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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pesto was never on my radar. I was always a red sauce kind of girl…until I found a recipe for lemon spaghetti. With those two in my life, my pasta didn’t need any other options. I wasn’t completely ignorant: I had tried pesto a couple of times before, but only at restaurants; and honestly, while I like basil, I didn’t really enjoy an entire meal of it.
The one time I did venture out to buy pesto from the grocery store, I was not expecting what I found. Inside the container was an unemulisified mingling of dark green–nearly black–basil suspended in a layer of oil. That hallmark intense, kelly green color of homemade pesto was missing—it did not look appetizing. Despite its questionable appearance, I had to taste it; not surprisingly, the flavor was lackluster at best and the oiliness was overwhelming—I can’t believe I actually ate it. This solidified the case that pesto need not be in my repertoire.
Once I started my blog, daily food research brought me to videos all over social media about making fresh pesto. Not only did it look super simple to make, but the classic basil/pine nut duo no longer seemed to be the default combination: kale, spinach, parsley, and various nuts and seeds were taking center stage. All of those options opened a creative door for me; it was time to break out the Cuisinart.
Sitting down with a mug of this tomatillo and cilantro posole takes me back to a wintry Santa Fe. The flavors are bright and the stew is comforting no matter what time of year you choose to make it.
If you are new to tomatillos, never fear; all you need to know about them and this dish is on the St. Petersburg Foodie website here.
Today is my late grandfather’s birthday and the last day our Christmas decorations will be up. My mom would always keep everything decorated until January seventh and it’s one of the traditions I still keep in my own home. Not only does it remind me of him, I like that it extends the holiday season a couple of weeks more and gives me time to mentally prep for the New Year. And now…the time has come to bid adieu to 2016.
It feels like not long ago, I was reveling in the fact that I had been blogging for an entire year. Writing and cooking was how I spent much of my free time. And now…year two has flown by and year three has begun! Within the last few months, I went one step further and am now a guest writer on a local foodie website. I was so nervous about reaching another set of readers, but realized that taking that leap was an important challenge for me to accept. I’ve got five posts under my belt on StPetersburgFoodies.com and it has not only helped build my confidence as a writer, but also has given me much needed discipline to meet my self-imposed deadlines. So that you don’t miss a recipe–no matter where it’s actually posted–I’ve created a Publications section on my blog. Those brief snippets will have a link to follow to get you to the post and recipe du jour. Who knows where my posts will be showing up next year?!
If you’ve been curious about persimmons but have no idea what to do with them, try this simple recipe for persimmon butter. This butter elevates just about anything you spread it on.
For the recipe and the story behind my inspiration, you can find it here on the St. Petersburg Foodie website.
Seventeen years ago–on our second date–my husband introduced me to Indian food. It was quite a memorable bite; chana masala is now a regular on the menu at our house. Don’t let those complex spices fool you; it’s incredibly easy to make at home!
You can find the post and recipe on the St. Petersburg Foodies website here.