Breakfast, Bread, Fall, Gluten Free, Snack, Winter

ROSEMARY ALMOND MEAL BREAD

A friend brought me this loaf after I had Cleo, over a year ago now, and I still think about it. She was very much a fast food girl in a season of taking care of herself - in part by learning to cook and eat cleaner, so it felt even more special. A loaf made of mostly ground almonds, flaxmeal, eggs, a few other pantry staples and studded with bits of fresh herbs. I would slice and toast it and spread a thin coat of coconut oil or butter on top and it was heaven to a tired and overwhelmed spirit at the time. Food has a beautiful way of evoking memories. I can remember how I felt, where I was, the state of our home with muslin swaddles drapped over every chair and pacifiers that my baby had no interest in but I kept trying for the chance at quiet. I remember that there was always a child in my arms when I think about eating that loaf. I did a quick search online and found what is pretty close if not exact to what I remember of the recipe she texted to me a year ago. I liked it that much, my photographic memory could recall the ingredients, just not the amounts. Anyway. I made it again yesterday and we did the same. Nibbled on it through the day and then I made it again the next day because I had some lost time to make up for. 
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In other important news, I am roping you guys in on my resolution to be a better lover of people. That's a general goal, I know, as the scale for that is short and long and deep and wide as you all know in your own lives. That can mean my own family or people I may never have any contact with. I am planning to host a couple dinners to raise money for charities that need more resources to fund the good work they are doing. I figure that instead of just donating money, I can put that money towards hosting a meal and then multiply those funds with the help of the guests. I want my feet on the ground too, but I have to start somewhere and this is a way I can do something by way of this platform. My hope is to gather with different, compassionate people to stir conversation and awareness and raise funding for organizations who have their hands in there getting shit done. The fact that dinner will be served is secondary; food merely being the glue that binds us. The price tag is high, but keep in mind this is to raise money. That is the focus. Given the present state of affairs, I am going to be donating all proceeds to the International Rescue Committee who respond to the world's worst humanitarian crises. I don't know how the fine details of all of this are going to go, but for now, I am planning to host two, twenty person dinners. The tickets are available on the Shop tab on the left side. If you don't live close, perhaps we could get a fire started to host dinners like this in other cities. Anyway, long overdue but here we go.

ROSEMARY ALMOND MEAL BREAD // Makes one 9x5 loaf
Recipe adapted from Mind Body Green

This loaf is to resemble a savory bread, not a sweet loaf, even though the texture makes you think of one. That said, it can take savory additions: chopped sun dried tomatoes, feta, olives, lemon zest, a micro-planed clove of garlic or bits of dried fruit if you'd rather go that direction. I am giving you the base recipe and trust you can manage the add ins, no more than 1/3 cup would be my suggestion. The subtlety here is part of the loafs' charm. 
The loaf is best day one. Still delicious day two but it does start to dry out at this point as flaxmeal sucks up any sign of moisture. Keep the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

4 eggs
2.5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or warmed coconut oil/
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1.5 Tbsp honey

2 1/4 cups ground or blanched almond meal
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, plus a little more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 360' and grease a 9x5 loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, oil, cider vinegar and honey and whisk well to combine. Add the almond meal, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda, thyme leaves and rosemary leaves and stir them into the wet mixture until evenly combined. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle a few extra herbs and a sprinkle of salt on top.
Bake on the middle rack for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. 

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Personal

THE KITCHEN REFRESH

We started demo in our kitchen about a year and a half ago. Our house was built in the early 70's, and while it seemed there had been some updates made at some point in the late 80's / early 90's, the place as a whole had been pretty stagnant for a good 20 years when we moved in. A few things that the previous owners did themselves but we knew we bought a project to make this home feel like us. Budget and time permitting, we will be fixing this place up until we likely die here with a garage full of half empty bags of mortar, partial gallons of unused paint and spare tile pieces. Can you see Hugh rolling his eyes at me through your screen? The goal was to not completely start from scratch but more to spruce up what already existed. Of course, when you're just talking about renovation plans it all seems breezy and wonderful: "Yeah, we'll take out this part of the wall here, update the counter tops, paint, hardware, we can do all this ourselves in like, what, a week, right?" Then you put a hole in the drywall and you discover the first glimpse of the boot leg wiring from 20 years ago. Needless to say, it became more complicated than we imagined. I threatened to move out 8 months pregnant and cried a lot and there is still drywall dust wafting about, but I am so much happier in the kitchen now - a place I am so tied to both by choice and responsibility.

I can't define our style at all which shows you I have no business posting home stuff, but it's some marriage of industrial, mid century, natural/neutral/clean, with a hint of bohemian. I work and live in the kitchen (Hugh has a teeny tiny office in the garage) and clutter makes me feel anxious, so we tried to keep straight lines, lots of white, and natural tones and textures to make it feel calm. It's sort of tricky to tell in the photos but the kitchen/dining and living area are all open to each other now. While I like this in regards to entertaining and our family feeling together, you need the whole space to make some visual sense together because you can see all three spaces at one time. Does that make sense?  I feel like I am still working on this part.

Hugh's dad is a wonderful and generous man, and a general contractor to boot, so he and Hugh did most of the work themselves, with some help for plumbing, electrical and paint. This helped make it affordable for us in the first place. The picture window above the kitchen table as well as the sink were scrounged from other homes he was working on at the time and repurposed here. I am in major debt to that man and inspired by his servant's heart and how much he wants to help his kids. 

I meant to be sharing this post nearly a year ago, but it turns out that I don't think we'll ever be "finished." We have two young kids and both work from our home so we are here A LOT. How we move and feel in this space changes, so instead of wait until it is *just* how I want it, I figured I would share how far we've come, because the pursuit of perfect is missed joy. It is not perfect or done, but this house is so much more us than it was three years ago.

Included are some before (thanks Zillow!) and after shots for reference. I have included links for some of the goods below. I always enjoy seeing people's personal space - it's amazing how much it reflects their taste and temperament. I'm no decorator, but if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll get back to you 

We worked with Concrete Wave Design to do concrete countertops. Some contractors pour them in place, but Concrete Wave measures and does them off site and then comes and installs. They look amazing and we are so happy with the work (they make fireplaces and neat sink basins too). We were warned against concrete by a few people because it's porous and not the most indestructible of countertop options. But this natural wear and patina was a positive deciding factor for us, over the more perfect looking materials and we love them for that. I would get them again in a heartbeat if we were tearing down our kitchen tomorrow.

We hang out in our kitchen for the most part, but the family room is where our family plays blocks, sits by the fire, watches movies, and Hugh and I read or work on the rare occasion that both kids are asleep at the same time. We had a 15 year-old, hand-me-down couch from my parents that we replaced with a sectional from Interior Define. They are able to customize the lengths of the designs they have to fit perfectly in your space and have a variety of different fabrics that are sturdy and will for sure hold up under the use of our family. I may regret this light of a color with the kids but I just couldn't get past my desire for a light couch in that room to keep it looking bright and airy. 

The hardware, stools and rugs are from Rejuvenation (specific links below). Since we chose this hardware they have added even more awesome options. They are beautiful, sturdy and easy to install. Even if you want to do one small thing to your kitchen, changing the hardware seems to make a big difference. The Skyline rug in the living area worried me with the pink but it blends in so well and adds the perfect amount of color to our pretty neutral palate. The stools at the bar area are sturdy and heavy and feel like they fit in just perfectly. 

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Paint: Dunn Edwards Whisper
Hardware: Rejuvenation
Countertops: Concrete Wave Design
Shelving Brackets: Restoration Hardware
Rugs: Rejuvenation (Skyline (I'm seriously obsessed!) and Woodmere)
Tiles: Cement Tile Shop
Photo: Hugh Forte and Framebridge
Bench: CB2
Stools: West Elm and Rejuvenation
Couch: Interior Define
Lamp: Rejuvenation

Some of these companies are partners in this post by way of product or discounts for pieces we love. We partner with companies whose products we love and trust in quality - food and otherwise. None of this information was paid for or commission based, all opinions are my own.

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Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Side, Winter

ROASTED VEGETABLE PLATE WITH RED PEPPER SPREAD

Our "vegetarian dinners" have a history of coming with some grilled chicken or sausage on the side. Hugh believes it keeps him full and the kids like it too so I go with it. Everything I make can go with a little chicken, is that a marketing line? Anyway, I'm trying to make my vegetarian dishes more filling so no one asks for meat or finishes the meal with a row of peppermint jojos because they're still hungry. Sometimes I skirt by with a filling entree salad, but then I have to make something different for my kids. This plate gives a little something for everyone and my little people will eat warm, sweet vegetables like these. Ok, not the fennel or onions, but they like squash and potatoes. You approach the oversized squash wedge with a fork and knife, like you would a piece of protein, and maybe it's in my head, but this looks nothing like the 'rabbit food' that so many vegetable centric dishes get categorized as. For those who've asked about feeding my kids, I also have great luck with baked falafel bowls, burrito bowls and a mild tofu yellow curry. Cleo (1) is an unbelievable mess with all of the above but she loves to eat so I put a full upper body bib on her and a plastic tarp under her seat and she figures it out. 

The sauce here is sort of like a muhummara hummus blend - two creamy, delicious sauces that don't actually have any dairy. It is rich from the walnuts, thick from the beans and zesty and spiced like the classic muhummara spread. I am obsessed with it. We make the classic often but adding beans to it makes it more hearty. This makes a little more than you'll likely need for this meal, and we use it with eggs, or a sandwich spread or just to dip crackers. Think of cold weather vegetables here, but swap in what you have. Halved beets, large chunks of cauliflower, any sort of potato or winter squash. The point is just to have them larger in size and well seasoned so they make for a perfect meal with this delicious sauce and your grain of choice. 

ROASTED VEGETABLE PLATE WITH RED PEPPER SPREAD // Serves 4
I will change up the basic dried herbs here based on whatever needs some turnover in my spice cabinet. It's just to add some life to the vegetables, it's not a big deal (I'm a very specific recipe writer, eh?). You could use lemon pepper or Italian herbs or I'll buy unsalted "everyday" type of blends from whatever store I am shopping, I love sweet or smoked paprika on anything. It won't make all too much of a difference either way as it's in relative small amounts.

1 medium butternut squash, about 1.5 lbs
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large (or 2 small) fennel bulb
1 red onion
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, ghee or warmed coconut oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. herbs de provence
handful of fresh thyme
fresh ground pepper

// red pepper spread //

2 garlic cloves
2 charred, cooled and seeded red bell peppers (or one jar, 7.5 oz. drained)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup cooked and drained garbanzo beans
handful of fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

fresh mint, for garnish
salad greens and quinoa or brown rice, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425' with a rack in the upper third. You'll need a sharp knife for this: Cut the butternut squash into quarters (or eighths if it's a really squaty squash), the wedges should be about 2" thick. Remove the seeds. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, or 4" chunks on a bias. Cut the fennel bulb and onion into roughly 3" pieces, leaving the root in tact so they stay together. We are looking for rustic, thick chunks here. 
Spread the pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt, garlic powder, fresh and dried herbs, and pepper. Toss with your hands or use a brush to make sure all sides and edges are covered with oil and seasonings distributed. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping the vegetables halfway through.
While the vegetables roast, make the sauce. It can be made a week in advance though you want it room temp for serving. Into a food processor or blender, combine the garlic cloves, fresh charred or jarred bell peppers, walnut pieces, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, sea salt and vinegar and turn the processor on to combine until smooth. Drizzle in the oil and add the beans and parsley and run to combine. Taste for seasonings, maybe more salt, more vinegar if you like it acidic or more pepper flakes for heat. 
Serve on a large family style platter or everyone build their own with bowls of a grain, greens and sauce on the side. Garnish with parsley, mint and toasted walnuts. 



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