Category Archives: food

your cooking

Tonight I’m making Susan’s carrots: a delightful (and a smidge healthy) dish of steamed carrots caramelized in a tablespoon of real maple syrup.  They’re candy-sweet and so tasty!  I learned how to make these so many years ago when Susan and I were friends living near each other in Salt Lake City.  Every time I make these carrots I think of her and her charming Martha-Stewart-like kitchen and the hours spent chatting over food (and kids and photos and writing and…dreams of graduate school).  Another favorite thing I make that I also learned during those years of my life is “Mindy Sauce,” which is an Italian marinara that my friend Melinda taught me how to make and has a few variations (varying the final spice can make it a bit sweet or a bit more savory).  As I whip it up I always remember her admonition to keep adding the basil until the contrast between the red tomato-y sauce and the green leaves “looks like Christmas” in the pot.  🙂

I have so many recipes that I make based on the memory of a friend sharing them with me.  Some recent additions to my repertoire include Jonathan’s steak (with a bleu cheese sauce, amazing), Karen’s guacamole (with a secret creamy ingredient!), Stijn’s Salty Cod (although he makes it so much better than me), Aubrey’s Salt-crusted Chicken (my new favorite way to roast a bird), and Sandra’s Magical Salty-Sweet-Crunchy appetizers (yumyumyum).

It makes me wonder what food reminds my friends of me?  My pizza, perhaps (that I love rolling out on the bar in my kitchen while entertaining a group and sipping wine and giggling?  Or a loaf of my homemade bread?  Or something else?

And, what is your signature dish?


comfort food

Somehow I managed to not just catch the cough-flu that’s been going around, but I got the stomach-flu at the same time (a double-bonus, I suppose), so the past few days it’s been really tough to find anything to eat.  Tea, broth, a bit of palak paneer, and a few spoonfuls of farmer’s cheese are all that have sounded good to me.

Added to my under-the-weather feelings, my two foster cats haven’t been feeling well either.  Vasia, the crazy English shorthair with the wicked yellow eyes has been particularly ill, and the news I received at the vet today was not positive.  Right now he’s recovering from a nasty flesh wound and an infection, but it also looks as though he has an aggressive form of cancer.

Ugh.  A day full of sick for as I’ve been trying to keep Vasia’s wound clean in between bouts of nap for me.  I don’t know if I’m more physically or emotionally exhausted at the moment.  Both, probably.

After thinking about every possible combination of food that might possibly sound good to eat, I settled on an old favorite: peaches and cornbread (sans ice cream this time–there’s no way that I could stomach that level of richness right now).  So I ran a quick errand to the market to buy the makings of that meal.  While there I also picked up a head of broccoli.  Because it just looked good to me, too.

It wasn’t until after I got home and was unloading the groceries that a memory surfaced from more than 25 years ago.  When I was a cancer patient and had those nausea-chemo days when nothing sounded or smelled tasty (at all), my uncle would blend up either a concoction of fresh peaches (from his garden!) with semolina or a mixture of broccoli with cheese, and bring them to the hospital for me.  I never grew tired of either of those, and they added a lot of calories to my diet when I most needed them–back in those days when I weighed 70 lbs and was so thin that even sitting in a chair was too painful on my spine and tailbone (because there was no padding between skin and bone).

The cornbread is cooking in the oven right now and smells wonderful…*

*update: it smelled better than it tasted to me, but I was able to eat a serving.  Now, back to napping…

DH smoothies

SMOOTHIE!Awhile back, some twitter-friends and I had a bit of a go-round where we discussed why we drank a lot of smoothies.  The upshot was, that as busy as we are, smoothies tend to be the most efficient on-the-go calorie-disbursing mechanism for the active lifestyle of a digital humanist.

And although I’m a bit of a foodie and I love spending an evening putting together an artful “slow-food” meal, most mornings you’ll find me gulping down a high-protein smoothie as I’m checking email, getting the kids off to school, watering plants, exercising, feeding cats, etc.  Most mornings it seems that I simply don’t have time to chew my food.

I keep the following ingredients on hand, and simply throw them together as I’m feeling ‘inspired:’

whey-based protein powder (usually chocolate or vanilla-flavored)
fresh fruit in season (especially berries, but also including PEACHES, persimmons, etc)
frozen organic fruit
yogurt or kefir
almonds & almond milk

On weekends I tend to make fancier, gourmet-ish breakfast, which might mean homemade crepes, scones, pastries, or oeuf cocotte. Another favorite is fresh farmer’s cheese drizzled with a bit of honey and with some fresh fruit & almonds mixed in. Yum!

So…what are you favorite healthy-ish on-the-go meals?  And if you do smoothies, what are your favorite ingredients?

Last night in Europe…

I didn’t take my camera with me last night, the final night of my Europe trip.  I’d had a long day of snapping pictures and sightseeing in Bruges, and I needed a change.  I was also realizing how, sometimes, being behind the lens stops me from actually experiencing and feeling what’s happening around me.  So I left the camera at home, put on a fancy dress and stockings, and headed to a  gourmet restaurant for a few hours of food-gasm.

Everything tasted so good (artichokes, shrimp, Swiss beef…), the wine was smooth, the service impeccable.   I sopped every last drip of sauce with slices of fresh bread.  My face was flushed with much pleasure as I stepped out onto the breezy dark streets of Brussels, to join new friends at a local bar. They mostly asked me stories about my LDS upbringing–so curious about the Book of Mormon and ancient-modern prophets.  And I told them how, when I was Mormon I never could’ve imagined that someday I would have professional and personal opportunities that would bring me to foreign cities, or that I would even have a paycheck of my own. Back then I couldn’t have comprehended a night that would include so much pleasure, so much culture, so much living.

I got teary-eyed several times yesterday, mostly because I wasn’t yet ready to go home. But also because of the intensity of change…I lack the words to describe how I’m feeling.  Like now, having just arrived home and I’m here sitting in my living room and burying my face in the blue shawl that I wore throughout my trip…and am hoping that it will long retain the scent of last night.

tastes like chicken…

I’m generally not a huge fan of chicken, or fowl meat.  I think my distaste for it is because it’s typically dry and somewhat flavorless.  But that changed this weekend when some friends and I did some chicken-alchemy.  We used Clothilde’s “Salt-Crusted Chicken” recipe and it was just as amazing as she said it would be–so juicy and rich-tasting that I didn’t even recognize that it was chicken.  I loved, too, that we got to break open the ‘crust’ with a hammer–it’s just not often that you get to use a hammer in the kitchen.   🙂

And here’s Aubrey showing that she knows how to use a hammer:

To go with the chicken Aubrey made salad, and I’m now a huge fan of her miso-salad dressing, which was 1TB each of tamari soy sauce, miso, nut butter, and maple syrup, 3/4 cup nut or olive oil, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, and three minced garlic cloves. Amazingly tasty:

And for dessert, we tried a new homemade ice cream flavor: Salted Butter Caramel (it reminded me of dulce de leche, but just a bit saltier–yum!).  The only thing I would add to it next time might be one small square of ultra-dark chocolate (90% or higher):

I’ll be making that chicken recipe again, for sure.  I might even use it every time I make chicken–it was easy and so worth it because of the flavor.  Perhaps you’d like to join me at chez Remy for Salt-Crusted Chicken sometime soon?


homemade pizza

When I was at Powell’s bookstore this past weekend, I spent a lot of time in the cookbooks. I didn’t buy any, but found much inspiration there! Now that I’m eating meat, I have a lot of thinking to do about incorporating new recipes and menus into my weekly routines. So I’d really appreciate your suggestions about your favorite cookbooks. For example, I’m now thinking of buying at least one of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks–perhaps The French Laundry Cookbook or Bouchon. I’ll also be getting my own copy of Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, since I’ve been craving several of Clothilde’s recipes recently (ooo, and I might just have to pick up this one, too, to complete the Parisian menu: Laduree).

Can you offer any other cookbook (or recipe) suggestions for me?

Note: I’m also going to get some container gardening and a small potted herb garden growing soon.  Because there’s nothing better than garden-fresh.  🙂

still cookin’

homemade pizza

I love moving around the familiar space of my kitchen and creating tasty food. Undoubtedly that’s why I was so thrilled to get a kitchenaid mixer as a birthday gift two years ago. And surely it’s one of the many reasons why I’ve found myself cursing or crying when I’m mid-recipe and I discover missing items that John took from the kitchen as part of the divorce…

[blackbirdpie id=”30473585042657280″]

But perhaps the most important realization that I’ve had about my kitchen recently, is just how much I enjoy cooking for other people–it’s such an expression of love to create artful, healthy, and tasty food. Seeing my family and friends sated by what I’ve created, is such a joy. Perhaps this stems from so many years of being in a ‘mother’ role, or perhaps it’s simply that it’s one important way that I express affection for others.

So…I feel as though I’ve finally made it past the worst of the loss of my familiar kitchen implements and am hitting my stride again.  Last night I made an excellent lasagna (half-veg for CatGirl, half-meat for GameBoy) and it turned out tastier than most I’ve made in past years (the kids agreed–and heartily ate several servings apiece!).  The kitchen is now clean, and orderly, and mine.  I’ll miss cooking meals from my garden this summer (which was so much pleasure), but I still have many herbs on the porch and will be shopping at the Orange and Irvine Farmer’s Markets for in-season ingredients.  So you can bet that many good smells will be wafting from my kitchen.  And I hope they’ll entice you to stop by–I’d love to share what I make with each of you  🙂

PS: Picture above is of a garden-fresh pizza.  One of my specialties!


I’d been planning to write this post for awhile, and then Chandelle’s recent conversation about meat-eating inspired me to actually sit down and pound it out…

In the late afternoon my Mom would often set some meat on the counter to defrost for that night’s dinner. It was usually some chicken or ground beef. From that she would cook all kinds of typical American dinner foods. When I was little I thought those packages of thawing meat were beautiful and I loved to scrape a line of frost off the top of the package and then suck the crystals off of the tip of my finger. For some reason I was particularly attracted to the valu-paks of ground beef that she would thaw. More than once I snuck nibbles of slick red meat off the corner, thinking that was a special treat. That my Mom had told me pointedly not to eat raw beef made it all that much more sneaky-special. Sort of like licking a bit of frosting off of a cupcake, I suppose.

Of course now I’m amazed that I didn’t get any major intestinal diseases from licking meat packages and ingesting raw ground beef. Ugh.

About 16 years ago I gave meat eating. The impetus was my father’s death. Seeing his body turn from a living breathing thing to a slab of “meat” was one of those life-changing moments. I’d always struggled with death (yes, I cried in bio labs when we had to kill the animals), and this was such a potent reminder to me of our own fragility. Every time I’d start to eat meat I would feel a repulsion–as if I were eating my own flesh. The world felt so violent and cruel that I didn’t need to add my eating habits to the weight of violence that already existed in the universe. Though this is a bit of a tangent, I believe that era of my life is also when my pacifism solidified into something that began to lead my everyday actions, and I also had increasing difficulty with the necessary violence of the Christian atonement. But back to my main story….

About two years ago when I started experimenting with locavore eating, I realized that I could tolerate small amounts of humanely-raised and slaughtered meat. And since then I’ve occasionally indulged in meat if I was having one of those very-anemic days or if I happened upon an eatery where I was comfortable with the source of their meat. It felt good not to be dogmatically vegetarian (having shed my dogmatism about nearly everything else in my life).

So now, due to a variety of health issues, I’ve begun to eat a high-protein low-carb low-fat diet. Nothing as extreme as Atkins, but I’m more than doubling my protein intake. And in doing so I’m eating meat nearly every day. It feels weird to look at a slab of red flesh and cook it into something that I will put in my mouth. Walking by the meat aisle isn’t exactly appetizing to me. But I am enjoying my forays into meat-eating, and the variety of options that are available to me now that weren’t when I vegetarian. And, quite honestly, I’m feeling better physically than I was when I eschewed meat altogether–I suspect this has to do with the roller-coaster effect of blood sugar highs and lows that accompanied my mostly carb-based vegetarian diet.

I continue to have concerns about the meat-packing business and the mostly unethical practices of those who raise American livestock. I’m not shoving those concerns aside, I’m letting them sit with me as I figure this out and experiment with new ways of doing things. I feel sure that many of my vegan and vegetarian readers will feel offended by my choice to eat meat, and I’d love to hear your side of this–I’m still weighing the evidence and considering the various possibilities. And for those of you who eat meat, I’d also love to learn about how you approach this decision.

And, for the record, I’m no longer tempted to nibble on raw ground beef. Though sushi does give me a bit of the transgressive raw-meat rush that I remember as a child.


IMG_0440, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.

The other day I had a cardamon-rose cupcake (sprinkled with real rose petals–so pretty!). I kind of can’t stop dreaming about how much I enjoyed it. But I seem to do the same with just about anything rose-flavored. I think I love the way the sweetness and the scent travel from my tongue to my nose. Just like all those roses in my garden that are so fragrant I want to dig right into them with a spoon! (yum)