Category Archives: Baking and Cooking

Strawberry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake – A Book Review

strawberry poppy seed yogurt cake recipe

We are not huge sweet eaters in this house. Well, at least the adults aren’t. If it were up to the children it would be cookies and cake at every meal. We simply don’t keep sweets around, and only have them for the rare treat. When I do decide to indulge, I almost always go for something bursting with the fruits that are in season at that particular time of year. Pies, cobblers, and the likes are my go to dessert for most occasions, mostly because they rely mainly on the sweetness of the fruit rather than copious amounts of extra sugar, but partly because I am just not that great at baking cakes. I really want to be, so when I saw Yossy Arefi’s book Sweeter off the Vine available, using seasonal fruits in every kind of dessert you can imagine, I was excited. 

From apple fritters to wine roasted figs with honeyed ricotta to caramel swirled roasted squash ice cream sandwiches to blackberry and sage cream puffs, there are some very inspiring recipes in this book that show the versatility of fruit in dessert while still letting them sing.

I am a big fan of the simplicity of loaf cakes, I saw her recipe for cherry and poppy seed yogurt cake and knew I had to try it with some of the amazing strawberries that have been popping up at the markets. I decided to substitute lemon for the limes the original recipe called for. Thinking what a clever one I was, I sat down this morning to read through the recipe and saw a note at the bottom suggesting trying it with other berries and lemon juice. Well, this is it, my not so creative adaptation.

Needless to say, this was a delicious and a very quick to throw together dessert. It was light and fluffy, not overly sweet, and full of flavor. I look forward to trying it with cherries when they come into season.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake
Yields 1
Write a review
  1. 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  2. 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  1. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  6. zest of two lemons
  7. 1/2 cup avocado oil (or other high temp cooking oil)
  8. 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  9. 1 cup plain yogurt
  10. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  11. 1 3/4 cups small strawberries, hulled and halved
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper (I use scissors to cut the corners to fit the pan perfectly).
  2. For the Streusel: In a small bowl mix the flour, oats, sugar, poppy seeds, salt, and sugar. Stir in the small cubes of butter, breaking them up with your spoon if they stick together. Set aside.
  3. For the cake: In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, oil, and lemon juice and whisk to combine. Make a well in the flour and pour the wet mix into the dry mix. Stir to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the of the strawberries.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place the remaining 3/4 cup of the strawberries on the top. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer over the strawberries. Bake until golden and a small knife inserted in the middle comes outs clean, about 40-50 minutes. Let come to room temperature before slicing.
Adapted from Sweeter off The Vine by Yossy Arefi
Adapted from Sweeter off The Vine by Yossy Arefi
Cedar Makes Things

Simple Moong Dal

simple indian dal recipe

You guys know me well enough by now to know that cooking is a pretty big part of my life. The act of making something for others, then sitting around and enjoying it together, well, I can’t think of anything better. When I started this blog one of my goals was to share and create recipes that I could have in one place. I did it years ago on my old blog, The Vintage Wife, but over time it got easier and easier not to write down recipes or photograph my dishes.

I have been toying with the idea of sharing recipes regularly in this space for many months, but didn’t know where to start. I felt like the majority of the dishes I make were either not very interesting, or were someone else’s recipe.

So, I finally decided to start where I am.

This is a dish we eat so frequently in our house. It is easy to throw together, it is full of flavor, and the kids love it. It makes for a simple and filling lunch with rice and a bit of yogurt, or a nice side to a main course. I always make a double batch so we can have it for a few days in the fridge–and the flavors continue to develop and in my opinion taste even better the next day!

simple indian dal recipe

Simple Moong Dal
Serves 4
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 2 tablespoons ghee or cooking oil
  2. 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  3. 2-3 dried red chilies
  4. 1 cup moong dal (red lentils)
  5. 4 cups water
  6. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  7. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  8. 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (more for garnish)
  12. 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  1. In a medium sized pot over medium-low heat add ghee, onions, and dried chilies. Stir every few minutes until onions are soft.
  2. Sift through and rinse the red lentils until the water runs clear.
  3. To the pot add lentils, water, turmeric, ground coriander, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring every few minutes. Cook for 25 minutes, adding more water if it appears to be getting too dry (or if you like a soupier dal).
  4. In a small sautee pan over medium heat add the cumin seeds and toast, shaking frequently until they are very aromatic and slightly darker in color, about thirty seconds. Stir cumin seeds, cilantro, and butter (optional) into the dal. Taste to adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve over rice with a bit of yogurt on the side and garnish with more cilantro.
Cedar Makes Things

In the Kitchen

heidi swansons sprout salad near and far

my pantry review alice waters


rasam and naan bread

I just got finished watching the Michael Pollan documentary series, Cooked (available on Netflix), and like all his works, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The four part series focused on the different elements (fire, water, air, and earth), and the role these elements play in our food cycle. While the majority of it was not new information to me, it was still a fun watch, and totally inspiring.

I love nothing more than spending a good chunk of time in the kitchen, though it isn’t always possible with two little ones, careful preparation and thought have really helped me to get better about cooking us a nutritious and tasty meal.

  1. The most delicious sprout salad from Heidi Swanson’s amazing book, Near and Far. Recipe also available on her website. Even my vegetable hater loved this dish.
  2. I recently got my hands on Alice Water’s latest book, My Pantry. It is a short, but very sweet little book, with great ideas and inspiration. Within its pages are recipes for making more of our usually store bought items from scratch, as well as a few more unusual ideas to add a little jazz to the most ordinary of meals. I have already started a few kitchen projects,  but the one I am most excited about is the apple peel cider vinegar I am fermenting. (I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review)
  3. Kimchi, and other ferments happening.
  4. Rasam, also from Near and Far alongside some fresh baked naan bread. So tasty, but a bit too spicy for the kids to enjoy.

Newsflash: It Has Finally Cooled off in California


The days are getting shorter and our cool weather has finally arrived. I have seen memes on facebook joking about us California folks in 60-70 degree weather dressed in full winter gear–and to be completely honest it is true. I have pulled out my slippers, the sweaters have had a wash to refresh them and are now in regular rotation, soup is bubbling on the stove most nights of the week, and I have finally picked up the knitting needles again. My mind and body feel at ease once again.

Maybe it isn’t the fall of my dreams, the leaves are still green, we still have occasional 80 degree days, and most days we are still dressed in tank tops and flip flops (groan, bring on the layers!)….but I am taking what we have and rejoicing. I love the cold, err, cool weather.

The cooler weather has me back in the kitchen. Keeping the oven going for a few hours a day when the rain is coming down and the wind is blowing is so comforting. Many hours were spent this past weekend roasting pumpkins. More hours than I planned on, but nearly 3 gallons of pumpkin puree is now resting in my freezer–and I am feeling pretty excited about that.

I also made the most delicious batch of scones I have ever had from the book Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat. In this ongoing quest to better our food choices, I have seen a lot about einkorn, the ancient wheat, and have wanted to learn more. I really did not need another bread book in my collection, but this one is already looking promising. The scones were possibly the best I have ever tasted, and I look forward to getting started making on the sourdough recipes from this beautifully composed book.

I hope you are all celebrating this beautiful season, whether you are in flip flops or wool. <3




(Einkorn was provided to me for an honest review from Blogging for Books).

A Fairy For Halloween and the Halloween Fairy

aebelskivers in pan

I have had these photos sitting in my draft folder for a week now, trying to think of some profound thoughts about our simple Halloween, sharing bits of wisdom I have acquired or recent lessons I have learned. I love posts like that, ones that share a bit about life and also give you a little something to think about.

Unfortunately, having two kids, being a morning person by nature, and attempting to blog after my kids go to sleep often leaves this tired mama a bit brain dead after the photos are uploaded and resized. I keep wanting to get more active here, but at the end of the day my brain feels fried. The eloquence I wish I had becomes impossible to fake and all I can tell you about are the simple facts. We did this and ate that. It was fun. The end.

So. This was Halloween.

Lucy was a forest fairy.

We made aebelskivers for breakfast (first time in a newly thrifted pan), delicious.

Lucy trick or treated for the first year ever. We made up a story about the Halloween fairy and she left every bit of her candy out in exchange for a gift.

It was fun. The end.

forest fairy costume

halloween fairy gifts

it i

This and That

fermenting sauerkraut

sauerkraut grilled cheese




I feel like I have been really neglecting this space a lot lately, but I do hope to turn that around in the near future. With two mobile kids to keep up with, I have gotten out of the habit of toting my camera around with me on our outings or pulling it out to document our daily life, which is something I really miss doing.

Here are few very small snippets from our lives recently.

  1. My first time fermenting sauerkraut. It has been on my to-do list for at least a year, maybe two–but the process kind of intimidated me. I don’t know what I was waiting for, it really was so simple and incredibly delicious. This is going to be a regular thing for me now.
  2. Leftover tomato soup on the side of a grilled cheese on sourdough. I posted about this on instagram earlier today. This smoked mozzarella with my homemade sauerkraut was possibly the best sandwich of my life.
  3. Breakfast in a box. It is so incredible to me how the simplest of things (like this box), can provide so much entertainment. These girls ate their morning oatmeal on the way to the moon!
  4. The most delicious popovers from Alana Chernila’s new book, The Homemade Kitchen. I just got this book and have been really enjoying flipping through, absorbing snippets of Alana’s wisdom. While I found the layout of the recipes in the book a bit confusing, I have already picked up many useful kitchen tips that will inspire many future meals and help fine tune my kitchen efficiency. Reading through this book was truly like sitting down with a good friend. Alana is easy to relate to, friendly, and her devotion to making food that comes from a good place is refreshing. This book would make a beautiful Christmas gift, especially for anyone either starting out. or for anyone wanting to cut out the middle man in our food chain. (I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review)
  5. Little weirdo, she is constantly making us laugh. I think she will be our little comedian.

This and That


harira near and far heidi swanson




  1. Rapunzel’s castle. Because of a little sister, castles are almost always built on the table these days.
  2. Harira, recipe from Heidi Swanson’s new book, Near and Far. Such a beautiful book. I am a huge fan of Heidi Swanson, though I am not sure this book will get quite as much time on my counter as her last one (Super Natural Every Day). I love her vision and creativity, and I think she writes excellent recipes–I just wish more of her recipes were easier to follow for the home cook. I live in one of the biggest cities in the country and have a hard time tracking down many of the ingredients listed in her recipes. That being said, the harira was absolutely delicious, and worth buying this book over. The flavors were complex, exotic, and the kind of food I imagine will taste even better tomorrow morning with a slice of sourdough, I plan on making it many more times in the future. (I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review).
  3. Face timing with Phoebe. An hour of giggles and silly faces.
  4. Currently reading this fantastic book. It is an excellent guide on how to implement the waldorf ideals in our daily life. We have been working really hard to build regular rituals and routines.
  5. Play dough snakes are far less scary than real snakes. We are working through some things.

The Start of Fall

halloween decorations

For the first day of fall Lucy requested pumpkin pie, who am I to object to a request like that?

We worked in the kitchen. First we made the pie crust. She is getting quite handy with the dough cutter, though every minute or two she asks me to scrape it down, returning all the chunks of butter to the flour in the bowl. The waiting between the steps is really the hardest thing for her. While we wait for the dough to cool in the freezer we prepare the pie filling. She does almost the entire thing, with just a few whisks by me at the end to incorporate the clumps that always seem to cling to the bottom of the bowl. Pie dough comes out of the freezer and is ready to roll out. I do most of this, but Lucy takes a few turns with the rolling pin. She watches as I crimp the edge with a fork saying things like, “ooh, that looks so pretty” every twenty seconds. Back into the freezer the pie dough goes for another fifteen minutes. Growing increasingly impatient that we are not yet shoveling delicious pie into our faces, Lucy continuously asks “is it time yet?”. I reply; “just a few more minutes”. “It is really hard to wait”, she tells me. Yes dear one, it is hard to wait. Pie is worth waiting for though. Finally. We take the crust out of the freezer, fill it with the pumpkin filling and place it into the oven. I remind her that we are not eating it when it comes out of the oven, but are waiting for daddy to get home before cutting into it. “It is really hard to wait” she repeats. Out of the oven it comes. We place it in the middle of the table to gaze upon for the rest of the day–until daddy comes home. Every so often I catch her trying to crumble off pieces of the crust, and remind her that we have to wait. Finally dad is home from work. We finish dinner, her at an alarmingly fast rate, and us slowly as we talk about our days (to this she let out several exasperated sighs and “are you done yet?”s). Table is cleared and pie is cut. We all bite in, but as soon as the pie hits my lips I realize, “ohhhh, I forgot the sugar!”. Thankfully as I have become more experienced as a parent I have gotten faster on my feet. “Hang on”, I tell Lucy as the tears are welling up in her eyes. I grab the maple syrup and drench each of our individual pieces. All is not lost.

kids making pie crustis not lost

pumpkin pie taproot

vernon raffia dishes cornbread

In the Kitchen







spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce


It has been such a long time since I have made an “In the Kitchen” post, and I have been missing doing them. This week has been a hot one for us, so most of our food has been light, fast, and with minimal cooking. While it isn’t my favorite weather, I do love eating this way, and hope I can start to cook this way more in general. It is nice to have a quick meal without a lot of fussing and with the focus being on the fresh ingredients. So, onto a few of the highlights from the past week in my kitchen.

1. This salad. I made it for the first time a few days ago following a recipe from The River Cottage Veg, one of my all time favorite cookbooks. The dressing was a tangy lemon tahini dressing over cooked zucchini, green beans, and a bed of greens. I have always thought I wasn’t much of a salad person, but this one and this dressing is changing my mind. It was creamy, savory and light all at the same time. Just another reason I am so obsessed with that book!

2. It has been hot and we have been indoors running the air. In order to switch things up a bit, I decided to have a little tiki party at home. Russ picked up a pineapple, some different juices, and we had fun mixing up some drinks.

3. Speaking of parties. Lucy and I had a tea party. She has been so into playing tea party, I thought it would be fun to have a real one. We made some indian spiced chai tea and served along side of it these raw key lime coconut tarts from the book My New Roots (which I reviewed here). They were delicious, though a bit time consuming, so it won’t be something we make regularly.

4. A simple dal with chickpea flour coated bell peppers.

5. This one. Nine months with four teeth, walking everywhere and not wanting to leave my side. Cooking has been a real game trying to distract her in order to get things done. She is such a sweet little thing though.

6. Coconut kheer with bronzed pineapple from Seven Spoons. I really wanted to love this book. It is filled to the brim with beautiful photographs on gorgeous heavy matte paper. The flavor combinations are unique and inspiring. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be one I will turn to often, for a number of reasons. First, the dinners are quite heavy on the meat, and while it all sounds (and looks) delicious, we just don’t eat a lot of meat at home. Second, many of the recipes are very involved. This isn’t really a book for the rushed cook, which I so often am these days.

I have made a handful of recipes from this book already, including this rice pudding, twice actually. While it turned out good, the pineapple just did not work out the way the recipe intended. The second time around I added more cardamom to the rice and was still disappointed that my pineapple didn’t get the lovely burnt marks on it that the picture showed.

In the future I will likely thumb through this one more for inspiration more than for the actual recipes. (I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.)

7. Spring Rolls have been our summer staple. They are a bit time consuming, but if you devote a good hour to it you can have a few easy lunches on hand for the week ahead, plus tons for the day of. We have been filling ours with mint, cilantro, mung bean sprouts, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, sometimes tofu. Today our dipping sauce was a peanut coconut curry sauce, that was delicious, though a bit heavy on the peanut butter. I plan on reworking my recipe a bit.

On to a new week! I hope you are all staying cool and enjoying these late summer days. I for one am looking forward to fall’s arrival!

A Modern Way to Eat

a modern way to eat cookbook review

Recently I waxed poetic about one my new favorite cookbooks, My New Roots. Well, I have another one for those of you who pour over cookbooks as fervently as I do. The book is A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones, and it is a stunner.

I had no expectations for this book–and to be completely honest I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance upon cover alone, if it weren’t for glowing reviews from another blogger (eek, I don’t remember which one now!). While the cover in my opinion leaves much to be desired, the contents of this book is what really matter.

A Modern Way to Eat is an beautifully produced book, filled with not just recipes but wonderful stories and ideas. It is vegetarian with a good portion of the recipes being vegan or easily adaptable to a vegan diet.

I have already tried six or seven of the recipes from this book, and all have been winners. This morning I quickly put together the Turkish Fried Eggs. This consisted of a charred pita, spread with greek yogurt, topped with two fried eggs and sprinkled with chopped mint and parsley, sumac, and chile flakes. It was such a simple and delicious breakfast, but one that I would never, ever thought to create on my own. I love that about this book.

We also tried and loved the lime and chipotle black bean tacos. Living in Southern California, we make and eat a lot, A LOT, of tacos. At this point the idea of following a recipe for tacos seems kind of silly to me, but I did, and am so happy about the results. It was such an incredibly authentic taste and entirely unique to ones I have in my repertoire. I will be making these again, using different components in different places, mixing and matching, and definitely drawing inspiration for a new spin on many of our old stand by taco recipes.

One of the features that I love about this book are the sections on creative salad or soup building. It gives you a break down of the fundamentals of a good soup or salad, lets you pick and choose the components, and the rest is up to you. I made the most delicious tomato based vegetable soup witch chickpeas and herbs. It was such a simple recipe, but definitely not one I would have come up with on my own accord.

What I love the most about this book is how much it has encouraged different flavors and opened up my eyes to totally unique combinations. This book has already spent a great deal of time on my kitchen counter. I guarantee it will be one of those that open to our favorite recipes and is covered in stains from use.

a modern way to eat cookbook review

a modern way to eat cookbook review

a modern way to eat cookbook review

a modern way to eat cookbook review

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.