I went to England last summer and had authentic scones, which are nothing like what results from this recipe. I need to state that up front before the purists come for me. Although I appreciate the perfect British scone, it serves mostly as a delivery vehicle for homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. What I love most about having scones and tea in England is the setting.

Last July I tramped through the countryside between Cambridge University and The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester just to have tea and scones, soak up the gentle afternoon sun and try to sense the ghosts of Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw, two of The Orchard’s famous literary visitors.

At home I prefer something with bigger flavor and more nourishing than an English scone. The nutty and coconut flavors in this concoction go well with chili jam, which is what is pictured above. This version is husband approved.

I stumbled upon the basis for this recipe in Green Kitchen Travels, a beautiful book from David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. The version I present here is the result of having to freestyle because I didn’t have all of the original recipe’s ingredients on hand. Since the Covid-19 pandemic locked Seattle down, I try to limit my trips to the store by not running out for a few items at a time, but shopping once every ten days or so instead.

You can make this recipe gluten-free, vegan, and with no added sugar. Substitutions are listed.

Ingredients

  • 7oz (200g) or 1.75 cups oat flour (you can buy GF certified)
  • 5oz (150g) or 1.25 cups spelt flour (for GF use more oat flour or buckwheat)
  • 1 tablespoon of arrowroot or corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5oz (75g) or 5 tablespoons coconut oil at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 8oz (250ml) or 1 cup plain yogurt. I used 2% Greek yogurt, but you can use your favorite type or a vegan alternative such as cashew or soy.
  • 2 apples, grated including the peel. They should yield about 6oz (175g) or 1.25 cups.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 430°F. Place a baking sheet on the center rack.
  2. Put the grated apples into a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Set aside.
  3. Mix all of the dry ingredients (1st 6 items on the list) together in a large bowl.
  4. Cut the coconut oil into small chunks and add it to the dry mixture.
  5. Add the almond butter.
  6. Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the coconut oil and the almond butter into the dry ingredients until the resulting mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  7. Add the yogurt and the grated apples.
  8. Work the mixture with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatuala until it comes together into a ball, allowing you to gather it into your hands. If the dough is a little bit dry, add a small amount of almond milk (or whatever milk you have handy) and mix it in until you get a round ball you can pick up. If it gets a little too wet, just add a bit more flour.
  9. Turn it out onto a floured work surface.
  10. Flatten it into a round that is about 10 inches in diameter (25cm) and about an inch think (2.5cm).
  11. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out as many scones as you can. Gather the scraps and reshape into a new round that you can cut a few scones from. I used a small cutter, about 2 inches in diameter, which yielded 11 scones.
  12. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and cover it with parchment paper.
  13. Place the scones on the sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until they are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If your scones are larger than mine, they’ll need an extra minute or two to cook.

Quick and easy to make, this pizza is super nourishing and free from sin, unless of course you overload it with sinful toppings. Up to you!! I keep it relatively virtuous without sacrificing cheese or salami. My husband likes this so much that he asks me to make it often. The base is gluten-free if you use GF oats. This pizza crust came to my attention in Anna Jones’s cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat, several years ago and I’ve been cooking it ever since. It really is a winner!!

Equipment

  • You will need parchment paper and a baking tray. I use one that’s 17 inches by 12 inches from edge to edge including the rim. (43cm by 30.5cm).
  • Food processor, ideally one with a total capicity of 11 cups or greater. Otherwise you’ll have to processes the cauliflower in multiple batches.
  • Firm silicone spatula.
  • Large mixing bowl.

Pizza Base Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower cut into smallish florets. This is going into the food processor, so make sure yours can handle the size of your florets.
  • 1 cup (100g) almond flour
  • 1 cup (100g) rolled oats
  • a generous pinch of oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten together in a small bowl
  • olive oil

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the baking tray with the parchment and brush the paper with a thin layer of olive oil
  • Blend the cauliflower in the food processor util it has a rice-like texture.
  • Put it in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the almond flour, oats, oregano, salt and pepper. Be generous with the seasonings. Mix the whole thing together with a spatula or your hands.
  • Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the eggs.
  • Mix it together until it starts to form a ball. It won’t look like a regular dough and will be loose.
  • Using a spatuala press the cauliflower mixture into the lined baking tray until you have achieved a firmly packed base for your pizza that’s about a quarter to a half inch thick (half to a whole centimeter).
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • While it bakes, prep your toppings

Toppings

As with any pizza you can top it with whatever you like. I’m listing here what I used on the pizza in the photo above.

If you don’t have marinara sauce on hand you can make a perfectly good tomato sauce by whirling half a can of diced tomatoes in the food processor with a generous handful of fresh basil, salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a spoonful of tomato paste.

  • Marinara sauce
  • Grated cheese including fontina, provolone, and parmesan.
  • Mama Lil’s goat horn peppers drained and rinsed.
  • Kalamata olives
  • Diced Genoa salami
  • Rocket (a.k.a. baby arugula)
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Once the base is golden on top and smelling pretty darn good, take it out of the oven and layer up your toppings, leaving out the arugula and balsamic vinegar. Pop the pizza back into the oven for 12 minutes.

Slice the finished pizza and top with arugula and balsamic.

When I began cooking I thought I needed a recipe to roast a chicken. I turned to Ina Garten, whose The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, her first of many, was given to me as a housewarming gift by a friend who remains a friend today. That book was first published in 1999, and I was already on my second house. My first forays into the kitchen began when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I had my first house in the mid-1990’s that I began to really plan and execute meals on a regular basis. I was too timid to roast a whole chicken for a long time. Then Ina saved me with her Perfect Roast Chicken recipe on page 130. I still have my original copy of the book. Ina and I were meant to grow old together.

Instead of a recipe, I offer you a method and encourage you to free style. If you are new to cooking, I suggest you purchase an instant read meat thermometer. This will save you from both food poisoning and dried out over-cooked chicken.

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Oil the bottom of a 10″ (mine’s 10.25 inches) cast iron pan. Use an oil that tolerates high heat (canola, avocado, grapeseed) (NOT olive oil).
  3. Layer cut root vegetables on the bottom. I like any combination of potatoes, carrots, golden beets, celery root, turnips, and rutabaga. Cut up an onion into quarters or eighths, depending on its size, and add to the vegetable layer.
  4. Stuff the cavity of a chicken with slices of lemon, garlic, shallot, and sprigs of fresh herbs. Use whatever herbs you have on hand. I like thyme, parsley, tarragon or rosemary.
  5. Truss the chicken so that the legs stay closed over the cavity. Fold the wings back underneath the body. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  6. Rub olive oil over the breast and legs. Then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs du Provence.
  7. Put the whole thing into the oven. It will take about 90 minutes to cook through.
  8. Once you’ve popped it into the oven, warm a cup of chicken stock in the microwave. After about 20 minutes of cooking, baste the chicken with a bit of stock. Check the pan every 15-20 minutes to make sure it isn’t drying out. Baste to keep the chicken and vegetables moist, but don’t overdo it. A little goes further than you may think.

Things I’ve learned through experience:

  1. Let the chicken warm up a bit at room temperature before cooking, especially if you notice the inside cavity is frosty.
  2. Watch a YouTube video to learn how to truss the bird like a pro. Seriously, this is invaluable. I went through a lot of kitchen twine and whacky gymnastics to learn the most effective way to do this before YouTube existed. You don’t have to.
  3. Once out of the oven, let the chicken rest on a large cutting board for at least 20 minutes. Tent it with foil and wait. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Do not rush the resting time. It makes a huge difference when you cut the chicken up into pieces; you’ll have less mess and better meat because the juices will recede into the flesh rather than running out.

Beets weren’t a loved vegetable in our house when I was growing up. They came from a can, their juices staining my mother’s hands. Mom was the only one who’d eat them. A meat and potatoes man, my father would condescend to a salad on occasion or root vegetables with his roast or sauerkraut with chops, that sort of thing. Vegetables weren’t much more than garnishes to him. We played the game MOM IS SO WEIRD a lot at the dinner table.

It wasn’t until I experienced one golden morsel on my plate in an expensive north Toronto restaurant run by one of the city’s first celebrity chefs that I came to understand the true abomination of canned red beets. The texture of this pale yellow unknown thing on my plate against my tongue and teeth woke my sense of what vegetables could be—an experience like none other, novel to me, yes, but also something greater that I couldn’t articulate then. 

I asked the waitress, What am I eating?

Turned out it was an organic golden beet grown on Chef’s farm, plucked from the soil that morning and roasted in its skin until a certain sweet, earthy flavor all its own could complement the rest of my plate, of which I have no recollection beyond the beet.

I was in my twenties on that evening, celebrating an anniversary with my husband. It was probably our first or second. I don’t know. Husband wasn’t nearly as enamored by Chef’s achievement. He told me I was weird. We divorced, eventually. 

Spelled another way, the word “beats” nods towards comfort in its relationship to music, writing, and performance. Books, movies, theater, symphonies—these are the emotional and intellectual triggers enriching my world, opening doorways into my own humanity and connecting it to that of others. For a person not raised in any church, spiritual nourishment is found among the arts and the communal experiences they offer. The arts and Epicurean pursuits help me to transcend the raw materialism of the surrounding culture. Cooking is not only caring, but an art reaching towards the divine, at least on good days, when I’m satisfying a hunger greater than the sum of my stomach’s gurgles. 

At the end of the day one can own only that intangible mushy muscle that contains the private self, everything else—houses, investments, cars, even our bodies—can be taken away from us through disaster, criminality, and despotism. Our spirits or souls, if you like, belong to us. Beets and beats, beauty and divinity, ours to nourish.

This is an improvised meal I made at home during the Covid-19 lockdown. It serves two people, but you can easily increase the yield by doing a bit of your own improvisation. A spiralizer is a handy tool, and also inexpensive. When you consider the cost of ready to use spiraled veggies at the grocery store, my spiralizer paid for itself after three uses.

ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz each)
  • 2-3 medium zucchinis
  • 1 medium golden beet
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers drained and rinsed 2
  • lemons
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Italian sparsely and/or basil finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock or broth
  • flour for coating the chicken

Method

  1. Spiral cut the zucchini and beet using a largish blade. Mine is about 1/4 inch. You don’t want them too skinny. I used the largest blade that came with my spiralizer.
  2. Zest the lemon and then cut it in half. Juice one half and slice the other half.
  3. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and pound the pieces into a thin but uniform thickness.
  4. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the breasts in flour and shake off the excess. 
  5. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Make sure they are cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm in an oven set to 170°F.
  6. Add shallot and garlic to fat in skillet and cook until shallot is soft; 1-2 minutes
  7. Stir in broth and lemon slices, scraping up any brown bits and reduce until the liquid thickens into a syrupy consistency. 5-8 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, get a non-stick pan with a lid that can hold the vegetables and heat a bit of olive oil in it. Add the beet and zucchini and stir it around a bit. Lower the heat and cover, allowing the steam that forms to gently cook the veggies until they are tender but crisp. This will only take a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper off heat.
  9. Once your sauce has reduced, on low heat, stir in lemon juice, capers, and any chicken juices. Add a bit of butter (1 tablespoon) to give the sauce a good texture and flavor. Cook until just melted. Turn off the heat. Remove the cooked lemon slices.
  10. Add chopped herbs. Taste. Adjust seasonings.
  11. Put the vegetables in the bottom of two bowls or plates, and then put the chicken on top. Spoon the sauce over the whole thing and garnish with more herbs and freshly sliced lemon. Serve.

No eggs, no oil, no dairy. At first blush it would appear that this banana bread won’t taste very good, but it is in fact yummy. I went searching for an egg-free recipe not because I’m vegan, but because I’m allergic to eggs. After several batches, I’ve come up with the version that gets eaten up fast around my house.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to a whole teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup almond milk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar (coconut or cane)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1//2 chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • You can also add 1/2 cup chopped dried figs (optional)

method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or rub cooking spray into mini pans using a paper towel.
  3. Pour almond milk into a measuring cup and add the cider vinegar. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  5. In a second bowl mash bananas and add to them applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and almond milk mixture. Stir to mix well.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir with a silicone spatula until just mixed and no more flour is visible. Don’t beat this up too much. 
  7. Fold in dried figs, nuts and chocolate if using.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf or loaves comes out clean.
  10. Yields 1 standard loaf or 6 mini loaves

To write about food and hunger is to write about power and love. MFK Fisher asserted as much in the introduction to her book, The Gastronomical Me. This understanding made her into one of the greatest food writers ever. This is why food blogs are so ubiquitous. On an unconscious level those of us who are obsessed with food know this, but a few of us dive deeper and connect our relationship with food to all of life though our adventures in the kitchen and on the page.

This blog is organized in such a way as to allow those who just want a recipe right now to get one without the need to scroll through a lot of text. Each recipe is related to a story plucked from a memory of food and how it was served, what it felt like to eat it, and its connection to the people at the table. Sometimes these stories are true in the sense that the writer has related the best of her recollection of something that happened. Sometimes they are fully or partly made up, but they convey truth as only the best fiction can.

I began to explore my relationship with food, its connection to the dynamics in my family, and how these connections shaped me, after my dad died. A piece I wrote called “The Lonely Hours Before Supper,” published in Meat For Tea a year ago, sparked me to look more deeply into how food relates to love and power in my life. 

In writing about food, I have taken a measure of my love, desire, and power—in other words, hunger. It is my hope that these stories and recipes connect reader and writer, transcending cultures and experiences to the extent that readers can say, yes, it was that way. We both see that now.