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
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.
So, if you came over yesterday to watch some football, I might have hung up your coat, offered you a beer, and immediately set out a warm plate of these chips and this dip. And five minutes later, when the chips were gone, you might have asked for the recipe, after acting impressed that I made these chips, and from scratch.
Can I even call this a recipe, since the chips are only 3 ingredients, and one of them is salt?
We discovered it when my mom and I were making a fancy vegetarian torte topped with these lovely slices of sweet potato draped and arranged like a big flower. We had slices left over and baked them with a tiny bit of olive oil until crispy. We were surprised we had never made sweet potatoes like this before and polished off the pan of crispy slices in a quick minute. Continue reading