Farmers Market Food Geek (and Nettle-Walnut Pesto).

I’m really into cooking lately. It happens in waves. I mean, I cook pretty regularly and enjoy it, but I have been much more excited about it in recent weeks. I mean like food-geek excited where I take photos of what I got and what I made. Like so excited that I text my friend (who is equally as excited about this as I am, by the way) these photos. And then I post them on Instagram after that with plenty of exclamation points!!! [Look!!! Pizza with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes from our garden last summer, asparagus, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and a duck egg!!!] Whooo! I suppose we can conclude that the uber-excitement is because of the availability of delicious, organic/no spray local food right now. The farmers market here is in coming into full swing. I get so super-anxious each year come March or so, pouring over my cookbooks and foodgawker (a great food website!) and making plans and preparations and lists (plenty of lists) for when the first spring harvest shows up at the market and at the food co-op in April. Microgreens, arugula, spinach, stinging nettles, radishes, asparagus, cilantro, baby leeks, onions, oh my…sigh. Why is this so thrilling to me?

I suppose it’s because of the sense of accomplishment I feel when I make something from scratch from ingredients that were grown locally. It feels great to support local people and their hard work. Farmers markets are great fun – it’s so cool to talk to the people who grew or raised the food. Ask them questions and they’ll answer you – and honestly. I mean, how cool is that to actually get your food from people you can see each week and get to know? And to know that the vegetables were harvested within 24 hours? No fluorescent lights. No conveyer belts. No air conditioning. No plastic and Styrofoam-wrapped vegetables that have been sitting there for who knows how long. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. If you can get to a farmers market, that is.

Yes, I am completely spoiled. I am truly lucky and feel enormously grateful to have a farmers market like this where I live. Not everyone gets this wonderful opportunity to shop at a beautiful market like I do.

To celebrate spring and my farmer’s market goodies, I’d like to share a recipe with you. I know, I know. This was supposed to be a blog about art, design, love, and life. But, food can be an art. You can design it (or style it), you can love it (!!!) and it is what makes life. So I guess it fits into my categories quite well. Oh, and my disclaimer: I am not a food photographer. I did my best.


I made this last week and it is delicious. I used some on pasta (I used Jovial brand einkhorn pasta) and froze the rest (some, of which I just thawed tonight to spread on a pan bagnat sandwich). Stinging nettles sort of taste like spinach. They have detox qualities, and are rich in vitamins C and B complex, iron, calcium, and other such good stuff.


1 generous bunch of stinging nettles (Don’t pull these out of the bag with your bare hands, by the way. They are called stinging nettles for a reason – they have little hairs that create skin irritation. Now why would you want to eat these?!? Read on…)

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, pressed (Depends on your love of garlic and how big the cloves are)

½ cup or so of walnuts

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ c. nutritional yeast

¾ t. salt

Olive oil


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the nettles (I turned the bag inside out and dropped the nettles in so I wouldn’t touch them). Let them boil for a few minutes. This gets rid of the hairs and therefore the sting. Strain the nettles and let them cool.

Press the garlic into a food processor. Add the walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Process until smooth. Add some olive oil (a drizzle or two). Process again.

When the nettles have cooled, remove the big stems. Then squeeze the water out of what you’ll be using in a clean towel. Add to the food processor and process until smooth once again. Add oil as you go until you reach your desired consistency.

Easy! Which is great, because although I like good-quality food, I get impatient if recipes are too involved. I’ve got other things to do too, you know.

Makes enough for 6-8 people for pasta. It freezes beautifully. You can freeze it in cubes (in an ice cube tray) or in a freezer bag.

Be well and happy spring!


Mmmmmac and Cheese, Comfort Me.

Hey everyone. Guess what? I don’t have cable. Do you know what this means? It means that right now (9:19 pm) I am missing the season 5 premiere of my favorite television show – Mad Men. Sigh. I actually don’t care about television that much to be honest. I feel there are more productive ways to spend my time and I haven’t had cable (do they still call it that?) in many years. Plus, I just acquired a television a couple of years ago. I do enjoy film though, so I have Netflix. And Netflix is how I discovered and began watching Mad Men (now an exception to my ‘no television’). I blew through all 4 seasons, sometimes watching a few episodes a night. It’s really that good and yes, I really am that addicted. It’s brilliant.  Anyway, tonight I decided I needed some comfort food to make myself feel better for missing out. Sniff.

So! I wanted to share with you my personal recipe for Vegan Mac and Cheese. Yeah yeah, I know those of you well into watching Don Draper light his 9th Lucky Strike right now don’t really care about my little recipe for mac and cheese, but trust me, you will appreciate this later!

I do not claim to be a photographer, much less a food photographer. Food photos are a challenge! I admire those who’ve learned how to use lighting to their advantage to make food in photos look so wonderfully appealing. I’m sure you can think of some diners and restaurants that have great food but terrible photos of their entrees – they look grey, dreary and unappetizing, right? I hope mine looks okay. I’ve never really practiced how to style food either (another very essential skill to have in food photography). In this photo I stuck a bottle of Clancy’s Hot Sauce in the background which, by the way, is a delicious hot sauce from Ann Arbor, Michigan that is a perfect accompaniment to mac and cheese. In all honesty, I “styled” and snapped this photo in about 15 seconds with my iPhone. Like I said, not a food photographer.

VEGAN MAC & CHEESE (Folks, don’t be afraid of the word “vegan.” It’s not weird. All it means is there are no animal products in here.)


2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni (I get mine in bulk at my local food co-op)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (also in bulk section at my local food co-op)

1 and 3/4 cups boiling water

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (yep, bulk section, my local food co-op)

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste


Boil pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.

Boil at least 2 cups of water in a tea pot.

In medium saucepan, add olive oil and flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon on medium-low heat. Mix continuously for about a minute or so. Add 1 and 3/4 cups of the boiling water from the tea pot to the olive oil and flour, mixing the entire time. This is called making a “roux” (a classic part of French cooking). The roux should thicken shortly after adding the water. Still stirring, add the nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is responsible for the cheesy flavor and is a great source of vitamin B12. It is a common ingredient in vegan cooking (and tastes great sprinkled on popcorn too, by the way). Add the pressed garlic and the salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the cooked macaroni and reheat.

If you want to, you can:

1. Pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish and top with Panko (or another type of bread crumbs). Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

2. Add kale! Yes, kale. Just stick some kale in a food processor for a few seconds and then mix it with the mac and cheese. Great way to eat your greens.

3. Add hot sauce. I am partial to Clancy’s (mentioned above) or Sriracha.

This mac and cheese can be paired with braised kale (recipe here) for a delicious and healthy vegan meal.

Nom nom,