Getting Schooled.

I spent three very delightful evenings this past week assisting down at the Charlottesville Cooking School with my friend Martha, who taught an Every Day Cooking Skills Series.  It’s a three part class that is usually taught over the course of three weeks, but Martha decided to teach it over three consecutive evenings in one week as a trial summer run.  The concept is sort of like a boot camp for cooking – it covers a variety of basic cooking techniques so that participants walk out  with skills to throw together simple seasonal and delicious dinners regularly.  Sounds too good to be true,  I know, but Martha is an amazing instructor who can make this happen and I don’t just say that because she’s a friend.  Martha is a trained chef, who has been teaching cooking classes longer than she wants to admit (which is also longer than I’ve been cooking).

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Greens, it’s what’s for dinner.

The farmer’s market is overflowing with greens these days  – cabbage, chard, kale, arugula, lettuces galore – as well as with lovely root vegetables with their greenery still attached – beets, radishes, carrots, turnips. How to use it all without wasting it? I am often asked how I go about doing that this time of year.

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Homemade eggrolls.

Ever since I was a kid, egg rolls have been one of my favorite things about Chinese food.  We’d eat Chinese takout regularly and I was always quite content to try and make a meal out of just egg rolls ( I was never allowed to succeed though, which is why I still to this day make a meal out of hot & sour soup and eggrolls). When my mother discovered egg roll wrappers at the grocery store, complete with a recipe on back, home made egg rolls became a regular in the dinner rotation and I finally was able to realize the dream of nothing but egg rolls for dinner.  Continue reading

Recent Kitchen Experiments.

I kept seeing mentions of banana bread pop up everywhere last week, so when I got up Sunday morning, it seemed like the obvious thing to make for breakfast was banana bread.  My go-to recipe for banana bread is from my 1980-something Betty Crocker cookbook. I don’t alter it much, with the exception of subbing in some whole wheat flour for all-purpose and excluding nuts. I am just not a fan of nuts in my banana bread and thankfully, no one else is here either.  To be honest, the only time we like nuts in our baked goods are pecan pie and grandma’s fruitcake muffins. Continue reading

DIY Chili

I made a really great pot of chili last week totally off the cuff, right down to the chili powder mix. It was during one of last week’s snow days, so when I realized I was out of chili powder, there was no heading out to grab some. I knew I’d read somewhere chili powder was fairly easy to make, so I did a little googling and a quick hunt through my cookbooks and came up with something. I scribbled myself a note on a scrap of paper and stuck it to the side of my vintage “dispensette” with a Hello Kitty magnet, which is my new favorite way to organize myself.

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Inbetween Holiday Meals.

We are at that time of year where there is something festive planned for every weekend between now and the end of January.  With two mid-January birthdays in this house wrapping up the season and my birthday the week before Halloween kicking it off, we extend our holiday season for months. To offset the abundance of cakes, pie, candy, celebratory drinks and rich foods of all sorts (I’m looking at you Oysterfest), I try to keep our weekly meals inbetween all the festivities fairly healthy, veering towards vegan more often than not.

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The latest version

Pizza night is a family favorite, a dinner always in the rotation and never exactly the same way twice.  What tops our pizzas is an ongoing experiment as I use pizza night as a way to clear out the fridge while  adjusting the recipe for the best crust.  Our pizzas can be seasonal – roasted asparagus is only served during the spring – but also feature things I’ve preserved either in jars or in the freezer. Continue reading