Sunday, December 21, 2014

the pollen family table + the mullies family table

"this is the dish of awesomeness mom."
- mac

"i kind of like it. i really like the sausages. now can i get 3 chocolates?"
- tommy

"i really like it, it's the best thing ever."
- abbie

= my kids reaction over the pollan family table's inspired baked ziti (how i've never made this dish before... i don't know...)

let's get to it.

i have been given the pleasure to review a new cookbook:

the pollan family table 

"My Grandmother Mary taught us, "Cooking is not a science, but an art, mistakes are ok, messes are fine - The pleasure is in the creating and the sharing of the result."
- Lori Pollan @PollanFamilyTable.

about two and a half years ago, i gave away/donated most of my cookbooks. i was in the early throws of our family food change and i reasoned if the cookbook didn't fit my new standards of clean food or if it wasn't gluten free, it just couldn't stay.

my perspective is evolving quite a bit. nowadays, i am drawn towards cookbooks that have something more to offer than just a required list of amazing recipes. i want a story. i want to go into an author(s) mind and go on a journey. is there a common thread to connect our kitchens and pantries? why do they love food? what made them write a cookbook? can this book help me & my family get more "cooked"?

the pollan ladies (corky, lori, dana & tracy) are the masterminds behind this new cookbook. lori, dana and tracy's brother, michael pollan, joined the family cookbook party and wrote its poignant forward.

from the get go, this book tapped into my earliest of food memories, the family tables that shaped my life. about a paragraph in, i looked up and closed two dampish eyes (i am a major weeper). first, it brought me back to sitting at my childhood family table with my mom, dad, sister and brother. our meals, our laughter, our ups and downs... growing up with mom's famous lasagna, waffles.every.weekend, steak dinners, tuna casserole (oh i need to make that again!). my dad unequivocally teaching me the art of food experimentation (close your eyes lindsey and taste this!)

secondly, it took me back to my "'s" family table. my grandma dorothy canning everything from her huge garden; i can still taste her peaches on my tongue; her rolls were made by hand with local lard (cinnamon rolls were the very best); my favorite job was picking fresh beans from her garden for dinner (and eating them raw of course); she was the first person i had ever known to make homemade salad dressing (because my grandpa tom hated "that crap in the bottle").

thirdly, i traveled back to my aunt valerie's family table and my "grandma.on.the.lake's" family table where emil and millie inspired us to make and eat kolachki, potica, cream sausage, beet salad, cucumber salad, and crab dip with endless fruit-veggie-cracker spreads - the mullies kitchen sits in the footprint of their quaint cottage i miss almost everyday.

ooooohhhh the memories of these family tables and all who dined together with us!

this cookbook successfully wove together my past, present and future kitchens: memories of cooking and eating as a child, teenager, adult, wife and mom well into 14 years of marriage and a family food change. all of it swirling together with my current daydreams of my children (all grown up) cooking in their own kitchens and coming back home to me.

what kind of food memories will i leave in my children as my mother and grandmothers have given to me? will mac, abbie and tommy wax poetic about dishes from their childhood and request recipes to make over and over again?

so i just asked them: "what are your favorite dishes that i make?

mac: "the dish you made last night and homemade pizza"

tommy: "taco nachos with cheese"

abbie: "homemade pizza, taco nachos, ribs, the cheesy pasta we had last night and smoothies."

honest food sophistication.

gulp. i'm in the process RIGHT NOW of forging their food memories. i've made plenty of mouth watering dishes for the kids (+ plenty of thumbs down meals) but perhaps i haven't made any dishes often enough (other than pizza, tacos and nachos apparently) for my kids to be remembering them enough to request them.

this list must blossom in 2015.

what perfect timing for the pollan family table to enter into my kitchen. i clearly need some help in forging a shifley family table full of favorite meals. lori, dana and tracy all have kids, they all lead busy busy lives and these recipes work at their family tables. and that's exactly what i am looking for:

time tested
thumbs up
belly filling
dishes of awesomeness

to get my kids waxing poetic and coming back for more at our family table = a 2015 new year's resolution.

michael pollan explains it perfectly in his forward:

"My mother and sisters are not professional cooks, and this, oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly), probably explains why this eminently practical cookbook really works. Because most of us aren't professional cooks either. They never lose sight of the few core principles that set this cookbook apart: All the dishes can be made with ingredients available at any American supermarket; most can be put on the table in less than an hour (some in half that time); the recipes take nothing for granted and never assume lots of prior experience in the kitchen; and they all appeal equally to kids and adults."

this book is not a special diet book. anyone can cook from it no matter where one is on the food continuum. they don't overly proselytize about eating "healthy" or tell you to cut this or that out of your diet. the focus stays on cooking, sharing and togetherness around the table. they discuss the importance of using fresh, organic, local and sustainably sourced ingredients when you can & when budgets allow. if you are on a special diet or if you have an allergy, substituting for it should be a snap (many recipes are naturally gluten free!). i like to cook plant based as much as possible so i'm itching to try out the"vegetarian and meatless monday" section on my family. most importantly, their pantry item list is no fuss, simple and solid. i super love the "culinary ABC" section and "sage advice" - it is so helpful to have these vital tips & practical (best friend) explanations of cooking terms all in ONE PLACE.

the pollan family got me thinking about what kind of family table i want to create, about what really happens when we all get a chance to sit down and share a family meal. our table captures the full range of human emotions... a 5, 8, 10, 37 and 41 year old's happiness, sadness, frustration and excitement... you name it and we've been there. it's a pendulum swinging back and forth, teaching and breathing life into our hectic, hungry souls. thank you pollan family for helping me to embrace everything that happens when we sit down together.

so our pollan family table adventure begins with baked ziti.

this ridiculously simple recipe sent mac back for three helpings and sent us all to.the.mullies with my best cooking compliment yet. i subbed in some breakfast leftovers - farmer nick's bacon and sausage (a local lake county farm that produces antibiotic free, pasture raised livestock) that i buy now from our new mundelein gem: dakotah's indoor farmer's market. you better betcha the kids and i will be back to make those luscious turkey meatballs soon!!

baked ziti with bacon and sausage
inspired by the pollan family table's "golden baked ziti with bite-size turkey meatballs" pg 158

sea salt
1 pound gluten free ziti
4 strips of antibiotic free/nitrate free bacon
6 links of antibiotic free/nitrate free pork sausage
1 c of homemade tomato sauce (i had leftovers i needed to use!)
1.5-2 c grated manchego cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees. salt boiling water and add pasta. cook pasta until "al dente, about three minutes less than directions on the package. meanwhile, chop up the bacon and sausage. drain the pasta and transfer it all back into the still hot cooking pot. dump in about a cup of pasta sauce (mine was leftover, thick tomato soup) plus the meat and mix thoroughly. dump it all into a baking dish and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

"it has some sort of cheese layer over it and the cheese layer makes me die of awesomeness because it is so good. it has bacon, i mean, who doesn't like bacon. i don't know how you did it mom, but you put all my favorite foods in one dish. i love it."  - mac

a worm hole has opened to my past, present and future. i am quilting my kitchen & cooking adventures into fabric made from food and family. for good food is the one thing we can never walk away from nor stop from doing. eating and cooking well is the one thing i hope my kids will do with or without me.

it's time to eat and cook more together for good food is for-ever. thank you pollan family for inspiring me and my evolving family table.

now i need to go call my sister - cuz i have a book i really need to talk to her about...

we have some recipes to tackle together katie!!!

i'm so excited your family will be joining my family in our new sister series:
to the mullies with the pollans - coming soon in 2015.


comment below with your favorite childhood food memory (who do you remember first cooking with?) and i'll enter you into my.very.first.mullies.drawing for your very own copy of the pollan family table cookbook. on behalf of the pollan clan and myself, we can't WAIT to give it to you!

**the contest starts today and ends on 12/31/2014 so that you can join me in revolutionizing your family table in 2015**

here's mine:

my 1st "cooking" memory: in 8th grade, my mom called from work and asked me to get the blueberry muffins started. it was my first solo job. i thought to myself, "i'm making bread!" therefore, "mix by hand" = stick my fingers in the eggs, oil and powder and go to kneading town.  "wait... where is my ball of dough?" i'll never forget my mom calling me to see how it went and her laughing and laughing... when i questioned why it stuck so horribly to my fingers. she explained, "mix by hand" meant mix with a spoon/whisk you silly willy.


  1. first of all, you MUST keep the individual kids "comments" listed per recipe because that is awesome (;

    i have to enter your first giveaway because healthy cookbook!!! hellers!

    my mom was great about home cooked meals every night, she did all of the cooking so i don't remember actually helping (i guess i wasn't too big of a help haha -- although i think i did a lot of dishes!!) so my best food memories would be more as an adult -- i made my first from scratch pie crust this year and it wasn't perfect, but it was a great start and pie crust is intimidating to me (anything dough based seems so hard!). my most favorite in-the-kitchen moments are when someone eats one of my baked goods and has no idea it's vegan - super score!!!

    1. Yea bunny!! I will definitely do a individual kid comment per recipe from NOW ON!:) So happy you liked the post so much and HELLO my first responder!!! whoo hoooo! love your memory and i MUST try your pie crust recipe:) super score!!!!!! xoxoxo

  2. OHHHH I love a good cookbook!!!

    My first childhood memory is connected to preparing for Christmas Eve diner with my Grandma. Since we don't eat fish on Christmas (many Italians celebrate the feast of the 7 fishes) we would go over to her house a day before and help her make ravioli and gnocchi. Every flat surface of her basement would be covered with ravioli and the grandchildren would be responsible for helping with the gnocchi. We used a piece of corrigated cardboard and rolled the gnocchi over it to make the lines. Grandma would demonstrate it for us telling us to do it "just so". So many good memories of cooking with her and now we still celebrate Christmas Eve by only having fish and the kids have to help ; ) Here's the memories in the kitchen!

  3. The cookbook sounds amazing!

    My first memory of cooking is with my Grammy. She made the most amazing homemade chicken and dumplings from scratch! Ahhh those were the days! We would make the dough for the dumplings spending time rolling the dough out and spending time talking in the kitchen. I have yet to find a chicken and dumpling recipe that compares to hers. Every time I see or eat them I always think of her. She would even make them for me when I would come home from college for a visit. So sweet and such wonderful memories.


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