Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Culinary Questionnaire

Inspired by the "My Stuff" questionnaire in Vanity Fair magazine, which usually features famous artsy types talking about their favorite linens and perfumes, but this month featuring Chef April Bloomfield (of NYC's Spotted Pig - yum!) talking about food, I submit the following culinary favorites of mine.  You?

Spice-Cabinet Must-Haves:  cumin, cayenne, cilantro, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon (do we see a pattern here?)

My Go-To Recipe:  Thai coconut curry

Favorite Cookbook:  Jacques Pepin's La Technique/La Methode

Must-Have Kitchen  Tools:  My carbon steel chef's knife with the wooden handle, sharpening steel, cutting board, blender.

Dream Kitchen Tools:  Kitchenaid mixer, a proper-sized food processor (as opposed to my mini Cuisinart)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Yay, Bugs!

Every year, I release upwards of 10,000 ladybugs into my garden to fight those pesky little white flies called aphids that munch on my rose bushes.  You can buy ladybugs at the garden store - I get mine at Sloat Garden Center and release a couple thousand of them every month.  It's way easier than crushing the aphids with your fingers or spraying stuff all over the plants.

Turns out, one in five flowering plants are attractive to ladybugs and other beneficial insects.  Sloat has a recipe for planting a "Good Bug Tub" which includes flowers native to California:

Blue bedder penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus var. purdyii)
Dwarf blue lupine (Lupinus nanus)
Seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus)
Coyote mint (Monardella villosa)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Tidy tips (Layia platyglossa)

 More details on the Sloat website:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Awesome Sauce Redux

Rice paper salad rolls with a side of Awesome
Biz gave me this recipe a few years ago. It's fresh, lively, and herbal. Biz, our friend Tim, and I ate it on everything for an entire summer: salad, cooked veggies, rice, quinoa. Play around with the herbs, and throw in handfuls of whatever's handy.

It's basically a pesto, sans diary, and it's vegan, if you replace the honey with a hippie sweetener (agave, maple, etc.). I always think I've made too much, but then it disappears in a couple of days.

One batch = about a pint
 Recently, I found my original hand scratched recipe (no doubt dictated by Biz over a bottle of wine on her porch, on a lovely summer evening in Woodacre). I thought I'd share the written recipe, instead of typing it out. The paper version is so homey and used; I love it.

You can make substitutions where you see fit, and make it thinner or thicker by adjusting the water (I use just a tablespoon or two), just don't leave out the orange juice (squeeze it yourself), ginger, or garlic. Substitute avocado for the oil, if you want. You can exclude the soy sauce, and up the salt (or not). Also, I add four or five cloves of garlic. Is one clove ever enough for anything? And I throw in loads more herbs than the recipe calls for.
The original recipe, c. 2006 (you won't need that much water!)

Instructions: Chop up the herbs by hand first, then throw everything in a blender. I always start with the garlic, ginger, and seeds, so I can be sure they are blended to a fine consistency, then add the herbs and liquids. Blend until smooth. Awesome Sauce will thicken, and the flavors will meld in the fridge, but you might not be able to wait that long. Keeps for about 5 days. Enjoy!

Kale, No Excuses

OK, one more kale recipe - this one's got a fantastically light yet flavorful peanut dressing.  We have now gathered here no fewer than four, count 'em, four delicious recipes for kale, ensuring you have plenty of options and no excuses for not getting enough dark leafy greens, a crucial source of calcium, fiber, iron, and a million other good-for-you things.

I promise to move onto another food group with my upcoming posts, but this one I couldn't resist sharing.  Thank you, Judy Lewenthal Daniel, for turning me on to the website TheKitchn ( from whence this recipe and the accompanying photo hail.

When I make this salad I screw around with the ratio of kale to peppers to carrots depending on what I have in the fridge, but recommend you always have one of the sweet red/orange variety to balance the bitterness in the kale and the acidity of the vinegar.  The dressing recipe is perfect, so don't mess with it.

This salad is so freakin' delicious!

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing
serves 6 to 8
2 large bunches curly or lacinato kale, about 2 pounds
2 red bell peppers, cleaned and cut into fine strips
1 large carrot, peeled
3/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, divided
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Fold each leaf of kale in half lengthwise and slice out the center rib. Discard ribs. Roll a stack of the leaves up and slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise into very fine ribbons. You will have 10 to 12 cups of finely chopped kale in the end. Wash and rinse thoroughly in a salad spinner.
Toss the kale with the sliced bell peppers. Slice the carrot very thin, either by creating curls with a peeler, or by running the halved carrot lengthwise down a mandoline. Toss with the kale, red pepper, and 1/2 cup of the peanuts.
In a chopper or small food processor, briefly puree the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper flakes. Pulse it just a few times; the peanuts should be partially pureed, but with some nibs and nubs still left in the dressing. (The texture difference between the whole peanuts, ground peanuts, and pureed peanuts in the sauce is one of the things that makes this slaw so wonderful.)
Toss the dressing with the slaw and let it sit for at least a few minutes before serving.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

My friend Biz turned me onto this recipe a few years ago, and I've tried many variations. I believe hers called for Medjool dates (probably soaked in water for a few hours) as a sweetener, but I like to use raw agave nectar because it's convenient, and there's always a bottle on hand in my kitchen. You could probably just as easily use honey, brown rice syrup, or regular old sugar to make this incredibly easy, surprisingly delicious chocolate mousse. Whether you're a diehard raw food enthusiast, or you just like rich desserts, this one is a crowd pleaser.  Your dinner guests won't be able to guess that it took 5 minutes to make, and that it's good for you.

2 very ripe avocados
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/2 C agave nectar
almond or rice milk (to thin the mixture, if desired)
a little vanilla (bean or extract)
couple Tbls of coconut oil (if you wanted to use it to frost a cake)

Raw ingredients, and almost TOO easy!
A high-speed blender works best for this recipe, but you can whip it up in a food processor or a regular blender, too. I suppose you could even do it by hand, but blending makes it silky smooth like regular mousse. I use about 1/4 C of almond milk, and make it in two batches in my blender, because my old Osterizer was made back when my parents were in grade school, and it won't blend very well, unless I add liquid. If you wanted to use dates instead of agave, you would want to use the date water to thin the mixture. Refrigerate the mousse and let set for a while. I've heard you can freeze it like ice cream, too, but have never tried that.
It just took me twice as long to write this post as it did to make the mousse. Try it out next time you over-buy avocados. It's super rich and yummy. I like it with some crushed walnuts sprinkled on top, or with a sliced banana. Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Makeshift Greenhouse

Who knew that a north-facing laundry room could double as a greenhouse? 
When I planted these babies during that hot spell in late February, I was rolling the dice, figuring that if spring had arrived early, I'd have quite a jump on tomato season.  (I am so smart, thought I.)  If it turned cold again and killed everything, I'd have only wasted a couple of plants.  Well, winter returned with a vengeance and in a fit of insanity, I brought all of the potted plants indoors, covered the laundry room table with a tarp and hoped for the best. 

Ta-da!  Check out my tomato plants - they're growing like crazy!  And, this, in a room that the sunshine never hits.  Apparently there's just enough light to keep everybody alive - two tomato plants, parsley, cilantro and a couple of random house plants - woo hoo!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's in Your Fridge?

My refrigerator is about a thousand years old, missing the bottom shelf, and is held together with duct tape. It's on the List of Things to Replace, but it's gotten me this far, so a new one is not very high on the list. The exterior of my house needs a serious paint job, and two trees need to be removed from my property; a new fridge will have to wait. I think a refrigerator says a lot about a person. It's akin to looking through someone's music collection, or underwear drawer.

It looks like a jumbled mess, perhaps, but I know where everything is, and I'm fanatical about throwing things away, so it's pretty clean. The bottom drawer is problematic, since it's missing its glass cover/shelf, causing the massive pile-up of fruits, and veggies. You gotta dig around a little.

Eat your veggies!
Must-haves: Almond milk, lemons, baby foo-foo lettuces, and Anchor Steam Beer

My freezer, on the other hand, is more easily navigated. It contains exactly six things: coffee, sweet potato fries, home made vegetable stock, steel cut oats, tempeh, ice. Sometimes, there is vodka.


At least it's clean, right?

The outside of one's refrigerator often tells a story, too, of course. Although, since most people have stainless steel refrigerators these, days, I might be the last one with magnets, old pictures, and grocery lists on the front of mine.

Peach comes from within.

What's in your fridge, Sissy? (No fair staging it first!)

Franny, is this a competition?  'Cause I think I win... Erin
Always on hand: eggs, kale, cabbage, carrots, leftover mashed potatoes, Veuve Cliquot and St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc.

Why there are two copies of the same photo of Dad up there, I'll never know.  You and I have the same taste in fridge magnets.

Crazy Fijian ingredients that Suli keeps in my awesome bottom drawer freezer plus endless loaves of gluten-free bread and some Amy's frozen dinners, just in case.

Nacho Mama's Nacho Sauce

What's cookin'? Indy waits for a cashew to drop.
Today, I had some cashews soaking, and too many bell peppers in the fridge, so I decided to give Cashew Cheese another try. I've tried to make it a hundred times, and it never turns out quite right . . . . until now! I made up a recipe based on what I already knew (and actually wrote it down for once), and it turned out great. 

1 Red Bell Pepper, cleaned and chopped
1 c Raw Cashews, soaked for 4+ hours (they will double in size and become 2 cups)
1/2 c Raw Cashews (not soaked)
1-3 Garlic Cloves
Juice of 1 Lemon
1+/- tsp Kosher Salt
2 Tbls Red Onion, finely chopped
3 Tbls Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbls Tahini
Water (thin as necessary to incorporate ingredients)

Whiz all ingredients in high-powered blender for about a minute (or in your regular blender for 2-3 minnies), pour into glass container, refrigerate for at least an hour or two before serving. The consistency will be something like the consistency of yogurt or a thin hummus, depending on the amount of water added.

Spread on crackers, use in place of mayo, dip veggies, add a dash of cayenne for a Nacho experience, make kale chips (see earlier post for recipe), or thin with lemon juice and add chopped sweet pickle for a pseudo thousand island salad dressing. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, soy-free, and raw. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rainbow Kale Slaw

I eat kale because I know it's good for me, not because I love it or anything.  Not even close.  This recipe makes eating kale easy and appetizing.  

I know I posted this previously, somewhere between the crab cakes and the quinoa breakfast yumminess, but it seems to have disappeared.  So, here it is again:  my version of Whole Foods' Rainbow Kale Slaw. 

1 bunch lacinato (a.k.a. dinosaur) kale, thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
4 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1 small head, quartered and cored) 
3 navel oranges peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large bowl, combine kale, cabbage, chopped orange, onion, bell pepper and sunflower seeds.
In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar and pepper. Pour over the kale mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodbye to Oatmeal

I don't like oatmeal for breakfast.  I've tried, and although I know the whole grains are good for me, I can't bring myself to eat it without dumping a ton of maple syrup on top.  At that point, I figure, I might as well have had pancakes.

Quinoa cake to the rescue!  I recently found the following recipe on the Whole Foods website and it's my new favorite breakfast, which I alternate with my other favorite, egg salad on rice bread toast (also yummy, no need for recipe, you can figure it out).  It's totally savory - do not expect sweetness from the applesauce and cocoa 'cause you won't get any.  I suppose you could add sugar, should you desire.  I used almond milk and flax seeds instead of hemp.

Meanwhile, it's nutrient rich and makes 8 or 9 servings, enough for a week's worth of whole grains.

Serves 8


1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups unsweetened hempmilk, soymilk or almondmilk
1 cup pitted dates (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup almond meal, divided


Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, drain and transfer to a medium pot. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a blender, purée hempmilk, dates, seeds, applesauce, cocoa and salt. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in quinoa and 1/2 cup almond meal. Transfer to prepared pan, scatter remaining 1/4 cup almond meal over the top and bake until firmly set, about 1 hour.

Set aside to let cool for 1 hour, and then carefully run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the edges. Turn out onto a flat surface, remove parchment paper, cut into squares and serve.

To freeze, wrap individual squares tightly and store in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.


Per Serving: 270 calories (90 from fat), 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 100mg sodium, 37g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 17g sugar), 10g protein

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frozen Treasure: Crab Cakes

When I realized there was nothing fresh to make for dinner tonight, I rummaged through the freezer and found these:  Franny's Christmas Crab Cakes!  Yay! 

40 minutes at 425 degrees.  That's all I know.  I have no idea what recipe she used.  Franny, help!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Juicing with the Champ

A hundred years ago, my family generously gave me a Champion juicer for my birthday. It was our Dad's idea, which was weird, since he almost always gave us cards with pictures of kitties in a basket on the front, with five twenty dollar bills inside. I saved a whole bunch of those cards (but not the money), and one of them reads: Love, Joe. The Champion juicer -- The Champ -- was the most thoughtful material gift he ever gave me. His reasoning: I was spending too much money on carrot juice from the grocery store. Might as well make it myself.

The Champ
Sentiment aside, I recently dusted off the old juicer and, for the past few weeks, I've been murdering bags of carrots, keeping mutant hands of ginger in the fridge, and experimenting with weird combinations of fruits, veggies, and herbs. It's true what they say on those late-night Jack LaLanne infomercials: juicing is good for you, and makes you feel great. I don't know if it's the concentration of vitamins, or what, but I'm feeling energetic and downright nourished these days.

There's nothing that bores me more than a drink recipe, especially if it doesn't contain vodka, but I'm going to share my favorite juice recipe, regardless:  5 or 6 carrots, 2 chard leaves, a tart apple or two, a tiny piece of ginger, and a handful of cilantro.

Like a rainbow for your belly

I made something last night which I named "The Bottom Drawer"; it contained almost every fruit and vegetable in my fridge: all of the above, minus the chard, plus 1 bosc pear,  a beet, some kale, and celery. I went way overboard on the ginger, which can ruin an otherwise perfectly good glass of juice. The unfortunate part of this experiment was that I drank one pint of the juice and still had a pint left over, which I bottled and saved for today. I think Whole Foods offers something similar at their juice & coffee bar, appropriately called The Oil Changer. It wasn't my best effort, but it wasn't terrible, either. Plus, it was so darned good for me, how can I complain?

After The Champ does its thing, separating the juice from the pulp, I like to put my juice through a strainer. Some people probably like the sludgy stuff at the bottom, but I think it's gross. (Side note: I've been keeping the pulp to make raw veggie crackers in the dehydrator, and now I have a kazillion crackers. They're not bad!).

Bottom Drawer
As much as I hate keeping small appliances on the kitchen counter, The Champ has found a new spot near the sink, where I'll use it more often. Juicing makes a mess, and the clean-up almost doesn't seem worth the effort, but I'm going to stick to it, anyway. Who knows, someday, I just might juice a potato and figure out how to make my own vodka. For now, I'll just have a Bottom Drawer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ladle, ladle, ladle. . . .

You sure you don't want one, Sissy?! They have 2 sizes!!
Erin has been looking for a simple old-school ladle, the regular stainless kind with a hook at the end of the handle. Wm Sonoma doesn't carry one, which is shocking and sad, because I was willing to shell out $22 for one for her at Christmas, when I was feeling reckless with my money. Alas, she's still ladling her soup with a measuring cup. Personally, I like to use a teacup. To my great surprise, I found a hundred of them in different sizes yesterday at Kitchen Kaboodle, here in Portland, where I was shopping for a spiral slicer, so I can make raw vegetable spaghetti. They didn't have the spiral slicer, but they did have these. I think they were about $7. >>>

Kale Salad

Been making this again lately. I've tried for years to copy the kale salad at WFM, but I never get it quite right. This one was close. Of course, I was just tossing stuff in a bowl, so I don't know the measurements, but you can wing it. I tear the kale into fairly small pieces, then wash it in hot water for a minute, to wilt it ever so slightly. It just makes it more appetizing, and easier to eat. Alternately, you can toss the kale with the dressing and let it sit in the fridge for a day, and it will wilt a little. Raw kale can be tough to chew and digest.

Arame seaweed, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
Ginger, grated
Garlic, grated
Seasoned rice vinegar
Olive oil
Currants or raisins
Sesame seeds

Spin-dry the greens. Mix the liquids and spices together, and toss with the kale, seaweed, sesame seeds, and currants. Let it sit for an hour or so, for best flavor. Enjoy!
Seaweed, kale, raisins, dressing

Mix it all together - voila!
Leftovers - yum. Even better the next day.

The Bread

Erin, I like the idea of making sourdough, per your previous post, but there's all that waiting involved. So, my friend Doug, who lives in New Hampshire, and I both make this 5 minute artisan bread on a regular basis. One of us found the recipe in the NY Times (probably Doug), and now we make it constantly and text each other pictures of our loaves-in-progress. It came from some book by some bakery people -- I don't know. Doug can tell you. The most important thing to know is how to make it, which is super easy, which is why we like it so much. I made the best loaf I've ever made a couple of days ago, and I've still got about 2 loaves worth of dough left. This is not it, but this one was pretty:
Sometimes, my dough is so awesome, it looks like art.
It's the easiest thing on Earth to make; here's what you do:

Take 3 C warm water and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of yeast and put them in a big bowl. I wait a few minutes for it to foam up, but you don't need to. Lately, I've been using Bob's Red Mill active yeast, which I find in the refrigerated section near the tofu at Whole Foods. Good yeast makes the difference, in my opinion.

Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt.

Add 6 1/2 C flour. Doug and I agree that half white, half whole wheat makes better bread than 100% of one or the other. Just dump it in the bowl and stir until it's all mixed together. You're done. No kneading involved. It's Lazy People Bread.

Gather the dough into a ball, let it sit around for a couple of hours, then stick it in the fridge, or cut off a 1/3 of it and make a loaf right away.

Form your dough into a nice round loaf, dust it with flour, score the top, put it on a peel or a pan dusted with cornmeal, and let it rise for 40 minutes. Put it in a preheated 450 oven for 30 minutes with a couple of ramekins filled with water (or pour water in your broiler pan), to create steam, which gives the bread a nice chewy crust. Ta da! Bread! Sometimes I throw in a handful of walnuts, which makes it insanely delicious.

This is the Cliff's Notes version I keep posted near the oven. I'm thinking about editing it down to one post-it note:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Starting Sourdough

Franny was recently asking me about sourdough starter wondering if she made it in Portland would it be different than San Francisco sourdough.  Technically, the answer is yes.  Apparently during the Gold Rush era, the Boudins, a French family of bakers, settled in San Francisco and discovered that the sourdough they made in San Francisco was especially unique so they set about baking... and raking in the cash.

I've seen some very complicated recipes for sourdough starter, but it's actually very simple. Here's my method:

Make your starter at least 3 days before you intend to bake with it.  The following recipe is for a gluten-free sourdough starter, made from rice flour, which helps enormously with getting gluten-free breads to rise properly.  One can substitute bean, wheat or rye flours for the rice flour, if desired.

Sourdough Starter
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast granules
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp potato (instant flakes, potato flour, or cooked russet)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup rice flour

The sugar feeds the yeast so don't leave it out, but you can substitute a few crushed grapes if you prefer.  You can probably get away with leaving out the potato flour, if you don't have it.

In a glass jar or potter crock (no metals!) mix the potato into the water, then dissolve the yeast into it.  Put the lid on and shake to mix.  Add the sugar and the rice flour, cover and shake again.  Take the lid off and stir whatever hasn't mixed thoroughly from the shaking then, leaving the lid off, cover with a paper towel and leave the starter sitting on your kitchen counter for at least 3 days, stirring occasionally.  Over time, it will start to bubble and give off a pungent fragrance - this is the good stuff! (Take out the grapes at this point, if you used them).  The longer you leave it, the more flavor it will impart.  A layer of liquid will eventually form on top so be sure to stir it well before you use it.  I add 1/2 cup to any bread recipe I make - it adds great flavor and helps the loaf rise up nice and fluffy.

Replenish the starter after each use by adding 1 cup of lukewarm water for every 1 1/2 cups of rice flour, or variations on that ratio as needed.

Store in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Note from Franny: Erin, I got your sourdough starter in the mail, along with all those gorgeous Meyer lemons, and everything else you sent. You're the best!

So, I made my 5 minute artisan bread last night and, as sort of an afterthought, I tossed in most of your sourdough starter. I don't know what I was thinking, adding all that extra yeast, but it came out great! Since you need a source of steam to create the nice crust -- and I'm always trying to figure out the best way to make more steam -- I placed a small cast iron pan filled with water on the floor of the oven. I also added walnuts, and the result was a wonderful, chewy loaf of bread. It's really quite remarkable, if I do say so myself. It seems as though each loaf is better than the last. Here's a picture of  my latest masterpiece >>>

While I was baking, I watched an Ashton Kutcher movie on my computer in the kitchen (the one where he and Natalie Portman are friends-with-benefits trying hard not to fall in love with each other -- No Strings Attached). It was truly terrible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Soup Made Simple

I love Mark Bittman, the food writer for the New York Times.  Last winter he wrote an article simplifying the soup-making process - specifically for vegetable soups.  To summarize, there are 4 basic vegetable soups; everything else is a variation of one of the four:  Creamy, Brothy (quick-cooking), Earthy (bean soups), or Hearty (sauteed veggie base).

From the Earthy category, I made his basic bean soup, then pureed it in the blender and topped it with chives.  The beans, chives, thyme and bay leaf I used were all grown in my garden last summer and my version of the recipe goes like this:

1 cup dried white pole beans
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
6 cups of vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
a handful of thyme sprigs
2 Tbsp chopped chives
olive oil
salt and pepper

Saute the onion, carrots and celery in a little bit of olive oil on low to medium heat.  Sprinkle with salt and cover for a few minutes until their juices start to flow.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the chives, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are done.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, fish out the thyme stems and the bay leaf, and blend the soup in the blender.  Return to the pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and top with chopped chives.  Yummy!

And, here's the recipe for the BROCCOLI-CHEEZ SOUP I made last week:

2 large bunches of broccoli
3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 cups of vegetable stock, or enough to cover the ingredients in the pot
1+ cup nutritional yeast
1+ Tbsp yellow mustard (regular mustard, not dried)
olive oil
salt and cayenne pepper

Sautee the carrots, celery and onion in a large pot, with salt, until soft.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and carrots are cooked through.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, blend in the blender and return to pot.  Season to taste.

Sue's Chickens

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Sue at her new house in Santa Rosa.  She has a huge backyard and she and Steve have turned it into a little farm, including 6 chickens - 2 each of 3 different varieties.  They've built a little coop for the birds, from a dog house, and enclosed it in a large cage to keep out the predators.  During the day, the flock is allowed to run around the garden, which was recently fenced off when Sue and Steve got tired of chasing hens off the cabbage plants (there will be very little coleslaw this summer!).  Sue and I drank wine and watched the girls run around the yard, mostly chasing off the scrub jays and other little birds who dared to land in their enclosure.  It's hilarious to watch the whole flock chasing one little bird.  Allegedly, they all have names, although Sue can't tell some of them apart.  I do know that the golden puffy-cheeked one is named Nutmeg Princess Leia.

Kale Chips

Erin and I both love the Kale Chips from Whole Foods. My friend Biz turned me on to them a few years ago, and we have been talking about making them forever. Since Erin bought me a Nesco dehydrator for Christmas, and kale was on special at the WF for $1.50 a bunch, I decided to give it a go. After cleaning one and a half bunches of kale and tearing it into chip size pieces, I tossed it with a jar of NACHEEZ, a vegan nacho sauce (made by a friend of a friend of my sister), sprinkled it with nutritional yeast, and popped it onto 4 dehydrator trays. I set the dehydrator at 115, and let it do its thing for about 7 hours. Delicious.

Home for the Holidays

Recently, I spent 10 days back home in Marin with my sister and Mom for the holidays. It is a rare occasion when Erin and I have that much time off from our jobs and otherwise busy schedules, so it was a real treat. She dragged me out most mornings on her daily walk, and often for another in the afternoon. Here is a photo I took on one of our walks of my favorite oak tree. I love this tree and take pictures of it often. If this old oak had a brain, it would know my affection for it is almost creepy. I wonder how we can find out how old it is. It's a really good tree.