Spring Pea Salad with Kale, Black Barley, and Burrata

If I had to choose a favorite cheese, which would be a very hard task, I might have to choose burrata. Creamy, fresh, salty – it’s the perfect compliment to a bright green spring salad. Served with lightly steamed sugar snap peas, asparagus, and french green beans layered on top of an earthy kale and black barley salad, sprinkled with fresh tarragon and lemon, and drizzled with a grassy olive oil—-these are the makings of dinner last night.

Spring Pea Salad

I snapped these photos around 6:30pm. Yes, natural light at 6:30pm! There is nothing like a sunny, 60-degree spring day to remind you that sometimes it is worth it to suffer through winter. I’m pretty sure these feelings of euphoria that one experiences after running outside in a tank top for the first time in months do not occur in places that have steady year-round temperatures.

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I like to make big pots of grains and beans or lentils at the beginning of the week to bulk up salads. It’s usually a cup to a cup and a half of something like this black barley or wheat berries or quinoa and another cup of lentils or chickpeas or white beans. This little trick turns simple salads into full-on meals and really helps you use up veggies when you’re craving something big and hearty.

Spring Pea Salad (3)

Spring Pea Salad with Kale, Black Barley, and Burrata

Like many of my “recipes” now, there are no measurements. Use whatever quantities you get at the grocery store or farmer’s market and adjust seasonings to taste.

bunch asparagus, woody stems snapped off and sliced into thirds
bunch french green beans, sliced in half
bunch sugar snap peas, ends sapped off and sliced in half
bunch baby kale, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cooked black barley or other grain
1 piece of burrata per serving

a few sprigs fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
olive oil
juice of one lemon

Steam the asparagus, snap peas, and french beans for a couple minutes, until you can easily slip a fork into the veggies.

Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil over the sliced kale and massage it into the leaves. Mix in black barley and season the salad with a bit of salt.

To serve, layer the steamed veggies over individual portions of kale and black barley salad. Top with the burrata and tarragon, then drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on top. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and serve.

Beer Vinegar

I was going to post this yesterday, but since is was April 1, I figured you’d all think I was pranking your or something. I mean, seriously, beer vinegar? Yes, beer vinegar!

Beer Vinegar

I suppose I have been on this make-everything-at-home hobby for a few years now. I’ve made mustard and crème fraiche from scratch, so it was only a matter of time before we at the Schneiderbach household would start dabbling in home brewing. To be fair, Eric has brewed before and even applied to several big-name breweries straight out of undergrad. When he didn’t land the dream job, though, he went to grad school for what we all affectionately refer to as poop engineering. So far, this has turned out to be rather lucrative since no one else wants to engineer poop, quickly making him the only rising star in his industry. I kid, I kid.

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Anyway, our first single-gallon batch of honey lager turned out tasting pretty great, but we messed up the bottling and it came out rather flat. If you’re ever faced with the problem of having an undrinkable gallon of beer hanging around, I say convert that alcohol to acetic acid, which is exactly what I did. The process is super easy and we’ve been splashing our honey lager vinegar on our salads all week long.

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Beer Vinegar

There are no exact measurements here. You could use any kind of beer – preferably one that tastes good to you. This also works for wine. You’ll notice a thin layer of sludge growing at the bottom of your homemade vinegar, but don’t worry, this is just the bacteria that is doing all the work for you. You can use this to seed your next batch of vinegar, or just toss it out when your vinegar is ready.

1) Find a clean jar or other glass vessel (you could also use any other non-reactive container) and clean and sanitize it.

2) Pour a small amount of a raw, unfiltered vinegar (like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar) and swirl it around to coat the surfaces of the container.

3) Fill the container with your beer and top it off with a bit more raw, unfiltered vinegar.

4) If using a jar, put the lid on and shake lightly to combine everything. Or you could use a sterilized spoon to stir it all around.

5) Cover with cheese cloth or a towel and let it sit for about a month and a half. If you have a vessel with a narrow opening at the top, you might want to periodically lightly stir the contents to allow proper airflow. A warmer environment and lots of air flow will produce vinegar faster than something cool and stagnant.

6) After a month and a half, check it. If it smells like vinegar, take a sip. If it tastes good, use it! If it isn’t acidic enough, let it sit a bit longer. Mine seemed to be perfect after about two months.


Not Quite Potato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Root and Mustard Seeds

Well, this is a doozy of a photo, but I took it quickly and then ate this salad before I could realize that it was out of focus. Oh well, you get the, um, picture.

I finally got around to purchasing Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty, which is one that I know I will be cooking out of for some time to come. The cookbook focuses on vegetables, and every single of one of the recipes looks amazing. This recipe is not from the cookbook, but it is certainly inspired by it. It was a clean-out-the-fridge kind of salad that really worked well, and as such, I haven’t included precise measurements but guidelines below.

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Not Quite Potato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Root and Mustard Seeds

inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty

baby potatoes, thinly sliced
fresh turmeric root, thinly sliced
green beans
zest of lemon
juice of fresh lemon
mustard seeds
cloves crushed garlic
serrano or other pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a pot of water large enough to fit all the potatoes to a boil and slice the potatoes and turmeric thinly. Boil the potatoes and turmeric for about 2 minutes – since they’re thinly sliced, they’ll cook quickly. Drain the water and let the potatoes and turmeric dry in a strainer. Coat the potatoes and turmeric in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus and green beans for 1 minute. Drain and cool in ice water.

In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, turmeric, green beans, and asparagus. Add the lemon zest and juice.

In a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and serrano pepper with a bit of kosher salt. Use as much garlic as you like. Heat a pan over medium heat and toss in the garlic/serrano mixture, mustard seeds, and olive oil. Sauté until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and stir it all together. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with fresh chives.


Tropical Breakfast Bowl

think winter is almost over. I’ve almost permanently switched over to a spring coat, and I have worn capri tights more often than my winter leggings when running lately. And speaking of running, I have been running outside! I think the last time I stepped on the treadmill was two full weeks ago. Most importantly, champagne mangos are showing up at the grocery store.

So, with signs of spring and thoughts of warmer places, I made this 2-grain, 3-seed tropical breakfast bowl on Saturday. Eric said it reminded him of mango and sticky rice that we gobbled up in Thailand, and while it wasn’t inspired by that treat, it did certainly hit those notes.
Tropical Breakfast Bowl

Eric and I took the time to plan a year of trips while we still have the Southwest Companion Pass, which expires at the end of this year. We have some fun stuff coming up, including a weekend in the Florida Keys, camping in the Sawtooths in Idaho, and a week-long trip to Austin (Eric has a conference there) and San Antonio. We’ve decided to put off all international trips (except trips to Mexico on Southwest) until next year. My feet are seriously itching for something exotic, but we must take advantage of 2-for-1 domestic plane tickets while we can.

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Anyway, back to breakfast.

Tropical Breakfast Bowl (1)

Tropical Breakfast Bowl

The mention of two grains and three seeds above may be confusing, but buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain. As for the coconut cream, often times a can of coconut milk will be separated into a thick cream on one end of the can and a watery milk on the other. If your can is not separated, just use the combined milk and add it to taste.

*Serves 3-4

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup bulgar wheat
1/2 cup buckwheat groats

2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 mango, cut into cubes
1/2 pink or ruby red grapefruit, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 orange, peeled and cut into cubes
1 banana, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon flax seed powder (or whole flax seeds are fine also)
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Cook each of the grains separately in double the amount of water (ie, for 1/2 cup steel cut oats, cook them in 1 cup water) until all the water is soaked up and the grains are tender. Mix all the cooked grains in a bowl and, while still warm, add the coconut cream and maple syrup. Stir around until the coconut cream is melted and thoroughly combined. Taste and add more sweetener if you prefer.

Top with fruit, flax, and chia seeds.

Asparagus, Butternut Squash, and Blood Orange with Spicy Za’atar Vinaigrette

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to eat healthy, in part because of all the conflicting information that exists about what exactly is considered healthy. This article is a year and a half old by now, but the message still rings true, and I laughed the entire time while reading it. When I was in college, and the Atkin’s diet was the fad of the moment, my roommate told me she was trying to cut back on carbs and then proceeded to order a bagel for breakfast. Now, many fad diets say it’s not necessarily the carbs that are killing us, but the gluten. There is so much conflicting and constantly changing information out there. How is the healthy eater to cope?

I tend to follow an eating doctrine that falls somewhere between those touted by Michael Pollan and Michael Ruhlman. Pollan says to “eat food, mostly plants, not too much”, and Ruhlman, from what I gather, would say something like “eat what feels good, all in moderation”. For us, that means eating largely vegetarian at home (in large part because good, ethical meat is expensive) and allowing ourselves to indulge once in a while without guilt. That indulgence can be meat in the form of a giant burger, sugar in the form of a giant cake, or beer in the form of, well, a giant glass of well-crafted brew. These things taste good for a reason! And when did eating become so political?

Anyway, one thing that I tend to eat a lot is cucumbers. Most of the time, I just sprinkle it with some apple cider vinegar and salt and call it a day, but sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy, this happens:

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Sliced cucumbers, a drizzle of nice olive oil, greek yogurt, a sprinkle of za’atar, and some additional ground sumac. So that happened this morning, and since I had the za’atar out and was feeling frisky, I made a spicy za’atar vinaigrette with a serrano pepper and shallot. And then this happened:

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Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I feel pangs of guilt when eating asparagus out of season, but this winter has been so long that I have been splurging lately. As for the za’atar, you can make your own following Heidi’s recipe, or sometimes you can find a mix in a spice store.

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Asparagus, Butternut Squash, and Blood Orange with Spicy Za’atar Vinaigrette

1 bunch asparagus
1/2 small butternut squash, sliced into sticks
1 blood orange

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons za’atar
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon whole grain or dijon mustard

Steam the asparagus and butternut squash until tender. The asparagus should only take a few minutes, and the butternut squash just slightly longer. I steamed them separately so as not to overcook the asparagus. Slice the blood orange into supremes, or just peel and section if you’re not into all that work. Arrange the asparagus, butternut squash, and oranges on a plate.

In a small mason jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, za’atar, pepper, shallot, and mustard. Shake well and pour over the vegetables. You’ll have extra dressing – save it for a salad or other use. Sprinkle sea salt over the whole thing before serving.

Citrus Salad

I recently discovered that I like grapefruit. No, love grapefruit. The pink variety, specifically. All these years I thought that I didn’t like grapefruit mostly because I loathed grapefruit juice, but I should know better than to judge a fruit by its concentrated juice counterpart.

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These bright pinks ones are my favorite. So juicy and mildly sweet. I’ve mainly been eating them in two iterations: on their own as breakfast or in a salad for lunch or dinner. This version is my most basic one – the one that I make when I don’t have much time – but I often jazz it up with avocados, sesame or pumpkin seeds, or some lightly blanched green beans or asparagus. With a simple vinaigrette, the salad makes for a nice contrast to the cold, snowy scenery outside.

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We went on a couple fun trips within the last couple months. I piggy-backed on a work trip of Eric’s to El Paso to visit White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns, and for Eric’s birthday, we paid a visit to his birthplace – Puerto Rico. In Carlsbad, we went on a fun wild cave tour that had us crawling through crevices and rappelling down underground cliffs. We were also planning on camping at nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but unseasonably cold weather forced us indoors. We still had a weekend’s worth of camping food, though, so we still cooked our meals on the camp stove inside the hotel – and only set the smoke alarm off once!





Puerto Rico was a week-long adventure. We flew to nearby island Vieques and drove around stopping off at whichever secluded beach we wanted. Back on mainland PR, we drove around the island the rest of the week, stopping in Ponce, Boqueron, Rincon, Arecibo, and of course, San Juan. Oddly enough, we barely stepped foot on a beach once we left Vieques – too much other fun stuff to do!

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Citrus Salad

*As mentioned above, there are many ways to spruce up this salad to make it heartier. Add sliced avocado, blanched asparagus or green beans, and cashews or seeds.

1/2 pink grapefruit, peels removed and segmented with no membranes
1 blood orange, peels removed and sliced into rounds
1 head butter lettuce
1 tablespoon red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Wash and dry the butter lettuce, then tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Prepare the fruit and arrange them atop the lettuce. Mix the vinegar, oil, and salt together and pour over the salad.

Herby Garlic Soup

I’ve received more winter weather and wind chill advisories from my iphone weather app than I’d like to think about lately. Talking about the weather may be a little overdone, but seriously, this has been a harsh one. Oh, and I am running a half marathon on Saturday–a day for which the weather forecast keeps getting colder and colder and snowier and snowier. Good thing we have a trip to Puerto Rico coming up in just one week. In the mean time, garlic soup.

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This garlicky broth is not at all as harsh as it sounds. And for a 15-minute broth, this one packs a lot of flavor. In fact, I may ditch all my other vegetable broth recipes and just stick to this from now on.

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With lots of watercress and chives, this soup has nice herby, savory notes. The beans and carrots make it hearty, too. It’s just good.

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Herby Garlic Soup

1 head garlic
10-5 peppercorns

1-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 4 slices
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
4 cups water

1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 cup borlotti beans (or other heirloom bean), cooked
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bunch watercress, chopped
chives, sliced (optional)
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine garlic, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After five minutes, remove the ginger and simmer another ten minutes. Strain out the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves (set the garlic and peppercorns aside; discard the bay leaves).

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the beans, carrots, and zucchini. Bring it back to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. This should be just enough to take the raw edge off the vegetables but still keep them crisp.

Salt to taste, and garnish with chives and watercress.

As for the garlic and peppercorns, combine with a bit of water in a blender and grind until smooth. Use a spoonful here or there to make a vinaigrette, or mix it with tahini and more herbs to make a vegetable dip. The garlic will taste mellow and sweet, almost as if it’s been roasted.

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 5: Pulled Pork Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Day 5. (days 1, 2, 3, and 4) We’ve reached the end, and we’re going to go out with a bang. A big porky bang.

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Pulled pork has become one of our favorite indulgent meals because it’s so easy to make it good. I don’t cook meat that often – it’s expensive, often time consuming, and when it tastes good, it’s not particularly healthy. Yes, there are plenty of healthy boneless, skinless chicken recipes out there, but I’d just as soon make something vegetarian that tastes equally good, if not better.

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Pulled Pork Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

I made this pulled pork in the slow cooker, but you can also do a braise in the oven, which is faster. To do that, follow the first steps of browning and adding the braising liquid in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Put the whole thing in a 350-degree oven for 2-2.5 hours. After two hours, check it. If it pulls apart with a fork, it’s done, if not, keep cooking.

1.5 pounds bone-in pork loin
1 tablespoon neutral oil (like grapeseed or canola oil)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, quartered
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 dried avocado leaf (optional)

mixed veg
uice of 2 limes

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon honey

corn tortillas

If your slow cooker has a removable pot, pull it out and heat it over medium-high heat. If not, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil. Generously season the pork loin with salt and pepper, then brown each side of the meat in the oil. Be sure to get a deep brown color on each side.

Once every side is browned, remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Add the garlic, onion, and cumin to the pan and stir it around in the remaining oil. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the leftover brown bits. If you’re doing this in a separate pan, transfer everything to your slow cooker now and add the rest of the vinegar, water, red pepper flakes, Mexican oregano, and avocado leaf. Season this sauce generously with salt, then add the pork back in. Otherwise, add the remaining ingredients to your slow cooker pot while it is still on the burner. Bring the liquid to a boil, then move the pot into the slow cooker.

Cook in the slow cooker for 5 hours. At this point, the pork should be falling off the bone and tear apart easily with a fork. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and pull it apart using two forks. I usually do this in a large bowl, then pour a bit of the braising liquid over the pork and stir it around. I like to keep the braising liquid by straining out all the other stuff. I will water it down and use it as a base for soups, and you can freeze it to save for later.

To make the slaw, combine lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk it all together, then toss the mixed veggies in the dressing.

To make the tacos, warm the tortillas in a dry frying pan or over a gas flame. Add the pulled pork and some of the dressed vegetables. Eat.

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 4: Kale + Mixed Veg Salad with Coconut-Lime Dressing

Day 4. (days 1, 2, and 3) Are you sick of veggies yet? In anticipation of the fatty, porky tacos that are to come tomorrow, today we have a kale salad. You might have noticed that I make kale salads a lot. They’re just good.

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We’re back from Louisville and had so much fun driving around rural Kentucky to taste bourbon. Our favorite of the day was at the Heaven Hill Distillery; they make the Elijah Craig 12-yr bourbon that went down nicely without the aid of water. Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve had the prettiest distilleries with a lot of old buildings; Buffalo Trace is pictured below.


This picture is of Willet Distilleries bourbon aging warehouses… they look like eery old prisons.


With our newfound educations, we felt a lot more comfortable ordering bourbons at the bar!



We ate at Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant in downtown Louisville called Milkwood. It was so delicious, and the cocktails were perfect. The octopus bacon was a killer starter, but the pork burger was what we thought about the rest of the night.


And now… back to healthy food for the week!

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Kale + Mixed Veg Salad with Coconut-Lime Dressing

1 bunch lacinato kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 can full-fat coconut milk

zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon honey
mixed veg

To prepare the kale, remove the stems and roll the leaves up into a tight bundle, then finely shred the leaves. Place the kale in a large bowl and mix in the olive oil. Massage the leaves until they are all coated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and honey.

Toss the kale with the veg and dressing.

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 3: Miso Soba Noodles

Day 3! (days 1 and 2) Here we goooo. Soba noodles. Miso. Vegetables.

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Miso Soba Noodles with Mixed Vegetables

1 9.5-oz package soba noodles
2 heaping teaspoons mellow brown rice miso or white miso
4 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons water
mixed vegetables

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles for 3 minutes. Strain the noodles and rinse under cold water to remove all the starch.

In a large bowl, whisk together the miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Add the noodles and a few scoops of the mixed vegetables and toss it all together.