Monday, October 5, 2015


Just FYI, grated eggplant doesn't substitute all that well for zucchini in a quick bread. Or at least, it would take some real getting used to. One of my pickiest kids liked it plenty and ate a bunch; most of us managed to eat a fair amount when offered chocolate frosting on top; and my least picky kid just couldn't get around the idea of eggplant bread. But it was worth the try, we're pretty much sick of eggplant every other way and I had some beautiful barbarellas that were just going to rot if I left them at the farm.

I suppose I could have cooked and mashed them before putting them in a recipe, more like banana bread than zucchini bread, but I decided to leave my efforts at peeling and grating.

I have to say, though, that I do feel really, really pleased that I've been using a lot of eggplant this season. It's always been one of the few vegetables on my no-no list (it turns a gross brown, has those annoying seeds, and then there's the odd spongy texture), but my husband likes it and I decided to take the plunge. It didn't hurt that I could pick up such pretty varieties at work, of course -- they piqued my interest more than the typical supermarket ones would. But, while I wouldn't put it on my favorites list, I now know that I can stand to eat eggplant on occasion. It feels like an accomplishment.

Monday Menus

Monday: Lemon-pepper fettuccine, baked sweet potatoes
Tuesday: Barley-vegetable soup with beef bone broth
Wednesday: Tuna-rice casserole, beets
Thursday: Chili, cornbread
 (Lucy's choice!) Hawaiian haystacks, birthday cake and ice cream
Saturday: Raw veggie platter, apple pie with cheddar crust [for a fall potluck and pie contest]
Sunday: pumpkin pancakes, bacon, applesauce

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bread Geek

I recently checked out a spate of cookbooks from the library, one of which was this:

And I am pleased to announce, I have found my muse!

Out of all the bread bibles and recipes, whole-grain gurus and tips, this book combines the physical practicality of bread with the answers to all my questions behind it. The main question having been, for me, 'why is no one really telling me how to bridge the gap between sprouting/soaking and eating a sandwich?' I've been soaking beans and breakfast porridges and occasionally some muffins, but getting from that to an actual loaf of bread has felt impossible. Aside from some well-meaning, but ultimately unprofessional, advice in a few fringe books, I've been hunting fruitlessly for anything solid to work with. My first few attempts to get from here to there failed and I gave up.

But now, I'm all inspired again, like I was earlier in the year when I first read Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America. Even without the holy grail of sprouted flour, this cookbook gives me the ratios, techniques, and specifics to really feel like I'm going up to the next level.
I happened to be going out to the fabric store just a day or two after I started this book, and I bought a nice piece of natural linen to be a couche, and I baked from it today for the first time. Mmm, boy, I won't tell you how much of this quite-large loaf I've already eaten by myself this morning...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Monday: Pasta with pesto, garden salad
Tuesday: Boiled potatoes (fresh from the garden) with butter and herbs, garlicky green beans
Wednesday: Flounder, rice, curried cauliflower
Thursday: Baked beans, biscuits, beets
Friday: Chicken pot pie, salad
Saturday: Ramen with veggies and eggs
Sunday: Cottage cheese croissants for breakfast (General Conference tradition!!)

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Pretties

I picked these this morning -- it makes me happy to finally have some of my own heirloom tomatoes growing well, after a long season fighting off deer and other unknown pests. Possibly a raccoon. I never saw one, but I was watching my big, green, lovely tomatoes on the vine early in the season, and then a few days later when I went to pick them, they had all disappeared. The vines themselves hadn't been eaten, and I know I wasn't imagining the large nearly-ready tomatoes. I had even counted them. Something came just for the fruit and hand-picked it. So unless I have some really wily deer...

And then, of course, the deer themselves managed to get in somehow. I put up the same fence I've successfully used in all my other years of gardening, but this year I accidentally left about a 1 1/2-foot gap on the top part. I never saw huge ravages, but there was enough evidence (again, mostly on the tomato tops) that I have to guess a few found the opening. So, finally, I've closed the gap and the plants recovered and apparently the raccoon moved on, and I have a decent harvest now that we're approaching October.

This, below, is what I've done with my first few tomatoes -- panzanella. I think this year's, using some of the most gorgeous Mister Stripeys ever along with homemade sourdough croutons, was the best yet.

Also, I made one of my first real batches of homemade marinara sauce. Surprisingly, given my propensity for from-scratch cooking, I usually use sauce from storebought jars. (I've made homemade noodles more than I've made homemade sauce!) But the recipes of my usual -- ahem, cheap -- brands have been changing, nearly doubling in added sugar. My kids thought they tasted like Spaghettios. So I've been retrenching to nice, affordable 28-oz. cans of crushed or diced that come Italian-style with basil, and it's been fine. 

This particular day, however, I opened a can of whole plum tomatoes and went to the extra effort of dicing and sautéeing. I trundled out to the garden and picked my freshest herbs to simmer. It would have to be done in much larger batches and canned to really be worth repeating often, but it was a resounding success. My favorite sauce ever. (Credit to Pioneer Woman for the recipe.)

Hopefully coming soon, pictures of what I'll make with the 10 pounds of organic potatoes we harvested together last night.

Friday, September 25, 2015

By the Numbers: Motherhood

I have a strange fetish with keeping track of motherhood in unusual ways. When I'm at small gatherings with other women I know, for example, I'm constantly amused by adding up our collective number of children. I have one good friend with 10, so if she's part of the bunch it can be an astronomically high total. What can I say, I'm a nerd.

Yesterday evening, as I was coming home from the last school open house this year (or back-to-school night, meet-the-teacher, whatever the various titles), it occurred to me to count how many of those I had been to, and how many I had left. That was a new way of measuring the pace of motherhood for me. So today, for the end of the week, I'm going to list all the silly ways I've devised to mentally record my progress through this crazy game of life.

BIRTHDAY CAKES: To date, including for my husband and the kids, I've baked 78 during my marriage. Plus one batch of birthday doughnuts, and one fake mashed potato 'cake'.

SCHOOL OPEN HOUSES: Shall I include both the general ones (where you take your kid to find their classroom, schedule, etc. before school opens) and the curriculum-specific ones (where you sit in your child's seat and hear about the teacher's plans for the year)? I'm not sure I can remember both categories accurately, but I'll make a good guess. I think I've scrambled for street parking, fought through the thronged hallways full of parents, and picked up stacks of flyers I won't likely look at again 55 times.

YEARS IN DIAPERS: Those are past! There were 11 of them, consecutively, between my four kids.

YEARS DRIVING SEMINARY: These are just beginning, but presuming they continue through each of my kids, they will also add up to 11. In case you don't know what 'seminary' entails, it's an early-morning (6 am) religious class that our high-schoolers attend before school each day. My job is to get them there on time, while my husband generally takes care of our carpooling responsibilities in terms of after-class travel to school.

YEARS UNTIL EMPTY NEST: 15 down, an optimistic 10 to go. If modern adolescence stretches out further, as a few books I've checked out recently insist it probably will, then maybe more like 15 still left. But either way, I'm at least halfway! I'm pleased beyond punch.

I don't know if this was interesting to anyone else, but these little mental games help remind me that the often invisible and cumulative work I do adds up to real benefits, and gives me a little bit of confidence that I can make it the rest of the way.

How many birthday cakes have you baked?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I'm still a little sad and surprised by the ethical dilemma my raw milk post generated, brief as the post was. Looking further into the details behind it, I discovered that while my entry itself was borderline in terms of a legal issue that might reflect badly on my lawyer husband, that I am currently restricted in some other definite ways. For example, in previous, more prosperous years, I've personally been a member-contributor of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. I discontinued that for budget reasons, but it seems that if I wanted to pick back up where I left off, because of S.'s career progress I should actually go and get a bank account in my own name so that it was clear I was acting on my own convictions, not his. Luckily, I also have a few of my own paychecks now, for the first time in forever, so that could be an appealing option that I hadn't previously considered.

Anyway, I probably haven't helped anyone's curiosity by expounding on this, but I'm trying to find a way to express my feelings (which were poignant) without putting someone I love in a difficult position. Being a member of a family, a community, a profession, and a religion, many of which overlap in different ways, can certainly be tricky for any of us to navigate. May we all find the right balance! And in the meantime, eat good food.

Monday: 'Grub Mountain' (mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy)
Tuesday: Mini kukus (a Persian frittata), with eggplant and zucchini.
Wednesday: Sesame noodles
Thursday: Curried potatoes, fish, salad
Friday: Pizza, frozen veggies
Saturday: Chilaquiles with chicken
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, September 14, 2015

Menus and Raw Milk

This week, we're eating:

Monday – Panzanella, cooked spinach
Tuesday – Frijoles and rice
Wednesday – Niçoise salad (with our own newly-dug potatoes!) Thursday – Pasta marinara, zucchini Friday – Hamburger stroganoff, cooked carrots Saturday – Corn chowder
Sunday – Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

{I'm sorry, someone close to me had some reasons to ask me to take the raw milk post down. It really saddens me, but I'll honor their request.}

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Menus

Monday: Basmati rice pilaf
Tuesday: Baked beans, biscuits, salad
Wednesday: Pasta with eggplant and sausage, green beans
Thursday: French onion soup
Friday: Pizza, salad
Saturday: Baked potato bar
Sunday: Wild salmon, carrots, rice

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Menus

Tonight: The stir fry I cooked Saturday but we never needed to eat after all
Tuesday: Cuban black beans
Wednesday: Noodles with pesto, carrots
Thursday: Hamburgers, potato salad, melon
Friday: Fish sticks, zucchini, cornbread
Saturday: Baked beans, green salad, sourdough bread
Sunday: Buckwheat pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Menus

Monday: Frijoles, zucchini, cornbread
Tuesday: Crusty potato cake, green beans
Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole, salad
Thursday: Pizza, carrot sticks
Friday: Pasta salad
Saturday: Chicken-and-veggie stir fry
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Photos: Redwall Feast, Pickled Eggs, and More

Crusty Potato Cake, as listed in my menus of July 27th

Our 2015 Redwall Feast, one of our best yet! Menu was posted here, though Harvestberry Sunset Pudd never did happen. In particular, though, the Deeper 'n Ever [etc.] pie in the foreground was definitely the crowd favorite. I'm going to have to start growing turnips now. Seriously, I just bought some seeds.

Homemade marshmallows getting coated with graham cracker crumbs. later to be doused with melted chocolate. Didn't work incredibly well, I found out later the reverse (chocolate, then crumbs) would have been better, but was still a success for a daughter's birthday party.
Fridge-pickled beets along with some hard-boiled eggs thrown into the brine. Delightful on our Niçoise salad one night.


Monday: Caldo verde
Tuesday: Chef's salad
Wednesday: Stir fry (peppers, carrots, meat of some kind)
Thursday: Pasta parma rosa, green beans
Friday: Pizza, salad
Saturday: Flounder, pan potatoes, roasted carrots
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Yesterday: Niçoise salad
Tuesday: Black bean burritos
Wednesday: Teriyaki chicken, green beans
Thursday: Noodles with pesto, salad
Friday: Probably leftovers/scrounging, topped off with lots of brownies and crackers at our daughter's baptism
Saturday: Quiche, zucchini
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Menus and Tempura

I'm back, and it 'only' took me about 48 hours to really regain my own self-ness again! My week at camp with my daughter (and 6 or 7 other girls I supervised directly) was rewarding, but I didn't quite realize how tired I was until I came home and crashed.

But, I'm happy to report that hubby did just fine on his own. From all I can tell, the family ate well and cheaply and enjoyed themselves. S. even got most of our master bath taped and painted. So, other than the random uncovered pots with small amounts of dry leftovers all over the fridge, we'll call it a mightily successful endeavor!

Last night we decided that we needed to use up the piles of green beans, zucchini, and shishito peppers that we had harvested from the garden; plus, there was the lushly gorgeous eggplant I had bought at the farm before I even left, which also badly needed eating at this point. Someone thought of tempura, and I wondered if that would work in our fondue pot. Happily, it worked so brilliantly that we'll definitely repeat it sometime. Unhappily, frying individually-battered vegetable pieces is such a slow process that we didn't make much headway into the pile. Which is why we'll be eating stir-fry tonight...

This week:

Monday -- Stir-fry with green beans, zucchini, shishito peppers, eggplant, and beef.
Tuesday -- Tuna melts, beets
Wednesday -- Pasta salad
Thursday -- Crusty potato cake, another zucchini frittata
Friday -- Cuban black beans
Saturday -- Polenta 'pizza'
Sunday -- Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, July 20, 2015

Heading to Girls Camp

Hubby is in charge this whole week while I'm gone at camp with my oldest daughter -- and for the first time, I'm not leaving him ANY instructions or half-begun meals. Because he can totally handle it, and I want him to have the leeway to find his own comfort zone. I'll be excited to come home and hear all about it...

Though, he did mention one thing that's given me food for thought -- he said the only thing that worries him is that I'm a capable, competent woman and yet I make it look hard. Hmmm. Maybe I play it up too much for appreciation? Or maybe I'm really biting off more than I should? It was an interesting comment, and I'll be doubly curious on his take this coming weekend as we respectively recover (collapse?) after our tasks.

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dinner, Fresh and Simple

I just ate an itty-bitty, beautifully luscious wineberry tart my 10-year-old daughter made for me.

Then I sat down to a zucchini frittata and 
noodles tossed with pesto.

(Dessert first is good.)

The squash, basil (in the pesto) and wineberries all procured recently, locally, and best of all, for free.

Summer dinner from the land is divine.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Menus, a Feast, and a Cucumber

Today: Island pork and peppers on main-dish salad, biscuits
Tuesday: Redwall Feast! 
   Mole's Favorite Deeper 'n Ever Tater 'n Beetroot Pie
   Stones Inna Swamp
   Rubbadeedubb Pudd
   Harvestberry Sunset Pudd
Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole, zucchini
Thursday: Pizza, green beans
Friday: Hot dogs, chips, birthday cake, ice cream
Saturday: Beans and rice
Sunday: Sourdough pancakes, scrambled eggs, applesauce

Also, move over English seedless: make way for Armenian!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Menus-and-Garden

Our garden currently seems to be just in that perfect balance of producing a nice variety, but without overwhelming-and-tiring amounts of any one vegetable. We've recently had baked flounder covered in abundant homegrown parsley, dill, and green onions; a parmesan/ricotta pasta with tons of shelled peas as well as sugar snap pods and a zucchini; and a head of lettuce every few days. We've also had good meal-sized harvests of beets, with more to come, and green beans are just starting.

I just hope my tomatoes and peppers get a little more on 'em, my pepper plants are huge and leafy but not really fruiting, while my tomatoes are rather sad and spindly-looking. I take care of about 180 tomato plants for my farm job and they're going like gangbusters, so I'm not sure what the exact difference is, they've been on the same timeline and have the same care.

In any case, here are our meal plans for this week:

Today: Curried potatoes, salad
Tuesday: Rice pilaf with coconut milk and peas
Wednesday: Chimichangas, canned corn
Thursday: Salmon burgers, fresh fridge pickles (made today with the dozen 'picklebush' cukes we've harvested as yet)
Friday: Pizza, zucchini
Saturday: Island pork roast, veggie TBD
Sunday: Salad with sweet peppers and leftover pork, biscuits

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Long Trip

If you've wondered where I've been, I was getting ready for, and going on, and recovering from, what was probably our family's longest camping trip yet. 

It was my husband's itinerary this year and since he's an explorer-type, we went further afield and crammed more in than I might have done. Plus, it was our first trip into true bear country. On the upside, since he wanted to visit two National Parks neither of which offered campgrounds with showers, we've made some progress in terms of learning what amenities we can survive without. [Background: our pact has always been that he's willing to camp in the dirty, messy outdoors as long as there are showers. I'm less picky, which isn't necessarily a compliment to me...]

Next ambition, a family backpacking trip! But I digress. Back to this year's trip, I'll tell you a little about our best camping meals.

One that we've repeated a few times is a dutch oven recipe for breakfast, called Almost Pumpkin Pie. It's not foolproof, though, especially if weather intervenes and makes coals impossible. Also, we didn't think through the fact that cooking overnight wouldn't really jive with bear restrictions. But, through a combination of luck and finagling, we enjoyed it again this year and it's becoming a tradition.

Another camping meal that is becoming a real go-to staple for us is chilaquiles. A bag of tortilla chips, a can of enchilada sauce, a jar of roasted red peppers, a can or two of chicken, some kind of fresh diced veggie (tomato or zucchini, for example), and a bag of Mexican cheese makes for a one-pot wonder. It was originally (a few years ago) planned as a dutch oven meal, but met with the usual fate of pouring rain that night, so I made do with a skillet. Since then I've honed it a little - stirring it in a mixing bowl before putting it into a well-greased skillet, then adding the cheese on top -- and it really hits the spot. Its other point of recommendation is that, aside from the cheese, nothing needs to be kept in the cold box. I have some kids that pick out the peppers and such, but so be it, they're still getting the benefit of the flavor.

Our other unexpected favorite this year was the sandwiches on our long, long drive home. We splurged on deli salami, havarti, and provolone, knowing that we'd have used up most of the goodwill of our week by then; and since we happened to be doing the longest drive on a Sunday, we couldn't plan on our usual treat of stopping for fast food to cap off the trip. Salami is a popular rarity here anyway, but I had also chanced upon a hearty sandwich loaf of king's Hawaiian bread, and putting the two together was fantabulous. Mmm, I'm happy right now just remembering it.


Of course, the whole expedition had far more highlights than the food -- that wasn't the main point of the trip! -- but since this is mostly a food blog, I hope you enjoyed the images and ideas of camping and eating in the beautiful wide-open world.