Sunday, April 29, 2012

spring picnic days

We had a spate of gorgeously sunny weather this past weekend. Even I, a devout rainy gray day lover, was lulled into happiness by the streaming sunshine. Yes, even living in Southern California the first warm spring days are cherished- leaving a certain giddy optimism in the air. On a Saturday morning walk with Harriet we stopped and sniffed roses and sweet peas; wished good morning to our neighbors and said hello to lots of other dogs (turns out, Harriet is a very social dog. She insists on it.)

In the afternoon, I baked a ham. The spur of the moment, post-Easter purchase fed us for a couple of days. Saturday evening, a large wedge accompanied us to dinner at a friends house. It was a casual, laid back supper of darn near perfection- our friends brought out a large cutting board on which we artfully arranged wedges of beautiful cheese, prosciutto, salami, small dishes of mustard, and different crackers. On the side, an arugula salad, a cold lemon basil pea salad and slices of the ham. It was such a happy little feast with friends and made me resolve to eat similarly more often.

The next day, I assembled the little plate above for my lunch: ham, smear of mustard, cornichons, Aknak crackers, narrow wedges of cheese, and a cabbage slaw. I enjoyed it in between loads of laundry and a run to Target. Not a glamorous day, but it was momentarily elevated by a thoughtful meal.

The cabbage slaw was quickly assembled in between errands. We recently began getting a weekly box of organic veggies. This weeks box included lovely little crowns of red cabbage and of green cabbage and a very young red onion (okay, so I do not know all the farming words, but the onion looked fresh and young, not old and worn out.)

The slaw recipe is from Alice Waters cookbook, "The Art of Simple Food." Our weekly veggie box has pushed me to a new understanding of eating seasonally and I confess that I now regularly consult Ms. Water's book for direction on fruits and vegetables new to me. Her writing is very approachable and conversational (see below.) Under her tutelage, I am learning about the importance of a good vinaigrette.


Tear off and discard the tough outer leaves of:
1 small cabbage
Cut into quarters and remove the core. Turn cut side down and slice crosswise into thin shreds.

Mix together in a large bowl with:
1/2 sliced red onion, sliced as thin as possible

Prepare a vinaigrette by mixing together:
1 tablespoon cider or wine vinegar
fresh-ground black pepper

Stir to dissolve the salt and then whisk in:
4 tablespoons olive oil

Taste for acid and salt and adjust as desired. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and onions and mix well. Taste again for salt and acid. Eat right away or let sit for awhile to let the flavors permeate and the cabbage soften.

Monday, April 16, 2012

daffodils in Spring

For the past few years, I have taken a spring trip to visit my older sister in Seattle. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year. We have the best time just being together and adventuring around. She is a phenomenally creative and amazing person. I return home charged up and full of love. Sadly, this spring the trip did not work out.

As the weeks go on, I find myself missing our time together more and more.
Which is why this morning I dug up pictures of our visit to the daffodil fields in Skagit Valley- a seemingly endless sea of golden yellow.

I also met this lovely cow (bull?) I think it must be a pretty nice life to live next to daffodil fields.

 Look at the eyelashes! (Yes, I got a little closer to the cow/bull than my sister would've liked.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

roasted grape tomatoes

There is no shortage of ways to enjoy these tomatoes. Friends of ours serve home grown grape tomatoes straight from the skillet as a side dish on summer nights. Ina Garten roasts them in the oven to accompany steak. In our house we love to serve them as part of a British breakfast: roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, hash brown cakes, scrambled eggs, toast, and plenty of hot hot coffee.

I also love them as pictured here- piled on toasted bread with cream cheese. The sweet jammy-ness of the tomatoes is a wonderful contrast to the cream cheese and toasted bread. We are still a long ways off from tomato season but I find roasting kicks up the flavor of the tomatoes we do have available now.

I hope you try them yourself and find new ways to enjoy (tossed with pasta, tucked into grilled cheese sandwiches...)

roasted grape tomatoes

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
dried thyme

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a cast iron skillet, toss whole tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of dried thyme.

3) Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until skins burst and just begin to char at the edges. While in the oven, give the pan a shake every once in a while to keep the tomatoes from sticking.