Hi! It’s been a while. So, in the spirit of candidly documenting my life on the farm, I’ll do a quick recap of what has happened in the three plus months since my last update. Stay with me—we’ve been busy. We moved from Chicago to the farm. We adopted our third dog, Hazel. We got married (not glossing over this, planning a wedding recap in a few weeks). We traveled to the Pacific Northwest for our magical honeymoon. We got 250 brand new baby chicks to raise. Bought new appliances. I ran my third marathon and spent a long weekend in New York City. I spent a week in Milwaukee for work. My maternal grandmother passed away so we spent a long weekend in my family’s home state of Colorado to celebrate her life. And I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal completely from scratch for the first time. I’ve been exhausted. And invigorated.
Through all of 2016’s insanity, there have been two constants that have kept me sane: running and cooking. I’ll dedicate a future post to running, but want to really dive into cooking here. My family loves to cook—some of my earliest memories revolve around spending time in the kitchen with my grandfather and father where we debated important topics like “how to correctly pronounce the word ‘stir’” (which according to my Papa should sound something like “steer,” and despite this technically being a correct pronunciation alternative, still makes me laugh every time I think about it. I’m a know-it-all because my Papa passed that gene down through my father, apparently). But they also taught me to love food (especially garlic which you’ll find features heavily in my cooking), and somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that it’s practically a sin to cook without a glass of wine in hand (and if it’s aforementioned Thanksgiving meal, this glass quickly turns into a bottle).
One of my fears of moving to the country was being bored, and so in an effort to assuage my anxiety I created a list of hobbies to cultivate. The most important and purely pleasurable of those is cooking. I’ve always been the primary cook in our household (because my amazing husband for some unknown reason loves to clean because there is something wrong with him and I am happy to make the tradeoff), but I have pretty much always stayed in my safety bubble with regard to flavors and techniques. And let’s be honest, my safety bubble is made out of carbs and cheese. I’m still a recipe-with-a-few-edits sort of woman, so I’ve been pulling classic and more challenging recipes from the always reliable Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine Magazine, with the occasionally modern additions of the likes of Smitten Kitchen and Cookie and Kate. Those of you that follow my personal Instagram will recognize many of the photos in this post, because I also love to shamelessly brag about my culinary pursuits.
My plans to because Momence’s Culinary Queen are as follows: step one (we’ll be having some fun), try new and different recipes (a from scratch quiche that took an entire Sunday to make, eating at home 5 days per week for all 3 meals). Step two, try to develop my very own recipes based on my favorites, after sampling a variety of techniques and flavors (approaching this stage rapidly - I even added my very first attempt at recipe creation below, let me know what you think). And step three, grow a garden in 2017 to push my limits further by primarily cooking meals from what we grow. I’ve even got the public domain blueprints for a grain mill that I am seriously considering executing. Not joking. Yes, okay, I know it’s very hipster, but it’s also super practical when you have 110 acres more or less at your disposal and no delivery options outside of pizza (and yes, I did confirm on a lazy Sunday night that we can order pizza to the farm if you remember my trepidation from my first post). I’m also really interested to learn the art of preserving food for the long term (canning) and short term (freezer meals) to complete the hipster/farm wife picture. Many of my updates will center on my progress in the kitchen, but for now I’ve sprinkled this post with some of my proudest achievements to date, in the midst of the joyful chaos of the last several months.
We are a couple of weeks out from my favorite holiday, and thus my favorite annual cooking tradition: cookie baking with my mother. I am thinking of trying these (not much clean up) or these (because whiskey). Expect to see many more regular updates going forward, and I look forward to hearing from everyone about their favorite recipes and cooking traditions. And, because I really have been working on creating my own recipes, here is a favorite that makes a regular appearance on our weeknight menu. The best part about these bowls is they are super customizable to whatever you feel like eating or what is in season.
Ken and Em’s Miso Bowls (serves 2, plus leftovers)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp ground mustard
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 bunch kale (Lacinto or curly, your preference)
- Sea Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 Eggs
- 3-4 tablespoons miso paste (we like white, but red works, too)
- 1 cup rice, ½ package ramen noodles, or 1 zucchini spiralized (your preference)
- 1 avocado, cubed
- Optional: Tamari, Sriracha, scallions, sesame seeds, seaweed, or whatever garnishes you prefer
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, toss sweet potatoes, crushed garlic, mustard, ginger, and tamari until coated, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Cook rice in rice cooker or on stovetop, your preference. Boil water and add miso to taste (we like it pretty intense) and stir, simmer until ready to serve. Remove stems from kale and shred into large pieces. Massage with olive oil, add sea salt and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Add to oven when sweet potatoes have about 7 minutes remaining, cook until slightly crispy. Prepare eggs however you like them – we fry or poach. This can also be prepared with tofu instead of eggs to eliminate dairy. I marinate tofu for about 20 minutes in teriyaki, soy, ginger and garlic and then sauté and add to bowls. I also vary the additional veggies seasonally. The photo includes a version we made with cauliflower, which we roasted along with sweet potatoes.
To assemble bowls: place rice/noodles/zucchini noodles in bowl, top with miso, add potatoes, kale, and avocado. Then – put an egg on it! Add whatever else you like, and enjoy.