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.
Winter Comfort Food
I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead.
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype.
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
We recently had our favorite day of married life yet. When I tell you what it consisted of, you may worry or chuckle. Sundays used to be sacred in our house in the sense that it was our one day off together. We'd often read the paper, get a slice of quiche at Cafe Besalu, or take walks around Greenlake or Discovery Park. But now Sundays are generally when I work the farmers market for Marge Granola, and Sam helps me set up and take down each week, so they've taken on a very different feel, one more of work than leisure. So a few months ago, after mildly panicking that we no longer had any routines or days off, we reclaimed Saturdays as 'the new Sunday' and last weekend set the bar pretty high. The day began really cold: in the high 20's and graduated, eventually, to the 30's. We decided it'd be nice to just stay inside; Sam had a little work to do and some letters to write. He had a few articles he'd been wanting to read. And I'd been thinking about this lasagna recipe, so I puttered around the kitchen roasting squash and slicing garlic. The afternoon ticked on slowly. Sam made us baked eggs for a late lunch and I tried unsuccessfully to nap. I think it was the calmest we'd both felt in a long time. I'm lucky to have found a man who loves spending time at home as much as I do. While we both love going out to see friends, traveling, and having people over to our place, we also gain the most, I'd say, by doing simple things around the house -- straightening up, making a meal. organizing records or books or photos. Especially in this season of cold temperatures and early-darkening skies, it's what I crave the most. And last Saturday closed in the best of ways: we opened a bottle of "wedding wine" (thanks to my neurosis and fear we'd run out, we over-ordered wine when planning for our wedding) and dug into generous slices of this very special vegetarian lasagna, a hearty layered affair with caramelized onions, a sage-flecked tofu ricotta and a simple, savory butternut squash purée.