Harvest and Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.

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a most unpretentious meatball stew

Five-Ingredient Meatball StewFive-Ingredient Meatball Stew

With my sleeves rolled up safely beyond the protective shield of my elbows, hair pulled up into a messy attempt at a chic bun, and my two-year-old daughter standing patiently at my side, her own wooden spoon in hand, I take a deep breath and dive my clean hands down into the bowl of ground meat, herbs and spices. Meatball making day has commenced.

The ancient art of meatball making is a topic with which I am fascinated and about which I am utterly enthused. So many vibrant food cultures around the world stake claim on their own version of the spherical wonder that is the meatball and my kitchen has played host to many of them, I’m proud to say. The process of crafting an excellent meatball is almost therapeutic for me; the mechanics of it always the same and only the ingredients shifting and changing depending on which culture’s version you’ve got in mind that day. Wringing the milk out of the fresh breadcrumbs and then subsequently adding them to the ground meat mixture is easily my favorite step when making my classic Italian meatball recipe. It is hands down the best hands-on kitchen experience I can think of, bringing out the kid in anyone who dares to dirty their hands in the mess. I make a North African meatball sometimes that is wonderfully warm and spicy and just exotic seeming enough to elevate an otherwise ordinary weeknight meal into something exciting – something worth blogging about, actually (note to self …). Then there’s the Swedish meatball and the Asian sweet and sour meatball (both of which are lovely in their own rights), the Middle Eastern kofta and the beloved Mexican albondigas (two of my personal favorites), and the German Königsbeger Klopse (never made it), the Japanese Tsukune (had to check my spelling on this one), and yes, even the Welsh faggot (which I’ve sampled in its native land and thoroughly enjoyed). 

“You got this Mama! It’s meatball time!” I’ve been teaching Elle select encouraging and/or supportive phrases to employ at chosen times, like when she’s with me on a long run or, as was the case here, when I’m working on a particularly large cooking project. The words might be coming from a toddler who doesn’t totally get what she’s saying or why, but you’d be surprised at how effective it can be. Continue reading

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blue corn, blueberry & lime pancakes with sugared pine nuts


“I realized something else tonight. Something about pancakes.”
“What about them?”
“We both got so obsessed with that first pancakes being thrown away that we forgot something really important,” Max explained. “That first pancake tastes just as good as all the other ones. It’s not its fault that it was first in line and the pan wasn’t hot enough so it got a bit lumpy and misshapen … and when you’re really famished, that first pancake tastes better than all the ones that comes after it.” – Sarra Manning, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

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chocolate mini cakes with strawberry & salted caramel buttercream

Chocolate Mini Cakes with Strawberry-Salted Caramel ButtercreamChocolate Mini Cakes with Strawberry-Salted Caramel ButtercreamIMG_1321

There is something to be said about the sanctity of the after school snack. Like a precursor to what will eventually evolve into the adult version – the mid-workday pick-me-up – an after school snack serves its purpose well. At least for me it did. I can’t really comment so knowledgeably on others’ after school snacking experiences, I guess. There is nothing like a full day of learning, reading, growing, listening, playing, socializing, recessing, and mind-molding to truly work up an appetite.

On Monday through Friday afternoons at approximately 2:30, I would fly into my parent’s sunny yellow kitchen, with great intent and purpose. Rifling through cabinets and pantry shelves to see just what tasty wares I could score was a daily ritual, never to be interrupted … or else. I believe the expression used today to describe the less than appealing dip one’s mood can take when they’re in need of sustenance is “hangry.” You’re so hungry that you’re angry. Seems logical enough. It was a condition from which I suffered as an adolescent, let’s just leave it at that. Continue reading

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sweet & sour

Venetian Sweet and Sour Chicken IMG_1155IMG_1134Venetian Sweet and Sour Chicken When it comes to food of the sweet and sour variety, many people classify themselves as “either/or,” liking their foods either sweet or savory – never both at the same time, never the twain shall meet. In fact, the thought of a plate containing flavors that span such a wide range of the taste spectrum might seem downright gross to some. Pasta with prosciutto and a melon sauce. Meat stewed with sweet fruits. Pilaf with dried currants and preserved lemon. Tandoor baked chicken with a sticky and minty mango chutney. To some, these classic dishes might sound wholly unappealing and in fact I know a few people who would turn in the other direction at the sounds of them. I, however, am practically drooling on my keyboard as I write this. Continue reading

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strawberry & pecan buttermilk quickbread

IMG_1062IMG_1051IMG_0998Strawberry & Pecan Buttermilk Quickbread

After taking several post-photo shoot bites of this quickbread, I wrapped the rapidly diminishing loaf in plastic, taking care not to leave a single bit uncovered. Don’t want it drying out on me now. No, this stuff is too good to allow the dehydrating nature of air to mess with its simple perfection.

Satisfied that I’d given my little quickbread a sufficiently protective suit of plastic armor, I placed in on top of the toaster oven and proceeded to go about cleaning up the mess I’d made of my kitchen. It’s inevitable, the mess making that will occur when I get to baking these days. Mostly this is a product of having to tend to a baby, a toddler and the myriad other things that always seem to divert my attention from the baked good at hand. I actually had to start over with the batter for this quickbread at one point because I’d lost count of how much flour I had already used. Did that last scoop make 3/4 cup or a full cup? Darn. Begin again. Luckily this was the beginning of the recipe, so no harm, no foul. Continue reading

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an april’s fool and a vanilla bean cookie

Vanilla Bean Shortbread CookiesVanilla Bean Shortbread CookiesVanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies

It seems appropriate to bid farewell to this month of April with the aptly named “fool.” One of the simplest and almost comically basic desserts you will ever come across, the fruit fool is nothing more than some lightly sweetened whipped cream, swirled together with some fruit (usually berries), also lightly sweetened. In this case, I opted to use strawberries, as they have been cropping up in my grocery store and little farmer’s market in greater numbers over the past couple of weeks, looking ever so lovely in their pint-sized containers. Also, Elle may have grabbed a handful of strawberries from the beautiful store display while I wasn’t looking the other day, clutching them for dear life in her hot little hands. 

“Don’t worry Mama! I got da strawberries! Now we can cook a pie!” Continue reading

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dark chocolate & masala chai breakfast rolls

Dark Chocolate & Masala Chai Breakfast RollsDark Chocolate & Masala Chai Breakfast RollsDark Chocolate & Masala Chai Breakfast RollsIMG_0788

Nostalgia is a very multifaceted traveler. Making its way to us via myriad sources such as music, movies, remembered locations, and even memory-inducing aromas, nostalgia is one of those simple, universal feelings we all experience and I, for one, tend to savor it the way one savors a delicious meal. Perhaps this is true for me because a lot of my favorite memories ARE actually attached to food. From the canned cranberry sauce on the annual Thanksgiving table (yep), and the gritty, sugary poof of cotton candy at a summer ball game to the taste of the Pizza Hut pizza that I ate so much as a child I’ve now nearly sworn it off – I love the way the food I eat takes me right back to a specific place and time.When it comes to the greatest hits list of my most nostalgic foods, undoubtedly the one at the top would be the cinnamon roll. A humble breakfast item it may be – filled with little more than sugar, butter, and spice – but for me, a cinnamon roll is always filled with such a feeling of warmth and memories of sweet Sundays past. Continue reading


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