Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Shiitakes and Chickpeas | Umami Girl

Here’s an easy weeknight dinner that’s greater than the sum of its parts. This is the kind of thing I cook on the regular, almost always riffing. I’m going to make a big effort to share more of our weeknight meals here from now on, and without any literary fanfare — because I think these are the kinds of recipes that most of us find useful, whether to follow exactly or to use for inspiration. You may have to contend with next-day photographs of leftovers like the one above so I can use natural rather than studio light, but I won’t tell if you won’t. All hail the microwave.

I’ll keep it short today. Next week will be Iceland Week, with three posts about our fabulous trip to Reykjavik and the surrounding areas of southwestern Iceland. See you soon.


Vegetarian Minestrone for a Crowd | Umami Girl-1

This morning on the way into the house after yoga, my water bottle ricocheted out of my too-full hand and plummeted into the bushes. I wasn’t even sorry. I’m 39 now, so I laughed heartily at myself, letting my voice reverberate under the porch roof. I left the bottle there for several hours, because it’s my house, and this is America, and if I’m going to have to deal with all the crazy fucks who think guns have more civil rights than women, I at least plan to avail myself of my private property just shy of the point of nuisance.

Vegetarian Minestrone for a Crowd | Umami Girl - 3

Then I scooped up the girls from school at lunchtime and took them to the dentist, which was excellent. They have a kind of fluoride now where you don’t have to wait half an hour before eating. America has its strong points! Afterward we ordered grilled cheeses from the local deli. I let the girls get the bright orange cheez doodles that stain your fingers, and they scarfed it all too fast in the car on the way back to school.

Vegetarian Minestrone for a Crowd | Umami Girl -2

Tonight we’ll have soup. We’ll sit at the dinner table and be together. I can’t guarantee that no one will sigh or roll their eyes. But we’ll survive.

Later, I might even put on a sweater.

Fall is here, and it’s back to real life. I love our holidays and vacations, but real life is my favorite.

Here’s a big pot of savory, warming soup to get you through the week or share with friends. Welcome to fall. Let’s do this.


Simple Soft Shell Crabs Recipe | Umami Girl

Soft shell crab season will be over in a flash, and although I’m all about transitioning into fall with grace, I can’t let these beauties go without a little send-off party. At this party, we’ll have some wine and some low, slow jazz playing under the din of voices. You’ll have a great time catching up with a few friends you haven’t seen in too long. I’ll stop briefly in front of a mirror to check whether I have True Blood teeth and get introvert-lost wondering whether my preference for eating intact sea creatures (lobsters, soft shells) gives me more integrity than burger eaters. Don’t worry, I won’t talk to you or anyone about it ever.

Soft shells are not a different variety of crab but rather creatures of a moment in time. These crabs have recently molted, and their new shells are still so soft as to be edible. In other words, what you see here is some crabs going through a phase where they’re more vulnerable than usual. 

If only humans could identify with that at all. View full post »

  • I wish soft shell crab season lasted all year long! These look absolutely delicious! Hand me a bibb and a big ole bowl so I can face plant into this YUM! Love it! Cheers. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Thanks, Cheyanne. Me too! I make due with spider rolls from the sushi place during the rest of the year, which is no great hardship, but it’s not the same. :)ReplyCancel

Stitch Fix Review

I used to really love fashion. When Cope and I met during college, my room was decorated on the cheap with a picture rail of haute couture ads torn from Vogue and Bazaar. Hazy memories suggest I once followed and even embraced trends as a whimsical way to mark the passage of time. Like a friend recently said about herself, I used to dress as a way of letting people know that I was interesting, relevant, worth talking to.

Cope used to talk about those pictures as one of the things he found intriguing about me in the early days, before we knew each other well. It’s a good thing we did get to know each other, because hoooo-boy did those ads turn out to be false advertising for my typical way of life. 

Seventeen years later. It’s November, 2014. 7:15 on a school morning. I’m only three sips deep into my sacred morning coffee. Standing in front of my closet. Perusing my clothing options. Is there something called a morbid giggle? There should be.

I realized I was looking not at a wardrobe but at a uniform. And not a cute Catholic schoolgirl uniform or a classy Singapore Airlines flight attendant one. Nope, just an endless cycle of Levi’s Bold Curve trousers (jeans in three washes and two pairs of corduroys), Old Navy Perfect Fit tank tops and 3/4-sleeve cardigans. All of them washed practically to oblivion, converging from their original rainbow of colors onto the same dull shade of “Meh, everyone’s mostly focused on the kids anyway.” View full post »

  • Jenny

    Loved your review of Stitch Fix! I recently joined (currently awaiting my 2nd fix) and have become mildly obsessed with reading everyone’s reviews. Yours was a very enjoyable read, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    I’ve seen it a few times on Facebook. I never consider trying it until I read your blog. If I do it I will definitely click your link. I will not be flipping you off though hahaReplyCancel

  • Troy

    Do these freeze well? If so, about how long do they keep?ReplyCancel

Kale Smoothie Recipe
Happy June!

We spent Saturday afternoon at our college reunion. We did it family style this year — low-key, low-alcohol, low-regret. And still, this Monday morning seems like a good day for a green smoothie. Doesn’t it? Could just be me with a contact hangover.

This smoothie has a very friendly flavor profile and, I promise, isn’t scary in the least.

The recipe is related to a bigger project I’m working on, which I can’t say much of anything about yet, but stay tuned for trickling details throughout the rest of 2015. I’m excited! (I know, I hate it when people do that too. Humans. We’re complicated.)

In other news, after a short hiatus in the past couple of weeks, I’m going to be dialing up the posting frequency in the coming months. We’re trying out a few new ideas, including the slightly less zen layout. I prefer all the white space the world has to offer, but we’re also eager to be able to provide more content. I’m working on finding the right balance, so you’ll notice tweaks and tinkers moving forward.

Have a good start to the week. See you soon.

Carolyn xx


  • I have seen many green smoothies and have tried a few myself, but this one looks like it would be super tasty and not too “green” tasting! I usually just throw everything in a blender at once- is there a reason you do it in stages? Do you find that it mixes better? Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

    • Hi Emily, if you get good results by throwing everything in at the same time, by all means go for it! Some older and crappier blenders do better getting started with liquid and soft fruit first. Hope you like the smoothie!ReplyCancel