Porridge with Local Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Lemon Crème Fraîche

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This porridge was almost toast, but I’m so happy that it wasn’t.

I bought some crème fraîche on Sunday and I was thinking of spreading it on toast and topping it with strawberry rhubarb jam that I bought in Ste. Geneviève a couple weeks ago. Then, this morning I was craving porridge, so I decided to go in a different direction.

I zested a lemon and mixed the citrus with the crème fraîche. Then I topped the porridge with the cream and some jam. I love the way the cool crème fraîche tastes with the tart lemon and sweet jam.

My favorite part about eating this dish is swirling everything together in the bowl. It kind of reminds me of fruit and yogurt packs I used to eat as a kid, except waaaay better. That’s just the first time I remember thinking that yogurt or milk-based products tasted good with fruit.

ANYWAY. Here’s a good song for making porridge with jam and crème fraîche. It’s also good for driving down the highway on a hot spring morning with your air conditioning blasting and the volume turned up.

Porridge with Local Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Lemon Crème Fraîche (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup crème fraîche
zest of half a lemon, plus more for topping
juice from half a lemon
1-2 Tbsp strawberry rhubarb jam (depending on how sweet you like your porridge)

Directions

Combine the rolled oats and almond milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked through and the mixture is slightly runny.

Meanwhile, make the lemon crème fraîche. Mix the cream with the lemon zest and juice. Set aside.

Pour the oatmeal into a bowl and top with some crème fraîche, jam, and lemon zest. Swirl everything together. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Green Spirulina Smoothie Bowl

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I’ve wanted to make a spirulina smoothie bowl for a year. I kept seeing pictures of bright green bowls on Instagram and I wondered how they turned that color. Then, I read through captions and realized that people were using spirulina powder.

For those of you unfamiliar with spirulina powder (I was unfamiliar with it myself until recently), it’s basically algae. That might freak some people out, but the good news is, it’s relatively tasteless when mixed with other ingredients. For this smoothie bowl, I mixed it with a green apple, kiwi, yogurt, almond milk, and a banana. The spirulina stayed in the background.

The only problem with spirulina is that it’s expensive. Like, REALLY expensive. I paid $15 for a small bag (why does it sound like I’m buying drugs?…) and that was with an Amazon discount.

In my opinion though, it’s worth it. If you want to change up your smoothie bowl routine and experiment with new colors and combinations, spirulina can take things up a notch. You can also use it in other recipes for salads and sauces, but I haven’t tried that yet. I probably will soon.

Here’s a song that describes my feelings about this smoothie bowl. It’s also good for moments when you panic because you realize that you spent waaay too much money on powdered algae.

Green Spirulina Smoothie Bowl (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 kiwi
1 frozen banana
1 Tbsp spirulina powder
3 Tbsp lowfat yogurt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 green apple, sliced
kiwi slices, freeze-dried raspberry, and blackberries for topping

Directions

Combine the kiwi, banana, spirulina powder, lowfat yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, and apple in a blender and mix on high until smooth. Top with kiwi slices, crushed freeze-dried raspberry, and blackberries. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Smoothie Bowls, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taum Sauk Mountain and Arcadia Valley

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The summer before my freshman year of high school, I went to sleep away camp in a tiny town next to Taum Sauk Mountain in southern Missouri’s Arcadia Valley. I didn’t appreciate nature as much then, so the highlight of my summer was winning a free trip to the local McDonalds and eating a double cheeseburger.

Now, I go on hikes for fun. I saw a picture of Taum Sauk Mountain on Instagram and it reminded me of the natural beauty there. On Saturday, I decided to drive two hours through backwoods Missouri to go to the mountain.

My favorite part about driving to southern Missouri is how the landscape changes. Rolling hills dip into steep valleys and suddenly, you see mountains in the distance. Right when you think you’re going up, you’re down again. Then, you turn a corner and you’re high above trees and rocky cliffs. It’s thrilling and unsettling at the same time.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 8.24.28 AMTaum Sauk Mountain is not an easy hike, even for someone like me who considers herself in decent shape. The path is rocky and uneven, and if it rains that week (which, during spring in Missouri, it probably will), there are flooded patches where you have to pick your way over moss-covered stones.

If you persist, though, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views. The first time I rounded a corner and looked out over a cliff, I almost started crying. Okay…I did. I couldn’t help it. The mountain has the kind of beauty that takes your breath away and humbles you.

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At one point, I got lost trying to find the “highest point in Missouri.” There’s a part of the trail that cuts up the mountain and takes you to this milestone, but I kept thinking that it was in the opposite direction. I circled around a couple times before I found the right path. Somehow, I finally made it.

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On the way to Taum Sauk, I saw a sign by the side of the road that said “Homemade Ice Cream.” “That’s happening,” I said to myself. I think the prospect of ice cream got me through the last part of the hike.

I pulled off the side of the road on the way home when I saw the sign. I walked up to a building that looked part B&B, part church. When I went through the front door, I realized that it was an abbey.

Thee Abbey Kitchen makes their own bread. And, as if that weren’t enough, they also run their own frozen custard shop. I was a little skeptical of how good the food would be, but when my waitress brought the BLT sandwich that I ordered, I was floored.

The bread was buttery, soft, and fresh. I could tell that it was homemade. The bacon struck the perfect balance between chewy and crispy, and the mayo to toppings ratio was on point. I almost ordered a second one but I wanted to save room for ice cream.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 8.25.24 AMTo the side of the abbey is an old school ice cream parlor. When you walk inside it feels a little like stepping back in time. There are antiques plastered against the walls and the most modern appliance is gleaming frozen custard machine, which churns out about a dozen flavors daily.

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I wanted to order the black raspberry but the girl behind the counter told me that it just came out of the machine so it was still soft. I ended up getting the espresso and I was not disappointed. The custard cooled me down after the hike and the caffeine revived me so I felt ready to drive the two hours back to St. Louis.

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Right before I left, I walked around the abbey grounds. It was so peaceful. At one point, I saw a duck sitting in its nest next to a pond. It stared at me without moving. I almost thought that it was one of those fake animals that they use for decoration in movies.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 8.26.27 AMANYWAY. I guess there are a couple morals to this story. One is to always keep going, even when you hike in circles, temporarily black out, and almost fall down a waterfall chute. Another is to always keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to take the detour. I’m glad that I saw the sign for the abbey and that I decided to stop for lunch there. It was an experience I wouldn’t have anywhere else.

On a semi-related note, I just started listening to Natalia Lafourcade and I am OBSESSED with her music. Here’s one of my favorite songs. It’s good for times when you’re stuck in Monday morning traffic and you don’t want to go to work.

Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Traveling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vicia

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Last night, I met my friend Emma for dinner at Vicia. I’d already been there once before for lunch a month ago, right after they opened. But their dinner menu looked more involved, so I wanted to go back for that experience.

Dining at Vicia is more than just dinner. It kind of feels like being on a TV show about gourmet food. One of my friends saw my pictures on Instagram afterward and said that they reminded her of Chef’s Table. She’s not wrong. I expected the cameras to come out any minute and for someone to appear at the table playing fast-paced violin music.

The restaurant prides itself on sourcing local ingredients, and that was apparent in the dishes I ordered. I started with goose eggs with wheat berries, green garlic, morel mushrooms, cheese rind broth, and breadcrumbs. I expected the dish to look like a bowl of risotto with two eggs on top, but no; the waiter carried it over in a basket full of straw. My jaw dropped. Is this real? I thought. Yes, it was.

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I had a hard time deciding on a main dish. The waiter told us about scallops that they brought in from Maine. Apparently, it’s the end of scallop season so the best ones are only available for a little while longer. But then, I saw the Berkshire pork. The waiter said that they smoked it outside and described how flavorful the meat was. Sold, I said.

I was still thinking about how good that pork tasted this morning, which is the mark of an excellent dish. The meat was tender and juicy, and, like the waiter promised, even the fat had a rich flavor. It melted in my mouth. It made me question why I was ever a vegetarian.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 7.56.23 AMI looked forward to ordering dessert the entire meal. At the beginning of dinner, the waiter told me about one of their signature desserts, “Anne’s Garden.” It’s a lemon verbena panna cotta with flowers from an urban farm near the restaurant. It sounded unlike anything I’d ever tried before. I didn’t think twice before ordering one.

I was not disappointed. It came to the table in a glass like you would use for a terrarium. The lemon panna cotta was bright, light, and tart, the perfect complement to the heavier pork dish I ate before. The chocolate “soil” was crumbly and rich and the lime kaffir granita exploded flavor into my mouth like pop rocks. “It’s an edible terrarium!” Emma said. I also thought of it as an upscale dirt and worms, but then I felt guilty for thinking that because it was so much more than that: It was art.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 7.56.37 AMI almost cried at the end of the meal. I felt like I was on a high, kind of like after running a race but without doing any work. It was a mix of exhilaration, pleasure, and nostalgia. I didn’t want the experience to be over. I know I’ll be back soon, though. When you discover a place like Vicia, you can’t stay away for long.

Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Traveling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matcha Green Smoothie Bowl with Coconut and Ginger Papaya Granola

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 7.55.56 AMI made this matcha green smoothie bowl a couple weeks ago but I forgot to tell you about it. It deserves some air time.

Whenever I make a green smoothie, I think of the scene from Love when Gillian Jacobs makes a green smoothie, tastes it, makes a face like she’s about to puke, and then throws it down the sink. It’s pretty accurate.

I’ve found ways to make green smoothies more palatable, though.  I always add some form of sugar, because otherwise it’s just blended salad. I also add berries and fresh fruit to the top because the tartness and sweetness balances out the savory flavors in the bowl.

For this smoothie bowl, I added matcha powder. Matcha is one of those *trendy* ingredients that’s everywhere on social media, so initially I resisted using it. But I genuinely like the way it tastes. It has a little kick so it works well in sweeter dishes, and it adds depth to more bland food and drinks.

ANYWAY. I would highly recommend making a green smoothie bowl for breakfast one morning. It’s not something that you’ll want to do on the reg because, well, it’s healthy. Almost *too* healthy. And it doesn’t have the same allure as, say, a glazed doughnut. But every time I drink a green smoothie I feel like my insides won the lottery, so it has that going for it.

Another note: I used Milk & Honey‘s ginger papaya granola on top, but I know that not everyone will be able to find this (I think it’s just available in the Midwest). Feel free to use any kind of granola that you’d like, although I think that something with a little kick like this ginger/papaya variety would be best.

Here’s a song that’s good for making green smoothies or spending waaay too much money on powdered matcha.

Matcha Green Smoothie with Coconut and Ginger Papaya Granola (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 cup baby spinach leaves, packed
1 avocado, cut, pitted, and scooped
1 cup frozen mango
1 tbsp honey
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
raspberries, chia seeds, ginger papaya granola, sliced kiwi, shredded coconut for topping

Directions

Blend the baby spinach, avocado, frozen mango, honey, and almond milk in a blender on high until smooth. Top with the raspberries, chia seeds, ginger papaya granola, kiwi and shredded coconut. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Smoothie Bowls, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Pleasures: Toast and Jam

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When I was in Ste. Geneviève last weekend, I went into an antique store across the street from where I ate lunch. I found a lot of random trinkets, and I also literally stumbled on the shop owner napping (more on that later on my Instagram).

One of my favorite finds, though, was strawberry rhubarb jam from Chicken & the Hare, a farm located close to Ste. Geneviève in Bonne Terre, Missouri. I try to buy local jam every spring because it tastes better than the store bought kind. I should probably make my own soon, but I keep getting distracted by the convenience of buying it already canned and ready to go.

I couldn’t wait to try the jam Monday morning. I toasted some slices of Companion multigrain bread, spread some Kerrygold Irish butter on top and then slathered on the jam. I also sprinkled some hemp seeds on top because, why not? They looked like toast confetti.

Sometimes, I feel like making toast for breakfast is a cop out. Even though I know most of the world considers this a normal breakfast, I get distracted by smoothie bowls and slow cooker oatmeal. Then, I realized that breakfast can be whatever you want it to be. It can even be cold pizza, even though I wouldn’t do that EVERY morning.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this toast. It’s about appreciating the simple things in life, which, honestly, we could all do more of.

Posted in Breakfast, Traveling, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Matzo Crack

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Last night, I was too tired to cook a full Passover seder. Instead, I used all my energy to stay up late and make matzo crack. I knew the reward would be worth the effort.

I wasn’t wrong. The crack (it feels weird writing that) is crunchy, sweet, caramely, and salty because of the Maldon that I sprinkled on top. I started ruining pieces on purpose as I cut it up so I could eat more.

Matzo crack is pretty easy to make but there are a couple tricks. First, make sure you have mostly big pieces of matzo lying on a cookie sheet. It’s easier to spread toffee and chocolate over whole pieces than little crumbles of cracker.

Second, it’s probably wise to use the best chocolate chips you can find. Sure, any chocolate would do, but I used Guittard and it took my crack from above average to A++. I found myself “missing” the baking sheet and scattering chocolate chips all over the place so I could eat them by themselves.

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ANYWAY. I would highly recommend making this matzo crack as soon as possible. If you’re celebrating Passover full-force, it makes giving up bread more bearable. If you’re lapsed like me and you’re really only making matzo crack to satisfy your own cravings, it’s still delicious.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this matzo crack. It’s sweet, salty, and addictive. It’s good for most occasions, but probably not a Passover seder.

Matzo Crack (slightly adapted from Once Upon a Chef)

Ingredients

10 lightly salted matzos
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter
2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 (12-ounce) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard semisweet)
1 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes for sprinkling on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges, and top with sheet of parchment paper.

Cover baking sheet with matzos, cutting and piecing together as necessary to fill the entire pan.

Make toffee: Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture comes to a boil. (If it looks like it’s separating, just keep stirring; it will come together.) Once mixture comes to a boil, continue cooking and stirring for another 3 minutes until foamy and thickened. (Be extra careful — toffee will be very hot!) Immediately pour toffee over matzos and, using a spatula, spread into an even layer.

Put the pan into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the toffee topping is crackled and bubbling all over. Remove pan and place on wire cooling rack on the counter. Immediately scatter chocolate chips evenly over top. Wait 3-5 minutes for the chips to soften, then use a thin spatula to spread chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 45 minutes. Don’t leave it in the fridge too much longer, otherwise it will be hard to cut.

Lift foil overhang to transfer matzo crack onto a large cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and serve cold. Enjoy!

Posted in Chocolate, Dessert, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment