I called my best friend at 9pm Friday evening on my way home from the airport. I wish I could say I was coming home from vacation, but I was picking up 20lbs of wild Copper River salmon that was so generously donated for our fundraiser dinner last weekend. I had had a rough day with the kids, Cleo being clingy and dramatic, Curran having a collection of tantrums and time outs that weren't seeming to make any difference. And then there I was, hustling post bed time as you do, with a trunk packed with groceries, my box of salmon riding shotgun and hours worth of prep work for our fundraiser dinner ahead of me. I wanted to cry, but it was also sort of funny, so I called Shannon, because I knew she'd get it. We had three simultaneous house projects going on too and there is just stuff everywhere so I reached that sort of crazy "laugh-cry" state. "The entire contents of our garage are in my backyard, our grass is dead, we have our house half stucco'd, my kids are wearing me down, and I have 20 lbs. of salmon in my front seat. WHAT AM I DOING?" You need people who can see the laugh-cry and pull you towards the laugh, agree that yes, maybe you did bite off more than you can chew in one week but affirm that you're capable. So I carried on. My salmon and I persisted. 
By Sunday morning I was pretty organized. Each course had it's own section in the kitchen so all the ingredients I would need to prep for that specific dish were in one place. I'd made my dressings and sauces because they could sit and then I started with the desserts because they are least compromised by being made in advance, at least the ones I chose. I made these Brown Butter Brownie Cakes which were a hit and a strawberry rhubarb crumble that I based off a crumble recipe in Tara O'Brady's cookbook, also a success. There is a photo on my instagram of the whole menu if you care to see. I don't have a recipe to post here today, but I made this avocado chimichurri to go along with the salmon that was simply rubbed with some taco seasoning and a little brown sugar and roasted on a low heat. A pretty good dinner idea if you are looking to refresh your salmon preparation.

Today I'm coming down from some adrenaline in my system (the only way I can manage cooking dinner for 20 people by myself) and catching my breath. At a point in the last few days, I regretted this commitment. Only due to my own selfishness of course . I'm tired, this is too much, bad timing, I thought. We instigated these dinners as a way to multiply a donation to a charity we were already planning on donating to, and in that we were successful. How lucky to have people who also see value in this. Between this local dinner and the one in Seattle last month, I have met dozens of new friends that are somehow connected to me through this space and with their generous donations, I gave them a reason to gather around a table with other people for conversation and a meal they didn't have to cook. There is the giving of time and money and resources and energy and hospitality that you can't always measure the worth of. Will the money we donate help someone? Was this even a good way to do something? Did people have a good time? Was the food decent? I think those immeasurable variables can be paralyzing (we need to talk about the enneagram personality test in another post, my chatter may make more sense if you're also a 2). Anyway, we live in a climate where there are so many people hurting and helpless, as there have always been, but social media and the internet just get that information and imagery to us quicker, and I don't want to be a passive bystander. So perhaps I won't know where that money is spent or if it was "enough" to make a difference or if the girls from Pennsylvania thought their trip out here for the dinner was worth it or if the cauliflower salad would have been better warm. But I did something that pushed me out of my comfort zone and I'm pretty sure sometimes, not all the time, but for sure sometimes, that's the only way forward. 

I am most grateful to my parents who worked their buns off to welcome everyone into their beautiful home. They have always been the best cheerleaders for their daughters' projects. I had two wonderful women volunteer to help me, Erika and Claudia, and obviously Hugh who knows what I need without having to say it and always lets me know when things need more salt. Does this sound like a grammy speech yet?

Thank you to these brands who made it possible for us to have a lovely event and raise money for the International Rescue Committee: Moe Paper Co., Drifter FishWhole Foods, Winc, California Olive Ranch.

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Breakfast, Dessert, Spring


My oven currently smells like it's burning off oil that had dripped to the bottom at some point. I should clean it; it really does interrupt the beautiful waft that comes from a springy cake in the oven. I have a handful of prospective projects I am back and forth about between two email addresses that while made with good intentions to keep personal and work separate, have done no such thing. There are threads regarding a potential cookbook, a recipe and article assignment about avocados, a menu card for our fundraiser dinner and open items to finish filing our taxes. Woven in between are emails about Curran's first (overdue apparently, oops) dentist appointment, follow up on invoices and the receipt for that weird oversized shirt I ordered from Nordstrom that I keep there to remind myself to return it some night after the kids are down. I never feel like doing that once the kids are down... but I also don't like going to the mall with two spirited toddlers so you may find me in a terribly unflattering oversized shirt. Anyway. I get stuck on writing here because the balls I am trying to keep in the air follow no apparent rhyme or reason or lessons learned. It feels like a simple yogurt cake on top of the stove is a constant to a life that seems to be buzzing by faster than I can keep up with. The fruit shrinks in after some time in the oven, and because fruit has a lot of water in it, the result is almost custardy which I don't mind at all once it cools. The jammy fruit and cake batter are almost tough to distinguish. It works for breakfast or an incentive for a moderately potty trained little boy or something to bring along on a date with my nieces. There is no frosting or chocolate or decadence really, it's an everyday sort of cake and the only kind that feels right to make around here lately. 

Recipe adapted from Sarah Waldmans Feeding a Family

I swapped in half strawberries for Sarah's exclusively rhubarb cake because I love the combination and my wee people are fans. I also cut down on the sugar slightly from her suggestion and found it to be plenty sweet. If you don't stock spelt flour, completely all purpose is fine, the texture would probably be better, I just like to sneak some whole grains in there.
You can make this dairy free by replacing the yogurt for a plant based yogurt and the butter for a scant 1/2 cup of coconut oil. It's a pretty forgiving cake. 

3/4 cup full fat yogurt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. grated gingerroot (or twice as much crystallized ginger pieces)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup spelt flour (or more unbleached all purpose)
1 cup muscavado or brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup 1" diced rhubarb
1 cup diced strawberries

turbinado sugar, for finishing
creme fraiche, yogurt or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350' and grease an 8" pan (square, springform, cakepan etc.).

In one mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, vanilla and ginger. Set aside. 
In another mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and stir to mix. Mix the fruit into the dry mix (this helps to keep the fruit from sinking) then gently combine the wet and dry mix together. 
Pour the mix into your prepared pan and generously sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar.
Bake on the middle rack for around 45-50 minutes until the cake is browned on top and a toothpick test shows that the center is cooked through.
Remove to cool so the cake sets. Serve with creme fraiche, yogurt or ice cream.
Cake will keep covered on the counter for two days, beyond that, store it in the fridge as it has a lot of moisture to it. 

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Per request, I am including a recipe for these broccoli balls I've been making for the kids. I love hearing that you guys actually make the things in this series and find it helpful. I know this kind of stuff is for a niche handful of you, but I get a lot of messages for these posts so I hope it's a another tool for getting a few more servings of vegetables into your kids. I think I've mentioned before that neither of my kids are ones to go after a crudite platter, so I have to get creative. Veggie burgers and balls and vegetables packed into frittatas or smoothies are my best bet. Cleo (1) can't use a utensil and Curran (almost 3) prefers not to anyway, so anything I can make hand-held is best for everyone. These nuggets have become my answer to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in a rush because they have protein, fat, veggies, carbs. Think frittata with extra broccoli. They can be whatever you need them to be. Even if you don't have kids, I still think these are an awesome. 

Broccoli Balls // Makes 20

These are pretty flexible and you can make modifications based on any allergies. Can't have eggs? Add in a small mashed sweet potato and double the panko. No gluten? Sub in some coarse ground oats but you'll need that cheese and egg to help bind them. No dairy? Add a drizzle of olive oil, and grind in a handful of walnuts when you pulse the broccoli so they have some fat in there. They can take a bit of cooked quinoa or rice if you're looking to bulk them up too. 

3 crowns of broccoli (a generous 1 lb. of florets)
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and pepper

3 eggs
1 cup grated cheese (mexican blend, white cheddar, fontina etc.)
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Cut up the broccoli into large chunks, some stem is ok, and steam it for 2-3 minutes. It should start to turn bright green but still have it's crunch. Let it cool completely. 
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or rub a little olive or coconut oil.
Into a food processor, whiz up the garlic and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Add the cooled broccoli and pulse until it's in rice like pieces. Not pureed, but something small enough to roll into balls. 
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the broccoli bits, grated cheese, parmesan and panko and stir to combine. It should loosely stick together. Add a sprinkle of panko if they need more "glue". 
Roll balls with a scant 2 Tbsp. of the mixture. Place them on the lined baking sheet and bake them for 10-12 minutes in the upper third of the oven. They should still be slightly tender when you pull them out. 
Like any reasonable mother would do, I give them to my kids with ketchup because it's a novelty but they really don't need anything. 

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