All about an egg.

It’s Easter!  And a happy one to you.

We’re still temporarily based in Chicago, across the street from my brother Matt, sister-in-law Megan, plus let’s not forget little Sophie, who has everyone she meets, including me, wrapped around her little finger.  Today she came down the stairs in her mommy’s arms, hair still a little damp from a burner of an afternoon nap, and looked right towards my husband before saying, clear as day – “John!

We’re toast.

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A simple diet of love.

Home feels so good. I’m going to electronically hop back to England next week (the actual 10 hour flight from LAX to Heathrow in no way resembles a mere “hop”) to tell you about the Fish Course that I took at River Cottage, because I learned too much not to share. But first, I thought it was time for a break and a salad, because I didn’t eat a whole lot of salads while on vacation, unless of course they were covered in chocolate.

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A single date…

Having a great salad dressing is like having a perfect little black dress.

I remember Jamie Oliver once said children should be taught 10 survival recipes. And when he said this, my neighbor took action with her own two girls. I thought that was cool, and if I have kids one day, I think I will put a homemade salad dressing on that list.

My reason being, I only know one brand of pre-made salad dressing worth our hard earned money, made by a company called Zukay Live Foods. Their dressings are designed to be mixed with oil at home, which allows the cook to control the type of oil used. This company goes so far as to lacto-ferment their dressings, which is fantastic. Lacto-fermenting foods (think Sauerkraut or Yogurt) invites nature’s good bacteria into the food, which can buffer our bodies against colds, improve digestion, naturally extend shelf-life and more. But, the fermentation angle is really just an added bonus. The truth is, Zukay is the only company I know that doesn’t put a whole lot of terrible junk in their dressings. Most jarred dressings are filled with refined oils (often soybean oil, which is highly allergic to my body), sugar and even MSG, an emotionally irritating seasoning that literally makes food addictive. I guess being addicted to salad could be worse, but being slightly picky about my addictions, I’ll pass on the unnecessary MSG.

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Food has magical powers.

Have you ever tried an heirloom cherry tomato? First off, be warned not to put them in the fridge, really any tomato for that matter. It kills their flavor. They go from: Exciting! Sweet! Delicious! To blah, in about 4 hours. Strawberries, too. I didn’t learn the strawberry rule till after I put some of my mom’s absolutely perfect summer berries, fresh from the market, in the fridge. Several hours later, hungry for a mid-morning snack, she found them and almost cried. The raw sting of a lesson that sticks…

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It’s two weeks past my sister-in-law’s due date. She was scheduled to be induced this morning at 8am. These days, hospitals don’t let women go past two weeks overdue; I now understand that complications increase as amniotic fluid starts to diminish. We all hoped and prayed it could happen naturally, but up until last night, their little darling had other ideas. There’s a strong & stubborn streak in the Schrecengost gene, I’m not afraid to say… and both Megan and I like to be “cozy,” therefore she might be just fine hanging out right where she is – thank you very much. Although my gentle bets lean towards “procrastination,” (John and I prefer the term “artistic”) because when faced with the impending induction schedule, she cracked the whip and started those labor pains with some gusto. According to a text from brother, it’s full speed ahead. She just needed a deadline. Definitely an artist. I’ve got a couch for her when she turns 18. And it’s in LA, it’ll be perfect.

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Featured Farmer – Jose Baer

A secret food weapon sits quietly in my semi-clean fridge. Behind the organic hot sauce and unsweetened ketchup hides a delicate bottle of unrefined walnut oil that turns every salad leaf it touches into pure gold. Guests come to dinner and fall madly in love. I share the secret, but most brush past and lavish praise on the cook. Bewilderedly accepting the glory, I breathe a heavy sigh and quietly acknowledge evidence that the applause doesn’t always reach it’s proper recipient. Ask a book editor or film producer. They’ll tell you.

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It lasted until I was 27.

I am completing a liver cleanse while I write this. I haven’t eaten since 2pm yesterday, and I drank grapefruit juice and olive oil before bed. Why the torture? Because my friends, this crazy liver cleanse produces “results” that would knock your Rudolph socks off. But, you’re gonna have to learn about the “results” first hand. It’s not something that can be discussed in detail, except among fellow liver-cleansers. I’ve tried.

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Featured Farmer – Shu Takikawa


The Garden Of…

That’s the name of Shu Takikawa’s farm. The dot, dot, dot is very much a part of the title. With a thick Japanese accent and a permanent eye twinkle, Shu said the name made him feel free. Like he didn’t have to farm this land forever if he didn’t feel like it. He could leave at anytime or maybe (my interpretation) that the land could continue being farmed for many generations, simply plug a name into the dot dot dot. I met Shu when I was calling around for farms to feature on the pilot of Farm to Table. I visited a couple of great farmers, but narrowed it down to Shu and serendipitously enough, a man who apprenticed with him, Jacob Grant. Both fit the small-medium size “farm with soul” bill.

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FERN, The Kitchen Plant

Blog world… meet Fern. Fern the fern lives in my kitchen. We had a rough start, me and Fern. She was a special gift for my 30th Birthday. I instantly loved her soft delicate leaves and wispy ways, but after months of trying every window in the house and every amount of water, Fern was down to a mere fern twig. As a last ditch effort, I asked a mildly friendly plant woman at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market how she handles her ferns. Not using any extra adjectives or emotion, she said rain water, plant food and don’t water the leaves. All I needed. So, I started that regime, and alas, Fern is alive and well. Seriously, she came back immediately and with a vengeance. My reason for sharing is this… if Fern the fern can do a 180 with the right kind of food and water, don’t you think people are the same?

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