Appetizers

Jane’s Bruschetta

image  DSC_0297image

Bruschetta was the very first recipe and story I posted on this blog.  It seemed so fitting that it would be the very beginning, because it was the very first thing I ever made, unless you count cinnamon toast and cereal.  I learned to make Bruschetta from my cousin Jane, on my first visit to Italy.  I was sixteen, eager and impressionable.

The last few weeks I have missed her dearly and so I went back into the archives to re read my very first post.  I found nothing.  Somehow it got deleted and now there is no memory of her in this collection of recipes.  It is heartbreaking when anything gets deleted, but this story is especially unsettling.  It was a good one!  And seven years ago Jane died of cancer, leaving behind a husband and two beautiful little children.  One day I wanted to give her children my collection of recipes and stories, because their mother was the very first person who inspired me to cook.  Not only that but she opened up my entire world and now after becoming a mother myself, I have more respect and understanding for Jane than ever before.

Last weekend I arrived to a potluck with this bruschetta after a bus ride from hell.  I was already stressed about taking the bus for an hour, by myself with the girls.  I was annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to serve my appetizers on pretty dishes.  I was upset that our bike was not yet set up to safely ride with both girls and taking a cab or a zipcar in this instance would not have been an affordable option.  It was 10 am and I was already having a pity party about the reality of my transportation options.  I could either take the bus to my potluck, or I could stay home.  I opted to take the bus but not without admitting to my husband how much I wish we had a car.  (I should note that this was the second day within our second year of living car free that I completely questioned and then doubted our lifestyle.)  After some reflection I can see that those feelings come up when I feel stuck, and I usually feel stuck when I unable to ride my bike.  Still, those feeling were real.  Very real.

We make it on the bus.  Octave is terrified by some incredibly colorful riders and so for the first time in her life, she is quiet.  So far so good.  Until right around the time my motion sickness goes into full effect, and a homeless man spills his bottle of booze all over the girls and I.  It’s 11 am and we smell like a bar.  A few minutes later a woman boards the bus and sits across from us with a big bucket boldly labeled “potty pail.”  I have no idea what that means, and I don’t want to know.  As if that weren’t enough, the  next 20 minutes consist of me, (motion sick, hot, boozy, and uncomfortable,) listening to an older man unfold a tragic story of his twin brother blowing his brains out last week.  Look, I love hearing people’s stories, in fact usually I ask for them, but clearly my hands are full and there is no room left in these bones to engage.  I am barely hanging on here people.  I had enough and I pulled the cord early.  Two miles early.  I walked in 95 degree heat with Bijou on my chest and Octave in the stroller.  I watched the cars zoom past us and tears started rolling down my cheeks.  Who’s idea was it to sell our car?  Oh yeah, that was actually mine.

As I pushed my stroller with bruschetta, and a few extra huffs and puffs, I thought of Jane, and not just because I was bringing a part of her to my potluck.  I had flash backs of watching her mother her small children, and while I didn’t get to be around her day in and day out, I saw enough over my many visits to know that in that moment she would have identified with me deeply. Living as a foreigner and raising small children in the heart of Naples, was most definitely not easy.  And while I may not be raising my children in the heart of Naples, raising them in North Portland, (where it often feels like children are despised,) and sans automobile can some days feel like no easy feat.  And truthfully some days I feel like a foreigner inside my own city.  Some days I am not sure where I belong.  If Jane were still alive I would write her a handwritten letter, all the way to Italy, only to say…I get it!

I remember one night after a long day of whinny babes, Jane and I escaped for gelato.  She almost always walked or took public transit, but that night she stormed out the door, quicker than I could keep up, jumped behind the wheel and exhaled the biggest sigh of relief.  She cursed and then exclaimed “I just want to feel like a normal human being. I just want to get in a car and drive.”  Of course, the act of driving cannot or should not make someone feel human, but now I can understand exactly what she meant.

While I realize normal is a relative term and is largely shaped by our culture, in this moment I couldn’t help but want to feel “normal.” I just wanted to arrive to the potluck in an air-conditioned car, somewhat put together, with my food on pretty dishes. I didn’t want to be so exhausted from the journey that I couldn’t enjoy the actual event. I also wanted to arrive wearing clothes that actually fit me, but that is a whole other story.

Now that it’s passed it all seems rather silly when I think about Jane.  Even the hard days and bad bus experiences are beautiful because they are spent with my girls.  I am alive to love them well.  I’m sure Jane would live a thousand days on that bus, and endure many bottles of spilled booze if it meant she could still hold her babies.  I was with her in her last days, holding her hand, massaging her feet.  I am thankful I was not yet a mother and was not capable of comprehending what her heart was feeling.  Surely it would have taken my breath away.  It does, right here and now.  They say, time heals, but the more time that passes, the deeper my heart breaks.

As I navigate my kitchen and motherhood, Jane floods my memory.  I remember  how she was practical and wise and far less emotional than I.  She was strong and grounded, and so dang smart.  She was passionate and serious but when she laughed I felt so accepted and welcomed into her life.  Oh how I wish we could sit across from each other and talk about New York and dance and art and books.  I wish I could hear her complain about how horrible italian television is.  I wish I could hear her vent about the cheapness and roughness of  the toilet paper her mother in law would stock her apartment with.  I would laugh so hard I would snort, but she never laughed because it really bothered her.  I wish I could introduce her to my husband and babies.  I wish I could bake her loaves of bread. She would be so proud of me.  I wish I could vent to a woman who could understand the complexities of my heart. I wish I could hear her cheer me on and support the way I’ve chosen to live.  I can almost hear her… “brava bella!” And it would mean the world, because she was one of the most incredible women I ever had the privilege to know.

Jane’s Bruschetta

1 baguette, thinly sliced (or ciabatta cut into slices and then halves)

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 large clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion

3 tbsp. chopped basil

1 tbsp. oregano

1 tsp. sea salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

3 tbsp. good quality olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

*1 clove of garlic for rubbing

Usually I use ciabatta bread, cut into slices and then halved but because I was trekking this across town, I chose to use smaller baguette and assemble once I got there.

Cut tomatoes in half and place in a medium size bowl.  Add all other ingredients, oil, and vinegar. Mix until combined.  Let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but the longer the better.  Meanwhile, slice bread and place on a large baking sheet.  Jane would rub the clove of garlic on top of each slice of bread.  Depending on my commitment to my bruschetta, I may or may not skip this step.  Depending on size of bread, scoop 2-4 tbsp. of tomatoes on top of bread.  Broil in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes are slightly blistered and bread is toasted.

Lately

We’ve been blessed by family and friends bringing us meals in this postpartum season. If you are reading this, and that is you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Bijou is now 3 1/2 weeks old and life is starting to get real. Meaning, I am completely perplexed how anyone can cook dinner with TWO children. I know it will get easier and so I am trying to remember that no season is forever. Snuggling with my ladies is far more important than eating good food right now. However, on the nights when I’ve had help from my mom and mother in law, we’ve managed to make some pretty yummy grub over here. The nights they haven’t been here?  Complete and utter chaos, crying babes and burned frittatas that are so inedible that your husband opts for another bowl of granola.  But, here are some of things we have enjoyed lately…

       image   image    image

       image   image    image

1. Pork dumplings, recipe HERE//

2. Mango Avocado Salsa: 2 ripe avocados, 1 ripe mango, handful of chopped cilantro, a few glugs of olive oil, juice from 1/2 lime, a few pinches of sea salt. 

3. Maple Balsamic Roasted Carrots:  Cut in half  and drizzle with equal parts olive oil and maple syrup (I probably used 4 tbsp each for a small bunch of carrots.)  Sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until roasted to your liking. 

4.  The long anticipated Margarita!!  One of my favorite recipes HERE

5.  Some of the Best Burgers I’ve had in a long time (inspired by Crumbums) 1 1/2 lb. ground beef, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. white pepper, 1 egg, 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Mix together, form into patties and grill.

6.  Iced Americano’s, an absolute daily necessity for a tired new mama.  Espresso in my bialetti is my absolute favorite!

 

The Birth of Bijou

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

Disclaimer: Speaking, let alone writing intelligible sentences 3 weeks postpartum is proving to be challenging. This birth story is LONG, as was the labor and I am sure is full of typos. Please excuse them…I just needed to start somewhere before I forget the details.

Dear Bijou,

Your sister and I baked you a peach pie as a way of asking (maybe begging,) you to come meet us and join our baking adventures. You took our bait, although took your own sweet time coming into this world. The entire pie was gone before you were even born. And so, I find it most appropriate to bake another peach pie (only possible because nanny is here to help me,) and remember your beautiful birth…

On the night of June 4th at 41 + 4 days pregnant, I went to sleep begging to you start the process of coming into this world. The next morning my last midwife appointment was scheduled and I did not want to pedal 5 miles there and 5 miles back. Up until 41 weeks riding my bike was a dream. It uplifted my spirits and was probably the only time I didn’t dwell on all the aches and pains that comes at the very end of pregnancy. However, I was feeling quite emotional and tired and I did not want to wake up early and leave our apartment. So, I was giddy with excitement when I woke on Thursday morning and noticed I was loosing my mucus plug and had what is called “bloody show.” Both are two signs that labor is imminent. I started to calculate that most likely you would be born on June 7th, a day I always knew would be special. I called Angela, my midwife and told her what was happening. She thought it would be best to stay home because the mild contractions I was feeling would most likely start to escalate and she didn’t want me to tire myself out by riding my bike to her. Great news, I could stay home! I was so excited I couldn’t really rest though.

Your Dad and I started cleaning our apartment and getting things set up for your birth. I made a grocery list of the snacks and drinks I wanted for labor and your dad and Octave biked to the store and left me to rest. In the afternoon nana came to pick up your sister so that we could have a good nights rest and some time just the two of us.

That day I had contractions that were different from the Braxton hicks contractions I had experienced the weeks prior, however they were mild enough that I could continue to go about my daily activities. They continued that entire day and I went to bed slightly bummed that nothing more was happening, but excited because I knew it had to be soon.

On Friday Angela suggested I come to her for my last appointment seeing as though I still was still not in labor. While I would love to sound like a rock star and tell you that I biked there, I didn’t. Your nana came and picked me up. When Angela checked my cervix it was soft and dilated to a 3 but not yet effaced. She suggested I go get some acupuncture after my appointment with her and was hopeful that it would set me into labor. Acupuncture was exactly what I needed because as I laid on the table with needles in all my favorite points, I started feeling the most intense contraction yet. They kept coming a few minutes apart and it was almost getting hard to continue to be still on the table. When the acupuncturist came back in the room I told her the point under my knee and along the outside of my shin kept calling my name and asked to be needled. Ironically she told me she was on her way back in to stimulate the needles and add another one there. That point translates to “run three miles,” and it is a great point for endurance. My body and my acupuncturist’s intuition must have known that I was about to forgo two nights of sleep and be in labor for 48 hours. This point may have been my saving grace. I got off the table and felt like a new woman. I felt ready for labor and could feel it coming on. Before leaving my appointment the acupuncturist took me into the sunlight to examine my ears. In Chinese medicine there is a way to tell the sex of the baby based on the veins on the mothers ears. It was kind of hard to tell but she thought I had a little more on my right side (the female side.) This made your nana boast with confidence because she is the only person who was adamant you were a little girl. Everyone else, family, friends and even strangers always commented on how they thought you were a boy.

Nana drove me home and the contractions continued to get stronger. They were still very manageable but I was starting to get a little moody and did not want to be in the car anymore. Nana stayed with me until your dad got home from work and she took Octave another night for us. Your dad and I ate one our favorite meals, the Brian’s Bowl from Por Que No, and then walked our street to help keep the contractions going. The intensity of them died down but they were coming every 3-5 minutes. I went back home, took a bath and went to bed early. After an hour of lying in bed my contractions got stronger and it was too uncomfortable to lay flat. I went back into the tub and hung out there for a few hours. I woke your dad up around midnight and asked him to time my contractions. He laid down in the bathroom with me while I breathed through my contractions that were coming every 3 minutes. I was feeling more but I was trying my hardest to play it cool. I kept thinking that it was just the beginning and I didn’t want to admit that it hurt yet. But truthfully it did hurt and I was resisting these contractions rather than embracing them. I wanted to call Angela because I really felt like things might progress quickly, but I doubted myself and did not want to call her over in the middle of the night for nothing. When I eventually called her an hour later, she told me that she didn’t think I was in active labor yet and to just lay down and try to get some sleep. I was frustrated because while I may not have been in active labor, my contractions were still strong and frequent enough to keep me from sleeping. In fact, I wasn’t even able to be anywhere other than the shower for the entire night and into the early morning.

The next morning Angela and Maggie, her midwife in training, came over to check my cervix and just see how I was doing. When they got there my contractions started to calm down and come less often. They assured me I was not in active labor yet but my body was in early labor and preparing. My cervix was dilated to a 4 and I was completely effaced. I was encouraged that even though my body was moving slowly, things were happening. However I had not slept a wink that night and was pretty darn exhausted. Thankfully my contractions stopped for about an hour and I was able to sleep an hour before waking up to a good contraction. That whole day was the same story as the evening and night before. I had contractions that ranged from 3-7 minutes apart that were strong enough I couldn’t sleep or lay down but not so intense that I felt like I needed the birth tub just yet. I kept feeling like my body was ready to have you but something was holding me back.

I got a call from Angela around 8 pm on Saturday the 7th. She wanted to come up with a plan for me. She asked if I knew why my labor was not progressing. Maybe she sensed I was holding back something. I burst into tears and admitted that I was scared. I wasn’t scared that you or I were unsafe, because I knew we were just fine. I was not scared that anything was going wrong, I was simply afraid of my own body. If I was having a hard time with the contractions so far and they were telling me I wasn’t even in active labor yet, I was terrified I would not be able to last through the hardest work yet. I was embarrassed that maybe I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was. I started to doubt myself, especially with little to no sleep over the last few days. Crying and admitting I was scared is exactly what I needed. She guided me through some images and spoke positive, encouraging words. Within minutes I felt a change in my body. I was still on the phone with her and I started having contractions that I had to make deep low sounds though. I hung up the phone with her feeling a million times better and ready to surrender.

About 2 hours later I woke Chris up and told him I had decided it was time to have a baby. He inflated the birth tub, and started filling it with water while I rocked and moaned and moved through my contractions in the shower. Soon after we called Angela and Maggie and told them to come over. Even if I still had a long ways to go I wanted and needed their presence there. I looked at the clock when I stepped into the tub and it was 11:30pm. I was slightly sad that you would not be born on June 7th, but at that point I was too excited to meet you to really care what day you would be born. And after all, the 8th is a lucky number in the Cheney family and your Bompa and Auntie were secretly hoping you would be born on June 8th and join them in the 8 club!

By the time Angela and Maggie arrived our space was in full-out birthing mode. Lights out, candles burning, music playing and essential oils out and ready for inhaling during each contraction. I kept repeating the word “open,” under my breath as I rocked in the water on my hands and knees. As things got more intense I kept telling myself “my contractions cannot be bigger than me because they are me.” I found comfort knowing that my body was not going to give me something I couldn’t handle, and so I had to keep my mind on those words as to not lose focus. This went on for 6 or 7 hours. I told Angela that I felt a lot of pressure and things were starting to feel different. She called Brandee, my other midwife and told her to come over. The pressure started to get more intense and the contractions closer together and longer. At this point the water was my saving grace. I quickly realized that I was not getting any breaks between my contractions and Angela told me I was in transition. Hearing those words was a sigh of relief because I knew I was close. I had read hundreds of birth stories to know that transition was going to feel like the craziest thing I ever experienced but it meant I was close to the end.

Brandee arrived at some point during all of this. I can’t remember exactly because I was starting to go to a different place. I just remember being aware of her comforting touch and her signing me a song about my body opening up. As she sang I could actually feel my cervix open the last little bit it needed. I will never forget that feeling. Never in my life had I been so vulnerable and so open, emotionally and physically. Being aware of this was really powerful.

I had to get out of the tub to go to the bathroom, and once I was out the pain was almost paralyzing. It must have taken me 15 minutes to even get to the bathroom because I had to stop with every contraction. I finally made it to the bathroom and when I was finished I leaned over the sink working my way through the most intense contraction yet. It literally took my breath away and I wanted to panic. Brandee started lightly massaging my back and it was as if she put me in a trance. I was experiencing the most intense sensation in my life and yet I was the calmest I had ever been throughout labor. I cannot explain or even understand what was happening but I felt out of this world almost, looking down on myself and my body. I slowly walked to our bed and laid down. I laid there for what felt like 10 minutes, feeling but not feeling the contractions take over me. I suddenly popped straight up out of the bed and said I wanted to push. I walked to the bathroom, sat on the toilet one last time before I wanted to get in the tub to push and my water immediately broke. There was a huge pop sound and my water burst across the room and reached the tub. I went to the bathroom and then decided I wanted to take a really hot shower before getting in the tub. I was so happy that I had the complete freedom to do whatever I wanted during this process.

I got in the tub and the urge to push suddenly went away. I doubted that I was fully dilated and ready to push you out. I asked if I should just try to push or what to do next. My midwives reminded me that I was the one running the show and I was the one who was telling them what I was going to do next. I felt kind of silly at that point for not listening to my body. After all, this is exactly why I wanted to give birth this way.

I remember looking at the clock on our stove and seeing that it was almost 5 am. I always envisioned giving birth to you as the sun came up, so I was quite happy that it was actually happening. I could smell coffee steeping in the French press and I felt so happy that I was in my own home and that you were coming soon.

Just minutes after I felt like I wasn’t ready to push, the most shocking noise and sensation come from my body. A gutteral, primal noise came from the deepest part of me and out of my mouth. With that noise, my entire body started to involuntarily push you out. “wooow,” I said and laughed. This happened a few more times. For a few minutes I remembering thinking “this is going to be easy, I don’t even have to try to push my baby out.” Unfortunately, those natural instincts and whole body pushes were just getting you deeper into my pelvis and preparing me for the real work. At that moment complete panic set it. I felt sensations I never thought existed and my eyes were wondering the room, desperately looking for someone to connect with, someone to save me. The world felt like it was spinning and I was desperately trying to grab on for help. I locked eyes with Brandee and started to follow her breath as much as I possibly could. I had a great support system but no one could help me, no one could save. It was the most scary and liberating thing I have ever felt. I pushed and yelled and wanted to cry, but I was felt too deep into a survival mode to let my emotions take over. I pushed a few more times and Angela said she could feel your head. She asked if I wanted to feel it too, but I was more concerned with getting you out as soon as possible. After another push your head was out and I felt a sigh of relief, because the hardest part was over. One more push and out came your entire body. You came floating up to me with your back towards me. Angela and Brandee helped guide you into my arms and on my chest. I was filled with so much emotion and cried tears of joy and tears of relief. It was over. I did it! We did it! It took a minute or two to even look to see if you were a boy or girl. We asked, “who are you?” and turned you over. Even though the very last week of pregnancy I started to think you might be a girl, I was a little surprised to see that you really were. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone other than your nana, was convinced you were a boy. It was such a wonderful surprise!

Maybe 10 minutes later, we got out of the tub together with your cord still attached and transferred to the bed. You laid on my chest skin to skin while I pushed out the placenta. We cut your cord and I remember feeling slightly emotional about that moment. You were officially your very own person in this world. You found your way to my breast very quickly and latched on immediately. After a few hours I gave you to your dad for some skin on skin time with him while I went to take a shower. I came back to bed, we ate snacks, drank some coffee and cuddled with you. The midwives checked you over and weighed you. You were 7 lbs and 9 oz. of complete perfection.

When it was all said in done it was 48 hours, 10 hours of that which were considered active labor and I slept a total of one hour during that time period. While it was much longer than I had hoped for I think somehow it was exactly what I needed to understand a deep part of myself. Birthing you into this world was without a doubt one of the most epic moments of my life. I am so happy I got to experience the home water birth I always dreamed of. I am even more excited that you are finally here, my little Bijou Haru, a little lady I had anticipated for many years. You complete our little family and we love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mama

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset pie 8 Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

 

Peach Pie for Bijou

Crust

2 1/4 c. flour

3/4 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. cane sugar

15 tbsp. unsalted very cold butter

10-12 tbsp. ice water

Egg+ splash of milk for brushing

1-2 tbsp. turbinado sugar for dusting on top of dough

Filling

6 large ripe peaches

1/4 c. cane sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground clove

Pinch of sea salt

3 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a food processor combine flour, salt and sugar.  Pulse until combined. Cut very cold butter into tiny bite size pieces and place in the food processor. Pulse  6-8 times, or until flour resembles tiny pebbles.  One tablespoon at a time pour in ice water and pulse.  To test the dough remove the lid and try to pinch the dough together.  It should just barely hold together.  Your dough will look more like sand and you might think that it is too dry, but as long as it just sticks together in your fingers you have achieved the correct consistency for a perfect flaky crust.

Pour crumbly dough on a large clean surface and start to frisage your dough. Watch this video to learn how.  This technique always produces a flaky crust for me.  Form two disks with the dough and wrap in seran wrap.  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to two days.

While dough is chilling, cut peaches into bite sized pieces.  You can choose to peel the skins or leave them on.  I left them on but would probably choose to peel them next time.  Place them in a large bowl and spices, sugar, cornstarch, flour and lemon juice.  Mix together well and let sit at room temperature while you roll out your dough.  This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 400′.

On a well floured surface or pastry mat roll out your dough into a 10″ circle.  Place and form dough inside a 9″ pie pan.  Pour peach filling inside.  Roll out the second disk of dough into another 10″ circle.  This is the time to cut out any shapes if you desire.  Place dough on top of peaches (you want it to just come to the very edge of the pie dish.  Using your thumb and index finger on one hand and your thumb on your other, scallop the dough all the way around the dish.  Brush dough with one beaten egg and a splash of milk.  Sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake pie on top of a large baking pan.  This helps to ensure that the pie crust on the bottom gets baked all the way through.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown on top and filling is bubbling.  Check your pie after 40 minutes to see if you need to place some foil on top to keep from browning too much.  Let your pie cool for at least 2 hours, preferably 4.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013

DSC_0039DSC_0048DSC_0050

Garlic mashed potatoes. broccoli salad with bacon and dried cranberries.  deviled eggs(best ever). honey glazed yogurt biscuits. arugula salad with pomegranate, toasted hazelnuts, and shaved parmesan.  ginger hibiscus kombucha(almost as good as wine!)

This year our thanksgiving menu is humble, as is our plans.  The three, or four of us, have chosen to lay low and get some good quality family time.  We went pretty untraditional, without a turkey, yams, and pumpkin pie, but even so, everything was delicious and still felt like Thanksgiving!  Here are a just a few of our favorite sides we enjoyed this year.  All of these are not exclusive to Thanksgiving, and can easily roll over into ideas for Christmas.  I hope your day is filled with good food and people you love.  Happy Thanksgiving!

DSC_0015   DSC_0026DSC_0030   DSC_0031

Deviled Eggs With Creme Fraiche

Recipe from Local Milk

Makes 12 deviled eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs

3 tbsp. creme fraiche

3 tsp. high quality mayonnaise

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper+ more for garnish

Large pinch of sea salt

Paprika for garnish

Slice hard boiled eggs in half.  Remove yolk and set whites aside on a serving platter.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth.  Scoop or pipe yolk mixture back into the egg whites and garnish with fresh pepper, and paprika.  Keep in fridge until you are ready to serve.

DSC_0045   DSC_0056

Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cranberries

Adapted from Dad’s recipe, that originally came from our good friend Melodie.

Serves 4-6

3 heads of brocoli

1 small red onion, diced

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup of sunflower seeds

1 package of apple smoked bacon

1 cup high quality mayonnaise

1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Cook bacon in oven or pan until crispy.  Meanwhile, wash and cut the stems off of broccoli, and cut into bite sized pieces.  Add broccoli, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and onions in a large bowl.  Chop bacon into bite sized pieces and add to bowl.  Set aside.  Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, and red wine vinegar.  Pour dressing over ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Let rest in the fridge for 3-4 hours.  It tastes best once the flavors have marinated.  It can even be made the night before you want to serve it.

DSC_0049

Our Favorite Yogurt Biscuits

Makes 9

Slightly Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

2 1/2 cup flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

1 1/3 cup greek yogurt

2 tbsp butter+ 2 tbsp. honey, melted for glaze

Pre-heat oven to 450. Place all dry ingredients in food processor.  Blend until combined.  Place chilled cubed butter on top of flour and pulse 15- 20 times until flour resembles small pebbles.  Add yogurt and pulse 10-15 more times until just combined.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a small square.  Dough should be fairly thick rather than thin and rolled out.  Cut into 9 equal pieces, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Generously spread honey and butter glaze on each biscuit, and bake for 15-17 minutes.  Serve with more honey butter on the inside.

DSC_0066   DSC_0004

Nutella Raspberry Tart

I adapted it slightly from this favorite recipe.

I simply added homemade nutella on top of the date nut crust, followed by the coconut whipped cream, and raspberries.  AMA-ZING!  I let the nutella layer sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes before I added the whipped cream, and berries.  I can’t decided if I prefer the nutella version over the plain coconut whipped cream.  I decided that I don’t have to choose, they are both fantastic.

Cranberry & Jalapeno Salsa, For The Holiday’s or The Pregnant

DSC_0007    DSC_0017DSC_0013    DSC_0022DSC_0040DSC_0026

Last year around the holidays, I tried this salsa at a party.  I must have stayed close to the plate the entire night.  A year later I am still thinking about it!  So, I contacted Deidre, the genius who made this  awesome salsa, and got her recipe.  Then slowly, and lethargically, I pedaled to the store to get the ingredients.  It’s amazing what two weeks away from my bike, plus a growing belly, (that is already showing,) can do to me.  It was not the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike, but surprisingly my bike is the only place I don’t feel nauseous.  So I may be out of breath, but at least I don’t feel like I am going to be sick.

Finding foods that I like for more than a day has been challenging.  I am managing to eat plenty, but each day I wake up to find that an ingredient I once loved the day before is suddenly hard to even look at.  This never happened with Octave, so this is all pretty new to me.  Especially the feeling sick part.  In any case, this salsa has been on my mind for months, and it may be the only thing I’ve eaten for lunch the last few days.  I’m kinda of okay with.

Cranberry Jalapeno Salsa

Recipe slightly adapted from Deidre Franklin

10 oz. bag of cranberries*

2 jalapenos, stems removed

1 bunch of green onions, green parts too, roughly chopped

1 whole bunch of cilantro

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

Place everything in a food processor or blender, and blend until you like the consistency.  For me, this was about 8-10 seconds.  Serve alone, or on top of cream cheese, with your favorite tortilla chips.  I think it would also be great on a turkey sandwich or smeared on top of baguette with cream cheese.

*If using frozen cranberries, let them sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before you use them.

Spring Salad Rolls & The Quest For A Proper Lunch

DSC_0006DSC_0008DSC_0069DSC_0036DSC_0024DSC_0045DSC_0056DSC_0078

Lunch can easily become the neglected meal of the day for me.  I carefully and creatively plan Christopher’s lunches each day, baking, making, slicing and packing with the utmost care.  I do the same for Octave, grinding chia seeds, juicing vegetables, slicing cheese that aesthetically pleases the eye.  She is 15 months old, surely she doesn’t notice the consistency of my cheese slices, but maybe she feels the love that goes into such a simple act.  I get this desire for perfection from my father.  Although oddly enough I don’t see this in any other area of my life, just all things food and kitchen related, specifically the presentation of food.  Maybe it is silly or maybe it is yet another way to express my love for my family and friends.  In any case, when it comes to my own lunch, it is boring and just plain lazy.  I often eat Octave’s leftovers, a hard-boiled egg, some toast with avocado or honestly, sometimes I just go for a third cup of coffee.  I love coffee without shame.  Today was different.  Today it is 70 degrees outside and after soaking up that good warm light, under the big Wyoming sky, I felt inspired to take better care of myself and especially around the lunch hour.  Spring rolls are such a light yet full snack or meal.  If we have rice paper in our cupboards I will just throw in whatever vegetable we have around.  Asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, sprouts, arugula, the list goes on.  It is a great way to eat raw vegetables and use up whatever you have in your fridge, just in case you hate to waste like I do.  While almost anything tastes good wrapped in rice paper and dipped in a homemade peanut sauce, this recipe is the simplest, and yet probably my favorite combination of veggies.  I like to add plenty of mixed greens in, hopefully adding up to a large salad worth after I have eaten a few rolls.  Fresh, crunchy, raw and yummy!  The perfect spring lunch or appetizers with dinner.  Pair them with some homemade ginger beer and holy smokes, you will be happy!

Spring Rolls

Makes 6 full rolls

6 sheets of rice paper

6 cups of mixed greens

1 package of sprouts

1 cucumber

3 large carrots

2 avocados

Handful of chives, chopped

1 cup of basil leaves

Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup low sodium tamari sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 thumb size chunk of fresh ginger

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. honey

3 tbsp. water

¼ tsp. red chili flakes

Handful of crushed peanuts

Cut all veggies in thin, long slices.  Chop chives but leave the basil leaves whole.  Arrange veggies on plate, and salad in a bowl to make building your rolls easy.  Fill a large pie dish with a few inches of water and set next to veggies.  Use a large cutting board to build your rolls.  Dip rice paper in water for about 10 seconds, let water drain off and place on cutting board.  Place a generous amount, about 1/2 cup of mixed greens across paper.  Add sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, chives, and a few whole basil leaves.  Add another ½ cup of greens on top.  Carefully pull rice paper over veggies and roll up as tight as possible.  It seems pretty fragile but is more durable than you might think.  The paper will adhere to itself and be easier to handle once it is all rolled up.  Using a serrated knife, cut rolls on the diagonal.  Repeat this process for all of your rolls.  Place them in the fridge while you make the peanut sauce.

For the sauce, place everything in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth.  If you do not have either you can mince the garlic and ginger and whisk all ingredients together by hand.  With either method be sure to add in the water last so you can gauge how much you will actually need.  Depending on the consistency of your peanut butter you may need more or less.  Adjust spices to your liking and dip and eat to your belly’s content!

Cilantro Hummus

DSC_0006I absolutely love making things from scratch and I absolutely love hummus.  It was also one of the first foods, along with yogurt that Octave seemed to get excited about.  So, we would both eat it by the spoonful and I would think about all the lovely protein our bodies were getting. Hummus is one of the easiest things to make at home but it is one of the few items that I always thought tasted better store bought.  It made me sad really. I wanted to make smooth, creamy hummus like some of my favorite brands at the store.  I accepted the fact that it might not ever happen, until just last week I found a secret over at Smitten Kitchen.  To get that smooth texture, you have to take the skins off the beans.  Tedious and slightly more time consuming, yes.  However, absolutely worth it! I will never feel the need to buy hummus again.  The perfect texture was achieved today, so I made my favorite new crackers to go with it and called it lunch!  That is, because I ate almost half the batch.  Take the extra 10 minutes to remove the skins, you will be so glad you did.  Just softly pinch the wet bean and the skin easily slips off. DSC_0007

1 cup garbanzo beans

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup cilantro

juice and zest from one lemon

juice from one lime

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup water

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender until smooth.  Just keep blending, it took about 5 minutes for me to get the texture I was looking for.  Garnish with olive oil, sesame seeds and cilantro.