What I'm up to
  • Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon
    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

  • Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan
    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

  • Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset

    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    by Amanda Hesser
  • Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware

    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

flora and flying. Get yours at bighugelabs.com


Unprocessed at 30,000 feet


 Contrails - one October morning

Life unprocessed has been going pretty well for me. I have not given up unbleached white flour completely, there are too many lovely things – real pasta, real sourdough and homemade cupcakes that require unbleached flour. There I said it.

I have been Doritos free for two weeks.

How do I feel?

I feel pretty awesome. I think before I put food in my mouth.  I think of the food’s origins, the preparation and what it will taste like when I savor what I am eating.  It is a way of becoming mindful.  I don’t even miss the daily Hershey’s kiss I would pick up from our security guard’s candy dish.  I think I can do this forever.

I also haven’t traveled by plane in three weeks.

Travel, my friends, is the hardest thing for me. I travel a lot, some work, some for pleasure.  Mindful eating and full body scanners do not go together. Mindful eating and TSA regulations do not mix. Eating on planes is not what it used to be. Choices are nil if you are offered food, and often times what you are given is not recognizable.  Plane boredom brings on the munchies, being trapped on the plane brings on anxiety, putting boredom and anxiety together is a recipe for eating disaster.

I spent a year trying to avoid eating on planes. I flew about 140,000 miles that year and either ate my own food or something from the airline lounge beforehand, but avoided eating on the plane if at all possible. The unprocessed challenge has given me a new thing to strive towards – building the best arsenal of unprocessed food options for flying.

Nuts, dry roasted salted almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds that are already shelled
dried Hazelnuts
Natural beef or turkey jerky

Lara Bars –best unprocessed bar option out there that is not crushable
Dried fruit – I love unsulfured apricots, dried cherries, dried pears, peaches and raisins
Dark Chocolate – the good stuff, great with dried fruit

Tuna in a pouch, in water – no other ingredients, nab a lemon and a few salt and pepper packets to season, add some whole crackers for a meal – best eaten in the boarding area
String cheese – can withstand a cross country trip and be edible
Nut butter sandwiches – will hold for a while
Cheese – cheddar is your best option, holds up for a while
Edamame – good at room temperature, holds for a few hours
Individual prepackaged portions of hummous – will pack in TSA approved baggie, skip bringing the conditioner, use the hotels, you’ll have more room for your hummous.


Oatmeal packets – unsweetened. Buy milk or half and half at airport, or pick some up when you are getting your coffee at the Starbucks, Peets or whatever near your gate.


Five a day – pick fruits and vegetables that will hold up to bumping and jostling.
Cherry tomatoes
Carrot sticks – eat with hummous
Celery sticks – eat with hummous
Satsuma oranges


To the tenth

fuzzy logic


I am honored to have a guest post on Andrew's Eating rules blog - please check it out.


Unprocessed - A month long challenge


I love the month of October for the fact that it brings a yet again,  a chance for a new year, a fresh start. A fiscal year for those who work on that kind of stuff. This year I am applauding all opportunities I have been granted for a do over. It has been that kind of year.

This month I am part of a challenge put forth by Andrew Wilder.  He challenged all to spend the month of October to try and eat unprocessed foods.  The terminology is a bit strange - does that mean raw food? Nothing in the cuisinart? No, it means eating whole foods-unrefined if you can. High fructose corn syrup or corn sugar as it is now marketed, go out the window, as does anything with an ingredient you can't pronounce nor spell. His take on unprocessed can be found right here.  So far over 200 food bloggers and others have taken up the challenge.

In my case, it means being more mindful about what I put into my body.  It means giving up diet dr. pepper, my now not secret vice.  Halloween candy, forget about it.

Eating unprocessed takes some planning and since I will not be struck down if I snarf down minute bag of chex mix that they throw you with your orange juice on the plane, I think I will make it. You just have to have a plan of attack.

For the most part, we eat close to the "unprocessed" way. We eat mostly whole foods, eat organic foods, whole grains and are mindful. I grew up eating this way - Persian food did not come from the frozen food section of the QFC. My mom spent a goodly amount of time preparing our meals with wholesome ingredients including fresh herbs, vegetables and meats. Every Iranian family had a thing for Kentucky Fried Chicken and I'll admit that more than one bucket was consumed at a family picnic, but for the most part, things were pretty well unprocessed.

For me, the biggest challenge will be travel. This is the biggest challenge for me on a regular basis, to eat healthily and within my calorie needs on the road. Part of my fun of travel be it work or pleasure is seeking out the best "fill in the blank" of my destination, be it bagels in Montreal or fried asparagus in Prosser.  Ditto for plane food, yes, plane food. That is a different subject all together... We'll talk later.

So, here we go. One month. Unprocessed.

Stay tuned, I get to do a guest post on Andrew's blog! I can't wait...


Jam making and other things on a not so hot day

Rainiers - for you

I started a post about two weeks ago and it was eaten alive by Squarespace. I have to pay better attention to such things or perhaps do everything in a text editor and cut and paste.

In any case, or face as the Iranians like to say, it's time to start blogging and writing, because it is hard to improve if you don't try. I'm not making any excuses for my lack of posting. It has been a summer of learning about climate policy, jam making, gardening, house chores and finding my way.

Last weekend's International Food Bloggers Conference or IFBC  pushed me a bit to find my way. Others, including Alice of Savory Sweet Life have done an amazing job of recapping the conference, so I won't bore you with my version. I go to approximately seven professional conferences or symposia a year and somehow my next Time Space Workshop is not going to be as exciting as IFBC.  It could have been the food, it could have been the content, but my guess is that it was the people. Thank you so much for including me in this amazing group of food writers, photographers, stylists and lovers of the food arts. 

I have blackberry jam in the refrigerator ready to can, I promise to get to it tomorrow. I wanted to talk to you about apricot jam that I make every year and honestly, is the best stuff on this planet. I know it is late to talk about apricots, but keep this recipe in mind for next year. I just pulled out a 2009 jar and the apricots are still vividly orange and look very much like egg yolks.  I am currently enjoying apricot/peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, trying to finish off the end of a loaf of bread.  Not really a hardship, but I hate to see a loaf go to waste.

A few weeks ago, we were in Yakima and picked up some of the first apricots of the season at Johnson’s Family Orchards.  I made jam with some of them and dried the others for use later in the year.  If you are ever in Yakima, I highly recommend visiting their farm stand and cherry u pick.

Apricot Preserve (adapted from Christine Ferber’s Bergeron Apricot jam recipe from her book Mes Confitures, 2002).

While Ferber doesn’t give recommendations for water bath canning, I add this step to the process to satisfy my scientist/fastidious side. I have not seen degradation in the final product. Most fruit preserve recipes call for a 5 or 10 minute bath, so that is what I use. I also recommend weighing the ingredients using a simple kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups

2 ½ pounds (1.15 kg) apricots, ripe but not soft this should yield approximately 2 ¼ pounds net (1 kg).
Try and select nice looking, unblemished fruit.

3 ¾ cups (800 g) granulated sugar (I use white sugar, I have not seen acceptable results with the organic light brown sugars, they change the color of the syrup)

7 oz (200 ml) water – depends on the juiciness of your fruit. I sometimes omit most of the water if my apricots are moist.

Juice of 2 small lemons (not baby lemons, but regular store bought lemons)

Rinse apricots in cold water. Cut out blemished parts if necessary. Cut them in half to remove the pit. Mix all of the ingredients together in a ceramic bowl. Next cover the mixture with parchment paper and place in refrigerate to macerate for 8 h or over night. I tend to use a dessert plate to keep the parchment paper from floating.

Pour contents into preserving pan and bring to a simmer. Return to ceramic bowl. Cover with parchment and refrigerate overnight.

The second day, pour contents into a sieve or colander to separate the apricots from the syrup.

Take apricots and attempt to remove the skin. If the apricots are thin skinned, this is easier. If you are mangling your apricots, then stop and recognize this is not a crucial thing. Keep apricots to the side for now.

 In a preserving pan (I use a ceramic Le Creuset dutch oven) bring the syrup to a boil. Skim as you go along and let the juice mixture concentrate until more syrupy. Ferber uses a candy thermometer. The candy thermometer should read about 221 F (105 C) I use my eyes.  Add apricot halves to the syrup and bring to a boil again. Remove apricots from syrup, divide amongst your prepped jars. Boil syrup for another three minutes. Add syrup to jars, leaving ½ inch head space and place in boiling water bath for five minutes, which starts when the canning kettle comes back to a boil.  Remove from bath and wait for that glorious sound of the jars sealing!

Makes approximately 5 half pints with a little left over for a week’s worth of peanut butter sandwiches.



the brief interlude will now be interrupted. 

I have not left the building, I am merely trying to make it through the summer. It has been one with a lot of thinking, travel and the occasional desire to put pen to paper.

I was honored to be asked to provide a guest post for Canning Across America.

You can read it here.

I will post my apricot jam recipe later today.