Category Archives: salad

Making Red Wine Vinegar


Red wine vinegar is one of my favorite pantry staples. Growing up, my mom often used a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette to dress our salads. This is usually how dinner would end- with a simple lettuce salad tossed with vinaigrette. I can’t say these were my favorite when I was young, but I quickly grew to appreciate the refreshing ritual of ending a meal this way. Plus, I fell totally in love with red wine vinegar.

When I moved out of the house, I soon began identifying as a “foodie.” This made me think that I had to buy my red wine vinegar at gourmet food stores. I generally don’t mind paying a little more for quality, especially if it’s something that will last a long time in my pantry and that we will enjoy many times. However, anytime there is something that I can DIY, I am all over it! Turns out, red wine vinegar is quite easy to make and the results of my first batch were wonderful.

It helped that, for my birthday, my parents gave me a beautiful vinegar crock from Clay Coyote. The crock is definitely useful, but you can make vinegar without buying a special vessel for it. A large glass ice tea jar covered with cheese cloth will probably work, as long as you keep it in a dark place.

My vinegar crock, lightly covered with cheesecloth

The crock came with a top that holds the cheesecloth down, and has a hole in the top to allow for airflow

In my research for how to make vinegar, I found a wonderful article from Sunset magazine that outlines the ingredients and steps for making red wine vinegar.

Really, there’s no reason for me to go through the steps here since you can just follow the guide provided by Sunset. I’ll just add this- once you get past the initial stage of starting your mother culture, you can be pretty lax about when to add more wine. Maybe that isn’t “good vinegar mothering” advice, but mine seems to be doing fine, even though I don’t necessarily add more wine every week. I follow the vinegar’s lead. If I can smell the vinegar while I’m washing dishes (the crock is right next to the kitchen sink), I know it’s time to add more wine (or ready to be bottled). Before bottling, I just taste to make sure it’s vinegary enough for me. Then, I boil some old vinegar bottles that I saved from store-bought vinegar, let them cool, and bottle my vinegar.

By the way, other reasons to make your own vinegar (other than it being really cool to DIY!) are the health benefits you get from the probiotics. Just like yogurt, unpasteurized vinegar has good bacteria in it. To read more about that, check out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. It’s full of information on the benefits of fermented foods, plus tons of recipes.

Boiling bottles- the canning jar was a perfect fit for doing this.
Simple as that! We’ve been enjoying the vinegar for a few weeks and it’s fantastic.

Quick Valentine’s Day Recap

I have a feeling the little one will be waking up from his nap any minute now, but I’ve been wanting to do a recap of our lovely Valentine’s Day, courtesy of Trevor, and I’m already 4 days late. In the interest of time, I’ll do a picture recap.

First, Quentin and I had a little fun with finger paints. We needed to make daddy a Valentine, so we got to work.

Here is the before picture
Aaaand after. It was a mess (obviously, 7 month old + fingerpaints=big mess), but it was fun!

Happy boy!

It’s all fun and games until you decide to suck your thumb with paint on your hand. That ended the project. Good thing we were done with daddy’s Valentine.

Trevor said he would make a Valentine’s Day dinner. A few years ago, he made this delicious Crab Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts from Simply Recipes. We loved it and decided we wanted to have it again. Maybe it will be a Valentine’s day tradition.

Butter leaf lettuce cups for the salad

Delicious crab and pear salad. Unfortunately, Whole Foods was out of hazelnuts. Instead, we added a little hazelnut oil. It wasn’t the same, but at least there was some nuttiness.

Serving it up.

Add a drizzle of olive oil.

Ready!

For dessert, I made some chocolate-covered strawberries.

As a bonus, we had some macarons from Cocola that a friend gave me as a thank you for the onesie I made for her daughter. Sweet!

I’d say it was a success! What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Or am I already too late to still be thinking about this at all?

Summer Beet, Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese Salad


This simple summer salad was inspired by the bounty of our CSA and the farmer’s market. Once again, summer has supplied us with amazingly fresh and flavorful food. When you have such good ingredients, you don’t have to do much (or anything) to them to make them taste good. This salad was nothing to put together, but Trevor and I absolutely enjoyed it to the last bite. You can follow my recipe, or head out to the farmer’s market this morning and see what inspires you! Let me know what you come up with!

Summer Beet, Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
4 small beets
1 medium heirloom tomato
4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
a few splashes of walnut vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place beets in an oven-safe heavy bottom pot (like a dutch oven, or roasting pan with a lid). Lightly coat the beets in olive oil. Cook beets for about 40-50 minutes, until you can easily stick the tip of a sharp knife in them.
  2. As soon as you can handle them, peel the beets. One trick I learned from my mom for peeling beets is to use a dry paper towel to push the beet peel off. It’s surprising, but really works and is much easier and faster than peeling them with a knife!
  3. Cut the beets into thin slices. While they are still warm, cover them with red wine vinegar. While the beets soak in some vinegar, prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Divide spinach onto 2 plates. Slice goat cheese into “coins” (as best you can, perfection is not essential here). Cut the tomato into wedges.
  5. Arrange the beets on the spinach, top with goat cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle with walnut oil and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.