Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fast Cooking in the Slow Cooker

I realized we weren't going grocery shopping today and I was getting hungry for supper. I poked around to see what ingredients we had on hand in the pantry and the freezer. I took out a pound bag of lentils, a big bag of frozen corn niblets, a large can of crushed tomatoes, and a few pounds of frozen ground pork. I put everything in the slow cooker on high uncovered with some water added to the mix for the lentils to absorb. I added Adobo, three freshly sliced cloves of garlic, two onions chopped, a few teaspoons of ground cumin, kosher salt, and red wine. It simmered for twenty to thirty minutes while I cleaned up the kitchen. It was delicious. A cheerful yellow chili eaten in the sunshine.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Apple Butter

Our apple drawer in the fridge had been picked through leaving the mealy, bruised and waxy apples. So I decided to chop them up and simmer them in a little bit of water in my slow cooker. I simmered the apples at 225 and even let them continue overnight. I put the vented lid on the cooker so steam could escape. The next day I added cinnamon and a little bit of sugar and I let the whole mess continue to cook for the day. Finally when the color was a dark brown I put the apple glop through my hand cranked food mill to separate out the skins and seeds. What was left was magnificent apple butter. I spooned it into two glass jars and refrigerated them. Today I made toast and it was delicious with margarine and a bit of apple butter on top.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Vegetarian Diet


Mark Bittman: Feeding Kids Well

Eating patterns are set when we’re young, and 31 million kids eat federally assisted school lunches. Thus the school lunch program is more than just an opportunity to feed hungry kids. It’s an opportunity to shape how kids — and grown-ups — will eat in the future. Teaching children bad eating habits means creating yet another generation of Americans who will have to break those habits; and, given what we now know about the effect of those habits on our health, that’s nothing short of criminal.
- Mark Bittman

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black Snow

The mud season is here. Walking around outside reminds me of low tide. Gloves, garbage, and cars, are being unearthed from the three foot high mounds of blackened snow. I was in a low mood and decided to walk downtown to cheer up. It always helps. This afternoon I walked some more and needed even more so I walked to the pond. Lily loves being out and doesn't mind jumping into the empty yellow tub for a rinse-off when we're done. Lately she gets a few belly and leg rinses each day. She just indicated that she's ready for bed and has taken her spot for the night.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Endorphin Dolphin

Swimming lifts my mood and improves my posture.

Unlike exercising in the often dry air of the gym, or contending with seasonal allergies or frigid winter air, swimming provides the chance to work out in moist air, which can help reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms.

Not only can pool workouts help you avoid asthma attacks if you're prone to them, some studies have shown that swimming can actually improve the condition overall. According to a study published in the scholarly journal, Respirology, when a group of kids completed a six-week swimming program, they saw improvements in symptom severity, snoring, mouth-breathing, and hospitalizations and emergency room visits [source: Science Daily]. What's more, the health benefits were still apparent a year after the swimming program had ended [source: Physorg].

Even those without asthma could benefit from swimming, say the study's authors, as the exercise can increase lung volume and teach proper breathing techniques.


William Wilson wrote in the 1883 book, "The Swimming Instructor": "The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises."

Wilson probably didn't know this in the 19th century, but all that happiness was likely due to the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins -- one of swimming's most pleasant side effects. In addition to a natural high, swimming can also evoke the relaxation response the same way yoga works on the body. This is due in large part to the constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing. Swimming is also a meditative exercise, with the sound of your own breathing and the splash of the water acting as a mantra of sorts that can help you "drown out" all other distractions.

Aside from the metaphysical benefits of swimming, research has shown that it can actually change the brain for the better through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress [source: Borchard].


The Breakfast Cookie

Like most people we jump start the day from alarm clock to coffee machine. I am exploring the idea of a breakfast cookie, good with black coffee and not too sweet. So far I took the oatmeal cookie recipe and dropped out some of the sugar and added cocoanut flakes and choc chips. I think they are still too sweet. Next I will make them using oil and pumpkin puree instead of butter and try again. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bakery's Recipe Thief

Overnight last week, a thief stole the recipe for cruffins, and Mr. Stephen’s 230 other recipes, from binders in the bakery’s kitchen. Nothing else in the store was touched: not money, valuable baking equipment, an iPad or other computers. And while Mr. Stephen has copies of the recipes on his office computer, and the store opened almost on time the next morning, he was understandably upset.
“Burglaries happen pretty often in San Francisco,” said Grace Gatpandan, a spokeswoman for the Police Department, adding that she could not recall another crime involving recipes. She said the police would examine nearby security cameras for leads on cars and individuals.

As for a suspect, she said, “We don’t have a particular demographic, except it’s someone who wants to make a really delicious pastry.”

Mr Holmes Bakehouse — named for Mr. Stephen’s mother’s cat, Sherlock Holmes — has already distinguished itself beyond the cruffin. There is, for example, Mr. Stephen’s savory California croissant, stuffed with salmon, nori, ginger and wasabi.

Cruffins are rare, but Mr. Stephen’s are not the only ones on the market. On Thursday, a London bakery called Foxcroft & Ginger put out word that it was introducing cruffins. Mr. Stephen said he was not suspicious.


I LOVE Sally Sampson: Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet or white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy. Add the egg followed by the egg yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips and cranberries and beat until incorporated.
Spoon heaping teaspoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Make Ahead The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Dried Cranberry and Chocolate Cookies

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

From Recipes from the Best Bake Sale Cookbook
Published November 2011

Check out all of her books!

Pressure Cooker Workshop

Years ago I taught a pressure cooker workshop at the Learning Connection. We made applesauce, potato salad, rice and beans cooked simultaneously and separately, and lamb stew. It was a blast!

When my friend Phoebe's Sardinian born roommate cooked for her and the other room mates, he always used the pressure cooker he brought from Italy, and made fabulous mushroom beef stews using mushrooms he harvested.

These days I rarely find pressure cooker aficionados. Maybe it's time to teach another workshop. I noticed Job lot had Presto pressure cookers. They are the best! And get yourself a copy of Lorna Sass' COOKING UNDER PRESSURE. My rule is don't leave the room when cooking under pressure.

Armand Felice told me a secret: always wet the sealing ring with cold water before you begin and you'll never have to replace it. Thank you Armand.

Rekindled Romance with my 38 year old Pressure Cooker

I've rekindled my romance with my Presto pressure cooker. I steamed chopped potatoes (with skin) and chopped cabbage. I save the liquid to cook with my now soaking garbanzo beans.

Low Tide Borscht

I unearthed my favorite Presto pressure cooker and put in the steamer tray with water up to the tray. I chopped up broccoli, cauliflower and beets and poured in a cup of frozen corn. I set it up and pressure cooked the veggies for three minutes. I scooped some into a bowl. Everything was magenta from the sliced beets. I added some Adobo and kosher salt and a pat of Smart margarine. I told my husband "It's low tide borscht!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Firefighter Workout


Teensy Cottage


The Scent of Bread

Last night I baked four sourdough whole wheat breads. I am trying to overpower the smell of wet walls from ice dams with the amazing scent of bread.

Wheat Berries

I never knew I could toss wheat berries into a batch of dough and they would soften. I had a cup of them on the shelf and threw them in and I loved the result. I will do this again with rye berries and oat berries.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Oaties: Oatmeal Raisin Bars

As much as I think about making them, I have no patience for cookies. So I took a cookie recipe and added a little moisture (black coffee) and baked them as bars. 15 minutes to go. . . we'll see.

Here's what I used:

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white sugar minus two tablespoons
2 Tbs molasses
2 eggs
1 teasp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teasp kosher salt (more to taste)
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (non instant)

The batter was dry so I added coffee to moisten it. You could use tea or water or milk.
cinnamon-- a few dashes
1 cup of dark raisins

I used my mixer to cream the butter and sugar and then I added the other ingredients. Taste the dough and decide if it needs more salt. When I use whole wheat flour and kosher salt sometimes you need to add more salt due to the oiliness of whole wheat. I spread half of the batter in a greased square Pyrex baking dish. I refrigerated the other half of the batter for another day. I baked them at 350 for 30-35 minutes. They look like blonde brownies.

They are great!

I took the remaining batter and made cookies and liked them. I will make them again minus 1/2 cup sugar and try adding semisweet choc chips.

Gionelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy

A wine perfect for cooking and sipping with no allergic reaction.

Allergy or Intolerance

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Cramping stomach pain
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs

Anaphylaxis is a very serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction that involves a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and body system failure.
What are the symptoms of food intolerance?

Symptoms of food intolerance include:

Stomach pain
Gas, cramps or bloating
Irritability or nervousness

Turmeric Rocks!

3 More Reasons to Eat Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice that spans cultures - it is a major ingredient in Indian curries, and makes American mustard yellow. But evidence is accumulating that this brightly colored relative of ginger is a promising disease-preventive agent as well, probably due largely to its anti-inflammatory action.

One of the most comprehensive summaries of turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies, and summarized in the July, 2008, issue of the American Botanical Council publication HerbClip.

Reviewing some 700 studies, Duke concluded that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects. Here are some of the diseases that turmeric has been found to help prevent or alleviate:

Alzheimer's disease: Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric's effects in addressing Alzheimer's disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer's disease.
Arthritis: Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including sixdifferent COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin - the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects - is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.
Cancer: Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbook Phytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepatocarcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals.

How can you get more turmeric into your diet? One way is via turmeric tea. There are also extracts in tablet and capsule form available in health food stores; look for supercritical extracts in dosages of 400 to 600 mg, and take three times daily or as directed on the product.

And, of course, one can simply indulge in more curried dishes, either in restaurants or at home. However you do it, adding turmeric to your diet is one of the best moves toward optimal health you can make.

I love Adobo and it has turmeric in it!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Craving Egg Noodles + Spinach

Craving egg noodles and spinach. I read the recipe on the bag and followed it with some slight changes. I made a topping from olive oil, garlic, red onion, all sauteed with sweet dried cranberries and red wine and some leftover tea. I added baby spinach so it just wilts a bit and some more at the last minute. It was fabulous with sprinkles of Asiago cheese (which I am allergic too!) but I love it.

Morgan's Cookies

The Best Chewy Café-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (I used light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar will work as well if you want a more molasses-y flavor)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups dark chocolate chips


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugars with a hand-mixer for about one minute. Then, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix briefly, just until there are no flour clumps left. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure you have the racks in the middle of the oven.
Scoop ¼ cup of cookie dough at a time and roll into balls. Then, tear the balls in half by pulling gently on both sides. Smush the two halves together again, but this time have the lumpy, torn sides face upward. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the cookies have plenty of space to spread.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating half-way through, or until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden, but the center of the cookie still looks soft and just slightly under-cooked. Let cool on the baking sheets until the cookies are firm enough to remove. Every oven is different, so I recommend starting with just one or two cookies on the tray to see what baking time works best for you!
Repeat with remaining batches, until all cookies are baked. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk! Makes 20 cookies.

Take my advice about the test batch of 1 or 2 cookies. You can have the greatest cookie recipe in the whole world, but the time will vary depending on your oven! The key to perfect cookies is knowing how to adjust for your kitchen, as I mentioned in the post!


Thermal underwear, hat, scarf, and plush robe are my secrets to our New England Winter in my cold house. Job lot thermals on sale for 7 dollars!

Children Having Children

Children having children repeated the family cycle of narcissism and abuse.

I Woke Up

I woke up at 4:38AM with Lullaby on Broadway playing in my head. I got up and started shoveling. I shoveled more and swept off the cars when I learned school was not delayed or canceled. I shoveled the communal driveway so nobody would get stuck and let's be honest I LOVE TO SHOVEL!
When I got to the end of my driveway there was a police car across the street lit up on the inside by an interior red light on like we use in a dark room. Maybe he was developing film? I waved but he was probably frightened by me; an old lady shoveling at 4:45 AM.

Green Bean Delight

Last night I threw a few pounds of washed and trimmed fresh green beans in my 12" iron skillet with olive oil, whole garlic, slices of fresh ginger, soy sauce, red wine, sweet chestnut goop (I found an unopened jar from Christmas 1998 and it was excellent), kosher salt, whole red chilies, rooster hot sauce, frozen corn, sesame seeds, 6 scrambled eggs, almonds, and cubed soft tofu! It was the most amazing meal. I had it for breakfast too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dancing in the Mirror

Last night I saw an amazing self taught dancer on TV. This morning I danced in my underwear thinking I ought to work on this.

Sacred Morning

This morning I woke feeling that every muscle had been used as a basketball. I remembered that I went swimming last night. I decided to roll over and dream some more. Morning is sacred to me. Morning is the blend of the unconscious dream state and the waking state. It is a precious and precarious time each day. Once it is gone it can't be found until the next day. I try to schedule any appointments for afternoon or preferably not at all. Each day is the invention of a life.

When I lived with musicians they started playing music while their tea water was boiling. Morning is pure and sacred.