The year of the plant

2016 seems to be the  year of the plant. I keep seeing Michael Pollan’s quote (eat food. not too much. mostly plants.) everywhere. NPR ran this story and The New York Times Food section this week has a luscious-looking roasted cauliflower on the front page. And after almost canceling my subscription to Bon Appetit after they ran this ridiculous story in their December issue (I don’t know about you, but I always wear my best dress and pout my red-painted lips while searing halloumi cheese), they seem to have redeemed themselves this month by denouncing the artisan bottled water trend (there is organic birch tree water?), loving lots of fresh herbs and including plant-forward recipes that I can’t wait to try (like this one! and this one!) I am normally lousy at eating lunch, so I decided to start the new year off right with a grain-based salad made with a lovely winter root vegetable: the beauty heart radish. Crunchy, peppery and hot pink; the beauty heart radish is a great way to brighten the grayest of winter days.

And while cauliflower is getting a lot of attention these days, I have been obsessing over celery. And so is Half-moon, who stopped and cooed at the green stalks as I whipped them out of the fridge and onto the cutting board, pausing to let him reach out and grab at the leaves. (Speaking of leaves, make sure they get into the salad too- 2016 is also about cutting down on food waste.) While my grain of choice- chewy spelt berries- cooked on the stove, I mixed up a dressing of lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and cilantro. Add in a little tangy, salty feta and- poof!- you have a hearty, healthy lunch. Leftovers are delicious, too.



Beauty Heart Radish and Celery Salad with Spelt Berries, Lemon and Feta


3/4 cup cooked spelt berries (for more on cooking spelt berries, see this post)
2 stalks celery (leaves too!), chopped
1/2 beauty heart radish (cut away the bitter peel), chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon
lemon zest
handful of cilantro, chopped
olive oil
handful of feta cheese


Cook spelt berries. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, cilantro in a big salad bowl. Add the celery and radish. Let the spelt berries cool to room temperature and toss them into the salad. Add feta cheese and season with pepper, if you like.


I hope 2016 finds you following your path. Happy Nu-Nu! Wink wink.

You keep me hanging on

Happy September.


Summer keeps us hanging on. And with my sister visiting from Seattle the last week of August and beginning of September, we soaked it in. We swam, we kayaked, we cheered on Tom Cruise in Top Gun at the Union Terrace with a bunch of people who weren’t born when that movie was in theaters. And we broke down and bought tickets to Yum Yum Fest 2015.


There wasn’t much (any) vegetarian food (we’re still not over pork belly?), but thank goodness for cold brew coffee push pops from Forequarter and Barmadillo’s delightful cocktails named after old baseball players. What more do you need, really?

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With this heat, all I’ve wanted to do is eat ice cream and drink booze, but with Half-moon in the picture, I’m trying to be a good vegetarian and eat protein, protein, protein! I’m lousy at grains and feel guilty just from looking at back issues of Bon Appetit that praise the wonders of Farro! Freekeh! Millet! Teff! It makes my head spin. But the other day as I stared remorsefully at the jar of spelt berries on my counter that hadn’t been touched since who-knows-when, I took action. I soaked those suckers in a bowl of water overnight (which was not my intention, but I went to bed before cooking said spelt berries) and the next day I cooked them up and made a tabbouleh-inspired salad with cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and loads of parsley. It hit the spot.



Spelt Berry Cherry Tomato Salad


1 1/2 cups uncooked spelt berries
1/4 onion, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
bunch of parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the spelt berries (you may soak for an hour- or overnight- to lessen the cooking time.)* Once the grains are cold, mix them together with cherry tomatoes, onion and parsley. Make a citrus-y dressing with the juice of a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper (bonus points for freshly smashed peppercorns.) Leftovers are good for a couple of days.

*How do you cook spelt berries? (From the
• If you want the spelt berries very soft, like steamed rice, add 3 cups of water or stock to 1 cup of spelt, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
• If you like it chewier and nuttier, like for salads, use 2 cups of water or stock for every cup of spelt berries. Cook the spelt like risotto, adding half a cup at a time and stirring after each addition until the liquid evaporates. They should be tender after about 30-40 minutes.


Enjoy the heat while it lasts, my friends. The crickets’ songs will soon be a memory.