It is a well known fact (in the Pacific Northwest, at least) that summer officially begins on July 5th. Fourth of July could very well be dicey, but generally the week after is smooth, sunny sailing. This year seems a bit different — it’s been mild and even overcast in the mornings, although my evening walks with Oliver are certainly warm enough to go sleeveless. We’re drinking rosé. We splurged for some landscaping help and have a little plot of grass in our tiny backyard that’s just calling for picnics and barefoot romps. We found an outdoor table and are in the market for some string lights. In short: sunny or not, we’re doing this thing. And I have a most simple and summery recipe to share with you today … but first, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the new A Sweet Spoonful. This redesign has been months and months in the making and has a number of new features that I’m really excited about. Even more than tiny plots of grass and string lights (much more, in fact). I’d love to show you around.
The blog has felt dated to me for quite some time and as many of you know, my husband Sam is a designer. We always laugh about the saying the cobblers kids are the last to have shoes: It’s true. There have been many other things to tend to. But when I began to feel like the site wasn’t actually that useful, it was time for a change. Selfishly, there are so many recipes on the blog that I love but that I forget about because it’s been years since I’ve made them and they lurk quietly in the archives, infinitely unsearchable. Now with the new Recipes page, there’s functionality that allows you to search by type of meal, season, ingredient and dietary preference. Yes!
In addition, I created a “Megan’s Favorites” page (click on the link there or head over to the green tab on the right sidebar under “Browse”) where I’ve gathered together all of my very favorite recipes to revisit often. You’ll also notice in that little cluster on the right sidebar a “Motherhood” and “Whole Grain Baking” tab as well. When I started the blog in 2009, I hadn’t given much thought as to what I wanted to focus on. Ahhh, the dark, fresh days of blogging — most of us just dove right in. But now, I want to feature my interests and strengths more prominently: whole grain baking recipes, simple seasonal cooking, and writing about motherhood and building a home life in Seattle.
A few other features I’m excited about: the site is mobile responsive now (hallelujah!), so you can pull it up on your favorite mobile device or tablet and read (or cook) away. I added a page on Working with Me as I’m looking forward to partnering more with brands I love and selectively introducing you to products we use in the kitchen. And I’ve finally got a Contact Page so you can reach me easily with questions, ideas, proposals and the like.
But all of that aside, I’m really looking forward to the ability to interact more with you all. I can now directly respond to each of you in the comments and it’ll nest our conversation. I’m guessing that as you’re reading this post now, you likely already subscribe via email to receive new posts. If you don’t and you’d like to stay in the loop, please Subscribe (see box on right sidebar or footer). For those of you that already subscribe, you’ll notice a new option where you can Subscribe to my Newsletter. This is different than the weekly (ish) blog posts: it’ll be more of a seasonal newsletter with new content and round-ups, and I hope you’ll consider entering your email to join me there.
A big thank you to the team that made the site possible: Sam Schick and Eli Van Zoeren of Neversink. They’re incredible and design and develop blogs and websites big and small (and many other design-related things, too) — I feel really lucky to have had their talent (and patience) on this project. And thank you all for your continued readership and support; you’re the reason I am still here cooking and photographing and writing, and I’m so looking forward to this next chapter with you.
I love the bright green color of this finishing oil and have big plans to spoon it onto every single summer tomato I can get my hands on this season. If you grow chives, this is a great recipe to double. You can freeze some in ice cube trays so you’ll have vibrant pops of summer to spoon over your vegetables, salads, and soups all year round.
Reprinted, with permission, from: Brooklyn Rustic
In a small pot, heat the olive oil, chives, and salt over high heat until the oil starts to bubble a little, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a small glass bowl and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day (if chilling for more than an hour, cover it with plastic wrap after it cools). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate the oil for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.
The Thanksgiving Table
Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing.
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts. There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.
I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.
I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.