Guaranteed to please meat lovers, Italians, and veggie-heads alike!
Lasagna-style zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato sauce, meaty eggplant, fresh ricotta, and crispy mushrooms
Guaranteed to please meat lovers, Italians, and veggie-heads alike!
If you're a gardener or you know a gardener, you've probably found yourself with an abundance of overgrown zucchinis. I do a little harvest from the garden every couple of days and even though I swear I've picked all the zucchini there are to be picked, somehow there's always a gigantic one hiding out that I missed last time around. These massive zucchinis start to pile up in the fridge as I silently protest baking them into something. Don't get me wrong, I love baked goods, but I don't need to make dozen muffins each week for a household of two. And a dozen muffins doesn't even make a dent in the rapidly mounding pile of zucchini giants. Because, don't forget, I still have plenty of young zucchini, lovely and soft, ripe for the eating! So the giants sit and wait to be loved while I think desperately about ways to love them that don't involve sugar and flour. Such problems I have, huh? Well, fear not dear readers, for I have found a solution. A few weeks ago I made a pasta dish with zucchini noodles (a delicious little work in progress that I intend to post soon), and it got me thinking about the great potential these subtle little veggies have. I like the zucchini noodle concept, but I have a few qualms with the common zucchini noodle, the foremost of which is moisture. Pasta noodles, not watery. Zucchini noodles, way too watery. But not these zucchini noodles. No, no. These zucchini noodle are salted, squeezed, and baked until they retain just the right amount of moisture. And magnificent as they are, there is A LOT more to love of this lasagna. This is one of the best lasagnas I've ever eaten, and I say this as someone who grew up eating lasagna every other week from skilled Italian mamas and aunties and nanas.
A flavorful, authentic tomato sauce made with fresh roma tomatoes reduced for four hours
I can't wait for fall. I know that it's almost September, but fall doesn't really reach southern California until November, so I still have a couple more months of heat to survive. This week, however, we have been graced with a few cool, cloudy mornings and it's making me long for the outdoors in a serious way. Sunday morning I I finally got a solid four hours of gardening in. Weeding, pulling up some diseased Solanaceae, a bit of digging, planning a new fenced-in winter garden spot... it was so lovely. I know for most people yard work like this doesn't equate to tranquility and enjoyment, but if you've ever fallen in love with gardening, then you understand. Sometimes when I'm lazily sitting inside, I too grunt at the thought of going out back and pulling up invasive palm seedlings or trying to de-scale the banana trees. But once I get out there, it's an entirely different story- feeling the dirt under my fingertips, smelling the fragrant volatiles released by the herbs, watching butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees dance around the yard... Gardening makes me feel connected to the earth. It awakens me to reality of this truly incredible planet continuously gives rise to the intricate complexity of life in its vast multitude of forms. I'm not just planting a garden, I'm facilitating the beginnings of a thriving garden ecosystem. One that I hope will outlive me.
Cheddar polenta, savory sauteed mushrooms, and tangy green tomatoes and pepperoncini
Man, have I been a serious grump this week. I've woken up everyday with a kind of chip on my shoulder- easily agitated, unfocused, irritable. And no, it's not "that time of the month". Sometimes these things just happen, but usually I'm quicker to recognize it and to confront myself about my poor attitude. This week, though, I just kind of stewed in it as if I had no control of the situation, no choice but to be grumpy and miserable. I think a lot of my discontent can be traced back to work. I'm scattered- working on several different projects and developing some new ones. And if you haven't figured this out about me yet, scattered is not my thing. I like lists, objectives, and deadlines- not ambiguity and flip-flopping. It's nearly impossible for me to really get in to something when I have to continually shift gears. And on top of that, I keep finding myself getting sucked into helping other people do their work. Long, hot overnights in El Centro to help a lab mate, going into the lab on a weekend (sacrilege!) to measure leaf traits for some other offshoot project... things I really don't want to do, but feel too guilty to decline. But the thing is, none of that is really an excuse. Just because certain aspects of my life are not ideal at the moment, doesn't mean I just get to throw in the towel and give up on having a good week. Work is not my life. My life has many other facets to it, and they (as well as poor Chris, whom I've been snapping at all week) shouldn't have to suffer just because I'm not really feeling grad school a the moment.
Crunchy, tangy, and full of flavor
The rain never came. It really looked as though it would, but instead it was just uncomfortably humid. Oh well, so much for that... I am happy to report, however, that I did manage to get a respectable amount of work done. And guess what? In the two days since then, I've gotten even more done. Slowly but surely I'm starting to gain some momentum. There are really two major obstacles for me in getting into any good habit- starting and keeping momentum. I always find starting things difficult, largely because I don't like to start anything I don't intend to see through and, to a lesser extent, because I'm a big proponent of trying to start out on the right foot, as they say. So if I think about it for long enough to grasp the full weight of what it will mean to choose to start something, I'm prone to being easily deterred. But with a little planning and a lot of reminding myself that I don't need to do everything all at once, I can get over that hurdle. The second bit is gaining and maintaining momentum. I find that this requires a certain amount of effort and commitment until that point in time where I hit the sweet spot- where said habit becomes just another part of my flow. My qualifying exams turned my flow into something unrecognizable. Most of it's contents were bagged up and tossed into storage like a bunch of old toys that you don't have time to play with anymore. I would start studying by 8 am and stop around 8 pm, putting in only slightly shorter days on the weekends. In retrospect, I'm actually a little amazed I still found the time to take Chaco on our daily hour-long escapades and get dinner on the table more nights than not.
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.