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30 January 2010

making mayonnaise

making mayonnaise

We finished the United Way Hunger Action Week yesterday. We were never hungry. Instead, we feel humbled.

If you have not read the piece I posted about why we did this, please do. Mostly, I want you to read the comments. People, you amaze us every time. Your generosity in sharing your stories, your tips on how you eat well on a moderate budget, and your interest in each other's shopping habits enlivened our week. I have a feeling that everyone who read and wrote had lively conversations afterward. We did.

There are so many comments that inspired me. Truly, I could just put them all up as a separate post. But I'd like to share this one, from someone who calls herself Cyclist Kate:

"What's been wonderful for me to realize is that often, the less I spend on groceries (now, I'm not talking uber cheap, necessarily, but $60/week for myself), the more satisfied I am. I think it's because the food thing becomes simpler...I can enjoy those roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, the black bean soup, the yogurt and homemade granola, and an apple with that precious slice of parmesan so much more if that's all I have. There's less stress, less wondering "what's for dinner." There's less waste. And it's all good, wholesome stuff that reconnects me to what's so great food whose aim is to deeply nourish instead of impress.

So yes, I've taken to frequently taking the calculator to the grocery store. Sometimes that means taking the parmesan out of my cart, but then I appreciate it so much more the next week. There's no deprivation. There's always something to eat. And for that, I'm grateful."

This is exactly how I felt (and continue to feel) after I had to go gluten-free. No deprivation. Instead, gratitude that I could eat what was available to me. Now, the same principle applies to spending money on that food.

Danny and I had the experience that Kate so eloquently described: calm. We knew we had enough food to last us for the five days, even if it wasn't the most exciting food we have ever eaten. In fact, there was calm in sitting down to a meal of tacos with brown rice cooked in chicken stock, slivered savoy cabbage, cheddar cheese, and home-pickled radishes. That was a nourishing meal. Knowing our ingredients in advance helped us to make that meal without any frantic energy. ("Hon, it's 4. What are we having for dinner tonight? We need to feed the Bean in an hour.") Those tacos satisfied us.

And to our amazement, we didn't run out of money. We spent $12 more than we did the first day, on more yogurt for the kid, a big clutch of vegetables from the farmstands, and a cup of coffee Danny picked up for himself when he was out with the Bean. We still have lots of brown rice, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, and other foods left over for this week.

We have been changed by this.

We have been spending too much money on food. We knew this before. However, we did not know, until after this week, that we would prefer having less food in the house, food that we use instead of letting it wilt and go to waste.

And so, this week, we might spend a bit more money on food than we did this past week, but not much. We're going to plan much better now. The refrigerator is clean, we have a list of everything in it, and we're ready to start thinking about the meals ahead of us.

Something that always kept us from planning out our week's meals (and thus the shopping) was the rigidity of knowing we would eat lasagna on Thursday. That doesn't work for us, when we feel such joy from making up dishes and sprinkling in new spices that surprise us. We just don't like moving lockstep through our meals.

Now that Danny is back to cooking in a restaurant, he's making up specials every night. He knows, every afternoon, that he has to create a fish special. Each night, it's something different. That structure creates freedom for him.

That's what clicked for me. Instead of planning our meals in advance, I'm going to create a different special every night of the week.
Sunday is roast chicken night (lots of leftover possibilities there).
Monday is pasta night (we love the homemade pasta recipe that will be in our book).
Tuesday is vegetarian night (and some of the other nights might not include meat either). Wednesday is pizza night.
Thursday will feature pork (you know, we have that other blog).
Friday is Mexican night (or maybe Thai. We haven't decided).
Saturday is seafood.

Knowing us, we'll never have the same dish twice. But if I know that every Wednesday I'm making a pizza from scratch, I will have all the basic ingredients already in the house. (I think this week it's going to be a roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and sauteed leek pizza, since those are all in the farmstands right now, and perhaps some homemade creme fraiche). We'll save money and feel even more creative.

I'm excited.

Something that many of you wrote about (and we already believed in) is how much money a family can save by making foods from scratch. And how.

So, we'd like to share with you a video of Danny making mayonnaise from scratch. Once you start making this, you'll never go back.

This is Danny. He has a real restaurant burn on his hand, which he didn't cover because he's at home (be not afraid). We were distracted and went too fast the first time we filmed this, so the mayonnaise separated and we started again. That's why the food processor looks not washed. You'll see at one point that he's pouring a liquid in, thicker than oil — that's the separated mayonnaise he is incorporating back in (see recipe below). He drops an eggshell into the bowl.

It's real life.

And it's mayonnaise.


1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup canola oil
½ teaspoon each, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Making the mayonnaise
. Place the egg, egg yolk, mustard, and lemon juice in the food processor. (You can make mayonnaise by hand, but it is much easier and more fail-safe in the food processor. Trust me.) While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the oil, until it is thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper.

Fixing your mistakes. If you add the oil too fast, the mayonnaise will separate, so go slowly, slowly, slowly. If it does separate, take the mixture out of the food processor, and start over. Put another egg and egg yolk into the food processor and blend them. Slowly, slowly add the separated mayonnaise. That should do the trick.

Makes 2 cups.

25 January 2010

eating on $18 a day

baking with Lucy

We're pretty blessed around here. We know that. We may drive a 16-year-old car and buy our clothes at the island thrift store, but we feel rich with experiences and the community we have created.

Danny has a cooking job he loves on the island where we live.
Little Bean and I bake together nearly every day, blending gluten-free flours into something that becomes wonderful (or not).
We're working hard all week on the final copy edits of our cookbook.

There's no complaining here.

Lately, however, we have been worrying about money, for various reasons. We're a freelance writer and a chef, in this economy. Everyone is cutting corners, right? Also, we spend too much money on food. It's our work, we tell ourselves, as we drive to the grocery store again to pick up eggs for baking and leave with a full bag of foods we find inspiring. We really should stop.

Here is our chance to learn.

This week is the King County United Way's Hunger Action Week. From January 25th to the 29th (today through Friday), many of us food bloggers will be living on a bare minimum of food money each day, equal to the maximum food assistance available to an individual living in Washington state.

Here, in King County, that's $7 a day.

For a family of three, the maximum allowed is $18 a day.

That's a heck of a lot less than we have been spending.

As little as that sounds, there are people who are living on far less. I started talking about this on the Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef Facebook page, as well as my profile page on Facebook. The conversation has been inspiring. Here's some of what you have been saying:

"I feed a family of 11 on $250 bi-weekly...That's $17.85 a day for the whole family... and we eat well!! Organic beef, organic chicken, organic home-canned veggies, home-canned fruits (organic when I can get them) and organic flours... 2 children do receive WIC (adopted foster kids) but that's it, no other "services"... Buy in bulk, buy local, buy in season... and then can, can, can!!! We also belong to a food co-op that offers all organic or all-natural foods in bulk." (Christie Siefer)

"Every now and then you buy a special ingredient until you have enough to make something. But the staples are rice and potatoes, not bread or baked or convenience foods. If you have a good blender you can make your own rice flour for a LOT cheaper." (Cassie McFadden)

"I often buy onions and carrots at Costco to bulk up our meals. Lots of vegetable soups from seasonal and (on sale) frozen veggies. And beans, lentils, and more beans. I haven't tried making my own flours, because I can get organic brown rice flour in bulk (25# bags) for about $1 a pound, which I think is about the same as the rice? We use a fair amount of masa and cornmeal too, because it is more affordable than many flours, and easy to find." (Laura Austin)

That's pretty much it: 'Buy in bulk, buy local, buy in season... and then can, can, can!!!' I also do hit the asian markets, and mexican groceries for GF flours on the cheap. Using every part of our meat and making stock from scratch in the crock pot helps too. And I only use homemade almond milk for baking or cooking now, instead of the store bought stuff, that's been a huge boon." (Bailey Witwer)

"We feed a family of 3 a gluten/corn/dairy/soy/MSG/beef free diet for about $100 per week. Costco bags of potatoes, rice, beans, frozen & fresh fruit & veggies, etc help us stretch our food budget." (Michelle Forsman)

Come join the conversation. Clearly, we have much to learn from each other.

Thomas Keller roasted chicken

We're not trying to pretend we are homeless around here. We're not trying to go hungry. We're certainly not going to deprive Little Bean to prove a point.

Yesterday, we talked for a couple of hours about how we eat, and what we could buy as staples for the week. We decided to buy as little food in packages as possible, something we naturally do anyway. (There goes the occasional small bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, which we seem to fall into once a month when we're in the city and at a gas station.)

We're out of smoked paprika, which I love, but we didn't buy any.

We kept our shopping trip to whole grains, healthy proteins, the staple produce we always have in the house, and some good fats (particularly for Little Bean. kids under 2 need lots of good fats for their development).

Here's what we bought:

brown rice (short grain, in bulk)
corn tortillas (we got about 100 in this package; buying the bigger package was definitely a deal)
a bag of puffed millet cereal (only $1.99. the sugar cereals were much more expensive)

celery (these three are always in our house. they make up mirepoix, the aromatic vegetables for homemade stock. each has other vital uses as well)
parsnips (it's winter. we love roasted root vegetables)
apples (Little Bean loves these. plus, they go great with pork. something for dessert)
russet potatoes (a five-pound bag cost an insane 72 cents!)

whole chicken (it's SO much more economical to break down a chicken than buy parts)
brown lentils (I love French du puy lentils, but these are cheap as dirt. and good.)
pork shoulder (with a big cut, we can make several meals)
eggs (best inexpensive protein there is)
bacon (not only for breakfast, but a bit of rendered bacon makes flavoring for other foods)
cheddar cheese (quesadillas; tacos; snacks for Little Bean)
whole milk yogurt, organic (our kid could eat her weight in this)

lactose-free milk for Danny (he doesn't do well with milk. this is expensive. for his coffee)
soy milk for Little Bean (she doesn't do well with milk either. takes after her papa.)

canola oil (olive oil is great, but this is more useful)
pepper (the challenge says we don't have to count these, but we did)
butter (for Little Bean's veggies and flavoring)
1/2 pound of coffee beans (we cannot survive without it)

We had a big bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so we decided to add the price of those into the total. Little Bean loves them, especially in smoothies with yogurt. We also added the price of a small package of raisins, one of her favorite treats.

Our total for the week so far? $72.37.

That leaves us with $15.63 until Friday. We are saving that — in cash — for daily purchases of vegetables and fruit at our local farmstands. Another tub of yogurt. Or, possibly more coffee.

What is not on that list? Chocolate. Seafood. Quinoa. Goat's milk powder. Sugar or any kind of sweetener. Almond flour. These are, normally, a regular purchase for us.

We decided not to eat any homemade baked goods this week, even though we have plenty of flours in the cupboard. We want to spend what little money we have left on produce and more protein, if we need it. Gluten-free flours can be expensive.

(Full disclosure here: we are baking this week. The copy edits for our cookbook are due back to the publishers on Monday. We don't want to send this to print without every recipe being right. However, after one taste to make sure the baked goods are great, we're freezing them for next week, or Danny is taking them to work to give to his co-workers.

We actually get all our flours through Amazon, from the small amount of money that comes to us each month through this website. Did you know that? If you click on this link of gluten-free groceries on Amazon (a good way to save money — buying in bulk) and buy something, we get a tiny portion of the price for being associates. That's true for anything you buy on Amazon. We almost always use that monthly sum to buy more flours and xanthan gum. Otherwise, I could not bake every day, testing recipe for this site. So, if you want to see more recipes here, feel free to shop.)

This means we are not having dessert, other than apples and raisins. We're not eating out. We're not sampling food from other people. We're going to do this as best we can.

So far, so good. Danny braised the pork shoulder with rosemary and thyme (we still have them growing in our garden), homemade chicken stock, apples, onions, garlic, and salt and pepper. After ten hours in the slow cooker, it smells fantastic. (In fact, I have to stop writing so I can eat.)

We'll have the leftovers of that tomorrow night, over brown rice with roasted carrots and parsnips. Danny will make a sauce by reducing the braising liquid. (We'll eat the last third of the tw0-pound roast as tacos for the next day.) The next night, we'll roast the chicken, using Thomas Keller's stunning method, which only requires salt and oil. (This is how I roast a chicken now, no matter what kinds of spices we have in the pantry.) We'll eat the roasted chicken legs and wings, with baked potato fries with cheddar cheese. After that, we'll enjoy the roasted chicken breasts sliced up over brown rice, again with roasted vegetables, or mashed potatoes, and maybe a salad with vegetables from the farmstand. On Friday night, we're having a lentil soup made with homemade chicken stock.

For breakfasts? Eggs and bacon. Warm rice with milk. Millet cereal. Yogurt and blueberries. Lunches? Quesadillas. Lentils cooked with onions, garlic, and bacon. Sauteed veggies with poached eggs on top. Snacks? Carrots. Apples. Yogurt and cereal with raisins. Roasted kale.

Actually, I'm really excited about this week. We're going to eat well. It will be plain food, no enticing ingredients or unexpected tastes. That's okay. We have enough to eat.

Besides, we could all use the reminder. After all....

There has been a 17% increase in people using food banks in the last year in King County.

According to the Seattle Times in December, “In the past two years… the number of people in Washington state receiving food stamps has soared by nearly 60 percent, about twice the national increase…. In October, a record 12.8 percent of the state's population — about 855,000 people — were on food stamps."

A 2009 USDA report revealed that 47 million Americans are “food insecure." 1 in every 7 Americans don’t have enough to eat.

The food insecurity is not just in this country, either. Someone from the UK left this on the Facebook page:

"On the UK news this morning, severe poverty was defined as having less than £20GBP ($32USD) per week to feed a family of 4. Figures show that 13% of children in England live in this level of extreme poverty."

Anyone who has enough food to write a food blog, or enough time to read a food blog, is pretty damned lucky. This week, we know that even more clearly than before.

22 January 2010

Friday island photos: the restaurant

today's special

The island where we live doesn't have any stoplights. Most of the roads curve open, unfettered by slowing traffic or stop signs. You can drive by the water and feel like you are in the only car on the island.

When you're in ferry traffic, coming down from the north end into town, however, you know you are not alone.

In the middle of town — about 5 streets long and 3 streets wide — sits the only four-way intersection on the island. This is as close to a traffic jam as we come.

On the southwest corner of that intersection, right smack dab in the middle of the island, is this building. It has sat there since 1890. (On the West Coast of the United States, that's pretty old.) One way or another, the building has displayed that sign: "Today's special. So's tomorrow."

When I lived on this island in the 1990s, teaching high school, the building contained an old hardware store. In fact, when I lived here it was sort of a hardware store museum, with creaky floors, dusty windows, and a giant train set in the middle. I loved going in there, even though there wasn't much point to the building anymore. It was a slice of time, gone by.

great good food

Now, it's a restaurant.

It's a homey restaurant, with no pretensions of changing the face of gastronomy or winning rave reviews from national publications. The people who run this restaurant want to serve "great good food."

They do.

the inside of the restaurant

When you walk in, you feel warmth, right away. Wooden tables, worn rugs, high ceilings, and little sprigs of flowers on the table — this place feels comfortable.

This is one of the main island hangouts. If you want to meet people for fish tacos after the softball game has finished, you come here. If you're feeling hungry after the farmers' market, but you don't want to go home to cook the produce yet, you stop in here with friends for steamed manila clams. (Sometimes, you see your favorite farmer in the booth next to yours.) If it's in the middle of the holidays, and you don't want to cook one more meal for your family, you come in out of the rain for grilled pork tenderloin.

It's an island place.

local art in the back room

And in the back, along the long hallway, are paintings and photographs by island artists. It's an art gallery and gathering space, both.

sunlight burst through

When I was there the other day, taking photographs, the sun emerged from behind the clouds for the first time all afternoon. That sun splash is what the restaurant feels like to me. I just want to sit in the booth with friends, sharing a plate of chickpea ragout, holding my hands around a hot cup of coffee.

seattle metropolitan

This restaurant isn't a diner, though. It's more than that. It's something special.

As the writer of this piece in Seattle Metropolitan wrote: "Everything, cracker-bread pizzas to lavish salads to the signature buttermilk fried chicken, is brought off with more vibrancy and exactitude than captive island audiences can typically expect, and the fizzy ambient spirit of the place is simply irresistible."

Friends from the city who have been to this restaurant almost always say: "That place? Oh, I love that place."

wall of wine

There's a pretty decent wine selection.

balsamic mixture for the bread

Everything in the place is made from scratch: the chicken stock, plus all the soups and sauces. That's balsamic, oil, and herbes de provence for the bread plates. (I don't have that, of course.)

the burgers look fantastic

The burgers look so damned good. (I have it on good authority that they are.)

This poor couple. Their burgers had just arrived, and they were about to dig in, and I asked if I could take a photograph. That light. The height on those burgers. That pile of fries.

If I can't eat it, I can take a photograph of it. (And then I told them to ignore me and eat.)

homemade baked goods

I can't eat these, either. But oh my, if I could eat gluten, I would want a piece of that pie. All the baked goods in the restaurant are handmade by staff, including doughnuts every day.

There aren't many times I wish I could eat gluten. Standing in front of that rack would be one of them.

clam chowder

However, the clam chowder is gluten-free, which is unusual. I hear this soup's so good they might be selling it commercially soon. On a cold, high-skied winter day, a bowl of this is just what you want.

the vegetarian special

Recently, the food at this restaurant has taken a turn for the better. The daily specials are vibrant, in season, something pretty special.

This is the vegetarian special: an island-grown white acorn squash (peeled and roasted), with quinoa, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, and a curry vinaigrette.

It's gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and meat-free. The restaurant is serving it through the month of January. Next month, there will be another one.

Who's making this food?

Danny cooking

Why, it's Danny! Danny's making this food.

You see, Danny has returned to a life he loves: working in a restaurant kitchen. Fate and good fortune brought him to his place, the best restaurant on the island. He had gone more than a year without being a professional chef, home instead with me and the Bean, working on our cookbook and making elaborate breakfasts for us all.

Eventually, he missed the excitement of dinner service, the urgency and rush of putting food on a plate, the camraderie with other cooks, and the chance to give joy in the belly to people besides me and our daughter.

I couldn't be happier for him.

And for you, if you have the chance to come to the island and eat his food. He's working Saturday through Wednesday nights, and he's making up specials every day. Tonight's fish special was pan-seared scallops with a mushroom risotto, roasted brussels sprouts, and a bacon-red-wine vinaigrette. The ravioli special (sadly, not gluten-free) was a three-cheese with roasted chicken, red peppers, Greek olives, parsley pesto, and island goat cheese.

He's back.

where danny works

Many of you have written to us, wondering if Danny would ever cook at a restaurant again, and especially cook gluten-free food. He is. Danny's cooking at the Hardware Store.

He'd like you to know that it's not a gluten-free restaurant. (The fried chicken is "...amazing. The best fried chicken I have ever had," says Danny.) However, the folks at the restaurant understand what it means to be gluten-free. (I hear tell there might be gluten-free desserts soon. Maybe even pie...) Danny and the rest of the staff can feed you gluten-free, easily. Most of the daily specials will be gluten-free, naturally. Tell your server what you need. Tell them you read this site. They'll take care of you.

Danny would love to feed you.

The Hardware Store
17601 Vashon Highway SW
Vashon, WA 98070

21 January 2010

eating leeks

lu and the leeks

This afternoon, Danny came back from his morning time with Little Bean, bags of groceries and produce from the farmstand in his arms, a smile on his face.

"Did you have a good time with Daddy?" I asked her, scooping her up in my arms for a hug. She nodded — her big, emphatic nod — eyes wide, already starting to babble. I covered her cheeks in kisses, making her giggle, then put her down so she could explore some more. Danny and I started unloading the bags.

"What did you two do?" I asked him, pulling out a fistful of fresh leeks, the dirt from the roots falling into the sink.

"I took her to the farmstand. And she loved it."

We're lucky here. There are at least a handful of farms on the island who grow produce all through the winter and leave the latest crop out in their stands. No one ever mans the tiny shacks or lean-to buildings. There's just a piece of paper and pen, a rusting scale, and a coffee can. We grab a bunch of Russian kale or a pound of shallots, write down our purchase, and shove our money in the can.

Danny told me about his time with Little Bean, while she stood at the couch with an open Beatrix Potter book, babbling to the pages, pretending to read.

"It was so much fun. She walked into the little farmstand and she went whoo! Winter cabbage, hearty greens, purple potatoes, and these leeks. The excitement in her eyes as she walked around that cold little shack was so cool. She opened the door to the refrigerator and saw the chard. 'Charr!!!!'"

(For some reason, this kid loves swiss chard. It's probably because we like it so much. I saute it up in a hot pan, with olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper. Then I let it cool down, to keep her mouth from burning, and we eat it together, with our fingers, talking about our day. Whenever she sees what we are having, she shouts: "Charr!")

This is part of the reason we moved here. "I want her to see that this is where the food comes from — the farm. Not from the grocery store, or from plastic. I want her to know her farmers and say, that's the man who grew my salad. Maybe she'll grow up with their kids and understand the life of the family farm more fully. Maybe she'll appreciate food."

Danny was chopping the fresh leeks as he told me this. I could smell the faint onion odor from them, mild, just a bit of a bite, not like the jagged tastes in the mouth that onions give. He was cooking pasta and blanching broccoli, rendering bacon and grating the Parmesan. We sat down with Little Bean, her feet dangling in her chair, and shared this dish for lunch.

While Little Bean napped, Danny checked his Facebook account, reading stories and silly sentences from friends. As I worked at this computer, he came charging into the room. "You have to read this. Jamie Oliver was in tears in West Virginia."

Apparently, the people of Huntington, one of the poorest places in the United States, were openly hostile to Oliver's ideas and his presence in the town. There might be many reasons for that. These things are always more nuanced than they look in a small story. But Danny and I both cannot get over this sentence, still:

"Jamie was also left flabbergasted after he asks a group of school children to identify vegetables, mistaking tomatoes for potatoes."

Really? Tomatoes and potatoes?

We don't doubt it's true, however.

Certainly, Huntington is not all of America. That's part of why it was chosen for that television show. However, it cannot be that far removed from the rest of us. According to Fast Food Nation, "Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music - combined."

Once again — really?

I don't want to say anything definitive here, or declare how this happened. I don't know.

All I can say is that we are happy that our daughter is exuberant when walking with her dad into a farmstand down the road. And that she already knows the feeling of fresh leeks underneath her hands.

And you? How have you introduced your kids to food? Or how were you introduced to food? At the very least, how do you like your leeks?

18 January 2010

gluten-free graham crackers

graham crackers and milk

Graham crackers dunked in a glass of cold milk. I sure have missed this small, sweet treat at the end of an evening. There's something humble about a graham cracker. (And terribly mis-named. These are only cracker in shape. Really, these are a slight sweet cookie.) It stands at your side, waiting for your attention. It doesn't shout or shimmy, or demand more from you than you can give.

Graham crackers are quiet. Dependable as comfortable shoes. Always there.

Except, of course, if you are gluten-free. The only commercially sold, gluten-free graham crackers I have ever eaten are laden with too much sweetness. When I looked for graham crackers that taste faintly of honey, instead of cloying the mouth with it, I have run out of luck. I wanted a cracker that tasted something like a digestive biscuit, with a bit more cinnamon and kick to it.

I had to make it myself.

Here they are.

gluten-free smores

Little Bean and I have stood at the counter nearly every afternoon for the past two weeks, gathering the bags of flours, fluffing them into the scale, cutting up butter and listening to the particular pitch of the food processor when the dough reached the desired pliability. Every afternoon, Little Bean reached for the dough and slapped it with her small hand. I taught her that. I want her to know the feel of the dough, rather than a recipe in a book.

We baked some good graham crackers, some overly soft graham crackers (almond flour doesn't do well by these), some powdery dry graham crackers, and some almost-there graham crackers. I've been teaching her about Goldilocks and the Three Bears this way. "This one was too wet. This one was too dry. This one was just right."

Batch #6? We had it. I made slight variations on it the next days and I was done.

Little Bean has eaten graham crackers warm out of the oven every day this week.

Today, she had her first taste of s'more.

She started smiling as soon as it hit her lips.

banana pudding pie with a graham cracker crust

Of course, graham crackers come in handy for crusts, too. This is a banana cream pudding pie, made this afternoon with the leftover scraps that didn't look pretty from all these baking endeavors. Danny made it for us before he went to work.

And when I put this pie in place to take photographs this afternoon, Little Bean came running to me, pointing. "Pie! Pie! Pie!"

That's our girl.

I'm glad that she'll grow up with graham crackers.

gluten-free graham crackers.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

Once you make these graham crackers a few times, I swear you could make them in your sleep. Don't be put off by the number of steps. These are easy. Soon, you could be baking them every weekend.

A few words about the ingredients. I played with a number of flours, and these four worked best in our kitchen. If you can find super-fine brown rice flour, the graham crackers shouldn't have a bit of grit to them. If you can't find it, try putting some brown rice flour in your blender and running it for a few moments. That usually does the trick. If you can't find these flours, then use the same weight of flour with your own combination until you find the ones that work for you.

You might notice that there is no sugar in these crackers. I'm playing with baking only with honey. Since honey is an essential taste in graham crackers, this was a natural. These graham crackers are only faintly sweet, which is how we like them. If you want more, try adding 2 ounces of dark brown sugar and taking out 1 ounce of the honey. See how that works for you.

If you use your favorite non-dairy butter substitute, these could be gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free! Start measuring.

Remember that I've been telling you about baking by weight? That baking by measuring ounces into a bowl perched on a kitchen scale makes everything more creative? This recipe is a prime example. Even, for me, a painful example.

You see, I tested every batch by ounces (or grams). Even when I started by converting traditional recipes, I translated the cups into ounces before I began. Not once did I put flours into a cup. Instead, I flung them into the bowl and started baking. Once I figured out the ratio of flours to fats to liquids that worked for gluten-free, I stopped looking at other recipes. I just made these. To write this recipe, I had to convert the ounces back to cup measurements for those of you who don't have a scale yet. Normally, I'd go into the kitchen to carefully weigh flours then scoop them into a measuring cup. I have written measurements here that I will never use myself.

Today, however, the scale's battery died. (Poor thing. I used it all up.) So I had to convert ounces into cup measurements by searching for the weights of each flour and doing more algebra than I have since the 7th grade to figure out how many portions of cups each flour requires. And tell truth, it still isn't going to be exact. "About 1/2 of cup" could be seven different weights for seven different bakers.

Hopefully, these crisp crackers with the soft bite, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, warm out of the oven will convince you once and for all. Buy a kitchen scale and start baking!

2.5 ounces sorghum flour (that's about 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons)
2.5 ounces brown rice flour, ground super fine, if possible (1/3 cup, plus 1 T)
2.5 ounces tapioca flour (1 tablespoon shy of 1/3 cup
2.5 ounces sweet rice flour (1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces unsalted butter, just out of the refrigerator (7 tablespoons)
3 ounces mild-flavored honey (1/4 cup)
3 to 6 tablespoons cold water
cinnamon sugar (optional)

Combining the dry ingredients. Measure out the sorghum, brown rice, tapioca, and sweet rice flours. Put into a food processor and whirl them up. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, xanthan and guar gums, and salt. Mix until everything is well combined.

Cutting in the butter. Cut the butter into small pieces (about 1/2 tablespoon size). Add to the flours in the food processor. Pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flours. The mixture should have a coarse, sandy texture, like cornmeal.

Finishing the dough. Stir together the honey and 3 tablespoons of the water. With the food processor running, pour in the honeyed water. Let the food processor run for a few minutes, allowing the dough to form a ball. The final dough should be soft and pliable, even a bit wet. If it still has not come together entirely after a few minutes of processing, add the remaining cold water, a tablespoon at a time.

Refrigerating the dough. Put the dough in a suitable container (or wrap with plastic wrap) and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will be just enough time to let you clean up the mess, put away the flours. Oh, and to...

Preheating the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Have another piece of parchment paper, same size, ready as well.

Rolling out the graham crackers. Cut the ball of dough in half. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Put the ball of dough onto the parchment-lined sheet tray. Cover it with the other piece of parchment paper.

Carefully, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/2 the length of the sheet tray, or until the dough is about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. (You'll have ragged round pieces on the edges. Leave them on. They'll make great scraps for graham cracker crusts.) If you want the final crackers dusted with cinnamon sugar, do that here. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.

Decorating and baking. Pull the sheet tray from the refrigerator. Using the tines of a fork, prick holes into the crackers in a regular pattern that looks good to you.

Bake the graham crackers until they are golden-warm brown and starting to be hard, about 15 to 20 minutes. (Turning the tray halfway through baking will help them to not bake too brown.) Allow them to cool on the sheet tray until they are cool to the touch and hardened even more, about 30 minutes.

Repeat with the second half of the dough ball.

Eat. Dunk in milk. Make s'mores. Enjoy.

Makes about 16 graham crackers (or more if you cut them in half, as we did for Little Bean's small hands)

14 January 2010

broccoli winter slaw

broccoli winter slaw

My goodness, people, you certainly love broccoli!

If you haven't had the chance to read this piece on broccoli, go there now. Not so much for my writing — you can skip that. Jump right to the comments and see what the community of people reading here has recommended to each other. Roasted broccoli, broccoli soup, broccoli on top of brown rice for breakfast, and steamed broccoli with red onions, blue cheese, and cream to finish.


I swear, I could make a dish based on your suggestions every day of the week and still be discovering new joys of broccoli for months on end.

You see, one Wednesday, we'll be offering up an ingredient and opening the microphone to your voices. The next week, we are going to share a recipe with that ingredient. It should keep the conversation going. It certainly keeps us intrigued. We were going to try one of your suggestions and post it as a recipe this week.

Then Danny had to go and make our favorite winter slaw for lunch a few days ago, and throw in some broccoli. Little Bean ate an entire bowl. We talked about how much we love this recipe again. That was it. Here it is.

Originally, this recipe for winter slaw was going to be in our cookbook, along with the recipe for pan-seared sea scallops with boulangere potatoes and bacon compound butter. The rest of that will all be in there, but there just wasn't room for the slaw. (And by the way, yum.)

(As an aside, we saw the interior design for our cookbook today and nearly split open with happiness. It's real. It's really going to be a book. And it's beautiful.)

I have to tell you, it has taken me all day to write this small piece. The news from Haiti has devastated me, as it has so many of us. Those images. Those children, without parents. Those parents, finding their children on the streets. It has been almost more than I can bear.

In fact, I felt ridiculous writing about winter slaw, and how good it tastes, in the face of all this. I wasn't going to write. My friend Tamiko, however, spurred me to work by reminding me of this quote:

"Eating is a small, good thing at a time like this." —Raymond Carver

So, I decided to share this recipe with you, here, today. Danny made the slaw for lunch again, while Little Bean stood beside him on a chair, banging a measuring cup against the counter. I took photographs of the slaw in the best light I could find, while Little Bean practiced walking up and down steps beside me, holding her daddy's hand. We sat down to eat, music playing, while Little Bean sat chattering as she put Napa cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli in her mouth. It may have been hard-grey raining outside, but we were together.

For this, I am grateful.

The Slaw

1 head broccoli
10 brussels sprouts
1/2 head Napa cabbage
2 stalks celery

The Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise, fresh-made if possible
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

Prepping the vegetables. Take off all the little florets of the broccoli head. Peel the outer layer of the broccoli stalks and slice them in half lengthwise, then dice them (about 1/2-inch cubes). Remove the outer layer of the brussels sprouts. Cut each Brussels sprout in half. Slice the halves as thin as you can. (You could use a mandoline here, but you don’t have to do so.) Cut the Napa cabbage in half. Remove the core and slice as fine as you can. Slice the celery down the middle, lengthwise, then dice the celery stalks the same size as the broccoli stalks. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl.

Making the dressing. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, and rice wine vinegar. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. If you want the dressing a touch thinner, add a bit more vinegar or a smidge of water.

Finishing the salad. Coat the vegetables with the dressing. Season the salad to your taste.

Feeds 4.

Danny says, "Have a nice day." Also, if you want to learn how to make homemade mayonnaise, we'll have a video up in the next couple of days.

10 January 2010

So Easy by Ellie Krieger

mocha java smoothie

When my friend Sharon and I were in our early twenties, she lived with my family for a summer. There was no work in Ashland, where she was living between her freshman and sophomore years in college. She has always been the sister I never had. My family feels the same. So, she moved into our spare room and we found work together in my town. We worked as waitresses at a brunch and wedding restaurant, run by a crazy family that threw pots and pans at each other in the kitchen. Woefully understaffed, the restaurant brought in demanding brides and impatient diners who had to wait far too long for their eggs benedict. Sharon and I both ran the entire time we were at work, covering 20 tables each, afraid to talk to our boss for fear she might yell at us.

It's no wonder, then, that the little time we had off we spent on the couch. I seem to remember that Sharon had us watching VH1 nearly all the time, hoping we could see Whitney Houston's video for "Want to Dance with Somebody." (Remember those days? Before the internet existed? When MTV and VH1 still played videos? And Whitney's amazing crimped hair?) Sharon was obsessed with that song, plus she loved the dance moves. So we sat on the couch, our puffy Reeboks propped up on the coffee table, watching "Sledgehammer" and "Papa Don't Preach," U2 and Janet Jackson, George Michael's wiggling ass and the Bangles walking like an Egyptian.

Most of the time, we were drinking diet milkshakes.

Sharon and I are were laughing about this the other day. What were we thinking of?

For breakfast (and sometimes for lunch), we took packets of Instant Breakfast, ice cubes, and skim milk, and blended them up into a thin, watery imitation of milkshakes. (This was long before smoothies became ubiquitous.) And every day, we'd say to each other, "Mmm. This is delicious." (It wasn't. At all.)
"It kind of tastes like a milkshake." (It tasted like a milkshake the way dirt tastes like chocolate.) Mostly, though, we felt satisfied in our minds that we were being healthy. With whole-wheat crackers for lunch, with a thin skim of hummus or cottage cheese, some fresh fruit, and lots of salads with no oil, we were convinced we were doing the best thing possible for our bodies.

Of course, after all day of starving ourselves on rice cakes, we usually tumbled into the kitchen after 10 and frantically stirred up dough for chocolate chip cookies. We ate them, warm from the oven, standing by the stove, talking and laughing so hard that no one else could understand what we were saying.

And the next day we felt contrite and started it all over again.

Sharon didn't need to lose any weight. She has always been in great shape. Looking back at photos of myself, I didn't need to lose any either. (There's nothing like having a baby to make you appreciate your 21-year-old body. Ay.) However, as two young American women in the late 1980s, we were convinced there was something wrong with us. We deprived ourselves, all day, and tried to feel the holiness of health.

If only I had known then that coffee and chocolate, good cheese and sometimes beef are considered healthy. I would have enjoyed myself so much more then.

So Easy

Now that the holidays are over, Danny and I are back to our cookbook regime. For an entire week, we cook out of one book, then we share our impressions here. (We'll be giving you a new review and doing a giveway every other Monday.) At the start of the new year, we began cooking out of Ellie Krieger's So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

I'll tell you the truth. I expected this book to be boring. Stamp healthy on the cover and I think beige. I think about those diet milkshakes and deprivation, the feeling that we're not good enough. No butter. I have my own feelings about a healthy diet now, and it's far different than the typical picture. Certainly, my idea of healthy is worlds away from the nibbling on cardboard I did in my early 20s. So I didn't expect much from the book before I opened it.

However, so many people have aspirations of "eating healthier" around the new year, and I wanted to see if this book could help anyone.

To my surprise, I like this book. Enormously. Danny does too. Now, how is that?

Krieger's book shows, in simple recipes and lovely photographs, that real food is what's healthy. As she wrote: "My golden rule: no food is ever off limits. Rather, I categorize food as Usually, Sometimes, or Rarely....The idea is that there is no need to deprive yourself or go to extremes to be healthy. In fact, extremes are usually unhealthy and trap us into a diet mentality. Rather, balance is key. If you are eating mostly nutrient-rich whole foods, there is room for some butter in your mashed potatoes, some sugar on your strawberries, or even a slice of rich chocolate cake."

Well, where was she when I was 21?

What Danny and I like most about this book is Krieger knows food and how to make it. So many "healthy" programs seem written by people who think of food as fuel, or a prescription. There's no care to create good taste or enjoy those bites you are taking. It's all about efficiency and raw carrots. Krieger's book celebrates food instead of decrying it. She's a nutritionist and a food lover both.

The first recipe we made was sirloin steak with grainy mustard sauce and parmesan steak fries. Danny and I both thought this would be a good litmus test. If the steak tasted too "healthy," the sauce thin and bland, the potatoes a pale imitation of the real thing, we wouldn't bother making anything else out of the book. To our pleasant shock, this dish tasted rich in our mouths. The mustard sauce, with its short-cut reduction, reminded us both of the classic French mustard sauce Danny has been making for years. And the potatoes? Well, look at the bottom of this post. You'll see we loved them.

And so, we made almost every meal we ate out of this book, for a solid week. We drank smoothies (that's a mocha java smoothie on top. oh yeah.) and ate smoked salmon sandwiches, and cinnamon raisin toast with honey-walnut spread. (I wanted to try her version of the Dutch Baby, but gluten-free, but we ran out of breakfast time.) I poached chicken breasts for Waldorf salad, made the grilled beef, jicama, and apple salad, and wished it was summer so I could eat the fresh strawberry and mozzarella salad. We enjoyed the salmon with chickpea ragu (replacing the zucchini and basil with turnips and thyme) and just about lost our minds for the baked beans with applewood-smoked ham. That tasted of molasses and slow cooking, beans and back-of-the-stove simmering, a cold afternoon and an evening together. We'll be making those again. And again.

Do you hear it? These are recipes for real food. Mussels Provencal. Pork piccata. Burger with green olives. Lemon broccolini. Green apple and cabbage salad. Ratatouille with red snapper. Balsamic strawberries with ricotta cream.

I think we enjoyed the book much more than we thought we would because Krieger makes food the way we do. Local, in season, and organic (when possible). When I was in my early 20s, I had no idea which fruits and vegetables were in season that summer. I just ate what I thought had the least calories. Now, Danny and I grow excited when we pull up to the farmstand down the road from our house and see that they have white acorn squash in their baskets, or leeks just pulled from the ground. We plan our meals around the produce first, because that's the part of our plate that keeps changing.

I have to say, however, that my only hesitation about Krieger's book is her use of nonfat yogurt and dairy products. Nonfat milk looks veiny-blue nothingness to me. And I'm not even sure how they make full, rich yogurt into something nonfat. I like to use a little of the good stuff.

I know I'll receive some mean letters from people about this, saying, "Who are you to say you're healthy now? You could use a little non-fat yogurt."
We all have to decide for ourselves. Have you noticed how strident we have become in this country about what we think is healthy? Use agave instead of honey! Skip carbohydrates! Dairy is evil! So many people, publicly, insist they have the answer for the rest of us. (And there's a whiff of self-righteousness, of pointing fingers, of insisting that their way is the only way.) When did we become such twerps about health?

In the end, that's why we enjoyed Krieger's book so much. There was no wagging of fingers, no insitence on her way or heading down the wrong way, no deprivation. This woman has the glowiest skin I have ever seen. She also has a recipe for porcini-crusted filet mignon with creamed spinach and herbed mashed potatoes in her book.

The recipes work. They work well. So many of them are naturally gluten-free; the others can easily be adapted. Cooking out of this book was a gentle way for me to find balance in my diet again, after an entire holiday season of testing recipes for cinnamon rolls. Krieger helped me to think about food, and health, and how we see it, even more deeply.

And Danny approves. That's pretty unusual for a cookbook with the word healthy on it. Take his word for it. You'd like this food.

It's sure a hell of a lot better than diet milkshakes.

We're giving away a copy of this book (published by Wiley, who are our publishers, and who sent us the copy of this book). Just leave us a comment sharing your definition of a healthy diet. I think it will be a fascinating conversation. However, any comment that insults another commenter's diet will not be published. We'll choose a winner at random next Monday by using

goat-cheese potato fries

Crumbled Goat Cheese Steak "Fries," adapted from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger

We love potatoes in this house. As much as I love perfect roasted potatoes (like the ones Clotilde wrote about today) for breakfast and mashed potatoes on special occasions, I love finding new ways to eat our favorite tuber without added butter.

These are great. I had my doubts. That little oil? Such a simple recipe? Danny and I both love french fries. Could these be anything close?

Well, let's be honest. These aren't the golden, hot-out-of-the-fryer potatoes of your dreams. However, those have to be occasional indulgences. (And particularly for us gluten-free folks, since the truly safe ones can be hard to find. Did you know that celiacs can get sick from eating french fries that have been fried in the same oil as gluten food? Think about the onion rings and french fries mingling, bubbling away. Do you know how infrequently most restaurants change their fry oil?) French fries are sometimes.

These potatoes — golden at the edges, fluffy soft inside — could be anytime. The original recipe called for Parmesan, which we loved. One night, after we fell in love with these, I made them with goat cheese dashed haphazardly on the hot, baking potatoes. Oh yes. Either way, you're going to feel healthy, and satisfied, when you eat these.

3 large russet potatoes, unpeeled
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 ounces soft chevre (also known as goat cheese)
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise. Then, cut each half into four long slices. Cut the rounded edge off the outside slices so you will have flat pieces. Put the potatoes into a bowl and toss them with the oil.

Toss the potatoes onto a baking sheet (we lined ours with parchment paper), untangle the overlapping potatoes from each other and place each one flat. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and crumble a bit of goat cheese on each potato slice. Put the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown and the goat cheese starting to melt a bit.

(If you want the goat cheese browned, turn on the broiler and put the baking sheet under it for 1 minute.)

Take the potatoes out of the oven, hit them with salt, and serve immediately.

Feeds 4.

08 January 2010

Friday island photos: an evening ferry ride

ferry rail

You have to be at least a little weird to live on an island.

You do. You're going to be there, surrounded by water, cast away from the mainland, deliberately. You'll know your neighbors better than you ever did in the city. Sometimes that means a trip to the grocery store is like a coffee klatsch, especially in the produce section. This means that the old hippie with the silver braid down his back, the Vietnam vet in combat fatigues who walks up and down the main highway with a machete (but he's harmless), the librarian with a passion for marine biology who leads free low-tide walks, the lithe performance artist who dresses as a chicken for the apple festival, the older man with only one working eye who sits in the coffee shop all afternoon, by the door, greeting people as they walk in — they all become part of your life. When you live in a city, you might pass a character on every block, but you may also never see them again. On an island, everyone is a character.

It takes a character to live in a place that requires a long line of cars, a lumbering ferry boat, and a 20-minute crossing before your feet touch the mainland.

We live here by choice. I love that feeling of distance. And I love ferry rides, even in the rain.

leaving the land

When Danny and I have been in the city with Little Bean, visiting friends, eating at great restaurants, shopping in stores where groceries cost 1/2 of what they do on the island, we feel enlivened. After all, we lived in a city together for three years, and separately for many more. We were city people.

But when the ferry kicks away from the shore, and the lights on the dock start to recede into the blue night sky, we both sigh. We're going home.

from the upper deck

You can sit in your car. Many people do. Especially if you are in the first row of cars, facing the water like Moses with his staff, commanding the sea to part. From that space, you can see everything, plus have the heat of your car. When we're the first car on the boat, we stay in.

ferry in the evening

But almost every other time, we walk upstairs. We don't want to miss this.

Even when it's raining.

open water

These are Puget Sound colors, that twilight blue, the light grey, the light that gleams beneath them both. My heart adores these colors. They feel right to me.

The expanse of open water opens me too.

I take my deepest breaths on ferry rides.

Seattle in the distance

And in this blue light, the crepuscular hour after sunset, before the pitch black, the lights of the city are dazzling and pretty from a distance. There's so much life going on there.

And it's so quiet on the top deck of the ferry.

do not sit or place children on the railings

This sign always makes me laugh. "Please do not sit or place children on vessel's railing." Really? Does anyone have to be reminded?

Then I stop laughing, thinking that there must be someone who needs the reminder. I gulp in salty air and hold Little Bean closer.

(I can't help it. I'm still an English teacher at heart. It still bothers me there is no apostrophe in there.)

the end of the island

Then we glide through these dark waters, silently, the engines thrumming down. We've reached the tip of the island, our home.

I love those trees on the edge of the water.

light on the land

The light on in that house, the first one I see on land, that home glimmering in the distance. There's such a feeling of coziness, of the evening settling on the shoulders of us all, of gathering in and warmth.

Feels like home to me.

(Danny and I always wonder what it would be like to live right on the water like that, in the midst of a giant storm.)

ferry dock

Then the lights grow brighter, and more clustered. We listen to the swish of the water under the churning engines slowing down. There's the dock.

We're home.

As we drive off the boat, Little Bean asleep in her car seat, we talk about the day's stories, our favorite moments, and what to have for dinner the next day.

This is where we live.

This is part of a series of photo stories we'll be sharing, every other Friday, on this site. Great food has such a sense of place. We'd like to share some of the place that makes our food what it is.

06 January 2010



Behold the broccoli.

Poor broccoli. It's such a tender, giving vegetable — all that green and goodness, edible from stalk to top — and it deserves more than most people give it.

It's that time of year, you know. Early January, when people decide to become "more healthy." Spent and pasty after weeks of baked goods and revelry, some of us join gyms in a frenzy, wake up early to go running in new spandex clothes, and count calories like we're counting our pennies after all that spending.

(Psst. It never lasts more than the middle of February, you know. Gyms make all their money for the year in these next six weeks.)

Along with the push to exercise comes the wish to "eat right." It's never entirely clear what that means, because newspaper articles herald a new miracle food every day. If you ask people what they should be eating, however, I'm guessing that most of them would say: broccoli.

See what I mean when I write poor broccoli? So many people see it as obligation food, the vegetable we should be eating. How long does any resolution with a should in it last anyway?

(I didn't always used to eat broccoli well. When I was in college, and trying to be a vegetarian after reading Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, I used to dip whole fistfuls of raw broccoli into ranch dressing for lunch. However, it still sounds sort of appealing, if you want to know the truth.)

Broccoli is a celebration in the winter. The skies are bleak and unyielding, the air is chilled against our skin, and there will be no real color until early April. (Oh March, the longest of all months. It's still two months away.) However, broccoli? It's vivid green, with little dots of verdant life, a plant determined to grow through cold, dark soil and come up smiling.

It tastes so good too. I like to shave raw stalks into salads of lacinato kale and red chard, topping them with goat cheese and sunflower seeds. Who doesn't love broccoli with cheese sauce? (Well, probably not so much the lactose intolerant, but I know some who worship it from afar.) No stir fry is complete in this house without the bottle of tamari or several heads of fresh broccoli.

No one, however, could love broccoli as much as our Little Bean does right now. When we steam the florets in water and a touch of butter until they are bright green and yielding to the teeth, she sits up in her chair and chatters. She eats one little tree after another, smiling.

She doesn't know that broccoli is supposed to be a should. She loves it with buttery fingers and an open mouth.

And so, we'd like to hear from you.

How do you celebrate broccoli, singing its praises in front of the stove? What are your favorite flavor combinations? What do you think of when you see broccoli?

(I have to admit, to my own shame, that I always think of this lame Saturday Night Live sketch from the 1990s, where Dana Carvey played a bad singer whose only song was a drawn-out, unfunny "Chopping Broccoli." Every time I cook with it, I sing it, unconsciously. Damn it. I'm doing it now.

And Danny says the photo I took of the broccoli above looks like Princess Leia, with the earmuffs on either side. Damn it. Now I can only see that too.)

Give us your suggestions. Let's learn from each other how to make broccoli more than a should.

This is a return to a series we did for a few years: the ingredient post. We'll post up a single ingredient, in season, every other Wednesday. You leave your suggestions and stories, and we'll learn from each other. The following week, we'll create a recipe based on the food story that caught us most in the moment of reading.