Filed under: Chocolate, Food, My favorite things, Organic, Recipes, The Finer Things
It seems that everyone is talking about how much they love fall lately. The changing leaves really are lovely, and the crisp, gloomy weather is a nice change of pace from the summer heat, but I’ve always loved the arrival of fall because that’s the time when I prepare to hibernate. And no hibernation would be complete without the addition of a few pounds around the old midsection and a well stocked pantry because regular trips to the farmer’s market and grocery store just ain’t happening.
Here are some of my very favorite pantry staples:
1 Arvum finishing vinegar This family of vinegars are perfect finishing vinegars for soups and salads. Throughout the autumn and winter drizzle a little bit over a kale salad or a nice bean soup to add a little zip.
3 Askinosie chocolate hazelnut spread Oh my god, I love this stuff. Askinosie’s chocolate hazelnut spread is my favorite for sweet tooth cravings and snacks. No weird ingredients and no cheap chocolate here, just Hazelnuts from Lynden, Washington and the same cocoa powder and nibs used in their bars. They’re the only chocolate maker in the US making this from scratch! I like it on toast or in Andrew’s pastry dough as a pop-tart.
4 Cento San Marzano tomatoes San Marzano tomatoes are the shit, but you have to make sure what you’re buying has been certified. There are (expesive!) brands stateside that are not authentic, and therefore not nearly as good or as sweet. Our favorite Cento brand is grown in the ashes of Mount Visuvius where the rich soil makes for sweet tomatoes. Such a bright spot in the middle of a cold winter we use these for pasta sauce and soups. Though the organic is hard to find, the conventional is easily found at Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores.
5 Red Boat fish sauce Artisan fish sauce, finally! Made using a 200-year old process free of chemicals or added water this fish sauce really is wonderful. Having grown up on fish sauces there really is something about the clean flavors and finish of Red Boat. It’s not cloying or sharp, so whatever you’re using it in is that much better. Perfect for a nice bowl of Jok.
6 Olo’s Chipotle paste Chipotle paste in a tube is genius. My friend Tessa created this amazing paste and it’s one of my very favorite pantry staples. We use it to spice up condiments (like ketchup or sour cream), or in soups for a bit of smoky spice. Tessa does this as a hobby in addition to work and two kids, and somehow that makes this even better. Give it a go and you’ll absolutely love it.
7 Bob’s Red Mill organic steel cut oats Love Bob. Love steel cut oats. These award-winning organic guys are great for oatmeal with a little texture. I like mine with butter, milk, brown sugar, and almonds.
8 Matiz Espana sardines and pulpo These are probably our most essential pantry items because they’re so easily converted into great snacks or meals. Both the sardines and octopus are easily dressed into salads and served on toast or crackers. Also, sardines have more omega-3′s and fewer toxins since they’re lower on the food chain.
9 Aptera olive oil This olive oil from the island of Crete is not only one of the best olive oils in our collection, but the pricepoint is crazy affordable. It is also naturally organic as it is illegal to spray pesticides on the island. We use this as our everyday oil for cooking, but it’s still good enough to use in salads and finishing too.
10 Arroyabe Italian tuna in olive oil Italian tuna packed in olive oil, the best tuna ever. Like the sardines and octopus we love this guy for emergency snacks and sammies.
11 Rancho Gordo heirloom beans The heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo are so badass. Have you ever seen such beautiful beans? We use any variety of their beans for soups, chilis, and stews.
12 Wakame seaweed Andrew’s lamb seaweed soup is one of our favorites, so we have wakame seaweed by the pound in our pantry. Aside from soup we like it as a cold salad and we use the water for spa-like purposes.
13 Raw organic almonds Also on-hand by the pound in the pantry, we use these raw almonds for almond milk for smoothies and almond cake for sweet cravings. Briden WIlson Farms has beautiful almonds so we get our almonds directly from them. Their fall harvest is available now.
14 Organic saltine crackers Sometimes you just need a saltine. My favorite is with an application of almond butter and jam, but then there’s also the times we use these as a crust for fried chicken thighs.
These guys are my very favorite snack crackers. No joke, Andrew and I each go through a pack a week, and it’s because they’re that good and they go with everything. They’re also organic, non-GMO verified, and also gluten-free as they are seasoned with Tamari.
Some of my fave accompaniments are a sharp cheddar layered with cucumber, tomato, and cornichons; savory cottage cheese with olive oil and tomatoes; or this guy right here…creme fraiche with homemade salmon roe caviar. There are no rules though, so give them a go and see how your snack game improves.
Edward & Sons brown rice snaps | check your grocery store or buy online here.
We are salad people. And while I’ve always craved for seasonal leafy greens I have never met anyone that can build a salad quite like Andrew. He often laughs about his time in the kitchen, preferring to work the garde manger station while others fought for the grill. The truth is that properly seasoning fresh ingredients is an art that many restaurants chefs haven’t even mastered. We all know the horrors of an over-dressed, soggy salad. (If you’re looking for a proper salad in Seattle, Matt Dillon is the master.)
Salads are compositions and are a complex form of cookery. Using what’s fresh and available, assessing how sturdy the ingredients are to inform your seasoning, and honing your sense of touch are all important elements to salad-making and are so much more rewarding than opening a bottle and pouring. If you’re bored of your salad routine and hoping to elevate your technique here are some tips to help you compose a salad like a true artist, and a recipe to help you practice.
Try a new leaf
We are all about Mizuna this season. It’s like everything you wish frisee actually was, but we all know that it just isn’t. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with a slight peppery taste and small, narrow serrated leaves. For as sturdy as the leaves are (they’re also great sauteed) they make for a really delicate salad.
There’s also my other fave, purslane that is also in season right now.
Soap box: Salad greens should never come from a bag or a box, especially this time of year. I’ll share my tips for washing produce very soon.
Use your sense of touch
No tablespoon measurements or emulsifying. Here we’re going to drizzle and use our hands to feel how we season. Start with a light drizzle of olive oil to coat the leaves, and use your thumb or finger to regulate how the oil is dispersed. Then move on to the acid and salt. (This bit of info was new to me. I never knew you started with the olive oil!)
* assess the greens: How sturdy are they? How much oil, salt, tossing can they take?
Toss with a delicate hand
Use just the very tips of your fingertips to toss to keep the lettuce light and airy. Collect only a few sprigs at a time…like 1/4 of a handful and let the leaves fall through your fingers. Just as the ingredients are coated use the bowl to toss once more and maintain the height of the leaves.
Make two different salads, then combine
This is key! Build flavors by making two components of the salad that are seasoned differently. Essentially all you’re doing is using two different vinegars. It’s magical and your taste buds will freak.
Use separate bowls
Each component should have its own bowl. This will help you stay organized, save time, and will also serve as a tossing implement. We love our stainless steel guys.
Mizuna salad with Summit Cherries and Blackcap Raspberries
We came up with this salad based on what we had on-hand after a farmer’s market haul last week. Don’t feel restricted by a recipe, use what you have and don’t be afraid to try different pairings. In this, the savory chives with the sweet fruit and vinegar are unexpected but so, so good.
For the Mizuna:
– Mizuna leaves, ends trimmed
– feta cheese, crumbled
– chive blossom vinegar (or other savory version)
– olive oil
Lightly drizzle the olive oil and gently toss to coat the leaves. Once the leaves are coated drizzle a small amount of chive blossom vinegar, feta, salt, and pepper. Toss gently once more with your hands and then by tossing the bowl. Set aside.
For the cherries and raspberries:
– 5-6 cherries, pitted and halved
– small handful blackcap raspberries
– 4 sprigs chives, finely minced
– sherry vinegar (or other sweet version)
– olive oil
Lightly drizzle the cherries, raspberries, and chives with olive oil. The berries are fragile, so very few and delicate touches are important. Gently sprinkle the vinegar, and salt.
Plate by gently placing the cherries and berries around the plate. They’re heavy so we want them beneath the Mizuna. No arranging! Just let things fall as they may. Then gently pile the Mizuna on top. To keep height let the greens fall through your fingers as you transfer them from the plate. Scrape out any remaining pieces of feta and oil. Drizzle with the tiniest bit olive oil before serving.
Even amidst all of the heat yesterday I had a crazy craving for a big bowl of pasta. And after feeling slightly bitter that my appetite was in no way suppressed by the heat I finally gave in and embraced the idea of a belly full of noodles and all the summery produce I could add. Mom saw these first of our northwest season cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market and got an extra pint for us along with a bunch of the most tender basil and some crisp shelling peas. Let me quickly say that to miss out on fresh peas in the height of pea season is a crime! Save the frozen guys for the dead of winter and focus on shelling faster than you can pop those little suckers. I promise, you will be so happy.
The only piece of this dish that isn’t in-season per se is the lemon for the sauce, but since it’s often a summertime heat wave staple it’s no biggie.
Not oily in the least this dish is instead wonderfully polished with the perfect amount of tang from the lemon, sweetness from the tomatoes, crispness from the peas, and creaminess from the butter and touch of feta. All together the sum of these ingredients, even in pasta form, makes for a light and fragrant dish for even the hottest of days. It travels well too and can even be eaten cold-ish. Just not right out of the fridge.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of sea salt. Drop 1 pound organic spaghetti and cook to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt about 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter* in a sautee pan on medium heat. Add thinly sliced spring onions (white part only for this recipe) and slowly melt them into the butter and olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to melt the onions. Remove from the heat and add the zest and the juice from one lemon and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.
Once the pasta is done transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season lightly** and quickly toss to coat.
Still working quickly add the lemon sauce. Once the pasta is well coated toss in the fresh cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, shelled peas, and crumbles of Israeli feta***. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper if needed.
* Kerrygold butter is badass and should be used if you can find it.
**The key here, and to any pasta really, is to layer flavors by creating individual pieces that are seasoned and flavorful on their own. Ultimately this means seasoning the noodles before adding any embellishments. It will elevate your pastas and people will notice.
**We have our own little house mix of seasoning that Andrew made (we call it Magic Powder) and we use on anything and everything in the kitchen. Some of the basic ingredients of our mix include white pepper, organic garlic powder, and fine sea salt. Pulse into a fine powder and add to to the noodles…conservatively though. A little goes a long way!
***We love the Israeli feta from Trader Joe’s. It’s less tangy and salty than others, and packs a bit more of a creamy punch.
A few extras:
I will often add a fried or poached egg (I totally did yesterday). Give it a go, it works really well.
Use the lemon sauce as a base sauce and adjust the vegetables as the seasons and produce change.
Apologies for the delay with this final installment of my eco-friendly Earth Week favorites. (The neighbor we were stealing wi-fi from suddenly protected his network. The bastard.) So here it is, a list of some socially conscious accessories and toys. Some of these are first steps in making an effort at a greener life, but I always look and hope for the next iterations just around the corner.
1. Beeswax candles Burning 100% beeswax candles are the best way to add a pure, natural fragrance to a room while also cleaning and purifying the air. Burning beeswax emits negative ions that get rid of odors and toxins (like dusts, molds, pollens, and viruses!) by attracting and destroying positively charged particles. Conventional candles and air fresheners are filled with chemicals, just read the label. While these candles are more expensive than others, they burn longer and much cleaner and have the most beautiful natural fragrance. Definitely worth the investment. We get ours from a local nunnery that makes them all by hand, but they are also available at Brookfarm General store.
2. Baggu Bags Always a favorite around here, I love the bright colors and heavy-lifting capacity of these guys. I love that Seattle has banned plastic bags and now charges for paper, so if saving paper wasn’t incentive enough, now there’s a toll to consider. They used to have great mesh produce bags that I still use and love. Since they’re no longer available try something like these.
3. Powerstrip Most of our electronics (TVs, laptops, phone chargers continue to pull power even when they’re not in use or powered on. It’s called Phantom Load, and the power leached is HUGE, so much so that when people switch to using a powerstrip they notice huge savings monthly. Simply plug all of your electronics into a single powerstrip and flip the switch to completely power off the flow of electricity.
Eco- Tip: Instead of buying new, try picking up a used one at Goodwill.
4. Preserve toothbrush These guys are made of recycled yogurt cups, and once you’re done you can send them back to Preserve to be recycled into plastic lumber for picnic tables and park benches. I’d prefer to move away from plastics completely, but at least these guys are doing something other than sending it to landfills. Send your brush back with the pre-addressed packaging, or save them up and drop them off at your nearest Whole Foods. They’ll send them back for you.
5. Coyuchi Organic cotton linens Again, moving away from conventional cotton is better for the environment and for you. Since we use our sheets and bath linens everyday it’s worth investing in some nice organic cotton. We love our Coyuchi’s, and I especially love stealing Andrew’s big bath blanket towels. They are often on sale at One King’s Lane, or check them out at Coyuchi site.
6. Toyota Prius C Until last fall I had been driving my first car (a ’98 Honda Civic) for the past 15 years! It’s not that I don’t lust after a sexy sports car, it was just that I am conscious of every mile I drive, and every tank I fill. With some nudging from mom and dad I started looking for a new car and as much as I fantasized about a badass Audi coupe there really was only one car that was truly me, and that was the new Prius C…a slightly sportier version of the classic Prius. Since I’m smaller I like that there are fewer blindspots in this body style. Perfect for scooting around town. I love my little car, and more importantly I love my gas mileage!
I took an extra few days off from posting to relax and unwind, and really, I didn’t do much of anything. Even the chickies are a little annoyed since their time to run around outside was shorter than usual. They’ve even started pouting when I herd them back into the coop.
Outside of the work with the hens, we’ve spent most of our time researching and collecting seeds for our sexy new raised beds in the soon-to-be garden. I was sure we were making it more complicated than it needed to be, but there are a million varieties to learn about, and our selection is narrowed to only heirloom and non-GMO seeds. We’ve found a couple of resources, but perhaps it’s not us that’s making it so difficult to find. Chemical agriculture is everywhere, and avoiding it takes a lot of work.
GMO OMG A film by Jeremy Seifert of DIVE!
Somewhere in my searches I came across this documentary that premiered yesterday at the Environmental Film Festival at Yale. At once it’s exciting because this very important cause is slowly but surely gaining momentum, but also alarming and sad in that it’s not as well-known or appreciated as I would wish it to be. Regardless though, it’s movies like this that will help the movement along and hopefully add a few more people to the cause.
A quick summary from an article on Rodale.com:
GMOs are not necessary feed the world | GMOs have never been tested for long term health impacts | 60 other countries require GMO labelling | 3 companies control 53% of the seed market | 500 species of bugs are resistant to pesticides and are now “superbugs” | Haiti- one of the poorest countries in the world would not accept GMO seeds after the earthquake in 2010
I still don’t really get what a BB cream (blemish balm) is and to be honest I moved passed it as a silly cosmetic trend, but now that my favorite product and vanity staple has been “rebranded” to include “BB” on the label I guess I knew more about it than I thought.
Like every schoolgirl venturing into the make-up world I tried wearing a mixture of primer, cover-up, foundation, and powder when I was in high school. And after exactly one attempt I knew that routine was not for me. Aside from the process of it all, I hated the cakey and artificial look all those things combined to be. So I quickly moved to a simple tinted moisturizer and have never looked back. A tinted moisturizer evens skin tone with a light coverage, and also provides SPF protection. It’s one step, gives a natural look, and with Tarte’s version it’s as clean as you can get in cosmetics. For me it’s everything, or more importantly free-from-everything:
phthalates | parabens | petro-chemicals | GMOs | sulfates | dyes | fragrances | oils
Who knew we had to worry about genetically modified make-up, but we do, and it matters. Our skin absorbs up to 5 pound of make-up every year. It matters.
I was concerned because with the new BB rebranding the packaging did not mention the GMO and petro-chemical free formula, so I sent a note to Tarte and they promptly responded to reassure that the formula was the same and it is still free from those elements. Too bad those weren’t considered selling points any longer, but regardless, having Tarte’s toxin-free coverage as a cosmetic staple is a great step for cleaner living.