This morning, a breakfast cake

blueberriescousinsan every day cake

Everyone needs a go-to cake. This is mine.

Blueberry lemon cake

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Pretty much any berry can be subbed in for the blueberries. When I have a lot (8-10 oz) of berries on the ripe side, I cook them down into a skillet jam and then fold them in at the end, after combining the liquid and dry ingredients. Even better, though, is replacing the berries with 2/3 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips, and replacing the lemon juice and zest with that of a blood orange. A tart pan is essential in my house (it fits best under our cake dome), but an 8 x 8 square pan will also do.

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2 cups white spelt flour
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch fine grain salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C. Line the bottom of a 10-inch round tart pan with parchment, and lightly oil the sides.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest together. Add the berries and toss gently to coat. In a small bowl, whisk the liquid ingredients together. Add liquid ingredients to dry, and fold gently to combine. The batter will be thick, like biscuit dough. If it seems to dry, add a splash of almond milk.

Once the cake is in the oven, lower the heat to 350. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes



prickly pear cactussour fig and creeping jenny

Summer school is happening. Three credit hours’ worth of material in six weeks means I studied for nearly seven hours last night to prepare for this morning’s class. This is my new normal. I think it’s safe to say that June will be the month of five minute meals.

Also: Hello, summer! Anything below 85 degrees does not count in my book, so thank you for finally climbing into the 90s. I am happy. My gardens are happy. Please stick around.

prickly pear in bloombeans and greens

Quick pan-fried cannelloni beans with coriander and thyme

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This recipe makes one generous serving, but doubles (and triples) easily. The beans taste great on their own, but I like to heap them onto toast atop a bit of cashew cheese, or over a bed of greens. Salt plays a starring role in this dish, adding both flavor and texture. You’ll want to use a coarse salt, fleur de sel if you have it. Maldon or another kosher salt will also do.

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1 cup cooked cannelloni or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

In a small bowl, mix together the nutritional yeast, salt, coriander, and pepper. Set aside.

Warm up the oil in a skillet, add the beans, and toss to coat. Arrange the beans into an even layer, and coat cover with the seasoning mixture. Turn up the heat – the goal is to quickly brown the beans on one side. After a couple of minutes, toss everything together in the pan, so the beans are evenly coated with the seasoning. Continue stirring over high heat until just starting to brown all over. Remove from heat, add the thyme leaves, and season to taste. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes



RQpseudacris cruciferjust one of many manyquinoa meets mamou


a simple summer salad

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My go-to summer salad, always made with quinoa, always dressed with Celine’s vinaigrette. This salad is endlessly adaptable to what’s in season. I prefer my quinoa al dente; if fluffy is more to your liking, increase water to 3 cups.

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2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 peach, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 carrots, shredded
4 to 5 handfuls mixed greens
mamou’s magical vinaigrette, full recipe (approximately 1/4 cup)

season to taste with salt, pepper, fresh herbs

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to boil in a heavy pot. Add quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover tightly. Cook until the all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. While the quinoa cooks, prep the rest of the salad components and the vinaigrette. When the quinoa is finished cooking, turn out into a big bowl. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and vinaigrette, and season to taste.

Cook/prep time: 20 minutes

a spot of summer

better than a dozen roses any ol' day

A few years ago, my husband found a clump of thorny, wayward vines along the south side of our house. One trellis, a bit of twine, and a few years later, I have a wall of roses. Not to mention a seemingly endless supply of rose buds, petals, and hips to use in the kitchen.

With summer temps finally reaching into the 90s, I don’t want to stand in front of a burner for more than five minutes, ten tops. These pan fried noodles have been hitting the spot.

Hong Kong in my kitchen

Hong Kong style noodles

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Hong Kong noodles are the perfect combination of crispy/tender, and are usually made with a particular style of Chinese egg (+flour) noodle, if memory serves. A lifelong eschew-er of all things egg (and wheat free by necessity), I took a walk on the wild side and started making this dish with fresh rice noodles, which can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and probably your big box store of choice. They will look like ramen or spaghetti noodles, only fresh! – not dried. The package will say something along the lines of “boil water, add noodles, simmer for 1-2 minutes.” For this recipe, though, you’ll skip that step. If your skillet is hot and your vegetables are plenty, the heat and moisture will be more than enough to steam the inside and crisp the outside of your noodles. The vegetables listed below are what I most often have on hand, but really I just throw in two to three handfuls of whatever vegetables need to be used from the crisper, and whatever greens I have on hand. Mushrooms, red onion, and chard make for a great combination. Corn cut fresh off the cob and basil or shiso leaves would be nice too, I think. And feel free to add a protein – I was out of both tofu and tempeh the night I took this picture. When I do add it, I give it a quick sear and then remove it from the pan before adding the vegetables, to keep it from re-absorbing any liquid.

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1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/4 onion, sliced into half moons
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 handful (~3 oz) fresh rice noodles
splash of toasted sesame oil
splash of tamari

season to taste with salt, pepper, more tamari, chili sauce

Bring a cast iron skillet to medium/high heat. Just before it starts smoking, add the bell pepper and onion. The vegetables should be losing enough liquid that you don’t need to add oil; if they start sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. As soon as the vegetables begin to caramelize, push them to the sides of the pan and add the rice noodles to the center. Add a few drops of sesame oil and tamari, and toss the noodles to coat. Spread the noodles into a layer in the center of the pan and allow to cook for two or three minutes, until crisp on the bottom. Turn the noodles over and continue to cook. Once they are crisped on both sides, add the spinach and toss everything in the pan until the greens are just starting to wilt. Turn off the heat and season to taste.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Teff Love, random facts, and a recipe for quick teff crêpes

savory and sweet crepes, and drink all the greensPlease forgive the lighting. I made these on a school day. (A testament to just how quick they are!)

A little over a year ago, I had just finished testing recipes for Kittee’s cookbook Teff Love. My pantry was stocked with all manner of dried lentils and grains. I had jar upon jar of spice blends and seasoned oils that I had blended and seasoned myself. I had mastered injera.

Fact: the reason I joined Instagram was because the community of Teff Love testers took it by storm, and I wanted to join the party.

One of my favorite recipes is ersho, the teff sourdough starter. There are two jars at all times hanging out in the back of my refrigerator, descendants of the first starter I made during testing. Someday I’ll do a post about this starter, about how it makes wonderful injera and pancakes and yeasted breads.

Fact: my starter smells like granny smith apples.

teff crepes

Right now, though, I’m going to tell you about Kittee’s quick teff crêpes, because they are magic. They bring the bubbles and sponginess and tang of traditional injera, when you need your injera fix but don’t have the time or means to make them the traditional way with ersho.

Fact: I prefer my teff crêpes in the morning, with savory leftovers.
scramble and kittee mac(savory) things on crêpes: ye’tofu enkulal firfir and Ethiopian-style mac ‘n’ cheesie (a.k.a. Kittee M.A.C.)
Fact: they are also really good with sweet fillings.
ayib and preserves(sweet) things on crêpes: ayib, a non-cultured cheese from Teff Love, paired with cherry preserves

Quick teff crêpes

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Although these crêpes don’t have quite the same texture or pronounced sourness typical of injera, they make a good stand-in on days when you want Ethiopian food quickly and don’t have time for the fermentation process or access to commercial injera. They have a slightly spongy-stretchy texture, with a small bit of tang from the yogurt and vinegar, and work well for scooping up sauces and stews.

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1 cup teff flour, any variety
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carbonated water
2/3 cup unsweetened plain vegan yogurt
6 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Put the teff flour, chickpea flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine and to beat out any lumps that may be in the chickpea flour. Add the carbonated water and vegan yogurt and whisk well to combine. When the griddle is hot, whisk in the vinegar to combine. The batter will rise and foam, and the consistency will be thin and reminiscent of chocolate milk.

Form each crêpe by using a 1/3-cup measure to scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and pour it into a disk on the hot pan. Use a spoon to quickly and lightly smooth the batter into a 6-inch disk, starting in the center and working in concentric circles until you reach the edges (keep the center of the crêpe the thickest and the edges the thinnest; the crêpe should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick).

Cover and cook for 1 minute. The crêpe should be dry on the top with a smattering of little holes over its surface. Uncover and continue to cook the crêpe without turning it for another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. The total cooking time for each crêpe should be 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. When fully cooked, the crêpe should be dry on top with a few air-bubble holes, and the bottom should be firm, smooth, and lightly browned. Depending on your cookware and stove, you’ll need to adjust the heat to achieve this result. Use a flat flexible spatula to loosen and release the crêpe, and then quickly transfer it to a plate and cover with a clean, dry tea towel. Repeat the cooking process until all the batter has been used. As the crêpes are made, stack them on top of each other and keep them covered with the towel so they don’t dry out.

As the crêpes cool, the crêpes will develop a spongy-stretchy texture. Let them rest until they’re room temperature, then wrap the stack loosely in a clean, dry tea towel and seal it in a zip lock bag until serving time. Be sure the crêpes are completely cool or the bag will collect moisture and they’ll spoil. If you notice any condensation, open the bag to air it out.

Cooking tip: For the best success, I recommend cooking these crêpes on a flat, anodized griddle or pan. If you find the crêpes are sticking as they cook, mist the pan with a small amount of oil. Keep in mind, just as with traditional teff injera, the first one cooked is usually a throwaway or a treat for the cook.

Cooking tip: Halve this recipe if you’d like a smaller yield, and for the best results, eat these the same day they’re prepared.

This blog tour was kicked off by Hipster Food. Check out earlier tour stops at Cadry’s Kitchen and Vegansaurus, and see the full line up here. The next stop is Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen, on February 24!

for a snowy day

candy cane scarf, in progressNina’s candy cane scarf

Years ago, I came across a yarn that was so addictively squishy I couldn’t leave the store without an armload of it. And it’s languished in my stash ever since.

I’m drawn to yarns that are addictively . . . anything, really: bright; shiny; turquoise; not-scratchy; speckled-like-a-hen. All of the yarns that end up in my stash – I have a pretty good idea of the niche they’re going to fill before I buy them. It might be amigarumi (speckled-like-a-hen). Wrist warmers and a cowl that complement my sister’s chestnut hair (turquoise). A hat adorned with ear flaps and pom poms and braided tassels for a six-year old niece (bright and shiny!). A chic ear-warmer headband for her older sister (not-scratchy). Always a niche.

That squishy yarn, though. Not a clue! I let Nina siphon as much of it as she wanted from my stash. She was making better use of it than I was.

On my way to Whole Foods the other day, I went right instead of left and found myself in a local yarn shop I usually avoid. They have a great selection of vegan yarn, but it’s a pain in the ass to find. The vegan yarns are scattered throughout the store but not really organized with other yarns by weight or color or fiber content. Tucked into hard-to-reach corners or up on high shelves, impossible to see let alone get a hold of; an afterthought, really. Also, this shop’s blind devotion to alpaca and wool hinders rational discussion about anything not alpaca or wool.

Long story short (is it possible at this point?), I wander in, start squishing and label-reading, and end up with a collection of fibers that are so different in texture and composition, the woman ringing me up thinks I am mad. (Or cheap, for not buying ten of each.) What unites these yarns – one soft as cotton candy, one sleek as wire, the other adorned with tiny sequins – is that ridiculously squishy yarn I had squirreled away at home.

Shortly before SNL started that night I found my one remaining skein of squishy yarn, gathered the day’s new yarns together, dusted off my size 17 needles, and started casting on. A few hours later, Nina’s candy cane scarf was finished. The next morning we conferred about the length, and I bound off. And now she has a new scarf, just in time for the wintry mix snow storm raging outside, this moment, as I type.

Nina's candy cane Purl Soho scarfClockwise from the left: Blue Sky Alpacas 100% organic cotton, worsted, shell; Patons Bohemian, super bulky, casual cream; Lana Grossa Divino, worsted, 029 carmine; and Lana Grossa Opera, worsted, 01 raw white. The Opera is sequined, tiny as snow flakes, spaced about every inch. It’s like faerie dust!

The quick and dirty:

I simply adapted the Purl Scarf pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. As in, it is the simplest pattern in the world to adapt. This is one of my favorite pattern books; maybe someday I’ll do a quick review. Eventually I’ll add this project to Ravelry, but I’m listing my mods below because sometimes it takes me years to actually ravel something.

My modifications:

  • I used four strands of yarn, not three.
  • I used size 17 needles. The pattern calls for size 15, but the next-biggest size I have from 17 is 13, and I didn’t want to go down that low with four strands.
  • I cast on eight stitches instead of 16, in part because the stitches were so large, and also Nina wanted a skinnier width scarf.
  • I did not add tassels. Nina is presently anti-tassel.

This scarf is so fantastic with tassels. If we get snowed in and I can’t get to work or school, I might wile away the hours by making one for myself.

A short list of movie recommendations, in no particular order

woodland wanderings

Here’s a very short list of some of the films I enjoyed in 2014 and early 2015, with notes/subjective descriptions. If you have comments or suggestions, please do share.

Science Fiction
Snowpiercer This has a Gilliam-at-his-best vibe. Set entirely on a train, in the future, and touches on many social issues. Based on a French graphic novel, with an amazingly choreographed action sequence and stunning cinematography. Oh, and Tilda.
Under the Skin Impossible (for me) to describe, you just need to experience it. You’ll know within ten minutes if it’s to your liking. Johansson at her very most absolute best. Glazer, too, for that matter.
Predestination Based on a short story by Heinlein. Shades of Minority Report, but that doesn’t do it justice. Sarah Snook, whom I’d never heard of, was one of the best performances I saw all year.
Edge of Tomorrow Based no the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. One of the smartest time-loop action/sci-fi films out there. Great acting all around. A lot of fun to watch, and a big budget popcorn flick in the best sense.

Take Shelter Michael Shannon absolutely blew me away with his portrayal of a man who is having apocalyptic visions. Scary, heartbreaking, beautiful, powerful, really gets in your head. Chastain was quite good in this, too.
The Fifth Estate Interesting character study of Assange. Many creative liberties taken, I am sure, in the telling of this story. Daniel Brühl was fantastic. (So was Cumberbatch, but that goes without saying.)

Ghost Story
The Awakening Atmoshpheric period piece. Some would categorize this as a horror film, but to me it’s just a fantastic ghost story. Imelda Staunton and Rebecca Hall. Gorgeous cinematography. One of my favorite movie endings, regardless of genre.

Vampire Story
Only Lovers Left Alive The vampire genre, and Detroit, through the lens of Jarmush. Swinton and Hiddleston in a beautiful centuries-long romance would be enough, but small parts by Wasikowska, Wright, Yelchin and Hurt made me adore this film.

The Conjuring Creepy, intense, old school horror that utilizes camera angles, sound, and tension build-ups to scare you. I wasn’t fond of where the movie went, stylistically, near the end – but it’s still one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a good long while.
The Cabin in the Woods Equal parts love letter and poison pen letter to 1980s horror.
Troll Hunter A fantastic addition to the found-footage and mockumentary genres. A lot of fun to watch. Slyly amusing. I am very sad there is going to be an American remake.

What Maisie Knew Julianne Moore’s unflinching portrayal of a really dispicable person. Steve Coogan probably at his best – at least in a drama. Heartbreaking story of two really selfish people who don’t know fuck-all about being parents. Told from their daughter Maisie’s point of view.
Locke Dialogue-driven personal crisis drama. Tom Hardy, as well as every actor who is just a disembodied voice, were sensational.
Nebraska Humble slice-of-life film about a father-son roadtrip. The cinematography reminded me that there is beauty in the decay of the rural Midwest.
Boyhood No words. Snippets of life’s ordinary moments, filmed over twelve years and pieced back together by Linklater. Such beauty in the ordinary and mundane.
Chef If you’re offended by seeing someone work with meat – this is not for you. This film captures the passion and elegance of a chef’s relationship with food, wrapped up in a sweet father-son story, with a clichéd happy ending that still feels right. I’m guessing the R rating is for language? I’m excited to watch this with Nina. The language is pretty realistic and nothing she hasn’t heard before, but may be an issue for other parents.
All is Lost Robert Redford took my breath away. Little to no backgroud info on the sole character of this film, just a man on a boat by himself out at sea; it’s all about what’s happening in the moment. Inevitable conclusion, but impossible not to watch through to the very end.
Japanese Story Quiet little love story set in Australia.

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child BBC animated shorts based on a children’s picture book. Pretty much the best voice casting ever, except maybe Batman from the Lego Movie.

Dark Comedy
Frank Quiet, quirky, bittersweet ensemble piece about a band. Fassbender’s best performance to date. The one movie I want to quote constantly, all the time, in a sing-song voice.

Foreign Language
Ida Beautiful, sad film set in 1962 postwar Poland.

Goblin, searching for woodland trolls