A March Snow and a Recipe: Seared Scallops with Strawberry Relish

Snowy Cows | photo by Lea Valle

This is the year I finally learned to love winter.

In Texas the seasons are: almost summer, summer, still summer and Christmas. So my first winter spent in the northeast U.S., those many years ago, was a shock to my system mixed with wonder and joy at the novelty of the abundant snow. That year the winter weather lingered long into spring leaving me feeling, novelty or not, I might have made a mistake in venturing out of the familiarity and warmth of the south.

Snowy Trees | Photo by Lea Valle

But subsequent winters were far milder. Sometimes, much to my surprise, I found myself disappointed there was not MORE snow. It was a creeping, unconscious adaptation to a climate with four distinct seasons – winter not the least among them.

Snowy Willow | Photo by Lea Valle

This year the winter seems never-ending. The roads have potholes, the school vacation days are quickly disappearing from the calendar and the longing for spring grows stronger every day. But no amount of complaining will change the inevitable coming of winter snow. And this year I finally have learned to accept and embrace it. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but when others bemoan the next storm, I am quietly rooting on the snowfall.

Snowy Fence | Photo by Lea Valle

In spite of the inevitable inconveniences of the season, there is strange comfort in the quiet, forced sequester at home while the snow envelopes the world around us. I look forward to the quiet drives around town drinking in the peaceful landscape blanketed in newly fallen snow. I relish visits to the neighboring cows who seem only mildly perturbed at the cold, strange white matter covering them and their home fields. Even the time sitting at my desk peering out at the peaceful falling of new snow is a time to appreciate, rather than curse, the essence of winter in all its glory.

Cow with Sign double

The cleanup and annoyances that are all a part of the onslaught will come later. But for a while I resolve to be like a child in awe of the proverbial “winter wonderland.”

Boy with Snow | Photo by Lea Valle

Taking in the world made new, camouflaged as a cloud.

Snowy River | Photo by Lea Valle

So if you find yourself in the dead of winter lamenting the snow, take a moment to reflect. Because if you have even a hint of the mind of a poet, you might agree that newly fallen snow, covering the old, is not only beautiful but a sermon itself on the beauty of repentance.

A March Snow Poem with Photo

Seared Scallops with Strawberry Relish Continue reading

Roasted Beet and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing

roasted beet and cucumber salad with yogurt dressing

We planted some chiogga beets this year. Ordinarily I buy vegetable plant seedlings and transplant them into our raised garden beds. But because these are heirloom beets we ordered the seeds online and that meant planting them ourselves. So we’re kind of proud of these beets. It was fun for the boys to see what comes from a little seed they planted themselves. Here’s Nathaniel with a few of our crop.

Chiogga beets

We may have let them grow a little bigger than what is best for flavor. Smaller beets tend to be tastier.

Here’s what chiogga beets look like when you slice them. They are kind of mesmerizing if you stare too long.

chiogga beet slice

Even though chiogga beets would have worked perfectly well in this roasted beet and cucumber salad, the ones I used this time were “regular” beets. Still delicious, still beautiful and nutritious – cancer-fighting, actually. I remember my aunt Norma making a beet and cucumber salad when I was a kid. I have no idea what was in it other than beets and cucumbers and some sort of creamy sauce. But I do remember it was really tasty so you might say this recipe is an homage to Aunt Norma!

The yogurt dressing in this version is close to a tzatziki sauce with garlic and mint. I just love the combination of cool cucumbers, sweet roasted beets with a garlicky yogurt sauce. It’s a perfect (primal) summer side dish. Continue reading

Pin It

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Garlic Scape and Kale Dressing

If I were a better gardener and lived a little farther (further?) south I MIGHT have grown these heirloom tomatoes myself.

But I’m not and I don’t and I didn’t.

So, instead, what we have here are heirlooms I found at a standard grocery store and Costco. But let’s not turn up our noses shall we? Look how gorgeous.

heirloom tomatoes by window

The whole time I was taking these photographs I was pondering what to do with the heirloom tomatoes. We needed a side dish to go with our roasted chicken dinner. Tomato, cucumber and avocado salads are always a big hit around our house so I thought that might be nice.

heirloom tomatoes bowl

But these tomatoes seemed to cry out for something a little different.

heirloom tomatoes

After all, they are special…and beautiful and, well, heirloomy.

heirloom tomatoes vertical

Then I remembered I was in possession of another, rather unique, ingredient. Continue reading

Pin It

Endive, Watercress and Radish Salad With Walnuts and Goat Cheese

When I was a kid I remember my father taking our family out to dinner at a “fancy” restaurant in Dallas for a special occasion. The nature of the special occasion eludes me all these many years later but, oddly enough, I still remember the salad. Perhaps that is one mark of a true food lover. We reckon everything in terms of what we were eating at the time. The memorable salad marking that particular experience was dominated by Belgian style endive. (Pronounced “on-deeve”*) It is a vegetable I had not encountered prior to that day and it struck me as very exotic. Even though endive is not a food I have eaten regularly over the years I still associate it with high-caliber restaurants and recipes.

Knowing my husband is a fan of the more bitter flavors, I decided to use endive to create a unique salad for him on Father’s Day. This salad combines crunchy, slightly bitter endive with refreshing watercress and spicy radishes. It’s topped with toasted walnuts and creamy goat cheese and dressed with an extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinaigrette. The sweetness of the white balsamic vinegar is a nice contrast to the bitter and spicy flavors of the vegetables.

Continue reading

Pin It

Chicken Liver Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

For years I ate boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cutting off any extra fat with the precision of a skilled surgeon. Fat was the enemy, you see, and the idea of eating organ meats was just anathema. But those days are long gone now that I have been enlightened to the health benefits of eating more than just low fat cuts of animal flesh. Organ meats, including chicken livers, are really high in nutrition. Liver is full of vitamins A and B12, Folate, Pantothenic Acid (B5), iron and selenium – all things our bodies need to function well.*

In spite of this earth-shattering information, my husband, G, has threatened to become a vegan if I try to serve him chicken livers. Now THAT’S quite a threat! But if he were to allow himself to try this recipe for Chicken Liver Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette he would find there’s no need to go to the dark side. The inspiration came from my recent perusal of a Nigella Lawson cookbook. G seemed very interested in said cookbook but I dare say it was Nigella he fancied and not the chicken livers. Nigella’s recipe calls for maple syrup and sherry vinegar but she references a time when raspberry vinegar was all the rage for similar salade tiède on restaurant menus. Since I had some raspberry balsamic vinegar on hand I decided to give it a try and it turned out delicious. Continue reading

Beet and Cabbage Slaw

Raw Beet Slaw | Paleo Spirit

The word coleslaw usually conjures up images of mayonnaise-laden cabbage and carrots. While I am not at all opposed to eating mayonnaise, the problem with the store-bought versions is they contain all sorts of funky ingredients. I make my own mayonnaise now and then but it does take a little more time. Not to mention, my husband, G, refers to mayonnaise as “white death”.  So, if I am going to make a coleslaw he will actually eat, it will have to be “dressed” differently.

This beet and cabbage slaw recipe is partially the result of the bounty of beets in our garden this year.  Sweet Pea has been helping to harvest the beets as well as eat them. Check him out in the photo below with his bunch of beets!paleo beets

My past experience with beets has been primarily with the canned or pickled versions. But this year we have been enjoying them in their more natural state. I have made a few different salads using shredded raw beets with great success. This particular version also utilizes the cabbages that have been maturing in our garden lately.

The 1:1 ratio of oil to vinegar in the dressing brings an acidity that goes great with barbecue – particularly the Ancho Chile Pulled Pork Barbecue.paleo pulled pork and coleslawI recently invested in a large food processor I found at Costco for a reasonable price.  Given all the veggies we are eating now the 14 cup size has become almost indispensable.  It has made my paleo life much easier.

Cuisinart Food ProcessorIt comes in especially handy for this recipe because I can switch out some attachments and process the veggies in no time.  The recipe below has instructions for using a food processor as well as a more manual method.*

Raw Beet Slaw | Paleo Spirit

Paleo Raw Beet and Cabbage Slaw Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 2 medium raw beets
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Wash and core the cabbage and peel the carrots and beets with a vegetable peeler. Using a food processor, with the slicing disc in place, process the cabbage and transfer to a large bowl. Install the shredding disc and process the carrots and beets and transfer to the bowl. Install the chopping blade and process the parsley and transfer to the bowl. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the bowl.

Combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until salt dissolves. Toss vinaigrette with the cabbage-beet-carrot mixture. Allow the slaw to stand for 20-30 minutes before serving, tossing regularly. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

* If you do not own a food processor you can slice the cabbage into thin strips with a knife. I recommending using a hand-held or box grater to shred the beets and carrots.

Pin It

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad LR

While the squash and zucchini plants have suffered some damage from the dreaded vine borers, the kale plants are still going strong.  I used to say “I don’t DO kale” but have come around to the dark green side in a major way.  The following recipe came to mind when I realized that one of the benefits of kale is its ability to stand up to heavier sauces in its raw state.  Warm bacon dressing is used with spinach in part because it tastes good and also because spinach is more substantial than lettuce and can tolerate that type of dressing. Kale is even more hearty so I decided to try out a warm andouille sausage dressing that would match up well with the texture and taste of this particular green.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

G and I have been getting very comfortable with the concept of eating “dinner for breakfast” so it no longer seems weird to us to have kale in the morning.  This recipe also calls for fried eggs which is something easy to make in the morning and it really goes well with the salad.  G doesn’t like the egg on top of the salad and just eats it separately.  Personally, I think the egg on top is delicious and the egg yolk adds a nice creaminess to the dressing.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Ingredients Continue reading

Pin It