Saving Beans, Making Chili

As an avid but admittedly novice gardener, there is always one area where I tend to let things go. Some years I put everything in the ground, remember to water, but let the weeds go crazy. Other years, I get behind in sowing seed and too much or too little comes up. Sometimes watering is inconsistent and my garden suffers and bears little. However, there is one problem I have every year: keeping up with the beans. 

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Pin-Up Girl Eggplant - A Savory Dish for those Purple Beauties

I don't know about you, but I find it virtually impossible to walk by an eggplant and not pick it up. They are just so beautiful. The heft, the mysterious deep purple skin, the smooth contours just speak to me. They are the plump and saucy pin-up girls of the vegetable world and I am always seduced. I had visions of creamy curries and crusty parmesans as I filled my basket with one, two, OK, three too many at the Kingfield Farmers Market on Sunday. But as much as the aubergine beauties might have been calling to me from my kitchen counter, the last honeyed days of summer were calling me even more.
Instead of hopping on the computer and hungrily searching my favorite food blogs for recipes, I went for a long and lazy late afternoon swim at Lake Harriet. My son and I swam way far out past the buoys until we could barely recognize the rest of our tiny family on shore.
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Inventing Carrot Pie

Even though we belong to a CSA, even though we visit our local farmer’s market most weeks, and even though we buy much of our produce at the local co-op…we still have a garden. Our garden is a 20’ x 20’ space in the Parks Department’s community garden, out on the edge of town. (How far on the edge? If we get there before 9am, we can drive across the road and watch horses and cows sharing a stream and fields.) We started our garden in mid-June, which felt criminally late to me, and thanks to a cold spring, the vegetables have taken their time getting settled in and producing. 

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Barbecue Chicken, Part 2: What to do With Those Leftovers

As a follow up to my Lazy Sunday Afternoon Barbecue Chicken, I wanted to share with all of you some of my favorite things to do with those leftovers that sit begging to be used.

I am the type of cook who simply does not rest. I love to constantly push the boundaries and test myself to create on the spot, easy recipes (also the reason why I have a ridiculously full refrigerator...I mean, you never know when you might need that little bit of tamarind paste). Therefore, leftovers are a great challenge, and I tend to make it my personal mission, not only to create them, but then to use them up. 

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Don't Throw Away Those Tasty Vegetable Trimmings

The first time I bought celery in a Manila grocery store, I was surprised to find the stalks still crowned with leaves. Accustomed to the neatly trimmed, plastic-bagged bunches in American supermarkets, I was mildly peeved over the extra effort I had to make to cut off the tops, even if it involved nothing more than a solid thwack of a chef’s knife to decapitate those unwanted greens. I swept them from the cutting board into the trash without another thought, blithely unaware that I had just added to the more than 200 pounds per person of edible food discarded around the world last year.

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Summer Smoothies - Give Your Body a Break

Summer is fantastic. A warm summer night with a frothy smoothie in hand is better. During these warm months, we come together with friends and family often to visit, celebrate and to just be in the company of one another. Along with these gatherings, comes food and a lot of it. Some of the edible options are healthy and some are...well, not so much. I'm sure that you have a little list of a few seasonal specialties that you simply must have (I know I do!) because you only get spinach dip so many times a year or the grilled red potato salad just looked too good to pass up. 

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Black Raspberries Get Their Due

Black raspberries have never been the most popular kid on the block. Their cousin, the red raspberry, enjoys enduring fame and adulation while the black raspberry is a one hit wonder known only for being distilled into Chambord, the French Liqueur. Ever the fan of the underdog, when I planted raspberries in my backyard a few years ago, I put in rows of both black and red.

The red raspberries delivered as expected, gorgeous thumb-sized berries full of flavor. The black raspberries, though smaller and less aromatic, provided a tart counterpoint with a darker berry flavor. And then I discovered their secret.

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A Weeknight Supper For The Summer: The 30 Minute Edition

Signs that summer is in full swing: temperatures in the upper 80s and beyond, swimming lessons, ballet camp, road trip plans, gulping down novels, the constant whirr of fans at night, ice cream appearing at an alarming frequency, and an aversion to meals that require heating up the kitchen with excessive oven or stove use. 

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My New Summer Eating Plan

I’ll just put it out there to start with: minus the cabbage broth cayenne pepper (or the “please-kill-me-now?”) diet, I have given most food-life styles a fair shot. I did vegetarian for about four years. Did raw for awhile (I loved it, my stomach did not), and did every sort of variation of caveman diets, of carb/protein/fat ratios and of cooked/uncooked/baked/boiled/parched plans that are out there.  Some have made me feel better, some worse, some wiped off the pounds and some put them right back on, and some were a heck of a lot more enjoyable than others. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got a “thing” for eating plans. Like, it’s too confusing and certainly altogether too overwhelming out there when the whole wide world of food is fair game.

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Hail Hummus!

As we welcome summer into our lives with open arms, it's also a time to welcome wonderful, crisp and light foods into our bellies. Minnesota has so many delicious options to choose from. We are also a Minne-gold mine when it comes to hummus. Our farmer's markets, co-ops and gardens are full of tasty options for your own homemade hummus. I was shocked at how easy it is to make at home, and ever since that day, I have been hooked on the stuff. It was not time consuming or difficult and you can create enough variations to keep this go-to food fresh and fun for your palette.

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