Seven Years of Learning and Cooking with You All!

Seven years ago this week I taught two classes in my home kitchen to a handful of you. Then I taught a series of classes at Zenger Farm to a dozen of you. And I bought the url and the rest is history, I suppose.

I set out to spread the joy and deliciousness of simple, everyday cooking with in-season vegetables and whatever your pantry had to offer. I still believe that cooking can simplify and improve our lives. And I believe that knowing farmers/farmworkers, far from a cliche, is one of the best and most important things we can do.

tomatoes roasting in cast iron pan
Roasting tomatoes to freeze for gloomier months. . . one the treasures in my “prepared pantry” that adds so much flavor with no effort in the moment.


Some things happened along this cook-with-what-you-have journey:

I credit Carol and Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm for my love of beans which has fundamentally changed the way I eat and teach.

47th Ave Farm and Sun Gold Farm  and Sauvie Island Organics started me down the path of writing customized recipes for CSA farms and eventually launching the Seasonal Recipe Collection.

Leslie Cole, then at the Oregonian (now at Grand Central Bakery) wrote this piece about one of my students and my Eat Better class series which solidified Cook With What You Have’s place in this wonderful community of food/farm-related businesses.

Photographer Andrea Lonas brought Cook With What You Have to life visually with beautiful photography on and offline.

Culinate asked me to write a monthly column which became an avenue to celebrate seed breedersCSAs, Slow Food, parsley and homemade veggie bouillon!

The Portland Farmers Market tirelessly promoted my cooking classes and its many neighborhood markets are the source of most of of the fresh produce for classes, testing, etc., as is the fabulous Hillsdale Farmers’ Market.

Clackamas County and Columbia Sportswear’s wellness departments hired me to teach Cooking & Eating Classes with employees. We do just that and it’s wonderful!

Betty Izumi, PSU Public Health professor and genius behind Harvest For Healthy Kids (a program created within Head Start) brought me on to work with them to bring cooking to Head Start families. Never have I learned more!

FoodCorps lets me cook for and participate in their extraordinary retreats.

And hundreds of you stuck with me, reading and commenting on this blog, attending classes, eating your way through my experiments, sending messages that you “cooked-with-what-you-had,” giving me new ideas, hiring me to teach all over the place, sharing excess produce and much more!

This list is far from complete but thank you to all of you, you know who you are, who have grown Cook With What You Have with me for all these years. I look forward to many more years with you all!

And I made this dish from my very first cooking class menu for lunch today:

Kale Bruschetta

Sauté chopped kale in olive oil with a clove or two of chopped garlic and a pinch of salt. Add water to keep things moist. When tender pile it on toasted bread that you’ve rubbed with a garlic clove and top with plenty of good olive oil and salt.

braised kale bruschetta


apfelkuchen prep

There are many apple confections that fall under this general title but I grew up with this particular one, a barely sweet apple tart really, and it will always have a special place in my heart and repertoire. It’s the same crust and preparation as the Zwetschgendatschi but I always make it in a half sheet pan. . . it’s wonderful for days and makes a fine breakfast, with or without whipped cream!

Feel free to halve the recipe but then you have to deal with splitting an egg–or make the full crust recipe and freeze half the crust for a future use. I have been using Lonesome Whistle Farms pastry flour in this recipe with great success and have even added some of their Red Fife bread flour for wonderful flavor and texture.

This most recent time I ran it under the broiler (for maybe 30 seconds too long, though I kind of liked the slightly burnt bites) for a little more caramelization. Watch it carefully if you do!



Serves many

250 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks and 2 1/2 tablespoons) at room temperature
65 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
Zest of half a lemon (optional)
1 large egg
400 grams (3 cups) flour (I use half all purpose and have whole wheat pastry flour–see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-7 lbs apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest, if using, in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and incorporate well. Add the flour and salt and carefully incorporate it. I often resort to using my hands here. The dough should come together fairly easily and be soft but not sticky.

Put the dough in the middle of a half sheet pan (13″ x 18″) or equivalent baking sheet or two. The sides of the half sheet pan are low enough that I can use my rolling pin to flatten out the dough and spread it around the pan. I use my hands to get it into the corners. This takes a little doing but you should have plenty of dough to cover it easily to a depth of about 1/4-inch.

Now make rows of apple slices, fit tightly together, until the crust is covered. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 40 minutes until the edges of the crust are browning, the apples are soft and browning and the sugar is caramelizing. Run under the broiler for just a minute or two if you want more color on the top–see headnote.

Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares, with just barely sweetened whipped cream.

Guten Appetit!