Before we continue with our last few weeks of the Summer Reading Series, I wanted to broadcast a PSA. When I deejayed in college, we would give a PSA on the hour of our radio shows as a way to mark time and get out valuable news. In that same spirit, I want to invite you to join me for my Steeped Cooking with Tea class at 18 Reasons, Tuesday, August 11 from 6 to 9 p.m in San Francisco. I hear there are still a few seats left, so snag your spot before the last openings are gone. Books will be for sale, provided by the great crew at cookbookery outpost, Omnivore Books and I am happy to sign your copy for whomever you like. This cooking class holds a special place for me. I have volunteered through 18 Reasons with Cooking Matters classes in San Francisco and Oakland. 18 Reasons is a community center where people come together over food, and they encourage participation of making the community a better place through cooking and food education. They’re great people and I’m delighted to be teaching a class with them.
Okay, back to the class! I’m excited to teach techniques for cooking with tea. I believe if you master these simple methods, you can easily jazz up your food with a bit of exotic flair. Michelle at 18 Reasons and I landed on these recipes to achieve just that purpose. I love teaching other passionate home cooks and hope you will join in on the evening tea revelry. Now, to discuss the basics. Here’s a preview of the menu with gorgeous photos by the incredibly talented Stephanie Shih. If the cake photo looks a bit different from the bunch, it is freshly baked and freshly shot today by yours truly.
Hurricane Popcorn with Green Tea Furikake: For several years, I lived in a house of strong, opinionated women. One of them, Lisa, introduced me to Hurricane-style popcorn that she had grown to love when she lived in Hawaii. I grew to love it after my first fistful. You will learn how to make green tea furikake that jazzes up popcorn and anywhere else you might use the seaweed version.
Walnut White Bean Tea Toasts: This little ditty hands-down has been the showstopper at cooking demos, cooking classes and samplings during the spring Steeped book tour. Whether you are making a batch of the ridiculously addictive walnut white bean spread to smear onto toast for afternoon tea, lunch or to serve with crudites, you will learn how to use tea as a spice to whiz up a delightful spread that will make it into your regular rotation.
California Tea Leaf Salad: This salad found its inspiration at one of two restaurants near our old neighborhood. Instead of making a Burmese version, we are making a California version, where it celebrates that so much of our fruits and vegetables come from the Golden State. You will learn how to make fermented green tea leaves and the salad you love when eating out, at home.
Chamomile Corn Chowder: Before organic corn skirts the farmer’s market and this year’s stalks become next year’s lusting, learn how to fold it into a silky soup with lots of textural appeal. We will be focusing on the idea of building layers of flavor using chamomile.
Evelyn’s English Breakfast Meringue Frosted Chocolate Bar Cake: This cake. It’s a mouthful to say and I’m pretty sure your mouth will stay full of it. This is what it looks like before going into the oven. Come to class to see it in all of its crackly goodness. Learn how to incorporate tea into baking in a bit of a departure from regular techniques of baking with tea.
If you missed getting one of the last spots for the class, come get steeped in the South Bay on August 22. I’ll be joining the lovely Cheryl Sternman Rule,Emma Christensen and Sheri Codiana for one doozy of a foodie day at Leigh’s Favorite Books in Sunnyvale from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Fall book tour events are forthcoming. If I’m in your part of the world, I hope to see you at one of the events.
Stay tuned for the next book review in the Summer Reading Series. We’ve still got a small chunk of time before autumn leaps on us and I am working on some devilishly delicious fun things for the fall. So, stick around, and settle in. Things are heating up. I’ll bring the tea. You bring the company.
One kind of peer pressure I particularly esteem is that of perusing what other kindred spirits online happen to be reading. I had spied this book at an airport bookstore and been easily taken in by its robin’s egg blue hue and the wooden spoon dipped into melted chocolate that drips into a pool below. There’s something so tactile in the image and cheering about the color that I had noted the book for a future read. Then, I began seeing the book in action in Instagram photos. I decided to take the plunge and added it to my summer reading series. I’m so glad I did. Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor kept me spellbound.
The story starts with a collapse and a subsequent emergency trip to the hospital where Fechtor learns she has had a sudden aneurysm. The rest of the story explores the long road to healing and how cooking and baking play an instrumental role in her finding her footing once again. This is Fechtor’s first book and I can relate to the joy and excitement involved in that enterprise. In terms of layout, this culinary memoir follows the playbook of section endings including a recipe mentioned in the previous section. Many of the recipes are adapted and read as part of a binder of favorite recipes and familiar flavors that will reconnect her with who she is when she is unsure. I particularly liked her descriptions of bread and have made a note to visit Hi-Rise Bakery when I’m in Boston this fall. I loved the moments where a cup of tea snuck into the narrative and think it would be all kinds of brilliant to have tea with Fechtor and talk about writing, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, and cooking.
It’s easy to cheer Fechtor on through every small and large victory. As a heroine of her own story, she exhibits poise and grace in circumstances where she might have become despondent or angry, instead she gives the reader gratitude. There were a few circumstances where I felt angry on her behalf such as a crucial missed appointment where I stated aloud about the ineptitude of that office to my husband late one evening. Her family and friends rally around her, but so much of the work being done is internal in the places they can’t physically see. And yet, one thing she didn’t expect is how the time spent healing and becoming whole might be a time she would rue coming to an end and this points to the book title’s inspiration: “It was the strangest thing, this tug of longing for the days that I was still squarely in. The very days that I’d been counting down. There in that house on the water, something was happening. Something so quiet that it was barely persceptible to me. It was more of a stir than a shift, a breeze that swirls through a pile of leaves, holds them in the air for a moment, then sets them back down, the same pile, rearranged.”
When I first stumbled upon the food blog, Three Many Cooks, the idea of a mom and her two daughters collaborating on a food blog together seemed like a winsome idea. Through the medium of food and narrative, they showcase individual cooking styles and personality. Several years ago, I had the occasion to meet and befriend the mom, Pam Anderson and one of the daughters, Maggy Keet at a blogging rendezvous and found them to be as warm and effusive as their inviting blog. Their memoir was published this spring and I had been looking forward to reading it even as Maggy offered to send me a copy (and I had already bought the e-version.). Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters and Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family is this week’s selection in my summer reading series.
The book chronicles the lives of Pam and her two daughters, Maggy and Sharon (Damelio) through chapters where each author takes her turn to tell her story and ends in a recipe mentioned in that chapter. This model for food memoir is one I have long enjoyed ever since I devoured Molly Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life. Including a recipe at the end of each chapter has a way of really solidifying the story, by grounding it in something tactile and delicious. This device also has a way of making the personal universal—in sharing the story and recipe, the author invites the reader to make it their own. I’m making a plan to prepare the Chicken Vindaloo and Grilled Lemon Chicken this fall and keeping my eye on the Blue-Cheese Crusted Beef Stout Pie—I know someone who would eat that up! Let me tell you, I relished this book, anticipating my pocket of reading time each evening.
In the book, we follow Pam’s foray into the culinary world, long before she established herself as a veteran cookbook author and former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated. I appreciated the grace her chapters conveyed both with herself and others, moving from the idea of perfection to prioritizing relationships. Her story starts in the South where the cuisine is summed up eloquently by Maggy: “That’s what Southern food is. Love cooked until it falls off the bone, melts in your mouth, runs down your chin, or drowns your heart in the oil of gladness.” Pam is the kind of hostess I aspire to be and I found a certain synchronicity with her stories. Maggy, the eldest daughter, leaves her mark, discovering how to cook after she married and moved abroad. The youngest daughter, Sharon, seemed to find an early fluency in the kitchen, sticking close to her mom. If you take a wide-angle view at the book it’s really about three cooks coming into their own.
But in some ways, while the book is about food and memorable anecdotes like Sharon’s chapter, “Thighs that Bind,” family is more important than the food. The reader learns of the lineage of cooking passed down from Mama Skipper to her only child Pam, who then in turn passes it down to Maggy and Sharon. Their lives are interwoven and so even as Sharon is telling a story, Maggy or Pam play central characters. It’s refreshing to find that food’s importance lay not just in preparing delectable flavors but really in bringing family together.
The last F in the trifecta of the title and telling of their tale is faith. While this word embodies its spiritual definition, it also embodies the faith that each of these women place in each other and that they are found faithful. One instance involves Maggy transporting multiple bags of groceries on the New York subway to her parent’s house in Connecticut, preparing to keep the Christmas Eve tradition alive for her Episcopalian minister father as Pam is visiting her ailing parents. Maggy might say it best on page 300, “I was raised to my faith in food—around the table in my mother’s kitchen, around the altar in my father’s church where bread and wine were offered to all.”
Sometimes the world we live in can seem cold and lonely. This book is warmth and welcome in 308 ivory paper pages. It’s quite possible that you might find yourself rooting romantically for Sharon when she first spies a classmate hoisting his Dutch oven of caldo verde to study group. You might find yourself getting cozy on the mat under the mango tree with Maggy in Malawi (where she lived in a tea plantation!). You might find yourself choked up with Pam as she hears the provenance of the piece of sinker cypress that would eventually become the counter of her bar. This book touched me with its candor that really resonates with the reader because while it’s a book about food, family, and faith, it’s really a book chronicling love.
It may seem odd to compare a book to candy, but that notion seemed right in this case. Some candies disappear quickly and before you know it, you’ve unwrapped, chewed and swallowed. Others require time to savor them like peeling the paper off a lollipop where each lick gets you closer to the stick in the center. I picked up Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver in April, not long after the book’s publication date with the intention of reading it on a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast during my book tour. But, it surprised me as good books do, making me rethink my reading plan. This book resonated with me and I lingered on certain passages, really relishing the story.
I’d met the author, Tara Austen Weaver at a blogger conference many years ago and felt like we would be kindred spirits from our shared love of writing and the fact that her blog is called “Tea and Cookies” (yes, she is a voracious tea drinker and includes a lovely anecdote about Matcha on page 155). We saw each other at a culinary conference this year, but I had never actually read her work until now and what I found at times was prose so unsettling or beautiful that I had to pause. I might re-read a sentence or discover the poetry in her framework, using litany with a final turn at the end of her list and a line of gravitas that would cut to the meat of the subject. On page 163 she describes her hopes for what her friends might see in the imperfection of the garden at her mother’s house that comes to a head in the statement, “I hoped they’d see the wonder as well as the weeds.” The chapters in the book almost read like letters or essays that don’t require a reading in one sitting and so I kept coming back to the memoir to see what new thing it might teach me about tending a garden or tending a relationship.
The premise of the memoir lies in the acquisition of a house on a rambling plot of land in Seattle that Tara’s mother purchased. The orchard, the lawn, even the decision to maintain a wild field and a side garden all revealed the tenuous threads between Tara and her mom, characteristic of the complexities that can befall a mother-and-daughter relationship. Through caring for the land they learn how to better care for each other. And it is no small thing. She captured her own vulnerability on the page masterfully that sometimes bled into me asking those questions of my own life. To make the personal universal is no trifling thing for a writer to accomplish in their work. She also deftly transitioned between talking about her family’s inter-personal relations and food. One selection that particularly riveted me pertained to raspberries. She said, “After years of shutting people out, how could I possibly let them in? I hadn’t planned on the raspberries. (p. 157)” And thus begins a story about how the bumper crop of raspberries growing in her mother’s garden offers an opportunity for her to tighten bonds with new friends in Seattle over raspberry pie because “[p]ie begs to be shared. (p. 160)”
As Tara tells her story of coming to peace with her family and finding wholeness, she also introduces many good tips on plants and gardening. Even though I have a black thumb, I became intrigued with learning tidbits coursing through the book about permaculture. I’m in awe of the final chapter, Harvestfest and the brilliant idea it presented for rethinking holiday celebration. I learned that there are two kinds of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. I learned about grafting and about the importance of pruning. But all of the gardening anecdotes, while helpful, really build another layer for the undercurrent of hopes and expectations the author has in the kind of relationship she has and wants to have with her family members. “This is the challenge of gardening: to see what is there now and to allow for what will grow. It is an exercise in imagination, in hope, in faith. (p. 49)” And I think by the end of the book, all of the hope, faith and imagination that Weaver has put into the garden and her relationship with her mother have begun to bloom beautifully.
Late one evening in a hotel room tucked into downtown Philadelphia, only two things were still awake: me and a growing desire to pull out a take-away tub of butterscotch pudding. Earlier that evening at Tallulah’s Daily, a dear foodie friend and his wife recommended trying something that would be life-changing after our feast had ended. Fast forward: it’s 2 a.m. and I am grinding the coal for that post-midnight oil to continue burning. I began toying with the idea of taking one drag of a spoonful through the thick, luscious pudding. We can guess how long that idea lasted as my love of puddings, custards, and such might be a tad legendary. He was right. My life was about to change. And, as you can imagine, I woke up with a sugar hangover. My normally spry self crawled out of bed unsure about tackling the day ahead that thankfully was devoid of any major events or needs to operate heavy machinery. I also began toying with another idea, one that had been planted at a book signing in Dallas earlier in May.
At a Steeped pop-up tea, one of the guests handed me her copy of Steeped and sucked on locally-brewed kombucha that I also enjoyed drinking. We talked about scobys and she spelled her name. Afterwards, she began talking to the other guests about how she was finishing up her second Whole30. I tend to be curious by nature and had heard this term only once before from a childhood friend. While it usually takes a person nine times to hear the same message before acting on it, according to the oracle known as Google, it only took me twice. I bought the book and relished the idea of a nutrition reset to try and right the wrongs of butterscotch pudding at 2 a.m. and the kinds of passes a person gives themselves when traveling for long stretches at a time. Past cleanses as prescribed by my previous naturopath helped provide context of what what Whole30 meals might look like in the focus of what foods to avoid.
So, for this week’s summer reading list title, I submit to you the Whole30 by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Let’s dive into the meat of the book. Pardon the paleo pun. You can tell this book has gotten a lot of action over the years. Each page and section is so well thought out it’s as if they are reading my mind and wondering what I might be positing as a question next. I like the testimonials that begin each chapter almost as much as the conversational tone that can become quite specific in doling out tough love, which is to say I never knew so many people liked and would miss pancakes. The e-reader copy has thoughtful hyperlinks that take the inquisitive reader to what the authors promise they will address later in the book, as if understanding that the question needs to be dealt with before the reader can turn their attention back to what the author next wants to disseminate. Equal parts cheerleader – drill instructor – and cooking mentor, this book must be a beast in real life because it does so much. I deeply appreciate that the focus on cooking for self is underscored as a decision for health and includes cooking basics with enticing imagery as well as meal plans, and deep sections of recipes. If the Whole30 had been written 15 years ago, it would not have had the groundswell that it is achieving today. The program laid out in the book is deeply rooted in online community and support available in the forum, social media, and free bi-weekly newsletters.
What interested me about undertaking the Whole30 is that it brings vegetables, proteins, fruits, and healthy fats to the forefront and the reintroduction period afterward gauges in a thoughtful way each person’s body’s response to food groups they’ve been avoiding for 30 days. I like that it’s not technically in my mind a diet (because let’s face it, the very word makes me want to hide in my hovel) but more a culinary challenge and I am usually ready to suit up for culinary challenges. I’m keen on listening to how my body responds and the idea of curbing my ever-present adversary, refined sugar back down to “occasional” size. Also, summertime is such a wonderful time to gorge on the gorgeous produce available at farmer’s markets.
So, I thought it would be fun to chronicle our weekly menus with the idea that they might give inspiration to others considering just such a reset. I am going to update this post throughout the month, so circle back if you are visiting after the first week. After conferring with my best friend who just finished her own Whole 30, she armed me with ideas for how to make meal planning manageable. I have also found my copy of my pal, Michelle Tam’s award-winning cookbook Nom Nom Paleo invaluable (especially with her printable PDF of Whole 30 recipes in her book- it’s genius). Hyperlinks and comments will abound though some things will be MacGyvered in my home kitchen and won’t have links to other recipes as I tend to cook off-road most of the time based on what’s in the cupboard and fridge (or what I’m particularly craving). I’m not a dietitian. I am not a nutritionist. I’m a curious home cook who is planning to mine the heck out of the spice cabinet (hello, tea spices!) and herb garden during the next month. I procure spices from local spicery Oaktown Spice Shop- most of their blends do not have sugar in them, but when in doubt, I ask. Let’s get busy cooking, shall we?
Breakfast Stovetop Frittata with Banana This is my favorite frittata and one I developed for my last Cooking Matters class for parents. It’s chock full of veggies and flavor.
Lunch Tuna spinach salad with homemade ras el hanout mayo The ras el hanout spice blend bumps up the flavor of my homemade olive oil mayo.
Dinner Nom Nom Paleo’s Slow-Roasted Kailua Pork (p. 234, NNP Cookbook) Cabbage Cups, Roasted Carrots and Beets This was a satisfying meal. The pork is a perfect foil for sauce. Next up, making salsa to drizzle over it. The cabbage worked well- they were sturdy and had lots of crunch. The beets are a show-stopper.
Scrambled Eggs with Avocado and Banana I’m going to jazz up this combo in the future.
Lunch Kalua Pork Cabbage Cups and Roasted Root Vegetables with Salsa The salsa turned this into something we would easily eat again and all of the elements make this an easily transportable lunch.
Dinner Nom Nom Paleo’s Cauliflower “Fried Rice” with Pork (p. 159 NNP cookbook) When Michelle says you might eat a second bowl of this delectable concoction, she’s not kidding. I would agree that this version of fried “rice” is better than what you might find at a Chinese restaurant. We will be making this again. Also, don’t substitute for the bacon, it adds a layer of flavor to the rice that would be missed.
Breakfast Stovetop Frittata with Banana
Lunch Leftovers Salad – Pork simmered in salsa with root veggies and spinach
Dinner Nom Nom Paleo’s Fiona’s Green Chicken, Smashed Potatoes with Thyme and Spinach Salad with Creamy Ras el Hanout Dressing The marinade really makes the chicken. I’ve determined this might be the perfect protein for potlucks or grilling at parties. It’s juicy and lively with flavors. Thanks to my friend Tara for the smashed potatoes recommendation, that duo worked well together. The leftover ras el hanout mayo (about 1 tablespoon) made it into a homemade salad dressing. I hate to waste food.
Breakfast Stovetop Frittata with Watermelon
Lunch Leftovers Salad- Pork Simmered in Salsa with Root Veggies and Avocado with a Peach At this point, I had reached my limit of pork, so we froze the rest of the shredded pork, which will make an appearance later this month.
Dinner Leftover Green Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Stir-Fried Kale and Strawberries I love kale- the key is to let its savory flavor really come through. Here I sauteed it with coconut oil, shallots, garlic, salt, white pepper and unsweetened coconut flakes. I finished it off with a squirt of lime on top.
Breakfast Kale, Onion Scramble with a Peach I had saved half of the shallots and garlic already sauteed so I could include them at the end of the scramble. Coriander worked its magic with the kale here too.
Lunch Leftover Fiona’s Green Chicken with Smashed Potatoes & Greens
Dinner Bruschetta Turkey Burger, Roasted Cauliflower and Mashed Sweet Potatoes My craving for bruschetta led to this dish. The turkey meat was seasoned with salt and pepper, but other than that, no fancy tricks here.
Breakfast Kale, Onion Scramble with a Peach
Green Salad and Lemon Wedges at a Sushi Restaurant, Bruschetta Turkey Burger at Home, Banana with Almond Butter en route to the sushi restaurant Whoever said to eat well before going to a sushi restaurant (Nom Nom Paleo) was right on. After reviewing the menu online and trying to call ahead to see if I could get steamed vegetables and a simply prepared piece of salmon, I discovered it was their day off and I needed to make provisions. So, noshing on the banana and almond butter on the way and an emergency date, coconut bar in my bag helped me know that the tiny green salad was not all I had for help when hunger assailed. The banana and nut butter really helped and I could curb the tide until I got home.
Dinner Lamb Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash and Watermelon I make marinara from scratch often and had picked up ground lamb. My craving for mushrooms paired up nicely with the last stems of basil in the fridge so we went the Bolognese route for this dish. Usually I bastardize my Bolognese with carrots for sweetness and an earthy herb like thyme. Served over spaghetti squash, this has been one of my favorite meals thus far.
Breakfast Kale, Onion Scramble with a Peach
Leftover Spaghetti Squash with Lamb Bolognese
Dinner Against All Grain’s Crockpot Thai Beef Stew and Watermelon We love Thai food. So, I looked for a recipe that could work while I worked. Enter this stew. You brown the meat and mix it with the sauce to simmer for 8 hours- perfect! I prepped all the veggies ahead of time and added them to the pot at the final hour of cooking. I got a big thumb’s up for dinner.
Breakfast Scrambled Eggs (with a few of the curried veggies snuck in) and strawberries Any leftover bits of vegetables make a great addition to scrambles and omelettes.
Lunch Beef Burger Salad with Romesco at Mission Heirloom Café This restaurant in Berkeley is paleo and offers several tasty options that are Whole 30 okay.
Wild Sockeye Salmon with Pistou, Beets and Flash-Fried Padron Peppers I decided to play around with the idea of food art. The axiom goes that we eat with our eyes so if the food is pretty then we will find extra delight in it.
Breakfast Mushroom Thyme Scramble with Homemade Marinara and Peach Slices Homemade marinara might be my new favorite way to sauce eggs apart from salsa Mexicana.
Leftover Thai Beef Curry
Dinner Sweet Potato with Wild Sockeye Salmon, Steamed Spinach, Pistou and Crispy Shallots This was pretty easy to throw together and the texture and taste of the crispy shallots made the dish stand out.
Italian Flag Frittata (kale, mushroom frittata drizzled with marinara and pistou) and strawberries Whoa. These two sauces side by side left quite an impressive punch of flavor.
Lunch Leftover Thai Beef Curry
Grilled Chicken, sautéed Swiss chard and grilled root vegetables This dish was the outcome of my mother-in-law answering the question, “What can I make for my kids who are on the Whole 30. It was a good opportunity to talk about why we are setting aside 30 days to reset and listen to our bodies and the meal is something that can be a good stand-by if you’re trying to suggest foods to eat for a potential party / to a host.
Breakfast Swiss chard scramble with berries and nectarine chunks
Lunch Grilled chicken kebab with citrus-infused potatoes and cucumber, black olive, tomato salad
Artichoke Garlic sausage with kale, sweet potato, tomato, red pepper sauté This might be my new “fast food” go-to. It’s a chop, saute, serve kind of situation that’s mighty tasty. Check the labels on the sausages. We used Aidell’s.
Breakfast Zucchini scramble with leftover marinara and a peach I steamed the zucchini chunks the night before so I would have something to add to my morning eggs. Good decision!
Lunch Shrimp salad doused in Crystal hot sauce with beets, lettuce, black olives and tomato slices. I’m pretty convinced that Crystal hot sauce is a gift from above. It certainly made what would have been a boring Pier 39 salad into something with a bit more pizzazz.
Dinner Juicy brisket with melted onions, smashed potatoes and parsley beet salad This was a revelation. You can take the girl out of Texas but somewhere deep down I will always have a soft spot for brisket. Also, the jus was oh so nice drizzled on the crunchy bits of the smashed potatoes.
Breakfast Spinach omelette
Lunch Sweet potato with chopped brisket and a bowl of blueberries in coconut milk This was my first flub- and as I look at breakfast, it was too. Breakfast should have included more fat- 1/4 or 1/2 an avocado sliced. Lunch should have had vegetables and much more protein than the scraggles of brisket pieces. Plus the bowl of blueberries and coconut milk felt like my first cheat even though they were both “okay” on the W30 list. Live and learn, right? I was hangry and frustrated the entire afternoon. I took a walk. I phoned a friend. I moved on and will plan better.
Dinner Leftover brisket with beets and spinach avocado salad dressed with leftover pistou
Breakfast Tomato omelette with avocado and blueberries
Lunch Leftover brisket with steamed cauliflower and broccoli
Dinner Chicken with melted onions and bell pepper atop steamed butternut squash and roasted Brussels sprouts This chicken is something I have been making for a while. It is a kind of comfort food and thigh meat just has more flavor and juiciness. Also, I know butternut squash and Brussels sprouts are technically “not in season” but variety is the spice of life and I’m okay with painting outside the seasonal lines occasionally.
Tomato Omelette with a nectarine
Leftover chicken with butternut squash spinach salad and avocado
Cabbage sauté with sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers
Breakfast Tomato Omelette with a nectarine
Leftover sausage cabbage sauté with a side of blueberries
Niman Ranch flank steak salad with grilled onions, avocado and tomatoes
Breakfast Slept in- oops!
Lunch Salad bowl from Chipotle with chicken, fajita vegetables, pico de gallo and guacamole
My version of Salade Nicoise with a side of blueberries
Breakfast Tomato, Green Bean Frittata with a banana
Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Marinara and Meatballs
Adobo chicken with steamed potatoes and carrot avocado spinach salad
2 eggs sunny side up with avocado and tomato slices and a side of blueberries
Lunch Leftover Salade Nicoise
Dinner Leftover Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Marinara and Meatballs along with a side of watermelon
Breakfast Green Bean Egg Scramble with Blueberries
Leftover Sausage Cabbage Saute
Braised Beef with Onions,
Breakfast Sausage Scramble with a Banana
Leftover Adobo Chicken with Spinach
Dinner Ground Beef Cabbage Cup Tacos with tomatoes, avocado and a side of cherries
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Leftover Spiced Ground Beef Tacos in Cabbage Cups
Dinner Poached Fish with Aioli, Steamed Carrots and Sliced Fennel
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Leftover Spiced Ground Beef Tacos in Cabbage Cups
Dinner Tuna Cakes with Creamy Carrot Curls Tossed in Leftover Aioli
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
My version of Salade Nicoise
Dinner Shredded Pork with Carrots and Potatoes over Shredded Cabbage Slaw in Cilantro Dressing
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Leftover Shredded Pork with Carrots and Potatoes over Shredded Cabbage Slaw in Cilantro Dressing
Dinner Shredded Pork Green Curry
Breakfast Tomato Basil Omelette
Leftover Shredded Pork Green Curry
Dinner Caldo de Pollo with Avocado
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Leftover Caldo de Pollo with Avocado
Dinner Spiced Ground Beef Tacos with Mexican Gremolata in Cabbage Cups
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Leftover Caldo de Pollo with Avocado
Dinner My version of Paleo Chicken Schnitzel with Swiss Chard and Fingerling Potatoes
Lunch Leftover Caldo de Pollo with Avocado
Dinner Salmon with Squash and Mushroom Garnish, Cabbage Slaw with Basil Dressing, and Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes
Breakfast Tomato Omelette
Lunch Leftover Chicken Schnitzel with Leftover Cabbage Slaw
Dinner Taco Salad with Spiced Ground Beef, Sunchokes, Avocado and two kinds of tomatoes (Early Girl and Cherokee Purple)
Picture this: a get-away car, a driver, and a passenger with two cookbooks in tow. Is this you headed on a grand summer adventure? Maybe. I hope you will be excited for a spate of book reviews I’ve got coming up. Think of it as a Summer Required Reading List of sorts that will be several parts cookery and several parts poetry with a dash of memoir stirred into our class-is-out cocktail. Sometimes on road trips, I am the passenger, and I’ve always had a proclivity for reading in the car. Our first book of summer came all dolled up in muscovado and turbinado from Shauna Sever. Today, I want to bring to you hard crack. Another way of saying that is here comes a sweet surprise in Lollipop Love by Anita Chu. Do candy-makers have a special sense of humor? I hope so.
It’s no mistake that I took Real Sweet and Lollipop Love on that 48 hour road trip. Several years ago, Anita, Shauna, Irvin Lin, and I all organized a food blogger bake sale for No Kid Hungry. For two fun years, the four of us banded like the Three Amigos (although, maybe that makes one of us D’Artagnan and the analogy is better suited to Musketeers?). Each of us figured out how we would contribute and it worked brilliantly, especially with the phenomenal addition of eager, passionate food blogger volunteers who baked and decorated some tempting treats. We had Celia to thank for letting us set up our pop-up bake shop outside of Omnivore Books and years later, we remain friends.
At one of those bake sales, I first schemed to make a granola with green tea and liked it so much that it got tucked into the pages of my cooking with tea book. Back then, the aspiration of writing a cookbook had not happened for me yet and so I saluted Anita and Shauna as they took to their kitchens publishing several books (Anita: Field Guide to Cookiesand Field Guide to Candy) and (Shauna: Marshmallow Madness and Pure Vanilla). Call it fate, call it kismet, call it a lot of hard work and sinkfuls of dirty dishes or packed refrigerators with trials 1 through 8, but all of us are cookbook authors now with Irvin’s first book, Marbled, Swirledand Layered is coming out Spring 2016. Imagine, then, my delight that my first book’s launch date happened to coincide mere weeks from Shauna’s and Anita’s. If life is sweet, it’s because of the company we keep.
This brings us to lollipops. Lollipop Love is a slender, small book of 96 pages. As a novice candy-maker, I appreciated that the basic sugar lollipop recipe accompanies the reader onto almost every page. A good book instructs and inspires opportunities for departure. While the basics of lollipop making remain largely the same, some flavor combinations exist that excite and make me want to pull out my heavy-bottomed saucepan and get busy boiling. I’m drawn to flavors like the mango-chili lollipops (page 49) and the pink hued rosewater-saffron lollipops (page 35). If those sound a bit exotic, she also includes recipes for boozy lollipops like the Beer Lollipops (page 44) and what would be a knock-out for New Year’s Eve, Champagne and Glitter Lollipops (page 42).
The book is divided into three sections, not counting the technique primer at the beginning. I like that she masterfully educates for any skill level and shows the process to make a batch of lollipops simply. Section one explores sugar lollipops and denotes the flavors mentioned above. If you tend to be sweet on caramel, section two is for you. I’ve been eyeing the Passion Fruit-Caramel Lollipops (page 67) or the Almond Butter Crunch Lollipops (page 73). Section three focuses on chocolate lollipops and has me thinking ahead to a fun form of evening entertainment. Who wouldn’t want to dip peanut butter lollipops into chocolate (page 90) as a do-it-yourself dessert?
You will need a few essential supplies to get started, namely, lollipop sticks, lollipop molds, and a candy thermometer. And, here’s a genius tip from the Kitchn on quick and easy clean-up. Once you’ve set up your candy-making station, in less than 30 minutes you will have freshly brewed lollipops.
I say brewed because, of course, I knew I needed to make her Peach Tea Lollipops (page 33). In the headnote, she recommends that you can use any tea, so I opted to use Earl Grey instead to give a bouquet full of bergamot scented suckers to a friend for her birthday. One thing she notes is that when brewing the tea you want more astringency from it, so plan on brewing black tea for around 6 to 8 minutes . Switch it out and brew your favorite green tea, or concoct Honey-Chamomile Lollipops (page 45) for an herbal infused throat soothing hard candy. There’s a lot to love about lollipops.
Store the lollipops in cellophane bags, tied off tightly and in a cool, dry place where they can be kept for 1 month. The recipe calls for light corn syrup, which isn’t high fructose corn syrup, but the kind used to make pecan pie. If you’re not keen on corn syrup, try her recipe for Sweet Agave Lollipops on page 52 instead.
YIELD: 24 small (1 1/2-inch/4-cm) or 10 big (2-in/5-cm)
1 cup / 200g sugar
1 cup / 240ml brewed Earl Grey tea
1/4 cup /60ml light corn syrup
Coat the lollipop molds lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place lollipop sticks in the molds.
Combine the sugar, tea, and corn syrup in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 300F/149C (hard-crack stage). Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.
Pour the mixture into a heatproof measuring container with a spout, or a candy funnel. Divide the mixture among the prepared molds. Let the lollipops cool and harden, about 15 minutes, before removing them from the molds.