Category Archives: Reading

In the Kitchen

heidi swansons sprout salad near and far

my pantry review alice waters

kimchi

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.

Life and Moving Forward

watching chickens

I find it hard to start blog posts after a month long absence with anything other than “sorry, long time no post”, “pardon my absence”, or something along those lines. I recently read an article that challenged the idea of teaching our young girls to say sorry–from a feminist standpoint. I no longer have the link saved, but it pretty much argued the point that saying sorry for things, especially those trivial little thing that don’t matter much, can make a girl, and later a woman, feel inferior and as if she owes someone something. Of course, it is important to teach manners, like if we step on someones toe, or say something hurtful that we truly feel bad about–but I know, I for one, have been guilty of saying sorry for things I really should not feel any sorrow for–like not updating my blog. I love it here, I love you guys, I have no plans on stopping…but really, I’m not sorry. Some months will be slow, but I no longer want to even address that after a few weeks or months off. Truthfully, I always find it comforting when I get together with those friends I haven’t seen in years and we pick up exactly where we left off. So, let us pick up where I left off.

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely have heard bits and pieces of the turmoil we have been through in the past three months. My sister, who suffers from schizophrenia, upon being released from the institution (shortly after our visit to New Mexico in November) and off her anti psychotic medication, hopped in her car and drove away from her home in New Mexico. She drove 16 hours to essentially “start over”. Within a few days of her being gone we lost contact. We later found out that her phone, iPad, and the $6000 or so she had in her bank account had been stolen. We no longer had any way of contacting her. A week or so after we lost contact, her car was found abandoned in a lot with all her belongings inside. I lived for over a month thinking my sister was dead, crying myself to sleep, playing over in my head what could have happened to her, and waking every single night with nightmares. After countless attempts to locate her, my mom was finally able to get in touch with an FBI agent, and two days later we were able to confirm that she was alive, but wanted nothing to do with us. It has been about three weeks since she was located, and while I obviously feel so much relief knowing she wasn’t “done in” like one of the many scenarios that played over in my head late at night, it is far from a happy ending. We still don’t know where she is, she has no source of income, her identity has been stolen, she is off some, possibly all her medications, and the likelihood of her getting back in contact grows slimmer by the day. It has been a very scary time.

Figuring out how to move on with this hole in my heart is the hardest part. To go from talking with someone almost every day to not at all has been a real adjustment. I have tried to fill that void with extra time with friends, my relationship with my mother has improved tenfold and we now talk almost daily, but it still doesn’t replace the lack of Hallie I have in my life. No one can replace your sister.

I have been cooking a lot of big and delicious meals, buying cookbooks left and right, like I do. Checking even more out from the library. Some days it feels like all I can accomplish is a delicious dinner. Cooking is very therapeutic to me. The weather has been warm. We have spent much time outdoors. Russ built me a beautiful new table. We have been working on projects around the house. I am thankful for the distraction these kids and this life provide. I am ready to move on from the sadness and focus once again on the good in our daily lives.

Much love.

homemade naan bread

snail

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building a farmhouse table

pomegranites growing

indian scrambled eggs with papadums

sisters

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This and That

fermenting sauerkraut

sauerkraut grilled cheese

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popovers

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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

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harira near and far heidi swanson

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  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.

In the Kitchen

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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.

My New Roots – A Cookbook Review

my new roots cookbook review

I haven’t been so excited about a cookbook in a long, long time. I am a huge fan of Sarah Britton’s blog, My New Roots. For those unfamiliar, she is a nutritionist who cooks up stunningly beautiful plant based meals, with charm, wit, and loads of information or nutrition, and her recipes are good to boot.

I waited anxiously for this book, with both excitement and the smallest bit of concern. Excitement because, I love Sarah’s blog and was excited to have her recipes on my counter, and concern because I was worried that like many other healthy plant based cookbooks I have been through, the recipes would be filled with hard to find ingredients or entirely too time consuming of processes for a mama of two small children.

When the book arrived I was happy to find that not only were the recipes incredible sounding and creative, but the majority of them are, dare I say, doable. I was so excited I made up two recipes the first day (the lentil salad and the blueberry coconut chia pudding). Today I made up the recipe featured on the cover of the cookbook, spicy cabbage wraps with  couscous, za’atar, and spicy tahini sauce. I had no pea shoots (I need to get back to my micro greens gardening!), so I left them out, but these were amazing. It came together quickly, the flavors where complex, yet it wasn’t in the least bit fussy. Fussy just doesn’t work for me these days.

This book, while it has only been in my possession for a few days is already a classic. I started bookmarking the recipes I wanted to try, but gave up because I realized there were more recipes marked than were left unmarked. If you are interested in incorporating more plant based meals into your life I highly recommend you pick up a copy.

 

my new roots cookbook review

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

Egg Bhurji and The Perfect Egg

egg bhurji the perfect egg

When I went into labor with June, Lucy stayed under the care of my aunt during the days (then went to grandma and grandpa’s to stay the night). Not knowing that Lucy absolutely hates eggs, my aunt Kate fixed a lunch of egg salad sandwiches. Upon trying a bite and having no clue what it was, Lucy, with a look of disgust, commented, “what kind of cheese is this?”. She then proceeded to eat the bread all the way around the egg salad.

So, she isn’t an egg eater, but Russ and I are. I hope to get chickens down the road when we have a little bit of outdoor space to house them. Just thinking of home raised chicken eggs on a regular basis makes me giddy!

I got this book because of my love for the mighty egg. We eat them most mornings of the week, but admittedly I have very few egg recipes in my repertoire. We make omelets, fried eggs, scrambled in burritos, eggs on toast, and the list ends there.

I am so excited to have this book in my collection. The pictures are absolutely beautiful and the recipes are all mouth watering. The first recipe I decided to try was an obvious choice for this spice lover, egg bhurji. While the list of ingredients may be a bit daunting, if you have everything prepared in advance it comes together very quickly. I decided to make it for a quick lunch with a side of naan bread. It was perfect, and is going to be made many times in the future.

The recipes covered include breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and dessert. There are many traditional recipes and a great selection of recipes from around the world. I am looking forward to diving deeper into this book and trying the havarti-dill popovers, corn and green onions fritters with a bacon-honey drizzle, spaetzle with Swedish meatballs, and the grapefruit-poppy seed pound cake, just to name a few.

Egg Bhurji

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 7 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomato, garlic, chile, and ginger and saute for 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomato paste, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, paprika, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cilantro, and then lower the heat to medium. Gradually add the eggs while stirring to mix with the seasoning; and then cook, stirring gently, until the eggs are cooked hard.

Divide the eggs among four plates, season lightly with salt and pepper, and top with the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

the perfect egg cookbook review

egg bhurji recipe

egg bhurji recipe the perfect egg

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

Bread Revolution – A Book Review

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

I started baking my own bread about a year before Lucy was born. Back then it was strictly white bread, which I rarely do anymore because I have become more health conscious over the years and try to work more whole grains into my family’s diet. While it may not be as nutritious as loaves made entirely of whole wheat, white bread is probably the perfect start for someone wanting to start baking their own bread at home. White bread is easy and delicious. I have tried many, many whole wheat recipes over the years, some entirely whole wheat flour and some with a combination of flours. While most have been good (and a few which were destined to become a giant bag of bread crumbs in my freezer), I still haven’t found ‘the recipe’. You know, the one you make so many times that you can no longer read the directions because it is stained and warped from use–but it doesn’t matter because it is burned into your brain.

I requested this book knowing it might be a book that sits on the shelf for a year or two before I can fully dive into it. I have baked from Peter Reinhart’s recipes before, and while they do make delicious loaves of bread, it is always a process. The majority of the recipes in this book are quite elaborately layed out, and while I am sure they become easier with practice, this mama just doesn’t have the time or the brain power currently to start a loaf of bread the evening before I want to bake it or religiously follow along with two pages worth of instructions.

I was very pleased to find out that there were a handful of recipes that I could look at and understand immediately, these sprouted wheat pancakes being one of them. This was my first time using sprouted wheat flour and I was very pleased with the results. The sprouted wheat flour seemed so dense compared to what I am used to working with, but the pancakes turned out light and fluffy. I am pretty sure this is going to become my new go to pancake recipe.

I look forward to getting deeper into this book as the girls grow older, there is a wealth of knowledge on bread baking and I pretty sure with a little practice and a lot of patience this book might just have that perfect loaf recipe I am after.

Here is my simplified interpretation of the recipe.

Sprouted Wheat Pancakes

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sprouted wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. In a small bowl combine buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Pour wet mix into dry, stirring just until thoroughly hydrated, but do not over mix.
  2. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add butter and a ladel-full of batter. Cook until you start to see “bubble” or holes appear and flip (about two minutes). Cook for another minute or two.

 

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

bread revolution by peter reinhart cookbook review

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

The New American Herbal – A Book Review

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So, I hope you all don’t mind these occasional book reviews. I have a serious book hoarding problem. In my younger years I thought the perfect profession for me would be to be a librarian, and really I still feel that way. Maybe if I was a single gal, but as a mama of two with plans to home school and future plans to homestead, a job outside the home is not really in the cards for me.

I got this beautiful book, The New American Herbal by Stephen Orr, in the mail a few weeks back and have been leafing through it on and off since then, absorbing the information about whichever plant or herb strikes my fancy on that particular day. I have had an interest in herbalism for many years, though I have relied on google and advice from friends whenever I need a cure for a common ailment.

This book is a wealth of knowledge on one of my favorite subjects. The herbs it covers are not exclusive to medicinal uses, but also cover ones used for fragrance, ornamental, and culinary purposes. Each herb has a general overview in a small box on the side of each page which includes how it is used, where it originated from, a bit about how to grow it, the season to harvest the herb, as well as any safety precautions that need to be noted. The majority of the text then goes on to tell stories, history, and other interesting tidbits about the plant listed.

I am so happy to have this book in my collection now, as I know it will see much use when curiosity strikes and I want to thumb through and pick up a bit more knowledge on what I am cooking with, the tea I am drinking, or the herb I am taking in a tincture. It really is a great reference guide.

I have not yet tried any of the recipes, but the pictures are so beautiful that I can’t imagine they taste anything short of delicious!

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