Saturday, November 1, 2014

Turning Two + Pumpkin Cheesecake


Evelyn turned two on October 20th. It's hard to believe she used to be a tiny, helpless baby when now she runs, jumps, speaks in sentences, and has a true personality. For her birthday party, I decided to go with the toddler trifecta: bubbles, balloons, and birthday cake. You really can't go wrong with that.

Except instead of a traditional birthday cake, I wanted to make something that everyone would want to eat. So I decided on pumpkin cheesecake (recipe below). I knew one would not be enough, so I planned to make two. Then I wondered, maybe I need more? I decided ahead of time to pull the double chocolate cookies I had made previously out of the freezer to serve with the cheesecake. Then the night before, I thought we might need more dessert. I whipped up some chocolate lavender cupcakes. Needless to say, I was maybe looking for excuses to bake new things I hadn't tried before.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Farm Dinner


I recently had the delightful opportunity to cook a four course dinner for my friends and neighbors. Last year at the Whitelock Community Farm Annual FUNdraiser (which you can attend this year, coming up on November 8th!), they bid on and won a dinner for two at the farm.

I enjoyed planning the menu around produce available from the farm as well as making it fall inspired. And since I know Courtney and Jonathan, I knew which ingredients to avoid and which to embrace, for example, nuts are out, and cardamom is a sure thing.

The Meal

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Short List: Lunch and Dinner


Summer is winding down. I'm about to pull up the remaining tomato plants, pickle the green ones, and plant some cool weather kale and radishes. The nights are cool and the days are warm and breezy. I always say that my favorite season is when they change. I love the excitement of cooler temperatures and turning leaves. When fall gives way to winter, I love the smell of snow and pulling out warm scarves and boots. Spring brings life and joy, and summer means swimming. At the start of fall, I will savor warm comfort food, go apple picking (and making apple butter), and eat out on the picnic table for as long as we can stand it. And host fire pit parties.

I owe you a second short list. I posted the previous one here, one that highlighted brunch and dessert. This list is all about lunch and dinner. The idea behind it is highlighting my go to recipes if I don't want to do much thinking or if unexpected guests are coming. These are all recipes that I do well, and it surprised me to look over them and see that most of them are soups or stews. Add some homemade bread or rolls, and you're all set. Here is the list.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bacon Fat, Chard Stems, and Fennel Fronds


What do these three things have in common? They usually end up as food waste. Me, being the thrifty gal I am, I like to try and use everything. Even fennel fronds

I used to pour off my bacon fat and discard it. Then the low-fat craze ended (for most) and I realized that I cook with olive oil. And butter. They are fat. Bacon fat is fat. Why am I throwing it away? Silly me. Save it in a jar in the fridge. I use it to fry eggs, saute veggies, and grease the pan for cornbread. I save my olive oil for salad dressing and my butter for baking.

But wait, you say. Even with fats being allowed in a normal diet, isn't bacon fat too high in saturated fat? I recently read an interesting article about our body's very real need for saturated fats. The link between heart disease and saturated fats has been debunked. The real killer is refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) and unhealthy oils, such as canola oil and and soy oil. I'm not sure how well I do avoiding sugar, but...

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Mocha


About two years and four months ago, I sat on a slightly reclined bed while an ultra sound tech put jelly on my belly, slid a wand over it, and looked at the screen. "I think I had a miscarriage," I said, "But I still have pregnancy symptoms." Pause. "You're still pregnant," she said. "Listen, you can hear the heartbeat." Wop-wop-wop-wop. On the screen was a little wriggly mass.

How could this be? A week and a half earlier, I had a miscarriage. I knew it. All sorts of emotions of sadness, failure, yearning, and weirdness swirled around in my head. But there was nothing to be done. I started drinking wine and coffee again. I went to NYC with Justin to visit my brother. On the way there, I barfed. I felt gross, exhausted, and everything I had been feeling while pregnant. What was going on? (Come to find out later, I probably miscarried a twin. But I'll never know for sure.)

I could not believe I was still pregnant. It was an unseasonably warm day in March. I biked over to Milk and Honey Market, feeling free as a bird, and sat outside with an iced mocha. I called Justin. Called my mom. Called my sister. Texted the two friends I had already told. That feeling of sitting outside with my iced mocha and sharing the good news (again) with family and friends will never leave me. It's one of those memories that is burned in my mind.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Foraging for Jewel Berries


We camped for a night last week at Greenbrier State Park in western Maryland, close to Virginia and West Virginia. Justin very much wanted to camp just the three of us this summer. We are going later with my family, but that may involve many things to do and a little bit of chaos, in spite of the fun times that are sure to be had. So I cooked and packed, and Justin packed and loaded, and Evelyn flitted around and made messes. We arrived at 10:30 am on Thursday, stayed through the following afternoon, and then visited Harper's Ferry in West Virginia before heading home on Friday evening. It was a quick trip, but so worth the effort. We relaxed, we swam, we hiked, we ran, we built a fire, made s'mores, watched fireflies, and loved every minute of being outside.

A major perk of Greenbrier State Park, and this whole area of Maryland, really, is that in July, there are wild raspberries. Everywhere. I was ecstatic. They were along the pathways, in the woods, at the side of the road. I made it my mission to pick every ripe berry I could find. When I closed my eyes I saw raspberries. I became a little obsessed.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Love and Greens


On Saturday, June 28th, Justin and I celebrated our six year anniversary. When I say "celebrated," what comes to mind? Romantic dinner, wine, time alone...nope. We actually forgot to say happy anniversary to each other until about 1 pm that afternoon. Here is how our day went.