I have a interesting quality that I haven’t mentioned on my blog up to this point. I guess I haven’t mentioned it because it’s something I’ve always had so don’t think about it often. But Drew mentions it to friends from time to time and I feel a bit like a carnival act. I have a memory like an elephant when it comes to food. The meal we ate on our first date? Ancho lentil tacos, barramundi cod tacos, a tea, and a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. Our meal at the Vierling Tavern? Cajun Blackened Lake Superior White Fish with wild rice pilaf and green beans, finished off with a piece of key lime pie. My birthday meal four years ago? Cedar planked salmon vesuvio. Anyway, you get the point. I remember my meals. The good and the bad.
In the summer of 2006, I had recently begun subscribing to Cooking Light Magazine. One of the first recipes I dog eared and cooked was this golden beet salad. I made it for my packed lunch to eat during a work day on my summer gardening job. That summer I was home from graduate school and was working with my friend, June Moon, in the gardens she designed and maintains around town. That day, we sat at the patio table near the pool at a client’s house (my favorite part of his place was the English garden June had designed for his wife before she passed) and enjoyed this salad. I remember that moment every time I eat this salad. I remember the feeling of friendship. I remember the hot summer day and dipping our feet in the pool to cool off. I remember the feeling of working hard and looking forward to the best part of the day; taking a break to put our feet up and share lunch with a dear friend. I’m grateful for such a good food memory because it is so often tied to memories of where I was, who I was with, and how I was feeling at the moment.
Cooking Light’s recipe for this salad calls for roasting the beets and I can attest that it is a delicious way to prepare the beets–they develop a depth and sweetness that other methods don’t draw out. But when I’m in a bit more of a rush, I opt to boil the beets until just-tender. It takes less time and still yields great results. I also add copious amounts of chopped dill (adding some chopped fresh mint to the mix tastes great too!) because I love it.
Be careful when toasting the pine nuts. It is easy to go from toasted to burned before you know it!
I’ve been making collard burritos for some time now. They have never made it to my blog. Maybe it’s because I think of them as my go-to quick meal that I eat when I don’t have time to play around with making things pretty. They are usually filled with a hodgepodge of quinoa, beans, and some random veggies. Nothing fancy. Maybe it’s because if I’m eating a collard burrito it means it is late and I don’t have daylight to photograph my creation for the blog. Winters are hard for food bloggers. There are nights that I prep my dish the night before, then race home, fly into the kitchen, and make a mess of everything, just so I can get the last ten minutes of daylight to capture my creation.
Hi! Great news! My sweetie and I are getting hitched! Just thought I’d let you know. I feel so fortunate. Drew is a gentle, kind soul. A hard worker. A true friend. An artist. And he brought baked oatmeal into my life. What more could you ask for?
I really grappled with what I should title this post. Why, you ask? Well….this dish is based on tofu. Now, I know a good number of people. And if there is one thing I know, it’s that they probably don’t all agree on the topic of tofu. Some eat tofu, some eat it if they have to, some would never let it pass their lips, and some tried it and don’t like it. It’s a pretty polarizing ingredient to be sure so I hesitate to call it out from the get-go, afraid it will turn off the fussy eaters among us.
Some things from my childhood have stuck with me and a love of chili with cornbread is one of those things. I fondly remember the big pots of chili my step dad would make when I was a kid. The soup was always served with a skillet of cornbread and it was always nice and spicy. When I commented/complained about the heat, my step dad ribbed me, telling me that the heat would burn the germs from my intestines. It’s a disturbing image but it was the start of my love affair with spicy foods, if not for the medicinal qualities, then for the taste.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a long post. You can skip to the bottom for the recipe if you want, I won’t be offended. But if you do, before you do, here are the Cliff’s Notes: ramblings on Christmas fun, Happy New Year(!), shame, perfectionism, joy, life lessons, resolutions or goals, and how I came to make these sweet potato, green chili, cheese tamales with tomatillo salsa. Okay–you are excused. See ya at the bottom for the recipe!
Alright, diehards, here it goes.
I am getting back to reality after a week of relaxing, both at home in Grand Rapids and in the Upper Peninsula, where I grew up. We spent the last week reading (Joseph Heywood’s Wood Cops series is awesome!), snowshoeing (new snowshoes for Christmas!), walking around historic downtown Marquette (we had a night at the historic Landmark Inn–what a treat!), and hiking to see some beautiful ice caves about twenty minutes from where I grew up. I haven’t been to the ice caves as an adult and I feel truly blessed that I have someone who I can enjoy doing things with and that he digs checking out giant frozen icicles and other wonders of nature with his Yooper gal. I’m still bewildered that someone could enjoy the same things I enjoy as much as I do myself.
Christmas is closer than you think. That’s the message behind several of the ads that have been airing from the company I work for as a consumer insights specialist. The ads are really cute and funny and a reminder that we’d better hurry up and get ready for the holidays because they are right around the corner.
I need little reminding about the passage of time. All I need to do is look at our kitty, who suddenly became a teenaged kitty and I’m immediately aware of how quickly time passes.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! As someone who is always thinking of her next meal, I couldn’t be more excited about the holiday. As most folks do, I have some favorite dishes that have always been traditional in my family. Homemade cranberry sauce. Cornbread dressing. Whole wheat bread dressing. I can’t wait to have these items on my plate. Over the years I’ve also updated some classics and they have bumped out the traditional dishes. The last couple of years I’ve been making a sweet potato puree with coconut milk, thanks to the recipe in Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. A few years ago I updated green been casserole for a simple version of steamed green beans with pickled sweet and sour onions and a maple dressing. Love!! This year I plan to add Brussels sprouts to the table and came up with a new favorite way to eat them.
Every year where I grew up, we had November 15 off of school. It wasn’t always that way. Over the years as we grew up, so few kids came to school that day, the district finally caved and it became a recognized day-off, no absences counted. What, you ask, happens on November 15? Opening day of deer season. Boys and men dressed in their favorite flannels and boots and headed out to their deer blinds as if heading off to war. The ladies? They went to Green Bay to go shopping.
Soup season has arrived, folks. You’ll be seeing many soups posted on this blog over the next several months, a testimony to my efforts to survive another cold and dark Michigan winter. The leaves on the trees are nearly gone (please hang on while I wipe the tear that is rolling down my cheek…sniffle), the lawn furniture looks eerily out of place and begs to be put away, Halloween is over and talk of the holidays creeps into conversation. We’ve already got a game plan for Thanksgiving dinner (my first time hosting!) and my mind is focused on developing recipes for healthy Thanksgiving sides for my next cooking class. The sun sets at around five o’clock and I’m still considering bucking the trend and ignoring daylight savings time (who’s with me?). The space heater is fully broken in and we are ready to hunker down under afghans for the next five months. For those of you who do not live in a similar climate, this is serious stuff, folks. A true test of resilience or sisu, as my mom would say. Sisu is the Finnish word for strength in the face of adversity…my mom would say, “you’ve got sisu, girl!”