When my mom comes to visit, I get kind of excited.
For obvious reasons! She’s the best!
But also because her visits pull me out of my dinner ruts. She doesn’t eat wheat or dairy, so sometimes I have to get really creative to make meals that we can all enjoy! (We eat a lot of Asian cuisines.)
I was a little skeptical about this pasta at first, because I don’t typically love savory coconut without its best friends chili and curry. When I tasted the broth halfway through, I heaved a great sigh of disappointment that it was weird and bland despite its bursting tomatoes and lemongrass.
But dinner must go on (the natives were hungry), and so must I. And much to my surprise, after I added in a generous splash of lime juice and fish sauce, the boring and vaguely sweet coconut sauce turned into this amazing, tangy, practically drinkable concoction.
A symphony of flavors.
Here is what you get when your husband “helps” you write a blog post:
“I made the chips! The chips were many-colored, made of quite different root veggies. Including potatoes… potatoes… and…not potatoes. Salt is tasty. I want more of that.”
And with that brilliant introduction…
Don’t you love dinner salads? And lunch salads? And salads in general?
I have been really craving some salmon salad lately. So I made some.
You should, too. That is all.
A few months before Caitlin was born, Dave and I spent a weekend in Staunton, VA. We arrived on a cold Friday night and when we woke up on Saturday morning, it was a wintery wonderland. By noon, there was over a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and the temperature was about 9°Fahrenheit.
And there we were, staying in a B&B (which meant there was no food after 10am), me in my third trimester…and I had forgotten to bring boots with me. After a very ridiculous attempt to drive to the main drag of Historic Staunton (a drive which, thankfully, did not end with us trapped in a snowbank), we concluded that we would have to hoof it and hope that some brave souls had opened their restaurants despite the treacherous weather.
Lo and behold! We found a gelato shop, The Split Banana. Who eats ice cream when it’s so cold and icy and windy that their eyelashes are practically stuck together? Us. That’s who.
It was during this frozen weekend that I discovered the best ice cream ever: it was unbelievably creamy, and smooth, and bittersweet, and chocolatey, and vegan, and perfect. According to the poor guy working the counter scooping ice cream, their chocolate sorbet was made entirely from unsweetened chocolate and sugar! I can do that!
Although it was kind of silly to be eating ice cream when we had practically turned into ice-pops ourselves, it was so worth every delicious spoonful. (Plus, I’m pretty sure we shivered off the calories.)
Have I mentioned to you that my brother is working in Africa for the summer? This has nothing whatsoever to do with gribiche or purple potatoes, except that in his absence, his excellent girlfriend decided to get to know the family better (!).
So last week, she came armed with books to read to Jake and very graciously and happily entertained him while my mom cuddled Caitlin and I made lunch.
I fretted quite a bit over what to serve her: it had to be something simple but interesting (because someone mentioned that I was a good cook…thus knocking PB&J out of the running…), and of course it had to be wheat- and dairy-free for my mom! For days I pondered what to make, hemming and hawing until I thought I would have to serve grocery-store-salad-bar salad, and then I whipped out my copy of Super Natural Every Day and I was saved by the first recipe I saw!
This simple dish of roasted veggies and eggy dressing was delicious! It is a full meal all on the same plate, with protein, carbs, and veggies all mixed together. We basically licked the serving plate clean. I know I will be making this salad again and again.
(And lest you think I am an overachiever for trying a new recipe especially to impress, let me just admit that I served five kinds of random leftovers for dinner, so I am not really earning any A’s for Effort here….)
Have you ever wondered why your homemade granola doesn’t give you joy? Why you don’t eagerly look forward to throwing it into your yogurt every morning? I am willing to wager that it’s because you made it too complicated. And you didn’t use enough coconut. Coconut is the surprising key to everything.
This granola just fills me with nostalgia. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but it just brings me back to the afternoons I spent at my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because there was always a chocolate chip Chewy bar waiting for me when I walked in the door after school…maybe it’s just because my grandparents were and are awesome, and so is this granola. I eat a cluster almost every time I walk by the container. And I have to admit that I am so greedy for this granola that I hide it from my preschooler. Sshh. Don’t tell.
You know the phrase, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread”?
This is the best thing since sliced bread. (And then, you can slice it and butter it…and the irony will only make it more delicious.)
I can’t stop baking this peasant bread! I convinced myself a few weeks ago that it was worth it to buy a second set of Pyrex bowls, and then I immediately baked bread three days in a row. This peasant bread is so easy and so airy and so chewy and so wonderful, you may never buy bread in the store again.
There really is nothing that quite compares to the amazing smell of fresh bread wafting through your house. Except maybe that first warm bite, as the bread is still steaming…you can’t tell me that doesn’t make your mouth water.
Do you know what mothers of newborns need?
(Aside from more sleep, looser clothing, and a cadre of friends who volunteer to bring them food for several weeks—thank you friends!!)
Mothers of newborns need meals that require almost no effort to put on the table. Things that basically cook themselves while we attempt to entertain rambunctious 2-year-olds and nurse our handsy infants for (seemingly) hours, simultaneously.
New moms, meet black bean ragout!
I have been making this simple black bean ragout for years…pretty much ever since the Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived on my doorstep. It may not be the most beautiful dish (hello, soupy black water), but it is a quick and easy (and inexpensive…) life-saver. (Assuming I have my wits about me around noon or so to dump all the ingredients into the crockpot.)
I absolutely adore this black bean dish. It’s so simple and versatile! Dave and I have decided that our favorite way to eat these black beans is inside of burritos, but we also enjoy them crostini-style on garlicky bread and tossed into scrambled eggs with salsa for some extra protein in the morning! You could even potentially eat this as a soup. The possibilities are nearly endless.
I can’t believe my beautiful girl is 4 weeks old! But it was a long road in getting there (and I’m not just talking about sleepless nights)…did you know she was a week overdue?
I spent a lot of time during the last few weeks of my pregnancy doing one “last” adventure with Jake, one “last” trip to the store, one “last” load of laundry/other heinous cleaning chore… I sure was ready to meet my girl and stop being pregnant! But she was pretty cozy and reluctant to make her entrance. Finally, I decided to try smoking her out.
This meal was one of many versions of what I called “Get-Out-Of-Me-Baby” food: simple, spicy dishes that I hoped would somehow convince Caitlin that the outside world would be a welcome change.
(In case you wondered…the spicy foods didn’t faze her. But this was still a delicious meal!)
Happy Mother’s Day!
Aren’t moms the best? My mom certainly is! Last week she came to help out with the kiddos: she took over breakfasts with Jake so I could sleep in with the baby, and sent me off to take naps in the middle of the afternoon, and cheerfully ate soup from a can while we gorged ourselves on leftover pasta and enchiladas—all things she cannot eat. I might nominate her for sainthood.
So I thought that for Mother’s Day, a day when we should all treat our mothers to much deserved praise and thanks and special sweet treats, I would share a delicious and indulgent, mom-approved cake recipe! My mom has several food intolerances, and so in honor of her, I bring you a lovely chocolate layer cake that contains no wheat or dairy!