The “I’ve Finally Had Enough Christmas Cookies” Chickpea Salad

Posted in Food, Recipes by Sarah on December 28, 2011

Cookies, chili, more cookies, chicken bake, pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, more cookies, stuffing, booze balloons!, chocolate-covered pretzels, mashed potatoes, more cookies, beer, wedding soup, breakfast potatoes, and more cookies.  (Not necessarily in that order).  That about sums up our family’s holiday feasting.

Despite all the joy it brings, especially when 11 of us are gathered around the table to share it all, it’s time to let more nourishing foods reclaim our plates.  Inspired by a spontaneous confession by E that her hands-down favorite food is chickpeas, today I put together a chickpea salad that I originally found at The Kitchn.  This salad is chock full of veggies and protein, satisfies the post-holiday hunger, and tastes delightful.  I only wish I could share it with you all at our big family table in Pittsburgh.

Warm Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Garlic

Recipe from:  The Kitchn


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil*
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 cups or 32 oz. chickpeas (garbanzo beans);  if using canned, rinse & drain
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped*
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, finely minced
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves, finely minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3/4 pound English cucumber
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and crushed red pepper and stir constantly for about a minute.  As the cumin seeds are toasted, they will start to fill your kitchen with a beautiful aroma.
  3. Turn the heat to medium low and add the garlic.  Cook, stirringly frequently, for about 3 minutes.  Be careful not to let the garlic turn brown.
  4. Add chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up to medium high.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas are warmed through and are shiny with oil.  Then, turn off the heat and set the pan aside.   NOTE: If your chickpeas have already been cooked (i.e., dried, soaked, then cooked), you may wish to add the tomatoes first, then add the chickpeas after a few minutes.  You want all the flavors to soak into the beans, but you don’t want your beans overcooked!
  5. Toss in the finely minced parsley and mint.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  7. [Optional:  Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise.  Scrape out (and discard) the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon.]  Dice the cucumber into small, 1/2-inch square cubes and toss in the with the chickpea mixture.
  8. If needed (and it usually is), add flaky sea salt to taste.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

*Note:  This recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons olive oil and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.  This turns out quite oily to me and I opt to use the same amount of olive oil and dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (if I use oil-packed, I reduce the olive oil by at least 1 Tablespoon).

Some of you reading this recipe may recognize it, as I first tried my hand at making this back in October, when a number of siblings got together in Northern California.  I have tried it a number of different ways since then.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is so adaptable to what you have in your cupboards, and can be served at any temperature.

On a sunny October day in Sonoma, 5 of us enjoyed this dish chilled – I had reduced the oil and added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes as well.  This dish complimented a bottle of white wine, and we dreamed about how good the salad might be with some fresh shrimp tossed in.

Today, a chillier day in December, I’m serving this warm, and added in what I had on hand (swapping in sliced zucchini for the cucumber, swapping chives for mint and parsley, and tossing in some diced chicken breast).

I encourage you to give this a try, and add in changes of your own if you’re feeling adventurous.  This unexpected dish may just become a staple at your house – and who knows –  it may find a spot next to the chili in Pittsburgh next year!

Family Photo Archives

Posted in Life, Pictures by Sarah on June 4, 2011

This morning, as a June rainstorm poured down outside, Meredith and I started a project that took us down memory lane.

We sorted through 200 pounds of family photos that Dad has taken over the past 30 years.

Oh yes we did.

Forney Family Photo

We came across some good memories, along with some awkward and embarrassing ones, and some photos that captured our attention so entirely that our hearts paused to linger.


Baby Forneys

The treasure trove of photos contain pictures of several generations of Forneys, from old black and whites….

Nana With A New Buick

to siblings we call aunts and uncles….

Lynda And Mary

Dad, Steve & Peter

to siblings we grew up with….

Michael & Elizabeth

and much much more.

The pictures also document the fashion trends we subjected ourselves too (wayfarers, side ponytails, shoulder pads — you name it, we probably wore it).

Looking Hot For Easter, 1980s Style

We also salvaged a huge archive of negatives and we plan to have the prints and negatives digitized, so that all the Forneys can have access to these beautiful photos and memories.

For now, enjoy these select few!




Sweet Little Boy

Mother & Children

Father & Daughter

Father & Daughter

Budding Photographer (Note the Baltimore Colts Sweatshirt!)

Early Pete And His Bicycle

Just Plain Awesome

cHeCk oUt ThE tUnE-YaRdS!

Posted in Entertainment by Sarah on May 12, 2011

There’s been a different sound pumping from the speakers in our apartment lately… the sound of the tUnE-YaRdS.  Yes, those unconventional caps are intentional.  They certainly capture your attention, in the same way their music will.  The tUnE-YaRdS have been around for some time, although we stumbled upon them just a few months ago.

"w h o k i l l" album cover

The tUnE-YaRdS have a unique and infectious sound, utilizing unexpected beats, vocals, instruments, and song structures.  The sound is driven by the creative genius of Merrill Garbus, who originally hails from Connecticut but has found a home in the Bay Area (woo!).  Merill plays the ukelele (sometimes by pounding on it) along with various other instruments, and orchestrates the synthesis of these sounds into each tUnE-YaRdS song.  But it’s really her compelling, powerful voice that is the hallmark of the tUnE-YaRdS songs; it adds a depth and texture that is not often found in music today.  Her bandmate, Nate Brenner provides the perfect complement to her style with smooth and full basslines.

Their creative sound ranges from pop and alt-rock beats, to hip-hop, to bluesy-jazz, to experimental.   The music sometimes requires a few listens to fully internalize and appreciate, but you inevitably get there (and find yourself humming all day long).   When you get to this point, the lyrics open up.  Many of the songs are narrative-style, and the stories they tell might surprise a casual listener – the TuNe-YaRdS unflinchingly confront some serious and topical issues like body image, race, and violence.  When layered on top of complex and intriguing music, there’s much to explore!

Pitchfork gives their latest album, “w h o k i l l” a solid 8.8.  Respect!  My personal favorite has been “Bizness,” although nearly all the songs on the album are notable; Killa is a groovy empowered-woman kind of song, the unexpected “Doorstep” tells a heartbreaking story over a peppy doowop-inspired melody, and Es so captures the funky, offbeat, tongue-in-cheek style that characterizes Merrill’s music.

Here’s a link to their album on Amazon.  Below is a video of the song Bizness, featuring some adorable kids and amazing dancers from the Bay Area.  Check it out!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Life, Pictures by Sarah on May 8, 2011

Wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day our mom, and all the other moms out there!

Happy Mother's Day!

Mom, all the kids have made donation to Magee Women’s Research Institute & Foundation in honor of you!  We couldn’t think of a better way to honor you on a day that celebrates mothers and women than by giving back to the place where four out of five of us were born:  a place that focuses on advancing the field of health and medicine for women and their babies everywhere.

This year the donation went to Womancare International, which organizes educational programs and technical assistance for women across the globe and right in Pittsburgh, including an outreach program for Somali refugee women in Pittsburgh called Healthy Girls’ Circle.  It was you who taught us to be generous, charitable, to value our roots, and to contribute to the global community.  So we honor you in this way every Mother’s Day!  We hope that future generations of women in our family benefit from the advances in health and medicine that Magee is working on today.  And we hope to instill in these future generations the same values you’ve instilled in us.

The Start of Our Future Generations!

We love you mom!

Fish Tacos for Cinco De Mayo

Posted in Food, Recipes by Sarah on May 5, 2011

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I tried my hand at a spin on Fish Tacos.  These tacos may not be from the Flying Fish, but they are a simple and healthy recreation!

The Inspiration!

This recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.

The Result!

This recipe relies on a thick and creamy guacamole as its base.    To make your guacamole, either follow Andrea’s Recipe, or give this a try!  What makes this recipe creamy is the use of low-fat sour cream or greek yogurt.

I used a 6 oz. container of Fage free Greek yogurt, and it made this very creamy and rich.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.   This will keep the guacamole nice and bright green (not brown, that’s gross).

This recipe's guacamole is rich and creamy.

You’ll also need to prep the cabbage slaw.  This adds a real punch and crunch to the taco!

The color and crunch of the cabbage make this fish taco feel festive!

Next, you’ll want to prepare any other toppings you might enjoy on top of your taco.

Some people use tomatoes or grated cheese.

Pshaw, says the picky eater 😉  I used a corn & black bean topping that was made by mixing together in a small bowl black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, 1/2 Tbsp onion, and some lime juice.

Later, because I had extra chopped veggies on hand, I threw in some diced peppers and even some grated zucchini!

Finally, grill the fish!  Heat and spray your grill (I am in love with mine, but any other way to get your fish flaky and tender will do).  Season and grill until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.  I used about 1.5 lbs of tilapia.  Other good grilling fishes will do, and the original recipe calls for Red Snapper.

Add fish to make it a fish taco

Add all the toppings and garnish with  a lime.  Best served with a little hot sauce for the hot sauce lovers, and a little Corona to cool the palate.

Add Toppings & Garnish with Lime


  • 2 Hass avocados—halved, pitted and peeled  (see here for The Avocado Secret),
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (If you can handle it!!!)
  • 2.5 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 small head of napa cabbage, shredded (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 pounds fish fillet, grilled (I used tilapia, but many other good grilling fishes may be used)
  • Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (I skipped this topping!)
  • 1 can fresh corn, drained (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, drained (optional)
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Make your Guacamole (or follow Andrea’s Recipe):  In a medium bowl, mash together avocados, yogurt or sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt, pepper and adobo seasoning.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  2. Make your cabbage topping:  Cut & shred the small head of napa cabbage.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make your corn & black bean topping:  Mix together in a small bowl your black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, .5 tablespoon onion, and some lime juice.
  4. Grill the fish!  Heat and spray grill.  Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.
  5. Now, assemble your tacos.  Spread a healthy layer of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a fish, cabbage slaw, corn and bean mix, and any other desired toppings (e.g. diced tomatoes  and cheese, if you’re into those ingredients).
  6. Serve with the hot sauce (and Corona) and lime wedges.

Viva La Fish Taco!

Request for Advice: Cookie Cutters

Posted in Food, House and Home by Sarah on April 29, 2011

I just found a recipe for making your own crackers.   Excellent idea! – I thought – I’ll do that this weekend!  Then I realized the directions involve the use of cookie cutters.  Alas, I have none.  Cue the Debbie Downer music.

Off I went to find some cookie cutters and boy have I gotten some silly results, including Williams Sonoma’s Star Wars cookie cutters.  Seriously.

If someone offers you a Death Star cookie, do you take it?

I thought I’d have more success asking some of my favorite cookie-baking friends:  do you all have cookie cutters that you love or use with special frequency?   It could be a brand you’ve found success with or a particular go-to shape, I’m open!

By the way, if you are interested in making your own crackers, please visit “Oh She Glows” here for the basic recipe and lots of fun suggestions for variations, including sea salt and vinegar, smoked paprika, and garlic, chive & onion.  Yum!  (CHOMP!)

Kale and Scallop Quinoa Pilaf (& mini-reunion recap)

Posted in Food, Life, Pictures by Sarah on March 7, 2011

As spring draws ever nearer, I am making the most of the end-of-winter seasonal vegetables before they are gone!

Tonight I put together a pilaf using some red winter kale that resulted in a warm hearty dinner on a rainy San Francisco evening.

Kale and Scallop Quinoa Pilaf


  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (I used Pereg Italian style Quinoa, which contains dried Italian vegetables)
  • 1 large bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (mushrooms instead of, or in addition to, would be great too!)
  • 1 lb. scallops
  • 1 1/2-2 cups chicken or vegetable soup broth
  • 1 handful pine nuts or walnuts


Saute the onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan.

Add in quinoa with about 1 cup of chicken broth.

Low Sodium Of Course!

Chicken Broth

Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. The quinoa will absorb the chicken broth.

Next, add in the kale and sun-dried tomatoes with another 1/2 to 1 cups of chicken broth.

So good for you!

Chopped Kale!


Raisined tomatoes mmmmm

Sun-dried tomatoes

Cook the kale and veggies on medium heat approximately 4-5 minutes.

Then, add in the scallops and the pine nuts.


On this initial attempt at the recipe, I added in the scallops first, but realize this probably was a mistake.  Scallops cook very quickly, in about 5 minutes!  Add the scallops only after you have cooked the veggies for about five minutes.  Once you have added your scallops to the quinoa-kale pilaf, cook approximately another 5-6 minutes, on medium heat.

Remove from heat and add salt and pepper and herbs to taste.

Scallop and Kale Quinoa Pilaf

Serve warm (or as a cold leftover:  lunch tomorrow)

Torre also suggested that next time, we marinate the scallops in a little lemon and lime for about 1o minutes before cooking. That will bring an extra fresh flavor to the dish!

Mini-Reunion Recap

As the parenthetical portion of this post’s title suggests, there was a mini-sibling reunion this weekend on the West Coast!  Michael and Becky came to San Francisco, for Becky’s interview at the Wright Institute (our fingers are crossed for Becky!).  Meredith and Andy were the tireless drivers and joined for a fun weekend too.

On Saturday, while Michael and Becky explored the Berkeley area, Meredith and Andy joined us for a Mexican lunch in the Mission.  Meredith ordered in Spanish!  We learned that the only thing that beats a burrito is a super-burrito.  We also watched a guy whose job title appeared to be “Official Onion Chopper,” and we decided that the sole requirement for the job had to be the inability to cry.

After lunch we headed to Torre’s jiu-jitsu gym and passed by the murals in Clarion Alley.  I snagged a few pictures to share with you all on Flickr (here’s a quick preview):

After we had wandered the alley, we picked up Torre and began to make our way home.  On our way, we stumbled across a small gathering of food trucks, musicians, and people, sponsored by San Francisco’s Off the Grid food truck project.  Of course, we had to stop. 

I captured Meredith’s proud moment of her first food-truck ordering experience!  Mmmm.After an afternoon of relaxing, playing games, and visiting, the six of us headed out for a special evening with two local celebrities:  Uncle Pete and Aunt Meredith!

We enjoyed a casual Italian dinner in the neighborhood, replete with wine, appetizers, lots of bread and plenty of sharing stories!  (Note to self:  bring a better camera to these family gatherings.)

It was just delightful to have a family of 8 together for dinner.  And it’s a special occasion when that many Forneys are assembled at one table!

Sunday started with a great home-cooked family brunch (Torre and Andy were the masters of the kitchen!) followed by a restful day of visiting, with a quick trip to the local Jewish deli as the major outing.

We were so glad to host the younger siblings and had a great time.  Come back soon, please! 🙂

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

Posted in Life by Sarah on March 1, 2011

Happy March!  Every time I flip my calendar to March, I’m reminded of the phrase we were taught in grade school: “March is in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Out of sheer curiosity, I did some searching to see if I could determine the origin of the phrase.  The answers were as varied as the weather in March.

The Farmer’s Almanac explains that the phrase originates from more ancient times, when weather was unpredictable.  I’ll rephrase:   when weather was less predictable.  Back then, because they did not have Doppler 5000s, many held the belief that there should be a balance in weather and life.   So, if March began with bad weather  – like a lion – then, according to lore, it would end with pleasant weather – like a lamb.  The Farmer’s Almanac confirms, however, that this phrase is not a true weather predictor (surprise!).  The phrase is still used  today to reflect hope that better weather will be coming soon!  Other sources claim the phrase is related to the stars and astrological signs, including the relative positions of the constellations Leo and Aries in the Spring in the Western sky as the month of March progresses.  I’ll let the stargazers in the family weigh in on this interpretation.

The real nerds point to 17th century English writings for the origin of the phrase.  The English playwright John Fletcher wrote in 1624:

“I would chuse March, for I would come in like a Lion…But you’d go out like a Lamb when you went to hanging.” 

A Wife for a Month (Act I Scene II).  This doesn’t appear to have much to do with stars or weather. 

Regardless, there are many things to look forward to in March!

On March 13th, Daylight Savings Begins!  We’ll spring ahead one hour and have lighter evenings.

On March 17th, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Erin Go Bragh and top o’ the mornin’!

On March 20th, Spring officially begins.  Bring on the crocuses!

Bar Agricole

Posted in Food by Sarah on February 21, 2011

On Saturday night, six of us (including Uncle Pete & Aunt Meredith!) ventured out into the San Francisco rain for a lovely evening of cocktails and fine food at Bar Agricole.

Our night was transformed as we exited the wet and dreary dark city streets and entered the bustling agro-chic restaurant (LEED-certified and designed by Aidlin Darling Design).  Once we finished marveling at the decor, including the impressive glass sculptures that drape from the skylights (designed by local glass sculptor, Nikolas Weinstein) we settled in at our table and started in on the menus.

First, because Bar Agricole is known to shine with their old school cocktails, we each ordered a drink.  The orders ranged from the El Presidente and the Whiz Bang to the Turf Cocktail, Ti Punch, and Monkey’s Gland.  We each were convinced our own drinks were the best, though that didn’t stop us from trying each others!

Monkey's Gland!

Next we moved to the appetizers and small plates for sharing.  We enjoyed oysters in the half-shell, sea urchin on toast, smoked crod coquettes (with a luscious smoky flavor!), and chopped liver on toast.  The rich chicken liver stole the show.

What am I, chopped liver? Yes.

As we conversed over the appetizers we perused the menu, which changes regularly based on what ingredients are fresh.  Our servers were wonderful and extremely knowledgeable as well.  Many of our orders came on their recommendation.  For our entrees, we had almost everything on the menu between the six of us!

We had turnip green soup with green garlic and semolina dumplings (perfect for soaking up the soft and hearty wheat bread on the table); nettle polenta with brussel sprouts, black trumpets and a fried egg;

Notice the Fried Egg?

Nettle Polenta

grilled white sea bass with white beans, broccoli, and green olives;

Grilled White Sea Bass

rabbit saddle with prosciutto, mustard greens, and black-olive kumquat tapenade;

Rabbit Saddle


milk-braised pork shoulder with lemon, sage, red bor kale and green onions;

Pork Shoulder

short ribs with farro, rainbow chard and scarlet turnips;

Short Ribs


and yogurt-marinated lamb loin and sausage with purple carrots and cilantro.


Lamb Loin (With Purple Carrots!)


Of course, we enjoyed it all with a unique and complex Arbois by Jaques Puffeney, which he allows to oxidize as it ferments into wine in barrels, giving it an older, richer flavor than most wines.


Last but not least, and though we were quite satisfied, we split two desserts:  the brown butter cake with candied kumquats and the apple and medjool date turnovers with cardamom anglaise.  These desserts were so good that we finished them up over coffee before I could snap a photo.

Dessert Was Delicious!

Fully stuffed, we all took a moment to sit back and reflect on the wonderful night.  Nothing beats good food over a family table, and that’s just what it felt like at Bar Agricole.

Get Your Bling for Spring

Posted in Fashionistas by Sarah on February 16, 2011

Banana Republic wants you to add a little sparkle to your upcoming spring wardrobe!

Dazzle Earrings

Just for today, they are offering 40% off their jewelry collection.   To take advantage of this deal, use the code BRJEWELRY.  The sale is online only and excludes their Chan Luu styles.

BR Sailor's Knot Necklace

Sailor's Knot Necklace

Go get your bling on!

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