eat well, live free


With a foundation of vegetables, legumes and serious spice, exploring the Ethiopian palate has created a playground for me in my kitchen. Lentils, split peas, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans all take on new forms and a new life when they are pulverized, mashed and stewed.

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Slow cooked, simmering tofu in a simple tomato and coconut base makes a delicate summer stew. Paired with an arugula and spinach salad with fresh local berries, this meal is perfect for an outdoor dinner in the garden. We used chives and tomatoes from our garden making it as fresh as possible.

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Saturday mornings, sleeping in (past 6 a.m.) and laying in bed for a while thinking about the excitement of the day to come is probably the most special time of the week.  Moments that the only energy spent is purely on the excitement of a hike, working in the garden or a day of shopping and errands, are something to cherish in our fast paced lives.  And then comes the inevitable question of the day, “What’s for breakfast?”

Marcos’ favorite breakfast, hands down, is anything you can pour maple syrup on.  You could give the guy hot cereal, cold cereal, Greek yogurt or fresh peanut butter- set a jug of real maple syrup on the table and he is a happy man.

My favorite breakfast meal is a creamy bowl of hot porridge.

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Coconut Lime Tofu

Marcos and I have met so many incredible friends through this blog in only 7 months. As a brand new married couple we have embarked on this project that has turned into so much more than a website with pics and recipes. Marcos is working as a food photographer at Mayahuel, I am now on the board of  the California Food Literacy Center and we have made amazing new friends like Marjorie, the blogger behind This is my dinner.

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Stir fry-  It seems like such a simple main dish to master.  Veggies, lightly fried in a pan, with sauce. Regardless, over the years I have made many inedible stir fries that went into the trash.  Soggy, limp, overly salty, disastrous flavor combinations and unsatisfying.  I consulted the internet and found ridiculous and difficult recipes that included ingredients such as ketchup and sugar.  For years now I have believed that there is a stir fry recipe conspiracy.

My vision of a perfect stir-fry is a piping hot dish of fresh vegetables, that are still intact both in form and true flavor, colorful and vibrant, lightly glazed in a layer of chili’s and salt.

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One thing I Love to do is host dinner parties in our home. I adore cooking for people, sharing new types of food, especially vegetarian dishes (or vegan, oh my!) with meat eaters. At our dinner parties we often pass around our favorite specialty items like The Meadow salts and the traditional balsamic vinegar. It’s a blast. So, when I went to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica a few months ago, I immediately thought I should invite some of those folks over for dinner.

As this party began to take shape and save the date e-mails were sent out, a few common themes kept emerging. 1) I’ve been cooking for years, but I have been blogging for only. five. months. 2) I would be cooking for “FOOD” bloggers 3) Most of the invitees were vegan, but there were a few big meat eaters 4) No pressure.

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The truth is, I was going to make something with frozen bananas for today’s post because I am still so psyched about the power breakfast smoothie. But… Marcos had put the left over frozen bananas away in the refrigerator. That’s right, a big pile of mush. I asked my helpful honey, why he didn’t put them back in the freezer, and he innocently asked, ‘Well we still can, can’t we?’

Note: We have a “leave no man behind” rule in our house. So, if you are one of my readers who eats out way too much, and you are scratching your head right now, wondering why frozen bananas don’t go into the refrigerator, don’t worry I will help you (and my husband) learn to cook delicious healthy foods.

Anyway, I did find a bag of peanuts from Trader Joe’s and remembered that I promised my cousin Elena a post. So today is her day.

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The maiden voyage

Funny how things work out so perfectly some times. Marcos and I have been married for 8 months already. When we got married, we set out to buy each other a gift. He is always so generous with me, but I thought it would be nice to commemorate the day with something exciting.

I bought him a whole lot of juggling equipment, basically replacing all of his daily used highlighter pink stage balls and bright white clubs. Juggling is one of his great passions. He told me to select anything I wanted. Anything. I settled on wanting a nice watch. Blah, how boring!

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preserved lemon orzo pasta salad

Remember the preserved lemon relish I posted? Many of you sent me messages that you preserved a jar of lemons so those should be about ready to eat!

Here are a few of my adventures with the simple preserved lemons that are easy to assemble: sauteed kale and chard with two tablespoons of the salted juice and one section of sliced preserved lemon; salad dressings using both the juice and the lemon; veggie pita sandwich with feta and sliced lemon; a Moroccan vegetable tagine with green olives and lemon; and a lemon saffron rice. The possibilities are endless and I really do not anticipate my stash of preserved lemons lasting through to next season.

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Don Sebastiani Wine


When Marcos took me to pick out my engagement ring at our famous local Sharif’s Jewlers, he proudly told Sharif that I could choose any ring I wanted.  As Sharif brought out his hand crafted espresso in a little ceramic tea cup and a baklava, as he is known to do, I presented a beautiful antique diamond that was handed down to me from my Grandmother.  Sharif grinned a wide and sympathic grin, looked at Marcos and said, “Sir, this woman will make you a rich man.”

Marcos reminds me of this event regularly, because he knows at heart, I am a happy girl who enjoys simple pleasures and spending money is not always what it is cracked up to be.   I regularly look for ways to create simple romantic dinners and treats.  Which means, blockbuster and valrhona hot chocolate or a single wedge of baked brie with apples.

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