Friday, November 30, 2012

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING / a British dessert

the British dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding
moist, cake-like squares

cake bakes in the oven, then toffee
topping cooks on the cake under the broiler


3/4 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups boiling water
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder

3 Tbsp. Earth Balance
5 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. almond milk


Mix the dates, soda, vanilla and boiling water.  Set aside.

Beat the sugar and Earth Balance nil fluffy.  Add the egg.

Sift the flour and baking powder, add to the butter mixture, beating well.  Add the date mixture, beating until smooth..  Turn into a buttered 8 x 6 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, remove to a wire rack.  Heat the broiler and prepare the sauce.

Combine the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Heat and simmer 3 minutes, until thickened.

the before sauce, pale

toffee color developing after only 3 minutes

Pour the sauce slowly over the top of the cake and broil approximately 4-5 inches from the heat for 2-4 minutes, watching carefully.  

Serve warm or room temperature.  Serve plain or with whipped cream.

the dates make this an extra moist dessert

Thursday, November 29, 2012


the French bread slices yield individual portions


2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
3 medium sweet Spanish onions, sliced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup SHREDDED Swiss cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (5oz.) can evaporated milk
2 tsp. soy sauce
8 slices French bread (cut about 2 to 2 1/2 inch thick)
8 slices Swiss cheese


In a large skillet, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.

the saute process, onions and mushrooms

Saute the onions and mushrooms until tender.  Place these in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

Lay bread slices on top. 

Combine soup, milk, and soy sauce.  Pour over bread.  Top with cheese slices.  Cover and refrigerate over night.

keep in refrigerator over night

Bake loosely covered at 355 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


freshly dug


This has been a totally new experience for me.  The threat of the first frost dictated the digging out of the sweet potatoes.  I had NO idea what to expect, fearing the worse...few IF any potatoes.  Happy to report, pleased beyond all expectations!  This first crop of sweet potatoes was an amazing success.


Now on the details of it all...not till after the sprouting and planting did I learn that sweet potatoes require curing to convert all their starches into sugars.  This curing requires storing the freshly and carefully dug potatoes at 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity for two weeks in the warmest room of one's house.  After picking, what seemed like a gillion, I carefully put these unwashed filthy potatoes into laundry 2 baskets lined with bath towels.  These will spend the next 2 weeks in my laundry closet.

After this curing process, the potatoes then should be stored in a cool location but not the refrigerator. Sweet potatoes stored under good conditions can last for more than six months.


Can't wait to eat the first one and share them with my ever tolerant neighbors.  Will they taste any different than those from the grocery?  Will the curing work before rot sets in?  Will they really last up to 6 months?  What new recipes await me?

freshly dug, drying in the sun

all shapes and all sizes

looking for a place to store the potatoes

Potatoes should not be scrubbed before curing.
Care is necessary to avoid bruising that can lead
to decay.



ready to eat...where's the food?

Our Pesco Vegetarian Dinner was lovely.  Our menu was a two couple effort; and if I do say so, quite successful.  The menu?


shrimp w/cocktail sauce
fried oysters
smoked trout dip w/rosemary crackers

the main meal:

salmon with oven roasted Brussels sprouts
French bread casserole
sweet potato salad


sticky toffee pudding

Suzanne brought the sweet potato salad and it was just soooooooo darn good.  A new experience for all of us!  Try this recipe, it's a great one.  Thank you Suzanne!!!


2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. Vegenaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped, about 3/4 cup
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 small green onion, thinly sliced (about 2 Tbsp.)
chopped chives for garnish


Using a fork, prick sweet potatoes in several places.  Bake until tender; you can use the microwave.  Cool till you can handle.  Peel off the skin and cut into 3/4 inch chunks.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix vegenaise, mustard, salt, and pepper until blended.

Add sweet potato chunks, celery, red pepper, pineapple, pecans and green onion to vegenaise mixture.  Toss gently until evenly coated.

Sprinkle with chopped chives.

great flavor and texture

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Take a look at my winter crops:

sweet potatoes peeking up
heart healthy kale
newly forming broccoli
green onions, still going strong after the March planting
why ever buy scallions again???
Chinese cabbage in an earth box
winter tomatoes
(very doubtful about this one)


Saturday, November 24, 2012


Cauliflower Curry and Kale


1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch florets
1 bunch of kale, cut into ribbons, probably 2-3 cups
1/2 red onion, minced
1 1/2 Cups lentils
3 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons curry powder (or to your tastes)
1/2 Tablespoon paprika (I like hot Spanish paprika)
1/2 Tablespoon ground coriander OR seeds lightly toasted
1 tsp. salt


 Cook the lentils in a large soup pot,  according to the directions on the package. Most likely this means adding 2 cups of water for every cup of lentils into a large pot and getting it boiling.  (I add 1/4 cup more than the directions call for). Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes, add all the spices to the lentils, stir and continue to cook.

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add your cauliflower. Cook your florets over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes until the florets start to brown a bit.

cauliflower starting to brown
kale cut into ribbons
with the addition of kale

Next add your onions and cook them until they are translucent – another 5 minutes.

Finally add your kale along with a pinch of salt. Cook this for just a few more minutes until the kale starts to wilt.

Add this skillet mixture to the pot of lentils and mix all together.  Return the lid and sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Don't overcook the kale.

total comfort food!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Take this 25 question food quiz.   There are a few surprises.  See how you do and learn a bit in the process.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


my homemade taco seasoning
mix in prep bowl

I found this recipe on the Internet.  Why make your own?  First of all, it's cheaper, way cheaper!  I like the idea of making my own spice blend so I can control what goes into my meals and ultimately my body.  Start with using good ingredients.

I bottle my blends in my recycled Penzeys spice jars.  Shame to put those jars to waste.


1 part chili powder
1 part cumin
1 part garlic powder
1 part onion powder
1/4 - 1/2 part crushed red pepper


Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container.  You can store this in the freezer.
Use sparingly OR liberally.

I plan on using this today in my taco soup (a previous post).  This would be great in tacos or 7 layer Mexican dip OR any other recipe that calls for taco seasoning.

my taco seasoning

Saturday, November 17, 2012


my finished plate


1 box Pad Thai noodles, (8 oz. dried)
1 onion, diced
1 container firm tofu, drained well and cut into small cubes
2 carrots, cut match stick style
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 to 10 Chinese cabbage leaves, shredded
1 cup thawed peas
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roughly crushed and toasted, set aside
Fresh cilantro

these noodles worked well


1/4 cup tamari
1/2 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. hot chili sauce
1/4 cup agave nectar

Whisk all together.


Follow the noodle pkg directions and soak the noodles in hot water.  Set aside. 

Saute the onion and tofu in the sesame oil until they start to turn golden.

Remove, set aside.  Add carrots and garlic and more oil if necessary.  Saute a bit with the lid on; you may add a bit of water to help the carrots steam. 

After about 5 minutes, add the cabbage, peas, water chestnuts and 3/4 of the green onions.  Add the noodles and the sauce mixture.  Cover and cook about 10 minutes. 

Serve in a large bowl, sprinkle the Pad Thai with the remaining green onions, cilantro and toasted pistachios.

serves at least four
even more tastier the next day!

Friday, November 16, 2012


the beans before the addition of pasta


1 pkg. fresh butter beans, approximately 2 cups
Water to barely cover, add more if necessary
2 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. veggie bouillon
3 cloves garlic, slice thin
1 tsp. dried tarragon
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance
4 oz. whole wheat pasta
Vegan Parmesan cheese

using a large "bowl" shaped pasta catches the bean mixture

this brand of pasta is whole wheat and carries the Earth Fare label


In a medium saucepan, place the beans, water, oil, bouillon, garlic, tarragon and pepper.  Being to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the Earth Balance and stir together.

Meanwhile cook the pasta.  Drain.  Mix all together and serve with the vegan cheese.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


One of my favorites!


1 oz. Frangelico hazelnut liqeur
1 oz. Chambord  (black raspberry liqueur)


Pour ingredients into shaker over ice.  Shake until completely cold.  Strain into old-fashioned glass.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


slices of goat cheese marinate in
oil and spices for 1 week

I used a blend of fresh and dried herbs


This is NOT an exact science, feel free to play.  Here's what I used:

4 small logs of goat cheese (next time I'll try mozzarella)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
fresh lemon rind
2 tsp. capers, drained
Virgin olive oil to fill the jar


Carefully cut the goat-cheese logs into rounds.  This is easier to do when the cheese is cold.

Place half the herbs, spices and garlic in the jar.  Carefully add the cheese rounds, alternating with the remaining herbs and spices.

Fill the jar completely with olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 week.

To serve, bring the goat cheese to room temperature.  Serve with crackers or even better yet, spooned over warm bread.

tip:  assemble the ingredients while the cheese stays cold
also, brush a bit of oil on each slice so they don't stick together in the jar

Thursday, November 8, 2012


fresh Chinese cabbage from my garden


3 tablespoons almond butter, crunchy
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons light tamari
2 tablespoons sherry wine or 2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
10 ounces udon noodles or 10 ounces spaghetti noodles
1/2 lb Chinese cabbage, shredded (about 4 C)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Whisk together almond butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, agave and red pepper flakes in saucepan.
almond sauce

In separate pot, cook noodles according to pkg directions.

Meanwhile, place cabbage in colander over sink.

Warm sauce over medium-low heat.

Drain noodles over cabbage in colander to wilt cabbage.

Transfer noodles and cabbage to serving bowl, add sauce and toss to combine well.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012


from Walla Walla Valley

Lately I've really been enjoying this Cab.  It's very affordable at $8.99 (Total Wine and More).

This Oregon / Washington Cab is rated anywhere from 70 to 90, depending on the reviewers.  I also have read negative reviews, saying too sweet, not enough tannin enough and good for people that are new to drinking red wine (yea, that's me).    Hey, maybe that's why I like it? 

I think it's a good wine for a BYOB restaurant or entertaining friends.  Try it.

Check here for a very good article on tannins:

Monday, November 5, 2012


tofu and vegetable stir fry


1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 block tofu, cut in cubes
1 carrot, diced
2 cups broccoli
2 cups snow peas
1/2 red pepper, cut into small strips
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup veggie broth


2 Tbsp. agave
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp. tamari


Whisk the sauce together and set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the onions in the sesame oil.  Add pepper to flavor.  When the onions are soft,  add the tofu cubes and cook until lightly browned.  Remove all and set aside.

Put the carrot and the broccoli pieces in the skilled and add some of the veggie broth.  Use this broth as needed.  Put on the lid and stream about 5 minutes or until slightly tender.

Add the snow peas and red peppers along with the sauce mixture and continue to cook for a couple minutes.

Finally, add the onions, tofu and chestnuts...more veggie broth if necessary.  Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.   The vegetables should be tender but still crisp.

serve with steamed brown rice