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Four by Four: Weeknight Recipes Don’t Need More

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.


It is very easy. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Five days, eight hours (or more) of work plus five workouts (if you’re good) and perhaps a relationship, friendship, pet or all of the above to nurture makes eating healthy and cooking seem really hard – I know!

But that is what makes eating well so important. We worry so much about our performance or pushing ourselves that the first sacrifice is often the care and nourishment of our bodies, which, for the record, should be most important overall. Striving for success without putting health first means fighting a losing battle. It leads to getting sick, losing energy and worst of all, affects our attitudes towards ourselves and others.

But cooking takes so much time and energy and is just so hard, some may say. Here are two recipes that require no more than four ingredients and no more than four tools but still taste like a complex meal.

Knowing what is in your food and knowing that there are pure ingredients going into it is the first step to taking control of your nutrition. And clean-up with fewer pots and pans makes the task less daunting.

And here’s a tip to those who avoid using blenders because they are too difficult to clean – it’s actually much easier than you think!  Squeeze a dollop of dish-soap into the blender after rinsing and add water. Blend on high. Rinse. Done!

Potato and Leek Soup

Serves four. You will need a knife, a large sauce pan, a stirring spoon and a blender.


  • 5 large vivaldi potatoes
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
  • ÂĽ cup white wine vinegar


  1. Wash potatoes in warm water.
  2. Once potatoes have been scrubbed clean and leeks soaked in water to remove dirt, chop potatoes into cubes and cut the leeks from the stem until the tough green sections (which should be discarded).
  3. In the large saucepan, heat oil of your choice (I use EVOO) on medium high heat.
  4. Add fennel seeds to toast for one minute before adding leeks and potatoes for an additional two minutes, stirring periodically. Otherwise, the oil will burn.
  5. Add white wine vinegar and stir again. Then, add filtered water until potatoes are covered and reduce heat to low.
  6. Allow to simmer until potatoes are cooked through and can be pierced with a fork (approximately 25 minutes).
  7. Once potatoes are done, puree mixture in batches with blender.
  8. Add back to heat and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Garlic-Thyme Mushrooms

Can be served as an appetizer on crostini, as breakfast with a poached egg, or as a main dish with cooked pasta or other grains. You will need a knife, a wooden spoon, a caste iron skillet and a garlic press.


  • Mushrooms
  • Two heads Garlic
  • Dry White Wine
  • Thyme


  1. Slice mushrooms, chop garlic and heat a cast-iron skillet on medium high.
  2. If you have a garlic press, go ahead and use that instead of chopping the garlic.
  3. Fully coat the pan with EVOO (or melt a Tbsp. of butter if you have the good stuff). Add garlic and mushrooms, as well as some salt and pepper.
  4. Allow mushrooms to cook, stirring occasionally, until they have dehydrated and there is no liquid in the pan.
  5. Add a quarter cup of white wine and scrape any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce to medium heat.
  6. When the wine has burned off, sprinkle in some fresh thyme and serve as suggested or to your liking.
  7. Then finish the rest of that wine.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 45 posts on Borderstan.

Rinnig moved to Borderstan in Fall 2011 from Baltimore and hails originally from Los Angeles. Her dedication to the local food movement and commitment to eating simply and nutritiously have led her to both develop her culinary skills and write about her tasting new dishes both in her new city as well as her own kitchen. You can find Rinnig working downtown on weekdays, selling stone fruits and berries at the Dupont Farmers market on Sundays and splurging at fine restaurants here and there in-between. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.

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  • One Photo A Day - Luis Gomez

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