{for giving} Picnic Goodies for Newlyweds

We're off to San Francisco, Andras, Greta and I, for the wedding of my darling friend Lillian. It's always exciting when one of your girls gets married, especially the one who was with me every minute of styling The Newlywed Cookbook. She's an absolute light and creative force, and I can't wait to see what her wedding weekend brings.

While I am away, I leave you with this beautiful gift idea for the newly betrothed in your life ~ a curated picnic basket full of gorgeous food-lovers treats, from Chelsea Market Basket. Available in their store in The Chelsea Market, or online, send this thoughtful gift to the brides and grooms you love to have at the ready for their first days home from the honeymoon.

I'm excited to see that the gift includes something to take back to the kitchen for the days that follow--The Newlywed Cookbook--filled with seasonal recipes and {lest the newlyweds forget to make romantic getaways a habit} even a section on picnics and other escapes. To help the recipes come to life, the gift includes some of the glamorous pantry essentials I talk about in the book, like Halen Mon Sea Salt from the Isle of Mull, hand--harvested sea salts in flavors like lavender and chamomile, a high-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for finishing), aged balsamic, a crock of mustard, and coffee and tea for lazy mornings sipping side by side.

Help the ones you love start their lives together with this endlessly charming gift. Order here.

I'll be back soon with stories from the other coast.


The Baby Food Myth

{Hameeda and Greta, summer 2011}

This week, I bought Greta baby food, the kind in a tube, for not quite the first time, but almost. I spend a good deal of time making her breakfasts, lunches and dinners, making sure every meal is loaded with color and nutrients, flavor and texture. But with my new book due in just days,  I knew I needed a few moments of certainty that she'd get her veggies and iron, with or without my constant tending to this tiny detail.

Between my knowledge and training in food and nutrition, and a strong mother's instinct, I feel confident about what we feed Greta. But early on when we were just beginning solids and I felt the intense pressure to do everything exactly right (start solids not too early, not too late, feed her not too little, nor too much). I was constantly checking myself, reading every article I could get my hands on about childhood nutrition. I even tackled the 700-something-page tome, the American Academy of Pediatric's Pediatric Nutrition Handbook, though, I'm still struggling with the chemistry speak.

In these early feeding days, I found one of the best resources, no slight to Greta's pediatrician, or to my own dad -- father of four and family doctor of 35 plus years -- was other mothers.

One day, when our next door neighbors Hameeda and Fahmeeda were cooing at Greta, then about six months old, I asked their mother what she fed her kids at Greta's age.  She is the mother of four vibrant kids who grow taller and more luminous every day. She responded as I suspected she would--she fed them the same foods the rest of the family ate, mashed into tiny pieces. Her family hails from Bangledesh, a part of the world, like most outside of North American and Europe, where the term baby food barely exists. Where spices and flavors don't wait for adult palates, they are introduced from the first days of solids.

I got into a similar discussion with a bunch of foodie mamas on Facebook not long after, led by my friend Tara Desmond, which led me to this article on debunking baby food myths on MSMBC, confirming this exact phenomenon. It says:

As research increasingly suggests a child's first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and broadening babies' palates.
It's easier — and harder — than it sounds. Easier because experts say 6-month-olds can eat many of the same things their parents do. Harder because it's tough to find detailed guidance for nervous parents.
Detailed guidance may be all around you, in the hands of mothers and grandmothers from all over the world, elders who fed their own children natural, homegrown (or at least locally grown) foods, cooked from scratch.

Making your own baby food, or rather, food for baby, can sound intimidating, laborious and wrought with equipment and waste. I promise you, same tools you use to make your meals, plus an immersion blender or mini food processor for pureeing (for babes 5 to 8 months, and older ones still waiting for teeth) and a good set of BPA-free containers and you'll be in business.

I remember the first time my friend Angie came to visit with her little guy, Leo, not long after Greta was born. Midway through our play date, she whipped out a Tupperware with a heady, brown puree which he gratefully gobbled up.

"Beef bourguignon," Angie said frankly. Of course.

And with that I knew that anything, well, save the raw fish and runny yolks and nuts and other early eater no-nos (talk to your pediatrician about these) could be baby food, or food fit for a baby, as the case may be.

Among the many things we feed Greta regularly are pureed vegetable soups and stews, pasta (whole wheat or plain, in every shape and texture), cooked a little extra. Vegetable maki rolls. Rice and beans. Veggie tempura. Lasagna. Eggplant parmesan (a total winner). Roasted mushrooms. Scrambled eggs. Hard boiled eggs. Soft boiled eggs. Cheese soufflé. Chunks of mango and fresh berries and homemade applesauce. Broccoli. Kale. Whole grain breads. Beets with ricotta. Barley, farro and risotto. At first everything was pureed (5 to 10 months), and then smashed (10 to 14 months), and then cut into bite-sized bits (15 months and beyond). We get the occasional yucky tongue (she does not do the texture of quinoa), but for the most part, she'll try almost anything. Even recently, mussels.

Hameeda and Greta play together many nights of the week, and on these foods Greta's grown so big I bet she'll catch up with Hameeda in no time. Well, not quite. But she's certainly thriving.

When time is at a premium and convenience trumps cost, there are nutritiounally sound and even some delicious (yes, I've tried them--I try everything before it goes into Greta's mouth) blends of commercial organic baby foods. And when I need them (for traveling, for example), I prefer the ones in a tube to those in a jar. To me, they just taste more fresh. Among those, I generally opt for less is more--mango and spinach, peas and pears, rather than uber blends that don't teach young palates how to learn to love each fruit or vegetable on their own.

But If you're just starting to feed your little one, or even if you're already a year into it as we are, I urge you to make these convenience foods the exception, not the norm. Don't deprive your babe of the smells and sounds like that go with growing up in a home of homemade cooking, experiences and habits that get ingrained in their lives from day one. Don't let them miss out clanging their pots and pan lids together on the floor, while you clang at yours on the stove. There are tastes, textures, and a whole culture and conversation about food that is missed out on when tiny hands don't have the opportunity to roll raw ingredients between their hands, to wonder at the colors on your cutting board, to taste and smell them all for themselves.

Feeding Greta right takes considerable and constant care. I'm not pretending it's always a breeze. But I'm more proud of how much love I put into that than almost anything I've ever done in my life. She is strong, resilient, a very curious and healthful eater. And we have so much fun together in the kitchen. I hope that's a feeling and experience that every parent can know for themselves. Sure, there will be cheddar bunnies and days that you lean a little heavy on help from Yo-baby. We all do. But make mealtime something special and you'll be giving your baby a lifetime of good habits and memories that will serve them well, for the long haul.

Mamas, new and old, I'd love to hear from you. What have you learned and loved about feeding your babes, and what advice can you share for other parents whose littles are just embarking on the wonderful world of food?


6 Not Extreme Habits for Eco-Eaters

Writing the Clean and Green Ingredients portion of my new book, which I just finished, was one of the hardest parts to write. That was in part because there is so much controversy and misconception around the idea of eco-eating, not to mention stigma, good or bad, depending on where you come from. I can see my dad's face every time I bring up the topic. I think he believes I'm going to tell him to line dry his paper towels and use them again. Lord knows I'm not. I'm a bit of a hippie, but moderately so. 

I admire folks like Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Everyday, and my smart friend Louisa Shafia, who wrote Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, who really broke down food labels like organic and fair trade. I admire Louisa for pushing us to ditch our paper towel habit for good. I'm still working on that one.  

Still, even after 10 years working and training in food, nutrition and sustainable issues, I find all the labels and bylaws of eco-eating can make my head spin. They are important to try to understand, but here's what's most important--DO YOUR BEST. Do your best to eat mindfully, for your health and the health of everyone around you.

My best is committing to this super simple eco-eaters creed, which I hope you'll adopt, too. 

Six Not-Extreme-Habits for Eco-Eating 

  1. Cook. Plastic take-out containers along are enough advertisement for cooking at home most days and nights of the week. It's tastier and healthier, too. 
  2. Shop local. Opt for the food less traveled, which is often cheaper, full of vital nutrients and fresh-picked flavor. 
  3. Buy and cook in season. Commit to eating what nature intended, when nature intended. All foods are the most nutrient-dense and flavorful in season.
  4. BYO-everything. Bring your own wheels (bicycles rock!), your own water bottle, your own market bag, your own lunch to work. Bring your glass milk bottles back and buy olive oil in refillable jugs. Every little bit helps.
  5.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Everything from storing leftover soup in recycled (sterilized) apple sauce jars to turning tin tomato cans into herb planters is a service to every other eater. Find new uses for old things in the kitchen and the garden.
  6. Grow something. Anything. Trees, herbs, vegetables, even a house plant. One grown up tree can provide enough oxygen for a family of four. A 8-Square-Foot garden can provide a great many vegetables for two adults. Herbs grown in a window box save the shipping and storage of cut herbs that might otherwise go bad in your fridge. {Join our 8-Square-Foot Challenge this year!} 
I'm not going to win a Pulitzer prize for this basic list, and for sure, no one is winning one for bringing their recycled canvas lunch sack to work each day, either. But we can all use reminders that our efforts mean something. I hope our best gets us all closer to the point of all the labels and eco-efforts in the first place--cleaner, more delicious, more sustaining ways of eating we can look forward to enjoying again tomorrow. 


{Earth Day Weekend Project} Plant Raspberries

Last summer, our first in our house upstate, we chanced upon a roadside plant sale with a sign advertising raspberries, $5. Baby Greta had already established herself as a serious raspberry lover, like her daddy, and since it's always been my life-long dream to step outside the backyard into an orchard, or at least a bramble, I was in. I didn't know a thing about planting raspberries, but at $5 a tiny bush {and an old coffee can to leave your cash in}, there was very little risk. Between May and September, Greta and I picked handful upon handful of raspberries off those tiny bushes the grew, in full sun, up to my waist.

This Sunday is Earth Day, the perfect time to put something in the ground that will feed you and your family for years to come. Raspberries need full sun and some trellising, but beyond that, very little from you except water. Plant them as a hedge row, along a fence or any tucked away corner of the yard where they are easy to trellis, and ideally somewhere so close to the kitchen door you can pluck them off the bushes just minutes before you pile them on your weekend waffles or crepes. Spring is the best time to plant raspberries. Before you do, here's what you should know: 

look for.....

Everbearing Raspberries {sometimes called fall-bearing}, which bear fruit slowly but constantly throughout the growing season.  Raspberries come in all sizes and colors from red, purple, golden, or white varieties, so choose your favorite, or plant a bush of each if you have the space. The best sources to buy plants are always your local nursery, where they are likely to sell or at least know what varieties will grow well in your region, but you'll also find them a Home Depot and even some grocery stores, depending on where you live.

raspberries need.....

Raspberries need full sun, plenty of water and light pruning once or twice a year. They grow well in most soils, but prefer sandy loam soil with lots of organic matter {compost and hummus} added to the soil. The key elements are sun, space to grow year by year, and a sturdy trellising system that keeps the canes {branches} off the ground and allows for air to circulate and dry the berries during rainy spells. Plant raspberry bushes or canes in a shallow holes 2 feet apart, with 10 feet between each row. Cover the roots with about 3 inches of soil, not more. Prune each spring by removing tall canes and any weak ones, and prune again the fall after the last {or largest} harvest. 

eat them.....

Raspberries are loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C, folate, antioxidants and minerals. The seeds also contain vitamin E. Eat them whole on top of pancakes, waffles, crepes or ice cream, stirred into muffins or made into pies, cobblers or buckles. They are extremely good eating, and the most healthful, straight from the bush.


{Grow} The 8 Square Feet Challenge + Garden Tool Giveaway

 {Photo by Dana Gallagher for Whole Living}

What if I told you all the produce in this beautiful plate of pasta was grown in just 8 square feet, in Brooklyn no less?

The recipe for this Vegetable Garden Linguine comes from Whole Living magazine, one of my favorite mags ever. In this issue, they challenged several Brooklyn-based gardeners to grow a feast in just 8 square feet. Not only are the recipes in this story so simply good, the planting strategy attached to each recipe is incredibly practical and easy to execute today. I mean truly, today. You could head to your local nursery directly after reading the article and put your plan into action. It's that simple. 

You have to admit, if we can do it in NYC you really can do it anywhere. With a single raised beds or several pots, just 2 by 4-feet in space, you just might amaze yourself at what you can grow, too. 

I was so inspired by the can-do spirit of this article that this Earth Day, and all summer long, I'm taking the challenge and asking you to do it with me. Leave a comment here to commit to grow at least one homegrown produce-based feast this summer (butter, olive oil, eggs, pasta, cheese, salt, pepper, spices and other pantry staples are free-bees). Check back with me from time to time and tell me how your garden is growing via comments (and leave your names, I want to learn about you!). 

When your feast is complete, send photos of your garden, the meal and your recipe to grow(at)edibleliving(dot)com. The Edible Living team and I will choose a winner based on resourcefulness, creativity, and of course taste. I'll feature the winning recipe and photos right here, with your story. And, to keep your garden growing, I'll send the winner, and the two runners up each one of my favorite gardening tools from Williams-Sonomas' new gardening line, Agrarian, like this gorgeous Joseph Bentley cultivator, below. 

Okay, let the growing begin. Who's In? 


{Books} To Grow Cook Eat

In honor of Earth Day 2012 {this Sunday, April 22}, the second installment of my favorite new cookbooks is all about inspiring you to grow. Both of these cookbooks {sold in Anthropologie, next to mine} caught my eye because I think one of the most useful and enjoyable things to learn about food is how to grow it! Each book glorifies home-grown veggies, and show you how to make the most of your harvest. 

I recently met the two grilling gals behind this book, Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, who call themselves the BBQ Queens. From their spunk, I knew I'd love anything created by this Kansas City duo, who have dedicated decades to the skills of the grill. You'll be fire roasting, wood-planking and char-grilling your heart-out before you know it. 

When you want to put in a garden, what you need is some good, practical advice, and Grow Cook Eat delivers. A Food Lover's Guide to Gardening, as the subtitle so plainly states, this book suits every kitchen gardener no matter how many years they've had their trowel in the soil, or haven't. Author Willi Galloway shares her well-organized and inspiring successes and sound advice, hard-earned from years of tending her own Seattle soil. 

I hope you'll forgive me the pun, but I have to say it. Dig in. 

But before you go, tell me, what would you like to learn more about on the kitchen gardening front? 


{Books} For the Very Fond of Food

My friend Andrea Nguyen has said, Anthropologie is the holy grail of lifestyle books. It's also a communal happy place, one of my favorite spaces to escape and dream up a prettier world. So imagine my delight when I got an email on Saturday morning alerting me that The Newlywed Cookbook was now on their shelves. Hooray! That was my big, big hope.

I'm a complete sucker for the kinds of books Anthropologie deems worthy of their little book nooks -- dreamy, inspired, playful, happy, beautiful and full of mouthwatering food. Here are a few others I love, from their virtual bookshelves, perfect for gifting {even to yourself} to anyone who is very fond of food.

Very Fond of Food 
Who wouldn't love a book called Very Fond of Food? An absolute kill-joy, that's who. I adored Sophie Dahl's luscious, down-to-earth first book, Ms. Dahl's Volumptious Delights: A Recipe for Every Season, Mood, and Appetite. I'm only a teeny, tiny bit jealous she gets to name her books these playful, poetic titles.

I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. You  might already know I think fruits and vegetables are the greatest thing since sliced bread {I do realize that's a gross oxymoron}. And, if you're familiar with Cheryl Sternman Rule's award winning blog, 5 Second Rule, you know what a pleasure it is to read her writing. What better excuse to dive into her color-drenched pages?

Yotam Ottolengi's Plenty was a smash success in London before my publisher, Chronicle Books, repackaged it for American eyes. And what a beautiful package it is. This is full of unexpected, inspired vegetarian food for anyone {omnivores included} who loves flavor.

The Good Life
What's with all these lucky ducks nailing these one in a million book titles? This one worked on me. I picked it right up and paged through inviting moment after moment of pies, breads, biscuits, ice cream, sausage, vegetables and more. From Australian chef Adrian Richardson, this book is full of texture and the kind of recipes I want to go home and cook, right now, for everyone I love.

P.S. You might have noticed I'm sensitive about titles today. These are four sensational ones. I'm still working on nailing the perfect title for my yet-unamed Mostly Vegetarian cookbook, due in 14 days {but who's counting}. Any suggestion? I'd love to hear from you!


{Grow} Heirloom Seeds for Sundays

Depending on where you live, the first serious day of gardening season may be Easter, or Memorial Day {or if you're one of the lucky southerners, the season never ended}.

I start most of my garden from seeds, so Easter weekend was prime planting days. I can't think of a more peaceful, spiritual way to start a Sunday than early morning outside with my family in the soil {followed by baths, brunch and church...}. That's exactly where we were last Sunday, and where we're headed now, but not before I leave you with my favorite sources for organic and heirloom seeds so you can spend the next Sunday in your garden.

Most of our garden gets planted with heirloom seeds, since that helps restore the wonderfully diverse food system nature intended. The following are a mix of heirloom and organic seed seed sources. You may not find the same kind of gorgeous, vintage art {pictured} on all of these seed packets, but what's inside is sure to make beautiful, edible art of your yard.

Botanical Interests

Burpee Organic Seeds

Hudson Valley Seed Library

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Renee’s Garden

Seeds of Change

Seed Savers Exchange

The Cook’s Garden


{A Party} The Newlywed Cookbook at Pink Olive, NYC

I hate to go all girlie on you, but if you'll let me for just a second, there's something about a pretty shop and a gathering of girls that just puts me into happy fits. Next Saturday, I'll be celebrating and signing my book, The Newlywed Cookbook, at Pink Olive, on a charmed little rue in the East Village {details above}. Come join me, Pink Olive's gracious owner Grace Kang, 2h flowers, and Izze sparkling juice as we toast and celebrate the season of the betrothed. RSVP at Concierge@pinkolive.com and I promise to save you one of my Deep Dark Secret Chocolate Cookies. xo

A special thanks to....


Martha Stewart + Me



I should be sleeping right now, but I'm going on The Martha Stewart Show tomorrow, and I'm kind of excited. Not only is Martha an impressive icon, she took things that I think have tremendous value --feeding your family,  making a home, tending a garden -- and not only made them chic, but potentially lucrative too. Things our mothers did for free. Women getting paid to make the world a more beautiful, delicious place? Amen to that.

Love her or not, if you've watched her show lately, you may know Martha has a pretty good sense of humor. And she must be a good sport, too. Imagine inviting people on your show and letting them show you how to do things you know very well how to do. Like bake cookies. See, it's really quite generous. She gives us our chance to shine. And for that, well, Martha, I think you're the bee's knees.

I'll be sure to let you know the air date! But for now, night night. Time to get my beauty rest. 

My photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.