You may be asking why this blog is called "The Lunchbox Tree." I was raised by a family whose memories were made in the kitchen and at the table. One of my favorite stories came from "Ozma of Oz," by L. Frank Baum:
"...the little girl came upon two trees that promised to furnish her with plenty of food. One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word 'Lunch' could be read, in neat raised letters.... Inside she found, nicely wrapped in white papers, a ham sandwich, a piece of sponge-cake, a pickle, slice of new cheese and an apple."
This scene inspired me to begin a lifetime affair with all things food; and I hope that my recipes inspire you to enjoy making and eating all sorts of delightful things.
For me, this post will either serve as a death rattle - a final post in an attempt to keep this blog alive - or a revitalization. I hope it's the latter. I haven't posted since February, but in the nearly 10 months it's been since my last post, I never stopped cooking. On the other hand, posting my recipes obviously didn't receive the same attention.
I started thinking about Caesar salad the other day. I love a good Caesar, although it's remarkable how frequently a Caesar is relegated to a shadow of its ideal self: Less than crisp romaine lettuce, drowning in heavy bottled dressing and topped with a Parmesan-like cheese that more closely resembles the stuff in a green can rather than the shavings off of a block. And the croutons! It's almost too much to bear.
It seems the holidays have snuck up on me! With everything to do, between wrapping up projects for year-end at the office, to shopping for gifts and planning Christmas dinner, these fried chickpeas make a handy snack that's easy to throw in your car or purse.
I'm not big on resolutions, but I'm going to try my best to post more often in 2013. I'm aiming for an average of one post every two weeks. Wish me luck!
We live in Vermont. It's GORGEOUS. In the summer, it's lush and verdant; in the winter, a blanket of snow (usually) blankets the ground, making the world seem so much quieter. And I'm pretty sure God's just showing off in the fall. Then there's spring, a.k.a. mud season. Let's not talk about mud season.
In any case, my husband and I were inspired by a collection of events and people to start making those most of what we have at our fingertips. I've always enjoyed the culinary bounty that Vermont has to offer - bread, cheese, beer, the freshest eggs I've ever laid eyes on, cheese, pastured meats, did I mention cheese? - but we realized that it was time to expand our horizons. We began kayaking (in a tandem inflatable, which fits quite nicely in our apartment), and camping; and culminated in spending a long weekend at Green River Reservoir, where campsites are reached solely by boat and amenities include a fire ring, and not much else. It was perfect.
I love this time of year - the days are warm, but the mornings are cool and crisp; the days begin to get shorter and the hub-bub of summer gives way to the rhythms of autumn. But yet summer persists for a few more weeks, continuing to bring forth tomatoes, zucchini, and late summer raspberries.
This gazpacho andaluz is a great way to make use of tomatoes that have hit their peak, or are even slightly overripe. The simplicity of this recipe lets the clean, bright flavors of the cucumber and tomato shine, but can also lend itself to a cook's whim - to Saveur magazine's recipe, I added 1/4 teaspoon of sweet smoked spanish paprika to add just a bit of depth. To serve, I dice a bit of English cucumber (I like the color that the thin peel adds to the soup) and cherry tomatoes. A drizzle of fruity spanish olive oil is a lovely finish.
Have you ever thrown something together based on a-little-of-this, and a-little-of-that, and whatever-else-I-have-on-hand? That's where this recipe came from... it's got some of the flavors of a Niçoise salad (olives, lemony vinaigrette, and tuna of course), but feels generally Mediterranean in flavor. I've made it several times in the past few months, and serve it tucked into a pita, served open-faced on crusty bread, or with a plateful of crostini for scooping.
Also, this is fantastic made a day in advance, so that the flavors can mellow and meld, making it an ideal brown-bag lunch idea. I like serving it in my small Ball jars for easy transportation, and just because it looks pretty.
I blame it on my local supermarket, but I've been making a lot of stocks and broths lately (a bit out of season, but they freeze wonderfully!). Lately I've found a bounty of turkey neck and backs, all remarkably cheap, and I have a hard time letting them go to waste. Once I've made up a batch, I can easily make either hot or chilled soups at a moment's notice.
This soup uses a ginger-infused stock as a base for shaved vegetables, which stand in for noodles. This soup is great either hot or lightly warmed and topped with a squeeze of key limes and a drizzle of sriracha.