My Veg Table Posts

My favorite photos of 2017: strawberry chia jam, corn and crawfish pie, red beans and rice, low country boil, sweet peppers, blueberry merk’s coffee cake, pesto three ways, Florida cranberry (hibiscus).

Change is necessary. Change is inevitable. Change is scary

The discussion of change almost seems a contradiction: how can something so normal and ever-present bring about such anxiety and stress? Change means evolving: evolving into something different–and hopefully–something better. Many look to a new year as a time of welcome changes: a new diet, a new fitness routine, maybe even a new relationship. For me, change comes in the form of a new job. After 9 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I’m going back to work. I’ve kept my toes wet in the nursing pool for the past 5 years, so I’m not completely rusty; but nevertheless, I am both excited and anxious at the thought of re-starting this chapter of my life. My biggest challenge will be finding a new kind of balance; one that coexists with a full time job.

Another transition has slowly been taking place over the past year: I have altered my diet to include meat and fish again. I was a vegetarian for six years and for much of that time, I felt better than I ever had. But gradually over the past year and a half, I haven’t felt the same: I’ve almost felt…imbalanced. I started gradually adding back those things I omitted all those years ago and started to notice differences: subtle at first, and then quite obvious. Not much else has changed–except now I like a little meat on the side of my veggies…

Inspiration Publications Travel

Let’s be honest: it’s hard to make pea soup look pretty; fortunately, its flavor makes up for any aesthetic shortcomings. Sweet peas, tender carrots–and if you wish to include smoky, salty ham–make for a hearty meal: just in time for sweater weather. Paired with a fresh biscuit or cornbread, you might just feel as though you have been transported to a ski lodge cafe, as you warm your belly and watch the snow fall.

Campbell’s Chunky Split Pea with Ham soup takes me back to my childhood; after all, Chunky is “soup that eats like a meal”, right? Soup was often a meal for my family; we enjoyed cozying up to a big bowl when winter began to creep in–perfect for a snowy day. Although I have to enjoy my soup sans snow these days, I still love the visions that come flooding back. Food memories are powerful things: they can range from spectacularly good to fantastically awful: you may wax poetically about a particular food for decades or be tainted forever by a bad experience. Food shapes who we become, as do the memories that accompany them.

Inspiration

61 DEGREES, people! I walked outside this morning wearing boots on my feet and a smile on my face. The fact that this weather is upon us now–instead of making us wait until mid-November–is refreshing; everyone I came in contact with today was in a great mood. So, with much excitement–and a slight chill in the air–I can finally talk about fall and pumpkins! This is my favorite time of year: pumpkin-spiced goodies abound, cool weather, comfort food, and always a cozy blanket nearby; I typically find myself cooking and baking more than ever. Unfortunately, experimenting in the kitchen is on the back-burner for now…our busy weeks have left me little time for writing or cooking. New, fun, fall recipes will be coming down the pike, but, for now, I must resort to my first ever throwback: pumpkin bread.

Inspiration

Want one last summer hurrah? Treat yourselves and your guests to a Low Country Boil. Shrimp, potatoes, corn and sausage cooked in a savory broth and served up on newspaper–made to eat with your hands. Click here for my latest creation for the St. Petersburg Foodies website.

Publications

Crawfish, sweet corn, leeks, and a savory sauce are tucked into a buttery crust: Corn and Crawfish Pie is our new favorite comfort food.

My eight year-old son has quite the refined palate. So, when a city-wide search for crawfish pie in New Orleans left us empty-handed, I knew I had to start experimenting in the kitchen. This Corn and Crawfish Pie is the perfect combination of buttery crawfish tails, veggies and a New Orleans-style sauce hiding under a flaky pie crust.

For the full story and recipe, check out the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.

Inspiration Publications

Growing up in Pittsburgh, strawberries were a big treat in the summer. Their season was short, but when it hit, I would gorge myself– a small bowl of sugar always sat alongside my berries for lots of double-dipping. When I was ten, we moved to Florida and I noticed something strange: strawberries peaked in the middle of winter here. Florida winter is hardly winter at all, and apparently, it is the perfect weather for growing strawberries. Now, at the peak of summer, berries from California are in season: two strawberry seasons each year? Yes, please…

As the seasons wind down—whether it be in March for the Florida crop or in July from the other coast—the prices begins to fall: a container of organic strawberries will only cost $3.00, instead of $7.00. I usually ride out those last few pints with the 3-S’s: smoothies, shakes, and shortcakes. This year I wanted my berries to last long past their departure at the market; the best way to prepare fresh produce for the long haul is jam.

Inspiration

Tomatillo-avocado salsa–or vegetarian ceviche–all begins with these…

I think tomatillos are one of the coolest items in the produce aisle. They look just like baby green tomatoes, but their papery husks tell a different tale–they are not even related to tomatoes at all, but members of the gooseberry family. Acidic like their red lookalike, but not nearly as juicy, tomatillos can wake up the flavor of a dish with their vibrant personality. Since today is Cinco de Mayo, I am going to use these guys for the perfect accompaniment for my tacos and tortilla chips: tomatillo salsa.

Inspiration

The traditional Merck coffee cake updated with seasonal blueberries…

Last year my aunt gifted me a recipe card, penned by my late grandmother. The slightly stained index card was beginning to show its age: once white, now yellowing, its blue ink now bleeding through to the other side. The exceptional penmanship on this card was a rarity; my Grandma was known for having practically illegible handwriting–a consequence of the Catholic nuns trying to “fix” her left-handedness by forcing her to write with her right hand. While I was well-schooled in deciphering her hieroglyphics, it was always a surprise to see something legible come from her hand. The recipe is for Merk’s Coffee Cake.

Inspiration

Leek Onion Beer Cheese Soup topped with marble rye croutons…

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day and for most that means corned beef, cabbage and beer. When I first went vegetarian, I was really missing that corned beef, so I had to think of something rich and hearty that would ease the craving. By the next year, this Leek Onion Beer Cheese Soup was what I served up instead.

Read all about it and get the recipe on the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.

Publications

On our recent trip to New Orleans, we discovered the locals’ weekly Monday tradition of Red Beans and Rice. My version is a nicely spiced, hearty bowl of beans, sausage and just enough rice on the side to round it all out.

My latest post for the St. Petersburg Foodies website has all the details on the history behind the tradition and how you can make this dish at home; to read more, click here.

Publications