merie kirby

Meatless Mondays (or Wednesdays or Saturdays). Recipe: Quinoa potato croquettes

Recently, I had lunch out with a friend and in the course of our conversation I mentioned that I was trying a new recipe that week: quinoa-potato croquettes (from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone). “That sounds good,” my friend said. “Will you have that with some baked chicken or something?” No, I explained, it was one of our meatless meals. “But it’s not Monday,” my friend pointed out. 


I explained that Meatless Mondays don’t usually work for us – Monday is slow cooker day, due to work and school schedules. However, we try to have at least two or three meatless meals a week; just not on set days. 


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Cooking up a Resolution

Last year I decided to approach New Year’s Resolutions in a different way: I would make a list of things to accomplish and to learn. I focused on just a few things that I enjoy, but seldom approach in a dedicated way: crafting, writing and cooking. My list included things I knew I could easily skate through the entire year without actually doing, unless I had something prodding me…like my pride. I printed out my list – in a big colored font nonetheless – and posted it around the house. That list lived above the sewing machine, by my desk and inside a kitchen cabinet door. 

My list looked something like this:

Dye sock yarn with Kool-Aid. Cook one new recipe a week. 52 recipes. Write more. Read more.Finish four unfinished projects. 


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Where Love and Farming Meet: The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

Often, when I mention our CSA to people unfamiliar with Community Supported Agriculture and I explain how a CSA works, they express astonishment at the high cost of these weekly vegetables. With each year of CSA participation, though, I feel less and less interested in justifying my choice. When someone asks, “Isn’t that really expensive?” I shrug and say, "it depends on how you look at it."  Now, for people who want to argue the point further, I have a book to recommend. 

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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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Simple Chicken Soup From Leftovers

First, the chicken: where deadlines meet dinnertime

The other afternoon I was hard at work on an editing project when I noticed it was already 4pm. This meant that without even trying I had fallen behind on getting dinner ready. 

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Food Tastes Better With Care and Company

“Pesto only tastes good when my friends are here!”

That’s what my daughter said one night when she turned up her nose at a plate of pesto spaghetti -- the same food she and her friend each ate two helpings of the night before. Our visiting friends had just left, and while I argued that the pesto still tasted good, I couldn’t argue with the feeling behind my daughter’s words.

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Dorie Greenspan's Leek and Potato Soup: Perfect in France and North Dakota

If I am going to get a new cookbook, the best possible situation is to have my dad next to me when I do. I can’t think of a better companion for looking through recipes. Who else but my father reads through lists of ingredients with as much relish as I do, as if they were suspenseful novellas? Who else immediately starts thinking about how to change -- and improve -- recipes that we haven’t even tried yet? Nobody, that’s who.

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Lemon Meringue Pie Brings Sunshine During a Long Winter

Here in the last stretch of North Dakota winter (I hope!), the landscape continues to present itself in shades of white, grey, black, and brown. I started knitting a spring scarf last weekend, in the hopes of luring warmer weather. When I pull into the garage each afternoon, the old Weber grill looks more and more forlorn. My daughter, Cora, feels a deep sense of betrayal that the groundhog promised spring would come early -- liar!

Recently, my husband’s parents came to visit from southern California, and while they did not bring any warm weather with them, they did bring a bag full of fresh Meyer lemons from their backyard tree -- not certified organic, of course, but organic nonetheless. A whole bag of yellow orbs bright as the summer sun and, I know from experience, bursting with juice and flavor.

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Joining a CSA Can Be Good for the Body, Mind, and Family

My husband and I first joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program about 14 years ago. We shared a membership with friends and split the box of vegetables each week. It was the early days of CSAs in the Twin Cities, and the variety in the box was, well, not very various -- a three week stretch of nothing but bok choy pretty much ended our interest. But then, four years ago, circumstances conspired to bring us back into the CSA fold. Just when my husband and I were ready to reconsider, we visited some relatives in Madison and happened to be there when they received their CSA share from Harmony Valley Farm, located in Viroqua, WI.

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Getting Good Food on the Table -- on a Weeknight

Alas, Pete Wells’ “Cooking with Dexter” series in the New York Times is going the way of Mark Bittman’s “The Minimalist.” (For the record, NYT, I still miss the “Eat, Memory” series, too.) I always enjoyed Wells’ tales of cooking with and for his sons -- a glimpse into another family’s food life that was inspiring, fascinating, and amusing. Like Wells, I enjoy cooking with and for my daughter, exploring various ways to work together in the kitchen.

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