An Update on Cook With What You Have

Photo credit: Shawn Linehan Photography


Hello Cook With What You Have community,


This is Paige writing. As many of you know (apologies to those who are learning this for the first time), Katherine passed away July 12, 2022 from a breast cancer recurrence. Since then I have been keeping the website running and I officially purchased Cook With What You Have in December.


Katherine’s passing is a great loss for her family, for so many of you who knew her, and for me personally. For those who didn’t know Katherine well, here is her obituary and some reflections from her time at Slow Food USA. You can also look back on the countless beautiful blog posts written by Katherine going back to when she started Cook With What You Have in 2009. 


Katherine meant so much to so many – she was a beloved family member, friend, businesswoman, community member, teacher. To me, she was my boss, a mentor, and a good friend. In 2018 she took me under her wing as an intern during my final year of graduate school for nutrition. I moved into a part-time position after I graduated, focusing on recipe testing and development and helping out with marketing and admin. From the very beginning, Katherine was open and trusting with me. She freely shared her passion and knowledge for cooking seasonally and locally. She enthusiastically welcomed my ideas and new recipes. She opened her home and never let me leave without a slice of freshly baked bread or a container of leftovers.


There are so many things that are now part of how I cook and live that came from Katherine. The bed of herbs I planted and cook with regularly, the CSA my family gets, storing produce in the leftover bags from my Grand Central Bakery bread, a pot of beans simmering on the stove, the way I chop garlic, and so much more… I feel incredibly grateful to have known and learned from Katherine. When she passed, the decision of the future of Cook With What You Have was not taken lightly. The website is a rich and valuable resource that many people depend on, and Katherine’s husband Brian and I wanted to see it continue. 


I purchased Cook With What You Have to help ensure Katherine’s work lives on and continues to help people cook with flexibility and joy. I’m excited to continue Katherine’s vision for the website by creating more recipes, partnering with more farms, and helping more people cook with what they have. 


A big thank you to Brian for facilitating this process and being so helpful. And thank all of you for bearing with me through the transition and the inevitable bumps along the way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] with any questions. 

Staying Engaged, Finding Joy and Some Normalcy

I keep a little bouquet of random blooms on the windowsill in the kitchen and it makes me happy every day.


I’d like to write more, for Cook With What You Have work and more of a personal journal where I can share anything. I use this space for both but since I’m not cooking as much these days it’s also my platform (as it was 6 years ago when I got sick the first time) for more personal matters. Today I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. This afternoon, I should say specifically, as this morning was a bit rough.


These days I sometimes have a hard time knowing/feeling what I should do with myself. I’m often quite fatigued, especially in the morning and go back to bed after seeing my son off to school and making his lunch–yes he could/should (?) make his own but I love making it for him. I do a lot of things lately with or for my son (and husband) that might be considered enabling or spoiling–the kid, not the hubby:)! But the thing is I don’t know how much time I have on this beautiful and flawed planet–the flawed part being the humans that inhabit this beautiful earth–and I want to take advantage of every moment I have to give my son a ride somewhere or make him a delicious after school snack and cinnamon toast before bed! 


I also have been writing less because it’s harder to express myself on the page these days. I have lots of–what I think are–interesting thoughts and questions but because of the struggles I have retaining and processing information (thanks full brain radiation!) I am plagued by short-term memory loss. So I regularly have a thought and 10 seconds later it’s gone and unretrievable. This makes coherent writing a bit of a challenge. But I’ve just decided that maybe I’ll write disjointed things and not worry so much about whether it makes sense to you, my dear readers. I want to stay connected and sharing my thoughts and experiences keeps me engaged in the world, that so often these days feels like it’s passing me by. 


And I love hearing from you all, your news and random thoughts keep me engaged and hopeful and forward moving. I am committing, with this post, to make my life more interesting by writing when it often feels completely run by cancer and its attendant challenges. And if you have questions about any of what I write, please ask. As you can probably tell I like sharing (not always but often). I’ve also been inspired to write more by Suleika Jaouad, author of Between Two Kingdoms: Memoir of a  Life Interrupted. Her journey with cancer, while different than mine has many similarities and I feel seen reading it. I highly recommend it even if, and maybe especially if you’re not struggling with serious illness. She’s an extraordinary writer and is going through her own recurrence now and her writing has deeply nourished me. 


All right dear ones, that’s it for today. More to come soon! 





In Praise of Mayonnaise

I grew up in Germany eating a lot of butter. Butter on sandwiches, often open-faced simply in the form of Butterbrot (bread with butter) and Kaesebrot (bread with butter and cheese). Mayonnaise showed up with French fries but butter was king. 


Now I find myself not only eating butter but reaching for the jar of mayo more and more often. Do you have celery root (celeriac), potatoes, turnips, carrots, broccoli on hand? Saute or roast and dip any one of these in Dijonnaise–nothing more than mayo mixed with whole grain Dijon-style mustard. This is my latest obsession and I’m undoubtedly not the first to enjoy this combination. The classic French celery root remoulade employs mustard and mayonnaise in the dressing which was my inspiration for this dish but it really goes with many, especially winter vegetables.


A friend brings me steamed artichokes regularly and there again I reach for the jar of mayo. My mother served artichokes with mayo and I do to this day–no melted butter there! I can still eat three artichokes in one sitting and used to eat even more when I had the chance and a bigger appetite. And come to think of it, Dijonnaise might be a good riff on plain mayo here too. 


I’ve been getting a winter vegetable CSA every other week and have been enjoying the variety of vegetables so much and the sheer volume of veg that I eat has gone up. Jar of mayo plus roasted veg and piece of toast (with butter!) is not a bad lunch at all, especially if I have celery root. If you’ve avoided this scruffy root in the past, give it a try in this form. You may eat a whole celery root in one sitting.  


As soon as I get another cabbage I’m going to make this Tofu “Egg Roll” in a Bowl with Sriracha Mayo, so I can mix this  ubiquitous hot sauce with mayo and have an excuse to eat it. Or add a little soy sauce to the Sriracha Mayo and you have an addictive sauce for my simplified version of Okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes). 


What are your favorite ways with mayo? I think I’ve just scratched the surface. 


Happy Cooking! 








Loose Ends


Another year lingers to an end;
Heaven sends a bitter frost.
Fallen leaves cover the mountains
And there are no travelers to cast shadows on the path.
Endless night: dried leaves burn slowly on the hearth
Occasionally, the sound of freezing rain.
Dizzy, I try to recall the past —
Nothing here but dreams. 


–from One Bowl, One Robe the Zen poetry of Ryokan


How do we ground ourselves when there is so much uncertainty? How do we stay mindful and in the moment when each new text coming in is reporting on a new COVID case? How long do we quarantine, how do we know what to do about any of it?  How low are my white blood cells i.e. how serious will it be if I get COVID? No one knows. Chemo is ongoing and I’m pretty weak though my scans are stable and even improving. But the days drag on as I recover between each infusion. 


I feel unmoored. My cognitive challenges, thanks to whole brain radiation last fall, make it hard to read, or actually remember what I just read. My hands are shaky making cooking and writing challenging, yet here I am! I’m not nauseous, I haven’t vomited in 10 days. My appetite is good. My husband and son are well and care for me in countless ways. The delicious meals continue to show up delivered by smiling, masked faces. 


Time stretches like well-kneaded pasta dough. It feels fragile yet full of possibility. What can I do with my late afternoon? By this time I’ve worked as much as I feel I can but it’s not time for dinner. I could meditate. I could always meditate more and I resist, am bored and distracted all at once. When will the mail arrive? Will my son need another snack? How can I make myself useful? There is plenty to do but there’s that stretchy time again. . . It should be wonderful to have so much time but my mind wanders and I check the mirror to see if the 6 eyelashes on my left eye have finally come out entirely. I don’t feel as sick as the bald head and missing eyelashes make me look! I wonder if I’ll ever have hair again–I think I will!:) I keep my wool hat on to stay cozy in the meantime. It’s cold being bald!


And now, having actually sat down to write, even this stream of consciousness, I feel less unmoored, more connected to my fellow humans. I will write more blog posts and hopefully they will include a recipe! Meantime, happy new year! May you be healthy and happy!


Pasta Primavera–in Mid-Summer, Yes!


I think of this dish as the sad dish vegetarian’s are relegated to ordering at restaurants, when traveling. For some reason it popped into my mind the other night when I, as per usual, had random bits of vegetables to use up and a hungry teenager and husband to feed.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s pasta with vegetables, a little cream sauce with a hint of lemon and plenty of fresh herbs. It really can be delicious! 🙂



I could live on salads alone these hot summer days but the rest of my family cannot and I’m guessing some of you are in the same boat. You can halve the amount of pasta noted below and have a very veg-heavy dish to please a variety of palates. 


This dish was invented at the restaurant Le Cirque in New York City in the 70s and does not hale from Italy as the name would imply. It’s really also not limited to spring vegetables–though I look forward to making it next spring with asparagus, peas and more lemon than noted here. I imagine a late summer one with sweet peppers, corn, and cherry tomatoes. . . Have fun with it! 


White sauce (bechamel) seems to have fallen out of favor but it’s a wonderful sauce and a little can go a long way in bringing together a big pot of pasta–and making that pasta (with tons of veg) something my kid will devour. 


Happy cooking, stay cool and I’ll be back with a salad soon!


Pasta Primavera



  • vary the quantity of vegetables to suit your needs–I like a high ratio of veg to pasta
  • double the cream sauce if you want a saucier, richer dish–this amount just coats everything and highlights the veg
  • add diced, cooked chicken


Serves 4-6



2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/3 cups milk

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest of half a lemon, or of the whole lemon if you’re a lemon fan

1 cup grated Parmesan, divided

For the Vegetables

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups vegetables, cut into similar-sized pieces (broccoli, carrots, peas, zucchini/summer squash, fennel, sweet peppers, halved cherry tomatoes etc. )

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 lb pasta such a penne, lumache (above), fusilli, small to medium shells

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, parsley or a combination

Scallions greens, thinly sliced (optional–I happened to have some that needed using in the above version)


1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, for about 7-8 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in the lemon zest and half the Parmesan. 


2. Heat the olive oil in the largest skillet you have over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes. Add the remainder of the vegetables (if you’re using some cherry tomatoes, add those at the end of the cooking time–you don’t want saucy vegetables), salt and saute until just tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on what kind of veg and how much you’re using. Turn off the heat before you think they’re quite tender if they’re going to sit for a while before finishing the dish. 


3. Cook the pasta until al dente in well-salted, boiling water. If your cream sauce is quite thick, reserve 1/4 cup of hot pasta cooking water and whisk it into the sauce. Drain pasta and toss with vegetables, sauce and herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt/pepper. Serve, topped with remaining Parmesan. 



Who am I? And Does it Matter?

A week or so ago our backyard was in its fairy garden phase.


I’ve been musing about the many disparate truths I am holding, the seeming paradoxes of my life at the moment. I’m really sick. I actually feel good. The tumors will never go away. There are lots of stories of miraculous healing. There is so much we don’t understand about our bodies, cancer. . . . Ever since I was 18 and my brother introduced me to the Tao te Ching, I’ve turned to it in difficult times.


Verse #13 has been my rock, particularly the last few lines:


“Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?


See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.”


The Tao is full of seeming contradictions and they no longer perplex me. But real life does perplex me, a lot some days. I’m so tired of thinking about myself, my treatments, my many appointments, my symptoms–are they improving, changing? I re-read this magnificent text and have a moment’s peace.


And then I struggle again with not knowing what my future holds and looking inward again because so much of my outward life has changed. Where do I find meaning and joy and connection? Where can I be of service, contribute, be of use? I think humans are hard-wired to want to serve and find meaning in caring for or participating in something other than just ourselves. I’ve recently had the privilege of helping a friend start a new business. I managed a quick Tuesday Tip video last week. I make meals for my beloved son and husband. We have conversations about the world, that are not about cancer. These things are life-giving!


How do I find moments of meaning on the weeks where I can’t muster the strength for things like this? On days where everyone else seems to going about their day (and their own struggles, I know!) and the world is passing me by?


I don’t have an answer but this morning’s meditation from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening includes this line: “This is the work of compassion: to embrace everything clearly without imposing who you are and without losing who you are”


Thanks for reading, dear ones!






Love & Possibility


Two months ago I was diagnosed with a metastatic breast cancer recurrence. Frankly the details of it bore me at this stage–this stage of feeling better. Two months in I’ve finally settled enough, having experienced what feels like a life-time’s worth of mental and emotional turmoil and growth and pain.


Like last time around I’m embracing what seems like the 7-course meal approach to healing. An amuse bouche of prayer, an appetizer of meditation, a first course of cranial sacral work, an entree of chemotherapy, a side of body work, a palate cleanser of naturopathic supplements, and a dessert buffet of love and support, leaving the sweetest taste in my whole body and spirit!


I have no idea what this new journey holds but with the love and support of this giant community I look forward to all sorts of new possibilities, to getting back to cooking, to keeping this space open and welcoming, to learning from you all and your journeys of growth and turmoil and pain. There is so much suffering AND so much love and beauty in this world.


I leave you with a poem by Mark Nepo from his book Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness


Knowing God


Oh lone crazed bird

singing in the night —


you sing with your whole body

while the rest of us sleep.


I go to close the window

when my wife touches my arm

and we listen.


You call out

like a saint robbed of words.


Are you blind and trapped

in a vision of sun?


Or do you simply see farther

than the rest of us?


Do you see the light coming?


Do you feel the beads of warmth

forming in the dark?


Oh what has stirred

that thing in you that sings?


Stir me now

Sing me clean.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

My husband is committed to chocolate chip cookies. He is also precise and thus an excellent baker. He has tinkered with this recipe over the last 8 months and has permitted its public debut here. . . in time for Valentine’s Day, which corny as it is, is also the anniversary of our first date in 1993.


My son now prefers these bars to chocolate chip cookies. They get crispy and a bit cakey around the edges and the middle stays gooey and chewy if you don’t over bake. The bit of oats–in two forms–dark brown sugar and finely chopped chocolate are all part of the symphony here. I like larger bits of chocolate just fine so skip that step if you’d like. If you like thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies these are not going to do it for you but if you’re more in the chewy, gooey camp, make them!


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Brian’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup rolled oats, chopped up a quite a bit so that it’s like a course flour almost (omit in a pinch and use 2 1/4 cups flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar, not packed

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (he uses Ghiradelli 60%), chopped up a bit (see headnote)

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup rolled oats


Preheat oven to 375 degrees


1. Generously butter a 9″ x 9″ pan (8 x 8 will not work well) and set aside.


2. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and chopped oats together in a medium bowl.


3. In a large bowl cream butter with sugars until well combined. Stir in eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. Beat well.


4. Stir in flour mixture until well combined, then add chocolate and oats.


5. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Level with an off-set spatula if you have one. Brian bakes these on convection for about 24-25 minutes. The baking is a little tricky. They should be well-browned around the edges and have puffed up in the center. A tester should not come out dry though. It will still seem moist in the center though they might look over baked. As they cool they will deflate in the center and still be chewy/gooey after this amount of baking time, in our oven and with our pan. Darker pans tend to bake more quickly and ovens vary so you may have a little trial and error and test after 22 or 23 minutes if you have a dark pan.


6. Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least 5 minutes, if you can restrain yourself. Cut into bars and enjoy. These bars keep well, better than cookies. Store fully cooled bars in the pan with a plastic bag tightly over it on the counter for up to 3 days. Or remove bars from pan and put in a sealed tin.



Kids in the Kitchen?


  • mess (especially when they’re younger)
  • things take longer
  • less adult control
  • uneven results
  • power struggles/fights 



  • fun
  • new skills (for everyone!)
  • time with your kid away from screens
  • kids have great ideas
  • less adult control
  • kids really like eating the food they make
  • more thank you’s when I cook


My teenage son has been cooking dinner once a week for almost a year now. When he turned 13 we asked him to take on this new duty. He’s hung around the kitchen episodically his whole life but the regularity of the last year has been new. I’m working on an article about getting kids (of all ages) into the kitchen and I’d love to hear how your kids help get food on the table.


I won’t pretend this year of cooking has been easy on either of us. Some of our worst fights have been on his dinner nights. I don’t know what exactly triggered them but I think it was that I wanted him to take control and he wanted me to tell him how to do everything. We persevered, with one memorable exception where he shut himself in the spare bedroom in the basement and we got take-out and started over the next night.


But things have gotten much more fun and his confidence and evident pride in taking charge and giving meals his own flair is so fun to see. Fish stick tacos (inspired by my husband’s childhood meal) are on regular rotation and he makes a mean slaw to go with them!


I think starting more regular cooking activities with him when he was younger would have been a good idea. We mostly baked together in the earlier years and he’d help chop and mix things and set and clear the table. I often just didn’t feel like I had the time to involve him regularly and really give him space. I’m sure he could tell how much I bristled at his pace, mess and incessant questions.


I would love to know how you’ve managed this, what you wish you’d done, or how things have worked out if your kids are older.


And as aside, I made my son an illustrated cookbook of the dishes he cooked most often this last year (most are my recipes that he’s adapted a bit or just loves as is). I posted about this book on social media and there was so much interest that I reproduced it in print and made digital copies available for purchase.


Credit where Credit is Due: Introducing Paige

I’ve been writing recipes for 12 years. One of the best things about this year is that I have company in that department now. My colleague, Paige has her palate and talent all over this site!


Especially during this year of isolation with fewer opportunities to meet new people and taste other people’s food, Paige’s creativity is keeping things interesting over here. She’s filling in gaps I’ve had on the site for years, like Borscht, and a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. And she brings her creativity with surprising, delicious and beautiful  “Taco Salad” with Escarole and Quinoa and so much more.


As a solopreneur for so many years, having a partner in the kitchen (even virtually) is such a gift. I actually never thought I’d be able to let go enough to have someone else create recipes for Cook With What I Have. Little did I realize how freeing it is to share this creative space.


I hope you enjoy some of Paige’s recipes this holiday season and beyond.




While there are many variations of borscht, this version using beets is closest to a traditional Ukranian borscht. It’s a delicious and hearty soup with a nice tang from the red wine vinegar. The soup isn’t necessarily quick to make, but it’s not difficult. If you want it to have the characteristic deep red color, make it a day ahead of serving.



  • Make vegetarian by leaving out the beef and using vegetable stock. Add minced garlic for more depth of flavor
  • If you’d like to skip the roasting step, simply add the chopped veggies to the pot once the meat is cooked and simmer until tender
  • Vary the vegetables or amounts of vegetables based on what you have/prefer


Makes 6-8 servings


2 tablespoons oil, divided

1 lb. stew beef

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

8 cups beef broth, divided

1 1/2 – 2 lbs beets, peeled and chopped

5 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped

4 cups thinly sliced cabbage

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill, divided

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

Salt and pepper

Sour cream for serving


1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add beef to the pot and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Add onion and celery to the pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until meat is tender and easily pulls apart, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the meat pieces.


2. While meat is simmering, heat oven to 400 degrees. Add beets and carrots to a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then add the potatoes to the pan and toss with a teaspoon of oil. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes until they are just tender.


3. Once the meat is tender, add the roasted vegetables, the remaining 4 cups of broth, the sliced cabbage and 1/2 cup of dill to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the cabbage and all the vegetables are tender. Add red wine vinegar, taste and adjust seasoning.


4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with the remaining dill.



Where to Find Joy These Days + a Savory Galette

I imagine most of us are drawing on inner reserves or finding new tools to cope with the continued stresses and isolation this pandemic is causing. Some of us are lucky to have jobs and homes, some of us not so much. With fewer distractions than pre-COVID life, on my good days at least, I’ve been able to find much joy and gratitude everywhere I look–the roof over my head and food in my pantry and family members I still very much love, the falling leaves, neighboring houses decked out with lights and the beautiful moon.


Usually this time of year is filled with parties, concerts and school performances and travels to see loved ones. What are you doing to celebrate and enjoy the season? What new traditions are you starting? Walks through festive neighborhoods? Zoom parties? Distanced cookie deliveries? How can we share the bounty we may have with others? (See below for a few organizations I love to support.)


Lucky for me I get to invite you into my kitchen and peek into yours as I continue to teach live, virtual classes. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how warm and inviting even a Zoom event can be though I’m still dreaming of a smell-o-vision feature or some crazy Charlie-and-the chocolate-factory-type device that could transport the goodies I’m creating directly into your kitchens in real time!


I’m teaching one next Wednesday, December 9th on sweet and savory holiday treats. It’s fun to do with friends or family far away as we can all come together in our kitchens in the moment. One of the dishes we’ll make is this caramelized onion and winter squash galette, seasoned with sage and cayenne. It’s a winner!


Caramelized Onion & Winter Squash Galette
–Inspired by


In this version all I had was delicata squash so I didn’t peel it and it worked just fine. I’ve also taken to not peeling butternut squash so feel free to skip that step if a little (tender) skin doesn’t bother you.


For the Galette pastry:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
1/4 cup plain, preferably whole milk yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ice water (or just add enough to bring the dough together)

For the filling:
About 3-4 cups diced winter squash (either butternut or delicata–no need to peel, see headnote or any other type of winter squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 ½ large onions, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh or dried sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)


For the the pastry dough:


1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or pulse a few times in the food processor or use your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized pieces too. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and water and drizzle mixture over flour and butter and using a fork, quickly stir it to combine. Bring the lumps together into a ball and knead it for a few seconds just to bring it together. Do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 (it keeps for 48 hours in the fridge if you’re making it ahead).


2. Toss winter squash pieces with just a little of the olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool slightly.


3. While squash is roasting, heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add onions and sage with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt.  Saute for a few minutes until onions begin to soften, then turn down to medium-low, cover  and stirring occasionally, cook until soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne. Taste adjust for salt and/or spice.


4. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Gently mix squash, caramelized onions and cheese together in a bowl.


To assemble:

5. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 14-inch round. Transfer to an un-greased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Drizzle evenly with the balsamic vinegar, if using. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, slightly overlapping/pleating the edge as you go around.


6. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then slide the tart onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.


Portland-area organizations doing critical work to support our neighbors in need:



Be well and keep cooking!



Small wins? Big wins? One and the same?

I was sitting at the table working when my son (13) asked for some water. He couldn’t seem to find his usual glass. He walked by my work station and asked if he could have some of mine, which of course he could. . . About 15 minutes later I look up and my water glass is full.


Did my son refill my water glass after emptying it and replace it? Yes. Did he make note of doing so? No. Did it take me 15 minutes to notice because I was deep in work? Yes! Did this make me happy beyond measure? I think you know the answer.


Adolescence is often associated with selfish behavior. Their worlds seem to revolve around them, their needs and wants. I’ve been seeing more glimpses of maturity and thoughtfulness lately. So often our children are also our teachers and his simple act certainly made my day as a parent. It also was a reminder, as cliched as it sounds, of being mindful, noticing the little moments.


These days are hard and fraught with so many (local to global) challenges. In order to show up every day and be of service, and care for those I love, for strangers and for myself, I have to find daily moments of joy. Moments of seeing the people around me fully. Seeing them without my baggage of what I assume they will do or say.


Cooking continues to bring me joy and I am interested in how cooking is working for you these days. Can you bring fresh eyes to it? I’ve been in bit of a creative slump but yesterday popped out of it with a fabulous adaptation of jambalaya that was full of vegetables (and a little meat) including a whole savoy cabbage (recipe coming soon). Ah, the little things that make me smile!


The other great joy I have is connecting with people. I’ve started teaching public virtual (live) cooking classes and have one this Wednesday evening at 5pm PDT. You can kick back with a favorite beverage or cook along and have dinner ready by the end. I would simply love to have you “in” my kitchen as we cook and find some moments to notice the little and big stuff!


With great fondness,





On Poaching a Chicken & Hungry Teenagers

My almost 14-year-old is always hungry and wants meat! We have traditionally not eaten much meat but after my extensive chemo therapy a few years ago I started eating more to rebuild my blood, which I was reminded of yesterday when my son said: “the only good thing that came out of your cancer was that we now eat more meat!”


There are of course other studies that show limiting or eliminating animal products potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer reoccurrence. So, the kid wants meat, I probably should limit it, AND we’re lucky to have access to plenty of delicious and nutritious food so it’s a luxury problem for sure.


Also, raising and eating meat is complicated. Industrial meat production wreaks havoc on people, planet and the animals themselves. And regenerative agriculture can build soil, sequester carbon and produce excellent meat. Who has access to that meat is another tricky question. Much work is to be done to move away from industrial and make regenerative more feasible and the products more accessible. . . .

Meantime, if you get your hands on a whole chicken, poach it, because:

  • ~3 quarts of rich broth
  • Tender meat that comes off the bone easily
  • Less messy than roasting

If you paid $20+ for that farm-raised chicken you can easily get 4 meals out of it, and far more if you count all the ways you’ll use the broth.  . . That is if you use the chicken like in the salad pictured above and other dishes where the meat is a component or accent but not the bulk of the meal.


So far with this about 3.5 lb poached chicken I’ve made:

  • Thai curry with some of the broth and meat, coconut milk, red peppers, potatoes and basil over rice
  • Tacos with the meat seasoned with chili powder and briefly satueed
  • Quesadillas with lots of cilantro
  • Cabbage, vermicelli, salad with soy/fish sauce/lime vinaigrette and toasted peanuts
  • I still have enough meat left for a couple of tacos or a burrito which my kid will put away as a snack any time of day
  • I have 2 quarts of broth left for risotto, soup, pipian, . . . .


Poaching a Chicken

One 3.5 – 4lb chicken fully thawed if previously frozen.


1. Rinse the chicken and giblets/neck (if there were any) under cold running water and shake off any water.


2. Put the chicken in a large pot with ½ an onion, chopped up a bit, 1-2 carrots, quartered, 3 stalks celery and any attached celery leaves, chopped up a bit. You can skip the celery in a pinch as I had to above.


3. Add 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns; a clove of garlic (peeled and crushed); 2 bay leaves and a couple sprigs of thyme and parsley if you have them.


4. Cover the chicken with water, add 2 teaspoons sea or Kosher salt and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.


5. Turn off the heat and let chicken sit in the broth to cool for 30 minutes (or longer). Remove the chicken and transfer it to pan or a rimmed baking sheet to cool further. Check to see if the chicken is fully cooked and the meat comes off the bones easily and the juices run clear. Strain and use broth immediately or strain into quart or pint jars and refrigerate or freeze for future use. Use it for soup, risotto, sauces like Pipian Verde, etc. The chicken will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up about 6 days.


6. When the chicken is cool enough to handle pull off all the meat.


The juicy poached chicken meat is wonderful in chicken noodle soup, chicken salad, enchiladas, moles, tacos, curries, chicken pot pie, pasta dishes, etc. Alternately, you could let the poached chicken cool for about five minutes and then just pull it apart into the main eight pieces (two each of breast, thigh, drumstick and wing) and serve with the broth and some potatoes and a green salad.


2 Carrots, 2 Zucchini & Why Cooking is Magic

It’s easy to be in ruts these days. So easy! Watching The Office over and over (the 13-year-old that is but we live in a small house so we ALL are in it for better or worse!). Grabbing bags of potato chips every time you’re at the store and going to bed way too late . . . The ruts may not be bad but they may be dull and dulling the senses.


What can happen if you have very little time, a few vegetables, a box grater, leftover peanut sauce, a few herbs? The vegetables are two carrots and one and a half zucchini. I could have made carrots and zucchini sticks and dipped them in peanut sauce but I dislike raw zucchini and that doesn’t really sound satisfying. . .at all!


But when you grate those vegetables (a box grater makes quick work of them and is easy to wash) and saute them for 5 minutes in a large, hot skillet with some olive oil and salt, they transform into something entirely satisfying. Tender, a little caramelized but not mushy AND the perfect foil for that leftover sauce–whatever sauce or vinaigrette you might have.


I still wonder at how a few simple steps can transform something kind of blah into something so good. And we all get in cooking/eating ruts. This little lunch number broke me out of mine today. It put a smile on my face. I think I’ll enjoy this new box-grater-veg-saute-plus-sauce rut for a while though. . .


Happy cooking and be well!


Peanut/Tahini Sauce


You can make this sauce with all peanut butter too but I particularly like the tahini peanut butter combo. And this is a very flexible sauce and you can eye ball most of the ingredients and taste and adjust. It keeps well on the fridge for 5 days.


1/4 cup tahini
2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 large clove of garlic, minced or 1 small stalk green garlic, minced
Dried or fresh hot pepper of your choice, to taste
2 teaspoons grated or finely minced, fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water to thin out the dressing, more if needed


Whisk dressing ingredients until emulsified and smooth. Taste for seasoning. The dressing should be quite strong. Thin it out with water as needed.


So Many Vegetables: Salad Template + Blackberry Slump


It’s the time of year where the joy of abundance meets occasional panic. Will I get to it before it goes bad?! Can I find new ways of enjoying it in the moment and preserving it for the future? . . . in particular as my teenage son’s tastes change and he dislikes vegetables he used to love . . . Maybe this will be the year he starts liking raw tomatoes!


Are you cooking more these days? Did you plant salad greens and zucchini and now have bolting lettuce and more squash than you know what to do with? Are the greens from your CSA taking up half of your fridge? Do you need simpler preparations for fava beans or fennel?


As we’ve been quasi-quarantined for months now I’ve so enjoyed sharing the cook-with-what-you-have MO: a well-stocked pantry, fewer trips to the store, less food waste and more quick, creative, delicious and nutritious meals.


This note just landed in my in-box from a long-time subscriber to my site:


“This (spicy stir-fried noodles) is yet another in what seems like an infinitely long string of wonderful, flavor-bursting recipes from Katherine. I am remiss for not commenting individually on each of them! But suffice it to say that when my wife and I see a recipe that looks interesting, we quickly scan it for the flavor additives. This often seems to reveal how we’re going to like it, before going to all the effort buying the ingredients and trying it out. With Katherine’s recipes, we long ago stopped this pre-scanning step. If it looks good at first blush, we know it will be wonderful, and proceed to fold it into the week’s menus. And it always is! Also long ago, we stopped all our recipe (magazine) subscriptions. We now only need one, Cook with what you have!”


As of today there are 1000 recipes on my site! I’ve poured almost a dozen years into this business and the breadth and depth and beauty of vegetables (and fruit and lots of other ingredients) is not nearly exhausted.


And I want you to subscribe to Cook With What You Have! I’ve just lowered the annual subscription price to $49.99. The monthly cost is still $5.99 if you just want to try it out. I promise you’ll save more than the subscription cost in a just a week or so of cooking-with-what-you-have!


  • I want you to know you can jump on the site 30 minutes before you need to eat and find something that will use what you already have on hand, fill your belly and maybe make you smile.
  • I want you to know that all you might need is a big skillet, olive oil and salt and whatever vegetable you have will probably be improved by a little time in that pan!
  • I won’t list all the fruit desserts that I’ve gathered in a new-ish dessert category but the blackberry slump is a great place to start.
  • I want you to know that the joy and ease and fun of cooking with what you have and making it your own will be worth it!
  • And there are no ads! No pop-ups blocking ingredient lists or reviews, just straight up recipes and more and more beautiful photos.


Finally, here’s a template for a crunchy, bright green salad that has been fun to play with for quick lunches or a central part of dinner on hot nights. Add fresh berries or stone fruit and don’t forget those toasted seeds and nuts I’m so passionate about always having on hand. Top it off with lots of mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill or any combination thereof!


Happy summer and happy cooking!

With love and in solidarity, 



*** I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to have access to fresh produce AND food should be a right not a privilege. The disparities in access to healthy food, health care and resources are exacerbated by COVID-19 and systemic racism in the US. It’s jarring to write about beautiful greens one minute and read about civil rights abuses the next and I want to acknowledge that here. We all need to be well-nourished to keep fighting for a more just and loving and equitable society. In my region the Equitable Giving Circle is directly empowering BIPOC communities and  Salem Harvest is an excellent model of coming together to support food-insecure folks with fresh produce. Civil Eats and Food First and The Counter are all providing excellent reporting on local and systemic food system matters. Check them all out!


Cook-with-what-you-have Green Salad

Salads are superb templates. Sometimes all you need is a few greens lightly dressed. But sometimes a slightly more substantial green salad with crunch, a little sweetness, and maybe a little spice is in order.  In the winter you might make this heartier one.


You will need to taste and adjust your version to balance the tart and sweet and crunch as ingredients vary widely. Add a pinch of sugar if your dried fruit is quite tart.



  • Use thinly sliced sweet peppers, snap or snow peas, kohlrabi, celery or cucumbers instead of or in addition to the carrots.
  • Add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Use whatever toasted seeds or nuts (roughly chopped) you have.
  • Substitute large, toasted bread crumbs or small croutons for the nuts/seeds


Serves 4


8 cups romaine or other head lettuce of your choice or a combination of arugula and lettuce

2 medium carrots, grated

2 scallions, white and green parts very thinly sliced

1/2 cup tender herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 cup toasted almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts or pecans, roughly chopped or pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1/3 cup dates, chopped (or dried apricots, cranberries, golden raisins)

1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno or other fresh hot pepper (or add some chili flakes or dried chili to the dressing)


1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or vinegar of your choice or lemon juice), more to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil, more to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and toss well, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.


Reflections from the Heart & the Kitchen


I have not explicitly written about racism on this platform before even though I’ve shared plenty of personal experiences, from my journey with breast cancer to the challenges and joys of parenting. Cooking and sharing food is deeply personal as is the anti-black racism in this country. Our food system is riddled with injustice, exploitation and racism, as COVID-19 has magnified.


It is hard to unravel all the ways in which I perpetuate systemic racism in America. It comes with knots in my stomach and tightness in my chest. But I have to talk about it. What is more important than love and liberation? That is the goal, so how do we get there? What better place to continue this work than over a shared meal?! I will continue to read and listen, reflect and find specific ways to integrate this work here at Cook With What You Have. I don’t know yet how it will manifest itself but there is plenty of material and urgency!


With love and hope and solidarity,




Rhubarb Orange Pudding Cake & Baking With What You Have

I honest-to-god didn’t want to eat another brownie and didn’t crave a piece of pie as soon as I finished my last bite of lunch this week. The quarantine baking show at our house has been pretty intense and this week I actually took a break.


However, there is rhubarb and rhubarb is wonderful. And after a few sweet-free days I couldn’t resist coming up with something quick and adaptable and delicious to share. Luckily our neighbors are still eager to eat the treats coming out of our “inventing room” (please imagine that being said by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) so I can keep inventing and don’t have to eat it all myself.


A few stalks of rhubarb and a not-very-vibrant-anymore orange inspired this concoction that I’m calling a pudding cake. It’s not quite fruit-heavy enough to be a cobbler and it’s just custardy enough not to be a sliceable cake. It’s a quick affair, doesn’t call for eggs or butter and can be adapted based on your likes. I can’t wait to try it with other fruit, other flours and spices. And if you use a non-dairy milk it will be vegan. Please report back if you make it and vary it!

Happy Mother’s day to all you mother’s out there!


Rhubarb Orange Pudding Cake

Figuring out what to bake it in might be your biggest challenge. I used an 11-inch round ceramic tart pan of sorts. You need something bigger than a typical pie pan. I thought a 9 x 13″ baking dish might be good but I’ve gotten feedback that it seems a little big. I just love the look of the round cake here. You don’t want it to be too deep as I think you’ll lose some of the appeal. And if you’re using a round pan be sure to bake it on a sheet pan in case it bubbles over like mine did.


This is what it looks like right before it goes in the oven.


Serves 6-8


For the fruit:

4 heaping cups rhubarb, washed trimmed and sliced into 1/2- 3/4″ pieces

Scant 1/2 cup sugar

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange, about 1/3 cup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons lemon juice


For the batter:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I think spelt flour would be fabulous or a combo of whole wheat and apf or any other combo you want to try)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (if you have whole pods crush them in a mortar, remove seeds and grind those for a much greater effect than most already ground cardamom has)

Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup whole milk (I imagine a non-dairy milk would work well but haven’t tried it)

4 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons turbinado (or other very coarse) sugar


Preheat oven to 375.


Put the rhubarb in a medium bowl with the sugar and orange zest. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the orange juice and when it’s a smooth slurry add the reminder of the orange and lemon juice, mix well and stir it into the rhubarb.


I another bowl whisk the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Pour in the milk and olive oil. Whisk quickly to combine evenly. A few little lumps are fine. The batter won’t be very thick.


Put the fruit in your baking dish (no need to grease). See headnote about appropriate baking dishes. Pour the batter over the fruit. Don’t worry about covering it evenly. Pockets of uncovered fruit are good and add variety. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the batter. Put the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes. The fruit juices should be thick and bubbling and the top golden brown and beginning to crack and no raw batter visible when tested.


Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream if you’d like!

What Works Today May Not Work Tomorrow


How are you? Right now I’m fine. But I need a more robust emotional/mental tool belt these days. Being compassionate with ourselves–all cooped up and stressed out and un-showered and less-groomed and parenting all-the-damn-time and cooking three-meals-a-day–is pretty darn important. The most useful tool frankly is remembering that the feelings–however intense and hard–will pass.


I’ve had more moments of not wanting to cook and being irritated at the mundane effort it all takes, the weight of the widespread trauma and suffering in the world, or just the exhaustion of daily technical challenges that suck my soul dry. So I’m digging a little deeper, by paying attention when I do something that makes me feel better. . . sometimes the usual walk around the block, a few deep breaths, or a handful of chocolate chips does the trick. Sometimes facing the fear or frustration head-on, like diving into yet another tutorial on Zoom webinars, actually restores some sense of peace. I don’t want to be afraid of any of it, of the new systems I have to learn and I don’t want to expect to get it right all the time. Some days Zoom feels like a gift, some days like overcooked four-day-old Brussels Sprouts!


One thing I have loved is recording more videos for you all–quick 30 second Tuesday Tips evolved into far more frequent ones when self-isolation first started. Longer how-to videos on everything from the best pie dough technique to quick lunches  to spiced cauliflower steaks and my beloved Kaiserschmarren.




Most of these videos have been posted on Instagram but they are now all collected on a Vimeo channel. If you need a little entertainment or inspiration or distraction check it out and subscribe so you’ll see the new ones as they post. Maybe something will make you a laugh or give you an idea for dinner or make you feel a little less alone.


Love to you all!



No More Clumping Cheese: The Carbonara Principle for Mac ‘n Cheese

Do you need to make a quick lunch/dinner for kids or anyone? Still in the clothes you slept in? Back/neck aching from sitting in the most un-ergonomically sound position with your laptop? Stomach growling loud enough you think you have to  mute yourself on Zoom?


This isn’t a saucy mac and cheese but delicious and faster than homemade mac and cheese and basically as fast as boxed. You apply the pasta carbonara principle to create a light creamy sauce that smoothly incorporates the cheese using no cream or milk at all (neither of which I have at the moment).


In this version I used:


one egg and one leftover egg white (because my husband’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe uses 1 egg and 1 egg yolk) but you should use 2 whole eggs if you have them

about 2/3 – 1 cup grated cheese (mostly Parm, a little sharp cheddar)

lots of freshly ground black pepper

large clove of minced garlic

some fresh herbs

1 lb pasta


You whisk everything but the pasta together in a bowl. Cook the pasta in plenty of well-salted water. Scoop out about 1/3 -2/3 cup cooking water just before you drain pasta.  Put the pasta back in the pot. Add the egg mixture to the pasta along with 1/3 cup (to start) of the hot cooking water and stir like mad for a few seconds. Add more cooking water if too thick. If thin seeming put back on a low burner for a few seconds and stir as the egg in the sauce thickens a bit.


Et Voila! No clumping cheese, silky sauce, happy tummy!


P.S. You could add a glug of olive oil or some butter for even more luscious results.


The Comfort of Cooking (Beans) in Uncertain Times

When I look into my pantry and see colorful dry beans, lentils, grains and spices I’m comforted. When I find frozen blueberries and salmon, extra butter, stock and bread in the freezer I feel lucky beyond compare.


I’m a bit of a homebody and we all know how much I love beans so the advice being dished out in these uncertain times–stay home, cook beans, skip the grocery store if possible–makes me feel useful. If I can cook for people and share all those beans I stock, I’m delighted to do so.


Whether or not my immediate community will need to take more stringent precautions, I’ve been thinking about the resilience and also the joy and small pleasures and daily comforts that making and sharing meals gives us. Caring for ourselves and each other, one pot of beans at a time seems like a good place to start today.


Leek, Cabbage & White Bean Soup with Herb Stems (yes, they made this soup so darn good!)


I buy a bunch of cilantro and parsley every week (unless I have enough parsley in my garden) and when I’m in a hurry I twist off however many leaves I want from the bunch for whatever it is I’m making. Eventually I’m left with a bunch of stems and a few straggling leaves. I used an entire bunch of parsley and cilantro stems (finely chopped) in this soup and I think it’s what made it particularly good. So use those stems! I’m sure they’d be good in most any soup, just chop finely.


This makes a lot of soup and it is even better the next day or the next.


You can also serve it over toasted bread rubbed with garlic.


Serves 6+


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 large leeks, trimmed, carefully washed and cut into thin half rounds

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried sage

Lots of parsley and/or cilantro stems, washed and finely chopped (see headnote)

1 small savoy or regular green cabbage, chopped (about 10 cups worth)

1/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper

3 cups cooked/canned white beans and 3 cups bean cooking liquid if you cooked your beans or 3 -4 cups vegetable broth or water

1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil for serving


Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme and sage and saute/braise for 10-15 minutes until everything is softening and beginning to brown. The vegetables will give off some liquid so it will be stewing more than sauteing.  Add the herb stems and hot pepper and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the beans, bean cooking liquid/broth and cabbage and bring to a simmer. If it looks too thick add a bit more water or broth. Simmer for 10 minutes to soften cabbage and marry the flavors. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper and more hot pepper if you’d like. Serve hot or warm with plenty of olive oil drizzled over.  This keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days and freezes well.


Serve over toasted bread rubbed with garlic if you’d like or with an hardboiled egg.