Thanksgiving Carbonara


Each Thanksgiving I stand in a kind of protest. Either I don’t cook at all and we get take-out or we eat from a church basement buffet or I make just a braised turkey part with a few simple sides. I’m the only cook in the family and so it’s a given that on the holiday I will be in the kitchen. A number of years ago, I thought hey I want to be my husband under the blanket in the big easy chair head-down in a novel or my daughter watching a movie cuddled up between grandparents on Thanksgiving day. We usually travel up to Cambridge, MN to my in-laws to spend the day and cook and eat, and their kitchen is entirely divided from the rest of the house. It makes for lonely preparation.

Hence, the protest. It goes without saying that what my day job is, and so over time the thought of not having the holiday to sit and laze started eating (no pun intended) at me. I am the least festive person you’ll meet this time of year, flaring my nostrils at the talk of turkey and football games. I don’t know how it’s gotten this pronounced…

The food writer, Calvin Trillin, put out in the world a while ago the idea that we should make spaghetti carbonara the official food of Thanksgiving since it’s simple to make and everyone loves it. There has been much written on the subject. I adore the idea and so this year, with the family’s permission, we’re following Trillin’s brilliance and plattering what would traditionally be a browned, crispy bird a silky pile of pasta carbonara instead. Okay, we’re keeping the red wine cranberry sauce, since it’s the only real Thanksgiving standard I am reluctant to pass up. (Plus, when is it appropriate to make cranberry sauce outside of the holiday?) And we’re roasting beets and winter vegetables. Salad too with vinaigrette and my daughter demands homemade pumpkin pie.

Carbonara gives me the option to read my Marquez novel in front of the picture window for a while or just plain take a nap on Thanksgiving day. I’m still in keeping my protest but to the degree where all of us are happy. Looks like we’ve started a new tradition!

It’s Summer, Get Out!


Tis June.  And I feel as I always do this time of year, slapped up side the head, that summer is here and now is the time to romance it.  In Minnesota it is easy to forget about this glorious warmth and color and the onset of sensory overload.  We’ve these quite sing-songy cardinals in the yard this year who have much to say and much joy.  Riley and I sat on the porch listening to them for a long time this morning.  And everything is green and has on its full skirt, really flaunting it. 

This past weekend I took in the Saint Paul Farmers Market for the first time this year.  It was busy and bustling even at 8am and there more vendors with more things to buy than I’ve seen this time of year before.  Skip past the round man selling grilled brats (or as he advertises them, bratz) and you’ll find spring onions, piles of rhubarb, standing bunches of asparagus, lettuces and radishes.  I can never not accept a sample of Lovetree raw milk cheese when I’m at the market, listening to their spiel over and over again.  I love those people, so gritty and fresh-faced, and lucky to be making such exceptional cheese.  Soon we’ll see the strawberry boxes, the broccolis and cabbages and peas. 

Speaking of the market, I’ve a class coming up in a few weeks at Cooks in Edina called Fresh from the Farmers Market.  Basically, it is like tagging along with me to the farmers market, helping me to carry bags of food, listening me talk to myself in the car on the way home go on about what to make, and then sitting patiently while I whip up a few beautiful dishes using what we found.  You get the gist.  Should be quite fun in that cozy kitchen of theirs, and I should mention that the class is nearly full, so don’t hesitate.  Can’t wait to see you there.

It’s nice to be thinking of and writing on food for a few minutes now, for all I’ve been about lately is home-shopping.  Our newest and ongoing project is buying our first home.  Sounded quite romantic and in this market, quite possible, a few months back.  But now we are exhausted and overwhelmed and finding that many other souls are in deep competition with us.  We are, however, always optimists, and try and get right back up again when we can.  I figure to that buying your first home is also quite a lot like falling in love or having a child, a moment in a life that is worth all the torture and thrill, the ups and downs.  We carry on.  (I can only say now that I hope by my next posting that we will have already signed some papers saying that yes, you are home-owners, and good luck.)

Finally, my other thought this morning was about getting out of the city.  Tired of looking at urban dwellings and listening to the buses huffing by, I decided that I want to plan some pick-your-own afternoons.  Strawberry season is moments away and that seems a good place to begin.  While browsing my Minnesota Grown Directory ( I notice there are so very many places to do pick-your-own, depending on where you are.  One other website I just found that is on this subject is and could be a good place to look.  Get out there.  With the kids.  With your neighbors.  By yourself.  Enjoy and Enjoy this fast, fecund season.


Life Zest


I’m writing to you now nearby a warm window.  Heavens, it’s spring!  I can type that with certainty now.  I’ve noticed everyone and every animal I see is brimming over with vibrating energy.  My toddler, Riley, is full-throttled now, up up and away, in search of something all of the time, in examination mode, always on to the next wild moment.  I’m equally exhausted and enthusiastic over keeping up with her and just joining in that life zest. 

Riley had a bit of a toddler detox the past few months but now is back again eating like there’s no next meal.  And she’ll eat anything (well, nearly) I give her: roasted sweet potatoes, lentil and spinach soup (using her own spoon and bowl), oatmeal with maple syrup and creamy milk.  She makes me want to keep cooking and now that it’s spring and the foods of spring are nearly here I’m impatient about wanting to try out some new foods on her.

I’ve been thinking about the ramp.  It’s fine if you’ve never heard of ramps; even I have a hard time finding them and remembering to eat them when spring comes round.  A ramp is really just a wild leek and is native to harsher climates and is like a scallion in some ways but with more bite and character.  But this year I’m going to try and pay my respects to this underdog of a vegetable, and their time is nearly come to debut in the market.  How about the ramp and egg combination; a perfect meal for a spring evening.  Wash and trim your ramps and chop them into an omelet or frittata with a bit of salt and pepper.  Voila!

‘Tis the time for teaching this spring and summer.  Here is a heads up on a few more upcoming classes I’ll be teaching around the Cities.  I’d love to see you there; it’s too much fun!

At the Wedge Coop:

Personal Chef Tips and Tricks; April 22, Wednesday, 7-8:30pm

Locavore Eating at its Best; May 14, Thursday, 7-8:30pm

Center Stage Vegetables; June 25, Thursday, 7-8:30pm

At Cooks of Crocus Hill:

Digging in to the CSA Box; May 19, Tuesday, 6-9pm

Dinner from the Farmers Market; June 22, Monday, 6-9pm (at the Edina location)

Vegetarian Summer; July 7, Tuesday, 6-9pm

Visit these sites above for more details and reservations. 

Happy spring to you,