Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad


24 jars of jelly later, I still have a number of pomegranates from my tree needing to be used up.  I also have several persimmons thanks to someone in my yoga class with a persimmon tree who has been bringing them in for people to take home.  I was kind of hoping to make a dessert with them (pomegranate and persimmon tart?) but given my lack of experience cooking with either of these somewhat unusual fruits, it didn’t seem wise to totally invent something.  And when I googled “pomegranate and persimmon recipes,” the only things that really came up were salads.

In the summer, I’m all about the salads (and, in general, cooking as little as possible).   But on a chilly, rainy November day, pomegranate and persimmon salad doesn’t sound like the warm and cozy dinner I had in mind.  So, I decided to pair it with the Winter Squash and Parsnip Soup that I posted about year ago.  I invented this dressing on the fly, and I must say it turned out pretty delicious–I may be using it again sometime.

The pictures, as usual, are not that good–I don’t know how food bloggers take Pinterest-worthy photos of anything they cook for dinner given the lack of natural light at that time of day.  I guess I could cook dinner in the middle of the day just so I could photograph it, or I could spend money and time setting up professional lighting, but I think you know by now that I’m not that dedicated.  I promise it tastes better than it looks in the pictures, which is the more important part anyway.

Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad



  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 large pomegranate, seeded
  • 3 small fuyu persimmons (the kind that are crisp, like apples, not the soft squishy kind), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • dash of garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5-8 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the thyme, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, garlic powder, salt and pepper together to make the dressing.
  3. Place the pomegranate seeds, persimmon chunks and spinach into a large salad bowl.  Toss with the dressing and top with the pecans and feta.  Enjoy!

Spicy Lentil and Vegetable Soup

It’s November, it’s rainy, and thanks to daylight savings time it got dark at 5:30 today; sounds like the perfect time for some warm, hearty soup.  It is also made almost exclusively of vegetables, which makes it a healthy antidote to all the Halloween candy you may or may not have been eating lately.

Two suggestions:

  1. You can vary the types and amounts of the vegetables you add to this and it will probably turn out fine, so feel free to use up whatever bits and pieces you have in your fridge (I did).
  2. To make all this “finely chopped” business happen much more quickly, feel free to throw all the vegetables in your food processor at once (I would suggest one round with just the onion and garlic, and then a second round with all of the rest).

Spicy Lentil and Vegetable Soup



  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large zucchini, finely chopped
  • 8-10 baby carrots (or 1-2 big carrots), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small fresno chile or jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cups or 1 can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional, depends on the saltiness of your broth)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Dash of cinnamon



  1. Place the lentils in a pot and cover with water so that the depth of the water is three times the depth of the lentils (this does not have to be exact).  Bring to a low simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and onions and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes and chile and saute for another 5-7 minutes.
  3. When the vegetables are done, carefully pour the lentils and the hot lentil water into the stockpot with the vegetables.  Add the broth, salt, cumin, ginger and cinnamon.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Enjoy with warm, toasty bread (gluten free or otherwise).

Homemade Pomegranate Jelly

So in addition to our olive tree, we also have a sizeable pomegranate tree in our backyard.  Despite a recent heavy pruning and what appeared to be the aftermath of a historic feast by local birds, it produced about 30 pomegranates this fall ranging in size from that of a baseball to that of a bocce ball.

Pomegranates are okay, but we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do with 30 of them.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine actually eating 30 pomegranates, and there are not that many things I can think of to make with them.

So, we decided the best thing to do was to juice them and make jelly.  As usual, this sounded like a lot less work than it actually was.  Still, it was fun, and now that we’ve figured out how to do it will be easier next year.

Here’s how it went:

After picking the pomegranates, we cut them open and scooped out the seeds.  There is no easy way to do this as far as I can tell–we tried various tricks described on the internet, and none of them actually worked.  We quickly realized that this was way to messy a prospect for the kitchen, so we just sat in the grass for an hour or so and filled a 2-gallon stockpot with the seeds.



Pomegranate juice was everywhere.


Once we got the seeds out, we put them through a juicer that we had borrowed from Colin’s parents.  The hardest part of this was successfully assembling the juicer, which had many intricate parts.  After we figured that out, the rest was easy and kind of fun.


We ended up with half a gallon of juice.


And a whole bunch of icky seeds and pulp, which we threw away.


Once the juice was ready, it was time to make the jelly.  I used this recipe that I found online, which contains many exclamation points as well as detailed instructions for people like me who do not have the faintest idea what they are doing.  We had 8 cups of juice, and the recipe uses 5 cups and strongly recommends (exclamation points!) against doubling the recipe.  So, we made two batches in two separate pots: one full recipe with 5 cups of juice, and one half recipe with 2.5 cups.

The ingredients for the full recipe are as follows:

  • 5 cups of pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 tbsp low-sugar pectin
  • 4 cups sugar

I won’t give you super specific instructions, because it’s complicated and I am (clearly) not a canning expert.  If you actually want to make this jelly, I would suggest following the more detailed (and enthusiastic!) instructions in the above recipe.  But here is basically what I did:

  1. I heated the pomegranate juice and lemon juice in a pot on the stove until it was almost boiling.  Then, I added the pectin and stirred it with a whisk while bringing it up to a full boil.  It immediately formed big freaky clumps, causing me to panic, but I kept whisking and after a while the clumps went away.
  2. At the same time, I heated up a big stockpot of water.  Before it was fully boiling, I dropped the jar lids in for a few minutes to soften up the gummy edges before taking them out again.
  3. Once the clumps went away, I whisked in the sugar and let it boil hard for a couple of minutes.  Then, I took a spoon, dipped it in ice water, and then dipped it in the jelly.  I let the spoon cool for a minute on the counter.  The jelly was a little runny, so I added a little bit more pectin and boiled it for another minute.  The second time, it cooled into a jelly consistency, so I knew it was done.
  4. I had run the jars through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle.  While they were still hot, I took them out and put them on a cooling rack (the one I use for baking).  Then, I ladled the hot jelly into the jars with a canning funnel.  I put the gummy lids on along with the rings and made sure they were closed tightly.
  5. I dropped the full jars into the pot of boiling water with tongs (in batches–they didn’t all fit in at once), and let them boil for 5 minutes.  Then, I took them out with the tongs and put them back on the cooling rack.
  6. As they cooled, the little circle in the middle of the lid got sucked down, which means they have a good seal.  I thought this was supposed to happen immediately and assumed I had done something wrong, but now I know that you just have to wait.

It was kind of a lot of work, but it was fun, and now we have 24 half-pint jars of jelly from our own tree!  Ready-made Christmas presents…



Why it’s important to be balanced (hint: cardio isn’t everything)

80s cardio

One good outcome of my injury and subsequent discovery that long-distance running is a permanent no-go for me is that I’ve been forced to have more variety in my exercise routine.

Although all running, all the time is good for your heart and burns lots of calories (hello, season of Halloween candy and pumpkin spice treats), just doing cardio and nothing else isn’t the best way to work out.  It doesn’t matter what it is–just doing one thing all the time can make you strong in some areas and weak in others, and can lead to overuse injuries (hello, stress fracture).

This post from The Anti-Diet Project does a good job explaining why cardio isn’t everything, and why it’s better to be balanced.


The Great Olive Harvest of 2015. Or, Famous Last Words

So Colin and I bought a house last spring, and it happens to have a quite large olive tree in the back yard.  It’s a beautiful tree, and one of the things we have been trying hard to keep alive despite a) the epic drought and b) our innate lack of gardening knowledge/ambition.  Luckily, olives are accustomed to living in hot, dusty mediterranean places, so they are one of the things that can survive a central valley summer.

Last spring, the tree developed tiny green olives.  By September, they were kind of purplish.  By October, they were still tiny, but now a dark purple-black, which, we realized, means you need to harvest them now before they shrivel up and drop off the tree.


So, between a cursory google search of “how to harvest olives” and some advice from my Greek dad, we decided we were going to go for it.  Despite being olive amateurs, we knew enough to be interested in avoiding botulism, so we looked at the University of California guide to safely pickling your own olives.  We chose the “Greek Style Black Olives in Brine” because our olives are black, I am Greek, and really it was one of the simplest sounding options.

We spent a hardworking but pretty fun Saturday afternoon harvesting 3 gallons of olives and putting them in jars of brine to cure.  Here’s how it went:


We used olive harvesting rakes, which are these odd little plastic things with which you comb the branches to pull the olives off without damaging the leaves.  They are available on amazon of course, because what isn’t, and they actually work pretty well.  We put a tarp under the tree to catch the olives as they fell, which kind of worked but a lot of them just bounced off.


This is what three gallons of teeny tiny olives look like.


And here is a gratuitously cute photo of my dog in the grass.  She didn’t help with the olive harvest, but she did sit around looking adorable.IMG_20151008_213646

Once we had picked our big bucketful, we dumped them into the sink to wash, then scooped them out with a slotted spoon and put them into quart-sized canning jars.


Then, we mixed up about two gallons of “medium brine,” which means 1 1/2 cups of pickling salt (also available on amazon) dissolved in 2 gallons of water.  We ladled it into the jars until they were almost full.


Then, we put the lids on the jars loosely, and put them aside for a week until we change out the medium brine for “strong brine,” which just means a higher salt concentration.  After that, we will close the jars tightly and wait 2-3 months, after which point they should be ready to eat.IMG_20151008_214921

They may or may not be very delicious, but we at least we will have made an attempt.  So around Christmastime, hit me up if you’d like a big jar of tiny, maybe tasty maybe awful brine-cured black olives from my own backyard which will probably not give you botulism.

Or, if you’re interested in fresh ripe olives from my tree, we only picked 25% (at most) of what was actually on there.  We could have done more, but we decided that if this whole enterprise is an epic failure, we’d rather have 13 quarts of inedible olives than 50 quarts.  If it goes well, we may do more next year.

Gluten Free Zucchini-Apple Bread

It might be 1,000,000 degrees outside in Sacramento, but it’s fall somewhere (and to be fair, we actually did have some cool and rainy weather earlier this week).  Let’s hope this is summer’s last hot, arid gasp, and that apple-picking and pumpkin carving weather starts soon.

In honor of fall, I made this apple-y, cinnamon-y bread using Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix.  If you are fully or mostly G-free, Pamela’s is a very useful thing to have on hand to make easy, yummy waffles, pancakes, muffins, and quick breads.

Gluten Free Zucchini-Apple BreadIMG_20150920_165845



  • 2 cups Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted but not super hot
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (if you have one, a food processor with a grater attachment is your BFF)
  • 1 medium apple, grated (fuji, macintosh, gala or something similar)
  • 1 tsp lemon or orange zest



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan with baking spray.  I like to sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top of the baking spray for extra anti-stick power.
  2. Place the grated zucchini and apple in a colander and squeeze out as much of the water as you can.  Let it drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the baking mix, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  4. Place the eggs and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer (if you don’t have one, a hand mixer is cool).  Using the whisk attachment, mix on high until the mixture becomes smooth, creamy and almost fluffy.  Slowly drizzle in the oil.
  5. Using the paddle attachment (or a spoon), stir in the vanilla, the grated apple and zucchini, and the lemon zest.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Spoon the batter into the loaf pan.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-60 minutes (depending on your loaf pan and your oven).  It will be done when a golden brown crust forms and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy!

HungryGirlRuns again!

I went to see the ortho again, and found out that my latest MRI (the third one I’ve had since January) isn’t really looking any better.  But this time, he said (to paraphrase) “well, it looks the same, so F it.  Maybe that’s just what your hip is always like.  Why don’t you go for a run and see what happens.”  So I did.  For the first time in almost a year since I got injured.

I ran a whole mile.

It was really hard.

And I was really sore afterwards.  Not in my hip, thankfully, but in my leg muscles, which are sadly but understandably weakened from lack of use.  Although this is a bit of a comedown for a marathon runner, it’s a start, and it felt strange and wonderful to run again.  As long as I take it realllly slow and it doesn’t hurt, I have license to run up to 4 miles once or twice a week. Up to FOUR MILES!

This used to be my usual no-sweat weekday morning distance, and now it seems barely attainable.  It will take me a good long while to work up to, but I’m excited, especially now that the weather is (finally) cooling off.  I just have to wait until the smoke clears up from the wildfires that threaten to turn my entire state to a smoldering heap of ashes.

Also, unrelated to running, I just found out about the amazing Isabel Foxen Duke and her blog about intuitive eating which is funny, and real, and totally great.  Check it out sometime, if you’re a person who eats and sometimes has irrational thoughts about eating, which you might not even realize are irrational until you read this actually quite entertaining blog.