You know what is completely lovely? Pie and ice cream in the summertime. Kind of a no-brainer, but still worthy of the mention and a little recipe on here I think. Just thinking of a little plate heaped with shattering crust, stew-y fruit and cold cream feels hazy and dream-like. I’m not fanatical about crust all the time if I’m being frank. The filling is more of an attraction in a general way and what’s even more desirable is the creamy scoop that is casually finger flicked and served alongside, slowly slipping into a puddle on the plate. The pie is flaky, crumbly and jammy. The ice cream is smooth, fatty and cold. The one component carries the seasonal abundance and texture, the other adds lightness while simultaneously bringing out the rich aspects of undeniably homey dessert. Happy, happy union.
I do enjoy a strawberry pie quite a bit. It seems like the crop is at its mega-prime right at this very moment. We went driving around some of the more agricultural/wine country-ish areas of the region over the weekend. There were original plans to go to the beach, but this was all just as well. We stopped at an astro turf-covered stand that’s run by this rather quirky-seeming lady who wears floral jeans in a way that is decidedly unaware of movements/trends in the fashion world. She just likes them and that is totally fine. Her brother was sorting through some berries and as I was buying them up, they both mentioned no less than 6 times that I had to eat them right away because they didn’t use any spray or herbicide. Got it. All smiles and reassurances.
The rest of the day was spent tip toeing through the creepiest ever antique shop bargain basement (scored a totally sweet bowl though), having lunch at one of our favourite places, stopping at a local distillery for some white rye + bitters, and then putting those spoils to good use at the drive-in with some wonderful friends (and snacks, duh). Just going along wherever the wind blows. That’s summer. And that’s how I happened onto this pie + ice cream combination.
I love chocolate and strawberry together (seriously, who doesn’t). But I also enjoy hazelnut with both of those flavours, so I thought I’d go all out on this one. I made hand pies because I can’t resist that sweet half moon shape. Also, a portable dessert is rather convenient when you’re running from one incredibly fun/chill-breezy summertime activity to the next. The pastry is all whole wheat pastry flour and coconut oil, which gives a nice grainy heft and fragrance. The ice cream is my favourite part though. It’s maple sweetened full fat coconut milk at the base. I make it warm with vanilla and blend it up with a big scoop of wine-y + dark raw cacao powder. I toasted hazelnuts right to the edge of burnt (this makes them so easy to peel!), chopped them up and dropped them in right at the end of churning. Doesn’t even seem like it could be real, it’s so dreamy.
strawberry hand pies recipe
serves: makes 12
notes: I used the coconut oil pie crust recipe from Food52 pretty much to the letter, aside from subbing whole wheat pastry flour in for the all purpose. Also, I didn’t use a food processor like they suggested–just a pastry cutter and my own two hands. The coconut oil should be cold, but not so cold that you can’t cut it into the flour. I like to put a 1/2 cup of little oil scoops into a bowl and chill it for about 1/2 an hour or so.
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
coconut sugar/evaporated cane sugar to your like (I used about 1/4 cup) + extra for sprinkling
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 batch of coconut oil pie dough (made with whole wheat pastry flour if you like)
milk of your choice for brushing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the strawberries, coconut sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside.
Generously dust a working surface with flour. Place the chilled disc of pie dough onto that surface. Roll it out as evenly as you can to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a large-ish circular biscuit/cookie cutter to punch out individual crusts (my cutter was 3 7/8 inches). Lay the dough circles on the parchment lined sheet. Spoon the strawberries onto the centers of the dough circles. Fold one side of each circle over the fruit and pinch the edges shut by pressing the tines of a fork into the edges.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.
vegan chocolate hazelnut ice cream recipe
with guidance from A Couple Cooks
serves: makes 1 litre
notes: This churns up a lot better if the mixture is cold when it goes into the ice cream maker. You could always just make sure to chill the cans of the coconut milk overnight too.
2 cans of full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder would be fine!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of xanthan gum (very optional)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted + chopped
Whisk or blend together all of the ingredients except for the hazelnuts. Chill this mixture down properly if you need to. Pour it into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. In the last couple minutes of churning, sprinkle in the toasted + chopped hazelnuts. Once fully churned, scrape the ice cream into a container and freeze until ready to use.
IT IS. So hot. We celebrated the first weekend of summer pretty hard, so some raw and fresh fare is much needed this week for other reasons–so that we can go about the day a little lighter, a little more energetic, a little more hydrated, maybe even sleep a tiny shred better. Oh, and a little less on the reeking of bourbon front would be awesome too, thanks.
So yeah. This week’s been a little more quiet and calm with plenty of fresh food. I’ve been sinking into a lovely new magazine called Good Company in the mornings (when it’s still cool + lovely) with coffee or an earl grey, and I happened to stumble onto a little piece on the Green Kitchen Stories crew and some of their favourite kitchen items. There was a charming drawing of this little notched peeler. I scanned over the description and saw “life changing,” sort of half believing it… But seriously? If you spend a five’r on anything this summer, maybe you should make it a julienne peeler (I have this one). If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m all about #fancyladylunch with noodle-y vegetables lately. It just feels so irresistibly clever. A couple seconds of peeling and you have a bowl full of noodles that won’t make your stomach feel grossly full. The flavour building potential is kind of neat too. Lots of possibility.
In the magazine there’s a beautiful zucchini noodle and pesto dish, but I’ve been feeling these cucumber ones the most. They’re so hydrating and crunchy. A little sweetness, chipotle powder for heat, plenty of salt, pepper and lime juice. There’s barely a slick of oil and heaps of arugula, mint and basil. Avocado and pumpkin seeds fill the tangle out. Then you toss the whole thing and drop it on top of a sea-salted wedge of cool watermelon, which acts like a dessert-y afterthought when the noodles are gone, all completely juicy from the salt and extra lime. I kind of feel refreshed just talking about it. Anyway, summer! Days of beaches, bike rides and walking out back to pick dinner at the end of it all. Go after it, friends :)
chili lime cucumber noodles on salted watermelon w/ mint + basil
notes: If you don’t want to spring for a julienne peeler (I use this Zyliss one), just use a regular vegetable peeler for some beautiful ribbons of cucumber instead. Also, when making the noodles, I usually stop just short of the center where all of the seeds are.
2 flat pieces of watermelon, about 1 inch thick
juice of 1 lime, divided
chipotle chili powder, to taste (or other variety of chili powder)
fat pinch of flaky sea salt, divided
1 english cucumber, peeled into noodles with a julienne peeler
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
little squeeze of raw honey or agave nectar
2-3 handfuls of arugula
2 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped + extra to garnish
3 sprigs of basil, leaves chopped + extra to garnish
1 ripe avocado, peeled + diced
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
ground black pepper
Place the watermelon wedges on two plates. Sprinkle them with a bit of the lime juice, some salt and chipotle powder. Set aside.
Combine the cucumber noodles in a large bowl with the remaining lime juice, more salt + chipotle powder, olive oil, honey/agave, arugula, mint and basil. Toss to evenly mix. Divide the noodles between the 2 plates, placing them on top of the watermelon. Garnish the noodles with the avocado, pumpkin seeds and some fresh pepper. Serve with lime wedges if you like. Eat immediately.
“And then on May fifteenth, a balmy sweet day if ever I saw one, my seeds went into the warm, welcoming earth, and I could agree with an old gardening manual which said understandingly, “Perhaps no vegetable is set out in greater expectancy…for the early planting fever is impatient.”
A week later I put in another row, and so on for a month, and they did as they were meant to, which is one of the most satisfying things that can possibly happen to a gardener, whether greenhorn and eager or professional and weatherworn.
Then came the day with stars on it: time for what my grandmother would have called “the first mess of peas.””
When I settled on the title of this site, I had been poking around some works by M.F.K. Fisher quite a bit when I hit on that little passage in An Alphabet for Gourmets. It was perfect. Tracing that little slice from her life that would come every year. It said everything that I needed it to. Sure, it nods to the embrace of change in the fields, bringing that shift into your home and being grateful for what you can grow right where you find yourself in this world (total freedom, in other words). It says a lot more about how I find myself here, traipsing along with all of you too.
I generally eschew the designation of “expert” in any context, including food and food preparations. I screw things up a lot: not getting a recipe concept nailed in the initial trials, adding too much salt, forgetting that something is under the broiler, swearing at the waffle iron in a predominantly chill brunch setting. I post things here that people straight up tell me they do not like. I value that engagement too. If you recognize me on the street and tell me that some salad recipe from here was shit, I will have that conversation candidly. First attempts, first forays, first fuck-ups, first harsh criticisms, first rationalizations… They all have their place here and in life.
Any instance of mess means having your feet on the ground, and your hands in the work. That one was obvious, but hey.
It addresses this weird spot I’m finding myself in, worrying that buying and owning a home to make many future meals in will change my brain on a cellular level. Those rooms and floors that can hold us up, the land that we’ll find ourselves on… they might force a protective response. I worry that my scattered idealism will fade and stretch towards obsessive safeguarding of what will become undoubtedly 100% ours, that any ideas on what can be in a future sense will be scratched out. Mostly, that we will change fundamentally, that it will be observed.
It weirdly highlights my preference for a Coors Light in some casual drinking situations. Sometimes I want to slowly drift into hot-messyness over the course of an afternoon with marginally hydrating refreshment, rather than volunteer tasting notes on some Mercenary Vortex Triple IPA that’s been exposed to wild yeasts in upstate New York. I’ll take a relaxed sinking-in over instances of who’s-drank-what when it comes to beer-hangs. Read also: french fries, iceberg lettuce, Nescafé, ZZ Top and Jim Beam. All of those things are great in context and you know it.
It also points to creative engagement for me. I started this project after much deliberation, all with high intention because, seriously, if people are going to let you into their lives in some tiny sense you better make it good. I seek other channels to fuel inspiration for this space often, and it helps tremendously. A real-life scheduled job, music, books about alternate realities, films about wars, travel, extreme landscapes; there’s always something there. Right now, I’m certain that if I abandoned the site, I would be a person without dreams (is that corny/dramatic? Whatever.). When you push yourself to live and die by the project, the approach feels new and refreshingly frenzied every time. It’s helped me grow a lot.
Anyway, all of this is just to say thanks for sticking with me. Two years of many kinds of messes later, and it feels like we’re doing just fine :)
a salad with all of the peas, potatoes, acidulated shallots + creamy dill dressing
notes: The dressing is your homie here. It’s so good. Tangy, lightly sweet, flecked with dill, creamy but not in a ew-it’s-still-coating-my-tongue kind of way. Make it for this salad or make it for other stuff, seriously. I also “acidulate” the shallots to soften their bite a bit–just covering them in vinegar while the rest of the salad happens. Super simple technique, super delicious results.
acidulated shallots ingredients:
1 small shallot, cut into thin half moons
1/4-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
creamy dill dressing ingredients:
1/3 cup mixed raw cashews + sunflower seeds (I’d say 3/4 of that should be cashews), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
juice of 1/2 a lemon
splash of the vinegar from the shallots
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp – 1tbsp raw agave nectar/honey
splash of water (enough to get the motor of your blender moving–like 3 tbsp-ish)
fat pinch of salt
lots of black pepper
3-4 sprigs of dill, leaves removed and chopped
1 small shallot, cut into thin half moons
1/4-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
8 small new potatoes
4-5 big handfuls of pea shoots
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1-2 cups snap peas, cut in half down the center
handful of snow peas, chopped
additional sprouts if you feel it (I added some radish sprouts)
extra dill to garnish
more salt + pepper
Place the sliced shallots in a small bowl and cover them with the red wine vinegar. Let the shallots soften up in this until you’re ready to serve the salad.
Make the dressing: throw all of the ingredients except for the dill into a blender and blend on high until you have a creamy, homogenous mixture. Thin out with additional water until you get an appropriate dressing consistency. Pour the dressing into a jar and stir in the chopped dill. Set aside.
Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place them on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, run some cold water over them and set aside to cool.
Arrange the pea shoots on the base of your serving platter. Scatter the acidulated shallots, shelled peas, snap peas, and chopped snow peas on top of the shoots. Cut the cooled potatoes into quarters and arrange them on top. Season the whole thing from up high with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over top. Garnish with additional sprouts and extra dill sprigs and serve it up.
Let’s talk about dreams for a second. I have huge ones and I’m going to revel in a particular vision right here, so just indulge me for a second. Some day, I hope to roll up to a respectable newsstand and lay eyes on an equally respectable cooking publication, emblazoned with the predictable “SUMMER GRILLING ISSUE” thing and whoa, there won’t be a greased-up burger or a sauce-smothered mountain of ribs on the cover. Am I waiting on a new publication entirely/looking for (plant-based) love in all the wrong places? These timely summer volumes always have some veggie options hiding within, and great ones most certainly, but that predominant fire = meat mindset is old hat to me (stating the obvious for the win). Hippie dippy dreams much? I’ve moved on I suppose.
And by that, I mean that I’ve made you something really deluxe for your own barbecue adventures (onwards + upwards!). I do love some simple grilled vegetables with a nice bit of oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, herbs, whatevs. They’re a fuss-free addition to dinner that has everyone rolling with the health wave. You can sip a very cold beer (or an equally cold kombucha) while lazily flipping them for even char. Everything about that is completely right. But I wanted to make something main course-appropriate that fed into my health warrior inclinations. Cauliflower, tempeh, a jerk-ish marinade, ginger-mango-miso dressing and a crucial grilled greens method to the rescue.
Both the marinade and the mango sauce have an extra few ingredients, but I found a lot of them were pantry items for me (and there’s overlap between the two recipes). And the sauce is so worth it–it’s sweet, salty, ginger-spicy and has a lovely not-too-thick consistency–basically tasty and fitting on everything it touches. The grilled greens method is something I picked up when I was interning at a restaurant. The greens would go for a dip in a soy, red wine, herb + spice mix, go right to the grill, smothered in an old sheet pan and two minutes later: perfect tender greens. I kind of massage mine in a lime-y soy mix rather than dunking them outright. The method speaks to laid back dinners outside for sure.
Anyway, a little preparation on your part means dinner made entirely on the grill and some chill time outside afterward, which I’m pretty sure is something we’re all after in these warmer days. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pestering my man about a beach trip for a while, and all the plans that I could possibly dream up for the next few months are kind of hazy and sunset-hued. My cruiser’s been in for a little tune up and is riding very smoothly. Feels like we’re right on the edge of summer’s gifts, right? Soak it in, all :)
jerk-style veggie grill w/ tempeh, greens and mango-ginger-miso sauce
notes: Any vegetable is fair game here. I chose cauliflower mostly to see what it was like on the grill. Also, I realize this jerk marinade mix is probably not authentic, hence my use of the word “style” in there. Let’s let the authenticity thing go for a bit? K THX.
mango-ginger-miso sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup diced fresh mango
1 small shallot, peeled + rough chopped
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled + rough chopped
1 tsp light miso
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup/agave/raw honey
1 tsp hot toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
salt + pepper
jerk-style marinade ingredients:
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
juice of 1 lime
splash of tamari
4 green onions, rough chopped (+ extra to garnish if you like)
1 hot pepper (I used a jalapeño because dang those scotch bonnets are hot), seeded + rough chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled + rough chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled + rough chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground allspice
salt + pepper
grilled greens + veggies:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into thick slices
1 block of tempeh, cut into triangles
as much cleaned greens as you want to eat (spinach, chard, collards + kale are all good)
tamari soy sauce
salt + pepper
cooked quinoa, rice, millet etc for serving (I had some black lentils + quinoa in the fridge)
sesame seeds for garnish
Make the dressing: throw all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend/process until a creamy and smooth mixture is achieved. Store in a resealable container and set aside, keeping it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Make the marinade: throw all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend/process until a smooth puree is achieved. Place the cauliflower and tempeh pieces in a large ceramic dish and pour the marinade over top. Let it sit in this mix for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill to high. In a large bowl, toss the greens with a splash of oil, some tamari and lime juice to taste, salt and pepper. Set the bowl aside. Oil the grill lightly and place the marinated cauliflower and tempeh on top. Grill until char marks appear on both sides, about 2-5 minutes per side, depending. Transfer the tempeh and cauliflower to an area of the grill that doesn’t put them in direct contact with flame as they finish. In a general way, I find the cauliflower benefits from a bit of extra time. Don’t be finicky with them. Letting them sit means a lower occurrence of sticking. In the last moments of the cauliflower and tempeh grilling, place the greens onto a spot on the grill, trying to keep them tightly together. Put a heavy pot lid down on top of the greens and let them cook until slightly wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Lightly toss them once to promote even wilting. Remove everything from the grill and serve with mango sauce, cooked quinoa/rice etc. Garnish with sesame seeds and extra green onions.
Hello, hello! Going to be a bit of a dine and dash today. Life is extraordinarily full at the moment and wouldn’t you know, my yearly spring cold has arrived just in time. I’m on the mend, sniffling just a bit and seeing the light. A touch of sickness can be this little blessing in disguise sometimes. It forces a powering down, some self love in the form of cozy hot drinks, and rest! Oh gosh, the rest. It demands a nourishing and mindful response. There’s a once-again new perspective on wellness, a few life things sorted out, fresh sheets on the bed, windows wide open, and the world is brand new.
Anyway, as I’m pulling out of this sniffly business, I’m getting a little more excited to meet all of the endeavours face to face. I’m anticipating the madness a little more positively because I’ve got myself a little plan. Wanna hear it? Enjoy the crazy. Frolic in the crazy even. I’m usually a put-your-head-down-and-work-til-it’s-over type when it comes to mastering the tasks of life. I’m trying to make laser beam focus coexist with pleasure and I think it’s gonna be pretty rad.
So I made you some potstickers too. They have little cuts of sweet spring vegetables, tender shreds of new cabbage, lots of ginger (sinus clearing yay!), fresh mint and an insanely delicious maple and soy dip, all flecked with sesames, scallions and chili flakes. I love pretty much anything in the dumpling category because you get to hunch over the plate in anticipation of filling overflow/sauce drips. They demand fully vested eating and are generally always delicious. Also, every culture has one, which obviously points to their inherently good + true nature. These look finicky, but they’re honestly VERY hard to screw up. I worked for a chef that joked about wanting a house made from fried wonton wrappers once. These things are durable, I’m telling you. If you kind of manhandle them while you’re trying to pinch them shut, no worry. It’s gonna be fine.
spring vegetable potstickers w/ sweet chili soy dip
serves: makes about 24
notes: Check the ingredients on your package of wonton wrappers to ensure that they are vegan/free of nasties. You could also wrap the cooked veggies with boston lettuce leaves and nix the sauteeing step for a lighter option, or possibly try some rice paper wraps.
1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil, divided
1 small shallot, small dice
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
6-7 stalks of asparagus, woody ends snapped off + small diced
1 cup shelled fresh/frozen peas
1 cup shredded green cabbage
juice of 1 lime
salt + pepper
2 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped
24+ wonton wrappers
sweet chili soy dip ingredients:
¼ cup tamari or nama shoyu
2 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey/agave
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
couple drops of hot toasted sesame oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 green onion, thinly sliced on a bias
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of the grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and ginger to the pan. Stir them up and cook until fragrant and shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, peas and cabbage to the pan. Sauté until the peas and asparagus are bright green and the cabbage is slightly wilted. Add the lime juice, season the mixture to taste and remove from the heat. Add the mint, stir, and allow the mixture to cool.
Divide the vegetable filling amongst the wonton wrappers, placing about 2 teaspoons of it in the center of each wonton square. Moisten half of the edges with a bit of water and fold the potstickers up, pinching the tops shut as you go.
Wipe out the sauté pan and heat the remaining grapeseed oil on medium heat. Fry the potstickers in batches until they’re golden brown on both sides, about ½-1 full minute per side. Introduce more oil to the pan as needed to finish them up.
For the sweet chili soy dip, whisk all of the ingredients together. Serve the potstickers hot with the dip on the side.