Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baking for Sophie: Part I

Well, we got in over our heads. It's 10:50 p.m. and we have to get up way too soon, so the grand post we had planned to document our baking adventures today will have to wait till tomorrow (or the day after.....). For those of you who are checking this blog out after supporting our bake sale table at Sophie's Sale, here's a list of our goodies with links to the original recipes. We will expand on each goodie, along with some pictures of our baking adventures. Check back soon for those posts. They are sure to entertain you, as we had a blast baking for Sophie today. Everything was made with love and most were made with lots and lots of butter. Life really is better with butter.

  • Brownies (A confession: We cheated. Get yourself to your local market and pick up a box of Betty Crocker's brownie mix and follow the "cake-like" recipe)
  • Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies - find on the back of the Toll House chocolate chips bag
Contact us for recipes for the other goodies you enjoyed that are not listed here. We will get them from our baker elves who helped stock today's bake sale table.

With love and thanks,
Maria and Hannah

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Important Event on Cape Cod

Please read this flyer and if you are in the area, consider attending or donating items to be sold.

All proceeds benefit the two children of our sweet cousin, Sophie Corrigan, who we tragically lost last weekend.
We hope you can be there.

Pass this on to a friend...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cooking For Sophie

Our family had a terrible tragedy this past weekend. We lost our beautiful cousin, Sophie. We are utterly shaken to the core. Gathering with family and friends at her parents' house here on Cape Cod has been heartbreaking and also incredibly helpful in dealing with our loss. Every night, many of us gather to eat dinner together, to hug, to share stories, tears, and laughs. Food has been nourishing in more ways than just for nutrients - it's given us something to concentrate on, something to taste and enjoy, something to share and provide. I'd like to give you a couple recipes for food that we made to share with the family. These recipes were special for us because we know that Sophie would have loved eating them and also because many of the ingredients were grown in our garden, or the gardens of our family and friends. Sophie was an organic gardener by heart and by trade, so I think she really would have appreciated these dishes. This is for you, Sophie. We miss you every day.

Chopped Arabic Salad

I found this salad on and tried it today. It resembles something a rabbit might enjoy, but it's actually quite tasty for humans, too. Sophie's sister, Ruby, told me that Sophie loved purslane, one of the ingredients. Many folks might see purslane as a weed, but it's actually edible, tasty and super healthy for you. Up until about a week ago, I pulled out those suckers out of my garden as fast as I could, but now that I know, I'll let them grow. Many thanks to the CSA we're participating in as we got a big bag of purslane this week. Sophie always said that weeds are just plants that are growing somewhere you don't want them to grow. If you have purslane in your garden, give it a chance. You might just discover that you like it! If you can't find purslane in your garden, local market or farmstand, you can leave it out of this salad, but it's definitely worth looking for.
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (1/2-lb) cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/3 cups)
  • 1 lb tomatoes (3 medium), cut into 1/3-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion (1 small) or 1 cup chopped scallions (about 5)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped purslane
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Cut peel, including all white pith, from lemon with a sharp paring knife. Working over a bowl, cut segments from half of lemon free from membranes and transfer segments to a cutting board, then squeeze juice from membranes and remaining 1/2 lemon into bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons juice to a large bowl, then finely chop segments and add to measured juice. Add salt, pepper, and oil, whisking to combine, then stir in remaining ingredients.

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Bread

Many of our faithful readers (we recently got confirmation that we do have more than one reader!!!) probably know how to make zucchini bread. Maybe they even have a recipe memorized. This one is slightly different because it has sweet potato in it, but the basic recipe is pretty much the same. I modified it to make it healthier, but you can find the original recipe here. The recipe as is makes too much for one loaf, but not enough for two. I made one regular sized loaf and then used my u(imagine an umlaut over that u)ber-cute turquoise Pyrex vintage mini loaf pan for the extra batter.
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce or pear sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups grated peeled sweet potato
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (toasting is optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla to blend in large bowl. Mix in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Cut around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. It really does take that long to bake.

Sophie, Sophie, Sophie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

These Fish Tacos are the Tits.

If you’ve seen I Love You, Man then you appreciate the humor of the title of this post. If not, then you’re potentially slightly offended and may not want to try my fish tacos now. But you are missing out on a lot of laughing, so go see the movie, and then come back and read this blog post and make these fish tacos and remark, over tequila shots, that they’re the tits.

We’ve had thousands of reader comments requesting that we put more recipes on our blog. We’ve listened, readers, and here you go! I only had to send out about 45 apron orders yesterday so I had a little extra time to make dinner for once.

Okay, I’m kidding. We’ve had about five reader comments ever. (Thanks, Mrs. Ferraresi!) And yesterday I was just procrastinating school work and I was hungry. So I made fish tacos. And they were the tits.

Here’s what I did.

I laid at the pool and read Bon Appetit for an hour. I decided I didn’t want to make any of the things in there because it was all about grilling I didn’t want to have to wait for all the charcoal to burn because I suck at it and my big strong charcoal man was not going to be home until 10. So I hopped on my iPhone, harvested some Zombie Farm crops, and then looked around on my epicurious app. All of a sudden I realized that I wanted lime. And I wanted it now. So instead of drinking mojitos and eating green popsicles all evening, I further decided I wanted fish tacos. And I wanted them now.

I sort of have this thing where I look up a recipe and then I decide they don’t know what they’re talking about and I just use the ingredients as a guideline. So I ran down to Stop and Shop and bought the ingredients I needed, double the jalapenos, plus some coronas. The man at the seafood counter was really upset about the impending rain. I think he wanted me to go tell the manager to close the store. He also told me that he thought I had ordered “a pound of cat” when I ordered “a pound of cod”. He asked if I wanted the whiskers. In hindsight, I think he was flirting with me. He must have known about my cleanse and my awesome new fitness routine. (Which has been sidelined due to me being a baby about a stubbed toe and a skinned knee my new spot on the 15-day disabled list)

I digress. Make these fish tacos. They’re the tits.

Note, you need about 30-45 minutes for all the ingredients to marinate. You can marinate them for up to a day. Don’t you hate when recipes don’t tell you that until you’ve got everything ready to go and your mother-in-law is coming over for dinner in 25 minutes?

Ingredients (modified to my, and your, liking. trust me)

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish (unless you’re a supertaster!!)
2 jalapeños, stemmed and chopped
2 avocados, unless you’re a broke, unemployed graduate student such as myself
1 pound flaky white fish (such as mahi mahi or cod), cut into 4 pieces
8 fresh corn tortillas, soft, crunchy, or both, however you roll.
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Fresh salsa
1 lime, cut into quarters


1. Marinate the Onion: Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to several weeks.

2. Marinate the Fish: Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the ancho chile powder, oregano, cumin, chopped cilantro, and jalapeño. Mix well. Place the fish on a dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the fish well on both sides. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

3. Cook the Fish: Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and place in the hot pan (there is no need to add more oil). Cook the fish for 4 minutes undisturbed, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes. At this point I sort of just flipped it around the pan for a bit while I was loading the dishwasher and it all sort of just fell apart into one delicious-looking panful of flaky goodness. Make sure you mix it all up so the fish and jalapenos and spices are all evenly disbursed.

4. Wait Two Hours for your Boyfriend to Come Home

5. Heat the Tortillas: Heat up your soft shells and/or hard shells to your liking. Put all the toppings in pretty little bowls and put them on the table with pretty little spoons.

6. Put Everything Together and Eat It: you know how to assemble tacos, right? The limes are for squeezing. The marinated onions go in the tacos. Use them.

7. Remark, “these fish tacos are the tits!”

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Bitch is Still Gardening....but does she have bees?

Just a quick update for our reader(s?) who might be biting their nails in anticipation to find out if the planting of flowering perennials brought in the bees. Well, folks, we've seen one bee. There might be more than one and they just look alike (which they tend to do), but only one bee at a time has been spotted. That one bee has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders (and bees have really small shoulders), but I must admit he is doing a stellar job because.....get ready for it....WE HAVE A SQUASH PLANT GROWING!!! Sorry to yell, but this is exciting news around here. There may even be TWO SQUASH PLANTS!!!

Last week I had declared we would never again grow any vegetables that require pollination of flowers, but this week, I'm feeling a lot more optimistic. One thing I will say is that when they say you need 36 inches between each plant, they ain't kidding. These suckers are huge! The leaves themselves are as big as plates. And there's a ton of leaves. I have discovered that the plants don't really seem to notice if you lop off a few of the larger leaves when they're not looking.

Update on the rest of the garden - the swiss chard, beets and carrots that I grew from seed are all doing swimmingly. The chard will be ready in a couple days. We are excited about that, because this recipe with garlic and hot pepper flakes is one of our favorite ways to eat chard. Did you know that people here in Massachusetts (and maybe other places, too) say "chard", like "chalk" but people in California say it like "charades"? How do you say it?

I seem to be having the upper hand in the battle against the cabbage worms. The organic bacteria spray that I've been using as my weapon seems to be working. I feel bad for those little squishy green worms, but they really cause a lot of damage. I am determined to eat cabbage later this summer. The green beans look a lot like those cabbage worms at this point. About one inch long and green. Luckily they are attached to the bean plants, so they won't doing any damage to the cabbage. The basil and other herbs are having fun growing and then being lopped off so we can eat them. I made more pesto and froze it for use later this winter. Yum!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bitch Started Gardening

Last year, my husband, daughter and I moved back to Massachusetts after a 10 year stint in dry and sunny California. We left just after getting our state tax return back (lucky us!) and made this humid and mostly cloudy part of the country our home. I couldn't wait to get a garden going. I finally got my act together this spring and we have a little garden doing its thing in our backyard.

Without the pesky ground squirrels, moles, and gophers that ate any attempt we made at a garden in California (except for some mighty tasty broccoli we grew in a half wine barrel), we have high hopes for a plentiful crop. I keep having these garden destruction nightmares (okay, maybe they're just bad dreams) in which something mercilessly destroys my garden. Once, it was something that cut my zucchini and squash plants off very neatly at the base with shears. Another dream involved the disappearance of my peppers through a hole in the ground. Every morning I go out to the garden, shaking in my flip flops, to see if the dreams have come true. We did quite well, until two days ago, when I discovered four perfectly cylindrical holes about 2 inches deep where my once happily growing sunflower plants were. The plants were cast to the side. Whoever it was was not interested in the plants. Were they just destroying them for fun? Were my dreams manifesting themselves in reality? A quick chat with my knowledgeable gardener-neighbor informed me that the holes were probably created by birds, looking for the seeds. Later that day when I went out to check for more destruction, I saw a robin flying away looking awfully guilty. The rest of my sunflower plants are still standing, so hopefully the robins realized that once a plant grows out of its seed, the seed is no longer so tasty. Also, even if it was a tasty seed, it seems like a lot of work for just one.

Gardening is an activity that you can do as a family, if you like your family enough to dig in the dirt with them. In our garden, I set the garden up and have been maintaining it, but my wonderful husband has been the main waterer. This is a good thing since I routinely either forget to water it in the first place, or forget to turn off the sprinkler. We had to set up a chicken wire fence to keep out the dog, who doesn't understand boundaries and to keep out the toddler who doesn't understand that plants need those leaves in order to grow. I thought I had some very, VERY hungry caterpillars on my cabbage leaves, but it was actually just the kiddo pulling the leaves apart.

Here's an inventory of what we've got growing in our garden this year.
  • A variety of pepper plants
  • Swiss chard (a fave around here)
  • Beets (in a variety of colors)
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers (I'm growing these vertically in tomato cages. A good idea when space is limited.)
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Bush Beans
  • Potatoes (these are growing in another bed by themselves)
My pepper and squash flowers have been falling off and not producing fruit. This is most likely because they're not being pollinated. We went to the nursery yesterday and bought a bunch of different flowering perennials. I'm really hoping that the bees smell us out and decide to help. It would be a big disappointment if none of my flowering vegetable plants produce any fruit!

So far, we've used the sage to make Maria's favorite grilled cheese sandwiches. I made pesto with the basil for these yummy open-faced veggie sandwiches. Basil and parsley went into Eric's amazingly delicious gazpacho. We can't wait till the rest is ready to be devoured!

I plan on updating you, our faithful reader(s?), on the happenings in our garden. Until then, enjoy these shots of the current state of things. Comment below - What's in your garden? Any tips for attracting bees? Have you had any garden destruction dreams?

Potatoes growing alongside the garage.

Cukes growing vertically, flanked by zukes on the left and squash (squkes?) on the right.

Peppers in the back and chard up front.

Sage, parsley and thyme. Some marigolds for good measure.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Some Cool iPhone Apps for Fitness

I have been going to the gym a lot lately and I have been using three iphone apps that I absolutely love. They are also the only apps I have ever paid for, the other ones I have are all free.

My bitch/sister introduced me to a website,, that gives you a pushup program based on how many you can do after an "initial test". They also have an iphone app. You do five sets of pushups three days a week, and they just increase the amount that you need to do each time. I started being able to do six pushups (with my knees on the ground!) and when I did my sets on Saturday, the five sets totaled 130 pushups. It's so cool. I am superman.

My friend Diana introduced me to another app that is called Couchto10k. You start the program not being able to run very far at all, and at the end you can run a 10k. You listen to music on your phone and it interrupts and tells you when to walk and when to run. The first week you are walking for 4.5 minutes and running for 30 seconds, and then the second week the walking decreases to 4 minutes and the running increases to 1 minute, and then more the following week. You do it 3 times a week as well. I am not that far into it yet but so far I really enjoy it. It's like a game.

I also got iFitness on my phone because when I was working out at the gym I would always forget how many reps I had done and how much weight I had done the previous time. With iFitness you punch in the weight and repetitions, as well as any cardio that you do. There are lots of cool features like a weight tracker, BMI calculator, and TONS of exercises with videos and descriptions of what you should do and why you should do it. You can create routines for yourself that are like little playlists with all the exercises that you want to do in that routine. I have a "pushup days" list with pushups (the hundredpushups ones) and abs and legs stuff. Then on "running days" my list has running and more arms, chest, and back stuff. It's really cool to have because I never forget what to do each day and it makes it really structured.

All of these apps are great and I think they make me much more motivated and "on track" to workout. Enjoy!

Update on Maria's Cleanse

So I completely blew it on keeping you posted about the next phase... but I will update you now!

After I finished the cleanse, I started on the next "phase" and then in the following weeks I spent some time at home and also drove to Colorado with my bitch/sister. Let me tell you, the highway is no place to follow any sort of food regimen. Unless that regimen is big macs and chalupas. When I got back I decided to do the cleanse again, except I didn't have any artichokes. And I drank coffee. And I totally cheated like every day. But that's okay. After that I followed the next "phase" and have been really quite good about it since. Better yet, I have been going to the gym a lot! I also have been drinking the lemon water and green tea every day, both of which are remarkably refreshing. I drink the lemon water with a straw and sort of drink it in the back of my mouth so I don't ruin my teeth. I am not following the day-to-day menu because it's just too hard to keep up with it, but I have been taking a lot of recipes from the O2 book, many of which are really delicious.

So, I'm still at it, I am eating really well overall, and I am exercising a lot. Let me know if you have any questions about the cleanse!