anatomy of an evening + red wine stew

table rose fall autumn

The evenings are so long lately, the sky darkening ominously late afternoon, it seems.  Often I find myself looking at the clock, and thinking “I can’t believe its only 5:30” or some such hour.  The good thing about this is that there’s so much time to spend cooking and eating apero, dinner, playing games or reading after, we really have a good stretch of time to unwind.  In the summer, outside beckons and we end up making very quick things for dinner- which is also nice, but it seems like a small luxury to prepare courses and let the evenings really stretch on.  I love having something cozy in the oven, nice china on the table, perhaps a candle to add some warmth.  Sipping a nice glass of red while preparing, going slowly and thoroughly enjoying the process.

leeks

I was asked to share an evening routine sort of post, so here’s our loose one lately.  Most nights, Joel comes home from work about 5.  So before he does, I prepare a few tidbits for l’apéro- also know as aperetivo, or cocktail hour.  Nothing fancy- just a few bites and something to drink.  Radishes with Miyoko’s butter + flaky salt, a few olives, spiced nuts, a cracker + wine or kombucha or even sparkling water.  Just something a little festive to signal the end of the working day and the start to the evening.  A lot of times, the kids are outside playing or catching up with friends on our street during this time- but sometimes they’re with us, too.  They usually have their snack about 4 pm, though.  Joel and I chat and share little slivers of our days with each other, enjoy the nibbles and sometimes play backgammon, gin, scrabble, etc.  Usually I’ve gotten a little start on dinner, too- chopped some vegetables, made a tart dough, or just have an idea in mind of what I’m making.

After this, I’ll head into the kitchen and start cooking- sometimes Joel cooks if I’m not feeling it, and occasionally he helps me chop or multi task, especially if I’m behind schedule.  But, mostly, I enjoy being alone in the kitchen during this part of the night + it’s such a wonderful opportunity for him to get some one on one time with the kids.  They’ll build legos together, play a board game, read, or just generally spend time together until a little later, when I call them into the kitchen.  I try to have a task or sometimes a handful of them for the kids to help with so that they get to contribute to the meal, as well.  Things like rolling out dough, whisking vinaigrette, washing salad, arranging the table nicely, stirring risotto.  Little things like this boost their confidence as cooks and as people, while also encouraging more adventurous tasting and enjoyment at the table.

red wine stew autumn dinner

We have dinner around 6:30 or 7 and we generally have it in courses.  This doesn’t have to be hard- but I find that by dividing the meal up into smaller courses, with a vegetable starter first, they are more interested in the meal and eat well.  We’ve been doing this since Vin was little, and I got the inspiration from here if you want to know more about it.

Fall lends itself to such rich flavors, and one of my favorites is using red wine to cook with.  It pairs so wonderfully with fall+winter veggies and makes even the simple ones seem luxurious.  I had had a craving for a good stew, and this one definitely hit the spot.  I hope it does the same for you on a cold evening.  A small note:  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, you could add some cooked beans such as butter beans, or lentils to make the stew more substantial.  If you do this, you will need about 1/2 cup more broth.

autumn vegetable stew with wine

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups mushrooms, roughly torn or cut into chunks- I used 1 large portabella

1 onion, sliced

1 shallot, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon all purpose flour or rice flour for GF

2 cups red wine, I used a Bordeaux

2 cups broth, more as needed

fresh herb bouquet- I used a few sprigs each thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf

3 whole cloves (optional)

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1 inch long pieces

3 carrots, cut into large chunks

3 sunchokes/jerusalem artichokes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

potatoes- I used 5, 2 inch long fingerling type and cut them in half lengthwise, if you use rounder or larger potatoes you will need to cut them into large chunks and the stew should take a bit less time, too

1/2 cup parsley. chopped finely

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook- DO NOT stir, so that they get a nice brown fond on the bottom.  Remove from pot and reserve.

Add in the onion and shallot, adding more oil as necessary, and cooking over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned, tender and almost caramelized.  Add in the garlic and cook another minute.  Add in the flour and stir well to combine, cooking for another minute or two.  Add the red wine and stir well, letting it cook down to reduce by 1/2 or so.

Add in the broth and the rest of the veggies (including the reserved mushrooms) and the bouquet garni (the herb sprigs tied together with a bit of kitchen twine for easy removal later) and cloves, if using.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low or whatever heat is needed so that it’s bubbling a good bit but not very rapidly.  You may have to adjust the heat if the boiling slows too much.  Let cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom isn’t burning and also to gauge the done-ness of the vegetables.  The sauce should be nicely thickened and the vegetables very tender.

Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.  Adjust seasonings to taste as needed and remove and compost the bouquet garni.  Serve with a scattering of fresh chopped parsley and plenty of cracked black pepper on top.

 

last days of autumn

kids

As these last days of autumn go by and the days grow ever shorter up to the winter solstice, we’ve been distracting ourselves by getting outside as much as possible.  I can find myself really affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) during these periods of less sunlight, and find that a morning or early afternoon walk is absolutely a crucial, non-negotiable part of my daily routine for my mental health.  Even if it’s raining, windy or bleak outside, we bundle up and walk.  I look forward to these little pockets of our day, especially seeing the delight on the children’s faces when they find one sort of seasonal treasure or another- acorns, pretty leaves, a smooth rock, spotting a bird or squirrel busy at work among the trees.  The things that spark their curiosity and admiration are usually always the simplest things I often overlook as a grown-up.  Also, afternoon sunlight, if it peeks through, is just incredible and I find myself admiring the golden shadows it casts around the house or on our walks.  Finding pleasure in these small things makes life a treat.

afternoon light vase pumpkin

Yesterday I jolted awake, thinking frantically about garlic (yes, food, something I’m always dreaming about).  I had planted some lettuces, hardy greens and onions a while back and somehow had forgotten about garlic.  On some scratch paper, I wrote “Call Redwood Barn- is it too late to plant garlic?” and then laughed because that sums me up quite well- never planning and always a step behind.  I mourned a little about the garlic that could have been.  Happily, it was, in fact, not too late at all to plant garlic, and I picked up a few heads of Silver Rose garlic.  It’s supposed to be a long lasting variety with snow white outer skin that yields to beautiful pink-wrapped cloves.  I’m so excited to meet her in the spring.  The kids and I planted loads of them all over in between the plants we already had in.

garlic bread

I always adore a good soup, even in the sweltering 100+ heat of summer in the valley, but around this time of year is when I always have a pot on the stove or in the fridge, or both.  Soup is such a perfect food in that it is quite easy to make, tastes delicious, warms you up, and you can finish up any odds and ends laying around in it.  I often will throw a bit of leftover risotto, roasted or sautéed vegetables, end of the jar ferments and other such little bits into whatever soup I’m making.  I’ve got other soup recipes on the blog which you can find HERE, but today I’m sharing the one I made last night.  I made it before I went to bed, knowing that it’d only take me a moment and then I wouldn’t have to think much about lunch.  Plus, soup is one of those lovely dishes that only improves in flavor with time.  In fact, this particular soup is so simple that I advise to make it ahead in order to let the flavors really meld and bloom.  When eaten right away, it’s not as good.  I use water instead of broth here as the vegetables I picked up to cook this were so fresh and beautiful at the market just that morning.  If you prefer a stronger flavored soup, or produce on the declining side of life, I suggest making with broth (here’s my favorite broth concentrate to keep in the freezer this winter).

vegetable soup vegetable still life

This soup was inspired and lightly adapted by a recipe by Mimi Thorisson, which can be found HERE.  I always have fresh bay on hand from my grandma’s bushes, and I love its special flavor, so I’m always throwing a leaf or two or more in things- but feel free to leave out if you can’t source it or don’t want to.

To go along with the soup, we made some simple tartines which added some crunch and substance to the lunch- a simple green salad with vinaigrette, lentil salad, or a handful of cannellini beans into each soup bowl would make this delicious too.

simple vegetable soup table

simplest vegetable soup

(serves about 4 big bowls or 6 small bowls)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large leek, white+light green part only, sliced into rounds (save the dark green in your freezer with other scraps for broth making)

3 medium carrots, sliced into rounds

1 stalk of celery, sliced

3 small/medium red potatoes, scrubbed and diced

1/2 a head of napa cabbage (savoy or green cabbage is fine, too), roughly chopped

3 branches thyme + 1 bay leaf

4-6 cups water or broth (I used 6 but it will depend on your preference)

salt + pepper, to taste

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Heat up the oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add the whole thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and all the veggies except the cabbage.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes until just slightly softened.  Add the water or broth and bring to a boil.  If using green or savoy cabbage, add it now and cook for 30 minutes.  If using napa cabbage, cook the soup for 20 minutes, add the cabbage, and cook for another 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, cool and let sit overnight (in the fridge or on the counter, up to you).  The next day, when ready to serve, heat up the soup.  Taste and add more s+p to your liking.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle some chopped parsley in each one (we also like adding a teensy splash of white wine vinegar to our bowls, it just brightens the flavors a bit and doesn’t taste “vinegary”).

Other options are to add chopped cilantro + chile garlic paste, raw crushed garlic into the bowls before ladling the hot soup over, or adding a scoop of cooked chickpeas or white beans to each bowl.

radish tartine toast cheese

watermelon radish tartines

for each tartine:

one thicker slice of sourdough or other crusty bread

one slice cheese (we happened to have leftovers of THIS one, follow your heart smoked gouda is my favorite store bought one, or use THIS ricotta and just broil the bread and then swipe the ricotta on)

thinly sliced watermelon radishes, or whatever radishes you like/have

a little chopped parsley

a few toasted walnuts, broken into smaller pieces- toasted pumpkin seeds work nicely, too

chili flakes, I like Aleppo or gochugaru for their deep, umami flavor with mild heat- Piment d’Espelette also works wonderfully if you have that already

flaky sea salt

On each piece of bread, layer a slice of cheese on it and place under the broiler, letting it cook until fully melted and very bubbly + the bread is golden.  Remove from oven and layer over the radishes, sprinkle over the walnuts and parsley, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and a good pinch of chili flakes.  Enjoy while still warm.

a week of meals in late november

This Saturday, I’m sitting here, house to myself, sipping my lovely puerh tea and enjoying the silence that you don’t normally get to indulge in with kids around.  It’s fantastically soothing and I’m savoring every last drop.  I’m dreaming up what I want to eat this week, inspired by the produce I picked up from the market.  It’s rained here the last few days, a very welcome respite from the dry + smoky air we’ve been experiencing after the fires whipped through the country north of us.  The wonderfully amazing Molly of Ambatalia has put together a website HERE selling wares that artists and makers have donated- all proceeds benefit the fire victims and it might knock out any holiday gift shopping you were planning to do, while also supporting those who have been devastated and ripped wide open by this disaster.

fall pumpkin shopping

Needless to say, the rain has been most welcome and gratitude given for it coming.  I just planted some lettuces, green onions, kale, and garlic this week- late as usual- and they’ve loved the rain, too.  When it rains, I get into a nesting sort of mood, so I’ve been also organizing the house, doing little things that summer makes seem tedious, but winter I don’t mind.  You know- organizing, cleaning out the silverware drawer, taking control of my spice cabinet and such tasks.  I’ve also felt pulled to meal plan a bit.  I usually don’t totally stick to meal plans as I find them stifling and restrictive sometimes, but I also can feel totally afloat if I don’t have a vague plan or library of things to make.  It’s all a balance, I suppose.  I probably won’t stick to this, but it’s more to give me a kind of library in my head of what I’m interested in eating right now.  I hope it inspires you, too, to cook some fresh, warming food for yourself this week.  (you can find a ton more meal plans HERE.)

copper kettle thrifted pumpkin haulfridge

basics | I plan to restock a few basic recipes that I use for many other things- coconut yogurt, big batch of chickpeas cooked from scratch, almond milk for lattes, and hoping to make some GF bread- this recipe looks really nice!

buffalo chickpea chili with mushrooms | yep, you heard that right.  I’ve been wanting to make this bad boy for months but never got around to it.  I’ve had a buffalo obsession the last few weeks and I’m going for it!  Recipe via The First Mess HERE.

lentil bolognese | I always come back to this sauce recipe.  Its so delicious, easy and hearty and I often make a double batch to have leftovers.  This + GF pasta + some vegan parm + plenty of chopped parsley and a side salad is such a delicious meal.  Recipe HERE.

moroccan chickpea soup | I remember many years ago having a moroccan spiced chickpea soup with lamb and I have been wanting to recreate the same soup, but vegan- with all those warming spices, tomato, and the pleasant bite of chickpeas throughout.  I’m going to use THIS recipe as a base, using my leftover chickpeas, and go from there.

kale + roasted squash orzo with salted yogurt | THIS pasta dish looks so good, simple, and seasonal- I’ll be swapping out the pasta for GF, and the yogurt for coconut yogurt.

lentil and butternut slow cooker stew | THIS slow cooker recipe is always one I come back around to this time of year.  The herbes de Provence really make it have a lovely flavor + the toppings round it out nicely with a creamy and crunchy counterpart to the tender, yielding stew.  It takes very little time to prepare and makes quite a bit.

lentil crockpot stew vegan butternut

beet tartlets | the beets at the market have been so flavorful, sweet, and thin skinned that I can’t stop buying them.  Their bright colors and earthy flavor is so comforting.  I most often eat them pickled, roasted, or grated raw into salads, BUT I have been dreaming up some sort of tarte tatin or other pastry situation.  THIS recipe looks great, with the fennel and white bean creamy filling.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

xx Amanda

 

in season now: cauliflower + 6 ways to use it

Cauliflower

note:  I wrote this entire post and then realized I had already done this same post last year, haha.  I guess I just really love cauliflower!  Anyways, there’s some different recipes here for you to try out if you, like me, also love this veggie or are trying to figure out different ways to use it up.

Cauliflower is one of the earliest cool season veggies that come to our farmers market.  It’s always such a joy to see something new after months of tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches.  Not that I’m complaining- but the newness of seasonal foods is such a pleasure. A treat!  Something exciting, like rekindling a relationship and catching up with an old friend.  At our market, we’ve got purple, orange, and green cauliflowers, along with the usual white.  They all taste amazing and slightly different from each other.  My kids think the purple is the coolest thing.  Which it totally is!

To choose a good cauliflower, look for tightly packed, dense heads that feel heavy for their size.  If there’s leaves on it still, they should look fresh and green instead of witty or browned.

When you get it home, you can either store it whole- it does well put directly into the veggie drawer of the fridge, loose- or, cut it up.  Cut it into florets and store in a large container, such as a Pyrex bowl with a lid, or some mason jars.  It will keep for 5-7 days or so in the fridge like this and is nice to have already cut to lessen prep in the week.

Purple graffiti cauliflower vegan meal

Here’s some of my favorite ways to enjoy cauliflower:

creamy cauliflower soup // cauliflower is SO creamy when pureed.  Velvety, luscious goodness.  This soup is so easy to make and is the most comforting thing ever.  I love that it includes a boost of protein from the yellow split peas, too.  Sometimes I like to do a variation of half cauliflower and half pumpkin, recipe HERE.

cauliflower squash soup vegan creamy dairy free plant based chickpeas

cauliflower buffalo wings // I mean, isn’t this just the best way to eat cauliflower? 😉 I use THIS recipe, but use Miyoko’s butter (palm oil free) and 1/2 cup rice flour + 1/4 cup chickpea flour instead of the all purpose.  Joel actually always makes these because I hate waiting for them to be done haha.

mash // continuing with the velvety puree texture I was talking about, cauliflower makes a great addition to mash.  I like half and half potato and cauliflower, which lends a velvety texture and a slightly sweet/nutty flavor profile.  All cauliflower mash is excellent, too- and can be a great way to introduce cauliflower in a different way to kids.  I just steam until very soft, then puree with some crushed garlic, salt, fresh thyme, olive oil or Miyoko’s butter, and maybe some nutritional yeast or miso if you like.  A few splashes of broth or plant milk to thin if necessary.  Great with lentil stew, to top shepherds pie, or as a side with mushroom gravy and roasted veg and gigante beans for a delicious “roast” dinner.  THIS recipe for a casserole esque bake is so yummy and combines the best of both worlds.

roasted // roasting cauliflower transforms it into the most amazing, crispy, nutty, sweet and addictive flavor.  I love simply roasting with a touch of oil, thyme and salt and keeping it in the fridge to add to bowls, lentil salads, or roasting half and half with cubed red potatoes or half moons of delicata squash.  THIS recipe is also so excellent and adds such a beautiful spin.  Sometimes I roast and toss with cumin and oregano and chipotle for an excellent taco filling.

curry // the mild taste and smooth texture of cauliflower makes it a perfect toss in for curries.  Indian types are classic, but it works in Thai curries too.  I like to add it with chickpeas and coconut milk and spinach similar to THIS recipe.  Protein, veggies, fats and greens- a one pot easy meal.  In the same vein, it’s so good in curry spiced rice with cashews and golden raisins- my recipe can be found in THIS meal plan post– scroll down to find it.

turmeric curry chickpea cauliflower rice

ricotta // cauliflower makes THE most excellent ricotta sub for lasagnas and manicotti.  Here’s the manicotti RECIPE.

manicotti

What’s your favorite way to eat cauliflower?  I’d love to know your simple, go-to recipes too!

 

october market haul + what I’m cooking

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Can you believe its already October?  I can’t.  Leaves are falling here, nights are cool, socks are back, soups and warm drinks.  The days have been beautiful here, warm but with the most pleasant cooling breeze.  This morning we went to the farmers market and bought some fall goodies- apples, squashes, potatoes.  Here’s what I plan to cook with it + a video with some farmers market + storage tips.

frisee (chicory)- salad with a bracing mustardy vinaigrette and some thinly sliced sweet apples + plenty of crushed black pepper + toasted hazelnuts.

purple potatoes- steam, smash, brush with a bit of oil, roast at 400 till crispy, toss while hot with crushed garlic and parsley.

red kuri squash- to make more of my soup with chickpeas, because I can’t get enough.

honey nut squash- this small, sweet, and intensely colored butternut variety is amazing cut in half and roasted with cinnamon.

cauliflower- we are having a moment with cauliflower over here, I got both gold and white varieties.  Joel makes these buffalo wings with it (sub a mix of chickpea flour and white rice flour for the gluten flour), and I’m hoping to make this manicotti too.  We also love it steamed and tossed in vinaigrette, or roasted with thyme.

apples- plain or with almond butter.  Best snack.  We got Arkansas Black and Golden Delicious this week.

carrots- a staple for us, we eat them plain or shred and toss with vinaigrette.

I hope you guys are having a beautiful weekend!  Can’t wait to film the homeschool q+a video/write up a blog post for you this week.  I’ve gotten so many questions and I’m very excited to share, because its been a huge transition and so beautiful.  If you didn’t submit your question, please comment below or message me on IG.

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