Freezer Pickles


My original recipe for this, passed down from my mom on a handwritten 3×5 card, is named “Ice Box Pickles” for the days when large blocks of ice were cut during the winter, buried in straw through the summer, and delivered house to house on a horse-drawn wagon. A modern-day, electric-powered freezer works just as well, though, for one my favorite ways of highlighting the season’s crisp cucumbers.

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Provencal Beef Stew

As a member of a recently formed meat club, one that divides up monthly deliveries from Marin Sun Farms, I have been revisiting some of my favorite beef, lamb and goat recipes. After a few years of rarely cooking big pieces of meat in my kitchen (the meat lover in my heart is always duking it out with the vegetarian of my brain), I had a large roast in the freezer that required some attention.

An invitation to a Provencal-style patio party helped me decide what to do with that hunk of tri-tip. Beouf en daube, anyone?

There are as many ways of making this classic dish as there are stew pots, but one version, with big chunks of carrots, glossy shallots, and briny green olives is my own favorite. Gentle cooking in an airtight pot is the key, and purists will insist that you make it three days before serving it, reheating it along the way to meld and then re-meld all the ingredients into a rich, complex stew.

I have been known to simmer a stew for a mere two hours on the day of serving. It really does make a difference to let it mature for a couple of days, however, as the leftovers just keep getting better and better.

A few tips for making a daube so good that you will not actually have that much left in the pot after your dinner party…


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Thyme Shortbread


Refreshing smoothies one day…hot tea the next. It’s San Francisco, after all, so sundresses and icy drinks enjoy but brief moments of glory. As much as I reveled in salads last week, I’m baking this week to keep our kitchen warm.

All that exuberant sunshine encouraged my little pot of thyme to bolt and bloom. Usually, I snip a sprig here and there, but faced with a sudden bounty, I needed to figure out how to use it all up. I found lovely photos of sugared thyme, with detailed instructions on brushing each sprig with a thin layer of egg white, sprinkling with granulated sugar, and then baking lots of cupcakes for something worthy to garnish. Tempting, yes. Realistic, no.

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Smoothies: Youth-Powered Sweetness

smoothie-glasses.jpgTeaching kids to eat and drink healthfully requires much more than admonitions. After carting away the vending machines and abolishing the Big Gulps, we can’t leave the kids empty-handed. Rachelle Boucher from Generation Chefs is working hard to fill the void. From the popular Pizza Smack-Downs at COPIA to her weekly cooking classes (free to high school students) in the beautifully outfitted kitchen at the Marin Youth Center (MYC a.k.a. “Mike”) she’s bringing fresh, whole, homemade food generously flavored with reaffirming messages and lots of common sense to a wide and diverse group of kids.

A visit to one of her cooking classes reveals her consummate skill in converting teens to the cause of healthy eating. Endowed with humor, warmth, and endless energy, she’s a master of choreographing 25 wary bundles of apathy and hormones into productive teams of excited, skilled, fruit-and vegetable-loving cooks.

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Wartime Comfort

This Friday, April 25, is ANZAC Day. Short for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp, it’s a day of remembrance for the 8,000 soldiers who died during the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I. Still young in their nationhood, Australia and New Zealand sent soldiers to join the Allied forces, who were landing on the Turkish peninsula in order to clear a sea route to supply the Russian army. Although the Allies had to retreat and although Gallipoli is remembered more for its mistakes than its accomplishments, the founding spirit of Australia and New Zealand rose from the image of the returning ANZAC soldiers: heroic, tough, irreverent and worthy of national pride freed from colonial superiority.

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