My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘Lunch’

Not That Kind of Cider Vinegar 0

Posted on January 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

A few days ago CrankyGreg came home with a bottle of this. 

He was happy because it only cost this.

I was ambivalent because I’m not a big fan of apple cider vinegar.  Or so I thought.  This is far from the usual stuff, more akin to an aged balsamic vinegar then the stuff the camp nurse used to make me gargle with when I was sick.  Tart and smooth and fruity and with a complexity worthy of wine, it was delicious.  So far, I’ve tried it drizzled over sliced apples with crumbled chevre, and splashed over some apple pie 5-minute ice cream.  So good!  But what I’m really loving it for is this healthy and delicious little salad that’s making me happy at lunch these days.

Winter Blue Salad with Limousin Apple Vinegar
1 serving

  • 2 c. baby salad greens of your choice
  • 1/2 c. fresh, frozen/thawed, or dried blueberries (Mine were fresh.  Chilean.  Moment of January-variety craziness at Costco.)
  • 2 T. crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 T. walnuts
  • 1 T. Delouis apple cider vinegar (if you can’t find it, use a smooth and sweet balsamic).

Put first three ingredients in bowl, sprinkle walnuts on top, and drizzle vinegar over.

I know I’ll be running out of this before long, and I’m not usually the sort to spend this product’s full retail price of about $6 on vinegar.  So when it s gone I’ll be switching back to a doctored-up balsamic vinegar with a technique I picked up from those smart folks over at America’s Test Kitchen.   Using your taste buds rather than specific quantities, you slowly add bits of lemon juice and brown sugar to cheap-o balsamic, and the reduce the mixture to thicken it to a syrup.  Keep the heat on low, keep an eye on the pan as it reduces, and you’ll get great, tailor-made results.

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New Year’s Day Deconstructed Black-Eyed Pea Hummus 0

Posted on January 01, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’ve never passed up an opportunity for a free wish or good luck.   Heads-up pennies, salt over the shoulder, first evening stars – all good, if irrational and superstitious.  How can a little magical thinking hurt?

Which is probably why I find myself searching out black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day every year.  They may go back to Africa.  The American south claims them as a tradition dating back to the Civil War, while Jews have been eating them for good luck on the New Year for 2,500 years (at least according to this article).    In any case, they’re a traditional good luck food, and that’s enough to get me to make them.

Hoppin John is a traditional way to eat the beans, but it doesn’t go with the crepe menu I’m planning.   I started thinking about more of a salad, and I wanted something a little beyond the beans-with-vinaigrette-and-vegetables salad, and so this is what I’ve now got the beans soaking for:

Deconstructed Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
6 servings

  • 2 T. + 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. tahini
  • juice and zest from 3 lemons, separated
  • salt to taste (I use umeboshi vinegar here)
  • chopped chive or scallion and arugula for serving
  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas, cooked until tender and drained (You can substitute 2 cans of beans if you like.)
  1. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet just until barely rippling.  Add sliced garlic and cook for 3 – 4 minutes over low heat, just barely to the point of fragrance.  Hold aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt or umeboshi vinegar, and remaining 2 T. olive oil.
  3. Place peas and garlic in a bowl large enough to do some vigorous mixing in, then add in the tahini mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon, trying not to obliterate the beans.  Mix in the lemon zest.
  4. Just before serving, spread arugula on a plate and mound the beans on top.  Sprinkle with chive or scallion and serve.

And here’s to a year of luck, prosperity, good health, peace, and wonderful meals with loved ones.  Happy 2010.

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Southwest Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan) 0

Posted on December 09, 2009 by crankycheryl

Oh, the winter has arrived and I’ve stopped home for a quick warm lunch before I go back out into the snow to pick up the boys.  Here’s what I’ll be finishing the last bowl of before I run off, fingers crossed that we get at least a sled run or two in before the snow turns to rain.

This was inspired by a most-delicious soup I recently had.  It’s quick to make if you’ve got the leftover sweet potatoes, good and good for you.    And this being the season of delicious temptations, this version is so virtuous that you should just feel free to eat the 2nd (7th, 12th) mini-quiche or pig in a blanket.

Vary the amounts of the milk and broth as you add them, depending on how moist your sweet potatoes are, and – 0f course – the taste and consistency you want.

Vegan Southwest Sweet Potato Soup
4 dinner servings

  • 4 cups leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 c. soy (or rice, or almond) milk, or whole milk or cream if you’re not concerned with this being vegan
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. chipotle powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 t. powdered lemon peel
  • 1 – 2 c. vegetarian broth (I used the Better than Bouillion ersatz beef variety)

A child of mine eating something with a vegetable in it. Your mileage may vary.


Blend everything in your food processor, blender, immersion blender, or favorite pureeing device until very smooth.  Heat until bubbling and serve.  Some crackers would be nice, as is a sprinkle of chipotle.

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Roasted Beets 4

Posted on October 28, 2009 by crankycheryl

stew beets sauerkraut veggie burgers 012Yesterday, Z. and I were walking downtown and he announced, “Mommy, the days when you are frustrated with me are OVER and I’m going up the mountain I’m going to climb the rocks WAY UP HIGH.  But you are the best snuggler in the world and so I’ll stay with you forever.”

Love is complicated, but your root vegetables don’t have to be. Give this a try:

Roasted Beets

  • Small to medium whole beets, skins left on but greens and long roots removed.
  • A tablespoon of olive oil.
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Oil a half-sheet or other rimmed baking pan well.
  3. Place beets on it.  Cover with a second pan.
  4. (Alternately, you could wrap each one individually in foil and place them directly on the top oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below it to catch the drips.)
  5. Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.

Then you can slice them for salads, or puree them for soup (my friend Dannah just posted on Facebook that the “easiest beet soup in the world” is pureed roasted beets processed with kefir or buttermilk).

beet salad 010I made this salad for lunch today: greens with marinated tofu and the beets, spritzed with rice vinegar and olive oil and sprinkled with gomasio.  What I really wanted was gobs of goat cheese, but I’m back on the Bittman plan, and so righteous tofu it was.

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Crusty Fries (or, "Things BITE, but My Son's a Genius) 6

Posted on August 10, 2009 by crankycheryl

Oh, I’m a CrankyCheryl indeed.

Have you read Mo Willem’s Leonardo the Terrible Monster?  You know the part where he “scares the tuna salad” out of poor Sam?  And Sam launches into the tirade about how he’s not crying because he was scared, but because his mean big brother stole his action figure and broke it on purpose and he stubbed the same toe he hurt when he was in the bathtub trying to wash out the bird poop that his brother’s cockatoo pooped on his head and his tummy hurts?

Well, that’s me if you’ll substitute, “leak in bathtub necessitating complete bathroom demolition,” “insurance claims adjusters not returning phone calls,” “unemployed,” “sleep-deprived,” “humidity-hating,” “why is there always dirt sticking to my feet when I sweep the @#$^%$ house twice a day,” and “broken camera because I stupidly let kids take pictures with it.”  And probably at least one or two other things I’m too annoyed to remember.


But this happened today:  we were sitting in the gym lobby having our picnic lunch after swimming (i.e. “getting clean without a bathtub”) today, and E. held up the crust of the bread he was nibbling (Klinger’s Maple Oat Walnut – yum) and said, “Look Mommy:  Crust Fries!”

My jaw dropped.  My boy has solved a problem older than sliced bread.  Holy cockatoo poop.  What do you do with the crusts they won’t eat?  Make oven fries with them!  Yah, dude.

Here’s how: Cut the crusts off before germs get all over them as your little darlings pick and prod and slobber their way through their sandwiches.  Toss the crusts with a little bit of oil on a pan, and put it in your toaster oven.  Toast them.  Serve them with mustard and ketchup and whatever meshuga stuff your kids like to dip things in.

And for heaven’s sake, please wait until at least next week to tell me if this idea is not new.  I just couldn’t take it.

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Blessed Silence Sunday 1

Posted on August 09, 2009 by crankycheryl

Parsley-Caper Sauce becomes Triple Verde Sauce with the addition of 4 chopped green tomatoes and 1 c. wilted, chopped and well-drained swiss chard processed in a food processor or blender until smooth.

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Blessed Silence Sunday 2

Posted on August 02, 2009 by crankycheryl

Dinner last night: black-bean jalapeno nachos with roasted zucchini & carrots.

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White Bean Salad with Steamed Greens and Roasted Summer Vegetables 9

Posted on August 01, 2009 by crankycheryl
july food blueberries pasta dinner 074

Sorry to put up such a fuzzy picture - it's the only one I took of this!

I was getting ready to make a warm salad to accompany the localvore pasta dinner, picturing some wilted greens, tomatoes, slivered garlic, and white beans.

Because it’s cheaper and you get better results using dried beans, I had gotten out my crockpot and cooked a pound and a half of them for a couple of hours on the “high” setting.

Then I steamed the greens, shocked them with a quick plunge in cold water, and chopped them fine.

Then a neighbor showed up with a basket of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and yellow summer squash and asked if I could use those.  As the guest list kept growing and I was getting nervous about quantities, I gladly accepted.

I realized I had to do the easiest, quickest thing possible with these late-arriving friends.  Roasting was perfect.  Wash, chop into a large dice, toss with oil and salt & pepper, cook, and it’s ready to be tossed together, which was just what I did with all my prepped ingredients.

I hear that it was terrific.   Except for my check-for-seasoning nibble, I never got to have any.

White Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Steamed Greens and Roasted Summer Vegetables
8 – 10 servings

  • l lb. dried cannelini or great northern beans, cooked in a crockpot until just tender, or substitute 4 14-oz. canned beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 lbs. (a.k.a. “a whole mess of) greens of your choice (I used lacinata kale, rainbow chard, and beet greens)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 large or 3 small eggplants
  • 4 zucchini and/or summer squash
  • 4 peppers (we had green bell pepper and Hungarian wax)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ~ 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (you could use your favorite vinegar instead)
  • ~ 1/4 c. fresh herbs – I used flatleaf parsley and basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Oil 2 baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Place the beans in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Roast the eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers by cleaning well, then dicing into a fairly large dice – like 1 1/2″.  Toss with a generous amount of olive oil – you want it glistening – and season with salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on baking sheets, and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until tender and browned, turning halfway through cooking.  Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Rinse the greens very well.  With the rainy season we’ve been having, they seem especially gritty/dirty this year.  My favorite method for chopping them is to place them inside the large colander-like insert for my pasta pot and go to town with a pair of kitchen scissors.  Then I give them a second plunge to remove any dirt I missed the first time.  Steam them for 3 or 4 minutes, until just wilted.  Have a large bowl of cold, cold water ready to place the colander in (or just dump them in if you don’t have one of these pots), then remove from water and drain very well.
  5. Place 2 T. olive oil in a small skillet and cook just to the point of fragrance (i.e., when you can smell a nice warm garlicky smell).  Remove from heat.
  6. Add greens to beans and mix well to break up any clumps.  Then mix in tomatoes, roasted vegetables, garlic and chopped herbs, using your hands or a wooden spoon.  Add in about 1/3 c. olive oil, lemon juice, and salt (start with about 1/2 t.) and pepper.  Taste for your preferences, adjusting as you go.
  7. Serve at room temperature.  A great meal on its own, maybe with some feta crumbled on top, and a slice or two of good bread.
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So Summer, Quiche and Clafouti 2

Posted on July 20, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread bcoho july dinner 008Oh, it’s summer, green and wet and if not exactly sunny, then still with beautiful days for the beach and camping and adventure seeking.  The boys are covered with dirt and mosquito bites and scraped knees, whirling around in a perpetual cloud of brotherly violence/love, worlds of pirates and griffin-hunting and trucks and dinosaurs, pleas for more ice cream, for just five more minutes at the beach, in the water, under a tree.

“Be here,” I keep telling myself.  Just be here with them, in the streams of light through pine trees while we’re camping.  With the smells of leaves and the sounds of their laughs as they run to the far side of the pond to capture a frog or tackle a friend.

And I’m trying, I’m trying.  To be here, to breathe deep of this beautiful life, my wild and wonderful boys.  To keep the joy in balance with all the worry, my fears about taking a brave plunge, about money, work, how I’m going to deal with fixing my bathroom floor, all of it.

In the midst of it, it was still my turn to make a cohousing community dinner last week.  And what else is there to do but use the what we have at hand to celebrate, even sanctify these full moments?   So though I was packing to go camping, and in a full-scale anxiety attack over the rest of it, we grabbed vegetables from the garden, and Vermont cheeses and cream and eggs from our co-op and off we went to cook and feast together on this beautiful, thrifty, simple and custard-y Vermont Bastille Day meal.

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Summer Quiche
4 – 6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.

Gather and prepare ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. sauteed or steamed vegetables, well-drained.  (This amount is the yield you want after it’s cooked, so make sure to start with more!)  We made two combinations:  1.  Broccoli, mushroom, basil and sage.  2.  Swiss chard, lacinata kale, zucchini, garlic scapes.  We sauteed each combo in a large pan with butter and olive oil.

Beat together:

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cream, whole milk, or creme fraiche
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Arrange vegetables on bottom of crust, then sprinkle over them:

Pour the egg mixture over the top.  Bake until the filling is browned and well set, 25 – 35 minutes.

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Nectarine & Strawberry Clafouti
6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Beat until very frothy:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Add and beat until smooth:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T. cognac or rum (optional), or
  • 2 t. vanilla

Stir in:

  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Arrange evenly over bottom of pie pan:

  • 1 lb. mixed nectarines, cut into 1″ cubes, and halved strawberries, rinsed and dried

Pour batter over the fruit and place the pie pan on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake until puffy and well-set, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then dust with:

  • Powdered sugar.

Serve in wedges, or sloppy scoops, whatever seems to come out of the pan.

bread bcoho july dinner 022

Zucchini-Greens Quiche

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning.  Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate.  What of it?

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning. Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate. What of it?

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Title More Clever Than "Grape Leaves of Wrath" 2

Posted on July 12, 2009 by crankycheryl

When I was 12, I had a horrible and embarrassing crush on Danny Decker.  Look, these Passaic boys were all cute and crazy and I just did, ok?  At least until he started calling me “weed-eater” because my father made pasta with dandelion greens.  I could have keeled over and died.

Fast forward 27 years and I am not ashamed to call myself a weed-eater. Of course, risks remain.  These days when I go out to forage, though I may not have any teen-aged delinquents mocking me, I do find myself facing dangers like this vicious creature:

lichees lollipops groundhog 009

Still, I’ve been out bravely stalking grape leaves.  Did you know that you can pick and use the ones that grow wild?  And that they grow nearly everywhere?  And that you can use them to wrap or stuff all sorts of wonderful things for practically nothing if you pick your own?

cake papaya salad bread 008A brief word of caution about picking wild food for eating: Don’t pick foods close to busy roadways as they could be filled with toxins and heavy metals, and do make sure that your area isn’t sprayed with chemicals.  Also, don’t pick things unless you’re sure you’re getting the right thing – bring someone to show you if you aren’t confident.

Grape leaves are pretty unmistakable.  They grow on vines that are happy to climb nearly anywhere, and have a classic familiar shape, and distinctive curling tendrils from their woody vines.  Choose those that are a nice bright green without any brown, of medium size, and are free of holes or tears.

You can eat them fresh, or preserve them in brine for later.  Though I’ve only tried them fresh, I’m gearing up to can a big batch to last all winter long.  Here are a couple of recipes to try them out with, if you dare.

Vietnamese-Style Grape Leaves, Vegetarian or Meat
Serves 8 as an appetizer or light lunch.  This is based on the stuffed grape leaves we served for dim sum at Five Spice after having a version at a little Vietnamese restaurant in New York’s Chinatown.

  • 40 grape leaves, fresh or from a jar
  • 12 oz. seitan, ground or mashed to the consistency of ground meat OR 3/4 lb. of ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 T. fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • mild flavored oil for brushing and broiling
  • 3/4 c. Thai or Vietnamese-style sesame or peanut sauce for serving

If using fresh grape leaves, place in sauce pan of boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes or so.  Mix together seitan, garlic, soy sauce and salt until very thoroughly combined.  Lightly oil a broiler-safe pan and set aside.

Remove leaves from water to drain.  Take first leaf and place it on a plate or cutting board with the top facing away from you.  Place a spoonful of filling about 2 inches above the bottom of the leaf.  Fold over the left side lengthwise.  (By the way, your filling won’t look like this as I mixed in 1/2 pureed white beans into the seitan, which wasn’t quite as good as just seitan is on its own.)

cake papaya salad bread 011

Fold over the right side.

cake papaya salad bread 012

Fold up the bottom.

cake papaya salad bread 013

Roll all the way up, and place with the smoother side up on your prepared pan.  Continue with remaining leaves until all are done.  Brush with oil, and then broil until filling is cooked through and tops are lightly blackened.  Serve warm or at room temperature with the sesame sauce.

cake papaya salad bread 009

For another less traditional preparation, try:
Grape Leaves Stuffed with Tomatoey Rice, Pine Nuts and Bacon
Serves 8 as an appetizer or light lunch

  • 40 grape leaves, fresh or from a jar
  • 2 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 3 T. pine nuts
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 3 slices of turkey or veggie bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Follow directions above for preparing and rolling leaves.  For the filling, mix together rice, tomato paste, garlic, pine nuts and bacon until very well combined – make sure there are no globs of tomato paste left.

Place in a greased, rimmed baking sheet, and heat oven to 375.  When all leaves are rolled, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil, and pour over the top.  Cover with a second baking sheet or foil, and bake for 30 minutes or until warm.  Let sit for 20 minutes or so and then serve.

Remove leaves from water to drain.  Take first leaf and place it on a plate or cutting board with the top facing away from you.

Serves 8 as an appetizer or light lunch
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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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