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{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 9:12 am. 2 comments

A Good Morning

:: awakening amid languid snuggles rather than angry cries
:: savoring the smell of a home soaked in fresh air from windows left open overnight
:: walking past a still dark window just as all the birds in the neighborhood woke up singing
:: taking advantage of the lovely weather by getting three loads of laundry on the line before noon
:: noticing our first daffodil finally blooming, with the promise of more to come
:: inhabiting a new sense of calm thanks to magnesium supplements (thanks Deirdre!)
:: finishing my coffee before Baby-tidian wanted in on the fun

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 9:59 am. 2 comments

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 7:45 am. 5 comments

Cookbook Review: Quick From Scratch Herbs and Spices Cookbook

Cookbooks. I walk out of Ed’s Editions with them all but clinging to my sleeves like burrs. There is a stack of them by my bed that act as a dam against long nursing sessions. Leaving the library I generally have a stack of touch-n-feel board books under one arm and cookbooks under the other.

And yet, I rarely use these books in the kitchen. I either head into the kitchen in the buff recipewise or do a quick interweb search of my favorite blogs. My collection of cookbooks are more like shelf candy than useful tools. They proclaim to everyone who enters my kitchen that “Here is a person who likes to cook!” In an effort to get to know my cookbooks as more than decorations, I have been adopting one book a month as my fount of inspiration. I make an effort to read through it, absorb it’s lessons, and of course cook from it.

January meals were sponsored by the Quick from Scratch Herbs and Spices Cookbook published by Food and Wine magazine.

I had many moments of déjà vu while using this book. I bought it years ago when I first started cooking (or wanting to cook). It came from one of those piles of Reduced! books at Barnes and Noble. Though now I’d probably pass it up for one of the “real” cookbooks from the shelves, it was my golden ticket back then; just what I needed to imagine my way out of culinary poverty.

Each herb or spice gets a brief introduction detailing its flavor profile (spicy, floral, ect), a bit of its history, and the types of dishes it is used in. The introduction is followed by two or three recipes highlighting that herb. I read these introductions with the voracity of an English major. The spices became characters in my mind, each with their own motivations, attachments, and aversions. I learned, for example, that coriander is the child of cilantro. Once cilantro flowers, it produces tiny little seeds- that’s coriander. While this kind of knowledge is common place to me now, it was cutting edge to me then, as if I’d figured out a secret symbol in a novel that raised the book from mediocre to sublime.

Overall, this is a wonderful book for someone who still memorizing the difference between a spatula and a whisk or is looking to graduate from packet’n'can cooking. The ingredient lists all start with raw, real food. Not a Pillsbury dough can or microwave in sight. Yet, most of the time, the recipes are not so complicated so as to be intimidating.

One caution I’d like to make plain, however, is that “quick” rarely resides with “cheap.” Especially when it comes to meat cookery (of which there is a lot in this book), you will pay for the convenience of being able to cook your meal in ten minutes. Which, perhaps, is what the beginner needs: near instant results. Once you are more comfortable in the kitchen though, just remember there is a better way to make stew than with steak.

While I have now cooked long enough to be able to picture what a dish will look like in my head, back then I was quite dependent on pictures to explicate the recipe. What, exactly, did it mean to cut the roast across the grain? Or what should a properly segmented orange look like? This book was illuminating in that regard. Each recipe takes an entire spread. So on one page you have the written recipe while the facing page is a full color picture of the finished dish. While my finished dishes rarely looked like the pictures, it gave me a goal. Rather like being given directions to an unfamiliar location with both street names and landmarks.

Perhaps the biggest impact this book had on my early cooking was to give me the confidence to experiment with herbs and spices. If they could put black pepper in a strawberry dessert, why couldn’t I add cinnamon to chili? And that experimentation, more than anything else, is at the heart of my cooking even still.

 

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 8:08 am. Add a comment

Milestones: Learning he can take off his own diaper

This is one of the skills I wish he would not learn until he understood consequences.

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 11:35 pm. 1 comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 7:40 am. 6 comments

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 5:25 am. 5 comments

Beets with Dill and Sea Salt

I almost feel unethical posting this as a “recipe.” It’s so simple– a boil, a sprinkle, and done. It came about mostly in an effort to clean out my fridge and spice cupboard. And yet, the result of said kitchen tidying had the added bonus of this stunning salad. (Is it a salad all on it’s own? Or would one need to add lettuce for that? I never know.) The delicate dill rounds off the somewhat bawdy beets. The resulting dish encompasses the best aspects of farm-to-plate eating– earthy richness and heavenly crispness.

Because beets are the main ingredient here, make sure you use the freshest beets you can find. Old ones that have been lolling around shelves for a few weeks tend to be woody at best and bitter at worst. A good beet should be as sweet and firm as a good kiss. To assess the freshness of your beets, squeeze them. They should not be in any way squishy. You can also make sure the greens are crisp and lively, not wilted and listless. Like most vegetables, your best bet is to buy your beets from the person who grew them.

A bonus of finding a local source of beets is that you’re more likely to encounter different varieties. I used the two kinds that City Roots is growing: Bull’s Blood, a deeply red beet, and Chioggia, an heirloom beet with beautiful fuchsia and white rings. (Tragically, these fade when cooked.) While I can’t say they taste much different, they do vary dramatically in color and make a very pretty salad when tossed together.

Wherever you get your beets from, make sure you store them properly once you get them home. (Hint: cut those tops off!)

And, out of neighborly concern, I do feel the need to assure you that, the morning after eating this, don’t worry. You’re not dying. You know how people used to dye things with beet juice? Yeah, that’s what happened to your insides. All’s well.

Beets with Dill and Sea Salt

10-12 small (golf ball size) or 2-4 large beets (baseball size)

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs fresh or 1 Tbs dried dill

1 tsp sea salt (this is a nice time to break out any special culinary salts you might be harboring)

Rinse off any dirt from your beets, then cut the tops and tails off. If you are using small beets, you may leave them whole. If you are using large beets, cut them into quarters. Put them in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Dump them in a colander and rub off their skins under warm water. Place the beets in a bowl, toss with olive oil and stir in dill and salt. Serve cold or at room temperature; alone or on a bed of greens.

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago at 9:03 pm. Add a comment