Eat More Kale

Last year around this time we started getting weekly boxes of produce, courtesy of our local CSA (community supported agriculture). It was the first time either of us had joined this type of program and we were both eager to give it a go. One of the major benefits, aside from supporting local farmers, is that we got the opportunity to try new things that we either had never seen before or didn't know what to do with so we never bothered to purchase. Unfortunately, since there were only two of us in the house, we just couldn't go through it all in time without giving some away, so we decided to forgo the CSA for this year and spend the money we would have allocated to that on farmer's market finds instead!

Being the recipe nerd that I am, I documented what we made last year with our share of the produce, which I'll share on here from time to time. It kept us accountable for trying to use up all of our bounty, and looking back it was neat to see how innovative we got with our meals.

A few weeks in a row we were "gifted" with bunches and bunches of varying types of greens. They went into soups and stir fries, salads of course, but then we had to get creative. Or should I say, I had to get creative. The boy doesn't touch things like kale at all and still makes a face when it's served. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I can't even say that it's because he's a stubborn eater -- he willingly tries way more things than I do. It's just something about this green that he can't get into. But I digress. If you enjoy something but can't get anyone else on board with you, start disguising it! Kale pesto and Spanikopita are two of my more proud creations. Those recipes are coming.

For now I present to you quite possibly the easiest recipe (can I even call it a "recipe"?) to make kale more palatable for those up-turned noses.

The secret ingredient!

Gingery Kale
Yield 2-4, depending on size of bunch

1 bunch toscano kale, washed, dried completely and torn into pieces
water or broth for steaming
1/4 cup ginger dressing
roasted garlic (if you have on hand) or a few dashes of garlic powder

Heat some canola oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high. Place the kale in the pan and saute until it has some color, about 3-4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with a little bit of water and about half of the ginger dressing. Put a lid on the skillet and steam until the kale wilts. Uncover the pan and add the remaining dressing and garlic. Continue to saute until the kale absorbs the dressing and there is no more liquid in the pan. There is no exact timing on this last part -- you could leave it in for a while if you forget! It will just have more roasty bits at the bottom.

Something a Little Different

We had our first grilled dinner of the season last night! Throughout the day I couldn't decide what country's cuisine I wanted to borrow from, the top two contenders being Mexico and India. I really wanted grilled corn with grated cheeses on top to accompany a lime and herb crusted filet of salmon. But then a sweet take on a curry sauce sounded really yummy for the fish, perhaps with some flat bread and patra on the side. Decisions, decisions. 

In the end I went with something really light as it was hot out and getting late; a simple prep on the fish, lime juice included, wilted gingery kale and grilled pineapple. 

I love grilling fruit come summertime. It's a little more fancy than just eating it plain and it makes a beautiful addition to the dinner table.

Grilled Pineapple

1 pineapple, outer rind cut off and fruit cut lengthwise into spears
2 Tbsp cane sugar or sugar in the raw
a few dashes of cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Get your grill going on a medium flame. Meanwhile, soak some skewers in water so they don't char on the grill. Mix up the spices in a little dish and set aside.

Skewer the pineapple spears and spray the grill with nonstick spray. Grill the pineapple for about 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the fruit to a plate and immediately sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar mix. Or if you're impatient like me, pour it all out onto a plate and dredge the spears in it!

In My Garden

Good evening, all! I just came in from watering my freshly planted garden. This will be the first spring in the new place, so last week I bought some seeds and got to getting my hands dirty! In went some lavender, sunflowers and wildflowers.


I tell you, I haven't found anything more therapeutic, not even yoga, than getting getting into the garden and taking care of what you put into the ground. Even the simple act of watering the plants is calming to me. I was so stressed out the other day I just couldn't wait to get home from work to tend to my flowers!

My mom instilled in me an appreciation of gardening from an early age. I used to love sitting in the grass with my sketchbook and draw all of the beautiful flowers around me, and when the Candytuft went to seed, I would grab them by the handful and head off, sprinkling them around the yard. Flowers weren't the only thing that we grew, though. My mom always kept an abundant vegetable garden. She kept detailed notes on her garden and drew out her plots each year, noting what did well and what didn't so she could rotate crops and improve upon in the next year. Something to admire! I can't wait to have a large enough yard to get in a proper vegetable garden. For now, pots and barrels will have to do for some herbs and perhaps tomatoes and peppers!

I can't wait until this scene has tall, colorful beauties in it!


Not Your Childhood Tuna Sandwich

One of my strengths in the kitchen is making good use of leftovers. I guess I tend to allow myself more creative freedom in my redo than I do with my first go-round. It's always a satisfying feeling knowing that you can make something out of seemingly nothing, like in the case of this tuna sandwich.  

During the week, I find it important to pack breakfast and lunches for us to take work. Something yummy and homemade, perhaps with a cute note tucked inside the bag to make sure there is at least something to smile about! But what happens when you don't have leftovers or cold cuts in your fridge and you really don't have the time during the busy day to step out for lunch? Then it's pb&j to the rescue! Or ingenuity and a can or two of tuna that you forgot you had hiding away in your pantry :)

I was all set to make some awesome pb&j's one morning, my specialty, but then I remembered that illusive tuna just waiting to be put to good use. My Momma always taught me that you need something creamy and crunchy to make a good tuna fish sandwich, the standard for most being mayo and celery. Not in my kitchen! For one, I don't have celery in my fridge at the moment, and two, I've got some fruit that needs to be consumed.

Tuna Fish, redo
Yield: 2-3 sandwiches, depending on size

2 (5 oz) cans tuna fish (I tend to buy the ones packed in water or broth)
Something creamy, enough to bind the ingredients (~1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt + 3 T of mayo + 1 T Dijon mustard)
Something crunchy, enough to act as filler and flavor (1 small bunch grapes + 10 whole cranberries + 1 carrot, all chopped fine)
A splash of red or rice wine vinegar
Bread of choice


Mash everything together, through vinegar, in a bowl. Cut open your bread and top with arugula and tuna fish. Done.

What I love about this recipe is that you can used whatever you have on hand for the "something crunchy." The sweetness of the grapes balances the overall saltiness of the dish and makes it less fishy tasting, while the cranberries and arugula add a true punch of flavor from their bitterness and tartness. I've also paired apples with the cranberries in this recipe, which works just as well. 


Save the Sourdough!

Making sourdough at home requires a lot of trial and error. There are so many factors that lend to bread making alone, but adding in that crucial sour flavor component is a project unto its own. I’m no expert on sourdough yet, but I’m working on it. I had two different starters in my fridge, both of which I ordered here. San Francisco is the classic to which I could base my recipe against because it’s the most common, and Bahrain, which is said to be the most sour of them all. Go big or go home, right?

So I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and methods and obviously with starters. My trainer’s wife, Theresa, even gave me 2 cups of hers to try, which has East coast water and air. But I haven’t found the sour I’m looking for, so no bread recipe to share yet. However, I will share this cioppino recipe, which pairs perfectly with all of this bread I have! Sourdough and this soup are like peanut butter and jelly, a San Fran match made in heaven.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 lrg bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 pkg cremini mushrooms, quartered (not traditional, but a nice addition)
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 T vodka
1 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 cup wine (I’ve seen recipes call for either white or red)
2 cups water or stock
1 cup clam juice
1 can crushed tomatoes (16 oz)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb mild white flaky fish, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
1/2 lb mussels, cleaned and beards removed
4 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12-16 littleneck clams
1 bunch basil and parsley, chopped
Sugar or milk, to taste (in case the tomatoes are too acidic)


Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, Then add mushrooms and garlic and cook until they soften. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the vodka. Next up, place in the bay leaf, oregano, wine, water, clam juice, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the fish, mussels, shrimp and clams, in that order. Let cook, covered and undisturbed, until the clams and mussels have opened and the shrimp and fish are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid and add basil and parsley. Taste the soup. If it's too acidic, add enough sugar or milk to taste. Spoon into bowls and serve with sourdough and a glass of wine. We made cheesy garlic sourdough to accompany and had 10 year old Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, what could be better than that?

Alright, so with the recipe out of the way, it’s officially story time. Yay! When Hurricane Sandy was slated to hit down, I happened to be visiting with my parents for the weekend, so I just stayed when the rains came. It turned out that my apartment lost power and my neighborhood was subject to looting and gasoline rationing, so it was good thing I had a few extra outfits with me! When the boy was safely able to fly back east from his business trip, a few days after the storm had passed, he stopped at our apartment and piled all of the freezer foods that were still frozen into a cooler and came to cozy up with me and spend some time with my parents. The best part, aside from the fact that we were reunited - he saved the sourdough! I couldn’t believe he thought to check to see if they were still alive! I was touched, and a little more in love to say the least. Unfortunately, the San Fran starter died, but the Bahrain was as bubbly as ever!