On a hot August day when I was 14, I sat amongst hundreds of other soon-to-be 9th graders at our high school orientation. A teacher stood in front of us on the field behind the pool, shouting out instructions and things we’d need to know when we arrived on our first day. My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. When I answered, my mom asked when I was coming out. I didn’t understand why she was rushing me until we were on the freeway – I still remember the exact spot – towards the hospital where my grandfather had been admitted not long before, when she told me he had passed. I cried. Our family threw a huge life celebration in his honor soon after, with a cardboard cutout of my grandfather sitting in the driveway in an old car he’d loved. There were martini toasts, speeches, people I’d never met before, and people I’d known my entire life.
Shortly after, my grandma moved to Oregon. We helped pack the contents of her home into a moving truck, staring in disbelief that everything would fit. It felt weird for her to leave the house that held so many memories – family parties with jazz and blues music playing loudly, my grandpa saying “Let’s give ’em a round of applause!” whenever anyone arrived, refrigerated boxes of restaurant leftovers that my grandma happily accepted each time we ate out, the wooden Native American statue we kids always stared up at in the living room, the framed Blues Brothers and old car posters on the walls, my grandma’s artwork, my grandpa’s whistling. It felt weird for her to soon be living so far away.
The first time we visited her in Portland, she showed us a wild rhubarb bush growing on the side of her house. She spoke animatedly about this bush, so excited about the treasures it would soon reveal. I had no idea what rhubarb was.
Almost ten years later, I think of my grandma and her rhubarb plant whenever I see those bright red stalks. While I love them in strawberry rhubarb pie – the combination of the sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb makes my mouth water – this gluten-free breakfast cornbread is a new favorite! I loved baking it in the cast iron skillet and was amazed at how flawlessly it slipped out of the pan after baking. It was also my first time grinding and using quinoa flower, and I love the dense, chewy texture it created when mixed with almond meal and masa harina. I’ve been slathering it with peanut butter and serving it with a big side of fruit for a quick weekday breakfast.
Cottage Cooking Club: recipes from River Cottage Veg
//S T I R / F R I E D / S E S A M E / C A U L I F L O W E R//
I hated cauliflower growing up. I have distinct memories of sitting at my friends’ dinner tables, insisting I was allergic so that I wouldn’t have to eat it.
I’m glad I’ve gotten over that phase, because cauliflower is having a big moment. I love it in Oh She Glows’ vegan Alfredo, and Hugh’s stir-fried sesame cauliflower is now one of my proudest dishes. I made a few tweaks to the original recipe, sauteing the onions in coconut oil instead of sunflower, omitting the green chiles and adding snap peas for color and crunch. The final result was sweet and toasty with a variety of textures: smooth onions, crunchy peas, and tender cauliflower florets you could sink your teeth into. I paired mine with brown Basmati rice to add another flavor dimension and bulk up the meal.
//A S P A R A G U S / P I Z Z A//
Despite also not liking asparagus as a kid, I keep a lookout for the first asparagus crop each spring with grand plans of pan steaming thin spears in olive oil and butter until just tender. Since finding my favorite cooking method, I haven’t been very adventurous with asparagus. This recipe wasn’t my favorite – I didn’t enjoy trying to cut through the spears to eat my pizza – but it gave me plenty of ideas for future recipes. We did add sauteed mushrooms and onions to the pizza which offered a nice earthy contrast to the milky cheese. We even tried our hand at the gluten-free cauliflower crust that’s been making it’s way around the blogosphere, although it wasn’t thin enough and ended up being a little crumbly and soft. Next time, I’ll try Hugh’s magic bread dough as a base, chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces, add more vegetables, and tack on some brie. Is it dinner yet?
//R A D I S H E S / W I T H / B U T T E R / A N D / S A L T//
This was my least favorite dish of the bunch. I didn’t dig the idea of putting straight butter on a vegetable, and I prefer to eat my radishes sliced instead of whole. Though the radishes were crisp and peppery, the slickness from the butter turned me off to this recipe.
This simple, easy dish is becoming a staple in our house. It fills the air with a warm, comforting aroma and practically cooks itself. The vegetables can be easily switched out – lately I’ve been into green beans or asparagus.
// G R E E N B E A N S w/ T O F U //
//s e r v e s 1 // (adjust amounts based on number of people)
/ r e c i p e /
1/2 cup rice (jasmine, basmati, or wild mixed are my favorites)
1 Tbs coconut oil
1/4 package tofu, chopped into blocks
1 generous glug olive oil
1 generous handful of green beans, stems removed, or asparagus
curry powder and garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
/ p r o c e s s /
cook rice according to package instructions.
while rice is cooking, melt coconut oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. add tofu and cook until lightly browned and crispy; flip and repeat.
while tofu is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. place vegetables in the pan and shake to coat. cover and cook for 10 minutes, shaking frequently. season with curry and garlic powders, and add salt and pepper to taste.
place tofu and vegetables over rice in a bowl and enjoy.