Carrot and Fennel Soup

DSC_8287 (1)

A few days ago, the Washington Post ran a story on the origin of baby carrots. Contrary to popular perception, those little orange nubs that come ready to eat in portable plastic bags aren’t juvenile versions of Bugs Bunny’s preferred snack. Baby carrots, it turns out, are actually larger carrots that have been peeled, cut and polished into two-bite chunks. Who knew?

I must admit that I’m not a fan of baby carrots. When my daughters were younger I used to buy them from time to time, usually for their lunches. But inevitably, a portion of each bag would go to waste. The stragglers would dry out and develop a kid-displeasing whitish coating. Or they would become mushy and even a little slimy, indicating spoilage.

I also think baby carrots are less flavorful than their larger cousins. I suspect this is due to the fact that growers, seeking to appeal to Americans’ potent sweet tooth, have turned to carrots whose sugar content has been boosted through selective breeding practices. The additional sugar masks other, more traditional flavors, or it displaces them altogether.

Read More

Roasted Carrots with Labneh


No doubt about it, week night dinners in a household with kids are always stressful. You’re tired, you’re transitioning from day to evening activities, and the kids are clamoring for something to eat, preferably from one of their favorite food groups, somewhat white, mostly white, or entirely white. At times like that, it’s understandably tempting to abandon your resolve to eat healthier and ply them with french fries and a soon-to-be paler version of Kraft’s iconic mac & cheese in exchange for a bit of peace and quiet.

But before you give in to that impulse, consider the following option. Why not do as the Romans do (and the Spanish, and the French, and the Greeks, among others) and serve up a small plate of something healthy that your kids can nibble on while you go about the business of preparing the evening meal? Read More

Stracciatella with Meatballs and Pasta


Since when did we start naming snowstorms?

That was the thought that occurred to me as I was perusing the news about the storm that dusted the Washington, D.C. area with snow this week.  (I say “dusted” since, in comparison to the amount of snow New England is getting this year, everyone else’s accumulation can only be called a dusting.)    Several articles made reference to Winter Storm Octavia.  Others referred to the storm that hit New England over the Valentine’s Day weekend as Winter Storm Neptune.  Where did this naming thing come from?  Is it a last ditch effort at appeasing some Roman god of winter, snow, and ice?

Well, after a bit of online sleuthing, it turns out that we owe this new naming trend to the Weather Channel.  Apparently, it began the practice in 2012, generating a blizzard of controversy in the process.  (Pun definitely intended.)  Some feel that unilaterally naming winter storms is not good science, will mislead the public, and is really just a big publicity stunt.  Others just see it as an opportunity to lampoon the Weather Channel and its new practice.

I don’t know about you, but whether a storm has a name is not what I’m thinking about when I look out my window and see a thick blanket of snow covering my driveway.  Nope, what I’m thinking about is what can I make today that will keep me, my kids, and my snow-shoveling hubby (thank you, sweetie!) toasty warm.

How about a piping hot bowl of Stracciatella with Meatballs and Pasta?

Read More

Winter Pasta Salad


Pasta salad is one of those dishes that are supposed to be infinitely flexible.  It’s just cooked pasta, vegetables, and dressing.  What could be easier?  Well, nothing … which is precisely the problem.  Pasta salads can be so easy, they’re uninspiring.

That’s the dilemma I faced when I sat down to come up with the second in my series of recipes for easily made breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner dishes that can be substituted for store-bought items typically loaded with added sugar.  I knew I wanted to do a home-made pasta salad, but finding one that was both tempting and convenient seemed difficult.

Read More