Polenta and roasted vegetable pie for Mother’s Day

Getting dinner on the table

 If you ask any of my three brothers to tell you about a time when they laughed the hardest as a child, they will either recount watching the Cheech and Chong “Up In Smoke” movie with my dad, or they’d recall one specific family dinner.

My mom cooked for our family of six every night, kept track of my three brothers and me, and did all the housework. This was before feminism came to our Los Angeles suburb, so my mom just did her job and tried to get us to help when she could. But sometimes we didn’t do our part (and who could blame us–we were 6, 8, 10, and 12 at the time of this memorable meal). My mom would yell and we might or might not be more helpful next time. Eventually she came up with a better strategy. Continue reading

Foolproof turkey and sweet potato chili

Chili makes for an ideal cold weather dinner. It’s my standby when I’m having friends over, not sure exactly what time we will eat, and I want to make it in advance. It’s also hard to mess up.

To make it special, you can serve it with all kinds of fun toppings (avocados, sliced jalapenos, olives, etc.), with a salad and cornbread to round it out. And it’s happy to to simmer on low heat as you wait for your guests to arrive. Continue reading

Greens, sweet potatoes, and cannellini beans with harissa recipe

greens, sweet potato, and cannelini beansWhat was I thinking when I bought a bag of “southern greens blend,” which is a pound of mustard, turnip, and collard greens–stuff I probably would throw away, not knowing it’s edible–and some spinach?

I was thinking its probably good for me and everything else looked kind of tired after a  long drive from the west coast. Flash forward four days, and this bag of trimmings is the only thing in the vegetable drawer. And, right about now I’m thinking this blog should be called the root vegetable kitchen. But, I have hope for a decent healthy dinner in 60 minutes less.

The way some people use bacon to fix food or myriad other situations, I add sweet potatoes. So here’s a quick weeknight healthy vegan dinner that would make Aunt Nettie proud. Continue reading

Spanish chickpea spinach soup

Happy new year! I’m starting 2012 with one simple resolution that will benefit you and me–cooking from cookbooks that I received as treasured gifts in the past couple months.

This I decided during today’s walk around Walden Pond, as I thought about the meaning of life and dismissed tedious fitness goals, and then resolved to cook from more cookbooks this year and read Proust. Continue reading

Roasted squash salad with pomegranate vinaigrette + easy slow-cooker vegetarian chili

Hello! For all my west coast friends and family who have visions of me shivering in a snowsuit, just want you to know that we survived the Nor’easter of October ’11. We were not snowed in and trapped at home, but the frigid cold did not bekon me outdoors, so I stayed inside and made a roasted squash salad and a zesty slow cooker vegetarian sweet potato chili. Continue reading