If you’re only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing.

-Yo-Yo Ma 


First, a little rant. It drives me nuts that people don't know how to spell anymore. And that they don't care to check their spelling. In case you were wondering, the proper spelling is harebrained, not hairbrained

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I've had a harebrained idea. With slightly less than 40 weeks to go before the wedding, still trying to nail down a theme (travel? birds? shabby chic? Colonial sampler?), I thought, wouldn't handkerchiefs be a sweet wedding favor? They could even use them to wave us away for the departure since we're not allowed to have confetti, or rice, or sparklers at our venue

Now, I know I'm probably not the first to have any of these ideas. I was thinking vintage, or at least something that felt handmade. Nothing cheap-looking or mass produced. And definitely nothing that looks remotely close to machine-embroidery. (It can go very well, but more often goes horribly, horribly wrong. And the machine I have can't do too much.)

The only thing is, after looking at prices of hankies online and at local antique shops, I found them to be a little bit out of my price range. At five to ten dollars apiece, plus shipping, that could take a big old bit out of our wedding budget. 

Three hankies I found while thrifting. Gorgeous and great for inspiration, but a bit pricey.
So then I sourced linen prices and found some amazing quality linen for an amazing price. If I make them all myself, the materials will cost less than a dollar per hanky. I even came up with my own embroidery motifs, and keep having more ideas. I like cohesion in my theme, but a little bit of variety is nice too.

There are birds in a love tree:

My first border (for a man's handkerchief)

 Birds over a heart-flower motif:

And another border for a man's hanky, this one super-subtle:

Sounds brilliant, right? Right. Just factor in the fact that it takes me an hour to make each hand-rolled hem, and another hour or two to do the embroidery, and you see how harebrained the idea is.

A stack of hemmed hankies ready for embroidery.
 Of course it's nuts. It's beyond nuts. But I think I'm past the point of no return. I've already done the math, and realized that if I make ten hankies a week, I can totally do this and get it done well before the wedding.

A stack of freshly cut fabric. Something I'll be seeing a lot of this year.
 And instead of harebrained, maybe we'll go with labor of love from now on. Even though there might not be so much difference between the two.

Sweet Bisque

There is light at the end of this tunnel that is the longest, darkest, coldest winter in my memory. January was so long, so cold, so gloomy. It snowed. When (if) the snow started to melt, it would snow again. There was smog so thick we might have been in Beijing. You could taste it, and let me tell you, it's not a taste you wanna taste. The smog was so thick you couldn't see the mountains less than five miles away - the ones that are so big, you can usually see them from anywhere in the valley. Buildings a block away loomed like shadows in the smog - if you were lucky to see that far.

As February began, it started to warm up - and clear up - in fits and starts. The sun came out every now and then. I dared not get my hopes up because I knew there was plenty more winter to go around. There still is. But I've seen the sun, and the mountains, and even the ground, which has been covered and re-covered with snow these last months. And there's light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait for spring, for life, to begin anew.

Even so, there are cold days where a nice hot bowl of soup is all you need. This is one of those soups. It's amazing - sweet and a little spicy, smooth and creamy too.  I was skeptical about the hot sauce because I'm not so big on the stuff, but it turned out to be what really made the soup. Without it, I suspect it would taste more like pie. Not a bad thing, if that's what you're in the mood for. But seriously, give the hot sauce a chance! You'll be glad you did.

Sweet Potato Bisque

You can prepare the roasted sweet potatoes in advance, or use leftover cooked sweet potatoes from another meal. This soup makes about 4 servings, depending on how hungry folks are.

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, roasted
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Heavy cream, if desired
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in butter, then add in the spices. Add sweet potatoes and liquids. Mash it all together so it's well combined.

If it looks more like mashed potatoes than a thick soup, add more liquid (water or milk or both) until it's a little bit thinner than your desired consistency. It will thicken some as it cooks. Simmer about 20 minutes.

Blend using a stick blender for a smooth bisque, or serve as is if you prefer more texture.

Garnish with a few drops of hot sauce and cream. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Tastes fine the next day as leftovers (or you could make ahead).

Quick Tuna Salad

I had an excellent tuna salad last fall. It probably hit the spot because I was absolutely starving for protein at the time, but since then I've started to reach for tuna salad a little more often. This guy is quick to whip together and a delight to eat. 

Tuna Salad with Grapes
Serves four

  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 1 small shallot, chopped fine
  • Juice from one lemon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grapes, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds

Combine the tuna, shallot, half the lemon juice, mayonnaise, and capers.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Divide the spinach evenly among four plates. Scatter the grapes over the spinach, then drizzle the dressing over the salads. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to spoon the tuna mixture in the center of the salad. Scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top and enjoy!


See that? No, it's not a cheese plate. It's a plate chock-full-of-brand-new soap.  Mike jokes that I love soap, and it's true. I'm always buying it at the farmer's market, and can never seem to pass up a bar of handmade soap. I'd been toying with the idea of making it myself, so when my birthday rolled around, I asked for all the ingredients and tools to make soap.

Now, the craft stores sell something they call soap-making kits, but what you're really doing is melting down premade soaps, adding coloring and fragrance, then pouring it back into a mold. Which is cool, but I wanted to make soap from scratch - lye and all. 

(Disclaimer: lye is pretty dangerous stuff if you're not careful with it. Always wear goggles, a face mask, gloves, and protective clothing. ALWAYS work in a well-ventilated area.)

Luckily, Utahns are pretty industrious people, and there are no fewer than three specialty shops around here that sell soap-making supplies. Two are dedicated to soap. We went to this one to pick up the ingredients and specialty tools, and picked up the rest of the equipment from Home Depot and Target.

I checked out every book in the library on making soap, and set out to make myself an expert before I began. Of course, book knowledge is way different than knowledge gained from experience. 

My first batch of soap went really well, all things considered. I had a little trouble getting the temperatures of the lye and the oil to match, and getting the soap to trace was a chore until I got out the old stick blender. Probably the biggest issue, though, was cutting the new soap. I had a cool crinkle cutter, but when I first cut the soap it was too soft - like butter that's been sitting out on the counter all day. When I went back to cut it later, it was too hard, and ended up splintering a ton. Which is really o.k., since I was planning on hand-milling the soap anyways. (Hand-milling is where you grate the soap into little pieces, melt it with some new ingredients, and pour into molds.)

And - one thing I didn't know before - is that you have to age soap before it's ready. Soapy folks call it curing. New soap is still extremely caustic from all that lye, and it takes a while for it to mellow out and be safe for your skin. So that's what it's doing right now.

I'm just so proud of myself! Off to make another batch!

Gluten-Free Dinner at Log Haven

Log Haven has been on our list of restaurants to try for quite some time. It's in Millcreek Canyon, where we often hike in the summer and fall, so we pass by it often.

I don't think it turns up in any of the places I usually go to find gluten-free restaurants, but they do have a gluten-free menu. In fact, it's one of the best laid-out gluten-free menus I've ever seen. At first it's a little confusing, but what they've done is highlight everything that isn't gluten-free. From there, you can pick something that is completely gluten-free, or check to see if substitutions are available. Either way, there are plenty of choices, and the staff is very careful with cross-contamination.

Since it was a special night, we split a half-bottle of pinot noir that was slightly above our normal price range for a full-size bottle at a restaurant (making it doubly nice). And since it was a half-bottle, there wasn't too much wine.

Mike and I shared the Alpine Nachos, which is the restaurant's signature appetizer.They were amazing, although the portion was a little big - we we should have gone with the "taste" portion, which was available for all the appetizers.  Instead of your typical nacho chips, the chips were potato chips, topped with forest mushrooms, smoked proscuitto, and Raclette cheese. Let's just say that if the meal had ended there, I would have been completely satisfied.

But the meal went on, and I wasn't disappointed. Next we had the Baby Romaine salad, dressed with the creamy poblano-lime vinaigrette and shaved parmesan. We had them leave off the almonds since I'm allergic to them. I thought the salad was perfect - the dressing really was spot-on - but Mike wasn't that impressed.

Our main course was taking a little while, so the waiter whose name I have shamefully forgotten brought out little scoops of cherry sorbet in frosted martini glasses. Even though I don't eat cherries (I think I'm allergic), I hadn't told the waiter that and it was a kind gesture just the same. For the record, Mike gobbled up both his and my sorbet in no time, so it must have tasted good.

For the main course, Mike had the steak with aligot potatoes, broccoli, onion marmalade, and Shiraz reduction. It was all wonderfully cooked. I had the smoked duck, which came with poblanos, Beehive Habanero Cheddar, mango salsa, and chipotle butter. It was also supposed to come with hand-cut serrano chile pasta, which I had asked to be left off so the dish would be gluten-free. But the culinary staff thought it wouldn't be enough food to count as a main course and rustled up some gluten-free pasta for me! The dish was just a touch too spicy for me, but still quite delicious. And there were enough leftovers for me to have the next day (with some plain cheese to temper the spice):

We didn't save room for dessert, but all in all ,we were very pleased with our experience at Log Haven and can't wait to go back again!

P.S.  Did I mention that the dining room overlooks a waterfall? And that they had a live pianist the night we were there? And that our waiter was awesome? All contributed wonderfully to the ambiance.

Quick, before it's gone

 Even when I could still eat gluten with all its magical-stretchy-bread-baking qualities, I was never much into pies and quiches. Sure, I liked a good one now and then, but homemade pie crust seemed like too much work. So I was stuck with the store-bought ones, and even those with all their delicious gluten tasted like cardboard. Ick.

But in the last year, pie crust has become a challenge. I flatter myself with saying that I've mastered the cookie crumb crust, but really, that's not hard at all.  I've tried some other pie crust recipes (the best! the flakiest!) and been sorely disappointed with the results.

Until now. This pie crust is pretty darn good. Flaky. The flour combination is just right.

I used a tablespoon of psyllium husk instead of the xanthan gum. I find that the psyllium absorbs so much moisture that I tend to need add more. I used two eggs instead of one, and added a couple of tablespoons of cream to get it just right.

The filling is just shallots, sauteed until soft, four ounces of baby spinach wilted and moisture pressed out, a little bit of sausage, and red peppers. Lots of cheese, of course, and scallions sprinkled on top. And like any quiche, eggs and cream are a must.

If it lasts long enough, it's excellent for breakfast the next day, and even lunch.

It's All Coming Back to Me Now

So, as you may know, I live in a small apartment. We are blessed with a patio and dirt that I can actually plant in. I have a few plants who live in pots so they can come inside to stick it out during the winter...and my bay laurel was one of them. The only thing was, I left it outside and didn't water it for maybe a little too long.

I brought it inside anyways, and watered it whenever I thought about it, which if we're honest, was not very often this winter. 

It looked dead. All the leaves dried out and sounded all rattly. I kept meaning to throw it out, but didn't quite get around to it.

Imagine my surprise when I found this shoot growing from the base! It makes me pretty darn happy when life continues even when you think it's over. (An allegory for winter? Perhaps...)

French Toast, Gluten-Free

Maybe this goes beyond stating the obvious, but making French toast gluten-free isn't that much different than making it the "normal way." Stale bread, eggs, milk, frying pan, and done. Maybe some cinnamon sugar and fruit if you're lucky.

I don't know about you, but my best ideas come to me when I'm staring at the fridge. It's like the ideas that come to you in the shower, or right before you go to bed. Mine come to me when I'm standing there, letting all the cold air out, absentmindedly surveying its contents.

Remember that bread I made? It was amazing right out of the oven, but then it dried out pretty darn quick. I avoided using it, and then one night I was staring at the fridge, wondering what to make for dinner, not really wanting to cook but definitely not wanting to go out to eat either. And then the lightbulb went off in my head - French toast. Quick and easy, and a great way to use up stale bread.

I added some honey, vanilla, and cinnamon sugar to the egg mixture. The best French toast in my book has lots of cinnamon sugar, so I sprinkled it liberally over the toast when it was done too. And the last of the raspberries from the freezer graced the top (and their juice combined with honey made a great syrup).


Life is made up of many changes; and no state, be it bright or clouded, will always continue.


Collection or Obsession?

I have a cooking magazine habit. It's bad. I have stacks and stacks of them. But as I leaf through them, I realize that I only ever cook one or two recipes out of each one.

It started in college, when I was working part-time at a shoe store. I know, a cooking magazine habit at a shoe store. A little odd. But we had loads of free time when the store was slow, and as long as we had done all our chores, we were free to do as we pleased. So I would often clock out and wander over to the bookstore, grab a cooking magazine, and while away the rest of the day at work dreaming about the wonderful things I might cook for dinner.  Later on, it just became a habit to buy a magazine when the cover caught my eye, even though I knew I would never cook Over 250 Fast and Easy Recipes! or 30 Ways to Fix Dessert from One Recipe! Sure, I learned a lot from these magazines and developed my own cooking style, but more often than not, I found I was disappointed by the empty promises on the covers.

I tried to counter the clutter years ago by tearing out the recipes I thought I might try and pasting them into a notebook. The number of recipes I thought I would actually try was sobering - only two to twelve per issue. And after a year or two, I realized that all the issues started to look exactly the same. Recipes got shamelessly recycled year to year. I cancelled the two subscriptions I had as quality spiraled downwards. (From those two magazines, I had maybe 30-40 magazines total, cooked about 25 recipes, made about eight recipes more than once, and found three regular dishes that I continue to make to this day.)

Even with all the cutting and pasting and discarding of fluff, I still have tones of food magazines. This one promises that if you buy it, you'll have a gourmet dinner on the table in thirty minutes or less and lose weight and your family will worship you. Number of recipes actually cooked from five magazines: 16. Number of recipes I make on a regular basis: 0 (unless you count roasted garlic, which is more of a technique I happened to learn from this magazine). This magazine's biggest downfalls: cheap paper, not enough pictures.

Next up - seasonal, local, gourmet magazines. These have pictures for almost every recipe, at least, and do a better job at laying out techniques. And much better photography. Number of recipes cooked from six magazines: eleven. Number of recipes I make on a regular basis: four. This magazine's biggest downfall is it's price, and I don't cook as many recipes from it as I thought.

Next up - allergy-friendly magazines. Live a full and happy life with [insert allergy/food intolerance here]. Delicious food without the allergens. Number of recipes cooked from eight magazines: one. Zero regulars. Caveat: these magazines have more information than recipes, and I've learned a lot from them,  and found tons of resources and gluten-free products. But their biggest detractor is that reading them makes me cry. Can't tell you why, but they do.

Last category: these magazines promise that if you follow the directions, your food will come out perfectly. They explain why each recipe works. They have pictures for every single recipe. They recommend certain brand based on focus group studies. Number of recipes cooked from eight magazines: fifteen. Number of recipes I cook on a regular basis: three. This is by far my favorite magazine, and I think the only one I will continue buying (but only as a very special occasion treat).

So why do I have so many magazines? They're cheap and quick and easy to pick up at the grocery store or airport, that's for sure. There's no commitment with a magazine, and I don't feel much guilt if it turns out to be awful and I throw it away.

But in the end, I think I much prefer cookbooks - the kind with lots of pictures and a good story to tell. I don't think I've ever seen a magazine that really told a cohesive story. That story is what brings me back, time and again, to the recipes. That story is what leads me to cook a recipe in the first place.

So now the only question remains - what to do with the pile of magazines?

The Upside

The upside of never-ending snow is that the dog loves it. I had the opportunity to house-sit for someone with a yard a while back, and Odie came along to make sure the yard was in proper working order.

Frisbee is really the only game that's appropriate for more than an inch or two of snow. We've already lost one tennis ball and one mitten to the deep snow, but frisbees happen to be a lot easier to find.

Hi guys! It's me, Odie! Watch me get this frisbee Mom's about to throw!

I got it! Yeah! Now I'm gonna run around!

Whee! This is so fun you should try it!

I love my frisbee!

Pizza Night

Anybody will tell you, good pizza is an art. I'm not talking about the kind of pizza you get from the freezer aisle. Those are just cheap prints, imitations of the real masters.

No, I'm talking about hot and gooey pizza with the perfect combination of flavors. Not to brag, but since I started making pizza on an almost weekly basis, I haven't had a bad pizza once.

The toppings are almost always a combination of something that's already in my fridge or spice drawer. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Leftovers? Put them on the pizza. Here we have sauteed mushrooms and country ham. What you don't see is that instead of tomato sauce, the pizza has a layer of roasted garlic, olive oil, and herbs underneath all those toppings.

I'm still in search of the perfect crust recipe. You might have your own pizza crust preferences - everyone does - but I like the fluffy crust. Not the one from the fast-food pizza place. No, I'm talking about the kind you can smell from across the room. The one that's slightly greasy, almost burnt, bubbly, and absolutely perfect. The one that has volume, but also some chew. Until I find the one, I often stick to the freezer-aisle-imitation-thin-crust. I do have one thing to say for it: it's quick, and if I can have pizza on the table that much faster after a rough day, well then it's worth it.

Let Me Eat Cake

Cake has been something of an obsession for me lately. There's birthday cake, there's wedding cake, and just-because-it's-Monday cake. All those things have been on my mind, but truthfully, the wedding cake weighs the most heavily on my mind.

I want a "traditional" wedding cake - you know, the kind with great big tiers. The kind that is on display for its own sake. I do not want cupcakes. And I'm really not interested in having lots of different cakes. The only thing is, since I'm planning this wedding from the other side of the country, it's really difficult when you add in the most important part - the cake has to be gluten-free.

One caterer suggested to my mother that the top tier could be gluten free. What?! No matter how careful they are to prevent cross-contamination, no matter how much icing and cardboard and who-knows-what else is between a regular cake and a gluten-free cake, there's no way I would be comfortable with that.

Similarly, there aren't many dedicated gluten-free bakeries in the area where we're getting married. (Did you know that flour can stay in the air for 24 hours?) The closest dedicated gf bakery that I know of is about 50 miles away from where we're tying the knot. And I don't even know if they would make a wedding cake. I know I'm just getting this whole planning thing really started, and I'm sure we'll work this thing out, but it's really getting to me.

So of course, I've launched into baking cakes at every opportunity. Right now, there's no way I can think of to safely bake my wedding cake...besides the stress and construction issues, my gf kitchen is in Utah and the wedding will be in Virginia. But still.

I've made this recipe twice now, and am quite growing to love it. (Mike likes it too.) Of course, I can't help having my own twist - a tablespoon of psyllium husk instead of gums, and no Cointreau because I don't have any on hand. The first time, it worked like a dream. I made cake donuts, cupcakes, and an eight-inch cake.

Using the cake donuts, I also made some divine raspberry shortcake with the last of the raspberries in the freezer from last year's farmer's market and homemade whipped cream:

Then the cake became tiramisu:

The second time around, I made cake donuts and one nine-inch cake. I also made the lemon cream called for in the recipe. For some reason, the donuts didn't do so well...I'm suspecting that I overfilled the tins and maybe didn't bake them long enough. Anyways, those became cake pops (crumbs mixed with icing and dipped in melted chocolate):

And the cake became what we're affectionately calling "Ugly Cake." It has the lemon cream, and a layer of the chocolate. I find the lemon cream too tart on its own, but the chocolate balances it out nicely.  It's ugly because it's not exactly the most picturesque cake I've ever made: 

Am I any closer to a wedding cake? Not really. All I know is that if a caterer or baker doesn't have something that wows me, I want to request they use this recipe. Oh, and if I really am going to bake my own wedding cake, it better not look like that ugly cake. I guess I'll go back in the kitchen and keep practicing.

It Gets Better

It's been a good day. Like so many writers, I have days where the words flow from my fingers, the ideas swirl around my head faster than I can get them out, and I'm a storm of wonderful productivity. Then there are days where I mean to write, but can't, or don't. Then there's guilt and wondering whether I'm cut out for this.

Luckily today has been one of the good days. I wrote all morning and even lost track of lunchtime. Maybe it's the sun, or the weather starting to clear up. I've been very hopeful today, which is always a good thing. And there have been so many empty days before this one - it feel so good to get caught up.

One thing I've been doing to keep the creative edge up is to take a picture a day. I'm keeping a folder on my computer of hte whole year. It helps with keeping track of memories and is an exercise in honing my photography skills, but it's also a great writing tool. Have you ever thought, That dinner the other night was great, I should write a blog post...but crap, I don't have a picture! That sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. I haven't lost myself behind the lens of the camera like I was afraid I might. Instead, I'm enjoying it, and looking forward to a year of memories without the long dry spells.

It feels great to be so productive, but somebody's not happy about it:

Odie just wants to play! Don't worry, pup. It gets better.


"Every strikeout brings me one swing closer to a home run."

-Babe Ruth

Leftovers I Crave

We had salmon the other night for dinner, and there was some leftover. Not wanting it to go to waste, I made this dish - my go-to recipe for salmon leftovers. I won't admit to buying extra salmon just so I can have this dish, but it is that good.

It's good either warm or cold, so it makes awesome leftovers of leftovers for lunch the next day - if it makes it that far. At my parents' house, if there's any of this dish in the fridge, you'd better stake your claim to it, eat it, or hide it from everybody else, because otherwise it won't be in the fridge the next time you look.

Leftovers of Leftovers
This is so easy to make, and pretty versatile too - you can use fresh fish or canned, whatever mild cheese you have around, and of course you can always adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve on a bed of mixed greens if you're wanting a more balanced meal, but it doesn't really need any dressing.

Salmon Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces pasta (shells or elbows)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 ounces cheese, grated (cheddar, parmesan, or monterey jack all work well)
  • 6-8 ounces salmon, cooked (or a can of salmon)

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Return to pasta pot.

Meanwhile, if using canned salmon, make sure it's been drained and picked over to remove any bones or dark meat. Use a fork to separate the salmon into smaller pieces.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add the butter, oil, and spices to the pot. Toss once, then let sit about five minutes. Add the salmon and stir, then stir in the cheese.

Serve either warm or cold. Serves about four.

Note: Originally, we used Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle for the seasoning, then added salt and pepper. I've long run out of my jar, but I always have basil, oregano, thyme and garlic on hand. I rarely take the time to measure out the seasonings for this dish. I just dump in the herbs until it tastes right. The measurements above are pretty close to my normal ratio, but if you want more of one herb and less of another, by all means, go ahead. You're the one eating it!

I made bread!

There is no recipe for this one. There's no trying. We ran out of bread, and the store was out of the kind I normally buy, so I decided I could make my own for a change.

There's just one thing. My idea of a recipe is more like a suggestion. A guideline. An estimate of what you'll need, how long it might take, and the temperature at which you might consider cooking it. 

Guess how well that goes with baking gluten-free bread?

Not as bad as you might think, as long as you're willing to really work at it. I decided, in all my brilliance, to use potato flour, which apparently sucks up twice as much moisture as any other gluten-free flour I've ever used. Which meant there was an immeasurable amount of extra liquid - beer, milk, olive oil - that went into the dough.

When it first came out of the oven, I couldn't stop eating it. Alas, after a night in the fridge it had dried out considerably and turned into something that resembled slightly moist cardboard.

But still. I made bread!

That Time Again

It's that time of year again when my imagination and ambition are far larger than my garden (and the space under the growing lamps, for that matter)...

The valleys in this area are subject to inversion (aka smog).
This is just a blanket of fog, but the inversion is the same thing - just black.

Between the smog and the snow, I went almost a whole month without seeing the sky or the ground. And then it cleared up, gloriously, for a day, then dumped another four inches of snow on the ground. So of course my dreams of living on a small farm in temperate climes are as rampant as ever, and the post-it notes on my seed catalogs defy all logic.

Add to that our plans to move - again - and my head is is spinning. Do I start seeds and hope for the best? Or do I leave it alone, buy starts from the garden center when I can, and give up on the more interesting things that absolutely must be started from seed if I'm to have them?

Decisions, decisions.

Then, I decided, Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! I went to the garden center and bought thirty bucks worth of seed packets. It's not quite time to plant them, but it's a place to start. I love reading about what I'm growing almost as much as I love actually growing it. Where I'll actually put all the seedlings, I have no idea.

Here's what's in the plan:

I also have garlic in the ground (which I'm really hoping will be ready to harvest by the time we move), and daffodils. 

I'm dying to have chickpeas in the garden so I can make hummus, but I'm not sure where to find the seed. I'm also interested in lavender, soapwort, rose geranium, and wintergreen. Overwintering in my office I have mint, rosemary, and parsley, along with assorted succulents. Like I said, my garden plans are often divorced from any sense of reality or logic.

Unfortunately, it's not quite time to plant or sow yet. I'm quite literally foaming at the mouth for spring. 

Habit-Forming (Coffeecake)

Ah, New Year's Resolutions. How are yours going?

....they're made to be broken, aren't they? Mine involve "lose the last 10 pounds," "exercise more," and "eat less sugar."

I know. I know. I know! Sugar rots my teeth, and brain, and everything else, but there's nothing like cinnamon sugar to throw that all out the window. The secret is in moderation: muffins and mini-muffins. Plus, my desserts tend to get rationed out these days. But when it's time for one of these, time slows down. I go back to the days when I used to sit in Starbucks and "people watch" while I read a book, ate an insane amount of coffeecake, and sipped iced coffee. Those days are long gone, but this coffeecake is really what I was going for in the first place.

Coffeecake Minis
Makes about 12 muffins


  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon psyllium husks
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup teff
  • 1/4 cup sorghum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Crumble topping:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons rice flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line a muffin tin and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the psyllium husks, flaxseed meal, potato starch, teff, sorghum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the cream and sour cream until all ingredients are combined.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins so the batter covers the bottom of the pan, but does not fill it. Spoon in the filling, then spoon in the remaining batter. 

Combine the ingredients for the crumble topping, cutting the butter in with a pastry cutter or two knives. Press on top of the muffin batter.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.