cookin': broccoli slaw + garbanzo bean salad

There used to be a time when i wasn't much for cooking.  I was and have always been a lover of food but generally didn't make much of an effort in the way of making it myself for most of my life. I found cooking to be a chore.  Peter and I would just get by with making this or that, buying prepared dishes from the grocery (frozen or fresh), or, more often than not, caving in and hitting a nearby restaurant.  The latter happened an awful lot in the years we found ourselves living in restaurant dense locales like NYC and SF.  But something happened to me around the time poppy was born...i started to really, REALLY love making food.  i am not sure what led to my change of heart...but i have come to believe its twofold:  it gave me a chance to feed my family with love and nourishment, and also was a way to "make something" in a sort of creative way and feel a sense of completion.  in the early weeks and months following poppy's birth i was feeling creatively undone and unsatisfied; her care, of course, took up much of my time and sapped my creative energies.  cooking a meal was a fast "project" i could complete, a little tiny respite from the work of being a new mom, whilst also obviously being an integral part of said job.   Nearly four years on I still love cooking.  I am by no means a master chef, but i have managed to amass a small arsenal of recipes I love to make.  Some are recipes torn or borrowed from magazines and books, and others are ones I cobbled together on the fly.  Almost all of them lean heavily toward the simple, and the fresh.  I like meat, but love vegetables more.  I love to roast, bake, and sauté.  I love to make things with a little Latin or Med flavor, but really, I'm open to cooking and eating anything and everything!  But I'm happiest when the prep is minimal and the flavor pay off high.  Know what I mean??     Having my own gardens when living in Connecticut was a major thing for me and it was a terrific learning experience for all of us (poppy included).  I had the pleasure and blessing of being able to use garden fresh vegetables and herbs in my cooking and it was a revelation!  I am not lucky enough to have a garden where I live at the moment, but hope to have the chance to have one again someday, if I'm able.  In lieu of it, I hope to join a local CSA this upcoming spring...I'm terrificly excited about that prospect.  I love the idea of getting mystery veggies weekly and having to figure out what to do with them!  Haha.   Anyway,  I thought I'd share a couple salad recipes that I find myself making lately, one for broccoli slaw, and the other for a simple garbanzo bean salad.  Enjoy!   Garbanzo Bean Salad:   -2 cans garbanzo beans, drained -1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped -1/2 c. shredded or diced cheese (I like to use pepper jack or cheddar, usually) -approx. 1/2 c. olive oil -3-4 tbsps. balsalmic vinegar -handful of fresh, chopped parsley, or 2 tbsps. dried -sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste   Mix all above ingredients in a medium bowl, and enjoy!   You can adapt the recipe to your liking so easily...change out the beans for whatever you have on hand, omit the cheese or add in what's lurking in your cheese drawer, or add in chopped greens (I like to add in spinach!).   Broccoli Slaw:   -1 bunch of broccoli (usually i see them with 2 good size heads rubber-banded together) -3-4 large carrots, peeled and shredded -1 large shallot or 2 small, finely chopped -approx.  1/2-1 c. ranch dressing (spring for a decent one, I like Newman's)   Mix all ingredients in a medim bowl, and enjoy!  It's dead simple!  Add as little or as much dressing as you prefer, or swap the ready made stuff out for homemade, it's your call.     ***   What do you like to cook and eat?   Care to share a favorite recipe or cooking tip?