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Shandies on table with orange segments and beer cans

mandarin & ginger winter citrus shandy

Guess who’s back. Back again.

(If you didn’t start singing along in your head, or at least immediately recognize that song, we probably can’t be friends. Kidding. I’m kiiiidding. Kinda.)

Hands holding mandarin orange

But here I am! Back again! To the blog. Da blahg. This cozy little corner of mine where I talk to myself but pretend I’m talking to you, my invisible internet friends, who may or may not be reading. (Here’s also where I try to convince myself that this is somehow wildly different from — and a totally normal adult thing to do — the stuffed animal tea parties I had as a girl. It’s ’cause you’re not imaginary … right?)

My rampant perfectionism, which can be both motivating and crippling (usually one or the other but sometimes both at the same time which is … uncomfortable, to say the least), has kept me away from this space because I haven’t wanted to share what I felt were mediocre photos or recipes. But it hasn’t kept me from learning, experimenting, playing, and challenging myself. I’ve been quiet in this space because I’ve been busy as hell everywhere else.

Bowl of citrus fruits

All of that is to say that my perfectionism, plus my super extra enthusiasm and general overboard-y-ness, did mean that it took me close to two months to complete this project. Which means I’m bringing you a “winter” recipe on the cusp of spring. (Definitely hoping, and planning for, future blog posts to take like 1/8 that amount of time. At least.)

Even though we’re springing forward this weekend and in 10 days we will “officially” welcome spring with the vernal equinox … let’s be honest. It’s still winter. There’s snow and wind and rain and it’s effing cold. Spring is coming, but at a snail’s pace. And though the citrus might not be stacked quite as high, there’s still plenty at the store. So, grab some oranges and pour yourself a beer, would ya?

Pouring beer into a glass

I have eaten an excessive amount of mandarins this winter. I mean, I’ve eaten an excessive amount of all citrus, but mostly mandarins. They’re easy to peel, not too sweet, and the perfect size for snacking. And, lo, they make a great shandy.

Mandarin oranges

I’m having a total food blogger moment, because I really have to tell you about the flavor of this shandy. It’s so satisfying! It feels summery (which we need right now, yes?). It’s refreshing, beachy, punchy, but totally understated. (Are you rolling your eyes at how food-blogger-y I am right now? It’s cool. I totally am.)

The first time I experimented with this flavor combo, I used Ghostfish Brewing‘s new hazy IPA It Came from the Haze. I first tried it on draught at the brewery and immediately bought a pack because I thought it would be the perfect base for this weird concoction. It was already so juicy, it just seemed obvious. But that’s a limited edition brew and when it came time for round 2 of photos (because I have yet to master the perfect shot on the first go, but I’m OK with that because the photographing & styling is honestly my favorite part), they were all sold out! So I picked up both a light blonde ale, Meteor Shower (which is legit like summer in a can) and a different IPA, Kick Step, and tested the “recipe” again with both.

Pouring orange juice for shandy

I was CONVINCED I’d prefer the Meteor Shower version. I tasted them side-by-side and that first sip confirmed my suspicion. But then, surprisingly, sip after sip after sip, I really fell in love with the one with Kick Step. I honestly couldn’t get enough. And I was honestly shocked. (Because while I can’t totally pick a one-true-favorite Ghostfish beer, Meteor Shower hovers pretty high up on the list.)

It has everything to do with how all of these ingredients mingle together.

Meteor Shower is sparkling and crisp, but incredibly light. It has a lower ABV (4.5%) and a low IBU (18), which means it’s not very bitter. This makes it perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day, but when paired with stronger flavors, like juicy sweet mandarin and bold spicy ginger beer, the subtleties of Meteor Shower are lost … and the final drink felt flat.

Kick Step has a slightly higher ABV (5.5%), which is actually a bit low for IPAs (which can be anywhere from 5-7%, give or take). It also has a significantly higher IBU (60) than Meteor Shower. So even though they’re both lighter bodied, the bitterness and dry finish of Kick Step really compliments these non-alcoholic accouterments.

Mandarin orange shandy with beer can

The real kicker for me (see what I did there?) is the complex hops flavor. It adds just the right subtle floral flavor that, to me, balances both the flavor and emotional palates of the drink.

At the risk of sounding ridiculously woo woo-y, please let me explain. Kick Step has an incredible hops profile that, when combined with the mandarin juice and ginger beer, adds a subtle floral essence that imparts both complexity and balance. Jumping from bitter to juicy to sweet to gingery-spicy-tingly flavors can be particularly energizing, and the floral notes from the hops evoke a sense of calm that just chills everything out. (Do I sound like a total hipster snob yet?)

Also, as a food marketing copywriter, I am well aware that “floral” is usually code for “soapy.” Rest assured, despite my excessive use of the f-word  in that last paragraph, this shandy does not taste soapy. I promise.

Mandarin orange IPA shandies

It is sweet and zesty, bright and refreshing. Perfect whether you’re relaxing by the pool or staring out the window at two more feet of snow.

IPA Shandy with Mandarin Orange & Ginger Beer

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Note: The ratio below is perfect for one 16-ounce drink. It can easily be multipled if you want to serve guests or even make a pitcher! Make sure all of your ingredients are cold, including your glass(es)!


4 ounces freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice (sub clementine or tangerine)
4 ounces non-alcoholic ginger beer
8 ounces Ghostfish Brewing Kick Step IPA (or your fave hoppy IPA)


Add juice to the chilled glass. Gently pour in the beer down the side of the glass at an angle (to prevent it from foaming). Give it a quick, gentle stir and then top with ginger beer. Stir again, sip and enjoy! 

Orange shandies closeup

Cheers to the last of the winter citrus! Check out the other two shandies in this series:
Blood orange and pomelo juices in glass

Grapefruit shandy with meyer lemonade

grapefruit ipa shandy with tarragon meyer lemonade (and gin!)

This is a love story.

Ingredients for grapefruit and meyer lemon shandy

I am OBSESSED with grapefruit. It all started with one of my favorite scented candles, Paddywax’s salted grapefruit. And then there was soap, lip balm … even a grapefruit-scented household cleaner! And, of course, my near daily early-winter ritual of snacking on a grapefruit sliced in half and sprinkled generously with coarse, crunchy sea salt (preferably Jacobsen’s vanilla bean salt, because that pop of vanilla is perfection).

Pouring lemonade into a glass

So, it was a great surprise that I did not initially like Ghostfish Brewing’s multiple-award-winning Grapefruit IPA. Even as a fan of bitter foods and beverages (arugula, Brussels sprouts, espresso, etc.), this one was just too bitter for me. It’s pungent, with more notes of grapefruit pith than peel or fruit.

But my palate (along with EVERYTHING. ELSE. in my life) has changed dramatically over the last few years (was once a sweet-white-wine-only kinda girl, now I drink reds on the reg), so I definitely appreciate and enjoy this beer more than I used to.

Shandy ingredients with a glass of lemonade

I wanted to find a way to love this beer even more. And I succeeded! (I’ve bought and consumed more of it than ever before, if that’s a testament to success.) My brain started spinning flavor pairings. Traditionally and most straightforwardly, a shandy is made by mixing beer with lemon-lime soda, so I started first with that flavor combination. Instead of regular lemonade, my mind turned to meyer lemons, which are naturally sweeter and more fragrant. Tarragon (an herb I usually HATE and avoid at all costs) pairs well with both lemon and grapefruit and adds a subtle herbaceousness.

The beauty of this combination is that you can taste all the elements, but the lemonade mellows the beer’s bracing bitterness. The grapefruit isn’t lost and the meyer lemon shines and this drink has a really smooth finish.

Meyer lemonade with a sprig of tarragon

Unlike other shandies, this one isn’t topped off with a sparkling beverage. Instead, because the alcohol content of the beer is tempered by the lemonade, I decided to boost the booze with a float of gin. The floral, herby, citrusy flavors work really well with gin. But the gin is totally optional and you can definitely add a splash of sparkling water instead. (I recommend a lemon or lime flavor and a dry/unsweetened variety like La Croix because this blend is already pretty sweet between the honey and the meyer lemons, but do what suits your tastes best!)

Pouring gin into a jigger

Pouring gin into the beer glass

It could be the tarragon (which I always associate with chicken salad, which I associate, for some reason, with ladylike luncheons). It could be the pretty pinks and pastel yellows. It could be that I used the word “herbaceousness.” I don’t know for sure, but this particular shandy makes me feel fancy. I hope it makes you feel fancy, too.

Beer Pour in Grapefruit Shandy

Shandy after beer is poured in the glass

Grapefruit IPA Shandy with Tarragon Meyer Lemonade

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Note: The recipe for the lemonade makes enough for two shandies. If you’re making more or serving a crowd, the amounts can easily be doubled or even tripled. Also, I made this lemonade intentionally for pairing with beer, so it’s a bit stronger than a regular ol’ lemonade. You do you, but I don’t recommend just drinking this lemonade on its own.


For the lemonade:
4-6 meyer lemons
1 cup water
¼ cup honey
3-4 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus more for optional garnish

For the shandy:
4-6 ounces lemonade
6 ounces Grapefruit IPA
1 ounce gin or 1-2 ounces sparkling water (optional)


Put a 12-16 ounce glass (or glasses) in the fridge to chill.

Use a vegetable peeler to carefully remove 3-4 strips of peel, about an inch long, from one of the lemons. Juice the lemons and strain the liquid into a measuring cup. You should have ½ cup juice. (For me, this took 4 lemons. It helps to have a few extra, in case you get some that are less juicy or want a wedge to squeeze into your beer later.)

In a small saucepan, combine the water and honey over medium heat. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Add the lemon peel strips and the tarragon. Bring the mix to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to ½ cup. This will take 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally and watch to make sure it doesn’t boil or reduce too much.

Once the liquid is reduced, set the pan aside and allow to steep until the mixture is completely cool.

Stir together the cooled syrup and juice. You can use this immediately, or store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Add a sprig of tarragon to the jar to continue infusing more flavor if you’re saving it for later. (Keep in mind the longer it sits, the stronger it gets. I left a sprig in some lemonade for 5 days and it was very strong, bordering on unpleasant…but I also generally dislike tarragon, so take that with a grain of salt.)

To make the shandy, add 4 ounces of lemonade to a chilled glass. Pour in 6 ounces of beer. Give it a taste. If you need more lemon-y flavor, add a bit more lemonade. If you want the beer to be stronger, add more beer. Top with optional gin or sparkling water and serve with a lemon wedge. Garnish with a sprig of tarragon if you’re feeling extra fancy. Cheers!

Grapefruit shandy garnished with tarragon

Get the glow and sip on these other shandies, too:

Blood orange and pomelo juices in glass

Pomelo juice in glass

blood orange & pomelo pale ale shandy

“Hello, Vegas? Yeah. We would like some more alcohol. And you know else? We would like some more beers.”

My name is Sara, and I am constantly quoting episodes of FRIENDS.

This one is  from “The One in Vegas: Part 2” but really it should be titled, “The One Where Rachel Looks Like Pancho Villa.”

Or, “The One Where Rachel Has a Moustache.”

Or, “The One with All the Beers.”

Or, “The One with Mr. Rachel.”

Getting ready to add the dry soda

Anyway. I digress. But it’s only because I’m here with more beer. (See what I did there?)

I’d say that I saved the best for last, but honestly … I love them all. Every time I tried a new one, or made one again (to photograph or just to enjoy), I’d say “Oh yes, this one is my favorite.” But then I said it for all of them!

Truly though, this one is so fun! It’s a great color, has such an interesting flavor, and features one of my new favorite citrus fruits: pomelo.

Pomelo wedges on a cutting board

You know (or you should by now) that I’m a grapefruit girl. The pomelo tastes exactly like a grapefruit without any of the bitterness. It’s not sweeter, it’s just not bitter.

I don’t find grapefruits particularly bitter anymore (unless they’re super out of season), but eating pomelo was such a nice way to experience all the flavor and complexity of the fruit without those bitter notes. It’s also just fun to try new foods.

Slicing pomelo into smaller wedges

Cutting pomelo flesh from the rind

The original inspiration for this recipe was a swirl of two colors (now, wouldn’t that be a good name for a recipe?!). I knew we were on the tail-end of the season, but I really wanted to make a juicy persimmon puree as the base of a winter shandy. I envisioned it, bright and orange, swirled with dark pinky-red blood orange juice. It felt moody but still peppy, perfect for winter.

So early one Saturday morning, I hauled Jonn out of bed and braced against the winter chill to visit Pike Place Market before the thick throngs of gawking tourists and brunch-goers filled the streets and sidewalks and stalls. We bounced from fruit stand to fruit stand as the vendors were finishing setting up their displays for the day. I was looking for one thing, and one thing only.

Cutting pomelo into chunks

“I’m actually looking for persimmons,” I said quietly when one man asked if I needed help finding anything. “Oh. Well. We’ll see ya in October then.”

We laughed and picked out blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, grapefruits and a few apples instead.

Pouring blood orange juice into jar

Juicer with blood orange juice on a plate

But secretly, I was forlorn. This was the genesis of my entire shandy experience. My entire idea hinged on an ingredient that was now gone for a year.

So, as I do with all things, I twirled ideas around in my head. Based on what we picked up at the market, I stumbled on the alliterative “winter citrus shandies.” From there, the idea took off and this little mini-series was born.

And THEN I found the pomelo. This ginormous neon-tinted citrus fruit the size of a honeydew. The pomelo-pale-ale alliteration (and internal rhyme, because honestly I don’t know when to stop) stuck.

Whole pomelo fruit before slicing

Pomelo pieces in a jar

So, even though my original recipe idea couldn’t come to life this season, these final recipes gave me a lot of opportunities for play and practice — with my photography (and nailing the pour shot!), with lighting and editing, and with challenging my palate in new, clever ways.

And, while the original inspiration for this recipe and months-long creative endeavor is gone until next fall, I still got my swirl.

Pouring blood orange juice into glass with pomelo juice

Blood orange and pomelo juices swirled in a glass

There’s just a lil boop, a teensy splash, of blood orange juice in this recipe but, honestly, it’s enough. It adds just the right amount of zingy flavor and the color is just drop dead gosh darn gorgeous. The Dry Soda blood orange was a last minute addition that adds some sweetness, pumps up that citrus flavor and gives the final drink a delightful effervescence. (Also, it’s really fun trying to photograph the inevitable rush, and potential spill over, of bubbles and foam.)

Pouring dry soda into the shandy

I feel like talking about all of these shandies has made me sound like the most uppity hipster pretentious foodie marketer … (oh, hello, self doubt), but it’s all true. I’m honestly a bit of all of those things, and these shandies are also that good. They deserve these words. And you deserve to make one, for yourself or someone you love. Kick back. Cuddle up. Give winter the finger and pour yourself a beer.

Full glass of the blood orange and pomelo shandy

We earned it. 

Blood Orange & Pomelo Pale Ale Shandy

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Note: If you can’t find, or don’t feel like dealing with a pomelo, you can use grapefruit juice. It’ll work just fine (and I’m not saying that in a meme-Ina-Garten kinda way. I’ve had this with regular ol’ grapefruit juice from a carton and it was good).


For the juices:
½ pomelo
2-3 blood oranges

For one shandy:
4 ounces pomelo juice
2 ounces blood orange juice
6 ounces pale ale
2 ounces Dry blood orange soda (or sparkling water or blood orange flavored Italian soda)


Put a 16-ounce glass in the fridge to chill.

Carefully slice the pomelo half into wedges and then, using a sharp paring knife, cut the flesh from the pith. (This is similar to how you cut watermelon from the rind.) Dice the pomelo flesh into cubes, removing any obvious seeds or membranes (the tough parts in between the fruit segments). Discard the pith and save the other half of the pomelo for another use. (More juice? Eat it? It’s all good.)

Put the pomelo chunks in a blender or food processor with a splash of water and process until blended. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. (I used a nut milk bag. Highly recommend.)

Juice and strain the blood oranges. You want at least ¼ cup.

To make a shandy, mix together the juices in a chilled glass. Add the beer and stir. Top with soda. (It might bubble over, so pour gently and watch out!)

If you haven’t already, check out these other winter citrus shandies:

Upside down rhubarb cake on plate

upside-down rhubarb olive oil cornmeal cake

Two weeks ago, I turned 30.

Despite the stigma around aging, especially for women, I feel really, really good about being 30.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we measure time and how a year, in particular, is simultaneously extraordinarily long and yet, somehow, it passes wildly fast.

Slices of rhubarb & almond slices

Last year, in particular, was full of transitions and growth and new beginnings. And so, this year, I’m celebrating a lot of firsts/one year “anniversaries.”
One year of prioritizing myself, of really, actually getting to know myself & loving myself wholeheartedly.
One year of knowing and loving, adventuring, cooking, cuddling, talking (oh my gosh, so much talking), having the most fun I’ve ever had, and laughing, laughing, laughing with the greatest (life) partner (in crime).
One year of living alone, and feeling the least lonely of any year before.

A slice of upside rhubarb cake

This new decade, a brand new number to mark my age, seems a fitting metaphor for this new season of my life. You know I like to find metaphor in these moments, the parallels of where I am in time and space.

In March, it had been one full year since my last blog post. This year, after so many starts and stops, I finally have the space and the freedom to play. It reminded me how much I love writing recipes, playing in my kitchen, and taking pictures. (I am even learning to love washing all the dishes!) And while I’ve definitely struggled with feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome, I’ve also pushed myself to learn and study and play and practice without wallowing. I’ve tried to harness those normally negative feelings and use them to push myself upwards, instead of holding myself down.

Upside down rhubarb polenta olive oil cake on a plate
Comparison is the thief of all joy.
This is something my therapist told me, more than once, during sessions when I was struggling with feeling like I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t where I should be technically for the amount of time I’ve wanted to do this … but wanting isn’t enough. You have to do and practice and fail and start over and work and work and work. It took me a while to accept that even though I had been working on this, it was in fits & spurts, and most of it was locked up in my head & my heart because I hadn’t been able to fully commit myself until now. My therapist told me I just had to own where I’m at right now, starting anew.

So, I started.

Ingredients for the upside down rhubarb cake

Comparing yourself to someone else — an interpersonal (external) comparison — steals joy and replaces it with doubt and disparagement. But, there’s another kind of comparison that can bestow great joy, personal pride, satisfaction and accomplishment: an intrapersonal (internal) comparison.

Where and who I am in my life right now is vastly different from where and who I was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. This year and these little scattered “one year” celebrations have given me plenty of opportunities to look back, to reflect and remember and to see, truly, how far I’ve come. The journey I embarked on a few years ago has been a rough one, but this last year was a turning point. Navigationally, spiritually, emotionally. Though the road wasn’t always smooth, the weather not always kind, I made pretty good time on this little stretch.

Laying slices of rhubarb in the bottom of the cake pan

A year is a long time. I’ve told many friends that I feel like I’ve crammed about a decade’s worth of living in the last few years. And now, at the start of this new decade, I’m ready to slow down a little bit, to savor and stretch out across my years.

I loved my rhubarb buckle cake, but wanted something that was less sweet. Something soft and light, elegant in its simplicity.

On the topic of time, the end of July might mean there’s no more rhubarb. (Surprisingly, I caught sight of a tiny table still piled with stalks at the farmers market in Seattle last weekend.) If you can’t find rhubarb, I think this cake would be equally delicious topped off with plump blueberries or blackberries (maybe scattered on top like a buckle cake, instead of on the bottom). I actually really want to try it with blackberries, because I think the flavors would be fantastic, but it’s just too damn hot to bake.

If you have air conditioning and dare to brave the heat, please bake this little cake.

Sliced upside down rhubarb cake

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
— Madeline L’Engle

Local List

  • Cornmeal
  • Egg
  • Honey
  • Rhubarb
  • Yogurt

Upside-Down Rhubarb Olive Oil Polenta Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Notes: Use a good quality olive oil that has a sweeter or more floral flavor; I used a California arbequina EVOO. I used a local cornmeal that said it was fine ground but had a slightly coarse & irregular texture, similar to a stone-ground meal. This gave the cake a coarser crumb that I really I liked. Use a fine-ground cornmeal if you don’t want that texture.


115 grams rhubarb, sliced about ¼-inch thick
50 grams (¼ cup/2 ounces) extra virgin olive oil
50 grams (¼ cup/2 ounces) + 1 tablespoon wild flower honey
1 large egg, room temperature
45 grams (1.6 ounces) plain yogurt, room temperature
40 grams (40mL/1.5 ounces) plain unsweetened almond milk, room temperature
70 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
25 grams stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
Small pinch kosher flake salt
½ teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (optional)
1-2 tablespoons sliced almonds


Toss together the sliced rhubarb and 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl, making sure the slices are all coated in the honey & not stuck together. Let macerate, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes. (If you do this first, they should be good by the time you’ve measured out & assembled the rest of your ingredients.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-inch cake pan.

Optional: Arrange some of the sliced almonds in a pattern on the bottom of the pan. I did this for funsies. The second time I tested this cake, though, some of them stuck to the pan. Greasing the pan helps. If you don’t want to do this, I definitely recommend sprinkling some sliced or slivered almonds on the cake before serving. I love the delicate crunch and flavor they add.

When the rhubarb has softened & started to release some juice, use your fingers to gently pick up the slices & lay them in a single layer on the bottom of the pan (on top of the almond slices, if you opted to do that). Don’t just pour the whole mess into the bottom of the pan, because of that extra liquid.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and thyme leaves (if using).

In a larger bowl, whisk together the olive oil and honey until the honey is dissolved. Whisk in the egg, yogurt and almond milk. Fold in the flour mix.

Pour the batter on top of the rhubarb slices and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to the end. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then run a butter or pairing knife gently around the edge of the cake to make sure the sides have pulled away from the pan. Place a small plate on top of the pan and carefully invert the cake. Gently tap a few times on the bottom of the pan to release the cake. Once the cake is out of the pan, carefully transfer it from the plate to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Sprinkle with almonds and dust with powdered sugar. Serve on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream.

Rhubarb cake on a plate with knife & forksHBD to me. Cheers to a new year & a new decade.

Gluten free galette with rhubarb & asparagus

savory asparagus & rhubarb galette

So, this is perhaps one of the weirder things I’ve done.

Though the colors are stunning together, I didn’t do it just for the ‘gram. This flavor story is too good not to tell.

A slice of the rhubarb & asparagus galette

It’s so wonderfully weird. It’s bright & tart, earthy & grassy, creamy & sharp. It is, in my humble opinion, just perfection.

When I first made this, I went full-weirdo, delighting in the tedium of sketching out a pattern on parchment paper, measuring with a ruler & cutting each piece to the same size, slicing each end on an angle so they would fit together seamlessly in a beautiful chevron pattern. I even texted a photo & a bit of a self-deprecating message to my partner (because pic or it didn’t happen, right?) (Also, yes, I know this recipe took me a full month to perfect from test to final photographs to post.)

Text message about galette pattern

My rhubarb stalks then were thinner, about the same thickness as the asparagus, so that pattern made sense. But a few weeks later, when I made this again to photograph, the stalks were over an inch thick. So instead, I sliced the stalk (in the same way you slice celery) to match the width of the asparagus; the stalks were rounded on the sides, which made it hard to slice those hard angles. But I knew from baking this before that the cheese would bubble up, pushing in between the pieces. I wasn’t worried about exact corners matching up as long as I had the pattern. This is how I play in the kitchen.

Rhubarb & asparagus tart before baking with chevron pattern

I’ve been on a real rhubarb kick this year. One of the first things to pop up every spring, a shock of brilliant ruby among the winter-y greens & muted earth-toned squashes. But rhubarb’s season always seemed fleeting: the first to arrive on the scene, announcing spring, & then quick to depart.

But maybe that’s just the way I remember it, by not really remembering it … because rhubarb also always felt so foreign to me, perhaps I just don’t remember seeing it week after week for two months (or more). I didn’t grow up with rhubarb; I don’t remember it when I worked at farmer’s markets in Atlanta. Do I not remember it because it wasn’t there, or do I not remember it because I simply wasn’t paying attention? I didn’t commit to long-term memory something for which I had no frame of reference, no personal or emotional connection.

Pie dough & raw ingredients for the galette

That has certainly changed this season. I’ve made several rhubarb cakes & a few iterations of this galette. There’s still rhubarb in my freezer. I’ve learned how to taste it, how to cook & bake with it. I see it differently now.

I have a real vested interest in & knack for mixing sweet & savory. I always prefer a little salt or savory notes with my sweet — rosemary in apple muffins, for example; sea salt & almonds with my chocolate. I like apple slices with cheese, not peanut butter. (I like strawberries with cheese, too, although that’s a story for another time.)

Fresh raw asparagus stalks on grey background

I like taking things that tend to be thought of as only sweet, destined just for desserts, & finding ways to make them savory. I don’t just mean dressing up something sweet, but really finding ways to use that sweetness in harmony with & as a balance for other rich, deep, savory flavors. I’ve been doing it for years, I just never paid close enough attention to really realize how often I am drawn to those kinds of pairings. (Years ago, I made a banana habanero curry cheesecake. Weird & wonderful, but really only to me so I only made it once. It has been on my mind for the last few months & I think I need to make it again.)

And so here we are with this weirdly wonderful galette. Rhubarb isn’t naturally very sweet, but it’s bright, tart flavor is the perfect complement to the other ingredients here. The creamy cheese mixture mellows that tartness a bit while, simultaneously, the rhubarb helps to cut the richness. It also lightens up the earthy undertones of the asparagus.Asparagus & rhubarb galette ready to bake

So, it might be a little weird. (Or a lot weird; a scale of weirdness is pretty subjective.) But this is definitely one weirdo recipe I encourage you to try.

Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: ‘Is it good? Does it give pleasure?’
— Anthony Bourdain

Creamy blue cheese spread & chopped walnuts

Local List

  • Asparagus
  • Blue Cheese
  • Butter
  • Chives
  • Cream
  • Egg
  • Rhubarb
  • Walnuts

Putting together the galette with raw ingredients

Savory Rhubarb & Asparagus Galette

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the pie dough:
150 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
50 grams almond meal (preferably course/stone-ground, but finer almond flour works too!)
Pinch kosher flake salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
4-6+ tablespoons ice water

For the galette:
½ bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed (approx. 2 cups of sliced asparagus total)
3-4 stalks rhubarb, sliced (approx. 2 cups of sliced rhubarb total)
3 ounces (84 grams) cream cheese, room temp.
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk/half & half)
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh chives
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Olive oil, salt & pepper
Heavy cream, for brushing the dough


Make the dough: If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, place the grater piece & the stick of butter (unwrapped) in the freezer for about 15 minutes. When the butter is really cold, grate it using the food processor attachment; transfer the grated butter to a bowl & return to the freezer. You can also grate the butter by hand with a box grater or cut the butter into small cubes & place those in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, almond meal & salt. Pulse a few times to mix & aerate. Carefully remove the bowl from your food processor & place everything in the freezer to chill. (I usually leave it for 15 minutes, or as long as it takes me to get everything else set up.)

When the flour is cold to the touch, return the bowl to the food processor. Add the grated or cubed butter to the bowl & pulse a few times until the butter is mixed in & about the size of peas (it’ll be a bit smaller if you’re using the grated shavings instead of cubes). Add the egg, vodka (if using) & 1 tablespoon of the ice water. Pulse to combine. Add 2-3 more tablespoons of water & pulse to combine. Test the dough — if it’s coming together & stays together when you pinch it between your fingers, it’s ready. Otherwise, add more water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer dry. (I usually use 5-6 tablespoons of water total.)

Pour the crumbly dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to bring all the bits of dough together & shape into a disk. Tightly wrap in the plastic & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can do this a day or so ahead of time, too.)

Prep the filling: Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus stalks & slice into equal pieces about 1-inch long. Slice the rhubarb to match the length & width of the asparagus. (If your stalks are very fat, about an inch or more thick, slice them length-wise the way you’d slice celery. If your stalks are very thin, about the same thickness as the asparagus spears, then slice those stalks into 1-inch long pieces as you did with the asparagus.) Set aside.

Mix together the soft cream cheese & the heavy cream. Fold in the shallots, chives, blue cheese & walnuts. Season with a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Set aside. (Don’t refrigerate, unless you’re making everything ahead & you’re planning to bake the tart on another day. If you do, make sure to take the spread out with enough time to come to room temp. It’ll be much easier to spread when it’s softer.)

Make the galette: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pie disk from the fridge & unwrap. Generously flour a piece of parchment paper & dust both sides of the dough with flour. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, flouring occasionally to prevent sticking. (It helps to also flip the dough over once or twice & re-flour the parchment & the dough.) Trim any shaggy ends if you want the edges cleaner.

Spread the cheese mixture on the dough, leaving about an inch edge on each side. Then layer the rhubarb & asparagus slices. You can do them in straight lines or a chevron pattern like I did. (It helps to lay out all the pieces on a cutting board in advance & then you can transfer each slice over row by row.) Press each slice down gently into the cheese.

Once all the rows are arranged, very lightly drizzle olive oil over top of the rhubarb & asparagus. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Gently fold over the edges of the galette. (It helps to use the parchment paper to lift & fold, peeling away once the edge is in place. If you find your dough is too soft & sticky, transfer the parchment paper with the unfinished galette to a baking sheet or plate & put in the freezer for a few minutes, just enough to firm up the butter & make it a little less sticky.)

Once all the edges are folded over & in place, slide the finished galette onto a baking sheet (if you haven’t done so already) & chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Brush the edges with heavy cream. Bake for 35 minutes until the cheese is bubbly & the crust is golden brown.

Let the galette cool for a few minutes. Slice & serve with a big green salad on the side.

Finished rhubarb & asparagus galette with a slice missing

The weirdest things are always the best things.

Where’s your will to be weird?
— Jim Morrison


Gluten free rhubarb buckle cake cut into slices

gluten-free rhubarb buckle cake with lime & coconut

Sometimes, it’s really hard to write the story of a recipe.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to write a recipe.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to write.

Sprinkling crumble topping on rhubarb buckle cake

A few months ago, when I really dove into returning to this space, I maybe didn’t dive all in. I was shaking off the cobwebs, pulling the dusty white sheets off all the furniture like you see in abandoned haunted houses in old horror movies, & I had writer’s block. For recipes, for stories.

So I decided to start over by starting from the beginning of this blog. By revisiting, revamping & re-photographing old recipes. Like this cake.

It was, really, a buckle cake — I just didn’t know that at the time. I also didn’t know much about rhubarb, but I was (as always) strong willed & stubborn. I didn’t want to coat it in sugar or dress it up. I just wanted it to be what it was. So, I made a cake that was OK. A cake I ate like a little kid (by picking all of the toppings off & eating just the actual cake part). And, while the photos are fine, they weren’t me because I didn’t know what me looked like yet because I was still figuring out my style.

Overhead view of rhubarb buckle cake before serving

I’ve spent the last few years figuring out a lot. And I thought maybe a good way to solidify that would be to bake it all up in a cake.

But then this cake happened. And instead of forcing it to try to be something else, the thing I thought I wanted it to be, I let it be the thing it was supposed to be.

Gluten free rhubarb cake

One of the hardest lessons I’ve been working on learning over the last few years is how to let go. I’ve realized letting go isn’t always saying goodbye or closing a door or ending a chapter. Sometimes letting go is simply being fluid — willing & open & receptive to possibility & to change.

Standing in front of my open refrigerator, I had to let go of that first intention — that rhubarb cake with cherries & pecans — to instead let the ingredients I already had contribute: yogurt, coconut, lime, almonds.

Ingredients for gluten-free rhubarb buckle cake

In this instance, another intention I set for myself (to waste less & use what I already have instead of buying more) overrode the initial intention for this cake. So I played with flavors. I sugared up that rhubarb & macerated it with a huge dollop of lime zest until it was so brightly fragrant that I wanted to dance a little. I knew I had two kinds of coconut in my cabinet &, honestly, what goes better with lime than coconut?

Rhubarb, sugar and lime zest

So, in an attempt to redo one thing I instead created something else different & brilliant & bright & exciting & endlessly delicious.

Learning to let go has been learning how to play. To be less rigid, less beholden to a plan or a recipe or an intention. To not always be such a damn stick in the mud. To trust my gut & to know that if the recipe doesn’t turn out the first time, I can always order a pizza & try again.

A slice of gluten-free rhubarb buckle cake

The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.
— Julia Child

Perfectionism & writer’s (or artist’s) block can be tricky things, at once both incredibly useful & destructive. Learning to let go is also learning how to balance these parts of me — my perfectionism with my immediate imperfectness. Knowing that where I am at right now is not where I will always be, especially if I work hard at the things I believe to be worthwhile.

Local List

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Rhubarb
  • Yogurt

Looking down on a slice of rhubarb cake with whipped cream

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Buckle Cake with Lime & Coconut

  • Servings: 1 6-inch round cake (about 4-6 slices)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Note: Like all recipes, this one is adaptable. Use lemon zest in place of the lime (I recommend zesting just one lemon; use half to macerate the rhubarb & add the other half to the batter); if you don’t like coconut or almonds, sub for other nuts and/or rolled oats for a more traditional buckle topping. When rhubarb isn’t in season, play with other fresh fruits. I bet blackberries would be especially delicious!


For the rhubarb topping:
115 grams rhubarb, sliced or diced (depending on how big & thick the stalks are)
25 grams turbinado or raw sugar
Zest of 1 lime

For the crumble topping:
25 grams gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour)
20 grams turbinado or raw sugar
25 grams butter, room temperature
6 grams sliced almonds
6 grams shredded coconut
Teeny pinch of kosher flake salt

For the cake batter:
50 grams butter, room temperature
50 grams turbinado or raw sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 large egg, room temperature
75 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
25 grams fine almond flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher flake salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
65 mL plain Greek yogurt (whole/full fat plain yogurt will work, too)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour a 6-inch round cake pan (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).

Make the crumble: Combine the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and combine with your fingers or a fork until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture clumps. It’ll kind of resemble wet sand. Chill in the refrigerator.

Macerate the rhubarb: Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lime zest in a bowl. Stir so everything is incorporated & set aside. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you’re ready to bake. (You can let the mix sit for up to an hour, but I wouldn’t recommend going much longer than that.)

Make the batter: Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter & sugar until fluffy. (If you’re using turbinado sugar, you’ll still be able to see the bigger grains. That’s perfectly OK, just make sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the butter.) Beat in the egg until fully incorporated & the mixture is lighter in color & fluffy.

Stir together the yogurt, vanilla & almond extract, & the lime zest. Add to the butter, sugar & egg mix, & beat together until it’s all incorporated.

Whisk together the flours, salt & baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Put it all together: Remove the crumble topping from the fridge. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with the macerated rhubarb & syrup. Break apart/crumble the topping evenly over top of the cake.

Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging on. Broil the cake on the LO setting for 1-2 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn! (This last step is optional, but recommended.) Remove the cake from the oven & cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan & cool completely before serving.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Taking a bite of the rhubarb buckle cake
A little slice of early summer.

Hazelnut crumble topping

gluten-free golden milk banana muffins with hazelnut crumble

When I was a wee writer still in school, I struggled with metaphors. Similes were so easyyy — just look for the “like” or “as” in a comparison. But metaphors felt fleeting, ethereal. Untethered in a sentence, not anchored by or to anything easily spotted by the skimming eye. Metaphors felt infinite: any one thing could be compared to any other thing in just a few words or a sentence, or an entire stanza, paragraph or page.

In the nearly two decades (oh, lord) since, however, metaphors have become a constant in my life. I find they work best as an almost parable; I learn about myself and my life through metaphor.

Two ripe bananas on grey background

A few years ago, I wrote at length about how making pie from scratch was a meditation for me. Baking in any form still is meditative: it requires a calm, steady focus. If you’re not paying attention or you add ingredients out of order, you might miss something or forget to add a key ingredient. For me, oddly enough, I often forget to add the sweetener.

And there, isn’t that just a perfect little metaphor? When I’m not paying close enough attention in the moment, if I’m rushed or harried or otherwise distracted, I miss the sweet little things in life.

These muffins have become the most apropos metaphor for the last year or so of my life, because it has taken me over a year to get this recipe right.

Freshly baked gluten-free banana muffins with hazelnut crumble topping

Focusing on my three key ingredients: banana, golden milk and the hazelnut topping, I have tested this recipe every which way. The first batch or two was good, but fell victim to common gluten-free baking pitfalls: they were moist, but also gummy (even though my recipe included no added gums); they had a nice chew and the overall mouthfeel wasn’t bad, they were very dense (see: gummy). I could have chalked that up to the mushy banana, the fact that they were gluten-free. But I knew they could be better.

So, I played. I wrote down numbers. I researched other recipes and ratios. (Seriously, if someone had told me when I struggling with multiplication tables in the fourth grade that I would be doing math on a semi-regular basis IN MY KITCHEN, I would have laughed. Well, I probably would haves scoffed & rolled my eyes, because I was a dramatic snot.)

Raw ingredients for making golden milk banana muffins

There was the disastrous batch (number four, I think) in which I changed both the fat (from butter to coconut oil) and the sugar (from brown & granulated cane to coconut) to make a “healthier” muffin. The results, though still palatable, were oily, dense and unappealing. (I think my uncle, my most dedicated & positive taste-tester, ate the whole batch, save the “test” bite I took.)

For several batches, I whipped the egg white by hand. This helped the texture considerably. (Seriously. I know it’s finicky, but DO IT. The texture of these muffins depends on that whipped white.) Though the texture improved tremendously, the muffins still stayed mostly flat. I wanted that adorable dome, that little boop on top. So, I did more research & learned a little more flour and the folding method (instead of quickly whisking everything together) would help. I think it did. (So did a little extra bit of baking powder.)

I chopped the hazelnuts by hand and mixed the room-temperature butter in with my fingers until the topping was shaggy; I melted the butter instead; I whirled everything together in a food processor.

OK, you might be wondering. You worked your butt off to figure out a MUFFIN recipe. But how is this a metaphor for your life?

Mashed banana and peel

Because, over the last year and a half, I have worked my butt off to build my life. Like a recipe, I’ve tweaked little things here or there. Rerouted when I fell off course (like that disastrous coconut oil & sugar batch). I’ve gotten rid of the things — the material possessions, the emotions and thoughts, people, relationships, jobs and goals — that no longer serve me, that aren’t helping me to rise.

(The photo above makes me laugh. Every. Time.)

Baking is a science. It is precise. Exact. But it’s not set in stone. It’s rooted in experimentation, learning and experience. Trial and error. Testing each batch of these muffins was an experiment; I set out a hypothesis (like whipping the egg white might improve the texture, make the muffins less dense & help them to rise) & then I tested it. I recorded everything & did research to figure out ways to keep improving.

Golden milk banana muffin batter & topping

I’ve done similar things in life. I fell in love & had my heart broken. I applied for jobs & went on interviews. I was rejected or, worse, ghosted, but I didn’t give up. (And the universe finally graced me with a good fit.) All of the rejection, not feeling “good enough” for anyone or anything, propelled me.

I went on a lot of dates & stayed out late. I took a nap in the sun on a nude beach. (And ended up a sunburned booty to show for it.) I started practicing yoga more frequently, cultivated a real practice & found real relief on the mat. I’ve spent two years working with a therapist, reflecting on where I’ve been, where I am & where I am going. I’ve spent those two years figuring out WHO I am & then falling in love with myself (because I am awesome). I starting writing the recipe of Sara — what works best for me, not for anyone else or by anyone else.

Over the last few months, I’ve been focusing more on rebuilding this space: taking courses, learning how to better edit my photos, getting reacquainted with my camera. I set goals like bowling pins. It took a while, and a lot of gutterballs, but I finally nailed a few strikes. (Hey! Look at that. Another metaphor. I think I’m starting to mix the message.)

And, like these muffins, I finally got it right.

Golden milk banana muffins with hazelnut crumble from the front

Local List

  • Hazelnuts
  • Honey
  • Eggs
  • Gluten-free Flour Blend

Homemade golden milk

A quick note about the golden milk: Up until the very final iterations of this recipe, I used my favorite bottled golden milk: Rebbl Turmeric Golden-Milk. But, because I can’t honestly just leave well enough alone, I decided to try making my own golden milk instead of sending you to the store to buy a bottle (and potentially end up with your baking dreams dashed because the store either has no idea what you’re talking about or is out of stock; I have experienced both). I made my own hazelnut milk, since I had them at the ready, but you can absolutely use whatever non-dairy milk you have on hand.

Gluten-Free Golden Milk Banana Muffins with Hazelnut Crumble

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
If you’re not a fan of or can’t eat hazelnuts, replace them with whatever nut(s) you do like. Pecans would be especially delicious here. This is a small batch that will make 6 or 7 muffins. The batter fit my ceramic 6-cup muffin pan perfectly, but when I used my standard metal tin, I ended up with enough to make a lucky seventh muffin!


For the small-batch homemade hazelnut milk:
¼ cup dry-roasted hazelnuts
2 cups water, divided
1 date or 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
Pinch of sea salt

For the muffin batter:
4 oz homemade hazelnut milk (or your milk of choice)
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 egg, separated
1 very ripe banana, mashed
4.5 oz gluten-free flour
Pinch kosher salt
1 oz (2 tablespoons) turbinado or raw sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder

For the hazelnut crumble topping:
2 oz light brown sugar
1.75 oz gluten-free flour
2 oz dry-roasted hazelnuts
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Scant ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder


Make the nut milk: Combine the hazelnuts and 1 cup fresh water in a bowl. Let soak overnight. Drain and rinse the hazelnuts, then add them to your blender with ¾ cup of fresh water. Add the date or maple syrup, if using, and a pinch of salt. Blend on high until the nuts are completely chopped and the mix appears smooth. If the milk seems too thick, add the remaining ¼ cup of water. Using a nut milk bag (or several layers of cheese cloth draped over a fine mesh strainer), strain the milk into a clean bowl or large measuring cup. Use your hands to carefully squeeze the bag or cheesecloth to press out as much of the milk as possible.

Make the crumble topping: Chop the hazelnuts to your desired size and texture. (I left some bigger chunks because I like the bite, but you can chop as finely or coarsely as you like!) Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until evenly combined and the topping is crumbly like wet sand. Refrigerate.

Make the muffins: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.

Mix together the milk, honey, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. I found it easiest to put all the ingredients in a small mason jar, tightly screw on the lid and give it all a good shake. In a large bowl, stir together the golden milk, mashed banana and egg yolk. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together & set aside.

Whip the egg white.

Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and gently fold together until just combined and you no longer seek streaks of flour. (Lumps are OK. They might be banana lumps!) Gently fold in the egg white. Grab the prepared crumble topping from the fridge.

Spoon about a tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Break the crumble apart, and add enough topping to each muffin to just cover the batter. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, filling them about ¾ full. Top with the remaining crumble. (Don’t press the crumble down into the batter!)

Bake for 25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and a test skewer/toothpick/chopstick inserted in the muffin comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to the tip. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently remove the muffins to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Though there’s very little sweetener in these muffins, I prefer eating them as a treat or dessert rather than a typical breakfast muffin. Delicious with a good cup of coffee, they’re especially wonderful warm and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

The last bite

A beautiful little bite of sunshine.

savory vegetable crumble with hazelnuts and hard cider

This winter has worn heavy. Slowly, the darkest days are getting lighter. The sun spreads across the sky a little earlier each morning. If it’s not raining too hard, I hear the birds finding their songs for the season. The other day, I caught a glimpse of a fat squirrel tipping off a skinny branch.

Spring is coming. But it is arriving at a snail’s pace, and I am growing more impatient every day. Yearning for long walks through the city, along Alki Beach, or weaving my way through Discovery Park. Toes sinking into the sands of Lake Washington. Watching the sun set, sending the most brilliant gradients of color streaking across the sky over Golden Gardens Park in Ballard. I am ready for summer in Seattle.

I am longing, too, for the farmer’s market. Exploring (and tasting) the bounty of summer. We are entering the spring hunger stretch — the last of winter’s reserves are wearing thin, but the precious first shoots of spring haven’t fully arrived yet. In the depths of winter, I’ve ventured to a few farmer’s markets, nimbly picking out potatoes or nearly frozen solid Brussels sprouts with nearly frozen solid finger tips. I tried the most delicious gluten-free biscuit smothered in creamy, whipped butter and local honey. I discovered the expansive, explosive flavor of different garlic varieties and took home the most adorable little butternut squash. But I am longing now for the fresh and vibrant flavors of spring and summer.

I have gotten to know the depth of this new land I call home through the local markets. Connecting myself to the amazing flavors of this city and the incredible, diverse agriculture that the landscape here provides. I am aching to know more.

hazelnut-crumble-topping-ingredientssunchokes-onionsA Fran Lebowitz quote stuck in my head as I was making this recipe.

Vegetables are interesting, but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.

Growing up in the Midwest, meat was always a main. Dramatic and primal, it was (usually) the star of the show. To this day, I am often overcome by the simplest, strongest craving for a good steak and some kind of potato.

Vegetables aren’t often as commanding. Where meat makes the meal, vegetables provide a strong support. (Because without them, we’d all be left with hot ham water like Lyndsay proudly prepared on Arrested Development.)

I think that a dish like this begs to differ. Delicious as the centerpiece, it can also be cast in a supporting role served alongside pork tenderloin or a roast chicken. But certainly, these vegetables do not need meat to fulfill their purpose.

This dish is delightfully versatile. The first time I tested the recipe, I scooped up as many vegetables from the farmer’s market as I could. The basics — onion, garlic, carrot, butternut  squash — and more intriguing, flavorful veggies too — celeriac, sunchokes, a bright red beet. The beet was a beautiful nightmare. When I first teased this recipe on Instagram, I loved how the beet made the crumble look like one filled with fruit, not vegetables. But that color leeched everywhere, on to everything. I had to saute the beet separately, and gently scatter the pieces without mixing too much, lest all the other vegetables turn pink. I loved the flavor, but the work was too much.

The second time I made this recipe, I played more with flavors and textures. I love that the earthiness of sunchokes remains. The flavor of the celeriac faded too much, so I replaced it with a parsnip. I added fennel for a bit of a bite and a different texture.

That’s the beauty, truly, of this meal. The veggies are the star of the show, but they’re whatever vegetables you have on hand. Whatever vegetables that you love, that are in season, that look best at the market. Take those vegetables longing for a purpose and let their flavors meld together with fresh herbs, simmer with a splash of tart cider and top with a nutty, buttery, crunchy crumble topping and you have a delicious, savory, satisfying meal. You won’t miss the meat, I promise.

crumble-filling-pie-dishWe are languishing in that moment in between seasons. We’re still getting blasts of snow (which is odd in the PNW this time of year) and frigid cold, but mostly the weather is hovering where it’s just a little too cold and always too wet. This is the kind of meal I crave when the day is dark and gray and dreary — warm and hearty, stick-to-your-ribs without weighing you down. Some bright, sunshiny colors to cheer you up. Soul food. Nurture food. (It helps, really, that this is delicious and your house will smell amazing when you’re done cooking.)

Give your vegetables a sense of purpose. You’ll be glad you did.

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. “I am not alone and unacknowledged.” They nod to me and I to them.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Local List

  • Anthem Pear Cider
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Butter
  • Butternut Squash
  • Flour
  • Garlic
  • Hazelnuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Sunchokes
  • Yogurt


Gluten-Free Savory Vegetable Crumble with Hazelnuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Notes: Use whatever veggies you have on hand and enjoy eating. Feel free to omit the cider (use more vegetable or chicken stock instead), or a different variety. Just opt for one that’s more tart and dry. If you can’t have hazelnuts, the crumble topping would be just as delicious with sliced almonds, chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts. I highly recommend whipping up the yogurt sauce for serving. It adds just the right tart, fresh flavor to balance the savory richness of the crumble.


For the crumble topping:
½ cup gluten-free flour
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon loosely packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter

For the veggie filling:
1 medium onion, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled & diced
1 cup peeled & diced sunchokes (or potato)
2 heaping cups peeled & diced butternut squash
1½ cups baby bella or shiitake mushrooms, woody stems removed & quartered
1 small bulb of fennel, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced (I used sage, rosemary & thyme)
1 cup hard cider (or vegetable/chicken broth)
½ cup vegetable/chicken broth
½ cup yogurt
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the simple yogurt sauce:
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (loosely packed) chopped parsley
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper


Make the crumble topping:
Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Melt the butter and set aside to cool, but do not mix with the dry ingredients yet.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the veggies:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a swirl of olive oil and a pat of butter.(Optional, but I like the flavor. Give me all the butter.) When the oil/butter is hot, add the diced onion, parsnip, sunchokes and butternut squash. Saute, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Let the vegetables start to caramelize; if they burn or caramelize too quickly, however, lower the heat slightly. Add the mushrooms and fennel. Stir to incorporate. Season everything in the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper, and let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cider. Scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let the veggies simmer with the cider until the liquid is mostly reduced. Sprinkle the flour and brown sugar over the veggies and stir to incorporate. Add the stock and the herbs. Simmer gently until the mix thickens slightly. Remove the skillet from the heat.

If you want, you can leave the veggie mixture in the skillet or transfer to a pie dish. (That’s what I did.)

Finish the crumble:
Mix the melted butter with the dry crumble ingredients until everything is fully incorporated and crumbly. Using your fingers or a spoon, evenly distribute the crumble topping over the vegetables in your skillet or pie dish.

Bake the crumble for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Make the yogurt sauce:
While the crumble is cooling, combine all of the yogurt sauce ingredients together in a small serving bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.

Serve the crumble with a dollop of yogurt and a bright green salad. (I used a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. I highly recommend this flavor combination. It. Is. Bomb.)


Go ahead, have a second helping. (I won’t tell.)

roasted chopped potatoes

it was always you

This is a love letter. An ode, if you will.

A potat-ode.

Douglas Adams apparently once said, “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problem just with potatoes.”

I beg to differ.

Over the years, favorite foods have come and gone. (Brussels sprouts are still holding strong.) But potatoes were a constant.

Twice-baked. Scalloped. Mashed, of course. Salt-roasted. Baked and buttered, or loaded with bacon, scallions and sour cream. Fries, wedges, chips. Tots. Pureed with leeks and cream for soup. Hash browns. Home fries.

So many options. All of them a favorite.

best potatoes for mashing

Purple Viking potatoes are perfect for mashing

When I was much younger, French fries were my vehicle of choice to consume as much ketchup as possible. (There’s another favorite, for you.)

Having Celiac makes enjoying potatoes more difficult. While potatoes are inherently safe (as long as nothing is added), fryers shared with breaded items make enjoying deep-fried potatoes difficult. When I find a restaurant with a dedicated potato-only fryer and Belgian-style frites on the menu, I guarantee that I will eat an entire order. By. My. Self.

I still remember the first time I had true Belgian-style frites, bought from a tiny cart in a tiny town in Belgium. (We might have been in the Netherlands. I can’t remember now.) Steaming hot, salty, wrapped in a cone of paper and served with a healthy dollop of warm mayo in the center. Rich and kind of weird, but those fries on that brick-lined street were a true revelation. That ketchup-loving kid has graduated to all kinds of aioli.

Now, if I’m not eating potatoes diced and roasted or baked or mashed or hash-browned, I use them as a binder in my salmon patties. Potatoes are an easy, naturally gluten-free way to keep that family recipe alive.

For a long time, sweet potatoes were my go-to. My comfort food. I would dice them, get a bit heavy-handed with the seasoning, and roast them until soft and caramelized.

I’ve spiralized and riced sweet potatoes for a grain-free risotto. Tonight, I spiralized half of a sweet potato, sauteed with sliced onion and Brussels sprouts and topped it all off with locally-made turmeric kraut.

spiralizing sweet potatoes

When I was younger, my mom used to spiralize potatoes, long before it was the cool thing to do to vegetables. She used an apple peeler/corer/slicer (you know the one, from Pampered Chef) to create long, wide, potato ribbons. Drizzled with olive oil, tossed with pressed garlic and roasted. Soft and buttery with crispy edges, these potatoes were always my favorite. (Well, there was also the spicy beef and potato soup, an instant winter warm-up. And the twice-baked potatoes made from scratch. And the cheesy potato casserole.)

Oh, the potato. How humble, and yet so essential.

My idea of heaven is a great, big baked potato and someone to share it with.
— Oprah Winfrey

A few of my favorites

No recipe today. I couldn’t narrow down all of the choices to one succinct recipe that could adequately summarize my love for potatoes. Instead, I’m sharing a few links to recipes I love or have ogled from afar.

This Four Cheese Bourbon Potato Gratin. Oh LAWD. I would walk 500 miles…and then I would walk 500 more to have this gratin show up at my door.

I feel like the emoji with hearts for eyes when I see these Crispy Cheesy Potato Stacks. Be still, my heart.

Skinny Greek Feta Fries with Roasted Garlic Saffron Aioli: You had me at fries. Give me all the fries.

Speaking of fries … these Kimchi Fries with Avocado Mayo. I mean. Really? Done deal.

A resounding yes to these Homemade Potato Chips with Sriracha BBQ Sauce and Greek Yogurt Blue Cheese. Just yes.

Make these Perfect Sheet Pan Hash Browns and give me all the crispy edges. (Confession: I can’t make hash browns to save my life. A few years ago, I gave in and started waffling them in my waffle iron. Not terrible, I tell you.)

I’m so intrigued by these Salt and Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes. I’ve only recently jumped on the salt+vinegar flavor wagon. I’d be curious to try this with apple cider vinegar, or a blend of different kinds of vinegar for amped up flavor. (And because I really just can’t leave anything alone.)

This Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Chili Oil is total perfection. My two favorite things, together again.

Compiling this post has made me insanely hungry.

roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts

So. Who wants to split a baked potato with me, Oprah style? It is Valentine’s Day, after all.

sweet potato risotto

grain-free sweet potato “risotto” with bacon-wrapped squash

I have a confession. I have never made an actual risotto.

OK. I did try it once. Years ago. I knew very little about cooking at the time, and followed a recipe in a book. One of the first cookbooks I ever bought for myself. But I didn’t use Arborio rice. (I thought that all rice was interchangeable. BIG lesson learned.) After hours of stirring and simmering and adding more (and then more) stock, the rice was still crunchy. Not creamy. Not satisfying. Not good.

Then I discovered Schar’s gluten-free Anellini pasta noodles at a dedicated gluten-free bakery and grocery store in Michigan. The woman working in the shop that day told me her mom prepared the noodles risotto-style. I was inspired, and this was the kind of “risotto” that I made for years. It cooked quickly and was soft, creamy, rich and totally indulged my pasta-holic side.

how to make paleo risottoThis recipe was a serendipitous discovery. A few weeks ago, I had a roast simmering away in the crockpot. I wanted to make a side dish that was relatively easy, quick to make and healthful. So I made the sweet potato “grits” from the Inspiralized cookbook. I was curious about this dish, and how grits-like it really was, but I only had white sweet potatoes in my pantry.

Let’s be real. This was not at all like grits. But! It was soft, creamy, delicious and comforting. (And healthy!) And, with the white sweet potatoes, I thought it looked like risotto. Thus a recipe was born. And I ate the leftovers for lunch for nearly a week. So, so good.

spiralizing sweet potatoesI love my little spiralizer. It was inexpensive and has made eating vegetables so much fun! (Plus, depending on the veggie, I get a hefty little upper arm workout too! Win win.) I think my all-time favorite vegetable to turn into “noodles” is butternut squash. It also makes very quick work of thinly, uniformly slicing onions. A few less tears and a little more fun in the kitchen is always a good thing.

Once you’ve made a vegetable into a noodle, you can then turn it into “rice” by pulsing the curly-cues in the food processor until they’re chopped enough to resemble grains of rice. I love this option when I want rice, but need something with a better nutritional profile. Plus, it’s infinitely better than cauliflower rice. (I’m sorry, I’ve tried. And tried. I just can’t like cauliflower.)

sweet potato "rice"Over the last two weeks, I’ve been trying to get out of my vegetable rut. I wanted to diversify beyond broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts. I’ve been trying to eat a different vegetable at every meal. Roasted squash or green veggie smoothies for breakfast. Vegetable noodles for lunch. And some kind of vegetable or two with dinner. I haven’t lost any weight or anything yet (I’m looking at you, cookies), but I do feel better.

Spiralizing helps keep me from falling back into the vegetable rut. There are so many cool things you can do! I just don’t ever treat these veg noodles like pasta. My brain and belly are too in love with pasta, real pasta, to be convinced otherwise. But butternut squash noodles sauteed in coconut oil and tossed with panang curry sauce? Oh, yes please. Potato noodle carbonara? Check. Spirals on top of pizza or tossed with salad greens? Totally. And now, risotto!

local seattle mushroomsThese beautiful mushrooms are called cinnamon caps. That gorgeous golden brown color rubs off, staining your fingers a turmeric yellow. They’re hardy but tender, with a rich aroma and meaty texture. I found these at the farmers market over the weekend. The caps are smaller than other baby mushrooms. I chopped the larger caps into quarters, the others in half. A good substitute would be cremini or baby bellas.

cinnamon cap mushroomsLocal List

  • Bacon
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Microgreens (served on the side)
  • Onions
  • Squash

grain free risottoThis dish is the perfect partner for this time of year. The sun rises earlier and sets a little later every day, but a chill still sweeps through. After a little tease of spring last week, we’ve been drenched in rain and cold here. The cherry blossom trees are exploding in tiny pink blooms, a bright note against the evergreen and gray skies. As we transition between the seasons, I feel a little twinge of nostalgia for comforting, cozy, winter foods.

So, here’s a toast to the last of winter. Soon enough it will be spring.

bacon wrapped winter squash

Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.
— Pietro Aretino

Also, I’m not sure there is anything better than bacon-wrapped squash. Craig ate the bacon off his squash wedges. When I chuckled (typical man move, amirite?!) he stated, quite emphatically, that while the bacon-flavored squash was good, the squash-infused bacon was ON. POINT. There you have it my friends. Could squash-infused bacon be the new maple candied bacon? Let’s make it happen!

how to make paleo risottoA few quick notes, friends: First, I totally forgot what kind of squash I used. I bought it at the farmers market because it was just so darn pretty. Yellow flecked with green and orange and a touch of red. A small pumpkin, acorn squash or even a butternut squash will work here. Use caution when peeling the squash, and make sure your knife is sharp. Second, I only used half of my squash. I got 8 wedges from one half, which was enough for the two of us (with leftovers!). I’ve included a range for the recipe if you’d prefer to use half or the whole squash. I didn’t season the squash at all — no oil, no salt — because of the bacon. It would be delicious with a light drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper at the table. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, omit the bacon. You’ll need to toss the squash wedges with oil, salt and pepper. I highly recommend using a smoked sea salt to get some of that barbecue-y meaty flavor without any of the meat.

Grain-Free Sweet Potato Paleo Risotto with Bacon-Wrapped Winter Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the risotto:
1 pound white sweet potato, ends trimmed and peeled
1 yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups chopped mushroom caps
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the squash:
4-8 strips of thinly sliced bacon
1 small squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into wedges


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the strips of bacon in half lengthwise. Wrap each thin slice around a squash wedge. Use toothpicks to hold the bacon in place, if necessary. (Try to keep the toothpicks on the same side of the wedge and facing the same direction to make roasting easier.) Place the bacon-wrapped wedges on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast the squash wedges for 10-15 minutes. Using a pastry or basting brush, baste the wedges with the bacon fat that has rendered out onto the sheet pan during roasting. (Keep an eye on your squash and continue basting if you notice it is drying out.) Continue to roast for another 10 minutes until the squash is fork tender and the bacon is crispy.

Cut the sweet potato in half (this will make it easier to spiralize). Spiralize the potato using the “shredder” blade to create thin, spaghetti-like strands. Place the sweet potato spirals in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped and resembling the size of grains of rice. (Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to do this in batches.)

Heat a 12-inch skillet with high sides over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften and are beginning to turn translucent. Don’t let the onions brown, as this may darken or color your final dish. If the onions are cooking too quickly, turn down the heat.

Add the chopped mushrooms to the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the sweet potato “rice” and mix. Cook for two minutes to heat the rice. (Add a bit more oil if your veggies are sticking to the pan.)

Add the 2 cups of vegetable stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring the mix to a simmer. Cover the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the mix isn’t boiling or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring will also help to release some of the sweet potato’s natural starches which will thicken the risotto and make it creamier.

After about 15 minutes, check the sweet potato for doneness. It should be soft and tender, but not mushy. (“Al dente” works for sweet potatoes too!) Simmer for a few more minutes if the potatoes aren’t soft enough. Otherwise, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese (if using) and the parsley. Taste and add a pinch more salt or pepper if necessary.

Serve the squash wedges and risotto together in a big bowl. Top with extra chopped parsley and cheese. Serve with a fresh green salad.

paleo sweet potato risottoI ate leftovers for breakfast and it was devine.