Harvest and Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.


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four winter salads

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“Lauren, don’t wish your life away! You’ll regret it when you’re older …” I’ve heard these words time and time again in my life, as I have always been painfully, regretfully guilty of doing just that: wishing the time away. It’s my worst habit, no question. I seem to naturally look forward to whatever’s coming next … craning my neck to get a peek of what lies just around the bend of life …

“Stop waiting for Friday,” they say. “For Summer. For someone to fall in love with you. For life.”

This is the time of year that tends to draw out the pessimist in me – in many of us – and year after year, I always find myself wishing away the winter season entirely … in one fell swoop, as if it is such a horrible thing. I referenced my disdain for the colder, darker months of the year a few posts back and I’ve been working to make good on my pre-new year’s resolution to embrace the season with a hopeful, much more grateful heart. Now that I have two children who I can literally see changing and growing before my eyes each day, the concept and construct of time and its passing have changed dramatically for me. It freaks me out. Where I used to spend time daydreaming about the future, I now want to stop the clock. While I used to countdown days on the calendar until my next birthday – when I would be older, more grown-up seeming – I now would gladly trade a few of my birthdays for extra days to sneak in over the course of a year, to make time drift by just a little slower …

We’ve spent the past three weeks traveling, our time divided between family in Kentucky and Virginia – two of my favorite places on this planet Earth. It has been the type of vacation where the lines between days blur a bit and you’re not ever totally sure what the number on the calendar says at any given time. Wonderful, it is. Our daily routines of home and the inevitable monotony that results from them are abandoned while we’re away, changing the way we designate the hours and minutes of each day, how we approach them. It’s refreshing to loosen the slack on time a bit, and just be. To really sink your feet down in a moment and enjoy it for what it is, not what is coming next or what you have to do next or where you have to be is something of an art form, a learned skill that I am working to master … If not master, then to at least pass with a satisfactory grade.

“True happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.”

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summer came like cinnamon

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She couldn’t make a good cup of coffee to save her life. At least that’s what she told me as she set the chipped white mug of inky black liquid in front of me. Kiss me! I’m From New York, it read. The incessant honking of the yellow taxi cabs just outside the small East Village diner seemed to chide the mug’s cheeky sentiment. More, “kiss this!” than “kiss me!” I found it all so very charming; so very New York. She snatched the pencil out of her high-perched bun, readying it to take my order. The perfectly sharpened tip never actually met the surface of her small pad of paper though, as I rattled off my order item by item. Bagel with lox and cream cheese … large orange juice … turkey sandwich to-go. It seemed like more of a formality, that pad of paper; those things we do for show because they’re expected of us, not because they really matter or make much difference.

It was a sultry summer morning on New York City’s lower east side, and I had wandered into a small, non-descript diner looking for a break from the heat – relief that came in the form of bagels, chive-filled cream cheese, pulpy juice and the enjoyable company of a waitress whose name tag read “Susie Q.” I called her Susie throughout the duration of my morning visit to this diner, although I suspect that it wasn’t her given name. Oh, I just love this song! She’d said to no one in particular, as she hummed and sang along to the music coming from the small radio behind the counter. Girl put your records on  … tell me your favorite song … just go ahead, let your hair down. I’d sidled up to “her” counter and taken temporary residence on one of the bright red stools with which it was lined.

She saw me staring at her small pad of paper as I gave my order, as if I was expecting her to begin scribbling something down any second, and she just smiled. “This little pad has been empty for years. I keep it handy though, right here in this pocket, because I always think today will be the day my memory fails me. Hasn’t happened yet though! She exclaimed proudly, tapping her forefinger on her temple. The old mind is still sharp as it ever was. Oh, good morning Sal! Will it be your usual today?”

Sal was one of her regulars. Continue reading


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spring loaded

IMG_1672IMG_1801Strawberry Cobbler with a Rye and Coconut Flour Crust IMG_1751IMG_1830Strawberry Cobbler with a Rye and Coconut Flour Crust

Lucas, the kids and I are heading out of town today for a long weekend away in Virginia to see family and enjoy an always-appreciated change of scenery. I want to make sure I leave you with a post this week, though, and even though I don’t have the time to really compose a full one (I still have to pack! We leave in T-minus two hours! The insanity!), I can at least give you a little Springtime food inspiration for the weekend ahead …  Continue reading


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the essentials: soup, salad and sandwich

Pumpkin & Black Bean Soup and Kale, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad with Creamy Pumpkin DressingPumpkin & Black Bean Soup and Kale, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad with Creamy Pumpkin DressingIMG_5201IMG_5209

October 3, 2015

Today, it rains. It rained before I rose this morning, it is raining as I write these words, and it will rain long after I’ve retired for the night. Or so the weather people told me as I sipped my tea this morning, flipping through the channels in hopes that maybe someone would say otherwise. No luck, though. It was rain yesterday, will be rain again tomorrow. So far I have but one primary observation of this new month of October: it rains. With talk of hurricanes and flooding about, we (the denizens of the mid-Atlantic region), are being gently urged to stay in our homes, avoid driving in certain areas unless completely necessary, and to go ahead and stock up on the essentials at the store, just in case. The essentials.

What exactly are my essentials? Do I need to go get more? My impulses were telling me that yes, yes I need to go get more food. I wondered these things, as I watched Easton cram fistfuls of Cheerios into his mouth as fast as his chubby fingers would allow. He gave me a big, proud grin and offered a little pigeon-like giggle. Cheerios would most definitely make his short list of essentials, but what about mine? I wandered into the kitchen and began surveying the contents of both fridge and pantry. Amidst the boxes, bags, and cans I saw a lot of things that I’d been meaning to use for ages as well as several partially-used items that would probably never be finished. My cabinet doors weren’t even closing all the way, they were so crammed with food. This isn’t good … this isn’t good at all. Lucas is always challenging me to just cook with what I have on hand, and I’ve always got the best of intentions to do so, but I grocery shop like I’m a kid in a candy store, ogling the food and fantasizing about the myriad ways in which I can use it. On any given shopping trip you can usually find me throwing things into the cart, my impulsive moves based purely on looks and dreams and recipes that I might be able to make at some point.  So alas, there I stood, gawking sheepishly at the overabundance in shame and embarrassment.  Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup with Crumbled Kale Chips and Crispy Quinoa Continue reading


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wildflower & arugula salad with orange blossom vinaigrette & farmer’s cheese

Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's CheeseWildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's CheeseWildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's CheeseIMG_2455Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese

“Don’t abandon your creativity 

the moment things stop being easy

or rewarding,

because that’s the moment when 

interesting begins.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big MagicWildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's CheeseWildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese

It’s been a week. I’ve got a little one under the weather and some work things that didn’t go my way. << whine whine whine, blah blah blah >> With a to-do list longer than I really care for it to be, this week’s post will be a short one, resting on the laurels and merits of these gorgeous edible wildflowers. Aren’t they lovely? I’ll let them do the talking for me this week, I think. This salad is highly up for interpretation and tweaking, and I do hope you will give it a go. I’ve included the website I use to order the edible flowers below in my recipe, and it’s the best site – so many beautiful choices that it’s tough to decide sometimes.

So, in the name of brevity and that pesky aforementioned to-do list, I’ll leave you with a few more photos and the recipe for what I like to think is the perfect Springtime salad. Until next week, friends.Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's CheeseWildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese
Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese
Wildflower & Arugula Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette & Farmer's Cheese

RECIPE

You can give it your best shot, your most valiant effort. Search high. Search low. Leave no stone unturned. But no matter where your search may lead, I am willing to bet that you will never come across a bottled or store-bought salad dressing that in any way rivals one that is made fresh, right at home. This is one kitchen truth that proves its validity time and time again in my own culinary adventuring. Whether it’s a creamy peppercorn ranch, a mouth puckering blue cheese, or a light and sweet vinaigrette, the humble salad dressing (or maybe not so humble) is one food genre that is always better when you DIY. If you have evidence to the contrary, however, I’d love to hear about it. This dressing is fresh and light and goes well with almost any salad. I like to keep a little jar in the fridge for salads, marinades and even as a dipping sauce for crudités and the like. 

 

INGREDIENTS

5 cups baby arugula, washed

1.5 cups edible flowers (I chose pansies and violas here, and I order my flowers from http://www.gourmetsweetbotanicals.com; you can often find them at Fresh Market and Whole Foods as well)

3 – 4 ounces crumbled farmer’s cheese (you can sub feta or goat cheese if you can’t find)

1/2 red onion, sliced

4 – 5 radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 red apple, thinly sliced (more or less)

Chives (to taste)

 

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons orange blossom honey

1/4 cup canola or grape seed oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tsp finely chopped basil (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl (arugula through chives), arranging as you see fit. You can also arrange the ingredients on individual plates, if you prefer.

For the dressing: Combine the honey, oil, vinegar, Dijon, and basil in a bowl or jar. Shake or whisk to combine and emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the salad.