Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Perhaps this war will make it simpler for us to go back to some of the old ways we knew before we came over to this land and made the Big Money. Perhaps, even, we will remember how to make good bread again.
-M.F.K. Fisher How To Cook A Wolf

Monday, December 29, 2008

Everything Soup

Last night I steamed up a head of cauliflower and chopped up three green peppers and added them to the pot. Then I added leftover black bean soup and carrot mushroom tomato sauce and the little bit of cooked noodles I had. With a few dashes of soy sauce and olive oil it became a spectacular soup.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Breakfast Beans

Most of the time I don't plan what I am going to cook. I just look in the fridge and see what the ingredients and leftovers suggest. Last night I spotted celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic, and I decided to make a tomato sauce adding black olives and herbs, olive oil and red wine. The aroma was intoxicating! While the sauce was simmering I diced up the pound of sliced ham we were given on Christmas and cooked it with a batch of collard greens. While that was steaming I baked a pound of black beans. Everything came out so good that I ate greens and beans for breakfast! Today maybe I'll make pizza dough or homemade pasta to go with the tomato sauce.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sun Ray Bread

Last night all of the snow melted in the warm rain. Then fierce winds blew in sounding like ocean waves crashing through the neighborhood. This morning the sun is out and I am baking a whole wheat sweet filled yeast bread. I made a mixture of cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted slivered almonds. I flattened out the dough by hand and decorated it like a Sicilian pizza. Then I rolled it up into a log and shaped it into a circle trimming off the ends so they join at the same diameter. I snipped two inches at three inch intervals making what looks like sun rays. I took the extra blob of dough scraps and formed a ball and filled the center hole.
Happy Christmas.
Love from us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fruit And Nut Holiday Bread

I've mixed up a yeast bread and threw in raisins, Job Lot's bargain cashew pieces, pumpkin puree, molasses and oats. The dough looks great. It will probably need 18 hours of slow rising before it is baked. I am thinking of making a cinnamon walnut raisin holiday tea ring next. The kind you roll up in a log then forming it into a circle. Then you cut sun rays exposing the sweet inside swirl.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Toasted Almonds

I just purchased whole almonds from Rhode Island's Job Lot and toasted them in a 350 degree oven in my shallow clay baking dish for 30 minutes. I stirred them around every ten minutes. Set the timer, don't let them burn! They smell fabulous and taste magnificent.

Waffles On The Brain

I know people will laugh at me but I sliced tofu into slabs and put them in my hot waffle iron and they steamed as they got squeezed. Then I took them out and placed the tofu slabs on top of a plate of steamed vegetables. I sprinkled them with soy sauce which accumulated in the cool indentations created by the waffle iron. Try it! Who knows, I might try making savory spinach and egg waffles next. I have waffles on the brain! I'm even wearing waffled fabric long underwear!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Waffling Omelette

I got an idea tonight to try using my waffle iron as an omelette maker. I beat 6 eggs with a splash of milk and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and poured it into the hot waffle iron. It puffed up, cooking in two minutes! It was delicious and light and had a cool waffle pattern. I will do it again and put the egg slabs on vegetables or make an egg sandwich.

Winter Solstice

It is snowing rapid tiny snowflakes and I am baking tiny round sourdough pumpkin raisin breads and drinking tea.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pumpkin Love

Last night I added pumpkin to the waffles recipe. Delicious! This morning I am making a pumpkin raisin sourdough yeast bread with oats and whole wheat from the leftover pumpkin. It's a gorgeous color orangey brown. It's rising next to my boiler.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waffles For Honey

This morning I made waffles and shared them with Honey. She is on round two of her antibiotics and temporarily has a dwindling appetite but she loved these. I mixed this up in a big bowl and ladled the batter into my waffle iron. Feel free to wiggle around with the recipe. I always do!

2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup of wheat bran (optional)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup of sugar
6 tbsp. corn oil
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla


The snow and ice woke me early. I have been awake since three thirty. But I climbed into bed with a Chinese cookbook at 8 PM and fell asleep in its arms!

Hot Peanuts

My favorite local Asian-American market on North Main Street in Woonsocket, opposite Jaime Sullivan's butcher shop, sells bags of raw peanuts in the shell. The other night I was reading my Chinese cookbook and Ken Hom suggests roasting the peanuts for ten minutes in a 350 degree oven. So I roasted them in the shell. I had just enough to cover the bottom of my dutch oven. Of course I lost track of time even with my kitchen timer! But they came out great.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Super Green

I just went to Fernandez Market my favorite hole in the wall produce market located on Arnold Street the heart of the red light district of Woonsocket. They had green beans that were the greenest I had ever seen. I can't wait to make Chinese style garlic green beans cooked in olive oil with soy sauce and ginger and leftover red wine.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.
-Vincent Van Gogh

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday Soup

I am making soup from bits I have in my kitchen; onions, mushrooms, freshly chopped kale and collard greens, leftover red wine, olive oil, soy sauce, leftover basmati rice, Goya Adobo seasoning, one big white potato grated, salt and then more olive oil and soy sauce to taste. When I baked it in the oven at 250 degrees for a few hours this soup became gloop. It was a cozy, comforting and delicious Winter supper. We ate it with some grated sharp cheddar and black olive tapenaude stirred in.

Untidy Recipes

Checkout my pal Donna Ruzzano's new blog, Untidy Recipes. She lives in Cypress with her beau Moncef but grew up in Rhode Island cooking in her parents Italian restaurant on Federal Hill in Providence!


Happiness... it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hypnotic Chocolate Pudding

A few years ago my husband hypnotized me to remember the delicious chocolate pudding from Leo's a famous bar restaurant where we would often meet on a Friday night. Leo's was on Chestnut Street in downtown Providence. I worked in the kitchen as a prep chef twenty five years ago and loved it. Tonight I dug out the recipe and made a whole wheat oil crust sweetened with sugar and pre-baked it at 350 for 20 minutes and then poured the chocolate pudding inside and refrigerated it.

Leo's Pudding
Melt 2 oz unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler. When fully melted slowly stir in 1/3 cup of sugar. Then in a large measuring cup combine a cup of milk and a cup of coffee and hold back 1/4 of the liquid. Slowly add the (nearly) two cups mixture to the double boiler while stirring. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of butter. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the withheld 1/4 cup of coffee milk. Then stir slowly adding cornstarch mixture to the liquids in the double boiler. Cook for ten minutes stirring constantly. Then cover and cook another ten minutes. Uncover. Turn off heat. Add one teaspoon vanilla, stirring gently. Pour into one pre-baked crust or a few small glass bowls. Refrigerate. I am going to try this recipe again with even more unsweetened chocolate.

Oil pie crust for two sweet wholesome crusts (withhold the sugar for a savory crust)
2 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Mix flour and salt and sugar together. Pour milk and oil in, stir with fork and fingers press with fingers into two pie pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes at preheated 350 degree oven.

Perfect Cookie

I love Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers as the perfect cookie with tea because they are wheaty and not too sweet. I must figure out how to duplicate them. I always try to recreate something I like. When I first ate Thai food I raced home and played in the kitchen until I recreated Pad Thai.

Jar of August

I love spinach. I should be married to Popeye. I just steamed fresh spinach and added soy sauce and a teaspoon of pesto, leftover carrots and rice and it was divine. Having the wide mouth jar of green pesto in my fridge is like having a jar of August. I urge everyone to make basil pesto to brighten these short days. You can make it with garlic and Asiago cheese and peanut butter if you don't have walnuts or pine nuts on hand. I also find my vintage Waring blender is a better tool for this than a food processor. Enjoy the tastes of Summer in Winter.

Peach Tea

I feel like Alice In Wonderland on most days but especially when I am drinking tea out of my gigantic tea cup. I make plain black tea with two teabags in my blue and white rice patterned Chinese teapot and I put in one teabag of Celestial Seasonings Country Peach and let it all steep for five minutes. Then I add milk and honey and it is so delicious.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spontaneous Pie

I just put two scoops of whole wheat flour and sprinkles of salt in a bowl. I poured a generous amount of corn oil over it to moisten it along with two splashes of water, forming a ball. I pressed the whole crumbly mess into my clay pie pan with my fingers. Then I chopped a huge white onion and tossed it into the crust. I grated a raw white potato on top of the onions. Then I beat eight eggs with a little water and a sprinkle of Mrs Dash and poured it carefully into all of the pie's crevices. I baked it in my preheated 350 degree oven. While it was baking I steamed a bunch of chopped carrots in my small lidded iron pot. The onion pie baked for about an hour. The eggs puffed up a bit - it was simple and delicious. I want to make it again and tomorrow and try it with spinach.

Dough Hoe

The Egyptians mixed their batches of dough with a hoe.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Your home will smell so good when you bake this cake. It is very good and a gorgeous orange color. I bake it in my pre-greased cast iron Bundt pan. This pan is nearly 20 years old and it's finally perfectly seasoned! This cake is basically a gigantic muffin!

Preheat oven to 350.
Beat the eggs and oil together with a whisk, then add the vanilla and pumpkin. In separate bowl mix dry ingredients, then mix all ingredients together in a big bowl by hand or with a mixer.
Pour into the pre-greased, pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

2 eggs
3/4 cup of corn oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of canned pumpkin*
3 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of raisins or dried cranberries or a mixture of both! (optional)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
sprinkles of ground cardamom, allspice, and cloves

This is an adaptable recipe. You can use applesauce in place of pumpkin puree or mashed bananas or even blueberries! You can add walnuts or sunflower seeds too. The batter should be the consistency of thick mud! If the better is too dry add a splash of orange juice. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. Insert a broom straw! It's done when it comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Enjoy with hot tea or coffee!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Peace goes into the making of a poem as flour goes into
the making of bread.
–Pablo Neruda

Moose Milk And Sheep Cheese

Moose milk has much higher levels of aluminum, iron, selenium, and zinc than cow's milk. I love sheep cheese and goat cheese. But I have not yet had moose milk.


Saute chopped onions, fresh spinach, red chili flakes and freshly chopped garlic in olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms, red wine, soy sauce. Eat on top of whole wheat angel hair noodles.

Baking Zone

I am baking two braided sourdough whole wheat breads made with molasses and oats. It's after two in the morning but I had a five hour nap so I am in a different time zone.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Red And Green

I just ate pesto and spinach on my bread with roasted red peppers. Summer flavors, Winter colors.

Bread Head

I woke with music in my head. I want to have olive tapenaude and roasted red peppers on my bread!

A Much Greater Poverty

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
-Mother Teresa

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three AM

This morning my dog woke me at three AM licking herself. Thankfully I'd gone to bed at eight. I realized I was wide awake and ready for my day! I got up and watched a bit of a PBS documentary about WWII. I read Brenda Ueland's book Me while baking my pre-soaked black beans. When they were cooked thoroughly, I added ground beef, olive oil, sea salt, canned tomatoes, chopped celery, a bulb of garlic and fresh basil, and put it back in the oven. It smells great! A hearty black bean chili. Then I made pesto in the blender from the bouquet of basil I had purchased from Fernandez Market on Wednesday. It needed to be rescued. I didn't have walnuts or pine nuts so I used peanut butter instead. I also added garlic, olive oil, asiago hard cheese, red chili flakes, and salt. It tastes great.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shed Pounds?

Walk a pound dog!


To teach is to learn. Let's learn Yiddish together.

Motzi pronounced moe- tzee, to rhyme with "goat sea." Hebrew: "provide", "bring forth."

The blessing over bread recited before each meal.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth (hamotzi) bread from the earth.

-Leo Rosten The Joys of Yiddish

Boycott Robot Food

Try this for a day. Boycott consuming of any food made by robots. See if you can pay attention only to foods made or harvested by you and your friends.

World Peace Through Pie

I have some friends who were asked to intervene in a heated dispute. They made pies to share and met around a round table with all of the parties involved. As they ate and discussed the problems the argument was resolved peacefully. Edible diplomacy. World peace through pie.

Neighborhood Bread

Let's make it convenient to be healthy. Can we cook and bake for our neighborhoods? Let's make it inconvenient to be unhealthy. I'll gladly bake bread and cultivate yogurt and make vats of greens and beans and soups. As a neighborhood we could all eat for pennies a day and educate our children and neighbors on how to bake bread and grow food to feed each other and be healthy and happy. We could construct a neighborhood beehive oven. Neighborhoods could be rebuilt on wholegrain breads, homegrown salads, homemade whole wheat crust pizza, homemade peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, homemade noodles, and apple pie!

Food For Thought

Early this morning I watched watched Michael Pollan being interviewed on Bill Moyers TV show and I got inspired. Can we grow vegetables on the land behind the baseball field behind the nets on Woonsocket's Elbow Street? I have fantasized about a community garden in our urban neighborhood for years. Community garden or dog park! Here's a very good article by Michael Pollan of the NYT on his website.

Dora Fleurant, the woman who owned my house before me, owned the whole neighborhood! She used to have a big vegetable garden in her summer home in East Providence. She would do lots of canning and then would feed all the folks here in this neighborhood. Perhaps I can carry on this tradition with a garden right here this spring. Hopefully I won't knock down my vegetable plants shooting hoops!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Ice Cream

I tend to prefer a turkey sandwich or green vegetables to ice cream any day but I love pumpkin ice cream. You can make your own!

1 3/4 cups pumpkin purée (1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)

Put the pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, and salt in a blender. Purée until smooth. Slowly add the cream, a tablespoon or two at a time, pulsing after each addition. Chill for 15 minutes (or longer, this part you can make ahead).

If you are using brandy, mix it in to the cream mixture right before churning. Churn in your ice cream machine 20 to 25 minutes. Keep in freezer until served.

Makes about 1 quart.

The Bread Ovens Of Quebec

The Bread Ovens Of Quebec by Lise Boily and Jean-Francois Blanchette is a book on how to make your own beehive oven like the ones in old Quebec. It's published by the National Museum of Canada.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Basketball Omnivore

Among my favorite books are The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl.
I am a basketball omnivore! Dance, jump, run, skip, sing and eat with joy! Live your life!
Various mammals are omnivorous by nature such as bears; coatis; canines like gray wolves or dingos; hedgehogs; opossums; pigs; some primates including chimpanzees and humans; raccoons; rodents including chipmunks, mice, rats, and squirrels; skunks; sloths; various birds whose prey varies from berries and nectar to insects, worms, fish, small rodents, and snakes; cassowarys; chickens; corvids including crows, magpies, ravens, and rooks; keas; rallidae; rheas; some fish such as piranhas; some lizards; and turtles. Their diet consists of both meat and vegetable matter.
from Wikipedia

Garlic Green Beans

Chop heads and tails off a bunch of good lookin' green beans. Chop them in half the short way if you'd like, then steam them. While they're gently steaming chop up way too much garlic (after taking the cores out) then dump them into some hot olive oil and watch them turn golden. Add the bright green steamed beans to the garlic oil and throw in soy sauce and a pinch of sugar and salt. Throw in a handful of chopped up toasted almonds if you happen to have some or a few dashes of toasted sesame oil. A pinch of dried red chili flakes or cayenne pepper is fun too. These beans are so good you'll want to open your own Chinese restaurant. Enjoy!

A Little Bit of Lard

Sunday we had a house brunch the cowboy breakfast I've been dreaming of for years! I baked two large braided sourdough loaves while our guest was asleep. I baked a few skillets of thick cut bacon, a dozen eggs, to invite him down for breakfast! I roasted five pounds of potatoes in the leftover bacon fat. Today I feel like I can run a hundred miles. A little bit of lard is a good thing!

Don't you find it funny that the foods in many traditional diets - starting with breast milk and moving on to coconut oil, butter, eggs, and pork fat - are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, yet people who eat these traditional foods liberally don't get heart disease? Nor are they fat or diabetic.

I believe the conventional wisdom on traditional foods is mistaken. The so-called diseases of civilization - obesity, diabetes, heart disease - are not caused by real food. The diseases of industrialization - as I call them - are caused by the foods of industrialization.
-Nina Plank, Real Food

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Turkey Soup

I am simmering a vat of turkey bones and the aroma is amazing. When it's done I will fish out all of the bones and cool it in the cellar cold room and then skim the fat off the top (saving it in a jar to spice up Honey's dog food) and begin creating my soup. I've had a bit of turkey every day this week and I am still looking forward to the Thanksgiving turkey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photos Of Food

When I went to the supermarket the other night to get a big bag of semisweet chocolate chips, a can of pumpkin, Crisco, and ketchup I was seduced by the photos of steaming pancakes printed on the front of the mix boxes. I just stood there looking for a few minutes. I'll admit I am easily swayed by pin up photos of food.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs (cha ye dan) are a cheap snack food found all over China. The eggs whites are dyed with a beautiful patina and imbued with delicious flavors.

6 eggs
5 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 tablespoon loose black tea or 2 tea bags
3 pieces of star anise
1 small stick cinnamon or cassia bark
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns (optional)

Place unshelled eggs in saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the eggs. With a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in two or three places or roll them in a towel! Return them to the saucepan. Add the other ingredients and stir. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding water as necessary. Drain, serve hot or cold. You can also use Earl Grey tea bags but if you do, omit the other herbs and spices.

Basement Basmati

I found 15 pounds of basmati rice in a big tin in my cold room, my basement pantry. It was a Christmas gift from a friend last year!


I want to go out with the fisherman on the fishing boat for a day like I did with the milk truck. I have the yellow overall pants! I'm going to ask them today.

Late Night Coffee

We always pack a thermos of hot coffee and hot milk to mix up after our late night gigs. Drink up and look for shooting stars.

Apples In the Night

Why is an apple the perfect snack on a long car ride home at two in the morning? But it is.

Peanut Butter Buckets

We got two seven pound buckets of peanut butter from JAR baking supply in Lincoln RI. It's freshly made in Providence and is fabulous natural peanut butter. Great on whole wheat sourdough bread with sour cherry jam from Job Lot.

Diner Ware

I love dinerware, the thick cups plates bowls and monkey dishes found in restaurants and diners across America. I find them at yard sales and thrift stores. I especially love Syracuse China and Buffalo China and Pyrex. I love their sturdiness. I love the coffee cups that look like tea cups.


My bread is so simple I urge everyone to try it. Measure out about six cups of fresh whole wheat flour, a tablespoon of salt, and three cups of wrist temperature water. If you have a blob of sourdough starter or some old dough lying around add it in, otherwise just add a teaspoon of Fleishmann's Active Dry Yeast (not quick rise). Mix it all up in a big bowl with your hands or a wooden spoon! Then knead the dough on your kitchen counter. Have fun! You can't hurt the dough! Punch roll twist polka! You can add more flour or cornmeal or oats if you want to. Let it rise covered with a clean colorful cloth in a warm place for an hour or two or a day or two depending on the temperatures of your house. Punch down the dough. Dance and sing! I like to shape my dough into a three rope braid because it looks beautiful and supports itself when it expands. Or make two small breads and give one to your neighbor. Preheat oven to 450 and bake on a stone or greased cast iron skillet, or a greased baking sheet for 35-40 minutes. When done the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom!

Tea Scones

Tea scones, made with tea! They are delicious and a gorgeous color.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup milk
10 black tea, tea bags
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
Warm honey or preserves
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. With pastry blender or fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture is size of small peas; set aside. In small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Add 6 tea bags, cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and cool. Beat in egg. Gradually add tea mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Make tea glaze by boiling 1 cup water and brewing 4 tea bags for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in 4 tablespoons sugar. Let cool. Turn dough onto floured cookie sheet and pat into 16" circle. With blunt edge of knife, score top of dough into 16 pie shaped wedges. Brush with tea glaze and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve with warm honey or preserves, if desired. Makes 16 scones.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I love turkey and I couldn't wait until Thanksgiving so I bought a huge fresh one on sale yesterday. I baked it last night in my oven in a gigantic cast iron oval roasting pot that we affectionately call the baby roaster. I put two round cast iron trivets on the bottom of the roaster to make a shelf to keep the turkey above the turkey fat. I set the oven at 450. I dug out the bags of turkey parts to make a basting sauce. I rinsed the bird and patted it dry and salted and peppered it generously all over.

Here's the recipe for the basting sauce: cube giblets, saute until cooked then remove from heat. Add olive oil to the liquid, add a handful of fresh backyard sage leaves and a couple of bay leaves and a few cloves. Heat, add wine, and a good dollop of honey or molasses. I like to add a cup of apricot preserves or cranberry chutney; a tart fruit is good. Bring the mixture to a boil, keep stirring, then let it cool.

I basted the turkey after one hour of roasting at 450 degrees. I used the whole mixture, and basted again after another hour using the liquid in the bottom of the turkey pan. I basted more frequently as the roasting time continued. When the turkey was done, I removed it from the roasting pan with sturdy skewers (pitchforks!) and placed it on a large platter. It looked like it was made of asphalt, but it was delicious! The hardest part was resisting carving it right away! I let it sit a bit to cool (twenty minutes) to keep the moisture inside the skin. I had to be careful not to turn my back and let Honey gobble it up!

Scallion Rice Peanut Noodle Delight

Today I made whole wheat angel hair noodles. I sauteed in olive and toasted sesame oil, four bunches of scallions chopped, freshly chopped garlic, chopped carrots, sliced onions, chopped celery, and then added them to the noodles with some leftover jasmine rice. Then I made a peanut sauce in the blender. I scooped some natural peanut butter, freshly squeezed lime juice, a pinch of sugar, splashes of soy sauce, water, and red chili flakes and I buzzed them all together and poured it over the vegetable noodle rice mixture. I mixed it all up in a big bowl using my bare hands! Delicious at room temperature! I love to eat with chop sticks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Simmering Soups

May the winter soup pot never be dry! My braided sourdough bread is rising next to the boiler. My baked chicken carcass made an excellent stock especially since I accidentally baked it for 7 hours! I lost track of time. It made a fabulous stock which when cooled I skimmed the schmaltz and then made a Chinese soup with the gelatinous stock adding more water and a few tablespoons of natural smooth peanut butter as a thickener and Chinese vegetables bok choy and Chinese broccoli as the main ingredients. I also threw in whole mushrooms and Brussels sprouts too, and bean thread noodles I found in the back of my cupboard. I also added dashes of mushroom soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, Asian hot sauce, bloops of olive oil and sprinkles of salt. Soup is my friend.

Superstitions About Food

I am fascinated by superstitions about food in all of the cultures of the world. Here are some Thai superstitions about food and eating translated from "Boran Oo-bai" by Sanom Krutmeuang.

Every country has their own old wives tales, a list of things you shouldn't do. Thailand is no exception. Some of these seem crazy on the surface but most have hidden good reasons. You will still hear some of these being said today in some Thai families.

* Don't eat a double banana because if you are a woman you will give birth to twins.
* Don't eat before your elders because in your next life you will be born as a dog.
* Don't eat food without rice because you will get rickets.
* Don't eat salt under a tree because it will make the tree die.
* Don't eat other people's food without permission because it will make your throat swollen.
* Don't eat the leftovers from your child because it will make the kid naughty.
* Don't eat before a monk because you will become a bad ghost.
* Don't eat corn when you have the flu because it will give you a higher fever.
* Don't eat all of the rice during your evening meal because you should leave some for the elves.
* Don't eat cold rice with hot rice because you will lose your way easily the next time you go out.
* Don't eat egg when you have cut yourself because it will make it worse.
* Don't eat chicken feet because it will give you bad handwriting.
* Don't eat chili sauce in the mortar bowl because if you are a woman you will give birth to a child with big lips.
* Don't eat turtles because it will make you walk slowly.
* Don't eat dog because the dog's spirit will possess you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spider Pot Chicken

All is well over here. I am feeling extremely lucky. I feel as though we are going to move towards greatness again. Obama rocks! To celebrate we walked to the Asian American Market on North main Street and I bought a chicken and Asian vegetables. I love this market! Tonight I saw the owners were drying thin slices of beef on racks using a fan.

I am baking my six pound chicken standing on its end on a trivet in an antique cast iron spider pot fitted with a cast iron cover. The bird cavity is jammed with a whole bulb of garlic, a two inch knuckle of ginger root and a whole lime. Surrounding the bird in the remaining space are whole carrots, whole potatoes, and a whole onion. I had to take all the shelves out of the oven to fit this pot inside! I have been basting the bird and vegetables using my turkey baster!

Baking Bread and Hunting for Hoops

My braided sourdough that rose overnight next to the boiler is baking now and the aroma is fabulous. I saw an ad for an adult tricycle and I am thinking I could have Honey ride with me on my errands! She has separation anxiety and so do I! I am looking for basketball hoop for the neighborhood parking lot.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mills Coffee

Every good insomniac needs a great source of coffee! Mills Coffee Roasting Company of South Providence is a great place and the best kept secret in RI. Mills is a family owned and operated business that roasts coffee for all of the area restaurants and coffee shops in RI and has been doing so for over a century. The place smells great. You can smell roasting coffee a block away. Mills has a coffee roasting machine that is huge, the size of two Subaru station wagons. Although it's loud it draws you in. It looks like a gigantic version of my food mill with the metal mesh where the hot air is pushed through the jumping beans. There are large tubes the diameter of dinner plates running in and out of the machine, probably running the beans up and down. Right beside the machine is a dumb waiter to send orders up and down to the office. This is not a store front this is a mill space. There are hundreds of burlap bags of green coffee beans piled to the ceiling and the beans come from all over the world. The best part of all is Mike-the-roaster knows what he's doing. He loves his work and loves to talk about coffee and he loves people. All of the people that work in the office are great too. I had an art show at Julian's Restaurant and they gave me a cup of coffee and I said wow this is good coffee and they told me all about Mills Coffee and how nice they were. So I went there and met Mike and went back a few times with my husband and my dog to buy coffee, sniff the aromas of fresh roasting coffee and hear great stories from Mike. Wherever Mike goes people smell the roasting coffee! I'd like to drop off my clothes there for a day so they too can soak up the aroma of roasting beans.

Morning Banana

Ever since former opera singer Kumiko Mori announced she had lost 15 pounds on the "Morning Banana" diet, there has been a shortage of bananas in Japan.

I saw this sentence published in the Web MD newsletter today.

Pommes De Terre

When I was in college I met an authentic French-from-France person. I was so excited I invited her to my apartment for supper and when she walked in I tried out my French. I offered her pommes de terre! She laughed so hard because I had just offered her potato juice when I thought I was offering her apple juice. Pommes de terre translated are apples of the earth. Perhaps I should have given her vodka.

Kalamata Olives

My pal Gary McLaughlin is a cook and a caterer with the greatest laugh in the world. Gary finds me Kalamata olives for a sinfully cheap wholesale price. It's great to have friends in high places. He orders me the five pound black plastic screw top tub from his restaurant supplier and it lasts me a year, occupying valuable real estate in my fridge! Olives, olives, olives, mashed with fresh garlic spooned onto my sourdough whole wheat bread or just eaten as they are is divinity itself. Olives baked inside my sourdough bread with a little bit of mint is great too. You don't taste the mint as mint but it does magic to the flavors. I learned that from a great book called The Book Of Bread By Judith and Evan Jones. Mangia!

Chocolate For Breakfast

This morning I ate Cadbury Fingers with coffee for breakfast while saying to my husband "In Spain chocolate is considered a breakfast food!" He said You don't need to justify it.
Yes I do!! I shouted, grabbing a few more fingers and heading upstairs with my second coffee mug.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cold House, Warm Oven

This is the agonizing season in our home. The house is cold but not quite cold enough to justify turning on the heat. So I turn on the little electric radiator at my desk, and I turn on the oven and I bake the house warm.

Kale Soup

I bought two heads of kale, rinsed them and chopped them up simmering them in my Dutch oven with my home made chicken stock. I added freshly chopped garlic, freshly grated ginger root, soy sauce, olive oil and salt. It was so good I ate it for breakfast! I baked my overnight soaked kidney beans and added millet to the soupy bean liquid. When it all baked it was polka dotted mush. Delicious with the kale soup.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My philosophy is the body is sacred, food is sacred, feeding others is sacred, so make it wholesome!

Lazy Man's Pizza

There isn't a vegetable I don't like. I took my pumpkin shaped eggplant and sliced it, salted it, let it bleed for an hour... and then rinsed it and patted it dry and chopped it in cubes and cooked it in olive oil and added diced tomatoes, fresh cored and chopped garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, a bay leaf, chopped celery and Job Lot capers. I simmered it overnight in my Presto crock pot and when I woke up my kitchen had the aroma of a pizzeria. What's not to like? I spooned it onto toast and grated fresh local Asiago and Parmesan cheese...on top. I call it Lazy Man's Pizza!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Schmaltz is the golden goo that sits on top of congealed chicken soup stock.

Homage to the Potato

Roast it, boil it, bake it, fry it, grate it, mash it, pressure cook it! The potato is loaded with potassium, fiber, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, B6, iron, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C, and zinc. Why is it so surprising to discover that the potato is full of vitamin C?
Potatoes, whole grain pasta, beans! Don't give them a bad name! They are the staff of life!

Millet Appreciation

I am baking the leftover chicken carcass with bones and skin in four quarts of water in my covered cast iron Dutch oven. I feel safer baking in a 350 degree oven than on my stove top. Because I am often working upstairs while cooking downstairs and running in and out with my dog it is safer for me to use my oven. This will make a great chicken stock when I strain out the bones and fat. I've just added a whole bulb of garlic, some fresh cilantro, and a few teaspoons of Kosher salt. On the top shelf of my oven I baked a pot of millet in my baby dutch oven. Both smell amazing and I have already eaten a few bowls of the millet salted and buttered. It's soooo good!! Millet is loaded with important vitamins; B1 and B2, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. I found this out from reading the chart in my Nutrition Almanac by Lavon J.Dunne published by Mcgraw Hill. Why isn't there a millet appreciation day! For the grain and the painter.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yiddish Lessons

At one thirty am the neighbor kids were getting dropped off from a party and were talking in the street. I woke up. I noticed that I had a song stuck in my head. So I got out of bed and went to my writing desk. I started thinking about my pal Steve Subotnick's 94 year old friend Esther who is teaching him Yiddish! I wish I could be part of this because I LOVE the sound of Yiddish words, they are juicy and often sound like what they mean. I met Esther at Steve's daughters Bat Mitzvah party a few years ago in Steve and Amy's kitchen. Esther is sparkly and wrinkly with wild white hair. She's a great story teller. She is about four feet nine inches tall. I had to bend over to hear her. When she was ready to leave the party I offered to walk her out to her car. She locked arms with me as we descended the porch stairs in the dark carefully navigating the stones and leaves. She was parked at the opposite side of the street at the intersection so I crossed with her and waited until she got into her car. She got in, put on her seat belt, started up the engine and screeched away like Mario Andretti!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I love washing dishes. I immediately relax when my hands are in warm water as if my whole body is immersed. People never believe me unless they get to know me. I tell them it's like a swimming pool for my hands. One of my favorite jobs was washing dishes for a fancy Italian restarant in Providence. I loved my job! I remember excitedly phoning my mother in New York to tell her but she was not pleased.
"You'll never amount to anything if you like washing dishes!" She screamed. I have found this to be the contrary. I get my best ideas while washing dishes and so did Virginia Wolf. I feel sorry for the people who miss out on this sacred time. I am also obsessed with scents and soaps; both mine and other peoples. I am like a bloodhound; a smell is a universe to me. I can identify laundry soaps of strangers who walk by me on the street. Recently we ran out of the soap we had bought years ago in gallon jugs by the case from our food co-op. I was both panicked and excited to know I would be shopping for a new scent of soap.

Recipes Aloud

When my father in law had a stroke my husband and I visited him in the hospital. After a few minutes I started to feel dizzy as I stood leaning against the wall. A nurse walked in the room and spotted my blanching and she immediately locked her arm in mine and cheerfully escorted me outside into the fresh air. There I sat in the back seat of our car in the hospital parking lot with all of our silver Subaru station wagon doors wide open. It was a cold sunny February day and I was comforted by reading Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook aloud which I just happened to have with me. I recited the recipe for rugelach over and over as a comfort to me and it brought me back. Moral of the story; always carry a cookbook in your glove compartment. It may help bring you back.

Autumn Cookery

This morning I baked blackstrap molasses gingerbread with all the remaining flour in the house; a blend of buckwheat, whole wheat, and barley flours. I found a recipe in my Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook and adapted it. It's good with tea and coffee. Now I'm baking a chicken Laurie Colwin style; at 350 degrees, slow , slow, slow, and baste, baste, baste, with a whole lime in the chest cavity. Laurie Colwin wrote two of my favorite cookbooks; Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I love to read them at bedtime because I find her writing soothing. I bought my big chicken today at the Asian American Store. I hadn't planned on chicken in fact I went in to buy tofu and bean sprouts and instead I bought a chicken and a fresh pineapple! I'm baking my chicken sprinkled with paprika and Kosher salt and black pepper with a lime and four whole bulbs of garlic all jammed into my covered Dutch Oven. I'm baking pumpkins; seeded, sliced in half, face down on my cast iron skillet on the top shelf. And now that they're done I'm roasting the pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Empty Table

Years ago a friend of mine sent me a postcard. It was a painting of an empty table. She loved it and wanted me to see it. That was when I realized our philosphies of life were profoundly different. I love photo postcards of paintings too; overflowing tables, banquets full of buxom women wearing dirndles, men and women laughing, eating grapes, playing music and dancing.

Pumpkin in the Sky

I slept eleven hours the past two nights. I'm catching up after a week of performance excitement, joie de vivre, and allergy induced insomnia.

I have turned my desk around 180 degrees to better face my pumpkin colored Maple tree! I wish I could spray shellac on it to keep the leaves on it all winter. It's especially gorgeous on a gray day like today.

I just sauteed in olive oil in my Dutch oven, freshly peeled and chopped garlic, a bag of rinsed fresh spinach, sliced white onions, about a cup of dark raisins, dried red chili peppers, and soy sauce. It was a fabulous, tasty, and quick, lunch! Good with slices of toasted (of course) sourdough bread. Now there's an exotic yet simple mix of cultures and flavors!

Golden Gut

As a child all of my emotions went to my gut, and still do. The good part is that I've discovered that all of my color sense for painting, courage and intuition comes from my gut too. My father in law called it The Golden Gut. He had it too. It was was both a curse and a blessing. He would say "Find the gift" within the curse.

Call me Kellogg but I do think keeping our grains intact would keep our world intact. I think people should not peel their apples, carrots, potatoes, or hull their sesame seeds or strip the nutritious bran and germ from their wheat. Maybe we'd have a happier and healthier society.

I am loving reading my Shaker Cookbook a friend gave me.

Solo Sourdough

I have finally done it! My sourdough starter has been alive and kicking for ten years and I no longer use the Fleishmann's jars of yeast as back up. They have become crazy expensive anyway at eight bucks a jar! I just use a blob of my starter mixed with 6 cups of medium grind whole wheat flour which I buy in 50 pound bags at JAR the bakers supply in Lincon RI, and a scant quart of water and a tablespoon of Kosher salt. I also throw in oats and corn meal...and any other grain lying around and sometimes a tablespoon or two of blackstrap molasses but any sweetener will do, and sometimes I use potato water leftover from cooking potatoes! Have fun. Bread is your friend.

Insomniacs Kitchen

A few times I year I don't sleep due to excitement, joy, and allergies. I wake up, get up and bake and cook through dawn. Last night was one of those nights after 2 hours of sleep I made pumpkin + squash glop from actual pumpkins and squashes and turned it into a pumpkin banana pudding cake. I made collard greens with garlic olive oil and red hot chili peppers, I roasted all of the pumpkin and squash seeds. I made pita breads, I made yogurt cheese, I made lime peanut hummus. Luckily Jenny Debell and her two daughters Rozie and Pearl had plans to come at noon and eat with us and Bill joined us! I should just put a flag out front that says come n' eat! Barbara of Barbara's diner in Woonsocket sees me all the time walking Honey. She opens at five AM but she said the seniors are at her diner door waiting to be let in at three thirty am! Do you believe it? Have a great Indian summer night. I'll probably be up cooking again!


I love cookbooks. Laurie Colwin said they tell us how to live. Today the air and light and temps feels like Martha's Vineyard. I haven't been there since I was a kid when I ran away at 16 and got a job at The Black Dog Bakery and the neighboring Back Dog Restaurant baking by day and mopping at night. I got two jobs in three days and lived there for ten days! Today I was looking at cookbook I found for 25 cents at Woonsocket's junk store on Main Street. I found a recipe for baked potato chips. Just what I needed after marching jamming and dancing in two three mile parades playing my baritone sax. "I'm hungry!!" I love the down home recipes based on fresh local ingredients. The authors are clever, resourceful and appreciative. All you need to make these is an oven, a cast iron pot, potatoes, olive oil, and Kosher salt.


I eat illegal amounts of garlic! Especially now that I have found a stash; five heads for a dollar at the Asian market. They are from China. I slam them with the side of my cleaver and peel them like squished cockroaches. When I hear the bang at my door I'll know it's the garlic police in hazmat suits with cloves on their lapels. Garlic Devo! I was just telling Schnig and Jenny's daughters escape stories about my Uncle Peter who is not my blood-related uncle but my step father's best friend; a NYC bachelor and fashion photographer who was a Jew raised in Holland. He escaped the Nazis six times! He was hiding in ceilings and floors! But back to garlic. Perhaps it does keep the vampires and the Nazis away.

I wished I was Chinese

One of my first memories was sleeping over at my grandparents apartment on Brighton Beach above the boardwalk in Brookyln. My sister and I would horse around and tease eachother making faces. I remember Grandma telling us "Don't make faces, they'll freeze that way." I immediately thought "Oh goodie!" And when my sister wasn't looking I stretched my eye lids to look Asian and held them for a long time because I wanted them to freeze. I wanted to become Chinese! At bedtime I tried again. I stretched my eye lids in the dark until the voices on the boardwalk below faded and I finally fell asleep. I woke up and raced to the bathroom mirror. I was still Jewish.

My beloved Brighton beach Grandparents Nat and Sophie ate at the Chinese restaurant on Coney Island Avenue every night of the week. My grandfather could afford to do that! Grandma only cooked once in a while and she made roasted chicken. Grandpa had a little store called United Blower that sold fans and motors on Center Street in NYC on the lower East Side off of Canal Street next to Off Track Betting. When Grandpa visited us in his beige 1969 Buick Skylark the trunk was always filled with cases of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, and new boxes of sneakers, all of them in his size. In the back seat grandma had shopping bags filled to the top with potato knishes, bagels, rye bread, and honeycake from "The Avenue".

Today I was thinking again about wishing I was Chinese. I made an amazing peapod, mushroom, mung beansprout, ground pork, red pepper, garlic, wine, mushroom, celery, carrot, whole wheat noodle dish that my Chinese friends would swear was made by their mothers! Will I ever kugel my way to Bejing? I love making semolina pasta in my hand cranked Atlas machine clamped to my turquoise kitchen counter. I add lemon zest and thyme to the dough. I have to fend off my dog from eating the noodles as they dry on the wooden clothes rack! The noodle is at the heart of so many amazing cultures and cuisines; The Italian cuisine the Jewish cuisine and the Asian cuisines. I would love to teach people how to enjoy feeding themselves. The noodle is the soul food of all nations!

Culinary Secret

My pal Armand the gardener and avid canner told me to wet the sealing ring of my Presto Pressure Cooker before each use and I won't have to ever replace it! It works! And I used to have to replace my sealing ring every year. Thank you Armand! By the way in case you haven't tried it, cooking under pressure rocks!!

Trash Picker

I've become like Ray my pal in my neighborhood with silver hair and bushy black eyebrows who walks around and picks up glass. But I pick up trash. Yesterday Ray and Honey and I were walking in the neighborhood and Ray found an eyelash curler in the parking lot of the baseball field. He said "what's this?" in his loud slow leaning voice. There was something perfect about finding an eyelash curler in a baseball field like the balancing of yin and yang. Ray wanted to know what it was. I said you won't believe it, Ray. I explained and he laughed. "I don't need that, you have it." He said and I thanked him and put it in my bag. Although Ray's hair is silver his eyebrows are jet black and his black eyelashes are the longest eyelashes I have ever seen on a human being.


It is a miracle that I am not a million pounds! It's true! Right now I ate a bowl of home made french fries and ketchup. I baked about two and a half pounds of potatoes (about 12 potatoes) cut into thick wedges drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt. I baked them at 400 for 120 minutes stirring every 15-30 minutes. They are delicious and healthy. Next I will bake carrots with freshly grated ginger...basically I eat all day long when I am post parade! Six miles of dancing and honking my horn brings on my appetite! Somedays I'll eat a double lunch, a double breakfast, snacks constantly, a double dinner, but I write it down to see the patterns and it seems I eat every 2-3 hours!

Weight Loss Glasses

I am no longer a member of the YMCA pool. Even my favorite red lifeguard bathing suit has rotted after hanging in there for eight years! We're trimming all extraneous expenses out of our life so swim memberships are considered a luxury. But I walk Honey and jog with her, and I dance madly to my favorite band BRAVE COMBO in the full length mirrors our pal Schnig got us from the TV show he worked on. I'm continually leaving my eye glasses in the kitchen and I have to run down stairs from my office and back up again about ten million times a day which is why I call them my weight loss glasses. I probably have kept ten pounds off chasing up and down after them!

The Cow Lady of Tiverton

I want to meet Jeanne Moniz the cow lady of Tiverton RI. Rob Armstrong, the head of Munroe Dairy told me about her. The Providence Journal did a story on her too. She takes care of 350 cows and sells the milk to Garelick farm. I want to meet her because she is 65 and vibrant and runs this farm herself. I am obsessed with meeting vibrant women who are not scared off by becoming older. And I am obsessed with seeing dairy farms on the ocean. It's a wild backdrop, cows and ocean like pictures I've seen of Ireland. And all right here in Little Rhody! But you have to drive through Massachusetts twice to get there from here!

Barbeque Men

There's a bunch of guys in the nearby Blackstone neighborhood hanging out outside barbecuing with three TV's going and an outdoor fire while they watch the game bundled up in sweatshirts! I wish they would invite me. There's a few households of guys nearby that do this every time there's a big football game. I see them when I walk Honey. Maybe this weekend I'll drop in with some fresh meat and cigars.

Anniversary Toast

Today is my two year anniversary of my Urban Mermaid Blog. To celebrate I am making toast! Also as part of my celebration I have started this blog; The Insomniac's Kitchen, launched a few days ago. I have been more of an Urban Milkmaid than a Mermaid these days but that's another matter.

We finally solved the toaster mystery! Someone had sent us an amazing restaurant quality brand new toaster but there was no name or message with it. So for weeks I e-mailed everyone I know asking and thanking them simultaneously but had no luck finding out who sent it. I was exhausted! Then I got the bright idea of calling the various company names on the boxs UPS label. So I fished the torn cardboard top of the box out of the recycle bin to read the names. One was a kitchen store in Hilton Head NC and the other turned out to be in Brooklyn NY. The NC lady sent me to the sweet lady at the Brooklyn store and she helped us trace who it was. She also gave us the kind message that was intended for us. Mystery solved! It was our pal and blog fan Hugh Everett who sent us the Viking brushed stainless steel toaster! We never would have guessed it because last we heard he was living in Belgium. This toaster is amazing and it has four slots and is hydraulic. Hydraulic descending toast! We toast four slices a at a time at the maximum time; number six on the big black knob, and then a bit more at number three is needed to handle my heartiest sourdough. Thank you Hugh!

I have stopped buying commercial yeast so my bread is truly authentic wholegrain sourdough rising from just my Woonsocket sourdough starter which is now ten years old and alive and well thriving in a widemouth jar on the inside door of my fridge! I bought the yeast in San Francisco when visiting and baking a supper banquet for my clown friends who had a gig performing on Geary Street. They had fully equipped kitchens in their hotel rooms!

My next trip I plan to go to Texas to eat a cactus for breakfast and cook and bake for my musician friends and travel all the way across the state. I think we could fit 100 Rhode Islands into Texas but I'm not going to try it.

We have been crazy busy with musical performances and art shows since May and the Urban Mermaid blog has taken a back seat. But I am hoping to post some of my longer pieces on the Urban Mermaid blog, ones that I've been submitting to magazines.

Raisin Bran Muffin Cake

These days most muffins are really cake. This is a cake that's really a muffin! I bake it in my cast iron Lodge Bundt Cake pan. I also call it travel cake because it is the perfect thing to take traveling by car, train or bicycle! It stays moist and it's wholesome providing vitamins and energy without being too sweet. In fact the only sweetness is from the raisins and carrots. Once in a while I add semi sweet chocolate chips. The only fats are from the eggs and the peanut butter and the occasional semi sweet chocolate chips. You can exchange any number of fruits or vegetables for the main body of the cake. I have used bananas, pumpkin, applesauce, chopped apples, zucchini, prunes, grated carrots. Anything is possible. Just mix it all the ingredients together in a big bowl. Or if you are feeling crazy like me, mix with it all with your hands! Taste the batter and make adjustments that suit you. Beware that the bran does taste bitter before it is baked but other than that the flavors reflect what will become the final product. The peanut butter makes this cake taste EARTHY like delicious dirt.

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and then stir it up!
2-3 eggs depending on how large.
two teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract (optional)
2 cups of home made unsweetened applesauce or grated carrots or two or three ripe bananas or two cups of pumpkin or zucchini. (you can even use combinations)
1-2 cups of raisins
3/4 to a cup of salted smooth or crunchy natural peanut butter
sunflower seeds (optional)
2 and 1/2 to three cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of wheat bran (can mix with rolled oats and cornmeal if you wish)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
2 teaspoons powdered ginger (optional)
sprinkles of ground cloves or ground cardamom (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

If you need to moisten the batter add vegetable stock or yogurt, milk, or orange or apple juice. It should be gloppy but not too soupy, like spoon bread batter.

Grease cast iron Bundt pan (or pan of your choice) with Crisco and preheat oven to 425. You can also bake it at 350 but I prefer hotter! I heat up my pan and pour batter into hot cast iron. Be careful of the hot pan, have your pot holders handy. Bake for an hour. Let cool for 15 minutes then poke the edges with a sharp knife and turn out onto a cutting board and place on a rack to cool. I like to keep mine displayed on glass pedestal cake dish with a glass see through cover. It's healthy and delicious excellent with tea or coffee. Your family and friends will love it.
Enjoy! Eat and dance a polka!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An Experiment

Some people immediately put on the radio when they are alone but I turn on the oven! Last night I salvaged leftover ribs from our big 2004 BRAVE COMBO dance party! I dug them out of the bottom of our gigantic chest freezer. I have no shame about poverty. I just added a few quarts of tap water, fresh collard greens, whole garlic cloves from the Asian American market on North Main Street Woonsocket where you can get five garlic bulbs for a dollar, slices of fresh ginger root, which I eat like candy once they've cooked, a few quartered white onions and four dried red chilis, and a few splashes of soy sauce. I also threw in two cups of frozen yellow corn. I baked it all in my covered cast iron Dutch oven. It was an experiment and guess what? It came out GREAT!!!

Segmented Sleep

There's hope for those of us excitable insomniacs! Segmented sleep. There's first sleep; for five hours and second sleep; for two to three hours. It's a real thing customary in other parts of the non industrial world. Read about it on Wikipedia.

Cast Iron Maiden

Go ahead, call me the Cast Iron Maiden! I'll never stop singing its praises. Many women enjoy decorating and powdering themselves with cosmetics and lotions in the bathroom. I hang around the kitchen greasing up and seasoning my black cast iron pots and skillets. There's a foundry on my street Friends Foundry with a cool logo; a painted illustration of a man pouring molten steel making an anvil. I tip my head into the open garage doors once in a while walking by with Honey and I immediately think of the photographs of Margaret Bourke-White. I see guys covered in black soot and grease working in the sweltering heat, pouring molten lava or sitting out front having a cigarette break. I wonder if they make cast iron muffin pans.

Monday, October 20, 2008


This Thanksgiving I am celebrating 30 years of living in Rhode Island and 20 years of living in Woonsocket and 10 years of keeping my sourdough starter alive!

Blue Hubbard in the Cupboard

Our band mate Rodney Maxwell gave us a silvery blue hubbard squash the size of a basketball. It looks like it was harvested from the bottom of the sea! He has Rhode Island Red chickens and he gave us 16 very oval brown eggs. They are so good.

Quote of The Day

Sticking together, none of us will starve. Besides, we can always grow enough zucchini for everyone, can’t we?

- Granny D

Nap Soup

I took my Dutch oven and put chopped fresh collard greens, leftover stock and water, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, dried red chili, coarsely chopped white onions, and leftover smoked salty turkey, in the pot. I covered it with the tight fitting lid and put it into in a 350 degree oven and then went upstairs to nap. I awoke from my 45 minute sleep to the fabulous scent of turkey and greens stew. Then I added frozen yellow corn niblets. I added quarter sized slices of fresh ginger root and a few whole peeled garlic cloves! I cooked it 30 minutes more. It was fabulous!

Cream Is Lighter Than Milk

My milkman brother-in-law Jeffrey told me a crate of heavy cream is lighter than a crate of milk when you lift it. It makes sense when you think about it. My pal Julie gave up going to the gym after working out for a week because she weighed more! I told her hey don't give up; muscle is heavier than fat!

Smashed Garlic Collard Greens

Smashed Garlic Greens: a three headed soul food.

Collards and kale are less than a buck a pound and even cheaper, healthier and heartier than spinach.
I use these tools:
an Asian cleaver or a sharp knife,
a cutting board,
an eight quart Presto Pressure Cooker,
a 12" cast iron skillet.

Get a fresh head of garlic and smash the cloves a few at a time pounding sideways on the cleaver using fist while yelling joyfully yes, yes, yes!

Heat the cast iron skillet, pour in bloops of extra virgin olive oil purchased for a bargain from Job Lot, sprinkle in dried red chili pepper flakes from Asian American market. Rinse the three heads of kale or collards a few times in water to get out any sand (or bugs!) Chop the heads into one to two inch pieces and then pressure cook those gorgeous greens for three minutes in a quart of water if it's an eight quart pressure cooker, less if it's a smaller cooker. Save the quart of leftover green translucent syrupy liquid remaining in the pressure cooker and transfer into a glass canning jar. Label the liquid and date it with a sharpie marker so you don't mistake it for tea! Vegetable stock is money in the bank! Use it to replace water in soup or bread recipes, muffins or waffles or cake recipes. Or anything else you think of! Sometimes I'll salt it and add a tiny dash of olive oil and drink it as a delicious hot broth.

Then add soy sauce, kosher salt, and Job Lot balsamic vinegar to your greens to taste! It's impossible not to eat this joyfully...it's even better than potato chips. I crave dark greens and I bet once you eat these you will too. It's also fun to grate fresh ginger root into the frying pan with the olive oil chili and garlic. Sometimes I add frozen corn niblets to brighten the color with yellow polka dots, and sweeten the taste. Enjoy!

Quote Of The Day

When we Americans learn the great lesson that all Life is a Unit; that the physical, intellectual and spiritual are all One Life and that whatever mars one phase of it mars the whole - we will be better off.

- Shaker Manifesto

Nebraska Spider Bread

There’s an International Dutch Oven Society.

My mother got this recipe from Avi when they first moved to Massachusetts in 1975. I found this written out on a lined yellow recipe card the other day. Nebraska Spider Bread named after the cast iron spider pan. Which was a cast iron Dutch oven pot with legs.
serves 5-6 preheat oven to 375
1 and 1/4 cups coarse corn meal
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 teasp salt
1 teasp baking soda
3 Tablespoon melted butter or corn oil or bacon fat
5 eggs beaten
2 and 1/2 cup buttermilk or 2 and 1/2 cups of milk and a half teaspoon of white vinegar or yogurt diluted with milk to make one and a half cups
3 Tablespoons butter or oil
Mix dry ingredients + add to the mixed liquids. Melt butter in 10" Spider pan or cast iron Dutch oven. Tip grease all over, then add batter. bake 30 minutes in preheated 375 oven. Serve hot with butter maple syrup or honey. Do not overcook the eggs they set a bit after your remove the pot from the oven.