thai noodle salad

It seems that as much as we try to eat seasonally around here, there are certain meals we crave all year long.  This salad is one of our all time favorite meals.  It doesn't matter if it is the middle of summer or a freezing cold snow day (like today), we can't get enough.  It is refreshing and incorporates the spicy, salty, sweet and sour flavors that we love.  I will warn you, this salad is best served the same day.  Rice noodles get funky soon after they are made, and who wants day old veggies in a salad?  This recipe is also great for dinner with friends since no cooking is involved and it is meant to be served at room temperature.

thai noodle salad

for the salad: (all veggie measurements are based on our preference. feel free to adjust accordingly)
  • 8 oz rice noodles, softened in hot water
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 small daikon, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • thai chile, thinly sliced
  • basil 
  • cilantro
  • lime for garnish
  • chopped, unsalted peanuts for garnish
for the dressing: (feel free to double if you like it saucy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
Combine noodles, sweet pepper, daikon, cucumber, and carrot.  Dress to taste.  Top with, chile, basil, cilantro and peanuts.  Serve with lime, sriracha and fish sauce.


spicy chickpea + quinoa + arugula salad

Right out of the gate, just about everyone has huge plans for their new years resolutions. While we don't necessarily subscribe to the whole idea of the dawn of a new year being the perfect chance to change everything about yourself. We don't see any harm in making promises to yourself to try and be a little healthier. Yeah, that sounds a little more reasonable. Fast forward two months. Mostly to save face, we have tried to keep up appearances for fear of anyone calling us out on any over eager proclamations, made well after the champagne stopped flowing. But let's face it. Resolutions suck. It is hard to change. Not to mention, trying to convince me that juice is a meal is just not gonna happen; no matter how many carrots you cram in there.

So, we try to find that middle ground. We will be healthy, and eat all of our super-foods and leafy greens. But sometimes, we are going to chew them. 

Trying to keep the spirit of juicing in mind, this salad is an amalgam of unlikely partners. A little odd, but
 it works.  In fact, it has become a staple around here.  We use seasoned apple cider vinegar instead of a traditional vinaigrette, because we like the flavor and health benefits, but if you are not as into it, sub a simple vinaigrette. Enjoy!

spicy chickpea, quinoa and arugula salad
(makes 2 large meal sized salads)
for the spicy chickpeas:
  • 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • salt tt
for the seasoned vinegar:
  • 2 tablespoons bragg's acv (with the mother)
  • pinch of turmeric
  • pinch of coriander
  • pinch of cayenne
additional salad ingredients:
  • arugula
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 large avocado, sliced and halved
  • 2-4 cups cooked quinoa (we use the larger portion if we are having this salad for dinner)
  • salt and pepper tt
 Heat tablespoon of olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add spices and chickpeas, moving around constantly so they do not burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until chickpeas are golden and crispy.  Set aside to cool.

Assemble salad. Layer arugula, then add half of quinoa, chickpeas, avocado and cilantro.  Dress with vinegar or vinaigrette to taste.

best days.

Well, we did it. This weekend we decided to put on something more than the usual decades old, threadbare concert t-shirt, and venture out into the world. And we have to say, it was pretty nice. Well, mostly nice. Probably could have done without the part that involved going out into 21 degree temps and jumping into an enormous tank of frigid water in nothing but shorts and old tennis shoes! The greater good sure is hard sometimes!

Besides pretending to be arctic animals, we spent most of the rest of the weekend out and about.

There was/were:
Big soups, and egg rolls from our favorite restaurant.  
A reminder (just like the other 1000 times), that we are terrible at bowling.
 A trip to the science museum.
A pizza party & a pretty cake (not related)

Being out and about this weekend definitely made us think, perhaps we have been doing this winter thing all wrong. But, then again, cozy and warm is pretty nice too.

 1 >> f's weekend wear.  
2 >> pretty sunset
3 >> sometimes life is hard.
4 >> how g spends most of his time.
5 >> triple chocolate mousse cake


life after the sonnet

We will not be celebrating today. Never have. Never will. Don't feel bad, it's certainly not because we don't like each other anymore. I suppose it's because we choose our silly and meaningless traditions a little more selectively than most people. Please don't take offense, if you are into it, that's great. All I am saying is that you will not catch us running out at the last minute to pick up a heart shaped box of tasteless chocolates to compliment the over priced card we already purchased. You know the ones, emblazoned with the most saccharine sweet lines of generic prose you can get your mitts on! Nope, not gonna do it. Call me an asshole if you want. Call me a party pooper. Or better yet, tell me it doesn't have to be generic. Tell me to be creative; do something different. Something from the heart. Sorry, I still say no way. I call bullshit on the whoooole thing.

Before we go any further I think I should make it clear, I do not fault anyone for wanting to make a big deal about how much they love someone. However, I personally cannot subscribe to this totally untruthful version of it. Unfortunately for me, I am the minority. I should probably shut the hell up, put on my happy face and buy that fucking hot pink teddy bear already.


I have to believe there is some underlying reason why people feel they need to act as though love only comes from some syrup factory in lala land. But who is to blame? I suppose blaming media is the easy way out. Not to mention, it is probably exactly what you would expect from someone rambling on about not buying into the commercialization of love. So, even at the risk of sounding cliche, I am gonna do it. I am going to point the finger, because I am fairly certain I have found the culprit. The root of all this nonsense!

 So I blame you, fictitious English gentleman. It has to be you. You and your PBS good looks (whatever that means). So dapper. Sooooo charming! You, with your impeccable grammar, spewing out old world poetry so effortlessly; and totally from memory. Ugh. Living all cozy in your Edwardian manor! Damn you! Or what if you are not a gentleman at all? Maybe came from the total boot end of the social hierarchy. Perhaps you are a servant, or just a nobody peasant (but with charisma and dashing good looks, obviously). You always start as a victim of circumstance, only to find yourself in the throes of passion with the most improbable lover. I really don't know how you do it! Even I want to love you! But I can't, you won't let me! No matter what end of the scale you are on, it always ends the same. Everyone is wildly in love. But, you always leave before we can truly be together. You always have to go and get cholera, or sink to the depths on a doomed ship headed for the new world. Or you head off to war, and you have the nerve to not return. Well, it needs to stop!

You sir(s) are really screwing things up. People are crazy for your stories. But, they are only getting half of it. These far fetched tales of the fiery, wild eyed love are useless if you never get to see it through. I wish for once you would come back from the great beyond to finish what you started. I need you to finish the story.

I need you to come back and make a few more episodes, maybe write another chapter. I need to know about the first time you see Milady workin' some sort of undergarment that looks as though, it too, died in the war. I need to know about her reaction to the first time she experiences the aftermath of you over indulging at the Fancy Pants ball. Does she clean you up, and take you home? Do you run out of things to gush over? What happens after all the newness wears off? I am asking, because you never quite get there.

I can't really blame anyone. People love to parade around with pretty ideas, myself included. At times, it certainly can seem more romantic to leave out the grittier parts, and just believe half the story. This is where my problem lies. Those times in a relationship are great. So new and passionate. But don't so may relationships start that way? Just try and tell me that you can't think of at least one person who you wouldn't feel too bad about never seeing again, with whom you spent some really good times with. Just think about that for a minute. Would it still make for a good story? I say no! Good god, no!

 It doesn't have to be this way. There has to be a way we can all express how we feel without selling ourselves short. I believe you should show your love everyday. I could probably even get behind the idea of Valentines day, as long as we all agreed to be a little more honest about it from here on out.

So, to get the ball rolling, I have come up with some ideas for the aforementioned cards that are a little more honest.

I like your sweatpants, Valentine!

Thanks for loving me, even after that one thing.

Wake up, Valentine!

I picked you up some of beef jerky, Sweetheart!

I'm sweet on you, because you remembered to brush!

Life after the sonnet. Love that will last, despite the grit. Now that, I will celebrate.



roasted beet and smoked salmon crostini

If Finn had his way, we would eat "Da one fish, dat tastes a widdle bacony" for just about every meal. Despite his frequent and spirited petitioning, we generally keep our smoked fish intake at minimum levels. Not because we don't love it, quite the opposite actually. The truth is, for whatever reason these lowly little fish bits have become synonymous in his mind as being a very special occasion. And if there is one thing we love, it's making something special out of nothing special. So we are going to run with that. Stinky fish is a fancy affair. Believe it!

Just as Finn loves his bacon fish, mom and dad love beets. Oh, and brunch, we also love brunch. So, because it had been a while since we'd indulged in a "fancy" Sunday morning, we finally decided to oblige his craving. And ours. Thus, a recipe was born. A ridiculously easy, ever so fancy, and supremely tasty recipe. Enjoy. 

roasted beet and smoked salmon crostini

  • olive oil
  • 2 beets, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • salt and freshly ground pepper tt
  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill for garnish
  • plain greek yogurt for garnish
  • baguette, sliced on the bias

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets on baking sheet. Toss with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast beets for approximately 45-50 minutes or until tender.  Set aside and let cool.

Cut about eight pieces of bread, drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Finely chop beets, and add capers, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper tt.

Assemble toasts.  Place beet mixture on toast, top with smoked salmon, yogurt and dill.


best days

Good morning! It feels pretty good to say that right now. We were definitely not quite as chipper an hour ago. It must have been the lack of sunlight paired with minimal weekend obligations that put everybody in that "special" kind of mood. Meaning, since we arrived home Friday, time has kind of stood still. It has  been quite difficult to even distinguish one day from the next. So, we just kept our pajamas on most of the time, just in case.

Then the alarm went off, and it was my task to explain that it was time to venture out into the cold to be accountable and productive. Apparently, this was most unpleasing.

So, needless to say, Dad was not everyone's favorite this morning. Oh well. Nothing a good long day of public education can't cure...........

Lest you get the wrong idea, we were  not total sloths this weekend, there was/were:

birthday party madness
bows and arrows. Inside
rock and roll jams

Hope you had a great weekend, and relatively painless Monday!

1 >> a boy and his cake
2 >> brunch. that kid loves smoked salmon
3 >> shot through the heart, and you're to blame
4 >> veggie prep
5 >> sweet lulu


braised beef taco // tomatillo + olive relish

I know you have one, everyone does. It's that one ingredient at the back of the fridge or pantry that randomly catches your eye every so often. It has probably been there for weeks; months maybe. Who knows. Every time you notice it, you always lament the absurdity that you could have forgotten something like that. But, lets be honest, at least to ourselves. You've been ignoring that poor little.... whatever it is. Usually, it's something small and obscure. One of those things that you can't just go adding into any old dish. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe it's something you have never used, and you don't even know what to do with it. Maybe you really did forget it was in there... Whatever the reason, you need to take charge of these wayward ingredients. Show em who's boss. Either that, or you could just toss them into the next soup you are making and hope for the best (not recommended).

Green peppercorns, that was mine. Not really even a terribly obscure ingredient. Probably purchased eons ago for some forgotten steak dinner. But there they were, right behind that weird jelly the boys had to have. Cold and briny green; taunting me. I let it go for a couple of days. But, I just kept thinking about them. I tried moving them to the depths of the top shelf, no use.  I had to use these moderately tasty, culinary afterthoughts, before it drove me nuts. The dish that came out of this however, was definitely no afterthought.

The nice thing about this dish (as with most of our dishes), it's totally adaptable. In fact when I first put beef into the pot, I had grand ideas of serving it with a heap of roasted veggies. Then it was going to be an accompaniment to yellow rice. For about an hour it seemed that it would be the perfect filling for a sandwich. And then a voice from the ether................Tacoooo. And so it was.

In case you were going to ask. Yes, I am aware green peppercorn is not in the recipe title. They know their place.    

braised beef

  • 2# chuck roast (or whatever you like)
  • 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed well
  • 1 med. onion sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 Tb. green peppercorn
  • 1 Tb. black peppercorn
  • 4 cups stock     

Season beef generously with kosher salt. Add enough oil to barely cover the bottom of large high walled skillet or dutch oven. Over med. high heat brown beef on all sides. Remove beef and set aside. Add all onions and cook until soft. Deglaze pan with wine and scrape up brown bits. Return beef to pan, along with remaining ingredients. Cover and turn heat to low. Braise until beef is tender and falling apart. About 3 1/2 - 4 hrs.                                  

tomatillo & olive relish

  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1/4 cup green onion sliced
  • 1 tsp. green peppercorn
  • 1 Tb. capers
  • 1/4 cup green olives
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno
  • 1Tb. white wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Pre-heat oven to 400. Cut tomatillos in half. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle w/ kosher salt. Place in oven and cook until soft, about 10-15 min. When they are cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides. You should end up with about 1/2 cup. Rough chop olives, jalapeno, capers, and peppercorns and place in bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Serve it how you want it.

If you choose tacos (which we highly recommend), you are going to need:
corn tortilla
thinly sliced red radish


little spade on the prairie.

 You ever find yourself sitting on the couch all alone, late at night, watching Frontier House while saying to yourself, "Yes, this! This, is the answer"? That's a stupid question, of course you do. It's o.k, don't feel dumb, I totally do it too. Really, how you could not want to? It is seriously difficult to not fantasize about the idea of living in that beautiful microcosm of work, life and community. They blend so seamlessly into one tight little package. So simple, and perfect. I suppose that is why it makes for good television. It's right there in front of you, yet totally unattainable.

I  imagine it should not bother me too much that living in the past is not an option. I really do appreciate the luxuries of refrigeration and running water. Not to mention dysentery! God, I hate dysentery! The more I think about it, the more I think the past is a really dangerous place to live. Damn, It seemed so nice.

My mind has been living in the past a lot lately; specifically in regards to community. I have spent so much time mourning the ones I used to know that I have failed to make room for anything else to move in. I've gone from active musician, fun time connoisseur,  and general supporter of random goodness, to  a sleep deprived busy dad,  and generally grouchy old guy who randomly goes to shows and leaves before your band plays. Needless to say, this has been a really tough pill to swallow. So, I ask you. Is there life after Rock and Roll?

Well, not really after Rock and Roll. There really is no such thing. But there has to be some sort of happy medium. The perfect storm is what I am after. Equal parts Charles Ingalls and Lemmy Kilmister. Well, minus the church on Sundays, and the gnarly cocoa puff facial growths, but everything else. I can see it now, "Overkill Acres" or perhaps "Fast and Loose Farm"! Just tell me you wouldn't  want to come and hang out with me there!

And I really hope you will. Because, this is an invitation.

I know I am not the only one out there feeling as though I have been ostracized from what I love, while at the same time thinking perhaps my isolation was a voluntary act of the subconscious. For the sake of progress, of course. Maybe I am reading to far into it. All I know is that living as though I am still a pillar of youth and rebellion is not suiting me so well. I'm finally going to have to pass that torch.

This is certainly not to say that I am throwing in the towel. Not at all. I like to think of it as the next logical step for people like us. Just not exactly sure what that means yet. All I know is that right now, a little sunshine, my boys and the thought of our little plot getting closer every day makes me happy, and right now that's all I need. So, I may not know where we are going, but when we get there, I want you to know you are welcome any time.

                                       - J


the kitchen >> v-day dinner

 The idea behind this kitchen post with Nicole, was an easy valentine's dinner. Quite honestly, at our house, we don't celebrate most holidays, contrived or otherwise, because we have to stick to a budget.  And budgets don't often allow for a romantic dinner out.  V-day also happens to fall on a week night this year, and believe me, after school, dinner for the boys and bedtime, even I don't want think about cooking something fancy.  My leftover energy will be stored up for later in the evening.  You know what I'm sayin'??

Anyhow, back to dinner.  This is easy.  Maybe too easy.  But the sum of it's parts is pretty darn good.  And filling.  It may just be enough fuel to get you ready for the main event after a long ass day. Or get you through a romantic movie without falling asleep.  Whatever you decide, we've got you covered!

tomato tart 
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small package of goat cheese
  • handful of basil leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt tt
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Unfold dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and pinch together any seams that are hole-y. Prick with a fork all over dough (so it doesn't rise) leaving a one inch border around the perimeter. Arrange tomatoes and goat cheese over pastry.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper, if using.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Add basil leaves while still warm.

 sausage and fennel pasta

  • 1 box rigatoni, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fennel frond for garnish
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt tt
  • shaved parmesan 

In large, deep pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, two to three minutes.  Add sausage.  Cook through.  Push meat and onion to the side and add fennel.  Cook until just soft.  Add can of tomato paste and white wine.  Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until excess liquid is cooked away.  Serve over pasta.  Top with fennel frond and parmesan.

*this is a popular idea these days.  I decided to jump on board and give it a try. If you do not like avocado, I would not attempt it.  Its delicious, but maintains a fruity, natural flavor.  Also, this is rich-definitely for sharing.
chocolate + avocado mousse

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk ( your choice )
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch of salt

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Set aside to cool.  Scrape avocado into blender.  Add honey, and milk.  Puree.  Add chocolate, cocoa and salt.  Blend to combine.  Spoon into cups or small bowls and chill for 2-3 hours. Serves 4.


best days.

Of course, as I write this, it is dumping snow and we are just beginning our normal weekday routine. Perhaps our dreams of a weekend long sledding extravaganza may never come to pass. It certainly seems as though the Mid-western winters of our childhoods are long gone. Spending our weekends running back and forth from snowball fights and unstable igloos to sitting on top of the floor vent heat; is that too much to ask? Evidently, yes.

Despite the fact that we spent yet another weekend holed up inside, no one seemed to mind. Our standard issue activities for those coveted 2 days proved to be all we needed. Plenty of all of our favorite things (that's food, relaxing, and being together with our favorite people).  Topped off with a little B-day party for our oldest guy! It may not have spent it on a plastic saucer spinning out of control, but this weekend was pretty alright.

1 >> a birthday cake for g.
2 >> naughty cat.
3 >> "really dude?!"
4 >> john and lord winky.
5 >> a serious artist's pose.
6 >> typical.
7 >> brothers.

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