Currently viewing the tag: "lunch"

lunch | the vanilla bean blog
Five days a week I make a lunch for my daughter to take to school. Some days she helps, picking and choosing what kind of sandwich, treats, and fruits and vegetables are tucked inside her lunch bag. I trim the crusts from her sandwich, and sneak a little note inside, reminding [W] that we are thinking of her, missing her. Other times I am muttering and grumbling as I make it, remembering right before bed that it needs to get done. Those are the nights I rummage through cupboards as I realize I am out of bread again, and desperately trying to find anything to fill up her bag.
lunch | the vanilla bean blog
But the point is, my daughter has a lunch, every day. And while occasionally it’s a hodgepodge affair, she always has healthy food to eat, and she never goes without. But sadly, there are many, many children who do not have this luxury. Did you know that 65% of all South African children live in poverty, and 20% of those children are orphans? The Lunchbox Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a daily meal for orphaned and vulnerable school children in township and rural areas of South Africa, a country where 65% of all children live in poverty. Receiving food encourages these children to stay in school and obtain their education. Today I have partnered with them and The Giving Table to help raise awareness for this important cause.

$10 can feed a child for a month, $100 for a year. The simple act of providing each child with protein-rich peanut butter sandwiches and a piece of fruit, or hearty soups, stews with vegetables or enriched porridge, makes a substantial difference as it nurtures and encourages each child’s attendance and performance at school. Not only is it often their only guaranteed meal of a day, but children are more likely to attend and stay in school to obtain this basic sustenance.

Interested in helping? Help us raise $5,000 by giving whatever you can today. Every child deserves lunch.
lunch | the vanilla bean blog
*All text in italics is from The Lunchbox Fund.

creamy carrot orange soup | the vanilla bean blog

It’s been cold here, colder than we’ve known. I’ve found myself hiding in layers of sweaters and socks and hand-me-down quilts. Our house creaks and booms as the wind tries to make it’s way in, but it cannot find us here. We all huddle close, eating popcorn and watching movies and losing ourselves in familiar books.

Soup and bread seemed like logical choices the past few days. After too many weeks of too many treats, my body begs for simple, clean foods: dug from the earth, and plucked from a tree.

‘The cold finds the skin but doesn’t find the heart. What I didn’t know then was that the cold constricts the blood vessels, which is important when one needs to staunch a hemorrhage, when one needs to stop the blood from flowing. So I’ll take my frosty windows and white world just as long as it pulls, pushes so the heart finds warmth and beats stronger, a fire, a flame, a Caribbean sea, a cup of coffee, you and you and you and me.’ – Melody Heide

A few things:

*I think this is my favorite part of Downton Abbey: if Downton Abbey took place entirely on Facebook. (spoiler alert)

*I received Tartine 3 for Christmas – it’s beautiful.

*My dear friend Melody wrote that paragraph above; the rest of her piece is here.

*Chia Lemonade! I love these photograph.

*I have a little interview in this month’s Spenser magazine, and also in the Huffington Post.


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warm lentil salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese | the vanilla bean blog

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)

trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)

honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at this wedding)

never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)

[e.e. cummings, ninety-five poems]

warm lentil salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese | the vanilla bean blog

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Corn and Poblano Orzo
It’s the summer of fun! For reasons before mentioned, I am lining up guest posts for this summer. Up next is Nicole from Eat This Poem, who is always inspiring, whether pairing food and literature, or doing good with food through The Giving Table.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” –Henry James

Hi everyone, I’m excited to be posting on Sarah’s site this summer!

During the years my husband and I dated in college, the best way to spend quality time together was to leave the house. With many roommates between us, privacy was hard to find when making dinner at home meant sharing the kitchen or dining table with several other people.

Our solution was to spend more time at the beach. We’d pick up burritos or pack pasta salad, then drive to the water. Regardless of the season (and even if the rain meant staying huddled up in the car), these meals became sacred time for us. Once we turned 21, we took to picnicking under the oak trees in nearby Santa Ynez and sipped wine from our tasting alongside cheese and crackers from our favorite local store.

The setting isn’t as important as the company, though. And any time of year will do, but summer is especially wonderful for eating outdoors. I’m inclined to agree with Henry James that there is a certain amount of beauty in the words summer afternoon. It implies the sweetness, relaxation, and leisure that we have long associated with the season.

Wherever you find yourself, this is the kind of salad to pack. It can sit on the buffet table at your neighborhood BBQ, travel in the car to a concert, and keep you company under those oak trees.
Corn and Poblano Orzo
Corn and Poblano Orzo
Corn and Poblano Orzo

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simple mushroom pâté | the vanilla bean blog

Fifteen years ago I never would have imagined I might one day be sitting on my couch, writing a blog post. It’s possible I hadn’t even heard the word ‘blog’ and if I had, I would have thought it belonged in the same kind of category as ‘moist’ and ‘curdle’ and ‘pâté’. Also, I would not be eating mushrooms and especially not mushrooms in a pâté. That would have set my naive taste buds over the edge. But, thankfully, there is always hope for one to change. About fifteen years ago I was attending a small party at a family friend’s house; a house where I had spent a good portion of my childhood eating meals, spending nights, and sharing secrets, and found myself confronted with just that: mushroom pâté. It was sitting there, right there in the center of the table, surrounded by fancy cheeses and breads, various dips and foods to dip in the dips; and even though I wasn’t sure what it was at first glance, I knew it was something to avoid. I actually felt terrified when my host told me about it, certain it involved some kind of meat tube like my Grandmother kept in her fridge. My friend’s mother sidled right up and knowing me well (she had, after all, put up with my picky eating at countless sleepovers), encouraged me to try it. But my ten-year-old self had emerged and I stubbornly shook my head. She went on to politely insist, so there at her get-together I tried to act one-and-twenty and swallow what I was most afraid of. Low and behold the pâté was delicious, and I went home with the recipe stuffed in my coat pocket and a door wide open to a new world of food.

So now here I am, blogging about mushroom pâté. Really, it’s amazing how much we evolve when we are willing to take some risks and approach things differently. I try to remember this at every big twist and turn, but find it most important (although hardest) in the simple moments, those small gatherings.
simple mushroom pâté | the vanilla bean blog
simple mushroom pâté | the vanilla bean blog
‘Love will creep where it cannot go, will accomplish that by imperceptible methods,- being its own lever, fulcrum, and power, – which force could never achieve. Have you not seen the woods, in a late autumn morning, a poor fungus or mushroom, – a plant without any solidity, nay, that seemed nothing but a soft mush or jelly,-by its constant, total, and inconceivably gentle pushing, manage to break its way up through the frosty ground and to actually lift a hard crust on its head? It is the symbol of power of kindness.’ -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Man the Reformer, A Lecture

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forager's pie | the vanilla bean blog
This isn’t technically a foraging pie; I didn’t gather my mushrooms on Barbara Kingsolver’s land for a spectacular photo shoot that is to be featured on an up-and-coming food blog. Also, I know the word ‘forage’ has had a bad rap lately; deemed hipster-lingo and is often followed by an eye roll. However, a forager’s  pie sounded better than button-mushroom skillet bake  or shepherd-less extravaganza. And, when I thought of foraging mushrooms I instantly thought of hobbits and Farmer Maggot’s farm, which of course proves that I’ve always been more nerdy than hip, but I’ll call myself a romantic and name it what I will.

If you are the foraging type (which really, I do find terribly charming regardless of what anyone says), you could gather exotic, hard-to-find mushrooms for this pie. Or, like me, you can frantically scoop plain old mushrooms into a bag at the co-op while watching your three year old son race by you with the child-sized grocery cart. He will then proceed to slam it into not one but two beautiful hipsters, and their deadly gazes remind you that yes, you did  forget to brush your hair that morning and yes, you have been wearing the same shirt every other day for the past two years. At this point there will be mushrooms scattered across the entire floor because the tongs used to pick up said mushrooms are made for delicate hands that have hours to inspect each and every individual one, and you have just tried to pick up twenty at a time. But, be comforted, because as you fall on hands and knees to crawl after those rolling white buttons, you will realize that you are, in fact, gathering them just like you had wanted to in the first place.
forager's pie | the vanilla bean blog

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To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

-Mary Oliver
I stare at my cutting board, chopping one red chile. Chop chop chop. A good chef never makes a sound with her knife a voice from my past whispers. Brushing it aside, I focus on the chile. The seeds have been scooped out; I can still feel their heat on my fingers, my thumb. I just barely remember not to rub my eyes and wash my hands viciously. The tiny white circles are set aside, there on a spoon, and I continue to dice. That small pepper is fierce, and begs to be thrown into the soup pot, to set fire to the corn, the lemongrass. I smile, knowing even a few months ago I would have omitted it, afraid of it. There is a small connection inside, some light peeking in a dark space. I ponder my expanding palate: the bitter and acidic and spicy, and wonder if it has anything to do with growing older, watching life give freely, and then take away. Sure of it, I confidently throw in the chopped red chile,
but not the seeds. They are still too hot. My husband is at work, but I hear him speak clearly, ‘Throw them in! Throw them all in, my Love. What are you afraid of? Why are you so afraid to burn?‘ But still I toss them in the trash, and they are sent outside with the rest of it. Somewhere, just out of sight, it is all piling; garbage heaped on top of garbage, groaning at the incalculable weight, unable to bury itself in the ground and make its peace with the earth. I imagine my fiery seeds tumbling between it all, itching to flame up and destroy the waste. But it is not their turn, not yet. Instead the seeds settle down far, they are waiting, watchful. For when I am ready I will have to find them myself, search through all the excess, this junk. I will dig with for them my own hands, then they will help me start a fire.
‘Harriet; I have nothing much in the way of religion, or even morality, but I do recognize a code of behaviour of sorts. I do know that the worst sin – perhaps the only sin – passion can commit, is to be joyless. It must lie down with laughter or make its bed in hell – there is no middle way…’ Lord Peter Wimsey Gaudy Night
‘As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness – just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.’ – Laura Ingalls Wilder
If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

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