As will come to the surprise of absolutely no one ever, getting a meal on the table becomes supremely more complicated with a kiddo who suddenly wants to participate in every step along the way. There are lids to take off, jars to pour out, “sauces” to make (a recent favorite – chicken stock, sugar, pepper, furikake, and parsley stems), and plenty of ingredients to taste (and then put back in the bowl). We’ve gotten better at identifying kitchen tasks that will keep him occupied, but overall these days all about simplifying. What’s quick, what’s tasty, what’s not going to turn our kitchen into a complete disaster? (Partial disaster is inevitable.)
This recipe is a perfect example of one of those dinners – hearty, straight-forward, consisting mostly of things we’re likely to have in our kitchen at any given time. A few eggs cooked in a hearty, smoky tomato sauce is a perfect main dish to accompany nearly any starch (bread, polenta, pasta, etc.) and can flexibly accommodate nearly any cheese or cooked vegetable you might have around. It comes together in one pan and requires surprisingly little attention, which might be better paid to the child gleefully trying to smash whole eggs on your cutting board. Read more
We are finally back in Madison after two months of travel, and we’re trying to soak up every last bit of this summer. Aldo is toddling around like a crazy man, and between running after him and comforting the inevitable bonks and bumps that come with new mobility, we’re focusing on all the joys of late summer in the Midwest – tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, melons, and more tomatoes, and more corn, and more tomatoes, and more corn. Most evenings I cut up a hunk tomato for Aldo with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and because he’s in the midst of an ardent tomato strike (not his first), I slurp up the leftover pieces from his plate and don’t think twice about it.
The first weekend we were back we were invited over to a friend’s house for burritos, and we wandered the Capitol market that morning to stock up on summer basics (aforementioned corn and tomatoes) and to grab the supplies for a Mexican-inspired roasted corn and poblano salad. I’m a huge fan of corn salads in the summer and generally go with a raw base, but when I saw the poblanos which I knew I’d want to char and peel, I let the corn follow suit. Read more
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.
(It took me over a week to get this post written and posted. Since then, the year has changed! Happy 2016 and here’s to a delicious new year!)
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how I thought life would change with a little one in the house. I figured we wouldn’t get much sleep (and we’re actually doing much better on that front than I would have expected), that we wouldn’t be able to get out of the house that easily (and in the winter, that’s mostly fine with us anyway), and that we wouldn’t be in control of our daily schedules nearly as much (true more than I predicted). But I hadn’t really thought about how much more difficult it would be to cook, especially healthy meals, and how difficult it might be to get moving on a daily basis. Pre-baby we had a pretty solid exercise routine – gym, run, or yoga 7+ times/week – and while our diets were sometimes a bit indulgent, we primarily cooked meals from scratch and prepared a lot of vegetables.
But with baby, all of that has changed. We rely on takeout and quick meals much more than expected, especially considering evenings are the main time the three of us have together. We’re making an effort to turn that around, but some days it’s easier than others. Aldo is happiest rolling around on the floor with a pile of toys and an attentive parent or two, and he usually only lasts in a seat in the kitchen for 15 minutes or less – generally not enough time to get a healthy meal together.
But a few days ago, with Brett working from home during the day as sort of an ersatz Winter Break, I took advantage of a bit of energy and quiet time to pull together a healthy lunch of items we had in the fridge and pantry – French lentils tossed with mire poix and a mustard vinaigrette, topped with fresh parsley and some crumbled feta.
I’d never hesitate to say we love living in Madison (aside from Brett’s desire to be closer to mountains). It’s no secret I’m meant to be in the Midwest, but I really do love this place in particular, for reasons chief among which is that the food scene here is incredible. I don’t mean the hipness of the restaurants or the caliber of the chefs (although in those arenas Madison certainly wins some points), but because of how many people here are so passionate about Wisconsin and everything it means – its slightly eccentric culinary traditions, its commitment to agriculture and small-scale production, and an endless joy to be taken in the enjoyment of good eats and drinks. (No one could deny the strong and pervasive German sense of gemütlichkeit in this place – no wonder we feel so at home here.) There’s a reason farmers’ markets are such a big occasion here in Madison, and why it’s natural for folks to turn it into a morning of activity, filled with eating and enjoying the space, not just picking up ingredients for that week’s meals.
And all of this is why I’m happy to feature local companies and their products on this site and in my recipes. I always try to source local products with a story when I teach my classes, and we certainly do it when we’re shopping for ourselves. So when a local company whose work I know and love asks if I’d like to put something together with their products, I don’t hesitate to say yes.
And when someone from Underground Food Collective asks, there’s doubly no reason to say no.