Eggplant was not my friend until I learned how good it can be when it’s fresh or if you’ve salted it to remove any bitterness. Eggplant is plentiful at the farmstands and farmer’s markets right now, and lends itself to so many dishes, including a rolatini with goat cheese and pesto.
For tonight’s dinner, I started with this lovely eggplant smothered in charmoula marinade recipe and altered it to omit frying the eggplant and to make it into a heartier main dish with a bed of lentils. Continue reading
Here’s my new favorite salad. The story of how it came to be is also the answer to the question, “what have you been up to this summer?”
I had been wondering about the Boston University Gastronomy program and decided to dip my toe in the pool and signed up for a summer class, “Nutrition and Diet: Why What You Eat Matters.” For the past six weeks, most of my conscious nonworking life involved studying, cramming my brain with how our digestive system works, where our food comes from, what nutrients and how much of them we need, what foods have these nutrients, what sustainability means, what causes obesity, and what research has found about various diets. Yep, all in six weeks. The weekly seven hours of class time was riveting, taught by a nutrition and obesity researcher epidemiologist rockstar whose sheer energy, knowledge, and output (on her blog alone!) is an inspiration. And I was joined in class by other foodies including this blogger. Continue reading
Oregano is growing in huge bunches in the garden, so I decided to see whether it would make a good pesto. I went for simplicity and combined oregano, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and was pleased with the result–herby, slightly lemony, and delicious over warm pasta or drizzled over crostini topped with burrata or tofu.
The pasta also included much of the haul from McGrath and Hutchins farm stands: green onions, fresh peas in pods, and zucchini. The trick for fresh peas is not to overcook them. I put the peas in a colander and poured the pasta and pasta water over them, which softened them while retaining their grassy, fresh flavor and toothsome texture.
After I wrote about one of my mom’s creative dinner feats, many of you wanted to know about my dad. Did he do unexpected stunts while raising my three brothers and me?
I don’t have one specific story, but there are many things he did that kept his sanity and made us who we are: Every 2 weeks we went to the library, and there was no such thing as an overdue book. On a quiet back road near the 5 freeway, he’d do “crazy driver,” abruptly swerving the car back and forth to make us giggle with delight. He took us screenings of movies he loved, usually starring the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin, or Harold Lloyd. He and my mom were committed to exposing us to culture and dragged us to concerts, museums, plays, and ethnic restaurants. And, to this day, he has always encouraged us to pursue our dreams and passions, even if it meant we would move thousands of miles away. Continue reading
I learned about fiddleheads my first spring in Massachusetts, and one bite confirmed what I thought: These people will eat anything that grows out of the ground at this time of year, as long as it’s not that toxic. Fiddleheads can taste like lawn clippings. But then I parboiled them and sautéed them with garlic and oil and thought they tasted good. Continue reading
Asparagus and spring garlic are here! I almost cried when a dear friend brought me a bunch of asparagus from McGrath Farm a couple weeks ago. Something freshly grown to eat. And now they have spring garlic!
Spring garlic seems to be fussed over in places with long winters. We will eat almost anything with gusto if it comes out of the ground this month. None of my California friends even knew what I was talking about when I told them about my green garlic find.
It’s a warm day filled with energetic weed pulling and tomato planting and dirt hauling, so dinner is going to be light. Along with a hearty salad, I’m making green garlic and pistachio pesto crostini, with optional burrata on top. Continue reading
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