Isabelle the chicken on the prowl

I ate eggs for dinner three times last week, the only meals I cooked all week. Let it be a testimony: backyard chickens provide a bounty, and pregnant women (at least this one) are less inventive in the kitchen.

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easy gazpacho

Summer has arrived in earnest around these parts, as daylight drifts late into the evening and the garden is beginning to have that scorched earth look. Two weeks ago the mercury hovered near 100 degrees, and I’ve been craving salt and spice and cool ever since. My mom’s gazpacho is the rare summer soup that delivers on all three counts.

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grilled cheese and iron
Remember the scene from Benny & Joon when Johnny Depp’s character makes grilled cheese sandwiches on an ironing board? Call this the antique makeover.

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virgin drinks

Sit down and pour yourself a refreshing beverage. I have some news. Our family is growing. And no, I don’t mean we’re getting a pygmy goat. Baby Githens arrives in mid-September! Today we found out that he’s a boy, something I’ve suspected for months now, yet suddenly it all seems so much more real.

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Brink Trail

Eight hundred miles away from San Francisco and six miles from my parent’s house there is a place called Tiger Mountain. It’s my happy place.

I go home to see family, of course, but running the trails behind Issaquah High School has become my homecoming ritual. When I lace up my sneakers and trace the familiar loops in the forested hillside, it’s like touching home when my shoes touch the dirt.

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tomato soup with coconut milk

I have a confession that is unlikely to surprise you: I haven’t been cooking much lately. Mike has been working long hours, and cooking for one gets dull. And frankly, I’ve been tired. And uninspired. And perfectly content to eat Trader Joe’s Indian food from a cardboard box and aluminum pouch. (It’s like backpacking food—at home!)

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fresh blueberries

Sometimes I have mornings when the world feels so daunting it takes courage just to swing one leg out of bed. These are the days when my to-do list starts unfurling, like some unwanted tickertape parade, before I even open my eyes. They’re after nights spent dreaming about work projects gone awry. Or friends I didn’t call back in time. Or laundry.

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succulent table

Inspiration is complicated.

Have you ever had a vision for a project—seen it every time you close your eyes, every time you glance at a junk pile or unfinished corner of the house? On the one hand, the vision is incredibly motivating. You can see your handiwork in all its glory, feel its texture, envision its usefulness. On the other hand, the vision is tormenting. The unfinished product taunts you, haunts you with the specter of its awesomeness until you get off your bum and get to work. There’s no easy way around it.

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gaucho on the pampas

It’s funny how condiments can reflect a culture. The Aussies have their Veggiemite. The Brits their Colman’s mustard. The Japanese their soy sauce. We Americans our peanut butter. There’s so much patriotism wrapped up in a screw-top jar.

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vendor at the farmer's market

Allow me to divert your attention elsewhere as I wrestle with a recipe that needs more fine-tuning. This fall I again answered the siren call of Stanford Continuing Studies, this time a portraiture photography course taught by Neal Menschel.

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