Post image for August in Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen: The Bug and I Help Prepare a Mexican Feast

When we were in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, The Bug and I spent an afternoon in Cathy Barrow’s (AKA Mrs. Wheelbarrow) sunny kitchen, helping her prepare a Mexican feast.

Well, we didn’t just help prepare it. We came back in the evening with Matthew and my parents, and devoured it.

A succulent, savory Beef Barbacoa was the centerpiece of a meal that featured homemade tortillas, creamy potatoes with roasted poblano peppers, a fresh corn and fennel salad, guacamole, salsas and condiments galore. Dessert? Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie, a citrusy confection with an improbable crust — crushed saltines. And, marvelous meringue-like chocolate cookies with chocolate chips.

We all left with smiles on our faces and full bellies. And, my Dad managed to sneak out a bag of chocolate cookies, too.

Here’s a look at our afternoon and evening in Cathy’s homey kitchen.

Before we got down to business, Cathy served The Bug and me generous slices of a tomato galette she popped in the oven shortly before we arrived. The summery tart was fortifying and delicious — a buttery, flaky crust was the perfect foundation for peak summer tomatoes and creamy ricotta cheese.

Next, The Bug and Cathy got the beef prepped before it spent the afternoon on Cathy’s grill.

Hours later, when we arrived for dinner, Cathy was shredding the tender, flavorful beef.

Cathy and The Bug mastered tortilla production like Henry Ford advanced Model T manufacturing — with precision, but plenty of laughter, too. My, they were tasty.

I loved how Cathy served the warmed tortillas at dinner.

I scarcely noticed when Cathy was grilling vegetables, but their smoky aroma was unmistakable as she whirred the cooked beauties in a blender to make this perfectly seasoned tomatillo salsa. (Maybe if we nudge her enough, she’ll write up the recipe and share it. It’s a winner.)

The best possible way to serve condiments, right?

I had pie duty, first baking the salty, sweet and buttery crust and then baking it again after pouring the tangy and sweet topping over the crust. Cool and fluffy whipped cream was smoothed across the top before serving. This is an ideal summer dessert after a spicy, hearty meal.

We loved cooking with Cathy

and hanging out with her adorable dogs — Louie and Morty. The Bug photographed Cathy’s charming pups.

Recipe links — all from Food52 — are below as well as a link to pre-order Cathy’s new book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, due on November 3. I hope you’re enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

Beef Barbacoa

Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

Divine Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies

Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry


Sunday at Washington, D.C.’s Eastern Market

August 11, 2014
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Established more than 136 years ago, Washington, D.C.’s historic Eastern Market anchors the Capitol Hill community. Farmers from neighboring states sell their produce and flowers under the tents. Local artisans showcase products as diverse as African art and Turkish towels. Inside, Market Lunch serves breakfast and lunch to locals and tourists, who don’t mind standing [...]

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My Summer Vacation, Part II: London

August 5, 2014
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There is so much to love about London — historic sites and museums, lush and expansive parks, the Thames, and a youthful energy that is intoxicating. But, I had to laugh when I poured through my photos. I snapped just as many shots of food as I did of sites! Most of the food-related photos [...]

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My Summer Vacation, Part I: Paris

July 31, 2014
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It’s hard to imagine more visually-rich locales for a working holiday than London and Paris. I took loads of photos in both cities and decided to lead with Paris. Our days were filled with museum and monument visits, walks through lush gardens and farmers markets, and marvelous meals — with an emphasis on dessert, of [...]

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Copper River Salmon Salad for One

July 12, 2014
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It will come as no surprise that salad is my default dish when it’s dinner-for-one in on a warm summer’s evening. It’s refreshing to eat when the temperature climbs, it’s a great way to use tasty leftover protein and it’s a breeze to prepare when all you crave is a light, but satisfying meal. I [...]

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Asian Steak Salad

June 29, 2014
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While I live with carnivores, I don’t crave meat the way they do. Rather than tackle a Flinstone-like slab of beef, I hanker for a salad where thin slices of steak play a supporting role. This boldly-flavored Asian Steak Salad satisfied my craving and earned two thumbs up from the carnivores. I found inspiration from [...]

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June at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

June 19, 2014
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It feels like the only sound I hear these days is whoosh. The last few weeks have flown by, packed with activity. When life is a little too full, the Farmers Market is where I find my zen. Snapping photos and tucking luscious, aromatic produce and flowers into my bags calms me down. In the [...]

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Bacon, Cheddar and Savoy Cabbage Melt

June 9, 2014
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On a Friday evening a few weeks ago, we three piled into Matthew’s car and drove the scenic route to Ojai. As The Bug strummed her guitar in the back seat, we headed east through the foothills, where the groves of citrus and avocado trees that hug the hillsides glowed in the warm, early-evening light. [...]

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Roasted Asparagus with Buttery, Pimenton Almonds, Crispy Jamon Serrano and a Poached Egg

June 3, 2014
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A few weeks ago, Matthew and I were in San Francisco on business. With time for a team dinner on the schedule, I immediately made a reservation at Contigo. Co-owned by Chef Brett Emerson and his wife Elan, Contigo is a bright and cozy space nestled on a busy street in the city’s Noe Valley [...]

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C’est Cheese Cafe Opens

May 23, 2014
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After more than 10 years running their successful cheese and specialty store, C’est Cheese, owners and entrepreneurs Kathryn and Michael Graham, expanded their business with the opening this week of the C’est Cheese Cafe. In the newly-renovated bright and airy space next door to the couple’s Santa Barbara Street outpost, their team of chefs and [...]

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