Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kitchen Table Friends: Cooking Together

Cooking Together

Cooking and food has been a large part of our friendship for many years.  We are delighted to share this sentimental blog post that epitomizes the feeling of and the reason for Kitchen Table Friends.

When Cara and I graduated college and started living on our own, we would visit one another wherever we happened to be living at the time and we'd always find ourselves cooking together.  In the early days of our twenties cooking meant browning ground beef and adding it to a jar of spaghetti sauce. A process, that in a tiny kitchen, involved multiple pans and heating things up on the stove. We were learning how to be grown ups and but in the kitchen we pretty much stuck to the familiar.  Since then, we have evolved, to extensive  kitchen repertoires that reflect not just what we know how to make but who we are and what we want to learn.  Now we roast vegetables, experiment with flavors from around the world, we zest citrus, toast and grind whole spices but no matter what we make we have fun together.

The past couple of days as we spent time together, we talked about why cooking was so meaningful to our friendship.  Cara remarked about what it meant to know where things were in a friends' kitchen, to know the little quirks about being in someone else's space.  Knowing and moving freely in the space of a close friend, is a mark of familiarity and of comfort. Living so far apart, this familiarity means a lot to the both of us. We compared the days when were friends in high school, and would hang out in each other's bedrooms, eating handfuls of M&Ms and telling all our secrets... to the time we spend together now.  We hang out in our kitchens, snacking and talking about what we're making as the conversation drifts in and out of other conversations about everything and nothing. As Cara would say, it's bliss.  

This is what we made:

mixed grain salad with roasted beets and cumin lime vinaigrette

1 C mixed grains (we used 1/2 pearl barley, 1/2 bulgur)
3 C water
1-2  beets, cubed
2 C spinach, washed
1 green onion, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil
a handful of pepitas

toss beet with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for approximately 30 minutes, test with fork for doneness.

I recommend donning an apron when chopping beets so you don't stain your cardigan.

rinse the grains with sieve, add to pot with water and bring to a boil. reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. you may want to add a drop of olive oil to the grains to prevent sticking.

set grains and beets aside until ready to assemble salad.

for the lime-cumin vinaigrette (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone Deborah Madison):

1 clove garlic
zest of 2 limes
2-3 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoon green onions, minded
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/3 C olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

mince garlic and make into a paste with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.

zest and juice the limes.
add garlic and lime zest and juice to bowl with scallion and jalapeno. 

toast the spices in a small dry skillet over medium until fragrant (this doesn't take long) and immediately remove them to a plate to cool. 

grind them to a powder (if you do not have whole, just use the powders, toasted as you would the seeds). add to the bowl.

whisk in the olive oil. 

let stand for 15 minutes.

top with fresh cilantro, just before using.


slowly combine your grains with the vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. 
arrange spinach in a bowl and top with the grain mixture.  top with beets, pepitas, cilantro and green onions.  serve at room temperature and share with a friend. 


  1. I just realized this was our 100th post! What a great way to commemorate a landmark!

  2. Thank goodness you didn't stain your cardigan! Happy 100th blog post, friend. So grateful to have shared your kitchen table these past few days. I miss you already.

  3. I'm glad to hear that you started with humble beginnings! Makes me feel hopeful for my own trajectory in the kitchen :)

    Wonderful post about food and friendship - bliss, indeed.