FIELD & FOREST

oranges

mixed citrus salad with champagne vinaigrette and pistachios

dinner, lunch, salads, vegetarian, winter, veganRachel SandersComment
(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

I woke up this morning before everyone else (ish, Lucca woke up when I moved in bed and sneezed in my face before falling back asleep... Happy New Year!) and got up and walked into a clean kitchen and had this weird sense of deja-vu and warm fuzzies that I remember feeling when we put our first set of matching dishes into our cabinets shortly after we got married, where I would frequently open the cabinets and stand with my hands on my hips and look at the neat stacks of plates and bowls and think "this is very nice."

There is something so welcoming and calm about a clean kitchen in the morning. Richard and I hosted friends for dinner two nights in a row this past week, and in spite of the late evenings and multiple dishes, we've made a considerable effort to not leave anything to clean up the morning after (major props to Richard for pulling some serious dish-washing weight, and also for convincing me months ago that a mechanical dishwasher was a worthy investment - holy cow, was he right). And so instead of waking up in a post-gathering malaise and having to do more dishes first thing in the morning, we wake up, walk into a sparkling kitchen, make coffee, read, listen to podcasts, and then get to work/projects/Lucca-wearing-out. It has been lovely.

I realize the Gregorian calendar is a human construct and in geological time, the world doesn't really give two figs whether it is 2016 or 2017, but there is something that feels similarly fresh and new when we move from one year to the next. It is like shedding a skin or the feeling you get when you brush your teeth after eating corn-on-the-cob. An "oooh yes, I needed that, now I can get on with things" kind of feeling.

There were some very high highs and some rather low lows this year. I cannot lie and say that I'm looking at 2017 without some considerable concern for our country and our planet. I don't think that you can have a food blog or think/write/talk about food without considering greater issues at hand. I think about Syria each time I use Aleppo pepper flakes. I wonder about the speed/progression of climate change when I buy avocados at the grocery store. I consider the connections between some synthetic pesticides and Parkinson's disease, which afflicted my grandmother later in life, when I look at the costs of conventionally grown v. organically grown cane sugar. I think I look very frowny when I go food shopping. What can I say! I have a lot of serious thoughts in the grocery store.

But I also like to think that when we grab the minty-fresh feelings of a new year by the nads, we can make active, if often small, changes that create larger positive ripple effects throughout the next twelve months of our lives. Maybe this is the year you start calling your parents on a regular basis. Maybe this is the year you buy an electric car or take public transportation twice (or more!) a week. Maybe this is the year that you make the lunches you bring to work, instead of getting takeout all of the time. Maybe this is the year that you eat less meat, but get the sustainably and humanely raised (and super delicious) stuff whenever possible. Maybe this is the year that you volunteer for a cause you care about deeply, or donate money to help people in crisis far away. Maybe you start making choco-tacos and giving them to strangers, because you can! I don't know. But I bet there's something you've considered doing and ended up thinking, "eh, I'll do it later," or "maybe next year." Do it now!

I have some larger "I want to do this thing this year" thoughts for another post, but right now I'm working on being more brave. I want to stand up for people and things that I care about more. I want to take more risks, both personally and professionally. I want to act out of joy instead of fear whenever possible. Maybe you're good at this and you're thinking "well, that's not so hard." That is awesome for you! It is hard for me. I am working on it. I am not perfect. I'll probably fail a number of times, but at least I'm giving it a go. Maybe you'll forget your homemade lunch at home and break your lunch-bringing streak with some In-n-Out. It's cool. Hop back on the homemade lunch horse the next day. We're all human and we're all trying.

And now we come to the point of the post where I try to transition larger thoughts into a recipe and today I'm drawing a blank. Blah. Oh well! There's a salad here that is juicy and quenching and colorful and probably what your bod wants after a month of cookies and cakes and latkes and roasted meats and gravy and candy canes. It's easily scaled, so keep in mind that I would happily eat this recipe in its entirety before you choose your number of citrus units. Otherwise, it probably feeds 2-3 if you have other stuff happening on the side (photo context clues: like bread).

Much love in 2017 (and always). 💕

caracaranavelbloodorangesalad.jpg

makes enough salad for 1 Rachel or 2-3 normal people

Cut the citrus into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place rounds onto a plate or serving dish, alternating the types of citrus if you wish. Set aside.

Place the red onion into a medium bowl, and add a few splashes of champagne vinegar to just barely cover the onion. Add a pinch of salt and miix briefly, then let sit for 5-10 minutes to marinate. Whisk in a small glug (a tablespoon-ish) of olive oil, and taste the dressing with a leaf or arugula or spinach. (I like my dressing slightly bright because the citrus can be sweet, but add more olive oil if you prefer your dressing to be more mellow).

Add the arugula and/or spinach to the bowl, and gently toss with your hands to coat the leaves with the dressing. Arrange the leaves over the citrus rounds so that you can still see citrus peeking out around the edge of your serving dish. Give it a quick twist or two of black pepper (not too much, please) sprinkle with the pistachios and serve immediately.

A 3-unit mix of citrus (I used a cara-cara orange, a navel orange, and a blood orange), peeled
a scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
champagne (or white balsamic) vinegar
kosher salt
olive oil
2 handfuls of arugula or spinach
, or a mixture of both
black pepper
roasted pistachios (alternately, roasted almonds) coarsely chopped

ruined cake parfaits

breakfast, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment

Good grief, did this holiday season kick anyone else in the pants? I realize we're more than halfway into January (how did that even happen?!) and have gotten back into the swing of reality, but all I really want to do is have a solid lie-down and binge watch The Great British Baking Show in my pajamas.

I suppose our holiday break got off to a bad start when our car broke down (at 1:30am, on a dirt/mountain road, in a storm), and was punctuated by various unforeseen events (including more car trouble) through the New Year. I mean, really, everything was okay in the grand scheme of things (and the car trouble meant we were able to have more time with family), but it felt like each day something made us say, "WHOA, okay... guess we're dealing with this, now." We're both still reeling a bit.

And then last week, on a day when I really needed things to go right, I baked a cake.

And it SUCKED.

It stuck to the pan, the top came out strangely tough while the inside was quite delicate and almost under-baked, it didn't rise the way I expected... blah. It has been a while since I've adapted a cake recipe, and I had forgotten how devastating it can feel to put a lot of time and effort and care into making a cake and have it not turn out the way you want. Granted, I did mess around with the recipe quite a bit, but in a way that I honestly thought would turn out okay, if not extremely well. That probably sounds arrogant, but CLEARLY I WAS WRONG ANYWAY.

Phoo.

So, when we bake a cake and it turns out wrong, what do we do? Do we cry (maybe), do we eat a lot of the part that was stuck to the pan (probably), or do we find a way to remedy the situation (um, sure?)?

Some ways have already been devised to rescue weird cakes (remember cakepops?), but usually when I am making a cake, it is because it is a celebration or special event of some kind, and I want to make something a little more special or fancy. It also usually means that I am cooking other things, and I don't have the time or wherewithal or emotional capacity to deal with stuff like tempering chocolate and finding skewers or popsicle sticks.

No time like the present to break out a good old parfait.

A parfait is, in its most elemental form, layers of cake or cookies, whipped cream, and fruit. Sometimes the cream has other things going on with it, like mascarpone or creme fraîche whipped in (or maybe a wee bit of booze). I personally like my whipped cream tempered with yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. It is just rich enough for dessert, but still feels quite light and has a pleasantly subtle tang; you could serve it for breakfast and nobody would say boo.

So next time you plan to make a cake, on the off-chance it decides to be temperamental, grab a pint of cream, a container of yogurt, and some fruit just in case you need to perform some parfait magic, and no one will EVER know that your cake was a near-disaster. Unless, of course, you write a blog post about it later.

(Also, Richard and I agree that we like this so much that we'd make it again with a not-ugly cake, too! Though I may save at least the next good cake for something else, if only for my ego's sake.)

ruined cake parfaits

serves 6

You can scale this recipe up or down quite easily, depending on the number of people you want to serve; just keep the 1:1 cream to yogurt ratio.

I was testing out a recipe for a sesame cake when I made these parfaits, and decided to use cara-cara oranges and lime zest to go with the sesame flavor. The combination was out-of-this-world good, and I'll be sure to share the recipe for the sesame cake once I get it dialed. Serve this cream with any cake you like, and with any fruit you like, but here's a quick thought regarding chocolate cake - I'd actually replace the yogurt in the cream with mascarpone, as I think it would taste better to have something slightly richer and less tangy to go with the chocolate.


1 cup full or low fat plain yogurt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

1 cake, sliced or broken into bite-sized pieces
fresh fruit, cut into slices or chunks (reserve a few pieces for garnish)
lime/citrus zest (optional)


Whisk together the yogurt and cream in a large bowl. If the yogurt and cream are not straight-out-of-the-fridge cold, place the bowl into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill (it won't whip properly if it is not cold). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand whisk, beat the yogurt/cream until soft peaks form. Continue beating for a few more seconds to stiffen the mixture, but keep it somewhat billowy and soft (it will look prettier and be easier to layer).

Layer the cake, cream, and fruit in individual glass jars or wine glasses, beginning with the cake and ending with the cream. Garnish each parfait with a piece of fruit and some fresh citrus zest, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve