Six ingredient Glazed Chicken & Vegetables

I made this wonderful thing by total mindless accident two weekends ago. It’s great right out of the pan. It’s even better reheated the next day. It’s the best when finished lazily over a campfire, as I discovered while making it again this weekend. You start with six ingredients and end up with the most perfectly glazed, fall-off-the-bone tender chicken over caramelized vegetables.

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All you need is:
as many bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs as will fit in your cast iron skillet
a cast iron skillet
two large, roughly chopped shallots
some apple cider (I like the cloudy kind best)
a spoonful of brown sugar- think like, a scant Tablespoon
a spoonful of whatever hot sauce you’re working on (right now I have some made of chiles de arbol from Masfresco, which is pretty pungent so I only used 1 teaspoon)
roughly chopped, sturdy vegetables such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, or carrots.

I had half a large purple cabbage on hand both times. I know cabbage isn’t the most glamorous of vegetables, but damn, if this isn’t the way to eat it.

Preheat the oven to 300. Start by patting your chicken dry and giving it a good coating of kosher salt. Put it in a cold, dry skillet, skin side down and turn the heat to medium. Render the fat out slowly. When the skin is golden brown, flip it over and add quartered shallots to cook in the fat for a minute or two.

Pour in cider until it comes about halfway up the chicken, then stir in the sugar, hot sauce and another pinch of salt. You could also add a couple cloves, star anise, bay leaf, or white peppercorns at this point if you have them. Spoon a little of the sauce over the chicken, cover the pan with tin foil and bake for at least an hour and 15 mintues, or until the chicken is very tender.

If you’re going the campfire route, simply do the next steps outside.

Okay, now remove the chicken from the pan and start boiling the cooking liquid over high until it has reduced by at least half, but ideally 2/3. Throw in your vegetables and continue cooking over high until a glaze forms, about ten minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan, turn the heat down a little, and finish the chicken skin side down in the glaze.

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Twice-Roasted Fall Vegetables

It's been roughly a year now since I found sanctuary house and decided to move to Chattanooga, nine months since the move itself, and eight months since I found myself without a job or a husband. I spent the spring readjusting and the summer in a sort of what-to-do limbo, only to realize that I am more than ready to move back to Nashville. I found some new clients and a place to live...in February. And the sensation of waiting to get back to my life there has turned from mild angst to soul-crushing anxiety. 

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At times like these I occasionally wish I had a traditional religion. You know, one of those someone-up-there-has-got-your-back/everything-happens-for-a-reason kind of set ups. But what I've got is Beyonce singing with The Dixie Chicks, an uncertified therapy dog who has more anxiety than I do, some cbd oil and a fridge full of leftovers- the neck of a large-ish butternut squash, two small sweet potatoes, and a head of garlic, and a lime, to be exact.

How do I start to explain this? When I was 20, I went to Tibet and was able to observe Buddhist monks praying. What I saw was not so much a mental practice as a physical one- the monks were doing a motion that reminded me of burpees. Nothing had ever made so much sense to me. Runners go until they're "high," Sufis whirl to shed their ego, Buddhist monks slide across the earth to know humility. I cook to feed my own peace. My own, very practical, not-so-religious form of prayer.

This week when anxiety overcame me, I cut up my potatoes and squash into 1.5" cubes and roasted them at 375 until they were cooked enough to run a fork through, but not quite done. I tossed them in a bowl with a thick dressing made of a head of golden, roasted and mashed garlic, a few spoonfuls of toasted sesame oil, a few spoonfuls of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and the juice of a lime while I turned the oven up to 425 with the pan still inside it. I poured the vegetables onto the hot pan and let them finish cooking through. They came out soft and sweet, walking the line between deeply caramelized and burned. I tossed them with chopped parsley and green onions and ate them warm.

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Molasses cookie sandwiches

Remember when a kajillion people a day visited my website and I felt like I had to write poignant and meaningful essays and shoot elaborate, overstyled recipes five times a week and it was too much pressure and I cracked? LOL yeah. My analytics are shit, but I'm having the time of my life saying LOL and cursing and sharing the food I make for myself at home with the 48 of you who are following along. Thank you for being here for who I actually am. 

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Yesterday I woke up and realized I needed to clean out my fridge before leaving for Nashville for a couple days and what I found was this: sour cream, gingersnap cookie dough, raspberry jam and so much butter (always). I beat the living hell out of 1/3 cup butter, then added 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, one spoonful at a time, followed by 1/2 cup room temp sour cream, a pinch of salt, and a splash of orange liqueur. Then I added more powdered sugar, a little bit at a time until I reached a buttercream consistency- about another 3/4 cup (but you could add up to another 1 1/2 cups or so, depending on how sweet or sturdy you like your buttercream). 

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I filled pair of freshly baked soft, gingery molasses cookies with a hefty swirl of buttercream, a big spoonful of raspberry jam and ate the little sandwiches for lunch on my way out the door, with plenty in tow to share. 

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Savory Fall Slab Pie

I've decided I'm going to lean into the annual Fall baking craze real hard this year. Cinnamon and pumpkin and apples and warm-from-the-oven goodness. The works. But after a week of sugar highs and lows testing panna cotta last week, I took a turn toward buttery, cheesy, savory slab pie. Of course you can use your favorite crust- I used 1 1/2 cups flour cut with 9T unsalted butter, 3/4t sugar and salt, about a teaspoon of AC vinegar and a scant 1/3 cup ice water. That's exactly the right amount to fit into a quarter sheet pan (9x13") and feed six happily. 

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The filling friggin' screams Fall. You'll need 1/2 cup creme fraiche mixed with 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme and 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard. The mustard is there not so much to stand out as a mustardy flavor, but to give the filling a little bite. If you're just sooo into mustard and want the flavor to come through, use 1 Tablespoon. Mix that with a generous 1/2 cup grated cheese- I used Kerrygold Dubliner. Now, get the toppings ready. For me, 1 bulb caramelized fennel, two small Molly's delicious apples thinly sliced, about three large handfuls butternut squash shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (OXO peelers forever), and another generous 1/2 cup grated cheese. For you, maybe caramelized shallots or onion, a large braeburn, shaved red kuri squash or sweet potato? 

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Preheat your oven to 375 with a rack in the bottom 1/3 and make sure your rolled out dough is well chilled and large enough to fold over the fillings by just a bit. Spread the creme fraiche mixture evenly on the bottom, followed by the fennel. Finish with apples and squash, then drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Top with remaining cheese and fold your dough over the edges. Egg wash the exposed pie crust if you're into that. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the squash is deeply toasty on the edges and the crust is golden brown. Let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. Get cozy. Happy Fall, friends. 

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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Raspberry Jam

Organic sour cream was 2 for $5 the other day when I went to pick up a tub for the anti-bechamel mac & cheese. I decided I'd go for it and make panna cotta today. This recipe will work with most things that are creamy and a touch sour- sour cream, creme friache (make your own! it's so cheap!), chevre, and plain yogurt. All full fat, of course. I wouldn't add more than 8 ounces chevre because of it's density, but you can certainly play around with the ratio of sour cream or creme fraiche to cream to get a more tangy panna cotta. And if you are a vegetarian, swap out the gelatin for agar agar in equal amounts. 

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Lately I've been thinking about how much I hate pretentious food and the notion that food must be "elevated" (my least favorite word in the culinary world) in order to have value. My friend Rebekah Turshen and her forever non-pretentious desserts came to mind. She often serves panna cotta, un-molded, topped with jam or jelly and a cookie on the side or crumbled on top. It has an air of finesse and makes your mouth reverberate with happiness. So that's the basic formula I'm following today: un-molded sour cream panna cotta, raspberry jam, soft ginger cookie. A good transition into Fall if you don't live in the devil's butthole where Fall won't come until October, like I do. 

How many this recipe serves is based on what size container your serve it in. Personally, I think a 4 ounces ramekin is more than enough, but some people prefer 6. Pick a good looking container should you care about appearances when serving- this panna cotta just barely sets and is not designed to be turned out or hold a shape. It is designed to be ultra delicate. Since there are very few ingredients and main measurement is cups, do a little math before to decide to make a half batch, a double batch, etc. 

Pour 1 1/2 cups half & half into a small pot and sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin over it. Let bloom for 5-10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup raw cane sugar and 1 teaspoon good vanilla or 1/2 a vanilla bean, then heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved- do not boil or the gelatin will lose thickening power. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place 8 ounces sour cream in a blender and stream in another 1 1/2 cups half and half on the lowest setting until very smooth. Whisk that mixture into the pot (this is the point at which you can strain out teeny lumps if you are some kind of fairy who has granted herself endless patience and a partner who always does the dishes) and transfer into your serving containers. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. You could make these about five days in advance, no problem. Jam too. 

Gah, I love jam, I didn't know I loved jam until I was at the Burlington farmer's market last summer and this lady handed me a sample of strawberry rhubarb conserve and then another lady handed me a sample of black currant jam. I kept walking in circles, coming back for more and ended up buying both. I just learned to make jam this Spring and the basic formula is very easy: 2 pounds of fruit, 1 1/4 to 2 pounds of raw cane sugar, and one lemon. For raspberries, I use closer to 2 pounds sugar to offset their natural bite. You can watch the process on my Instagram highlights. I like to heat the fruit and sugar in a pot over medium until the sugar is liquid. I squeeze the juice of them lemon in, followed by the whole rind. Then I let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until it looks thickened. It's hard to explain, but the more times you make jam, the easier you will be able to recognize this change in texture signifying doneness. Until then, you can put a small plate in the freezer while the jam is simmering. After 15 minutes, place a spoonful of the jam on the plate and return it to the freezer for 5 minutes. Nudge it with your finger and if it wrinkles, it's jam. If it doesn't, keep simmering. Skim off any foam. You'll need about a cup of jam for one recipe of panna cotta. 

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You can use whatever cookie you like. I'm using my recipe for gingersnaps, which you can find in the very first issue of FoodieCrush on page 54 (that's 56 on Issuu for some reason), alongside the most hilarious "headshot" of me. As you can probably see, I've come a long way in my styling abilities and I've started rolling my cookies in crunchy, twinkling turbinado sugar for extra texture. 

A couple notes: make sure your ground ginger is not expired! It happens to the best of us. I'll also say: 2 teaspoons sounds a little small to me now. I rolled the cookies in this photo into .7 ounce balls. OH OH and don't rule out mixing finely chopped candied ginger into the turbinado sugar if you happnen to have some on hand. 

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The Anti-Bechamel Mac & Cheese

Welcome to the first installment of the I'm-not-treating-you-like-an-idiot recipe series. From here on out, I'll to be walking you through recipes as though you know how to do basic things, like eyeball the amount of butter you need to use in order to caramelize a shallot. I'm not going to include specific times or measurements unless they are completely essential to the process. Most importantly, I'll be providing suggestions for how you can alter a recipe to fit your own tastes and your own pantry- because going to the grocery store after work is basically a visit to the 7th circle of Hell. Here's the key ingredient to all forthcoming recipes on this site: trust. Please trust your intellect and intuition as you cook and if you have burning questions, ask a friend, google or DM me! Okay, let's get started. 

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I detest making bechamel and mornay sauces. They're tedious and extremely frustrating to get wrong after you've spent your damn cash on quality dairy. I'm not saying this recipe is fool-proof, but the hardest parts are grating the cheese and keeping at eye on the casserole for the last five to ten minutes of cooking. I can handle it. You can handle it. You'll want to start out by cooking 1/2 pound short cut pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Any short cut, dried pasta will do. I used Trader Joe's capunti. Reserve 1/4 cup of your cooking water and slurry it into 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. Think of this step as insurance against a broken sauce. 

While the starchy water and pasta cool down for a minute, grate your cheese and preheat the oven to 350. You'll need one pound of cheese. At least 10 ounces and up to 12 ounces of it must be monterey jack for it's melty quality. The other 4 to 6 ounces should be something relatively firm and very flavorful, such as gruyere or sharp cheddar. Be warned: the more gruyere you add, the more likely your sauce is to break a little. 

Whisk together 1 pound full fat sour cream (I'd imagine you could also use creme fraiche) with a real generous spoonful of dijon mustard (we're talking at least a Tablespoon) and a small pinch of salt. Remember that the pasta water is salty and the mustard is salty and the topping is going to be salty, so don't go too crazy. Stream in the starchy water. Here's where you have the choice to get creative. You might want to add chopped herbs or white pepper- some roasted garlic paste would be good or a spoonful of whole grain mustard. Fold in the cheese and the pasta. Bake in lightly greased, shallow dishes. For something small- say, a four ounce ramekin- start checking on it after 10 minutes. For something larger, like the 9"x7" vintage rarebit you see in these photos, start checking after 15-18 minutes. You only want the cheese to be warm and melted through and the very edges just beginning to bubble. 


You totally don't have to top this pasta, but I'm a sucker for opposing textures and an opportunist for adding flavors, so I topped mine. While my pasta cooked, I caramelized a couple small shallots in a generous amount of butter with a pinch of salt, then removed them from the pan with a slotted spoon. I threw a couple handfuls of sourdough breadcrumbs into the remaining butter and moved them around until golden and crunchy. Do you have walnuts, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, panko breadbrumbs or any kind of bread in your freezer? Cool, use it if it sounds good to you! I toast the topping separately because control. Need I say more? When you see your pasta sauce is just beginning to bubble on the edges, top it with the breadcrumbs and put it back in the oven for a minute or two. Let the whole kit and caboodle rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to let the sauce set a little. 

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Normally 1/2 a pound of pasta would only serve 3-4 people, but remember that this stuff is rich and dense and obscenely cheesy. Along with a salad (personally, I'd serve this with ever so gently blanched vegetables topped with parsley oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of flaky salt), I'd say this easily serves 6-8. 

Farro Salad #1

This is neither the first farro salad I have made, nor is it the "number one" farro salad of all the farro salads. It is labeled #1 simply because it is the first of many I am sharing with you. I don't have many good habits, but making farro salad each week is one of them. No two are alike, but most involve a simple dressing, a large amount of vegetables, and something crunchy- ususally nuts. They're cheap and satisfying and they keep in the fridge all week, which is convenient for a human who is a prone to eating dill pickle popcorn and olives for lunch. 

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Farro Salad #1
-serves 4

2/3 cup quick cooking farro
4-5 cloves roasted garlic
pat of butter
1t kosher salt
2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
2T finely chopped crystalized ginger
1T lime juice
1T toasted sesame oil
coconut sugar and chopped salted peanuts to serve

1. Smash garlic cloves well and add them to a small pot with farro, 1 1/4 cups water, butter and salt. Stir well and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat. Let sit with lid on for 5 minutes.
2. Fold in cabbage, ginger, lime juice and sesame oil. Chill for one hour.
3. Serve cold with a sprinkle of coconut sugar and peanuts. 

Dill Pickle Potato Salad

I got jealous of everyone's mayonnaise based food today in the middle of making pie and decided to make my own while the dough chilled. It's as salty and stinky as potato salad gets, with an indulgent spattering of crushed salt & vinegar chips on top. If you prefer potato salad that holds together more tightly, add a couple chopped hard boiled eggs.

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Dill Pickle Potato Salad
-serve 6 as a side dish

1 pound small yellow potatoes
1T kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
a scant 1/3 cup mayo
1t pickle brine
1t dijon mustard
2T finely chopped pickled red onions (recipe here)
2/3 cup roughly chopped dill pickle chips (I used Trader Joe's)
1 small handful each parsley and dill leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Salt + Vinegar chips to serve

1. Combine potatoes with salt and white vinegar in a large pot and cold add water until potatoes are covered by 1/2". Cook over medium until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Whisk together mayo, mustard, brine, and red onions. While potatoes are still warm, toss them with dressing.
3. Add dill pickles, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least one hour. Sprinkle with crushed salt and vinegar chips right before serving. 

Decisions, decisions

Well, you may have noticed already, but I've decided my website should come full circle- I've gone back to old school, fun-to-read-because-it's-sort-of-like-peeping-into-someone's-diary blogging. Remember my blogspot site Nothing but Delicious? That's how my whole career- as a writer, stylist and photographer- started. It's funny to look back and remember how we wrote blogs for fun; we had no idea that personal blogs and Instagram would completely change the nature of advertising and consumerism. 

If you've followed along all this time, you probably know two things about me. One, my diet is 98% carbs and greens and cheese. And two, I turn in my homework late. In this case, I may be too late to get credit, but after eight-ish years of running a personal website, I've decided to monetize it in like, the smallest way possible. Here's the deal: apart from this post, the "Stories" page is sacred ground. No ads or sponsored content here, ever. 

I added my SHOP content on a totally separate page so that you can choose to click on it or not. Most of the items on it are Amazon affiliate links and although I do profit ($1.47 already! #drinksonme) from you buying them through me, they are all things I own, enjoy and am asked about frequently. You'll find super sturdy cookware, all-natural skin care products and compostable household items, along with some of my favorite books about cooking. In a painfully halfhearted attempt at self-promotion and profit, here are 10 of my favorites. 

1. I've lost track of how many of you have DM'ed me about this damn lipstick. It's called Mortar & Pestle and here's the whole ingredient list: organic sunflower oil, iron and titanium oxides, beeswax, organic vitamin e. It stays on crazy well and is the kind of matte, earthy, concentrated brick red that looks surprisingly good on everyone. I don't own a single other shade. 

2. As a human who has made a career centered around her palette, I'm real weird about toothpaste. My favorite one is actually Jarvis Jasmin Mint, but since it's so pricey I usually go with my second favorite: Trader Joe's Fennel Propolis & Myrrh toothpaste. If you don't live near a Trader Joe's or if you dread the chaos of its parking lot, you can order this stuff in bulk online like I do. 

3. More Fat & the Moon goodness! Up until about six years ago I had crazy eczema. Like whole sheets of skin peeling off my face every day eczema. And I'm not saying that Fat & the Moon face oil was the magic cure, but going off of adderall, cutting out processed foods and using a gentle, castile soap-based face wash along with this oil really did eliminate 99.5% of my eczema problems. 

4. Ever recycle a plastic toothbrush? Ever bought a toothbrush that was made of recycled plastic? Yeah, me neither. I read about the Kumar family's shift to sustainability about two years ago and have been cleaning my teeth with their bamboo toothbrushes ever since. Even the packaging is compostable! 

5. Noticing a trend? I currently have the RMS magic luminizer, but my devotion to Fat & the Moon Beam will easily overrule my desire to be part of a fancy old lady cult when that little pot runs dry. 

1. I ordered these little glass spray bottles when I moved to my new place last November and they're one of those things I wonder how I lived without. I mix one part dish soap with two parts white vinegar in one of them and use it to clean everything because it will legit clean anything. Seriously, it removed burned on strawberry jam from my stovetop last week. The other one I fill with water for misting my plants and making pasta. Yeah! If your pasta dough feels dry after you've mixed in all the wet ingredients, the easiest way to incorporate more water is a little bit at a time with a spray bottle. 

2. You're not a proper cook until you own a cast iron skillet. This used to be a real cult-y thing for people with strong wrists and a good understanding of traditional seasoning techniques. But Lodge changed all that in 2002 when they invented the pre-seasoned pan and then again recently with the release of this dual handle pan that is easier to pick up. Cast iron is affordable, indestructible and it adds iron to the food you cook in it. Here is everything you need to know about owning a cast iron skillet. 

3. These guys take a little getting used to. They're stiff at first, but use them for a day or two and they'll become more pliable. It's great that they're 100% natural and compostable, but I started using them because they're extremely porous and never have that mushy, gross sponge feel or that old, rancid sponge smell. If you feel like the texture isn't fine enough to clean something, simply sprinkle them with a spoonful of baking soda. 

4. YES, the Le Creuset dutch oven in dune is much prettier. However, it's also extremely expensive and difficult to find. The Lodge version is about 1/6th of the price and once again, has great handle design, making it easier to pick up. It's one of only four pots I own, alongside the 6.75 quart Le Creuset dutch oven, the 2 quart Le Creuset dutch oven and a small, vintage copper sauce pot. 

5. I know, I know, you're like, WTF do I need a 1/4 cup springed scoop for? But I use mine constantly. It's the right size for cookies, fritters, falafel, small pancakes, croquettes, meatballs, and ice cream. It helps me portion things so that they have an even cook time and consistent look for photos. 

Two weeks, two books

Last week I had the pleasure of spending my time in Athens, GA with my dream team (Emily Dorio, Jessie Pickren, Erin Wilson, Jamie Feldmar) creating the recipe photos for Rob Newton's upcoming cookbook, Seeking the South. On the way down, Rob and I stopped for Chinese food outside of Atlanta and he asked me where I liked to hang out in Athens. Anywhere that used to take my fake ID, I said. The last time I visited I was 20 and heartbroken. I remember how dense the humidity seemed, even in January, and the haziness of my drunken stupor as I watched Jeff Tweedy play a set to a room of 100. Or maybe it was the Drive-By Truckers. I rubbed up against a certain someone and he pressed back against me, then I was carried home crying. That's how my time in Athens usually went. 

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This trip was both humid and hazy, but so, so different. By day, we worked. And worked and worked and worked. Rob fed us his famous fried chicken, curried oxtails, crab salad piled high on top of fried green tomatoes, okra pan-fried with szechuan pepper. We printed out the photos (a whopping 70 by the end of the week!) and hung them on a wall. Emily would point at it and say, marry/fuck/kill- go! And we'd name our new highs and lows. By night, we walked down dirt paths that smelled of gardenias, we swam, we drank wine, we laughed on the porch. 

You probably won't be surprised to learn that Athens is more delicious and less tragic when you are old and sane and relatively sober. No tears were shed; no dinners were lost to the sidewalk; no hands drifted to places they don't belong in public. I tore myself away from the giant jacuzzi bathtub on The Hill only twice- once to go to The National, where I inhaled a plate of okra with harissa, lamb, chickpeas, yogurt, almonds and cilantro (yes, all my favorite things) and gushed over how we don't deserve Peter Dale. And another time to go to SeaBear Oyster Bar, followed by the Manhattan Cafe, aka the only place I ever want to drink ginger beer in the future. That's where the haziness came in for this "one drink, one drunk" who had two frozen negronis and a whiskey ginger. 

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Now I am home and back on my bullshit, as the kids say. Which isn't bullshit so much as it is spending lots of time alone and being hydrated and eating vegetables and going to bed between 9 and 10pm. If last week was defined by Rob's book, this week is defined by my friend Margaret's, who you may know as Maggie Pate, Nade Studio, or my wifey. I have an advanced copy (pre-order here) of The Natural Colors Cookbook and a bunch of things she's dyed- a dress, two shirts, two aprons, some osage dyed fabric, and most recently, fabric dyed with onion skins. To say she fills my life with color and sugar and continually makes me proud to know her...might barely begin to cover my feelings in the wake of seeing her book for the first time. 

 Photos courtesy of Maggie Pate. 

Photos courtesy of Maggie Pate. 

As usual, though I am at a loss for words, I am not at a loss for food. I also happen to use onion skins regularly to flavor and dye chicken stock and the way it looks agains the onion skin dyed fabric makes me fucking giddy. I keep joking that I am in cookbook shoot recovery this week, meaning no fried chicken, sugar, frozen negronis, third dinners, etc. My meals have been a lot like this one- light and fresh, bright and comforting. If you have homemade chicken stock in your freezer- and you always should- this comes together in no time. 

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A note on making chicken stock: save the bones and skin anytime you make chicken or eat chicken at a restaurant. Pop them in a bag and store them in the freezer. In a separate bag, save the ends/peels of celery, carrots and onions. Parmesan rinds and kale stems are welcome, too. When you have enough chicken to fill a six quart pot 1/3 of the way up, make stock. Simmer chicken parts with water only for 2 hours (you can do this in the oven at 300 degrees), then add peels/ends, bay leaf, thyme if you've got it, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for at least another hour, or up to three more. Strain and freeze. 

Cookbook Shoot Recovery Soup
-serves as many or as few as you'd like

homemade chicken stock
thinly sliced vegetables such as summer squash, green beans, cabbage
sturdy pasta such as fregola
fresh herbs such as basil and mint
shaved Pecorino or Parmesan
lemon

It's pretty straightforward, friends: if you have some cooked pasta and blanched veggies on hand like I did, heat up your stock and toss them in at the end. If not, cook it all right in the stock and make sure you drop the veggies in last so they only cook for a minute or two. Serve with whole leaves of fresh basil and mint, shaved cheese, a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of black pepper. There's no right or wrong ratio of veggies to pasta or pasta to stock, though I'd say my bowl had a pretty even portion of each. 

Ugh Breakfast

My friend Crystal and I both have this ongoing bad habit of leaving coffee in our cars that has morphed into kind of a gross competition over who will drink the oldest, nastiest coffee. Every time she picks me up or vice versa, we immediately ask each other: how long has this coffee been sitting in your car? And the answer is always extra funny to me because not only does Crystal own one of the most popular restaurants in Nashville, she's worked staged at many of the best restaurants in L.A. Still, I think currently I'm winning the competition, as I have consumed such old coffee so many times that car coffee is my preferred breakfast. We can't all be fancy in all the ways, ya know? (And if you don't know, go read Keith Pandolfi's excellent piece for Serious Eats, The Case for Bad Coffee). 

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The alternative to skunky coffee isn't much better. My most ideal breakfast is cold, leftover noodles; pad see ew, drunken noodles, Two Ten Jack garlic butter noodles, and Nicoletto's fettuccini alfredo or eggplant parm over spaghetti have all really hit the spot for me. I just never know what I want first thing in the morning and if some congealed alfredo or room temp, stale coffee is ready to go...well, down the hatch. Still, every now and then I manage to make something nice in advance to have on hand for the week, like cultured roasted garlic cashew cheese on sprouted grain toast or recently- this sweet potato butter. Yeah, sweet potato butter. I considered calling it sweet potato hummus, because that's kind of what the texture is like once it's chilled- beautiful and creamy and light. But since it is without legumes of any kind, we're going with butter

On it's own this stuff is a solid, but basic blend of sweet and salty, albeit the best kind of salty because MISO. But pile it on a cold slice of cucumber with green onion oil and a sprinkle of togarashi and you're cooking with gas. Seriously: don't skip the toppings. I know it sounds ba-na-na-s to buy 3/4 of a pound of togarashi if you've never had it before, but I promise once you have it in your house you'll be sprinkling it on everything. The one I like (buy it here) is a mix of chili pepper, orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, Japanese pepper and ginger. Wait until melon season is here. Y'all are gonna be like, SHUT UP, togarashi is good sprinkled on melon- WE GET IT. Oh hey, maybe I'll eat that for breakfast come July. 

Sweet Potato Butter
-yields 1 1/2 to 2 cups

2 medium Japanese sweet potatoes (1 1/4 pounds to 1 1/2 pounds total)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1T miso paste (buy it here)

to serve:
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 large whole green onions, thinly sliced
togarashi 

1. Preheat oven to 400 and roast potatoes whole until very tender, about 1 hour. 
2. While potatoes are still warm, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh. Put it through a a potato ricer (I like this one) in a small bowl. 
3. Add butter and 1T miso paste. Mash it up and taste to see if you need a pinch of salt or a little more miso. 
4. Store in an airtight container for up to a week and serve cold. 
5. To serve: heat 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (olive oil is okay too!) over medium and throw in the white and light green parts of the green onions with a large pinch of kosher salt. Cook until soft, then add the dark green parts too if you like. When oil and potato butter are chilled, swirl a little reservoir into the potato butter and fill it with the green onion oil. Sprinkle liberally with togarashi. 

 

Lazy lady pasta

If you've ever lived alone, you know about the uphill battle of convincing yourself to make and eat something other than cheese and crackers for dinner. Actually, "cheese and crackers" is a pretty PG description of solo dinners. NPR did this story years ago with Deborah Madison about what we eat when we're alone and I think of it every single time I'm eating something like, say, a soft serve flavored KitKat topped with a schmear of miso paste. I'm so incredibly nosy about this kind of thing, so please admit to me what y'all eat when you're behind the veil of solitude in the comments. I'LL TELL YOU MINE IF YOU TELL ME YOURS.  

For now I'm going to tell ya about what I eat on nights when I muster up the motivation to make something dignified, even though it's still cheap and fast and faux fancy.

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I hesitate to even call this a recipe because it works with so many different variations. Any shape of short pasta will do, as will any white bean and most vegetables. Don't feel limited to lemon zest either- a small spoonful of dijon mustard is nice in its place and so is a large spoonful of sweet roasted garlic. I haven't tried lemon zest, mustard, and garlic all together, but I'd be willing to bet that's tasty too. As long as there's an egg yolk, 1/2 cup of well-salted starchy water, and an ounce and a half of finely grated dry cheese, you're good. The "recipe" serves two because my breakfasts aren't much more dignified than my dinners and I have a soft spot for eating cold leftovers first thing in the morning. 

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Lazy Lady Pasta
-serves two

2 cups rigatoni
1 small bunch rapini
1 large egg yolk at room temp
1t raw honey
zest of one lemon (about a heaping teaspoon)
salt and olive oil
1 cup (1.5 ounces) freshly grated pecorino, plus more for serving
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans (optional)
pepper and an herb-y garnish such as chive blossoms

1. Preheat the oven to 450 and bring a medium pot of heavily salted water to a boil. 
2. Roughly chop rapini, then blanch it in the water for 2 minutes. Pull it out with a slotted spoon and dry well.
3. Toss dried rapini with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Throw it in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the flowers and leaves are crispy. 
4. Meanwhile, cook rigatoni al dente and toward the end, reserve 1/2 cup starchy cooking water.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, honey, lemon zest and cheese. Slowly stream in pasta water as you keep stirring. Pour mixture into the same pot you used for cooking the pasta over medium low heat. 
6. Add the pasta back into the pot along with the beans and use a rubber spatula to stir everything around until the sauce looks thick and glossy. Quickly toss with rapini and serve immediately with extra cheese, pepper and herbs. 

Back at it

I landed in Nashville at midnight on a Monday and called a Lyft. As we got on the highway and I saw the skyline for the first time since December, I heard myself saying, God, I miss Nashville. I won't go into the details because they're not important, but let's just say after 24 hours in Nashville I didn't miss it at all. My journey across the country and back ended with my Mom picking me up in Murfreesboro and buying me breakfast at Chick-fil-A. 

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I came home to some surprises- a peach tree lousy with green fruit, a mulberry tree even lousier, and and army of baby chipmunks who provide me and Pixel with endless entertainment. Clearing the mulberries off the patio is quite the chore, but I gotta do it or the white tile in my kitchen gets covered in deep, almost indigo colored stains. On that note: my dear friend Maggie Pate's first book comes out in June! It's called The Natural Colors Cookbook and it's all about using food waste to dye fabric. Next week we'll be using the mulberries I've been saving to dye a linen dress on the Porter Flea Stories. Follow along- there will also be cookies and kittens because that's how we roll. 

I'm still feeling very strongly that I mostly only want to sit in my backyard and drink trash water, but I have picked up a new hobby since my trip: eating strawberries in the bathtub almost every night. Tis the season, okay? Every now and then a couple of them will make it into or onto something and if it's going to be a something, it might as well be a cake. This one has a nice, soft crumb with a greenish tint from olive oil, a tiny bite from lime zest, and a sort of savory nature from creme fraiche and a large pinch of salt. It's good company for strawberries. You can opt to put the strawberries in it or on it or both- there's no wrong answer. And if you don't have creme fraiche (here's how to make it for cheap, btw), go ahead and sub in more ricotta. But you're gonna to want to have some creme fraiche or some unsweetened whipped cream for serving. 
 

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Ricotta Lime Snacking Cake
-serves eight

1 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1t kosher salt
2t baking powder
zest of one lime (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
1 1/4 cups full fat ricotta
1/4 cup creme fraiche*
3 large eggs at room temp
1/4 teaspoon orange extract or splash of orange blossom water (optional)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 1/4 cups strawberries sliced into 1/2" pieces
1T turbinado sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom a 9" pan with tall, straight sides with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and zest. In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, creme fraiche and orange extract.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and whisk until mostly homogenous. Switch to a spatula and fold in the olive oil, followed by 1 cup berries if you've decided to put them in the cake. 
4. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining berries and turbinado sugar. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
5. Serve with more creme fraiche and berries. If you put berries in the cake and have leftovers, wrap it up tight and store it in the fridge. 

Starting Over, Again

My brothers both got divorced and went through a period of transition where they were able to redefine themselves, my new friend Mia said to me on St. Patrick's Day. I smiled and nodded and knew that time was coming for me too, but I wasn't there yet. The end of February through the beginning of April was a haze of general dissatisfaction, which of course I gaged by taste. Nothing tasted strong or bright or exciting to me. A few things I recognized objectively as good (hello, there's no denying those Two Ten Jack spicy crab noodles), but after meals I'd feel like I never wanted to eat again and also...starving? Is there some perfect German or Japanese word for that sensation? 

Anyway, I am finally well into the phase of defining the next thing, a task that I've been faced with many times before. A task? More like assignment that I haven't exactly passed with flying colors. More on that soon, but for now, here's a nice, long post about the things that restored my sense of taste, hunger and satisfaction.

Chicago
As it turns out, going through a transitional period in your hometown with everyone and (literally) your mother making wild assumptions about your feelings and needs...isn't ideal. Getting the hell outta dodge is recommended, despite its discomfort. No sooner had I boarded the plane to Chicago, I thought, what am I doing? All I ever want to do is lay in my back yard and drink trash water. And then I got there and met this guy. I have been waiting to meet him for more than five years. I introduced his parents to one another and told them to make a baby and they went and freaking did it! He came into this world five years to the day I gave the order and his Father says this is proof I am a witch. I hope he calls me and yells at me a lot when he has his first existential crisis, which will obviously be all my fault. Suffice it to say I love him. 

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Here we are at Dove's Luncheonette on that day it snowed. We (his parents and I, that is) ate sweet golden beets over mole sauce, topped with pickled golden raisins and sesame seeds and mint. Crispy potatoes with shishito peppers, cheddar cheese aioli, scallions and queso fresco. A breakfast cemita absolutely doused in maple syrup. And possibly the only pancake I've ever actually loved. Why do pancakes taste better when it snows?? 

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Every time I go to Chicago, I am stuffed to the gills 24/7 and this time was no exception. I'm beginning to think that unyielding hunger is a standard trait of native Chicagoans. Maybe hunger and satisfaction are contagious. Maybe I caught them in Chicago. My first dinner was at Split Rail, current haunt of Zoe Schor, friend of my friend Caroline Galzin. Now pause for a sec and recall that I didn't drink for all of February. Have you ever done that? It wrecks your alcohol tolerance and I was kind of one drink, one drunk already. So I get to Split Rail with my friend who just had a baby and also hasn't been drinking, and we each down half a cocktail and act like we're 18 again, sipping on Smirnoff Ice. We couldn't stop laughing at how much bread her baby was eating and Zoe sent out a whole order of bread just for him. As we stumbled out the door, we agreed that Zoe had forever altered our opinion of avocado toast for the better. 

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Going out to eat with other people who don't let me take total control of ordering is um, special. Most of the time I don't feel like it goes well. But not so with John, my friend's brother. One sunny morning he picked us up and drove us to Cellar Door Provisions. He insisted I eat quiche there and I wouldn't have complied with such an order from pretty much anyone else. I told him, this is my late quarter-life crisis, early mid-life crisis carbz tour across America and quiche is #offbrand. To which he replied, stop pretending like you're eating more carbs on vacation than you normally do at home. The quiche is crazy. Like a savory pot de creme baked into a perfect crust. I love it. The bread and the butter and the croissants and the smoked sweet potatoes? I don't hate them either. He sympathized with my ongoing desire for carbs took us straight from Cellar Door Provisions to Loba for coffee and canele and danishes. 

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Leaving Chicago was hard and going to California sucked. I mean...pass. Just pass. I don't even want to talk about it. All I can say is that I am glad I'm at a point in my life where I don't feel obligated to do a damn thing, not even stay in San Francisco to eat sourdough bread. So I changed my flight and went to Portland early. 

PNW/Portland

Hey PNW, y'all make me feel like we live life all wrong this side of the Mississippi. The clean air, the functional city design, the reliable and spacious public transportation, the dispensaries, the professional and happy humans, I mean, Jesus, for a place that doesn't love Jesus, Jesus sure has blessed you. J/k y'all blessed yourselves. Good job. Good self care. If you've lived in Portland for an extended amount of time, maybe don't visit Nashville. You might pull your hair out. 

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The weekend I arrived my friend Meghan (there she is at Falcon Cove, OR)- for some reason I still don't fully understand- was in possession of a free rental BMW. I had never met the Pacific Ocean face to face, so we hit the road heading West. I'm not a travel writer and I'm not sure what to say about our first encounter at Canon Beach other than holy fuck??????????????

What I can say is this: the things that crawl around in the Pacific Ocean should not be eaten anywhere else except beside it. Pancakes taste better in the snow, crab tastes better in the salty mist. A co-worker of Meghan's told us we must, must, must, absolutely had to stop at Kelly's Marina in Rockaway Beach and she wasn't wrong. We nearly missed it, but I guess that's a common thing because there's a sign about a 1/4 mile past Kelly's parking lot that says something like, Looking for Kelly's? Turn Around. When we found it, I basically ran in and I pulled out a wad of cash that had been handed to me under the table for some recent styling work. I bought three pounds of freshly steamed Dungeness crab, plus one hollow crab shell filled with melted butter. Meghan did the same, but purchased a dozen raw oysters and a pound of sweet little clams. 

I was about 2 oysters, 1/2 pound of clams and a pound of crab in before I realized I was legit standing up and attacking these already dead sea creatures. I kept going, seated, and at the end washed it all down with wine from a can. 

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I was in Portland long enough to wonder around aimlessly without plans and not feel like I was wasting precious time. On my first weekday alone I followed the smell of chicken cooking in a wood-fired oven into this tiny place called Shalom Y'all and it has changed the course of my entire summer. Like, I knew I loved Moroccan mint tea, but somehow I forgot. As soon as I got back to Chattanooga, I started planning and planting my garden around having enough space to grow mint for tea. I'm still not sure the mint I planted will be able to keep up with my new tea habit. Oh, the chicken was every bit as good as it smelled.

And while we're chatting about drinks, let's talk about the water at PokPok. YEAH, THE WATER. It's infused with pandan leaves, which are said to help with digestion, but I don't really care what they do because they make water taste like it's from the promised land. Sweet and emollient, and a wonderfully surprising thing to find satisfying. 

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I have saved the best for last, as one does. Surprise, surprise: it involves a beloved sourdough starter (Jake), local cheese, lots of extra fresh vegetables, ice cream, and a lady chef (Sarah Minnick). I'm talking about Lovely's Fifty Fifty. The pizza we ordered came topped generously with morels, ramps, roasted spring onions, fresh sheep's cheese, arugula, foraged wood violets, and wild mustard greens. I think this is where I'm supposed to make some awful analogy about Springtime and rebirth, but let's skip it and keep talking about pizza, okay? 

Sarah's crust is the gold standard. Even the flour she uses is freshly milled in Oregon and she's talented enough to change the ratio of different kinds of wheat throughout the year. The center is paper thin, crazy strong, and doesn't get soggy at all. The edges are pillowy and burned in all the right places. Not charmed enough yet? Her pizza oven gets up to 900 degrees thanks to wood specially chopped by her Mother. The servers will let you taste as much ice cream as you want before you make a decision, but it's a poorly kept secret that you can order off menu- three mini scoops instead of one big one. I settled on gianduja, which is a lot like Nutella, but with a higher ratio of hazelnut to chocolate. 

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Hot weather, cold salads

Temperatures and tempers have been escalating lately. And nothing is more uncomfortable than a body full of heat or anger, except maybe a body enraged by both. I can't say this has been the hottest summer of my life, since I spent one summer semester in Boston living in a 5th floor walk up that practically jutted out over I-90, with no AC at all. I feel asleep every night on the floor in my underwear, engulfed by the noise of box fans and buzzing traffic, fantasizing about my next door neighbor Jay- formerly a huge tease and currently the lead singer of California Wives. Back then I cooled off by sneaking into the Boston University law library, one of the only properly air conditioned buildings within a one mile radius of my apartment, and cuddling up to Jay for a nap. Now, no such option. 

The heat in Boston offered no reparation- it was 105 every day for a week that year and fresh farm produce was way, I mean way out of my budget. I'm serious: one time I paid $8 for a single heirloom tomato at the Copley Square market as an indulgence. But as long as a I reside in the South, hellish heat is a price I will gladly pay, if only temporarily, for proper okra and tomatoes. And cucumbers and peppers and zucchini. All the things that happen to absolve the body from the effects of high temperatures. 

The heat breaks each night at 9:30 and although that's normally when I'd be winding down, I'm not wholly myself in July and August. I perk right up as soon as I have the chance to turn my oven on without throwing off the delicate balance of airflow in my home. Most recently I've been roasting vegetables that keep well and enable me to make a fine lunch the next day during the long daylight hours. 

I developed a dressing to suit them all, inspired by my friend Molly Martin who staged with Yotam Ottolenghi in London and taught me that dressing sticks to veggies (basically anything that isn't lettuce or greens) best when it's thickened with roasted garlic. And when I say "roasted," I mean GBDAF: golden brown and delicious as fuck. Not just soft. Not just a little brown. I mean fully the shade and smell of caramel. 

I'm about as lazy as cooks come, so I make a two veggie/one herb salad on my best of days. My favorites have been: roasted okra with cucumbers at cilantro (pictured), roasted sweet potato with avocado and chives, and roasted rainbow carrots with mint and chile flakes. Maybe if I've slept particularly well the night before, I throw on some extra sesame seeds and a soft boiled egg, also pre-cooked and chilled under the cover of night. 

Roasted garlic sesame dressing
-yields about 1/3 cup. I recommend making as much as one head of garlic will give you. 

1T roasted garlic
2T coconut sugar
2T toasted sesame oil
3T lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic so that all the cloves are exposed. Place in a sturdy piece of tin foil and drizzle generously with grapeseed oil and salt. Wrap tightly.
3. Bake garlic on a small sheet pan for an hour, or until the cloves are deeply golden brown. Let it cool completely before handling.
4. Combine all ingredients with fork or in a small food processor until garlic is smooth and sugar is dissolved. 
5. Serve drizzled over cold roasted or fresh vegetables (see suggestions above). 

Bloomsbury Farm, Week...I Lost Track

I've completely lost track of time this Summer. So far it's been a blurry montage of work and hip pain punctuated by small joys, like the banana split at Henrietta Red or free soft serve from Lulu (oh my god, is all my happiness ice cream based?). More accurately, it has been defined by omission- a distinct lack of popsicles, swimming, floating, concerts, jumping, kissing, sleeping, reading, camping, adventure...you get the picture.

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What I've been lacking in quality Summer fun, I've made up for in quantity of vegetables. Cabbage and broccoli and kale and cauliflower and sprouts and tomatoes and radishes and kohlrabi and collards and chard up to my eyeballs. I've been making sweet and salty caramelized cabbage pasta over and over with miso paste added at the end instead of anchovies at the beginning. And I can't get enough of this recipe for swiss chard cooked down with cream and shallots, which I spoon over polenta or grits. Cherry tomatoes halved and tossed in buttermilk herb dressing are basically the bread and butter of my kitchen at the moment. 

My obsession with fritters continues to grow, but I've lost both the time and motivation to use potatoes as their binder. Good thing cheddar cheese works just as well! You know how the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich is that little bit of filling that's escaped and gotten all crispy and caramelized in the pan? Yeah, that's what the outer texture of these broccoli cheddar fritters is like. The inside is light and fluffy, pancake-y almost, thanks to oat flour which you can make yourself in a food processor. 

Broccoli Cheddar Fritters
-makes roughly 16 small fritters

1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 medium head broccoli, finely chopped
1 small box sprouts, roughly chopped
3 large handfuls shredded cheddar- about 7 ounces*
1/2 cup finely chopped herbs**
zest of one lemon
grapeseed oil for frying

1. Mix the first four ingredients together in a medium bowl, then add vegetables, cheese and herbs.
2. Let sit for 20 minutes. Mix again. 
3. Preheat a pan over medium heat, then add 1/8" oil. 
4. Portion out mixture into 2T fritters and fry until golden brown, about 3 min per side.
5. Serve ASAP with tzatziki

*I used good ol' Kerrygold
*You'll need at least one pungent herb, such as garlic scapes, green onions, or dill. If you don't have any of those on hand, use a finely chopped shallot. Parsley, tarragon, chives, lovage, and celery leaves are all good supporting players. 
 

Bloomsbury Farm CSA Week 1, Part 2

You'll notice that my CSA posts have only odd numbers. That's because I pick up a large basket of veggies every other week. It's the perfect amount of food for me and Dan, with enough to spare for one or two IYSTD's (Invite Yourself to Dinners). So let's get two topics out of the way before we proceed: storage and supplemental shopping lists. 

I'm not going to go into great detail about how to properly store your veggies because it's already been covered extremely well here. I will say that plastic baggies are by far the worst and most wasteful way to keep vegetables; I'm a big fan of eight and 12 ounce mason jars, multi-size deli containers and glass snapware. All three are BPA-free, last for ages, plus they stack and freeze well. I'm looking forward to trying bee's wrap, but of course, you can achieve a similar effect in most circumstances by placing a plate and a jar of pickles on top of a bowl. It's basically a crime to let beautiful produce or a beautiful meal go bad because you don't time or proper storage on hand, but let's get real: it's a crime we all commit every now and then and I ain't about mandatory sentencing. Make a point to forgive yourself on the spot when it happens and pay your penance by giving the spoiled goods back to nature via your compost bin. 

Now on to the fun stuff: carbs! That's mostly what I buy at the grocery store to round out the meals I make with CSA produce- brown or white basmati rice, farro, fresh frozen ramen noodles, frozen sprouted corn tortillas, tortilla chips, sourdough bread, lentils, black beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes. I also usually grab milk or buttermilk, eggs, lemons, one type of nut or seed, one type of cheese, shallots, onions, garlic, ginger and a protein such as Short Mountain Cultures black eyed pea tempeh. And don't forget condiments! My kitchen is never without dijon and whole grain mustard, sesame oil, hot sauce, kimchi, miso paste, honey, a couple kinds of vinegar, olive oil and grapeseed oil. Meat is a rarely on my list (read Eating Animals if you haven't already!), but when it is I go for sustainably raised, cheap cuts that can do double duty. Bone-in chicken thighs or leg quarters are a favorite, simply because they have lots of connective tissue and can be used to make stock after the meat is eaten. 

I've been planning to do an outdoor IYTD with chicken and cabbage salad since I picked up my CSA share a week and a half ago because cabbage is an extra patient vegetable and as you'll remember, I quick pickled the carrots to extend their patience. I did a truly piss poor job of inviting people and my big, backyard to-do turned out to be just me and my dear friend, my first ever chef friend, Max Clement. He came by and wrote this recipe for buttermilk herb dressing (aka RANCH) and kept our chicken from burning while I ran inside a dozen different times. Max happens to make a great grilled cabbage and pickled peanut salad at the restaurant where he works in Philly, but mine is inspired by Nashville local John Stephenson, who was the first chef I interviewed about a thousand years ago when I was working for an online magazine that was um, maybe a drug front. He's been at the helm of a few very beloved kitchens in town and of all his food I've eaten over the years, maybe my favorite dish of his is a grilled Napa wedge with roasted carrots, walnuts, smoked gouda and buttermilk dressing. 

Napa cabbage is the perfect candidate for grilling; it has a mild flavor, nice crunch, and it holds up better than romaine over high heat. The crimped edges of its leaves pick up just the right amount of char and and smokiness from the grill, which taste so, so, so good with creamy buttermilk dressing. And its patient nature does not fade away with the heat of the coals- leftovers will taste just as good for several days after you assemble this salad. 

This meal is pictured with grilled sweet potatoes, which you can make by slicing 1/2" rounds, blanching them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then throwing them on the grill for 5-7 minutes per side with a little salt and oil. 

Basic Grilled Chicken
serves 6-8

4 to 6 pounds bone in, skin on chicken
3 cups buttermilk
1T kosher salt
1T raw honey
1T dijon mustard
1T vinegar based hot sauce such as Frank's
meat thermometer

1. Whisk together salt, honey, mustard and hot sauce, followed by buttermilk. 
2. Pour marinade over chicken in a large casserole dish. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least eight hours, or up to 48. 
3. Light your coals and distribute them so that most of them are on one side of the grill. No need to rinse or pat chicken dry- just place it on the side with little to no coals, skin side down. Close the lid and leave for 15ish minutes, then flip (they will look pale- that's okay!), leaving chicken on the cool side of the grill. Close the lid and leave it another 15ish minutes. 
4. Take the chicken's temperature. You're looking for it to be oh, in the 145-150 degree range. Move chicken to the hot side of the grill and keep a close eye on it. You'll want to flip it around a few times, but it should get a really nice golden brown color with a little char after 5 or so minutes.
5. Make sure the middle of the chicken registers at least 160- the temperature will continue to climb as you let it rest another 10 minutes before serving. 

Grilled Napa Wedge
-serves eight as a side dish

one large Napa cabbage
one 8oz jar pickled carrots (see Week One)
a small amount of something fatty and salty, such as a couple ounces good blue cheese or 3-4 pieces thick cut bacon (pictured: beef bacon)
buttermilk herb dressing- recipe follows*

1. If you're using bacon, go ahead and cook it to your liking.
2. Cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise and brush the edges with bacon grease or grapeseed oil. Lift open the leaves a little bit and sprinkle in some kosher salt.
3. Grill cabbage on the cool side of the grill, turning once, for 20 minutes.
4. Transfer wedges to the hot side of the grill and let them sit for a couple minutes until just charred, flipping once. 
5. Cut the cores off and chop remaining pieces in half. Cover with crumbled bacon, pickled carrots and dressing.

*If your friends or family are very into sauce, you'll want to double this recipe so that they can put it on the chicken and other sides. 

Buttermilk Herb Dressing
-makes about a cup

1/2 cup good buttermilk
1/3 cup full fat greek yogurt
2T grated shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped herbs (think: parsley, basil, dill, tarragon)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix it all together! 
 

Bloomsbury Farm CSA Week 1

Hey, it's me, your friend who showed up to her CSA pick up location 15 minutes before the farmer even arrived. I just really like vegetables, okay? I'd say my affection is partially because my Mom (happy Mother's Day!) fed me things like sweet potato pie and broccoli casserole instead of baby food, and partially because I'm still an ADHD child who stops and oggles over anything shiny or brightly colored or with an interesting texture. And a Bloomsbury Farm CSA basket is all of those things. Please join me on my bizarre joy ride of produce once a week for the next 23 (!) weeks to read about what I'm doing with the contents of my baskets. 

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In my basket this week, I have:
Napa Cabbage
Fennel
Haruki Turnips
Beets
Straighter Head Lettuce
Kale
Carrots
Easter Egg Radishes
Parsley
Alfalfa Sprouts
Strawberries

The strawberries didn't even make it all the way back to my house and I suspect yours didn't either. I usually throw any kind of sprouts into smoothies, but I'm going to give you recipes and ideas for what to do with the rest of this produce. Email me and let me know if you have questions or requests!  

We'll start with my go-to solution for any vegetable and it just so happens to please those among us who insist on refraining from meat, dairy, eggs, gluten, or vegetables in general: the fritter. All you do is puree or chop up the cooked vegetable up and mix it with potato, egg, flour and some spices. Flax eggs and potato starch will happily sit in for the real stuff and the variations are endless! You can add in pickled greens, beet greens, kimchi, grated or cooked root vegetables, cheese, herbs, or any kind of spice that tickles your fancy. 

The other really nice thing about the fritter is that the batter freezes well in individual portions. At some point this summer, you're going to get sick of kale or cabbage or collards and fritters are a great way to make like a squirrel with your momentarily unwanted greens. They're a hearty, quick breakfast alongside an egg during the winter. Yes, mine got a little extra crispy because my fur husband chewed on our good spatula until the handle came off and as you can imagine, it was very difficult to flip the fritters. 

I'm setting aside the cabbage for next week, when I'll be making a grilled Napa wedge salad with a parsley buttermilk dressing alongside some nice, smoky chicken. I also quick pickled about half of the carrots and all the radishes. Don't overthink pickling- just make sure you're using a 1:1 ratio filtered water and a vinegar that isn't aged. For an 8 ounce jar, I use 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, a spoonful (2ish teaspoons) of raw cane sugar and whatever spices I have on hand, usually a sprig of dill, a garlic clove, 1/2t yellow mustard seeds, and a few peppercorns. That's it! The carrots will go on the napa salad next week and the radishes will wait for taco or nacho night. 

A friend of mine gave me this nice olive oil that's pressed with the rind of blood oranges and it happens to go quite nicely with the remaining contents of this week's basket. I used it to make a big batch of dressing for two salads. The first isn't pictured, but it's rubbed curly kale with roasted beets, quick pickled red onions and ricotta salata. The second is comprised of straighter head lettuce, paper thin slices of fennel and radish, and spicy green olives. It's a pleasing, light dinner alongside the turnip fritters, but if you or yours are the type that insists on eating meat, I think salmon would be a nice choice. Get a big piece, cover it with a couple pats of butter, sliced shallots, salt and little half moons of lemon. Stick it in a cold oven, set it to 400, and wait 20 minutes. Better yet, have a dinner party and ask someone else to bring salmon. 
 

Turnip Fritters
-makes 12 small fritters
The batter can be made ahead, then frozen in 1/4 cup patties. Sub a second potato for turnips if you don't have turnips or are folding in other vegetables. 


1 bunch turnips with greens (10 ounces of root, if you must know)
1 medium/large russet potato (12 ounces total, after peeling)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped green onions, green part only
1/4 cup flour*
3/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t white pepper**
oil for frying
yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche to serve

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Peel potato and cut into eight even pieces. Cut turnips roots in half (do not discard greens!). Boil both until fork tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove vegetables from pot with a slotted spoon, then drain and run under cool water. Dry well. Cut away any large stems from the turnip greens, then drop them into the same pot for another 5-10 minutes. Drain, squeeze out excess liquid and chop finely. 
4. Push potatoes and turnip roots through a vegetable ricer if you have one, or spin them around in a food processor until smooth.
5. Gently fold green onions, turnip greens, salt, pepper, egg and flour into the turnip mixture. 
6. Heat a large skillet over medium with 1/4" oil. 
7. Spoon mixture into the pan and press it flat with the back of a spatula. Fry about three minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
8. Drain on compostable brown paper bags and serve immediately. 

* You can use potato start to make these GF.
** If you're one of those weenies who's averse to "spicy" food, maybe only use 1/4 t white pepper. 


Sorta Provencal Salad
-serves 6

one large head lettuce
one small bulb fennel, with fronds
as many pickled radishes as you like
your favorite spicy olives
dreamy orange dressing

1. It's a salad. Toss that shit together. 

Dreamy Orange Dressing
-yields about two cups
If you're using this for a salad with less piquant toppings, consider adding dijon mustard to taste at the end. 


1 small shallot, roughly chopped
2T water
3T white balsamic vinegar
2T orange marmalade
1 large egg yolk
1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed
1/2 cup olive oil*
3/4 t kosher salt

1. In a blender or stand mixer, puree shallot, water, vinegar and marmalade until smooth. 
2. Add egg yolk and give it a whir! 
3. While the blender or mixer is running, slowly stream in oils. 
4. Add salt and taste. 

*I used 1/4 cup regular olive oil and 1/4 cup Galena Garlic Blood Orange Olive Oil. Regular olive oil will do just fine. 

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Reasons Why

I'm tired and I hate everything.

That's kind of my natural state. 

I say "kind of" because like anyone, I have my soft spots- two, actually. One is this time of year, the waking of a Souther Summer, humid and humming, smelling of hard pine and honeysuckle, of wet sandstone and cold dew. The dappled light coming through my windows by way of the newly leafy sweet gum tree in my back yard practically has the same effect on me as laughing gas; one minute I'm sitting at my desk, grumpy and grumbly as ever, and next thing I know, I'm giggling on the floor, loving forgiving of all creatures, a person I do not know or recognize. 

That's who I wish I was, really, instead of this modern day Sisyphus, pushing around the dead weight rock of fear and pity and guilt. On the floor, laughing, it's obvious that all the things the rock is made of amount to worry, which as we all know, but tend to forget, is a misuse of the imagination. How good it feels to let go, to be weightless, if only temporarily. 

Using my imagination properly is how I discovered my second soft spot: feeding other people. Two years ago, I had an ongoing surplus of food leftover from various photoshoots and I wanted to save it from the trash can. I'm not gonna lie to y'all- it didn't go great at first. Most soup kitchens won't take food that has been opened or that has been sitting out all day. And most friends don't want to take something ridiculous like five pounds of pea tendrils off your hands on a whim. So the obvious options were out. Then I tried this thing, this amazing thing: I wrote on my personal social media outlets "I'm making [insert dish] on [insert day] at [insert time]. Any and all are welcome. Invite yourself in the comments." 

Worry whispered to me that I was making more work for myself, more dishes, more trouble overall. I'd have to figure out what to make, drive to the store, spend extra money on supplemental items, cook, do dishes, clean my house, try to keep my dog from humping any pretty brunette guests, TALK TO PEOPLE!, do more dishes, and of course, lay awake all night wondering if my guests were disgusted by my house or my jokes or my cooking. Worse yet, it whispered, maybe no one will come at all. And I'm not sure how, but there in the middle of a whirlwind of worrisome whispers, I found the eye of the storm, the place where I reminded myself that none of this had actually happened. What if I decide to feed other people and don't look for a reason not to, I wondered? What if all of these annoying things do happen, and I still find joy? 

And I did. Again and again. 


For practical reasons and because I grew up reading Southern Living and Martha Stewart articles with lists about how to throw a great dinner party, I do have a few recommendations for implementing your own "Invite Yourself to Dinner:" 

Clean your house enough so that there is no visible mold, sticky gunk, or tumbleweeds of human or pet hair (this is how you wanted to live anyway, right?) 
Make something cheap in one pot (ahem, like lentil salad with asparagus) 
Ask at least one guest to bring at least one thing*
Ask at least one guest to help with at least one thing
SIT DOWN DURING DINNER
Play fun music! 

Have boundaries; decide on a set time you want to kick people out and have a polite line ready to let them know the party is over

*People do suck though, so the one thing should be simple. Think, like bread or beer.

Spring Lentil Salad
-serves 6 as a main dish, 12 as a side
Can be made up to a week ahead; blanch and add asparagus right before serving to keep it verdant. 


2 cups French lentils or lentils du puy
4 cups good chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 large shallots
a couple Tablespoons butter and grapeseed oil
2 heaping Tablespoons capers
zest of one preserved lemon, finely chopped*
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup roughly chopped dill
1 cup parsley leaves (about half a bunch)
1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
bread, olive oil, flaky salt and soft boiled eggs to serve
medium sized pot with a lid (4ish quarts)

1. Cut tough ends off of asparagus. Roughly chop the tender parts and blanch them in salted, boiling water for one minute. Place them directly into ice water to cool, then drain well. 
2. Pour most of the water out of the pot and bring it to a boil. Insert a steamer basket into the bottom, fill it with large eggs and place the lid tightly on. Steam eggs for 7 minutes, then put them directly into an ice bath as well. 
3. Dump the all water from the pot and replace it with chicken stock, wine, lentils and a very, very large pinch of salt. Bring the liquid to a hearty simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is gone and the lentils are starting to soften to your liking. Drain excess liquid.
4. Melt one Tablespoon of butter with one Tablespoon grapeseed oil over medium low heat. Thinly slice shallots into little half moons and cook slowly with a little bit of salt until nicely caramelized.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar, and olive oil. Add capers, herbs, lemon zest, asparagus and cooked lentils. When shallots have cooled, add them too. 
6. Reserve any oil leftover from the shallots and add another pat or two of butter. Fry bread in it.
7. To peel the eggs, crack on the bottom, the top and then gently roll them under your palm so that they are cracked all over. Begin peeling on the fat end and use running water to help separate the shell from the egg. Cut over a plate using a wire tied to a cabinet handle. 

*I made my own preserved lemons using Meyer lemons and this recipe. They are also available pre-made at many grocers, but they vary in levels of saltiness and sourness, so please add with caution. If you can't find them, just use lemon zest and a little extra salt. 

Feed Yourself

When I first moved to Nashville, enough years ago that Nashville was not yet cool, I lived in a rent controlled apartment downtown. It was 503 square feet; I could spit into the sink while laying in bed. And because it was between two elevators, each night my dreams were infiltrated by a soft ding, ding, ding, mingled with the stereotypical bachelorette and bro noises rising up from 2nd Avenue. 

I found myself out on 2nd Avenue more often than I'd like to admit- for cheap beer, for takeout wings from Hooter's, for shows where friends in the band pulled me on stage to twirl me around. Then I'd walk home late at night by myself, wondering if I should feel uncomfortable because of the man who had flashed me in broad daylight a block from my place or the woman who went missing from my building or my ex-boyfriend who stalked me a little. 

Back at my apartment, a great eighth floor fortress that had proven impenetrable to two out of three of these dangers, I was grateful that I could see out, but no one could see in. Maybe for the first time ever, no one was watching me- not my parents or roommate or boyfriend or neighbor. Cheap beer, once the driving force behind some of my more shameful moments, became the catalyst for a miracle; it melted away an ever-present internal looking glass. I was no longer watching myself, no longer painfully and constantly wallowing in my flaws, which I considered to be everything from "cheater" to "wobbly arms." 

In the absence of the looking glass I was not Alice in Wonderland, nor was I Lucy in Narnia, and I certainly wasn't Moses on top of the mountain. I was just me, blind and deaf to every noise, thought and standard in the whole world except for my own voice yelling the same thing that drives most inebriated people to make their best and worst decisions: TO HELL WITH IT! It said, I said, screw all the rules about not eating after 7pm, screw your 800 calories per day, screw bikini bodies and stevia and adderall and zumba and quinoa. It said, I said: do something "wrong," eat something "wrong." 

I listened. I took all my clothes off. I opened the windows. I baked a chocolate cake and sat still while I watched it rise in the oven. That's what I needed. That's what I gave myself. That was the beginning. "Wrong" was so right. 

Two or three evenings spent alone in this manner and I was hooked. I began to wonder what else I could give to myself besides an hour of freedom and a slice of chocolate cake- grace, mercy, generosity, forgiveness, patience, appreciation? And if I was capable of being more than the sum of my flaws- real or perceived, physical or spiritual- was it possible that I could give grace, mercy, generosity, forgiveness, patience, or appreciation to other people? To anyone, to everyone?

That seems like a big task to me. It did then and it does now. But now I know where to start. When I catch myself doing what I think is the worst possible thing- being quick to anger and slow to love- I regularly go back to square one and make something just for myself to remember that a single slice of cake gave me hope and brought me peace. So much so that I now know the answer is yes. Yes, feeding yourself and feeding other people can absolutely make grace and mercy and generosity and forgiveness and patience and appreciation possible among us. 

These days, periods of alone time are few and far between and what I need is a little different. For starters, sugar and alcohol and 30+ years on this planet simply do not mix (you'll soon learn what I'm talking about if you do not already know), so if I am going to drink a beer or two, cake is definitely out of the question. Plus, it's not so much about the end result anymore; I'm all about the comfort in discomfort along the way. I want to be excited by the spatter of hot oil on my skin. I want to laugh in the face of worry when I get raw egg on my hands and do not wash them. I want my whole kitchen (nope, my whole apartment- I've only moved up in the world to 750 square feet) to reek of trout for two days as a memorandum of hope when I do not have time to stop and feed myself. 

For those of you from the South who are familiar with croquettes, this is the Spanish version. They're a little less "overcooked canned salmon" and a little more "salty stuff suspended in fluffy mashed potatoes." You can bread them in whatever you have on hand- saltines, salt & vinegar chips and regular breadcrumbs all work well (all pictured). And as far as things to eat while drinking beer go, their goodness is on par with mung bean pancakes, Teresa Mason's fried avocado tacos, xiao long bao, Jess Benefield's crispy rice/spicy tuna, and Prince's hot chicken...ALRIGHT, everything salty and fried tastes good with beer, but especially croquetas, especially alone and without pants. 

Smoked Trout Croquetas
makes 12-15 small croquettes

about 5.5 ounces smoked trout*
1 pound yellow potatoes
3 large eggs
1t vinegar-based hot sauce such as Frank's
2T salted butter, melted and cooled
1/2ish cup chopped green onions, green and light green parts only
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup bread crumbs, crushed chips or crackers, etc. 
4ish cups oil for frying**

1. Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in very salty water until just fork tender. Place in ice bath and drain well.
2. Put potatoes through ricer if you're like, an actual chef or a mashed potato fanatic. If you're just a regular person who doesn't own a ricer, use a microplane or the backside of a box grater. 
3. Drain trout well and flake it with a fork. Mix it with one egg, the butter, and the green onions.
4. Gently fluff trout mixture into the potatoes with a fork.
5. Form small egg-shaped croquetas, about a scant quarter cup each (mine are all exactly 1.5 ounces, if you must know). 
6. While your oil is heating up in a cast iron skillet or a small dutch oven, set up your breading station. Beat the remaining two eggs with hot sauce, then portion out your flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Dip croquetas in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.
7. When your oil has reached 350, or when you throw in a cracker and it spits and spatters loudly, drop in your croquetas, three to five of them at a time, depending on the size of your pan or pot. Give them a minute or two on each side before turning. 
8. Drain oil off on a paper towel and make something red and creamy to dip them in. Saffron aioli is good, so is roasted red pepper aioli (recipe follows.) 

*That's the meat from two cans of Trader Joe's smoked trout.
**Get real: nothing beats peanut oil. Rice bran oil is a good second choice; grapeseed oil will do. 

Roasted Red Pepper aioli
yields about 1.5 cups

1 cup good mayo
1 roasted red pepper, patted dry
1 large clove garlic, crushed
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper

1. Blend everything together in a food processor except salt and pepper. Taste it and add salt and pepper as needed.