Tucked away in southwest Seattle is four acres of magic. Marra Farm is one of two remaining farms within Seattle city limits and grows 13,000 pounds of organic produce for low-income kids, seniors, and families living in the nearby South Park neighborhood. At Marra Farm, people can also learn how to grow their own food.
Today I was set to volunteer at Marra Farm with my Starbucks work family. Despite my love for the farm and its mission, I was definitely not thrilled at the prospect of several hours of manual labor in cold and wet weather.
That all changed once I arrived at Marra Farm and started working. We harvested kale, chard, lettuce, mustard greens, and radishes; washed all of the produce; pulled weeds; and hand-tilled the soil.
The heaviness of my digging fork, the unending rows of weeds, the gasp of dismay from someone finding a maggoty dead bird–it was dirty and hard, and I enjoyed every unromantic minute of it.
We picked berries everywhere. On the way to school. In between games of hide and seek and fort building. After bike rides. During daydreams.
We cradled berries in our hands, did our best to avoid the thorns.
Blackberries, marionberries, black raspberries, huckleberries. We didn’t know their names, just their tastes. How did we learn they weren’t poisonous? We just knew. We rarely washed the berries or saved them for later. We never got sick.
No matter how I long I live in the city, berries bring me back to wildness.
Filed under Essays, Sweet
My recipe is inspired by this one by Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef. Jenn’s quinoa version of this salad is delicious, but since I mostly eat a grain-free diet these days, I decided to break out the spiralizer and make zucchini noodles. My friend Bee gave me her Paderno spiralizer when she upgraded to a new model, but I’ve also used the low-tech Vegetti with good results. You can also cut your zucchini into thin strips using a mandoline slicer or a good old vegetable peeler.
This salad is filling on its own, but you could also add a protein. Tofu, shrimp, chicken, thin slices of beef, or even lightly battered fish would all work.
Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad
- 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or cut into thin strips
- 2 carrots, peeled and spiralized or grated
- 2 baby bok choy, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint, chopped
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from 3-4 limes
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or sugar of your choice)
- 2 ½ teaspoons fish sauce (or coconut aminos to make this salad vegan)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
Put the vegetables and herbs in a large serving bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I’m celebrating independence and self-determination this 4th of July weekend by supporting some of my favorite small businesses and entrepreneurs in Seattle.
On Saturday, July 2 from 11am -5pm, Chera Amlag and the Hood Famous Bakeshop crew will hold a dessert pop-up at The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill.
Chera is a woman after my own heart. She has combined two of my favorite things of all time: cheesecake and ube (a purple yam commonly used in Filipino desserts). Along with its classic ube cheesecake, Hood Famous will offer ube crinkle cookies, ube polvoron, and some new treats, including strawberry calamansi marshmallows and Vietnamese coffee cheesecake.
Chera’s good friend and talented chef, Tarik Abdullah, will host his own sweet pop-up on July 3 from 5pm-9pm at Refresh Frozen Desserts and Espresso on Capitol Hill. The Rose & Blossom pop-up will feature Moroccan-inspired desserts and music by Proh Mic.
Pursue some happiness this weekend by buying local sweet treats!
As I often say to my son: Life is a series of transitions.
This time last year I celebrated a major milestone. I had exercised at least five times a week for 52 consecutive weeks. I was in perhaps the best shape of my life, and I immediately committed to another year of fitness and health.
Halfway through my personal challenge, my dad passed away.
Everyone at my office is sick, recovering from being sick, or like me, fighting like hell not to get sick. That’s why I made Filipino arroz caldo for dinner. It’s traditionally a savory rice porridge with chicken, garlic, and ginger. I cooked a Paleo version using cauliflower rice, which is made by putting cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulsing until the cauliflower is the size of rice grains. My arroz caldo is inspired by Joshua Bozel’s recipe for Serious Eats and Mary J. Gines’s recipe for Fit Living Foodies.
Paleo Filipino “Arroz Caldo”
- 2/3 cup canola oil (or coconut oil), divided
- 12 cloves of garlic, minced (yes, 12!)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups cauliflower rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
Heat 1/3 cup oil in small pan over medium heat. Add half of the minced garlic and cook until garlic turns light brown. Place garlic in fine-mesh strainer and drain. Then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining 1/3 cup oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the sliced onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft but not brown. Next add the rest of your garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.
Place chicken in pot and cook until no longer pink. Then add cauliflower rice, chicken stock, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until it has reached your desired consistency. Add more fish sauce and lime juice to taste.
Ladle arroz caldo into bowls and top with green onions and fried garlic.
I don’t really write recipes–I’d rather spend my time cooking. But my friends Dawn and Helen asked me to put this one together. It’s inspired by RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan, a blogger you should definitely check out if you want to explore vegan and/or Filipino food.
This recipe is vegan, but you could modify it to meet your dietary needs or taste preferences. It can stand alone as a main dish or as a hearty side. Eat it with rice and bagoong if you’re feeling Filipino.
Kabocha Squash and Kale in Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine (or your fat of choice)
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, middle stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
- 4-6 cups kabocha squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (half of a small-to-medium squash)
- 2 14 oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
Melt vegan margarine over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Put in minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in kale and cook for 5 minutes until kale is wilted. Place chopped squash in pan, pour in coconut milk, and add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.