I’ve made homemade pizza many times before. For the sauce I usually make everyday tomato sauce and have never second guessed it. But on one Friday night we had been planning a Star Wars pizza night with my five year old son River. We had been talking about it and thinking about it all week, which really means he had been talking about it and thinking about it all week haha.
On this particular day his little brother Fox would not let me put him down for a second. Like I couldn’t even wash a dish without his little cute hands pulling on my legs to pick him up. Tight for time, I lazily dumped all the ingredients into a blender and buzzed them for maybe 15 seconds. This is the best pizza sauce I have ever made or had for that matter. It’s not thick. This no-cook pizza sauce is light and bright and fresh tasting. The basil and garlic don’t get hidden in a thick tomato sauce. I suggest scheduling your pizza parties now!
Ingredients 14.5 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes 3 garlic cloves handful of fresh basil leaves 1 t. dried oregano 1 t. salt pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1. buzz all ingredients into a blender. boom you’re done.
Component in Action
-use as a fresh pasta sauce
-use as a dip for crusty garlic bread
Tonight I needed to make dinner fast for many reasons. Fox is four months and teething and River is four years and wanted to put together every puzzle in the house…together. This is what life is made of. This is what I’ll think of longingly 20 years from now I’m sure, yet I always feel like I am trying to do stuff so I can go do other stuff. For some reason the other stuff seems more pressing, like dishes and laundry and even making meals. But today we made all the puzzles, I nursed the baby so many times I lost count and Hans was able to come home for a quick dinner before heading back out again. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, i was feeling stressed by the time five rolled around. After all, I had been trying to make a cup of tea since 1pm. All of this is to say that we have to make choices everyday and sometimes those choices need to include more time with family and less time in the kitchen.
There are a few things I try to keep on hand in the pantry and fridge: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, lemons, coconut cream or milk, fresh dark greens like spinach or kale and turmeric. It just so happens that these ingredients saved the day. But just because these specific ingredients saved my day, doesn’t help you much if your fridge and pantry tell a different story. This is why learning how to build a one pot wonder is so much more important than just following a recipe. You are the pot stirrer. You are the flavor expert for you and your people. Once you know what blocks to use, then you can start to riff in the kitchen and feel more confident.
You build a one pot wonder from the pot up. A hearty glug of olive oil over medium heat and then you begin building, stirring as you go.
a couple T. of fresh ginger and garlic (chopped) a heaping t. of curry powder
a t. of ground tumeric (or if you have fresh add it chopped with the ginger and garlic)
salt (to taste)
big splash of white wine (optional)
juice from half a juicy lemon
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 head of chopped cauliflower (or riced cauliflower)
around 10 dates (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. frozen peas
a bunch of fresh spinach (washed well)
1.) Add onion (chopped or sliced)
2.) Add some aromatics, in this case I added finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
3.) Add dried spices. Tonight I added curry powder, ground turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
4.) Deglaze. This means add a bit of liquid to release everything from the bottom of the pot. I had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge so I added a big splash of wine, a half a lemon juice and a can of coconut milk.
5.) Add in hard vegetables and anything you want to cook. I added a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and some chopped dates. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
6.) Now add anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added a rinsed can of black beans and a cup of frozen peas.
7.) A few minutes before you sit down to eat, throw in a bag of fresh spinach (or other cooking greens) and put a lid on for five minutes. Boom!
Component in Action
-In addition to adding the onion at the beginning, you could also add carrot, celeriac, celery or tomatoes, bell peppers or even bacon.
-some other options for aromatics? try lemongrass, fresh tumeric, rosemary (finely chopped or whole sprigs so you can pull out later, fresh thyme finely chopped)
-Instead of curry, you could add herbs de provance, or even dried chilis or chili powder. You could also skip this step and wait until the end and add lots of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or parsley or chives.
-for deglazing you could also use stock or even a few big splashes of cream.
-Instead of cauliflower you could add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, soaked dried beans…
-Instead of canned beans and frozen peas you could throw in towards the end other green vegetables like broccoli
-Instead of a bunch of spinach at the end you could also throw in other greens like swiss chard, rapini or kale.
I had plans to start a series on stocks and sauces this week, but instead I want to talk about tea. Over the holidays we inherited a beautiful La Pavoni Espresso Machine from some dear friends. In all the excitement of pulling espresso shots, and my feeble attempts at making latte art, my daily tea ritual fell a bit into the background.
Then, this week we lost our beloved family cat. She was a Manx, with no tail and a hopping gait. She preferred to be in the middle of everything, and looked like a little black bear so we gave her the Ojibwe name for bear, Mukwa. She was as much a part of our family as any pet could be. If we were sick, she knew it and would station herself on the bed like a guard just watching us with her thoughtful little gaze. But when my son River was sick, she preferred to lay on top of him like a hen guarding her eggs. She cared for us just as much as we cared for her. I mention this because throughout the week I felt myself craving tea even more than usual, and I am reminded of the revitalizing, nurturing, and clarifying essence in a cup of tea.
Once upon a time, I spent a lovely year working in a tea shop, where I occasionally heard people say that they didn’t like tea because “it’s too much like drinking water”. Sure, it is more like drinking water compared to drinking a strong cup of coffee. This is the thing, and it really did take me over 30 years to discover it, but our taste buds and palates adapt. The more you taste wine for instance, the more you can actually taste the flavorful characteristics of wine. The same is true of tea, especially with certain delicate white and green teas. The more tea you try and explore, the more your palate opens and your capacity for tasting and enjoying all the intricacies found these exquisite brews increases.
Tea is known to be native to southern China and was first prized for its botanical and medicinal properties. The story goes that in 2737 B.C., the Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea while sitting under a wild tea tree and a breeze blew a few leaves into a pot of water he had simmering over a fire.
Japan and China perhaps have the longest history and are most well known for their mindful and stunning tea ceremonies. But the fact remains; tea is the most consumed beverage in all the world.
A ritual can be found in any task, if you want to find it. Tea just naturally happens to be a lovely way to access this state of mindfulness. From choosing your cup,
to boiling the water,
to touching the leaves,
to watching the steam as the tea brews,
to sharing with a friend,
to feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands,
to breathing in the delicate scent,
to taking the first sip–
these are all access points to enter the present moment. When I think of tea, I think the Persian scientist and philosopher, Omar Khayyám gets it right:
Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.
All real tea comes from the same tea plant, Camellia Sinensis (camel-lia sinen-sis). What makes each tea unique is where it is grown, when the leaves are picked, and how the leaves are handled. Once the leaves are harvested, they are set out to wither on trays for drying. What happens next determines what kind of tea it will become.
There are five basic types of tea:
White Tea (unfermented)
New tea buds are picked before they open. Then they are withered and dried resulting in the most unprocessed of all teas. Sometimes thought of as an acquired taste because of its gentle and delicate flavor profile, the subtlety and wonder of white tea is a true adventure.
Green Tea (unfermented)
The picked leaves are dried and heat-treated to stop any fermentation. In China, green teas are mostly processed by roasting and in Japan they are usually steamed. Flavor profiles of green teas range from earthy hay and mineral, to bright and grassy depending on where and how the leaves were handled.
Oolong tea (semi-fermented)
Oolong is mostly produced in China and Taiwan. The leaves must not be picked too soon and are wilted in direct sunlight, shaken to just slightly bruise the leaves and then dried for an hour or two before firing to stop the oxidation process. Oolongs are beautifully mellow teas with flavor profiles ranging from musty, wet leaf notes to floral.
Black Tea (fermented)
This process includes four steps: withering, rolling, fermenting & firing. There is a vast variety of black teas from the delicate darjeeling to the bold Assam. From India to China, black teas range in flavor and color depending on the production process.
Herbal and Fruit Teas (aka Tisanes)
These teas may not contain any actual “tea” but are no less soothing. These teas are made of various parts of dried herbs and flowers (leaves, fruit, root, flower, bark, stems & seeds).
There is a lot of science out there that digs deep into how and why tea is so good for us. As with anything food related, quality matters. If you drink a high quality loose leaf tea, the health benefits will be more abundant. Green tea is believed to have the most health benefits out of all the tea varieties. All tea has less caffeine than coffee, and includes L-Theanine, an amino acid that neutralizes the jittery traits of caffeine, helping you feel relaxed and focused.
Tea is also packed with antioxidants, and is widely believed to reduce inflammation, boost memory, strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of dementia, improve heart health, reduce the risk of stroke, lessen depression, mitigate allergy symptoms, and balance hormone levels.
Choose one: White tea, Green tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea, Herbal or Fruit Tea
High quality tap or filtered water (black teas will tolerate hard water, but white and green teas brew more as themselves with soft, filtered water)
Brewing Tea is not an exact science. If you like stronger tea, let it brew a little longer. Like a lighter cup? Use less tea and less time. White, Green, and Oolong Teas can be re-brewed many times, each brew bringing a new flavor experience. You might discover that your favorite tea is a green tea, on the fourth brew–a true magical elixir<3. Some teas will include specific brewing instructions, but here are some general guidelines:
Spoon tea into whatever vessel you are brewing in (cup or teapot).
Pour in hot water.
Let tea steep and move freely in the water for correct amount of time depending on type of tea.
Strain tea through a fine mesh strainer into cups or a clean pot and serve immediately.
Component in Action -enjoy hot or cold.
-use in a marinade or dressing
-add a bit of honey and freeze into popsicles
-use dried tea in a rub (smoked teas are great for this)
-certain teas can be steeped in milk (like earl grey) to be used in a variety of desserts