Collaboration Station + A GIVEAWAY!

Beginning with my last trimester of pregnancy to just a few months ago (almost a year now), I have had a really hard time finding my written voice. What is usually cathartic, (en)lightening, and fluid has been an uphill - two miles each way, in the snow, barefoot – battle. As a result, there has been a glaring dearth of content and, worse, I feel like I haven't given you, or me, what we want to find or come away with here.

But, as it happens, the winds are shifting. Recently, I've been writing again and I've been enjoying it. It hasn't exactly been fluid. It's still feeling struggly, but I sense that will shift as well.

I have been thinking about my LA days (back when all the writing was born and thusly, flourished). Probably because the weather in Richmond right now is in that Spring Sweet Spot; around 70 degrees, sunny and low humidity – not to mention all of the extremely colorful colors, birds chirping and lots of people OUTSIDE. Minus the extremely colorful colors and add a couple of layers of smog, it's pretty much what LA is like 99.3% of the time. Thinking about this now, it's hard to believe I took it for granted. I owned a dog walking business. I was outside all of the time. For years. I ardently lusted for thunderstorms and cicadas, I devoured other people's snowstagrams like Doritos, Detroit even seemed interesting. I can vividly remember one July day sitting swaddled in a blanket on the couch in my living room with a fire in the fireplace, marathoning True Blood like I was holed up in a ski lodge during a blizzard.

I've also been thinking about LA because admittedly I really miss all of the year-round fresh, local produce. And it has never been as obvious until an LA-based company, Garibaldi Goods, reached out to me this past January to discuss a collaboration; their California treats with local Virginia produce. Garibaldi Goods is an online purveyor of handcrafted, quality food items and kitchen accessories from small California producers. They've got things like smoked bacon salt, Meyer lemon marmalade, curried ghost chili cashew butter, smoked black cod, pickled grapes, hand-made semolina pasta, mustards, honeys, single origin chocolates, and much more, all in the most precious damn packaging you've ever seen. And all, as they say, “inspired by cool Pacific waters and dense marine layers, citrus groves and Central Coast appellations, even the West Coast jazz by which we keep time.”

I don't normally pay much heed to these collaboration inquiries, but a combination of that so so def packaging and sunny California beckoning me in the middle of a downright brutal Winter in Virginia got my attention. What I didn't quite realize when we began our talks was the only local produce I could offer up from my camp was kale, chard, collards and the like. Thankfully they were patient with me, and I with Virginia, because now that Spring is fully upon us, only like the coolest, hippest, so on fleek (I had to do it) but I blame Stephanie)), most Instagrammed and Pinned gem of produce (rhubarb coming in at a close second) has just come into season here, RAMPS! Also big excitement happening, FAVAS! Both of these literally taste green to me - like a mouthful of Spring. With Garibaldi's little California luxuries and Virginia's green gifts from Mother Nature, the recipes practically wrote themselves. Welcome to Collaboration Station. If only the two coasts could've been more like this back in the nineties, that whole Notorious B.I.G./2Pac rivalry could have been avoided. That's why I steered clear of that trifle and kicked the 808 bass with my man, Masta Ace.

Sleep deprivation? Stress? Iron deficiency? 'Mommy Brain' maybe? Maybe. (Remember that time I wrote all about how “I so got this” a mere three weeks after giving birth? Hubris, indeed.) Whatever it was is kind of still there (that and a few extra pounds), and Stephanie, mom to a three plus year-old whom I adore, tells me it will always be in some way. That when you become a mom your brain chemistry just changes. C'EST LA VIE. I guess we mothers have to just work to adjust to those changes, like a river through rocks. I absolutely, resolutely wouldn't have it any other way.

We are also giving away a gift basket of the Garibaldi Goods used in these recipes to one lucky reader! Follow the simple steps below to enter and we will announce the randomly selected winner next Monday, May 4th at 5pm EST!

*Leave a comment on this blog post (or Instagram) telling me about your favorite Spring produce.
*Follow FforFood on Instagram.
*Sign up for the Garibaldi Goods newsletter (it only comes out about once a month!).

The giveaway items: 
Olive Oil
Conchiglie Pasta
Curried cauliflower pickles
Avocado honey
Lemon Sage mustard
Bacon salt
Here are all of the recipes from the meal we prepared with the Garibaldi Goods and Virginia produce. It's all very bright, very green, very Spring, very healthy and very delicious. Other than a little bit of their bacon salt, which can easily be substituted for salt of the non-porcine variety, the entire meal is also very vegetarian. 

Ramp Pesto with Semolina Conchiglie

Serves 6

½ pound ramps
¼ cup toasted almonds
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
Shaved Parmesan and bacon salt for serving

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

On a sheet pan, toss the ramps with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Roast until the leaves are golden and the bulbs are somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve a couple of coarsely chopped ramp greens.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse with the almonds, salt, pepper, and lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic until smooth.

With the blade running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until just combined.

Cook pasta for 10 minutes, or until just al dente, and drain. Reserve ½ cup cooking water and add it by the spoonful to thin out the pesto to your liking.

Toss the pasta with the desired amount of pesto and and stir in reserved ramp greens and serve with some shaved Parmesan and a little sprinkle of bacon salt.

Pea Shoot Salad with Fava Beans, Pickled Cauliflower and Radishes

Serves 6

6 ounces pea shoots

1 pound fava beans, shelled

6 radishes, thinly sliced

Bring a small pot of water with a tablespoon of baking soda to a boil. Blanch the favas for no more than two minutes. Place them in an ice bath. When cool, remove the inner shell by either popping the bean out with your fingers or using a paring knife. Set aside.

Toss the pea shoots and radishes with the dressing. Top with the fava beans and cauliflower and serve.

Lemon-Sage Honey Mustard Dressing

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 teaspoon lemon-sage mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of avocado honey
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
Bacon salt and black pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and finish with salt and pepper.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Bark with Sea Salt

Makes about 24 pieces

1 cup hazelnuts 
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Stir in the hazelnuts. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spread it evenly and top with sprinkled sea salt. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until firm enough to break.

Break the bark into jagged chunks and transfer to a plate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

One year ago: Rhubarb-Swirl Ice Cream
Two years ago: Belmont Food Shop
Four years ago: Classic Tuna Salad


  1. Beautiful pictures yet again! Thanks.

  2. Asparagus is always a favorite!

  3. Thanks for the chance. I'm signed up and am following on Instagram @kid_tonk. :)

  4. beautiful. simple and healthy recipe. thank you for sharing

  5. Your photography is simply beautiful...I'm not entering the giveaway, I just had to comment on your photos!

    Cee x

  6. Cee,

  7. The post is very nice. I just shared on my Facebook Account.

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