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Grilled Eggplant Dip

The Japanese eggplants in my garden have finally started to fruit. I added them to the garden this summer as an afterthought. Eggplants have never really grown well for me. The leaves typically get eaten alive before the plant has even the thought of a fruit, or the fruit rots before it comes close to harvest time. Imagine my surprise, as this year, the eggplants we haphazardly planted at the edge of our herb garden are exploding. Clearly I needed some eggplant recipes, stat. This one has become one of my favorites. It yields a complex, smoky, eggplant dip that stands up well on it’s own. It’s an excellent compliment...

Green Chili and Almond Pesto

There is no recipe that epitomizes summer quite as well as basil pesto. The unrelenting heat has caused the basil plants in our garden to explode–and I’ve been making pesto consistently ever since. I seriously can’t even keep up with them. Our red eye chili plants are right beside the basil, and haven’t yet reached their “red” stage–but I’ve been picking them green. The addition gives the pesto a subtle kick. The typical pesto nut choice is pine nuts. However, I don’t typically buy those–in favor of raw almonds, which I always have on hand. So I use those instead here–I think they work great and even impart an almost...

Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dip

This recipe can fill many roles: dip, dressing, sauce, sandwich spread, etc. I settled on calling it a “dip,” as that felt like it’s most descriptive stand-alone use. Though even calling it a recipe feels like a stretch here. To be frank, you throw all the ingredients in a blender, doctor with salt and black pepper and you’re done! It’s an ode to the quick summer night meal as it adds a bit of herby, summery freshness to whatever you pair with it. My default meal when I can’t think of anything to make for dinner, summer or not, is a veggie bowl of some sort. Basmati rice, quinoa, sometimes cauliflower rice,...

Thai Zoodles with Tofu and Crushed Peanuts

A spiralizer is a miraculous thing. “Do you want chopped up zucchini and red sauce for dinner?” Meh. “How about a big bowl of zoodles with meatballs and marinara?” YES. The spiralizer turns the ordinary into the appetizing, quietly performing a sort of culinary sleight of hand. Another thing that zoodles do, is really allow you to hone in on your sauces. Whereas a plate of pasta with salt and black pepper may not need too much coaxing to turn out a desirable meal–zoodles do require a little more sauce prowess. That said, most pasta sauces taste great with zoodles. But, you’ll be able to taste it if something is lacking....

Raw Red Cabbage Slaw

It’s the perfect side dish, meal base, or afternoon snack. This slaw can play many roles. It’s great for a party, grab-and-go lunch, or for lazy, LAZY Sundays–like today. Today is the best kind of Sunday. One that falls between two days off. I have to admit I’ve barely left the house all weekend. But in doing so I’ve gained a wonderful sense of quiet, and of stillness. One of the things I love most about living in the country is the feeling of solitude. We aren’t actually THAT far out of town. But surrounded by trees and set back from the road by a long gravel drive, it can feel...

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

It’s about this time of year when I start craving summer vegetables. As much as I love spring onions, baby lettuce and asparagus, I begin to develop a deep longing for the fruits of midsummer, namely summer squash, red pepper, heirloom tomatoes and eggplant. Truth be told, I’ve never had much luck with eggplants in my garden. Though I try almost every year, the little plant stalks either wither away in the first stages, or the fruit becomes dinner for insects far before harvest time. Needless to say, I purchased these eggplants at the grocery store. Though I remain hopeful for this year’s nightshade garden. Look for medium-sized fruits that feel firm and weighty. The...

Blueberry Scones and a Vacation

We’ve been gone. For the last week and a half, we’ve been sipping tea (and Guiness), eating soda bread (and scones) in Ireland. Our first vacation in far too many years. After traipsing through a rainy Dublin for two days we headed west, to County Clare, where we stayed four days in a cottage on a hill. It was an incredible and cathartic nine days, a little respite from the grind of daily life here at home. Though, of course, we were also happy to return to normalcy in Virginia. But, as the dust settles on our luggage and passports–I can’t help but long for the green hills. Discovery: irish...

Basic Sourdough Bread

Here it is. The product of much study. Bread from the sourdough starter, with which, successful results took me a journey of much failure to produce. I can happily say that today I produce consistently good loaves with my sourdough starter and the method below, though it did take some trial and error. This recipe (and method) originates from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread book. The original recipe was printed in the New York Times, though, I’d say, as with any recipe, that the secrets lie between the recipe lines. This is my take, commentary, and experience on the country loaf: I will say, that for any serious baker, a scale...

Homemade Sauerkraut

Traditional sauerkraut is less of a recipe, and more of a history lesson and a process. The ingredients are sparse: cabbage, salt, time. The entire process from cabbage to jar will take you under an hour (depending on volume, of course). What is traditional sauerkraut? Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique. The process utilizes bacteria found in the environment to create a product that is shelf stable without refrigeration, freezing, or pressure canning. Sauerkraut is preserved through lactic acid fermentation–meaning that the naturally occurring bacteria lactobacilli is responsible for the culture and also for that characteristic sour flavor. Sauerkraut was the first fermentation recipe I ever tried. And honestly–I...