Herb-Roasted Carrot and Pesto Tartines

Herb-Roasted Carrots and Pesto Tartines

Even growing up in the Depression didn’t make my grandma immune to persuasive tactics at the table. “Carrots are good for your eyes,” she’d tell me as I pushed the boiled orange coins, floating in pools of butter, around my plate. Grandma had worn thick, plastic-framed glasses the whole time I’d known her, and I’d qualified as near-sighted almost as soon as I went to school, so the idea of not wearing glasses was appealing. She knew her audience, you could say. Thanks to her, carrots became one of the first vegetables I wanted to eat, along with green beans and potatoes, if you’re the type that calls potatoes vegetables, but I can’t say it was because I liked them.

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Zucchini Ribbons in Vegan Pesto Alfredo Sauce

Zucchini Ribbons in Vegan Pesto Alfredo Sauce

There is such satisfaction in bringing together a meal, especially on a dreary day. Where most people crave blankets and movie screens on cloudy weekends, I am the type to crave the kitchen. The kitchen is a place of birth and discovery–a space for testing ideas and seeing what works, for creating combinations that nourish and delight–and when the dreary day you’re facing stems from more than the weather, discovering new things is like medicine for the soul.

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Sauteéd, Garlicky Beet Greens

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“Will you do me a favor?” Tim says to me, the two of us side by side in the car. He’s driving. He’s usually driving when we’re in the car together. It’s our habit. He knows I’d rather sit—sit and look at Instagram, sit and watch people out my passenger window, sit and zone out to ponder some new topic he will no doubt hear about from me in due time—so the fact that he usually drives is one way he serves me. It’s right up there with killing bugs, cleaning out gutters and replacing the battery in our car—all tasks I guess I could do, if pressed, but which are becoming, to me, as good as poetry and candlelit dinners because I know, to him, they’re love. While it’s words that flow out of me when I feel great affection, for Tim, it’s more practical things, like going with me to Goodwill, which is the store we’re leaving now, as he pulls the car around a corner.

“Will you make beet greens for dinner?”

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Garlic Scape Pesto (+ Photos from the Woods)

the woods

Thursday through Sunday, I was away in the northwoods with no Internet, little phone signal, creatures crawling in the walls in the middle of the night (!!) and daily dinners at supper clubs where the only vegetables were potatoes. It’s a funny world to escape to for a greens-loving girl, but, every year when I go to Minocqua, I think again how nice it is to detox a little from a connected life.

the trees
out in the water
downtown minocqua

In order to take the trip, I was away from Tim for the longest time since we got married, and, kind of like Mary in Downton Abbey, I have to say that it’s amazing how another person can become so a part of you that you almost can’t remember what it was like to be without him. If I wrote every post on this site from here on out just telling you about what a kind husband I have, I still wouldn’t do him justice.

Anyway, we’re here with my family today, soaking up some time together and with them, so I’m going to keep this post short. I just want to tell you, first of all, that I am so thankful to the God who heard my prayers and gave me a husband who talks, fights, plans, travels and suffers with me in a grace-filled way; who isn’t insecure; who doesn’t say one thing when he means another. After a few days away from him, I’m freshly surprised about how sweet it is to have him. Also, I want to tell you about the garlic scape pesto he and I made the night before I left.

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Butter Lettuce Salad with Mango and Avocado

Today is Tim’s birthday, which makes it the perfect time to tell you how another year of living life with him—cooking together, working side by side, analyzing the nuanced details of relationships with each other, budgeting, traveling, laughing, yelling, learning about each other and from each other—has been such a gift. What is also a gift is that today’s post is not from me, but from him. He had something he wanted to say, and I cried when I read it. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado and Mango

Today is my birthday. Ordinarily you would be reading a post from Shanna, and so I apologize today, because I know it sucks when you don’t hear from her—I know because I enjoy reading her writing more than you do. But for some reason, every now and again on my birthday I get strange feelings to do something out of the ordinary. I think it stems back in part to the kind of birthdays I had with my mom. My mom always let me skip school on my birthday, and it always felt like such a great gift, since I disliked school so much.

Butter Lettuce

There is something about the security of the ordinary days that gives you the strength to have the extraordinary ones. There is something freeing about structure and rules. My mom was the type of mom that made you feel like you could ask her anything and she would have a helpful response. Even if she didn’t know the answer and said so, it was the manner of her presence that made you feel like she could be trusted with your questions. She cared and, because she cared, the everyday routines and happenings provided a place of safety and growth, with protection for that growth. Self-control is a wonderful gift and parenting in such a way that helps to instill self-control, while also allowing expression, is a balance that comes out of a heart that is balanced–something my mom had.

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Bruschetta Sauce with Balsamic & Fresh Fennel

The other day, I bought fresh fennel at the grocery store.

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Fresh fennel, if you’re not familiar with it, is awkward and big, not unlike many of us were when we were back in junior high. Undeterred by the way my two bulbs wouldn’t fit inside a standard produce bag, their dill-like fronds poking out on top, I carried those towering bodies proudly to the checkout line, along with the other items in my cart. Then, I took them home to Tim, laying their bodies across our cutting board, where, together, we deconstructed them, like vegetable surgeons working as a team: The tops, we chopped for garnishes. The stems, we boiled into broth. The bulbs, we cut to wedges and sidled along onions to cook slowly on the stove. An hour or so later, in return for all these efforts, we ate the braised bulbs for dinner, and, as we did, I made a discovery. This past week, or specifically, this particular moment sitting across from Tim at the table with plates of fennel as our meal, I learned I hate, and I mean, hate, cooked fennel (or, at least, cooked fennel that tastes anything remotely like the version we made). Since there are weeks, nay, entire months, of my life where I can’t remember learning anything notable, particularly between the high school years of 1996 and 2000, I guess you could say this was not a complete waste of time.

Besides the cooked fennel, our kitchen has seen a revolving door of new recipes this last week: sesame tahini cookies, chocolate banana smoothies as thick as ice cream, homemade honey mustard with roasted sweet potatoes and a seriously unusual raw lemon tahini pie. Nothing was as shockingly memorable as that batch of fennel. Nothing was as good as this bruschetta.

bruschetta with no-cook tomato sauce, balsamic and fennel

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