A tasty treat that’s good for you too

I am so amazed how time flies sometimes. Time zips by so quickly that I forget to be responsible. This week I almost became a double murderer due to being neglectful. I didn’t mean to be a killer, but I am. I stopped feeding my vinegar some time during the summer. The vinegar was starting to form a pretty good mother and I figured it was time to let it ferment the rest of the way and then I could harvest some pretty great vinegar and pop the mommy into more wine to start over. Well… out of sight out of mind. This week I thought about the fact that I hadn’t looked at it in a really long time. I took a look and there was this thick disk of vinegar mother floating on the surface (good news) but, to my horror, she was covered in blue mold (bad news). I tried to lift this mess off of the vinegar (which looked fine), but I dropped it back in and the blue mold dispersed into the vinegar. Now I know that John (DrFugawe) will probably chide me for being a wimp… but… I got grossed out, so I tossed the vinegar and the mother. Thus, I am a murderer!

I also forgot about mostly whole wheat Herbert. He was in the fridge, so I thought things were fine. It turns out that I forgot to feed him since mid December. This happened last year, but white flour Herbert seemed…well…more… resilient. Whole wheat Herbert made a layer of black (ew!) hooch. I poured off the offending black liquid and then I thawed him out and fed him, but there was almost no life affirming activity. I have been tending to him round the clock but things don’t look that good. He is definitely on life support. Because I need to keep feeding him, I also needed to find a use for the extra starter. Herbert still looked okay enough for something like waffles, but just not nearly strong enough for bread. I remembered a recipe I bookmarked. Time flies and I realized that I meant to make Kathie’s Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Muffins way back in July when I came across the recipe on YeastSpotting. Now was the time.

I thought I had all of the ingredients but I was out of milk and must have used up my dried cherries during my Christmas cookie bake-a-thon. I stared at the bags in my cupboard and what caught my eye was pure genius. I had a huge bag of unsweetened shredded coconut that I got on the cheap from a local health food store and a bag of raw pecans. I would make a nutty coconut filled muffin instead. I wanted the coconut to be moist and sweet so since I already decided to steal my boyfriend’s rice milk to sub in for the missing milk (I’m a thief as well as a murderer). I thought soaking the coconut shreds in some honey sweetened rice milk would be just the ticket. It worked out well. The coconut softened, sweetened a bit and then flavored the leftover rice milk in the bowl.

The muffins were wonderful. They had great oven spring and a cake like texture. They were both chewy and crunchy from the nuts and coconut, but being low-fat with no refined sugars (I also substituted maple syrup for sugar) they had a mild, clean cocoa flavor. I felt really good after eating one. My boyfriend had to stop himself from eating many, many more muffins than he did.

Thank you Kathie for your recipe. I am submitting my version of it to YeastSpotting.

Coco-nutty-cocoa sourdough muffins

2 tbsp honey

1 cup unsweetened, plain rice milk

1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded dried coconut

½ cup cocoa powder, measured and then sifted

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¾ cup well fed 100% hydration sourdough starter (mostly whole wheat this time)

½ cup grade B maple syrup

1 egg, beaten

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup pecan pieces plus 12 pecan halves for garnish

Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, F. Spray two six cup muffin tins with olive oil spray and set aside.

Pour coconut into a medium sized bowl. Whisk together honey and rice milk until the honey is dissolved. Pour rice milk mixture over the coconut. Mix until combined and let stand for at least fifteen minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cocoa powder, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt.

In another large bowl, combine starter, maple syrup, egg, applesauce and vanilla. Add wet ingredients and coconut mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined. Gently fold in pecans.

Divide batter between muffin tins. It will fill up the tins, so make sure the batter is pretty evenly divided. Top each muffin with a pecan half. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before serving.


La Bella Luna

I felt tired and stunned as I hit “submit” on the 50th job application I’ve filled out online.  Thoughts have been flooding my mind all day as I wonder what it will be like to live in Seattle, Washington or Austin, Texas.  I look up to see:



Thinking about the things that make you happy will make you happy. It’s true. Every once in awhile it is good to take an assessment of what makes you happy. Just thinking about it will make you smile. Seeing a list reminds you of what a wonderful, interesting, beautiful and compassionate person you are and it will remind you that you have the ability to see joy and wonder in the world.

Personally, I have a tendency to look at the glass as half empty instead of half full. It is hard for me to say kind things to myself. It is hard for me to appreciate the good things in the world. I’ve been working on this a lot lately. I want to improve myself. I want to be the kind of person who sees the good things before picking out all of the bad things. I was so happy when I got an email from Jeanne at Simple Math Bakery. She gave me the Happy 101 award (above). Jeanne and I found each other on YeastSpotting a few weeks ago and I’ve really enjoyed reading her blog, she cooks and bakes the kind of things I like to cook and bake. Now I know that she’s been reading my blog too and that makes me very happy, indeed! What made me even more happy about this award is the opportunity to share the things I love with all of you.

1. The backyard bunny: I used to own a pet bunny and he was one of my favorite pets. He was great to snuggle with and all I had to do if I was sad was to watch his antics and I would instantly become happy. I miss my bunny. A few months ago a wild bunny adopted our yard. Whenever one of us see’s him, we yell “Bunny siting!!”. He is shy and once he sees us he runs away, but he makes me so happy just to see him bouncing around the yard.

2. Observing wildlife: I get such a thrill from seeing animals in the wild. It can be something as simple as seeing birds playing or as exotic as seals in the ocean. Last week we were walking by a lake and we saw a dozen photographers staring at a spot near the shore. Nothing was there. On our way back, we saw what they were waiting for, a pair of Bobcats! They were strolling by like nobody was watching them. I got such a thrill from seeing them so close and wished I brought my camera.

                                          Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

3. Dogs and Cats: I don’t own any, but just seeing a dog makes me so happy. Dogs are almost always happy and it is contagious. Cats aren’t necessarily always happy, but they are so cool that I get great joy just from observing them, I get greater joy when they are friendly and let me pet them.

4. Lost: My favorite show is coming back in a couple of weeks for it’s last season. We are watching the first five seasons in anticipation of the finale. I am having so much fun!

5. Strange plants: I love plants. The stranger the plant the better. I have collected ugly and strange orchids. Some are beautiful in their other worldly oddness. I love succulents and cacti. I created a fish tank that was choked full of odd plants, making it difficult to keep fish.

6. Walking: My favorite form of exercise. It exercises the mind as well as the body. I love that my body can take me places. I love that I can walk for hours on end. I’d rather hike up a hill than do any other form of exercise.

7. The ocean: I’ve lived by the coast most of my life and the ocean never ceases to amaze me. I love to stare at it. I love to swim in it. I love to snorkel under it. I love to travel up the coast and see how it changes. I love to travel to other parts of the ocean to see it from other perspectives. It is a thing of beauty.

8. Exploring museums and historic sites: I love to visit museums that were once people’s homes like the Casa del Herrero or Lotusland or Hearst Castle or The Huntington Gardens. Not only is it a great experience but I love to imagine what it was like to live in another era.

9. Baking: I love to cook, but even more, I love to bake. The aromas that fill the house when something is baked are precious. The taste and texture of fresh baked goods are wonderful. The sense of accomplishment… to say I made that and see the look of appreciation when I can share the food with someone. It makes me more than happy!

10. Blogging: This is my big creative outlet. I feel like an artist when I contribute to my blog. I am a writer and nobody can criticize my writing and tell me that I am not worthy of being published. I am a photographer. I am a designer. I am a chef. I am a baker. I am confident. I am also incognito. Most of you don’t really know who I am so I can say whatever I like. All of these things make me incredibly happy. The fact that there are people out there who actually enjoy reading my blog, well… that makes me even happier. The friendship and positive feedback are wonderful and I love having people come and spend their time with me. It makes me feel loved. Thank you.

This award is meant to be shared with other Bloggers who make you happy. I’m not big on Memes and chain letters so I just want to say that the people listed below are under no obligation to play this game. I hope you’ll display the award in your sidebars because you deserve it, I go to your blogs weekly if not daily and your posts always make me happy.

If you do want to pass the award on:

List 10 things that make you happy (remember, it is good for your soul). List 10 Bloggers who brighten your day and link to them. Link back to the original person who gave you the award.

These are the Bloggers who brighten my day. Visit their sites to see why they make me so happy:

1. Nick at Macheesmo: I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, reading his blog is like visting with a friend. He cooks and writes every day!

2. Carolyn at the 1940’s Experiment: The adventures of a woman who is losing weight by eating 1940’s rations. If the concept weren’t interesting enough, I go there just to smile at Carolyn’s lovely sense of humor.

3. Ronnie at Racoon and Lobster: Golden Retriever’s balancing things on their heads. Day trips to exotic local digs. Shoes. Oh yeah… and cooking.

4. John at The lost world of DrFugawe: Interesting factoids, recipes from vintage cookbooks and plenty of baking, fermenting, gardening and canning.

5. Andreas at Delta Kitchen: How can I not love a man who bakes bread with seaweed in it?

6. Cookiecrumb at I’m mad and I eat: One of the first blogs I ever read. No recipes but I am always enthralled by what she eats and cooks. She also has a super cute dog.

7. Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies: Such a gorgeous blog. Such mouth-watering food. All from a wonderful person with a terrific writing voice.

8. Garrett at Vanilla Garlic: I just love to read his writing. He cooks wonderful things and they always get chewed on by the Eat Beast.

9. Dylan at Sourdough Monkey Wrangler: You gotta love a guy who can turn anything into alcoholic beverages or bread.

10. Susan at Wild Yeast: Baker extraordinaire and Hostess of YeastSpotting. There is always something on her blog to inspire me to keep baking.


Free Whole Foods salad!


O.K. I lied. Uh. Sorry.

But it feels like it is for free. Did you know that Whole Foods Market has a collection of it’s recipes online? Did you know that the recipes are actually really good? My salad feels like it was for free because it is full of ingredients I already have in my refrigerator, my pantry and my garden. Click here to view the recipe for Brown Rice Al Fresco Salad. It is a crispy, tangy rice salad, perfect with turkey sandwiches. The only thing I did differently was to substitute half lime juice for the lemon juice since I was short a couple of lemons and I used a little less mint since my herb garden is a little sleepy at this time of the year.

It’s January. A new year. But do yourself a favor. Instead of making resolutions for your health that you’ll never keep, just look around. A healthy lifestyle is as close as adding a new recipe to your arsenal. Look for recipes that feature whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and lots and lots of fruits and veggies. Enjoy!

I have seen a glimpse of the future and it is not pretty

So much for the wonders of stem cell research. On the fringes of a science that promises us the cure for disease comes the secondary promise of true mystery meat. Yes, it’s true, we can look no further than the lab for the next pull on our wallets. Researchers see a world in which Soylent green is not people, it is pork with the texture of scallops grown in petri dishes and sold for pennies on the dollar.

We live in an interesting time. At the same instant that some people are yearning for real meat grown the old fashioned way on grass, seafood that is harvested from the wild and vegetables that are grown on small farms with no chemicals, we have cowboys running around leading the charge towards a world of purely processed manmade food. It seems to me that once you can grow meat from cells, there is no end to how it can be manipulated for taste, texture and scent.

This quote amazed me: “Fish stem cells could be used to produce healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which could be mixed with the lab-produced pork instead of the usual artery-clogging fats found in livestock meat.” Fish get their omega 3 fatty acids not from being fish, but from eating a diet based on plant matter (or in the case of carnivorous fish, eating other fish that dine on plant matter). Pasture raised terrestrial animals contain omega 3 fatty acids from eating grasses and plants. The whole reason that people eating a western diet are deficient in essential fatty acids such as omega 3s is because we don’t eat a diet based on leaves. We eat too many processed foods based on seeds and too much protein fatted up on seeds.

When lab produced meat becomes available, my only hope is that labeling laws become much better. At this point consumers are left on their own to figure out what is in their food, from genetically modified organisms to trans fatty acids. Hopefully, we will get the chance to choose between natural and unnatural “meat”.

Time flies

I can’t believe how quickly that past month flew by. About an hour ago it was mid December and I posted about the no knead bread that I made. A few minutes later it was Christmas. A couple of minutes ago we rang in the new year and now it is already mid January. Before I knew it, my blog had started to gather dust. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking. I have! It’s just that I haven’t been cooking anything you haven’t already seen before.

Last week I made a frittata. I don’t know why it’s been so long since I’ve made one except for the fact that eggs give me problems. I’m a little egg impaired. It’s not my fault. The rental house we live in includes a thirty year old stove. It is so old that the burners are warped and some of them are beginning to fail. Also, I need to mention that it is electric instead of gas which poses it’s own set of challenges. I cannot make a decent fried egg in these conditions. Scrambled eggs either work or they don’t depending on how the stars are aligned that day and… I cannot make an omelet at all. Don’t even ask me to try. It is always a disaster. However, with the help of a heavy, well seasoned cast iron pan, a frittata is simple and foolproof. Why? Because I can start it on the craptastic stove and finish things off in the broiler.

To me, frittatas are a wonderful thing. Like quiche, you start with a formula and work from there. A frittata is your choice of seasoned veggies and optional meats, topped with eggs, then topped with your choice of cheese. The combinations are limitless. The other wonderful thing is that a frittata doesn’t have to be a breakfast item. Frittatas work equally as well for lunch as they do for dinner if you put a green salad on the side. Leftover frittata heats well. I had the leftovers of the one I made last week wrapped up burrito style in a whole wheat tortilla. It was scrumptious!

I usually go for veggies – no meat for my frittatas. I just like how clean tasting they are without all of the extra fat. For years I made a spinach and potato frittata. I was stuck in a rut on that one. It was so good, Greek style with a topping of broiled feta cheese. What changed things for me was a food network show where someone broiled zucchini for a frittata. I think I have a new love. Zucchini makes a very light delicious frittata. Last week I did a feta and mozzerella blend for the cheese. I used sharp cheddar and parmesan this week, delish! Go with what you like for the filling and the cheese. You won’t regret it.

Veggie frittata

Loosely adapted from Moosewood restaurant cooks at home

2 medium zucchini

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion, halved and then sliced thinly

2-3 small potatoes cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced

2 small garlic cloves, chopped fine

½ tsp each dried dill, oregano and basil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 large eggs, beaten

Up to half a cup grated or crumbled cheese (I used ½ cup cheddar and a couple of tbsp parmesan)

Preheat the broiler. Split the zucchini in half lengthwise and then chop it in half crosswise. Broil for 8 – 10 minutes (turning it over after 5 minutes) or until tender. Cool slightly and then slice half moons. Reserve.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large cast iron or heavy broiler-proof skillet. Add onions and potatoes to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook covered over medium heat, stirring every few minutes or so for eight minutes. The onions should caramelize and the potatoes will brown. A minute or two before the veggies are done, add the garlic and spices.

Stir in the zucchini and top the veggies with the eggs. Swirl the pan a bit to make sure the eggs cover all of the veggies. Lower the heat to low and continue to cook the frittata covered for a another eight minutes. Top the frittata with the cheese. Continue to cook, the frittata, covered for two more minutes. Move the frittata to the broiler. Broil for two more minutes until the eggs are set and the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Let the frittata stand for a couple of minutes and then cut into slices to serve. Serves four to six people depending on their self control