Oh look, another chance for me to rave about something my mom cooks! Grilled asparagus is one of my her favorite summer side dishes, and with good reason - she dresses her version with toasted sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar, creating a perfectly balanced smoky-salty-earthy-tart flavor profile that is just plain addictive. I dubbed this dish “crack asparagus” because I have been known to eat an entire pound batch, stalk after stalk, all by myself. It’s delicious. There is no wrong way to eat crack asparagus, but I like it best with softly-poached eggs and grits with a shocking amount of butter and cheese in them.

A note on umeboshi vinegar: this stuff is one of my holy grail condiments; I use it in EVERYTHING. For the uninitiated, umeboshi (or just ume) vinegar is the brine left over from making, well, umeboshi - those crazy good Japanese pickled plums. It is ruby-red, intensely salty, and puckeringly tart - order a few bottles online (link in recipe) and see for yourself. 

Crack asparagus with goat cheese grits and poached eggs

Ingredients:

1 lb. asparagus (thin stalks are best here), tough ends trimmed

2-3 Tb toasted sesame oil

1 Tb umeboshi vinegar  (yep, it’s gotta be this stuff)

1 cup yellow or white grits/polenta

3-4 cups water

1/2 stick butter

6 oz. goat cheese

4 eggs (2 per person)

1/4 cup white vinegar (if poaching the eggs)

Method:

  1. Make the grits: bring 3-4 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium-to-large saucepan. (Use 3 cups water for stiffer grits, 4 cups for looser.) Stir in the grits or polenta, return to boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender while stirring continuously. Add the butter and goat cheese, stir to thoroughly combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and set aside.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet, grill pan, gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Toss the asparagus with the sesame oil to coat evenly, then grill until tender and charred (about 5 minutes). Remove asparagus to a plate and drizzle with umeboshi vinegar and extra sesame oil; toss to combine.
  3. Prepare the eggs any way you like - poached are my favorite for this dish. Here’s my poaching method: bring a wide, shallow pan of water to a full rolling boil; meanwhile, crack eggs two at a time into mugs containing 1/4 cup white vinegar. When the water is boiling away, turn the heat down to medium-low, wait for the bubbles to mostly die down, and stir to create a “whirlpool.” Slowly lower the mugs into the water and slip the eggs in; cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, about 4 minutes. (If they’re taking a particularly long time to set, up the heat to medium.) Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels if desired, then plate ‘em up!

HOORAY FOR KALE! I love kale like Tyra Sanchez loves Beyoncé. Raw kale salads would be a diet staple if I were more on top of my game these days; as it stands, they’re at least an occasional reminder that feeding myself like I give a damn is a worthy pursuit - and one I’m totally capable of. 

Raw kale salad with toasted coconut, lemon-miso onions, and bell peppers

Ingredients:

2 lbs. (approximately 1 bigass bunch) dino/lacinato kale, tough stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped 

1 Tb. olive oil 

1 1/2 cups unsweetened flake coconut

1 small yellow, white, or red onion, thinly sliced in half-moons

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 heaping Tb miso paste (white, yellow, red, or a mix - it’s all good stuff)

juice of half a lemon

2 Tb apple cider vinegar (the unfiltered stuff is best)

1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, diced

Optional: 1 can chickpeas, drained; shredded rotisserie chicken meat; any other protein source

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, “massage” (oooh, so sensual) the kale with the olive oil until the leaves deflate slightly and turn green (no longer than 3 minutes). Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt.
  2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coconut until it is lightly browned all over (at least 5 minutes, as many as 10). Toss or stir the coconut continuously as it likes to scorch! When toasted, dump on top of the kale.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and heat the coconut oil in it over medium heat. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium-low; cook for at least 10 minutes, longer if you prefer sweeter onions. When they are cooked to your liking, add the miso paste, lemon juice, and vinegar; stir to make a warm vinaigrette. Pour onion mixture over the kale. 
  4. Add diced bell peppers and optional protein; toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes or so; before serving, season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste. 

This salad will keep in the fridge for at least 3-4 days. Heads up: coconut oil is a solid below 75-76 degrees Fahrenheit, so this salad will absolutely turn into a congealed, unappetizing mess in the fridge. Leave it out at room temp (30 minutes) or zap it in the microwave (20 seconds) before serving to fix that.

My poor, beloved, drowned-rat copy of Joy. 

Strawberry-rhubarb pie with cornmeal crust. Get the recipe here. If you clocked the awesome mug and want your own, you can order one from the artist’s Etsy shop.  Strawberry-rhubarb pie with cornmeal crust. Get the recipe here. If you clocked the awesome mug and want your own, you can order one from the artist’s Etsy shop.  Strawberry-rhubarb pie with cornmeal crust. Get the recipe here. If you clocked the awesome mug and want your own, you can order one from the artist’s Etsy shop. 

Strawberry-rhubarb pie with cornmeal crust. Get the recipe here. If you clocked the awesome mug and want your own, you can order one from the artist’s Etsy shop

Recipe: Strawberry-rhubarb pie with cornmeal crust

This short cartoon by Pittsburgh-based artist Scott Benson (twitter, etsy, vimeo) incisively and poetically sums up how my brain feels after too much reddit. It got picked up by Jezebel yesterday and proceeded to piss off a whole lot of sexist dickbags in the comments. 

In addition to being a talented animator, Mr. Benson has a wonderful way with words. I would marry this little snippet, from his description on the cartoon’s Vimeo page, if such a union were acknowledged by the state of Oregon:

In lurking their blogs and youtube channels for a while, I’ve noticed that beyond the standard patriarchal chauvinism there is this deep fear of women - what they will do to me, how they will reject me, how they will use me, how they are changing society in a way that does not favor me, how they are making men into something I don’t like, how they are making themselves into something I don’t like, that they won’t give me what I want, and that they won’t give me what I think is rightfully mine. This goes beyond fear of feminism- this is fear of women at its purest. And that, to quote a puppet, leads to anger and hate. It’s sad.

Thanks, Scott Benson. 

I used to have some bad days, and I kept ‘em in a little box, and one day I threw them out into the yard. Oh, it’s just a couple innocent little bad days. Well, we had a big rain…

I don’t know what it was growing in, but I think we used to put egg shells out there, and coffee grounds, too.

Don’t plant your bad days, they grow into weeks; the weeks grow into months, and before you know it, you got yourself a bad year.

Take it from me: choke those little bad days. Choke ‘em down to nothin’. THEY’RE YOUR DAYS; CHOKE ‘EM.

Tom Waits, preamble to More Than Rain (from the 1988 concert album/film Big Time)

I wrote this quote down on an index card during my junior year of college (one of my worst years to date). It lived above my desk in the library that year, then in my thesis office the year after that. While rooting through my disaster of a desk situation last week, I found it and stuck it up on my whiteboard. 

The last six months have been some of the hardest I’ve ever had to deal with, and I haven’t handled them well - but the thought of Tom Waits telling me to choke my bad days down to nothin’ makes me wanna grit my teeth, put on my ass-kicking boots, and go get some shit done.

Mmm, beer. (Portland Brewing IPA)

Broccoli, onion, and Dubliner cheese quesadilla. To make: cook 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced, with seasoning of choice (I used adobo seasoning ‘cause it’s THE SHIT) in 1 Tb butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed broccoli and cook until tender (5 minutes or so). Remove veggies from pan, wipe it out, add butter, and toast two corn tortillas topped with grated cheese of choice until the cheese melts. Top with as many veggies as will fit, add pickled jalapenos if you’re into that (I very much am), fold over, and serve with avocado and hot sauce (Tapatío or GTFO). This would have been great with black beans, too. Broccoli, onion, and Dubliner cheese quesadilla. To make: cook 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced, with seasoning of choice (I used adobo seasoning ‘cause it’s THE SHIT) in 1 Tb butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed broccoli and cook until tender (5 minutes or so). Remove veggies from pan, wipe it out, add butter, and toast two corn tortillas topped with grated cheese of choice until the cheese melts. Top with as many veggies as will fit, add pickled jalapenos if you’re into that (I very much am), fold over, and serve with avocado and hot sauce (Tapatío or GTFO). This would have been great with black beans, too. Broccoli, onion, and Dubliner cheese quesadilla. To make: cook 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced, with seasoning of choice (I used adobo seasoning ‘cause it’s THE SHIT) in 1 Tb butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed broccoli and cook until tender (5 minutes or so). Remove veggies from pan, wipe it out, add butter, and toast two corn tortillas topped with grated cheese of choice until the cheese melts. Top with as many veggies as will fit, add pickled jalapenos if you’re into that (I very much am), fold over, and serve with avocado and hot sauce (Tapatío or GTFO). This would have been great with black beans, too.

Broccoli, onion, and Dubliner cheese quesadilla. To make: cook 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced, with seasoning of choice (I used adobo seasoning ‘cause it’s THE SHIT) in 1 Tb butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed broccoli and cook until tender (5 minutes or so). Remove veggies from pan, wipe it out, add butter, and toast two corn tortillas topped with grated cheese of choice until the cheese melts. Top with as many veggies as will fit, add pickled jalapenos if you’re into that (I very much am), fold over, and serve with avocado and hot sauce (Tapatío or GTFO). This would have been great with black beans, too.

I liked those pancakes so damn much I made them two days in a row! Mouthful Pancakes with bacon, coffee, and eggs sunny. Get the recipe here. I liked those pancakes so damn much I made them two days in a row! Mouthful Pancakes with bacon, coffee, and eggs sunny. Get the recipe here.

I liked those pancakes so damn much I made them two days in a row! Mouthful Pancakes with bacon, coffee, and eggs sunny. Get the recipe here.