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Tuesday
Apr292014

TO MY SWEET BOY.

We've been writing letters to the wee one in a notebook so one day he can read about what we were feeling during this season. When cleaning out an office at my parents house, my sister and I stumbled on letters my mom had written us when we were babies, letters I don't know if she even remembers she wrote, and it was so special to read them. I consider this site somewhat of a general journal of our life, at least in the snippets of writing, so I am including my letter from today just so I have it in this place as well.

--

My sweet boy, 

Three-ish more weeks. Give or take. Your arrival comes in a very full season for us, but it feels like the only thing that matters. We have tried to be working on our new home, finishing up our second cookbook, celebrating the plethora of May birthdays that you will also be contributing to, and staying present with friends and family, but you are what I think about in and through it all. Our life has changed with you in my belly - you've slowed me down, I don't cook as much and I'm blaming you for my grocery basket being filled with chips and ice cream instead of green vegetables; my wardrobe is extremely limited and we're trying to furnish a tasteful and understated nursery for you down the hall. Life has looked different these past nine months, but nothing compared to what is around the corner for us. Our whole life will change in the matter of a day, hours really. You can read and prepare and talk about that, but I don't think we really have any idea.

I tear up when I imagine you being laid on my chest for the first time. I am so fearful of the process but so anxious for you - to hold you and know you. Your dad and I just lay in bed and watch my belly at night, your most active time, and guess what body parts of yours we're feeling. We pat your buns (which could be your head and if so, we're sorry) and tap your legs (or arms, who knows), trying to guess if you're going to be tall like your dad. I think you are but that's just a suspicion based on the appendages I feel you jabbing into my rib cage. You will be lucky to acquire traits from your dad - I know I repeat that in these letters, but may it further convince you of how madly in love with him I am. He is such a wonderful person. My favorite. You will grow up to admire and trust him, and oh, will he make you laugh. He will teach you things and care for you deeply, so I just ask that you respect him. I now share his heart with you and it is our duty to love him well. We are so lucky to have him. 

I have two close friends who are in the throws of medical appointments and surgeries with their sick babies. It breaks my heart, and while I desperately pray for their families, for miracles and healing of these babies, I am so hopeful that you are healthy in there and getting everything you need. The truth is, and what I have witnessed from these brave mothers, is that you are not my own, and I will not always be able to protect you. I have learned that hurt and sickness and disappointment and terrible things happen and that is part of the world we live in, unfortunately. I believe we are called to live faithfully here, to be gracious characters in our own story and live generously even when things don't seem 'fair.' You'll realize soon enough that things rarely are but life is incredibly better when you get over that and see how special and beautiful it can be anyway. I hope to live a life that sees the beautiful and positive - to be a good example of that for you. I imagine you will make that easier for me as I get to bear witness to your life. Gah, I can't wait!

Your room is not done and I don't think we have enough socks for you but we are as ready as we'll ever be. We're imperfect people who are going to love you like CRAZY.

Hope you're well and snuggled and snoozy in there. Enjoy your alone time. You're a few short weeks away from so many people who are dying to hold you. You're really in for something great, my sweet boy. 

I love you, 

Mom

Thursday
Apr242014

BUTTERMILK BERRY CRUMB CAKE

Buttermilk Berry Crumb Cake . Sprouted Kitchen

I'm reading a few different baby books. I read a little of one or the other each night. Just enough to gather a bit of advice I find helpful, tell Hugh about it, and then doze off. One is about pregnancy, and while I have gotten pretty lucky by way these 10 months go, these last few weeks have been more trying in regards to how I feel physically. So tired and fatigued merely from the task of carrying around a mini person in my mid-section all day. While these books bring up pretty obvious points, I am fascinated by how innate and instinctive the qualities are that take over in the last month or so. The nesting, cleaning, preference to withdraw a little bit... In my moments of fear and angst, I try to remember how natural this is, how we've been making babies since the beginning of time. Maybe part of some womens' nesting includes cooking, but I assure you it is the absolute last thing I feel like doing. Ironically, our cookbook manuscript is due next week so food is powering through this kitchen regardless. Head down and go. I also really wanted to stay in the habit of having people over and enjoying a meal with friends, so this season has been... intresting. 

We have friends coming for coffee tomorrow, another couple for dinner, and my parents here helping in the yard on Saturday (yea, about that whole final month recluse deal...). I needed a breakfast snacking cake that would last through a few days of visitors. While I do prefer it, my grain-free baking is hit or miss, so I went a more traditional route for this recipe. This cake has a tight crumb, almost dense in the most charming of coffee cake ways. A cake that requires you to take small bites between sips of coffee. We ate it with some loosely whipped cream and extra berries because if you're going to have cake, you must really have cake. Maybe even a la mode for the evening crowd. However, aside from the personal whipped cream preference, this coffee cake is relatively lowfat with some of its classic butter content being replaced by the mashed banana. It's these everyday sort of cakes I like in my back pocket for cooking and non-cooking days alike. 

(update: for the few of you that asked in the comments. I have really liked the Dr. Sears books. I read The Pregnancy Book and The Vaccine Book by them and have The Baby Book as well but have only read the first two chapters. A friend recommended The Birth Partner and while dense and detailed, it has a lot of information for natural childbirth. I just started Happiest Baby on the Block and while it's a bit corny, I think there are some helpful tidbits.)

Buttermilk Berry Crumb Cake . Sprouted Kitchen

BUTTERMILK BERRY CRUMB CAKE // Serves 8-10

Loosely adapted from 101Cookbooks

For the sake of substitutions, I think you could replace the buttermilk with a non-dairy milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice. As for making it gluten free, I would try a blend of almond meal, oat flour and flaxmeal but I hesitate to given proportions without trying it myself first. I am sure an all purpose GF flour would be worth a shot as well. 

I still don't completely trust the oven at our new place so you'll have to report back if you try this and come up with a different baking time. My oven and thermometer say different things and I don't exactly trust either. Bare with me. One day I will fix its uncertainty or my lack of faith. 

 

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup / half stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  •  
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup muscavado sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • little grate of fresh nutmeg
  • 2 cups mixed berries, chopped small, divided
  •  
  • / crumble /
  • 1/4 cup / half stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup muscavado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

 

Buttermilk Berry Crumb Cake . Sprouted Kitchen

Preheat the oven to 325'. Line a springform pan with parchment and grease the bottom and sides. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix well to combine and set aside. 

In another bowl, mix the white whole wheat flour, all purpose, muscavado, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and stir to mix well. Add one cup of the berries to the dry mix and toss to coat. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine in as few stirs possible. Being careful not to overmix to keep the cake tender.

In another bowl, make your crumble. Mix the softened butter, oats, flour, cane and muscavado sugars, cinnamon, ginger and salt together and mash everything with the back of a fork to combine. It will be sandy in texture. 

Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the remaining berries on top. Distribute the crumble on top of the berries. Put the springform on a baking sheet (just in case it leaks, I prefer to play it safe) and bake on the middle rack for 55-60 minutes until golden on top and you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. The cake is fairly low in fat, be careful not to overbake and dry it out. 

Buttermilk Berry Crumb Cake . Sprouted Kitchen

Wednesday
Apr092014

LEMONGRASS TOFU BOWLS

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

I had my baby shower this past weekend with so many of my favorite people. I felt extremely loved and celebrated. While making the rounds to fifty-plus people that I truly care about wore me out, it was incredibly special. Even if you have a few babies, you do it for the first time just once, and it's sort of a surreal thing, growing a tiny person. My sister went full throttle with her "camping" theme. There were arrows and cactus, southwestern printed pillows, and a tee pee for the gifts. Even the food was in theme with grilled skewers and mac n cheese and a smores dessert on wooden plates with adorned utensils. If your shower can be "cooler" than you, mine certainly was thanks to my little sister. My mom's garden was decked out and in full bloom and my dad played bartender for all the ladies. Obviously I was thrilled to get set up with a lot of the equipment we need along with a good loot of books and mini clothes, but I was most humbled by how many people stepped up to help out and the lengths my sister went to to make this day thoughtful and special. There is nothing that inspires generousity more than being on the receving end of it. I am not the most awesome gift giver and I know I could not match my sisters party throwing skills, but giving time or skill or words... there is always a way to give something. Be it in very small but significant ways, I resolve to pay closer attention to celebrating and anticipating what may make someone feel special. 

I contributed a few recipes and a couple of quotes for the special issue of Epicurious: America's Best Recipes, which came out this month. The issue has some gorgeous looking recipes (Hugh has requested those blueberry handpies a few times now) and it's neat to see our cuisine divided by region. These bowls stuck out to me as a riff on the tofu bowls we make around here often. I love lemongrass and the unique freshness it brings to a stir fry as well as anything that can be topped with a ripe half of an avocado. It is clearly delicious warm out of the skillet but leftovers the next day were just as welcomed. It's definitely worth taking a peek at the issue if you come across it. 

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

LEMONGRASS TOFU BOWLS // Serves 4

Adapted from Epicurious: America's Best Recipes

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 12-14 oz. package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and outer stalks removed 
  • 2 tsp. thai chile paste or sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 cups-ish broccoli florets
  • 2 large carrots, julienned or sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 2 avocados, for garnish

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Rinse and cook the brown rice according to instructions. 

Cut the tofu into cubes and set it on a few paper towels or dish towel to drain. 

Smash the lemongrass with the back of a knife and mince it well. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lemongrass, chile paste, lime juice, vinegar, ginger, pinch of salt and stir to mix. Add the tofu and stir everything to coat. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. 

Warm the coconut and sesame oils in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the tofu and it's marinade and saute for 4-5 minutes, until edges are browned. Add the broccoli, carrots, coconut milk, remaining Tbsp. sesame oil and soy sauce and saute until the vegetables are warmed through. About 3 more minutes. Add the greens onions, stir and taste for seasonings.

Serve each bowl with a scoop of the brown rice, the tofu vegetable mixture in sauce, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a half of avocado, sliced, on top. 

Lemon Grass Tofu Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Wednesday
Mar262014

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH COCOA MASCARPONE FROSTING

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

I have been waiting for an occasion to make a big layer cake. I'm not that great of a baker and after a few failed attempts, I still feel the desire to get it right one of these times with the perfect cake and frosting recipes. I want it to be understated and beautiful and decadent. Like Tara's cakes. I am attempting her recipe next in hopes of a cake like that. So, what does one do mid-week when you want cake but maybe not a triple layer situation? Cupcakes, of course. Cupcakes on an ordinary Wednesday made me think of small victories - of little things that are going right, like finishing taxes and friends with a new healthy baby and picking a paint color for the nursery... reasons to celebrate with cake that may not be a birthday. You can always find people to help you eat cake. 

I pulled this cupcake recipe from the new Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon that is packed with a great collection of vegan recipes. It is a lovely resource for those on a vegan diet or otherwise just trying to eat less meat and dairy and more produce. Because it was what I had, I substituted dutch processed cocoa for the natural stuff here. I know, I know. I altered the baking soda/powder and things got funky and I don't recommend doing that. Do as I say, not as I do. I am writing the recipe as published, with natural cocoa. If you want to use dutch, find another recipe, the acid v. alkaline ratio doesn't work with it here. The frosting is not so vegan, but I always prefer mascarpone based frostings over buttercream (vegan or otherwise) and I was the one who would be consuming most of these so there you have it :) To weekday cake!

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH COCOA MASCARPONE FROSTING // Makes 10-12

Cupcake recipe barely adapted from Oh She Glows Cookbook

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. milk, as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 pint strawberries, cleaned, stemmed and chopped 

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

Preheat the oven to 350'.

In a mixing bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Let them sit for a few minutes (this creates a vegan buttermilk). Add the vanilla, sugar and coconut oil and stir to mix. 

In another bowl, sift together both flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. If the coconut oil gets chunky because it got cold, use a mixer or whisk to break it up (Angela suggests an electric mixer but I was afraid it would make the cake tough). 

Grease a muffin tin or line it with liners. Fill the vessels 3/4 full for 10 cakes, 1/2 full for 12. Bake on the middle rack for 21-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely. 

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. With a hand or stand mixer, combine the butter, mascarpone, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk and mix until smooth - adding a tiny splash of milk as needed to thin the frosting. When the cakes are cool, frost them and top with a bundle of fresh strawberries. 

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday
Mar202014

AVOCADO SANDWICH WITH GREEN HARISSA

Avacado Sandwich with Green Harissa . Sprouted Kitchen

"For whatever it's worth: It's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over."

- Eric Roth, Benjamin Button (a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

I've been writing emails with one of my longest-time friends about the hamster wheel of worry and fear and how it can hold us in its grip. Her being a new mom, myself about to be one, and the fresh batch of angst that comes along with a little life dependent on you and doing things "right."

I love this quote, T, made me think of you. May we be women of confidence and faith - that we fearlessly enjoy the ride relieved we don't control the universe. xo

Avacado Sandwich with Green Harissa . Sprouted Kitchen

AVOCADO SANDWICH WITH GREEN HARISSA // Makes 2

Green Harissa recipe adapted from Ashley Rodriguez for Food + Wine

Hugh isn't huge into mint, so while Ashley calls for 1 cup each mint and cilantro, I cut the mint yield with half parsley and it worked great. Not too minty while still offering some of it's fresh flavor. Seed the jalepenos depending on your heat tolerance - I took out about half the seeds and thought this had the perfect amount of spice. Click on the link for her original recipe where she tosses it with noodles, shrimp and feta. Sounds great.

I went for a straight harissa spread, while we mixed Hugh's with 2:1 harissa to organic mayo ratio and it was delicious. Possibly preferred. If you are one for high-quality mayo, creamy greek yogurt or even a dairy-free cream cheese, the harissa is perfect for a sammy when it has this creamy factor going on as well. Add roasted chicken, quick seared tofu, a fried egg...really you could expand from here a million ways. 

 

  • /green harissa/
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 jalepenos, stemmed and seeded to your heat preference
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, ground fennel seed, sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

 

  • 2 whole grain rolls or 4 pieces bread of choice
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 1 small bulb fennel, sliced super thin

 

Avacado Sandwich with Green Harissa . Sprouted Kitchen

In a food processor, add the garlic, cilantro, mint, parsley, jalepenos, lemon juice, cumin, fennel, salt and pulse to combine. With the motor going, drizzle in the olive oil until blended but still a little rough. Transfer to a container and set aside. 

Toast your bread. Mash up the avocado with a pinch of salt. Spread a few spoonfuls of harissa on one side of the bread and mash half the avocado into the other side of the bread. Layer a piece of romaine and a handful of thin sliced fennel and close up your sammy to enjoy or pack for an adventure. 

Avacado Sandwich with Green Harissa . Sprouted Kitchen