Banana Writing

There's a viral trend going around.  Actually it was just someone on Facebook who said we must all try banana writing.

I think this means writing on a banana. I needed a breather at work one day, so I gave it a whirl.

The top banana has a secret message that I wrote with an unclicked ballpoint pen. The bottom banana is the same banana one day later. You can see my sample message and ingenious design have "developed" over 24 hours. Please note this is only a sample message. I do not really love bananas, ha!

Frugal fun for the whole family? Secret love note material? Super-spy messaging device? Practice tattoo format? You decide, my friends. The banana is your oyster!

Asparagus Tartlet

I've been following a new blog recently. It's called The Forest Feast, with the tagline "a new york food photographer moves to the woods." Erin Gleeson's recipes are plentiful, simple, and of course gorgeously photographed. I love the Pinterest-worthy shots of key ingredients with the basic recipe written right in, like this:


For dinner this past week, I decided to try the Asparagus Tart that looks so delicious here. My version was a tiny bit different, here's how it went down:

A square of puff pastry, thawed and placed on a fortuitously square cookie sheet.

Turn up the edges of the puff pastry square, then dot with crumbled chèvre (goat cheese).

Have next ingredients at the ready: washed asparagus (I suggest peeling the woody stems
rather than snapping off and wasting), egg with seasoned salt, and chopped garlic.

Beat egg and pour over cheese. Don't worry if there's not enough--just drizzle as best you can. Sprinkle on garlic.

Place asparagus. Some stems did snap, so I filled in a bit with partial pieces (see center).

Just for the heck of it, I sprinkled "Slap Ya Mama" spicy seasoning over everything. This was a recommendation/gift from one of my husband's JAZZ FRIENDS and it makes me laugh.

Bake in a 375˚F oven for 25 minutes. I like my asparagus to be Not Crunchy.

If you cut the finished tart with kitchen scissors I bet you could get about 16 pretty squares from this recipe: great for a potluck or book club! It's delicious at room temperature or even cold from the fridge.

I love asparagus, especially the simple way of just boiling it for 5 minutes and buttering. I've also made Penne Bake with Asparagus and Asparagus Risotto. How do you like asparagus? Wait, DO you like asparagus?

Sweet Potato Fries, Oven-Baked

I just learned the phrase "easy peasy lemon squeezy" from my daughter. Oddly, within 24 hours I heard my boss use it, too! I'm pretty sure they don't move in the same circles. Anyway, here's a recipe that is easy peasy lemon squeezy and that the whole family may like: oven-baked sweet potato fries.

We used two kinds of potatoes this time, a garnet yam and a Japanese yam or sweet potato (I forget which). While buying these at the Brattleboro Food Coop, at least two other sets of customers got involved in our cash register discussion about what's the difference between a sweet potato and a yam. Verdict: nobody is sure.

To slice, cut sweet potatoes on an angle into 1/2 inch slices. (No need to peel.)
Then, slice those pieces into 1/2 inch strips to create fries.

Place in a 425˚ oven to bake for about 20 minutes, maybe less.
Check frequently for softness and turn if desired.

Finished fries may have browned slightly--that's OK!

Give to children who are waiting patiently for dinner.
Or scarf em yourself. (I did fill in the rest of these tray sections with food.)

Thanks to Traci up north for the inspiration... our hostess and mom extraordinare who whipped these up during a weekend visit earlier this month. We've made sweet potato fries twice since then.

OK, so what is the diff between sweet potatoes & yams?

Humble Kitchen: Brattleboro Food Truck

Hey, guess what? Brattleboro has a brand new place to eat! It's called Humble Kitchen, and it's a food truck/cart parked in Harmony lot Monday through Saturday, 11am to 3pm. You can eat there: tables are set out on the former stair landing behind the backside cafe, and umbrellas are in effect. Or you can take your food to go like I did.

Word on the street is their Banh Mi sandwich is the thing to get. I went on a Friday afternoon and was too late for Banh Mi (sold out!), but I did pick up a delicious noodle bowl with pork patties. I also had a refreshing basil-ginger lemonade.

Humble Kitchen Menu! Everything looks so good.

Amy is ready to take your order!

Here's my lunch, posing on some neutral carpeting. I also grabbed a separate container of chili-garlic sauce. They have several kinds of sauces to choose from, including hoisin and sriracha.

Check out the bright red jalapeño rings. This was good stuff.

I'm always excited to find new eating options around town, and to see creative people following their passions. You can like Humble Kitchen on Facebook, or just go visit and get something delicious, as spicy as you like it!

Do you like Banh Mi? Have you discovered any new eating spots lately? Were they food trucks?

What Have I Been Up To?

What have I been up to lately? I started running again at the end of February. I have spring fever and have been making all kinds of project and cleaning lists. Then at the end of the day, which is the only time I have for projects or cleaning, I instead like to lie in bed and read magazines. Sometimes I will have some ice cream or some Scotch. The baby is now almost 2 and pretty much sleeping through the night. The kindergartener has been enjoying reading Dr. Doolittle stories with me. I love that because my father read me them to me once upon a time. Adam Yauch's death makes me feel both sad and old. I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables but I still kind of hate fruit that's not naturally in season in Vermont (so I only like fruit 4 months a year). I love my work cell phone. I hate my basement. (It is too messy to ever ever clean.)

Here are a few recent photos.

 Spring sunset of the palest pink

I got out to a dance party and danced like an idiot!
(In a good way.)

On a visit to Burlington, VT, we visited ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.
These stairs lead down to the aquarium section and have freaky SCUBA sounds piped in.

I'm sure Experienced Goods thrift store made this sign so it would get tweeted and blogged and stuff for free publicity. It's working.

Simple Minestrone

Now that's MINESTRONE!

We try to do Meatless Mondays. I guess because of Paul McCartney? Or Frances Moore Lappé? The idea is that first-world people should make an effort to be more sustainable at least once a week by not eating meat. We usually have rice and beans, or occasionally a pasta primavera. This time I tried minestrone. I’m not Italian, so my minestrone is composed of sautéed crisp-tender vegetables in broth with some kind of pasta.

  • 1 hunk of butter (leave this out and you'll be vegan I think)
  • 1 pour of olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-4 celery stalks
  • 1 zucchini
  • 32-oz box of broth (No-Chicken or veggie for that complete Meatlessness)
  • Any random tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 pound baby lima beans (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 pound pasta (I used ditalini)
  • Seasonings of choice, such as Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, oregano, Trocomare
  • Grated cheese, such as parmesan or a young cheddar (optional)

Step One: Chop the onion and garlic. Not shown: Also, turn on low heat under a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add your butter and/or olive oil, and when the butter melts, throw in first the onion, then the garlic. Stir often as you proceed with next steps.

Step Two: Chop the carrot. Add to the sauté pan.

Step Three: Chop celery and add to the sauté pan. (Add chopped celery leaves, too! Yum!)

Step Four: Chop zucchini and guess what... add to sauté pan.

Step Five: Keep stirring occasionally. The zucchini is the canary in the coal mine here. When it starts to turn bright green and look a tiny bit soft, add lima beans. If you have tomatoes, add them too.
Meanwhile! Put a pot of pasta water on to boil.

Step Six! Broth time.

Step Six-point-five: Simmer everything together. Again, use the zucchini as your tester. When it starts looking soft or "done," you're almost there.

Step Seven: Wait. The pasta boils, the veggies simmer.

Step Eight: Drain the pasta and add to the vegetable soup. Then, season!
Salt, oregano, pepper, whatever you like.

Step Nine: It's Minestrone!! Serve with grated cheese of your choice (or not).

Notes: The children did not like this, at least not until most of the ingredients were dosed in greater amounts of Progresso Chickarina soup. Or replaced completely with Progresso Chickarina soup. (They are not properly meatless, clearly.)

Questions: What are your minestrone secrets? Am I even close? Also, if you're not vegetarian all the time, do you do Meatless Mondays or meatless some days?