You too, can make salad! (Or just watch me make it)

My friend Jessica urged me to use facebook, and my cooking site, to promote the cooking classes I teach at Bayview School of Cooking. Once again, I have been wise to surround myself with people much savvier than I am.

I will be teaching a winter salads class on February 1. It’s going to be splendid: mango-black rice salad, butter lettuce, persimmon and macadamia nut salad, a pan-Asian crunch bowl and the oddball, (but popular) celery root and apple salad. The school does not have an online sign-up, or I would include the link. The class includes a wine pairing, so you can relax while I cook, like my children do (but with wine).

I was scheduled to teach a holiday desserts class on December 5, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. Eaters, this won’t due! Here are links to posts on some of my favorite holiday desserts that I was going to make in the class. These include: pomegranate gelato, apple latkes, cranberry-lime pie, and the pumpkin tiramisu which is not my favorite but is a consistent party pleaser.

Bayview School of Cooking class schedule

Hope to see you in February! In the mean time, dare me to use this bundt pan?

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!








My Vacation, or: Don’t Get Between Me and My Fork

Mural at Jo’s Coffee, South Congress

Anyone who has cell phone contact with me knows I was in Austin, Texas the week before Thanksgiving (all those pictures of cupcakes I texted y’all? Y’all are welcome!). When I found out my husband had a conference there, I thought I should go along to keep an eye on him. My sister agreed to take care – excellent care – of my daughters for the week, so I thought I better jump at the chance. I will try to encapsulate my action-packed week untethered from all domestic duties and obligations. As is the case with most good stories, Eaters, (well, most that have me as the protagonist) it begins and ends with food. The middle part is also food.

Austin had been on my must-visit list ever since I saw a picture of Barton Springs in a magazine 3 years ago. My imagination is captured by swimming spots and eateries, especially when they exist near each other. Luckily that old caution about getting a cramp when you take a post-prandial dip is a myth, or I would have fallen into peril much sooner with my eat-swim-repeat lifestyle.

Lovely Barton Springs

We arrived on a balmy Sunday night and walked from our downtown hotel to the funky South Congress neighborhood, stopping for a photo at Jo’s coffee. We ate at Guero’s, and since I was hungry and elated to be starting my vacation, I enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t the most inspired meal. The Austin Lager was superb though. I don’t have any vocabulary to describe beer, but to borrow from the old saying, it was colder than my ex’s heart (trust me, that could freeze your thumbs off).

On our walk back we passed the Hey Cupcake airstream (can I live in there please?) and though I am a chocolate cake snob, I indulged in a chocolate cupcake because it had cream cheese frosting (so did the carrot cake, but I was wary of the common, white collar crime of cinnamon abuse). It was a splendid little cake, and even better for being consumed while walking on the first warm night of our first vacation without kids.

I was worried about how much stamina/tolerance my husband would be able to muster on this trip (“Look honey! They make Tempeh bahn mi! That’s incredible! Look honey! These Great Tailed Grackles are so charming; I need to photograph them eating out of that garbage can! Look Honey, it’s O’Henry’s actual house! Look Honey! It’s a museum exhibit that will take me 3 hours to experience while you claw out your eyes from boredom! Look Honey! Etc!”). Indeed, on Monday and Tuesday he had to abandon me at some point, to “do some work.” He was actually in Austin for work, but between you and me, I think he just couldn’t look at another bird. He may also have been weary of lashing me to my bicycle mast every time we passed a patisserie. Whatever the source of his fatigue, it’s okay, because we visited the capitol together, (largest in the U.S., because it’s Texas) experienced the awe-inspiring LBJ Library and Museum and, most importantly, he got to watch me eat nachos (from Chuy’s, I recommend them – pickled jalepenos are a must) and listen to me complain about my distended stomach. I walked the labyrinth at St. David’s Episcopal Church without him, but I knew he was there in spirit because the man can’t get enough labyrinths.

The Chuy’s on Barton Springs road is adjacent to “The Picnic” food truck park, the perfect place to enjoy shaded picnic tables and try the local beers (they weren’t serving them; I brought them in my backpack). Have you noticed there are no food trucks created around the cuisine of countries where people are long-lived? Where is the Okanawan food cart where they make you chop wood and carry water before they ladle you up an earthen mug of steaming “Longevity Root Vegetable Broth” and seat you at a bench with centenarians? Nowhere, that’s where. Just as well for me I suppose, since I wasn’t really there to practice austerity, as anyone who saw me practically sitting on a pile of nachos will attest.

Then on the way to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden (oops there goes my husband again! Bye Honey! He’s cycling away awfully fast…) I stopped at Holla Mode Thai Ice Cream, thanks to a tip from a local. This was something utterly new to me and thrilling, since it was 80 degrees and humid that day. This style of ice cream is made to order atop a frozen metal disk. Once the ingredients are amalgamated and smoothed into a thin layer, the cunning creamarista (?) scrapes the mixture up it into tidy rolls and deposits them in a cup. Because I asked for extra lime juice in my key lime ice cream, (and hold the graham crackers because that’s just weird) mine wouldn’t roll up properly and was served to me in sheets. No matter, it was tart and refreshing.

And I didn’t just eat! We were car-free so we walked and biked for miles. I got to swim in Barton Springs* (twice in one day!) and in Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest pool in Texas, which was built in 1936. I kept picturing pre-war bathers there in modest, 1930s swimming costumes. I shopped at Bookpeople, we ate breakfast at the haunted Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, but were unable to contact the spirit world. I waited at sunset on the Anne W. Richards bridge for the largest North American urban bat colony (as opposed to the rural bat colonies who sway elections) to emerge, even though I had already called the bat hotline** (using the bat phone) and found out they all hightailed it to Mexico two weeks prior to my visit. I listened to a little live music, though not as much as you might think, since I go to bed at 9.30. I toured the Prohibition exhibit at the Bullock Museum, and I took multiple pictures of charming turtles lined up on logs.

I had the best time. And I haven’t even told you about the branding irons. Those are big there.  Next time…

At the airport


*In answer to the frequently asked question,”Hot springs?!” No, cold springs. Well, cool anyway: 68 F.

**Yes, that’s real: (512) 327-9721.



A Brisk Walk of Shame

I like to take long walks on holidays. I take long walks on regular days, but it feels especially important to me on days that involve feasting. I decided a few years ago that American holidays are just a flaunting of the seven deadly sins. Well, certainly of a selection of them; gluttony, sloth, avarice, despair, and wrath seem amply represented at your average family gathering. So I started taking head-clearing, righteous walks.

Since I was going to pass the Billy Frank Wildlife Refuge on an early Thanksgiving day errand, I thought I should walk the four mile round trip on the boardwalk. I was not entirely well-clad for the weather, but it was just misting as I began. There is often weather here, lots of it, and all of it quite wet. Mist is just the weather taking a moment to collect its thoughts before getting really nasty. I commenced my walk with the utmost gratitude for everything I have (delightful children, loving spouse, charming friends, markets that sell artisanal cheeses, indoor plumbing) and for all that I have not (fallen arches, rats, a failing liver, bedbugs). About seven steps into my walk, the sky opened up.

It seemed to rain from the ground, delivering its waters up my very nostrils. The quilted skirt that had made my lower quadrants feel so jaunty and toasty just a moment before, became akin to a sodden bag of spinach clinging to my thighs. Rivulets of mascara flowed down my coat and into my Wellies. Did I turn back? Of course not. I am a lifetime devotee of the sunk-cost fallacy. I had come this far (that would be 50 yards, approximately, from my vehicle) and I wasn’t going to turn back now. The inside of my raincoat had become wetter than the outside in nine seconds, yet I trudged on. Who do I think I am? Ernest Shackleton?

Out there with me were several other imbeciles, also determined to take a righteous walk and avoid their extended families. I was guilty of a sin they forgot to include in the seven deadlies: marriage to a hare-brained idea. For every hundred sensible ideas I discard, I have a few, cherished, horrible ones I cling to. Why do I do this? Why am I like this?

Well, because I am right of course. Moments after I had my realization that I was just another Thanksgiving fool, that the bloated masses, anesthetized by football and tryptophan on their plaid, scratchy couches, counting the hours until Walmart opened early for Black Friday, were wiser by far, than me, the rain ceased. It was replaced by a gentle breeze. I walked the whole way and took pride (tick off another of the deadlies) in my determination, my grit, my love of the outdoors! It’s so good to be right! Once again I clung doggedly, mindlessly to a ridiculous notion, and it paid off – another life lesson not learned. If I was you, I would want to be me, too.











Apple Support

Welcome to Apple Support – we’re here to help.

The upside of having a child home sick, is having someone around to help me figure out my iphone. Once she had it fixed, I figured I’d get a two-fer, and asked her why the desk top computer was unresponsive. “I only deal with apple products,” she said. Wow, sixth graders are so specialized now. “Well what’s the computer, then?” “Just a computer,” replied my pocket-sized, sneezing, IT department.

She had a roaring good time at a birthday party yesterday, where the girls got to make their own cheesecakes (That’s an activity I would never allow a passel of girls to undertake on my watch. God bless other mothers!). But she returned home sounding like she had contracted a mash-up of consumption and croup. I don’t think she’s a smoker, but then, I am not a helicopter parent.

So I am home today after canceling lunch with an old friend I was going to meet up with in Tacoma. A child-free ladies’ lunch at the wonderful Indo, followed by a pistachio cake from Arthouse Cafe, will have to wait for a day when no one is running a temperature and requesting ramen every 30 minutes. Burdened by first world problems, I sensed my mood going south. Eaters, you know what that means: it was time to bake.

A bagful of tasteless, pulpy apples had been pouting in my garage for a month. I didn’t know Gala apples could be that unpalatable.They were no good for eating, so I decided to give them a second chance in a baked good. I peeled them (this is nothing like the odious task of peeling potatoes, a horrid business I never take part in) and plopped them in water with some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown (why does it matter if you are just going to bake them? I have no idea). I sliced them, and then tossed them with 2 tablespoons of sugar, a couple dashes of cinnamon and cardamom, a pinch of salt, about a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, and a couple teaspoons, or so, of lemon juice. It’s important to do all this to your taste. Keep mixing and tasting until you get the right balance of sweet, tart and spice. And I can’t say exactly how many apples to use because they vary in size. Okay, use more than 6, but less than 20.

I wasn’t going to go to the store, because I had already been there once in search of healthy ramen, so I used what was in my fridge for the crumble: 3/4 cup rice flour, 3/4 cup almond flour, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 3 tablespoons cold butter, a dash of vanilla, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust this to your taste too). This is quick and easy with a KitchenAid mixer, but I decided to do it by hand, in order not to interrupt my daughter’s soothing podcast. I sprinkled the crumble over the top and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes (you know I am going to say it: baking time will vary by oven and the well-documented capriciousness of apples, and bakers).

Maybe my daughter will teach me how to download podcasts, if that’s not above her pay grade. Say hello to the future, indeed.

Stay well,


P.S. Apple’s site states: “Anything you can do, you can do better.” Those are the most dispiriting words. I prefer the adage of my husband’s former boss: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.”

Where the Magic Happens

Ah well. Again, I have been too long away. I keep getting swept under by the permanent high tide of bad news (complete with a low tide stench). The madman and half-wit minions someone thought should run our country, (into the ground) make writing about pasta seem pointless. And I resent, deeply, anyone who does that. I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead (those who are dead inside, that is) but I ask myself sometimes: why crawl out of bed?

Well, that’s easy actually: to bake. My daughters rely on me to keep a babbling brook of baked treats flowing through the house, so they have fuel to complain about homework and chores. Hey, it’s tough to stress-bake your way out of the current atmosphere of violence and vitriol, but grab your aprons, because if we don’t try, who will?

I know I have published a couple iterations of chocolate chip cookie recipes, (“Chookies,” “Cookies Again“) but this one includes coconut and oats and is top notch. I like these the best, and this is due, in part, to my employment of the larger of my two dough scoops. Larger cookies not only ease the psychic pain, they are more moist. But are they really more moist, or did I just manage to not overbake them? It’s unclear. Indeed we live in times where one can only assume sales of large dough scoops have soared, along with “WTF?” cross-stitch throw pillows kits, and one-way tickets to Canada. Don’t overthink it, just switch to the large dough scoop.

My friend Jenni enjoyed one of these cookies the other day when we were out seeking solace in the woods in the uncomplicated company of our dogs. She described the cookies as magical. That was sweet. No magic here though, just love. Or perhaps then it’s magic after all – because what is more transformative than love? Answer: large infusions of cash to politicians.

My daughter says these cookies taste like girl scout Samosas, “but homemade, so even better!” I read somewhere that every day that you wake up and someone loves you is a miracle. Every day that you wake up and someone loves you, and makes you cookies, is a day to throw off the covers, Eaters, and hit the ground running. Or at least crawling.

Transformative Cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened, dried coconut
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (you can replace some, or all, with coconut oil)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I have also used Sucanat with good results)
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (You can use chips, chunks, or a chopped bar, but my favorite chocolate to use here is chopped barkTHINS with pumpkin seeds – notice I did not say pumpkin spice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oats together.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together for about 30 seconds until blended. Beat in the egg until smooth and barely fluffy. With mixer running on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla until incorporated. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the dry ingredients. Blend just to combine, then mix in the chocolate.

I think these turn out best if you chill the dough for half an hour. If you can form the dough balls and then chill it, even better. I know it’s hard to wait, but the sad fact is, cookies spread out on baking sheets and melt into cookie puddles. Place large dough balls on a parchment, or silicone lined cookie sheet at 3 inches apart. Pat them down slightly but don’t stress them out. Check at 9 minutes, but they may need to bake a bit longer. They are done when lightly browned on top.



Buried in Berries

The other day, my daughter and I sallied forth to cull the last of the waning season’s blackberries. We stopped first at the rare indigenous blackberry patch of legend (RIBPoL). Notice the leaves – these are not the willful brambles that have colonized your yard and viciously slashed your feet. These are the peaceful natives, or what remains of them. And they are delicious – like jam flavored wine, or wine flavored jam. They manage to evoke the pleasures of both: the fruity comfort of jam on buttered toast, and the relaxing and mood enhancing properties of a good glass of wine.While picking in the unpleasantly hot sun, I thought, how have I not written about berries this summer when I live in berryland and I think and talk about berries all the time? It may be that from late May to September they are so abundant here, it’s like writing about blinking. It’s just life, you know?

But oh, what a lovely life. The salmonberries were brief and sparse this year, and in all my years of dining on them, I have never managed to get one out of the woods and on to a plate. They are best eaten trailside. The same goes for thimbleberries, which disintegrate into a lipstick red mush, once picked. Strawberries were delicious, but that’s a post unto itself.One day in July I walked in the woods and encountered this particularly populated bush of Red Huckleberries. On that same walk I tasted four other kinds of wild berries, one of which I had never seen before, but don’t worry, since I am obviously still here. My husband has always been alarmed by my gleeful foraging behavior, and even after his two decades of life in the northwest, acts like everything in the woods is deadly poison. I am starting to think that’s just his shtick.

This is an underripe blackcap, a berry I have not seen since my childhood rambles in the woods. I just learned that this seldom seen delight is the same as the black raspberry. I assume, like everything except morning glory and dandelions, they have been choked out by the invasive (or, as they prefer to be called, “Himalayan”) blackberries.

And if anyone knows what these are, please contact me in the comments section below. They were longer and slimmer than the other blackberries and the leaves were unique. I can attest that they are edible, if a bit tart. I saw a faint, but unmistakable, hologram of the Virgin Mary that persisted for 2 hours after I partook of these dainties, but once I wandered out of the woods, it disappeared. So I don’t think that’s a problem.
There are few sights more wholesome and welcoming to me than a bowl like this in the morning. Berries atop waffles, dutch babies, yogurt or peanut buttered toast make me feel like all the rain was worth it. And then there’s the baking…
My clever friend Kirstin picked the berries for this pie during the eclipse, so they are infused with the changing light, the awed cries of millions of observers, and the humbling sense of our own minuscule presence in the cosmos. So yours probably won’t taste like this did, but don’t despair. The pie my daughter and I made from the RIBPoL, picked during no notable astronomical event, was fantastic. I followed Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe for open faced blueberry pie (works for blackberries!) that I linked to in “Why Pie?”

Now crisps are the go-to dessert of the season, and best served with vanilla enhanced whipped cream. I made this one for an outdoor party I catered, and served it next to a backyard duck pond. Crisps are quick and easy and you can use a variety of flours, nuts, oats, maple syrup or your choice of sugar. I also used this recipe for a desserts class I taught at the Bayview School of Cooking. There were no ducks, but it was still good.

Any Berry Crisp

Ingredients for crumble

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour (I have subbed almond meal here and it’s delicious, if not cohesive)
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/2 cup rolled oats
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for filling

1 tablespoon cornstarch (you can also use instant tapioca pudding)
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cup raspberries
1 ½ cup blueberries or blackberries
1 ½ cup cherries (frozen is fine)
¼ cup dried currants (optional)
1/4 cup Beaujolais wine or similar type


Preheat oven to 375. Butter an 8 inch baking dish.

To make the crumble, mix together the flour, flax meal, oats, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter. Divide the mixture into three portions and use your hands to form three patties, place the patties in the bowl and freeze for at least ten minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.

Make the filling by whisking together the cornstarch and sugar in a larger bowl. Add the raspberries, blue or blackberries, cherries and currants and toss until evenly coated. Wait three minutes, add the wine and toss again.

Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish. Remove the topping from the freezer and crumble it over the filling, trying for big and small pieces.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are bubbling. Let cool a little before serving.

This recipe is, with slighdt adaption, is based on Heidi Swanson’s Tutti-Frutti Crumble in Super Natural Everyday.



Eat this Eclipse

This post is dedicated to all mothers, whether they weep or rejoice.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

On Monday morning, I hadn’t realized that the moon had begun it’s slow slide across the sun’s face, until my oldest burst in exclaiming, “There’s a bite out of the sun!” I went outside with my sister and daughters, to watch the light gently grow lovely and eery. As our shadows resolved into darker, crisper forms, my sister asked me how the eclipse made me feel.

I witnessed America’s last total eclipse as a second grader in 1979, standing outside my school in Portland. And a few trips around the sun later, here I am, in middle-age and motherhood. “It’s knowing that the next time this happens here, I will be gone, ” I said, “that kind of gets me.” I hope I am not gone, but I most certainly will be dead. “Will you promise to talk about me at the next eclipse, girls?” I said. “Yes, mom. Please pass me the glasses.” It was kind of sweet; I could tell they found me maudlin and a bit tiresome, but knew this was no time to cross me. I almost asked them to promise to scatter my ashes then too, but there are only so many promises you can extract from children you refuse to take to theme parks.

feathery eclipse shadows

I wasn’t sure what the eclipse was supposed to awaken, but I knew I was sharing this experience with millions, and I wished they could all witness it with someone they loved. I may not have done much with my one wild and precious life but hike, consume novels, and serve as the source of a fairly dependable stream of meals and baked goods. But I did raise these remarkable women, and give them to the world. It’s that handing-them-over part I don’t like. Can’t I keep them?

Later, I told my youngest that the idea for the cake came to me during the eclipse and she said, “Oh, then you had an ecliphany.” Okay, some people say you choose your parents. I know this is a cherished belief for some, so I almost feel bad that I think it’s nonsense. But if we could choose our children, I like to think I would have plucked those two frisky weasels out of any crowd of aspiring offspring. Yup, there they are. One of them has a jumble sale grin of mismatched teeth, the other is coated to the gills in the adolescent armor of orthodontia. I love those smiles. I hope that, if all goes the way we pray it will, when I am gone (but not forgotten!) my daughters will still love each other, still be treading the earth lightly, smiling and taking great bites out of the sun.

Ecliphany Cake

Caution: While baking these cakes, please wear glasses that are ISO 12312-2 compliant. This astronomically-inspired creation consists of a half recipe of Molly Gaskell’s buttery-delicious Orange Cake from The Moosewood Cookbook, and a small chocolate cake – any recipe you like – (scale it down, or just use all the remaining batter in cupcakes). I have published my favorite chocolate cake recipe and a gluten free version in previous blogs, linked to here. I served this with dark chocolate ganache. Adding the chocolate moon was a fun novelty but it was the sunny orange cake that was the…big star.

Ingredients for Orange Cake

Butter for the pan
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar (I reduced this slightly from Gaskell’s original recipe)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons orange extract (my addition)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice

Ingredients for glaze

1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Orange Liqueur, like Grand Marnier, or Dry Sherry (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after addition. Stir in the orange rind, vanilla, and orange extract. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup sour cream or yogurt, and the 1/2 cup orange juice. Set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture alternately with the combined sour cream (or yogurt) and orange juice, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix by hand after each addition – just enough to combine well. (These are my official directions. My unofficial directions are to throw it all together and beat it until combined.)

Turn into the prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way down comes out clean. Cool for about 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge, then invert onto a plate. Allow to cool completely.

Combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 minutes. Pour the hot glaze onto the cooled cake. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing so that the glaze has an opportunity to soak into the cake.