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banana-oat pancakes

banana-oat pancakes on the griddle

Dear banana-oat pancakes,

It’s not you. It’s me. I love bananas, oats, and ohmigod pancakes. And you’re fine. Better than fine. You’re sweet and oat-nutty and you never leave your dirty socks on the floor. Oh, sure, you might be a bit temperamental about griddle temperatures, but what pancake isn’t?

But you see, you’re too good for me. You’re so busy with those flavors you have going on. I know, I know, they work together! You’d be the perfect pancake for someone who looks for more in a pancake.

Me, however, I can’t help loving the simple pancakes best.

The buttermilk pancakes with their mad guitar skillz and artfully mussed emo hair. With the occasional earrings of blueberries.

The spelt pancakes with their Greenpeace stickers, dark soulful eyes, and selfless desire to change the world.

The buckwheat pancakes with their six-pack abs, skin-tight t-shirts, and the smell of clean sweat, oil, and black dirt.

banana-oat pancakes with maple syrup

You’re good, banana-oat pancakes. Really good. Kids would really go for you. You can easily catch yourself another woman, or even another man, if that’s the way you want to swing. The bananas make you sweet and smooth, while the coarse oat flour makes you a bit rugged and hearty.

I’m sure others will love you better than I can. I’ll stick with spelt pancakes, but you’ll always hold a special place in my heart tummy. And that’s why I’m going to share your recipe; so that the world may appreciate you for who you are. Read more on banana-oat pancakes…

Blueberry chocolate coconut protein smoothie

Blueberry chocolate smoothies

That’s right. You heard me. Blueberry. Chocolate. Coconut. And to make it all sound healthy, protein. Shake. We really could pretty much just stop now, because you’ve got the ingredients right there, every single one of them.

Read more on Blueberry chocolate coconut protein smoothie…

caprese skewers

plate o' caprese skewers

Want an easy, colorful, summery, fancy-schmancy looking appetizer to serve guests? These little fellas fit the bill, the bright crunch of juicy tomato mingling with sweet basil and fresh mozzarella, all drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

There. The food porn description is out of the way.

tomato, basil, mozzarella, together at last. just like nuts and gum.

We threw a surprise party for Mom Saturday. As I apparently noted several times near the end of the night, it was a smashing success. Why several times? Seems I got drunk off my ass by the end. As planned. It wasn’t an accident ffs.

Look at that awesome cake Stacy’s mom made for the surprise party

Mom's birthday cake

People kept asking ahead of time how surprisey it was going to be. I briefly wondered at the wisdom of shocking someone with a history of heart problems, and laconically waved those concerns aside. “Not much, I think,” I told them. “We’re doing family pictures right before the party, and we expect people will begin showing up and we’ll be setting up right in front of her.”

Thanks to the big ass house, though, we were able to pull off a complete surprise. While the final pictures were being shot in the living room, Jennifer and I rushed off to the family room to get tables and chairs out and set out the cake. By the time we led Mom to the family room, most of the partygoers had arrived, and wound up giving her a proper “Surprise!” shout.

They're like little tomato soldiers, aren't they?

Oh, my point? One of the things I made was caprese skewers. I also made corn and crab dip. Crap. It’s gone. I didn’t get pics of it. Oh well, caprese skewers will do for now.

P.S. two to three of these is a 100-calorie snack. Believe me, you won’t have a chance to get your hands on more. Go for three. The calorie listing includes all of the balsamic vinaigrette, and I only wound up using about half of it. Read more on caprese skewers…

currant sorbet

currant sorbet

Check out this awesome bowl Dad found under the house.

Under the house, you say? Why yes, under the house. Why do you ask?

Oh, you didn’t know. My house got a new foundation this spring.

Wow, those plum blossoms in the background sure look pretty.

So yesterday Dad, his cousin, and the guy who works with him were putting new beams under the house. At one point I was out in garden, valiantly hacking at the giant weeds with a hoe, when Dad called out, “Amy…I found something for you!”

the moat and gangplank, er, the foundation

Great, I said to myself. Probably a burlap sack he wants me to turn into a dress. Sorry, family joke.

It was actually the little white bowl above, caked in dirt. It had no chips and cleaned up nicely.

get to the currant sorbet already

Isn’t that currant sorbet a lovely shade of pink? It’s super refreshing on a hot summer day, and a whiff of summer in the dead of winter. If you can get your hands on some red currants, make some currant juice and get this sorbet into your freezer posthaste.

The inherent sweetness of the berries can vary. The main liquid/sweetening agent in this sorbet is a simple syrup. Simple syrup is traditionally just a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar, heated until it forms a clear liquid. In fact, simple syrup can be used in all sorts of sorbets. If you find the sorbet a little tart, try increasing the simple syrup to 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Read more on currant sorbet…

foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore

rhubarb salsa

Rhubarb with caramelized onions? Rhubarb salsa? Rhubarb and lentil potage? I can hear you now, the ornery ones of you that is: What the hell, woman…rhubarb’s for pie. Crisps. Crunches.

prepping peppers, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro for the rhubarb salsa

For April’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, I decided to explore the savory side of rhubarb, since there’s a ton of it growing about 50 feet from my front door. As rhubarb is technically a vegetable/herb, why not try some recipes that utilize rhubarb as a vegetable?

chop the rhubarb for the salsa finely. you don't wanna crunch into a big honkin' piece of this stuff.

Hey, salsa has a tangy bite. I bet rhubarb could work in salsa. So I tracked down a viable candidate in The Joy of Rhubarb: The Versatile Summer Delight. It’s a classic Mexican salsa, with fresh cilantro, green onion (which made me happy; I can’t stand regular onions raw), lime juice, jalapeño for a bit of bite, barely-blanched rhubarb, and lots of sweet peppers and more sugar than salsa normally would have, to counteract the rhubarb’s bite.

colorful rhubarb salsa ingredients :)

Dad’s verdict? “It would be great on hamburgers. By the way, we’re having hamburgers tonight….” Subtle hint there, Dad. ;-) Yeah, he went home with some rhubarb salsa. Linda thought it had a bit of a bitter rhubarb taste to it and suggested more sweetener. I loved it. Fresh, crisp, clean salsa taste with the rhubarb adding uniqueness without overpowering it.

Overall verdict for rhubarb salsa: Two snaps up. Read more on foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore…

fresh blueberry pie

i had to rip this out of someone's hands to get a pic before the whole pie was gone

Blueberry pie ranks right up there. Number two after sour cherry pie, for sure. I’d always had blueberry pie that was baked, but the blueberries this year are so fabulous — large, and the perfect sweet-tart combination — that I wanted to do one that was more strawberry pie-style.

the blueberry and cornstarch mixture just as it begins to cook

In other words, blueberries mixed with a thickening agent and set inside a prebaked shell of some sort. So the flavor of the fresh berries would burst through.

the cooked and thickened blueberry mixture. time to add in the fresh ones!

KAF came through! That’s the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. Remember that, because I’m not going to repeat it.

cool, we've dumped in the fresh blueberries!

The original recipe in KAF called for 1 cup of sugar. Based on scientific evidence — Mom had just made a fresh blueberry pie using another recipe calling for 3/4 cup sugar and turns out is was JUST. TOO. SWEET. — I cut it to 1/4 cup. I don’t know why you’d want more, unless you’re some kind of stereotypical sugar-loving animal whose name escapes me at the moment. Plus if you use the walnut-oat crust, you’re getting some more sugar there. Read more on fresh blueberry pie…

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Ignore the “gluten-free” in the title. These are not some saintly cardboardy cookie things.

And I’m really not trying to be All About Baking here. Honestly.

And I’m not trying to be all health nut vegetarian gluten-free, either. FSM knows I’m a crappy vegetarian and an even more piss-poor health nut.

But you know what? These cookies are really good. I don’t even care that as far as cookies go, they are on the saintly side. They’re vegan. They’re whole grain. They even have ground flax seed.

These cookies have no right to be as yummy as they are. They should taste like nice healthy cardboard, but instead they have some kind of awesome nutty oaty crunchy thing going on.

I ran across them a while back when I didn’t have eggs, and I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait for butter to soften, but wanted chocolate chip cookies. You know when that is. At night, in winter, when some horrid wind is howling outside and PMS is prodding you to find something sweet and chocolate now or it’s going to get really cranky and take you along with it.

my little helper and some cookie dough

Oh, look. I had a helper. This is why these cookies happened today. Little voices.

“AUNT AMY, CAN WE MAKE COOKIES? I WANT TO MAKE COOKIES. LET’S MAKE COOKIES. I WANT TO HELP. I CAN HELP. LET ME POUR THAT IN. I DIDN’T SPILL IT ON PURPOSE. I DON’T KNOW HOW THE DOUGH GOT ON THE FLOOR. THIS LOOKS FUNNY. HOW CAN YOU MAKE COOKIES WITHOUT BUTTER?”

Let’s see. These chocolate chip cookies bake pretty flat. They aren’t fluffsters. They are also better crunchy; when you bake them til they are medium brown. They’re good with nuts but I also think they’re good without nuts, which is rare — I tend to prefer nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe only makes about 18 cookies, so double it up if you want lots.

To be sure about the gluten-free-ness, make sure to use gluten-free vanilla, and check your canola oil and oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free but apparently some cross-contamination can occur or something in processing bla bla. Read more on gluten-free chocolate chip cookies…

how to flash freeze blueberries

flash frozen blueberries in a freezer bag

Skip ahead to to the blue text if you want the instructions without the incoherent babbling.

Flash freezing has been done in the food industry for ages to quickly preserve and seal in nutrients and freshness. It’s why nutritionists say frozen seafood, vegetables, and so forth are technically “fresher” than their fresh cousins you find in the grocery store.

Of course, if you’re practicing locavore-oriented shopping, you don’t have that problem now, do you? It’s not hard, and you don’t have to be a hardass about it. You’re just growing a garden, or befriending people who do, or participating in a CSA. Okay, I had to act like I knew what a CSA was. Hey look, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

Oh, wow. There’s one in my area. Crap, now you know where I live. No stalking!

Back to locavore stuff. You’re doing the above, and/or you’re looking for locally-grown produce at the supermarket, you’re befriending people with chickens for eggs, etc. It doesn’t have to be all intensive like the people who do “we’ll only eat anything grown within 100 miles” experiments.

So if you’re me, one locavore thing you’ve done recently is go to a local orchard and buy or pick blueberries. You picked a lot of blueberries. And you might as well throw some in the freezer for winter.

There’s something sparkly about pulling berries out of the freezer in the dead of winter, and making a smoothie, or cobbler, or pie. In like, February. You want to do this with your pretty local berries.

Note: This method can be used with nearly anything solid. I freeze tablespoons of tomato paste this way. Adobo chiles. Some people flash freeze lemon slices, or mushrooms. I don’t know if I trust frozen mushrooms, but they can’t hurt if being thrown into a lasagna or something. Read more on how to flash freeze blueberries…

how to freeze sweet corn

mmm corn

Dad plants sweet corn for all of us every year, staggered a week or two apart so we have sweet corn for longer. I don’t know exactly how far apart; I’m sure someone will read this and correct me since I seem to get something wrong in every post.

getting the silk off, a stack of corn, another stack by the stove, and corncobs with the corn cutter

It’s like when there’s a story in the paper that you were part of or know everything about. You read the article, and you find one thing reported incorrectly, then another, and another, and you come away wondering why you bother to believe anything you read or hear on the news ever.

cooling the just-blanched sweet corn!

Sweet corn is one vegetable that you want to freeze yourself if you can get hold of some fresh in season, because frozen store-bought just isn’t the same. Now, this isn’t true for all vegetables, as Mom and I concurred the other day. Yes, we talk about this kind of thing. We’re boring. We agreed that green beans, on the other hand, are pretty damn awesome frozen from the store. But sweet corn? Not so much.

no, she is not high

linda's using the kickass corn cutter

So get to a farmer’s market or a roadside stand right quick, get yourself some just-picked sweet corn, cajole a partner — you really, really want to do this with a partner — and set aside a few hours to freeze sweet corn. Read more on how to freeze sweet corn…

i-can’t-believe-it’s-meatless tomato sauce

red wine tomato sauce

Hello, my pretties. We’ll be quick today in honor of tax season. I have a zillion e-mail records to go through (the bane of online work) and missing 1099s to calculate by hand. My tax preparer, who also happens to be my best friend from grade school, is in 90 degree-plus Virginia this week, so I really can’t say which of us has it worse.

mmm, red wine

This red wine tomato sauce recipe can be subbed for a jar of any red store-bought pasta sauce. I like to double or triple the recipe and freeze it because hey, if I’m going to the work of making my own sauce, I may as well have some for next time.

sautéed onions, coated in the spices

But is it really work? Read more on i-can’t-believe-it’s-meatless tomato sauce…

March 2, 2010 in gluten-free, salad, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing

Indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing

This recipe featured on Wanderfood Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday!

This is the time of year when we write posts about how tired we are of winter. But I’m not. I’m totally over being tired of winter. I already gave in a few weeks ago to the allure of fresh produce, abandoning the frozen corn, green beans, and zucchini in favor of bean sprouts, cucumbers, and oh my lord grape tomatoes as big as your thumb.

There’s still part of a cabbage in the fridge — my cabbages grow to gigantic proportions, I don’t know why — but the last of fall’s carrots was gone over a month ago and yes, I tired of the old. I wanted the crunch of nutrients I hadn’t had fresh in months.

I abandoned locavore eating. Just until spring, and just once in a while. There’s something about fresh sprouts. They’re a promise. They’re potentiality. They could have become beans, but instead they’re going into my tummy. They’re earthy and new and taste of beginnings.

And this salad. Oh, this salad is Read more on indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing…

August 3, 2009 in gluten-free, how to, salad9 comments

kohlrabi and apple salad with honey yogurt dressing

kohlrabi and apple salad

I know, I know, you’re just antsy for that currant chiffon pie. Because there are no recipes for currant chiffon pie in existence (Google tells me so) I had to tweak from recipes for inferior fruits like lemon and orange. As a result, the first pie (yesterday) was good, but I decided it could be better, and I just shoved the adjusted-recipe version into the fridge.

In the meantime, comfort yourself with a nice, healthy salad. Ha ha.

There’s this gigantic, wizened old apple tree in the front yard. This tree is so ancient no one remembers what kind of apples grow on it, only that they’re tart, ripen really early, get soft quickly, and make good applesauce. As a result, not much usually gets done with them.

At the same time, the second planting of kohlrabi is coming ripe. You know what kohlrabi is, don’t you? Here’s my lovely aunt Linda holding one up for professional photography. You know it’s professional because the wind was blowing so hard this was the only place the leaves weren’t being twisted into even more alien shapes I put the gas tanks and grain bins distractingly behind the kohlrabi on purpose. *nods* (Also, she cherishes her anonymity on the Internet, but she never gets to read this, so let’s not tell her, shall we?)

run for the hills! the kohlrabi are invading!

Everyone seems to think it’s some mystery vegetable. I always had it growing up, so that surprised me. What? Your life experiences differ from mine?

Kohlrabi likes cool temperatures, produces 1 bulb and 1 bulb only, and that above ground. That’s it. It blows its wad making this one not-very-big chunk of vegetation that tastes a bit like cabbage and jicama, and a bit (only a bit) sweet.

what do i do with this green-tentacled space alien?

To prepare kohlrabi, pull off the stems and cut off the root, leaving the bulb. I’m told the leaves may be cooked like other greens but I’ve never tried it.

how a kohlrabi looks as it's being peeled

Now peel off the green outside. It’s soft and not very deep. The end of the kohlrabi near the root tends to get woody, especially near the outside, and especially on kohlrabi that have been neglected and allowed to grow a tad too big, like this one. See the area in the bottom of the pic where the kohlrabi flesh looks stripey and a bit yellower? That’s going to be tough and woody, and you may as well cut it off unless you’re really hurting for fiber.

slicing kohlrabi

One the kohlrabi is peeled, you can cut it up however you want. I like to cube it for straight up snacking, but for this recipe I sliced it thin and then cut it into matchsticks.

Kohlrabi, in matchsticks. Don't they look like those salty potato snacks? Boy are you in for a surprise!

You know, I like how coleslaw kind of mushes up the cabbage a bit when it’s been made for a day or two. I decided I don’t like that mushing effect with this salad, though. If you like your apples and kohlrabi to have a nice crunch, plan on eating this the same day.

The black pepper, of all things, brings out the apple flavor in this salad. I don’t know why, but that bit of spice in the creamy honey yogurt makes it swoon-worthy. Read more on kohlrabi and apple salad with honey yogurt dressing…

look, we canned pears

too bad i hate pears

Yup, we sure did.

I provided the kitchen and the canner and my aunt picked the pears, cleaned the pears, peeled the pears, cut the pears, packed the pears, and processed the pears.

I practically did it all by myself!

the canning stuff, yawn

yer basic hot water bath canning setup

Right there you see the basic canning setup on the stovetop. I began doing this a few years ago, absorbed in some weird home ec flashback. I say weird, because home ec was actually more about how to not kill yourself in the kitchen and how to hand sew misshapen stuffed animals made of highly-flammable polyester. And less about useful stuff like, you know, canning.

Since this stuff often hits Facebook, I bet some of you were in that 7th grade home ec class, or had one yourself. Did you honestly ever cook anything more involved than no-bake chocolate cookies? If that. But I digress, as I am wont to do.

6 pints in 2 hours, man

We (she) canned 6 pints of pears in 2 hours. Of course, many pears do not make it into little jars, and instead find themselves eaten by nephews and ignored by super adorable kittens.

justin, jen, pear, kitteh
Read more on look, we canned pears…

Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce

falafel sandwich

Helen: Hmm, Pita. Well, I don’t know about food from the Middle East. Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?
Hostess: [laughs] Hey, I’m no geographer. You and I — why don’t we call it pocket bread, huh?
Maude: [reading the ingredients list] Umm, what’s tahini?
Hostess: Flavor sauce.
Edna: And falafel?
Hostess: Crunch patties. Read more on Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce…

Read more on Off to Iraq! Falafel Sandwich with Tahini Sauce…

pickles, to make you jealous

canned homemade dill pickles

Truly, these pickles only appear before you because I’m dead tired. Been working on a house all week and I’m a tad unused to hours of physical labor every day. It’s a good tired, I guess. There’s overdone tired and there’s muscles kind of achy but in the well-used and getting stronger way, and it’s the latter.

Read more on pickles, to make you jealous…

strawberry freezer jam-boree

mm, jamalicious

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never had to learn how to make strawberry freezer jam. I’ve been even more fortunate in that I never even tasted store-bought jam until I was practically an adult.

As a result, I’m spoiled. Spoiled rotten. I turn up my nose at Smucker’s, and even those fancy top-shelf brand jams can’t satisfy.

I never had to learn how to make strawberry freezer jam because every year I saw my mom make it right in front of me. Sis and I got drafted to help pick strawberries in our grandparents’ strawberry patch. I recall crouching low, pushing through the leaves, and searching for the elusive strawberries Grandma insisted were still there even though we were sure we’d gotten them all. Read more on strawberry freezer jam-boree…

the best dill dip evar

the best dill dip evar

Oh my. The garden asplode. Zucchini, broccoli, carrots, green beans, broccoli. And the broccoli isn’t sporting those horribly invisible green worms yet. I think.

There’s still lettuce and peas, though that’s ending now that hot temps have arrived, and cucumbers coming along, and some poblanos that are looking mighty big, and swiss chard with leaves 2 feet long, I kid you not.

fresh dill, about to get snipped to a zillion little pieces

Not to mention dill.

Rather than dump it in, I sprinkled it in JUST FOR YOU

I haven’t felt much like cooking the veggies yet, so I mixed up this dill dip that I love. Did I mention there’s dill in the garden too? Oh, I did. Guess what, it’s a perennial if you let it be so. Well, it’ll die away completely in the fall. But it’ll drop a zillion seeds, all of which will come right on up the next spring. So now there’s a loosely-defined “dill section” in the garden. Get some dill seed or plants for yourself, and you too can effortlessly have fresh dill from spring to fall, every year.

ha ha, she said “dip”

now it's time to stir the whole dill dip shebang together!

This dill dip is polite, yet ruthlessly efficient at what it does — delicately seasoned with a bit of parsley and a touch of seasoned salt and onion warming the background, it’s a dip where the freshness of dill dominates. I just consumed 1 large zucchini, 2 small carrots, and a good number of broccoli florets thanks to this dip. Go veggies! Read more on the best dill dip evar…

August 23, 2009 in desserts, gluten-free, PIE, vegetarian23 comments

walnut-oat pie crust

mmm, gluten-free walnut-oat pie or tart crust, ready for your abuse

Now there’s a mouthful. Know why? Because it’s so versatile. It works for the gluten-free folks. It works for the pie folks. It works for the tart folks. It works for the don’t-make-me-get-out-the-rolling-pin folks.

Even better, this walnut-oat pie crust recipe is just a prelude to the fresh blueberry pie I made it with, coming up soon. Thought I’d get you going with this amazing crust first, because it will work with more than just blueberry pies. It’ll work with cheesecake, other pies, all sorts of tarts.

And it’s press-in-the-pan easy. Read more on walnut-oat pie crust…