Recently, my husband and I were taking a training class with our puppy, Gracie Cakes. The dog trainer suggested that we class attendees head to the grocery store and buy jars of baby food as training treats for the dogs — apparently, dogs love the common pureed ingredients used in commercial baby foods. I say this to explain how I found myself standing in a baby food aisle for the very first time in my life. I realized, as I stood there not knowing where to even begin, that I had raised three babies to healthy adulthood and, until Gracie Cakes the terrier, had done so without ever twisting the lid from a commercial baby food jar.
For adventurous cooks of all calibers, few sights inspire more joy than a well-stocked spice rack. A palette of inspiring flavors can turn the simplest meal into an exciting, nutrient-packed, delicious masterpiece. But when you need to bring out the best in a dish, one of the best tools for adding depth and contrast is an ingredient so basic, it is often taken for granted: salt! Whether you need to bring an orchestra of spices into harmony or let one exceptional ingredient shine solo, a well-chosen gourmet salt will make your meal sing.Read More
I love chocolate. I read that Trisha Yearwood once remarked, “I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the days that I’m not eating chocolate cake. But I do particularly like those days when I am eating chocolate cake.” This quote stuck in my mind, because that’s it exactly — that’s my relationship with all things chocolate!
This lifelong romance has followed an interesting trajectory. It began back in the '70s with the kinds of mainstream chocolate treats that you can buy at any market or gas station: candy bars, hot cocoa mix, chocolate syrup … I know, awful stuff, but I was a kid! As I grew up and learned about food science and health, I realized that the chocolate I was eating was so packed with added sugars, oils, and milk fats that you could hardly call it chocolate at all. This revelation inspired me to seek out the story behind my chocolate, to better understand how it is grown, sourced, and used, all of which eventually led me to the queen of beans: cacao.Read More
My first taste of green tea ice cream was after a feast at a Japanese restaurant. Although I was stuffed to the brim, the waiter convinced me to be adventurous and try a scoop. I thought there was no room left in my stomach, but then I tasted a bite, devoured that scoop, and thought about ordering another! The grassy, floral, and fruity notes paired perfectly with a creamy sweetness and a touch of vanilla. I skipped the second scoop and spent the drive home thinking about how to make my own.Read More
As herbs begin to emerge from the garden boxes that we built last summer, and the lavender we started from seed two years ago sends out fragrant new leaves and flowers, our bees become visible once more, busying themselves among our homestead's first brilliant blooms. Reminders of life-renewed spring forth everywhere I look, from the returning plants and flowers, to the bees buzzing from blossom to blossom, to my own little "gardening companion", my cat Theo, who playfully rolls around near me as I carefully transplant vegetable starts into the freshly tilled soil. Our chickens seem to enjoy these brighter days as well, leisurely sunbathing and picking at fresh grass outside of their coop. I savor every beautiful sight, sound, and aroma that surrounds me at this most exciting time of the year — there truly is no greater time than summer in the Willamette Valley!Read More
Every late summer, I go down to a friend’s farm in Southern Oregon to help harvest and preserve the hot peppers they grow there. We smoke the jalapenos in a homemade smoker, then preserve them in jars in an AMAZING adobo sauce that we prepare from scratch. The result is a flavor profile that can transport you to a summer night barbeque even in the dead of winter: rich, hot, and smoky with hints of balancing sweetness.Read More
Matcha is an alluring powdered green tea with deep historical roots in Japanese tea ceremonies. Like all true teas, matcha is produced from the tender young leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The way in which the leaves are grown and processed is what sets matcha apart from other green teas. All matcha is shade-grown, hand-harvested, and quickly steamed. After steaming, the stems and veins are removed from each leaf, and the leaves are then left to dry flat before being stone-ground into a fine powder. Whether whisked hot in the traditional preparation, or combined with milk and honey poured over ice, matcha offers a truly remarkable flavor experience!Read More
Ever since my husband became vegan, I’ve been re-crafting my mother’s recipes, including her scrumptious organic coconut macaroons. My family doesn’t actually have much of a sweet tooth, so when I remove the dairy from recipes, I like to cut down on sugar as well. These egg-free and dairy-free cookies are made with unsweetened, finely-milled organic coconut flakes. In my experience as a macaroon maker, I’ve found that smaller coconut flakes help minimize the amount of flour needed and maximize the amount of delicious coconut flavor. They’re perfect for any occasion!
I spent my childhood in Iowa trying to avoid the nettle’s sting. This bright green plant was plentiful on the land adjacent to the farm ponds and creek beds there. I had no idea this “weed” was something so desirable until I visited my local farmers market as an adult living in Oregon, where it goes for $16 a pound! Once I learned how easy it was to identify and harvest in the nearby woods, I got hooked on nettle “hunting” (taking care to only collect what I need, of course)!Read More