I recently returned from a road trip around the Southwest and the Rockies, two weeks spent visiting family in Nevada, staying in an Earthship in New Mexico, attending a wedding in Colorado, and touring national parks in Utah. It was part pleasure, part work. (Though when your work is pleasure, it makes a photographically gorgeous trip like that so sublime.)
Along the way, we camped and cooked in a variety of kitchens both indoors and out, built crackling fires beside high alpine lakes, and spent happy hour on a sunny riverbank. It was a fun-filled journey of good food in the great outdoors, and I’m ecstatic to finally share the news with you: I’m writing a new book!
The strawberries at my local farmers’ markets are going strong right now, and I can never resist picking up a few baskets after the vendors ply me with samples and smiles. My favorite way to eat them is right out of hand, or sometimes crushed with a little sugar and ice.
But seasonal strawberries are fleeting, so I try to save a bit of that fresh, fruity flavor for winter when I’m longing for summer berries. This balsamic strawberry jam adds a savory note to the traditional preserve, making it suitable for charcuterie spreads as well as grilled pork tenderloin, fruit vinaigrette, and anywhere you want a rich, bold flavor with a touch of sweetness. Get the recipe here!
Have you seen Freshly Preserved Ideas? It’s a new Tumblr page brought to you by the fine folks at Ball Canning, and it’s full of pretty inspiration for crafters, useful tips for first-time canners, and enticing recipes for all kinds of concoctions.
It’s not all jams and pickles, either (though you’ll find all that, and more). Scroll down the page for links to botanical cocktails, herbal salts, salad dressings, and overnight oats — all made in mason jars, of course.
The five little things that made my week…
1. Getting older gets better and better every year. For my birthmonth, we spent the week camping, floating, and relaxing on Upper Kern River. We came home yesterday, only to unpack from the trip and repack for the second installment of birthmonth celebrations: road tripping through the Arizona desert, into New Mexico (where we’ve booked a stay in an Earthship — more to come on that!), across the Rockies to Colorado, and over the Colorado Plateau in Utah before making our way home to Los Angeles again. This will be Sprout’s longest road trip yet, but if past experience is any indication, she will be such a curious and happy passenger. Follow along with us on Instagram!
When I was pregnant, the notion of camping with a baby was appealing and a little intimidating. But no matter how many naysayers I came across, and in spite of how many parents laughed at me, insisting, “Oh, you’ll see,” I knew I wasn’t going to wait years for my child to be “ready.”
My thinking was, better to break the kid in sooner than later… get her used to long car rides, simple pleasures, and strange and exciting environments. I didn’t know if there was an “appropriate” age to take a baby camping, but I didn’t want to get too comfortable with the assumption that it was too hard, or too risky, or this, or that… And if I didn’t at least try, I’d never know if it was possible.
So my husband and I set off for one of our favorite summertime destinations, Kern River in Southern California, when Gemma was nine weeks old. Just the three of us. Into the great unknown: sharing a tent with a newborn.
How did we do?
This summer, I’m happy to announce that I’ve teamed up with Ball Canning, maker of the beloved and ubiquitous mason jars, as an official ambassador! Being an avid user and longtime lover of their jars (who isn’t these days?) means I’m thrilled to be joining their campaign and helping to educate and encourage others on the joys of jamming, pickling, and other methods of food preserving.
We’re cooking up (er, canning) a series of bold, colorful recipes for their new Tumblr page, Freshly Preserved Ideas, as well as their annual pinnacle event, International Can-It-Forward Day. I’ll be sharing my recipes and more details on the event all summer long, so stay tuned.
To kick off the campaign, I’ve got an easy pickling recipe for those who are new to preserving — no boiling water bath needed!
Rain doesn’t happen too often in Southern California, but when it does, I always love the gleam it brings to the garden. And literally, too — the wide-spreading patches of volunteer nasturtium vines seem to sparkle with thousands of Swarovski crystals after a good storm.
Welcome to my favorite month. It’s my favorite for many reasons, the least of which, June just happens to be my birthday month!
But it’s also a month of misty mornings on the coast, sunsets happening late into the evenings, and camping bins beckoning for a summer full of road trips. It’s a month of the garden coming alive with sunshiney blooms and rosy tomatoes, and farmers’ markets bursting with bell peppers, snap beans, strawberries, squash blossoms, and other beauties of summer produce.
Yes, you read that right.
Warning: Images of placenta ahead.
When I was pregnant, the placenta — or rather, what to do with it post-birth — was a popular topic among my friends who already had babies or were expecting babies. Some had their placentas encapsulated. Most left them at the hospital. I was on the fence about mine: to eat or not to eat?
(For a good laugh, Google placenta recipes. They do exist! … for everything from placenta smoothies to placenta stew. A writer from The Guardian even made placenta tacos with his wife’s afterbirth.)
I’m not a particularly crunchy person, and the benefits of placenta encapsulation are anecdotal at best. But I’d read somewhere that burying a placenta was a common ritual in many cultures around the world, and that piqued my interest enough to look into the practice.