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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies

I had an accident earlier this week. Freak accident, really. I was doing my usual two mile loop around the reservoir, and as I crossed the street to jog the .08 miles down the sidewalk to my house, my left foot stepped on a random piece of metal ring, and my right foot caught it. I crashed down onto the sidewalk, throwing out my right hand to take my fall. Ouch. Off to the ER I went. Sit in the waiting room, go through intake, soak my scratched-up hand in iodine, take X-rays, and -- big sigh of relief to find out my wrist is sprained, not broken. They sent me home with a brace and that was that.

Unfortunately, since I cannot properly use my right arm or do anything forceful with it, I was not able to work this week in the restaurant kitchen that is now my job. I did, however, learn how to do many things with my left hand this week. I can now, with my left hand:

- Brush my teeth
- Apply mascara
- Crack an egg (one-handed, even!)
- Drive a stick-shift car (not recommended)


- Make cookies

Mind you, I did not make all the cookies in this photo. Instead, I made a few batches of cookies and held a cookie swap. There were cookies everywhere, and we all kept some of our own and took some others. Cocoa nib meringes, peppermint shortbread, almendrados (almond), pecan nut crescents, cranberry pistachio oat, nutella shortbread...I could go on. It was heavenly. Then, as if that were not enough, last night Justin and I dipped things in chocolate: pretzels in white chocolate, cashews in dark chocolate, more pretzels in dark chocolate with crushed candy canes...our kitchen looked like a confectionary. Then I boxed the pretzels and tinned the cookies and came up with this:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Figgy Pudding

Oh yes, I did. I made figgy pudding. I've been wanting to make figgy pudding for a couple of years now. Initially it was just a passing fancy and then, after discovering the Figgy Pudding 5K in Baltimore, I had to run it if only to get a T-shirt. (No figgy pudding at the end of the race, unfortunately, just beer). This year, when I planned a Christmas coffeehouse, I knew my opportunity had come to make this figgy dessert.

My figgy pudding T-shirt
Figgy pudding dates back to 16th century England. It involves figs and bread crumbs that are steamed with other ingredients to form a dense, sweet bread. In the 16th century, and maybe even still today, it was common to use suet, which is raw mutton or beef fat. Yum. The topping for figgy pudding is a custard sauce that is drizzled over the entire cake, with extra on the side for serving. Or, the pudding can just be dusted with powdered sugar.

I got the recipe off of a tea towel I ordered last Christmas. An odd place for a recipe, I know, but there you have it. The recipe calls for fresh black Mission figs. Fresh figs are not to be found this time of year, so I used dried Turkish figs (they don't seem to be as dry as black figs). The ingredients are heavenly: butter, orange zest, cinnamon, walnuts. So Christmas-y and delightful. After mixing all of the ingredients in a large bowl, I offered up a whiff to Justin: "What is that?" he asked, intrigued. "Figgy pudding!" I said, and danced around the kitchen in excitement. And let me tell you, the pudding did not disappoint. Served warm, with sauce on top, it was like the very best version of a fig newton. And I don't like normal fig newtons. But this had a nice seedy crunch from the figs, a moist-ness that you don't always find out of a Bundt pan, and a heady aroma.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cinnamon Almond Whipped Cream

You know what's nice to bring to parties? Fruit. It's healthy, refreshing, and different than other standard offerings. And, you know what takes it to the next level? I'm sure you have a guess: whipped cream! Not just any whipped cream, but homemade with cinnamon and almond extract added. It is so easy to put together. Add some nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and chocolate, and you have an elegant answer to the question, "What can I bring?"

I put this together last weekend as a nice little treat to go with relaxing in front of a Christmas movie. It felt so festive to be sitting by the Christmas tree watching Elf and dipping a fragrant orange slice into just-whipped cream.

The key to good whipped cream is not to over whip it. Most recipes say to whip "until soft peaks form" and they're absolutely right. You want the cream to be just solid but still soft, not hard and stiff. Make sure the bowl you use is larger than you think you need, since the cream will expand as air is whipped into it. It also helps to chill the bowl so the cream stays cold.

You can play around and try different flavors. Peppermint extract would be nice, as would maple. Vanilla extract is standard yet delicious. Strawberries, grapes, dried apricots, and different types of nuts and chocolates make great accompaniments.

Have fun wowing your friends with this easy dessert!

Cinnamon Almond Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

In a large, chilled bowl, combine ingredients. Beat with a whisk or hand mixer until soft peaks form. Serve with a variety of fruit, chocolate, and nuts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stuffed Winter Squash

Still wondering about that other side you will make for Thanksgiving dinner? This one will do. Hard winter squash, sliced open, baked until the cheerful inside is creamy, and stuffed with grains, apples, and leeks. It makes quite a few servings and looks beautiful on the table, right in between the turkey and cranberries.

I've made this three times already just to get the flavors right. The key is to add ginger and cinnamon to the filling; it complements the rich squash and zingy apples without overpowering it.

For a sweeter version, I used butternut squash for that ooh-aah creamy flavor. For the savory side, I used a new kind for me: baby blue hubbard squash. Not baby blue in color, but baby, as in small, blue hubbard. I like it a lot; the texture was very smooth and the flavor was nutty and sweet.

My dear sister Megan was visiting when I made this squash the first time around. It was a much needed vacation for her. We sat around marvelling over how tasty winter squash is, and talked about other things we like to cook. The day she left was close to 70 degrees and we sat outside at a cafe, drinking lattes and reading magazines. It was so relaxing.

I hope you have a relaxing and fun Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Butternut Squash

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cranberry Sage Cornbread

Hello, everyone! I've missed you. This post has been on my to-do list for too long. A new job and business classes have been keeping me busy.

I started bussing at a restaurant called The Dogwood and was able to work my way into the kitchen. For the past couple of weeks I've been training to run "the pantry," that is, the soup-salad-sandwich-dessert side of the kitchen. The Dogwood's mission is to source sustainable, seasonal food, and to offer a chance to individuals who are transitioning from addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and/or underemployment, which is similar to how I plan to run my future bakery cafe.

My business class through Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore is helping me to research the market, determine feasibility, and learn how to be a business owner. It will also help me to write a business plan and figure out concrete steps to start selling granola at farmers markets and cafes (which will be my first step on the way to opening a bakery cafe). I am very excited for this perfect opportunity.

I made this cornbread recipe a month ago and have had the photos sitting in my camera to share with you. It started by baking out of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, and noticing a recipe for cornbread. Then, as summer gradually left and I fretted over how to best use up my herbs before they died, I eagerly paired a generous amount of earthy sage with tart cranberries and added them to the cornbread batter. With bated breath, I pulled the fragrant creation out of the oven and felt triumphant as I admired the golden crust and bright cranberries.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chewy Date Walnut Bars

It is finally starting to cool down here in B-more, and I love it. (Just wait, though, in a month I'll be shivering with complaints). Wool cardigan, corduroy skirt, tights, and boots...these clothes I wear today tell me it's autumn. And although I can't say I like shorter days, I do like the fact that the sun is rising when I run/bike in the mornings. This morning I rode out to the reservoir and saw the golden light breaking through the dark clouds and bathing my city in glory. Good way to start the day!

To celebrate autumn (and my sweet tooth) I put together these dear little treats (actually, the real impetus was that moths were trying to get into my dates. Had to rescue them). A combination mainly consisting of brown sugar, walnuts, and dried dates, this dessert comes together beautifully. I found the recipe years ago from I can't remember where, but forgot to write down the oil/butter. I had to guess, and went with half a cup of olive oil. (However, now that I have stored these treats for a few days, I think 1/4 cup or maybe 1/3 cup of oil would be better -- the squares are a bit messy to hold.) I suppose canola would have made more sense, but I didn't have it, and besides, the olive-y-ness is not detected after baking. Butter would probably work just as well, but I wanted these to be dairy-free.***

A note about the dates --

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad from the Farm

I volunteer with an urban farm down the street from me. Have I mentioned? It's an amazing farm. Set on 1/3 acre of land, on a lot where a business used to be, on a corner where there used to be an open drug market and gang wars, is a charming, quirky, beautiful, farm.

Whitelock Community Farm started as an idea from a bunch of giddy green people (myself included) in my neighborhood last year. We all wanted to beautify this area as well as share our passion for good food with the neighborhood. The idea is to provide fresh vegetables at an affordable price to neighbors who don't have easy access to a grocery store. Last year was a bit wobbly; this year has exceeded expectations. We have grown a few dozen types of veggies, worked with neighborhood kids, brought in volunteer groups, and had fun (and just a little bit of stress) doing it all. Now we are raising money to:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Preserving Summer

Yes, I know the calendar says Fall. Or Autumn, as I prefer. But according to the sweatiness factor after my run this morning, it is still summer in Baltimore. Unfortunately. I yearn for dry, crisp autumn days, but I will dearly miss my herbs, summer fruit, and summer vegetables. 

Since I've had quite a bit of time on my hands lately (being in between jobs and all) I have used a good chunk of it to preserve the best of summer in jars and waxed paper. Want to know what I made? Well:

From top left: Sweet Pepper Relish, Italian Farmhouse Pickled
Green Tomatoes, Peach Sauce, Balsamic Blueberry Peaches
From bottom left: Chipotle Peach Salsa, Balsamic Blueberry Peaches,
Pickled Hot Peppers, Rosemary Sage Pickles, Italian Farmhouse Pickled
Green Tomatoes, Sweet Pepper Relish, Peach Sauce, Cranberry Apple Chutney
Oh, and then there was also...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh Corn Pesto Pasta

Run and get the last of summer's corn! Don't worry about getting too much, because I am going to tell you what to do with it. You can make this amazingly delicious fresh corn pesto, and then freeze it! Use it for a dip, or to go with pasta, or as a topping to soup. Imagine scratching your head over what to have for dinner in the coming months, and then pulling little pesto packages out of the freezer that help you put together a great meal.

I have to say, it takes a lot to convince me to shuck thirteen ears of corn and then saw off the kernels (I doubled the recipe, which is why thirteen ears of corn were in order). This recipe, which had been bookmarked for a year, finally wooed me. At the farmer's market veggie stand, the farmer/seller had a lovely homemade sign reading: "Sweet Corn: $6 Baker's Dozen." Sold.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last Joys of the Summer

Friends, I went peach picking on Labor Day. Yes, I know it was over a week ago, but it took me a while to bake, freeze, and preserve my way through 22 pounds of peaches.

I had planned to go earlier in the season, but the hurricane (which was a tropical storm here) changed my plans. I was sad it didn't work out and thought I had missed my chance for peaches. Then, out of the blue, friends invited me to go on Labor Day. I was a bit tired from having been away all weekend, but I just couldn't say no to peaches.

We went to a farm west of Baltimore on an overcast day. The skies had already opened up that morning, but we stayed dry in the orchards. Then it poured all week -- perfect for staying in the kitchen and baking. The farm had pick-your-own flowers, too, and it made me so happy to stuff as many cheery flowers into my little container as I could. Then, I felt equally happy picking them apart into smaller arrangements once I got home. The house was bright with flowers.

Do you want to know what I made with my peaches? Probably, but by the sixth recipe, you might get cross-eyed. Here goes:

Whole Wheat Peach Kuchen (Simply in Season)
Fruit Platz (Simply in Season)
Peach Shortbread
Peach and Blackberry Cobbler with Crystallized Ginger
Raw Peaches and Cream Tart
Peach Muffins (don't be fooled when the website says "scones." It's totally a muffin batter)
Peach Frangipane Galette

Whew! And I even veered off course and made a fig almond tart and a chocolate cake. Plus, I still want to make Peach Gelato. I know, how does anyone have time to do all that? Well, for starters, it took me four days. And, I don't have a job. (I quit, because I'm planning to start a bakery that hires homeless people. Read more about it here.)

I froze a lot of the baked goods before even baking them. For example, for the Top Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie, I cut and mixed up the peaches for the filling, and then I made the pie dough, and I froze both separately last week. On Monday I pulled both out of the freezer and let them thaw before assembling and baking it. Other things I baked and then froze, like the Whole Wheat Peach Kuchen. So far, it's working well. Everything tastes fresh, as if it hadn't been frozen.

I'll share with you today the recipe for Top Crust Peach Cardamom Pie. It was an easy recipe to make. The addition of cardamom makes it unique, and the pie crust cut out with cookie cutters makes it special. It was fun. I might like it better, though, with a bottom crust too, to make it a normal pie. After all, there can never be too much pie crust!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweet Potato Cake

I'm feeling a little sheepish that I haven't posted for two weeks. When I was on my road trip, I was so excited to come back and try out new recipes and share them with you all. When I came back, though, I got distracted. As you may remember, my goal is to open a bakery cafe and hire homeless people. Although the final form of that dream is years away, I left my job a couple of months ago to try and figure out the first steps of doing that. Start selling at farmer's markets, get an apprenticeship, get food safety certified, open a business account, create a logo...there is just so much to do. I waffle between feeling really good about it, to feeling really overwhelmed, to wondering "am I really doing anything?"

So with that, my inspiration for new posts has been on the back burner. I've still been cooking, though. If you can call making ice cream cooking. I made raw sugar ice cream and cocoa nib ice cream from my cookbook of the moment: Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. I also made lemon basil sherbert, which was good, but I would add more basil next time. (This all came about when I bought herbs earlier in the summer, and the vendor gave me a bonus of a tiny little lemon basil start. "Lemon basil sherbert," he said emphatically. I'd had it on my mind ever since.)

I've also had recipes sitting in my bookmarked tabs for months that I finally made: Bucatoni with Eggplant and  Tagliatelle with Fresh Corn Pesto. Both were very nice and quite summery. Speaking of summery, I love end-of-summer warm evenings. Not humid, but warm and dry and content. I had all the windows down in my car last night and the air felt so fresh. It was probably thanks to the big storm (hurricane in some areas, tropical storm here) that just hit. Justin is raking up the debris in the back yard as I type.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Now it's time for the goods. Sweet Potato Cake. What do potatoes do to baked goods? Moisture. They make a nice tight crumb that doesn't dry out, even after days in the fridge (or on the counter, in cooler climates).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Road Trip: Sonoma Valley

After San Francisco, we headed just a bit north to Sonoma Valley. It was beautiful driving through rolling hills of grapevines, with signs promising wine tastings at nearly every turn. A quick hike got us ready for a tasting that afternoon at the oldest winery in that area: Buena Vista. The place was beautiful. We chose a bottle of chardonnay to go with our dinner later that evening. On our way back from the winery, we discovered a little roadside cart with fresh figs, the kind with a box where you can leave your payment. Love it! The figs were amazing -- so honey sweet and deep-flavored. They were good enough to bring us back the next day for more.

The bed and breakfast we stayed at was Beltane Ranch. The gardens (plural -- they were everywhere) were so full of life and color that I must have taken a hundred photos. The sun was low in the sky and falling on the flowers in an lovely way that made them glow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road Trip: San Francisco

This city, in my mind, was the jewel of the trip. When we set off from Baltimore almost a month ago, this is what I was most looking forward to, even though there were many things to see first. And let me tell you, San Francisco did not disappoint! After a day and a half of exploring, walking, biking, and eating, I was dazzled.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

San Diego and Seared Ahi

After roughing it in the backcountry of Zion and Grand Canyon, Justin and I were ready for some luxury. We arrived in California and drove through the most interesting mountains in the southeastern part of the state. They looked like huge piles of rocks with no vegetation. It was strange to see such rocky, bare mountains.

As we neared San Diego, my excitement increased. We stayed with a cousin of mine that I hadn't seen in years, and had never met her three kids before. Keri welcomed us with open arms, and we had fun hanging out with her family, eating dinner, and making s'mores at the fire pit.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Zion and Grand Canyon

As I think over the past few days it's hard to believe all that I've seen and accomplished. Justin and I left Denver last week and enjoyed the beautiful drive south to Utah. The mountains, deserts, and sometimes barren views were fascinating. It was hard to finally close my eyes for a nap while Justin drove because I didn't want to miss any of the scenery.

Zion National Park was even more grand than the photos I had seen. We arrived later than we would have liked, so we set up the tent, made a quick veggie stir fry over our camp stove before going to bed. Our friend Jason drove up from Las Vegas to hike with us the following day and arrived late. The next morning, we enjoyed some hearty oatmeal with peanut butter and banana, and set off to hike. 

Zion National Park

For some reason, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was imagining a long hike that wasn't too steep. Wrong! I struggled to get up the steep switchbacks. My walking poles helped, and my pack wasn't unbearably heavy, but I was hot and tired. I struggled. It seemed like every quarter mile I had to stop in the shade, rest, and drink water. Justin and Jason were so patient with me and never made me feel like a burden, even though I knew I was holding them back a bit.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Denver/Fort Collins

Friends, I must say that the Denver area has surprised me with it's food and beer. Not that I had doubts, but you know, I have been most looking forward to San Francisco and the huge foodie scene there that I didn't take time to stop and think about Denver.

It began when we arrived and our friend Jeni took us to a free jazz concert at City Park. She brought along with her hummus, baba ghanoush, an olive tapenade, chips, Cupcake wine, chocolate...oh, it was delightful. We barely noticed the music since we were so busy eating and catching up.

The following day seemed like three days. After driving all weekend it was a welcome change to have activities. We had a nice breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit on the deck. We drove to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins and had a private tour (thanks to my former boss's sister, who works there) and sampled amazing beers, learned about how it is made, and were awed by the worker-owned co-op that is New Belgium. We got lunch at an old hippie place and Justin and I split a falafel sub and a Greek wrap. After a swim in a nearby lake, we headed back to Denver and cleaned up for dinner. We ended up at a cafe where I could build my own salad. It was perfect with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, smoky portabellos, and balsamic vinaigrette. For dessert, I had a "scout cookie" -- a sweet potato chocolate coconut concoction that I need to learn how to recreate.

Today Justin hiked a 14,000 foot mountain. Crazy? Yes. But he did it, and he loved it, and now he's limping on calloused feet. He ate three burritos, and more, when he got back. While he was gone, Jeni and I went for a bike ride, ate more delicious food, did a little shopping, and got some sorbet. A great day. Now we're at our friends Becki and Michael's house and we made them dinner. I chose an easy recipe with sweet potatoes and black beans that I would love to share with you. I know I had said there wouldn't be any recipes for the next month, but I guess you got lucky.

Justin's hike
Next stop? Zion National Park!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip!

Justin and I have embarked on a month-long road trip with our final destination being California. In between, we are visiting Denver, Fort Collins, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. In California we will hit up San Diego, Los Angelos, San Francisco, Sonoma Valley, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. On the way back, we’re heading to Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain National Park, and then home (with some stops in between). It’s going to be an epic journey and I’m already enjoying every minute of it.

A delicious breakfast.
It took two and a half days to drive to Denver, but the stops at Akron, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa have been quite nice. A friend’s parents hosted us in Akron and provided us with good conversation, a comfortable bed, and a delicious breakfast. They feel like family. Actually, I mentioned them in a previous post about food hospitality. Our next host was found through couchsurfing. She is a French girl living here for a year working at a computer job. She made us dinner and invited Brazilian friends over. It was fun to hang out with people from different cultures and eat German spaetzle (even though there were no Germans around!).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Apricot Pie

Sounds pretty unassuming, right? Pie. Apricot. Ho hum. Oh, think again...!

I went to the farmers market and saw some lovely apricots. Remembered a recipe I had seen for the "world's easiest pie" that featured apricots. Doesn't take much inspiration for me to bake. In fact, it's usually teetering on the edge of all-I-can-think-about-is-food and have-to-bake-right-now.

Which is what I did, last Wednesday, after coasting to a stop on my bike, hefting the market finds out of my baskets, and lumbering inside. A quick pat on the kitty's head, a glass of lemonade, and whoosh -- I'm off! Oven on, recipes scrutinized, apron tied, here I go.

Justin arrived home shortly after. "What are you doing?" he asked pleasantly. With a sheepish grin, I respond, "Oh, I'm making pie. Just because." And then I launched into how beautiful the apricots were, and how I found this great recipe for a whole grain pie crust, and how I have to take advantage of all of the wonderful fruit that is in season.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Last week, after a lot of morning chores on a hot day, Justin made this refreshing salad that I had dog-eared in the new issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It was quick and simple and delicious.

Normally, when I buy sugar snap peas, I like them enough to eat them raw as a snack without doing anything fancy. When I came across this recipe I got a little excited, since I figured it would spruce them up a bit, and we could use the radishes that needed to be plucked out of the raised garden bed in our front yard. It was also an excuse to use some amazing sheep's milk feta we had on hand.

The salad came together in twenty minutes or so. I was so grateful Justin had time to make it, since I had a lot of stuff to do that day. I was able to just come downstairs, sit down, and photograph. And then eat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Peas

Woke up one morning last week and realized I had nothing ready to take for lunch today. What to do? I had plenty of food that needed to be cooked/prepped/baked, but nothing prepared. I didn't want to spend the money and eat out, so I chose the quickest option: pasta.

What comes to mind when you think of pasta? Boring? Heavy? Red sauce? This recipe is none of those. I started my early morning cooking session by going out to my front yard and grabbing as much sweet basil as was ready to be harvested, along with some thyme sprigs, amethyst basil, and African basil for a salad. As a passed through the kitchen, I put some water on to boil for my spelt pasta.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tomato Cucumber Salad

Tuesday was my three year anniversary with my wonderful husband. This past year has held a lot of new adventures: getting chickens, opening up our home to renters in need, becoming board members of our neighborhood farm, writing new songs together...the list goes on. There is never a dull moment in our relationship between our to-do lists and our fun friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sour Cherry Crisp

Well, friends, I had my very first urban foraging experience. It was exhilarating. (And no, it does not only refer to dumpster diving -- not that I'm opposed to that when done correctly).

I learned of a sour cherry tree on the corner of West Cold Spring Lane and the 83 off ramp. So, after work one day, I ambitiously drove over that way, parked in a nearby neighborhood, and walked over to where I imagined the tree to be. Plastic bag in hand, I walked. And walked. It was really only a quarter mile or so, but at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to find the tree. Suddenly, I saw a dirty sidewalk with smashed cherries all on the ground. Bingo!

Looking up, I saw the cherries. They were pretty high. I stretched out my hand, grabbed a branch, and pulled it down in order to reach the cherries. Stretching even higher, I picked and picked. After 20 minutes, I had a crick in my neck and half a pound of cherries. If only I'd had a ladder to get more!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Basil Lemonade

It was 102 degrees on the day I made this lemonade. Super high humidity. Luckily (or unluckily) I was home sick from work that day, so I only ventured out to water my garden(s), but wow, that was enough. Half an hour outside and I was covered in sweat. Justin got home in the afternoon. "Want me to make you some lemonade?" Sure! Picked a couple handfuls of basil and went to town.

I always buy lemons by the bag now. Who knows when you'll need some? They last for a while, and I always find an excuse to use them up before they go bad. When watering my garden, I noticed some of the basil leaves were huge. Better pinch those off soon, I thought. Even if just to feed them to the chickens for a snack. But then, lemonade is a much more fun use for basil.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Remembering Last Summer -- Pesto Pasta

This post and recipe is by my good friend Maggie. She is part of our meal share group, has a rabbit named Florence, and sings very well. She made this dish a couple months ago, just when it was starting to get warm, and we all loved the refreshing flavors. I asked her to write up a guest post. With all my recent food themes, however, I couldn't find a place to fit it in until now. Just in time to welcome summer. Enjoy!

Recipe and post by Maggie Loftus. Although I am very methodical about my grocery shopping list, trying to only buy the ingredients we need for what I'm making during the week (hello, debt-scorning wife of a medical student on scholarship!), it happens to me often that I will find an exciting ingredient whilst grocery shopping and wanttobuyitrightnow! even though I have no plans for it. An ingredient in this situation may sit on the shelf for several weeks or more, looking forlorn, waiting for its turn to finally find its fate and fall into a hot pan. When I realized I had been staring at a can of octopus for a month, among other strange, un-purposed ingredients, I realized I had a problem. (Like, really? Canned octopus? What could I possibly have been thinking on that one?)