After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, I came home and resolved to make the brown rice salad that I’d sampled there. Plus, since it was Friday, our fish day, I made a simple fish chowder too.

Bella declared it her favorite meal of any I’d ever made.
So here it is. It’s very simple and cooling to eat in this belated heat wave we’re having.

Brown Rice Salad

brown rice (I used leftovers. 3-4 cups)
wine vinegar (I ran out and supplemented with basalmic)
olive oil

5-6 scallions, chopped fine
red and purple bell pepper, diced (I also added diced baby crookneck, raw)
toasted pecans (I toasted them in a cast iron skillet)
1 can of drained garbanzos
salt and pepper
I also added fresh chopped parsley

optional: at TJ’s they added chicken – I didn’t.

1. The recipe calls for cooking and cooling the brown rice. Mine was refrigerated left-evers, so I nuked it for a few minutes to soften it up.
2. Toss lightly with olive oil and rice vinegar – to taste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients – and toss.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fish Chowder
2-3 stalks celery, diced fine
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic sliced thin
1/2 container crimini mushrooms, quartered
1-2 tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 container chicken stock
1 # cod fillets (cut into 2-inch chunks, I used scissors)
fish sauce, to taste

1. Saute onions and celery until soft. Add carrots and after a minute or two, add the garlic slices.

2. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

3. Add tomatoes and mushrooms. Simmer 3-5 minutes.

4. Add cod fillet pieces. Simmer until cod turns white and flakes easily. 3-5 minutes.

5. Add fish sauce to taste.


I love ribs and rarely have a chance to indulge in them, so when I came across this recipe in More Best Recipes (the book version of the magazine Cooks Illustrated) I had to give it a try.
You start by making your own BBQ sauce (a whole jar of apricot jam! pureed bell peppers!) so the crock pot doesn’t save that much time, but you can use jarred sauce if prep speed and ease is what you’re looking for.
The results were mouth-watering.
It makes a lot and takes time, so it’s recipe for company.

Sweet Sticky Babyback Ribs in the Crockpot

1 onion
1 red bell pepper ( I used orange)
6 garlic cloves
1 6-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced into 1/4-in rounds
vegetable oil
2 T tomato paste (I used the whole small can)
1 12-oz jar of apricot jam (I used the one for Trader Joe’s)
1 frozen pineapple juice (I used orange b/c that’s what I had)
6 T soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
5 T rice vinegar
1/4 red chili flakes
6 #s babyback or St. Louis-style ribs.
chopped cilantro for garnish (I skipped this)

1. Pulse the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger in food processor ~8 times. Saute the veg puree with the tom sauce for 8-10 minutes until soft. Stir in jam, juice, soy sauce, sugar, half the vinegar, chili and cook until slickly thickened ~ 5 minutes.
2. Pat the ribs dry. Stack them standing spirally in the crockpot with the meaty side facing the heating wall. Pour the sauce over them. Cook 4-5 hours at low.
3. Transfer ribs to carving board and tent with foil. Let the sauce rest and then skim fat. Strain sauce through strainer and then simmer until reduced to 2 cups of BBQ sauce 15-20 min. (I didn’t do this until the second time we ate these ribs.)
4. Stir in remaining vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

To change things up a bit in the kitchen, I also love to dip into an issue of Cooks Illustrated, especially now that I’ve discovered that my local library has a subscription (grrr – last two times though somebody has had every single back issue checked out!).

Last month, at Costco, I spotted a recipe for slow cooker meatballs in the current issue. I didn’t buy the issue, just reread the ingredient list until it was somewhat lodged in my brain. Of course, by the time I was actually ready to make the meatballs I wanted to review the recipe, but sadly the current issue at Costco had already been replaced with this month’s issue, and it was checked out at the library.

So, I did that flying by the seat of my pants thing and it worked out okay.

I LOVED the way my meatballs turned out and I’m really looking forward to a meatball sub for lunch (with a slice of smoked gouda).

Here’s the general idea for


1 # grass-fed ground beef

3 spicy Italian sausages squeezed out their casings (I believe the recipe called for sweet Italian, but I generally go for savory over sweet)

2 eggs

1 c bread crumbs (I used panko, because I happened to have them on hand)

1 c parsley, chopped fine (from another meatball recipe I’ve used)

1 c shredded mozzerella (may have called for parmesan)

salt and pepper to taste

Sauce: 3 large cans plum tomatoes, lots of pressed garlic, large bunch of basil chopped, one can tomato paste

1. Add the plum tomatoes to the crock pot and whizz it up with an immersion blender. Add up to one head of pressed garlic and one bunch of  basil, chopped. Turn the crock pot on. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix meatball ingredients well by hand. Shape into meatballs.

3. Broil meatballs to render the fat.

4. Gently drop the meatballs into the sauce.

5. Let it simmer the rest of the day and serve over spaghetti with garlic toast.

You’ll be happy you did it.

This meal has already provided lunch (x6); plus, I used the sauce last night for pizza, and the remaining meatballs will be my sub for lunch.

So much for having some left over to freeze.

We love this soup. It’s simple and tasty. Plus the copious amounts of garlic and ginger make it a good comfort soup for when Bella says she has a funny feeling in her throat.

It’s from my sister-in-law, Corrina:

“Here is the recipe for Tinola.  It was handed down to my friend from her mom, although I’m sure you can find versions of it online, as it’s a common Philipino soup.  When she gave it to me, we were sitting down to lunch together, and she wrote down the ingreds and explained what to do with each ingred verbally, so I’m trying to write it down here as I interpreted it.  She recommended that I hold the chayote with a fork while I peel it.  She was under the impression that it would make your skin itch, but it’s in the melon family, so I’m not sure if that’s the case.  I followed her advice anyway.  Most of her advice regarding proportions was, “if you like those, add lots.  If you don’t like those so much add less”.  I love this soup!

2 or 3 Tbsp light olive oil
thumb-sized piece of ginger root, sliced into pieces approximately 1″ long and 1/4″ thick
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ cubes
Chicken broth, 2 boxes or 64 oz.
1 Chayote, peeled and chopped into just slightly larger than how you prepared the ginger.
Spinach, 2 or 3 cups, lightly chopped

Sauté ginger until it’s golden brown
Then add garlic and onion
Add chicken, sauté with ginger, garlic and onion until it’s cooked
Add chicken broth, bring to a boil
Add chayote and let it simmer until the chayote is softened to your liking
Turn off the fire (her words.  So cute)
Add Spinach and stir
Season with salt and pepper, to taste

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have”

The way my friend Sierra responded when I tried to show her this book mirrored my own reluctance to take on yet another fad – and then my quick acceptance and now championing of the book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

It went something like this:

Sierra, you have to check out this book.

Aren’t you going to blog about it? I’ll try it after you blog about it.

You really get fresh baked bread every day for hardly any work…

Can you summarize?

Just look at the recipe – it’s two pages! Amazing bread! You should see the picture at Jaimie’s blog! I thought it was a picture from the book, but it was HER bread – her first loaf!

OK, let me see that… (pause) … Can I borrow this for one night?

The next day Sierra showed up at the park with fresh-baked artisan bread. And that’s about how it goes.

The basic premise is to mix, not knead, enough dough for several (4-8) loaves of bread and store it in the refrigerator. The dough is very wet and loose, which allows the gluten to align itself properly without kneading with the passage of enough time. When you want a loaf, you cut off a bit, “cloak” it, let it rise and bake. It really only takes five minutes – and we’ve had fresh bread with dinner ever since I put my first batch of dough in the fridge.

Now I love kneading bread, but the bare truth is, that I haven’t done it in years. Although I love fresh-baked bread, the time factor leans heavily in favor of my bread machine. Also, I’ve never made bread that looked so heavenly like European artisanal bread before I tried the recipe in this book.

I am a convert and yes, I am going to share some of the zealous buzz with you – right now.

While I recommend buying and reading this book for more explicit directions, here are enough guidelines for somebody who has already read the book to recreate the bread magic.

1. In a large lidded bowl (I used the ceramic insert of my slow cooker), mix 3 cups warm water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast, and 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt.

2. Mix in 6 1/2 cups flour, using a scoop-and-sweep method.

3. Allow to rise for at least 2 hours or until it begins to collapse.

4. Cover (not airtight) and store in fridge.

5. Before starting to make dinner, throw flour on top of the dough and cut off a grapefruit ball size lump of dough. Cloak it (with well-floured hands – stretch the surface of the dough and tuck underneath itself about 3 times) and put it on a well-floured pizza peel (I used a cutting board).

6. Let it rest for 40 minutes.

7. Begin preheating the oven with a pizza stone, cast iron pan, or cast iron lid already inside. It needs to preheat for at least 20 minutes. An oven thermometer is recommended.

8. Before putting in the bread, slide in a broiler pan with at least one cup of warm water in it into the same oven. That’s for steam.

9. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and slash the top a few times.

10. Slide the dough onto the pre-heated pizza stone and bake for 30 minutes.

You won’t believe your eyes.

And the rest of the book is filled with variations on this recipe – including cinnamon buns.

For 8 loaves, remember 6-3-3-13.

6 cups water, 3 T salt, 3T yeast, and 13 cups of flour.

Jaimie's first loaf - her pictures are much better than mine! Click on the pic if you'd like to visit her blog.

For Oscar night I made a double layer devil’s food cake with a layer of raspberry and then smothered the whole thing in chocolate buttercream frosting.

Waaaay better than angel’s food cake, in my opinion.

But probably unnecessary to make a double batch of cake for four adults – even if we had five kids between us. It would have been perfect as one batch split between two pans with more raspberry in the middle and decorated with fresh raspberries on top. Wouldn’t have been such a weighty tower of temptation then, though.

We had enough to leave a quarter-cake slice with the friends who hosted the evening, and then still enough to share with no less than four of our neighbors the next day.

I think this might have to be my birthday cake this year, instead of the carrot cake I’ve been making for years.

Both the cake and frosting recipe are from williams and sonoma online – I followed the recipe to the letter except I substituted Earth Balance and soy milk for butter and milk. No wait, I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup (so less 1/4 cup per batch) and for the frosting I used bittersweet chocolate and reduced the confectioner’s sugar to 2 cups (instead of using unsweetened chocolate and SIX cups of confectioner’s sugar). I guess I never follow recipes to the letter.

Between catching up with all the movies nominated for Best Picture and Christian running amuck 24/7, I’ve had very little time at my computer. (Evidence: 283 emails in my inbox…and 296 in my action folder! Let’s just hope that the important stuff takes care of itself??)

Is “amuck” not a word? No time to figure it out right now. Because while a recipe is a fast post, I also need to add a link to it for my Eaten page.

I made a very tasty soup last night, inspired by my friend Jaimie’s post here, at her family blog, M Family Tales. Be sure to scroll down and check out her fabulous birthday banner – a bunch of us in the Waldorf playgroup are now hot and heavy to make our own.

She got the original recipe from Dr. Ben Kim here.

I offer you a brief recap of the recipe below.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

2 heads of cauliflower, cut into chunks

2 potatoes, cut into chunks

2 shallots, cut into chunks (regular onions can be used in a pinch)

2 cloves of garlic (or more)

1. Toss all with olive oil.

2. Roast until golden.

3. Simmer in stock (I used chicken stock, but you could easily use a veggie stock) until the cauliflower is tender.

4. Puree with an immersion blender.

5. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bella and the baby both loved this soup. It went well with a loaf of fresh-baked bread.

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