Hello! Thank you all so very much for all the kind messages of support and encouragement and love you sent on my last post where I discussed the overwhelming feelings I’ve been experiencing regarding Instagram. I really appreciate it so much and it’s a deep breath to know I’m not alone in feeling this way. (you can read it HERE if you missed it).
School officially starts today, so this was our last week of summer vacation. Today we took school pictures and picked up our materials from school (we’re trying out a hybrid homeschool/independent study program from our school district). It’s very exciting. I’ve been wanting to try homeschooling forever but wasn’t quite sure about it. So this will be a sort of trial to see if this works better, or worse, for us than traditional schooling. Anyways, here’s some snippets of our life this week.
grocery shopping in our bakfiets cargo bike (my “SUV”)
this week at the market, I bought: Savoy cabbage, purple cauliflower, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, o’henry peaches, baguette, radishes, cannelini beans, olives, walnuts, lettuces arugula, leeks, shallots, onions, garlic, German butterball potatoes, parsley, turnips, parsnips, and charentais melon. Here’s some things we enjoyed making with them:
aperitivo/apéro, the hour where my partner and I are done working for the day and transition to evening by enjoying a glass of wine (or kombucha) + some nibbles while we chat and reconnect. We often play games together (gin, backgammon, scrabble are favorites) while doing so. Such a pleasurable ritual. Here we enjoyed a Bordeaux, radishes with a cashew cheese, a few bulk olives and a handful of sugar sweet cherry tomatoes from our garden.
heirloom tomato salad with tomatoes all from our garden! The simplest first course ever- just slice beautiful recipe tomatoes, arrange them nicely on a plate, sprinkle over chopped shallot and herbs (here I used parsley and marjoram), drizzle over a bit of vinegar (I used red wine), s+p, optionally some EVOO too. It looks and taste impressive but is so easy.
another simple but delicious side: zucchini pan seared and tossed with a quick “knife pesto” of basil, mint, capers, walnuts, and garlic. One of my favorites and it elevates the humble zucchini in the perfect way. Recipe HERE.
vegetable pot au feu with carrots, savoy cabbage, potatoes, parsnips, leeks, and turnips. I’ve made this countless times and it’s so simple, yet supremely delicious. The delicate flavors of the vegetables really shine in this and I always add some small potatoes for substance. We’ve been getting a cooler evening breeze, so this feels so nice. Recipe HERE.
With the cannelini beans I bought this week, I soaked, drained, and cooked them in the crockpot with sage, garlic, and peppercorns. Then we ate them all week. Here, we had them brothy, with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh parley leaves, s+p. So simple but so good. Add to soups, blitz into a hummus style dip (so creamy!) or cook with some greens and top with avocado, and sweet potato for a simple lunch. Recipe for the beans HERE.
With the strawberries, we ate lots fresh, I made some chia seed jam, and also this strawberry custard tart- a toasted coconut crust, creamy macadamia custard piled high with glazed berries. The kids have been picking out a dessert to make together weekly, and this week they wanted a strawberry tart. They were able to make it almost by themselves- some minimal help and direction from me. Recipe HERE.
This summer was my first time tasting a Charentais melon (French heirloom that’s gray-green and knobby on the outside) and its my all time favorite. Here, with some grapes for a sweet ending to dinner.
quick lunch salads with whatever greens and veggies I have on hand + a toasted nut or seed for crunch + onion/green onion/or shallot + a creamy tahini dressing (grated garlic, lemon juice, s+p, water to thin to desired consistency and flavor) that I just eyeball- for a specific recipe its similar to this, except I don’t use olive oil (it’s plenty creamy already).
I also made a delicious eggplant dish but forgot to take a photo: cook up some tomato sauce (I sautéed an onion in some olive oil till translucent, added lots of minced garlic, some s+p, and oregano, then added in a quart of canned tomatoes, pulsed to a chunky puree and simmered for 10 mins). Layer in 1/4 inch thick slice eggplant into a layer in a small baking dish. Cover with a layer of sauce and a sprinkle of herbs like marjoram or parsley or basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant and sauce, making sure the last layer of eggplant is covered with sauce. Cover with a lid or foil and bake in a 375 oven for an hour or so- I didn’t time, I just let it cook while I did laundry and enjoyed a few games of uno with the kids- its not fussy. About 10 minutes before its done, pull it out and dollop this mozzarella sauce on top (or whatever vegan cheese you like, miyokos mozzarella is great) and return to the oven for 10 mins. Pull it out and serve! Great with crust baguette or rice to mop up all the delicious saucy goodness. The cheese is optional but delicious.
reading: I just finished David Lebovitz’s L’Appart, which was a hilarious and quick read about his adventures buying and renovating an apartment in Paris. He’s always been a favorite cooking inspiration, although most of his dishes aren’t close to vegan, I still find them inspiring for flavor profiles and techniques. His carrot salad is one we have eaten regularly for year.
Now I’m diving into Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, which has been fascinating so far. I love reading about the special details of life in ages past. So much of that we’ve lost in the modern world- long mealtimes, writing letters, using beautiful things meant to last, savoring the moments and rituals of daily life.
Also, this ebook on intuition by a huge inspiration of mine, Meagan Moon, that I’ve been eagerly anticipating for ages just came out. I’ve been reading bits early morning or late night, when I have some quiet still time to reconnect. Intuition has been the biggest teacher for me, both with food + eating, life decisions, and personal care.
daily life: our summer garden is still burgeoning with juicy tomatoes (jaune flamme, sun gold, red boar, green zebra, Cherokee purple), verdant shisito peppers, crunchy cucumbers (lemon, Armenian, Persian, English), spicy and heady basil (Neapolitan and purple), and my favorite little husk cherries. The kids and I have an after breakfast ritual of going out to water, pick, and admire our little space. Soon we’ll be preparing for the cool season and planting lettuces, green onions, leeks, kale, and more. Many of you have asked me for gardening tips; but really gardening varies SO much depending on your particular area: the soil issues, pests/problems, weather, and even the varieties of plants that do well will wildly differ. My best advice is to go to a local nursery and make friends and ask questions. Any place that’s worth their salt will love to help a new gardener and offer advice and wisdom. Seek out a small nursery, specific to your area. If that fails, connect with neighbors or community via posting to Freecycle, Craigslist, a local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook…asking for help and guidance. Also, search out your Sunset zone and then google “vegetable gardening in sunset zone … ” If you’re local to northern CA, Redwood Barn (my local nursery) has a fantastic website with numerous detailed and knowledgeable articles with advice for the Yolo and Sacramento area, find it HERE.
Now I have a question for you…is there anything I have yet to address that you would like me to? What topics or posts would you like to see fleshed out a bit more? It would help immensely. Sometimes I feel like I’ve said all I have to say if you know what I mean and things start to feel a bit stale…but I suppose theres always ups and downs where one feels very inspired and then not so much. I’m hoping to put on a zero waste meet up/”class” late September, for those who are local and interested.
Thank you, as always, for reading! Hope you are having the best week, sending love to you wherever and whoever you are.