Season’s Eatings – Mixed Greens Blog Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 14 Sep 2017 22:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ginger Stout Cake for Long Winter Nights (& mornings) Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:01:14 +0000 This cake is robust, like a bear hug. We actually need it to get through the next eight weeks. It’s baking as I write and the house smells like a holiday, like a gingerbread house. I found this recipe in the New York Times last week and decided that it would be this year’s ginger-something recipe, following past years’ Gingersnap cookies and Etta’s Pear Ginger Upside Down cake.

Ginger cake

With cups of stout and molasses, fresh ginger, powdered ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and pepper I could tell when I read the recipe that this cake isn’t messing around. It’s a cake with character and the essence of deep dark spice, and with the stout, almost smoky. Its sparkly sugar crust glitters in the candlelight and is a crunchy counterpoint to a rich moist crumb. Gild the lily (or, hey, guilt the lily) with a little whipped cream or lemon sauce on top.

Ginger stout cake

Marrow’s is a restaurant in NYC and this, apparently, is a winter specialty.

The Marrow’s Ginger Stout Cake Recipe

Ginger cake

Ingredients: 2 T unsalted butter, room temperature/ ½ C raw sugar (Demerara)/ 1 C stout/ 1 C molasses/ ½ t baking soda/ 2 C all-purpose flour/ 1 T ground ginger, 1 t cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, allspice, and salt/ 3 T  grated fresh ginger/ 3 large eggs at room temperature/ 1 t vanilla extract/ 1 C dark brown sugar, lightly packed/ 1 C granulated sugar/ ¾ C safflower oil.

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees/ Grease a Bundt pan thoroughly with the softened butter/ Coat the entire pan with raw sugar so that it sticks to the butter/ Turn the pan over to dump out any excess sugar.

Add the stout and molasses to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer/ Remove from the heat, carefully whisk in the baking soda and let cool to room temperature/ The stout mixture will bubble up.

Sift together the flour, ground spices, pepper and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the fresh ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for five minutes.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the oil/ Mix for another 5 minutes/ Then slowly add the stout mixture and mix for another 5 minutes.

Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan/ Bake for 55 to 65 minutes ( less in a convection oven), or until a cake tester comes out clean/ Let the cake cool for 15 minutes and then flip upside down to release while still warm/ Let cool completely before serving.

Ginger cake

Notes: When I removed the cake from the pan a lot of the sugar coating disappeared. While it was still very warm I sprinkled more of the raw sugar on top and it held. In my convection oven this cake was done in 45  minutes. Stays moist and delish for at least a couple of days, serves 12, make it ahead of time for a party.

The cake cooled off enough to sample just now, and I have to say that it’s pretty fabulous, dark, spicy and moist, gingerbread taken up a couple of notches. And yes, we do need this cake. We do.

Ginger stout cake




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Berry Interesting… Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:50:35 +0000 Strawberries in Colander

Summer is officially here and so are the strawberries in all their luscious glory. I can’t help myself from looking for some unusual ways to enjoy this old favorite. Don’t worry, I’m eating plenty of strawberries just the way they are, straight off the plant, nothing else required except maybe a bowl of homemade granola. But that hasn’t stopped me from searching around some of my favorite blogs where I’ve found a couple of great new ideas and had some revelations along the way that I want to share with you.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

First blog stop was My New Roots where Sarah Britton had made a Maple-Tossed Beluga Lentil Salad from her friend’s new cookbook called The Green Kitchen. It’s everything — beautiful, seasonal and excellent picnic fare but my big revelation from this salad was the thinly sliced raw rhubarb. If you pucker up just thinking about it, think again. Once it’s coated with the maple-lemon dressing, it adds a sweet crunch instead. Brilliant.

Sliced Rhubarb

As usual I messed with their recipe just a little bit – left out edamame, added more asparagus, topped it off with feta cheese and sliced spring onions. Here’s my version.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

Ingredients: 1/2 cup black lentils/ 1 thinly sliced small stalk rhubarb/ 10 – 15 sliced strawberries/ 10 asparagus spears, lightly steamed/ 2 or 3 spring onions, thinly sliced/ 10 or so basil leaves, sliced/ Feta cheese, crumbled.

Dressing Ingredients: 2T maple syrup/ 2T olive oil/ Juice of one lemon/ Salt & pepper.

Directions: Rinse lentils under running water/ Bring to a boil with 2 cups water. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. When almost done (tender but not mushy), drain, add salt and set aside to cool/ Place in large bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients/ Whisk together the dressing ingredients, add to the salad/ Toss everything together.

Strawberry Lentil Salad

Last week I went to Staple and Fancy, one of Ethan Stowell’s many new restaurants. I was tempted to order the burrata appetizer but didn’t and somehow I’ve had burrata on my brain since. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, burrata is mozzarella filled with cream. I know. It sounds amazing and it is, but I started dreaming about adding some fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar syrup. This wavers somewhere between an appetizer and dessert. Which brings me to my next revelation, balsamic syrup. I could almost trade in chocolate syrup after tasting this. Seriously.

Balsamic Syrup

Balsamic syrup is just 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar simmered down until it’s thick and syrupy. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Toward the end, stir it until it looks like chocolate syrup. If you cook it too long, it becomes balsamic candy.

Burrata with Strawberries

The rest of the dish is just a matter of slicing some strawberries on top of a ball of burrata, add some sliced basil and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic syrup. You could easily do the same thing using a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead, basil and all.

My third revelation came after visiting Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks. She has such a great knack for combining ingredients in unusual ways. This may seem like a no-brainer but I’ve never even thought about using cherries and strawberries together. It makes total sense if you shop at the farmers market this time of year. Yesterday in Wallingford, the booths were loaded with both of these irresistible red fruits, thus her Red Fruit Salad Recipe.

Bowl of Cherries

Heidi makes her salad with brown sugar and coriander seeds. I went for my no-frills version, just red fruit.

Strawberry Cherry Salad


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Cucumbers Salads Thu, 18 Jun 2015 22:07:56 +0000 Last summer three plants produced bushels of cucumbers, enough for batches of sweet and sour pickles, cucumber salads every night, thinly sliced on sandwiches, and plenty for friends. Not that these beauties are a nuisance. Just saying, cucumbers, there are a lot of you. By the time late summer rolls around a person might have this conversation with their garden cukes. “We love you, we’ve had a fine summer together. You’ve been polite, plentiful and prolific – except when you vined your way into the apple tree – and we’ve enjoyed your delicious company.  It’s time to go dormant now. See you next summer.”

‘Next summer’ is now.

Asian flavored cucumber salad 2

cukes  on the vine cukes on the vine

So. Three salads which are simple, fast, delicious and laden with cucumbers. The first is the way my grandmother prepared cucumbers all summer long, with sweet onions and vinegar, an Asian cucumber salad which I spotted in the New York Times last week, and finally, a link to Cucumber Raita, an awesome side dish with anything spicy, or with fish. They’re each quick to make and delicious. And if you too have an abundance of cukes, try making bread and butter pickles with a few of them. Bread & Butter (sweet & sour) Pickles 

Place any of these salads on a bed of undressed greens for a complete green salad. Cuke on!

Have a look at our Summer Salads digital cookbook for more salad ideas and dressings.

Cucumbers & Walla Walla Sweet Onions Recipe

cukes & onions

Ingredients & Directions: Partially peel and then slice one or two medium-sized cucumbers/ Thinly slice all or part of a sweet onion/ Sprinkle with 1/4 – 1/2 C rice wine or apple cider vinegar, or to taste/ 1/2 – 1 t sugar optional/ Salt & pepper/ Toss, chill for a few minutes and serve/ These are good the next day, but best consumed, same day.

Cucumber Salad With Asian Flavors Recipe

Asian flavored cucumber salad 1

Serves 4 and is best eaten the day it’s prepared. From New York Times Healthy Recipes.

This is an outstanding dressing that can be used for *more than this cucumber salad. Asian flavored cucumber salad 3

Ingredients: 2 thin-skinned cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin/ Salt to taste/3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar/1 tablespoon soy sauce/ 1 teaspoon sugar/ 1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed/ 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger/ 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (more to taste)/ Freshly ground pepper/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil/ 3 tablespoons sunflower oil or grapeseed oil (or peanut oil)/ 1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, sliced very thin/ 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

Directions: Sprinkle the cucumbers with a generous amount of salt and let sit in a colander in the sink for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry on a kitchen towel. Transfer to a salad bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and pepper. Whisk in the sesame oil and the sunflower or grapeseed oil. Toss with cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro or parsley. Chill until ready to serve.

Delicious as is or *this salad can be expanded to make a meal. Make extra dressing and serve cucumbers on a bed of very finely sliced cabbage and red pepper, more scallions, rice noodles, shredded chicken, chopped cashews on the side. Instant meal.

Cucumber Raita Recipe    cucumber raita
Bread & Butter (sweet & sour) Pickles  sweet & sour cukes


With a Cooler & a Coleman Stove Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:41:59 +0000 Cooking and eating outdoors.

I just returned from a hiking-biking-camping trip to southeastern Utah – yes, the SUN still shines somewhere – so camp cooking came up during our meeting. I like to eat as well as possible no matter where I am so I’m motivated to arrange for a decent meal even via a cooler and an ancient Coleman stove. In a recent conversation, Poppy and I wondered about experimenting with similar meals when we camp out this summer on her Orcas Island property, I in my tent, she in her tiny cabin. Not there to mess around, but to work and plan. Seriously. No, seriously. No messing around.

Camping, picnicking, road tripping . . . what’s the food that’s good and makes sense? And let me be clear, this was a car camping trip. Back packing meals are another story.

(This is a repost from several years ago. On the cusp of another summer, seems like a good time to revisit the culinary side of this Utah camping trip. In whichever ways you celebrate summer, eat outdoors whenever you can. The porch steps will do.)

Here are a few ideas that worked for us in Utah. We hiked and biked all day long, poked into every nook and cranny, I swear, sunscreen and tank tops, a lot of sweat and wiped out in a good way at the end of the day. A tasty meal was important, but putting a lot of time and effort into making it wasn’t. Most meals were made in one pan, cast iron with a lid that could be used when we needed it. The thing is that we stocked up and planned in advance for five dinners for two – increase quantities for more people but the ease of preparation still fits – so we didn’t have to wonder what we were eating each night. There was a plan. Leftovers expanded those five meals to seven and we ate out two nights.

Dessert. Every single night we had a few bites of the rhubarb sauce made and frozen before leaving home, sometimes with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a cookie. Also, the need for s’mores never dies, there might be a campfire, so pack accordingly.

In addition to the basics, here are a few things that were indispensable: our Coleman stove, a beloved hand-me-down; a cast iron skillet with a lid (in our case the lid was a metal plate that fit); a thermos for making coffee; a good quality large cooler with room for 2 quarts of yogurt, 2 small Greek yogurts, a cube of butter, mayo, mustard, milk, half & half, Parmesan cheese, 2 quarts of frozen rhubarb from home, washed lettuce, carrots, cucumber, cilantro (rinsed, wrapped in a paper towel and a wax paper bag), salad dressing, sour cream, Gorgonzola cheese, one frozen chicken breast, one package frozen Italian sausage, a dozen eggs plus a half dozen hard boiled. We normally don’t eat so many eggs, but this was the perfect week for it. Mid-week we resupplied salad greens, avocado, a red pepper, milk and juice. Before heading out I washed and packaged all produce.

A large plastic storage bin was a great camping pantry for staples like granola, onions, potatoes, ground coffee, a package of pre-cooked brown rice (which I’d never heard of before, from PCC market), a packet of Tika Marsala sauce also from PCC, 1 cup green lentils and 1 cup of rice packaged together at home (they both take 25 – 30 minutes to cook so they can be cooked together); cookies, chocolate, a loaf of Dave’s bread which, astonishingly, was good for the entire week; tortillas, tuna fish, salsa and chips, a tiny container of Italian herbs from home. A couple of bottles of wine and some beer, sent to the cooler a bottle or two at a time as there was room.

Some meals required a little chopping. Other than that it was cook and assemble in thirty minutes, often less. Each of the meals mentioned below were cooked in one pan, almost always the cast iron skillet. And with camp food, people are more easily satisfied – it doesn’t have to be an exquisite culinary home run every night, though you might come close.

Several camp meals worth considering (also great in the backyard):

Chicken Tika Marsala with pre-cooked brown rice. Never had tried pre-cooked rice before or a packaged tika marsala sauce, never thought I would, but for camping it was perfect. Leftovers the next night wrapped in tortillas with sour cream, avocado and cilantro.

Directions were on the Marsala packet. I sauteed onion, red pepper and bite-sized pieces of chicken for a few minutes, then added the packet of marsala sauce and some water. Put a lid on, let it simmer for 20 minutes stirred it occasionally. Then a bit of cream, reheat slightly and spoon over the brown rice. It was fabulous. The leftovers in the tortilla wraps were equally delicious.

This one was a long shot, we virtually never buy packets of ‘flavor’, but this was the deal for a fast meal. And . . . a person could easily discover the key flavors in tika marsala, package it in a jar or a zip lock, probably dried herbs, and save yourself from the processed packet. Even better.

Italian sausage ragu with cheese ravioli. Leftovers for lunch. This was done in one pan, an experiment that worked.

Ingredients and directions: Saute’ whole sausage in olive oil, add chopped onion and red pepper on the side, cook it all together for 7 – 10 minutes. Remove sausage, slice into bite-sized pieces and put it back in the pan. Add a jar of tomatoes or a marinara sauce. I used Cucina Fresca’s smoked tomato sauce. Bring it all to a simmer, adding a bit of water as needed. Add fresh raviolis, again Cucina Fresca’s (a fine local business) to the pan, stir to cover with the sauce. Put a lid on this or not. Fresh ravioli, not dried, will cook in the simmering sauce in about 5 minutes. Dish it onto the plate and enjoy. Breadsticks are a fine accompaniment.

A big green salad with hard-boiled eggs, tuna, asparagus, avocado a delicious dressing . . . and bread sticks.

Angel hair pasta with plenty of cheese. One night it got late and meal plans went south.

Directions: Unintentionally, we concocted a whirlwind, but delicious Mac & Cheese. Cook a big handful of angel hair pasta (enough for two in our case) 4 minutes give or take, drain all but about 1/3 cup of pasta water; add half & half (1/4 – 1/3 C or so), salt & pepper and reheat very gently and briefly. If you have herbs and spices on hand, add a pinch of chipotle pepper. Off heat add grated Parmesan, any cheesy leftovers, like a piece of Gorgonzola or some grated cheddar, whatever’s on hand. Stir it thoroughly, add more cheese, more liquid? Maybe reheat. Whadyaknow, Mac ‘n cheese. Don’t all culinary roads lead in that direction? Carrots on the side, late in the day, sun setting, we’re dead tired. Perfection. One pan, two plates, two forks, two wine glasses.

One note. This would have been even better with another pasta, but cooking time would increase dramatically.

Clam Pasta. Almost the same as above, but with some onion, herbs and clams.

clam pasta

Directions: Two pans needed, one the boiling water for angel hair pasta (which will cook in under 5 minutes), and a pan for everything else. Chop and saute’ half of a medium sized onion, 2 cloves of garlic until they’re soft, (and a small can of drained pimentos are a colorful addition if you have them). Add a tablespoon of Italian seasonings or just some oregano. Stir. Add the juice of two cans of canned clams (a splash of white wine if you have it) and simmer/reduce for 3 or 4 minutes. While the angel hair pasta cooks, add clams to the simmering sauce, cook for just a couple of minutes. Serve with a little grated parmesan and a glass of that white wine.

Basic frittata with 5 eggs, potatoes, onions, cheese and a few bits of Italian sausage from a previous meal.

Ingredients & Directions: Finely chop 1/2 onion and 2 potatoes/ Add 2 T butter and 1 T olive oil to skillet/ Add onion and potato to piping hot skillet/ Turn the heat down a bit, saute’ and stir until potatoes are tender, 10 – 15 minutes/ This would be the time to add other ingredients as you wish, like broccoli, fresh herbs, mushrooms/ When potatoes are tender, stir in the mixture of 5 beaten eggs and 1/4 C milk or cream/ Salt & pepper/ Stir constantly until eggs are done enough and not overcooked – the key to a frittata, any egg for that matter, is to not overcook it/ Each serving can be embellished with sour cream, avocado, a grating of cheese. Whatever. It’s a good meal.

Spanish Omelet from a previous post would be good camp fare.

Steamed eggs with spinach and breadcrumbs. A few gratings of parm, a small packet of bread crumbs brought from home and sprinkled over the eggs and spinach before serving provided a salty and buttery crunch, the kicker for these ordinary ingredients. For breakfast or dinner, so good. Again, one pan, one lid.

Ingredients & directions for two servings: Saute’ 5 – 6 C uncooked spinach and 1 finely minced clove of garlic in plenty of olive oil/ Stirring often, lid on or off, this will take 4 – 5 minutes/ Remove spinach to plates, wipe pan and add 1 T butter/ When butter is sizzling crack and gently add 4 eggs to the pan/ Salt & pepper/ Add a smidge of water to the skillet, put a lid on, turn heat down a bit and allow to steam for 3 or 4 minutes or until they are done to your liking/ Place eggs on servings of spinach, sprinkle with herbed bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese and have at it. If you have leftover cooked potatoes use them too.

The meal that didn’t happen. One of our favorites, but it turned out we didn’t need it. Lentils & rice with caramelized onions and yogurt/sour cream. This one requires two pans. Cook the rice and lentils together, 1 C rice, 1/2 C lentils in 3 – 3 1/2 cups of seasoned water or broth for 25 – 30 minutes. Add more water if it becomes too dry. While that’s happening slice one or two onions and saute’ with olive oil and butter until tender and golden. When all is done cover the rice and beans with a big scoop of onions and yogurt or sour cream. A universal combination, great for camping.

So, we didn’t starve. We returned home with a nearly empty cooler and pantry, bought a little fresh produce in Moab, enjoyed good food and didn’t spend much time at all preparing it. Dinner out a couple of nights helped.

And no kids along, which is a different story, but these meals would serve. Increase quantities, same meals but use two burners and two skillets. The kids’ help could be a significant contribution if they’re not too distracted by creating hideouts, stone building or squirrel sighting. With two of us making the meal there were moments of down time when either of us could have been on kid duty. It helps to give kids of any age the same task at each meal to be in charge of, they become the master of something like setting up chairs, creating a seating arrangement, setting the table, organizing and serving a simple dessert, keeping the pantry neatly packed after each meal, chopping and cleaning up when appropriate. In an ideal world.

We ate well. The tent thing, sleeping well? Somebody help me with that.

And Poppy, you ready to hit the road again this summer, cook outdoors, mix a cocktail, make plans?

Desert in bloom, sunshine, distant storms, mountain biking, hikes and meals outdoors were all part of our May trip to southeastern Utah. The landscape is otherworldly beautiful and the warm sunshine a respite for webbed feet and brain.

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Cinderella Story, Celeriac Salad & Shrimp Wed, 06 May 2015 13:02:22 +0000 Or maybe it’s The Ugly Duckling story. What’s beneath Celeriac’s gnarly surface is a beautiful thing. Dress it up and take it out for dinner. If you wear a beret and call it *Céleri Rémoulade it’s French.

I’ve purchased this salad in a to-go box at Pasta & Co, loved it, and  thought I’d try making it, with or without an actual recipe.

This comes close. Home alone for a couple of days, I dined on this salad two nights in a row, heaping helpings. Made with celery root, Oregon shrimp, a lemony dressing and mizuna from my backyard it’s local and it’s delicious. And except for that mayonnaisey dressing – which makes it, by the way – it’s healthy. If you insist, this would still be very good with lemon and olive oil, minus the mayo.

Recipe for Celeriac Salad with Oregon Shrimp

Originally posted three years ago and since then made many many times for our table. So good.

Also called Céleri Rémoulade. See note below.

About Oregon shrimp: Seattle Times, Oregon shrimp in the pink, tasty, and now sustainable. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

A medium celeriac is enough for 4 servings. Bigger root, more salad. Make it a meal with larger servings, a hard-boiled egg and a slice of avocado on the side. Garlic bread?

Ingredients: 1 medium celery root yields about 4 cups when grated or finely sliced/ 1 lemon/1 t lemon zest/1/2 C parsley if you have it/ 1/2 # Oregon shrimp (available frozen at PCC, or at some fish markets)/ For the dressing: 4 T mayonnaise, 1 T sour cream, 1 -2  t mustard (or more), 1/2 t salt & 1/4 t pepper, or use lemon pepper instead. Or, omit salt. Lemon and mayonnaise may provide enough salty flavor.

Directions: It’s important to immerse the sliced celeriac into the lemon juice right away to keep it from discoloring/ Zest the lemon then squeeze its juice into a large bowl/ Peel celery root with a large knife and cut into 1/4 rounds using a mandolin if you have one, or slicing carefully by hand with a sharp knife (the peeled root may also be coarsely grated for this salad)/ Pile 3 or 4 rounds of celery root and then slice thinly into matchsticks/ Immediately toss the grated or sliced celeriac in the lemon juice and teaspoon of zest/ Proceed accordingly until all of the celeriac is grated or sliced into thin matchstick pieces. Mine should have been cut a little finer. Next time.

Stir the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl/ Taste and adjust to your own liking/ Stir into the lemony celeriac/  Add more mayonnaise or sour cream, mustard, another squeeze of lemon if needed/ Before serving stir in approximately 1/2 # of Oregon shrimp and the parsley/ This salad is best made a couple of hours ahead and is good the next day.

Celery root makes a wonderful crunchy base for a crab salad mid-winter, Winter’s Crab Salad. It can be steamed, on its own or with other root vegetables, buttered, creamed and mashed. Celery Root, It’s A Keeper.

Slice and dice a root, dress it up, and it’s transformed into a culinary knockout, a Cinderella story. This humble root could be Saturday night fare.

Though I never found their actual recipe, thanks to Pasta & Co for the inspiration.

* After all was said and done I discovered that, minus the shrimp, this is a classic french salad, Céleri Rémoulade, and is described lavishly on the David Lebovitz site, living the sweet life in Paris. He advocates more mustard. I say go for it.

It’s Back at the Market: Asparagus Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:50:10 +0000 Asparagus

To every thing there is a season and asparagus says Spring in the Northwest like no other vegetable. The highly anticipated arrival of local asparagus at the University District Farmers Market signals the floodgates are opening and from here on out, there will be new and exciting produce arriving every week. Those of us who frequent the farmers market regardless of the weather have been waiting all winter for this moment.


Just in case you’re new to asparagus prep, this post will help you out. First-of-the-season asparagus needs almost no embellishment, maybe some butter, salt & pepper, a squirt of lemon. I’ll keep it simple for the first few weeks before I start adding sauces just to savor the unique taste I’ve been craving. Once I’ve gotten my fill of unadorned asparagus, I have a few new tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you. But, if I’m being completely honest, this miso butter is so good I’m already eating it on everything in sight, asparagus included. My inspiration for the following recipes came from a beautiful vegetarian cookbook called Feast by Sarah Copeland.

Asparagus with Miso Butter

 Miso Butter Recipe

Ingredients: 2T unsalted butter at room temperature/ 1 T miso – I used white, her recipe calls for yellow/ 1/4 t sriracha, to taste.

Directions: Mix butter and miso together with a sturdy spoon in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Add hot sauce, if you wish.

Seriously, I had a hard time not eating this by the spoonful so I slathered it on a cracker and somehow that made me feel less decadent. Go figure.

Asparagus with Miso Butter

If you’re more in the mood for a spring asparagus salad, try this ranch dressing – a great way to use fresh chives from the garden and green garlic from the farmers market. Charlie loved it, but then again, he didn’t get to try the miso butter. It mysteriously disappeared….

Ranch Dressing

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

Ingredients: 1/2 cup plain Greek or any full fat yogurt/ 1/3 cup mayonnaise/ 1/3 cup buttermilk/ 1 clove garlic, minced (if you happen to have some green garlic, use it instead)/ 1T fresh lemon juice/ huge bunch of fresh chives/Salt & pepper/ 1/4 t sriracha or your favorite hot sauce, to taste, optional.

Directions: Whisk everything together in a medium bowl/ Adjust salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste/ Store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.

Asparagus with Fried Tofu

I used a recipe from the above mentioned cookbook, Feast ,for cornmeal fried tofu on asparagus but the ranch dressing would work with any asparagus salad, or any salad for that matter.

If you can’t stand the thought of throwing away at least a quarter of these lovely stalks, Sally has a recipe for a lovely broth, using all of your asparagus, um, butts.


Fennel: My New Best Frond Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:00:20 +0000

With the first day of spring a little more than a month away, I can feel the excitement of a new season of vegetables stirring as winter’s meals have just about run their course. I still love creamy comfort foods but I’m ready to start making the transition. Consider fennel as a refreshing palate cleanser between the winter and spring courses. Fennel can go either way — baked with cream and cheese in a decadently delicious gratin or raw and crisp in an improvised salad.

I know that fennel isn’t grown locally at this time of year but without really thinking about it, I assumed it was. I’ve always associated fennel with winter foods, or at least early spring. Truth be told, we won’t see it here in the Northwest until June or more likely July. After consulting Seasonal Cornucopia, a wonderful resource for finding out what’s in season, and the Produce Calendar from the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, I’m humbled to admit that I, too, have been fooled by the gorgeous offering of organic fennel at Whole Foods, on sale and after looking more closely, grown in California. Since I was stretching my definition of “local” further down the West Coast, I figured I may as well pick up some juicy heirloom oranges to add to the mix.

Crunchy, light and fresh, a salad made with thinly sliced fennel and orange slices can immediately transport me to the sunshine and warmer days ahead. Fennel adds a little touch of anise flavor that even those of us who have an aversion to licorice, will love. Mixed with the more mundane celery, the addition of fennel becomes something interesting to spark your taste buds.

My real mission when I bought fennel was to make something decadent for our Valentine’s Day dinner. This fennel gratin is embarrassingly easy to make for a special occasion so try it for your next dinner party. It takes comfort food to the next level.

Baked Fennel Gratin

Ingredients: 2 large bulbs of fennel, stalks and core removed, cut into bite-sized chunks/ 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 & 1/2 is also acceptable)/ 1 cup grated parmesan cheese/ salt & pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees/ In a large bowl, toss together fennel, cream and 1/2 cup cheese, salt & pepper to taste/ Put in baking dish and cover with foil/ Bake for 45 minutes/ Remove foil and sprinkle with rest of cheese, dot with butter if you dare and continue to bake until the top is brown and caramelized — about 30 minutes.

Served alongside our favorite, a pan-fried Keta salmon fillet from Loki Fish and a simple green salad and I whipped up an elegant dinner for my honey with very little prep time and got loads of praise in return.

Please don’t throw the feathery fennel fronds away. Chop them up and toss into a pasta sauce or use as a garnish on practically anything. You can also use the stalks as a flavorful bed for baking or grilling fish. Fennel is a truly versatile vegetable and as is true with all my good friends, it never hurts that it’s also beautiful.


Cookie Kisses Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:22:55 +0000 Orange-Cornmeal Sandies. My friend Linda gave me these cookies for Christmas, a tin full of delicate, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth morsels. That these cookies came to me in the form of pigs should have been a hint. But no.

To say that I liked them is an understatement. My husband now swears he never had a single one, he implies that I might have kept them secret, which I would probably never do. I say I tried my best to share them and that they sat on the kitchen table for a week, or maybe it wasn’t quite a week. Anyway, I’m pretty sure he had a shot.

Valentines Day is around the corner and I plan to redeem myself. Different celebration, a different cookie cutter, same recipe and with a touch of chocolate if you like. A mouthful of buttery, orangey, crunchy, delicious love, cookie kisses, a fine indulgence for my Valentine. He’ll have his own private stash this time.

Mexican Orange-Cornmeal Sandies (Cookies) Recipe

I cook dinner almost every night. I’m efficient, but not a finicky cook, weeknights especially. I almost never follow recipes exactly, but for these cookies I toe the line, an act of love, or redemption. So worth the effort. Thank you to my friend Linda who introduced me to these. She found the recipe in The Oregonian in December of 2006.

Ingredients: Stir dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: 2 C flour, 1/4 C cornmeal, 1 t salt, 1/4 t baking powder/ Put 1 C sugar and 1 C unsalted butter in the mixer/ Set aside 2 egg yolks, 1 T orange zest, 1 t orange extract (or 1 t vanilla), 1/4 C finely ground walnuts (optional).

Directions: In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light in color and thoroughly mixed/ Add egg yolks and mix until creamy/ Add dry ingredients, mix/ Add zest, extract and walnuts if using/ Mix just until everything is well blended/ Remove from bowl and divide in two/ Make two flattened disks, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form cookies: Remove one disk from the refrigerator/ Prepare an area for rolling the dough sprinkled with a little flour and a little extra/ Place disk on floured surface, turn over so that there is flour on both sides/ Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out, turning frequently and adding more flour as needed, until dough is 1/4″ thick.

With a cookie cutter cut out shapes and place them on a cookie sheet/Use all the leftover pieces, form smaller disks, refrigerate again if needed, and use every last bit of dough!/ Cutout cookies can be placed closely together for baking, but not touching as cookies will expand a little/ Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until edges begin to brown/ Mine took 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and after a couple of minutes transfer baked cookies onto wire racks for cooling/ After they have cooled dip a corner of some of the cookies in melted chocolate if you like, though my friend Linda warned, rightly so I think, that chocolate can overwhelm the delicate flavor of the cookie. So, take it easy. Or not./ Chocolate dipped cookies can be placed back on the wire rack until chocolate hardens.

Pack a beautiful box or a cookie tin with these babies and valentine somebody. Some of us need redemption and this could be the answer, or we just want to say I love you with a delicate cookie, like a kiss. I send one to you dear Reader.

This stone was found on the beach by my grandfather and given to my grandmother when they were newlyweds. In her nineties my grandmother gave it to me.

Valentine repost from February, 2012.


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Julia’s French Onion Soup With a PNW Accent Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:21:39 +0000 We love Julia Child because she relishes making hoity-toity French food, but brings it down to earth. Pun intended. When she drops a chicken on the floor or licks her fingers we know she’s one of us. Fr Onion soup 19

I’ve made her French onion soup for years and while she’s specific about process, ingredients are straightforward. As she said, “Onion soup is simply a large quantity of sliced onions slowly cooked and browned in butter, then simmered in beef bouillon.”

Not a refined soup, it’s meant to be full of oniony character, chunky and rustic, kind of like Julia herself. Caramelized, softened onion imbued with the subtle flavors of bay, sage and thyme, toasted bread and melted cheese on top – comfort food in a bowl.  This soup is of winter’s landscape. Onions, lots of them, a stock of your choice, beef, chicken or vegetable, and but of course a smidge of wine. Use onions from nearby, a locally/regionally produced cheese, and make your own stock if possible.  Another mostly local meal.Fr Onion soup 29

Plus, French Onion Soup is a great way to have a party meal, any meal, that’s easy on the pocketbook. The cheese topping is potentially pricey, though you need very little, and onions and elbow grease for chopping come pretty cheap.  After that just time is required to let it all simmer into a pièce de résistance.

Onions, Aliums, are full of anti-oxidants. *Check out links and info at end of this piece for more about the Allium’s nutritive benefits.

I use Julia Child’s recipe from The French Chef Cookbook (a rumpled little paperback I’ve had forever) and I feel free to adjust it as needed. It calls for a cup of red or white wine. I’ve often used red which ‘colors’ the soup. For that reason I use white wine if I have it. Taste is great either way.

The work for this soup comes at the very beginning when, with tissues nearby, you roll up your sleeves and peel and chop a big pile of onions, a mountain of onions when you’ve finished chopping five or six of them. They diminish in volume significantly during cooking. This recipe makes 4 – 6 servings.

I’m always grateful to have fresh herbs in the garden, especially mid-winter. Bay and rosemary are thriving in spite of recent cold snap, thyme and sage are sad looking, but new growth is coming even now and I foraged enough for this soup. More about Herbs and Herb gardens coming soon.

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Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Recipe

Repost from January, 2009. I made this soup yesterday, 1/12/15, and with homemade stock it took a chunk of time. Using stock made ahead or store-bought this would come together fairly quickly. And I must say, it’s a soup worth the effort. !!!

Ingredients & Directions:

Melt 3 T butter with 1 T olive oil in 4-quart pot/ Add sliced onions and stir to coat/ Cover pan and cook slowly for 15 or 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent/ Remove lid, turn the heat up to medium and stir in 1 t salt and ½ t sugar/ Stir together and sauté another 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Onions will gradually turn golden brown/ Lower heat, add 3 T flour and a bit more butter if needed/ Cook together for two minutes/ Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock along with 1 C red or white wine, 1 bay leaf, ½ t sage, salt & pepper to taste/ Stir with a whisk to blend everything and then add remaining 7 cups of stock (which could be diluted with water)/ Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

That’s it. OK to make it a day ahead of time. Like many soups it gets better after sitting a few hours or a day.

To serve: Ladle into a bowl and enjoy as is, or give it a French accent: nearly fill oven-proof soup bowls with the hot soup, place a toasted slice or two of bread, preferably French, on top of each and top that with a handful of grated cheese. Gruyere is traditional perfection. Place bowls on a cookie or baking sheet under a broiler for two or three minutes. Watch carefully while cheese melts. Remove from oven and serve with more bread, a green salad or fruit and a sip of wine.

The cheese topping is the opportunity for a Pacific Northwest touch (or skip the cheese entirely).  Julia suggests Parmesan and/or Gruyere which are local if you live in France. If there’s a locally made cheese that you like, try it. I used Mt. Townsend’s Trailhead with a little parm mixed in; Beecher’s jack or cheddar would be good; Sea Breeze’s Vache de Vashon or their Alpine goat cheese; Port Madison’s Goat Farm & Dairy is a source of excellent local cheese available at Farmers Markets most weekends. Goat cheese would be something to try.  Goat Cheese and onios are delicious together in a tart – it ought to translate to this soup as well.  If anyone out there tries it, let me know.

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Alliums’ Health Benefits:

Onion a day keeps doctor away?

*Many onions are chock full of anti-cancer chemicals. However, certain varieties are particularly high in these compounds as well as more effective in inhibiting liver and colon cancer cell growth.         According to a new study by Cornell University food scientists, led by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of food science, shallots, Western Yellow, pungent yellow and Northern Red onions are higher in anti-cancer chemicals than other varieties tested. Furthermore, Liu found that shallots and Western Yellow and pungent yellow onion varieties are particularly effective against liver cancer cells, while pungent yellow and Western Yellow varieties have the greatest effect on colon cancer cells.

“Our study of 10 onion varieties and shallots clearly shows that onions and shallots have potent antioxidant and antiproliferation activities and that the more total phenolic and flavonoid content an onion has, the stronger its antioxidant activity and protective effect,” says Liu.

Onions are Beneficial to Health, Vegetarianism & Vegetarian Nutrition

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Gluten-Free Bread Winner Wed, 07 Jan 2015 21:30:05 +0000 gluten-free seed bread

I’m not gluten intolerant but when I came across a recipe for a “Life-Changing Bread”, I’ll have to say that I was intrigued. I had my doubts that any one food can change your life, but this bread has come pretty close to doing just that. It would probably be more accurate to say that it’s become part of my life in that Charlie and I eat it for lunch practically everyday and I’ve started baking a loaf once a week or so. It contains some of the same ingredients as my homemade granola and I’ve found making them at the same time saves me effort. I guess that’s part of what it’s all about. Cooking at home instead of buying processed food takes some effort, there’s no way around that, but the benefits are great and besides, this bread is very low on the effort scale and very high on the healthy scale.  While I haven’t found a way to incorporate local ingredients (you can substitute hazelnuts for the almonds) into the recipe, you can put any number of local treats on top. I’ve had lots requests from friends for the recipe, I thought it was time to share it with you.

Gluten-free seed bread

I have to give full credit for this life-changing bread recipe to Sarah Britton at My New Roots, one of my favorite healthy eating blogs. I highly recommend checking out her post on this bread especially if you have questions about making substitutions or want to know more about the benefits of psyllium seed husks. I can tell you right now that psyllium seed husks are the ingredient that makes it possible to leave out the flour in this bread. It absorbs the water and binds all the other ingredients together. I’ve used Sarah’s recipe but changed it slightly to suit my needs.

gluten-free seed bread

 Life-Changing Bread Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup sunflower seeds/ 1/2 cup whole flax seeds, I prefer golden flax/ 1/2 cup chopped almonds/ 1 1/2 cups rolled oats/ 2T chia seeds/ 4T psyllium seed husks/ 1t fine grain sea salt/ 1T maple syrup/ 3T unsalted melted butter, plus a little extra to butter your pan/ 1 1/2 cups water.

Ingredients for gluten-free bread

Directions: Butter a loaf pan (the original recipe uses a silicon loaf pan, so skip the butter if you have one)/ Put all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well/ Meanwhile in a small saucepan, melt the butter, remove from the heat, add the maple syrup and water/ Add the wet ingredients together with the dry and mix well/ Put into your loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of spoon/ Let it sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or even overnight (I’ve tried all three with good success).

Uncooked Gluten-free Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees/ Place loaf pan on middle rack and bake for 20 minutes/ Remove loaf pan from oven and turn it upside-down on a baking rack/ Return to the oven (on top of the rack) and bake for 35 minutes longer to cook the underside/ Cool bread completely before slicing. It smells amazing so this is the hardest part.

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I keep mine in a sealed container in the fridge and slice it off as I need it. One loaf lasts about a week for the two of us. Charlie takes a couple of slices to work slathered with butter, of course. I prefer it toasted but since it can crumble, I like to stick it under the broiler until it’s brown and toasty. The lone tablespoon of maple syrup and the nature sweetness of the nuts and seeds makes it plenty sweet for me but if you’re so inclined, I’m certain it would be delicious with homemade jam. I always tend toward the savory side so here’s my new favorite lunch — toasted bread with butter and lots of chopped herbs straight from the garden. Another favorite is butter, sliced farmers market radishes and a bit of sea salt.

Chopped Herbs on Gluten-free Bread

If you’re in the mood to make some changes in your life, trying something new, even bread, is a great place to start. I can feel my life is changing already.








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