Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mom’s Crab Salad with Dungeness Crab

Crab Salad on English Muffin with side salad
Like Mom Used to Make

Recipe by Mom

At last it’s Dungeness crab season in Santa Cruz, after a nasty algal bloom that nixed the usual winter celebrations with our favorite crustaceans. Although it’s not cheap and the season seems off, let’s support our local crab fishermen, who’ve had some tough times this year. After filling my family with steamed crab, I made Mom’s “crabmeat salad,” which she prepared with canned crab back in the 1960s. Canned crab isn’t what it used to be—now it’s a shredded mess that tastes metallic. Fresh local crab is the ticket.  Mom’s recipe is extremely simple, and contains no ingredients that might overshadow crab’s subtle flavor.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pesto, Kale, and Mushroom Spaghetti Squash

Bowl of Pesto, Kale, and Mushroom Spaghetti Squash
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

Recipe Adapted from

It’s spring! Though spring officially arrives today, it will be a month or more before we start seeing local spring veggies. In the meantime, using up last year’s harvest of winter squash is prudent, but boring. But with just a little bit of cheating—making a winter pesto with imported basil leaves or buying premade pesto at the market—last year’s spaghetti squash is elevated to Italianesque loveliness. Combined with in-season kale, onions, and mushrooms, plus a dose of Parmesan, garlic, and red pepper, this spaghetti squash awakens even the most jaded of winter palates.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pumpkin Flan (Flan de Calabaza)

Slice of Pumpkin Flan with Whipped cream
Smooth, Refreshing Pumpkin Flan

Recipe adapted from and CubanFoodMarket

It’s almost spring, and time to use up the last of the pumpkins and winter squash from last fall’s harvest. But pumpkin pies and breads seem wildly inappropriate for the season. To the rescue: Cuban flan de calabaza, roughly translated as pumpkin flan. Flan came to Cuba via Europe. In the Middle Ages flans were popular throughout Europe during Lent, when meat wasn't eaten. Flan's eggs and milk provided protein to the faithful. So what could be a more seasonally appropriate use for pumpkin in March?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Orange Chocolate Chip Scones

Platter of Scones
Eight Perfect and Easy Scones

Recipe Reportedly Adapted from the Savoy Hotel

The Savoy Hotel high tea has been a tradition in London since 1904, and their delicate scones are at the heart of the menu. Although Savoy scones are round, and this recipe makes wedges, Allrecipes members claim that the recipe is altered only slightly from the Savoy’s. Who knows, since the Savoy isn’t about to publish its famous recipe. Certainly, one would not see chocolate chips and orange instead of the traditional currants at the Savoy. Those are my substitutions in honor of Valentine’s Day. These light and tender scones take only about 35 minutes to make. And they’re vastly less pricey than a trip to the Savoy.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Tagine with Ras el Hanout

Bowl of Sweet Potato Pomegranate Tagine
Mid-Winter Lift

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times

I can’t imagine a better pairing than winter and tagines. These highly spiced North African stews perk up both body and spirit. Though traditionally tagines are curried meat dishes, vegetables respond equally well to the combination of spices. Sweet cinnamon and ginger, hot peppers, bitter turmeric, exotic cardamom and saffron, and other spices combine to make the heady blend called ras el hanout—which means “head of the shop” or roughly “top rated” in Arabic. In this recipe you’ll make your own spice blend, creating a supply for other tagine experiments this winter.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Immune Boost: Mushroom and Barley Soup

Closeup of bowl of mushroom barley soup
Immune Boosting Deliciousness

Recipe Adapted from Unidentified Clipping

It’s January. I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone around me is sick, getting sick, or getting over being sick. From people at work to kids in the library to shoppers in the mall, why don’t these people just stay home? But since they won’t, we healthy folks need to tend to our immune systems. Extra vitamin C, extra rest, extra hot lemon tea, extra greens, extra whatever it is that makes us feel healthier. And mushroom soup. I was pleasantly surprised that instead of tasting thin and medicinal, this soup is hearty and delicious, more like a stew. Even my mushroom-soup-wary husband likes it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cranberry Orange Honey Muffins

Two Muffins on Plate
Epiphany Muffins for Two

Recipe Adapted from 250 Best Muffin Recipes

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. The word Epiphany comes from Greek and means to reveal or show. It celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem, and symbolizes the revealing of Jesus to the world. These days, Twelfth Night cake is served at big parties. It contains a dry bean or trinket, and whoever receives this in their slice is designated king or queen of the party. At my house, we’re short on trinkets and revelers, but still well-stocked with cranberries. Celebrating with cranberry muffins seems perfect.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Vanilla Maple Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Casserole Dish of Vanilla Maple Yams
Up-cycled Leftovers

Recipe adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

Leftover yams can be a problem. As delicious as they were when they came out of the oven, hot and plump and bursting with flavor, they’re typically deflated and soggy after refrigeration. This is another recipe by Molly Katzen, creator and chef of the Moosewood Restaurant, one of the first and most famous vegetarian restaurants in the US. Molly describes this recipe as subtle, but its slight vanilla flavor is pleasingly pervasive. Originally written for freshly cooked yams, I’ve adapted the recipe to include use with holiday leftovers. This dish would also serve well at winter dinners and potlucks, appealing to diners who enjoy yams but dislike wrestling with the skins.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cranberry Apple Crisp with Gluten Free Option

Plate of Cranberry Apple Crisp
With Optional Pecans and Cream

Recipe adapted from Simply in Season


Crisps are a perfect destination for not-perfect fruit. This year our tree produced many apples, as usual, but due to drought they were small, hard, dry, and a bit sour. Not pleasant for snacks, but cut up and mixed with traditional green baking apples and seasonal cranberries, they cooked up into a blog-worthy dessert. Crisps have three other benefits: they’re relatively healthy, they’re easily adaptable to accommodate gluten-free guests and on-hand topping ingredients, and they’re simple to make. Plus, everyone seems to love them.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Bowl of garnished soup
With Green Onions and Yogurt

Recipe by Melinda

My friend and work colleague Melinda is a fabulous cook. Not that I’ve tasted anything that she’s prepared, but we do exchange recipes. After enjoying her amazing Moroccan Butternut Soup, I was excited to try her pumpkin soup. One key to its deliciousness is, like Zach’s Butternut Sage Soup, the squash (pumpkin) is roasted rather than boiled. Celery and onion provide classic aromatic flavors, and a touch of tomato paste zests up the soup in a unique way. Half and half adds creaminess. Finally, a touch of honey, salt, and pepper, to enhance the flavor of your particular pumpkin.