in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-2in_the_kitchen_cecile_moliniein_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-4“In the Kitchen” is a series celebrating the family table––the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the people with whom we share it all. Each edition welcomes a new voice to this conversation on kitchen life and food, and today, I welcome Cécile Molinié, the inspiring creative at Cécile Moli and contributing member of See My Paris. Cécile is the mother to four children and lives in Paris, France, where she cherishes her kitchen as both the center of their family life and the touchpoint to nature. Welcome, Cécile!


I grew up in the French countryside and at a very young age became used to helping my mother grow the vegetable garden, pick the berries, plums or apples. I learned how to preserve some of them for winter and also about the real connection between man and nature. We had a very big kitchen with a view on the garden, and as I loved cooking and found it creative and relaxing after long days at school or in college, I tried a lot of recipes, from the daily ones to the very elaborate ones. I loved it!in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-13in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-7 in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-9 in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-8When I first moved to Paris to study law more than 20 years ago, space was scarce and the kitchen was very tiny. But there is a story about Parisian kitchens, even in very chic an large classic Parisian apartments. The first time I entered such a beautiful place, I was amazed that the kitchen was isolated from the rest of the apartment, put at the end of a long, dark corridor, close to the back stairway (in French, escalier de service: the staircase used by the maids and cooks to enter the apartments by a back door in the 19th century). Most Parisian apartments are made like this. The kitchen was the place no one should see. The living room, dining room and library were very large and opulent and the kitchen very small. It was the case in the three first places we lived in with my husband and growing family until we finally bought our current apartment six years ago.

It was a big space in a modern building which had been occupied by offices for 40 years and needed a full renovation. The architect and I decided to put the kitchen at the heart of the house, close to the bedrooms, the living room, dining room, with lots of light from the terrace and a place to eat or work at a big table, a place specifically dedicated to cooking. in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-3in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-11 in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-5in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-12So this is our Parisian kitchen, one that doesn’t look so Parisian in a way! This place is where we all gather for meals or after school for homework or tea time with friends. It is always warm and welcoming. I often take my computer there to work with the kids around me. The kids like to help me cooking when they have time. Little Miss always sets the table with the silver, while the others help me with the vegetables, or the sauce, and of course with the dessert!

I decided to share a typical French dish, La Blanquette de Veau. Even the name is evocative for an English speaking person; blanquette pronounces exactly like blanket.  It is the perfect comfort dish for the cold Autumn and Winter days that all my children love and ask for––the very same one my grandmother cooked when I visited her. The recipe was inspired by the children’s cookbook pictured, one that was mine when I was a child. It is really easy to make. It just takes time to prepare and must be watched. Afterward, I always keep the remaining broth and use it to make a soup for the evening with angel hair pasta or these small letters pasta, very popular in France with the children.in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-6in_the_kitchen_cecile_molinie-10LA BLANQUETTE DE VEAU (Veal Stew in a White Sauce) 

Serves 6

You need :

  • 1,2 kg (2 ½ pounds) of veal shoulder cut into little cubes
  • 1 shallot, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 big onion, peeled with the cloves stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut lenghtwise
  • 2 leeks mostly the white part (keep one green leaf for the bouquet garni below)
  • 1 bouquet garni (ie : 1 little branch of bay leaves, one of thyme, one green leaf of leek, a few springs of parsley) or at least only the bay leaves ; Tie all the herbs together into the leek leaf.
  • 1 table spoon sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • parsley or chives (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup 100 ml crème fraiche (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 500g white rice

Method :

  • Put the veal pieces in a large pot (cocotte in french) add 2 liters of cold water and bring to a boil.
  • Skim and add all the vegetables, bouquet garni and salt.
  • Add some water to cover everything if necessary
  • Cover, lower the heat and let cook for one hour.
  • When the veal and vegetables are tender, remove the bouquet garni.
  • Let it cool a little bit and leave the meat in the pot and put the broth in a large bowl.
  • Cook the rice
  • Make the roux : melt the butter in a large saucepan, add  the flour, it must get a little beige (not brown), add one or two pinches of salt. Then add, one at a time, 7 to 8 laddles (3 ½ to 4 cups) of broth into the saucepan, stirring constantly between each addition. The broth turns thicker and makes a creamy white sauce.
  • Mix the creme fraiche and egg yolk.
  • Add the creme fraiche and egg yolk mixture to the sauce and stop the heat.
  • Pour this sauce into the cocotte with the meat and vegetables.
  • Sprinkle with parsley or chives if your children like little green things on their food (mine don’t )

Serve immediately with the rice. Bon appétit !


All images and words by Cécile Molinié for Cloistered Away. You can find more of Cécile’s work on Instagram @cecilemoli and @seemyparis.

in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_life-10 “In the Kitchen” is a series celebrating the family table––the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the people with whom we share it all. Each edition welcomes a new voice to this conversation on kitchen life and food, and today, I welcome Susanna Hindman, the gentle, candid voice at Revisionary Life. She is the mother of two young children in Baltimore, Maryland, with a desire for simple foods and quality meal times, greatly inspired by her childhood home. Welcome, Susanna. 


I have a few distinct memories of sitting around the table as a family when I was a kid. The words chaotic, messy, loud, delicious, simple, and fast come to mind as I try to piece back together the scene of 7 kids sitting around the table my mom had stripped and refinished all on her own. She was a do-it-yourself kind of woman before it was popular to be so, refinishing furniture, painting better-than-wallpaper murals and details around our home, and homeschooling each and every one of us. She knew only one recipe when she first married, and even though it was my dad’s favorite, she refused to make it for their first year of marriage and diligently worked her way through the Betty Crocker cookbook instead. Today, she’s a free spirit in the kitchen and hardly ever glances at recipes. Spices and seasonings fly this way and that as she indiscriminately tosses dashes of them here and there, often creating little clouds and puffs of aromatics.

While she tried to pass on the experience and skills she’d gained over the years, I wasn’t always keen on absorbing them. So into marriage I went, armed with nothing but some serious pancake and pie skills. (I was a carb lover early on.) Predictably, I repeated the cycle, and the Better Home and Gardens cookbook and I became real good friends. In a way I’m glad, because learning to cook is one of the favorite things my husband and I did together as newlyweds. And thankfully my mom is only ever a phone call away.

in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_life-11in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_life-6in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_lifeEven though my abilities were lacking, my mom did manage to equip me with the basics early on. Already we’ve started introducing our 5-year-old to a few basic kitchen skills in the same way. We’ll see if she’s a better student than I was. My goal is to draw her into the process and give her a bigger vision of what goes in to creating a meal. I have all kinds of dreams about what that will look like as she grows, but for now, involving her can be anything from 5 minutes of chopping vegetables, to practicing fractions while measuring flour, to setting the table, to showing her how to discern when certain fruits are ripe enough to eat. All of that lives within the broader lesson of hospitality and welcome that we want our kids to catch a vision for as we entertain friends and invite in the unlikely stranger. We want so much more for our children than to simply master the mechanics of preparing a meal. Our hope is that in viewing and participating in the preparation that they would grow in identifying and offering the love and generosity that comes with the labor and creativity of that service. For now that looks like teaching them gratitude, proper table manners, and modeling heart-directed questions and dialogue. Pretty normal, often monotonous stuff, but foundational and necessary.

With an 11-month-old roaming underfoot, meal prep needs to be fast and uninvolved most nights. Embracing this particular season with young children, I’ve let go of fancy and labor-intensive dishes, and I tend to gravitate towards simple and easy instead. To me, when done right, simplicity has a sophistication all of its own. When our budget allows, I dress things up with fresh herbs, a special drink, or set out snacks of nice nuts and fruit.

in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_life-2in_the_kitchen_susanna_hindman_revisionary_life-8family_meals_revisionary_life-11Menu planning is something that helps me keep things simple and focused. I do this weekly, usually on Sunday night, preparing me to shop Monday morning. An Everlasting Meal and Family Meals have been recent sources of inspiration for me. To give my mom-brain a break, I’ve adopted a more systematic approach this year, assigning categories of meals to different days of the week. The structure narrows down my choices and helps me make decisions quickly and easily. The categories shift and change with the seasons, making room for variety and natural rhythm.

M O N D A Y | meatless

T U E S D A Y | tacos/soup

W E D N E S D A Y | salad

T H U R S D A Y | chicken anything/roast anything

F R I D A Y | pizza

S A T U R D A Y | leftovers or maybe out to eat

S U N D A Y | pasta

Since we’re still in the early years of parenting, gathering around the table for a meal isn’t always pretty and is rarely relaxing, but we try to keep a few habits in mind to help everyone enjoy the meal and each other’s company. Habits such as:

Practicing gratitude through prayer and compliments for the chef(s).

Exercising intentional relationship using open-ended questions. “What was something that made you sad today?” Can you tell us one way you were able to love someone today?”

Encouraging discovery through requiring everyone to take at least one bite of everything that’s served. (Bribery is sometimes employed for this job. Hashtag: honest motherhood.)

Our meal-time isn’t structured since my husband’s schedule is ever changing, and sometimes I scrap our menu plan and pull out my awesome pancake skills or go out for fast food instead. I’ve been known to cry over uncooperative piecrust and utter curses under my breath when something isn’t going as planned. Those are the nights we order pizza and my 5-year-old reminds me to “take deep breaths.” But there’s such value in the effort and so many benefits to the home-cooked, gather-around-the-table routine, that we aim to make it happen, night after night.

One of my favorite, low prep meals is spatchcock chicken. About an hour before meal-time, I prep the chicken and put it and some potatoes in to roast. 15-20 minutes before it’s done, I’ll add in some vegetables. That’s it! When my husband is home, he gets fancy with the vegetables, and no bribery is needed to polish off every last bite. That’s his recipe below.

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SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN, serves 4

fresh whole roasting chicken, ~5 lbs.

coarse salt

cracked pepper

lemon, optional

fresh thyme, optional

1/2 pound small roasting potatoes, quartered

olive oil

Prep. Rinse chicken and remove the giblets. Pre-heat oven to 425. Remove the chicken’s backbone (per Martha Stewart’s handy step-by-step instructions). Place in oven-proof skillet, 13×9 pan, or roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towels. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.

Sides. If there’s room in the pan, place quartered potatoes (drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and rosemary or thyme) alongside the chicken. Otherwise, place in a separate pan and roast simultaneously with the chicken.

Cook. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until juices run clear and potatoes are tender.

Serve. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the meat and sprinkle with fresh thyme just before serving, if desired.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS

2-3 strips thick-cut bacon

12 oz brussels sprouts, bases removed and cut in half

sea salt

cracked pepper

¼ cup white wine

handful of walnuts

handful of gorgonzola cheese

Prep. Chop up and fry 2-3 strips of thick-cut bacon in a cast iron skillet. Once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside for later. In the remaining bacon grease, sauté 1 clove of minced garlic. Once the garlic is golden, remove it from the pan and set aside for later.

Cook. Place brussels sprouts cut side down in bacon grease. Cook until tender (I prefer a slight crunch). Salt and pepper to taste while they are cooking. Immediately before removing the pan from heat, add 1/4 cup of white wine. Remove pan from heat.

Serve. Add bacon and garlic back to the pan. Sprinkle in walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. Best eaten while hot. Be aware that serving them in the cast iron skillet is great but that they will continue to cook some. So if you will not eat them soon, they may get overdone.


All images and content by Susanna Hindman for Cloistered Away. You can  find more from Susanna at Revisionary Life, and also on Facebook and Instagram

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“In the Kitchen” is a series celebrating the family table––the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the people with whom we share it all. Each edition welcomes a new voice to this conversation on kitchen life and food, and today, I welcome Myndi DeVore, the creative soul behind Myndi D and Myndi D Food. She is the mother of two children in Chicago, Illinois, and has an eye for simple design and clean foods, both which are reflected in her ideas and meal plans below. Welcome, Myndi!


I grew up in a family that valued cooking at home. We rarely went out to eat, and I learned the importance of the kitchen at a young age. In high school I taught myself to cook a few dishes and would make dinner once a week. When my husband Charlie and I were first married I was inspired to expand my skills in the kitchen. I dove into cookbooks and we began hosting friends for dinners in our little apartment in the back half of a rambling Victorian house at the top of a hill. Our kitchen was scarcely large enough for two people to stand in, but it was ours and felt like a great luxury after living with roommates. We spent many nights washing dishes in the wee hours of the morning after bidding our friends farewell. As I gained confidence in the kitchen I moved away from processed ingredients and towards cooking from scratch.

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Almost twelve years later I have continued building on those roots we put down in that cozy kitchen. I still focus on avoiding processed foods and feeding our family healthy, home cooked food. We eat everything but veer towards a plant-based vegetarian diet, eating meat once or twice a week. We try to limit eating out to once a week, so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals for our family of four. As our family has expanded, I’ve come to rely on planning and prepping food ahead of time.

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Typically, I sit down on Sunday and plan out our week. I warm up some morning coffee, sit down with my favorite cookbooks and make a list. Often I follow a basic template that shifts with the seasons. I find following a template, at least for this phase of our life with young kids, means I don’t feel overwhelmed with meal planning. Our weeks typically go something like this:

 

MONDAY | Something vegetarian or vegan. When in doubt a pan of roast vegetables with rice and avocado. When we’re in crisis mode? Pancakes or eggs.

TUESDAY | Something in the Mexican family. Think tacos, salads, build your own burrito bowls, enchiladas, migas, etc.  

WEDNESDAY | Wednesdays are busy nights for us, so I’ve come to rely on the slow cooker. Typically I’ll do a curry, braise, or a soup. When I’m on my game I double the slow cooker recipe and put half of the prepared dish in the freezer. In the summer, this night gets replaced with grill night. I like to double up on what we grill too, making enough extra to cover our lunches and other meals.

THURSDAY | Leftovers! In a pinch, my go to is pan frying leftovers and putting an egg on top.

FRIDAY + SATURDAY | Weekends are flexible. Sometimes we eat leftovers. Sometimes we go out. Sometimes we make pizza. Sometimes we order takeout. Sometimes we put the kids to bed and make a cheese plate or a special date night dinner.

SUNDAY |  Sundays are family days. It’s usually the night I cook something more time consuming or tackle a more challenging recipe. We usually do an earlier dinner around 5pm with time afterwards for playing games or watching a movie.

 

in_the_kitchen_myndi_devore-2in_the_kitchen_myndi_devore-5Our girls love to help in the kitchen. They wash lettuce, grate ginger, pluck herbs, peel and chop vegetables, and stir ingredients. I find involving them usually encourages them to try new things. When we grocery shop I ask them to pick some vegetables and fruit for snacking. If they pick it, they’re more likely to eat it (usually). When it comes to feeding kids, I’ve learned to never underestimate them and that persistence pays off. We’ve always prepared one meal for the family.  They can choose not to finish it, but we always ask them (and encourage and cajole a little) to try a bit of each item on their plate.

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Cooking meals day in and day out is work. Often it’s less inspired and more a chore to see to it that everyone gets fed. But I never regret taking the time to prepare a meal. Sitting at the table with my family restores my spirit no matter what we are eating. in_the_kitchen_myndi_devore-8in_the_kitchen_myndi_devore-4in_the_kitchen_myndi_devore-22

TIPS

+ Keep a tidy, uncluttered kitchen. Clean your fridge weekly and take note of your pantry items.

+ Set aside an hour each week to cook ahead and prep food for the week. Slice vegetables, make a vinaigrette, cook a protein, grain, and something for breakfast.

+ Check out cookbooks from the library to give them a test run before purchasing. Challenge yourself to cook and try new things.

+ Keep a list on the fridge or a notebook handy to write down recipes that work. Even though you think you’ll remember every brilliant meal, you won’t. You’ll have a list of easy, go-to recipes at the ready.

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This was one of the first recipes I made when Charlie and I were married. It felt fancy enough for guests, but perfect enough for the two of us, giving us  plenty of leftovers for the freezer. It has evolved since that first dinner party and is a perfect template to adjust to suit your family’s taste.

YELLOW CURRY + RICE

Curry 
1 T. coconut oil

1/2 C. minced onion 

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

4 tsp. minced ginger 

2 C. chicken or vegetable stock 

1 tsp. cumin 

1 tsp. coriander 

1 tsp. paprika 

½ tsp. salt 

½ tsp. pepper 

½ tsp. turmeric 

2 cans coconut milk (don’t bother with light)
5 C. thinly sliced vegetables (We typically do zucchini, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and peas)


Peanut Sauce

1 tsp. coconut oil

½ C. peanut butter
(sub almond butter for allergies)
4 T. water

2 T. tamari

2 tsp. rice vinegar

2. tsp. lime juice

2-3 C. cooked chopped chicken, fish, or tofu (optional)

 

COOKED BROWN RICE or QUINOA, for serving
Garnish: toasted coconut, cilantro, green onions, hot sauce

  1. Begin by heating the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until softened, then add the spices. Cook for 30 seconds and add the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the coconut milk. Bring mixture back up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add the thinly sliced vegetables. Simmer mixture for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables become tender. Add cooked protein if using. Stir well. 
  2. Just before serving, mix up the peanut sauce by combining the peanut butter, water, tamari, rice vinegar, lime juice, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat briefly until the mixture begins to bubble, 2-3 minutes. If it is too thick, add a splash of water. Taste and add more lime juice if it needs it.
  3. Spoon rice on to the plates and top with the curry and then a drizzle of the peanut sauce and garnishes on top.

All images and content by Myndi DeVore for Cloistered Away. You can find more from Myndi on Instagram at @myndid and @myndidfood

 

turning_thirteen

Mark and I always knew thirteen would be a monumental year for our children. We want it to be. The teen years are such a unique and sweet window of time, chocked full with beautiful and large changes––puberty! driving! hormones! oh my. There are umpteen reasons for parents to panic about these transitional years, and for the most part, it seems those panicked concerns receive the bulk of attention in the parenting world. Why not instead welcome the teen years, celebrate the closing of one period of life and the opening of another? We took notes from the Jewish Bar Mitzvah tradition, adapting the ceremonial part to our own faith and style.

We invited close friends and family to the evening, asking our parents to prepare a blessing and inviting friends in our community to do the same. Our home projects lurched into overdrive over the summer to finish painting the house and clearing the debris from the trees that came down this summer. Mark built tables for the driveway, and my parents came to help hang lights and fill the garden beds and window boxes my father made. My brother smoked brisket and several friends from our community brought sides and helped cut the cake. I completely forgot to pull out my camera, meaning I didn’t take a single photo, so I feel particularly thankful for these two images above that my sister took before everyone arrived, for the phone images friends and family have shared, and for the video my brother-in-law put together below.

I’ve often remarked that the longer I parent the less confident I feel as a parent. Perhaps it is age and wisdom, or simply the accumulation of small failures over thirteen years. What life has taught me so far is that grace and gentleness is necessary for everyone to give and receive, and also that perfection, whether in aesthetics or behavior, is an empty goal. Life is valuable because of the connection we have to others, both inside and outside of our family, both in giving and receiving. Although Liam directly received so many beautiful and encouraging words that night, Mark and I feel we quite possibly received the most. Our hearts feel weighted with gratitude by the ways those we are connected to loved on our son and welcomed him into his young adult years. Here’s a snippet of the evening below, including bits of the letters each member of our family wrote to Liam. We hope you enjoy.

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Although I often share images or videos of our food and family table, I’m also curious how other families connect around the table. What are other kitchen spaces like and how do they include children in the process? Is there even a process? Wink. What type of meals  do other homes prefer and how do they make time together and experience food? This fall, I’m beginning a new series “In the Kitchen” where I plan to introduce other voices into this conversation on kitchen life and food. Each one will share something a bit different from the next, as location and homes and family life vary, but each will share a recipe or two, something to try in our own home. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

To begin the series, I’m introducing Emily Nelson, a swoon-worthy food blogger at Gather&Dine and a mother of two in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a quiet soul with a broad palate and a penchant for whole foods, and I cannot wait to try her Caponata. Welcome, Emily!


in-the-kitchen-emily-nelson-2 in-the-kitchen-emily-nelson-1When we built our house five years ago, I knew I wanted the kitchen to be at the very center of our home since gathering, cooking, and eating together are such important parts of family life.   I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen, and both my children took a natural interest in working alongside me from a very early age.   Pouring, mixing, and kneading were all fun and relatively easy tasks for them when they were young, and I have fond memories of messy afternoon baking sessions together.  More recently we’ve been focusing a bit more on knife skills, and they have a great sense of accomplishment when they see a heaping bowl of vegetables they’ve chopped entirely on their own.  Working together in the kitchen has been a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with one another.  At the same time, the children build confidence and simultaneously acquire valuable skills to last their lifetimes.

Preparing food together also gives us opportunities to discuss healthy eating habits, which is especially helpful as the children become more independent and capable of making their own food choices.  As a family, we try to eat according to whatever is fresh and seasonal with an overall wholesome and natural approach to food.  While we do not adhere to a vegetarian diet, I do draw a lot of inspiration from various vegetarian cookbooks and blogs.  Both Deborah Madision’s The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food and have heavily influenced my way of cooking and have been invaluable resources.

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Meal planning once a week helps me to stay organized and minimizes trips to the store.  I find cookbook perusing a delight rather than a chore, and I keep a running list of recipes I want to try.  With my ever-growing list of recipes, I’m never out of ideas when it comes time for my weekly meal planning.  I enjoy experimenting with food so there tends to be a lot of variety in our dinners, but I do try to incorporate at least one favorite and familiar meal on the menu every week.  This helps with building comfort around the table, and also lends to sense of family identity.  Sometimes the kids will join in helping to plan the meals, and Erin Gleeson’s Forest Feast for Kids has been a cookbook they have especially enjoyed.  

We are very intentional about prioritizing our family dinners together.  More and more as the kids have become older, I’m finding that there are numerous activities which can pull us apart at dinnertime.  We try to fight against this as best as we can, and only schedule extracurricular activities during the dinner hour when we absolutely have to.  It’s not easy, but guarding our mealtime together has been a priority nonetheless.  Cooking and eating together has deepened our connections and relationships with each other, and has overall helped us to be a close family.

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This caponata is traditionally served along with some crusty bread, and I think it also goes particularly well with grilled rosemary chicken.   It’s a meal that can please both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, and is well suited for gatherings of all sorts.  The kids helped with everything from washing and chopping the vegetables to sautéing and garnishing, so this was a family meal in the truest sense.  

CAPONATA

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound

1 red bell pepper

1 red onion

4 ripe tomatoes, about 1 pound

2 tablespoons capers, drained

¾ cup green olives, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

chopped parsley to garnish

  1. Chop eggplant, red pepper, and onion into ¾-inch pieces.  
  2. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add eggplant, pepper, and onions and cook until vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir for an additional minute.  
  3. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar, and salt.  Turn heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.  We enjoy this when the vegetables are not overly soft, but if you prefer a softer caponata, simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  4. Garnish with pine nuts and a generous handful of parsley.  Serve warm or at room temperature with grilled rosemary chicken and some crusty bread.  

 

GRILLED ROSEMARY CHICKEN

4 chicken breasts, about 2 pounds

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

lemon wedges and rosemary sprigs for garnish, optional

  1. Place chicken between 2 pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to pound the chicken until it reaches an even 1/2 –inch thickness.  
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Grill chicken breasts for 3-5 minutes on each side.  Garnish with lemon wedges and rosemary along with an additional drizzle of olive oil.  

 All images by Emily Nelson for Cloistered Away. You can find more from Emily at Gather&Dine and also on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

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I regularly have people ask me how I plan our family meals, and also how I include the kids in the kitchen. I’ve been working on a small upcoming project regarding this topic, which I’ll have more on soon, but for now, I thought I’d share a sample meal plan from our summer table, as it can be helpful for me to peek in on what others are doing when I’m in a rut. As for recipe books, I’ve been mostly using Clean Slate––which I love for the juice/smoothie recipes, educational front matter on clean eating, and detox plans for when for my system feels inflamed (often after summer vacations)––and It’s All Easy––because I am an unabashed GP fan and I love recipes that sound fancier than they are, such as cauliflower tabbouleh, zuni sheet pan chicken, and Bo Bun salad.

Between May and October, our family almost exclusively grills meat, saving the cool air and energy indoors. We still enjoy weekly pancakes on the griddle each Sunday morning and the occasional roasted vegetables with dinner, but more often we eat our veggies raw and varied in these hot months––chopped, spiraled, sliced, minced, or even whole. I find the varied presentation helps disguise their simple nature and also the feeling of redundancy, “carrots for snack again?” Slice or chop them differently, and you may never notice.

Summer produce is my favorite for three reasons: peaches, watermelon, and berries. These fruit naturally end up on our weekly menu in any manner until the season’s end. For simplicity right now, dinner is the only planned meal. Breakfast and lunch are an assortment each family member chooses from at will. We encourage taking only what you’ll finish, and always being considerate of others if you’re about to finish something off. I’m fairly certain years of making morning eggs has burned us out a bit, and no one seems to complain when they are gone for the week. Wink.  Dinner is specifically planned each night, and on the best nights, there’s leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day. I sometimes shift evening meals around when unexpected things occur in a week (which they almost always do), so it’s nice to have a solid crockpot choice (shredded BBQ chicken for us this week) or an accessible main course for last minute meals. I often have frozen chicken breast or tilapia in the freezer for this reason. One easily grills and the other quickly thaws when I’m in a pinch. For those who are interested, here’s this week’s menu:

 

breakfast

eggs with mixed greens and berries

red or green juice

cereal/oatmeal with berries

fruit + yogurt

lunch

dinner leftovers

lunch meat or hard-boiled eggs

spinach salad with veggies

chips + fresh fruit

• dinner

 grilled pork tenderloin stuffed with fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, served with roasted green beans and asparagus

grilled chicken breast, served with lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes

street tacos, a weekly community meal with friends

shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches, served with jalapeño coleslaw and mixed salad greens

Bo Bun Vietnamese salad with grilled shrimp

grilled salmon, served with cauliflower tabbouleh

one family eat out night

Today marks the beginning of a new month and a long holiday weekend here. We’re packing up again to travel and visit family, and also to find ways to keep cool in this Southern heat. When the weather grows this stifling, it seems our family only wants to eat grilled or chilled foods: grilled meats and veggies, salads, chilled berries, and of course watermelon. For all of you looking for different ways to enjoy your watermelon, here are eight recipes I’m enjoying (or planning to make) right now. You can click the image to reach the recipe, and enjoy! I hope your weekend is slow, beautiful, and refreshing.

seeking_rest_and_green_juice honoring_rest_and_green_juice-

There’s been an unplanned, obvious lull in this space the last two months, and I’ll admit on certain days, I’ve been frustrated by it. In short, there are simply too many things that I want to do in a day, and not enough time or enough of me to do it all. I started April intending to write about the importance of self-care in motherhood, and well, it turns out, taking care of myself actually trumped writing about it. Go figure. As I shared on Instagram the other day, 2016 is teaching me deep lessons in self-care and gentleness toward myself in this mothering journey, and I do plan to begin unfolding some of those lessons beginning next week. May, a month set apart for celebrating mothers, seems perfect for this topic.

In the meantime, I wanted to end April with something nourishing for the weekend: two favorite juice recipes and a quote from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, “Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” Give yourself permission to say no to something this weekend, to rest fully for some bit of time in a way that fills your soul. Maybe it’s watching a film or reading a book. Maybe it’s going for a walk or having a night out. Whatever it is, make some time for it. Happy weekend to you. x


 

WEEKEND GREEN JUICE

1/2 lemon, chopped

1 English cucumber, chopped

2 tart apples, chopped + cored

a small nub of ginger (optional)

pinch of cayenne

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WEEKEND RED JUICE

1 beet, chopped

1 grapefruit, peeled+chopped

2 oranges, peeled+chopped

1 lemon, peeled

1 nob of ginger

 

kale_gruyere_cheese_quicheYesterday morning began harrowed, everyone impatient and on guard, like the friction of too many short notes held together. Even on my best mornings those emotions can be exhausting to direct, but on this morning I too felt myself sucked in, hands in the air. It wasn’t even 8am. Years down this homeschooling and motherhood road I’ve learned a few tricks for moments like these, ways to recover ourselves before we say or do things we regret. I say tricks because sometimes leading my children is also a provision for myself; sometimes I am the one needing to recover.

At any other time in the day, I might send the kids outdoors to play and release their emotion into larger spaces. A house isn’t intended to hold every part of us after all. This is the purpose of windows and doors. Yet it was early. We were still in PJs, struggling through our morning routine, and the day itself appeared overcast and shadowy. We prayed together as a family, each plainly acknowledging our hearts and emotions, and then we began our day again.

Burke asked to make everyone quiche for breakfast, and I almost reflexively said no. We were behind our usual routine, and I knew a quiche would set us a bit farther from our intentions for the day. Gratefully, I paused long enough to remember sometimes the most important thing that happens in a day isn’t the one on the list. I said yes instead. We grabbed a couple of frozen pie crusts in the freezer. Although I prefer handmade crusts, having a couple of frozen baked goods on hand can work as a practical trick of its own in a pinch. I turned on instrumental music, gathered our current poetry book and morning read-a-loud, and an hour later, we were laughing together again, gushing over peeled citrus and warm quiche. We improvised the rest of the day for our delayed start, for our hour well-spent.

Kale + Gruyere Quiche

  • 1 pie crusts, pre-made or made ahead of time
  • 6 eggs
  • .5 cup heavy cream
  • 1.5 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 3-4 large kale leaves, washed, chopped + stems removed, about 2 cups (omit for a simple cheese quiche, also pictured)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Sauté the shallots over medium heat in a bit of oil or butter until translucent. Using a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper well. Layer the cheese and shallots in the pie crust. Add the fresh kale, covering the cheese and shallots. Pour the egg mixture over the kale to the rim of the pie crust. Kale will be sticking out a bit, but should be mostly covered. (You may have extra egg mixture leftover.) Bake 30-40 minutes, until the quiche is golden and puffed up. Allow to cool before serving.

*ADDITIONAL NOTES: If you prefer not to have your kale crispy at the top of the quiche, add it to the pan of shallots and sauté until it softens. The bake time and quantity of egg mixture will vary based on the type and size of the crust.