The balance

January 24, 2012

Creamy White Beans with Garlic and Herbs

I’ve always had the best of intentions. An organized pantry. A well-stocked freezer. A weekly dinner plan. A Sunday morning power hour to prep the week’s dinner ingredients. After returning to work eight plus months ago, those best laid plans took a back seat to cans of diced tomatoes mingling with near-empty containers of couscous and cashews, a mish-moshed freezer that could lend to a batch or two of these, mid-week grocery store detours for the essentials, and Sunday morning power naps to counter 6 am hunger cries. I’m officially convinced, loyal readers. Babies change everything. (Baby? Our kiddo is well into the double digits. Thirteen months. Wowza.) And so we modify those plans. We evolve. And semi-type A-ers let ourselves off the hook, loosen the pony tail, and come to terms with the fact that there will always be laundry and dust bunnies and milk-stained playmats. In the end, memories of time well-spent with my family will far outshine the fulfilled intentions, the validation of an orderly pantry or perfectly balanced meals or sparkly floors. I’m not discrediting the importance of a kept home and healthy meals. These are valid and good and necessary. But in the end, it’s about the balance. It’s about trusting in the fact that not having it all together doesn’t mean you won’t have it all. Perspective and attitude are just two of many life lessons Caleb has already taught me in his young life.

With all that said, I assure you we’ve been eating. I’ve cut myself some slack with regard to photographing and writing. Much as I truly love to do it, it’s time consuming. And at the end of the night, after we’ve managed to pull off dinner for the three of us and prep clothes and lunches for the following day, the allure of a glass of wine and tivo queue oftentimes shines brighter than the screen of my mac. But I’m taking the balance attitude to heart and following Kyle’s instructions to allow myself a little more me-time now and again. I’ll raise a glass to that, and hope to fall back on the comfort of this creative outlet when I feel inspired to do so.

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Eggs are cheap

March 10, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Frittata with Caramelized Shallots

I’m trying my hardest not to allow these new adventures in mommyhood to overtake this here blog. Because while I know you’re all very kind, you came here to talk food, not listen to me babble on about my new found responsibility, fun as he is.

Yah yah, Carolyn. We know, we know. You’re sleep deprived, you’re lucky if you have a chance to brush your teeth, and you’re not leaving the confines of your house for the next 5 years. We get it. Show us the food.

While I can’t guarantee the little one will not sneak in to play every now and again, I can promise there will always, always be food. Because everyone poops eats (Oops. I clearly cannot escape the cute and comical baby shtuff taking over our life). On that note, let’s talk frittata!

Babies are expensive. Eggs are cheap. We’ve been eating lots of eggs.
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Can you bring that bean salad?

August 11, 2010

Mixed Bean Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

I’m sorta sick of this bean salad, but I’m taking that as a good sign because I received more requests for this side dish than any other this cookout season. So apparently I am very skilled at opening five cans of beans and tossing them with sliced sundried tomatoes, slivered red onions, fresh basil and a super simple vinaigrette. Wish I could boast that this oft-requested recipe was extremely complicated and required some advanced cooking skills, but that would be a complete and utter lie. I can’t lie. I turn red and cry. Plus, complicated food is not really my style.
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Summer worthy soup

August 4, 2010

Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup with Chipotle

A perk (in my opinion, others might call it a sacrifice) of living in the Midwest is having four true seasons. From the bitter, snowy winters to the green, rainy springs to the balmy, humid summers to the golden, crisp falls and back again, we see it all. I’m grateful for this because, frankly, I quickly become impatient and am easily bored. With the weather, anyways. Take right this minute for example. Summer. It’s been here, officially, for 45 days. So we have, officially, 49 more days to go. (This involved some “research” and apparently there is some dispute about the length of Summer. Some say 91 days, others 94, 104 or 500. We’re going with 94 today.) The majority would celebrate this and the fact that for at least 49 more days, cookouts, zucchini and frozen pies are still “in season”. As I write this I’m feeling more and more guilty about wanting to haul my box of sweaters out of storage, and about the stack of roasted, stewed and braised recipes I’ve been printing and hoarding since early July. Instead of yearning for the next season, I should be living in the moment, reminding myself that in less than four months I will likely be donning galoshes and mittens and five tons of clothes and cursing this post. So until then, I’ll compromise. I’ll eat fall/winter fare in the dead of Summer, because I’m sweating anyways. But I’ll meet Summer halfway because that’s only fair. Taking advantage of the most fantastic crop of the season, the tomato, seems like a pretty sweet deal.
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Tian therapy

July 14, 2010

Summer Squash Tian

We have a tiny kitchen with, I’d estimate, no more than five square feet of workable counter space. On the positive, it’s a charming space, with 1930′s black and white tile walls and white cabinets. But a cook’s kitchen it’s not, which is why I’m grateful for the small breakfast nook adjoining the kitchen to the dining room. It’s here, in this mere eight by six foot space, where the majority of the real work happens. The chopping, the assembling, the serving. It’s my favorite room in the house, hands down. In it stands our chair-less “breakfast table”, beneath which sit three large baskets to house pots and cooking utensils that I can’t seem to cram into our sparse cabinet space no matter how Martha-Stewart-organized I try to be. It’s a sanctuary, of sorts. A space meant for one. This is where Kyle usually finds me upon arriving home from work, flitting back and forth from nook to stove, nook to fridge. It’s the space I find myself standing, balancing on my left leg, right foot propped up on my left calf, hip leaning against the table, after sitting all day at my desk. Chopping and dicing. Cooking therapy. In front of my work table (the walnut stained table you see in the majority of my photos) is a western facing window. Most evenings this assures some form of daylight is streaming through, illuminating the room and the food in front of me. Even after a long workday, I am not filled with dread at the thought of making dinner (most days, anyways). Rather I am content to stand in a silent house, save the sound of sizzling onions and garlic in the kitchen, setting sun before me, slicing summer squash and potatoes into thin coins, arranging them into a tian.
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