Elegant First Course: Cold Pea Soup with Mint

pea soup recipe

The appearance of shelling peas at the Oak Park Farmers Market on Saturday meant that I could make one of my all-time favorite recipes this weekend. A recipe that is only in play for a few weeks each year: cold pea soup with mint. Luckily, this recipe is also a favorite with my soup-loving husband, so when I put it on the menu for Father's Day, he … [Read more...]

Sautéed Turnip Greens with Green Garlic

how to use hakurei turnips

There is a saying in cooking, or maybe gardening, along the lines of: what grows together, goes together. As spring turns into summer, and farmers markets all over the country begin to overflow with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, it can be helpful to keep that axiom in mind. If you are not sure how to use your farmers market, or garden, … [Read more...]

Father’s Day Dinner: Lighter Chicken Parm

lighter chicken parmesan

Is it a bad sign that when I made my husband's favorite dish for dinner this week, he was terrified? Had I bought something expensive? Was the car totaled? There had to be some bad news. Why else would I make chicken parmigiana on a random weeknight? (The truth is, I was just in the mood for it myself. Also, I bought a handbag.) Yes, my … [Read more...]

How to Make A Watermelon Basket

fruit salad in a watermelon basket

Turning whole watermelons into adorably shaped bowls for serving fruit salad is a Pinterest staple. Having once carved a round baby watermelon into a bloody brain for a second grade Halloween party, I felt like I needed to redeem myself by making one of these less macabre watermelon shapes. JR's first grade class Author's Tea was on the agenda for … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Green Garlic

how to use green garlic

If you have visited your local farmers market this spring, chances are you have seen a lot of spring onions. But are you sure it was green onions that you saw? Could it possibly have been green garlic? The two crops look very similar. And, of course, they are related as onions and garlic are both members of the allium family. (Other cousins include … [Read more...]

Restaurant Review: Sepia

sepia review

Today, May 26, is my twelfth wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I wrote more about my wedding, and how we served corn pudding at dinner, in this post. For today, I only bring up the fact that it is my anniversary because I am reviewing the restaurant we went to … [Read more...]

How to Get the Most out of Shopping at the Farmers Market

how to shop the farmers market

This Saturday, my beloved Oak Park Farmers Market reopens for the season. It can't even tell you how excited I am. Zuzu has swim practice across the street from the farmers market from 9-10:30 am and my plan is to spend that entire hour-and-a-half browsing at the market. Ninety minutes at the farmers market is not too much for me. As a home … [Read more...]

May Chicago Food Swap Recap

Chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap had its May event this past Sunday, May 18, at Green Home Experts, a "green" lifestyle boutique in Oak Park. This was the third time that owner Maria Moran opened her store's doors to the Chicago Food Swap and, just as before, it was a perfect location for a swap. On a sunny spring afternoon, Maria's garden center was a … [Read more...]

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

national chocolate chip cookie day

Today, May 15, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I don't usually pay attention to these made-up food holidays but I will take any excuse to write about, or make, chocolate chip cookies. I think homemade chocolate chip cookies are just about the best dessert in the world. Willpower and restraint go out the window when I am presented with a … [Read more...]

Ramps Two Ways

how to cook with ramps

It's spring and that means that foodies everywhere are losing their minds over ramps. For the uninitiated, ramps are a variety of wild leek with a mild garlic flavor.  They have a small bulb at the bottom and a leafy green top. A staple of farmers' markets, ramps are apparently hard to cultivate and tend to be available only for a few weeks in the … [Read more...]

Smoked Turkey Banh Mi

vietnamese sandwich

Zuzu came home from school dejected the other day because she had not gotten her first or even second choice for her class project on French-speaking countries. Instead of Canada or Belgium, Vietmam was the country Zuzu had been assigned. My first thought was: you dodged a bullet there, kid! I would absolutely love to do a school project on … [Read more...]

Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas

mother's day brunch ideas

I am of the firm belief that you should not go out to eat on big restaurant holidays, like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. The restaurants are extra crowded, the prices inflated and the wait staff harried. You are much more likely to have a great meal on any random Saturday night or Sunday morning when the dining room has a normal number of … [Read more...]

Help End Child Hunger in America


Today’s post is sponsored by Meijer, and I was selected to participate in this campaign by The Motherhood. When JR was in half-day kindergarten, he spent his afternoons in an enrichment program at a local church that also houses my town's food pantry. On Wednesday afternoons, when Zuzu and I came to pick JR up, there was always a line … [Read more...]

Mango Salsa for Cinco de Mayo

mango salsa recipe

Okay, so we don't actually celebrate Cinco de Mayo at my house. We're not twenty-something city dwellers with the alcohol tolerance befitting a recent college grad. Instead, we are a suburban family of four who will spend Monday night going to piano lessons, doing homework and eating dinner without Daddy, who has a work function. But we did have … [Read more...]

Brownies with Dried Cherries and Mango Puree

fudgy brownies with a tart and refreshing mango puree

Brownies happen to be my daughter Zuzu's all-time favorite dessert and she is incapable of passing one up. Two summers ago, on a family trip to Nantucket, she repeatedly shocked my mother by ordering a brownie over any one of the amazing homemade ice cream flavors on our nightly trips to The Juice Bar -- Nantucket's beloved, hole-in-the-wall ice … [Read more...]

April is Grilled Cheese Month

a grilled cheese sandwich inspired by the ploughman's lunch

I'm not usually so last-minute about things, but did you know that April is Grilled Cheese Month? If you are a regular reader of food blogs, my guess is that you already knew about Grilled Cheese Month because everyone has been chiming in with their versions of this lunchtime classic. I am so late to the game, in part, because of Passover. I spent … [Read more...]

A New Documentary about the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

illinois farms

Today’s post is sponsored by Illinois Farm Families, for which I serve as a Brand Ambassador. You can read more about my role as a Brand Ambassador here. Did you know that of the 317 million people living in the United States, fewer than 1% are farmers? It used to be the case that the majority of Americans grew some or all of their own food. … [Read more...]

How to Make a Chopped Vegetable Salad

crunchy veggies in a yogurt-sumac sauce

Last week, sometime after the third night of repurposed leftover brisket, multiple bowls of matzo ball soup and the umpteenth plate of scrambled eggs, I longed to sink my teeth into some food that would resist.  Give me something -- anything! -- with some crunch to it. I went to my fridge and pulled out all the raw vegetables I could find: … [Read more...]

Meringue Bites with Lemon Curd and Berries

miniature pavlovas

This is the dessert that I wish I had made for my Seder: bite-sized meringues shells filled with luscious lemon curd and topped with a juicy strawberry.  The dessert that I actually made was kind of a flop.  The idea was similar but my proportions were way off. For the Seder dessert last week, I made saucer-sized meringues filled with sliced, … [Read more...]

The Only Brisket Recipe You Will Ever Need

brisket recipes

I was all set to make chicken for Passover this year. I had a terrific recipe worked out and given that I was hosting a Seder on the second night of the holiday, I figured that my guests would appreciate a lighter entree. And then my husband asked me if I would please make brisket. "Your brisket is special," he cajoled. Well, how could I resist … [Read more...]

Passover Menu: Chocolate-Covered Matzo Toffee

passover desserts

So much of cooking for Passover seems to be about making up for what we can't have during the eight-day festival. Many Passover recipes, especially those for Passover desserts, claim to be "as good as" a regular dessert made with flour and leavened. The author cheerfully declares that he or she would eat this Pesadich dessert all year round - it's … [Read more...]

Spring Cooking: Asparagus, Ricotta and Lemon Flatbread

asparagus pizza

When people ask me what my blog is about, I say that it is about fitting ambitious food into family life. This recipe is exemplifies what that tagline means to me. This flatbread can either be a quick weeknight meal or a cool, all-from-scratch, DIY project depending on how you approach it. You can make this seasonal, vegetarian flatbread in no time … [Read more...]

Turnip Greens and Potato Frittata

how to use turnip greens

I have always maintained that if you have eggs in your refrigerator, you have the makings for a perfectly good dinner. Whipping up a quick omelet will get dinner on the table far quicker than ordering pizza. Add a green salad and you have a complete meal that is perfect for when it feels like there's nothing in the house. If you have a few … [Read more...]

Review of Preserving by the Pint

pickled turnips

My friend Marisa McClellan changed the way Americans think about water-bath canning with her iconic blog Food in Jars. Writing from her apartment in downtown Philadelphia, Marisa showed a new generation of cooks that preserving fruits and vegetables food was the logical extension of their interest in local, seasonal produce from CSAs and farmers … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Naples Farmers Market

naples farmers market

My family just returned from spring break in Naples, Florida. We have been going to Naples since 2004 and we love the area. Southwestern Florida is less developed than some other parts of the state and is filled with natural beauty. There is a protected mangrove swamp near my mother's house that we cross every time we go to the beach. Sometimes we … [Read more...]