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

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Edamame pesto and roasted beet crostini recipe

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.

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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

Sweet potato chips and yogurt harissa dip recipe

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

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

Ma po tofu and rice bowl recipe

Hello first really cold day of winter! All thoughts of a brisk walk in the woods or a climb up a big hill went away after I stepped outside to get the newspaper. Last I checked, the temperature was trying to climb into the double digits.

When it gets this cold, I want to curl up with the cat and read a book. I want to eat something warm, saucy, filling, and savory. And, a trip to the grocery store or anywhere in a cold car is not for a wimp like me. So this is one of those pantry and freezer cooking challenges days.

Fortunately, I had enough of the ingredients to make a version of Mark Bittman’s ma po tofu. I changed some of the proportions, left out green onions, and added red bell pepper and crushed peanuts. 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