You know it is spring when the forest of skinny green trees sprouting from crushed ice begin to show up in your grocery store. Here in the Northeast we are entering the early asparagus season – although I have been cooking it up for a few months now thanks to modern transportation! The majority of the time I consume asparagus it is roasted, grilled or blanched. All of which are delicious, but I was intrigued by cooking it ceviche style

Ceviche, traditionally with fish, uses citric acids to break down or cook the proteins and carbohydrates in the food – as opposed to heat.  Which was absolutely perfect during our weekend kitchen renovations when the oven couldn’t even be cracked open, few pots were to be found and it looked like a two year old had a temper tantrum throughout the house.  However a newly finished table and chairs and more shelves to store all my baking pans and Cuisinarts was absolutely worth it!

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Life, work, sleep…they all seem to have some way of getting in the way.  But maybe that is all just an excuse for my blogging hiatus.  Truthfully, besides work and life obligations, I have spent the last two weeks in the kitchen.  I even moved my office into the kitchen so I could watch all of the beautiful breads rising (and maybe snack on a few cookies).  Yes, it has been a few weeks of very, very unhealthy baking.  Not healthy whole grain breads, but sugary and buttery loaves.  Cheesecakes and cream cheese based tortes.  I had some successes, but I also had many a failures.  Specifically, a blueberry torte that turned out looking like cookie monster’s cousin – complete with a white chocolate ganache and blueberries dotting the top, I just needed some black licorice to make the mouth (what was I thinking?!).  It tasted good, but I didn’t even have the confidence to give it to the boyfriend for the work lunchroom, scared off by the glares the poor thing might get… 

Truthfully I am a baker, living in the body of a 2 petite.  Which due to my eternal baking issue may quickly jump two sizes (need to stop hitting the snooze button for the 5am gym sessions!).  So I have gotten back in touch with my relationship to food.  Some live to cook, others cook to live.  (I surely live to cook, eat and save room for dessert!)  And I am working on getting back to the cooking to live.  And last weekend (yes, this took me four days) I did…

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When it comes to edamame, I have a hard time resisting.  I normally think of it boiled, salted with some fine sea salt and released from the pod with the pressure of your teeth.  This is exactly how we had it this past weekend in the company of the boyfriend’s brother and fiance as we watched the UConn Men’s basketball team make their way to the final four!  (And the edamame made their way from stove to stomach quite quickly as we watched this nail biter of a game…)

Tonight the women play in the elite eight and there will be no soybeans in their pods…but they will be swimming in a sea of wild rice and sesame seeds.  Sure the work required to prepare it is a bit more difficult than some boiling salted water and frozen pods, but it is well worth the effort and can actually serve as a complete vegetarian meal (edamame, cheese and bread are oh so delish – but don’t really cut it!).

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Don’t thumbprint cookies just make you feel like a kid again?!  Pushing your thumb right through the center of a precise round ball of dough.  Kind of like spending a day building sand castles at the beach. You step back to admire all of your hard work and in comes your brother runining it all with one STOMP on the top!  Okay, I guess it was just karma for me knocking over all of his lincoln logs

Putting a thumbprint in these cookies will probably only “ruin” your own work, unless you have a sous chef.  But it makes way for so much other goodness in the center of the cookie – jam, lemon curd, chocolate – the possibilities are endless.

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Really, I hate lasagna.  Mainly due to the fact that I really hate ricotta cheese, yes to the point it makes me gag if I try to politely eat it at a dinner party.  I was that girl in college who ordered my calzones with only mozzarella – bread and mozzarella – delicious after all of the carbilious cold ones had gone down!

But with my affinity for red sauce, and getting out of the rut of having it with the raviolis from the grocery store (love these, especially the pumpkin ones with a little sage butter on top!) I thought it would be fab with my polenta squares from yesterday.  Or maybe just the chub of polenta you have in your pantry :(, you don’t know what you’re missing…

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We dined out at one of my favorite restaurants last Friday and I ordered an Italian Ragu with Polenta.  And it was absolutely fantastic.  The sauce was good, the meat (yes, I ate meat) was cooked perfectly, but the polenta!  It was cooked just right, seasoned just right and flavored just right with buttery goodness.  I have had polenta on the mind ever since!

Polenta Squares 

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The day after Saint Patrick’s Day ended with this…

Pretty good for starting off like this…

Guess she overdid it on the soda bread.  Regardless, if Lucy, my cat, were human, these whoopie pies would be the ultimate hangover cure.  A little bit sweet, a lot a bit chocolate and a little bit alcoholic to help take the edge off the splitting headache. (Okay I know they told us that wasn’t true in alcohol 101 – but I beg to differ!) 

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