Aug 26 2017

When Your CSA Box Hands You Lemons…

I can’t believe it’s back-to-school time already. The older two boys started 4th and 2nd grade (respectively) on Wednesday. Smiles and thumbs-up all around at the end of the days, so at least we’re getting off on the right foot.

After two years of completely neglecting my garden—the whole back yard is a wild forest now—I decided it was time to go back to getting a weekly delivery of local fruit and produce. This time around we’re going with Imperfect Produce, and I was really impressed with our first box. Nectarines, plums, oranges, Asian pears, lemons, limes, garlic, a watermelon, kale, collard greens, a cucumber, green beans, zucchini, a cabbage, an eggplant, and a pint of cherry tomatoes–all organic, and all for $25! (Granted, that’s with the $10 off coupon for the first week, but still.)

Their prices are low because they work with local farms to take the misshapen, “ugly” produce that stores don’t want. The oranges all had cosmetic blemishes, for instance, and the lemons were either smaller or bigger than you’d see on the shelf in a store. They still taste the same! I promptly made a pitcher of cucumber-mint lemonade and I’m already looking forward to tonight’s pasta with sauteed eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese. School may have already started but dang it, it’s still summer in my kitchen!

Jun 7 2016

Drive-By Posting

The end of the year is always super busy. It’s the last week of school for Robin and Davy and it feels like there’s a million things I’m supposed to do. “Update my blog” is on the list somewhere, so I’m just going to throw a few things up.

Here’s Sol having fun at the park:


Here is the menu for my fortieth birthday dinner, which was last night:

  • lamb steaks broiled with garlic butter
  • pan-roasted asparagus with shaved parmesan
  • cornmeal-buttermilk sheet cake with blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries

Here is how I feel about being forty: Good, but I’m more than ready for life to slow down a little. I’m really looking forward to sixty.

Here is how I feel about the arrival of summer: super good. I wish you all long days, warm weather, and relaxed schedules. And maybe beaches or mountains or European cities or cabins in the woods—whatever you’re into, really. And a lot of it.

Dec 22 2014

Important Facts About the Food Pyramid

Davy: “Are oranges healthy?”
Me: “You shouldn’t JUST eat oranges. But yes, they are good for you.”
Davy: “Is orange juice healthy?”
Me: “Not really! If you just squeeze the juice out, you get a lot of sugar and not as much of the stuff your body needs. Eating fruit keeps you healthy but too much juice is not good for your body.”
Robin: “Vegetables are healthy! And so is soup! And cookies are…?”

Aug 31 2012

From the Garden


Davy started chirping as soon as I brought in that bowl of cherry tomatoes. “This. This one. Mine. Eat. Matoes! Mmmmm!”

So I put them on a plate for him, cut in half and sprinkled with a little fleur de sel (fancy schmancy!), and he promptly ate them all.


The zucchini is destined for tonight’s stir-fry (with tofu, carrots, ginger, and scallions), but I also made a barley salad using some garden herbs:


The bell pepper in the salad was supermarket-bought, as the one pepper plant I bought for the garden was an early casualty of the Squash Wars. At this point the tomatoes, zucchini and kabocha squash have carved up the garden bed amongst themselves, with the parsley, basil, mint and chives sort of hanging out around the edges. Next year the squash and zucchini will be moved to their own bed, and I’ll have another try at peppers, eggplant, and leafy greens.

Barley Salad with Fresh Herbs

Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe

Combine three cups of water, a teaspoon of salt, and one cup of pearled barley in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss 1/2 cup chopped green onions, a diced red pepper, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves. In a second, small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup mild-tasting olive oil, one or two tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and a clove of garlic that’s either minced or put through a garlic press.

When the barley is cooked, drain it and add to the bowl with the herbs. Toss with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.

Jul 31 2012

First Harvests


I picked a small bowl of blackberries from our yard today. They were quickly devoured:


For lunch we had spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, parmesan, a fresh tomato, a handful of pine nuts, and some basil from our garden. Imagine me kissing my fingertips here: it was mmmm-mwah!


We also harvested the first zucchini from the garden this week. One of them was normal-sized, and I cooked it in a pot of black beans and rice. But the other was monstrous, bigger than a man’s forearm, and that one I hollowed out last night and stuffed with brown rice, sausage, tomato, and cheese, then roasted in the oven until it was soft and beginning to brown. It was delicious. Even Robin, who is in a strong anti-vegetable phase right now, ate some and said it was good.

There are more mondo zucchini lurking under the leaves. I see them, but they’re still pallid and unripe. It’s possible that they’re actually squash. The squash and zucchini have grown so thickly together that I can’t really tell where one vine ends and the other begins. Meanwhile the tomatoes are still green, but I am casting covetous eyes at them every day.

Nov 25 2011

Happy Evacuation Day!

The best part of any dinner party is the next morning, when you can freely graze among the leftovers. Today I breakfasted on prosciutto with persimmons, smoked almonds, and chèvre—our appetizer from last night.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, with my mom and Mark and my friend Matt to join us, as is quickly becoming tradition. We got a heritage turkey (they’re really worth the hype, especially if you like dark meat, as I do) and had mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce with pear and ginger, and Judy Rodgers’ bread salad in lieu of stuffing. I have a new celebrity crush on Judy Rodgers, the chef at Zuni Café in San Francisco; we ate there for our anniversary dinner last month, and I was so impressed that I bought her cookbook immediately. It is worth it for the introduction alone. I brined and cooked the turkey exactly as she instructed me, and it was delicious—easily my most successful turkey yet.

“I have no idea what’s going on in your life,” my mom said pointedly at some point last evening, “because you never update your blog anymore.” So, there, loyal readers, now you know: I am eating prosciutto in my bathrobe and vaguely thinking about doing the dishes at some point. What are you doing?

Jul 31 2011

Phat Beets

We got some bad news recently—J&P Organics, the farmers we’ve been buying our CSA veggie box from, are pulling out of Oakland. I flailed around a little looking for other CSA choices, and settled on Phat Beets—mostly because J&P is one of the farmers they source produce from. I also liked what they say in their FAQ: “Phat Beets Produce and the Beet Box specifically support small minority farmers, and connect them to inner-city communities. This means that we seek to promote the work of farmers who have been historically marginalized, who haven’t used farm subsidy programs, or haven’t had access to local markets.”

We picked up our first “Beet Box” today—it had basil, red onions, sweet potatoes, radishes, kale, a big Purple Cherokee tomato, a watermelon, three green bell peppers, a big hunk of ginger, four peaches, two nectarines, and, yes, beets. It also had a little flyer identifying exactly which farms had contributed the various fruits and veggies: Firme Farms, Vang Family Farm, J&J Farms, and Morning Glory Organic. I was curious enough to look up the first farm, and found a nice little story about who they are. So, thumbs up to Phat Beets!

Tonight we’re eating black-eyed peas with bacon and beet greens, and a side of roasted and mashed sweet potatoes. Robin is dancing around saying “I love black-eyed peas!” It makes me super proud.

Feb 27 2011

What’s for Dinner

We canceled our veggie box order this week because we thought we wouldn’t be able to pick it up—Sam was supposed to have to work on Saturday—but they postponed the big data-center move on account of all the snow.

(There wasn’t actually any snow. Everybody in the Bay Area got super-excited about some weather reports calling for snow—it hasn’t snowed here since 1976—but the weekend dawned bright and clear. Everybody celebrated by driving as if the streets were clogged with a foot of slush, though.)

So this without veggies this week, I’m going a bit wild and buying whatever strikes my fancy: beets, romaine, leeks, red potatoes, kale, basil, bananas, grapes. I’m planning on making pasta puttanesca tonight; tomorrow, roasted lemon chicken and a caesar salad; Tuesday, steaks and a side dish of farro with walnuts and beets; Wednesday, chili mac and Thursday, potato-leek soup. Friday we’ll have leftovers.

Jan 31 2011

What’s for Dinner

This week in our veggie box we got: kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, six Yukon Gold potatoes, two onions, four zucchini which I have already transmuted into zucchini bread, seven Fuji apples, two pears, two oranges, and two grapefruit.

As always, the fruit will take care of itself; and the kale will go into one of our now-standard bulgur salad lunches. Oh! And I should report! That farro and butternut squash recipe from last week was really good; I think I’ll make it as a side dish next Thanskgiving.

Tonight I’m going to try out a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for pork loin roasted with apples, cabbage, and various spices including thyme, allspice, and juniper berries. (I like cooking with juniper berries; it makes me feel vaguely like a frontierswoman.) And tomorrow we’ll have lamb stew with the potatoes and carrots. I’m certain that both these recipes will produce leftovers, so Wednesday we’ll tackle the leftover pork (maybe in sandwiches) and Thursday we’ll polish off the lamb stew—I’ll make soda bread to keep it exciting. Friday I want to try my friend Wendy’s recipe for Dutch baby, with a broccoli-and-cauliflower cheese dish on the side. And that leaves only the chard, which will probably go into a simple pasta lunch for me and the boys.

Jan 22 2011

What’s for Dinner

This week in our veggie box we got: two bags of baby spinach, a bunch of kale, a bunch of chard, two bunches of varicolored carrots, a bunch of radishes, four zucchini, two onions, four oranges, three pears, two grapefruits, six apples, three sweet potatoes, and six small red potatoes. I also didn’t get around to making the zucchini pizza last week, so we have three more zucchini on hand (and getting shriveled), which I think means it’s zucchini bread time.

The kale will go into a bulgur salad lunch for me and Robin. And the fruit is always gobbled up straight, so I never have to worry about that. As for the rest of it: tonight I think I’ll make polenta with chard, and tomorrow we’ll have roasted chicken and potatoes with a spinach salad. Then on Monday, pork chops smothered with apples and a sweet potato casserole. Tuesday I’ll make soup out of the chicken carcass, and Wednesday I want to try this recipe for farro and roasted butternut squash, probably with maple-glazed carrots as a side dish. Thursday some kind of pasta dish, and Friday, leftovers.