Eat Real Food 2013 Calendar Giveaway

eat real food calendar

When I was growing up, there was always a calendar hanging on the side of refrigerator. Secured by a hooked magnet up top and two clippy ones along the edges, it was the repository for sleepovers, school plays, and the dates when were assigned to bring snacks for choir practice. Our lives were simple enough back then that a month of small boxes held a family’s worth of commitment without strain.

Up until last January, I still used a paper planner (though it was a whole lot more detailed than the old fridge calendar method). But as life expanded, there wasn’t enough space to hold all my to-do lists, deadlines, and reminders. I switched to a Google calendar and have breathed more easily since.

calendar pages

I’ve missed having a paper calendar, though. I like having a physical thing that helps me measure the days and weeks. And at the turn of each month, it’s fun to have a new picture to keep me company.

When Anna Hewitt from Seedling Design emailed, offering to send me a copy of her Eat Real Food calendar, I jumped at the chance to have a physical calendar in my life again. Printed on sturdy card stock, this monthly calendar isn’t bound together. That means you can arrange it in a grid on a cork board, or you can prop a single month on a bookshelf or stick it to the fridge with a magnet.

close-up

Each month features an image of a sewn design (handmade by Anna) that represents some different aspect of food and community. It is quietly charming and such a good reminder that we all need allow ourselves the time to nourish, sustain, and grow in this new year.

Thanks to Anna, I have a second calendar to give away to one of my readers. If you’d like to enter for a chance to win it, here’s what to do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you track and measure your days. Paper planner? Calendar on the fridge? Online datebook?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, January 5, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway open all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

If you don’t want to wait to see if you win, you can also click over to Seedling Design and pick up a calendar for yourself today (before the new year too far underway). It’s just $20, which isn’t too much for a year’s worth of art and helpful reminders!

Disclosure: Seedling Design sent me two calendars, one to keep and one to give away. They did not pay for inclusion in this post and my opinions are entirely my own. 

Happy New Year + Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

black-eyed pea salsa

I hope everyone had a good holiday season! I spent Christmas out in Portland, Oregon with family and got plenty of quality time with my parents, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and my newly walking nephew (he’s in that sponge stage, where he’s learning as fast as you can say the words. It’s incredible).

I got back to Philadelphia a few days ago and promptly came down with Emmett‘s cold (13 month olds cough in any direction they’re pointed, including straight into your face). Other than an exploratory mission on Sunday to Costco to use our new membership cards, Scott and I have barely left the apartment in days. Oh, how I’m tired of this tradition of mine to end the year mucus and congestion.

black-eyed pea salsa

 

In the hopes of forging different New Year traditions that have nothing to do with NyQuil, kleenex or throat lozenges, I made a very simple take on a classic “good luck for the New Year” dish. Black-eyed pea salsa.

It’s essentially Texas Caviar, but a version that omits bottled salad dressing and is scaled to fit into a quart jar (because who doesn’t like a salsa that can be made straight into a jar?). It’s good with tortilla chips and even better on top of salad greens and a little crumbled feta (if you’re trying to inject a little bit of healthier eating into your new year).

black-eyed pea salsa above

 

As far as New Year’s hopes and resolutions go, my plan is to keep the year simple. To find a little peace where I am instead of always having my eye on the next thing. To stop tying myself into knots of struggle and let things move in flow and at their own pace. And to remember how incredibly lucky I am to have such a vibrant community of friends and readers out there across the world (thank you all for being part of that!).

And on to the recipe…

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Salted Rye Cookies from Whole Grains for a New Generation

salted rye cookies

My cookie output has been woefully low this holiday season. There was a batch of rugelach for Hanukkah, a celebratory round of pumpkin seed brittle on my first full day in Portland and these salted rye cookies.

Both the rugelach and the brittle are old favorites, the rye cookies were a recipe that had jumped out from the pages of Liana Krisoff’s new book Whole Grains for a New Generation. I spent a few days cooking from it a couple weeks back for a Table Matters piece (publishing soon!) and found everything in it incredibly appealing and inspiring.

salted rye cookie

These cookies did not let me down. They are buttery, sweet (but not obnoxiously so) and pleasantly sandy from the rye flour. A classic slice and bake style cookie, the only garnish they need is a quick roll in chunky sugar and flakey salt.

I left half at home for Scott and brought the balance out to Portland with me in my luggage. They were forced to compete for attention with the brittle and have still managed to disappear first.

If you’re looking for one final cookie to make this year, or simply need something to eat with a mug of tea, this is such a good one.

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Giveaway Winners!

slow cooker

slow cooker winners With Christmas just a handful of hours away, it seems like the right time to post some recent giveaway winners.

This last week, I had eight Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget slow cookers to share. I so enjoyed reading all your favorite ways to use your slow cookers. I plan on borrowing a great number of those ideas!

The winners are numbers 212 (Sara), 221 (Jennifer), 498 (Sarah), 618 (Betsy), 695 (Pamela), 899 (Sharon), 918 (Kim), and 1060 (Annie). Congratulations everyone, I’ll be in touch shortly!

adorable mugs

mug winners Then there’s the giveaway from the week before. I got lost in the frenzy of holiday prep and getting out of town (I’m out in Portland, Oregon right now) and forgot entirely to post the winners. So sorry about that!

The mugs from Korin go to number 23, which is Elle (who writes the blog Dancing Wooly Masters).

petty knife

petty knife winner The Korin petty knife goes to commenter number 350, which is Savanarola.

Thanks again for all the giveaway entries! I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season! I’ll be back tomorrow with a cookie recipe I made recently that I’ve absolutely loved. I realize that cookie season is rapidly coming to a close, but I think there’s always space for one more treat!

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Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

finished apple butter

Since I was very young, I’ve been something of a collector. I figured that if having one of something was good, then having three or four was even better. As a kid, this meant that I had more pens and pencils in my school bag than necessary and felt most comfortable when I had a back-up security blanket.

In my adulthood, this propensity towards duplication has most actively manifested itself in the kitchen. I have at least two dozen wooden spoons and spatulas (when just a handful would really do), three vintage waffle irons (because you never know when one might break) and five slow cookers.

slow cooker

There’s no really good defense for the wooden implements or the waffle irons, but I do have a rationale for the slow cookers. My slow cooker needs often vary and so having different shapes, sizes and eras to choose from give me options.

Dips go in the mini-cooker. When I make overnight oatmeal, the 2 1/2 quart pot is best. If I’m doing a batch of blueberry butter and want really low, slow heat, nothing works better than my vintage, 4 quart, avocado green cooker. I also have kept a basic 6 quart cooker in the rotation for a while for stocks and soups, though I must confess, it has never been my favorite.

slicing apple

Then there’s slow cooker number five. It joined the line-up recently and rocketed to the top of my slow cooker hit parade. It’s the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget model, with a lid that can be locked into a place and a thermometer probe that you can use to test internal temperatures without lifting the lid and releasing the heat. It allows you to set the cook time and temperature (when the time is up, it shifts to a keep warm setting).

This time of year, my slow cookers are in regular rotation for the production of apple and pear butters. I typically go with my vintage cooker, because I know that I can trust it not to burn (older slow cookers have lower set temperatures than the newer models). However, because of its capacity, it ends up yielding just a couple of pints. As you know, most of the time I like a small batch just a little more than the next girl. During the holiday season that changes and  I appreciate the option of larger yields for gift giving.

clamps

I realize now that I’ve avoided the newer cookers and their higher temperatures because I’ve never worked with one that had an auto shut-off before. I tend to let my fruit butters cook overnight. That was too much time for my brute force, either-on-or-off cooker. But having the option to set it to cook for 5 or 6 hours and then shift to warm has changed everything. I know this technology has been around for a while (my mom had a slow cooker when I was little that did something along these lines), but I’d never before experienced it. I am in love.

My fruit butter yields are higher because the new Hamilton Beach machine has a larger capacity and I’m not running the risk of burning the butter because it shuts off when I ask. I am a happy canner.

mid-slice

Before we get to the apple butter recipe I’ve made three times in the last month in machine, I have to tell you one more reason why I really like it. It’s that “Stay or Go” feature. This slow cooker has a lid fitted with a silicone seal that can be locked into place. That makes it an able traveler, which is terrific for a regular potluck-attender like me.

I used it to transport and serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving (sadly, they were the worst mashed potatoes I’ve ever made; both lumpy and gummy at the same time. But the quality of the potatoes wasn’t the cooker’s fault) and it will be pressed into travel service again soon.

stay or go

The formal recipe I’ve been using for this slow cooker apple butter is after the jump, but here’s the narrative version. You begin by filling your slow cooker to the top with sliced apples (I got about eight pounds into my cooker, but there’s some natural variation here). You add a little water (maybe 1/2 a cup) to help things along and then you let the cooker for for four to six hours on low, until you can mash the apples into sauce.

Then you puree the heck out of the applesauce, until the skins disappear. It works best in my Vitamix, but I’ve also achieved this same effect with an immersion blender and persistence. Then you return the puree to the slow cooker (it will only fill it 2/3 of the way up at this point) and cook on low for another six or so hours with the lid slightly askew for venting purposes, until the sauce has reduced into butter. Stir in sugar, spices, and lemon zest/juice for balance. That’s it! Easy and makes such good holiday presents!

Finally, the giveaway. Hamilton Beach has generously given me eight (yes, that’s eight) of these Set ‘n Forget Slow Cookers to give away to my readers. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite slow cooker use.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, December 22, 2012. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  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: Hamilton Beach gave me one Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker for review and photography purposes and they’re providing eight additional units for this giveaway. They did not pay for inclusion on the blog and my opinions remain entirely my own. 

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Remembrance

mandarins

 

The events in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday continue to make my throat tight and my heart heavy. I cannot make sense of it and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve long been taught to respond to even the most senselessly awful events with love and compassion. The eternal hope is that the goodness of life will eventually outweigh the horrors. But when something this inexplicably vile happens, it can be hard to find that spark of hopeful light in all the darkness.

Like a number of other bloggers out there, I am going to take a break from the recipes, the holiday frenzy, and the giveaways today to create a little space for all of us who are still fumbling our way back to a new, tender balance.

(If you’re in need of a little boost, I suggest reading or watching President Obama at last night’s prayer vigil. It made me cry and gave me hope that things might finally start to change.) 

 

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