• lentils and potatoes with mustard dressing

    lentil and potatoes with mustard dressing

    Yeah, no one is going to look at this and call it “food porn”.

    There is an Egyptian dish called kushari, which consists of lentils, rice, macaroni, spaghetti, chickpeas, tomatoes and fried onions. It’s cheap, filling, and the serving sizes are preposterous. Whenever I’d order it, I’d be full by the fifth or sixth bite. That’s not a humblebrag about eating small portion sizes, no pizza is safe around me. Even though I liked kushari, eating it always felt like a punch in the gut. I love me some carbs like nothing else, but it was just too heavy for me.

    While this dish bears basically no resemblance to kushari, it was made in the same spirit. Cheap, filling, made primarily with pantry and freezer essentials, but most definitely not a punch in the gut. The dressing is sharp and tangy, thanks to the mustard, garlic, and vinegar. Use dried dill if you don’t have fresh dill on hand. Even though I didn’t add this to the recipe, when I make this again, I think I’ll add a handful of almonds or hazelnuts for a nice crunch.

    Lentils and Potatoes with Mustard Dressing

    1 cup dried lentils
    1/2 cup edamame
    1 pound of new potatoes
    1/2 white onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/4 cup freshly chopped dill or or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried dill
    3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
    1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup olive oil
    cayenne pepper, to taste
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Prepare lentils according to package directions. A few minutes before the lentils are ready, toss in the edamame. Drain and side aside. In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes, once ready, drain in a colander and set aside while they cool down. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

    Chop the onion, garlic and dill (if using fresh), then set aside. Prepare the dressing by mixing together the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, cayenne, salt, and pepper. By now, the potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl or pot, mix together until the dressing is coated thoroughly. Season to taste and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if necessary.

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serves 6-8 as a main or side dish

  • zucchini and corn fritters with garlic yogurt sauce

    zucchini and corn fritters with garlic yogurt sauce

    We brought two suitcases with us to Portland to tide us over until the rest of our stuff arrived. They contained a hodgepodge of things beyond the usual essentials, a couple blankets and pillows since we slept on the floor the first few nights, toothpaste, cat-related stuff… bags of dried garlic chives, dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, dried peppers, and finally… 10 bulbs of garlic.

    The week before we left Michigan, we stayed with my dad. For me, that pretty much meant raiding his garden the whole week. I wanted to take as much of his garden as I could to Oregon with me, so I used his dehydrator to dry a year’s worth of peppers (jalapeno, habanero, serrano, and banana peppers) and various dried herbs that have mostly already been consumed. The night before we left, dad dug up all the garlic in his garden and told me to take all 10 bulbs with me. I LOVE garlic, but 10 bulbs? Really? I’ll never use all of it, I thought! Turns out, yes, I really do love garlic and can consume 10 bulbs in a month. The last two cloves from dad’s garden went into the sauce for these fritters.

    Zucchini has been a constant in my kitchen(s) this summer. Like a dutiful Midwesterner, I whipped up at least a dozen loaves of zucchini bread back in Michigan, but I’ve also been making zucchini soup, zucchini noodles, roasted zucchini, adding zucchini to salads, and zucchini fritters. Lately, all I want to use zucchini for is fritters. Most of the time, I only put the smallest amount of effort into breakfast and fritters are basically savory pancakes. Fried on each side until golden brown, packed with feta and herbs, and topped with tangy garlic yogurt, it’s pure heaven for me.

    Notes: Sour cream would be a good substitute if you don’t have any yogurt on hand. Feel free to make this without corn, but be sure to add another zucchini.

    Zucchini and Corn Fritters with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

    For the fritters:
    3 medium sized zucchinis, grated
    1 cup corn
    1 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup crumbled feta
    1/4 cup fresh herbs (parsley, dill, whatever you like), chopped
    oil for frying (I used peanut oil)

    For the sauce:

    1/2 cup plain and full fat yogurt
    2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Shred zucchini with a grater or give it a few whirls in your food processor. Transfer zucchini to a colander placed in the sink, sprinkle with salt, and let it drain for 10-30 minutes, occasionally squeezing out excess water.

    Prepare the sauce by mixing together yogurt, chopped garlic, and salt. Set aside.

    In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Shuck the corn from the cob or measure out 1 cup of frozen corn. Mix together flour and baking soda in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until smooth, add the feta, dill, and parsley, salt, pepper, and corn.

    Return to the colander and squeeze out water from the zucchini one more time, then transfer to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. In small batches, fold in the flour and baking soda mixture until just mixed.

    In a large non-stick skillet, add a generous amount of oil over medium heat. When hot, scoop 1/4 cup of mixture and place in the skillet. Cook as many fritters in one batch as you can, but left a couple inches between each one. Flip when golden on one side, this should take 3-4 minutes. Cook on the other side, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer fritters to a large paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until the mixture is gone.

    Serve hot and enjoy with the yogurt sauce.

    Makes about 8 fritters

  • barley with carrots and tahini sauce

    barley with carrots and tahini sauce

    The temperature has been oscillating between unbearable and tolerable, so when it’s tolerable I sneak moments in the kitchen to make meals and start kitchen projects (pickling, fermenting, jam making). On days when it’s especially hot, my thoughts are consumed by things I want to cook/eat. When that happens, I’ll either wait a day or two or just cook late at night. This is one of those late night dishes and with all late night dishes, they need to make for good leftovers.

    We recently joined a CSA, so every week we pick up a box at some weird location that magically contains vegetables. Besides all the celery* they’ve been sneaking in, it’s been great. One of our recent shares included carrots, jalapenos, and a big bunch of beautiful parsley, so I whipped up a barley dish that incorporated all three ingredients. As with many dishes I make, it has a Middle Eastern sort of flair, so don’t skip the tahini sauce! It really brings the dish together. Delicious on its own, this also makes a great side. We gobbled it all up with balela and dolmas.

    * – Do you have any suggestions to help make celery… uh… not suck?

    Barley with Carrots and Tahini Sauce

    For the main dish:
    1 1/2 cups dried quick cook barley or pearl couscous
    1 quart vegetable stock (or water)
    2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1 tablespoon pine nuts
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    a handful of parsley

    Tahini sauce:
    1/3 cup tahini
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    salt & pepper, to taste

    In a large pot over medium low heat, add barley (or pearl couscous) and vegetable stock. Stir often to make sure the barley doesn’t stick to the pan. Quick cook barley should only take 10-15 minutes, but check the package’s directions to double check the cooking time. A couple minutes before the barley is ready, add the jalapenos and carrots. Stir often.

    For the tahini sauce, mix all the ingredients and set aside.

    A couple minutes before the barley is ready, toss in the carrots and jalapeno pepper and mix. Once the barley is ready, stir in the coriander, paprika, pine nuts, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in olive oil, parsley, ladle into bowls, drizzle with tahini sauce, and serve.

    Serves 4

  • huckleberry buckle

    huckleberry buckle

    When we moved to Oregon, I was hoping we’d be able to catch more of berry season black raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, and other mystery berries I’ve never had before, but we missed it. Well, for the most part. I did manage to snag a bag of huckleberries at my first trip to the PSU Farmers Market. After sneaking a few, I deemed them too precious to eat and decided to do something special with them. AllRecipes to the rescue! I found a recipe for a huckleberry buckle, a moist cake with a crunchy streusel topping that’s bursting with huckleberry sweetness and tartness. I decided to have a go at it, despite the 90+ degree weather. I hated life the whole time the oven was on, but once I had that first bite with vanilla ice cream, all was well again.

    So, what the heck is a buckle? According to the HuffPo article, a buckle is a cake where fruit is layered above the batter, which causes the cake to rise around the fruit, the fruit to sink to the bottom, and the whole thing just ends up buckling inwards. Mayyyybe this isn’t a buckle, it’s probably a crisp. But huckleberry buckle (or hucklebuckle, as I’ve been calling it) is a lot of more fun to say than huckleberry crisp, so huckleberry buckle it is.

    Note: the recipe calls for a 8″ x 8″ pan. My 8″ x 8″ pan was a casualty of the Second (yes, second!) Pyrex Explosion of 2014, so I used a 10.5″ pie pan and the cake was ready after about 22 minutes of baking. Huckleberries are similar to blueberries, so if you don’t have huckleberries in your area, feel free to substitute blueberries for this recipe.

    huckleberry buckle

    Huckleberry Buckle
    (adapted from AllRecipes)

    For the cake:
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/4 butter, softened
    1 egg
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup milk
    2 cups huckleberries or blueberries

    For the streusel:
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/3 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup butter, softened

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking pan.

    In a bowl, cream together sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg. In a larger bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in milk, the sugar/egg/butter mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in the huckleberries (or blueberries). Pour mixture into the baking pan.

    Make the streusel by combining sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the cake batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    Check with a toothpick to see if the cake is ready. Once ready, let it cool for a bit before serving. Serve with ice cream.

    Serves 10-12

  • portland

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    (via thelittlecanoe on etsy)

    Greetings from the Sea of Cardboard Boxes and Bubble Wrap.

    We recently moved from Michigan to Portland, Oregon. The original plan was to move to a new city or state every year for the foreseeable future. As it happens, moving is expensive and takes up too way much time (duh, right?). So when our year in Michigan drew to an end, we had to pick a spot that we thought we’d be happy living in for a few years. Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Portland were the top contenders based on things like affordability, culture, walkability… and well, Ye Olde Polar Vortex scared us off from enduring another Midwestern winter, so off to Portland we went.

    Moving was a little bit easier this time around, but it always feels brutal. We purged a lot of our belongings back in San Francisco. Got rid of our bed, couch, microwave, both dressers, more clothing than I can remember, and at least 100 books. Now we sleep on a Japanese-style futon, I miss the couch, but do not miss the microwave and wonder why we even had one in the first place. More purging this time too, but I still have plenty of little tchotchkes and rarely used kitchenware that are sure to stick around for years.

    Portland is ridiculously pretty. Neither of us had been to Portland or Oregon before the move. Our cab driver from the airport asked if we were returning from our honeymoon because we seemed to be so excited to be coming to home. There was a bit of a tangle in that honeymoon phase when we walked into our apartment for the first time and discovered it was smaller than we expected. About 100 square feet smaller, we later measured. That’s pretty significant when you already know you’re moving somewhere small. The lack of storage space in the kitchen is the biggest disappointment. In the end, I’m thankful that Cory and I really like each other. I wouldn’t want to share this shoebox with anyone else. We’ll be happy enough here, but we are planning to pack up our things again in a year to move to a place that’s a little bit bigger. Moving within the city will certainly be less stressful than across the country.

    Everything has been unpacked, but the apartment is still littered with boxes and bubble wrap. I still stumble into the bathroom in the dark forgetting where the light switch is, but I’m cooking again. I’ve returned to meal planning, washing, drying and storing large batches of greens, canning, freezing small batches of herbs, drying herbs, freezing scraps for vegetable stock, and that’s how I know I’m at home again. In Ann Arbor, I had a backlog of recipes to share and that backlog keeps piling up. Hopefully I’ll have something posted in a few days, but first I have 10 pounds of berries and 25 pounds of tomatoes to can.

    See you soon!