Buffalo Green Juice | Umami GirlHappy New Year! Early January is a satisfying time of year for me because for a solid 14 days, it feels like the whole world is perfectly aligned with my personal interests. The Williams Sonoma catalog has jewel-colored juices on the cover. People are Pinning yoga. Everyone’s searching like mad for vegan recipes. Life is good. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t afraid to let my absolute freak flag fly on Serious Eats this week with the Buffalo Green Juice. Not gonna lie, it’s both savory and spicy. And also? It’s my favorite. You can find the recipe here on Serious Eats.

Carolyn xx

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Homemade Gifts 2013 | Umami GirlWe’re spending a few weeks “visiting home” on the East Coast, staying with family and friends, and making lots of merry for the holidays. There hasn’t been a lot of downtime, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of homemade edible gifts. There’s herb salt with rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, and lemon zest, repeated from last year based on popular demand. And there’s Umami Girl’s Banana Bread, with the dry ingredients turned into an easy-to-use mix. I’ll be putting up the recipes and some printable labels in plenty of time for next holiday season so anyone who wants to can get in on the action.

Homemade Gifts 2013 II | Umami Girl

Rosemary and Salt | Umami GirlView full post »

Farro with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Chestnuts | Umami GirlI’m a big fan of the website The Chalkboard Magazine, so when they asked me to contribute a holiday recipe, I wanted to give them something we really love. This indulgent-feeling but wholesome vegan farro with leeks, mushrooms, and chestnuts is the dish we’ve contributed to the family Christmas feast for the past few years. It doesn’t take long, and you can make it ahead, so it’s an easy addition to the table whether you’re hosting or visiting. Hope you’ll like it as much as we do. Happy holidays, all.

Carolyn xx

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The Beautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner | Umami GirlTHE TAKEAWAY. There are lots of reasons to want to grow some of your own food and just as many reasons to not want to turn your yard or balcony into a full-on family farm. The Beautiful Edible Garden shows you how to strike a lovely and livable balance, whether you’re a novice gardener like me or a more experienced grower in search of a fresh approach. It’s both inspiring and realistic, and it reads kind of like hanging out with a friend you admire. Although gardening season may seem far away if you live in a chilly climate, this is the perfect time to start dreaming and scheming for the spring. This book would make a great holiday gift, too.

THE DIRTY DETAILS. It’s probably a good idea for me to come clean about my own complicated gardening credentials before continuing. Let’s just say that even though fresh produce is one of my favorite things on earth, in a dark, dark moment I once threw away a perfectly healthy potted parsley plant because it was pressuring me to the point of insanity like an herbaceous tell-tale heart. Thump thump, thump thump. In other words, I am not highly qualified to weigh in on the technical aspects of this book. But I can say with confidence that it is gorgeous and interesting, and its approach is inventive enough that even if you’re a Master Gardener, you very likely haven’t seen it all before. Whether you’re serious about growing a lot of what you eat or just want some hipster hashtag cred without having to own backyard chickens, The Beautiful Edible Garden can help you do it in style.

THE LOVELY AUTHORS. Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner are co-founders of the Bay Area-based Star Apple Edible + Fine Gardening. And you’d never guess it from how happy and vibrant she looks, but Leslie is my friend from law school, too. It’s always gratifying to see friends wend their way toward their professional passion. And when that passion is something gorgeous that you can eat? Bonus.

YOU HAD ME AT… “A shady patch in your yard is the perfect spot for growing your favorite edible mushrooms on logs.” Um, awesome. I can even imagine a whole umami garden taking shape. Mushroom log is to me as cupcake tree is to normal people. And suddenly my life is complete.

HOW TO GET IT. Nab a copy of The Beautiful Edible Garden in high-quality soft-cover or Kindle edition for yourself, and don’t forget to include an extra or six for gifts. See? It’s not even December and your holiday shopping is done.

Carolyn xx

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Urgent dispatch from Florence, where we’ve just arrived to spend Thanksgiving. Our weird London-based lifestyle habits have resulted in our doing Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday the past few years. Last night I made a crazy-good vegan version of the stuffing I grew up with. There wasn’t time to do a full post, but I wanted to get it out there before tomorrow. Use it well. xx