chłodnik – cold beet soup

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Oh you’ve never had a cold pink soup before?  Pretty awesome right?  It looks exotic but it is basically beets, radishes and cucumbers with some kefir and buttermilk and lots of herbs.   Perfect for a hot day.

And it’s been hot.  So hot that I don’t want to cook.  I don’t want to turn the oven on and I definitely don’t want to carry two heavy bags of groceries home from my train stop or even the closest grocery store.  But I honestly don’t mind the heat, maybe even so much so that I have developed an allergy to the cold.  I am totally serious it is a thing, and I have it!  I get hives when I’m in cold water and when my skin is exposed to cold air for too long.  Yes I think there is something secretly wrong with me, but I am trying to not overthink it and be positive and drink lots of nettle tea and other weird healthy concoctions.  My body is probably telling me to move to the Mediterranean, or Hawaii or maybe just California?  Sometimes I really think your body knows better than your brain, especially because it’s basically what I do for a living, trust the body.


So this is a Polish, among other countries, soup.  Chłodnik basically means something cold, in this case a soup, and it seems to always refer to this type of soup.  The ch is pronounced like an h and the ł sounds like a w, and everything else sounds like it should, so good luck saying it.  Gevork, my boyfriend, speaks Russian and he has so much trouble pronouncing the chł combination, which we practice with the word boy: chłopiec.  This chłodnik also includes botwinka (w sounds like a v), which is the greens of young beets.  Cold soup doesn’t seem to be a popular choice in America, and it is a shame.  This soup is full of summer goodness.  There are many variations of how to make it, it’s kind-of like all soups where you can really play around with it once you’ve made it once.  I am leaving a simple classic variation here but feel free to get inspired.



4 small beets with leaves

1 lemon – or beet kvas – or both (I used some kvas I made to give it a tang)

handful of radishes (about 6)

handful of small cucumbers (about 4)

2 cups kefir

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 tbsp salt


freshly chopped parsley, dill and chives

hard boiled eggs, quartered


-peel and chop the beets into small diced cubes.  chop the leaves finely as well. place beets and leaves into a large pot and cover with water and juice of one lemon and/or some beet kvas.  boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes just until beets are cooked but the color stays.

-meanwhile clean the radishes and cucumbers and cut off the ends. juilenne them into thin little matchsticks.  place them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  pour the kefir and buttermilk on top those vegetables and stir well.  toss in the herbs and stir well.  refrigerate if needed.

-once the beets are cooked let them cool at room temperature and then place in the fridge for a bit to cool more.

-pour the kefir mixture into the beets and mix well.  the color should look beautiful now!  let the whole thing cool, season more if needed and serve with hard boiled eggs.



teff carrot cake

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April 12th sounds like a great day to eat carrot cake, right?

It also sounds like a great day to have a birthday, right?

Well I must be lucky because I get both of those today, a birthday and a carrot cake!  (It is also Beverly Cleary’s birthday-she is 100! love her).  And the weather in New York has been gorgeous.  The only downfall is the streets are filled with a ridiculous amount of people again (where do they all come from!?), but at least my neck of the woods stays pretty chill – except for that new music venue that opened up down the block and that rapper who moved into the old firehouse…

I always think a birthday cake should be representative of the person whose birthday it is.  Also maybe where they are in their life?  Like when you were 10 and you would get a picture on the cake of your favorite hobby.  I guess as an adult it’s different (or not!) – and it’s more about flavor and texture.

I feel like a carrot cake right now.

I contemplated many versions of carrot cake but when I saw this one in Tartine All Day, as I was browsing cookbooks in a book store, I knew it was the one.  I loved that it used different flours (like teff flour – which is like a superhero flour) because I think it adds a lot more flavor.  I also liked her description of carrot cake being the birthday cake of choice for youngins in Switzerland and England, I thought how perfect for my 29th birthday, my last bit of childhood before I turn 30 next year.

So now that I have my cake it is time to think about one more year of my twenties.  Even though forty is the new thirty I still feel like turning thirty is a big deal.  So…

a list of 29 before I turn thirty (in no particular order):

  1. have nice hair (as in don’t cut my own hair anymore and learn how to style it)
  2. make my bed every morning
  3. understand physics
  4. floss everyday
  5. learn how to use excel spreadsheets (or rather re-learn)
  6. have a better music collection (help!)
  7. pray and meditate everyday
  8. keep in touch with people better
  9. make a perfect poached egg
  10. know the difference between whisky, scotch, bourbon and rye and while we are at it maybe red wine too – know more about red wine?
  11. memorize important phone numbers
  12. have better phone skills and probably overall better communication skills
  13. save for retirement (wow I can’t believe I just wrote that)
  14. master the sewing machine
  15. finish things that I start
  16. do more cardio
  17. figure out what I am doing with my life (AKA-somehow get parents to worry less about me)
  18. wear silk scarves around neck
  19. acquire and use airline miles
  20. read the news more
  21. know more in general
  22. get over fear of driving on the highway
  23. document life better
  24. know how to cook amazing things by heart
  25. be less serious because this list is stressing me out and a woman in my Pilates class called me out on being too serious, but I think she meant it in a good way.
  26. spell better (is it too late for that?)
  27. be stronger
  28. be wiser
  29. be kinder

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Confession.  I don’t remember the last time I made a layer cake, I am more of a pie, tart and flaky stuff kind-of girl.  This is a layer cake.  So I did my best, and hope to get better.  It tastes freakin awesome though!  Also I got a kitchen-aid for my birthday!

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It worked like a charm, I love it so much.  I feel a lot spoiled and a little bit more like an adult.

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recipe only slightly adapted from here

Teff Carrot Cake


1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut sugar (or more sugar but coconut tastes good if you can swing it)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1 ld carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup warmed coconut oil, just so it is liquid

juice of 1 lemon

1 1/4 cup teff flour

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup oat flour

2 tsp cinnamon

grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp ground

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup toasted and chopped pecans (or walnuts but we like pecans better)


8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioners sugar

juice 1 lemon

-pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  butter two 9-inch cake pans and put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.  you can also just use one cake pan and do two rounds.

-beat the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until thick and light in color, a couple of minutes.  you want a ribbon of egg when you take the whisk out.  add the applesauce, carrots, coconut oil and lemon and mix well.

-in a separate bowl mix the flours, spices, baking soda and salt.  add the flour to the egg mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.  fold in the coconut and pecans.

-pour half into each cake pan (or save half for next round).  bake about 35-40 minutes.  let the cakes cool about 10 minutes and then invert onto wire racks or plates.  let them cool completely before frosting.

-for frosting, mix butter and cream cheese first in a stand mixer or a hand mixer until well combined and then add confectioner’s sugar and lemon and mix until smooth.  spread frosting on one cake then place the other on top and spread all over.


honey roasted radishes with polenta and bacon


My first blog post!  Do people still make blogs…

I had one about 6 years ago (basically forever ago) and abandoned it when I moved to New York.  I wish I had kept it though because I am pretty sure I am more boring now and blogs were still cool then.  I started it after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet and watching Food Inc. – it was the vegan phase of my life.  It was pretty basic and I didn’t tell people about it, but it was ok because I was younger and it didn’t matter.  Now that I am older, there is pressure to not be silly and stupid and try new things.  But being older also means you don’t care as much and you do things for yourself.  So here’s to me!

I start with the radish as a radish should.  And on a Sunday.  Well this was made on a Saturday actually.  It was a lovely Spring day and people were outside!  The farmer’s market had more tourists and gawkers, but no radishes yet.  There were also people running in the streets and after drinking coffee for the first time in 2 months I climbed out of my shell and went running too.  The last time I went running it was the end of fall and I was really sore after and I’m pretty sure I got laryngitis from it.  Yesterday I wore two unnecessary layers of pants and I had to take one pair off and hide them behind a pole and keep checking they were still there every time I ran around the track.  And I was that weirdo doing GYROKINESIS® on the side, hiiiii!

I grew up eating radishes with just salt.  After my mother would chop off the ends, I would sprinkle some salt (to cut the spiciness) and then take a bite and then take another bite and repeat.  A whole bowl would be eaten in this manner.  The second way was on bread with cream cheese, just thin slices.  I later realized butter was the more sophisticated (French) way and now I do that as well, but cream cheese is still pretty rad.

Then there is the roasted radish.  I really didn’t like the thought of it at first, I like my radishes with a crunch and a spiciness.  When you roast them they become something completely different.  But I like them this way a lot.  I like them with honey and bacon and polenta.  Yes it was very good.


Roasted Radishes with Polenta and Bacon

4 cups water

1 cup polenta (or cornmeal – not instant)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 bunches radishes with greens

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

half of 1 lemon

6 slices thick bacon, diced

-boil the water with salt in a medium pot.  slowly pour in the polenta as you stir with a whisk.  keep stirring for a couple minutes.  turn the heat to low and cover the pot.  stir for a minute about every 10 minutes.  do this for a total of about 45 minutes until creamy, then add the butter.  if not using right away keep it covered up to 20 minutes.

-meanwhile preheat the oven to 425°F and clean the radishes and greens and let them dry a bit.  chop off the greens and save them.  cut the radishes in half or in quarters if they are big.  toss the radishes with the honey and oil and season with salt and pepper.  lay them out onto a baking dish and squeeze lemon juice on top.  roast for about 15 minutes, until the radishes are softened and starting to brown.  season with more salt and pepper if needed.

-heat a medium skillet and add the bacon, cook until crispy, about 10 minutes.  remove the bacon and some of the grease if there is too much and add the radish top greens until softened.

-serve polenta with the greens, bacon and radishes on top.

julia radish