Sunday, September 8, 2013

an anniversary + grilled corn and herbed chowder

Three years ago I started this blog as a little project. It was something personal to work on while I was out of the workforce and raising our first son, Otis. At that time my mornings were spent walking around Prospect Park and chatting with other mothers who were similarly situated (staying home to raise their young children). Some of these mothers became close friends, but more often than not, I would find myself in way-too-long conversations about strollers and cloth diapers. I loved being a mother, but that was only part of me. Okay, a big part, but I needed to talk about other things like art, or nature, or design, or food, or politics, or films, or books - anything other than children's accessories. Simply put, I needed something new to think about other than kids during those rare moments that mine was sleeping. 
I had always wanted to learn about food: how it's grown, how it's prepared and how to make it taste good. At the time there was an explosion of food bloggers online, and thinking I might be able to teach myself something new, I decided to join the pack. And I picked up my camera...

It took me a while to find "my voice," but I've settled into a way of storytelling and writing that it honest and true to me. Sometimes when I re-read old posts I cringe a bit because the writing is so awkward and doesn't sound like me at all. But I don't delete those posts because they were a starting point, and as my best friend (who is a professor) pointed out, "It's the only way to see how much you've grown..." so I keep those old posts (and bad pictures) just where they are. 
Like I said, I started this blog three years ago because I needed it. And as I look back on the past three years I can't believe how much our lives have changed and how much this blog has evolved. It is our family journal; it chronicles the places we hike, the things we do and the recipes we make together. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only Jewish mother who doesn't have a stack of oil-splattered index cards with family recipes, and whenever I asked my mother if there were any special dishes she remembers her mother (my grandmother) making, she says, "No, not really." How could there be nothing? I mean everything about our culture revolves around festive meals and eating (unless of course we are fasting). This made me determined to create our own food history and have something that my kids can pass down to their kids...

We live in Colorado where there are bountiful farms with great seasonal produce. We bake zucchini bread and make tomato sauce from scratch. We sautee spinach for pie and grill corn and watermelon too.  We are doing these things together as a family and inviting our friends and neighbors over for meals, where we eat outdoors almost every day of the year (because Colorado is blessed with 300 days of sunshine).
This blog has also become a place where I unload some of the struggles I've faced with my role as a mother. And there are anecdotes about being in my late 30s and reflections on youth (or my early 20s), as well as growing up/and our "old" life in New York City. I'm glad I've put it all into words...
The benefits of penning Sparrows & Spatulas have been many. This blog has helped me build a wonderful network of friends. I'm privileged to know an incredible group of makers and bakers, food truck vendors and small business owners, many of whom live and work in my adopted-state of makes my life here richer and more enjoyable. Thank you! To those of you who have taken time out of your busy lives to read a few posts in my little corner of the internet, thank you for reading and thank you for all your kind words (and occasional grammar corrections)! 
I will continue writing this blog as I juggle motherhood and my relatively new career. I also hope to add some new things too, namely: 
  • Hiking Sundays: like Hiking Mondays, but on Sunday, since Otis is now in school part-time, 5 days a week.
  • Co./Co.: a monthly series that focuses on Colorado Companies that I find inspiring; and 
  • Market Mondays: in an effort to cook healthier, I will turn to our local farmers market for inspiration. 

I look forward to sharing another year with you all. Thanks for being part of my journey.

Grilled Corn and Herbed Chowder, Courtesy of Small Plates, Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga
{The soup, which started off our harvest dinner last week, is absolutely delicious. The local corn has been sweet and wonderful this year, and when you pop it on the grill all sorts of goodness emerges. This is the first recipe I've tried from Small Plates, SweetTreats and I now I see what all the fuss has been about. The soup is perfect and it will be in my summer repertoire for years to come. Happy cooking!}
Serves 4
4 ears of corn (I went with fairly large ears)
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 sprigs thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil (optional)
1. Preheat the grill. Peel and rinse corn (removing all of the corn silk, I think that's what those strands are called). Grill the corn over medium-high heat, charring the outside. It should take 8 to 10 minutes. Let the corn cool slightly and then cut off the kernels. 
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, vegetable broth, thyme, and corn kernels. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat off and let it steep for 15 minutes.
3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Cook the vegetables over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add the coconut-corn mixture. Bring the soup to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
4. Add the cilantro (and chervil, if using) and stir. Then serve the soup warm. 

Credits: Image of me, courtesy of Kathryn Bacalis Photography Follow Me on Pinterest


  1. Batya, I loved this post! The cloth diapers and strollers bit resonated! I know what you mean (not like there's anything wrong with that...) but there has to be balance. This soup looks WONDERFUL! Aran's book is on my birthday list ---which is next week-- so maybe it will be gifted to me :) I love your blog and congrats on 3 years! - Holly

    1. HI Holly! Thanks! Right, there's nothing wrong with any of it-- cloth diapers, strollers, kids decor-- but having balance and adult hobbies as well, at least in my opinion, keeps you sane and mentally sound :) The soup was delicious. I think Aran's recipes are terrific. Happy birthday and I hope you get this cookbook as a gift. It's wonderful.

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  3. Happy blogiversary! I have loved reading your posts and seeing your pictures. Keep 'em coming!

    P.S. I think the hiking posts are my favorite. Let's have our families do one together, okay? I think it would be fun!

    1. Thanks Jo! You're the best. Let's do a hike. We are thinking about the July 4th hike this weekend...and maybe heading back to Castlewood Canyon this month too. I'll text and coordinate. Thank for being such a big fan of S&S. By the way, want to do a guest post on the Smitten Kitchen peach butter? I'm making this week, but happy to attach your words to the post...if you're interested :) xo

    2. Oh heavens, Batya. I'm a terrible writer. But enjoy the peach butter, it is so divine. I think it's the best with an english muffin and a salad but I am so curious to see how you use it. A hiking we will go!

  4. Three years...that's a big commitment in the blogsphere! Happy anniversary! I have enjoyed your posts (especially the ones about children and age that make me laugh out loud) and your beautiful photos! I found you recently from your Denver City Guide, so I didn't read you during years one and two. But I did look at some of your early entries and you have really blossomed as a writer. You should be proud of this journal! I look forward to the new additions and I agree with Jo Ellen, the hiking posts really set you apart - they are wonderful :)

    1. Hello Emily!
      Yes, 3 years is a long time and so much has changed. There were times I thought about bagging the blog because it's time consuming and quite a commitment, but I'm glad I stuck with it. It's really helped me meet wonderful people and helped me built a community.
      I always wonder how people find this blog and it seems like the city guide has been a big connector. Glad it helped you find me! The hiking posts will continue throughout the winter! Thanks for the kind words.

  5. yum yum yum. this is going on my list of foods to make. thanks for sharing! and congrats at 3 years in the blogosphere. i'm glad you're here!

    1. hi emily! this soup was gone in a flash. i'm actually making it again tonight because i thought it was *that* good. also, i remember that you liked banana bread (but i mean, who doesn't) and i made this one, twice. the first time i made it the taste was amazing (and i used 4 frozen bananas). the second time i only had three- and it wasn't as good. just an FYI in case you have a craving!
      i'm glad to be here and i'm glad you're here too! thank you for introducing me to new things (base coat this week) and thanks for your enthusiasm for this great city we now call home! happy weekend!

  6. Happy 3 year blogaversary! The soup looks incredible!

  7. This soup looks delicious, I m too much excited to try this one, add to my list to make this yummy soup

    1. You definitely should! Aran's recipes are amazing. I've since made two more and they were both hits...and just as important, they were relatively easy to make! What are your favorite soup recipes (I have a soft spot for soups!)

  8. a big hooray for your three year mark, definitely a big milestone in blog years (;

    1. aw, thanks tiffany! it's been a fun ride. btw, your house and DIY projects are amazing! i felt like i had achieved something huge when i hung our pots rack in the kitchen (and even used a drill bit for brick). :) i'd say you are a bit more advanced than that, but an inspiration none-the-less!