Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grandma's pancakes

It doesn't get much better than Sunday brunch. It is the one meal of the week that never has to be rushed. You can push aside your brunch plates and play Words with Friends/Enemies across the table from each other, or leave the clean up for later after you play some video games. You can sit in a comfortable silence with your loved one over your emptied plates while reading a book, pausing only to discuss interesting points you have just learned. Put all that stuff on a balcony overlooking SF?  It is one of my favorite things in the world.

When I was little, my dad would always sit in bed on Sunday mornings and play cards (solitaire). With real cards (the feel of which i'm sure many of you have long forgotten). My task was to bring him his coffee in bed. The walk from the kitchen, up the stairs, to my parent's bedroom seemed like the longest walk ever. It would take me 5 minutes to walk up the stairs alone, to ensure no spillage. When I got a little older, I graduated to Grandma's pancakes. This recipe that I share with you today is probably the first thing I ever learned to make. My mom would often make Grandma's pancakes (which are basically crepes) on Sunday mornings, which her mom used to make for her when she was little, and I was eager to learn this traditional recipe. Over time, my mom taught me the feel of the batter and the turn of the pan, so that I could then take over the roll of Sunday morning Grandpa's pancake maker. A roll I took great pride in filling.

These pancakes can be rolled up with a fruit filling...

Or enjoyed with jam inside...

Or just drizzled with syrup (the fake stuff, of course)...

This is a tradition that I have been sharing with loved ones ever since. It is one of those things that I just know how to make. I have no idea what the recipe is, I just pour the proper ingredients into a mixing bowl until is has the right feel. But this morning I measured everything as I threw it in, so that I can share this recipe with you. So that you can then make this for your kids, who will then make it for their kids.

Grandma's Pancakes
From grandma, to my mom, to me
(One small confession before I share with you is that I veganized it, because the original recipe isn't vegan. BUT, I am happy to share that it really doesn't change them.) 

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (1 egg replacement)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup flour
  1. Mix the ground flax seed with the water and set aside for a few minutes until it gels up a bit.
  2. Whisk together the milk with the flax "egg."
  3. Add the oil, vanilla, and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. Slowly whisk in the flour, a little bit at a time, until it takes on a slightly thickened batter consistency.
  5. Heat up a small lightly greased skillet over medium heat.
  6. Pour in a bit of batter, and while pouring, pick up and swirl the pan until you have just coated the whole bottom of the pan.
  7. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
  8. Carefully flip (with a spatula) and cook on the other side for about 20 seconds.
  9. Transfer pancake to aluminum foil while you cook the rest.
  10. Roll up with jam, fruit, syrup... whatever strikes your fancy, really.
  11. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everyday i'm stew eating

(I hope that the title is being sung to the correct tune... as a hint, here are other things I enjoy doing everyday: shuffling... and especially, snuggling :-))

Well here you have it. Another stew. I just couldn't help myself, I have had stew on the brain. I have been craving it. And I want so badly to share some stew with you.

I flagged this African peanut stew a while back and yesterday seemed like the perfect day for some stew eating. I have some food from this past weekend that I am looking forward to sharing, but this stew skipped straight to the top of the list. Sharing stew with you will always be at the top of my list.    

This stew turned out to be warm, comforting, a little spicy, and then a little of everything else I needed it to be. It was sweet, but packed a little bit of a punch. It was a breeze to throw together, and has no crazy exotic ingredients, so you may even already have everything you need for this recipe! And if you can ignore for a minute that the broth looks a little like toilet water (why does she use words like "toilet water" on a food blog?), the colors of this stew are really quite stunning... the way the orange pops against the green. You know I love my accent colors, and this stew gave me just that :-). Serious noms.

African Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach 
Adapted from Naturally Ella

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2" dice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped (I cheated and used 1 package of frozen spinach)

  1. Heat the olive oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spices, and cook for additional 1-2 minutes, until everything is nice and fragrant.
  5. Add the carrot, sweet potato, broth, and honey and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Stir in the peanut butter and let stew for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add in the spinach, and stir just until wilted.
  8. Enjoy!
    • This would be great over some brown rice or other grain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is it true that bread rots your brain?

Well commence brain rotting, for I am about to feed you a sandwich. Unless we were in Japan, then I would be feeding you a sandwich on rice bread.

Ya, that exists.
I love my sunglasses (and the person who bought them for me)!
The other day, I ran home during lunch to grab something, and whipped up some lunch while I was there.  I wanted something light and healthy... but still filling. Something that could be prepared and eaten in 30 minutes... but not convenience food. I had a portobello mushroom in my fridge that was destined for something else, but that afternoon the powerful bread lobby convinced me to make it into a sandwich.

My usual beef with portobello mushroom sandwiches is that they tend to be messy. And, well, messiness from a sandwich wasn't the kind of mess I was looking for on that afternoon. The lunch plan then became to make a fast and clean portobello sandwich. The fast part sort of dropped as my balcony beckoned me to eat my lunch on it. But whatevs (she sure uses a lot of ghetto slang...). But if you make it, I ensure it will be all that I promised: a fast, clean, and filling portobello sandwich. California style.

Portbello Mushroom Sandwich
  • 1 portobello mushroom cap, stem and gills removed
  • sesame oil
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • sprouts of some sort
  • tomato slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaise (I use vegenaise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard (I know what you are thinking... this isn't nearly enough mustard.)
  • 2 slices bread of choice

  1. Lightly rub each side of the mushroom with sesame oil.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat.
  3. Sear the mushroom over high heat, about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Assemble the sandwich: Spread the mayonnaise and mustard on the bread, top with mushroom, avocado, tomato, and sprouts, give the whole thing a shake of salt and pepper, and top with other bread slice.
    • I would have toasted my bread, but my toaster oven decided not to work this afternoon.
  5. Enjoy!
    • Preferably on a balcony.

Ok, now i'm just showing off.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fresh asparagus soup

I'm going to go ahead and address the elephant in the room right at the beginning: asparagus makes your pee smell. There, I said it. Let's also address the fact that sometimes you can just look at asparagus and it makes your pee smell. Asparagus is that good.

Ah hem, moving on. Another thing great about asparagus is that it is a good source of folate (in addition to other good stuff), which is awesome, because our bodies can't produce it. Thanks, asparagus!

My mom sent me this recipe for asparagus soup that she came across and it has all sorts of ingredients that I like to cook with (ginger, for example). And with perfect timing, since asparagus is beginning to flood the farmers markets here! So I quickly picked up a bunch and ran home, as I had all of the other ingredients on hand (as my smart mama knew I would :-)).

This asparagus soup has a bit of a thai twist to it. It is super light and down right decadent at the same time. Rich from the coconut milk, bright from the ginger, and then all that asparagusy goodness.... YUM. I made a big batch, and then ate this soup for a week. I got my grub on, but didn't pig out. In the words of Ice Cube, today was a good day.

I should also mention that this soup was SOUPER filling (get it? You can add that to your list of funny things I have said). But for reals, it was. This is also a great "learning to love" recipe for any asparagus haters you may know.

Thai Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Eating Well


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add the onion and a shake of salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder, ginger, lemon zest, and potatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, coconut milk, and asparagus.
  5. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and cook for about 15 minutes. 
  6. Add the lemon juice and transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender and blend until nice and creamy.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tofu remix

Remixes, mash ups, duets... all things that I am known to enjoy. Nicki Minaj and Eminem doing a duet? I may or may not know all of the words. Girl Talk on repeat in my car for years on end? You bet! A cowboy and a stripper falling in love? It's the most perfect love there is!

Tofu scramble? Don't mind if I do!

Now just like scrambled eggs, tofu scrambles are delicious with a Mexican flair. Like, getting drunk at a complimentary happy hour at Le Méridian Cancun delicious. Freshly tanned babe next to you on a Mexican beach delicious.

While nothing in the world compares to those aforementioned Mexican luxuries, this Mexican scramble comes pretty close. In fact, I promise that it you will enjoy it more than an actual breakfast in Mexico.

This is the perfect powerhouse breakfast, and I will take it over scrambled eggs any day. It is way healthier than eggs: none of the fat from eggs upsetting your gut micro biome and all of the soy isoflavones protecting your body. It's a win-win situation! All of the components of this dish work so harmoniously together, just like a cooking team where one suggests making a tofu scramble, and then the  other makes it, and then the initial thinker does some counting while watching the other cook it. It just works :-).

This scramble gets it's Mexican flair from Penzey's Taco Seasoning. I swear, if I could live with only 1 spice mix the rest of my life, it would be this one. Since most of you probably don't have this, these are the ingredients: paprika, salt, onions, lactose, dextrose, corn flour, (corn, lime) tomato powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, black pepper, cocoa powder,  and allspice. My recommendation would be to give your tofu scramble a dash (a teaspoon, perhaps) of as many of those spices as you have. The key ones to make sure make their way in are the paprika, salt, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper. For the heat, may I recommend some smoked chili salt or southern style hot sauce?

Now, there are many great things to be woken up by/to. This scramble is one of them. So I hope this is my way of giving you something pleasant to wake up to for now (ya, because if there is one thing I love more than waking up... it is waking up to go cook for myself, with what, my hands?!). 

Mexican Tofu Scramble
To you, from me, with the most love. 
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 small potatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu (extra firm is really the best)
  • Salsa verde (or perhaps a fancy pants salsa)
  • 1/2 avocado, finely diced

  1. Prepare the tofu: wrap block in paper towels and sandwich between 2 plates, to drain some of the water out. Let it chill like this for about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it is nice and hot.
    • Resist the urge to walk away and play video games/clip your toenails/etc
  3. Add the taco seasoning to the oil and let it infuse for 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add the pepper, onion, potato, and ginger.
  5. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir until it has been coated with the spice mix.
  7. Let it sit in the pan without stirring for 5-7 minutes, letting it get a little crispy and giving some of the moisture a chance to evaporate.
  8. Give the tofu and veggies a little fliparoo, a dash of hot sauce, and continue to cook for 2-5 minutes.
  9. While the tofu is cooking, mix the diced avocado into the salsa verde.
  10. Transfer the scramble either to a plate with toast, or perhaps a tortilla, and then top with the salsa.
  11. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fancy pants salsa

One fateful evening a few weeks ago, I found in my possession the following: a pineapple, some tomatillos, and a red onion. I had some forbidden black rice risotto bubbling on the stove... and something told me to put salsa on my risotto? (And she calls herself a cook?!) I don't have much of an explanation for that. But the ending of that story? It was delicious! I whipped up this caramelized pineapple and tomatillo salsa for the first time, and it is definitely going to be a staple in my repertoire, and I have already made it a few times since.

I had a department formal event this past Friday, and I thought this grown-up salsa would be a nice addition. Turns out everyone in attendance agreed.

Now the salsa. When little M's boyfriend, chef P, was here in the fall, he made this grilled pineapple. And ever since I have been wanting to so something savory with pineapple, extra points if it involved broiling/grilling. Well since I was making up this salsa, I decided it was going to be caramelized pineapple and tomatillo salsa. So there.

Broiling the pineapple caramelizes the sugar on the outside and gives it this awesome flavor, and with a salsa verde backdrop? This one is a winner. It hits legit ever major delicious taste group: It has some spice from the jalapeño, some zip from the lime, some sweet from the pineapple, some tart from the tomatillo, and cooled down by cilantro. I dunno about you reading this, but as I am typing this... I am pretty convinced.

I'm also pretty sure it is entirely acceptable to eat a bowl of this for a meal. I mean, the ingredients are 100% fruits and vegetables. As an aside, sitting on the floor and eating entire jars of salsa/bags of tostitos with my roommate is one of my favorite memories from college.

Caramelized Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa


  • 1 pineapple 
  • 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and halved
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, finely minced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Break down the pineapple, and then slice thinly such that you have thin slabs of pineapple.
  3. Toss pineapple slabs and tomatillo halves in a drizzle of olive oil and lightly salt.
  4. Spread out on cookie tray and place under broiler.
  5. Broil for 5-10 minutes, or until the tomatillos are roasted and the pineapple is caramelized.
  6. Keep an eye on them! The tomatillos will brown first, so take them out then.
  7. In the meantime, chop up and combine all of the other ingredients. 
  8. Once cooled, quickly pulse the tomatillos in the blender until it has a salsa verde consistency.
  9. Finely dice the caramelized pineapple.
  10. Combine all ingredients, and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  11. Enjoy with some hint of lime tostitos :-)!

I just had my nails done, so they had to make their way into a photo :-).

Monday, April 16, 2012

In praise of roasted vegetables

It doesn't get much better than simply roasted vegetables. It concentrates their flavor, doesn't take much technique... and is a good way to use what you have in your refrigerator/cabinet. I mean, roasted vegetables usually consists of doing some rough chopping of whatever strikes your fancy, drizzling on some olive oil or simple marinade... and popping it in the oven for a few, during which time you can go do something else. Or just sit and enjoy how good it smells.

The day that I made these veggies, I had gone out to pizza for lunch. And I ate an entire pizza. Whole. Much like an anaconda would eat a baby elephant. For dinner that night I wanted something light that packed a mean vegetable punch. I had broccolini, I had bok choy, and I had leeks. All of which were ready to get in my belly.

Well not before tossing them in a DELICIOUS sweet/sour/tangy/savory/amazing marinade of sorts and letting them spend a few minutes in the oven.

What started out as a quick weeknight dinner, turned into what I think will be how I roast all of my vegetables from now on. This recipe is honestly amenable to whatever veggies you may find in your crisper, so while I am going to write out the recipe as I made it, feel free to do it with whatever.

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 bunch of broccolini
  • 1 leek
  • 1 large head of baby bok choy
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Give all of the vegetables a rough chop into bite size pieces.
  3. Toss with olive oil, vinegar, and syrup.
  4. Give a couple shakes of salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spread out in single layer in roasting pan.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  7. Enjoy! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spicy rhub

I am a lover of rhubarb and I am a lover of kale. I had never thought of putting rhubarb in a savory context, but then I saw this recipe. I thought the recipe sounded SO different and delicious, I had to try it. Long story short, my world has been changed. This isn't just regular old savory, it is a spicy rhubarb sauce. That is used to wilt kale. And then tossed with noodles (which allowed me to get rid of some buckwheat noodles I had in my pantry... bonus points!).

Ready for some more bonus points? This dish takes MAYBE 15 minutes to throw together.

Assuming you don't also pause for 30 minutes to take 100 pictures of rhubarb.

As an aside, I love that this blog makes me pause and take pictures of what I eat. I mean, you eat with your eyes first, right? Being forced to really appreciate the beauty of your food adds a whole nother dimension to the nourishing process. Since I am on a big "slow down, stop being so busy, and start appreciating what is around you" kick, it is great. Being able to get added pleasure out of a basic human need brings life to a new level. Give it a try :-)

And why not start with this dish! I mean, I think a bright red/pink stalk of rhubarb, with spice, and then some curly kale is a great "learning to like" portion, for it is hard not to appreciate the beauty of this dish! The sauce is tart, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. And the buckwheat noodles add some nice chewiness to the dish. And the kale... we don't have enough time and space for me to sing all my praises of kale. It reeks of health, it is delicious. And this recipe calls for wilting it just enough that it starts to melt in your mouth, but still has plenty of bite.

Spicy Rhubarb Sauce with Kale over Buckwheat Noodles
Adapted from Naturally Ella

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 handfulls kale, re-ribbed and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bundle buckwheat noodles
  • 1 package of tofu, drained and broken down into small bites
  • cilantro and lime for garnish

  1. Heat up the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the green onions and ginger and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the rhubarb, chili, water, and agave and simmer until it takes on a sauce-like consistency, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust to your preferred spice level.
  5. I added a dash of chocolate habanero sauce. 
  6. In the meantime, prepare the noodles according to package directions (mine cooked for 4 minutes).
  7. In another pan, lightly pan fry the tofu.
  8. Add the tofu, kale, noodles to the rhubarb sauce and toss to wilt the kale. 
  9. Sprinkle with cilantro and give it a good squirt of fresh lime juice.
  10. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Traditional Easter

You will notice that most of my cooking is vegan.

And if you haven't noticed, then all the better :-).

Well, I am breaking that rule today. But it is for the best possible reason. You know how when you think of certain memories, the tastes from that day just ooze into your mouth? Or how when you taste a certain thing... you can be transported back to a particular place? Well this recipe is one of those for me. At Easter, my Nana would always make a pizzagaina (Italian Easter pie).

This is yet another reason why good food is so important. Without you knowing it, while you share stories with a mouthful of your Nana's famous homemade ravioli, your brain is busy at work developing this neural network. A network such that whenever you smell garlic cooking in red sauce, you are immediately sitting at the table with your family on a Sunday, while the Red Sox are playing in the background so Nana can keep an eye on the game.

Ignore my awkward phase.
I owe much of who I am today to my Nana. She was the strongest female to ever live and hilarious to boot. During one of the episodes at the end, when the doctors told her that she probably wouldn't last much longer... her response was, "ya right! I have to see my granddaughter graduate high school! And my other granddaughter get married!" And she absolutely did both of those things. Another time when we found ourselves in the ER, my parents and I were playing with the finger oxygen meters to pass the time, and my Nana shouts out, "oh! Do me! Do me next!" This from a woman who was supposedly brought to the ER with congestive heart failure. I can not say enough positive things about my Nana. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her terribly.

For Easter, I took on the challenge of making a pizzagaina. Not that it is a hard dish, it isn't, but I knew mine wouldn't taste as good as my Nana's. And it didn't. Mine ended up tasting more like a [delicious] quiche, but I am ok with that. Because what I produced did taste great, and it gave me an excuse to spend some extra time thinking about my Nana, who I know is watching over me proudly each and every day.

In all fairness, pizzagaina is traditionally a ham pie. Ham with cheese and egg. Three things I don't typically eat. So I gave with the second two ingredients and I substituted asparagus and leek for the first. I think that that may be what put this lion (er, pizzagaina) in sheep's (quiche's) clothing. I suppose it would be like if I sought out to make a pizza, but instead used a tortilla and put salsa on it. Either way, it was enjoyed on Easter... and every day for breakfast since. It was also a great compliment to the braised artichokes I made, and the other delicious food my roommates contributed (pictures still to come).

Do you guys have any special foods that intensely bring back memories?

Courtesy of my Nana (c/o my mom)
For the crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpous flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen
  • ~7 tablespoons water

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch leeks, cleaned like I told you here
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1 inch long pieces 
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper

To make the crust

  1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon peel in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter, a work in with your hands until it is all a corse crumble with pea size pieces of butter that sticks together when you press some between your fingers.
  3. Add the water, tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Kneed the dough a bit until smooth, smashing it with the heel of your hand and folding it over onto itself.
    • This flattens the butter, gets is nice and incorporated, and makes for a flaky crust.
  6. Divide into two balls, wrap with saran wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  7. When ready, roll out both halves on a slightly floured surface.

To make the filling

  1. Add the olive oil to a medium sauté pan.
  2. Add the leeks and asparagus.
  3. Sauté until the leeks are caramelized and the asparagus is tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Carefully place one rolled out pie crust in a pie dish, and trim so there is about 1 inch of overhang.
  3. Pour the filling to the crust.
  4. Top with second rolled out pie crust. 
  5. See this website for a better tutorial than I could type about how to prettify the crust.
  6. Place in oven for 1 hour.
  7. Enjoy!
    • This can be enjoyed warm, cold, or room temperature. I always remember eating it on the room temperature to cold side.

I put a "K" in mine for "Keith" house, which is the name of our street.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Slowing down

Status symbols have changed over the years. They have ranged from goods to food and from money to job title. The up-and-coming status symbol taking over our world is busyness. Everyone is competing for who is busier, who has more on their plate. And just like any other status symbol, it has had some pretty negative implications. Next to personal relationships, our health and views on food have suffered the most because of this status symbol competition. No one "has time" for dinner any more. Everyone "works" (read: sits on Facebook, but wants everyone else to think they are working... no, I am actually working) through lunch. It's cool to complain about how tired you are... you know, from being so busy. So often nowadays, you aren't judged by the quality of your work, but by the about of time you spent doing it.

But let's be real, and let's think of it from the flip side. How good do you feel when someone blows you off because they are "too busy"? It is the equivalent of saying that whatever else they are doing is more important that you. Furthermore, it makes that person question why they aren't as busy as you... they wonder if something is wrong with them and what they are doing. It makes them feel bad every moment they aren't "doing" something. And not to be cliche, but we are human beings, not human doings. Sure, I can certainly appreciate that sometimes the stars will align and it will truly be crunch time, and that is absolutely forgivable. But no one on their deathbed, with the exception of Jack Donaghy, is going to wish they had worked more. They are going to regret the nights they missed with their families, the random Sunday night when you and your roommate(s) accidentally got super drunk and trashed your room, the afternoon wasted away chatting in a coffee shop (where you could have had the greatest insight of your life over a piping hot americano), and the connections missed and/or lost because you were "too busy" to maintain them. All of the papers you published, presentations you gave, or conferences you attended are not going to sit by your side when you are old.

Enter stage left convenience foods. The only thing we have less time for than personal relationships is eating. But first, I would like to back up a few centuries. Meats and sweets used to only be available to the higher class. They were a status symbol. Because of this, for hundreds of years, it has been engrained in us that eating meats and sweets is something you earn, and it a symbol of how successful you are. Convenience foods are basically getting the most meat and sugar (and all sorts of other nasty things) into you as fast as possible, so you can get back to your busy life. Heck, the way meat is produced now a days, they don't even have time for a cow to mature naturally, they are brought to their peak weight as quickly as possible and then slaughtered. Pre-industry hominins almost never would have eaten animals at their peak weight. Peak weight means an excess of fat stored as saturated fatty acids, which are usually depleted for most of the year in wild animals. There is also a depletion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in your factory farmed meat. All of the processing that goes on with our food today is producing novel chemicals that our bodies have never been exposed to before. Stay tuned later this week for how these foods are affecting the organ that no one thinks about, but does as much for us as our liver or lungs: our gut microbiome.

I'm sure half of the people reading this are angrily saying, "she doesn't know anything, I really do have so much to do," and the other half are quickly closing their computers to go start dinner for their family to enjoy together, vowing to leave work early today, or picking up the phone to call an old friend. I hope you find yourself in that second group. You never get back time missed with loved ones. So I want you so badly to consider slowing down and cherishing the things that are truly most important to you... the things that make you feel the best. If you feel the best, you will in turn be giving your best back to the world. And if you are giving your best, you won't have to work so hard to accomplish your goals :-).
And what better place to build these memories than over a good meal. I had flagged this recipe last week sometime, and knew that Easter was the perfect time for slow braising some artichokes. I love the simplicity and the beauty of this artichoke dish. There are a few things that are apropos about this recipe for this post. First of all it takes a while to make, and furthermore it takes a while to eat. You have to peel back each individual leaf to get at the flavorful morsel hidden at the base. And you have to pay attention as the layers change and get meatier as you get closer to the heart. The zesty braising liquid keeps you going back to bite after bite. And then you finally get to indulge in the luscious and tender heart of the artichoke which soaked up all the braising liquid. So slow down/pause, go preheat the oven, invite some friends and family over, and enjoy this dish together.

Braised Artichokes

  • 2 artichokes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • peel from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. To prepare the artichokes: Using a sharp knife, cut off the top inch or so of the artichoke and snip off the spikes at the tips of the leaves. Remove the tough outer layer of leaves. Cut each artichoke in half and remove the choke with a spoon. 
  3. Mix all of the ingredients but the artichokes in a roasting pan. 
  4. Add the artichokes to the braising liquid, turning a few times to coat completely.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!
    • I served mine directly in the roasting pan, so people could scoop up any additional braising liquid.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kale Chips

I'm going to be straight with you here, I am a little bit embarrassed that it took me this long to post kale chips. My mom and I discovered them a while ago, and have been going bananas over them since. And today is the day I share it with you. This is absolutely the perfect snack. First of all, you are eating kale... which is awesome. Fearless and rugged roommate M thinks of kale as nature's body floss. Secondly, they get SUPER crunchy when baked... and who doesn't love super crunchy stuff? And lastly, lets not forget about the zippy salt and vinegar combo i'm slathering on these bad larries.

I mean, look at how gorgeous this purple kale is? I will spare you, but needless to say... I could go on about kale forever. I love kale. I love every kind of kale. I just want to hug all of it, but I can't... can't hug all the kale.

Ah hem. Sorry. I also love cats, but that is a different story for another day.

I love the intensely purple stems of this variety.

Kale Chips
Of the salt and vinegar variety
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Clean and prepare the kale by washing, drying, removing the central rib and tearing into bite size pieces.
  3. Put the kale in a ziploc bag with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Massage (or samage as my niece says) the kale until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the kale chips out onto baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Enjoy immediately (no really, I usually eat them directly off of the baking sheet)!