recipes and talk about:
natural foods
whole grains
local foods
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black bean and couscous salad

black bean and couscous salad

Ohnoes. A pantry meal — in June!

It may be spring — almost summer — but the garden’s getting a slow start around here. A very wet spring kept us from planting until late May. We’ve already burned past the asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries are due any day now, but normally at this time we’d have lettuce and radishes at the very least.

But it was not to be. The radishes are just about big enough to snack on, but there just isn’t a lot going on yet. I’m not in the mood for hot, heavy, stick-to-your ribs food now, though, so I turned to a main-course salad and dug out this black bean and couscous salad recipe.

Couscous is one of my favorite pastas/grains. I like whole-wheat couscous (obviously!) and it’s one of the whole-grain products that doesn’t seem any different from non-whole-grain variety. It isn’t even prepared differently; perhaps a touch more water or broth when making it, but it turns out fine without such watchfulness. Couscous also pairs amazingly with beans, and I’m partial to black beans. A lot of which goes to explain why I enjoy this salad so much. Read more on black bean and couscous salad…

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…

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…

February 19, 2011 in main course, vegan, vegetarian2 comments

Dazed and Confused Sesame Peanut Stir Fry, with Bonus Babylon 5 Reference

sesamebroccolistirfry.jpg

Ever run into a recipe that is so easy and so tasty that you are dazed under its spell, obeying its command to make it again, and again, and again, until two weeks later you blink and say to yourself, “Damn, that was good.”

Read more on Dazed and Confused Sesame Peanut Stir Fry, with Bonus Babylon 5 Reference…

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…

September 29, 2010 in main course, soup / chili, vegan, vegetarian3 comments

gazpacho sevillano

gazpacho sevillano

Breakfast in Spain is unsubstantial, to my taste: a toasted and buttered bolillo (a large roll) and café con leche, Spain’s rich and tasty version of the latte. (I don’t like coffee or even lattes particularly, but I’ll take a café con leche any day.) Supper, as well, is fairly insubstantial: fried finger foods or a light platter of leftovers, served at 11 p.m., midnight, or even later, depending on the night-owlishness of your household. Read more on gazpacho sevillano…

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…

January 31, 2010 in condiments, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

how to make horseradish, plus a horseradish giveaway

half-pint jar of horseradish. mmm.

That funny looking thing that looked like a cross between a post-nuclear-holocaust carrot and an anime tentacle monster?

cleaned horseradish in pail

Horseradish. It grows in the front of my yard near the ditch, and in Mom and Dad’s in a little “patch” near the field. All I know is it grows on its own and it’s nearly impossible to kill.

horseradish plant

Photo credit: Ruslan V. Albitsky via Wiki Commons. Because someone dug up all the horseradish around here.

Every year before Christmas, Dad digs up the horseradish roots and makes the condiment we call horseradish. Not to be confused with the plant itself. Except for the whole sharing-a-name thing.

two clumps of horseradish

It starts out like this, a pile of gnarled, muddy roots.

muddy horseradish roots, just dug up

Dad puts them on the low screened table I use to cure onions.

the power washer

Then, hook up the power washer! Read more on how to make horseradish, plus a horseradish giveaway…

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…

November 10, 2009 in canning and freezing, vegan, vegetarian13 comments

in which Facebook is vilified, and swiss chard is frozen

super mega fast chopping!

To skip the Facebook rant and get right to the recipe instructions, scroll down to “Let’s freeze some chard!”

Hola, amigos. How’s it going with you? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya. Okay, I’m channeling Read more on in which Facebook is vilified, and swiss chard is frozen…

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…

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…

maple granola

maple granola. yummmmmmo

This March was in like a lion, out like a lamb, just as it’s supposed to be, right and good. It’s a slow-brewing Easter revelation: for the past several days, we’ve had our eye on the forecast and those double digits creeping up from 40s to 50s to 70s. We’ve been talking about the weather forecast in awed, hushed tones: it’s going to be 75°F by Thursday! Maybe 80°F on Friday!

We so want to be true believers in meteorology, just this once. We’re ready, after months of snow and ice and wind and mud, to prostrate ourselves at the altar of the Mighty Blue Screen of Meteorological Prophecy.

And today, we are believers. It’s 56°F right now. We see whispers on Facebook: our Chicago friends wax poetic in their status updates about their glorious weather, and we close our eyes and smile, knowing that what’s in Chicago today will be here tomorrow.

in the hippie spirit

maple granola ingredients

And since I’m in this warm hippie spirit, I’ll offer up a foodstuff so linked to hippes that it became an adjective all its own. Read more on maple granola…

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…

roasted red pepper and kalamata olive pasta sauce

nom nom nom

Sis and Mom were thrilled with the dinner party. “You can do this anytime,” they cooed conspiratorially, and they began plotting holiday schedules. “Thanksgiving, Christmas…no, Mom will still do Christmas…Easter….”

calm before the PARTY STORM

I hadn’t hosted an event of this magnitude before. A bit over a month ago my sponsor, Foodbuzz, contacted me with the offer to host a pasta and wine-pairing dinner party using free coupons supplied by Buitoni Riserva. That shit’s expensive, so I jumped at the chance. Read more on roasted red pepper and kalamata olive pasta sauce…

February 11, 2010 in 100 calorie snack, vegan, vegetarian8 comments

roasted tofu

roasted tofu

About damn time we talked about tofu here, isn’t it? I mean, right up top there, it says “vegetarian, whole foods, and local foods recipes.” And yet, it’s taken all these months for humble tofu to even get a mention. Let’s rectify that now.

You can do this tofu roasted in a sesame and soy marinade in bite-sized pieces or in planks for sandwiches. Chewy and salty, with that smoky depth sesame lends, this roasted tofu is pretty irresistible. I have to forcefully resist just snacking on it as is until it’s all gone, it’s that good. Toss the bits into salads, or fried rice, or whatever strikes your fancy.

why should i care about bean curd?

Tofu’s the much-maligned vegetarian staple, inexorably linked with dirty hippies and horribly inappropriate preparations. Let’s run down some objections to tofu and then airily explain them away. Read more on roasted tofu…

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…

January 24, 2010 in 24x24, appetizers, desserts, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

We love seaweed, yes we do

This was maybe 1/3 of the sushi we made

We love seaweed, how about you?

People were confused when I told them my aunt Linda and I would be making sushi for January’s 24, 24, 24 event. “Isn’t that raw fish?” they asked, knowing I’m not a huge fan of animal foods. Technically, sushi is rice that’s been specially prepared with vinegar and a little sugar, and topped with or rolled with…something.

nigiri sushi of brown rice with carrot on top, and pickled beet

It could be a shaped piece of rice with a slice of lightly steamed bias-cut carrot on top, tied with a scallion. This is nigiri sushi.

futo maki (big roll) of brown rice sushi with crab, scallion, tamago, and cucumber

It could be a fat roll of rice bound in nori (seaweed) and filled with imitation crab strips, tamago (japanese omelet), scallion, and cucumber. This is futo maki.

inside-out brown rice sushi with avocado, imitation crab, and pickled beets

It could be an inside out roll, with the rice outside the seaweed, all enveloping imitation crab, avocado, and pickled beets. This is uramaki. But everyone calls it inside out roll. ;-)

sweet nigiri sushi with kiwi and candied ginger

It could even be dessert.

Other forms of sushi include battleship roll (gunkan), which we didn’t make, temaki, which we didn’t make, and hosomaki, or thin rolls, which we did make, but I didn’t get any closeups of. Thin rolls use half a sheet of nori and are filled with only one or two ingredients besides the sushi rice.

what’s in this post, and what isn’t

Read more on We love seaweed, yes we do…

what to do with fresh blueberries

What *I* like to do with fresh blueberries!

I have a confession to make.

I cannot bring myself to bake or cook with fresh berries.

Why not? Their season is so short, it seems such a waste to transform them with heat, when frozen berries will do the job just as well. And you can whip out frozen blueberries in the dead of winter, anytime.

But fresh berries in the dead of winter? You know they’re out of season, so they’re being shipped thousands of miles, and hey! *snaps fingers* we’re trying to eat more local here. In that process of being shipped across continents, they’re losing freshness and flavor, and won’t be worth much fresh anyway, in my opinion.

Why not practice a more seasonally-aware cuisine? Gorge on fresh when it’s available, and freeze or preserve once you’ve gotten sick on fresh blueberries. (Tomorrow I’ll be freezing blueberries, and show you how, which is hardly necessary, as it’s so damn easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before.)

In the spirit of practicing a more seasonally-aware cuisine, we’re now eating 99% blueberries and sweet corn. Ha ha.

13 ways of looking at a blueberry

Simple, as usual, is better. There are approximately 3 general ways to go with fresh blueberries. First is sweet, and mixed with dairy and/or grains. Second and third are savory, in salads or salsa.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. Read more on what to do with fresh blueberries…

February 15, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarian1 comment

whole wheat levain, day 1

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 1

Sis told me yesterday she began the starter for Amish friendship bread, which apparently involves mixing flour, sugar, and yeast and letting it sit on the counter. After it develops for several days, you can make sourdough bread from part of the starter, keep the rest of it going, and continue making bread.

I’ve always been a bit meh on the whole sourdough concept. It’s been a rare occasion when I’ve really dug a sourdough bread, but on the times I have, I’ve really, really dug it. The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook has a whole chapter devoted to whole grain sourdoughs. I’d avoided it because the whole process seemed so wasteful (I’ll explain why shortly). However, a few months back I bought a different brand of whole wheat flour that was such a coarse grind that I found it incredibly difficult to bake with. I stuck it in the freezer, labeled it “coarse ww flour,” and forgot about it, figuring some use would arise for it sometime.

That time is now. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 1…

February 16, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 2

whole wheat levain, day 2

This is your brain on SmokeMonster!Locke.

Okay, it’s just the whole wheat levain before stirring it up on Day 2. You know what that liquid is on top? Sourdough breadmakers have a highly technical term for it. They call it hooch, because it’s about 15-20 proof. It’s a result of the fermentation process of the yeast. That would be the wild yeast that I set out this lovely catnip of flour and water to attract. There’s nothing wrong with hooch, so go ahead and mix it back in.

You can tell from the hooch that something’s going on now, but there isn’t a lot of bubbling or expansion going on yet. The levain has a comforting, sweet and fresh flour smell. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 2…

February 17, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 3

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 3 - marker

How about a nice tall glass of levain?

Today is Day 3, when we begin feeding the levain twice a day versus the once per day of days 1 and 2. That pic is at 3.5. I’ve put the levain into a tall, clear glass and marked it. In 12 hours we’ll see how much the yeast activity has made it expand.

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 3 - stirred

Notice all those bubbles, made by that friendly wild yeast I’ve attracted. The catnip is this simple flour-and-water combination, at room temperature. The levain is sticky, and stretches when I stir it before discarding/feeding.

Its developed a slightly fruity, tangy smell, yet still with that sweet and fresh smell to it. I tasted a bit of the levain and yes, there was a hint of sour to it. Fingers crossed — it seems to be coming along nicely. Let’s hope I don’t eff it up somehow. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 3…

March 8, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 4 and on

whole wheat levain, day 4

Some of you have been expressing…concern…as to what happened with the whole big levain/sourdough plot. I’ll tell you what happened. A winter storm happened. Unripe levain happened. Flat bread happened. And a possibly unconnected but mysteriously coincidental horrible sinus flareup happened.

By day 4, I had a feeling the levain was ripe and active. Compare the above pic to day 3 and see how much the yeast activity made the levain rise in 12 hours. So I put it back into its normal container and fed it again that evening and planned to bake whole wheat sourdough the next day.

When I checked it in the morning, I frowned. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 4 and on…

July 20, 2009 in breads, vegan, vegetarian16 comments

whole wheat tortillas

whole wheat tortillas, all stacked up

Don’t you just get bored with bread sometimes? Bla bla sandwich, bla bla toast. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to stuff egg salad or beans and lettuce or —

Stop the presses! Shut. Down. EVERYTHING. (We’ll intersperse some tortilla-making photos during this break.)

a rolled out whole wheat tortilla, ready for the pan

The latest casting news for the upcoming HBO production of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series is OUT!

SOIAF, as the series is affectionately acronymed, is the first book series I’ve deigned to read that isn’t finished yet. Let me tell you a story about that. Several years ago people recommended I begin SOIAF. But I don’t like fantasy, I said. You’ll like this one, they said. But the series isn’t finished yet, I said, I’ll be left hanging for years after finishing the last installment. There is that, they conceded.

Plus, and remember this was years ago, there was worry about the Wheel of Time series. The series was dragging on much longer than originally envisioned, readers complained, observing that it seemed much like Jordan was planning to milk it for the rest of his ilfe. They also worried he’d die before finishing it.

That came true.

what a mess!

But, against my better judgement, I began SOIAF anyway. And was blown away, in spite of some over-the-top mustache twirling in the first book, e.g., “Look! They’re so evil they’d nonchalantly kill a little child!” And no, that’s not a spoiler, because as you discover, a heck of a lot of people get nonchalantly killed in this series…but that first one is groan-worthy.

So I read all four books in this trilogy-turned-septology (originally slated for three books, now the plan is seven, and what the hell, is that even a word?) and we’re now waiting on the fifth.

In the meantime, there’s been talk about some kind of movie or series based on the books. Finally, HBO signed on to do a series, and they’re doing the casting now for A Game of Thrones (the first book, slated to be one season, I believe), and we hear about it in dribs and drabs.

get to the SOIAF’ing point already

The news just came out! Guess who’s playing Ned Stark?

Boromir, er, Sean Bean, er, Ned Stark

Boromir! AKA Sean Bean. And I doubt he’s going to be plotting to catapult the ring into Mordor this time. Bean’s a great fit for the look of the character; in fact, all of the casting I’ve seen so far looks to be spot-on. It’s kind of scary.

Maybe I should call these Ned-tillas in honor of the day. No. Oh gods, that’s horrible. They’re whole wheat tortillas, and they’re totally easier than they sound. Seriously. It’s stirring. Then rolling-into-balls. Then rolling-out-balls and slapping-into-hot-pan for 2 minutes. In the middle of that there’s some resting. And the actual making of the tortillas is nearly half an hour stove time, kind of like when making risotto, except without all that tiring stirring.

P.S. These are really fresh, flavorful tortillas.

two more pointless photos of whole wheat tortillas

Did you ever think you’d be making your own tortillas? I mean seriously. I want to know. And before the break, here’s two more really neat pics of the whole wheat tortillas. Read more on whole wheat tortillas…

January 6, 2010 in main course, soup / chili, vegan, vegetarian3 comments

winter soup of carrots, lentils, apple, and sweet potato

How about a nice bowl of cheery orange-colored soup to warm your tummy on a cold winter night? I only recently began to appreciate soup, having been too lazy to properly appreciate it in the past — soup isn’t often stick-to-your-ribs fare and I’m pretty side-dish impaired, as far as getting out bread or making a salad to go with the soup. Read more on winter soup of carrots, lentils, apple, and sweet potato…