

Cornstarch - 3TB

Fresh or dried edible rose petals and ground cinnamon - to adorn, optional

Put the whole milk, 1/2 a cup of the light cream, and spices (except the ground cardamom) in a pot over medium heat. Cook covered until it just begins to simmer and then turn off the heat and leave it covered. Let this sit so the spice can infused for at least 30 mins. Then strain the milk mixture through a sieve, reserve the milk and discard the spices (or you can infuse the spices in a tea ball or bag for easy removal). In a bowl whisk together the other 1/2 cup of cold light cream and cornstarch until it is dissolved.

Put the spice-infused milk back into the pot with the 1/3 cup + 2TB of sugar, salt, and ground cardamom and set over medium-low heat and bring it back to just before simmering. Whisk in the cornstarch-milk mixture. Let it cook, alternating frequently between stirring & whisking, until it barley boils.. this will take about 5 minuets. Once it starts to reach a boil, turn the temperature down to low and stir/whisk frequently for another 5 minuets... it will thicken considerably. The pudding is done when it will completely coat the back of a wooden spoon and drip off in globs. Distribute into 5 teacups or ramekins and put into the refrigerator for a few hours to set (or eat it as-is if you like it loose). Cover the teacups with plastic wrap if you do not want skin on your pudding. After the pudding has chilled in the fridge and just before serving, put your heaving whipping cream into a mixture with the whisk attachment. Turn onto medium low and after the mixture gets foamy, increase the speed to high & add your rosewater & sprinkle in 1TB of sugar. Beat it until stiff peaks form. Distribute the whipped cream over the pudding (you will have some left-over whipped cream) and sprinkle with rose petals & ground cinnamon - 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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Aushak, for the vegetarian

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I've explained my love for Afghan food in an earlier post here. One of the most interesting things about Afghan food is the significance it has with family. Most families have versions of dishes such as Aushak (or ashak) and curries that are unique to that family. Traditions past on through the act of doing, sharing, eating rather than through recipe notecards and magazines. One beautiful aspect of Afghan meal time is the dastarkhan. The "space" for eating a meal. Sometimes (I believe usually with larger family gatherings and special guests) a dastarkhan is used to set the space for eating. It is a piece of fabric or tablecloth spread across the floor and then arranged with the various dishes, bread, curries, rice, meats, and beverage, usually tea. The dastarkhan is a sacred space, not to be walked across or sat upon, just a place that holds the sacredness of enjoying and sharing a meal with family. Often, there is a designated tea poured and food server because these jobs have meaning, even the arrangement of food is taken into consideration; it all has significance.

In our home, our table is typically strewn across with bits and pieces of whatever project I've been working on lately or whatever was in my hands when I walked in the door. Books, bags, laptops, keys, papers, glues, labels, mail, boxes... these all frequent my table more than actual food. I can spend so much time enjoying the preparation of the meal and, in the end, eating it can feel more of an afterthought because I don't bring the sacredness of enjoying a meal. Sometimes I have to clear a little placemat sized space open on the table just to eat... or we forgo it all and eat bowls of soup cuddled on the couch under a blanket. Don't get me wrong, couch eating has its place, but I should put as much intention into eating the food and enjoying the time to quite the mind, as I do while preparing the food. I feel as eating in a space with intention helps us to remain present. 

This aushak is delicious and, I promise, simple. It varies from the traditional a bit, but like I said, each family has their own version. It is typically a leek filled dumpling served with a yogurt sauce, spiced ground meat topping, and dried mint. This version combines leeks and scallions, steamed in peppery broth, and topped with a garlic-mint yogurt. Its wonderful and best enjoyed in a sacred space. If you do not want to make all the dumplings at once. Reserve the left over fillings and wonton wrappers separate. Already steamed dumplings do not keep well, so steam to order :). You can, of course, make your own pasta dough here, but this time I choose the quicker version of using pre-made wonton wrappers.

 

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Aushak (Makes about 35-40 dumplings)

Wonton wrappers - 1 package (at least 40 inside)

Leeks - 3 large, trimmed and chopping into thin half-moons

Scallions - 1 bunch, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds

Cayenne pepper - scant 1tsp, ground

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced very fine or grated in a microplane

Yogurt - 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or greek yogurt

Mint - 2-3TB fresh, plus extra to garnish

Coconut oil - 3TB (Or evoo)

Whole pepper kernels - 1tsp

Mushroom (or veggie) broth - 2Cups (plus a little extra, if needed)

Salt/pepper - to taste

 

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Stir together the yogurt, 2 cloves worth of the garlic, and the fresh mint in a small bowl. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper and stir again, sit it aside for later. 

In a large skillet heat up the coconut oil on medium high heat. Add in the other clove of minced or grate garlic and the leeks/onions. Cook stirring frequently until softened. At least 5 minuets. You want them to be soft and buttery tasting but not mushy. Season with the cayenne and some salt and then turn off the heat. 

Heat up a medium skillet with a lid with 2 cups of the broth sprinkled with the whole peppercorns on medium low. You want to bring this mixture to a simmer and keep it there, keep it covered. Get out the wonton wrappers and a little bowl or cup of water. Lay out your wonton wrappers individually onto a clean surface. Spoon a small spoonful of the leek mixture into the center of each of the wontons. Then dip your finger into the water and spread two connecting edges of the wonton wrapper (one wonton at a time) with a strip of water. Fold the dry edges of the wonton wrapper over onto the wet edges, making a triangle and pinch together to seal. Make sure you only spread the water on one wonton at a time because the water will soak up/dry out so you need to fold it over right after you wet it. Repeat the process with all of your wontons. (If you aren't making all of them make sure you wrap the wonton wrappers up well so they don't dry out and keep the leek mixture separate). 

Once the broth is simmering, lay in the wonton wrappers in one flat layer, try not to let them touch or they will cook together. You will need to do this in batches. Return the cover to the skillet and let them simmer/steam in the broth for 3 minuets. You might, occasionally need to add in a little more broth as you cook the dumplings in batches, in case too much steams out. Removed from the broth with a spatula and lay on a plate, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and sprinkle with extra chopped mint, if desired, and serve warm. 

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Roasted beets & lemon greens wrap

Horror!

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All she could hear was her breathing. Everything else was silent. She set down the knife. It was red with crime. An un-blooded portion of the knife reflected her own face and glimpses of the carnage in front of her. She never knew she could be so violent. Heads chopped off from bodies and dismembered, there across the table and floor, was her proof. She gently and calmly wiped her hands clean with a rag; it was a white rag. The red soaked in deep, binding with the fibers, the contrast seemed to make her violence more permanent, more dramatic. She had been hungry before, and had simply set out to make a meal... before...

The phone range.

"Hello?"

"Hey, sweetheart, I'm on my way home. Do you want me to grab dinner?"

She glanced behind her at her crime, ripe with juices, and nibbled at a bit of red on her fingernail. It was sweet. Her heart should be pounding but she felt nothing was wrong. In fact, she felt the opposite. A different type of hunger began to grow in her...

"Oh, no, love. I'm making something at home for us." She hung up the phone.

She set to work cleaning up her mess; trimming and cutting away at the bodies, forming them into manageable pieces. It was an unusual meal. She pondered over a recipe, something simple. All that chopping had left her tired. Tired and hungry. Maybe... roasted in their own juices until tender? Salt and pepper of course, oh and olive oil! Certainly, olive oil! A little lemon to make the flavor pop. 

The smells from the oven were heavenly. She salivated. The dogs were in the kitchen licking at the floor in their primal states. Waiting for more tasty morsels to drip from the counter.

The door open and he walked in. He saw the red soaked cutting board and her stained hands. He stopped. 

"You're making beet wraps!"

Whoever thinks vegetarianism can't be gruesome has never cut their way through two bunches of fresh beets. 

This wrap is great, I've made it a few times and it has turned a beet hater (Ty) into a roasted beet lover. 

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Recipe (About 6 wraps)

Beets (with greens) - 2 bunches. Beets trimmed into thin rounds and save the greens)

Red onion - 1/4 cup, slivered

Goat cheese - 6TB (about 1TB per serving)

Lemon - Juice from 1 large lemon

Olive oil - 3TB

Salt/pepper - to taste 

Yogurt Flatbread (adapted from plenty)

Flour (any flour, this time I used spelt) - Generous 2 cups

Baking powder - 1TB

Salt - 1tsp

Whole fat plain yogurt (or greek) - 1 1/2 cups

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Begin with making your flatbread dough (or use a pre-made flatbread). Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then stir in your yogurt with a wooden spoon until the dough becomes workable with your hands. Knead for a few minuets. If the dough seems a little too sticky or dry, add in a little more flour. Cover the bowl and let it chill in your fridge while you prepare the rest of the wrap.

Wash and chop up the beets into thin rounds and put them into a bowl. Slice up the beet greens into slivers, discarding any extra tough stems and place them into a separate bowl. Add in the slivered onions to the beet greens. Squeeze over the fresh lemon juice into the greens and sprinkle with a small pinch or two of salt. Massage the lemon and salt into the greens and then set the bowl aside.

Now back to the beets. Toss the beets with the 3TB of olive oil and at least a teaspoon of salt & pepper each. Lay the beet slices out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minuets, until cooked and tender, stirring the beets half way through. 

While beets are roasting, go back to your dough and divide it into six balls. Heat up a skillet (cast iron works great here) on the stove top over high heat. Clean a work surface and sprinkle with flour. Place one ball on your floured surface and roll it out thin, into a round flatbread. Once your skillet is very hot, lay your flatbread on the skillet. When it starts to bubble up, flip the bread. When it starts to puff up with air, it is done and remove from the skillet. Repeat with the other 5 dough balls. 

After the breads are cooked and the beets roasted spread the center of a flatbread with 1Tb or more of goat cheese. Lay on top 1/6 of the beets and then top with a big handful of lemon greens. Repeat with others! The lemon greens and beets keep well when stored separately. Enjoy!

 

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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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Spelt farfalle in a creamy butternut squash sauce with roasted broccoli

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I've admired film and photography for most of my life. I've always been particularly responsive to visuals and to sounds. Also to words. I remember my life in little clips and frames. I have an unusual amount of memories from early years... from when I was one or two but they are mostly visuals. I think of them as memory vignettes. They are places that were very comforting to me or of places where I first felt strong emotions.... a favorite carpet or the feel of petting a dog. We lived on the coast in New Bern, NC. Brackish waters are everywhere there, including the pond in our back yard. There was this wooden board walk through this marshy area and tall pines to the dock where my Dad use to set crab traps. I don't really remember the board walk but I remember sitting in the back yard and looking at the thick bed of pine needles and ivy that grew around the start of the boardwalk. In my eye is the coarseness and texture of the wood.

I also remember being taught to shell a crab. Feeling the moist steam of a boiling pot of water and my Dad helping my fingers pop out unwanted parts of a crab. I was confused at the yellow smears of crab gunk on my fingers. I remember my Dad telling me that we needed to get rid of the gunk because it was poisonous... and being afraid that I might accidentally be poisoned by crab in the future. In my nose is the smell of salt and fish. These little frames, moments, memories of experiences are who we are. It is art when I am able to read someone else's experience, and get a frame into their life. It is a point where lives touch in a deep and internal way, a private world. It is why we write, why we take photos, and why we read. The look in a strangers eye from a photograph, or the way colors bounced off each other in a landscape description; they touch me and remind me of my personal vignettes that I guard. I loved this, it was a secret to me. I was consumed in this private life, so much so that I use to be a rather quiet child around strangers. I just absorbed all the visuals without vocalizing much in return. I wanted to be a photojournalist, it is what I started out doing in college for the first few months. I was set on working for national geographic... and who wasn't. Any of us would love that job. At some point I became very hard on myself, I lived in an unrealistic world, or maybe it was the mindsets of other people that made me feel this way. I changed my major, to another design degree, landscape architecture. I had considered it before and it is something creative, involving the environment, helping people, but technical and marketable... it seemed safe.

 

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I practiced photography occasionally, when I was somewhere beautiful and I could actually hold visual vignettes down the road and share them with others. I don't know why I use to give up on things I loved just because they seemed unrealistic. I should have put more confidence in myself and lived with a little less fear. I have a decent camera, I got it for about $400 years ago. It is the nicest camera I have ever owned. Of course there are much, much better cameras. I've never had any formal training in photography or in film, although I have worked heavily with photoshop in college... but mostly because of self education and interest. I've stopped myself from really trying to produce films and better photography and I've made plenty of excused because I am constantly comparing myself to the work of others whom I admire. That is where I have to stop. For me, it is all about the vignettes of memories, stories, and emotion, the things that make you who you are and I want to stop hiding. I'm aware that in comparison to the works of film and photography that are out there, I'm not outstandingly impressive. I'm ok with that, because right now, this is me with my point n' shoot, tripod jerry-rigged onto mason jars, imovie, wrinkled linens, and really delicious food. I'm proud of it, happy about it, and loving to show you and introduce you to the vignettes that make up my life. I hope you enjoy and share some of yours with me. 

 

Watch the video above, The song is Cristobal by the artist Devendra Banhart... one of my favorites.  

This recipe is delicious... I've already made the sauce two weeks in a row, so much beautiful autumn squash. It is definitely inspired by mac n' cheese... just one you can feel much better about eating. Just make sure you get the roasted squash blended into a sauce before eating it all, that stuff is ridiculous, like sweet candy. 

Recipe (Makes 6 - 8 servings)

Butternut squash - 1 large squash, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped into cubes

Yellow onion - 1/2 diced onion

Garlic - 3 cloves

Broccoli - 2 heads of broccoli, chopped of the stalk

Sage - 2TB fresh

Salt/pepper - to taste

Milk (or milk alternative- coconut and unsweet almond both work great!) - 1 Cup

Reserved pasta water - About 1 cup

Spelt flour - 2 cups + extra for dusting

Salt - good pinch

Eggs - 3

Extra Virgin Olive oil - Several TB (4-5 total)

Uncooked pasta - if not making your own pasta or want a vegan alternative

Directions including making your own pasta

Clean a counter top or a large cutting board and spoon your flour into a pile in the center. Sprinkle in some salt and mix together, patting the flour back into a central pile. Make a well in the center of your flour large enough to hold three eggs and a splash of olive oil. Crack in your eggs and then pour in a generous glug of oil.  Use a wooden spoon to gentle stir the eggs, breaking the yolks and slowly incorporating the flour from the sides. Keep going until you whittle away at the sides of the flour, this will take a little while. Once the flour is too sticky for the spoon, flour your hands and gather the dough together, using your hands to incorporate all the rest of the flour. Knead the dough for several minutes, until soft and silky. About 5 minutes kneading.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the pasta dough rest on the counter while you chop up all your veggies and garlic. Set the chopped/prepped ingredients aside and pick back up with the pasta.

Take out your pasta dough and cut into 4 pieces. Flour a clean surface and roll out one of the dough pieces very thin... it should be a little translucent. (Of course, if you have a pasta roller, use that) Flipping and rotating the dough as you go, and adding more flour to prevent sticking. Try to roll the dough into a rectangle if you can. Trim the edges of the dough off, so that you end up with a rectangle. I saved the dough trimmings to roll out again in the end. Cut the flat dough, with a sharp knife, into about 1" to 1 1/2" rectangles. Get a little cup of water and place next to your working area. Now, pick up one piece at a time and add a little dab of water to the center and pinch the top and bottom of the rectangle together in the center. Then use your thumbs and index finger to pinch together/flatten out the sides of the dough, it should resemble a bow tie. This process can take a little while, but you will get into a rhythm. Of course, you can just cut the pasta into a different shape, like long linguine noodles, it would be faster. Lay the bow-tie pastas out on a baking sheet to dry a bit until we are ready to cook them. Repeat the process with the other three dough balls and then gather up all your trimmings into a ball and roll those out into bow ties as well. 

Toss the squash cubes in some olive oil and salt/pepper and lay flat on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the cubes are soft, a little browned in spots, and very sweet. Toss the broccoli pieces together in the bowl you used for the squash (no need to wash) with some olive oil and a little salt/pepper. Lay the broccoli out on a separate baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until a little brown but still slightly crunchy. It works well to put the broccoli in the oven after the squash has been in there for about 20 minutes... so that they can both come out around the same time.

While those are roasting, bring a medium/large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Also, heat up a medium skillet with 1 TB of olive oil on the stove. Once the oil is warm add in your garlic, cook for a minute and then add in your onions. Let it soften, stirring occasionally, while the broccoli/squash are roasting. Let the onions cook for at least 10 minutes. Add in your sage to the onions and cook for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and then pour onion mixture into the blender with the roasted squash, set this aside until the pasta is done cooking. 

Once the water is boiling add your pasta, I added the pasta in 3 batches, using a large slotted spoon to remove and drain the pasta. You will want to reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water to thin out the sauce. The pasta takes about 3-5 minuets to cook, or until al dente. Once you remove the pasta, let it drain in a colander and give it a quick rinse with cool water... so it stops cooking. Blend together your squash, onion mixture, 1 cup of milk (or milk alternative), and 1 cup of pasta water. Scrap down the sides, taste the sauce and adjust salt/pepper and add more pasta water if you want the sauce thinner. Depending on how fast you worked, the sauce might need to be re-heated on the stove before adding it to the pasta/broccoli (even though we were very happy eating it straight from the fridge, cold, the next day)  Toss the sauce, broccoli, and pasta together. Enjoy... this stuff is like candy... it is worth it.  

Directions for just the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop up all your veggies, sage, and garlic. Toss the squash in a bowl with olive oil salt and pepper and then lay the squash out flat on a baking sheet.  The squash will roast for about 35-45 minutes until it is very soft, a little brown in spots, and very sweet. Reuse the same bowl to toss your broccoli together with the olive oil and salt/pepper. Lay the broccoli out on a separate baking sheet. After the squash has been in the oven for about 20 minutes, add the squash in the oven as well... so they can both come out around the same time. The broccoli will roast for about 20-25 minutes, until slightly brown but still a little crunchy.

While the squash/broccoli is roasting, bring a salted pot of water on the stove to a boil, this will be to cook your pasta. Also heat up a medium skillet on medium heat with 1TB of olive oil. Once it is hot, add in your garlic, cook for a minute and then add the in onions. Let the onions soften for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the chopped sage. Cook for about 2 more minutes and then turn off the heat. Cook your pasta until al dente and then strain out your pasta, reserving at least 1 cup of pasta water, and giving the pasta a quick rinse with cool water. Toss the cooked squash, onion mixture, 1 cup of milk (or milk alternative), and 1 cup of pasta water in a blender and blend until smooth. Scrap down the sides of the blender, taste and adjust salt/pepper, and add more pasta water if you want the sauce thinner, and then blend again. Toss together the cooked pasta, roasted broccoli, and sauce. Enjoy... this stuff is like candy... it's worth saying twice.

 

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Goat cheese & rosemary muffins with a honey drizzle

Fall time. 

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I always have the urge to bake when those leaves start crisping up and the sweaters come out. There is something about the ambiance of being cozied up on the couch with a good book on the weekends and watching the wind blow free yellow tulip poplar leaves as they travel, glide, and then graciously come to rest among their fellow brothers on the earth. After some moments of watching I place my socked feet on the hardwood and wander to the kitchen to poke around at the little bits of this and that. Opening the fridge a few times and checking the inventory of the dry goods cabinet, I allow my mind to stroll into the land of sugar and pastry and to warm sugary breath against cool air. I might stall, place the kettle on to make tea, but by the time the water is hot I already know that I am sucked in and that I am baking. The first time I had a muffin with one of my favorite combinations (goat cheese & rosemary) was at the bakery I use to work here in Charlottesville. It was a fall special we did occasionally. I only had this muffin there once... and I think about it with frequent adoration. The muffin at mudhouse is quite different than this one... at the bakery it was sour cream batter based and the rosemary was infused... giving it a stronger, earthier taste. This one is a recipe to be made on the spot and one that is good for using up any extra yogurt you have on hand. These muffins are mildly sweet and balanced so nicely with the savoriness of the goat cheese and rosemary. You must try it next time the cold brushes your skin.

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Recipe (Makes 12 medium muffins) 

All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups

Spelt or whole grain flour - 1/2 cup

Sugar - 1/2 cup

Butter - 4TB at room temperature

Eggs - 2

Yogurt - 1 1/4cup

Milk - A splash (optional)

Rosemary Powder - 1/2tsp

Fresh Rosemary - 1 TB generous, minced 

Goat cheese - 1/3 cup, crumbled

Honey - 1-2TB

Baking powder - 1 tsp

Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Salt - 1/2 tsp, scant

Crumble topping

Oats - 1/2 cup, generous

Sugar - 1 TB

Flour - 1 TB

Flaxseed - 1-2TB, ground up

Coconut oil - 2Tb, melted

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a muffin pan. Add in your butter and sugar together in a mixer and cream together 5 minutes, scraping halfway through, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together your flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the two different rosemaries. After the butter/sugar is creamed, add in the eggs one at a time while beating on medium low, scraping in between. Then add in your yogurt and stir until combined. Add in the flour and blend on low until just combined, you do not want to over-mix, as it develops the gluten/toughens your pastry. (If your batter seems just a little too thick, add in your splash of milk here and mix together, if not, then omit.) Then add in the goat cheese and drizzle over the honey, stir by hand until distributed... the streaks of honey are ok! 

Place your oats into a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to get a coarse oat flour. Toss these oats with the sugar, ground flaxseed, and flour. Then pour over the melted coconut oil and combine. You should be able to pinch it together into moist crumbles. Distribute the muffin batter evenly into the 12 spaces and then evenly distribute over the topping. Lightly tap the topping into the muffin batter with your fingertips to secure. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until completely cooked and slightly golden. 

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Paloma, I love you

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Covered porch, a well-used swing, soft breeze, early evening warmth, citrus juice on fingers, bare feet, radishes sprouting nearby, sleeping dogs, two palomas.  

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Recipe for 1 large paloma

Tequila - 1/4cup (cold)

Pink grapefruit - 1 large, cut in half and juiced over a strainer

Lime - Juice of 1 lime + a slice of lime to garnish

Agave - 1TB (or other sweetener)

Club soda - 1/8 - 1/4 cup depending on taste (I used closer to 1/4)  (cold)

Sea salt - for the rim (optional) 

A few ice cubes

Apparently, the paloma is the most ordered drink in Mexico and it is made a variety of ways. Sometimes it is made with fresh grapefruit juice and them sometimes with a grapefruit soda - typically jarritos. I chose the fresh juice route. I also sweetened this with agave because I think it compliments any tequila drink but feel free to use honey or a simple syrup. 

Wet the rim of your glass with juice or water (if using salt) and dip the rim into a saucer of sea salt. Juice the grapefruit (strained) and combine it with the tequila, lime juice, agave, and a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker (just stir this well into your glass with a spoon if you are not using a cocktail shaker). Shaker (or stir) until combine and pour into your glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy! (Best enjoyed over tacos)

 

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Brussels sprouts, crispy tofu, & mustard vinaigrette salad

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After sorrows such as Monday's there are few things I feel like doing, cooking especially, and most likely most of the country is with me. I huddle on the bottom of the tub with my knees hugged to my chest with the warm shower flowing over my head, crying. I ask over and over why; everyone asks why. We keep asking because there is no way to comprehend it, it is so against human nature. Not only this event, but all of them in our country, in other countries. None are more tragic than another. We are so compelled to find reason in the madness. Some way to understand the hate and violence. There is so much violence all around the world fueled by hate, terrorism, sexism, racism, politics, and none of the tragedies from these crimes ever leaves us. Sometimes we forget tragedies that happen to our brothers and sisters around the world until something like this happens so close to home. But really, no matter the reason why, there is no way to understand it. It doesn't make sense. There is no justification for such a horrid acts of hate. The only way to combat it is love. Love for the victims, love for the families, love for our community, love for our country, love for the world. Hearing the stories of love, empathy, and heroism that came out of the chaos is a bit of hope. Witnessing the true human spirit coming out to offer love and support and to hear the reactions and the responses of victims is amazing. I hope that people will spread the love they share with their neighbors and apply it to the rest of the world, we need it. It is the only thing that helps the soul heal and calm down. For all the hate and insanity from people in this world, there is more love. 

“Some people care too much. I think it's called love.” - Pooh

I made this salad last week. It takes me a bit to get back up and feel like cooking after all my emotions are drained. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. 

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Recipe (Serves 4) 

1 bunch brussels sprouts (1lb) - Red brussels or regular. Sliced (I cut each into 1/6ths)

Yellow onion - 1/2, chopped. 

1 package tofu - cut into small cubes and pre-pressed if desired.

Tarragon - 1-2 healthy springs, chopped fine

Slivered almonds - scant 1/4 cup

Peptias (Pumpkin seeds) - a handful. 

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - 3TB

Coconut oil - 2TB

White wine vinegar - 2tsp

Dijon mustard - about 2tsp

Honey - 1-2tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Trim off the ends, and chop up the brussels sprouts into slices or into 6ths. Place in bowl and toss with 2TB olive oil and salt/pepper. Spread onto baking sheet and bake in oven for about 20 minuets, tossing half way through.  During the last 5 minutes, spread out the almonds on a separate pan and toast in the oven for the last 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile heat up a large skillet with 2TB of coconut oil on high heat (or olive oil, but in this case, on medium heat). Once hot add in your already pressed and cubed tofu. Toss in the oil and fry until crispy and golden. About 5-10 minutes. 

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Once Brussels sprouts and tofu is cooked, toss together in a bowl along with the chopped onion, tarragon, toasted almond slivers, and pepitas. Whisk together the honey, dijon mustard, and white wine vinegar. Then slowly drizzle in the 1-2TB of olive oil while whisking until you have reached your desired dressing consistency. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Lastly, squeeze over some fresh lemon juice, toss and distribute into bowls. If desired, top with a little extra tarragon.

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A dinner of turnips + french beans in butter + Prosecco.

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Sometimes it is fun to make a small array of side items from produce lingering around in your refrigerator. Pair it with one fancy item, in this case prosecco, and you have got a special meal. Prosecco goes surprisingly really well with this vegetable meal. It's light, dry, sweetness complimented the butter, warm turnips, and french beans.

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Turnips roasted in butter & paprika. 

Turnips - 3 medium/large turnips.

Butter - 2TB

Paprika - 1-2tsp

Salt/pepper - A few good pinches

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Cut up the turnips into wedges. In an oven-proof deep skillet melt the butter on medium heat. Add in the turnips and toss to coat. Add in the paprika, I used about 2tsp, and the salt/pepper to taste and toss to coat. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring once half way through.

Haricot verts in butter, garlic & lemon.

Haricot verts - 1/2lb

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Butter - 1.5TB

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

White wine vinegar - a splash

Salt/pepper - to taste

Heat up a large skillet on medium heat with the butter, once melted add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute. Add in the french beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and the splash of white wine vinegar. Cook for about 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

Place everything into bowls and serve with crusty pieces of bread & something fancy, like prosecco. 

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Watercress, fennel, & potato soup

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This soup will make such a lovely shade of green if you have a good blender or immersion blender. My soup was printed with flecks of watercress green, but it was just as tasty. Originally, I had not planned on making this a creamy soup but the process just took me there and I am glad it did. Although, if you want to cut back on the dairy, this soup will still be just as good. You could double the bunch of watercress and it would be better yet.

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Watercress - 1 Bunch

Potatoes - 1LB Chopped into equal size for boiling

Yellow onion - 3/4 of a large yellow onion, slivered

Fennel - 3/4 of a fennel bulb, slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Butter - 3TB

Vegetable broth - 4 cups

White wine - 1/2 cup

Cream - 1/2cup

Parmesan - 1/4 cup finely grated

In a medium pot melt 3TB of butter on medium heat. Add your garlic, onions, and fennel. Cook no more than 5 minutes and let them soften. Add the vegetable broth and potatoes and heat up the broth to a low boil until the potatoes are cooked. Add in the watercress and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and put all the soup into a blender, blend until smooth. Add the soup ingredients into a pot, stir in the wine and parmesan and cook for just a few minutes on low heat. Run the soup through the blender again if need be. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and slowly stir in a little extra cream on the top of each one and sprinkle with fresh black pepper.

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A simple cake of rosemary & apple

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I was listening to an This American Life (I start way too many conversations with "I was listen to The American life") rerun and there was a story about a retired man who wanted to start a cable channel from scratch in the early 90s. A channel called the puppy channel. Naturally, this is brilliance. A channel entirely donated to the cuteness and adorableness of puppies with nothing but soft instrumental music in the background. Now I don't want to hear any complaints "hey, what about kittens? Monkeys? Sloths?" All other cute animals aside, puppies alone are cute and entertaining. The man explained his inspiration came when he saw a diverse group of people in a parking lot all standing around and watching some puppies. People from all points and acts of life paused for a brief moment to smile at puppies. Why? Puppies make us feel better, they make us happy. I looked back in my car at my own fully grown puppies. They were chasing after the back windshield wipers. Yeah I have to agree, they do make us happy.

A cake can do the same thing. Especially one scented so sweetly with rosemary. Rosemary, it is like an old friend; warm and comforting. Mix that into a cake with apples? No doubt it makes you happy. This cake is perfect, moist, with the apple chunks soft and starting to infuse in the layers. It is the sort of cake I could eat everyday if you could healthfully eat cake every day. The rosemary warms up the batter and compliments the apples wonderfully. 

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Recipe (Fits in one, greased 8" springform pan.)

Whole wheat flour - 1 1/4 Cup

All purpose - 1 Cup

Sugar - 1 Cup

Heavy cream - 1/2 Cup

Baking powder - 1 1/2tsp

Baking soda - 1/2tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Eggs - 2

Butter - 1 stick room temperature

Rosemary - 1TB dried

Rosemary powder - heaped 1/2tsp

Apples - 2 chopped in small & medium chunks.

Confectioner's sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat up the heavy cream in a small pot in a low simmer with the 1TB of dried rosemary. Turn it off once warm and let it steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Once it is steeped, strain out the dried rosemary and whisk in the rosemary powder. Mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Add the butter and sugar into a mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrapping with a spatula half-way through. Add in the two eggs and mix until combined. Alternatively (3 batches each) add in the flour mixture and milk mixture. Scraping with a spatula when necessary. Last, dump in your apple chucks and stir in by hand, with the spatula. Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and tap the pan down on the counter to settle the batter. Place in the oven and bake 50-60 minutes or until a pick comes out clean and cake is puffed up. 

Let cool at least 15 minutes (if you can) and dust the top with confectioners sugar. I served mine with anise tea but served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or apple ice cream would be delicious. 

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Vegetarian ramen with homemade noodles

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I never really did the whole college ramen cuisine thing. Not because I didn't eat easy, packaged food, I did. I was just way too weight concerned (with incorrect nutritional knowledge) that I wouldn't make a habit of a whole meal out of carbs (still a good habit not to do). I missed the boat on the ramen train, admittedly, I'm a little sad about it. Recently, we took a weekend trip into DC. We went to the United States Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of the American Indian, did a lot of walking around, visiting memorials, flea market, Sigur rós show, ate at a great Indian restaurant, crêperie, and an El Salvadorian pupusaria. Although I have this image stuck in my head from a magazine about DC's 100 best restaurants. One of them being a restaurant that sold traditional Japanese ramen. Oh my stars it looked good. Ty glanced at it and responded, "I want that." Yes Ty, so do we all. 

This is my version of traditional Japanese ramen that is not so traditional. Traditional ramen varies in the type of broth, a fish broth, pork broth, soy sauce broth, or miso broth. There are some borrowed flavors from pho broth here, but also I combined the soy sauce and miso style broths into one. I also took my hand at making homemade noodles. They were very good and easy to make even though I do not have a pasta machine. Feel free to buy regular ramen noodles too!

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Recipe (Makes 4 bowls)

Veggie broth - Great time to use your own if you have, you want it tasty.

Lemon grass - two stalks, sliced

Star Anise - 3

Tofu - 1/2 brick sliced into squares

Kale - 1 bunch torn off the stem into pieces

Crimini mushrooms - 5 or 6 sliced mushrooms

Radish - 3 radishes slivered

Green onions - 2 or 3 slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves

Eggs - 2 soft boiled (5 minuets)

Sesame oil - 3TB 

Mirin - 1TB

Yellow miso - 1TB

Soy sauce - 2TB

Rice vinegar - 1TB + 1tsp

Sriracha - to top

For the Noodles

All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Egg yolk - 1

Baking soda - 1tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Water - 1/4 cup + a few TB

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Make the noodles. Mix together the flour, salt, & baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the center and egg in the egg yolk. Pour in 1/4cup of water in the well. Using your fingers mash up the egg yolk with the water and stir into a slurry, slowly incorporating the flour. Adding in another tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together but before it sticks on your hands. Knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a little extra flour. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes at least but an hour would be better. Go on with the rest of the meal. When the dough is done roll out the dough into a long rectangle as thin as you can get it. Lightly flour the rectangle and fold it in half, hotdog style. Take a very sharp knife and slice into very thin noodles, mine were about 1/8" thick. Unfold the thin noodles and lay out flat to dry for a bit. 

Heat up the veggie broth with the lemongrass and star anise and let it simmer/ low-boil for 30 minutes at least. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest. Heat up 2TB of sesame oil in a large skillet on high heat and then toss in the tofu. Toss and flip for 5 minutes or so until they turn golden. Add in 1TB of tofu and stir until combined. Dump out the tofu into a bowl and add in the last TB of oil. Add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms, cook for about five minutes until it colors a bit. Add kale (in two batches) cooking for a few minutes until wilted and all the kale can fit into the pan. Add in 1TB of mirin and stir until combined. Pour out into a bowl. Strain out the broth and place back into the pot and keep on low heat, do not let it boil at this point. Add in 1TB of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and miso. Whisk until combined. Heat up a medium salted pot of water to a low boil. Add in the noodles and the whole eggs and cook for 5 minutes after they get back up to a low boil until done. Run the eggs under cool water.

Distribute the noodles into four bowls and ladle over some broth. Top with some of the kale/mushroom mixture on one side, sliced radishes on the other, tofu cubes in the center, and then sprinkle over some scallions. Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half carefully, the yolk will still be runny. Place an egg half in each bowl and squeeze over some sriracha.

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Meyer lemon & mascarpone tart + hibiscus whipped cream

Meyer Lemon.

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I realized at the start of spring that I went the whole winter without doing anything with meyer lemons. I decided to take my chance at the last of the late season meyer lemons and make these tarts. Meyer lemons are so perfect in a tart because unlike other lemons, meyer lemons are more sweet. Adding in this hibiscus infused cream was the perfect topping to add some extra acidity to the somewhat mello lemons. Plus the pink on yellow is undeniable. The mascarpone cream gives the lemon curd a creamy (think lemon meringue pie) taste that will make you want to spoon up the curd all by itself. Which I did...

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Recipe (Makes 4 5" tarts and extra crust you can freeze, I got 4 mini tarts of extra crust)

Hibiscus infused whipping cream.

Heavy whipping cream - 1/2 Cup

Dried Hibiscus - 1TB

Sugar - 3TB

Heat up the whipping cream with the hibiscus in a small sauce pan over the stove until fumes rise and the cream starts to simmer very slightly. Watch carefully as you don't want the cream to boil. Turn off the heat after it simmers and let the hibiscus infuse in the cream until it turns a nice deep shade of pink, stirring every so often. Strain out the hibiscus and put the cream in the fridge to cool. 

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Tart Crust.

All-purpose flour - 1 1/4

Cups (you could used pastry flour if desired)

Sugar - 1/8 Cup

Salt - good pinch of salt

Butter (unsalted) - 1 stick frozen (or very cold at least)

Egg yolk - 1

Ice cold water - 1/4 cup (sometimes it take more or less so prep more just in case)

Shift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the frozen butter into small cubes and pulse the butter, egg yolk, and flour mixture together in to a food processor until it is a coarse meal. Add the very cold water to the food processor, 2TB at a time until the dough just holds together. It is ok if there is a bit of crumbly/dry spots. Press the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigeration and leave for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curd.

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Meyer lemon/mascarpone curd.

Eggs - 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk

Sugar - 2/3 cup

Juice of meyer lemons - 2/3 cups (took me about 8/9 lemons)

Butter - 4TB

Mascarpone - 2/3 a container

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl beat the eggs, yolk, sugar, and lemon juice together. Move the mixture into a small saucepan and place on the stove over low heat and add the butter cubes. Whisking while it melts/heats. Keep whipping/stirring until the mixture thickens and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep whisking and add the mascarpone by the spoonful until it melts and make sure it is still thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it isn't keep whisking over low heat until it is. 

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Take out your crust and cut into 4. Roll each quarter into a ball and then roll it out big enough to fit your tart pans. Grease the tart pans and then press in the crust on the bottom/sides. Repeat with the other 3. Place the crusts temporarily in the freezer and store the extra crust (if any) in the manner of your choosing. (You can store the leftover crust by freezing wrapped in a plastic wrap, in the fridge for a few days, or pressed into mini tart pans and frozen.) Let the curd cool for about 5 minutes and the tart crusts stay in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take out the tarts and pour in the curd and distribute between the four tarts pans. Tap each tart down on the counter to settle the curd and then place into the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the crust turns golden and the curd puffs up and slightly colors. Let the tarts cool while you whip the cream.

Take out your hibiscus infused cream and place it into a mixer with the whisk attached. Turn on medium/low heat until the cream starts to foam/bubble and then increase the speed to a medium high/high speed. Start adding in the sugar slowly, 1TB at a time as the cream is whipping and thickens. Stop once the whipping cream has reached your desired thickness. Top onto the tarts and serve.

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Fava bean pan fry with jerusalem artichokes, greens, olives, lemon, & tarragon

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Some of the best meals come from using up everything you have in your fridge. We were going out of town to visit our family and friends for almost a week. I had some things that were already needing to be used so I decided to make them all together so I didn't have to throw anything out! Also known as "the day before grocery store day." I'm surprised everything I had left went together so simply in a one-pan recipe. We took all the leftovers with us the next day, so it travels well too! 

Jerusalem artichokes are delicious. If you have never tried them they taste a bit like water chestnuts when they are raw but more like potatoes after cooked. They grow natively to the eastern parts of the United States and are a tuber that produces a tall stalk with beautiful, yellowish, sunny flowers. Easy to grow in a garden, even if you just use it as an ornamental garden accent. Last summer we went camping at a place around the Alabama/Tennessee border called the Walls of Jericho. It is a unique geological formation with huge river gorge walls. To get to the camping spot we had to cross through a large a sea of jerusalem artichokes growing so thick you could get lost in it. They were growing taller than our heads, it really was quite beautiful. I thought it was fitting that these Jerusalem artichokes were growing prosperously at the entrance to the Walls of Jericho.

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Recipe (These makes a lot, enough for 4 large meals, or 6 smaller ones)

Fava beans - 1 cup dried and then soaked/cooked.

Potatoes - 2 red skinned potatoes, diced

Jerusalem Artichokes - a small bag full - diced

Red onion - 1/2 sliced

Black Olives - I used the rest of my container 1/3 Cup

Arugula - 1/2 bag

Garlic - 4 cloves minced

Tarragon - 1 small bunch minced (Fresh)

Parsley - Good handful (Fresh) chopped

Lemon - Juice from 1 lemon

Olive oil - 3-4TB

Salt/Pepper - to taste

Soak the fava beans for 8 hours or overnight and then boil until tender but not mushy. Drain. Prep all your ingredients by chopping everything up and getting it ready for use. Heat up 1-2TB of olive oil in a deep skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Let cook for several minutes until soft. Add in the fava beans and cook 5-10 minutes until starting to crisp and golden, adding in more olive oil if needed. Pour fava bean mixture into a bowl. Heat up another 1-2TB of olive oil and add in the potatoes and jerusalem artichokes. Let pan fry, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender about 10 minutes.  Add in the arugula and let cook for a minute until wilted. Pour back in your fava bean mixture and stir to distribute. Add in the tarragon and salt/pepper to taste. Cook a minute, until heated through and then add the parsley, lemon juice and olives. Stir and turn off the heat. Season Taste and adjust salt/pepper if needed. 

Enjoy!

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Celeriac & potato cakes, garlic spinach, & an over-easy egg

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We woke up to no power, 6" of snow with more falling, and really excited puppies! I was equally excited and we bundled up to go out and play. It was Rue's first time in inches of snow and it was deep enough to cover her legs and brush up against the underside of her belly. She was hopping around like a rabbit and sticking her face deep in the snow until her nose touched the frozen ground. She was adorable. Banjo was made for the snow. As soon as she gets out and sniffs the air, it fills her up with some sort of wild, primitive, wolf spirit and she starts running in circles, flailing her paws attacking the snow. We all licked up our fill of snow, made snowballs, played with the dogs and banjo uncovered a large, four pointed antler a deer had recently shed. Best dog treats ever, no joke. I was too distracted to take photos but I'd better include this puppy photo of banjo during her first snow in 2010 for good measure.

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After playing we were hungry for a hearty breakfast and fortunately we had use of our stove still, since it is gas. I made this delicious brunch dish from the leftover celeriac after the russian beet salad wrap. We enjoyed the rest of the snow day, Ty got out of classes and a mid-term, and we kept close to the wood stove reading books by candlelight. Now, some of the no-power charm has worn out, it is 3 days later and we are still without power, water, have spoiled groceries and sadly, no internet to keep you updated! So I find myself sipping on some tea at our local tea house, bumming the internet, light, and power outlets. This is one of the last meals we had made at the house since loosing power - it is just too difficult to keep washing dishes without water.  

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Recipe (We made 3 large cakes but could make 4 slightly smaller ones) 

Celeriac - 1/2 a mid-sized root, peeled and chopped into medium pieces

Red potatoes - 2 smallish ones, chopped into quarters

Red onion - 1/4 chopped small

Spinach - I used about 3 big handfuls, fresh

Butter - 2TB

Parmesan - 1/4cup finely grated

Gruyére - 1/4cup finely grated

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Tarragon - 1-2TB minced (fresh) (parsley, dill, or most fresh herbs would work)

Heavy cream or milk - 1-2TB

Salt/pepper - to taste

Polenta, grits, or corn meal to dust. 

Fill a medium pot with water 2/3 full and add a pinch of salt. Add in potatoes and celeriac and boil until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Add cooked potatoes/celeriac, red onion, parmesan, gruyére, tarragon, pinches of salt/pepper, tablespoon or two of heavy cream and mash until well mixed. Dust a clean surface with polenta and divide mixture into 3 or 4 balls. Shape into a patty about 1/4"-1/2" thick and coat with the polenta. 

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Heat up a large skillet with 1TB of butter on medium heat, add the minced garlic. Let infuse and get fragrant for a minute. Gettin' fragrant with garlic, mmm. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Dump out into a bowl and melt the other TB of butter in the skillet. Add the celeriac cakes and cook for several minutes on each side, until a thin, brown, crispy coat forms. Remove cakes and set onto a plate, top with spinach. Replace skillet to medium/high heat (add a small splash of olive oil) and crack in eggs, cooking one at a time if need be. Cook for a minute on one side and then flip. Cook for another minute or so until the white is set, but yolk runny if desired. Place an egg on top of the spinach/cakes. Top with fresh black pepper and serve. 

 

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