French Lentils with Tomatoes, Marcona Almonds and Goat Cheese

French Lentils

As soon as we left Tim's birthday lunch at Table 3 last week, we began plotting ways to re-create part of our appetizer: the savory lentils beneath our crispy duck confit. I am telling you, these lentils were something else: soft but not mushy, loaded with flavor, concrete proof that lentils will take on the character of whatever you mix them with. It kind of cracked me up the way were talking about it---Was that tarragon, or was it thyme? Did you catch that little bit of sweetness in the beginning? The oil is just right!---because, seriously, for as long as I can remember, this has been something my mom does: she loves the lamb stew she orders at a restaurant, so the next day she's buying lamb at the meat counter. I make her a crustless quiche, so she's blending eggs and spinach the very day she gets back home. And I guess that makes me my mother's daughter because, even beyond the lentils, I'll be darned if half our wedding wasn't the result of someone else's great … [Read more...]

Sauteed (or Roasted) Brussels Sprouts with Red Chili Flakes

I think Brussels sprouts might be my favorite vegetable. It wasn't love at first sight---these things seldom are---but you could say, I guess, it all started back in my days of visiting Nashville, amidst the excitement and unknowns of another budding relationship, when one Sunday night having dinner with friends, we poured leftover walnut-sage brown butter onto roasted Brussels sprouts and couldn't believe how good it was. In truth, I shouldn't have been at all surprised, having tasted the sweet caramelization of Brussels sprouts less than a year before, both at a restaurant and in my kitchen, but, as we sometimes do when we're busy or distracted or just not tuned in, I'd managed to forgot all about it. The Nashville Brussels sprouts, thank goodness, made a more lasting impression, and my life's seldom been without them since. It's funny how that works, you know? One day, Brussels sprouts---or say, that person you haven't thought much of until now---does … [Read more...]

Root Vegetable Chips + Root Vegetable Fries

I should start by saying this: I am grateful to be writing this post today---not just because of the lunch of rainbow root vegetables or afternoon of hours spent photographing them that it represents, but because, about a week or so ago, pacing the floors at 2 AM while alternating between holding my sides and massaging my temples, the idea of writing a food blog post---or really, cooking or caring about cooking---seemed like something I might never be able to do again. I can tell you now that the pain was from a kidney infection, developed from a UTI, and it came complete with stones and intense throbbing and a weakening of my desire to live, to be honest with you. I've never experienced anything like this. I joked to some friends in passing this weekend, how can someone have that much pain and not get a baby at the end of it! But really, it was bad. I would look at pictures of me and Tim in the office, on our honeymoon or baking a cake last summer, and I would think, who is … [Read more...]

super easy oat bread

Here's the thing no one tells you about change: it affects you, and in ways you might not plan for. Every day, we're surrounded by the details of our life, be they people or objects or geography, and, even when it's by your own choice, when you start moving around a lot of those details---whether city, job, church, relationships, house, diet, marital status or say, all of those things---it can unexpectedly, out of nowhere, hit you hard. Because when enough things around you begin to disappear, you may start to feel like you will, too. This, as you already know, is a post about how I moved last week. It's the story of how I left an adorable house in East Nashville that I shared with three roommates, a house I only moved into in February and had barely settled into, packed up all of my Tennessee belongings (there aren't many) and together with Tim and one of our good friends, moved to another side of town. This new house is nice. It has built-in bookshelves and … [Read more...]

Homemade (Grass-Fed) Jello

The other day, while I was depositing a check in the drive-through lane, I saw a man come out of my bank and walk to a car that had an Illinois license plate. It was the simplest thing---a license plate---something that I wouldn't think twice about while I'm at home. But sitting there in Nashville, waiting for my $20 and a receipt, I wondered where in Illinois he was from: maybe the suburbs? I wondered how long he'd lived in Nashville---or did he even live in Nashville? Maybe he was visiting like I'd done so many times over the last year? Shared experiences, even hints at them, are funny. We all enjoy meeting people who have gone through situations like we have, especially when the situations are less common---say, moving to a new state, for example. We like running into people who know our friends or interacting with strangers who seem to understand us. It's just nice to feel that commonality. Often, it's the very way that friendships begin. Shared experiences can be big things … [Read more...]

Creamed Collard Greens

Collard greens are one of those foods I kind of pity sometimes. Like a lot of other green, leafy vegetables (kale! Swiss chard! dandelion greens!), it's not a staple in American meals. I mean, I can't speak for you or your household, but we didn't eat it growing up---ever. When we had vegetables, they were more classic choices like green beans or broccoli or carrots, and while those were all good things, eating only them meant overlooking an entire wall of the grocery's produce section---one which remained unknown to me for years. Then I grew up. And, in the same way that adulthood exposes us to all kinds of things we missed out on as children, from bills to alcohol to taxes---I went to an office Christmas party or baby shower or some other event where we all made something, and the downstairs receptionist saw my homemade cornbread and asked what she thought was a totally appropriate question: Well, where are the collard greens? This introduced me to two new … [Read more...]

Cheddar-Garlic Biscuits

Last night, two hours into a kitchen disaster that left dishes in the sink, flour on the counters and about a dozen buckwheat ravioli in the freezer (i.e., pasta with the texture of burlap), I gave thanks for the thing we call cooking. Because last night, cooking was part something to do, part a way to release energy and part an opportunity to be creative with concrete objects I could see, even if I turned those objects into tough dough set in thick sheets that didn't cut well. I am thankful cooking adapts to our days, adjusts to our needs. It has been, at times, a way to relax. At others, a chance to feel productive. The night before Thanksgiving, while I made a pie around midnight, it was the only thing that could keep my mind occupied. On the Saturday after, while I made another pie and then these cheddar-garlic biscuits, it was a welcome distraction and comfort, better than remembering the holiday ended and everyone had to go back home. Sometimes I don't even care … [Read more...]