Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Soup


The news has me a bit emotional lately so all I have to give right now is a warm pot of soup. I have always been empathetic and emotional but being a mother has made me even more so. I can't help but hear stories about the shooting in Oregon or the refugees and personalize them. My family is not entitled to any sort of safety or protection, as cautious as I try to be, and that scares me to death. All I desire is for my people to be safe and healthy and happy; I'm sure that is what any parent hopes for; and when the story goes otherwise, it reminds you that you must hold onto things loosely. These sort of tragedies happen in an instant and my heart hurts for how fragile this life is.

It was fall around here for about two days. A little rain, I put on slippers, bought squash and made banana bread and soup. It's going to be 90' again by the weekend but I can feel the chill creeping in. It's coming and I am ready. So today, it's a simple and spiced bowl of soup for the comfort that food can give when there's not much else you can do. 


Adapted from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

I changed a couple things here and only because I don't like to dirty a dish unless it's absolutely necessary. Diana recommends browning the squash before you put them into the stew to get a golden crust. I find that to be lost when it gets cooked further in a liquid so decided to skip that step. Mind you, I haven't tried it otherwise and surely she has good reason so brown that squash if you're up for it!

Chiles vary widely in heat level depending where you buy them so this is tough to predict. I removed all of the seeds from my chiles so got next to no heat in my finished soup as I knew I'd be sharing it with a toddler. Personal taste, I would leave a few in so do so if you want some spice. 

2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 red chiles, seeded and chopped
5 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
3 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 3/4 cups (1 14 oz. can) cooked garbanzo or cannellini beans
juice and zest of one lemon
whole milk yogurt, for garnish
fresh mint, for garnish
toasted sesame or nigella seeds, for garnish
cooked brown rice (and lentils if you wish) for serving

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the coconut oil. Add the onions, carrots and a pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chiles and tomatoes and cook another five minutes. Stir in the cumin, tomato paste and a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Add the squash and the broth and stir to mix. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the squash is softened. Add in the cooked beans (rinsed and drained if using canned) and simmer, uncovered, another 10 minutes to warm through. This should be thick and stew like. Add the lemon zest and juice and taste for seasonings. 

Serve your bowls with a scoop of rice (or rice and lentils), the stew, a dollop of yogurt, mint and seeds. I liked a 2:1 ratio of stew to rice and generous with the toppings. Always :)

Personal, Appetizer, Gluten Free, Summer, Salad


It's a version of the same conversation we had at our old apartment when I was pregnant with Curran. As a couple, you become so used to the cadence that is just the two of you. There is both quiet and dance parties and nights when you feel like cooking and others when it's refreshing to get dressed up and go out. Before kids, it's hard to imagine how he, she, they, will fit in to a rhythm that is not always easy, but familiar. But somehow, and not without tears and grace in the adjustment, it's as if I don't remember our son not being here. I don't pine for the quieter days or cleaner floors or less expensive grocery bill. I never felt something was missing, but he makes us feel more whole. "What will it be like with another little person around here?" I ask. It's more rhetorical. I don't expect Hugh to have the answer but suppose by asking, I want him to tell me it's going to be alright, that we can do it, that we will adjust just like we did the first time and he does. 

There is a big sliding mirror behind our bathroom sink and not a beautiful one. It is heavy, hard to open and has a yellow gold trim dating it's origin to the 70's when the house was built. I stand profile to it to take in the shape of my belly. My thighs and hips are showing the lack of exercise and bean and cheese burritos that have taken the place of my pre-pregnancy gigantic green salads. Same song, one year later, I feel like I was just doing this? I was. My body has carried a child, now growing another one, and in my own self consciousness' that can often steal all of the joy from those magical feats, I remember the work that that belly, thighs and hips are doing. The growing and the nursing, your body doesn't feel like your own for well over a year and I think it's ok to find that a little crazy making. I am growing a little girl, our daughter, and vanity aside, it's the most magical process. It feels different this time - harder, hungrier, less beautiful, if I may be so honest. They are babies and then they are PEOPLE! Curran has his own language that we can sometimes understand and gives hugs with a little pat and deduces that any toy that does not move or make noise needs a battery ("mommy. daddy. bowerry?"). He waves at airplanes and dislikes the car seat and really likes to throw things "awey". I, we, are completely taken by him. How does one do that twice?!?! So much to process and anticipate but come January, we will be welcoming a baby girl to the family and I may just burst from how completely I love my babies. 

Thank goodness I do recipe development for work because it forces me to cook when I otherwise can easily talk myself out of it lately. Ashley and I have been developing recipes for Electrolux this past year and they have a seriously delicious looking collection going on over there now. Because it has been blazing hot here and the less heating elements I have to turn on, the better, I wanted to point you towards this super simple salad. I realize we're seeing the end of stonefruits and tomatoes now but they are still sweet and juicy so get to it. 


Serves 2-4

The full recipe can be found at Live.Love.Lux. along with a heap of other great tomato recipes this month. Think of this as less of a recipe and more an assembly of produce and creamy cheese at it's best. I like this with a bit of balsamic too or pile the goods on garlic rubbed toast. 


I have a feeling if you follow along here, you are no stranger to the work of Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks and Quitokeeto. If a recipe writing style can mimic one's personality by being gentle, confident and classic, that is Heidi. You can even see it in the glimpses into her kitchen or the products she chooses for her shop. In my otherwise hurried and efficient way of cooking, her photos and the way her recipes are composed make me want to slow down. She can set a mood in a cookbook like no one I've ever seen. All said and fan-girl gushing aside, her cookbook Near and Far is a keeper. She takes you through a few of her favorite places to travel by sharing recipes inspired by each of these places. I am naturally drawn to everything in the "Near" portion, but am anxious to try my hand at some of the recipes influenced by trips to Japan and Morocco. These rolls are just the beginning. We have loved her buttermilk waffle recipe and red lentil hummus with plenty more bookmarked.
Congrats to you, Heidi. The clear time and attention that went into this book made it a complete treasure. 


Recipe from Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson with a few extra wrap additions

This is a recipe composed of a couple recipes in Heidi's book. The tofu and mushrooms could really go anywhere - on rice noodles, over rice, with a heap of greens. I made the ginger onion paste and while that is certainly what gives these rolls a punch of unique flavor, you could make them your own by using whatever sauce you fancy. I still dipped them in a tahini citrus sauce or perhaps you are a peanut sauce person. The beauty of the paste is that the entire roll is self contained, making it ideal for travel and why it lies in her "en route" chapter.

Ginger Onion Paste
2 green onions, finely sliced
3 medium shallots, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. peeled, grated ginger
scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
6 Tbsp. sunflower oil

Place the onions, shallots, and ginger in a mortar and sprinkle with the salt (alternatively, a food processor on pulse works fine if that's what you have). Pound with the pestle until the onions are quite bruised, but not pastelike. Heat the oil in a small saucepan until hot enough that you could saute something in it. Add the onion mixture to the oil, remove from the heat and transfer it to cool. Drain off (and save) most of the oil before using it in the spring rolls, leaving just the paste.

12 ounces extra firm tofu
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
4 tsp. natural brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil, as needed
8 oz. mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced 1/4"
butter lettuce, cilantro, mint, cucumbers, sesame seeds, for assembly
8-10 rice paper wrappers

Pat the tofu dry and cut into 6 equal slabs before arranging in a single layer on a rimmed plate. Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt and sugar and pound into a paste. Work the oil in a bit at a time, continuing to work the ingredients until they come together (I added a splash of tamari here for fun, optional). Scrape the paste onto the tofu slices and slather to coat each piece, be quite thorough. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and place the tofu in a single layer and cook until deeply golden on each side, about 5 minutes. It's likely you won't need additional oil here; if you do, add to the pan a small splash at a time. Remove the tofu from the pan and once cooled, slice into pencil-thick pieces. Sprinkle with salt to taste. 
While the tofu is cooking, toss the mushrooms gently (but well) in the residual marinade left from the tofu. Once the tofu is done, use the same skillet to saute the mushrooms stirring just a couple times along the way, until the mushrooms release and evaporate their water and take on a nice, dark color. Transfer to a bowl. 
Set up your mise en place for the spring rolls - a large bowl of warm water, lettuce, ginger paste, tofu, mushrooms, cucumber, mint and seeds. Dip a rice paper into a bowl of hot water to just soften - resist oversoaking, it will continue to absorb water as you wrap. Place on a flat surface or damp dish towel. You'll want to keep all your ingredients crowded into one third of the available surface of the wrapper. Add a lettuce leaf or two, a swipe of the paste, a little tofu, a few mushrooms, a cucumber spear, mint, cilantro and seeds. Tuck the wrapper over the filling and roll it up (I find the wrapper packaging often gives you a visual). Heidi suggests them open-sided, but you can enclose them as well