Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year. Resolutions. Quick Dinners. Noodles with Garlicky-Carrot Sauce.

Happy New Year! Seeing as it's the last day of the first week of the new year, and one of my resolutions this year is to carve out time to post on this website at least once a week, I figure I'd better get cracking. So hi! How are you? Hope all's well.

I love this blog. I love the food I make that I deem worthy of sharing on this blog. I love that people read this blog and try the things I suggest and sometimes find my attempts at half-cleverness endearing if not entirely amusing. But, quite frankly, now that my second baby is mobile and curious and unexpectedly agile, and my first baby continues to be so compelling and extroverted, and they don't ever nap at the same time anymore, I'm lucky to get a decent dinner on the table most days. It's not that I'm busy. I feel like the word busy connotes having to do lots of things or be lots of places, and it's definitely not that. I just spend a lot of time sitting with the loves of my life on our family room rug (the safest place in the house for cruising babies and accident-prone toddlers), reading picture books, patty-caking, preventing injuries to the best of my ability. When I have an opportunity that doesn't involve tending to my children, I prioritize working on my cooking class materials, because I am new at it and need to work hard to become great. How do all those other bloggers do it all? I stumbled upon one recently whose author has NINE children - 4 biological, 5 adopted - and she home schools them all and cooks and has written two books and right as I was about to leave her site because it was making me feel like an enormous failure I noticed a section about marathon training. Because in her spare time she RUNS MARATHONS and then WRITES ABOUT HOW. These people aren't real, right? They just can't be real.

Yikes. That was an embarrassing tangent.

And you probably don't want to hear my excuses anyway.

I just wanted to explain that I love this blog and it gives me a great deal of pleasure and fulfillment and I am going to try to be more organized and methodical in 2012 so hopefully you'll see more regular posts. One approach I'm taking is to try to accept that much of what I have to offer stems from my abilities to cook resourcefully, quickly, and healthily. Teaching people with varying levels of kitchen experience has made me appreciate these skills even more. So you might see a greater emphasis on every day cooking here. Bear with me. There might be an awkward phase.

I thought this simple - ZIPPY - recipe would be a good starting place, and here's why: one evening, my husband and I had tickets to go see a concert or play or something. My mother-in-law was coming over after work to babysit. I like to have dinner available for babysitters or anyone really who happens to be in our home at dinner time, but it had been a rough day and I hadn't been to the grocery store in a while and I was momentarily at a loss as to what to make. (Enter resourcefulness.) Also, it was late. (Enter quickness.) This was the week after Thanksgiving and I really wanted both my children and their grandmother to have something nutritious and "light", given the previous weekend's decadence. (Enter healthy.)

Let's skip to a moral real quick, before I forget: don't underestimate the value of a well-stocked pantry. In a pinch, it can really save you.

I think another blog's "link love"-type list led me to Not Without Salt. The post I stumbled upon had "quick" in its title so it piqued my interest. I didn't have most of the ingredients and wanted more vegetables in the meal... but it was inspiration enough to get a pot of water on the stove to boil while I peeled garlic. My mother-in-law and daughter both enjoyed it that night and I devoured two huge servings of it the following day. Upon finishing, I was sad there wasn't more.

Carrot-Tahini Sauce
Plated Noodle Bowl

So. Nothing fancy. But a memorable weeknight meal doesn't really need to be fancy. It just needs to have a good balance of tasty, quick, easy, and healthy. Easily attainable with practice. And a hefty dose of garlic.

Note: I'm a raw garlic lightweight. I used four garlic cloves and, to me, it bordered on mouth-on-fire garlicky. I kind of loved it but, again, spend most of the day sitting on the floor with my kids, neither of whom seems to have a demonstrated sense of smell. So eat at your own risk. That said, I think it's a risk worth taking.

Quick Garlicky-Carrot Pasta
Fueled by a poorly stocked kitchen but well stocked pantry...
Inspired by this Not Without Salt post and the leftover cooked carrots in my refrigerator...
Enjoyed by three generations of garlic-loving Camerons
Yield: 3-4 servings

For garlicky-carrot sauce
3-5 garlic cloves (depending on how brave you are)
3 tablespoons tahini or peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (or honey)
1 teaspoon honey (or mirin)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 carrot, any size, steamed or raw, chopped into 1" chunks

For pasta
1/2 lb spaghetti or soba or whatever
1-2 cups frozen edamame

Optional veggies: more carrots, spinach, peas, bean sprouts
Optional garnishes: avocado, sesame seeds or peanuts, chopped cilantro, lime wedges

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the noodles and frozen edamame to the water, return to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes, or according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, pulse the garlic cloves until finely chopped. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix until blended.

Drain the noodles and edamame, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with as much sauce as you'd like. Toss gently, add a little cooking water if you want a thinner sauce, throw in whatever other vegetables you have (avocado really adds a nice creaminess to the dish), and sprinkle with sesame seeds or peanuts. A squeeze of lime or lemon juice is nice too.

Voila. Dinner in twenty. Happy 2012.


  1. Edith!!! Derek and I were at your cooking class this Thursday night. We had a mis-communication or food baggage and threw away your recipe paper. UGH!!! We want to make the garlic peanut noodles asap. Is this the recipe?

  2. Anna! That is funny. If you email me (cakeandedith at gmail dot com), I'll send you the handout. Recipe is basically the same, but I've honed it a bit over the years:

    3-5 garlic cloves (depending on how brave you are)
    1/4 cup tahini or peanut butter
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
    1-2 tablespoons honey
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

    Blend up and enjoy. Add a carrot if you'd like.