seriously good new (to me) soup and salad

parsley Once upon I time I posted about the food Sam and I would make for our food coop on a quasi regular basis. I don't do this anymore because 1. it got dark earlier (ie before the food was photographable) 2. I realized that i most wanted to share the whole beautiful thing called of food sharing--not so much what we make every single time...we do our best, but it's not always blog worthy (my food swapping buddies are always gracious though!)

BUT, I want to chime in once more on the topic because I tried two fantastic recipes from two fantastic food bloggers and they were sublime; definitely keepers!

The first: squash, chard, pecan salad was from the lovely Jenny over at cooking with chopin. All the flavors blended so wonderfully but the most glorious and surprizing flavor combo on this for me was butternut squash + orange zest + parsley.

And second: bean soup with yumazing creamy sauce from the talented Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I couldn't get over the cumin seed crema (as you can tell by my portion). YUM. My local grocery store didn't have whole cumin seeds, but luckly I have a master chief neighbor who provided the goods in a pinch.

And a word about food cooping. It's really great. We now have four families in on the fun, and get this: once a month, we get a meal off! Since left overs generally cover at least Monday-Friday and weekends are for eating jellybeans, this means one week a month, we don't even have to cook if we don't want to. (I'm not serious about the jellybean comment, if you are wondering. But it is fun to eat out occasionally on the weekends. My new local favorite: Fork Heart Knife.)

So if you have some gastronomically compatible neighbors, I highly recommend food swapping.

Public Domain Red Velvet Cake

I adore red velvet cake. It's certainly in my top 5 desserts, maybe #1. We made a couple batches of cupcakes last weekend to share from the recipe my mom always uses and added some aqua candy crystals through a snowflake stencil for the tops.  About 10 years ago my dad took the time to scan every old favorite recipe in my mom's accordion file and organized them in a book for my sisters and myself. Pretty thoughtful, huh? Now I can compare my food color stains with my mom's! (I must get my sentimentality from my dad)

After sharing our adventures in cupcakery with my dad on the phone, he told me that mom got her recipe from a friend back in the 60s, who received the cherished instructions in the mail from a fancy restaurant after requesting it...along with a bill for $100. yikes.

The whole story got me thinking about copyright law and wondering particularly if a recipe could be copyright protected. Turns out, according to this article in the Washington Post, it can't*, because instead of an invention, cooking is seen as an evolution. Interesting distinction, huh? I would argue that inventions themselves and any work of art are part of an evolution also. Nobody makes anything, discovers anything, in a vacuum. We're all on the shoulders of giants, right?  Such an interesting topic. (Did you know that fashion also cannot be copyright protected? Johanna Blakley gives a pretty fascinating TED talk on how other industries can benefit both in innovation and sales from fashion's free culture.)

So, I feel a little guilty typing the recipe on my blog since, #1 I don't even know the name of the restaurant to credit them and #2 at least in the 60s, they didn't want people to disseminate their cooking secrets for free.

HOWEVER, I do not feel guilty enough to not share that you can find the same exact recipe here.

*Now the particular way a recipe is communicated can be copyright protected just like a poem, but the actual ingredient list and directions are technically free. How to credit folks and when to share is a question of etiquette.

p.s. notice the thickness of the icing....I'm a maximalist when it comes to butter cream icing

Friday Food Share: buttery gender rolls

So this week Sam found me in the kitchen on our evening to cook for ourselves and our two meal swapper families, cranky and prominently displaying the crease between my eyebrows that he threatens will become permanent if I don't stop worrying. He knew I had a hard day, so he took the recipe from me, started cooking and asked me if I wanted to take a nap. Have I mentioned that he's crazy wonderful? So, dear blog reading friends, I did not cook any of this meal. It was DEEPLY satisfying, for more reasons than that fact (but I must say, not cooking didn't hurt). I found the recipe for the sweet potato/kale/pork sausage over here and the asparagus/parmesian/lemon zest right here. Each dish had a combo I never knew could be so grand: sweet potato and dijon mustard and parmesan and lemon zest. I never would have stumbled onto those mixtures myself. They seem kinda counter intuitive to me, and before you mustard phobes write that first dish off: Sam doesn't really like mustard either and LOVED it. He kept asking me if I thought it was my favorite dish ever (because I think it might be his).

So, Sam and I met on eharmony. You know that, right? But before Sam knew for sure that he needed to meet me in person and then marry me, I continued to virtually meet other people (because he was...even though I completely knew from eharmony's version of "hello"...I guess I didn't want to waste my "3 months for the price of one" deal). And for those of you who aren't familiar with the process, you go through a couple steps of guided questions before you can throw caution to the wind and just freely email each other. Well, one nice young man I "met" asked me what I thought of gender roles in one of those guided question sessions that only allowed a sentence answer in return. As the girl who single handedly held back the protests of a high school debate class full of southern bells when I delivered my thesis on why beauty pageants were destructive to society, I thought this question merited a deeper discussion than the 10 word max afforded. So I told him I liked my gender roles with butter...I never ended up hearing exactly what he meant by that question, because Sam started to catch on that we were meant for each other...

Fastforwarding to our fourth year of marriage, Sam and I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I am thankful every day to be with someone who deeply respects me and my gifts, believes in me more than I do myself quite often, and refuses to put me in a box. There are certainly ways we fit some traditional roles...he fixes stuff, I vacuum, but we each respect the other as the wonderfully mysterious, stereotype defying person we get to have a lifetime and more to know. It's a pretty grand reality for a girl from a little pocket of the traditional south, where in my experience, gender roles were often held as sacrosanct and deviations sometimes counted as downright blasphemy.

This week has been one of counting my blessings in that regard, not only for my dear husband, but for our thoughtful community of friends who make a point to live out their gifts, sometimes alongside and sometimes defying cultural norms (like our stay-at-home-dad friends who proudly and passionately are so engaged in their kid's education that they choose to homeschool) and specifically the examples of guy friends who valiantly protect the dignity of their female sisters. I am truly fortunate to be in such good company.