Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Hot Chocolate

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

I fell in love with hot chocolate in Rome. Because until then I’d never had it so good. Every morning, as part of my stay at the Daphne Inn, they served me frothed hot chocolate. It became part of the enchanting amazing experience that was five days in Rome by myself.

Since then, I have tried to replicate the wonderfulness. I bought a frother that you heat on the stove, and then press a lever as you hold the nozzle in your mug. That was nice, but not enough. I bought two different mixer/frothing type things that were special for hot chocolate. One was very good but stopped working after about a year. The other was even better, but was damaged early on by my dog chewing the blender part. And I couldn’t find just that part of sale, it would have been the whole $60 plus unit.

Then, out of necessity, I tried my stick blender. It was the answer.

So here is my recipe: Heat a mug full of milk on high in a sauce pan. Add about 2 Tablespoons great cocoa mix (Mindo’s is a local great mix – add your own sweetener, or Ghiradelli’s premium double chocolate hot coco mix). Add vanilla or peppermint oil, or other flavorings if you’d like.

Stick the blender in there while it heats, and blend on high for about one minute. I find that at the end of that time the milk is hot, the chocolate well blended, and there is lots of froth.

And of course hand blenders are a great tool for many other uses. But you can buy them for $10-20. I like this one that is made of steel rather than plastic.

This has been the best method yet. And you can make plenty for everyone – just add time to the heating and frothing.

Cookies so good an ex wanted me to keep sending them

Friday, January 9th, 2015

These are my favorite cookies, for the last twenty years or so. And it is true, an ex boyfriend from long ago asked if I would keep sending them to him after we broke up. I have to add, the reason we did end the relationship, even though he loved my cookies, was the I wasn’t “a woman that he could dominate sufficiently”. Yeah, you got that right. He had good sense when it came to cookies.

I declined.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe is adapted from a very worn and stained copy of “The Joy of Cooking” that my mom gave to me when I moved out of the house at age 18, almost 38 years ago. The spine is broken, and I can turn to this cookie recipe by letting the book fall open. It is marked by a “!+” next to the title.

Here is my version.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Use all organic ingredients if at all possible. I find I react to non-organic peanut butter and almonds now. The organic variety are fine with my gut. It matters.
In a food processor combine 1/2 cup organic butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup turbinado sugar. Use other combinations of sugar if you prefer.
When it is beginning to be creamy add 1 egg, 1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter or a little over a cup of almonds or peanuts or a combination), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp or more Vanilla.

Process that until well blended, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. You’ll end up with a blend that is the consistency of mediumly stiff mud.

I stone grind my whole wheat flour fresh from wheat berries, it has a much nuttier flour than conventional whole wheat flour. That’s the ideal, second best is to find some stone ground whole wheat flour as fresh as possible. It can be a little course. You can use conventional whole wheat flour but it will result in a drier, more bland cookie.

In a mixing bowl, add 1-2 cups of flour (it will depend upon the grind, but usually 1 1/2 cups works) to the mixture from the food processor. Stir that together until it is uniform. Add more flour if needed so that you have a fairly stiff dough. Add about 1 cup of chocolate chips along the way, more if you’d like.

Grease a couple of cookie sheets. I spray them quickly with a minimal later of organic olive oil spray. Place small balls of the now stiff dough onto the sheet, about 1 inch in diameter, and spaced about an inch apart. This recipe will make 30-50 cookies depending on your sizing.

Bake 8-10 minutes in the center of the oven. Let cool in the pan before moving to a cooling rack or plate.

I always freeze at least half of what I make, as soon as they are cool. I’m told these will last 3-4 days otherwise. I suppose they do, but I eat them before I can find out.

Recipe for Mac and Cheese

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Like many of my recipes, this will be a little casual.
The end result is delicious, comforting, great reheated, and can also be frozen for later pleasure. This is fancy enough to serve to guests. It may or may not be okay with kids – since it doesn’t taste or look like the regular out of the box stuff that kids love.

Cook a package of pasta as directed, until just al dente or a little less. Drain, and dump into a large casserole dish. I like seashells, penne, fusilli, elbows, or rotini. I use pasta that is made from organic semolina. Whole wheat just falls apart too easily and doesn’t have the mouth feel I’m looking for.

Melt about 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add an equal amount of stone ground whole wheat flour. The fresher the better. Cook that with a whisk on medium heat for 1-3 minutes, until the flour is well incorporated into the butter and has time to cook a bit as well. It will darken a little, but it is the change in smell that I use to know it is ready. Don’t let the butter get too hot or burn.

Add about 3 cups of good quality whole milk. On medium heat, cook that while whisking often for 10-20 minutes. It should start to thicken. Sometimes it thickens well for me, sometimes I forgo taking it to a boil and let it be a bit thin. Since I’m adding cheese it will thicken with that and also after cooking with the pasta.

I used a large handful of grated gruyere cheese, the same amount of a nutty flavored comte, and about 1 1/2 handfuls Vermont Cheddar. About 1 tsp salt, and a few dashes of white wine – maybe 2 tablespoons. All added to the white sauce and stirred until melted.

Pour that mixture over the cooked pasta, cover top with bread crumbs from a good quality whole wheat bread, 1/2 to 1 cup of crumbs. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, uncovered.

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: Strange Squash and Additions

Friday, October 17th, 2014

This one of the odder meals that started one way and ended up another.

It was quick and very much used ingredients at hand.

I had baked what I thought might be a pumpkin, with another renegade squash that was totally alien. When they were done, the small alien was okay and the pumpkin was much meatier and tastier than a typical pumpkin.

I was tired, and ready for dinner and was craving pasta. But no tomato sauce on hand. So I started with a bit of the squash, and began to doctor it thinking to put it on pasta. Half way through I though Quinoa might be better and almost as quick, so I shifted intent.

To the cup or so of combined squash I added grated carrots, cashews, and then spiced it with generous amounts of nutmeg cinnamon and cloves. I added a tiny bit of olive oil, and then maple syrup. A little salt as well. And then a bit more maple syrup. This was blended with a stick blender although it was still lumpy. I think the cashews are are important part of making this a great tasting “sauce”. And they are good lumps.

Served over the cooked quinoa it tastes like an in season fall meal treat. And tomorrow I’ll make pumpkin pie from the rest of the squash.

Salsa Verde – A Recipe Very Worth Sharing

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

This salsa made my cells dance with joy. I made it with all home grown Tomatillas, Cilantro, Chiles and Garlic with a bit of (purchased) salt. That’s it. Oh my.
Here is the link, to Rick Bayless’ Recipe for raw green salsa.

I didn’t add any of the suggested water, put in a bit more garlic, and decreased the chiles for this first time. I froze a lot of it which I expect will still taste great, but may be an odd texture. The cilantro I have growing in my yard as well, and I used a large amount of the later frondy leaves with flowers.
You obviously have to like cilantro to like this recipe. I do I do I do.

The recipe was suggested to me at lunch this afternoon, by a member of our group A2B3. It is an eclectic group who has lunch every Thursday. A great source of information, inspiration, ideas, and sometimes great recipes! While most of the members are tech oriented and computer geeks the group varies a lot and is always interesting. And we laugh a lot. It is a great way to meet people who I wouldn’t normally find, and engage in (or overhear) conversations on nearly any subject.
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I forgot to add a photo before I ate it all. But here is a photo of some tomatillas I still have left, the lovely cilantro, and one of the bags of frozen salsa.

Today I hit the jackpot with a truly outstanding recipe!
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Recipe: Almond milk

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

I wrote about milk in my last post, but sometimes there is a time and place for a non-dairy alternative. You can buy almond, soy, or other alternatives in specialized containers that are “shelf stable” for months or years. They normally contain other ingredients, additives, and the packaging certainly adds to the price. Why not just make your own milk alternative?

i like the taste of almond milk, and it only takes minutes to make. When my brother was living with me he wasn’t comfortable with the raw milk I had on hand, as he had immune system disorders. So every 3-4 days I made enough almond milk for him to use on his morning cereal. He liked it.

For about 3 cups, I would start by soaking a handful of almonds (about a cup – maybe more – depending on taste) the night before with your three cups of water. In the morning I would blend that with a stick blender, for about a minute, and add about a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring. You can strain that if you want, or just shake it up each time you use it. Put it in a jar, and store in the refrigerator. It lasts about 3-4 days.

You can use a blender of food processor, but the stick blender is easiest. You can sweeten it if you like. Some people prefer to strain the water after soaking and use new water, I never saw the point. You can also add raisins or dates to the soaking almonds and that will make it sweeter and interesting texture when you blend all of that together. Some people like cinnamon.

If you don’t plan ahead and so don’t have soaked almonds, in a pinch I’ve poured boiling water over them, let sit for about 15 minutes, and then blended them. Not as good, but it will do.

i make my own vanilla extract by placing a couple of split vanilla beans in 100 proof vodka in a 1/2 pint jar for about 6 weeks.

Making almond milk is simple, inexpensive, more environmentally friendly, and I think it tastes better as well than the processed stuff you buy.

I have to add a bit of depressing news, which is that it is very important to use organic “raw” almonds. If they are from California (and almost all domestic almonds are) They will actually be steam treated but they will not be “pasteurized”. Non-organic almonds are “pasteurized”, usually with with Propylene Oxide (PPO) to prevent salmonella. PPO is considered a carcinogen by California standards.

Bibimbap – My Best Variation to Date

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Yesterday we had sort of a bibimbap, except it is technically something else since I’m told the word means “mixed rice” and I used left over quinoa. Fresh garden vegetables are what really made it extraordinary. Here is what I did, in order.

I minced garlic scapes, and onion tops (the walking onions that would have become sets for new onions). Added to that were green onion tops, chopped. I also chopped carrot and beet thinnings – meaning tiny roots pulled from the garden to provide more room for the oters to grow. I steamed some kohlrabi, lamb’s quarter and sorrel greens (almost any greens could be used), and set them aside. I started frying two eggs for each person in a bit of olive oil. The most cherished part of all was very lightly steamed fresh pea pods. Then I steamed the left over quinoa.

Each bowl was assembled with the grain, then raw and cooked vegetables topped with the eggs. Served with kim chi (I had some from The Brinery as I didn’t have any homemade) and Sriracha hot sauce. A side salad of coleslaw made from fresh picked and grated kohlrabi bulbs – dressing made from mayo, red wince vinegar and some spices – completed the meal.

Bibimbap is lovely to look at – the pale grain, bright green veggies, yellow egg and red hot sauce – and texturely pleasing as well. A great combination of soft grain crisp fresh vegetables and toothy greens. The kim chi and hot sauce are set off by and add substantially to the simple ingredients. I think the fact that you have to actively mix it all together is another subtle positive to this dish.

You can eat it often with infinite variation. A perfect summer dish as well as a warming winter creation. And of course, a great way to incorporate greens – wild or domesticated – into a meal.

Pickled Radishes

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

We have an abundance of radishes, and I was looking for ways to preserve them.
These pickles are a start:
In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup each white vinegar, sweet white wine, water with garlic leaves scapes or minced gloves, pepper, thyme, bee balm or whatever herbs you prefer. Add about 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Cook that to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, slice chop or chunk enough radish to almost fill a pint jar loosely – about a dozen radishes.
Pour cooled brine over radishes, refrigerate, taste until ready (about 3 days) and I’m told this will keep for about a month.

The sweet taste of the radish combined with the brine is a lovely start, and then you get the hot radish taste to follow. These are full of changing flavors and the brine turns a lovely pink as well.

Yellow Soup and Ann Arbor Pedestrian Safety Task Force

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I arranged a social gathering for the newly appointed Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force. Our first Meeting will not take place until the end of March, and that seemed to long to wait to get to know some of the people I’ll be working with. And a social event seemed to be a great way to break the ice (Ann Arbor is very much in need of ice breaking in every way possible, especially the ice on the sidewalks to help pedestrians be safer). Social events are also allowed under the Open Meetings Act, so I didn’t have to invite the whole city to join us.
Five task force members were able to make it, as well as two spouses/partners and one of the young kids of a member.
I planned a simple meal – soup and bread. Here is the soup recipe which turned out better than I expected. It is an idea adapted from A book written by Francis Moore Lappe’s daughter, I can’t recall her name or the book though.

The original recipe called for canned or fresh tomatoes, I didn’t have any so I successfully substituted canned coconut milk.

In a large soup pot saute 2 large onions, chopped, in olive oil.
Let the onions cook for at least 15-20 minutes, so they are just beginning to brown.

Add to the pot about 4-5 potatoes cubed, 2 carrots chopped, about 2 cups of red lentils well rinsed, and about a half gallon of water. Let cook for about 30 minutes. Add more water if needed, the mixture should be thick but still very liquid. After about 30 minutes add some greens -fresh or frozen – about 1 to 1 1/2 cups cut into smallish pieces.

After it is well cooked – about 30-45 minutes – season with about 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp crushed cumin seeds, 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, other mild chilis as desired.

If I had had celery I would have added that with the other veggies.

After about 45 minutes, and once the potatoes are soft, add two cans of coconut milk. Heat thoroughly, about 10-15 minutes, and you are ready to serve.

Freezes well, or eat leftovers for 4-5 days.

The key to making this a great soup is using so many onions, and cooking them thoroughly at the beginning.Everything else can be changed – but not that.

It was a very nice introduction for the group and I look forward to a very productive and interesting year!

I served it with cornbread, a good whole wheat sourdough loaf would have been even more perfect.


Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Gallons of apple sauce. Bake chopped apples at 400 degrees in a large pot for about two and a half hours. Stir in cinnamon coriander allspice cloves and nutmeg. Optional – use a blender stick to make smooth. Done. Working our way through a bumper crop of great tasting apples.

I think apple skins are tasty, and always include them.