Curly Parsley and Arugula Pesto

arugula and parsley pesto

More often than I like to admit, I buy groceries without any sort of plan as to what to do with them. This isn’t much of a problem when the impulse item is a loaf of fancy sourdough (toast! bread crumbs! croutons!) or a bag of lovely pears (salads! snacks! tarts! jam!), but things get more challenging when I end up buying two very large bunches of curly parsley without any sort of strategy.

parsley and arugula

The parsley was my most recent spur-of-the-moment purchase. I was at Reading Terminal Market (it’s Philadelphia’s original market and is still a wonderful place to have lunch or buy groceries). One of the produce stalls was selling gorgeous, curly, green parsley, two bundles for $1. It seemed too good to resist and so I added it to my basket. When I got home, I closed the bag tightly and tucked it into the crisper, certain that inspiration would strike. My mom makes a wonderful stew with lamb, red kidney beans, lemon juice and lots of parsley. I thought I might make that.

toasted pine nuts

Instead, the parsley sat (isn’t that always the way?). On Sunday morning, I was doing a little refrigerator clean-out in preparation for a Costco trip and rediscovered that parsley, as well as some woefully neglected arugula. I picked through both bundles and gave all the good parts a thorough rinsing. When I was done, I had two cups of tightly packed greens.

into the food processor

Digging through the fridge, I discovered that I had all the rest of the necessary ingredients to make pesto. I toasted pine nuts that I’d been hoarding, and processed them with the parsley and arugula, as well as a couple garlic cloves, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and olive oil.

It took all of ten minutes and felt so good to find a use for the parsley instead of simply consigning it to the trash can. There’s pasta on the horizon this week, as well as farro salad with feta and pesto dressing. It’s also lovely smeared on toast with a dab of ricotta cheese.

Have you rescued any destined for the trash ingredients lately?

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Giveaway: By Hand Magazine and Tote Bag

by hand and bag

One of the reasons I started canning was that I wanted to make something. I wanted to find a way to make something in my own little kitchen that would last longer than the twenty minutes to eat a meal. I wanted to have something I could put on the shelf that was useful, delicious and that I could point to and say, “Look! I made that!”


Hey! That’s me!

It used to be that people made everything for themselves, from the tools that built houses, to butter they spread on their home baked bread, to the sweaters and coats that kept them warm. Knowing how to make, built, and craft was a matter of survival, artistry, and human expression.

cook section

I have no interest in going entire back to the days when every item in a home started from raw materials, but I do believe that we’ve gotten a little bit out of balance when it comes to the making of things. I think the current increased interest in knitting, sewing, quilting, crafting, baking from scratch, and canning is our culture’s response to this imbalance. We want to make things with our own hands.

tomato jam

There have been many books, magazines, blogs, and other forms of media that have appeared over the last few years that celebrate this resurfacing instinct to make. One of my favorites is By Hand (and this is not just because I’m a contributor. I’d have subscribed without ever writing a word for it). It was dreamed up by Susan Gibbs, the woman responsible for Juniper Moon Farm and the legions of adorable lamb photos that festoon the internet.


The magazine is simple and lovely. It is divided into five topic areas: Cook, Grow, Build, Stitch, and Craft. Each section features recipes, instructions, ideas, tips, and stories that will help you tackle a world of projects and dishes. The writing is clear, useful, and friendly and the photography is really beautifully done.

yeasted apple butter bread

Oh this yeasted apple butter bread recipe. I’ve been meaning to make it for months now. I have several jars of apple butter, waiting to be pressed into service. I’m hoping to try it soon and if it’s as good as I think it will be, I’ll post the recipe as a “Preserves in Action” piece.

back cover

You can browse the Fall/Winter issue digitally by clicking here and if it seems like something you want to have in tangible format, their shop can be found here. The Spring edition will be out shortly and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.

What’s more, I have a little giveaway today. Two lucky winners will each get a By Hand tote bag and a copy of the Fall/Winter issue of the magazine (they’re in the first picture at the top of this post). Here’s what you do to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share one thing you like to make by hand (it doesn’t have to be food related, either. Just something you make). If you’ve not taken the plunge yet, share something you’d like to learn to do.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, March 1, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway open to everyone.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: The By Hand editorial staff gave me the tote bags and the copies of the magazine. They did not pay for inclusion on the blog and my opinions remain entirely my own. 

Links: Bread, Cake and Marmalade + the Bee’s Wrap Winner


folded Bee's Wrap

bee_s wrap winner It was such a treat to read all your suggestions and ideas for leftover storage last week. Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment and share their favorite food storage methods. plucked #145 out of the digital hat. That means the winner is Sherri. She said, “I use Pyrex dishes mostly and the occasional piece of cling wrap or foil. I’m happy that I have had my same rolls of both for over a year now… so I know I’m using them very sparingly! The beeswrap sounds wonderful…”

I hope you enjoy them, Sherri!

And for those of you who didn’t win, don’t forget that you can order Bee’s Wraps directly from Sarah by clicking here.

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Coconut Quinoa Granola

coconut quinoa granola top

I can’t put a finger on exactly when I became aware of quinoa. It wasn’t on our dinner table when I was a kid, but I remember eating it once or twice when I was in college (the dining hall served it occasionally, but they had not yet figured out how best to cook it during my years eating there). However, by the time I had moved to Philadelphia and was cooking for myself, it was one of my staples.

I’ve gone through several hot and heavy periods with quinoa. There was the phase in mid-2004 when I ate garlicky Swiss chard, homemade turkey burgers, and steamed quinoa for dinner at least twice a week. I’ve also eaten a great deal of a dish my sister dreamed up and calls “Bean-wa, Green-wa, Quinoa.” It consists of a can of garbanzo beans, some sautéed kale, a jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce and a couple cups of cooked quinoa. It’s incredibly easy and fast, particularly if you have leftover quinoa.

When Scott and I had our potluck wedding in 2009, three different people brought quinoa salads. When people ask us what kind of wedding we had, sharing that tidbit typically paints a picture. It’s funny what a cultural indicator quinoa has become.

coconut quinoa granola side

These days, we eat quinoa a few times a month in salads, soups or under juicy braised dishes. I love it dearly, both for its grassy flavor and the fact that it cooks so quickly. I do grapple with some guilty feelings around eating quinoa, since global demand has made its price too dear for the Bolivians who have long eaten it as their staple foodstuff. I know that I’m part of that problem, but I also know if I were to give up quinoa, my individual act would be invisible in the larger picture. There’s no perfect answer.

A few months back, I got a review copy of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book 500 Best Quinoa Recipes. I left it on the stack for a while as I struggled with my quinoa guilt, but finally picked it up a few weeks back for a quick browse. Immediately I found a number of recipes that appealed to me. I used up half a pad of little sticky notes marking breakfast bakes, waffle mixes, energy bites, muffins, quick breads and salads.

coconut quinoa granola spill

Once I was finished flipping through the book, I hopped up and headed to the kitchen to make a batch of the Coconut Oat Quinoa Granola that’s on page 36 (I had all the ingredients and was curious what toasted rather than steamed quinoa would taste like).

I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a few tweaks (I reduced the coconut oil by half, left out the dried fruit and added a little salt). The finished product is terrific. It’s deeply coconut-y, with lots of crunch from the bits of quinoa. It clumped nicely and it good with yogurt or eaten in clusters as a snack. I will definitely make this one again.

Note: I left out the dried fruit from the finished granola because I recently discovered that the moisture content in raisins, apricots and the like can end up making granola soggy over time. These days, instead of stirring it all into a batch once it has cooled, I add a palmful of dried fruit to a bowl just before eating. It keeps the granola crunchy and ensures that I get just the amount of fruit that I want.

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Making the Most of a Baking Mistake + Cornmeal Muffins

concave corn muffins

Earlier today, I made a mistake. I put a batch of cornmeal muffins into a preheated oven and then, inexplicably, switched off the heat. It had been a long day in the kitchen and it was my final cooking project of the afternoon (I also made creamy vegetable soup, cornbread with bacon and a big batch of chili for the freezer). I peeked at them twice as they “baked” and couldn’t figure out why they weren’t rising as they should (I wondered at one point whether I’d left out the leavening).

corn muffin

I figured it out after they’d been sitting in a cooling oven for nearly twenty minutes and quickly switched the heat back on. While they eventually baked up into serviceable muffins, they did suffer a little for the error. Instead of rising into pleasantly toasted brown domes, the muffins were completely concave in the middle.

corn muffin with jam

As I looked at my poor muffins, the thought occurred that often that people hollow out the center section of baked goods in order to fill them with frosting or fruit or pastry cream. I decided to do the same with one of the muffins. I grabbed a jar of strawberry jam from the fridge and spooned a generous scoop into the hollow. It made a nice afternoon snack and redeemed my goof nicely. I plan to eat the rest of the batch in much the same manner.

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Giveaway: Bee’s Wrap

Bee's Wrap

I work hard to make my food storage is as waste-free as possible (though I am very far from perfect). I take reusable mesh bags to the farmers’ market and grocery store for produce. I often tote glass jars to the bulk section when I need to restock my dry goods. Our leftovers go in wide-mouth jars and Pyrex containers with snap-on plastic lids. The one thing I’ve really struggled with is finding a good way to keep things things that need close wrapping.

unfolded wraps

I wash and rewash plastic bags, but they don’t last forever. I sometimes succumb to the lure of plastic wrap, but I hate the idea of swaddling food in a single use cling. Happily, I’ve discovered a new-to-me product that has solved most of my food covering woes.

Called Bee’s Wrap, these food-safe wrappers are made from sheets of organic cotton fabric that are imbued with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. You wrap them around food, bowls or plates and use the heat of your hands to mold the fabric into place. So far, I’ve used them on hunks of cheese, cucumbers, and to cover bowls with rising bread dough. I adore them.

Bee's Wrap on cheese

I first learned about the Bee’s Wrap when I got an email from Sarah, the woman who makes them. I asked her to tell me a little about her product and how she started making them. Here’s what she said.

I love to make things and my husband and I love food! I grow and preserve almost all of the vegetables for our family of five, make our bread and my husband raises pigs, chickens and lambs for food. We have dappled in a lot of projects from making beer, cider, yogurt, milking goats, and lots of sewing.

As my children are growing out of babyhood I was finding a need and desire to enter the workforce, but wanted to be close to home and work for myself. Within an ongoing exchange of ideas, my cousins suggested that I make wax infused cloth to use in the kitchen. It was such a lovely idea and after some time I started experimenting and researching it.

The practicality, common sense, and environmental benefits was so amazing I felt I could turn it into a business that would help to support us, as well as provide a great product. I also just love working with beeswax and fabric.

folded Bee's Wrap

I find that these wrappers are quite easy to care for. They clean off with a quick wipe of gentle dish soap and a rinse in lukewarm water (you want to avoid the hottest water your tap can produce, in order to prevent the wax from melting off the fabric).

I’ve found that these wraps can do nearly everything that plastic bags and Saran wrap can do. The only exceptions are covering dishes in the microwave and helping prevent dough from sticking while rolling out. Sarah does recommend that you avoid using them on meat, poultry and fish, to help prevent any cross-contamination or funky smells from developing.

They last a good long time, and when they eventually wear out, they can be composted. You can’t say that about the more conventional plastic bags and wraps!

wrapped food

Thanks to Sarah, I have a set of three (small, medium and large) Bee’s Wraps for giveaway today. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite trick for leftover storage.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, February 22, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway open US residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Bee’s Wrap gave me a set of two wraps for review and photography purposes and has provided a set of three wraps for this giveaway. They did not pay for inclusion on the blog and my opinions remain entirely my own.