Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

This past Saturday was my favorite kind of day: we had no plans, no place we had to be, no major to-do lists---and, at least for someone with my personality and temperament, I am finding days like this are crucial. Spending 24 hours at a leisurely pace, the kind where you stroll around the Franklin farmers market, fall asleep for two hours on the sofa, hold your husband's hand as you walk up and down the block before the sun sets is just the ticket to helping yourself slow down, be still and feel thankful. Seriously, this Saturday was so good, it was almost like being in Hawaii again. Oh and also, there were these quinoa black bean burgers. I got the idea to make black bean burgers last week and, after pinning five or six recipes that caught my eye, I put together a version that combined their ideas and added some of my own. Using bulk-bin organic beans and quinoa, I had to soak them the night before, but once that step was taken care of, the process was pretty easy: cook the … [Read more...]

on salad (and other things)

Yesterday for dinner, we made a salad. I like salad. I like salad especially this time of year, when the weather's crazy hot in Nashville, the kind of hot where your shirt sticks to your back and sweat beads on your upper lip and walking down a street holding your fianc√©'s hand means having to wipe your palm on your pant leg afterwards. This particular year, the heat has brought with it cicadas, ugly little flying creatures with bright red eyes and loud chirping noises, camped out in the trees, on my house, and, for a tragic few minutes Monday morning, right in my freshly washed hair. It's been something. But thankfully, these 90-degree days have also brought with them the more agreeable experiences of popsicles, tank tops, week-long visits from my brother (which included the purchase of one very expensive white dress), homemade ice cream, flip flops, Memorial Day grilling, and, back to the original topic, giant summer salads. (I mean, the salads don't exactly make … [Read more...]

Grass-Fed Pot Roast

Early last month---it might have been the cooler weather or the fact that I hadn't eaten red meat in a couple weeks, or it might have been since I already had a couple grass-fed chuck roasts in my freezer, purchased from a local farm---I got a fierce craving for pot roast. Now if you're anything like me, you've probably made pot roasts before. My versions were usually in a crock pot and surrounded by carrots and potatoes. Pot roast is one of those classic American dishes---like mashed potatoes and apple pie---that we have all had and made and probably prefer a certain way. As for me, I like my pot roasts very tender, flavorful and fragrant enough to turn the kitchen into a different place while cooking. It's kind of like my morning routine: where you might wake at a set time, have breakfast, read the paper and get in the car, I like to read and pray in bed before pulling out my laptop, still without having taken a shower, and get a few work things done. So early last … [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...]

Curried Coconut Chicken & Peanut Butter Noodles

Listen, it's not like I never do adventurous things. I mean, you know: I ride roller coasters. I cut 11 inches off my hair. I launch out into self-employment. And hello, there was that mountain in Maine I won't let anyone forget about. Remember?! But when it comes to my kitchen and new types of cuisine, even I will admit that I stick pretty close to the basics: American, Italian, sometimes Greek, but pretty rarely anything outside that. And if it weren't for my friend Stacey, who came over Tuesday night to, at her suggestion, try making Thai food, that would all be exactly the same. Our plan of attack was simple: pick two recipes, adapt the ingredients to be fully natural, follow the instructions and cook. … [Read more...]

here’s the way to like them

You know those people who are notoriously slow to latch onto certain foods? They say it's the texture or the flavor? They never liked it, never will? We all know those people. We all are those people. So let me start off this post by addressing them---addressing us---and saying this: the following story is one you can read and take heart. I like pickles. Yes, I wrote that right. I LIKE PICKLES. Expect all manner of impossibilities from here on out: Up can be down. Left can be right. You can take something you always thought you wouldn't like and make it in your own kitchen and boom: it's a world where anything is possible. … [Read more...]

Mama’s Meat Sauce

I come from a long line of women who can cook: My great grandma, I'm told, made legendary pasta. My grandma rolled her own cannoli shells. My mom, a woman who loves to say, Oh, it's so simple (particularly when her only daughter asks for clarification on some new recipe trick), has a vast cooking repertoire that ranges from bakery-worthy apple strudel to hot chicken curry just the way my dad likes it. And as with a lot of things in life, I feel there are different ways to approach this kind of heritage: Embrace it. Or resent it. I'll let you guess which way I tended towards for most of my childhood and only say this: it's amazing how we can turn blessings into curses, how we can choose to be intimidated by that which can help us grow. You may call it perfectionism; I call it ugly. It's like, say, when you have the opportunity to start working from home: This is such an obvious good (especially as it is the thing---the very thing---you have wanted and worked towards for … [Read more...]