Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The Summer Smoothie You’ve Got To Try

Mast_Blender Girl Smoothies Summer in a blender, that’s what I’m calling this recipe for a frozen nectarine-peach smoothie from the new book by Tess Masters (otherwise known as Blender Girl). Tess’s first book—The Blender Girl: 100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes—was a big hit because it was clever, full of healthful recipes, and just plain simple and fun. So when I received a copy of her light, bright, follow-up, I was thrilled. And lucky for you, the publisher of The Blender Girl: Smoothies is letting me share one of the recipes!

I’ve made this recipe with a combination of frozen and fresh peaches (now that we’re on the cusp of peach season in my neck of the woods), and for the sweetener I’ve done honey and agave, honey being my preference. I know the cauliflower may seem odd…but give it a try, you might be surprised by how well it works.


nectarita NECTARITA

This divine refresher makes skin sing . Nectarines contain bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamin C that stimulate collagen synthesis and shield against UV damage. For expectant mothers, folate and potassium foster healthy baby growth, prevent muscle cramps, and boost energy. Add ginger and cayenne, and salt the rim of your glass for mocktail magic.

1 cup (240ml) coconut water
2 ripe nectarines, pitted and chopped
1 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 cup (160g) frozen peaches
1 cup (125g) ice cubes
Natural sweetener to taste (optional)
optional boosters
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1⁄4 cup (30g) frozen raw cauliflower florets

Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

nutritional facts (per serving)
Calories 237 kcal | Fat 2 g | Saturated fat 0 g | Sodium 257 mg | Carbs 56 g | Fiber 1 g | Sugars 43 g Protein 6 g | Calcium 89 mg | Iron 2 mg

Credit:   Reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl Smoothies, by Tess Masters, copyright © 2014, 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photographs copyright © 2014 by Erin Kunkel

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Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Things I Like: Oreo Cookie Cones!


Most of you know that I rarely endorse products, and I NEVER do product placements, so if I feature something on the bloggy it means I really like it…


I stumbled upon these Oreo Cookie ice cream cones at the supermarket and in a flash they were in my cart. Although I’m not normally a sucker for brand-name, sugary treats, this is the time of the year where all bets are off, in terms of normal food choices. The weakening of the parental resolve, combined with a looser schedule and more time spent near a body of water (I’m not sure why that last part matters, but just go with me…), means all kinds of normally banned substances are being regularly consumed by my children. As a friend of mine said recently, once school’s out, her kids are on the “summer diet”: Organic/healthful/balanced/regular meals are replaced with a menu largely supplied by the snack bar at the town swimming pool. Yes, our farmer’s market and CSA may provide vegetables and fruit galore, but intermixed with that are regular appearances by things like cheese fries, sno cones, and funnel cake.

My family’s personal summer weakness is ice cream, which we eat unapologetically on pretty much a daily basis come July and August; whether it be from the stocked freezer, the neighborhood ice cream parlor, any passing ice cream truck we flag down, and of course, the town pool snack bar Good Humor menu. But at home, it’s kind of a thrill to put ice cream in a cone, and this is where the Oreo cone has been a welcome addition. I mean, what’s not to like about a scoop of mint chip surrounded by a crunchy cookie cone?

Next up for enjoying with ice cream is this crazy easy recipe for homemade Magic Shell, on the FOOD 52 site…you can find it HERE.


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Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Vermont Road Trips

Last weekend, we took a family road trip to drop my daughter off for her very first summer at sleepover camp. It was a fun, mixed-emotions journey: A little nostalgia because the camp is located near me and Tim’s old college of Middlebury (where the dinner menu used to regularly feature a dish called “Butt Steak”, but now has an organic cafeteria…what the heck?), combined with excitement at the adventure Belle was about to have, a sliver of nervousness, and just a bit of sadness at the looming goodbyes. Belle’s camp is old-school, meaning all communication is via snail mail. I love that she is in an environment that’s a digital no-go-zone (I wrote a four page letter the other day, complete with doodles, I can’t remember the last time I did this!), but it also means that I’m wondering pretty much every second of the day, “What is she doing right now!?”. Clearly this summer of virtual and actual separation is good for both of us, so I’m doing my best to embrace the independence and a return to old-fashioned communication. To help ease the transition, we hit a lot of our new and old favorite food stops in Vermont, which, if you didn’t already know, is a terrific food state.


First up was lunch at American Flatbread, which is  located beside the Otter Creek River in area called The Marbleworks. There are now several of these boho-hippie establishments—where pizza-like flatbreads are baked in an enormous wood-burning hearth and topped with local cheese, vegetables, and meat—but the original was in Middlebury, and it’s founder based it on the communal ovens found in rural Quebec, before spawning a mini-frozen pizza empire. I had the special vegetarian flatbread, topped with roasted zucchini and mushrooms…and then said “what the heck?” and asked for local bacon on top. I mean..I’m worth it, right?


I have been a lover of hard cider since I could legally imbibe. In Belgium, my family regularly served a dry hard cider along with Sunday lunch, and as a college student I was introduced to the deliciousness of local cidermaker Woodchuck (which has also since grown into a mini-empire). I tried a new one to go along with my lunch that was a fantastic ginger-infused, medium sweet blend from Burlington based Citizen Cider called The Dirty Mayor. I have no idea what that name means but it was a delight.


Across the way from the restaurant was a beautiful Asian tea shop that was new from my last visit. If a place can have a calming, Zen, Feng-Shui vibe, then this sun-soaked nook had it…

The student working behind the counter gave us a little demo of the tea preparation, which I’ve always loved because of the combination of numerous steps, vessels, pots, and ceremony. When I asked about a collection of little icons that were placed on the slate counter where the tea was brewed, he told me they were “tea pets”. How have I never heard of such a thing? One of the pets was a Buddha and when he poured hot water on top of the Buddha’s head, he turned colors. Isn’t that charming?



One of the other bonuses of bringing kids back to your college town is subjecting them to your old stomping grounds (“Look kids! This is the building where mommy directed her first black box production, a modern-feminist retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello…blah blah blah…”) and also your favorite places to eat. One such restaurant is called Fire & Ice, and it’s basically like the place where you parents brought you when they came for Parent’s Weekend. It boasts the largest salad bar in the entire state, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration (there’s an actual boat in the middle of the salad bar and a block of cheddar the size of a small igloo under an enormous bell jar). But Conor and Belle’s favorite novelty item was the college-variety milk dispenser with unlimited chocolate milk. They did some damage here.


Our last meal together before the big drop-off on Sunday was at the truly special Vergennes Laundry, which is not in fact a laundry, but a bakery-cafe located inside of an old laundry building in the town of Vergennes, just a few miles north of Middlebury. This was my second visit, having first made a detour there during a skiing trip after readin a blog about the owner-couple on The Selby. You can read it HERE.


Now, this is an example of one of those stops where, a food writer/blogger needs to do some serious cajoling. When your family looks at you with weary eyes, communicating something along the lines of, “Really? Do we need to go to your Selby-artisianal-food find-and wait in line to eat a hipster-perfect pastry just so you can blog about it? Why can’t we just get an EggMcMuffin like the rest of the population?” Normally, I may feel a twinge of guilt, but in this case, I KNEW I was right, and there would be no griping once we had those perfect pastries in our mouths.


True to our mutual predictions there was a wait, amongst an assembly of Vermont-rustic-chic-hipster-beautiful families out of a Kinfolk magazine spread. But there was also wild strawberry tarts (see above); and homemade yogurt and granola topped with honey, strawberries and grapefruit;  warm chocolate croissants; and scones with a side of butter and the most flavorful homemade berry jam I’ve ever had. Oh, and the saucers of cafe latte… Let’s just say, the family griping didn’t last long. Mommy is always right.


For the trip home I bought a box of one of my most favorite things, a confection you rarely find outside of Europe, called pate de fruit, which is basically a gummy bear, but square-shaped and made with real, concentrated, seasonal fruit.

IMG_8249This is a box of strawberry and lemon pate de fruit…I ate it all on the car ride home.

IMG_8241After dropping Belle off and saying our goodbyes (and being instructed by Belle not to cry…so I held it together), our last stop was from back in our college days, an A&W drive thru that’s only open during the summer months. You order from your car, and a tray laden with onion rings, hot dogs, burgers, and root beer floats is then hinged to your car window. Magic.

And then it was back home. Eating fruit squares, listening to a classic rock station out of Manchester, New Hampshire, and wondering about my girl and all the adventures that lay ahead of her.

IMG_8195Me and Belle. XOXO


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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Strawberries Meet Their Just Reward

IMG_7538Before strawberry season is completely over, I wanted to share a new favorite dessert which I’ve made several times (at the behest of my family), ever since a pint of sweet little strawberries were included in my first CSA pick-up a few weeks ago…

This was my CSA farmers’ first summer providing strawberries in our share, thanks to a new plot of land they’re working that already had an established berry crop. You can probably tell from the pictures above that these are not the puffy, bland, monsters you normally find at the supermarket, but a smaller, sweeter, intensely flavorful variety that more closely resembles the frais de bois or wild strawberries that you find in Europe and the occasional farmer’s market. Honestly, they’re so good, you don’t have to do anything but rinse off a couple of bugs to enjoy them (Case in point: Most of the pints I’ve picked up with my share never made it home, having been devoured by Conor and myself on the car ride home.).

But…if you have the patience and willingness to put those berries into a confection, then this is the one: Strawberry Pavlova. A cake made up of a crunchy meringue base, topped with a well of thick whipped cream, and a crown of strawberries macerated with lemon juice and a bit of sugar. Behold! The perfect summer dessert.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my family flipped for the dessert; three of them literally consumed a cake meant for at least eight people in a matter of minutes, and then demanded I make it again as soon as possible. Conor just nodded and chewed and stuck his thumb up while he ate about half the cake. I adapted my recipe from one by the clever Dutch cook and food writer Yvette van Boven. HERE is a version that ran in Bon Appetit magazine, which I recommend you follow but with a few tweaks:  The few differences I make is I skip the frills of mixing fennel seeds with the egg whites and adding a tarragon garnish. Both are all fine and good but I think completely unnecessary and I believe my family enjoys the cake more without the herbal notes. Also, van Boven combines her whipped cream with marscarpone, which is does add a wonderful richness, but again, not necessary. The whole point of this dessert is the combination of textures and summer flavors—crunchy, chewy, creamy, sweet, tart— and showcasing the best strawberries you can find (and once the season is over, you can easily substitute blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, macerating them with the lemon juice and sugar will help bring out all the sweet juices).



This is also a perfect dessert for a party/BBQ because you can make the meringue and whipped cream ahead of time, pack separately from the berries, and then assemble the entire thing on the spot. So grab those end of the season berries and make this dessert pronto, and if you’re in a part of the country that is already onto the next berry crop, then substitute away! I might even try this with ripe Jersey peaches very soon.


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Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Sick Kid Banquet

IMG_6581I just wanted to share a post I wrote for the wonderful site FOOD52 about the three things I make (and by “make” I mean deliver to them on the couch) the kids when they’re home sick with the latest bug. HERE’S A LINK to the story…and in the comments section afterwards, feel free to include the foods that always make you feel better when you’re under the weather!

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