Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My mother's kitchen

Here are some snapshots from my mother's kitchen (featuring her creations, of course).

Home-brewed Kombucha with Rose Hips and Grains of Paradise

Fried Jerusalem Artichoke Chips with Lemon Zest

Coconut Milk Custard and Fresh Berry Tart with Sweet Amaranth Crust

My mom's spice cabinet (less a creation, and more just a sight to be seen)

You know that place you run to when the world seems too wild and and too chaotic and too confusing? That place that warms your belly, and makes you feel as cozy as an egg nestled under a big fluffy hen? If you haven’t found that place yet, you can come and share mine. After all, there’s always room for one more in my mother’s kitchen.

I know it’s been a while since my last post. I’d been working late at the office. I’d been schmoozing with spreadsheets and flirting with files each night until my eyes were red and tired. I’d been living on diet coke, coffee, dunkin’ donuts and other soulless forms of sustenance. Really, it hasn’t been pretty.

That’s why, at the first opportunity, I hopped on a plane to New Jersey, claimed my spot on the hard wooden bench of the family table at my parent’s house, and didn’t budge for four whole days. If there’s one thing a weary body needs more than anything else, it’s my mom’s cooking. For my first meal, I was served a heaping bowl of vibrant fuchsia beet slaw with homemade wine vinegar. Next came a French omelet consisting of our neighboring farm’s fresh eggs, spiced butter, and chopped tarragon. Then a feast of haddock au papillote with braised fennel, shallots and vermouth. Then local pastured Italian sausage served with polenta spoonbread and herbed green beans. Then a spicy lamb curry with pistachio, saffron and cardamom rice. It was a glorious gastronomic adventure, to say the least.

And after four days of learning, and tasting, and preparing, and feasting, let me tell you, I’m as good as new. I returned to Chicago, feeling as warm and contented as I used to each Christmas Eve growing up when I would don a new pair of flannel pajamas and pad around our pine-scented house waiting for Santa.

One day, I will invite each and every one of you back to my mother’s kitchen for a four day break from the world. For four days of chopping vegetables, breaking eggs, stirring big pots, and sitting down to eat at a long wooden table with hard benches does wonders for whatever ails you. But until that day, I will leave you with a recipe so delicious, comforting, and nourishing that maybe, for just a few bites, you’ll feel like you’re already there, sitting next to me on the bench, and wondering what culinary wonderment will next land on your plate.

My mother’s


beet slaw


6 medium-sized beets, (whatever color you like, but my mom likes to use three red and three golden)

Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped

¼ cup vinegar of your choosing (my mom uses her homemade red wine vinegar, but I’ve tried a white balsamic which is also lovely)

¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, depending on the strength of the vinegar

Step one: Scrub and peel your beets. It’s important to remove the peel because it often has a bitter or metallic taste. Using a food processor or a regular grater, grate all of the beets until you have just a pile of shavings. If you are using both golden and regular beets, I would suggest keeping them separate until you’re ready to serve the salad so that the colors stay sharp and beautiful. It won’t change the taste, it’s just prettier to look at.

Step two: Toss the shredded beets with the vinegar and olive oil, and mix in the chopped cilantro.

Step three: Eat this tasty slaw to your heart’s content.



  1. oh good god. take me back to that kombucha. and those eggs. and most of all, that company!

  2. I must give credit for that beet slaw to the website TheSuppersPrograms.org.

    I've been cooking with those folks lately and it is definitely changing the way I do things!

  3. It was such a joy having you back home. How lucky I am, and how blessed was my kitchen!

  4. What lovely photos--the comfort shines right through.

    Your mother makes her own vinegar, kombucha, and chips--impressive!

  5. PS. Any chance of a recipe for that gorgeous tart?

  6. Your blog is lovely. I will include it in my favorite blogs on my website!

  7. Tea: I believe the tart recipe is a work in progress. Adriana and here mama are still tweaking to figure out the best recipe to share.

    Basia: Thanks so much! We can't wait to share more with you.



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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009