farewell to winter salad


The sun wakes us up early with a glow that creeps in through the openings of the brown curtains, and remains throughout the day, growing brighter and warmer. A small breeze is a welcome relief on my way to work. The weather brings forth spring produce, and green is seen all around. I received some wonderful citrus this week, juicy and heavy from a long rest on the trees all winter. I gathered it along with the last fennel bulb in the refrigerator, and a can of chickpeas. In about three minutes, I had a lunch that paid tribute to the passing of winter, but was bursting with the brightness of spring.

Chickpea Salad with Orange and Fennel

chickpea salad with oranges and fennel
Ingredients (for one): 
1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 medium orange, peeled and sliced (or one large orange, half peeled and sliced, and use the other half to squeeze over the salad)
1 very small fennel bulb, or a couple of layers, sliced
one sage stem (about 20 small leaves), chop if using larger leaves of sage
1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mushroom and sage olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

1) Combine the chickpeas and fennel, toss with vinegar and olive oil. Gently incorporate your orange slices, and use some of the liquid from the bottom of the dish/bowl to soak them. You don’t want the slices to break apart, nor be drenched in oil or vinegar.
2) Add the salt, and adjust to your taste. Finish with the sage leaves, and enjoy.

arugula and yogurt


More than anything, I was known as a crazy mixer growing up. I would eating watermelon with ketchup, and not bat an eyelash when others gagged. Mustard with your cake, well, it’s not for everyone. I think this was the only way I knew how to try and make sense of what condiments were, or what to do with them.

A recent bunch of fresh arugula led me to experiment with how I could eat it raw. By itself, arugula is good to much on, but it does not take long before I feel kind of like a cow munching on grass. I just need a little spice, a little hint of something to elevate the delicious taste. About three fourths of the bunch through, I mean used for failed experiments, I found comfort in a dish of arugula and yogurt, topped with olive oil. It was simple, fast, and showcased the extraordinary taste of arugula the best. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the most sense, and instructions seem unnecessary, but they are below regardless.

arugula for lunch

Ingredients (for one serving):
half a small bunch, about 20 large leaves of arugula
one quarter cup of yogurt
one to two tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt

1) Thoroughly wash arugula, and either towel dry or leave out to air dry. Then chop roughly, think bite sized cuts.
2) Add yogurt to a small bowl, toss in chopped arugula, and mix thoroughly. Place on a plate, or eat in the same bowl!
3) Top with the olive oil, and add a pinch of salt.

leftovers for lunch


Please do not judge my very loose use of the term Cajun today. I was tired, I was out of ideas of what to pair with the Louisiana style sausage I had on hand, and I wanted something fast. So I threw together a “Cajun” style pasta last night with sliced bell peppers, diced onions and celery, a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic powder (my backup when I run out of regular garlic), a bay leaf, and some heavy cream. It came together in about 15 minutes (including boiling the sausage) and it was delicious last night, and even more so now that the flavors have had some time to sit with one another.

cajun style pasta with sausage

soup for lunch


Working from home makes me feel very productive when I can have split pea soup for lunch. Adapted from this recipe, which makes a really fragrant and delicious soup. The mint is optional.

split pea soup with mint


jelly for lunch


I felt it was very French of me, to make my own rye bread and eat the last slice not with the herb butter, but the delicious Bonne Maman Mixed Berry Jam. The white towel is how I usually wrap home made bread, and store it in the ever useful (but not often used) microwave.

brunch and gardening


I made tapioca pudding for an early brunch today. I did not have breakfast so I was super hungry. I had never tasted tapioca but it seems rather mild, natural in flavor. I used honey and milk to boil it, and then added some rose water once it was finished. The pistachios were a later reminder (after one ramekin was already safely tucked away in my belly). I am not sure if I would like to use tapioca in pies, as suggested on the box though. Something about the texture is a little off, so a whole slice of pie tasting like this…maybe sometime down the road. Otherwise, the taste is pretty decent. Although, I must note, that it does fill you up, and once I was done with one ramekin, I felt like I could not eat anything else for a long time.

In other news, the container garden is looking healthy and thriving. I have finally gotten rid of the aphids, thanks to an organic spray from Home Depot, which does not harm the plant (which means no more throwing herbs out!). The tomato plants produced their first crop of two whole tomatoes the size of an apricot. I was not sure how big they would be, but seeing the results, they could have come out far worse. The taste is almost like a cross between a cherry tomato and an heirloom. I wish that there were more prospects being produced, but alas, the plants are all filled with lots of flowers for now. I am hoping the heat will become more manageable and thus the plants will start growing. The heirloom peppers have flowers, which is great since all I thought I would see this year were the small green leaves. I am really hoping to get purple peppers, but any color would be fine really, since it would save me a dollar per pepper. The herbs are fantastic, and I made pesto last week in order to trim down the basil plants. The heirloom basil tastes really sweet, and the purple basil is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. I am really looking forward to reading a gardening book for our area, and how to deal with plant diseases and also insects. The season is not even over, and I would like to see how the plants do this year before starting anything other crops.

first try at making pretzels


Today for lunch I made pretzels. I like the soft, almost chewy kind, but I think I may have gotten in a losing fight with the sea salt. I don’t like salty pretzels, and unfortunately that’s exactly what I got. This didn’t prevent me, however, from inhaling three: one with mustard, one plain, and the last with microwave melted cheese. I should note that I am already two water bottles down after eating these. I imagine they would taste great with beer infused anything. Now I am day dreaming of a cold beer and eating/drinking outside in the sun. Try to focus, self! The dough rose quite well, as I had turned off the air conditioning so the house was about eighty degrees. However, I think that after I had cut the pretzels and started forming them, I should have let less time pass between the second rest period and the poaching. I also wonder if the salt that is more suited (ie bigger) for pretzels would have made a difference in the taste. I am sure it would, but I mean to say more wondering to what degrees. Alas, all what if’s aside, I am getting ready to go and take most of the pretzels to Mike’s work for his coworkers. We don’t need two dozen at home, that’s for sure.

Also, because I was like pretzels are so ten minutes ago and I totally got this, I made a pretzel fish. I braided the fish going in one direction until the middle, and then the opposite direction the rest of the way. I even gave it a tail, which I am not sure is really clear in this picture (darn phone camera). That’s not all, folks! I filled it with cheese inside, and then ended the whole piece de resistance with a sesame and poppy eye, and poppy and sesame “colors”. The worst part was the poaching, as the fish was long and lean, and required two large spatulas to transport. Once in the pot, the cheese began to melt, so the poaching was cut short of the one minute per side recipe direction. All in all though, a pretty nifty fish shape, especially since this was my second time braiding dough. I think that next time I will make sure to leave less time between rising/resting, and poach less. Memo to self: buy an open slotted spoon as well.



 I love days where I can work from home and make my own lunch. Today I was inspired by the bountiful basil plants, and a package of pine nuts from my parents, to make basil pesto. Of course, having the Vitamix also did not hurt. The cucumbers are fresh,  my mom actually sent them via USPS (her garden must be huge this year!). The are heavy, and full of water. And Texas makes delicious watermelons – so juicy and sweet!