Making Muesli

White Figs, Rolled Dates, Raisins & Pepitas


In my circle of friends it has always been all about granola. A friend of mine in Philly makes a vanilla bean and sea salt granola that I would, if it came down to a last bowl, punch someone in the face to get. But I have to admit that I am not much of a sweet breakfast person, and as far as a quick daily breakfast I almost always go savory over sweet.  Granola, as much as I love it, is sometimes too greasy and heavy for me, and the added sweetener means I want it more like once a month, not once a day. So over the past year I’ve turned more and more to making muesli instead. It only takes about 5 minutes to make a couple of weeks worth and there is no added anything. Just grains, nuts, and dried fruit. It really appeals to the purest in me (read the rest on Is Greater Than…)

Tangy Beet Salad

Tangy beet salad with mayonnaise, salt, and garlic.

Now. I love me some beets. I realize I’m not going to grab any beet haters with this recipe, but to the already converted, let me just tell you: this salad is amazing. It’s based on a recipe I got from a Ukrainian friend of mine many many years ago, who used to make the salad by shredding the beets and adding prunes. The prunes were really quite delicious (a more grown-up version of carrot/raisin salad?), but the shredded part of the recipe always turned me off a little bit. So, recently I decided to make the salad the way I would have made it if it had been my idea from the beginning, cutting the beets into long thin spears, lightly blanching them, and tossing them with salt, mayonnaise and garlic. It is the same basic salad, but instead of being a little mushy and formless, it is crisp, sweet, a little bit bitter, and savory in just the right ways. It is very simple, very easy to make, and very fast, a wonderful side dish to any meal. Get the whole story »

Roast Your Own Coffee: It’s Cheap & Easy (but you don’t feel dirty after)

Green Coffee Beans Ready For Roasting

This week I rehashed an old article I wrote for Is Greater Than for the environmental blogging site Ecolocalizer. They are featuring it today, so if you missed it on Is Greater Than, check it out now! Here is a snippet:

Being a serious coffee lover can sometimes be really intimidating. You want to support local indie coffee shops; you also need to figure out the balance between certified Fair Trade and small farm co-ops. There are countless kinds of beans and countless roasts, and just trying to figure out the best way to make a single cup of coffee can bring up intense debate among friends and strangers. The deeper you go, the less you seem to know, and in the end a real coffee lover will fall into saying: “it’s what I like best, but it’s not for everyone”.

Well, that might be true, but I’m here to tell you that one aspect of coffee is for everyone, and that is roasting. It might seem like roasting is the end of the rabbit hole, the pinnacle of coffee geekdom, but it really isn’t. It’s simply cheaper and fresher and awesome. In most cases, roasting your own coffee is about 50% cheaper than buying roasted coffee.  If you drink enough coffee that you are reading this article, you will save a bundle… (read the rest at Ecolocalizer)

IN PRINT: Pisco Sours with Lemon Sorbetto

Pisco Sours Made with Lemon Sorbetto

This month in the May issue of GRID (a free print magazine in Philadelphia focusing on local, green, and sustainable issues) you can find my recipe for Pisco Sours made with Capogiro Gelato Artisans Lemon Sorbetto.  This marks an especially exciting moment for me as it is the first time I will be paid for writing about food, and they have requested a second article for June!  If you don’t live in Philly, then you probably won’t get to see these articles, so I will be rewriting them for Bramblings. Get the whole story »

Pickled Onions

Pickled onions in red wine vinegar and lime juice

Something I miss about living in Philadelphia is going to all the amazing bars that have all the amazing food and beer. We have some restaurant bars in Santa Cruz, but nothing really on the same level. People in this town tend to eat at home and drink hard liquor more than they eat out and sip on well crafted beer. I know that sounds unlikely coming from the middle of microbrew territory, but believe me when I say that finding a decent meal in a bar is difficult to do. Many of the restaurants are trying to attract tourist business, which means the food has less emphasis on local and delicious, and more emphasis on expensive and boring. Because of this I have been inspired to recreate some of my favorite Philly bar dishes, including José Pistolas pickled onions. These onions are remarkably similar to the onions my Chilean grandfather used to make, and are incredible on sandwiches, tacos, and egg salad,  or caramelized for a scramble or sauce. They are, to me, what always made José Pistolas such a special place. Get the whole story »

Olive Oil Cookies with Rosemary

Olive Oil Cookies with Rosemary

This week for Is Greater Than I wrote an article on Olive Oil Cookies with Meyer Lemon. I love Meyer Lemon to a ridiculous degree. When I was living in Philadelphia and they were very seasonal and very scarce, I used to fawn over the first box we got each season, holding them one at a time up to my nose and breathing in the sweet citrus smells.  I like them so much I have considered eating them like apples. In the winter time I want to put them in everything I make, so it was hard for me to make this second batch of cookies with something else. Luckily, I love rosemary too so it only took a little push to get me going.  After testing the Olive Oil/Meyer Lemon cookies the first time, nearly everyone who tried them thought they tasted rosemary, and my aunt (who is a remarkable food lover and urban gardening blogger) immediately insisted that I make them with rosemary, to the point where I gave in. Get the whole story »

Making Whole Grain Mustard

Whole grain mustard, and mustard blended with garlic and honey.

I have a little bit of a weird mustard obsession. I don’t like very many kinds of mustard, or very many brands of mustard, but the ones I like I like a lot. Usually when I like something this much the first thing I do is learn everything there is to know about it and then spend hours, days, or years, trying to figure out how to make the perfect-for-me version of it. That is not the kind of romance I’ve been having with mustard. Mustard has been a magical product to me for so many years that it never occurred to me that I could make it myself, and for pennies! I’m not kidding. You can make an 8oz jar of your perfect, favorite kind of mustard for under a dollar, and chances are you’ll get it right the first time . . . (read the rest on

Winter Hash

Poached eggs on a bed of sunflower sprouts, smoked mozzarella, and winter hash.

I admit it’s taken me a while to figure out how awesome hash is, though it might be more accurate to say it’s taken me a while to realize I make hash a lot. Over this past winter the New York Times has brought up hash more times than I can count, and even gone so far as to link to a blog dedicated exclusively to hash. I’m always a little hesitant about food movements suspecting that the reason they are popular is not because of the inherent awesomeness of the food, but because one particular person has figured out how to do something really well and everyone wants to capitalize on their success. It happens with everything, but it is especially disappointing with food. So I ignored the buzz and continued making my basic potato hash with the occasional apple or parsnip tossed in until one day I decided to look up the definition of hash. Hash can be anything you want it to be, and it doesn’t have to have beef or ham or even potatoes in it. It is just a coarsely chopped, fried, breakfast dish usually served with eggs on top. Suddenly I was inspired and I have been experimenting with different kinds of hash ever since. The one I’ve settled on recently is a Winter Hash, made with ingredients I can get locally during the winter farmer’s market here. These are ingredients anyone should be able to during the winter, as they are all things that can be grown indoors or keep well throughout the winter. Get the whole story »

Pickling Romenesco Broccoli

I have a very peculiar relationship with pickles. I love to make them, but I rarely like to eat them. I don’t particularly like dill, the texture of cucumbers makes me a little uncomfortable, and I am an absolute wuss when it comes to hot food, so pickled peppers are out. The problem is that I think pickles are a genius food and I absolutely love making them. It is the only safe way to can a vegetable without cooking the nutrients out or turning them into mush. So, for several years now, I have obsessively made pickles every season, all different kinds, in attempt to find the pickle that is just right for me. It turns out that pickled cauliflower is it, specifically as a mustard pickle.  I learned about them a few years ago working on a farm for part of  a CSA exchange where my job was to preserve for the family for two days straight. Cauliflower mustard pickles were their favorite, something their mothers used to make, a pickle sweet with nostalgia.  It has since become my favorite as well. A little bit hot, a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, nothing too overwhelming and with the fresh crispiness of lightly cooked cauliflower. It is the only pickle I can eat an entire jar of in one sitting… (read the rest on

A Month of Pudding

Photographs by Rosey Lakos.

It’s been a little over a year since I have worked in food service, and I find that I still spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how to feed myself now that I’m not surrounded by food all the time. Sandwiches and leftovers really only get you so far before you find you are kind of just sick of food; then you find yourself eating out, until you are sick of eating out, and then you are boned. Because if you’re tired of bringing your lunch to work, and tired of eating out, what do you have left? The best defense seems to be to keep your lunch interesting, never relying on the same food-stuffs for more than a week. So I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my lunch a little more interesting without putting a lot of money or effort into it. One fantastic snack is pudding. I realize that if you don’t have a good relationship with pudding you probably think I’m a moron right about now (pudding is expensive, bad for you, full of sugar and gelatin, etc.); but, I tell you! pudding doesn’t have to be that way! In most cases, making pudding at home is going to have less sugar and less weirdness in it than a cup of fruit yogurt, and it’s basically already instant, even when you make it from scratch. One of the things I love about pudding is that you can make it as rich or as healthy as you like.  You can make it with skim milk or you can fold in heavy cream. You can use up old fruit, you can try out various spices or infusions, there is really no end to what you can make. This means you can have a new kind of pudding every week, making it hard to get sick of. With these recipes you get 5 servings per batch, so you make it once and you have it for the whole week. With 4 recipes: Rosemary Vanilla, Lemon, Chocolate Lavender, and Fruit Pudding, this is basically a month of pudding!

(get the recipes at