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Thursday, June 28, 2012

CSA Slaw with Quinoa

slaw 2

when we made the decision to buy a half share csa, i figured it would help alleviate the burden of grocery shopping. unlike most people, grocery shopping is a chore to me. reading labels, pushing carts, checking clipped coupons (if i ever remember to bring them!), having the internal debate over brands is tedious to me. because we are a one-car couple now, the bulk of this duty lies with me as i am the one who commutes to work. 

what i didn't take into consideration tho, was that we still do have a need for certain proteins, pantry staples, and toilet paper. further, i neglected to think about eating habits. i've said it before, summer's bounty begs to be eaten in its most natural form, not only for ease of preparation but also it's the best way for the body to absorb nutrients and blah blah blahs of these veggies. but sometimes, the rawness can get to you, despite knowing the health benefits of it all. it's a difficult balance.

in any case, this recipe was found because we had picked up broccoli, had half a cabbage head in the fridge and i had confessed to being stressed out about what the heck to put together for dinner, and throwing all the veggies, cleaned, shredded or diced, into a bowl and dressed up with some olive oil + acid base seems to be the way of life around here.


Broccoli, Cabbage and Kohlrabi Coleslaw With Quinoa
adapted from the NY Times

we stuck to the same veggies but i changed up the dressing to be vegan/dairy free.

juice of 1 lemon
approx 1/4 cup tahini
generous splashes of unsweetened coconut milk
2 generous TBL dijon mustard
1 TBL ginger rice vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

whisk in bowl, thin out with a bit of water or more coconut milk. dress salad, serve immediately.

Monday, June 25, 2012


plowed fields
baby - hayride

we spent saturday afternoon picnicking at the farm we get our csa from. it was the most perfect time to learn about where our food comes from, who handles it and most importantly, what's being done to sustain the local agriculture for future csa purchases. this week's chimichurri recipe, hosted by Lexi's Kitchen, went well with the fresh squash that probably was harvested that very morning, as well as the beets we picked last weekend from another local farm. we also dipped carrots, grilled turkey breast, and new-to-me kohlrabi into the verdant sauce that i can imagine would go so well with rice or plainly, eaten by the spoonful.

for more chimichurri goodness, hit up the Food Matters Project.

additional information:
One Straw Farm

Thursday, June 21, 2012

neopolitan cashew cream pie

neopolitan cashew cream pie

we have hardly turned on the stove, or oven. summer gives us a bounty perfect for simple meals of salads or smoothies. our csa provides us with a weekly surprise, always a revelation and sometimes received with hesitation.

i've made this tart twice already, the first time following the recipes exactly and the most recent time with some alterations. if i can find a happy medium between the two, it'd be perfect, tho either version turned out well.

inspired by summer, which reminds me of ice cream, which reminds me of a childhood eating breyer's neopolitan ice cream, i made this for an office party, where my colleagues devoured it, where the CEO had a 2nd slice; and then recreated for a friend's bbq where alas, i was the only one who enjoyed it. isn't it so funny, how people's tastes are so varied?

neopolitan cashew cream pie

crust from food loves writing - i used already sweetened coconut flakes, so ix-nayed the honey.
various fillings inspired by: roost, pure2raw and foodista.

so listen, i used full fat coconut milk in lieu of coconut oil, which made the consistency a smidge softer. i also used a pounds worth of cashews, divided 3 ways evenly for the flavors. i used an 8" springform pan, tho next time i'll stick to the 6" for a taller end product.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate-Cherry Panini

bowl of cherries

it's been a cool few weeks, we've even turned off the AC, and tho it's mid June, temps are going as low as upper 60s at night. in other words, it's heaven. it's perfect. so, we've been taking advantage of this time to shift things around the abode, to combine our belongings, as well as letting things go. it's a freeing feeling, being able to part with the "mine" to make room for the "ours".

the thing about this whole moving process, what makes it so hard, is that while we try to make sense of the living space, we also have to continue with the actual living. grocery runs, putting out the trash & recycling, planning for mini-vacations, staying up to date with fruit picking schedules, as well as home diy projects. it's exhausting. stressful. and a learning experience.

what i am hoping to do every week for the foreseeable future is participate in the Food Matters Project. since being with dw my relationship with food has evolved. we just picked up our first CSA loot this weekend, went berry picking and this week's menu looks heavy with roasted beets, salads of parslane + arugula, and new to me: kohlrabi. with any luck, the recipes chosen every week will be adaptable enough to include CSA items.

this week's recipe was a difficult one for us, in the sense that i don't like cherries and dw doesn't like fruit + chocolate together. but while picking blueberries + beets, we saw the sour cherry patch was open so we made a detour. i won't lie, i'm still not a fan of cherries and dw... well, i don't think he'll ever outgrow his unusual dislike for fruit + chocolate combo.

cherry + chocoalte panini

Chocolate-Cherry Panini, as chosen by Margarita of Let's Cook & Be Friends
adapted from the food matters cookbook by Mark Bittman, pg. 555
makes 2 sandwiches

since i am dairy free, for my sandwich i used coconut oil.

2 TBL butter (or coconut oil)
4 slices of bread, we used ezekiel sprouted grain bread
1/2 cup halved pitted sour cherries
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, we used ghiradelli's 60% cacao bittersweet

preheat oven to 400F.

butter (or coconut oil) slices bread. spread cherries evenly on top and then sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. top each sandwich with 2nd slice of bread, butter/coconut oil on top.

cover sandwiches with baking sheet & weigh down with something heavy, let sit for 5 minutes.

remove weight and baking sheet. bake the sandwiches until the bottom of bread is browned lightly, about 5 minutes. flip and bake for another 5 minutes.

serve warm.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

nem nuong balls ~ eat my balls


i suppose i should start by announcing that i did not win the meatball contest, i lost by 2 votes. to say i was devastated would be an understatement. i just hope my Losers Face wasn't ugly. i kid, i kid. it was a fun day, i stepped out of my comfort zone, i met readers/fans (which was such a treat!) and most importantly, i learned a few things:

i need to work on my Schmoozing Game: i am capable of putting words together to create sentences. however, when in public i seize up, stammer, and i end up saying a lot of "uh"s and "um"s. for someone who holds a degree in Journalism, and had aspirations of being the next Christian Amanpour, my crippling shyness can be a real buzzkill sometimes.

i need to stop second guessing myself: i thought long & hard about what to make. i was worried about making it too spicy, or not punchy enough, should i add sauce or keep it out? it's wise to keep other people's palates in mind but it's impossible to please everyone, and there were about 100 people who were taste testing. as long as *i'm* fine with the taste, everything else is secondary.

simplicity: my two competitors had to serve up their balls individually, complete with sauce + garnishes. i kept my balls simple: garnished with one cilantro leaf + slice of pickled carrot on toothpicks. i wanted to avoid any bottlenecking at the buffet table. should i enter this contest again, i will definitely nix any sauce thoughts and keep the simple angle.

unfortunately i did not taste the other two balls, they were laden with Dairy Doom and i was not about to spend the rest of the day at the festival with an aching belly. either way, the shirt i wore was a hit and if it was a contest on best dressed, i dare say i would've won.

tshirt created at

Nem Nuong Balls
(previous nem nuong recipe)

these are not exact measurements, the dozen times i've made this have not ended up the exact same way, it's all on taste preference. also, use your hands. they will get dirty. wash them before and after, thoroughly. try to put all the ingredients in the bowl first before mixing with your hands that way you're not constantly washing up. minimum fuss, maximum efficiency. it helps if you have someone to aid you.

1 lb ground pork
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup honey
salt/pepper to taste
approx. 1/4 cup fish sauce
2 stalks lemongrass, the lower white part
3 stalks of green onions/scallions, green & white parts
half head of garlic
1 small onion, diced, separate
2 tsp baking powder + 1/8 cup water, optional

to garnish:

in a food processor, add in the lemongrass. process it, alot. scrape down the sides. add in the scallions & garlic. pulse until chopped thru and incorporated.

in a BIG mixing bowl, put in the ground pork and processed lemongrass/garlic/scallions. add in the seasonings and diced onions. now, mix everything together with your hands. make sure everything is incorporated well.

as this point, have your aid mix the baking powder + water. it will foam up. this is an optional step but i find that this mixture aids in making the meat chewy and fluffy and all sorts of yum, texture-wise. pour the mix into the bowl and again, mix everything well.

refrigerate for about 30 minutes. (for the contest, i mixed the entire thing up the night before and the day of, about 30 minutes prior to cooking i added the baking powder/water mix and then proceeded with cooking...)

**i did cook up a small bite size to check on the taste, adjusted the seasoning accordingly.**

shape into balls, aim for half an ounce portion, which will give you about 32 balls. either you can put them on pre-soaked bamboo sticks to grill or just free form them and fry them up partially, and then bake to finish.

i decided to fry them up in a bit of oil, keeping a careful eye on them to partially char/brown up. the honey provides not only that sweet note but a nice caramelization for a pretty effect. don't crowd the pan.

this can be served at room temp, eaten alone, with garnish or in summer rolls. or you know, in a random salad.

meatball salad

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

:pittsburgh, pa::

oak noggin
cedar creek gorge trail

A photo says, you were happy, and I wanted to catch that. A photo says, you were so important to me that I put down everything else to come watch. ― Jodi Picoult

it is with tired contentment that i publish this particular post, a very much welcomed respite from unpacking slash organizing slash cleaning slash seeking contractors to fix water AND drywall issues. despite all that is on our plate, we managed to get away this weekend, to spend a few precious moments with friends, to hold hands while we hiked beside a babbling brook, to read to each other, and more importantly, to be with each other. i do not have a recipe to share today, instead, enjoy these snaps as they are mere instances where if i didn't have my android to instagram, then i had the much neglected dSLR in hand to capture every little thing. soon, i hope to share videos! more on that later, hopefully

important links:
oak noggin bed & breakfast: the most perfect b&b, it is about 30 minutes south of pittsburgh
meat & potatoes: notably, we tried bone marrow, devils on horseback, and shared the special, Leg of Beast

1 year ago: california girl
2 years ago: best weekend
4 years ago: polenta cakes

Friday, June 1, 2012

vietnamese style pickled carrots

viet pickled carrots

it's june and i am so glad. i love the warm hot months of summer. tho you wouldn't be able to tell by our activities lately, the farmer's market is a favorite weekend ritual, where we can take advantage of the fresh bounty only these next months will provide. what generally happens to me, what seems to wash over me, is a kind of sweet lethargy that renders me incapable of turning on the oven or stand at the stove cooking something for too long. instead, i prefer simple salads of sorrel, purslane or watercress, washed down with juice spritzers and maybe, just maybe, some homemade frozen treat.

last week i had it in my head to try a raw food diet -- a notion that lasted less than 48 hours. sure sure, a lovely kale pesto came of it, juice smoothies with bits of spinach laced in it were consumed, but when it came down to it, going 100% raw was too hard for me. what with a move, a meatball contest looming in the horizon i could not maintain the required energy and motivation to stick to it, which is a real shame. the choices in summer's bounty, the rainbow colors of produce are kinda sorta meant to be eaten just as they were intended -- raw, natural, simply. so where i failed in going completely raw, i will endeavor to meet halfway. it's not much, but it's something, something i hope will allow me to nourish our body, satisfy our cravings while still enjoying honest food.

these pickled carrots are humble: earthy and sweet, small in stature but bold in flavor. late friday night, i sat in the kitchen amid half packed boxes (of things that weren't even kitchen related) and peeled these, then sliced them. in a jar of vinegar + water + sugar they went, along with a few thai chilies, sealed the lids and into the back of the empty refrigerator they went. i didn't touch them for five days, until now. they're perfect for snacking on, or to add to a vietnamese bánh mì for a snappy crunch, followed by a lovely sour note that goes so well with meat.

the purpose of these, other than to make use of the 5lb organic carrots i'd purchased early in the week, is to pair them with the meatballs i'm entering into the contest on saturday. that is a whole other post i'm sure. stay tuned.

for the recipe, i tweaked white on rice's version. by tweak, i really mean i looked at the ingredient list and then put everything in a jar, shook it, then fridged it. on a serious note, buy fresh, buy organic, buy local, as the farmer's market stalls grow heavy with summer goodness, make use of them all.