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Thursday, May 1, 2014


I wanna talk about Liv - my co-author/foodie soulmate/fellow kitchen queen/favorite dessert fangirl.

Liv is gluten-free. When she first told me all the things she was cutting out of her diet (a post for her to write another time) I noted it all down and started planning. Since then I've been making slight adjustments and when presented with a meal to make have tried to consciously make changes due to her dietary needs. I know she's not sharing my kitchen quite yet but I figure if I start now by the time she gets here I'll have this shit down.

Today was a good example of my dedication to this cause. 

I was making a chicken, broccoli and quinoa bake and was feeling generally pumped that I was making this uber high protein and gluten-free recipe like a boss. Like I lived the gluten-free life. hashtag winning. I wanted to make it fancy though so I whipped together a quick white cream sauce with my FAV seasoning and threw it all together. 

It was as I was putting it all into the oven that the penny dropped and I remembered cheese may not have gluten in it but the flour I used to whip the sauce together did. 


Now. Like I said. Liv isn't here yet. I stood there for a good 5 minutes debating weather or not I lie to myself and pretend I did ace the gluten-free or if just admit to failure. 


So I made another one. Without the white sauce. But with extra cheese. Because yes. And I felt endlessly pleased with myself that I'd stepped up. raised the bar. 

It was worth it - I've got school lunches for the week now. 

White Bean and Pork Chili with Brown Rice

Wednesday is baseball practice day and baseball practice is from 5pm-6pm. A time suited to working parents but a nightmare for stay-at-home parents. I know ya'll hear me when I say "Crunch time". 

Because I'm all about making my life easier by being prepared Wednesday is also slow cooker meal night. 

I buy my meat bulk at costco. Get a huge as slab of something something and cut that baby up into all kind of different cuts. I happened to have some diced pork on the defrost and I wanted to try one of my new homemade seasoning mixes.

I have a thing about homemade seasoning mixes. I like to home make the obscure ass ones - and I've always got a fully stocked spice cupboard (legit - fully stocked. all of the spices. ever.) so it's not hard. 

The one I had in mind for this pork was creole seasoning. The thing about creole that I've fallen in love with is the basil in it. This seasoning is spicy and then there is this real punch of basil and it just rocks. 

Oh. I gotta ask something too. Do you guys peel your veg? unless it's totally inedible I very rarely peel my veg. Most of my veg to be fair is from my Organic Farm Share - so I don't have to worry about nasty chemicals.

It's good though to invest in a decent veg brush. when I say invest i mean throw a tenner at it. seriously, it's not expensive but a veg brush makes a difference. at least for me it does. makes me happier about not peeling. 

Pork and White Bean Chili with brown riceIngredients

  • 1lb diced pork
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 TBSP Creole seasoning
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 12.5oz cans white beans (I used great northern beans)
  • 1 12.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6.5oz can tomato paste
  • 1 litre carton vegetable stock
  • 1 chipolte pepper in adobe sauce - de-seeded and chopped
  • 2-4 cups braising greens (or kale or whatever needs using up!)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice for serving
  • as needed sour cream for serving
  1. Over a medium-high heat sauté carrots and onions in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until onion is translucent. add the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. move vegetables into the slow cooker.
  2. In a gallon sized ziplock mix the pork and creole seasoning together to coat fully. using the same skillet you used for the veg add the last of the olive oil and sauté the pork until just seared 4-6 minutes.
  3. Add pork to the slow cooker along with the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and chipotle pepper. Set to cook on high for 6-7 hours. 
  4. About an hour out from finish add the braising greens to the slow cooker and give a good stir. now would be a good time to start making the rice. 
  5. Serve on brown rice and with a generous dollop of sour cream on top. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beach day & Pesto and Broccoli Pasta with Feta and Balsamic Glaze

It was hot today. And by hot I mean, hotter than usual. It's always pretty much perfect weather in the Bay Area. Reason #2 why I'm so very very happy to be back living here. 

Anyways, It was hot enough to warrant a spur of the moment trip to the beach to cool off. If it's hot inland then it's usually perfect at the coast, and it was. We only live "over the hill" from the coast so the nearest beach is a mere 10 minute drive away - but our favorite beach (lots of other children usually running around) is a 18 minute drive away (so says Siri) - the extra 8 minutes is worth it. 

Now that we live so close to the beach I like to make it as easy as possible to just "pop to the coast". When you have 3 kids it's so easy to make an excuse not to go anywhere (I'm so very out numbered) but it's also vital that you Get. Out. Of. The. House. often. For sanity's sake. 

So I always have a beach bag packed and ready with the basic essentials.

  • Beach Towels
  • Blanket
  • Beach Toys
  • Sun Screen
  • Hats
  • Water
  • Basic snacks (dried fruit and nuts usually)
Extra's can get thrown in last minute - or if I've planned it i may pack a picnic but really thats all we ever need for an hour or two down by the ocean. 

Now as anyone knows being out at the beach totally wears it out of you and makes you HUNGRY (it's all that fighting with sand). The kids and I got home and man.... they were demanding snacks before i'd even cleaned the sand out of their lil bottoms. But dinner time  was around the corner so I might as well throw a real meal at them. So we ate "early" at 5 (which actually totally isn't early if you have two kids under 3)

I did my basic "quick meal" trick where I grab a veggie - throw it at some pasta and then wonder what kind of sauce I can make that will allow me to add cream. 

Cream you say?! Yes cream. Cream is awesome. If you don't like cream then something is seriously up with you. Cream is what cool people like. Fur realz. This sign is above my kitchen door. 

I'm all about the healthy and "clean" eating, my friends, but as we all know everyone has their own interpretation of clean eating. Mine is basically no nasty chemicals and as close to the source as possible.

Cream is that. Especially when it's organic and hormone and GMO free! 

Did I seriously just go on a rant about cream? 

Anyways, the recipe. It was a hit. The kids scoffed it down and Phil did too when he got home. I topped it with balsamic glaze (because that shit goes on all the things. kids are lucky I don't top their oatmeal with the stuff because YUM) that I felt MADE the dish but Phil wasn't a huge fan. But hey! What does that guy know?! (actually probably a lot since he knew marrying me would be an awesome idea)

Broccoli and Pesto Pasta with Feta and Balsamic Glaze

  • 4 cups Uncooked Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 2-3 cups Broccoli florets
  • 2/3 cup pesto (I used a homemade basil but any would do!)
  • 1/2 cup Organic cream
  • 4 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 2/3 cup Feta cheese
  • drizzle Balsamic glaze (apparently optional...)
Cooking Directions
  1. bring a pot of salty water to the boil (the Italians say water for pasta should be as salty as the Mediterranean!) and add the pasta. Depending on the pasta you use cook for 10-13 minutes (just before al-dente)
  2. add the broccoli to the pasta and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes until the broccoli turns bright green (and no longer!).
  3. Drain the pasta and broccoli. set aside for a minute.
  4. using the same pot add the cream and pesto and on a medium heat stir to combine. Throw the pasta and broccoli back in the pan and then add half the Feta and Basil. Toss it all together and warm through.
  5. Serve topped with the left over feta and basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I hosted with the mostest

I am on the board for my local mothers club. It's not nearly as exciting as it sounds (really it's not) and actually 4 months in I already plan on only sitting on the board for the one year - mostly because I now recognize that I don't have the time (or at least am not prepared to give the time) the club needs form me to grow and expand. 

But it's a fun club. We do mommy stuff, like...meeting at local bars when the kids are asleep and the husband are home. or... going for coffee the following morning so we can all nurse our hangovers together and our children can distract each other. Mommy stuff, you know? 

It's nice to have the option! and from the club I have made a couple of friends who I imagine to always be there. Two of these friends and their subsequent families (making us 6 adults and 8 children) and my family get together every 4-6 weeks and have our Tri-Family dinner. We take turns hosting and last night it was my turn and I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Hawiian pulled port fajitas with celeriac pineapple slaw and coconut rice. It was a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers Half Baked Harvest that I only slightly adapted to use up a whole bunch of celeriac I'd received in my CSA farm share. 

and I finished it off with a raw Key Lime Pie. I love impressing people with food and then dropping the bomb that what they're eating is "healthy"! and clean! and all organic!

I wish I'd taken pictures. I need to get in the habit of taking pictures. 

The food was a huge hit though and it reminded me how much I love to host. mostly because I cook all the time and usually my audience consists of a 1, 2 and 6 year old (and sometimes a 43 year old if he gets home in time for dinner). They are all appreciative and always make the right sounds and noises I need and want to hear (most of the time) - but its not the same as when you get to wow a fellow foodie. Someone else who appreciates food as much as you do, someone else who will talk through the whole experience with you and not think you're crazy for linking emotions to different flavors and textures. 

reason #1203 why Liv is moving to San Francisco.

I promise to start taking pictures.

Friday, April 25, 2014

yes, no thank you, very much

I spoke about FaceTime and now I gotta mention iMessage, and not because I'm affiliated in anyway with Apple (though that would be awesome) but because it's another tool that keeps Mystical and I in constant contact for free despite the 5000+ miles we are apart.

I received a text message. or photo message? SMS? or is that too 90's? Anyways, I was pinged with this at about 5am in the morning.

 "It took a lot of effort to order this beer."

I often wake up to an onslaught of Mystical mind vomit on my text messages. we text each other like we are taking to each other, except there is a 8-12 hour delay sometimes on the response...which means sometimes shit gets backed up.

Mystical tells me that in America ordering a beer isn't as easy as England. England you can yell out a  multitude of things and you'll defiantly be served something. not always the thing you want for sure but if you say beer, larger, pale, blond, half, shandy, pint, house or sometimes even "whatever" you'll get a drink.

"I asked for a blond larger and he looked at me like I'd asked him for a sexual favor. Like I'd insulted him. Then I thought I had insulted him so I tried again and asked just for a larger and then he defiantly whispered something about me to the other bartender, so then I asked for a beer and he gave me some kind of hipster bitter" are bitters in the UK the same as a "hipster" beer...or what I think Mystical meant was an IPA "and that was just so far from what I wanted that I couldn't even pretend to like it - which got me a tight smile from the dude and then I felt lost, tried to explain I was a foreigner...which I'm not! I don't even have an accent anymore!...which maybe explains why he gave me a dubious look" imagine all this if you will as lots of little blue text bubbles on my phone.... at 5am. "Anyways, I eventually had to just say - do you have a dutch beer. he poured me my BLOND LARGER and when I asked him what I should say to order easily next time...apparently I just have to ask for the name of the beer. Hefeweizen. LIKE I'M SUPPOSE TO REMEMBER THAT"

After those 5am texts I promise you I'll never forget it.

- Liv

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The start of something sweet

FaceTime is amazing right? I think so. It brings coffee with a friend who's 5000 miles away to life. "6 Months and counting!" we both cry and squeal and make fools of ourself in our proclaimed love for each other... as an outsider it's probably all a bit too "little women" for reality, but as they say - when you meet "the one" you just know... Having a foodie-girlfriend soul mate basically rocks on all levels. 

Is it weird that by ritual we both are in our pajamas (me because I'm coming home in London - Mystical because its a lazy Sunday in San Francisco) with a hot cup of coffee and usually in the kitchen. half way through the call one of us starts cooking (me dinner or her brunch) sometimes both. It's how we roll.

Last week as we discussed the logistics of where I would sleep Mystical started to make breakfast.

she yelled over her blender how she dreams every day of bunk beds and snugs, early morning runs and cross fit, cooked breakfasts and hot coffee. "6 Months and counting!" we both squealed. 

Basically we are going to make the most amazing roommates ever. It's going to be better than Friends, New Girl and Couplings combined. I'm going to stop there; because in actual life I did. the whole time we had been gassing on about this idicllic life we are both building up Mystical had been grinding and juicing and mixing and I couldn't figure out for the life of me what she was making. 

"Oh, this is no joke. this is life changing. I'm about to change your life just by telling you about this" 

suspense built thankyouverymuch.

"Magical Breakfast Cream. It's a Mireille recipe. you know, the French Women Don't Get Fat?" 

vaguely... explain. 

"no explanation needed. It's Magical Breakfast Cream. Make some and you'll understand" 

So I did. And I do. And now you should too. 

Magical Breakfast Cream

Serves 1

120g Greek Yogurt
1tsp Walnut oil
1tsp Honey
1tbsp ground mixed nuts (anything on hand works! I used Walnuts, Almonds and Pecans)
2tbsp finely ground oatmeal
2 small clementines juiced and pulp saved.

mix the yogurt, oil and the honey together. mix in the ground nuts and then sprinkle the oats on the top. drizzle the juice and pulp over the oats and let sit for a couple of seconds before mixing in (this will help break down the oats for easy digestion).