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.
Healthy Comfort Food
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.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)