Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sourdough Success!

I am pleased. I brought out the sourdough starter from the fridge, inspired by several regular bakers, to have another go.
Years ago, I baked with a mix of white and whole-grain flours, and used packaged yeast instead of wild. I was confident that when I embarked, the process would yield satisfying results. I made tasty bread ~ pita, calzones, focaccia and pizza crusts, and rounds. These days, I don't even eat bread regularly. And in the past few years since I insist on using 100% whole-grain, freshly-milled flour, and a sourdough starter, I have had mixed results when I did feel the urge to bake. But the ritual of the stirring, the kneading, the sensuality of the flour on my hands, the push-turn folding, the pungent wheaty yeasty fragrance of the dough, and of course the gratification of pulling a loaf out of the oven, cracking it open and feeling the steam, and devouring a crusted spongy piece as melting butter drips down my fingers...Well, ok; I love it.
In my fantasy kitchen I'd bake a loaf every week.
And this morning I baked one. Earlier in the week I scooped some starter out of the sleeping jar in the fridge and fed it daily freshly-milled spelt and filtered water. Left this new jar out on the counter to warm, and it happily bubbled and expanded. So last evening I had probably a cup and a half of very active starter: time to make bread. I set a spoonful or two of it aside to feed the jar in the fridge, and poured the rest of the bubbling liquid into my bread mixing bowl. This is the extra-exciting part for me: I didn't use a recipe ~ even for salt; I did it by feel. About this much flour? About this much salt, and that much molasses, and some butter. I have heard that true Skill is not in avoiding missteps, but in reacting appropriately to them. Well I chose not to add water, because it didn't feel like it needed any ~ according to my package-yeast-trained hands. But when a few hours passed and my shaped loaf looked and felt exactly the same as it had when I placed it in the pan, I intuited that I needed to add liquid; sourdough loaves should feel a bit sticky and soft compared to package-yeast loaves. Kneaded again, shaped, slashed an "X" in the top, covered it with a towel...and went to bed. When I entered the kitchen this morning, what did I find, but a perfectly-raised loaf of whole-grain sourdough ready for the oven in time for breakfast! Delight!
The result: A tiny skillet full of crusty chewy-dense sour bread that we thrillingly piled with butter and ate by the chunk. With the final spoonfuls of the homemade apple butter from last season.
Um, yes. I'm quite pleased!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coconut Cornbread

This is my first entry in Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays! Enjoy! : )

..last bite..

Fresh out of the oven, this cornbread deserves an ode. It is every bit worthy of art-photography. Even for my devoted WAPF-loving taste, this cornbread ~ fried in both lard and coconut oil ~ feels very rich if not decadent. As much as I wanted to eat the whole pan, I could only eat a piece (..or two..). And that is the beauty of nutrient-dense foods: you can only eat so much of even the most delicious meals because they actually satisfy. You can, of course, make this vegetarian by skipping the lard. But don't skimp on the fat! Add extra coconut oil, or butter.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet in the oven at 450.
Melt in the skillet:
2 tbsp+ lard
2 tbsp+ coconut oil

Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cup cornflour* ~ half blue, half yellow, just for fun
1 tbsp Sucanat
about a cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp seasalt
Wet ingredients:
1 cup raw whole milk
1 cup whole yogurt
3 eggs

Whisk the eggs and then combine with the dairy. Pour wet ingredients into dry and blend thoroughly. Pour batter into hot hot skillet ~ it will sizzle as it makes contact with the hot fat! Be prepared! Bake till golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean ~ maybe 20 minutes.

This cornbread is so rich, you might not even need to spread it with butter...
But why take the risk? ; )

* I didn't nixtamalize the cornflour for this recipe, but I wanna try it the next time; I finally found some pickling lime in the canning section of Ace Hardware. I think I'd need to reduce the liquid slightly after nixtamalizing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scrambled Eggs, or: Know Your Farmers

Large-scale "Organic" companies are taking advantage of our good intentions and misinformation. The Cornucopia Institute has released Scrambled Eggs, a thorough report on their investigation of "Organic" egg company practices. Though it's worth reading, Food Renegade gives a summary. If Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma didn't hit this lesson home to me when I read it years ago, this report is a painful reminder: it is absolutely essential to know the people who raise the food you eat. The large-scale industrial food system doesn't work. The environment, animals, workers, neighbors of industrial operations, and finally, the person at the end of the fork, all suffer. And while large-scale "Organic" is better than conventional agriculture, it still doesn't get you what you think you're paying for. Buying food from a CSA or at a Farmers' Market costs more. But it's an up-front cost ~ the actual value of food worth growing, raising, and eating.
If you don't raise hens yourself (which I recommend! what fun!), buy eggs from a farmer you know and trust. It's an investment in health. Since moving to Sacramento, we're getting eggs from St. John's Family Farm. If you are unfamiliar with farmers in your area, Local Harvest is a great site to find them.
As fresh as they get! Eggs from our backyard girls ~
with access to dirt, bugs,
and as much sunlight as the Bay Area has to offer,
fed whole organic grains (no soy), kitchen scraps,
clover and kale (in the dry season).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Raisin-Coconut Balls

not too pretty ~ these'll do just fine. ; )
Out of necessity, I've created a variation on the Date Balls with Toasted Coconut recipe. We are simultaneously packing to move to Sacramento, and packing for an extended-family vacation to Maui! We always travel with our own food, to avoid having to eat garbage while in flight. This usually consists of raw cheese, hard-cooked eggs, some hearty bread, and butter, and hopefully something sweet, like fruit or Coconut Dateballs. In an effort to simplify, I decided to skip making snacks for the trip and just buy some. So I stopped in at Cafe Gratitude, right up the street, to get a few of their yummy green energy balls. Sweetened with dried fruits, studded with nuts and seeds, and tinted with spirulina powder, Mommy and Anjali have enjoyed these occasionally as a treat. Well, they stopped carrying them!
So I quickly walked home and searched the cupboard to see what I could come up with in a hurry. Here's what it is:

Raisin Coconut Balls
3 handfuls of raisins
Maybe 10 leftover dried cranberries
1 cup coconut butter, softened by the sun
About 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes, ground in coffee grinder
1/4 tsp seasalt
A generous sprinkling of sesame seeds
A handful of sunflower seeds
2 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp+ Vitamineral Green* powder

I mixed all ingredients in the food processor at once, scooped them out onto a cookie sheet using a teaspoon measure, and just shaped the blobs enough so that they won't fall apart when picked up. The cookie sheet went into the freezer, and I'll scoop some out into a container as we leave for the airport in the morning!
I have learned that, refreshingly, children do not exhibit that Puritanical determination I have cultivated to eat something "just because it's good for me," even if I don't like it. ; ) So I only added a bit of the green powder - enough to darken the mixture, and a small enough amount that, when tasting it, Anjali asked for more.
It is inspiring for me to have variations that work, as I rarely make something exactly the same twice.

* This is from a vegan company and website. Though I don't recommend a vegan diet, I think this is the best green powder around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yum ~ in Photos

A plate of fresh coconut-date love.
Home from the Farmers' Market ~ late-summer bounty. Radicchio, gorgeous basil,
Armenian cucumber, zucchini and crookneck squash, a load of dry-farmed tomatoes
and a couple multi-colored heirlooms.
Can't you just *taste* the sun's love in a warm, ripe, garden-fresh tomato?
That might be *the* taste of summer to me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Date Balls with Toasted Coconut

This is my interpretation of my good friend Jessica Prentice's recipe, from her book Full Moon Feast ~ truly one of the most influential books of my life.
These date balls are delicious ~ sweet enough for my sweet-toothed toddler to ask for more, but not too sweet for Mommy to eat, or feel bad about giving to Baby. They are yummy and satisfying ~ the perfect nourishing snack with plenty of good fat. And so simple to make.
The main ingredient is coconut butter, which usually can be found in the Raw section of natural foods stores. When I first discovered this magical substance (similar to almond butter only made out of coconut meat...!), I hid it in the back of the cabinet and ate the whole jar, spoonful-by-spoonful! It is so rich, creamy, and flavorful.

(yes; i label containers. with hearts..)

Date Balls with Toasted Coconut
16 small dates, pitted (maybe 10+ Medjools)
1 cup coconut butter, softened
1/4 tsp sea salt
1.5 tbsp butter and
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted, then ground in a coffee mill

It's easier to use the coconut butter if you first warm it by placing the jar in a pot with a few inches of water and heating it on low for a while. So do that first. Pit dates and pulse in a food processor a few spins. Then add the softened coconut butter and sea salt. Melt the fats and pour them in while the processor is running. Toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet on low heat, stirring often, till they are golden brown. Then pulse them a few times in a clean coffee/spice grinder. This helps the texture of the date balls. Gradually add toasted flakes to the coconut date mixture until it is well blended and smooth.
I use a teaspoon to measure out the balls ~ this is a perfect toddler-sized portion. I roll them in my hands a few times until they are relatively round, and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I slide this into the freezer for a little bit (maybe an hour) to get them firm, then spatula the date balls off the sheet into a pint jar. Keep them refrigerated, as they will soften if left out (or in a toddler's fist too long).

These are a wholesome treat for all ages.
I won't tell if you don't share any with a toddler. ;-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

fermented: carrots, and fruit-scrap vinegars

I hadn't fermented any veggies in a while. Inspired by my roommie, Austin, who was fermenting something nearly every time he went to the farmers' market there for a while (!), I did a veggie ferment in brine. This kind of ferment is so easy, because you don't even have to do any chopping. Simply fill the jar with whole veggies, then top off with seasalted water. For the half-gallon jar I filled, I used between 2-3 tablespoons of seasalt. More for hot weather, less for cold. My mix was mainly tiny carrots, with whole cloves of garlic, grated as well as sliced ginger, and then a large handful of sea veggies (they were called "sea crunchies", but were no longer crunchy, so I added them in; I don't know their official name. I love seaweeds and they are soooo nutrient-dense. A bonus. I covered the jar with a cloth and secured it with a tie to keep out bugs. It sat in a cool room (which would be any room in our house this "summer"!) for over a month. A thick, smelly, furry layer of mold developed on top that would have deterred a novice. I, being a seasoned veggie fermenter at this point ;-), pulled this layer off with a spoon very easily. Underneath, the garlicky brine smelled appetizing. A layer of carrots at the top was off-color and mushy. Below that, the carrots were crisp and pleasantly flavorful. The overarching flavor of this ferment is garlic, with not even a hint of ginger! Oh, well.

"Garlicky Sea Carrots" in pint and quart jars, ready to eat

A ferment I have been looking forward to all year is fruit-scrap vinegar ~ the recipe for which I read in Wild Fermentation (one of my favorite books of all time). I discovered it last year when we were gifted FIVE WHOLE GALLONS of tasty cherries, and I didn't want to waste a single one! It's so easy, and it utilizes bruised fruits, and pits. So it's a delicious way to savor every morsel of the ripe, luscious summer fruit bounty! This year the only thing I did with our backyard plums is make vinegar with them. The last two years I tried to make jam, ended up using way too much sugar to balance their bitter tang, and ended up not eating it because we just don't eat sweet stuff. So = a waste. This season I gathered a large mixing bowl of fruit off the ground, after the squirrels and birds had had their fill, and made vinegar. We all win! : )
I also bought a huge bag of nectarine "seconds" at our favorite nectarine vendor ~ Kashiwase Farms (We are so spoiled by nectarines around here!!! They are sweeter than candy, before they even get soft. Incredible!). I sliced up all the fruits to eat out of hand, while piling a mixing bowl high with the bruised pieces and pits. Then I made vinegar. Have I mentioned I love how easy fermenting can be? Well, all you need to do to make phenomenally flavorful, gift-worthy "gourmet" vinegar is to dissolve 1/4 cup sugar (I use organic Sucanat/Rapadura, which is dehydrated cane juice) per quart of filtered water and cover the fruit ~ any organic fruit scraps will do. Cover it with a secured napkin to keep away the fruit flies that will be tempted and pesterful. Give it a nudge to stir it up occasionally. Let it sit for a week or more, until the liquid gets thick with color. Then strain out the solids and let it turn for a few weeks. First it will smell sweet, then like alcohol, then like vinegar. This is an aerobic process, so a wide-mouth vessel is best ~ for big batches I like to use pyrex mixing bowls, or wide-mouth canning jars for smaller ones. It's also important to use glass because of the acidity of the vinegar (as opposed to metal). Once it smells and tastes sufficiently vinegar-y, pour it into the attractive vessels of your choice and enjoy any way you would a tasty sweet vinegar.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mercola on the Cholesterol Myth

A tidbit on nutrition and health.

I'm excited that this "news" is making it to the mainstream. I really believe that slowly our cultural tide is turning back to Real Food.

(my side note: if you manage to get to the bottom of this article, he recommends eating by a "nutritional type". I haven't researched his basis for this, though I think it makes a LOT of sense to eat according to your ethnic heritage, ie, what your ancestors evolved eating because of where they lived.. So, though I agree with him on most of his suggestions, I can't vouch for his "nutritional types" theory.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Summer Veggie Lovin': Fresh Salsas

Summer is such a fun and easy time to prepare meals. All the bright, colorful produce demands to be eaten immediately, without much work at all. I have been loving salads. Some days I have some form of salad with breakfast, lunch, and dinner! And lately I have been mixing up what I call "salsas" for a fun salad concoction. I chop up veggies, add some olive oil and (usually red wine) vinegar or citrus (lemon or lime) juice, seasalt, toss them together, and then put them on top of a bed of good lettuce (my favorite is Little Gem from Blue Heron Farm!). Another way I've served these salsas is mixed with a pasta (Tinkyada rice pasta), or grain ~ such as brown rice or quinoa, or a combination! It also works on top of scrambled eggs. I love fresh veggies for breakfast (this morning I sauteed a handful of chopped dandelion greens with sliced garlic, added that to eggs, then topped it with leftover salsa ~ so good).
cherry tomato, Armenian cucumber, snipped basil, and red pepper flakes
Here's a list of ingredients from concoctions I've made just in the past few days:
Barely-cooked corn fresh from the cob
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half (this is my favorite way to eat tomatoes right now
~ neat and easy)
A beefy heirloom tomato, diced
fresh-pressed garlic (I put this is almost everything)
basil leaves snipped with scissors
cilantro snipped with scissors
fresh oregano, minced
Armenian cucumber, sliced into rounds, then quartered
young (small) yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into rounds and quartered
Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
green beans, sauteed
avocado, diced

Sample Combinations:
Barely-cooked corn fresh from the cob
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
basil leaves snipped with scissors
red wine vinegar

Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Armenian cucumber, sliced into rounds, then quartered
fresh oregano, minced
balsamic vinegar

Barely-cooked corn fresh from the cob
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
avocado, diced
cilantro snipped with scissors
lime juice

young (small) yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into rounds and quartered
A beefy heirloom tomato, diced
green beans, sauteed
fresh-pressed garlic

A later edition:
Ooo!! A new combination!
diced ripe cantaloupe (yuuuummm!)
Armenian cucumber rounds, quartered
snipped basil
olive oil and seasalt
crumbled feta

Coconut-Oat-Seed Crackers

Yay! I made a granola recipe recently that called for soaking rolled oats with yogurt for a couple nights. When I worked with what ended up being oat dough, it reminded me of one of my favorite natural foods store treats ~ dehydrated crackers. You can find them in the raw foods section, made from sprouted grains and nuts, sometimes sauerkraut and veggies and spices. They can be sweet ~ with raisins, banana or dates, or (my favorite) savory. But they're expensive. And so easy to make at home! I don't have a dehydrator, so the ones I make aren't raw. I bake them on parchment-lined baking stones in the oven on the lowest setting possible.

I tried to add as much nourishment as I could to them while still keeping them yummy (what's the point of making something nutritious if nobody eats it!) ~ seaweeds for minerals, flax seeds, lots of coconut flakes, and good fats ~ coconut oil, red palm oil (makes the crackers a lovely turmeric color), and butter. With all the fats, they are not greasy to the touch, have a satisfying crispness, and a fun cheesy taste. Everyone in the house loves them. Score!
I have tried two batches, and the second batch has a great texture and flavor. I didn't write down the amounts as I went because I was just winging it in experimental mode. But I'll try to recount what went into them.

In a large pyrex mixing bowl with filtered water, seasalt and yogurt whey, I soaked for two days:
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
Flax seeds, once wet, create a gel that acts very similarly to egg white, and, interestingly, has the same hold-things-together property as egg white! Convenient. : )
I drained these, and blended them well in a food processor (the flax seeds remained whole).
I added:

probably 1/3 cup dulse flakes
1/2 cup sesame seeds, ground in coffee grinder
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, ground in coffee grinder
2 + tsp seasalt
1 tsp kelp powder (I wanted them to be very nourishing, but not fishy tasting)
a splash of organic tamari soy sauce
about 1/2 cup plain whole yogurt
Melted and added:
1 tbsp red palm oil
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
up to a stick of butter

The consistency of the dough before I spread it was of a very workable bread dough ~ not hard to spread. I tried to spread it consistently and square off the edges so that it would bake uniformly, about..1/3 inch thick.
When the dough had baked long enough to evaporate a lot of the liquid ~ maybe an hour? ~ I scored it with a knife, in inch-plus sections, to make breaking it easier when the crackers were done. I let them get firm, but not browned, then turned the oven off and let it cool before taking them out and breaking them apart. If they sit out in the humidity they soften back up even in a matter of hours. You can just crisp them again in the oven. Or not; they're fine soft, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strawberry Clafoutis

When we got back from vacation, the strawberries were weighing down their stems. Huge, red, fragrant strawberries calling out to me from across the garden. There were enough ripe for me to pick six of them right then, and still leave many to ripen to perfection on the stems. Heart-pumping, for this amateur gardener! Though they were luscious enough to eat immediately, I actually had enough to make a recipe!

With the Nourished Kitchen's Blueberry Clafoutis fresh in my web-browsing memory, I headed to the kitchen.

Don't let the French name intimidate you. This is a very simple custard that is so easy to make. It seems like a treat or even a dessert, but with the cream and eggs, it's nourishing enough to be a filling breakfast (though very difficult to share... ;-). Drizzle with a little extra cream, or, to take it the next level ~ brunch with friends or dessert, pile fresh-whipped cream on top.

Strawberry Clafoutis ~ for 2 or 3
(using strawberries and eggs from our own backyard. that feels really cool. :-)
With ingredients like these, how can you go wrong?!

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a baking dish or pie pan with lots of butter.
Arrange artfully in the dish:
about 2 cups ripe strawberries, halved, then sliced
Whisk together:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
whole milk to thin the batter, as needed ~ it should be like crepe batter: thin.
3 pastured eggs
1/3 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
2-3 tbsp sucanat
1/4 tsp seasalt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pour to cover strawberries.
Bake till golden and crisp around the edge, firm in the center ~ how long depends on the size of the dish; ours took about 30 minutes.
(I rarely include photos of finished foods. A) because I am busy eating, and B) because I don't like how the photos usually come out. This one is passable; I like the arrangement of the strawberry slices most.)

Organic dairy is recommended;
from a local, small dairy's better;

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wholesome Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. And what's more satisfying and comforting than homemade cookies fresh out of the oven? I'm not sure. After I bake a few to eat, I scoop the rest out onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Then I freeze them, and store the frozen cookie dough blobs in a ziplock bag in the freezer to have just a few at a time whenever I want. Since I haven't eaten sugar in such a long time, it doesn't take much to get my fix. Understandably, Anjali loves cookies, too, so I have been adding the chocolate to individual cookies (for me) right before bake time so that she can have some chocolate-free. Come to think of it, she would probably love the addition of a few raisins in hers! Baking small frozen cookie dough blobs takes hardly any more minutes to bake than room-temperature dough. But, oh! How gratifying!

Here is my more wholesome version of the Joy of Cooking's "Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe.
Whisk together dry ingredients:
1 cup sprouted spelt flour (or bulgar wheat, freshly ground!)*
1/2 tsp baking soda
Blend till fluffy:
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup (or more, to taste; remember: I don't like food very sweet) Sucanat or Rapadura sugar**
Add, and blend till well combined:
1 pasture-raised egg
1/2 tsp seasalt
1 tsp vanilla
Add, in increments, dry to wet ingredients.
Drop by the spoonful onto a greased, or parchment lined, cookie sheet.
Press into each cookie dough blob right before baking
(or after a few minutes in the oven, if the cookie dough blobs are frozen):
1/2 square (or more) high quality chocolate per cookie, chopped into pieces ~ right now for cookies I love Alter Eco's Dark Chocolate Velvet, with its "delicate touch of milk"
Bake at 375 until golden ~ soft in the middle and a little crisp around the edges.

*Even whole grain flours are not nutritiously sound unless they have been soaked overnight with an acid (like vinegar or whey), sprouted, or soured, as in sourdough. Taking the grain through these processes mimics germination. This activates the seed to release its nutrients and de-activates its anti-nutrients, called phytates. When eaten, phytates can spark or exacerbate digestive problems, reactions and sensitivities, and actually pull nutrients out of the body to process the grain. (Scientific details about that here.)
Sprouted flour is really nice to work with ~ it's light and fluffy, not heavy and sawdusty like some whole grain flours, and works well when converting many regular recipes to healthier versions. It doesn't compromise texture. It can be found online, but is rather pricey (though not bad if used only for the occasional cookie or biscuit recipe; for other things, like breads, just soak non-sprouted flour overnight). I use spelt instead of wheat much of the time for health reasons since it doesn't have as much gluten. For cookies and biscuits it doesn't seem to matter. But fortunately, if you don't already have sprouted flour in your freezer, bulgar wheat ~ used to make tabbouleh ~ is sprouted, too. And you can find it at most natural food stores; grind it at home for this recipe using a good coffee grinder (or grain mill or high-quality blender).
**These sweeteners are cane sugar with the natural minerals left intact (Rapadura is a brand name), making the occasional sweet treat more nutrient dense.

As always, I recommend organic ingredients. If you can buy them from people you know and trust, all the better!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

another try at sourdough

My sourdough culture is nice and bubbly and active these days. I haven't made any full-on sourdough in a while, as it takes more planning than I've been able to muster; I usually end up supplementing with some dry-active yeast. This loaf was in honor of our chickens ~ I used a couple cups of their seeds in the dough. They eat a wholesome mix of millet, flax, spelt, wheat, and sunflower seeds (maybe and sometimes others) ~ all whole grain and organic. I ground some into flour that I added to the starter, and I soaked some whole in water with whey for several days, and added it to the final dough, which was largely spelt and (whole) wheat. Then I covered the loaves in sesame seeds (because I love sesame seeds). Although the starter was very active, the dough didn't expand as I expected, and the loaves hardly expanded at all. Despite this (including how long I let it sit in hopes of rising), the final product tasted delicious, though ~ the sourness was distinct, but not overpowering. The whole seeds, however, which I expected to be totally soft and chewy, were as hard as if I'd never soaked them! They felt like little bits of gravel ~ so much so that Austin asked whether I'd accidentally included some of the oyster shell that the chickens also eat! As tasty as the bread was, I couldn't eat much because it felt as if I might break a tooth.
So, sourdough = good; seeds = bad, and I'm really not sure why.
But the photo is nice, don't you think?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Farmers' Market Love

Here's another shout-out to the farmers' markets. I still love them and they are still a highlight of my week. Sometimes I attend all three Berkeley farmers' markets in one week. It's just that good. Here are some outrageously red radishes I saw at Blue Heron Farm's booth, where I get my weekly fix of baby lettuces.

Outrageous, no?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Savory Sweet Potato Pancakes ~ yum!!

Oh, these are so good I can't quit eating them!!
I roasted the sweet potatoes on 400 last night so that they'd be ready this morning. While you're at it, you could substitute regular whole grain flour for the sprouted flour by mixing the yogurt and flour the night before. That way the flour would have all its nutrients available, and its phytate anti-nutrients broken down.
1 large onion ~ chopped small
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin~ toasted, then ground
1/4 cup sesame seeds ~ toasted
1 cup sprouted spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup whole yogurt
1/4 cup filtered water
1.5 medium-sized sweet potatoes ~ roasted
3 eggs
3 tbsp butter ~ melted
whole yogurt
Saute' the onions. While you're doing this, toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet on medium-low heat. Then toast the cumin, and grind (if whole). Add the toasted items, plus the red pepper flakes, to the onions and fats. Saute' till the onion is soft but not brown.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and mix just until blended.
Fry 1/4 cup blobs in coconut oil and serve hot with whole yogurt on top.
So tasty!

Friday, June 11, 2010


I have heard that a person can be called "addicted" when they want not just any drug, but a particular one, and not taken just any way, but a very certain way. Well very urgently I have become addicted .

I need cherries. Not just any cherry ~ I need Bing cherries; don't give me Rainier or even Brooks. Bing cherries from Kashiwase Farm at the farmers' markets. I need them three times a week. And if there is a pound bag in the shopping basket as I'm leaving the Kashiwase stand, half the cherries could be gone by the time I make it home. I can't stop myself. I eat one right after another.

What am I doing typing? There are still a few left in the bowl from our trip to the market last night! I'll seek treatment if I fight Anjali for the last one...! ;-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thai-Inspired Coconut Soup with Pork and Rice Noodles

This met with great enthusiasm at the dinner table last night. : )
I think all it's missing in the Thai department is lemongrass, which I'm not in the habit of keeping on hand.

Thai-Inspired Coconut Soup with Pork and Rice Noodles
Serves 2-3, depending on appetite

1 quart chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
about 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled with spoon, then grated with a Microplane, with about a tsp set aside for pork
1 carrot, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
about 1/3 pound ground pork
sea salt
fish sauce (simply of anchovy, salt, and sugar), to taste
1 tbsp rice vinegar
enough rice noodles* for two people
a large handful of sugar snap peas, tips chopped and strings removed
a small handful cilantro, chopped, for garnish
red pepper flakes

This can all be done in pretty rapid succession; the veggies should retain some texture. Heat the broth and coconut milk to boiling. Add ginger, garlic, and carrots, fish sauce and vinegar. Knead the pork with the tsp ginger and a little sea salt, and drop bite-sized pieces into the soup. Add water as necessary to keep it soupy. Wait a few minutes and add the pasta. When the pasta is very close to done, toss in the snap peas and cover while you get the bowls ready; the snap peas should cook only till bright green. Serve in large bowls, with cilantro and red pepper flakes sprinkled on top, to taste.

*Whenever we eat pasta, we use Tinkyada brown rice pasta. Unlike other white and even whole grain pastas, it is a whole product ~ fully available for the body. And it's tasty, with a good texture.

A late-summer variation:
Substitute cubed (unpeeled but scrubbed) sweet potatoes - or my recent favorite discovery: purple yams! - for the carrot and snap peas. Simmer in the broth until soft but still intact.
Substitute cooked brown rice for rice noodles.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


If this goes through: I did it! I emailed a photo to my blog, using my
phone. Crossing fingers before hitting Send...

What We Ate (while you were on a date)

Dear Austin,
I had a craving and made late-night Jali-won't-sleep muffins! And she helped! We had a blast. I threw them together as quickly as possible to ensure I actually got to eat one before Little Person made it obvious that bedtime had come! We finally trotted up to bed (with a second muffin in fist) at 9:45. Whew!
Ingredients: 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (thought it was sprouted, but it's not - oops!), about 1/4 cup leftover, already-cooked steel-cut oats, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1.5 tsp baking pdr, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, vanilla, sesame seeds (with extra that Jali added when I turned around! Heehee ), and 2 slices chopped up frozen apple, a forkful of honey, oh and a stick of butter! They are tasty. I wanna experiment with using just the leftover oats with eggs.

Jali does quality control before I slide them in the oven. image.png

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lacto-Fermented Apple Butter

Continuing the theme of preserving as many different kinds of produce as I can this year, I made lacto-fermented apple butter. Lacto-fermenting is so easy and delicious! Most every time, I am struck by the simplicity of preparation and yumminess of results! Now, this is different than lacto-fermenting sauerkraut; whereas sauerkraut ferments and mellows for up to six weeks, this apple butter only sat out at room temperature for a few days. I wasn't sure what kind of a fermented *tang* it would have. As of yet - not much. Just a flavorful apple spread that has the benefits of lacto-fermentation for preservation as well as nutrition. I imagine if it lasts long enough in the fridge (which I doubt! - we are devouring it!), it will acquire more of a kick as time passes. I used the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. It calls for dried apples that have been re-hydrated, I think for intensity of flavor compared to water content. However, I baked fresh apples, uncovering them in the end to dry them out so that they are marvelously flavorful. The recipe also calls for more honey, but these apples are so sweet and good as-is, I wanted to add as little as I could get away with. The whole household is pleased with the results.

We got a huge bag of "cosmetically challenged" apples at the farmers' market from the end of the cellar-apple season - there ended up being a lot of Fujis. So I froze some after baking, and made a quart-plus of apple butter with the rest. We wish I'd made more!

Lacto-fermented Apple Butter
- a quart-plus (wish I could tell you how many apples, but you'll
have to figure it out for yourself...)

Bake, covered, at 400:
Apples- quartered and cored - not peeled
Once they are soft, take off the lid and bake another 15 mins, then
turn off the oven and let them sit until their edges are browned and
crisp (this is usually just me forgetting about them...).

Blend cooled apples in a food processor with:
1/4 cup of whey - drained from plain, live-active organic yogurt
1 tbsp seasalt
1.5 tbsp raw honey

Pour into a clean jar and cover with a sterile lid.
Let sit at room temperature for 3 days, then refrigerate.

Will last 2-3 months.
You might as well go ahead and plan to make more than one batch...!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mediterranean Lamburgers

Lamb might just be my favorite meat. I should say - good, well-
prepared lamb; more than once, I've ordered it out and been
disappointed with the tough gaminess of what was called lamb. We love
ground lamb from Marin Sun Farms and Highland Hills about as well as
any nice cut. It is just so flavorful and juicy!
Here is a guideline for lamburgers I've seasoned and Sealion has
fashioned and grilled several times with mouth-watering results. It
could easily be a kebab recipe, but Sealion pats them into sphere-ish
patties which don't need skewers, or aluminum foil to prevent them
from being sacrificed to the grill god. ;-)
These would go nicely with a Greek salad or a light couscous pilaf-
type dish. Tonight we grilled beets, onions, and garlic with olive
oil, seasalt and pepper. and sesame seeds. Um. Yum.

Lamburgers - makes 3 or 4 patties
Marinate 1 lb pasture-raised lamb* with
5 med garlic cloves - pressed
1tsp red pepper flakes
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1tsp cumin and
1tsp coriander - both freshly toasted (toasting in a dry skillet
brings out the flavor!)
2+tbsp mint - minced
2+tbsp red onion - minced
Sea salt
Black pepper
Whole grain sourdough bread crumbs
Olive oil

Feta on top
Yogurt for dipping

Pat into thick, rounded patties. Grill to your liking, or fry in a
cast-iron skillet. Melt feta on top in the last minute or so.
Serve with yogurt for dipping.

*I've heard that all lamb is pastured, but it's always best to buy
from someone you trust.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Preserving Lemons

We ~ Anjali and I (!) ~ lacto-fermented the season's lemons following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. It uses cinnamon sticks, sea salt, and whey, plus some added lemon juice. They should be ready to enjoy in a few weeks. I have a goal ~ with the inspiration and motivation of my fine housemate, Austin ~ of preserving as many different fruits and veggies as I can this year. It's fun, easy, and delicious. Why not give it a shot. I have been re-perusing Wild Fermentation to further fan my fermentation fire!

Dandelion Greens with Onion

Oh! Dandelion greens season! I look forward to it every year. Dandelion greens are one of Spring's loving ways of helping us cleanse and tonify our organs after Winter's heavier and heartier fare. They're bitter! And that is indicative of their medicinal quality. I have come to relish the bitterness because my body just craves these greens! She knows what she needs. And lately I have been buying them at the Farmers' Market every time I go, and cooking them as soon as I get home.
This is how I've been preparing them - with bacon grease and sauteed onion. Of course you can use another fat, but bacon grease really counters the bitterness nicely. Nutritionally, the fat helps make the green goodness available to your body; just as importantly, it tastes good!

2 tbsp bacon grease*
One onion - chopped
1 tsp seasalt, to taste
1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped no wider than my pinky

In a cast iron skillet, sauté the onion in the bacon grease until very soft. Chop the greens before soaking - cut the whole bunch off above the twist tie. Then start at the tips and chop down, making sure the pieces are very small. To clean, soak in a bowl of water. Then, pull them out of the soaking water by the handful directly into the skillet so that some water comes with the greens to help with cooking. Fold the greens in with the onions and cover at medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. Cook until the greens are soft, and serve piping hot. I've been enjoying them by the bowlful with a little bit of brown rice. Here's to Spring - Salud!

* about bacon grease ~ Only use nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon that has been humanely raised. It's worth the occasional splurge! Lately we have been loving Prather Ranch bacon. Makes my mouth water just to type it! Here's how to save the delicious grease: after frying the bacon while the skillet is still very hot, rubber band a clean kitchen cloth (like an already-stained kitchen towel or napkin) over the mouth of a clean jar. Then slowly and carefully pour the bacon grease through the napkin. This will strain out all the bits so that the grease can be used again. Refrigerate until you're ready to enjoy it in another meal. Yum!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Red Flannel Hash of Sorts

Another winner!
Enough for 5-6 for breakfast.

2 large red potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large beets, cubed
1 large carrot, chopped to match the size of the other veggies
olive oil

5 breakfast sausage links, cut into little pieces, then browned
8 eggs ~ scrambled
sea salt and pepper, to taste
(optional: leftover sauteed greens ~ beet or otherwise, reheated )

Roast the first set of ingredients in a covered baking dish at 400 till soft. I took the lid off for the last 15 minutes.
I reheated the leftover greens with the sausage in its final minutes of cooking.
Then I layered the egg, and sausage mixture on top of the roasted veggies. I highly recommend doing the chopping and cubing the night before. That makes it much easier and quicker in the morning (I'll try to remember that next time!). Colorful, hearty, and flavorful.

Lamb Tabouli Pilaf with Tahini Dressing

We have family staying with us this week, and I have made a loose menu of breakfasts and dinners so that we eat a large majority of meals here for the week. Last night I got resoundingly positive feedback on dinner (yay! ~ from a variety of "types" of eaters), so I thought it was worth sharing.
But I'm gonna make it quick because breakfast is cooking and I can't keep the masses at bay forever!

Lamb Tabouli Pilaf with Tahini Dressing
Enough for 6 for dinner, plus leftovers for a few people as a snack the next day!

1 lb ground lamb with salt and pepper, browned
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 cup quinoa
beef stock
large can chick peas (other beans are worth soaking ahead. but i buy canned chickpeas.)
1 block of dry cow's milk feta, crumbled small
1 bunch parsley ~ minced
1 "bunch" peppermint (from garden), minced
1 "bunch" lemon balm (from garden), minced
2 Tbsp minced red onion (I hate raw onion, but I thought it was appropriate..)
freshly toasted cumin, ground
sea salt and pepper to taste
juice of 3/4 a lemon

whole milk yogurt
about 1/2 cup freshly toasted sesame seeds, ground in coffee grinder
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
more of the toasted cumin, ground
smoked paprika
sea salt
juice of 1/4 a lemon

Cooked the rice and quinoa together with 2 cups beef broth as part of the liquid. I let the meat and grains cool to about room temp, and tossed everything together in a big bowl.

Sorry I don't have measurements for the dressing. I probably used 1 1/2 cup of yogurt, and 1/4 cup (good) olive oil to make a thick creamy dressing. We used a lot of the dressing, so don't hold back. It was delicious, and was integral to flavor and texture.

This dish would be great served the next day ~ for a picnic for a group, etc. It is refreshingly light, yet filling, for a warm Spring day (like yesterday!).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

For the Love of Food

Three Stone Hearth included this little song in their weekly newsletter. Now this is a song I can relate to -one that passionately waxes poetic about good food. I love the lilt you can hear in the "Yes you did.." line. Makes me wanna be Irish. And eat a big pile of Colcannon. Or at least mashed potatoes with cream and butter...

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

sweet potato custard breakfast muffins with greens, and chevre

Still attempting to shake up the breakfast menu. This morning we had a winner, for sure.
1 large sweet potato
1/2 red onion, chopped small
A large cereal bowlful of greens, chopped fine
Fat for sauteeing (such as butter or bacon grease)
8 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
Chevre - a goodly amount
Sea salt - a 1/2 tsp each for greens and custard mixture
Freshly ground pepper
Butter to grease the muffin cups

I sauteed the onion and the pile of greens - dandelion and kale
mainly - while I baked a large sweet potato. I cracked 8 eggs into a
mixing bowl with 1/4 cup cream and 1/4 cup milk, then added the peeled
sweet potato, sea salt and ground pepper, and took the immersion
blender to it to mix it till frothy (a blender would work fine).
Filled buttered muffin cups with a layer of the sauteed greens, then
topped off with the custard mixture up to maybe 1/4 inch from the top.
Then! I plopped generous spoonfuls of chevre into the center of each.
Baked at 350 until golden and firm. They came out all puffed up and
beautiful, but quickly fell as any other puffed egg thing does. Still
delicious!! I have an earthenware muffin cup dish with extra-large
cups. I'd say it would've been 8 regular-sized muffins.
But then there was a lot of the custard left over. So I poured it into
buttered (cast iron) mini-muffin cups that baked up to look and taste
just like popovers! With a really nice sweetness and color from the
sweet potato. A pat of butter that inevitably slid down the piping hot
muffin onto my fingers just meant that they were literally finger-
lickin' good.
And both were a hit with the adults as well as the wee one of the
house, so they score extra stars.
In the future I might either use fewer eggs to make fewer muffins,
or saute' more greens to fill all the muffins. But as it was, I
enjoyed having some more meal-like muffins and some treat-like ones.
Experiment amongst yourselves and get back with me.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

March 2

What We Ate (while you were gone)

It has been such fun for me to have this lovely email conversation with you while you were gone.! As much as I look forward to your return, I will miss the ritual it has become to write you a letter as I'm nursing Jali to sleep at night. You have been an inspiring and gentle muse. In the kitchen, as well, not a meal gets prepared for which I'm not thinking about how I will report to you about it: "yes, greens again," or: "I bet I wouldn't be cooking yet another hotdog if Austin were here," or, the best: "I should save some of this so Austin can try it.!" I actually did jar up and freeze some soup I made that I thought was extra tasty, but I think Sealion ended up taking it to work for lunch...
So, one last food report:
What happens when Tiffanie uses her discipline to avoid eating a delectable white-flour biscuit at Venus yesterday??She gets to eat a Whole Batch of homemade sprouted spelt biscuits at home!! I win! I followed the recipe in The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters (my gift to myself the time we ate a Chez Panisse dinner!), which calls for 3/4 cup heavy cream (!) as the liquid, and used sprouted spelt for the flour. I think I rolled them too thin, however I employed the technique I learned from Porsche and Misa to just barely mix the ingredients, and then fold it a few times, to create a flakey crispy pastry essentially. They could've been a pie crust - and that's a compliment.! Last night Sealion was off-kilter after getting home from a nightshift, so he wasn't hungry. I did something uncharacteristic of our meals here at the Pope house - I just made biscuits. And I had a big bowl of baked apples that I happened to cook that afternoon to take advantage of the end of the season at the farmers' market - "cosmetically challenged" apples. So one by one I spread butter on biscuit and perched a baked apple quarter on top. Hello? Better than apple pie. Austin, it was so good. What's almost as good as having fresh biscuits and butter and baked apples for dinner? Having leftovers for breakfast! I scored.
The other night I made an impromptu Indian dish that rocked. If you lean toward Asian in your cooking, I go for Indian these days. I love the artful way they prepare spices.. And I love the rich, slow-cooked sauces. It was coconut curry with potatoes and sweet potatoes. Anjali scarfed it down despite it being pretty heavy on the cayenne. I was pleasantly surprised.

Ok! I imagine you'll actually be home by the time you read this, but I just wanted to be in this space one more time.


Monday, March 01, 2010

For Randi ~ Indian by Intuition: a Recipe

Dear Randi ~
I was quite flattered by your recent blog post. As any blogger can do, I choose the face I put forward and the voice I use. Intentionality and mindfulness are practices I work on a great deal in my life, so they're an obvious focus of my writing.
(And, by the way, my personal blog is open and ready for business again after a brief .. re-collecting. (-; )
For cooking, as with any skill (such as writing plays or teaching students), I think it takes passion and practice. I can't help but cook because I love it. And by cooking, I get better at cooking. It is possible to hone your intuition. I had the great honor and luck to work with incredible, intuitive chefs weekly for several years at Three Stone Hearth kitchen. Simply by their presence and rapport with ingredients, Jessica Prentice, Porsche Combash, and Misa Koketsu, taught me volumes that textbooks could never attempt. I paid as close attention as my wits could muster.
One seemingly intuitive trick that Jessica taught me was about choosing ingredients that complement one another: pay attention to the produce and meats, spices and herbs, and fats, used by a particular regional/cultural cuisine. If you want to use coconut, for instance, it helps to start with cuisines in which coconuts are used commonly ~ say, Thai and not Irish. Then use the spices that that particular cuisine uses regularly ~ like lemongrass and ginger. Certain cultures (because of beliefs) would never use pork products in their dishes. Countries located by the ocean use a lot of seafood. A country's location on the globe affects the things they have had on hand down through the culinary ages. With our modern mechanized food system, that gives us watermelon and basil in January, it can take a little sleuthing to learn who traditionally ate what, where, when, and why. And that's where recipes and the internet are very useful ~ to learn these details. Once you know roughly the foods different cuisines use together with success, it is easier to browse the produce stands and your cupboards and know what will work together.
Porsche taught me about honing your intuition with measurements. Start with recipes. Every time you take a measurement ~ for instance, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, dump it into your hand and get to know it until you can tell what a quarter tsp looks like without the measuring device. ~ It's ok to double check! After a while, you will gain confidence in seasoning things without thinking about the measuring spoons.
And in a day-long croissant-making session, Misa inadvertently taught me that there is really no substitute for.. experience. In a single afternoon, there is simply only so much one can learn about a skill that takes a career's worth of work to master.

And now on to the recipe.
Last night I had a craving for comforting Indian-style creamy sauce. I had in my cabinet:
a large sweet potato,
two small white potatoes,
a large onion,
and a jar of coconut milk.
I also had brown rice.
Coconut oil,
Sea salt,
Plus spices:
Powdered ginger
Fennel seeds, and
So I put the brown rice, water, and a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pot to cook, following the instructions on the package (takes an hour). I chopped the onion into pieces about as big as my thumbnail, and cut the potatoes into slices about the width of my pinky, and then quartered the bigger slices. I put a couple tablespoons of butter in a cast iron Dutch oven and turned the heat to medium-low. For time's sake, I threw all the veggies in at once. Then I bathed my daughter (you can skip this step; it's optional (-; ). Since they were on a pretty low heat, I didn't worry, and just glanced in to see them steaming every now and then. When Anjali was dry and in her favorite handed-down bubblegum pink bathrobe (which, in reference to your blog, Randi, I never would've kept if she hadn't dragged it from the bag and insisted I zip it up on her and then wouldn't take off for two days), I turned up the heat to medium, stirred the veggies, and stirred in: a tsp seasalt, a tsp cumin, a tsp coriander, a tsp powdered ginger, a tsp turmeric, a 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, and ... a thorough sprinkle of cayenne (less than 1/8 tsp). I let these cook for about five minutes and then poured in a can of coconut milk (don't use "lite" - use the real deal! Delicious *and* good for you!!). I brought it up to an enthusiastic simmer and put the lid on. Stirring occasionally, I let this cook until the potatoes were tender. At the end I added about 1/3 pound of ground lamb that I had seasoned with salt and pepper, and browned in a skillet with butter. But this could be a delicious and filling vegetarian meal, easily. You could even add some canned chick peas during the simmer, and/or a couple handfuls of chopped greens such as kale.
Spoon the coconut-veggie sauce over the rice in a bowl, and savor for yourself after your daughter finally goes to sleep. (-;
And thanks for the inspiration Randi!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I forgot to tell you - so excited, I just got the book, Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning ( ) a classic which includes salting, sugaring, oiling, fermenting of course, and many other traditional methods. I'm ready to get down to business! I've had it with disappointingly moldy jars of painstakingly prepared tomatoes. I should have been preserving the oldschool way all along.  That's why I've had mixed results with canning- it's just not my style.
Oh- reminds me I need to check the kombucha.. The last batch with citron oolong keeps getting rave reviews. I guess I'll have to do it again..

February 26

What We Ate (while you were gone)

 Your Pad Austin sounds scrumptious !!!!
I can't wait! 
Oh- but I read the ingredients on your fish sauce accidentally: hydrolyzed vegetable protein.. Can we make do with a different brand?? Sorry!!  And -  Yes, I have made mozzarella before, but you and I need to Perfect it together! I'm ready!!!

I have had such fun telling you about our food adventures.  
I'm still attempting to bring more variety to the breakfast table. With Sealion's work schedule, it is our main family meal quite a few days a month; might as well be interesting!  Yesterday I made sweet potato latkes, fried in lard and coconut oil. We ate them with yogurt but didnt need the customary applesauce because of the sweetness already in the latkes. Those are definitely going on the fantasy B&B menu for later.  Yum.  But not good reheated. The recipe called for way too many grated potatoes, so I had a bunch leftover. This morning I used them to make a scramble, with onion, chopped kale, and parsley. We added Parmesan. Yum. 
Sealion's meatloaf the other night was deelicious- with your home-fermented cock-n-tail sauce on top! Anjali and I had leftovers of it, and more grated sweet potato, tonight. I think the meatloaf will become a regular menu item. :-) I have also brought the sourdough starter out of the fridge to wake it up and give it a go. I don't like to have bread around for every meal these days, but I like the idea of making it once a week for a meal, and I looove the ritual of kneading and baking. So I'd like to make it a regular thing. Maybe: pizza a couple times a month, homemade pasta every once in a while, and some good dinner rolls or breakfast rolls now and again...
The whole time you've been gone my main focus has been to develop more structure to my daily life with Anjali, do some weekly planning, and spend my time more intentionally.  Keeping track in my planner, writing everything down, etc. And loose menu planning is a part of that. Just so we are not eating hotdogs n greens three nights a week, you know?
Ok, well, Anjali is officially in dreamland so I'll call this a letter and send it! 
This ritual of writing you as she falls asleep has been so pleasant for me. Thanks so much for your audience.  :-)
Woohooooo !

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 23, aka Sardines for Breakfast!!

Saul's got it right this time!! : broiled sardines with harissa ( ), and fried eggs.  Delicious!! The harissa was the perfect tangy accompaniment to the sardines.  My only complaint: I could've eaten twice as many as they served me.  ;-)

I took this photo just for you. (kinda dark but you get the idea.)


February 22

What We Ate (while you were gone)

Hi, Austin!
Having Teresa here was such rejuvenation for me.  ! She left yesterday morning.  We had sooo much girly fun, food fun, and just old-friend fun. I love her.  I was inspired to make new recipes and create new dishes several times while she was here, and we ate out many times and had some killer food.  The last day we got into the city and spent the bulk of he afternoon in Dolores Park - the weather smiled on us so that we even had some sun. We found several yummy-looking restaurants in the Mission that we want to go back to! Yippee! 

A recap of good food: 
For Valentine's Day I made flourless almond waffles with decadent dark n spicy chocolate sauce, then for dinner - Valentine Soup- roasted b-nut squash and beets pureed in a soup with greens. One day I made butternut squash pancakes that were stellar and delectable.  That day we went to sonoma wine country and had a picnic at a vineyard. A gorgeous day! Friday night we had a progressive meal starting at Cesar for cocktails and appetizers- the highlight being the butternut-sage-stuffed cannelloni drenched in bechamel sauce!! Jesus!!! And an early dinner at Corso. We had a fresh mozzarella salad with The Most Delicious housemade mozzarella I've Ever Eaten!!! Cream was folded into it. I could've eaten the whole ball myself, but not much more because it was so rich.  We really did it up right.  Saturday we went to an authentic crepe place called Ti Couz in the Mission.  I'd love to take you there.  Then for dinner we ate at a place called Luna Park Cafe, where they served housemade corndogs (!) stuffed with three different sausages! It inspired me to try to perfect my own corndog concoction because I Loved corndogs when I was a kid! So get ready.  ;-)
For our last home breakfast I created what I called Teresa Breakfast Salad -  fried eggs atop a salad of bitter and spicy  greens, (cold) sliced roasted beets, and toasted walnuts with a tangy creme fraiche dressing.  Um... Yum!!!  A weeklong feast! And now I can begin counting the days till you return to our kitchen.  :-)
Cheers! Or as Anjali would say, "tziizz!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 15

What We Ate (while you were gone)
Dear Austin -
I'm having such a fabulous time with Teresa.  So far lots of giggling, and food event after food event! The wine bottles are stacking up in the bin.  Today we had the now-usual second-Monday breakfast at Venus.  We all ordered the Winter Scramble - it had butternut squash in it.
We girls went for a picnic today - the weather was Gorgeous! We took take- out from Imperial Tea Court (delicious take out) -- pork -and -pumpkin- stuffed dumplings, yellow curry chicken, and handpulled noodles -- to Live Oak Park, and held down the root of a tree while Anjali showed us just how quickly she can run out of our sight - over and over again! It was amazing! One minute within an easy few steps and a grab, the next minute I'm literally running to catch up with her before she dips her toes in the creek clear across the park! Wow.!
I have not thrown my food principles totally to the wind, but have been dangling them casually out the window as we eat not 100%whole grain sourdough, chocolate (chocolate chocolate), and even let Anjali have more than one taste of Teresa's gelato today! She bacame an instant addict, as you could imagine.  
For Valentine's Day Troy was working, but I tweaked the (flourless) almond -egg muffin recipe to become a waffle recipe - so it had almonds, eggs, sweet potato, butter and about half a pint of cream! Then the real kicker was a chocolate sauce  of cream milk butter and very dark chocolate with more than a little kick of cayenne. I named it Decadent Dark and Hot Chocolate Sauce.  Austin, we ate enough waffles with enough of that sauce to make our hearts beat techno! The chocolate was so intense! Then for dinner I made a soup I have named Valentine Soup: roasted butternut squash with roasted beets pureed with broth onions and garlic to a thick creamy blend the color of ... A valentine. With greens added. Sourdough walnut bread with mounds of butter. Delicioso if I do say so myself.  
Tonight T and I watched Julie and Julia on the projector screen . We agree that we could do without the Julie character and have a full-length film just of Julia.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, and Meryl Streep does a superb job in the role! Ok! Downstairs to finish dinner.