Roasted Corn Summer Salad

Few ingredients inspire a love-hate relationship in me the way corn does. As a Nebraska-born girl, I feel a certain ingrained allegiance to corn- its sweetness, its bright, golden hue, its utilitarian cob, the accoutrements (corn-contoured butter dispensers, prongs, etc) and the way biting into an ear of corn makes summer just feel like summer. As a sustainability advocate, I resent the way corn came to dominate the landscape, reduce crop varieties, deplete soil minerals and become a secret, sugary ingredient in just about everything! In the spirit of summer and positive reinforcement though, this is an ode to my love of corn.

South American Inspired Picnic by With The Grains 09

Roasting intensifies the corn’s innate sweetness. Paired with juicy grape tomatoes, spicy radishes, creamy avocados, hot peppers fresh from my honey’s fields, tangy feta and more, this salad captures the bold colors and fresh flavors of summer. It’s an easy salad to contribute to a summer bbq or cookout. In my case, it was part of my South American Inspired Picnic to celebrate my one year anniversary with the Urban Farmer. As a picnic food, pair this salad with plantain or corn chips for utensil-free eating.

South American Inspired Picnic by With The Grains 03

This salad isn’t meant to be dogmatic. Start with the roasted corn, trust your palate and follow your cravings. You can easily make it vegan, and if you have leftovers, add them to an omelette at breakfast to enjoy corn at every meal possible. It is summer after all, and this is when corn deserves a chance to shine!


Bon Appétit!



The Urban Farmer’s Dirty Thirty | Part II: Beet Upside Down Cake

“I’m baking this for Nina. She ate a lot of canned beets in grad school,” I lied.

Gluten Free Beet Upside Down Cake //

Nina did (does?) eat a lot of canned beets in grad school, but the part about the cakes being a belated way for us to celebrate our respective birthdays? That part was a straight “fib.” I peeled, sliced, whisked, cracked, beat, folded and baked these cakes right under the Urban Farmer’s nose.

Gluten Free Beet Upside Down Cake //

I packed up all the accoutrements in plain sight, promised to save him a slice and elaborated, “we’re maybe going to the park. I’m going to take Julep.” Out the door I went, in my farm clothes, with his birthday cakes in tow. I was on my way to set up his Dirty Thirty surprise party!

Gluten Free Beet Upside Down Cake //

In many ways, he should never trust me ever again. For at least a month, I “fibbed” and schemed, but in the end, I made him his own cake, inspired by his love of beets, roots and plants emerging from the dirt. Cake erases most conspiracies.



Gluten-Free Beet Upside Down Cake

About This Recipe: Don’t be alarmed by the lack of butter or oil in this recipe. The larger quantity of eggs yields a moist, spongey cake with sweet bites of beet and beet juices on top. Pair a slice with homemade whipped cream or organic vanilla bean ice cream. The cake also makes a great breakfast indulgence, since it’s not overly sweet.


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CSA Recipe: Roasted Crookneck Squash with Lamb, Yogurt & Dill

There’s so much to learn about these foods we eat: what they look like as seeds, how they first sprout through the ground, how their leaves change during their infancy, how they put so much energy into a beautiful bloom and then attempt to spread their seeds. Carrot seeds are tiny and iridescent. Okra leaves boast dark, burgundy veins and patterns. Rainbow chard just keeps on giving. Cilantro flowers could fill a bouquet subtly, much like baby’s breath, while squash blossoms would sing dramatically but for a fleeting moment.

Hazelwood Urban Farms in July

I’ve only just begun to understand the connections between flowers and the foods we eat, how we often have to sacrifice the alluring blooms in order to arrive at the food on our plates. The Urban Farmer plucked the first crepe-paper-like squash blossoms to conserve the plant’s energy for food production. As the broad, leafy greens emerged like a tropical forest cover, the female blooms grew again and gave way to the crookneck squashes. Those first signs of yellow and green meant the flood gates had been released. Summer squashes are in full swing, and there’s no looking back!

Sunset at Hazelwood Urban Farms

The Urban Farmer’s CSA recipients have received three weeks of crookneck squashes. If you frequent your local farmer’s market, you too have probably begun to see squashes and zucchinis, growing larger by the week. Once these gourds start, they don’t seem to stop, so it’s time to be creative, lest we be bored by the bounty.

Crookneck Squash Recipe by With The Grains 01

I like to imagine eating these squash boats by the glassy blue Mediterranean Sea, where the adjacent cliffs are speckled with the white, building-block homes, where old grandmas prepare traditional meals for hours. These squash boats are merely an interpretation of that distant cuisine, a way to savor the fragrant dill, its flowers and dollops of thick, tangy Greek yogurt.

Crookneck Squash Recipe by With The Grains 02

For this dish to taste its best, be sure to find local celery, local dill and local squashes (or zucchinis). Once you take a bite of crisp, locally grown celery, the store-bought version seems like eating a rice cake when you could be feasting on a pastry! The celery greens not only make a fanciful garnish, but they add a lot of flavor too. Chop them up and mix them into each bite. Take advantage of the here and now of squashes, herbs and stalky greens. Let your mind wander to the seaside, to summer breezes, to the bluest blues above the mountains and to the glassy waves washing onto your toes.


Bon voyage & Bon Appétit!

Roasted Crookneck Squash with Quinoa, Lamb & Greek Yogurt

About This Recipe: Spelled out, this recipe looks complicated, but let the above images be your guide. Now is the time when squash flows, so take advantage and tweak this recipe several different ways. Use a zucchini instead of squash, or brown rice instead of quinoa. The idea is flexible. I used lamb because I was dreaming of Greek food, but you could use ground beef or chicken or even a seafood option.



Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Ideas hatch in my brain, leaving a chaotic scattering of shells. Long after I should be asleep, I stare at the dimly lit, bedroom ceiling and walls, with the orangish, city light filtering through the curtains. My racing mind schemes and plots- picnics, party ideas, flower garden dreams, how to acquire an historical home without a huge life’s savings, etc, etc, ETC! Some of these ideas are fleeting, and they fade into the dimly lit night, but others… Others are BIG! They burn with such an intensity, until the neurons fire signals to my heart, and before long, my whole being is set on an idea.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips //

As an “idea person (i.e.: an obsessive person),” I’m sorely in need of a structural counterpart in my life. He or she would line up the roadmap and the checkpoints to send me on my way to the end result I want so intensely. Luckily, for all my grandiose, time-intensive, layer cakes and sky-high dreams, there are blondies. These peanut buttery blondies, with their rich simplicity, are blank canvases for creativity in their own right. Yet, from the intense craving to the first, gooey bite, the commitment is minimal, leaving this girl to obsess over Scandinavian bungalows, vintage camper renovations, ice cream socials, farm dinners….etc, etc, etc!


Here’s to the simpler ideas!


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