I’m sitting here shoveling this food into my face hole and I keep wondering what that B.O. smell is… Oh. It’s the unused scallions. Why even do they smell like that?! It’s kinda gross.
Not quite as yucky as dog toots, rotten stuff, or humidity. But, off-putting none-the-less.
Speaking of humidity, it’s kinda warm and rainy and humid today. Buuuuuut, tomorrow it’s gonna be in the 50s, Friday night it could freeze, and that, plus the blanket of leaves on our lawn, is making it feel like fall. Which makes me want to eat all the soup and bake all the things.
Today I baked an apple cake and some sandwich bread. I also roasted cauliflower for my lunch, even though what I really wanted were the Red and Green Enchiladas that I made a few weeks ago. But, I don’t have any tortillas and I didn’t want to go to the store or make them. I had the oven on and a bit of time before while the bread rose. I figured I should do something with the very old cauliflower that I’d forgotten about in the crisper. I tossed it with olive oil and salt and let it roast for a while.
I had frozen the leftover farro from the Kale and Farro salad that I made at the beginning of September. It was thawed and in the fridge, ready to be used. I added it to the baking sheet when the cauliflower was browned and delicious. Plus the stinky scallions, a smidge more salt, some Italian Hot Salt, and a grind of black pepper. It just needed to get warm and a bit crispy.
I’m sorry I said “stinky scallions”. That doesn’t make things sound delicious.
I wanted one more element, so I fried an egg in butter and popped it on top. Over-medium, so the yolk could run through the farro. Everything got topped with some local Sriracha and a bit of Maldon salt.
You could skip the egg and top it with a plomp of Fabanaise, to make it vegan. You could use brown rice, barley, or bulgur wheat instead of farro (maybe quinoa?? not sure how it would do – it could end up as tiny crispy bits… nope, that still sounds delicious). Just adjust your baking time accordingly. If you have broccoli, that would be perfect, carrots might be great, you could even use those green beans that are still growing in your garden. Treat this recipe as a starting point. Remember, you’re the boss of your meal. Make it how you want.
Roasted Grain Bowls
1 small head cauliflower, core removed, chopped into medium-sized pieces
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt, divided
2 C cooked farro (can sub: brown rice, barley, or bulgur wheat)
1/2 T chopped scallions
freshly ground black pepper
Italian Hot Salt (or a pinch of cayenne)
1/2 T unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)
2 eggs (optional)
Sriracha, for serving
Maldon salt, for serving
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast, turning once, until cauliflower is tender and browned, about 30 minutes (time may vary depending on your oven).
Add the farro, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the scallions, black pepper, and Italian Hot Salt or cayenne. Toss with the cauliflower. Bake until the farro is hot and a bit crispy, about 5 minutes.
Fry the eggs in hot butter to desired doneness.
Divide the farro and cauliflower mixture between two plates and top each with a fried egg, some Sriracha, and some Maldon salt.
Today didn’t go as I’d planned. I had some work that I was supposed to do. It didn’t happen. Not by choice. But then, I got to choose to not be frustrated. Do you hate the expression “It is what it is”? I know some people do. But, sometimes, it’s really the only thing that works. I could be mad that things didn’t go as I’d planned. I’d organized my week accordingly. Instead, I got to have a low key day. I watered the garden and gave the dog a long drink from the hose without hurry. I listened to the sound of food cooking in the skillet. I had a glass of wine at 4pm while I washed the dishes. It was a good day.
I had intended to make these enchiladas for dinner tomorrow. But, they looked too good to wait. I have our meals planned for the rest of the month. For tomorrow, now I have no idea. It might be tater tots dipped in chipotle mayo. Or sushi from the grocery store (our chef is amazing). Maybe cereal. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. For now, I’m here, and this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
I always want to hurry into the future, only to get there and want to move on to the next thing. Ever since I was a kid… I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed as much of the present as I could have. Until this summer. For the first time, maybe ever, I’ve been here, in the now.
I don’t like summer. I hate hate hate being hot. Sweaty is for workouts, but not for regular living. Humidity could leave forever and I’d be glad. I’m sure it’s great for my skin. Whatev. I don’t like that so many tourists come to here. I mean, I get it, it’s important for the economy blah blah blah… Many of them are quite lovely yada yada yada. But, it’s busy, it’s loud, it’s claustrophobic. I like quiet and cold. I like the hibernating times more than the big, busy, social events. I like a small, but meaningful life… And, I don’t like summer.
Everyone likes summer. Especially around here. But, every once in a while I’ll come across a kindred spirit who can’t wait for the chill of autumn.
This year, I’ve embraced it. Summer and I became friends-ish. It could be that it’s easier now that we live somewhere with seasons. I know it’s not going to be hot forever. So I can enjoy it while it lasts. There’s something to be said for weekends spent in the garden, glass of rosé in hand, nose in a book. For watering the garden, and then pointing the hose heavenward and gasping as the freezing water hits my skin. I found joy in summer this year. I’m glad it’s feeling more like fall, but summer was more than ok.
When we lived in Burbank, I missed things like soup in the summer. Because summer lasted for like ten months. This year, I didn’t think about it at all. I was too busy eating green beans in the garden. This summer we discovered pizza on the grill. We don’t want to turn the oven on, but who can go three months without pizza?! Solved that one. But, then I made an amazing potato chowder the other day. And I was ruined. Summer can be over. I’ve made soup again.
Today, I wanted enchiladas. I had a jar of salsa verde in the pantry that needed to not be in there anymore and a frozen plomp of ground turkey taking up the bacon’s space in the freezer. Seemed like it was time. The oven, alas, was ready to turn back on.
Enchiladas start with humble ingredients: onion, bell pepper that has seen better days, white beans, and salsa verde from Arcadia’s Kitchen.
The salsa is delicious. And sooooo spicy. I used only two tablespoons in the filling and I could feel the heat. I was originally going to make just salsa verde enchiladas. But, I wasn’t sure if our faces would burn off if I added enough to make a sauce. So I added some tomato sauce to balance it out. It was perfect. Spicy, but not too.
We’ve discovered a company called TortillaLand that makes fresh tortillas. They contain five ingredients and are ready to cook. We haven’t bought regular tortillas since we found these.
Enchilada assembly isn’t difficult. Scoop some filling on a tortilla. Fold in the ends and then roll it up. Or don’t fold in the ends and just roll it. I did a pan of each. I poured some of the tomato-salsa verde mixture into the bottom of the pan, added the rolled enchiladas, then poured the rest of the sauce overtop.
Once I topped everything with cheese, they went into the oven. It’s just the cheese that needs to melt and the sauce that needs to bubble. The filling is already hot, so twenty minutes was perfect.
I had two problems with this dinner. I finished cooking at like 3:30pm, because I wanted to photograph with the natural light. So I took a bite, cooled them down, then reheated them for later dinner. Second problem, I’d eaten all the sour cream a few days ago. I’d def add some to this. It would help with the heat from the salsa verde, and it just tastes good. Tim thinks I use a weird amount of sour cream on tacos and enchiladas. But, I like it. So I use what I use, and sometimes then I don’t have enough for my spontaneous blog post. But, it is what it is. Right?
Red and Green Enchiladas
2 T oil
1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
2 1/2 C bell peppers (about 2), chopped
1 C onion, chopped
1-15 oz. can white beans
2 T salsa verde
8 fresh tortillas
1/4 C salsa verde
1 C tomato sauce
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t salt
stock or water
1-2 C grated colby jack cheese
toppings: avocado and sour cream
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Add the meat and cook until it’s cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the salt, bell pepper, and onion. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and 2 tablespoons of salsa verde. Cook until the beans are hot, about 2-3 minutes more.
While the filling is cooking, cook the tortillas in a separate skillet, keeping them warm once they’re done in a clean tea towel. In a 2 cup measuring cup, stir together 1/4 cup salsa verde, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then fill with stock or water up to the 2 cup line.
Taste the filling and add more salt if needed. Pour a few scoops of the salsa verde-tomato mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 (or around that size) pan. Divide the filling between 8 tortillas. Roll them up and place them into the pan. Top with the remaining filling and sprinkle with cheese.* Bake until sauce is hot and cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. Let them cool and set for a few minutes, then serve topped with avocado and sour cream.
*(The enchiladas can be cooled, covered, and frozen at this point. I prefer to use a metal pan if freezing. It can go right into the oven from the freezer – take plastic wrap off and cover the pan with tinfoil. From frozen will obviously take longer to bake than the original. Give it an hour-ish and check it on your instant read thermometer to make sure it’s come to a safe temp. If not, bake it some more.)
I have eighteen kale plants in my garden. That’s a lot for a family where only one of us likes kale. I’ve got everything from huge three foot wide plants, to a couple that I transplanted later in the season that are still pretty small. It was definitely the most successful thing I planted this summer.
Today, I’m craving bacon, but feel a bit guilty about how much kale I have grown and not eaten. So, I’m gonna use them together. They’ll go alongside farro and some apples from our tree to make a quick lunch.
The dog is reverse hiccuping. Anyone else have a dog that does this? It freaks me out, even though our vet says it’s not dangerous.
I got advice for farro cooking from Bon Appètit. Their technique treats it like pasta. I can do that. I started with six cups of water, added a good amount of salt, and brought it to a boil. I toasted the farro in a dry skillet while the water heated. It ended up taking five minutes. Oh, and I rinsed the farro, before I toasted it (just gonna work backwards for a sec). I’m not sure if I was supposed to. But, I think that’s a thing with other grains, so I did it. I’m quite the authority on food.
I may not know a lot about farro, but when it comes to bacon, I know what I like: Mazzeo’s Danish bacon, cut pretty thick. Prefect for BLTs or cutting into lardons, like I did today. I totally didn’t cook enough though. I made two slices. I should have done six. What even was I thinking?!
I cooked the bacon and left about a tablespoon of the grease for the kale. I know that kale will wilt down considerably, but still I second guess myself when I add the whole salad spinner’s worth of kale to the pan. It will work. Right?!
Yes. It will.
Here’s what I like about this salad: the kale is bitter. Wait, I don’t like that. But, bitter kale, when accompanied by sweet apples, nutty farro, and salty, crispy bacon, mellows. And then I do like it.
If I’m honest, I mostly just want to eat the bacon. But, the rest of it is pretty good too. Ok, really good.
Top it all with Sir Kensington’s Golden Citrus Vinaigrette and, well, you’re golden… (are puns still allowed?). If you can get your hands on Sir Kensington’s products, I’d strongly recommend them. If you can’t, I’d whisk together some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. I’d add a splash of maple syrup, a plomp of dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt. That’s my go-to dressing and I think it would taste great here too.
Sometimes after I eat a meal like this I feel so healthy that it makes me want to eat a hugepizza. You know, for balance.
Kale and Farro Salad with Bacon
1 C rinsed farro
6 C water
1-2 T salt
2-4 bacon slices, cut into lardons
6-8 C kale, stems removed, leaves washed and torn
1/2 t salt
1/4 C Sir Kensington’s Golden Citrus Vinaigrette
(Or whisk together some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. Add a splash of maple syrup, a plomp of dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt.)
1 chopped apple, for topping
Bring the 6 cups of water and 1-2 tablespoons salt to a boil. While it’s heating, toast the farro in a dry skillet until it gets a bit nutty smelling, about 3-5 minutes. Add the farro to the boiling water and cook until it tastes good, about 15-30 minutes (yeah, it can vary a lot – for me, 15 minutes was perfect). Drain the farro and set it aside.
While the farro cooks, cook the bacon. Then drain on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 1 T of the bacon grease and leave it in the pan.
To the grease add the kale and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss it until it wilts down (it will, I promise) and gets darker green and tender.
Toss the kale with the farro and 1/4 cup of dressing. Top with bacon and apple slices.
Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like all the things are piled on your shoulders? Where the budget doesn’t balance, there are spiders in the kitchen, and you need a haircut, but remember that budget? It means you’re gonna DIY that summer do. But then you look outside and take a breath (you don’t actually go out because bugs, plus it’s hot). You scratch the dog’s chin and have a moment of clarity. It frees you to be here, typing away, not worrying about whether the sourdough bread will rise, or if the tomatoes will ever sprout (why even haven’t they?!), or why the wasps like your yard so much. Those things will be dealt with, in time. But, they don’t all need attention right now.
This is what I’m learning these days.
If I’m too far ahead, I’m not in the now. I’m missing out on the good, while I try to muddle through the mediocre and sometimes bad stuff. But, sometimes, out of the bad comes something sweet. Not always. But, often.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed I get caught up in my worry and spin into an endless cycle of too many quesadillas (ok, there can never really be too many) and not enough solid and nutritious meals. I get stuck in remembering the work it takes to put a meal on the table, especially if I’ve just finished an 8 hour day dealing with tourists. Sometimes I just need someone to make food for my face hole so I can eat it while watching Heartland or Schitt’s Creek. But, if I can take a step back once in a while, and this summer is affording me the time to be able to do so, I can remember how much I love to cook. How much joy I find in the monotony of slicing veggies the mandoline. How good cooked food smells. How a well paired beverage completes a meal.
This Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage is just perfect for this. It’s quick enough to not be a burden. But, there’s a bit of prep required. Barely any, but enough to make you take a second to quiet your brain and just slice for a minute. Then enjoy the shock as you submerge your hands in the ice water to swish the veggies around. It’s hot out. The cold feels good.
This is one of those meals that can be adapted and made a thousand different ways. I was in the mood for Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage and it paired perfectly with the crispy veggies and their citrusy dressing. Switch things up if you have something different growing in your garden or if you have a favorite kind of sausage. Grill the sausage if you want to get outside. When tomatoes are in season, serve them still warm from the sun, drizzled with dressing. In the colder months, roast some veggies (like carrots, beets, and broccoli) and toss them with the same dressing. You could add a pilaf or quinoa salad on the side. You could serve warm fruit crisp for dessert.
This dish is a reminder to be present, to live simply, and to breathe deeply as you savor the aroma of a good meal.
Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage – Serves 4
1 T canola oil
1 pound Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage
1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 Armenian cucumbers, very thinly sliced
3 kohlrabi, peeled and very thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
1 T dijon mustard
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t maple syrup
1/4 C chopped chives
Maldon salt, for serving
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot add the sausage, cut side down. Cook, turning once or twice, until it’s a bit browned and is cooked through and reaches a safe temperature, about 4-5 minutes on each side.
Submerge the cut veggies in ice water and let stand for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, and maple syrup until it has emulsified, then stir in the chives. Toss the veggies with the dressing, using your clean hands.
Serve the salad topped with Maldon salt, alongside the sausage.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this space. I’ve missed it. I’ve been dying to be back.
A month ago, I made the decision to make the best of a situation that was beyond my control. It allowed for some time to be spent working from home. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to start doing the cooking show again. So, I’m gonna try. The format is similar, just set in a different kitchen, in a different state (did you know we moved across the country?).
You with me?
This episode is a better than takeout Udon and Spicy Pork. It’s easy. So easy. The featured ingredients are red cabbage, scallions, udon noodles, and ground pork. Umm, that’s actually most of the ingredient list. I mentioned that it’s simple, right? Yeah. I wasn’t joking.
I cooked the pork. Easy. I added cabbage. Delicious. I found some scallions that had survived the winter and tossed those in too. Then the sauce is a quick whisk together of tamari, Sriracha, Hoppy Valley Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly, and rice vinegar. I whisked it with cornstarch and cold water, then added it to the cabbage and pork. That’s it. Dinner without having to wait for delivery.
It wasn’t as spicy as I wanted it to be. So next time I’m adding a whole teaspoon of Sriracha and more of the hot pepper jelly. For my vegan pals, I think you could substitute immature jackfruit (drained from the brine that it’s packed in) or crumbled tofu in place of the pork. For my gluten-free friends, rice noodles would be perfect. Make it however you want. You do you.
I can’t figure out how to add the recipe plugin that I used to use. It’s been one thousand years since I’ve done this. So for now, just take a screen shot and print out the recipe. Do people still print recipes? I don’t know. I’m going to have a glass of wine and watch Schitt’s Creek.
Udon and Spicy Pork – Serves 4
3/4 pound ground pork
1/4 red or green cabbage, chopped (should yield about 2 C)
1 bunch scallions, green and white parts, chopped
Udon noodles (enough to serve four people)
to taste, salt
2 T tamari/soy sauce/liquid aminos
1/4 t (or more like 1 t) Sriracha
3 T (or 1/4 C) red pepper jelly
2 T rice vinegar
1 T cornstarch
1/4 C cold water
Cook the udon noodles, reserving 1/2 to 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid for your sauce.
Cook the pork over medium heat until it’s mostly cooked through. This should take a few minutes. Then add the cabbage and cook until it’s tender, but still has a bit of crunch, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute more.
While the pork and cabbage cook, whisk together the tamari, Sriracha, red pepper jelly, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and water. Add it to the pork and cabbage mixture and let it thicken. Add the reserved pasta water too. Toss it a few times, then add the cooked udon and toss some more (enough to get everything nicely coated). Taste and add salt if you need it.
Top each bowl with some crispy onions (you know, the kind from a jar).