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
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
We are in the home stretch of winter, and even though it’s been one of the warmest winters in New England and the forsythia is blooming nearly 2 months early, it’s still slim pickings, food wise. We are many weeks away from garlic scapes or asparagus or peas at the nearby farms. I’ve had quite enough kale and winter squash and now I long for spring and fresh vegetables.
What 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
Party season is upon us, and so I’m sharing one of my favorite go-to party recipes, a curried pea dip that takes 10 minutes to prepare. It’s sweet and spicy and looks pretty in a white bowl.
This is one of my mom‘s recipes, from her book The Nut Gourmet. She drizzles it with pomegranate syrup and calls it hot karachi pea dip, because she’s much cooler than I am.
If you are serving it for a holiday appetizer, feel free to get crafty and form it into a tree or a wreath–with tiny red bell pepper pieces for ornaments! Serve it with crackers or celery sticks. You can even use it as a spread in a roasted vegetable sandwich, or as a topping on a flatbread pizza along with feta or goat cheese.
Even better, it’s a pantry recipe, if you keep a bag of peas in the freezer and have a lemon or a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge.
Curried Sweet Pea Dip
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
5 TBS water
1 TBS lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne, or more or less, depending on how spicy you want it
Put all ingredients in the food processor and mix until blended and creamy. Serve warm or room temperature with crackers and celery. Can be made up to 2 days before serving.
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