Zucchini, chickpeas & pinenuts/ Zucchini, coconut & cashews

Zucchini, cashews

We watched the Wimbledon final at work, with the sound down. I was surprised and moved by Andy Murray’s tears, possibly more so because I couldn’t hear what he was saying. And I felt a little bad for Federer, he looked so apologetic. I think that’s how I’d be. I’m not competitive at all. My idea of a fun game of tennis is hitting the ball back and forth to each other for as long as possible. I don’t really like to beat people at anything – especially if I like them, which, let’s face it, is usually the case when you’re playing a game with someone. I let my kids win at races and board games. I know there’s a school of parenting that insists I’m setting up unrealistic expectations for them, but I’m not too worried about it. The world will knock them down soon enough, sadly. And, increasingly, I’m not letting them win! The few times in my life I’ve felt myself get all competitive, it felt horrible. I recognized that it was coming from insecurity or envy, and I said to myself, “what the hell, self! Cut it out!” It’s strange to think about how much competition is a part of our lives, as Americans. The assumptions about human nature inherent in setting up such a system bewilder me a little. But I’m okay watching from outside of it all, with the sound down.

Last night we sat in our yard in the evening, and made a fire. The boys dashed around catching fireflies. Malcolm twirled Isaac around at arm’s length (by the fire! So dangerous!), and he came flying into my lap. I thought he’d be hot and sweaty from all the mad running, but he was as soft and cool as the dusk. One of the boys said, “I wonder who turned firefly-catching into a sport?” I said, “Ah, yes, the firefly catch, I saw that in the olympic trials last week.” And David said, “No…the firefly toss. Can you imagine what a quiet, gentle sport that would be?” People standing near each other, in the gloaming with their hands in the air, waiting for the firefly to climb to the fingertips and take off into the night, at their own twirly dreamy pace. I love that idea!

What!? Talking about fireflies again! What!? More zucchini recipes!?! Haven’t we just done all that? Yes. Yes we have, people, this is summer!! The first zucchini recipe we ate as a side dish, but it would be good as a meal over rice. It was very quick and simple, like most good zucchini recipes. It involved sauteeing the zucchini with some frozen peas. We added a little cumin and ginger. And then we tossed the lot with cashews, sweetened flaked coconut, and, lime, and fresh basil. Ta da!! The second zucchini recipe is actually a pasta dish. Despite being vegetarian, we don’t eat pasta very often. I’m drawn to things with more intensity of flavor. The boys love it, though, so I’ll make pasta, and I’ll eat the sauce as a sort of soup or stew. Anyway – this pasta dish. We made orchiette, and then we made a summery mix of quickly cooked zucchini, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, fresh basil, and pine nuts. Simple, substantial, and super.

Zucchini, chickpea, pine nut

Here’s Belle and Sebastian with Stars of Track and Field. I like how someone became a runner simply to feel the city air rush past their body.
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Black quinoa-chickpea kofta in creamy cashew-lettuce sauce

Black quinoa kofta

Isaac loves to draw. When he sees something that interests him – in a book, or a movie, or museum exhibit – he needs to get to a pencil and paper as soon as possible to draw his own version of it. He can draw happily for long periods of time. Completely rapt, tongue out like Charlie Brown, bent over the paper, making sound effects to accompany his drawing. His style is full of movement and energy. He’s a very confident artist. When he sets out to draw something, he doesn’t worry that it won’t come out the way he pictures it in his head. He doesn’t cripple himself with unrealistic expectations. He wants to draw something, he draws it, and he’s always happy with it. It’s a lesson for us all! And it can be found in chapter 4 of my upcoming series of soon-to-be-bestelling self-help books called, Life Lessons from Isaac: Learning to Live Like a 6-year-old. Chapter 3 suggests that if you don’t get what you want, you like on the floor, complaining in an indignant, incomprehensible, ascending stream of words, until the pitch gets so high that everyone around you fears that their head will explode and gives you whatever you ask for to make you stop. Try it at work!! Malcolm loves to draw, too, but he’s more self-doubting. He gets frustrated and impatient if it doesn’t look like he imagines it, or if it takes too long. He’s got a few drawings he’s happy with, and they’ve become his trademark drawings. His graffiti tags. One of my favorites is this owl.

The other day, Isaac went to the fleamarket with his aunts and his grandmother. He found five thimbles.

The incredibly talented Aunt Christy took this picture

He brought them home and invented “thimble man.”


I love this drawing! It’s so expressive. And thimbleman’s thimbles have magical powers, like lazers, water, super-punch, and I can’t remember the others, even though Isaac patiently explained it all to me twice.

And that night for dinner, Isaac ate quinoa kofta!! The kid doesn’t like much, but he likes Indian food. And olives. And other very strong-tasting items. Won’t touch a banana, but he’ll stuff himself silly on punjabi mix. He likes creamy curried sauces, which the boys call “yellow stuff.” I made this sauce out of cashews, tomatoes, and red leaf lettuce. The lettuce gives it a nice little sweet-bitter bite. The sauce is very smooth and creamy, but there’s no cream in it. And the quinoa kofta, made from leftover black quinoa, are lovely and crunchy – from being roasted in olive oil, and from the naturally crunchy crunch of black quinoa!! I served them in their sauce over basmati rice.

Isaac says this is his favorite song. It’s K’naan’s 15 Minutes Away.
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Broccoli rabe with ginger, apricots & cashews

Broccoli rabe & apricots

My poor boys. They have an inexplicable 6-day weekend, and the weather is ridiculous. Round-the-clock thunderstorms. When it’s not actually storming, it’s gloomy and threatening, with thick damp air that sticks to your skin, and heavy glowering clouds that seem to crawl inside your head. There’s a perpetual twilight glow. And they don’t care! They’re in their pjs! They had flat pancakes for breakfast! They have a giant pile of legos dumped on the living room floor, they have Star Wars guys, they have each other. This morning they’ve been dividing the universe alphabetically. Malcolm gets Mondays, magic, and medusa, and Isaac gets iron and imagination.

We seem to be heading into too-hot-to-cook weather. I’m not ready! Luckily, this is our first week of CSA season (oh boy oh boy oh boy!). And we got a box full of greens! Kale, spinach, chard!! I LOVE GREEEEEEEEENS!! And the nice thing about them is that you can cook them quickly, and eat them when they’re not piping hot. As it happens, I’d bought lots of greens last week, from the grocery store. (I didn’t buy lettuce, I was expecting a box full of lots and lots of lettuce. Guess what? No lettuce! Lettuces don’t like hail storms, apparently!) So I have a whole lot of greens to cook my way through. It’s a pleasant sort of anxiety.

I’m on record as saying that my favorite way to eat greens is with garlic, raisins and pine nuts. I’ve made it into pies and tarts, and pesto, using a variety of (cheaper) nuts. Here’s another variation. The apricots provide the tart-sweet fruitiness – they’re more assertive than raisins, and broccoli rabe is more assertive than chard or spinach, so it all works out nicely. Red pepper flakes and ginger add a little heat, and fresh basil adds – well nothing’s better than fresh basil! This is a quick and tasty dish, and it would make a meal, tossed with pasta, or on top of basmati rice.

Here’s Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass with Bittersweet Samba, accompanied by the oddest little film, which, according to the youTube poster, was filmed by Robert Altman!
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Chick(pea) patties and guacamole

Chick patties

This time I’m going to listen to my own advice, and just post the damn recipe. Except that it’s two recipes. Sigh, nothing’s simple. We ate them together, and they go very nicely together, but they’re good on their own, too!

The first is “chick patties.” Part of an ongoing series, here at The Ordinary, in which I attempt to make homemade meat substitutes. Fake meat from the store – fakin bacon, veggie burgers, soy sausage – although frequently very tasty, is also very expensive and full of questionable ingredients. (Questionable to me, anyway, because I don’t know what they are, and my old eyes are getting so bad I can’t read the small print!) So, here in the test kitchens of The Ordinary, we have a whole division devoted to coming up with simple, economical versions you can make at home. Our motto is, “It’s all in the seasonings!” So we’ve made flakin bacon, veggie burgers, “meatballs,” and sausages. Well, we thought it was time to tackle every child’s favorite – the chicken nugget. I love the texture and flavor of roasted chickpeas, so we started there. I’ve been obsessing lately over the combination of lemon, sage and rosemary, so we continued in that direction. And I have fond memories of making lemon pepper chicken when I was very very young, so we added a big dose of black pepper. (Might be the first meal I remember being proud to share with people!) We fried them lightly in olive oil, and then ate them with oven roasted french fries and guacamole. The youngsters dipped them in barbeque sauce.


I’m very proud of my guacamole! It’s simple, yet flavorful. I add cilantro, lime, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes and a bit of honey. A lovely balance of sweet, hot, tart and creamy. Just in time for cinco de mayo!!

Here’s Organized Konfusion with Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken. I love this song so much. And the video, too. Food and memory. Beautiful!!

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Napa cabbage salad with raisins, cashews & capers

Napa cabbage salad

Can cooks concoct comestibles containing cabbage, cucumber, carrots, cashews and capers? Certainly they can! And it will be mother-flippin delicious! And kid-flippin, too as it happens, because my boys both went crazy for this salad. That’s right, my…boys…went…crazy…for…a…salad. (Although, to be honest, after Isaac took his third helping, I noticed he was mining out the cashews, raisins, and “flavor dynamite,” as they call capers.) And, don’t judge me, but I ate the leftovers the next day right out of their little tupperware holding pen, and then I drank the dressing. It’s true, I drank the dressing that was left in the container. Well, I couldn’t just pour it down the drain, when it tasted so good!! And the really shocking thing about this revelation is that Malcolm had wanted to take it for lunch, but I told him it wouldn’t be a good idea because the salad might be mushy by lunchtime. (Which, in fairness, it would have been in his warm little lunchbox.)

I suppose, to be precise, as Thompson and Thomson would say, this is a slaw. But it’s a light slaw, because it involves no mayonnaise. It’s incredibly easy to make, and very versatile. You could add other vegetables that you like, sprouts might be good! Or you could add cilantro leaves or fresh basil. If I’d had fresh basil I would most certainly have added it. This dressing for this salad is a step in my constant journey to find a balance of sweet, spicy, tart and savory flavors.

I’ve realized, recently, that I describe lots of food I make as “bright.” I use the word a lot! I’d better find a new one. In the meantime, here’s Horace Andy using the word in True Love Shines Bright. What a voice!!

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Spicy spinach cashew sauce

spinach cashew sauce

I’d like to apologize in advance for posting so often today. I’ve got so much I want to tell you about! I don’t know if I’ll get to it all, but if I don’t then I’ll forget how I made it, and then I’ll just have to post more tomorrow… Goodness gracious, I can’t keep up with my own self.

This one will be quick, though. Just like the sauce. It’s very flavorful, very easy, and probably very good for you because spinach and nuts have protein and iron and… other things, that are good. You’re the boss, with this sauce. You can make it quite thin and creamy, and have it with pasta or rice. Or you can make it quite thick, and use it however you would use pesto. I made it spicy, because I still have a cold, but that’s adjustable as well. It’s a nice dipping sauce for croquettes or kofta, and it’s very good with roasted vegetables, such as winter squash or sweet potatoes. It would make a nice meal with boiled diced potatoes stirred in. It’s creamy, yet vegan. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Here’s Duke Ellington with Spongecake and Spinach.
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