February 13, 2015


I hate throwing fabric away. I also hate having it accumulate in my closet. This was a solution to take care of some wonderful large scraps of fabric left over from another project. 


Turn them into delightful little napkins! Hemmed pieces of fabric are perfect for so many things. Tiny placemats, napkins, tiny tea towels, hand towels, or just something pretty to line a basket or bowl for fresh bread or fruit. 



These are reversible napkins, cheerful and bright. The brown and white plaid fabric has strips of glitter throughout. It is delightful when the glitter pops out.


The napkins are on the smaller side, perfect for lunch with small plates and bowls. 


January 8, 2011

Lablabi is a traditional street food of Tunisia. According to my (Heli’s) friend Sarah, it is available at all times of the day and night. This version of the recipe comes from the Mahjoub family, who produce all of the Tunisian products that we carry in the store.

The base of the soup is made of chickpeas cooked with garlic.

I find that lots of garlic is especially good this time of year. It warms me up.

The chickpeas are best cooked slowly. I soaked them overnight and then put them in a pot with minced garlic and brought everything to a boil. Then I placed the hot pot on the woodstove to simmer slowly, until finished. I was thinking that they would take hours and hours, but the heat of the stove kept them at a tidy low boil and they were finished quickly (maybe about an hour, or a little longer??).

The fun of this stew is in the condiments. Basic chickpeas, and then little dishes of toppings.

Pickled lemons are preserved in salt, and set out in the sun for 6 months to cure. They are packed in brine with a hot pepper for a little extra zing.

Harissa is a paste made from sun dried peppers and tomatoes, mixed with garlic, cumin and olive oil. It is my favorite condiment, delicious with so many things. Its spicy-ness adds flavor and depth! Heli taught me to mix the harissa with water and olive oil, “to open up the smoky flavors,” and to ensure that it mixes into the soup thoroughly.

Meski olives are packed in olive oil and Harissa. A few are fun floating in the soup.

Capers are salted and dried. Gathered from the wild in the mountains. I chopped them up a little bit.

The sundried tomatoes, which come in sheets (an entire tomato) packed in olive oil, are chopped up.

To top off the soup, add a little bit toasted and ground cumin.

The soup is traditionally served over stale bread, but I didn’t have any, so I served it with a loaf of fresh bread. And a side of cucumber feta salad that my mom made. And a beautiful black pepper, poblano pepper, parmesan cheese cornbread that my dad brought over.

And endive and fennel with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. My favorite winter vegetable combination-something to remind me that plants are still green and growing somewhere…


roast soup

October 13, 2010

I am finally getting pumpkins from the patch, and since it is fall, I feel like turning my oven on, and roasting things.

The other day, when I finished work, I was in the mood for some pumpkin soup, and had a few fresh chestnuts on the counter, some of the last tomatoes of the season (they were green and ripened on my counter), and home-grown garlic. I picked up some shallots and parsnips from the store, and roasted everything!

I sliced the pumpkin in half, saved the seeds, and cooked it cut side down in a pan of water.

I slit the chestnuts, peeled the shallots, and cut the top off of a head of garlic, and put them in my chestnut roasting pan. I drizzled olive oil over the garlic and shallots, and sprinkled some salt on the top. They roasted with the lid on!

In the third pan I mixed sliced parsnips, more shallots, also sliced, and the tomatoes. More olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt.

Everything roasted in the oven all evening. When I arrived home at the end of the night, I took everything out, scraped the pumpkin out of the shells, peeled the chestnuts, and put everything in a pot.

The vegetables cooked down, and many sugars carmalized!

In the morning, I added water and pureed the mixture with my stick blender.

I served the soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. And a drizzle of toasted pumpkin seed oil, a real treat!

roasted vegetable tart

July 13, 2010

A customer has been telling me about this tart for a while. She was in the store this morning, and we talked about it again. The basic directions are to make a tart with a cheese layer, then top it with roasted vegetables.

On the way home from work I picked up a package of feta cheese, a tub of ricotta cheese, and a box of butter.

I raided my fridge, my mom’s fridge, and the garden for fresh vegetables and herbs. Beets, basil, eggplant, zucchini, leeks, thyme, corn, and tomatoes. All from the garden, market, or csa. We were loaded with stuff. I washed and chopped up the beets and leeks and put them in my cast iron casserole and started roasting them. Then I made the dough for the crust. It needed to chill in the fridge for a while, so meanwhile, I peeled and chopped the eggplant and zucchini, and added them to the roasting vegetables, one at a time.

Next I mixed up the base layer of the tart. A package of feta cheese, 3/4 of a tub of ricotta cheese, and a little bit of prairie breeze cheese. To this mixture I added some chopped pickled pimentos, a handful of chopped basil, and some black pepper.

Time to roll out the dough and prebake the crusts.

I made two crusts, and put them in the oven for a little while first to bake so that they were nice and crispy when I was finished. While they were baking, I chopped some tomatoes, and cut the kernels off of a few ears of corn. I sauteed this in butter, with fresh basil and salt.

When the crusts were finished baking, I took them out and layered the filling. The cheese mixture first, then the roasted vegetables, finishing with the corn and tomatoes for color.

I put the tarts back in the oven, and baked them for about an hour (I think..). I took them out and served them right away..they probably should have sat for a few minutes to settle first, but I was a little behind schedule…

Just a little note: I had a few pieces of tart left and put them in the fridge overnight. They tasted way better cold and the next day!!

enchilada bake

June 20, 2010

I love recipes that have the word bake in the title. It implies something hearty, and, well, baked. For our main course entry in the dutch oven competition, we made an enchilada bake. I should really say, my mom made and enchilada bake.

For the layers, she included tortillas,

a delicious home made tomato sauce with fresh bell peppers, a mixture of sour cream and ricotta cheese, grated prairie breeze cheese, and black olives.

Simple simple simple. And then on with the coals.

Coals on top, coals on bottom. There is a specific number that you are supposed to put on for the different sizes of dutch ovens, and for different baking temperatures.

And the result was delicious. Hot and bubbly. To top off the dish she made a fresh salsa of tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro from the garden, and a touch of green onion.

Note the extensive use of oil cloth…

I can’t help but be inspired by beautiful vegetables. Tired, hungry, and trundling inside through the rainy mist tonight with a box from my CSA. Unpack chard and basil, and beet greens, zucchini, carrots (straight into my mouth), delicate kale, letuce, cucumber, and three almost ripe, blushing mangoes!?

There is something about combining chard with basil that makes me happy. Especially when I add olive oil, and zucchini. And a few grains of salt.

Mix with pasta, and top with freshly grated cheese.

I have continued to make the sourdough bread. The starter, which lives in my fridge, continues to sour more and more flour and water. And supply me with tasty bread! Each time I make a loaf, I change a few things here and there, and of course manage to forget what I have changed in the meantime. But I have a pretty good system going. On cold days I let the dough rise in a very slightly warmed oven, and this speeds things up a bit. And I make sure to let the starter have a good amount of time one the counter, open to fresh air, as this is what carries the naturally occurring yeasts! I love that the starter is tailored to my climate, to my kitchen!

Today I got home, grabbed some asparagus, grabbed some bread, grabbed a grill pan, and made a grilled cheese sandwich.

I preheated the pan first (with the lid on so that it would heat as well). Then I grilled the asparagus, basting it from time to time with olive oil and salt.

Then I sliced the bread, brushed with olive oil, and pressed in the pan. I wanted to cook both sides of the bread a little before I added cheese. Which I did. Then I pressed the sandwich with the heavy top, and got nice little burn marks across the sandwich! (I might have heated the pan up a little too hot, but fortunately I like crispy things..)

Asparagus finished, sandwich finished, a simple salad finished, and I ate lunch. With peppermint tea.

The whole event was soundtracked with loud and boisterous Hungarian folk music!

We didn’t find too many morels this year. They were either hiding, not there, or one of the two. But some of the ones that we did find made their way into the skillet. With a lot of butter.

It is always fun to watch as they brown, delicately crispy.

And they shrink! A lot.

We ate them with sourdough toast (bread batch number two, much lighter and fluffier) and butter.

The finished product, on the new table.

sunday eating

April 18, 2010

Asparagus Crepes with Smokey Pink Sauce

Warm Quinoa Salad with Cilantro, Lime, and Olives

Spiced Banana Pear Crepes with Star Anise and Vanilla

Lemon Lime Water

I have been in a banana mode recently, so after the crepe batter was mixed and in the fridge to wait, I prepared a crepe filling of spiced bananas and pears.

I put some butter in a tagine on the stove top, and added star anise and vanilla. Then bananas, pears, and pear butter for sweetener. And a dash of cinnamon! For extra liquid, I added a little juice from the pears. Oh, and a little lime zest and juice. I stirred the mixture on the stove top for a few minutes, and then placed it in a low oven (325 degrees) for about an hour.

Meanwhile….asparagus time!

I picked what we had in the garden, and washed the ends and sliced them for crepe filling number two. I sauteed the asparagus in a little butter and a tiny bit of water, until they were a vivid green. Then I set them in a dish in the warm oven.

Skye made the crepes, which had a little cornmeal and whole wheat flour (one third of the total flour used). The mixture was a little different, but turned out well. We were having issues with the burner heating unevenly, but by the end of the project, after all the crepes were made, we seemed to figure things out.

To top the asparagus, we made a white sauce with tomato paste (a pink sauce I guess), to which I added a dash of smoked paprika and some cheese. We also added some fresh chopped parsley.

In addition to the crepes, I made a warm quinoa salad, with cilantro, lime, olive oil, olives, and cubed cheese. Simple, quick and slightly warm. I served the salad on lettuce leaves, which we used to scoop up the salad and make little bundles.

For dessert, we had sweet crepes. The bananas and pears cooked down, and were warm and mildly sweet, and the star anise was delicious! The flavors brightened with a little squirt of fresh lime.

Because it was such a beautiful day, we set up a table outside in a sunny section of the yard. The table was made out of one of my plant shelves (now empty as the plants have moved outdoors) and the chairs were logs.

After lunch we went for an adventure in the woods, looking for mushrooms (which we still didn’t see…), and other things. We did see a coyote, the bluebells, and other interesting things…

spring hunting season

April 12, 2010

Today I went out for a hunt with my friend Heather. We were a little late last year, looking for mushrooms, and so wanted to be ahead of the game this year. We were a little too ahead for morels, but we did find a whole bunch of stinging nettles.

I wanted to make nettle pies, so I collected a good sized plastic bag full. Nettles are tricky little plants. If you touch them with your bare skin, it will sting for a few minutes.

In order to pick them, I placed my hand in a plastic bag, pinched off the tender tips of the plants, and placed them in another plastic bag.

To wash the nettles, I filled my sink with water, and stirred the leaves around with a pair of chopsticks.

The spines are still prickly after the nettles have been washed. To remove the prickles, I steamed the nettles in a bit of water, with a little salt. I poured off the nettle broth and drank it. It tasted like the woods, warm, sweet, and full of earth!

To make nettle pies, I chopped an onion and sautéed it in olive oil.

As it was cooking, I added a little of the nettle broth, and then some chopped chard and beet greens.

When these had finished cooking, I added the cooked and chopped nettles.

I set the vegetable mixture aside and made the crust. I made a basic pie crust, using 1/2 whole wheat flour, to give it a little more substance.

To fill out the filling, I mixed one package tofu, one package organic valley feta cheese, and half a package prairie breeze cheese. I crumbled the tofu and feta with my hands, and grated the prairie breeze. To bind the whole mixture together, I added a sprinkle of whole wheat flour. I mixed the cheeses with the vegetables, and blended them a little with my stick blender. When the pie crusts were chilled, I spooned the batter into them, and baked the pies in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes, and then in a 350 degree oven for an additional 45 (approximately), until they were firm.

And now I have two nettle chard pies, and lunch food until I get sick of them…