Jam is terrifying. It is the zombie movie of spreads. It can become undead and grow a bacterium that will kill you. I hope you are excited to make jam now.
I swear this one is not so hard, or murderous. There’s no 10 minutes of boiling Kerr jars or air-drying or anything like that – it’s a quick easy jam that makes enough for right this minute and maybe the next two weeks if you don’t get too greedy. Store in the fridge and if you have too much for you, it makes a great for-no-special-reason gift.
Aakash, Nate and I drove up to Sonoma to celebrate Nate’s birthday with wine tasting and a peanut butter sandwich picnic. It was overcast and windy, very like New York this time of year. My favorite part (I drove) was buying beautiful purple heads of garlic and the sweetest fresh strawberries from a roadside stand in front of the berry fields and across the road from a vineyard.
Roasting strawberries is a great way to preserve the flavor of fresh spring strawberries for longer than two days – or to save some already sad-looking berries. Roasting them with olive oil, a bit of maple syrup, and a generous spoonful of balsamic gives these a jammy, tangy flavor that goes great with the creamy avocado and a bit of spiciness from freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
My little sister Tiegen and I are always horrified when people overzealously lob off the tops of strawberries in order to remove the calyx – that’s “destem the green cap” (I swear it’s a real word, thank you to my sister-in-law for that). There is so much gold there, people.
I love shakshuka: at it’s most essential, it consists of eggs baked in tomato sauce. Sounds good, but it gets better when that tomato sauce is spicy and full-flavored, and the eggs are replaced with high-quality soft tofu and drizzled in my version of runny egg yolk: saffron cashew cream. Hey now, don’t make that face. A Japanese- or Hawaiian-style silken or soft tofu It is perfect here – light and creamy, but still slightly firm (yes, like an egg white) with a rich flavor. Soft tofu is made with higher-fat soy milk and is never pressed, giving it a light, smooth texture. Plus: tofu is lower in sodium and has more calcium than egg gram for gram, and also has zero cholesterol.
I have previously waxed philosophic about my love for muffiny-type muffins rather than cupcake-type muffins. I like muffins that are just sweet enough – and these are even a bit more decadent with the addition of chocolate chips, and super minty flavorful with crushed spearmint leaves and a few teaspoons of peppermint extract. They are perfect as an on-the-go breakfast or a midday snack without hitting you over the head with a sugarbomb.
This is my winter version of zucchini bread: carrot bread. It’s a healthier version of a quick bread – it uses mashed carrots for moisture and only a bit of oil, and lots of grated carrots on top of that. Orange zest and fresh grated ginger brighten it up and there’s lots of my favorite (and hopefully your favorite) spices in there, too: cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. Plus coconut – a great texture for the topping. It makes it look kinda like a carrot snowball (the dessert… not a real carrot snowball).
I often eat the same breakfast every day – oatmeal. When I’m feeling crazy, I might eat steel-cut oats or muesli. I’m a wild one. But it’s good to branch out, even if it is still a grain cooked in milk with fruit stirred in – and this is special enough to serve for brunch or if you are feeling fancy. The brown rice is nutty and filling and the coconut milk makes thiscreamy and decadent.
I am always too busy to make lunch; this is a great healthy option that you can throw together for a sweet snack or meal. Winter-themed, it is based around a sweet butternut squash purée, so creamy and filling it’s almost like yogurt. Nuts are essential for both protein and crunch. Apples — my favorite winter fruit — are crisp and juicy, perfect with the squash. Dates bring some chewy sweetness – add in a couple extra if you love them like I do. A drizzle of blackstrap molasses rounds out the flavor with a nutrition-packed sweetness that keeps up those iron stores that allow you to feel energized and awake – plus, it’s got a low glycemic index so it won’t give you a sugar buzz and then let you crash.
Feel free to sub in your favorite nuts, dried fruit or spices and make this recipe your own.
Happy New Year! Did you know that circular foods are good luck for the new year? A couple years ago my sister and I decided we needed all the luck we could get on New Year’s Eve so we compiled everyone’s good-fortune traditions. If you feel you need an extra bit of mojo in 2014, I’m sure it’s not too late: eat lots of noodles, black-eyed peas, circular foods, and you can try eating grapes at midnight tonight. That last one is not lucky if you choke, keep in mind.
Apparently it also brings good luck if a tall, dark and handsome man knocks on your door on New Year’s Eve. But I feel like that’s a bit of a catch-22 since you need luck to begin with for that one.
I know. Kale. But listen, there’s a reason there’s a cult of love around this green leafy. It’s earthy, herby, almost peppery and stands up well to all types of cooking – and, ya know, it’s good for you. With this cold weather, the sometimes bitter undertones will have sweetened right up - kale is best after a frost. Even my three-year-old cousin Brenna loves this veggie (she eats it raw from the stem, so buck up, people).
My final argument: at least it’s not a kale salad. Although I’m not crossing things out.