Moosewood Brownies (+ Etsy Shop Announcement)

Moosewood Brownies | foodloveswriting.com

About a week ago, Tim and I made a quick stop at McKay’s, which, for the record, is the largest, cleanest used bookstore I’ve ever been to in my life. Set high up off Old Hickory Boulevard on Nashville’s west side, McKay’s exterior looks more like a bulk warehouse shopping center than a place that makes it easy for anyone to walk in and buy or sell old books any day of the week. You park your car in an eco-friendly brick parking lot and walk inside to a bright, high-ceilinged space filled with aisles and aisles of books, books on tape, CDs and DVDs. The inventory’s always changing, so even if you’ve just been in a week before, you still never know what you’ll find when you come. In December, I bought a Mexican cookbook that later had me Googling for information about its illustrator, a woman who loved beautiful buildings and architecture as much as I do. Last Monday, we came looking for a children’s book; we left instead with a hardcover Tim had been wanting and a $2 original copy of The Moosewood Cookbook, published in 1977, for me.

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Sourdough Banana Bread French Toast

Sourdough Banana Bread French Toast | FoodLovesWriting.com

There’s something about a weekend morning that demands a special breakfast. After waking up to sunshine, lazing around in bed, whiling away hours reading and talking and staring out your windows at the brightening sky, when at last you stretch your legs onto the wood floors, the only sensible thing to do is continue the indulgence by feeding whatever your morning craving may be: Pancakes? Quiche? Cinnamon rolls? Fresh-squeezed juice? Banana bread French toast?

Tim and I took advantage of this pure luxury last Saturday, on one of those rare wide-open days where we had no plans or obligations until dinnertime and thus full freedom to pursue anything we chose. I’d made sourdough banana bread the night before, so in the middle of the afternoon in our pajamas, we dipped slices in a French toast batter and sauteed them in coconut oil on the stove. Tim reduced blueberries and maple syrup in a separate pot; then, we took our plates to the table, spooning thick blueberries onto fat slices of the sweetest, most delicious breakfast I’ve had this year.

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Spicy Sweet Potato Quesadillas

sweet potato quesadillas | foodloveswriting.com

A few Saturdays ago, wearing red lipstick and riding boots, I took a free Mexican cooking class with my old Nashville roommates, Sara and Sarah. We met in a bright, sunny space dubbed the grocery store’s “community room,” where the tall ceiling stretched as high as a church building’s and the kitchen featured two portable stoves. While Sara asked questions and Sarah sipped iced coffee with sunglasses perched atop her head, all three of us leaned forward from our third row seats to get closer looks as a man named Michael flashed through a handful of demonstrations, beginning with tortilla soup and ending with fried avocados on sticks.

Michael, who looked a little like a stoic Ron Howard, gave constant tips and tricks to our little, informal group of around 16 as he worked. He explained how to chop an onion (sort of like this), why he likes polenta as a soup thickener (the flavor), when to add spices (to oil, before liquid, as most are fat-soluble). When he completed a dish, we tasted—and, no one is more surprised than I am to say this, but the taste I liked best was the quesadillas.

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Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers | FoodLovesWriting.com

Like businesses, music, vacations and books, most meals begin as ideas—but as ideas that come more quickly down the mental conveyor belt than sonatas or summer getaway plans. A conversation at the office jogs a memory of Grandma’s butter cookies, and the kitchen finds you rolling dough; a blog post inspires dessert and you’re beelining for the pantry; or, unexpectedly on a weekday afternoon, a hunt through the refrigerator, opening drawers and crispers, fills your hands with bright red peppers and cauliflower and recalls a possibility you’d almost forgotten—and then, that quick, momentary thought, incubated right away in discussion and action, becomes a recipe you test twice in one week with your husband, the two of you lost together in discovery, in watching the abstract become something you hold in your hands and eat.

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Maple Ginger Tea Lattes + Buckwheat Ginger Cookies (+ AeroLatte Giveaway!)

[UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to ZDubb, winner of the Aerolatte frother!)
maple ginger tea lattes and buckwheat ginger cookies | foodloveswriting.com

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” Andre Maurois

You may assume a couple that works from home together shares a great deal of time—and, in fact, they do. In our daily routine, Tim and I prepare joint breakfasts, raise questions to one another from across the room, share work snacks of chopped apples, almond butter on celery, warmed-up leftovers from the night before. Most afternoons, when one of us receives a question about schedules or planning, there’s little of that lag time between initial query and checking with the spouse because answers come quick when the spouse is but an arm’s length away. And I’ll tell you, quite candidly, that once you’ve tasted this kind of immediacy, it’s a hard thing to let go of, so we’re prone to say how much we hope we never will.

Still, though, time is not time.

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Lentil Stew

Tim's old house

Tim lived in Nashville when I met him, on the first floor of a large, yellow house at the top of a hill. His roommates were his older brother, Nathan, a big-time Bengals fan who looks enough like Tim that strangers still confuse them, and their long-time friend Jared, a red-headed thinker who wears grandpa sweaters and had been with them since before 2007, when they’d all relocated to Tennessee from their Ohio hometown. Both those guys still live in the yellow house today, now with a new roommate. Conveniently, it’s less than three miles from the white brick one Tim and I share, which makes us practically neighbors still. And on Wednesdays, Nathan comes over after work, before the three guys get together to talk and pray and read entire books of the Bible in one sitting, like Hosea or Amos or I Timothy, and we have dinner.

lentil stew | foodloveswriting.com

This past Wednesday, over a hodge-podge dinner that featured the day’s disaster of cajun fish (a story for another time), Tim and Nathan and I got talking about their shared bachelor days and the way they ate in them, as 20-something guys who liked real food but, by most people’s standards, couldn’t afford it. Tim was unemployed, Nathan worked for a local nonprofit and Jared only worked part-time—so, while they look back now and see, like Tim and I in our shared life do, their needs always being met, they also remember often feeling like money was tight.

lentil stew | foodloveswriting.com

Nathan, 13 months Tim’s senior, is not the kind of guy to hand out recipes (although, I should say, he makes a killer guacamole, dresses salad as well as any Mallon and, when you hand him a fresh-baked cookie, will be able to pick out the unique ingredient you’ve added in just minutes flat). So when Tim asked him Wednesday night, at our table, what we should make in our kitchen next, you can imagine my surprise when, instead of a joke or a pipe dream, he began reciting directions for the meal he and Jared have down pat, the one Tim’s cooked more times than he can count, a meal on regular rotation in their roommate days and since then. It’s a meal familiar to any budget-conscious real-food-eating soul who considers all the grocery options and leaves with what’s most economical.

He started telling me about lentil stew.

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Italian-Style Green Beans

When Tim makes Italian-style green beans, he thinks of his grandma Emily, a beautiful Italian woman with short white hair and smiling blue eyes, who still explains recipes with a flick of her wrist and an “Oh, it’s so simple!” When I make Italian-style green beans, I think of Tim, the man who brought them, along with avocados and perfect grilled cheese sandwiches and raw milk bought straight from the farmer, into my life three years ago.

Italian-style Green Beans | FoodLovesWriting.com

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