How to Cook Eggs (& understand labeling)




As someone who’s a firm believer that to “put an egg on it” makes everything better (and prettier!), I’m excited to announce that I’ll be partnering with the American Egg Board on a series of posts this year—everything from recipes to site visits. Eggs are my never-fail, what’s-for-dinner solution.

I’ve been learning a bit more about eggs as a consequence, and trying to understand the difference between labeling like cage-free and free-range.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned, in case you’re interested, too, along with what may be my favorite way to enjoy eggs these days…


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Simple & Healthy: Zucchini Noodle Pasta



Lemon-Parmesan Zucchini Noodles with Toasted Pine Nuts
by Jessica at SEE Salt

Zucchini noodles are one of my favorite food trends of 2015. They really are worthy of all the hype. Have you tried a spiralizer!? They are so fun to work with, and super simple. I would highly recommend making the small investment. With the endless things you can use it for (carrots, daikon radishes, sweet potatoes, apples…), I honestly think you will love it.

By the way, isn’t this couple beautiful? We were able to capture some beautiful photos as they enjoyed our SEE Salt recipe, and we had to share. Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy it too…


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Top Tips for Starting a Culinary Garden



Earlier this month, Aron and I got to have dinner in the gardens at Kendall-Jackson’s Santa Rosa winery. One of the highlights was having the winemaster, Randy Ullom, take us around to show us from where our dinner (and wine) was sourced, and introduce us to their resident culinary gardener, Tucker Taylor.


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Food styling and photography




My only photography training was an elective in college which sent me into the darkroom for hours on end. I feel like I’ve improved a lot since then through practice—owing almost completely to this blog.

But it felt like the time was right for some instruction—some mentoring: As I mentioned, we were in New York because I’d signed myself up for a food styling and photography workshop.

Aran Goyoaga is a food stylist and photographer based in Seattle, and the creator of the blog Cannelle Et Vanille. Aron’s cousin actually sent us her cookbook, Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family’s Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking a few years ago (she’s a friend of his) and wondered if we’d seen her work. (I had and it’s beautiful!)

I suppose it would have made sense to wait until she was teaching in her Seattle studio (she’s in Portugal next) but it was a nice excuse to visit New York—and to once again step inside the gorgeous space that’s home to Karen Mordechai’s Sunday Suppers.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite dishes and photos from the workshop…


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The Melt Moment



The other day, I popped one of those LINDOR truffles (with that distinctly smooth melting center) into my mouth, almost absent-mindedly getting an afternoon chocolate-fix, and it stopped me in my tracks. It evoked such a strong memory.

As with that Proustian petit madeleine that—when dunked into tea—prompt’s the author’s narrator to recall his childhood, the chocolate prompted me to recall the sound of my feet pounding, racing down a hotel hall over ornate carpet and past endless ivory doors.

When I would travel with my parents as a little girl, I would always look for chocolates on the hotel pillow. It stemmed from one particular trip—to Vancouver—when the hotel placed LINDOR truffles on the bed each night. I thought they were the best chocolates I’d ever had, and even if I didn’t know enough to appreciate the luxury of “turndown service,” I knew they were special.

There were always four chocolates in the room and just three of us. And to the race’s victor went the spoils.



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May Day





Happy May Day! Spring is here and summer is close! (I can’t believe how fast this year is passing.)

We had this Lavender Sidecar at dinner the other night at Sacramento’s Hock Farm, and I think I may try to do at lease some version of it tonight, in honor of May Day:

Lavender-infused Remy V, Combier triple sec, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, fresh lemon, lavender, and a vanilla-sugar rim. We have some lavender growing in the front yard that the bees are loving.

What are your plans for the weekend? We had a sick little kiddo home today (always so sad!), but things are looking up so hopefully we’re keeping our plans to go to Sonoma on Saturday and then, of course, there’s the Garden tour. And I have one other post planned for tomorrow morning!

P.S. A pre-kid May Day. And more cocktails for spring.

[Photo of ranunculus—an all time favorite—from my Instagram feed]

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The Perfect Grapefruit Margarita


by Jessica at SEE Salt

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, this is a no-brainer cocktail to make! Buuuut lets be honest. Don’t you think this would be good ALL SUMMER?! Oh, the words summer and cocktail make me smile so big. I can hardly wait.

I love this Grapefruit Margarita so much, and here are a few reasons why:
It’s gorgeous. 
It’s simple. 
It’s delicious. 
It has Cointreau!

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Smart Snacks


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Bitsy’s Brainfood is a new name in our pantry, but I’m pretty excited about them.

They’re a natural food company for kids founded by two parents with a mission to make healthy fun. Because, let’s face it, the grocery store options for packaged snacks and playful cereals has been lacking for years: “the healthy aisle was no fun—and the fun aisle wasn’t healthy.”

To be honest, I’m not sure why there are so many artificial dyes and flavors and unpronounceable ingredients in kids’ snack foods. (And as much I have some fond nostalgia for that pink sugary milk that gets left in the wake of some of those bright-colored breakfast cereals, it just seems wrong.)



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Homemade Kumquat Marmalade



Our Kumquat trees really produced a lot of fruit this year—so much so that I turned to Instagram for suggestions about how to use it all. Someone suggested making a marmalade with simply kumquats and sugar, in a ratio ranging anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1, which really appealed to us. So many recipes call for other citrus or the addition of pectin, and I love how straightforward this one is.

We went closer to the slightly sweeter 1:1 ratio, and were happy to find that the tart and slightly bitter characters are still there. It’s fantastic on toast with butter, over sharp cheddar cheese, with ice cream, or with cocktails. But my favorite combination is perhaps on a crusty slice of baguette with fresh, whole-milk ricotta.


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Raise a glass: drink more water


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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make it easier to make healthy choices around the house: bright, colorful fruits and vegetables out on the table, and sliced or otherwise at-the-ready in the fridge. A cold pitcher of water front-and-center.

In Davis, our water is sourced from wells and the taste doesn’t exactly have me running to the tap. So when Soma (the people behind that beautiful carafe) got in touch about trying their lovely new 10-cup water filter pitcher—a size that makes sense for our family—I was eager to give it a try.

Of all the habits I’d like to form, starting the day with a glass of water really should be simple.

Hither and Thither-08I’ve noticed that when we bring home oranges or berries home (these strawberries were just picked at our local field!), we all reach for them first. I want that to be my relationship to water.

Have you heard that thirst and hunger cues are actually the same? I sometimes open the refrigerator door with neither cue (prompted more by restlessness or ritual), but there are many times I would be satisfied by a glass of water when I have instead grabbed a snack. In fact, a friend once told me that she drinks a glass of water before ordering at a restaurant or going grocery shopping—to try and keep from making decisions she’ll later regret.

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(Sidenote: I promise you that counter did not stay clean and strawberry-free for long. Skyler is such a mess when she eats—thus, no shirt.)

Some of my highlights about the new Soma pitcher:
⋅ Obviously, it’s lovely to look at: simple lines with a sustainable white-oak handle. It looks good, and that’s no small thing when you’re trying to start a habit—something I learned here.
⋅ The filters make the water taste better! Made of coconut shell carbon, the filters have been tested by the Water Quality Association and shown to remove chlorine and improve taste. They last through 40-gallons of use (about two months).
⋅ The new pitcher uses the same filter that the Soma carafe does (so if you’re already subscribed to receive replacement filters, you can use those in both).

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I remember reading an article in a beauty magazine about secret weapons, years ago—the ultimate hairbrush, the lipstick that gives you fuller lips, the anti-aging creams—and what really struck a chord was when one doctor (a dermatologist, I believe) said something to the effect of everyone is always looking for that one magic thing, and spending so much money to find it, when it already exists: “water.” “And,” she added, “sunscreen.”

Virtually every article I’ve read on the topics of health or beauty since has reminded me that I need to be more vigilant about my consumption.

I’d prefer to open the refrigerator and let the sight of a beautiful pitcher filled with filtered, clean-tasting water do that.

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How about you? What’s the habit you’d most like to form? 

*If you are like me and drinking more water is on your list, I’ve got some good news: the first 100 readers to use the code onefreefilter will get credit for 1 free replacement filter with their first Soma order.

P.S. It’s not lost on me that while I whine about trying to remember to pour some of my abundant drinking water multiple times a day, there are 748 million people around the world who don’t have access to clean water. I’m happy to learn that for every Soma filter purchased, clean drinking water is donated through Soma’s partner, charity: water—a non-profit that is dedicated to bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

This post is sponsored by Soma. Thank you for supporting Hither & Thither. 

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Egg Salad Tartine


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by Jessica at SEE Salt

I love Spring. Absolutely, everything, about, it. I love the daffodil sprigs at Trader Joe’s, the little girls’ spring dresses and, of course, the food!

We love to dye our Easter eggs together as a family, and of course we always dye more than we can fathom to eat. So we wanted to come up with a fresh twist on the classic egg salad that would make us fall back in love with all of those hard-boiled eggs.


In other words, this is not your grandmother’s egg salad: a little fresh lemon zest, dill, and some crunchy fresh radish revamped this classic in no time.

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We also ended up topping ours with icy cold fresh shrimp—a flavor combination inspired by travels in Norway.


This is our new post-Easter snack or lunch. I think these would also be so lovely for entertaining. I would probably suggest toasting your bread and having everything prepared in advance such that you can top the tartines right before guests arrive (thus ensuring the bread stays crusty and your toppings stay chilled).

A crusty tartine we hope you enjoy—here’s how to make them…


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Picnicking at Tomales Bay Oyster Company


On the list of things I’ve been excited to do since moving back to California, driving out to Tomales Bay—a long, narrow inlet on the fringe of Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin—for fresh oysters has been high for a while. I’d heard, however, that weekends at the oyster farms can be mobbed so we waited until a day when we could drive out midweek.

Aron was tasked with researching where to go. Ever since he read Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster, a history of New York as revealed through the lens of the bivalve, he’s been our resident expert—or at least aficionado. I enjoy them tremendously, but as much for the romance and the experience of eating them as for the flavor.

He chose the Tomales Bay Oyster company—partly based on location and partly because they only have a shuck-them-yourself set-up (as opposed to a restaurant). But there are a few Oyster farms in the area; Hog Island is perhaps the best known and offers both pre-shucked and do-it-yourself service.

We were able to snag a waterside picnic table without issue on a Thursday in mid-March, but I recommend you look into the option of reserving a table if you’re headed out on a (busy) weekend. Here are the official details on picnicking at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company (and Yelp is a good resource for recent tips).

They grow Pacifics here, in a variety of sizes—I find the larger ones better for grilling and we wanted to eat these fresh, so we went with smalls.

Briny and fresh: we got a quick tutorial in shucking.

Smaller yet were a second (east coast) variety, the Kumamotos. 

I hear the picnic scene can get elaborate, but we simply brought a bottle of wine from Scribe and stopped by Cowgirl Creamery on the way through Point Reyes Station and picked up some great cheeses and a baguette. You can’t go wrong with Cowgirl Creamery (the Red Hawk is probably our favorite, but Aron picked out a fresh cheese and I chose their new-ish Inverness to try).

It was about as perfect a lunch as I could have asked for: the cheese and wine would have been enough. As would have been the view of the sun bouncing off the water. But then throw in a few dozen oysters, grown within eyeshot, and it would be hard to beat. And so if you ever do a chance to go midweek, when the place is relatively quiet, I recommend you take it.

P.S. Oyster beds off Cape Cod. And off Korçula Island in Croatia.

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Munchery: Dinner’s at the door



I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but many of the recipes I’ve shared on here fall into the category of breakfast or dessert. Dinner? Not so much. It’s not usually my favorite meal to make.

Perhaps it has something to do with being unprepared. There’s a last-minute scramble to see what’s around—what can be thrown together—during which one or both kids realize they’re starving (for food, if not attention). Snacking ensues while the oven preheats and soon I realize that we won’t be sitting down for at least another 30 minutes—roughly 25 minutes more than seems ideal at that moment.

I once received the brilliant advice (Here, in fact!): “Start dinner in your early afternoon lull. If it’s 5pm and happy hour has kicked in, abandon ship. Opt for cheese and crackers or cereal. Dinner never seems to be worth it in the end.” And it’s my favorite sentiment. I think of it all the time—especially on nights when I unwrap three cheeses and slice up some coppa: ‘Go easy on yourself. Choose the path of least resistance,’ it seems to read. Prepare dinner if you can. And if you can’t, relax

So I confess: I’m not a stickler about dinner.

And I’m always looking for the path of ease—which I believe is called “delivery.” In this case, it was specifically called Munchery.


I’d been reading a lot about Munchery—a delivery service whose promise is “nourishing, affordable, chef-cooked meals” at your door. Rave reviews abounded online. They got in touch to see if I’d like to try it out, and so I looked for an opening in my busy meal-planning schedule (wink, nudge) with one condition being that they include a discount for readers in their delivery range to try it, too (see below).

Basically, if you’re in one of their delivery zones (currently New York, San Francisco, and Seattle), you can schedule for delivery tonight or order up to a week in advance online—mains for adults and kids, sides, salads, desserts, and even drinks—and menus change daily. They sent over a selection for us to try.



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Simple Spring Cocktails (Greened for St. Patrick’s)


I’m afraid I can’t say I’ll be making any St. Patrick’s day crafts next week—do most people? It’s news to me! When we were living in New York, I’d always make a point of following the sound of bagpipes to see the St. Paddy’s day parade; and when I was younger I’d of course be sure to wear green so as to avoid being pinched. But come this Tuesday you’re more likely to find me baking a cake that calls for a chocolatey stout (so that I can sip it while the oven’s warm), or drinking a cocktail and revisiting photos of Ireland to celebrate.

It got me thinking: what does a good St. Patrick’s Day cocktail look like if you prefer to steer clear of Crème de Menthe, and Midori Sour?

Here are five cocktails that would be equally suited to St. Patrick’s as to a spring fling.
I looked to limes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs for a hint of green instead.

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Homemade Granola Bars


by Jessica at SEE Salt

Chewy, salty, sweet, hearty granola bars. Are we the only ones who stand in the breakfast-bar aisle looking for the perfect one—only to bring home ten different kinds that all turn out to be too sweet, processed, and just unsatisfying? The solution: make your own!

We chose to load ours with pistachios, dried apricots, and chia seeds. They are so yummy and packed full of nutrition. Here’s how to do it yourself…


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Shake Shack Las Vegas



You might recall that open letter I posted to Shake Shack a while back, pretty-pleasing them to come out west with us? I’m pleased to say that Danny Meyer’s wonderful little hot-dog-cart-turned-burger-joint has finally opened its doors west of the Mississippi—at, fittingly, New York, New York on the Las Vegas Strip. And now that they’ve gone public on the Stock Exchange, I have high hopes that they’ll be in California before too long.


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Pear & Blackberry Galette with Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche


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Pear & Blackberry Galette with Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche
by Jessica at SEE Salt

Ok, so what is all this talk about galettes? We wanted to find out, so we started to play! Galettes are simply a rustic (non-perfect) style tart or pastry. Which we love here at SEE Salt because we are unfortunately not skilled bakers. And by un-skilled I mean virtually inept. Hey, we all have our thing right? But this was so easy and fun and since we have been obsessed.

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