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Posts from the ‘Sauces/condiments/extras’ Category

Buying, storing, and grinding spices (plus garam masala roasted salmon)

Does your spice collection need a reboot? Here are tips on where to buy your spices, how to store them, and the basics of grinding your own.

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Lemon-coconut salmon and asparagus grain bowls with pink rice

Between work, teaching, and all the various tasks that come along with expecting a new family member in, oh, four months, I haven’t had a lot of time lately to cook creatively and try out new recipes. Even this one isn’t particularly new – more like a new combination of things I make fairly regularly. But I’m feeling pretty inspired by the spring produce starting to trickle in, and I’ve been trying to eat more fish lately (baby, your brain is going to be so powerful!). When the seafood counter was out of my favorite lake trout fillets we decided to splurge on a piece of wild Sockeye and go with that instead, but I prepare trout and salmon pretty much interchangeably, so either would work in this recipe. All together it was a pretty perfect spring dinner, healthy and flavorful and reasonably quick. There are a few good cooking lessons to be learned here (especially in cooking the fish – my all-time favorite, go-to method), so I’ll take each component one at a time and add some helpful notes!


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Sweet, savory butternut-tahini spread


I’m pretty good at posting things just a little too late. (Remember last year, when I posted the 4th of July cake on the 10th of July? Like that, but even worse.) It can be more work than expected to get a perfect storm of interesting recipe, notable finished product, written recipe notes, and decent photograph, and sometimes by the time I’ve managed to piece it all together, it’s a little later than it should have been.

But this time – this time I’m AHEAD of schedule! You maybe haven’t even thought about squash yet, though if you also live in a place that has had the wonky growing season we’ve had here, maybe you’re starting to see fall produce at your farmers’ markets, too. (I find it exciting, though I wouldn’t dare say so in public for fear of rabid winter-fearing Wisconsinites.)

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Grilled mozzarella, prosciutto, and ramp pesto sandwiches

Update: I’ve received a few comments/emails/phone calls asking me what the heck ramps are. I should have known better, having recently migrated from the West Coast where ramps are basically nonexistent. For most of the rest of the country, though, the painfully-short three-week ramp season is a thing to anxiously await – because of both how incredibly delicious this rare, wild ingredient is and how it acts as a harbinger of warmer conditions. I haven’t experienced a day in the last two weeks where I haven’t heard someone talking or read someone writing about ramps, and restaurants around here are featuring them in everything possible. It’s somewhat surprising, then, how difficult of a time I had finding a good overview on the web. Here’s the best I could come up with, plus a history of their popularity here

I’m fairly new to this whole ramp thing – they didn’t really exist in Southern California – but I’m scrambling to do as much as I can with them during the short period of time they’re here. Last week I chopped some finely, sauteed them in butter, and folded them into some spätzle with a bit of pumpkin seed oil, which was very Austrian and very delicious. On Sunday, I sauteed them in olive oil, whirred them together with lemon and Parmesan, and spread it on sandwiches with some fresh mozzarella and a few slices of prosciutto, which were pressed and grilled in a skillet. A wonderful spring dinner, and one I want to remind myself about for when the time comes again next year.

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It’s the little things – homemade ricotta

I’ve been working lately on developing more intention in what I’m doing. I know that sounds a bit trite, and I’ve also been working lately on being less trite, but it’s true nonetheless. One of the many oxymoronic elements of my personality is that I both love and loathe routine – I love having a pattern and structure to my life, but without frequent change I become bored and irritable. When I can’t make those changes I feel entrenched, and that frustration makes it difficult to see an end-game for why I’m doing what I’m doing. These are the times I buy clothes I end up not liking after the first time I wear them, or when I lose periods of time to flailing around on the internet, or when I begin to display needless signs of defeat (“This will never work,” I’ve been known to say about … oh, anything).

And while adapting to winter life has generally been pretty easy, a fog of this helpless frustration has gradually mounted along with the cold and snow and length of the season. So I’m trying to make decisions more slowly, with a little more clarity and a lot more patience, and as is usual I can see the effect this has on what I’m choosing to cook and eat.

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