the sneaky one (sweet potato brownies)

You know what food trend I’ve never fully understood? The one about the hidden vegetables. The puree-something-your-kids-won’t-eat-and-bury-it-in-brownies! Add spinach to chocolate cake! Sneak cauliflower in pasta! Do whatever you can to trick them into eating nutrition! I mean, I think I kind of understand it, or at least the premise of it: if you can add good-for-you foods to what someone normally eats without them noticing, then you get them to eat what they should while also eating what they want. Everybody wins! OK. But the problem is your kids still don’t like vegetables; they like chocolate cake, a chocolate cake that’s lying to them. Maybe I don’t get it because I don’t have kids? You can feel free to tell me what I’m missing. Anyway, that said, you’ll see the irony in the recipe I’m about to give you, for what else but sweet potato brownies. Yes, they’re exactly like those crazy sneaky recipes I don’t understand. Yes, they use a pureed vegetable in the middle of a … [Read more...]

that kind of discovery (olive oil granola)

There are some things in life that grow on you---places that get better every time you visit, favorite movies that catch you with something new each time you watch, people that seem funnier and smarter and kinder every single time you talk. With these things, it’s rare you didn’t like them at least a little to begin with; you probably did. It’s just that, for whatever reason, when you liked them enough and kept experiencing them again and again, your affection kept increasing---and in continued exposure, you found the marvelous reality that discovery, even or maybe especially in something familiar, leads to greater love. That’s how I feel about granola. Our back story---mine and granola’s---is pretty ordinary: I had granola bars in the school lunches I made myself in high school. I threw them in my messenger bag in college. I even bought bulk packs at Costco or Sam’s when I worked my first adult job, so I could grab a couple to stick in my purse or to make a quick … [Read more...]

forever, for all mankind (balsamic turkey meatloaf)

Meatloaf is one of those things it's not hard to do badly, and we've all had the brown mush that proves it, the kind that blends enough vague ingredients to create an end product bearing no resemblance to real food. Try one bad enough, and you'll never want to eat it again, I know. That's probably why, until last weekend, I'd have been completely happy to live the rest of my life without it. I'd stick to things I could recognize, thank you very much. But that has all changed. Hear me out: now that I've tasted how good a meatloaf can be---how crazy, crazy good it can be---I know I would have been severely missing out. I was wrong. I was blind. And before you make a similar mistake, try this turkey loaf, which uses ground turkey rather than ground beef to make a flavorful, moist, glazed kind of meatloaf unlike any I've had before. Seriously? It's enough to redeem the food forever, for all mankind. … [Read more...]

Review: Grow Great Grub

Like I said last month, book reviews aren’t really the emphasis of this site, but we’ll make exceptions. Since Grow Great Grub has inspired me to launch past my existing gardening attempts (i.e., beautiful summer tomatoes and a sad Meyer lemon tree) into the world of potted herbs (stay tuned!), I thought you might like to hear about it, too. Overall: I was so excited to get a review copy of this book because the whole point of it is that not only can you garden anywhere, but also you can grow food anywhere ---even in the city, even in a small space. Rather than fancy pots or planters, you’ll see gorgeous photos of seeds sprouting in repurposed tins, wooden crates, trash cans, even toilet paper rolls in this book. There’s attention given to making these creative gardens aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, which anyone in a small space would recognize as important and which I think makes the process seem much more approachable and worth trying. The Author: I love … [Read more...]

for mid-February

I can't believe I'm saying this, but: I think I like February. I mean, sure, here we are, with 49 out of the 50 states having snow somewhere. And sure, being outside too long still makes my nose run and my ears burn, like it did this weekend, when on Sunday afternoon, every! train! seemed to take five extra freezing-cold minutes to arrive, but listen: it's not all bad. To start, LOST is back. If February brought us LOST, February is good. I don't think I need to say anything more than that. Then there's the light. I realized last week that the days have hit that point where the sky is still light when I walk to my car at 5:30 PM every night. How fantastic is that? No, really. Dwell on this with me: (almost) DAYLIGHT when I begin driving home, the kind that gradually diminishes and colors the sky and only becomes darkness as I'm parking my car again. This means not needing to turn my desk lamp on at work at all if I don't want to. It means being able to see my hands in front … [Read more...]

Happy Valentine’s Day (tomorrow)!

The following is a clip from "Feel Love Tomorrow," written by Bryce Taylor of the Yale Daily News, and I think it's just as beautiful and appropriate today as it was last February 13. Love, after all, encompasses a great deal more than romance; it comes in many forms. We can love a spouse, and we can also love cookie dough ice cream. We can love a parent, a place, a work of art — even a stuffed animal. One of the most common forms of love is simple affection. Affection grows out of familiarity and thus depends on regular contact over time. While a new home, a young puppy or an unheard song may bring excitement and adventure, they incite none of the tender fondness of the familiar home, the old dog, the longtime favorite song. Friendship is another kind of love, one that incorporates affection but remains distinct. Whereas affection is a feeling, friendship is a relation. In contrast to mere acquaintance, it springs from and orients itself around a common interest, a shared … [Read more...]

tilapia and white asparagus

There is a school of thought that says we cannot change our basic selves, that who we are intrinsically is who we have to be, give or take a few small choices, that someone like me will always be someone like me, maybe with different circumstances or friends or hairstyles, but always the same me deep down. Do you think that? I'm not sure. To be totally honest with you, I don't want to think that. I want to believe I can change---or rather, that I can be changed---and I want to believe that about you. Thing is, change is hard to measure. Take asparagus. When you trim a bunch of fresh white asparagus and lay it on a baking sheet, rolling the stalks in lemon olive oil and sprinkling them with salt and pepper before you roast it all in the white-hot oven, you can watch it transform before you from hard and cold to bruised and limp, with spots of darkness from the heat all over its thin stalks, and you can know there's change there, no question. But would some say it's not much … [Read more...]