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2018-04-24T10:54:36.042Z
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I was skimming a goop article last week (I have a love hate with all things goop - I appreciate the health angle, but I don't like that the average advertised clothing article is $480. You had me at hormone balancing but I disconnected with the suggestion of using $50 bath salts). Anyway. I liked the interview in the article and I jotted down this line to remember:

"The goal is to gain greater awareness of yourself on every level: what makes you tick and what makes you sick, what your passion and purpose are, what you want to express in your lifetime, and what makes you most fulfilled" ... "When you wake up to the awareness of who and what you are, you can discover the confidence to live your way, the courage to make choices that serve you best, and the compassion to be kind to yourself along the way—a compassion that inevitably ripples outward to others." - Dr. Frank Lipman

Both Hugh and I are trying to be proactive about growing/changing...

This is likely not the first time, nor will it be the last, you'll hear praises for Melissa's cookbook, The Minimalist Kitchen, in the food blogsphere. Over the last few years, Melissa has pared down her kitchen and cooking to focus her work on a "less is more" approach to food. It is concise and reasonable. Delicious by way of straight forward techniques. This recipe for example. I usually roast our cauliflower straight from florets, but the pre-steam made such a difference in their texture, more tender and gentle. I like them both ways. It's little things like that. I believe there are a few kinds of cookbook consumers; this book is for the person looking for quick, weeknight, crowd-pleasers made from ingredients you likely have in your pantry, or will have no trouble finding - Chilaquiles, Thai Spiced Rice Bowls, Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls - timeless sorts of things. She has tips for staying organized and decluttering your equipment and make ahead tips or pairings for nearly every recipe. It's a meal planners dream tool, really, a book to...

MEAL PREP SAUCES

Thanks to those of you who commented and asked for the sauce ideas. I hear you! Let's make dinner better.
In this season of life, our meals are riffs on the same sort of thing, all made special by the rotation of a few sauces. As a girlfriend mentioned to me, "I can chop things for a salad or roast some vegetables, I just need to know how to make the sauces" - so hopefully this is helpful. The vinaigrette works on any sort of green salad, the mexi bowl sauce is what we put on tacos, stuffed peppers or burrito bowls, which happen weekly here. It is also great with scrambled eggs. The citrus tahini miso is the crowd favorite recipe from Bowl + Spoon. We use it over grain or noodle bowls, or any neutral seasoned roasted vegetable. They all are super easy, only one requires a blender, and they make meals come together so quick. Prep them on a Sunday, they store fine in the fridge for the week...

Popping in to add something to the pantry staple arsenal. Malk? Mylk? I can't. It's just milk made from nuts and seeds and has made no sense to my parents how one "milks" a nut so I hope I can clear some things up for them, if perhaps visually, here. See the nipples on that cashew, Dad? ;)

It's been chilly lately, so my coffee and tea consumption has been a pretty steady stream through the day until happy hour. I typically use an unsweetened coconut milk creamer from the market but have more recently fallen in love with homemade cashew milk in there instead (after the coffee has cooled down quite a bit, the milk just separates and falls to the bottom of a super hot cup). We also have a family wide adoration of peanut butter Puffins cereal that floats beautifully in the almond milk.  I am including a few recipes for nut and seed milk (for those with nut allergies) below. You do need a nut milk bag or small sieve (cheesecloth optional) to strain the almond...

I cook for another family once a week. I spend a half day in their home planning a menu, shopping, cooking and packaging up a few dinners and a baked good for them to enjoy during the week. A few of you have asked how I got into doing this and honestly, it sort of fell into my lap by way of a family friend. I generally haven't found catering to be lucrative with all the work it entails on the backend as I am a one-woman show, but I do enjoy cooking for people and getting paid for it so this particular situation works well. I don't have the confidence to be much of a teacher but I get to cook alone in the quiet of an empty house which is dreamy for me, given what feeding a family and work has become in my own home with two toddlers underfoot. There aren't a lot of guidelines - they are all pretty flexible eaters - and it makes me think about complete meals which is good for me. 

Anyway, I post...

I feel weird that I called it a "minestra." That is the Italian word for a mixed vegetable sort of soup, think minestrone, and it sounds way more intriguing that way right?! I skipped the pasta here, though you could totally add it or some brown rice or shredded chicken to fill it out if you're into that sort of thing. I have a tough time with salads when it's chilly out, so this pot of goodness serves as an alternative to pack in the vegetables. It is made of easy, pantry staples and some easy to find produce. Boring on its own (sell it, girl!), as brothy, all-vegetable soups go, so a heavy hand with the parmesan croutons is necessary. It tastes better the next day, so lunch leftovers or delivering it to a sick friend is encouraged. 

...

I love when Curran brings crafts home from preschool. I do not hang them or keep them, but I love that someone else is doing crafts and artsy things with him so I don't have to. I don't like junk or tchotchkes and I suppose crafts feel like a waste of materials and money. No offense, personal opinion, and I appreciate that other people love them but one cannot be good at all of the things. HOWEVER. My heart is not completely made of stone and I love my children so I went to Michaels (a store specifically for crafty people) last week to pick up Valentines supplies. Cards, stickers, glitter hearts, paint, heart cookie cutters, we're going for it. I really wanted to buy that $4 box of pre-made Minion cards, staple a bag of mini pretzels to it and call it done but my parents always made Valentines really special for my sister and I, so I'm going to do crafts for a minute in the spirit of family tradition. My (crafty) mom still sends us homemade Valentines. Where I do...

Months ago, I may have mentioned that Hugh was doing the ketogenic diet? Surely you've heard of it. Most of the cookbooks at my local Costco are keto books so you know it's mainstream. He humored me and went off it for the holidays and is back to it these days. I refuse to make a third version of whatever I'm cooking, but I will compromise. How saintly of me, right? I have my current granola recipe pretty nailed down, but I gave it a spin with less sweetener and replaced the oats with more nuts. It replaces the carbohydrates with more fat, so I don't know where your nutrition paradigms lie, but it tastes good either way. You can use this as a topping for plain yogurt, oatmeal, as a snack or I used it as a crunchy bit for a green salad with arugula, red onion, and roasted butternut chunks and thought it worked perfect. I made a few notes below on seasoning options. 

...

He made me cry the first day I got there. I had been on crowded planes with long layovers, crossed time changes and spent the night in some run down hostel with way too much luggage to be schlepping between all modes of public transportation that take you between small Italian towns. I was tired and emotional and I run shy-ish/self-conscious in meeting new people so when George was yelling at me over how stupid it was to be a vegetarian, I cried right there at the table. 

After I graduated college, I made up my own internship of sorts to work at a Bed and Breakfast in Italy. It was run by a couple who used to own an Italian restaurant in my hometown. Lucy, the wife, had a full Italian mother but she lived most of her life in America. Lucy and George owned the place. She was a super friendly, petite, hard working, full of energy, warm and spunky woman. George was there for her. He was along for her golden years dream project and drug his feet and rolled his eyes often along the way. He was a retired surgeon; very smart and attracted to controversial conversations. He hated waste, he hated it before it was part of the green movement to hate waste, and although he scared me most of the time I lived there, I am a more careful consumer because of his staunch stance on the issue. A solid fellow, a great cook,...

I'm currently on my third double chocolate cookie despite having all sorts of  recipe testing leftovers in the fridge I could cobble into a more nutritious lunch. Can cookies be lunch? I could swipe almond butter on top for protein. Why didn't I give these away like I said I would? 'Tis the season I suppose; always makes me feel like baking, it's getting the baked goods out the door that appears to be the challenge. So in between, there are easy dinners. I have been asked three times for a butternut squash soup recipe by different friends or readers and I realize we only have this stew to reference. I generally prefer my soups chunky, but let's add a pureed one to the archives for good measure. I saw this one while flipping through Melissa Clarks' recent book and it sounded too perfectly simple and spiced not to try. Plus, I had all the ingredients. I swapped in a little curry powder for some of the cumin, added ginger at the end and garnished it with a bit...

I know they get overdone but I love a good gift guide. I think I end up buying more things for myself than I do for other people, but they serve their purpose for sure. You get new ideas from sites and brands you otherwise may not have heard of and I just like them. So in no particular order, are a few things we've either really enjoyed this year, or wish we can enjoy in the future or will be gifting to someone else. Hugh's recommendations are marked with an (H). Thanks!


Donations

We hosted a few dinners this year to benefit the International Rescue Committee. You can read more about them on their site. If you are looking to make some year end donations yourself, or give on behalf of someone else as a gift. We have done some research (Charity Watch helps you look further into the details of specific charities) and are also giving to International Justice Mission and A21.


...

We've talked potatoes and pumpkin pie to death so let's move on to solving dinner problems for all other days of the year. I would take one of these lasagna squashes over a majorly brown thanksgiving plate any day. Sorry, bah humbug. Last year, I had dinner with some of my dearest college girlfriends at Malibu Farms (have you seen their cookbook? It's beautiful and casual and colorful) and I still think of this spaghetti squash dish we shared. It was creamy, but not overly so, could be ordered vegetarian or not, tasted like comfort food but didn't sit in your gut as such. I know in the season of cooking and romantically long prep time with your glass of wine and holiday tunes, this recipe may come off as old news, but a simple dinner is what I am more interested in in the long term. I made four, and my kids mostly poked at it. They saves well and can handle a reheat the following day or perhaps you have another couple over to share. I made...

Salad lady. There are a handful of dinners we have coming up and lo and behold, my assignment is consistent. We often do a quicky weeknight warm kale salad with a roasted squash, pom seed, pepita combo, so I was going for something different here. Light but not lacking, something that would welcome leftover chicken or steak for Hugh and a couple fried eggs for me. A base salad if you will? It is perfectly crunchy to go along with the warmer, richer foods that are more common this time of year. I like raw shaved fennel personally, but Hugh said it feels like eating shoelaces, so I roasted the bits this time. Fennel has some natural sweetness that comes out in a quick roast and he's right, they are a little nicer to eat this way. I made a few notes below in the recipe but if you're bringing green salad to your holiday table, this one is worth considering. 

...

More cauliflower! Oops. But I do love it and it didn't cross my mind we had cauliflower on here for the last post as I was thumbing through Laura's new book. I have dozens of recipes bookmarked but I am looking for new veg mains in our rotation lately and this one popped out at me. I was shocked at how short the ingredient list was and how quickly it came together given how beautiful it looked. I'm an easy sell on pretty food. Especially quick, pretty food. Next up is her homemade coconut creamer with dates, a warm balsamic mushroom salad, and a second round of those brownies I made months ago when I first saw the pdf draft of this book.

I've been a long time fan of Laura's, both for her easy going disposition and plant-based food that is magically wholesome, creative, all while still being something you can whip up easily for dinner. I don't always see those things going hand in hand but she is extremely good at what she does. She's...

I don't always love cooking. I have my moments; usually when it's quiet or late at night, but some days I just have to get people nourished and it doesn't need to be beautiful. I've started working as a personal chef for a family, am teaching a few private cooking classes and picked up a couple recipe development jobs this month so there has just been a lot of food. I'm on the brink of too much of a good thing. Prior to my babies there was more free time, more quiet, no picky eaters, a looser grocery budget, fewer interruptions. We had to eat, I was still always around food for work and I'd use all the white space of my thoughts thinking of something different I could create. Cooking as a passion was approached differently because it wasn't sharing the space with my beloved wee people. I am not the same person or cook I was 3, 4 or 5 years ago when I started our first book for a plethora of reasons, but I see glimpses of the catalyst that...

So this started as a ripped page from Food&Wine. The piece was called All Well & Good, covering Sakara, the fancy plant-based meal delivery service popular in the Los Angeles area. The ladies who own it contributed a few recipes and their Kale-and-Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad intrigued me, so I kept the page in the side pocket of my car (where all keepsakes and important paperwork are best stored). Caesar is the historical origin of my love of salads. As a teenager, my Dad and I used to go on dates to the Chart House solely for a visit to their salad bar with freshly tossed Caesar and a slice of Key Lime Pie. So I got to it the other day. The only way to purge torn out recipes is to try them and eliminate I suppose. I started tinkering as soon as I made their crumble (the gluten free / dairy free sub for croutons in the classic). They called for sweet paprika, I stock smoked. The crumble seemed a little dry, so I added a drizzle of oil to help it...

My oven currently smells like it's burning off oil that had dripped to the bottom at some point. I should clean it; it really does interrupt the beautiful waft that comes from a springy cake in the oven. I have a handful of prospective projects I am back and forth about between two email addresses that while made with good intentions to keep personal and work separate, have done no such thing. There are threads regarding a potential cookbook, a recipe and article assignment about avocados, a menu card for our fundraiser dinner and open items to finish filing our taxes. Woven in between are emails about Curran's first (overdue apparently, oops) dentist appointment, follow up on invoices and the receipt for that weird oversized shirt I ordered from Nordstrom that I keep there to remind myself to return it some night after the kids are down. I never feel like doing that once the kids are down... but I also don't like going to the mall with two spirited toddlers so you may find me in a terribly unflattering oversized shirt....

Per request, I am including a recipe for these broccoli balls I've been making for the kids. I love hearing that you guys actually make the things in this series and find it helpful. I know this kind of stuff is for a niche handful of you, but I get a lot of messages for these posts so I hope it's a another tool for getting a few more servings of vegetables into your kids. I think I've mentioned before that neither of my kids are ones to go after a crudite platter, so I have to get creative. Veggie burgers and balls and vegetables packed into frittatas or smoothies are my best bet. Cleo (1) can't use a utensil and Curran (almost 3) prefers not to anyway, so anything I can make hand-held is best for everyone. These nuggets have become my answer to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in a rush because they have protein, fat, veggies, carbs. Think frittata with extra broccoli. They can be whatever you need them to be. Even if you don't have kids, I still think these...

I was chatting with a reader a few weeks ago about making swaps in one of the older pumpkin recipes on this site and I realized we have a shortage in that category. I love pumpkin things, but am a little too cynical towards how overdone it can be this time of year. I've been baking with more almond meal lately, in the name of lower carbohydrate treats, and while it doesn't yield something nearly as light and fluffy as a "regular" baked good, I like how tender and rich things turn out. Hugh actually makes this rosemary bread better than I do now and we're ordering the stuff in 4 lb. increments so it won't stop here. We may be a little short on holiday sides in the index too now that I think of it so I'll work on a few of those. Anyway, it's food season! I'm here for you.
Until then, I don't like hard selling you on the recipes here BUT if you need a super easy, one bowl, dairy free, gluten free, maple sweetened...

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Our list is fairly short. We revisited places a few times and we struck out a few times but hopefully this is helpful. We poached most of these from David and Luise who live there. Stockholm is made of 14 islands, we spent a couple days in Norrmalm and the...