Summer Favorite:
Zucchini Mint Salad

Zucchini Mint Salad

I’m a Southerner by birth and upbringing, and even though I left the South a long time ago, my approach to food is still heavily influenced by my time in the South. For whatever reason, we didn’t do a lot of Soul Food cooking in my house (my heart and my arteries say thank you for that), but we did do a lot of what I think of us Good Down Home Cookin’, and the heart of Good Down Home Cookin’ is good, farmer’s market ingredients, though when I was growing up, it wasn’t as fancy as all of that. We would just stop whenever we saw a food stand on the side of the road and buy whatever yumminess they had: corn, sweet red tomatoes, pecans, which some folks pronounce pea-cans, as in pea-can pie. I am still a sucker for farm fresh ingredients. In the summer, I can make a whole meal of them. I was a vegetarian for ten years, so I don’t even have to have meat on the side to feel satisfied, though if I’ve got a hankering for meat, I can always put some on the grill. Summer and summer cooking is all about making life easy-peasy. It’s about lounging and relaxing and turning food prep into a moving meditation.

One of my favorite summer recipes is Zucchini Mint Salad. You can make it a lot of ways, using whatever you have. The recipe I’m going to share uses mint, parsley, pecorino and green olives, but you can make it with parmesan, goat cheese or feta if you have those on hand, and you can totally substitute black olives for green ones. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but it’s one of my all time favorites. I hope you enjoy making it and eating it as much as I do.

8 young zucchini
handful of parsley leaves, torn by hand
handful of mint leaves, torn by hand
1/2 c pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
good quality pecorino cheese
black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice


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Malibu Farm Comes To
The Malibu Pier

Malibu Farms

Malibu Farms by Day

I have been a fan of Malibu Farm ever since I read a description of it in C Magazine, that evoked such a magical sense of place, I knew that a dinner there — and a chance, one should hope, to meet its sublimely visionary creatrix Helene Henderson — lay in my future. Alison Clare Steingold, writing for C Magazine, described it thus:

[o]ne pig, two dogs, two goats, 23 chickens, 10 raised beds, 50 fruit trees, 300 raspberry bushes, 400 grapevines and some peacocks. Add a beehive for raw honey, Viognier from down the way, zesty Bloody Marys courtesy of a brand-new local mixer and golden olive oil from a nearby Point Dume grove.

What more do you need to know?

There is, of course, the view to take in, and the simple, elegant, “why didn’t I think of that” lifestyle concept to contemplate, but the only real information you need is of the “how the heck can I eat there” kind. With last week’s opening of the Malibu Farm Pop-Up at Malibu Pier, there are now two options:


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How To Clean & Season Cast Iron

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

Cast Iron One Pot Dinner

Yesterday, I re-seasoned my cast iron skillets. If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, then you definitely ain’t from the South. In the South, where my roots are planted deep, there’s just no good cookin’ ‘cept that you use cast iron.

I’m a Southerner through and through. Though I long ago transplanted myself — first to New York and then to L.A. — Southern roots run deep, which is why I found myself seasoning my cast iron, and thinking about meals eaten in my mamma’s house.

Cast iron lasts several lifetimes (we’ve been passing them down in Southern families for years), well seasoned pan cleans easily and never sticks, and cooking with cast iron even adds some low dose iron to every meal. Southern cooks fry chicken in cast iron, but I use mine to brown chicken on the stove before sliding it in the oven so it can bake. In fact, I love to cook anything in it that can benefit from the carmelized goodness that cast iron imparts better than just about any cookware I know and, unlike close rivals, like enamel coated cast iron favorite Le Creuset, cast iron is super affordable. Treat it right and you’ll be roasting potatoes and whipping up batches of skillet cornbread, and just about anything you can imagine, for years and lifetimes to come to come.


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You Should Know About:
Eat Your Books

CollagesYesterday I discovered an amazing website called Eat Your Books. It’s an online library full of your favorite cookbooks. Add them to your digital Eat Your Books bookshelf and voila! All of your cookbooks become searchable by ingredient, author, book title or recipe name. The entry level membership, which allows you to add 5 cookbooks to your shelf, is free. An unlimited shelf is $2.50 a month or $25 a year. There’s also a bookmarklet that lets you add recipes to your bookshelf from any website — I’m looking forward to transferring my Epicurious recipes here so I can have everything under one roof — and there’s also a blog and opportunities to engage with Eat Your Books through social media, so you can stay connected to other people who care about food.


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Food Policy & Change




I’ve been interested in food ever since I became a vegetarian the summer after I graduated from college. It was my gateway drug to foodie-ism and to all things healthy and environmentally sound. The impetus was an offending pork chop that I picked up from the A&P. It was disgusting. Turned me off to meat for a good ten years, until one day I had a craving for a pan-fried steak. Wise, by then, to the ways of good food, I drove myself directly to Whole Foods and bought a delicious if pricey grass-fed, hormone free steak which I fried up in an iron skillet with fresh rosemary and olive oil. Best meal I’ve ever had. I’ve been a dedicated omnivore ever since, though my vegetarian days have left their beautiful mark.


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