Author Archives: Susan Tormollen

I just read a great blog post at It’s about   picking a super hero persona…one to help you power through your goals.

“Make the superhero version of yourself do all of the things that you’re afraid of or struggling with. Why? Because superheroes attack problems in way different ways than a normal cubicle dweller. That’s why they exist – to do stuff that ordinary people can’t.”

I love this idea. When I feel too tired to workout, my super hero won’t, when I’m discouraged, my super hero will be thinking of ways to solve problems and save the world. Kind of like an imaginary friend, but better…because it isn’t imaginary. It is just  me.

I like “The Magnet” — attracting needed energy and resources. What do you think? Who will you choose?

  • Photo Credit: iStockphoto

Thursday was my first “eat local all day” day. My observations:

1) Eating Local Takes Planning

Unless you do it daily, you will need to think through what you want to eat and where you need to buy the ingredients. I can see that it gets easier and quicker the more you do it

2) Eating Local, at least in winter, costs the same as eating organic

You won’t save money by eating local, unless you are willing to REALLY plan out where and when to buy the ingredients (local farms, canned fruits from summer, etc). But, it costs about the same as buying organic.

3) Eating Local is fun and delicious

Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter and jam (I ran out of time to make the eggs)

Lunch: Ballard cheddar cheese, bread, apple, carrots

Dinner: Cashew crusted trout, sweet potatoes, greens

Snack: Hot and spicy pecans

Cashew Crusted Trout w/ Greens and Sweet Potatoes

There were a few ingredients that were hard to find, including locally made crackers, fruits, vegetables, and I opted out of making fresh bread crumbs with local bread. It also appears the only local vegetables readily available are potatoes, onions, and winter squash. I expanded my definition of “local” to the west coast to include organic apples, carrots and swiss chard.

Overall, the planning and shopping was fun for me and my daughter, the day was full of delicious meals and I learned more about local providers and brands.

And, a special call out to City Peanut Shop who made the day’s eating extra tasty with fresh-ground peanut butter, locally roasted cashews, and locally roasted sweet and spicy pecans.

My friend Janet Hawkins Moore is eating local during the month of January (in Boise, Idaho…not as easy as some more temperate climates). Looking at her first day’s post, it looks like a delicious initiative.

When I first saw Janet’s  post about eating local, I thought “Good idea, and since I already do a lot of local shopping, it won’t be hard”. But, I’m realizing it takes a lot more planning than I anticipated, at least in the beginning.

And, since I didn’t want to rock the boat too much on New Year’s Day, I simply monitored my normal eating (we had some great food yesterday…including leftover cake for breakfast and spicy shrimp for dinner! Yeehaw!) Turns out, only about 20% of the ingredients I used were local (fresh pasta, local milk, local honey) and although I buy organic vegetables from Brown Box Organics and The Boise Co-op, I’m not actually sure if they are locally grown.

So…this will be a learning adventure.

The Plan: Eat entirely local one day per week this month. Observe and chronicle my observations and learnings.

Stay posted! This week’s local day is Thursday. I’ll post my first “findings” then.

Happy New Year!

I don’t usually like grape juice. But this weekend while at the Farmer’s Market, one of my daughter’s classmates was handing out grape juice samples. She was working so hard (she is in 5th grade) and helping her grandparents, how could I not buy a $5 jar of fresh Galena Grape Juice?

When I arrived home, I poured some over ice and took a sip. Delicious….so much so, that I can NOT WAIT to get more this weekend at the market.

My suggestion to you…run, don’t walk, to your local farmer’s market or local vineyard and see if you can get some fresh grape juice of your own!

And, now that I have a new passion (I don’t use the term “nectar of the gods” often), here are a few things I may try this weekend with grapes:

1) Sausages with Grape Sauce, which is a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks “Intercourses, An Aphrodisiac Cookbook”. I highly recommend this cookbook….and NOT for THAT reason, hee,hee…though THAT is a good reason, of course. Every recipe I’ve made from the cookbook turns out great and is relatively simple. Here is a similar recipe I found online at Lidia’s Italy.

2) Click here to learn how to make your own homemade grape juice (sounds a little messy, but could be fun)

3) And, I did an online search for “Galena Grape Cocktail” and read about one that had only two ingredients: Galena Grape Juice and Vodka!


I get it now….the  joy and rapture felt by the mean food critic in the movie, “Ratatouille.” Do you remember that scene…the emotion, the memories, the savoring every single bite???

After I saw the movie, I made ratatouille for the first time. It was ok. Nothing special; probably because I used out-of-season ingredients. (tisk, tisk—I should know better.)

Monday night, I made it using the freshest of ingredients from my garden, from Jennifer’s garden and from the Farmer’s market, including unbelievably flavorful tomatoes and a variety of eggplants (purple striped ones, yellow and purple ones, white ones—and yes, I should have taken a picture but my camera wasn’t charged). Plus, onions, garlic, red bell peppers and thyme.

After assembling the ratatouille, I had some leftover onions and peppers and decide to do a little “test.” I decided to roast the extra veggies on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper–just like I normally do. And then, I’d bake the ratatouille at the same time.

What an eye opener…the roasted vegetables were fine…slightly dry and smoky with good flavor. BUT, the ratatouille was oozing and dripping with flavors from the garden…the onions at the bottom of the casserole were tender and amazing…all the flavors melded together, while also keeping their unique individual essence (Can you see me channeling that food critic from the movie? Yes, that’s what happened on my front porch while I ate dinner. Now wouldn’t that  have made a great photo?!).

I based my casserole on a recipe in Mark Bittman’s ” How To Cook Everything” cookbook,  but I disregarded quantities and just did one layer of each.

Ingredients (forget all that measuring–just go for it )

Bell Peppers

Salt & Pepper
Great Parmesan Cheese (I added this…liked the idea of a little salty extra)

In casserole pan:

Spread a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of sliced onions, next a layer of red bell peppers, followed by a layer of eggplant, topped with a layer of thick sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle whole, peeled garlic cloves on top, and fresh thyme (leaves from 6-8 good size sprigs), a generous amount of salt & pepper and then drizzle olive oil on top (maybe 1-2 Tbs). Cook until all the veggies are soft.

At 30 minutes, I checked on vegetables and flattened the casserole with a spatula, did the same at 40 minutes plus added a little Parmesan cheese on top, and at 45 minutes it was complete.

Baked in a 400 degree oven.

 Yes, I’m in love with ratatouille.

(So much so, that I will be continuing my love fest this weekend with a Ratatouille Cornmeal Tart recipe!)

UPDATE September 21: Ratatouille Tart was tasty, but not as mesmerizing as the simple Ratatouille. Looked gorgeous though! As did my daughter’s Tomato Pie, in the background.


Check out this cool peak season map. It’s a fun way to see what ingredients are in season this month and what you have to look forward to at the Farmer’s Market  in the coming months (assuming you do that type of thing!)

Pick a  month on the top border, then click on your state and voilà. Fun, and easy.

Thanks go out to Fran for forwarding this link!

I knew there was something stranger looking than Kohlrabi–Fiddlehead Ferns! According to Wikipedia, fiddlehead ferns are the furled fronds of a young fern and are harvested for use as a vegetable. Left on the plant, each fiddlehead would unroll into a new frond (a leaf).

Check out the article where I found this image. Good info on Fiddleheads, and a nice blog.

And, according to the farmer at the Farmer’s Market, they can only be picked for 2 weeks….a short season, and not easy work.

I woke up at 2am thinking about this post and what I would do with my fiddlehead ferns:

Option 1: Heat a little butter and garlic in a pan, then sauté the fiddleheads for 30-45 seconds. This was a suggested preparation from the folks at the Farmer’s Market.

Option 2: Do something fancier, à la Emeril Lagasse: Fiddlehead Ferns and Angel Hair Pasta

Option 3: Since it’s now 3am, decide that something as crazy sounding as a fiddlehead fern deserves its own tongue twister

Fiona forages for flavorful forest fiddlehead ferns

Fiona forages for flavorful forest fiddlehead ferns

Fiona forages for flavorful forest fiddlehead ferns

Luckily,  I really liked option 3 because this evening, when I went to experiment with my fiddleheads, they were shoved to the back of my refrigerator and had iced over.

On the bright side, I went to my garden and was able to harvest an entire salad bowl of fresh greens. My first success of the gardening season!

First salad!

And, I’m hoping the fiddlehead ferns are still around this coming Saturday at the Farmer’s Market…I’m dying to try them WHILE reciting my Fiona forages for fiddlehead ferns tongue twister.

First planted


Salad Garden June 7