02.02.2017

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I wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Juice Making for Food52. Check it out! 

Whether you received a juicer over the holidays, are in the midst of a New Year’s resolution kick, or simply want to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet (who doesn’t?), you may be curious about juicing…click here to read the full article and get the recipes.

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Photography by Elizabeth Cecil

12.11.2015

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Last year we had pretty black and white square holiday cards printed. Nick carved a linoleum stamp  and printed each with a “Happy New Year” block. They were never sent. The pile still lives stacked alongside unopened mail. This year however, this year, the cards are being SENT. I am feeling extra encouraged because Dylan’s preschool runs a fundraiser every fall offering Island families quick 15-minute portrait sessions with a professional photographer. This year, photos were taken at The Polly Hill Arboretum. I’m sharing some of my favorites here but what I really wish was that we had a behind the scenes photographer to capture all the volunteers, participants, and desperate (yet hilarious) measures parents went through to encourage little smiles.

If you are planning on baking some holiday cookies this weekend (between card stuffing sessions) and want a simple, wholesome Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie recipe I recommend trying this one out. Of course, you can toss in some dark chocolate, toasted coconut, chopped nuts, or substitute the raisins for any other dried fruit (I’m loving dried sour cherries these days). The point is, this is a good base recipe and one that is very adaptable to suit your holiday needs.

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Wholesome Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups oats

1 cup raisins (or any chopped dried fruit)

Optional additions: dark chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped nuts.

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1. Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar and coconut sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

3. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.

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4. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

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family photos by Anthony Esposito

11.19.2015

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I feel like I’m returning to the kitchen table of a best friend who I haven’t talked to in months – so much to say but not knowing where to start. This (almost) two month break has been the longest one I have taken from this space. And it had to happen (for many reasons). Mostly, I was busy…furiously working on the manuscript and photography for my second book (sorry no title yet). Elizabeth was behind the camera and I was at my stove, sofa, and kitchen table doing my darnedest to create exactly the book I had in mind. It is still very much a work in process but I am damn proud of all we have done. Because of this personal all consuming project, I shut myself off from many other things. This blog, side projects, and life chores like my own dentist appointments and car vacuuming were all postponed. But now, I’m on the other side and more excited then ever to be back here. I missed cooking whatever I wanted and sharing it with you.

The downside of a cookbook schedule is the strange, cobbled together meals and snacks it leaves behind. I have served a pie and side vegetable for dinner on more then one occasion over the past couple of months. Now we are a few weeks into our regular scheduled dinner and snack routine – another cause for celebration (especially for Nick and the boys).

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First up, this recipe for Five-Minute No-Bake Granola Bars. They are perfect for busy people, small people, sweet people, and salty people. As the simplicity of the recipe suggests, almost every ingredient can be substituted with something else. The pumpkin seeds can be any seed or nut, your favorite dried fruit can replace the raisins, choose a sticky butter made from almonds or sunflowers, and bind with agave nectar or brown rice syrup. We stuck to this original recipe and they were delicious, especially enjoyed by a refreshed post-nap toddler.

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Five-Minute No-Bake Granola Bars from Food52 Vegan

makes 16 small bars

2 1/2 cups rolled oats or quick oats

1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/2 cup raisins

2/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter

1/2 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup, plus more as needed

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

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1. Line an 8 by 8-inch pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, agave nectar, and, if using unsalted peanut butter, the salt; alternatively, combine these ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined. Add to the oat mixture and stir until everything is sticky and well combined. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, add a bit more agave nectar.

4. Spread the mixture in the lined pan, then cover with foil or plastic wrap, and press firmly to form an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

5. Cut into bars and warp them individually. Stored in the fridge, they’ll keep for 2 weeks.

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11.21.2014

Most mornings Dylan builds an elaborate structure of some kind before pre-school. Sometimes it’s out of magna-tiles, other times out of legos or blocks. The moment he walks out the door I quickly take pictures of it from all angles so I can try and fix it, to my best ability, after his little brother inevitably knocks it down. Some days I pass the test and he doesn’t catch my mistakes in a wall or tower but other times he knows right away that something is different and starts to inquire about every detail of my day – did anyone come over, what did Gray do, did I touch anything?

It’s this balance of a spastic one year old and thoughtful four year old that is challenging. Baking together as a threesome is not that fun these days. The little guy wants to splash in the flour while the big guy wants to crack the eggs all by himself. Lately, when Gray is napping Dylan and I get to work in the kitchen together where used the rest of our locally harvested cranberries to make muffins. Baby brother was quite happy when he woke up.

PS. The cheetah is basically part of the family.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
From Flour

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups chopped cranberries

(The zoo before being demolished.)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don’t try to smooth it out.

3. Spoon the batter in to the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.

5. The muffins taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300 F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

11.14.2014

Most of the time I forget we live on an island but sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks. Yesterday, Dylan and I were talking about all the kids in his class. I mentioned one little boy and he said “Oh no, he’s not in my class anymore because he moved to (long pause) AMERICA!” America being off-island. Should I worry about this perception or appreciate its humor?

Maybe it’s the holidays creeping up on us but I’m also dying to go to Trader Joe’s (mainly for dried blueberries because our baby is obsessed) and Target (mainly for nothing I really need). Alas, those places are an ocean away but guess what, we have a cranberry bog! Recently, I took the boys to Cranberry Acres to harvest organic island grown cranberries. I wish I had my good camera but a bog + 2 boys + harvesting + expensive camera = disaster.

When we got home Dylan suggested making cranberry butter after having some at school (a friend brought in berries from Cranberry Day and their Island Grown Schools teacher made the butter.) We gave it a shot and he approved. And to me, any good butter deserves a warm popover. 

Popovers:
makes 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F for 20 minutes. Evenly divide the butter between a six cup popover pan or six 1/2 cup ramekins, dropping a small piece into each cup.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs then whisk in the milk.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well blended. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until small lumps are left, and set aside.

4. Place the popover tin on  baking sheet and into the oven for 4 minutes. At 3 minutes, give the batter a light whisk. Remove the hot tin from the oven and immediately divide the batter among the prepared cups (I like to first pour the batter into a large liquid measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring).

5. Bake for 25 minutes without opening the oven door. The popovers will be puffy, with crisp brown crusts and hollow, moist interiors. Serve immediately with cranberry butter.

Cranberry Butter:
makes 2 cups

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon honey 
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest
 
1. Simply whiz everything together in a food processor, pausing to scrape down the sides, until the cranberries are fully incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy.
 
Extra cranberry butter is great on toast, spread under the skin of poultry before roasting, atop roasted root vegetables, sauteed green beans, or boiled potatoes, and spread onto muffins.