Food & Drink

Monday Morning Buns

May 23, 2016

Olga's Tatatine Morning Buns

I can’t think of a better way to begin a Monday morning than with something from my sister Olga’s kitchen. Unfortunately, unless you live on the north shore of Nova Scotia, these morning buns are for your eyes only, and not your belly. I don’t even eat these kinds of things, but when Olga sends me photos of her latest culinary creations, I wish I could beam myself into her kitchen for a long, leisurely visit.

When Olga recently made her first trip to San Francisco, high on her list was stop at Tartine. The morning buns above use the Tartine croissant dough recipe from their cookbook, and the full morning bun recipe came from a blog called, which she found when googling “Tartine’s morning bun recipe.” Just thought I better share all that in case you can’t help make this a reality for yourself.

Homemade baked goods remind me of home and I let myself indulge a bit when I’m there, but in my day-to-day life, I rarely eat them. One of these would totally hit the spot, though, with a cup of tea or coffee. Instead I’ll probably be predicable and whip up one of my signature green monster smoothies.

What’s your favorite way to get Monday morning started?

Image: Olga 


Pull Up A Chair

February 12, 2016

Greg Rakozy for Unsplash

A few unrelated things to cap off the week…

First, I want to share this flourless chocolate cake recipe from Nigella Lawson that the girls and I made Tuesday in place of a king cake. (I just couldn’t make the traditional Mardi Gras treat happen this year. Plus, somehow the the plastic baby got lost somewhere. So that was that.) All the women in this house love chocolate so it seemed like a no brainer for the day before Lent.

Since I typically don’t keep white sugar or white flour in the house, I dug up this recipe and was reminded why it’s the perfect go-to chocolate cake. I used coconut palm sugar (stuck it in the Vitamix to make it superfine) and everything else was the same, except for adding dark chocolate chips to make it extra chocolatey. The three of us ate the whole thing in a day. And I still felt good afterwards, which is what happens when you fake your body out with a yummy chocolate cake that actually has no flour, dairy, or refined sugar!

Speaking of sweet things, Valentine’s Day is Sunday. Any plans? I’ve grown to like the celebration a bit more since having kids, but I’m still mostly a humbug about it. Maybe the girls and I will make some decorations, or I’ll surprise them with a treat. Lent and Valentine’s Day don’t really go together in the treats department, but at least it’s on a Sunday.

In honor of love day, and especially on this very cold winter weekend, I’m thinking this broiled grapefruit daiquiri may do the trick. I gave up alcohol for Lent, but virtual imbibing doesn’t count, and I think you’re going to love this one. (Can you tell I’m on a grapefruit kick of late?)

What’s on your docket this February weekend? Hope you stay warm and I’ll see you back here next week!

Image: Greg Rakozy at Unsplash


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Pull Up A Chair

February 5, 2016

Jared Erondu photo from UnSplash

What’s going on, friends?

I’m finding it hard to believe that the first month of 2016 has already come and gone. It certainly ended with a bang around here — a giant snowstorm with a one week clean up. Rumor has it we may see more flakes next week, which would make my little ones super happy.

I never did set any specific goals for this year — which is weird for me — but I’m excited about the possibilities that lay ahead. B and I are beginning to work on a couple of exciting projects and when there is more concrete info to share about that, I will. My prayer these days is that my time somehow finds a way to multiply itself as it’s hard to make time for additional things when my schedule is already so full. But lots of people are in the same boat, and you just move forward the best you can — sometimes it just takes a little longer, but you get there if you keep on trucking.

I spotted this grapefruit cocktail at Food 52 yesterday (one of my favorite food sites) and it’s exactly what I’d love to sip on today. I introduced my daughters to grapefruit recently and it was a mixed reaction… they didn’t like the fruit too much, but they liked the juice. Go figure. Grapefruit really needs the proper grapefruit spoons, though, don’t you think?

I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead and I’ll see you back here next week!

Image: Jared Erondu at Unsplash via Crew




Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

September 21, 2015

picjumbo.com_HNCK8693 I grew up on fruit roll-ups. Back then they seemed more robust in texture and were usually made without refined sugar. When I saw a very simple recipe at Food52 for homemade fruit roll-ups, I had to give it try, especially since I’m now packing lunches two days a week for my girls.

Unfortunately, by the time I got around to making it, some of the berries I had were a little far gone so instead of 3 cups of fruit, I only had 1 cup. I was undaunted; this was going to be an experiment anyway. I combined raspberries and strawberries together, added the proportionate amount of lemon juice and a touch of honey, put it all in the Vitamix, and voila.

I didn’t boil the mixture down because I only had the one cup of fruit; I used parchment paper; I didn’t have the proper spreading tool so I used a spatula. (I left it in a little longer because I hadn’t boiled it.)

Even with all these corners cut, it turned out really well. I cut the pan in strips just like the picture here, and stuck a couple in the girls’ lunch bags the next day. H was a fan. S wasn’t keen at first — she’s more sensitive to textures — but after a few bites, decided she liked it after all. I could have gobbled it all down myself. Definitely going to make them again — maybe blueberry next time.

Have you ever made fruit roll-ups? Do they remind you of childhood?

Image: berries at picjumbo


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Pull Up A Chair

September 18, 2015

Lemon Drinks at picjumbo It’s time to resurrect “Pull Up A Chair,” don’t you think? With a new school year in full swing and a packed fall schedule, sharing the ups and downs of the week and grabbing a virtual beverage together seems like a good thing to do, at least occasionally.

Before I get to my high and low of the week, I’m offering a Salted Meyer Lemon and Sage Pressé (which I recommended last week on Jennifer Fulwiler’s radio show). What I love about this drink is that it sounds super fancy but it’s actually really simple. Plus, it’s a terrific summer-to-fall beverage. Now, if I could only  use lemons from my sister’s lemon tree in San Luis Obispo, I would be a happy camper!

So, my high of the week… I think it has to be that homeschooling is off to a good start. I’m so used to being the world’s worst homeschooler that it always surprises me when things seem to actually be going decently. The girls are enjoying the homeschool academy two days a week so far, and we’ve been staying on top of things during our stay-at-home days. It’s only two weeks in, but I’ll take it!

My low: Not being able to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. I live for this time of year — when it’s sunny and breezy, not hot and humid. We’ve managed to take a couple of lunch picnics and get some school work done at the park, but I wish S and H could be outside running around most of the day right now.

What about you? What kind of week has it been? Grab a Pressé and tell me about it! Hope your weekend is lovely and I’ll see you back here soon.

Image: lemon drinks from picjumbo






Serving Ethiopian Food in Ethiopia First, a big hello to anyone here who is stopping by after hearing my interview with Jennifer Fulwiler on her Sirius XM show yesterday! Jen really talked up SlowMama and while things have been a little quieter around here of late, I hope you’ll poke around and find something worth reading. Please come on by anytime.

September 11th has become both a day of remembrance as well as a day of celebration in our home. I can never forget being in downtown D.C. on 9-11. What to even say about that tragedy 14 years later? Words still fail.

But the day also happens to mark Enkutatash, the beginning of a new year in Ethiopia, which follows a different calendar. So it’s 2008 there as of today. This is one of the biggest celebrations for Ethiopians and to help keep our daughters connected to their birth culture, we celebrate it. Tomorrow we’ll be joining a large group of Ethiopian adoptive families at a local restaurant (Ethiopian, of course) to toast being seven years younger! Ha.

I’m still thinking about the beautiful services for our pastor this past week. As expected, the downtown basilica was packed and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I’m not used to seeing archbishops cry. It was all very fitting for a holy man who touched so many lives and is already deeply missed. It’s a gift to have people in our lives who come along and show us what it means to live and love well.

A few people recently mentioned that they miss my Friday “Pull Up A Chair” posts, so I might get back to those, maybe a couple times each month. Always fun to find those delicious drinks to end a week!

I hope this weekend is restful and lovely where ever you are. See you back here next week.

Image: Ethiopian food being served in Ethiopia, Zoe Saint-Paul




Empire Kitchen

I love ethnic food. I also try to eat local, organic, and clean as much as possible. Unfortunately, these two things often don’t go together. B’s preference when dining out is often some kind of Asian cuisine, or maybe Caribbean or Nepalese. But I struggle because the ingredients used at these establishments are not usually what I want to put in my body: industrially-raised meats, sauces filled with preservatives and corn syrup, farm-raised fish from China, veggies flown in from the other side of the world.

I get that there are certain things you need if you’re running a restaurant focused on food from another country or culture. Some things have to be imported; there’s no getting around it — especially spices.

But there’s a lot that could be sourced locally or domestically and for years I’ve been lamenting the fact that so few ethnic restaurants do this. If the Ethiopian restaurants we frequent used locally raised meats and vegetables, for example, how cool would that be? If the Japanese restaurant down the street used American grown rice, seafood from healthy fisheries, and dipping sauces without preservatives, I’d be all over that. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Surely lots of people today would go for this, even if it cost a little more?

Of all places, the lovely little city of Portland, Maine delivered. When researching restaurants, I found a piece in Down East magazine about a place called Empire Chinese Kitchen. They use a lot of locally sourced ingredients in authentic Chinese recipes. For my Asian food loving husband, his slow foodie wife, and two adventurous little girls, I knew this would be win-win-win. The adorable, inexpensive joint did not disappoint.

One of the things I like best about Empire’s fusing of local and ethnic is they don’t make a huge deal of it. You can detect it in the menu, but it’s not in your face. A lot of people who don’t care about such things probably wouldn’t even notice; they’d just be enjoying the yummy Chinese food. (Oh, if you go there, and you need to, be sure to order the lobster steamed dumplings. Yes, it’s a nod to  the state, but man, they’re amazing.)

Have you stumbled across any restaurants that are doing authentic ethnic cooking with locally-sourced ingredients? Is this something you’d like to see more of?

Image: Found at Empire Chinese Kitchen



by Margaret Cabaniss

To be fair, I don’t have a trick here so much as…a book. This book, to be specific: Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. My sister’s almost-three-year-old loves it — and as he has been on an all-ABCs-all-the-time kick for the last six months, I feel like you can safely trust his judgment. The illustrations are lush and colorful, and every page is crammed full of more exotic fruits and vegetables than you can shake a stick at.

The “exotic” part here seems to be part of its appeal: Beyond the standard apple/banana rotation he sees in every other book, it’s also full of huckleberries, jicama, endive, and xigua — words and pictures so strange they’re almost Dr. Seussian, but even better for being real.

My sister, seeing how the newness captivated him, seized the opportunity to get him to taste a few of these things, too. For each trip to the store, she and D settle on a new fruit or veggie to try — then they hunt through the produce section or the farmer’s market, on the lookout for the mystery item from his book. Once home, D will climb up on his step stool to help prepare it (or watch mommy cut it), then they both sit down together and try a bite, describing what they taste.

Something about the treasure hunt/science experiment approach here really seems to work: The kid who won’t eat meat other than hamburger and doesn’t like any of the food on his plate to touch has tried radishes, brussels sprouts, dates, cabbage, kiwi, watermelon, zucchini, mango, and kohlrabi — and so far, he’s liked most of what he’s tasted. (Next up, he’s angling for artichoke and figs.) I don’t think I tasted half these things until after college.

Of course, simply trying new vegetables doesn’t mean he suddenly wants a heaping plateful of cabbage and radishes at dinner every night — he is still two, after all — but the simple act of exploring the market together, helping to prepare what they find, and getting the new thing to pass his lips is good practice and encouragement through this picky-eater stage. Hopefully some of that openness to new things will stick with him.

What about you? What have you found to be helpful in getting your kids to try new things? (Zoe has a great round-up of ideas here.) Any other great books to recommend?

Images: Margaret Cabaniss


by Margaret Cabaniss

I was about to go looking through the archives for some good July 4 recipes when I stumbled across this post from last year; apparently I had the same idea then, too. Definitely breaking out a few of these this weekend…

SlowMama's Summer Recipes
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good recipe round-up around these parts, but the Fourth of July — a.k.a., America’s High Holy Day of Summer — seemed like as good a time as any. The SlowMama archives are positively busting with great summer dishes; here are some of my favorites that seemed particularly grill-worthy:

Homemade Sodas

Homemade Sodas
You’re so fancy. (And if you prefer your lemonade sans gas, try Ann’s basil variety — still one of my favorite summer drinks.)

Boiled Peanuts

Make them for the nostalgia factor, make them because they’re best eaten when it’s a million degrees out — just make them. (Or, if you prefer your peanuts Thai-inspired, go with these chili lime peanuts instead.)

Guacamole Salad

Recipe: Guacamole Salad
I make this side dish every chance I get in the summer. Would go great with some grilled chicken and corn on the cob…


Another tomato-based side, but a little more Italian-y. If you’re lucky enough to be seeing fresh tomatoes at the market or in your garden already, make this one immediately.

Summer Ceviche

A little something different from your traditional burgers and dogs. This would be amazing as a starter.

Quinoa Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Roasted Pepitas

Ann’s technique for making perfect quinoa is the secret to this dish’s awesomeness. A great change of pace for a summer potluck.

Curried Chicken Salad

chicken salad plate
I just made this one last weekend, and it felt like it was gone five minutes later; it’s a total crowd-pleaser. Throw a couple extra chicken breasts on the grill, and you can pull it together in no time.

Triple Berry Pie

Triple Berry Pie
Still my favorite summer pie, hands down — and we’re just about entering peak berry season, when it really shines. (And look how patriotic it is!) If you prefer something a little more traditional, though, try Zoe’s recipe for basic pie crust — and don’t forget the dairy-free coconut whipped cream!

Chocolate Mint Pudding Popsicles

Pudding Popsicles
I completely forgot about these! This is definitely happening.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookie plate
Can’t have a cookout without ’em.

I feel like there were so many other recipes I could have added here — the watermelon granita Ann posted just this week, for one, or a Pimm’s cup, or even this peach crisp… Got any particular favorites? What’s on your July 4 menu?

Images: SlowMama


Restaurant Pet Peeves

July 1, 2015

Tableware by Viktor Janacek
Maybe because I bussed and waited on plenty of tables in my late teens and twenties, I’m a little picky about restaurant service. While I’ve never withheld a tip entirely, I expect servers to work for their tips by being polite, attentive, and helpful.

As a diner, I definitely have some restaurant pet peeves and found myself nodding along as I read a Washington Post article by Roberto A. Ferdman called “The Most Annoying Restaurant Trend Happening Today.” Ferdman talks about the now common practice of clearing entree plates before everyone at the table is finished:

Without my permission, restaurants have abandoned, or simply overlooked, a classic tenet of service etiquette (I’m talking about entrees, not the ubiquitous small plates, which demand a different etiquette). Rather than clear plates once everyone at the table has finished the meal, which has long been the custom, servers instead hover over diners, fingers twitching, until the very instant someone puts down a fork. Like vultures, they then promptly snatch up the silverware — along with everything else in front of the customer. If you’re lucky, they might ask permission before stealing your plate.

When a server clears a plate before everyone is finished, he or she leaves the table with a mess of subtle but important signals. Those who are still eating are made to feel as though they are holding others up; those who are not are made to feel as though they have rushed the meal. What was originally a group dining experience becomes a group exercise in guilt.

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve also had a server clear a plate I’m not finished with. If a fork is still in my hand and there’s food on my plate, do not come near me, thank you very much. (There are times when I’ve had to break down and ask for a plate to be cleared, simply because there is no room on the table. For some reason as plates have gotten bigger, tables have gotten smaller.)

I think the big reason for clearing entree plates before all parties are finished is partly financial. Servers are told to move people through their courses quickly to turn the tables around.

I’m also not a fan of servers who hover or who constantly come up to the table a million times to ask if “everything is all right” — sometimes before I can even get the first bite in my mouth. Well, if you can give me 10 seconds from the time you were just here putting the plate on the table, I’d love to tell you!

While great service isn’t always so easy to come by, just as I don’t blame a server for a poorly cooked dish, I don’t generally blame her for poor service, either. Restaurant service is its own skill set, and staff need to be trained. When I worked in restaurants, I was trained — sometimes very well, and other times very poorly (or not at all). I’m sure the same is true today.

I’m curious if you have any pet peeves when you’re dining out. Do you get annoyed when entree plates are cleared before everyone is finished?

P.S. — Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers!

Image: Viktor Hanacek at picjumbo