At 2 a.m. I was still in the kitchen. Peach jam in the canner, tomato jam out of the canner, three trays of fruit leather in the oven, tomatoes and peaches in the dehydrator, prepping zucchini relish. This is what I always forget in those dreamy, carefree spring months when I plant my garden or sign up for a CSA (or, this year, do both): The harvest season is also a season of all-out frenzy.
This recipe is here to help. You will find both emotional and practical relief as you reduce two truly gargantuan zucchini to five tidy pints of the hot dog relish you remember from childhood.
Pile it onto a field roast sausage with that better-than-ketchup (and I don’t say that lightly) tomato jam and a beery mustard, and you’ll almost forget about the boxes of ripe pears in the basement still awaiting your attention.
Each summer, I fill my freezer and pantry shelves with jam and pickles and applesauce and roasted tomatoes and pesto and all the tastes of summer that I think I’ll need to make it through the Seattle winter. And each year, right about this time, I either start wondering where it all went or wondering how we’re ever going to get through it all. This year it’s the latter.
So here we are: the chickens are laying again, green rows are peeking up in the garden, and although even the rhubarb is a few weeks off, all signs indicate that spring will come again. Which means that it’s time to be working through our winter stores.It was in that spirit that I hauled the last of our apple harvest out from the back of the fridge today. Last fall we borrowed two dehydrators from a friend and dried a few gallons of apples that lasted, oh, right until whenever the girls found them. They loved them. So today when the counter was piled high with apples and I started talking sauce, an intense lobbying campaign was launched from around the height of my bellybutton. Who could resist?
I like my friend Knox for lots of reasons, one of which is that everything he cooks (and bakes, and preserves) is divine and he always shares his recipes. He always has good ideas, and several projects up his sleeve at once, so you won’t be surprised to learn that among his many accomplishments, Knox is the granddaddy of Soup Swap. (What, you haven’t held a soup swap yet this year? It’s not too late! The rules are here.)
And I think it was at Knox’s first soup swap, more than a decade ago, that he made us The Best Tomato Sauce for the first time. There were lots of us, and lots of frozen soup, packed into Knox’s tiny house, and in characteristic fashion he breezily served steaming bowls of pasta to all of us crowded onto the couch and floor and standing in every corner and doorway. The sauce was incredible. I squeezed after him into the arms-width kitchen and wrote down his instructions on a now-battered-and-stained recipe card.Continue reading →
If your house is anything like mine, your floor is littered with hearts and stickers, confetti and sparkles, the uncontainable detritus of the month-long operation that consumes our home at this time every year: making Valentines. The glue! The glitter! The little girls cutting hearts and hearts and hearts and hearts, and the thousands of tiny scraps of paper that float to every corner of the floor! The never-ending sweeping….
I mostly try to just smile and nod, enjoying the spectacle and vaguely hoping that we’ll manage to reclaim the table in time for dinner each night. As you probably know, I prefer to make my own messes in the kitchen.
The season of holiday excess is upon us, and one of my year-round favorite indulgences gets its due at this time of year: the cookie. These caraway cookies are a fine specimen—not chocolate, I’ll admit, but otherwise quite good. They have a reliable pedigree, hailing from Maida Heatter’s Cookies, where she describes the “caraway crisp” as a classic Scottish recipe. The flavor is restrained, the caraway and lemon are fragrant but not overwhelming, and the overall effect is a very nice balance of sweet but not too sweet. Continue reading →
The other day I was chatting with a neighbor and I discovered that we have a few things in common. We’re both enthusiastic home cooks, we both have lots of kids, and we share the conviction that parents who claim that their kids eat everything are lying. Right? Right?
Tonight my four year old actually claimed to be scared of the few Brussels sprouts threads that made their way into her dish. “I’m scared of this one!” she exclaimed dramatically, fishing out a microscopic green strand. “And this one!” Continue reading →
You guys are the best! All day today, I felt like we were all standing around in the kitchen together, chatting about how to pull off a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner. It’s easy, you reminded me. Stuff a winter squash, roast some veggies, make a soup or a good salad, put out cheese or olives. Easy is perfect. And just as perfect were the reminders that it’s not the food that makes a holiday special; it’s the excuse to gather as a family and enjoy each others’ company.
And…that’s good. Because we arrived to find our rental-with-kitchen unsavory, and decamped to a hotel suite with only a mini-bar fridge instead. So no kitchen, no Thanksgiving cooking. We’re going to have our Thanksgiving dinner this weekend instead, back in Seattle. Which I already have planned now, days in advance—I’m so uncharacteristically organized! But seriously, thank you–I am so lucky to have met so many wonderful cooks and epicures and readers and writers in this little place called the internet (interwebs?) and I’m thankful to know you all.In celebration of life with a mini-fridge, and especially for those of you on the road this weekend, I’m sharing my favorite hotel-room breakfast today. Continue reading →
I’m not going to disappoint anyone by telling you that banana bread is really cake, right? And this banana “bread” is no exception. It has a couple of healthful flourishes, yes–whole wheat flour replaces some of the white flour, and olive oil and yogurt stand in for butter–but it remains a sweet, dense, chocolatey cake.
And to be honest, I like whole grains in sweet baked goods at least as much for their hearty flavor as for any health benefit they confer (I mean, we’re still talking about cake here). These whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, this rye flour zucchini bread (also a cake, of course)—the whole grains add a layer of flavor and texture that leave more refined baked goods tasting rather insipid in comparison.Continue reading →
I have a book in which I record, from time to time, the big and small adventures in our family’s life. I mean to write in it every day, just a sentence or two. More often, weeks or even months go by between entries. I try to catch the important stuff, though, when I do sit down to write–milestones and anecdotes from our daughters’ lives, travels we want to remember, loving moments with our extended family. And, of course, what’s happening in the kitchen.Our family’s book begins with applesauce. It was an October when I started the family journal (abandoning, in the process, my girls’ individual baby books) and we had just turned our three trees worth of apples into a year’s worth of applesauce. So in a way, I think of making applesauce as the beginning of each new year. At this time of year I often flip back through the years contained in my book and marvel at how fast life changes. And how each chapter is even better than the last.
Applesauce, though, is a constant in our lives. Every year we lighten the groaning branches of the apple trees in the fall, piling box after box of apples into the house. We sort the apples, setting aside the unblemished best for eating and sharing. We eat and bake and dry as many apples as we can. And the rest become applesauce for the year ahead.Continue reading →
What more do you need to know? It’s a velvety, lightly lemony spinach soup. A nearly-effortless soup. A 15-minutes-to-the-table soup. A vegan soup. A painless way to drink your veggies. And a green, green, green, green soup.Continue reading →