Category Archives: Eat

Hot Artichoke & Beet Green Dip

I planted one artichoke plant in my garden bed a little too early before the summer was over last year and I’ve been struggling to keep it alive. I had hoped I might get an artichoke or two this season, but it just wasn’t strong and mature enough…sigh.

I was riding my bike around town this week and got super jelly when I saw three beautiful, giant artichoke plants full of ripe artichokes. I was a prolific artichoke grower when I lived more in-land – five different varieties that kept me in artichoke leaves and hearts all season! This recipe was my favorite way to use them.


Servings: 8
Time: About 30 minutes active; one hour total
Price: About $19.00 total; $2.40 per serving
Nutrition (per serving): 
Calories: 186.9
Protein: 8g
Fat: 11.8g
Saturated fat: 6.7g
Carbohydrates: 14.5g
Fiber: 5.3g
Sodium: 379.4mg
Cholesterol: 33.3mg


  • 5 medium artichokes, cooked, hearts removed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 lemon, chop 2 tsp lemon zest and juice half
  • 1 bunch beet greens, chopped, about 8-9 oz
  • 1 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz Neufchatel cheese, or cream cheese, but the former has better flavor and less calories, fat and carbs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme and lemon zest. Saute about 5 minutes until onion gets soft.
  2. Add beet greens, 1/2 tsp black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix well and heat until there is no more liquid in the pan from greens, about 5 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together Neufchatel, sour cream, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tsp black pepper. Add artichoke-greens mixture and incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and spread the mixture out evenly. Top with Parmesan and bake for 10 minutes. Heat broiler and broil 2-4 minutes until Parmesan melts and begins to brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with your favorite dipper.

Mini Egg White Frittatas

I’m sure you’ve seen those expensive egg cups in the grocery store lately. They are everywhere! I’ve been making them at home for over 10 years at about $0.70 each. This version below uses egg whites and has Italian-inspired ingredients. However you can easily replace egg whites with whole eggs – probably 8 large eggs would do the trick – and use any vegetables, herbs and cheeses you want and/or need to use up from the fridge.


Servings: 12
Time: About 10 minutes active; 35 minutes total
Price: About $8.60 total; $0.70 per serving
Nutrition (per serving): 
Calories: 45.8
Protein: 6.2g
Fat: 0.88g
Saturated fat: 0.48g
Carbohydrates: 3.5g
Fiber: 0.76g
Sodium: 263.9mg
Cholesterol: 1.9mg


  • 1/2 cup dried tomatoes (or dried tomatoes packed in olive oil)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp SnP each (salt and pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups egg whites
  • 1/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile in a small bowl, add dried tomatoes and cover with warm water. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain and chop. Omit the soaking step if using tomatoes packed in oil and just chop.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat sprayed with cooking spray or drizzled with a little olive oil, sauté onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, garlic, oregano, SnP and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat, and add parsley and dried tomatoes. Let cool.
  3. Whisk together egg whites and milk.
  4. In a 12-cup muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray, distribute veggie mixture evenly. Then pour egg white-milk mixture over top.
  5. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over top and cook 5 minutes more. Remove and let cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

Any Meat Bones Stock

Learning to make proper stock in culinary school was a fucking game changer. It was what we did from day one to the day before graduation.

Laying out 50 pounds of bones-du-jour on to sheet pans, roasting them until deep brown, struggling to get them in the huge industrial stock pots bolted to the floor, stirring and skimming for hours – on the daily. The second most laborious part of the job was straining. There was a convenient spout at the bottom that when opened would gush stock. However this procedure required you play tag team with a fellow student – someone willing to donate practically their entire body to the pot reaching all the way in to keep the drain from blocking on the inside with bones and veggies and one stationed on the outside trying to keep the spigot clear and the stock flowing.

Yet the most laborious and dangerous part of the process was balancing stock pot after stock pot on over turned milk crates, switching them out just in time before they overflowed. Then enlisting some strong arms to carry them away as they inevitably sloshed over creating animal-greased floors was a precarious lawsuit in the making day after day. Yet, we all survived.

While learning this important skill, I decided I needed a taste test comparing to store bought. Even though homemade stock in the at-home kitchen would not have been nearly as dangerous to produce, was it worth the 3-4 hours of simmering time for poultry stock and the 6-8 hours for beef stock? The answer is just yes, fucking yes you need to make homemade stock. Every store-bought version I could get my hands on was either thin and watery or too salty or both – and all about 10-15x in price. The cherry for me in making stock is that I also get to use more of the whole animal.

So please take a lazy weekend afternoon and make stock. After you strain it, pour into smaller containers, label and freeze. Your rice, grains, soups, sauces, just about any place that calls for water in a recipe, and, most of all, your taste buds will worship you in response.

It’s taken me forever to read “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain. He writes as fantasticly as he narrates. Maybe it’s our Jersey connection, but that straight-forward attitude is golden. And while he is making fun of you, you have to admit he’s nearly always right.

Here’s what he has to say about stock:

“Stock is the backbone of good cooking. You need it – and you don’t have it. I have the luxury of thirty-quart stockpots, a willing prep crew, readily available bones and plenty of refrigerator space. Does this mean you should subject your guests to a sauce made from nasty commercial bases or salty canned broth? Make stock already! It’s easy! Just roast some bones, roast some vegetables, put them in a big pot with water and reduce and reduce and reduce. Make a few months’ worth, and when it’s reduced enough strain it and freeze it in small containers so you can pull it from the freezer as needed. Life without stock is barely worth living…”

I am a convert and he’s is absolutely correct that stock is life.

Years later post-culinary school, I would now call myself a bone-hoarder. That turkey carcass after Thanksgiving? I’ll fight you to the death for it! Thankfully no one actually wants it so I have never had to use my Chef’s knife to procure it. They don’t know what tasty pleasures they are missing.

I am awfully glad that Nerdie didn’t examine my freezer before he proposed or he might have thought twice after seeing a good 30-40% of the space devoted to either bones, finished stock or both. But now just try and get him to eat rice made with water – HA!


  • Cooked Bones (skin and meat on ok, sauces and breading no)
  • Oil
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic cloves
  • Herbs
  • Whole Peppercorns


  • Peel off any visible skin from the bones and then break the bones, if needed, to fit in your stock pot. I found that about 2-3 # of bones fit into my Dutch Oven.
  • First, put the skin in the pot over medium heat. Let the fat render off. If you don’t have enough of a coating of fat, add a little canola, vegetable or olive oil.
  • Add a whole onion, peeled and cut into what the culinary world calls production cuts. These are rough, imprecise cuts so just run your knife through it and put it in the pot.
  • Meanwhile do the same production cuts with 2 carrots and 3 celery stalks – mas o menos. After the onion edges start to brown, add the carrots. After the carrots start to brown, add the celery. This takes about 8-10 minutes between each browning.
  • Then add the celery. Celery doesn’t brown, so just cook until you see it start to soften.
  • You know those annoyingly small garlic cloves in the bulb? Save them and use 3-4 of them here. Smash them with the side of a knife and throw them in the pot, skins too.
  • Add some herbs, woody-er ones, like thyme, sage, rosemary, bay leaf, depending on how you might use the finished stock. I typically use thyme and bay leaf because they are flavorful, but not too strong in flavor.
  • Add about a teaspoon of black peppercorns cracked with the side of your knife.
  • Put the bones in the pot. Fill to the near top with water.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover most of the pot with a lid, turn the heat to low and simmer, yup, 3-4 hours for poultry stock and 6-8 hours for beef/game stock.
  • Check periodically to make sure it stays at a simmer. Skim if you’d like, but I don’t bother.
  • This would make a food inspector cringe, but after the allotted simmer time, I turn off the heat, put the lid on and let it sit just like that overnight.
  • The next morning there may be a solid layer of fat on top. If so, gently heat to reincorporate. Don’t be afraid of fat and skim it off god damn it! Fat is flavor – just like stock!
  • Then turn off the heat, and using tongs, pull all the big bones out of the pot. I learned this step the hard way after making a right mess trying to strain. The weighty bones came barreling out of the pot, hit the side of my straining vessel, turned it over and all that work went down the side of the cabinet and on to the floor. Now I had animal-greased floors! No fun – so take the bones out first.
  • Place a fine-meshed colander or chinoise over a glass Pyrex bowl with a spout. The spout is non-negotiable!
  • Pour the stock into the colander and fill the bowl. Get yourself some restaurant-grade pint and quart containers. I found them easily and cheaply on that big box store in the clouds. The lids fit tight and you can freeze, microwave and dishwasher them.
  • Continue until it’s all doled out. Label and freeze.

Jersey Tomato Pie

No matter your opinion of New Jersey, it is, after all the Garden State. That’s where I grew up – farms just miles away with summer bounty of fresh Jersey corn, peaches and tomatoes. My first job at 16 was actually at a farm store selling fresh fruit and veg with a bakery that made this amazing savory pie. I replaced the usual call for 1/2-3/4 cup mayo with a mix of silken tofu, lemon juice and a tablespoon of mayo. This is New Jersey. 

Servings: 6
Time: About 25 minutes active; 90 minutes total
Original Recipe with additional photos:


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3-4 Tbsp ice water
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu (or mayo)
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise (omit if using mayo instead of tofu)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp SnP (salt and pepper)
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into 1/4′ slices
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, grated (for a traditional pie, it must be yellow 🙂


  1. Pulse flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter pieces and pulse 5-6 times more. Then with the motor running, slowly pour in water through the spout just until the dough pulls away from the sides.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to bring together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together tofu, mayo, lemon juice and SnP, and set aside.
  5. Lay tomato slices on paper towel to drain.
  6. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out until you have a crust that is about 2-3″ larger than your 8-9″ pie pan. Fold the dough in half and in half again, and transfer to a cooking sprayed pie pan and unfold. Push up the sides and repair any holes. Prick several times with a fork. Bake in the oven 8-10 minutes and remove.
  7. Layer the onions in the bottom of the pan, then tomatoes, then basil. Top with tofu-mayo mixture and lastly the cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Roasted Peach Compote

Nerdie gave me a half a flat of peaches from Gold Country where his dad lives. There were pretty ripe so I didn’t think they would hold up being baked in a pie.

Instead, I envisioned a sweet and savory chunky jam that would go equally well with cheese as it would over vanilla ice cream. My vision come to delicious fruition! Here’s the recipe.

6 lbs ripe peaches, leave the skin on, pitted and quartered
2 Tbsp grassy California olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, dark if you have it, or more to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. On a large sheet tray, lay the peaches skin side down in a single layer. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt.
  3. Roast 15 minutes, then turn on one flesh side. Roast 10 minutes more and turn to the other flesh side. Roast a final 10 minutes and remove from the heat.
  4. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off and discard.
  5. In a medium pot, combine the peaches, lemon juice and brown sugar. Cook down over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Mash with a potato masher until you have your desired chunkiness.
  7. Taste for acid, salt and sugar, and adjust to your taste.
  8. When it’s cooked down and reached your desired thickness, cool and store in the fridge for up to a month, or preserve longer by canning.


There is a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree in the yard of the carriage house I’m renting in downtown Napa. My landlords, who live in the Victorian on the property, have two young kids and don’t have the time to do anything with what grows in the yard.

One Saturday in February, I got a ladder and a strong canvas bag and picked 140 lemons from the tree.

I zested 105 to make my very first batch of Limoncello. I used the juice from those to make lemon simple syrup and lemon curd.

I used a 3 gallon glass carboy from my hard apple cider project a few months back to hold all that zest plus enough vodka to fill to the top. That was six 1.5L bottles.

I put the stopper on, wrapped it in an old bath towel, and set it in my hall closet.

A month later I took it out to add the simple syrup. Having realized I was an idiot and filled the carboy to the brim with zest and vodka, I drained off a half of a gallon to make room. BONUS – citron vodka!

I add a simple syrup mixture of one to one sugar and water that brought the liquid back to the top. I rewrapped the carboy and put it back in to the closet. Six weeks later I tasted it.

I was over the moon pleased with myself! It was smooth, full and tart with a punch of alcohol and hint of sweetness.

I strained it off in batches through a chinoise into a glass pitch with a spout. Then I poured the liquid into 25 glass bottles of 375 ml each.

After a few hours, some lemon particulates separated from the mixture and rose to the top. With a few shakes, they were reincorporated, but I’ll know for next year to line the chinoise with a cheese cloth.

My First Kill

The winery I work for part-time doing estate tastings and sales also has a 40 acre farm on one of the mountains in north Napa Valley. After a bunch of us at the winery took an official tour of the farm this past summer, I expressed an interest to the Farm Manager that I’d like to volunteer to help cull, i.e. kill, chickens and turkeys, if they needed help. I got an email last week that took me up on my offer.

I had Friday before Christmas off and arranged to be up there by 9AM. It was a cold, rainy morning. Dressed in paint-splattered pants and work boats with a baseball cap and hooded rainy jacket, I arrived at the farm without a soul in sight. I walked to the garage area, turned and saw one of the farm workers sharpening his knives. In broken communication back and forth, I was able to tell him I was here to help with the chickens today. He motioned to the 4-wheeler, I hopped in and away we went to the chicken coop.

The Farm Manager was there preparing for the event. There was a simple wooden scaffold shaped into a rectangle with a long board stretching across. Screwed to it were two inverted metal cones and two white 5 gallon paint buckets. Below the metal cones where two more white buckets. Next to it, a large pot was heating water with a camp burner. Another plastic tub nearby was filled with cold water. Behind all this was similar wooden scaffold with several ropes hanging from it, each with a small noose-type tie at the end.

I was nervous, absolutely unsure of how I was going to feel about all of this. I just knew I wanted to see it, maybe even kill a bird if I got the nerve. This was an important food journey for me after having been a vegetarian for 13 years. I gave that up to go to culinary school about three years ago. I knew in school the animals we cooked everyday weren’t well sourced, sustainable nor humanly raised. When I graduated, I created some rules for myself about meat-eating.

First, don’t buy meat, only eat meat when you go out. Do your best to find out its source. Then, if you order the meat, eat all the meat. I believe one of the most disrespectful things you could do to an animal is allow it to be raised for food, handled by people who cared for it, cooked by people whose passion is bringing flavor to that food for your enjoyment, and then let it be thrown away…even for compost. And lastly, try and use all the animal. If you are offered meat and accept, use the bones for stock as well as the meat for food.

There were four birds in a cage in the barn. They weren’t given food for the previous 24 hours. He went in to one cage and pulled a hen out by her feet. He tucked her under his arm and carried her to the metal cone. He put her head through the cone, with the breast facing the rounded side, and while the other man held her feet, he pulled her head out through the bottom just to expose her head and neck.

He plucked a few feathers from her neck and, with one quick motion, sliced her neck. Her blood spurted out and then into an arced stream. I quickly moved the bucket underneath to catch it. He held her neck and the other man continued to hold her feet.

The blood slowed. Her body jerked. Her eyes dimmed and closed.

We repeated the process using the second metal cone. When the second bird had closed its eyes, we took first bird and swirled it in the hot water for about 20 seconds. This loosens the feathers and makes it easier to pluck them. A quick second dip in cold water, and then she was hung by her foot over a large trash can. All three of us started plucking. Her feathers pulled out quickly and easily. In less than five minutes, with the three of us at it, she was ready to be eviscerated.

The farm worker, who grew up on a farm in Guatemala, made quick work of cleaning her. It took him just five minutes to cut her head and feet off, clean out the insides and find her liver and heart, which he neatly cut out, washed and saved.

I decided I wanted to kill the last bird. I watched the third kill intently. I studied his technique closely and felt the sharpness of the knife. I quieted my mind so as to only focus on the physical act. I needed to be clean and quick. No second guessing.

I went to the barn and retrieved the last bird. She was warm under my arm.

I put her head side down into the cone and the manager held her feet while I pulled her head through. I was surprisingly calm and felt peaceful.

With great focus, I held the back of her head with my left hand and pulled several feathers from her neck. Using a steady right hand, I made a quick slice that didn’t include enough pressure and barely broke the skin. With the next follow through, her neck split open and the blood ran down over her beak and on to my hand before turning downward into the bucket.

The blood shocked me. It came fast and it was hotter than I anticipated. It slightly burned my skin as it ran over my hand.

I sat right there and watched her blink slower and slower until her eyes slowly closed shut.

I felt, somewhat mysteriously, ok about it when I was done.

She lived three to four years on the farm. Wondered where she wanted. Ate bugs and grubs, supplemented with grains and nuts. Covered and warmed when she needed. Cared for with respect. Her eggs were loving cooked by the chefs at the winery kitchen and eaten by locals and tourists who visited the food truck at the winery. She had a good life. She was killed with respect and eaten with respect.

As I finish writing this, I am brought to tears. Not because I’m sad for her, but because I wish all the animals we eat would be shown the same respect throughout their lives.

I’ve never felt very spiritual in my life, but that’s food to me. Food is my art, my god, my earth, my connection to everything.

YouTube player

There is no team in ‘I’


I’ve seen so many god-damn videos featuring world-renowned restaurants where the chef puts on a show about how great he is (like 99% he) and their restaurants are. I understand that BS and videography are besties…it’s not just restaurants. But, good lord, it’s the same thing over and over again.

Aren’t I so cool?

Isn’t what we are doing here so absolutely and completely different? Nobody else could have possibly come up with our concept?

Isn’t everyone behind me so clean, so busy, and so happy?

I think it’s totally fucking ridiculous.

The most recent video in question was of Rene Redzepi of the famed NOMA in Demark. The restaurant was voted “Best Restaurant in the World” (yes, WORLD) by Restaurant magazine four times in the past five years. I guess if they were a baseball team, you could call them a dynasty (now you know my allegiances).

I fully acknowledge that the restaurant’s concept is pretty fucking cool. They research, grow, forge and experiment with as much Denmark-native edible plants and animals as they can. They preach a high respect for the planet and try to leave the land undisturbed in the process.

I get behind this 110%. Believe me, I fucking wish people would do more of this and stop serving out-of-season, flown-across-globe produce, fish and meats. See my post Cutting This Tomato Hurts My Soul for more on that topic.

Yet, I still become pissed off every time I see this guy on video. It’s cool what he’s doing, check, but the arrogance, yeah, I guess it’s arrogance in the way he and really every other chef I’ve seen on video present themselves is just ridiculous and anger-making for me.

But I guess, what should I expect? Or rather, what should ‘we’ (the industry) expect? Our culinary training machine is set up to create ego manic monsters. The result is not only arrogance, but mistreatment and abuse of the people that work for them. See my post Thank you, chef, may I have another? for more on that topic.

Whether a person attends culinary school or learns on the job, they are told teamwork is good, but it’s not rewarded.

For example, the grade for every cooking-focus class I’ve taken so far has been based on 60-70% individual daily performance – what “I” do in the kitchen. The class is broken up into teams of three to five students, most often with someone identified as the sous chef (the second in charge, the first being the chef instructor).

My team has recipes assigned to us and we divide them up so each person has specific cooking responsibilities. I have zero problem with any of this, except for when the chef instructor drones on every day about teamwork. I have no incentive, if a significant portion of my grade is individual work, to help anyone else.

There is a loop hole though, and yes, I go through it as often as possible. If you have a break in your work, say, something is braising in one pot and simmering in another, you can take the initiative to help others in your team or in other teams. This gets you, guess?…better individual daily performance scores!

So as we continue to churn out ego godzillas from every walk of life, we miss out on creating organizations where people respect their leader, and aren’t just there for enough months to learn what they can before they move on to the next job. Did I mention the restaurant industry has 100% turnover? I shit you not. Every year, any given restaurant will have an entire new staff. Ever notice how you are always meeting new staff at your favorite establishment? Fact proven.

We miss out on the community that food brings. We create environments in restaurant kitchens that are abusive, fear-creating and disrespectful.

We don’t embrace that everyone has a brain with good ideas, even the extern or the dishwasher. “You do what you are told, work long hours, get paid shit…and fucking like it.”

I swear if I was about 10-15 years younger, and actually had the drive to do it, I’d create a restaurant that would defy all the standards, and win all the acclaimed awards. Low turnover, good profit, amazing local and seasonal food.

You can’t just respect the land – you have to respect the people on it too.

Non sequitur…speaking of something on it, why don’t you put an egg on it with a Croque Madame?


Cutting This Tomato Hurts My Soul


It’s January. I shouldn’t be cutting a tomato. I shouldn’t be cutting a cucumber. I shouldn’t be cutting raspberries or mangoes. I shouldn’t even be cutting asparagus.

But here I am.

For the past year, I have suppressed my emotional pain when using out-of-season produce. I justified it because I was in culinary school. They have a curriculum and as much as I’d like that they teach my how to concasse a tomato in summer, it doesn’t always work with the schedule. I get it. I accept it…until graduation.

(By the way, concasse is to make an ‘X’ on the bottom of a tomato, plunge it into boiling water and then immediately into ice water to more easily remove the skin.)

Yet, last weekend I was working at a conference assisting a chef from a very brand-name condiment company set up for his demonstration. I was asked to chop a few tomatoes. My heart sank and so did my opinion of him.

We once ate seasonally, but it’s one of those things that got lost somewhere in our ‘instant gratification’ culture. That hurts my soul.

Your and my long-lived grandparents and great-grandparents – what were they doing? They were eating foods that were local and seasonal…and actually a hell of a lot less meat, too. Ok, they didn’t have a choice, but maybe choice is our problem today. Just because we can have tomatoes in January, should we?!

Even though I live in the largest agricultural state in the country, I know those tomatoes I was chopping didn’t grow in California. They most likely came from Florida.

There are multiple problems with this scenario.

Instead of being shipped just a dozen or so miles from a local farm, they would have to be transported more than 3,000 miles to me. That takes fuel – lots of fuel. Not only adding to their cost in the grocery store, but to the cost in terms of environmental damage – huge carbon footprint! There is also environmental damage done by trying to grow tomatoes in Florida’s sandy soil.

Also, its nutrition just sucks. Produce that is intended to go on long truck rides is often picked before it’s ripe and therefore before it can fully develop. It’s robbed of nutrients even before it’s out of the gate.

In addition, the moment something is picked it starts losing nutrients so the longer it takes to get to you, the less healthful it is. Exposure to prolonged oxygen, light and heat can also suck away nutrients.

So by the end of its cross-country joy ride, you might as well skip the tomato and gnaw on your shoe lace. An exaggeration, I admit.

Actually, if you are interested in reading more specifically about how tomatoes are grown in winter in Florida, check out “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook – two-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Food Writing. Here is a link to an excerpt.

I care so much about this topic and feel so passionate about sharing the benefits of eating seasonally that last year I incorporated this idea into my six-year-old recipe blog, My growing list of more than 250 original recipes are now searchable by season. As of this post, I have exactly 147 winter recipes.

To find out what is in season in North America or even in your state, here are some great resources:

Here’s just a partial list of seasonal produce for California in late January:

  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Lemons
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Tangerines


Let me have my fear, goddamn it!


I can’t seem to figure out why people are so obsessed with getting over fears, and telling me I have to get over mine. It’s actually getting pretty annoying. Keep your shit to yourself and stop telling me how to handle mine.

They say, “You’ll grow.” “Challenge yourself.” “You’ll become a better person.” Shut the fuck up, inspirational poster!

I’m sharing this violent expression of feelings because at work now there is a whole, big drama because I didn’t want to use the weedwacker. I got a tutorial and while listening patiently to the instructor I stared with bug eyes at the rusty blade that was only half covered with a shield, and thought two things – either a serial killer is coming to my house tonight with that thing to kill me or I’m definitely cutting off all my toes if I try and use it. I actually started to get physically nauseous and dizzy.

Yes, I know it’s all in my head, and I wanted it to just stay there tucked away, nice and warm in bed with my other fears. Go back to bed, fear of weedwackers.

But, no, my boss told another one of my co-workers and so I’ve officially been labeled as someone not willing to try new approaches and techniques. Jesus Christ! And on top of it, my boss is absolutely determined to get me to use power tools all the time now.

Remember as a kid, you couldn’t get up from the table until you finished everything on your plate? Even those hostile vegetables you had been pushing around with your fork during the whole meal?

You are probably thinking right about now that not wanting to eat your broccoli isn’t a fear. But don’t you remember sitting there at the table staring at it. It was going to taste SO damn bad. Mushy, bland, bitter. Caught in your throat. Taste lingering on your tongue. I think that’s pretty much fear.

I witnessed this scenario pass down to the next generation when I saw my brother serve hostile broccoli to his son. You know it well. Frozen broccoli, bowl, touch of water, microwave the shit out of it. Tasted like mushy, wet weeds. GAG!

In fact, that’s exactly what my nephew did! He actually started involuntarily gagging and a few times, my sister-in-law mentioned, he actually threw it up. The kid hated it so much and was so afraid he made his body throw up! But yup, they kept feeding it to him.

So has this approach ever worked? Ok, someone is hesitant, afraid, and/or nervous about something. Yeah, let’s force them to do it – then they’ll like it! The millisecond my nephew gets to choose his food absolutely 100% guaranteed he’ll never eat broccoli again. And that’s too damn bad because broccoli is super delicious – if cooked right.

Instead of the forcing or the mocking of people with a fear, how about trying to find out why it’s a fear. Then maybe together we can figure out how to take baby steps or something. Hey, maybe cook the broccoli some other way, asshole! (sorry, bro – heat of the moment frustration!)

I started doing some online research about facing fears, and found so many bullshit sites with stupid reasoning. “Live a bold life.” The results might be amazing.” “Enjoy the ride.” Kill me now…

After some digging, I came to this website post: The Fluent Self: You Don’t Have to Face Your Fear. Really. This is my favorite quote:

“You don’t have to face your fears. Sure, you can if you want to. If it’s empowering for you and it works. But you don’t have to. There are plenty of ways to resolve fear and even to heal it that don’t involve direct confrontation or meeting it face to face.”


But then why is everyone’s gut reaction to someone’s fear that “YOU MUST CONQUER!”

Second case in point, I was hiking with my man last week and we came to a high point overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Somewhat afraid of heights I kept my distance from the open edge. Then he noticed a narrow pathway down to a small area jetting out right over the ocean. I got the mocking and the ‘just do it’ and the ‘face your fears’ routine from him so I went out there with much hesitation. When I got to the end, I had to sit down. I caught one glimpse of the edge and overheard people saying it was so scary too many times that I got dizzy and nauseous. Those are really great things to feel on a very steep cliff with no protection from falling – definitely!

I think The Fluent Self has got it – there is just no good reason to face any fear you don’t want to. If I wanted to be a professional weedwacker user or cliff hiker, yup, I’d probably have to take up the respective challenges. But I’m not, and these fears don’t haunt me or stand in my way of anything in life I want to accomplish. They are safely sleeping in their warm, comfy beds.

So let me have my fears, goddamn it!

Just in case you were scarred in childhood by broccoli, trust me, it is really yummy.