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blackberry basil kombucha shrub

Blackberry Basil Kombucha Shrub Cocktail

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On a whim, I sought out a pick-your-own farm near where we live because I have been craving fresh blackberries. They are plentiful in the produce section at the supermarket right now, but those aren’t the berries that make dreams come true. Last summer I picked wild blackberries in Washington State on the side of the road near my great-aunt’s home. They were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. A few weeks ago we found  a farm stand with Oregon blackberries that were sweet and juicy as could be. We ate then straight from the blue paper carton, our fingers stained deep purple for several days following. Those berries were marvelous, but what I was needing, what I was lacking, was getting tangled up in the branches and leaves as I searched for the perfect, warm-from-the-sun berries.

blackberries and basil
We drove to the farm – big busy roads became a two lane highway with corn as tall as buildings along the side and the sent of fresh cut hay wafting into the windows. We sang at the top of our lungs to our favorite Idaho songs and watched the farms whizz by. The road started to twist and turn and we found ourselves on a dusty road with hand painted signs directing us where to go. The stand looks abandoned, but as soon as the dust settled and our rambunctious kids flung open their doors, the farmers (husband and wife) were there to greet us.

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Everyone we’ve met in Idaho has been friendly. Literally everyone. This couple was no different. They explained that we’d arrived just after another couple of blackberry pickers had left with a bounteous harvest. He told me to check underneath the bushes because no on checked under there and I was sure to find the biggest, juiciest berries. (He was right.) In the extreme heat of the late afternoon, we plucked a few big juicy, sweet berries, and a few more tart, tiny clusters of jewel-toned berries. My kids quickly lost interest when they realized it wasn’t going to be so easy to find the berries. I was determined to take some home though. They were more fascinated by the apple trees (we picked some of those too!) and free range turkeys (I ordered one for Thanksgiving!) I was determined to come home with enough blackberries to make something…anything. My haul was weighed out at modest 1.5 pounds and I declared that half hour or so was worth it. (more…)

haricot verts with kalamata vinaigrette

Roasted Haricot Verts with Kalamata Vinaigrette

haricot verts with kalamata vinaigrette

I think sometimes we get caught up in thinking a recipe has to be complicated to be delicious. And don’t worry, I include myself in that statement. While it true some of my favorite recipes might have two dozen ingredients (homemade curry anyone?), there are others that are startlingly simple. This side dish of Roasted Haricot Verts with Kalamata Vinaigrette is one such dish.

I can’t believe I’d never thought of it before. We eat a lot of haricot verts and a lot of kalamata olives. Just not together usually. Early in the summer as we were preparing to move, I started cleaning out the fridge and freezer. One bag of slender frozen green beans and half a jar of kalamata olives later, we had a fantastic, flavorful side dish. We’re going to be enjoying roasted haricot verts well into the colder weather (when it appears). I go back and forth between fresh and frozen haricot verts. Trader Joe’s frozen haricot verts are by far the best I’ve found. Costco usually carries fresh ones in giant packs. My preference would be fresh, but they can be hard to come by even at the farmers market. Any green bean, or yellow bean can be used here as well.

Roasted Haricot Verts with Kalamata Vinaigrette
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A fast, quick-roasted green bean side dish with a simple and very flavorful olive vinaigrette.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound haricot verts (green beans), trimmed
  • ½ cup pitted kalmata olives, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange green beans on the baking sheet in an even layer. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes. The beans should be tender-crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl or platter.
  2. Combine olives, vinegar, and oil. Pour over the beans. Gently toss and eat immediately.


kale berry salad with fennel and hemp

Raw Kale Salad with Berries

shredded kale berry salad
Well, my love affair with raw kale salad continues. This time I’ve added some thinly sliced fennel, raspberries, red onion, and a sprinkle of hemp hearts. Perhaps an eclectic combination of flavors and textures, but definitely a good one. The golden vinaigrette is made with cold pressed flax seed oil and raw coconut vinegar.

salad with kale raspberries fennel (more…)