Anna’s full of greens fritters

We have a number of smashing great springtime cookbooks, and I'm lucky enough to have received some gifts from the good folk at Ten Speed Press. So where to start? A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Vegetarian Recipes (that will make you feel amazing) from Anna Jones made my heart sing. She is a longtime colleague of Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef who stripped down food to its essence and got people on both sides of the Atlantic cooking, simple, delicious, straightforward food. And she's also a cook, stylist and writer all on her own. What's great about it? I love to see what I call "modular cooking." By that I mean, there are pages that help the reader choose from a variety of ingredients to riff on the overall guidelines. A cup from Column Read more...

Handmade pasta how-to

I read recently that we never forget out childhood neighbors.  So true for me.  I was the babysitter for the Williams family from the time I turned 13 to when I went away to school.  Toward the end it was more tending the home fires while the young folk played around the neighborhood.  Remember just going outside to play?  No play dates, no structured activity, just get on our bikes and ride.  I'm dating myself, I know. I remember one afternoon in Mrs. Williams' kitchen, making egg noodles for chicken soup. This was before pasta was all the rage, then out of fashion and now back again. And certainly before making our own pasta was a thing. We rolled the dough flat, then rolled it up like a cigar and cut wide noodles for the soup. Perfectly Read more...

Lucky new year black-eyed peas with citrus cilantro gremolata

Can we talk about beans? Simply put, they may just be a perfect food. Economical, versatile, easy, healthy. So why such a challenge, I wonder? Lauro spend his university days in England, where it seems breakfast was beans on toast. Every day. Beans on toast. Lauro no longer eats beans. Nothing sways him. Last year's new year black-eyed pea and sweet potato hash didn't woo him. Even with an egg on top! And still, I've made a mission of loving beans. Especially this time of year, when legend says they bring good luck. I've heard many reasons. Because they are round, they symbolize the cycle of life. And because they are round, they resemble coins and invite prosperity. Which is why I always take care to mix some truly-round lentils with Read more...

Whiskey sour: a frothy cocktail for any occasion

My cocktail shaker is the most popular guest at my gatherings, and thus it is often occupied when I'm ready for a beverage (hello, Manhattan!). In my eagerness to move things along, I've conscripted a mason jar to shake up a whiskey sour, that classic cocktail that seems to be everywhere these days. A few things about the famed whiskey sour: Most recipes call for simple syrup. Never buy a bottle of this in the store.  Simply boil equal parts sugar and water for a few minutes and then keep in the door of the fridge for practically forever. This bevvy uses an egg white. Uncooked eggs strike fear into the hearts of many, although I do not let this stand in my way.  I just buy the freshest eggs I can find. You decide for yourself. Shaking Read more...

Chocolate-drizzled potato chips, for the easiest of entertaining

Are you another passenger on a freight train roaring toward Christmas? I can't call mine the polar express because there's been absolutely no snow in Chicago, although we did have a dusting in Michigan while visiting family for Thanksgiving. THE ultimate salty-sweet It's at times like this - where I've baked nothing, traveled a lot and have been pretty much over scheduled -  that I dig out my bag of shortcuts.  I realize that everyone might be able to use a shortcut here or there, and thus I'm sharing today my secret weapon for holiday entertaining, the ultimate salty-sweet snack: chocolate-drizzled potato chips. Go out and get your favorite kettle chip - I used Cape Cod here, but Lay's works just as well. I used Hershey dark chocolate Read more...

Easy pie dough recipe & notes on a perfect pie crust

Few delights surpass a delicious, flaky homemade pie crust.  I've had my share of fails, and when I taught team building cooking classes I even had a team declare itself the "Soggy Bottom Tarts." I was determined to put this behind me and find a recipe that works every time. Thus, I've been fiddling with pie crust recipes for years. I experimented with butter versus lard versus shortening, whether to work in by hand, pastry cutter or Cuisinart. Egg or no?  Ice water only or a little vinegar? After fiddling and tweaking, I've arrived at my go-to pie dough, the one I use whether I'm making a caramelized onion tart with goat cheese, or a lemon meringue pie. And today, my friends, I share it with you. My hope is that everyone will Read more...

White beans with tuna: a quick anytime lunch

My recipes on this site typically focus on farm fresh ingredients from the market. This is a bit of a departure from that, because sometimes a quick recipe from pantry staples is what you need for a quick lunch. Everyone has days when there's no time to plan even a quick meal. We are getting my beloved Pinecone Meadow Farm ready to put on the market, and I'm in a flurry of purging, painting and organizing - the dear place has never looked better! My friend Maureen came over to help sort things out, and I found myself without time to run to the store and we needed sustenance.  I had arugula and tiny tomatoes in the fridge, and I raided the pantry for tuna and white beans.  After a minute to whisk up a quick vinaigrette, lunch turned Read more...

Autumn bucket list

And so we begin fall.  The midwest weather is cooperating so far, with a brisk 48 degrees this morning.  The rest of the week should be warmer, but still, there's a nip in the air and I've taken a stack of sweaters out of the bottom drawer. Autumn is my favorite season, and I don't want to miss a minute.  Thus, I've created a must-do list of simple pleasures to help me enjoy the best of the season. Janine's Autumn Bucket List Walk through crunchy leaves. Jump in a pile. Get pumpkins and chrysanthemums for a festive touch on the terrace. Make pear upside down cake. Go apple picking at Crane's Orchards.  Stop for doughnuts at Crane's Pie Pantry. Maybe make a twirl of my other Southwest Michigan food favorites. Enjoy the sugar Read more...

Pear love: open-faced sandwiches with blue cheese

Ralph Waldo Emerson said "there are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat. " I understand Mr. Emerson's sentiment. Pears are picked unripe, and they ripen from the inside out.  Which keeps them from getting smushed on the way to the farmers' market, but then they'll need several days to ripen on the counter. Forget on-the-counter pears at your peril. Once you have a soft, pliable pear, you are likely to discover a mealy mush inside.  When pears are abundant, I eat them with a vengeance: over granola and yogurt, in pies, out of hand. And savory too, like on pizza (don't judge until you've tried it). This sandwich couldn't be simpler. It's a matter of assembling flavors that go together: fresh pear, bitter Read more...

Fresh-juiced bloody mary with cilantro oil = brunch splendidness

When I was traveling to research Farmers' Markets of the Heartland, I fell in love with tomatoes all over again.  As a child, late summer meant toasted mayo-smeared tomato sandwiches on Spatz Bread, the Saginaw, Michigan bakery that is still around, and still so local that it doesn't have a website.  I never forgot that backyard tomato flavor, but my tasting tour opened my eyes to a new portfolio of tomato experiences. On my road trip, I inhaled the flavors and aromas of so many varieties, and delighted at the presentation of creative farmers, like Abra and Jess of Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, Michigan, who assembled the charming display (in the photo below) at a market outside the stone train depot with a breathtaking view of the Read more...