07 . 21 . 14
I had the opportunity to work with Campbell’s Canada this spring to develop seven whole grain summer side dishes using their chicken, vegetable, and beef broths (available in the US as Swanson). I usually say no-thanks to jobs like these, but this project in particular involved a level of collaboration and creativity that I think most “big box” brands would be apt to follow suit. It was SO refreshing to work with talented and inspiring women (all women! girl power!) who are less interested in the BUY BUY BUY message and focus on the LET’S ALL EAT WELL message. The goal was to pair the best of summer produce with broth-cooked grains that stood up to the protein stars of a backyard BBQ.
After several weeks of recipe development and pre-production, the Campbell’s team brought me up to headquarters in Toronto for a brief media stint a few days before the wedding. Toronto is a SUPER neat place, if you haven’t been, and there was something really empowering about spending my last single-lady days stomping around the city and dining solo at the high-tops of Momofuku (other favorite stops include: Oak + Fort, Nadege, Bar Isabel). Although it was tough to leave town with family coming in for the wedding, working with Campbell’s has made it financially feasible for us to take an extended honeymoon in Bali (!!!) in a few weeks. Although I ALMOST compared rolling basil leaves for chiffonade as something NSFW at my cooking demo at St. Lawrence Market, I had loads of fun, met some amazing people, and had the chance to feed a few new faces and friends.
Check out all seven recipes at cookwithcampbells.ca.
Shaved Fennel, Orange, Candied Pecans and Toasted Millet
Zucchini Ribbons, Millet, and Pine Nuts with Herb Dressing
Roasted Spring Carrots over herbed Kamut
Fresh Apricot, Jalapeno, Mint Quinoa Salad
Roasted Vegetable and Pearl Barley Salad
Farro Caprese Salad
Thai Quinoa Salad
** As you can guess, this post is sponsored by Campbell’s Canada. All opinions are my own.
07 . 06 . 14
Paradise in Plain Sight, Karen Maezen Miller
Chapter 10, pg. 82-83
We experience our lives through the senses, a truly marvelous thing. In the split second after the pure cognition of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking we form a reaction to a sense object: attraction or aversion, liking or disliking, the subjective judgement of good or bad. No matter how we react to our environment, the environment has no gripe with us. Every war is a war with ourselves. Everything is empty and ephemeral. We can turn anything into a weapon to wreak havoc and destroy peace, as we do.
If you doubt any of this, remember what you took on faith in fourth-grade science. All matter is composed of atoms. Atoms are empty space. By definition you can’t see emptiness. You can’t even imagine it. But you can be it. You already are it. Now, to live and let live in emptiness: that is the secret to paradise. It’s a secret hidden in plain sight, but it can take you forever to crack the code.
First, be quiet. Give away your ideas, self-certainty, judgements, and opinions. Drop your personal agenda. Let go of defenses and offenses. Face your critics. They will always outnumber you.
Lose all wars. All wars are lost to begin with. Abandon your authority and entitlements. Release your self-image: status, power, whatever you think gives you clout. It doesn’t, not really. That’s a lie you’ve never believed. Give up your seat. Be what you are: unguarded, unprepared, and surrounded on all sides. Alone, you are a victim of no one and nothing. You are ready as you’ll ever be; you were born ready. The possibilities are endless. Reject nothing. What appears in front of you is your liberation – that is, unless you judge it. Then you imprison yourself again.
Now that you are free, see where you are. Observe what is needed. Do good quietly. If it’s not done quietly, it’s not good. Start over. Even now, as you read along, are you formulating an objection to this in your mind? Because that’s what I do, and that’s what I have to stop – the endless, imaginary debates, the pros and cons of this and that. They wear me out.
I push back from the fray and step out into the garden where the leaves rustle and bend in gentle rhythm with the wind. The air is fresh. The sky is blue. It’s an amazing place we live in when we’re not at odds with it. Who can contain the love that this one life brings with it? It is boundless.
Lavender Berry Pavlova
We made this sucker a few weeks before the wedding (sneak a peek here, we’ll share more photos here when they come in). I got a little heavy handed with the lavender on my first batch of whipped cream. HOLY moses. It was a little like eating one of those sleepy eye masks. Do be careful when you’re adding it to the mix, the essential oils are quite potent!
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup super fine sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-4 drops food grade lavender essential oil
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Separate yolks from whites, allowing whites to combine over a medium mixing bowl. Beat whites by hand with a good whisk until firm and formulating stiff peaks (5-10 minutes). When the peaks are firmed, tip bowl upside down and nothing should move. Slowly fold in sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla with a rubber spatula.
Pile the meringue onto a parchment covered baking sheet in the shape of a thick, stout frisbee. Bake for 1 hr at 200’ F. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile prep the lavender whipping cream and berries for serving. In the basin of an electric stand mixer, whip cream on high. When it starts to thicken, add sugar, vanilla, and a few careful droplets of essential oil. Chill before serving and assembling the pavlova. **If fresh lavender is more readily available, an alternative method is to steep 1 sprig of fresh lavender in cream over low heat for 20 minutes. Strain cream and allow to cool before creating whipped cream.
Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and whatever summer fruit strikes your fancy in a bowl and toss with a bit of sugar and lemon juice, just enough to coat the berries lightly. To assemble, place cooled pavlova on serving dish. Spread whipped cream evenly across the surface and top with generous heaps of berries.
05 . 19 . 14
Closing in on six weeks ’til the wedding (smiles). We’ve conjured the sort of day that requires little by way of traditional “planning” and I’ve found that the few things that require our attention this month ― wine lists, dance jams, family activities ― have been joyful and transportive moments away from the madness that is work in this season. On the one day Shaun was home last week we had a most-perfect day-date that included an oil change, bank deposits, dropping bags at Goodwill, and margaritas at 1pm before afternoon conference calls, respectively. This life, right now. There is dignity in the grind. Sleep has been hit/miss this spring, mostly the falling asleep part. The usual tracks repeat: who am I, where am I going, what am I doing with my life? I think of June 28. Shaun, beaming in his new suit. The friends and family who have rooted for us in this business of life and love. It works. I finally fall asleep.
Can’t wait to celebrate. There is SO MUCH, so very much to celebrate. We’ll get there.
In the meantime for my homies in the grind, some lighter tunes for cooking, working, and gathering on an almost-summer afternoon:
Grilled Za’atar Artichokes and Wild Rice Salad
- 2 lbs baby artichokes
- 1 1/2 cup dry wild rice
- 1 cup plump golden raisins
- 25 large mint leaves
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup dill fronds
- 6 green onions, sliced at bias
- 1 preserved lemon, rind reserved and minced
- Juice of 4 fresh lemons, divided
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 3 tsp Za’atar, divided
- 1 tsp cumin
Rinse rice before cooking. Stir in rice with 3 cups of water or broth to a boil with 1 tsp of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the rice is puffed and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork and continue to cook, uncovered, to evaporate excess liquid. Remove from heat and let cool.
To prepare the artichokes, cut off and discard the tip of the artichoke. Pull off and discard the dark green, tough outer leaves until you reach the soft, light green/yellow part. Using a pairing knife, trim the stems and shave off any remaining dark green parts of the artichoke around the base of the stem. Cut in half. Place in a bowl with lemon juice to prevent from oxidizing. Repeat with remaining artichokes. Drizzle with olive oil and 2 tsp of Za’atar. Place in the fridge to marinate for 20 minutes.
Start the grill. Over medium-high heat, grill artichokes belly-side down on a vegetable grate (optional, helps prevent losing a few soldiers). Cover grill and cook for 10-ish minutes until the ‘chokes are browning and crispy at the edges. Return to the bowl of marinating liquid and stir together with a bit of cumin.
To prepare the salad, toss room-temperature rice with herbs, preserved lemon rind, shallots, green onion, raisins, juice of 2 lemons, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Add salt to taste. Top with grilled artichokes and their liquid.