The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: Autumn coleslaw and how to make a dressing without a recipe

Last month, one of my best friends got married in Hood River. The day after the wedding a bunch of us gathered for a communal cooking/ pot-luck style dinner on the porch of one of the houses we had rented for the weekend. We chatted, the laughed, we ate, we reminisced, we ate some more.  It was amazing to be able to spend some quality time with some of my closest friends, and it was also really inspiring to see what everyone was cooking.  I know I tend to get stuck in a food rut, always going back to my go-to salads and quinoa dishes, so it was really fun to see what some of my friends had in their culinary repertoire. And the thing I took away with me was this amazing fall slaw.  It’s the perfect transitional salad for this time of year. Cabbage and apples are starting to come into their prime, cooler days (we are going to get those soon, right?) crunchy textures, bright colors… it seems to be the epitome of Autumn in a bowl. the

Feasting

Feasting

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The sum of our efforts

The sum of our efforts

I’m kind of a sucker for good coleslaw… that being said, I almost never ever made coleslaw because I was a little daunted by the dressing. I know, its a lame excuse, but I’m not a huge follower of recipes, I don’t really like to measure, and since I didn’t have a go-to coleslaw dressing stashed away in my culinary knowledge, making coleslaw at home just felt a little in-accessible. I’m kind of a no-muss no-fuss salad dressing type of gal… a little fresh olive oil, a splash of balsamic, a little salt, maybe some fresh herbs… on rare occasions I will actually put these things in a jar with a little bit of stone ground mustard and actually “prepare” a dressing… but for the most part, I just drizzle the ingredients directly on the salad and consume. I’ve always felt that when you use high quality ingrediants they speak for themselves, and while I love the idea of “fancy” dressings with names like green goddess and roasted corn husk vinaigrette, I typically stick with the clean and simple flavors of olive oil and vinegar.  So being faced with task of pre-making a coleslaw dressing felt somehow hard… boy was I wrong.

I did a little bit of research AKA looked on pinterest to see what other people where putting in coleslaw dressing… some of it sounded interesting, some of it sounded unnecessary, and after about five minutes, I had a new found feeling of coleslaw confidence. “Oh… I can totally make this.”  So I headed off to the kitchen.  Per my usual style, I eye-balled everything, guessed on proportions, and was pleasantly surprised by how it tasted. Dressing success! Until, of course, I remembered that its a little hard to blog a recipe that isn’t actually a recipe.  Though I’m sure some people out there appreciate the “a little of this, a little of that” method to making things in the kitchen, I know it drives other people nuts… But I’ll try to meet you somewhere in the middle.

How to make coleslaw dressing without a recipe.
  • apple cider vinegar ( about 2 TBS)
  • greek yogurt (1 heaping spoonful) 
  • poppyseeds (a sprinkling)
    olive oil (a small drizzle) 
  • honey ( best guess is 1 TBS?) 
Put in a jar, shake it all around until the honey is incorporated. Refrigerate.  Put over slaw & serve.   If you like, you can add in chia seeds instead of or along with the poppyseeds. If your dressing feels too thin, the chia seeds will help, because they become a little gelatinous as they expand… also they are super amazingly good for you, so why not add them?
Notice I didn’t give you  firm amounts for anything… because really you can make coleslaw for 1 or you can make coleslaw for the masses.  Use your best judgement.  This amount of dressing usually is enough for me to make 2 GIANT servings of coleslaw (imagine if coleslaw were a dinner salad instead of a side. )   I like to pair this dressing with a simple, 3 ingredient slaw. It’s perfect for an easy lunch, its quick, easy, and delicious.

Autumn Coleslaw

Autumn Coleslaw

Simple Autumn Slaw
Chop desired amount of cabbage, top with cut up apple & toasted almonds. Dress, and eat!

Purple Cabbage

Purple Cabbage

Honeycrisp Apples from the local Farmer's Market.

Honeycrisp Apples from the local Farmer’s Market.

oven roasted almonds

oven roasted almonds

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A Truly Magical evening at Jacobsen Salt Co.

Before I even get started, let me just say that I kinda have a crush on Ben Jacobsen. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can get on to the really important things, like how magical* my Wednesday evening was.

 

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racks and racks of salt

 

(* I’m realizing right here and now as I compose this in my head that I’m probably going to say magical and amazing a whole lot in this post.  I looked up all the synonyms for magical, and it really doesn’t feel authentic for me to say things like fairylike, mystic, or paranormal… stupid thesaurus. I apologize in advance if you want to punch me in the face because I’m gushing about my magical evening. )

 

I woke up on Wednesday morning to sunlight streaming in my window. Both my cell phone and computer had died in the middle of the night so I had no idea what time it was (yes they were both situated in bed next to me, its fine I sleep alone, there is plenty of room) but I laid there for a while just basking in the fact that I had the day off, and I figured I probably couldn’t sleep through my morning yoga class even if I tried (well, ok I could, but I was pretty confident that even if I didn’t know what time it was, I hadn’t yet missed my class. I was correct).  I started to think about what I was going to do that day, and as I laid there looking at what was potentially the last really perfect Indian Summer day, I decided to drop everything and spontaneously head to the coast for a dinner at Jacobsen Salt Company.

 

I had been toying around with the idea for a little while, and I knew I would be going to at least one of the dinners there this fall, I just hadn’t decided which one. I had a million reasons why I hadn’t signed up for this dinner, but on Wednesday morning, none of them actually seemed legitimate (ok, maybe the budget reason was legit… I’m choosing to ignore that)  I was bummed I wasn’t going to any of the Feast Portland events over the weekend, and was craving a foodie adventure. So I rolled out of bed, found my computer cord, waited for baby-mac to charge, and promptly bought a ticket. Gotta love the power of the interwebs.

 

Over the past few weeks a few things have changed  a bit in my life. The largest thing  being my job (more about this at another time) but I’ve suddenly found myself working a lot less (hilarious that full time seems leisurely these days) and have been trying to focus on filling my free time with things that make me happy. Exercise, socializing, fun experiences… and lets face it. Amazing food and wine make me really, really happy. Throw in fun people, and pushing out of my comfort zone a little bit, with the spontaneity factor, and I’m pretty much blissed out.  So getting a ticket for a dinner with Chris Cosentino at a enchanting salt factory on the Oregon coast was really a no brainer.  (seriously, why did I wait until that morning? I have no idea… going to this dinner was perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve ever made… at least one of the most fun things I’ve done for myself in a long time)

 

Fall time always makes me feel a little introspective. With the afore mentioned free time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, evaluating, and self analysis. (sometimes this is good. Other times not so much, but at the moment, I think it is good to take a step back, and realize ways in which I want to grow) One thing I’ve really been sensitive to is trying to make a name for myself. Maybe not even really that… it’s more like I want to be memorable. At my former job I really struggled with this, partially because as an event planner it is pretty much your job to blend in and be behind the scenes. This was all good and fine at weddings, and private functions, but it got really frustrating at industry events and wine club pick ups, because I felt like I was meeting the same people over and over and over again, and each time they had no clue that we had met dozens of times before. A lot of that is just the industry, and some of it was me being a wall flower, but regardless, it started to wear on me a little bit. Not that I want to be the center of attention, but I think every person at least hopes to be memorable in some way.

 

I went through a lot of the same thing last year when I started dating my ex. He is a chef, and kind of a famous one, and once again, I would go out with him, and I would “meet” people whom I’ve met before, and now suddenly that we were together I was standing out.  At least at the time… flash forward to now, and I run into people that I met when we were together all over the place. They usually just look at me with no recognition, all the while I’m replaying conversations I had with them in my head. I’m trying not to take it personally… I have a really hard time with names, and I know that I meet a lot of people at the market, and I can’t always place where I know them from…  But at the end of the day, I don’t want to be forgettable, but I also want to stand out for who I am, and not for who I am with or where I work.

 

And I feel like in the last year I’ve finally gotten a handle on this. I know that most people actually associate me with where I work… but I’m pretty ok with that.  Red Hills Market is kind of the epicenter of wine country, and if people know who I am because I make their latte’s every day, or because I cater at their winery, I’m ok with that. Because for the first time since I joined this crazy/fun/unpredictable industry I feel like I’m actually a part of the community, and not just orbiting outside of it. And it feels nice to be making connections, and mostly making them on my own. (of course, I get home on Wednesday evening, and my ex, who is friends with Chris Cosentino calls me to ask about the dinner, and immediately says “well did you talk to Chris? Did you tell him that we know each other? Did he give you the time of day because you know me?”  Le sigh.  No, I did not name drop, and I knew that I  totally could have, and perhaps would have had a magical celebrity chef moment… but for me Wednesday night wasn’t about name dropping. It was about amazing food at an amazing place, and putting myself out there for who I was.)

 

Anyway, long tangent coming back around…  I had been at Jacobsen Salt Co. all of two seconds, and I step out of my car and the first thing I hear is “Oh hi Awkward Olive!”  And there is Jami Curl of St. Cupcake and Quinn  aka “sprinklefingers” greeting me with a smile and a hug. We had never actually met before, and up until that moment had only known each other through Instagram, so the whole thing was a little surreal.  I know lots of people have twitter meet ups (is there like a catchy term for that? I don’t tweet really, so I have no idea) Anyway, I always had a sneaking suspicion that if we ever met, we would be friends in real life. I should probably be more creeped out that I already felt like I had a connection and a real life relationship with this person whom I have only ever communicated with via photo comments (the fact that she isn’t creeped out that I’m a little bit obsessed with her son,  in a totally not creepy way, makes me think that we really actually get each other pretty well).  I find her to be really entertaining (follow her on instragram, for reals, you won’t regret it) and very relatable.  I knew within moments of stepping out of my car that I was among friends, and that the evening was going to be amazing, and it just kept getting better.  I met a bunch of fun new people, re-connected with some people I already knew, and had a blast putting myself out there.  At one point we were on a tour of the salt facility Jami turned to me and said “When we go into the room with the large pool, I want you to imagine that I have given Ben the gift of an otter, and its in the pool swimming on its back with a little shell clutched to its chest. It will make the tour a lot better.”  Yup I knew she was my kind of person.

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As we waited for the tour to commence, and dinner to be served we lingered by the water, sipped on pink bubbles (the wine kind, not the blowing kind) from Soter Vineyards… It was all pretty much heaven. I’ve been a fan of Soter for quite some time, and my old roommate used to work there, so last winter I became quite familiar with their wine. I also became much more familiar with the people working there, and find them all to be quite delightful. Hallie Whyte and I actually went to college together, but our paths never crossed very much, so its fun to have that Linfield connection with someone now. It’s kind of amazing to me how a school can be so small, and yet I’m still meeting people that I didn’t really know when we were engrossed in academia.  Anyway, I’m getting super off track… the wine, the bay, the facility, the people… to say it was anything less than magical would be a complete understatement.

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Starting off the tour

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Ben and Chris hanging out before dinner

Jacobsen Salt Co. is hands down one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. It is this tiny oyster farm converted into a salt factory, and it isn’t fancy, and yet it is the type of place that makes you want to drop everything, quit your life and somehow be a part of it.  (I love finding those types of places… don’t you?) My words aren’t really doing it justice right now, really you just have to go and experience it for yourself, preferably on a sunny day with pink bubbles… but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is a pretty magical place any day of the week under any conditions with or without wine.  It also help that there are good people there.

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I met Ben a few years ago when he was just getting things started. He was making a delivery to Red Ridge Farms, and he had giant Rubbermade tubs full of lemon zest salt in the back of his car (before it was even available, back when he was schlepping sea water all the way to Portland to make his salt… it sounds hard.)  He was so charismatic, and so passionate about what he was doing… again, My type of people. How can you not be just drawn to people like that who are so passionate about what they do? (Le sigh, again. On the bright side, I am absolutely 100% passionate about where I work, just not what I do… I’m fine with this for now… I’m only 28, I think I have some time to figure things out, and my job does allow me to teach yoga, which is indeed a passion…) But Passionate people are where it’s at in my book.  Anyway, long story short, Ben is kind of adorable, and maybe the nicest person you will ever meet, and when I started working at RHM, I knew that I wanted him to come and do a salt tasting for the staff. Pretty much my first act as Front of House Manager, was to re-order salt, and get him on the books for our next staff meeting.  (It was SO fun!) I’m pretty sure just about everyone has the same thought/ reaction after hearing his story. Why aren’t more people making salt in Oregon/ Why wasn’t this my ingenious idea?  Regardless, the product is amazing, like truly truly amazing, and it only makes it that much better that the person behind the product with the vision is a cool person.

 

Ok, onto the food portion of the evening. DE-LISH.  I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have, or notes for that matter… Part of me wishes that I had notes about each bite, that I had written snippets about each course, and had squirreled away descriptors… I might kick myself for it later… How often do you get a meal prepared for you by Chris Cosentino? But to be perfectly honest, I was too busy basking in the whole experience. Yes, the food was a major part of that… but it was the evening overall that was so memorable, and for me the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. The wine, the food, the setting, the company…

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Le Menu

When my ex called to ask me about name dropping he also was grilling me for details on the food. Apparently Chris told him he was one-upping one of his dishes, so naturally he wanted the scoop. I couldn’t tell you if the blood sausage on the oyster was hot or cold, or what it was served with… I could tell you that I would have probably eaten 15 more of them if given the chance.

 

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I don’t have a picture of the oysters, but I do have a picture of these oysters doubling as salt cellars.

 

 

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The Radish and sea urchin salad was everything I wanted it to be. Light, crisp, simple, yet rich. There was color, and texture, and complexity, and just overall yumminess.

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Probably my favorite dish of the night was the Heirloom tomato and Nduja bruschetta. Come on, you had me at spreadable sausage. Hello. Plus tomato season is just on its way out, and nothing tastes as much like summer as beautiful garden fresh tomatoes.

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Heriloom tomatoes and Nduja Bruschetta

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The next course was  a truly breathtaking assortment of surf-n-turf.  As Jami so perfectly put it “we are going to have the meat sweats after this” Indeed we did. I had 2-3 servings of steak, perfectly cooked scallops, and an assortment of pickled veg. Yes, pickled veg, AKA the way to my heart. I do love a good pickle.

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Smoked Meats, diver Scallops and Incanto Gardineria

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We finished up the food portion of the night with a salt roasted pear. I saw a sneak peek of this on instagram earlier in the day, and had therefore been thinking about it/ looking forward to it pretty much all day. It didn’t disappoint. It was perfectly balanced, not too sweet… oh and did I mention that there was foie gras? It was amazing. Like the last meal you might ever want to eat in your life amazing.

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Salt Roasted Pear, hazelnuts and Foie Gras

 

I failed to take any pictures of the flower arrangements, but they were breathtakingly put together by Field Works Flowers. Meg was lovely to sit across from, and I’m totally enthralled by her work.

 

After dinner, I lingered a bit longer, not willing to end the night with dessert. It’s almost like the whole night was out of  an enchanted fairy tale, because after dinner we strolled back down to the bay, and drank more wine, and listened to the ocean in the light from the full moon. Real life Oregon, sometimes it’s a f*ing fairy tale.  And sometimes in this fairy tale you can’t stop gigging because Jon Valls says things like “It’s the big F*ing dipper, yo!”  Eventually we made our way up to the house, and sat around the fire pit for a while. Everyone else was mostly talking about all the upcoming events/ work to be done for Feast Portland, major upcoming projects etc. This is the part of the evening, where I most likely put on my introverted hat and just sat back and observed everyone’s interactions. I know it makes me seem socially awkward/ uninterested but really its just how I process. I love observing people and how they interact, and I’m just a really good listener, so its easier for me to sit back and hear and see people interacting with each other, and just soak in all the goodness. I know this backfires on me all the time, because I tend not to ask a lot of engaging questions, or any questions for that matter because I feel like I’m getting to know people just by observing. And as a result it feels really un-genuine  for me to ask questions that I already know the answer to. (for example, its kind of impossible for me to make small talk with this incredibly gorgeous wine guy who comes into the market all the time, because I already know where he works, and what he does, and that they are harvesting. I also know that when he comes in 95% of the time he is going to get a breakfast sandwich and salt and vinegar chips… and because I know all of this is makes it really hard for me to ask things like “Oh have you started harvest yet?” because I already know the answer. This is a really really dumb hang up, because obviously if I’m asking the question he doesn’t know that I know the answer… same goes for every other situation in my life… This is why small talk is THE WORST. But also this is maybe why Speed Dating would be amazing, because I wouldn’t know anything about anyone, and would only have a few moments to interact and no time to get all observy of people. Yes, I said observy. Longest tangent of all time. To sum up, why won’t the sexy wine guy just ask me some random small talky question? And more importantly, why won’t the speed dating company get back to me? For reals, apparently no one in the Porland area between the ages of 28-40 is interested in speed dating, because I’ve been waiting for them to schedule an event for 3 months…) Jesus, I should probably stop writing while I’m maybe a head?  Ha, realistically I should just edit this down, but what fun would that be?

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The fire pit/ after party

I left reluctantly, not wanting the evening to end, but knowing that I had an hour and half drive a head of me, and a sassy bulldog awaiting me at home.  I also knew that I had committed to meet a friend at Pilaties class the next morning (like I said, dinner involved meat sweats. Exercise the next day was not optional).  I tore myself away from the fire, gave Ben a hug goodbye, and settled into my drive home, with pretty much a perma-smile on my face.  Good food, good wine, good people. = an absolutely perfect night.  A magical setting, some amazing new friends… I think I’m going to let myself be spontaneous a little more often. I’m also going to eat more spreadable salami. And maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get to spend some more incredible moments at Jacobsen Salt Co. AKA one of the most amazing places on earth.

 

 

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Lemon Zest Salt

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Freshly harvested salt

*I just re-read this, and the use of magical, enchanting etc is a little gross… but I can’t help it. I wrote this somewhat late at night, and really those are the words that best describe the evening.

Accessorizing my oatmeal: a little healthy breakfast pizazz

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been on a health kick necessarily ( yeah, I’m still eating bacon cookies and cheese pizzas at work with some frequency) but over the last few weeks I have been trying to make a conscious effort to cook and eat healthy while at home. The green smoothies are evidence of that, and as my work days get longer, I’m realizing that the best thing I can do is set myself up for a successful day with healthy food. There are an onset of 12 hour days in my future, and I’m also training for a half marathon… IE my body needs to be fueled appropriately… ( sometimes with pizza & bacon cookies ok! )

This morning I came home from a run and was racking my brain as to what I should eat for breakfast. I was laying on the floor next to the pantry and glanced up into the shelves to see if I could get some inspiration… Quinoa? Cheerios? Toast? And then my eyes fell upon a mason jar full of oatmeal. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had oatmeal, but on this overcast morning something warm and filling sounded perfect.

I decided immediately to add a little pizazz to my breakfast, and immediatly went to my freezer and pulled out almonds, walnuts, and flax seed, blended together with a dash of cinnamon, this created a nutrient dense and delicious topping. I then took it a step further by adding in some chia seeds and coconut oil, and just a splash of agave for some sweetness. Can you say power house breakfast? Loaded with fiber, protein, omega 3s, B vitamins etc. ( ok yes, also a fair amount of fat from the coconut oil & the nuts… But it’s the good kind! ) this was just what I needed to fuel my body post run/ pre-yoga.

I might not always eat as healthfully as I should, or as healthy as I would like, but you have to start somewhere, and today I started with supercharged oatmeal.

Recipe:
( I pretty much just eyeball everything, so use your best judgement/ make to taste)

1/2 cup oatmeal prepared normally

Topping:
Small handful of walnuts
1-2 TBS golden flax seed
2 TBS sliced almonds
Cinnamon to taste
1 TBS chia seed
Spoonful of coconut oil.

Blend flax seed, walnuts & almonds together ( I used the magic bullet, but a food processor or coffee grinder would work) add in cinnamon & pulse a few more times.

Add topping to oatmeal, along with chia seeds & coconut oil.

Mix & enjoy! ( add milk or soy milk if desired)

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Jay’s Mid-centuryModern Kitchen

So a few months ago, I applied for a Freelance position at The Kitchn.com I Just got the official word this week that I didn’t get it (not like I was holding my breath) but since I did have a lot of … Continue reading

Green smoothies, Healthy choices, and some personal anecdotes about my addiction to gluten.

So I’m back on the green smoothie band wagon. Not that I every really got off of the bandwagon… But when I’m working 11+ hour days, I’m realizing that I need a boost of something healthy, raw, and green to keep me going. I’m on my feet pretty much all day, and though I do get fed while at work, one cannot sustain on breakfast sandwiches, woodfire pizzas, and cookies alone.  (though one might often try…) At the end of the day my energy is so low I sometimes contemplate trying to go gluten free, and seeing if that makes a different… I contemplate this for literally like a tenth of a second before snapping back to reality. Hi my name is Tayler and I’m pretty much a gluten addict… I know that gluten free is kinda trendy right now…(my dog is even gluten free for crying out loud) but I’ve never been much for trends…  This morning I made a salad to go with my croutons… that is right. I didn’t make a great salad and then later think “you know what this needs? some croutons!” no, in fact I did the opposite. I made croutons, and then decided that I couldn’t just eat croutons for breakfast (though I don’t know why not, I’m an adult, I can eat what I want!) so I made a salad to go underneath…
And now for a slight tangent about gluten, but we will get back to the smoothies I promise. Back when I was a kid, long before there was all the hype about gluten intolerance, gluten free etc, I had a bread route. And when I say I had a bread route, I mean my brother and I baked bread every Friday morning, and then went around to our regular customers, most of whom were co-workers of my parents at the local hospital, or people like our piano teacher, and we sold small loaves of whole wheat bread. We actually had a stone flour mill, and we ground the wheat ourselves… mostly on Thursday nights, my parents would be watching ER, and I would run upstairs to the kitchen to grind the wheat during commercial breaks…. (yes, our kitchen was upstairs, and yes, I’m not making this up… Its amazing this didn’t make it onto a college submission essay somewhere…I should probably blog about this in further detail…) Anyway, back when I was eight years old, and baking bread every week, it didn’t seem strange to me that we actually had a little pouch full of gluten in our freezer that we would add to each batch of bread… We were following the recipe, and it sold damn well, and as far as I knew, everyone had pouches of gluten sitting in their freezer for baking purposes.  Needless to say, back then we never had any requests for gluten free bread, and we had probably never even heard of gluten free bread… and laugh all you want at this weird little story, but I was able to buy myself three American Girl Dolls with my bread earnings, and a whole lot of accessories for them… and I can promise you this… freshly baked bread sells better than lemonade any day of the week.
I really have no desire to give up gluten at all… (though I no longer keep pouches of it in my freezer) I know all these gluten free people who tell me how much more energy they have, how much better they feel etc. and I’ve even had people suggest that my eczema might be gluten related… but here is the thing… I don’t feel bad, and I’m terrified that if I give up gluten, or dairy, or any of my other comfort foods I will feel great. (stay with me through this train of thought)  I know that sounds dumb, I’m terrified of feeling great? Not really, but mostly I’m terrified of how bad I would feel if I ever stopped eating these things, and then slipped and went back on them…. I don’t feel bad now when I eat cheese, or gluten, and wouldn’t it just suck, to suddenly feel terrible after eating these things? I think it would… anyway, I try to stick with “everything in moderation” and overall I think its working for me… am I still talking about gluten? ok back to my original topic.

I’ve been taking my smoothies to work to sip on during breaks, or while I’m in the office, and naturally I get a little bit of flack from just about everyone. I get all the usual comments “what are you drinking?” “What is in there?” or “why don’t you just eat a salad?” The answer is, because who has time to eat salads these days? I mean I do, but not at 5:30 in the morning when I’m running out the door to get to work by 6AM for an 11 hour shift. I do, however, have time to drink things from a straw while doing my hair, driving, or any of the other countless* things I have to do to get ready in the morning.

(*A list of things I can do while drinking a smoothie that I cannot do while eating a salad: water the garden, chase the dog around the yard, curl my hair, put on makeup, make my bed, put on shoes, empty the dishwasher, drive a car, empty the trash, put on clothes, do calf presses/ wall squats, vacuum, paint my finger nails, dance around.)
Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Everyone is taken aback by the color, but I think it is mostly awesome… and its not like anything gross is going into the smoothies themselves, it is just often an interesting combination of things… (though if some of you green smoothie drinkers out there could call my parents and tell them that I’m not actually a weird-o/ lots of “normal” people drink these, and this is not just one of my yogi/mountain-muffin/ health kick phases.) My ex used to be totally grossed out by the idea of green smoothies, and some of my co-workers still are… but mostly I think people are used to me showing up to work with jar full of green-ness. I’ve gotta stay healthy somehow! I’m working, I’m running, and I need to fuel my body… and this body needs an obscene amount of kale.  Sure, a salad might seem a little more delicious to some folks, but right now, with my schedule, veggies through a straw makes the most sense. (and its actually pretty delicious) Its especially great on the days that I have to work really early, because I can make a smoothie the night before, pop it in the fridge, and its ready for me first thing, its a grab and go meal that is 100% healthy, and easy.

My recipe varies a little bit, just depending on what ingredients I have on hand, but my smoothies usually consist of spinach, kale, celery, half a granny-smith apple, half a cucumber, a banana (or a pear) coconut oil, chia seed, ground flax seed, mint leaves, and water.  Its super basic, but the banana pretty much masks all of the overly green flavors from the kale, and the coconut oil and mint make everything really palatable. Sometimes I add coconut milk for a little extra creaminess, and I’m sure this summer I will be adding various berries as they begin to come in from the garden.

Look at all of that goodness

Look at all of that goodness

This last round of groceries, I got a huge bag of spinach, and actually pureed it and froze it in ice cube trays, which has worked magically and has saved a lot of time and money. I can almost never use the whole thing of spinach before it goes bad, and this way the smoothies are extra cold. I’m contemplating trying this with kale as well, though I did just plant kale in my garden, so hopefully I will not have to buy as much.

I’ve been pretty consistent in my smoothie consumption (I’d say at least 4 per week) but this week I’m going to try for 7 days of smoothies for breakfast…. the busier I get, the poorer I tend to eat/ the more I tend to over-eat, and I think I owe it to myself to start my day off with an über- nutritious breakfast. Anyone else want to join me? 7 days of green goodness starts now! (or tomorrow, since I did eat that bowl of croutons for breakfast… there really was lettuce and kale underneath it though!)

Super Simple Lemon Curd

This afternoon I made the easiest and most delicious batch of Lemon Curd. I stumbled across the recipe last week on The Kitchn, and my interested was piqued. They made it sound like everyone should have this lovely little topping stashed away to dollop onto an English Muffin… and I have it admit, I started to wonder why I didn’t have a secret stash of lemon curd, because it sounded incredibly yummy. Probably because the one and only time I made lemon curd I remember it being rather laborious, and somewhat hard… maybe that is just because I was inexperienced at cooking, and it curdled… but it is the only thing I actually remember cooking in my loft apartment… maybe its memorable since my lemon tree at the time was thriving… But this recipe sounded simple enough to be just about fool proof, and it was.

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What I love about it is that it just takes 3 lemons, and less than a cup of sugar. Sure you still need five egg yolks, and a stick of butter, but this is why I run, so I can eat delicious things like lemon curd. And with the food processor it was super easy. I was nervous at first, because once you pulse it all together it does look curdled and you think you’ve failed before you even really started, but once you start to heat the mixture, the butter begins to melt, and everything smooths out wonderfully. Delicious. I put it on an English muffin immediately, and I ate it before there could be any pictures. Looking forward to mixing some in with my Greek yogurt and granola in the morning… and there is a really good chance I’ll be sneaking spoonfuls right from the jar.

 

Oven-Roasted Sausages, Dinner Parties, and Winter Comfort Foods

I think the new year should start in April… that ways we will start making all these fitness and health resolutions when we are starting to wrap up on cooking the hearty comforting winter foods… I’m on a running kick lately, and it feels great, and I’m trying to follow it up with the diet half (lots of greens, whole grains, etc.) but on these chilly winter weekends, all I want to do is make a stew with giant hunks of bread and stringy cheeses. I want root vegetables all mashed together, brown butter sauce, pastas, and casseroles, and dishes that will warm me from the inside out. This is why last weekend I threw a dinner party and made a wonderfully satisfying dish of sausages apples and pears.

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A few friends and I started a supper club, where once a month we have to try a completely new recipe. I volunteered to host the first round, and when I stumbled across this recipe from The Splendid Table, I knew it would be just the thing.

I did my research, and read all of the reader comments before actually cooking the dish. (and yes, I did brown the sausages before putting them in the oven, and I also left the skin on the fruit).  I also added on a side dish of olive oil mashed potatoes.  I’m kind of having a torrid affair with butter lately, but EVOO is my soul mate, especially when it comes to mashed potatoes. I think it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the dish, that even the highest quality of butters cannot.

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I also served the mascarpone meyer lemon gelato that I wrote about here. It was an epically delicious meal. Especially since Jay brought some amazing camembert cheese, local salami, and some caprese bites to start off. Janet brought a yummy salad, and some home-made  madeleines. I’m quite surprised we all didn’t immediately fall into a food coma… especially since we took a break for hot-tubing between dinner and dessert.

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The components of the sauce made a face mid-cooking

The components of the sauce made a face mid-cooking

We are still toying with names for the group.  Maybe “Our Splendid Table” or my personal favorite “TB&J” (Tayler, Bulldog ,Jay/Janet). Whatever we decide to call ourselves, I’m sure there will be many amazing culinary adventures in our future.