April 26, 2009

I have no recipe today. In fact, I haven't been cooking much lately. Not that I haven't been eating, but I wasn't enjoying it.

Although I announced my engagement in my last post, and I thank you for you kind thoughts and congratulations, I've been walking a tough road since then. One with much thought, introspection and examining of my life, past, current, and future.

I realized that I wasn't happy, and that I can't try to take another big step forward without remedying that. I can't bind my life to another's until I my life is what I want it to be, and then to know that the Trainer and I can still make it work.

There are certain things that I cannot change, we simply cannot afford to get our own place, even the tiniest of holes in the wall, and the Trainer won't leave his family, his mother most importantly, with the additional financial obligation of paying for the apartment without us.

Other things I can change. I came to New York to be an artist and I realized that I've been trapped in a hamster wheel of a desk job, my butt stuck to a chair and my eyes glued to a computer screen, only seeing people who aggravate me on a good day and drive me absolutely up a wall on a bad day. I haven't created an honest to goodness piece of art in over a year. That must change. I have signed up for a glass art course and I am going to be taking back time for my myself and my art.

I grew up hiking, camping and cave exploring with my parents, instilled with a love and respect for the natural world. Before the Trainer all my serious relationships were with other cavers, and caving, hiking and camping was never and issue, just something we did. I haven't hiked in 3 years. That is due, in part, to my own illness and the long road that led me to discovering my celiac disease and later to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Now that my stomach and internal organs all seem to be in working order, and my skin is no longer my enemy, I feel that I can venture away from 'home' for more extended periods of time. I woke with a start in the middle of the night and wondered what would happen if I never went hiking again. Not a prospect I relish, I must admit. And so, I must find a join a hiking group and really reconnect with nature. This will nurture my soul and my art.

For days I worried how these changes would affect my relationship with the Trainer. I made myself sick with it. I know it is highly unlikely that the Trainer will go hiking with me, and we're used to doing just about everything together. I wonder how he will react to not having me home on the weekends, when I will be out side or in the studio. After I upset myself with all the things that I thought could go wrong I finally had to present my concerns to him, he could tell I was unhappy. And all he said was "take care of yourself, you support me and you know I support you in anything you choose to do."

Such simple words, a smile, a hug and a kiss and a huge weight was lifted from my heart. It remains to be seen how this will work in reality, but I am happier than I have been in a long time.

Heather has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award but I'm going to wait until I have my feet under me again before I list the seven things I love.

I'm still here, I'm still cooking and I will be creating again.

See you soon!

April 3, 2009

simple cracked pepper pollock

One Sunday when we were in Michigan, yes, it has taken me this long to post this, the Trainer and I had to leave early in the afternoon. First thing in the morning Mom and I took him to see our local Whole Foods Market. After breakfast we were all sitting at the kitchen and Dad asked the Trainer: how would you like to do a little manual labor? So while I fretted over the taxes the Trainer learned how to rake a yard.

After he finished we packed up the few things we brought and made this pollock, using the simple recipe from the guy at the Whole Foods fish counter. We ate and I went upstairs to brush my teeth and do a sweep off the guest room and bathroom to make sure we weren't leaving anything behind. I heard voices from the top of the stairs so I waited until they stopped before going back down. A few minutes later I walked into the kitchen and the Trainer said: Mija, your parents have given us their permission to get married.

I was smiling so big as I hugged first Mom, and then Dad, and then the Trainer. I'm not a crier, but I have to admit there were tears. Then it was time to leave. At the airport Mom asked if it was official, and I was still so happy and surprised I could barely say anything.Later, after our return, I was able to pull myself together enough to confirm that, yes, we are engaged.

Cracked Pepper Pollock
2 pollock fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh dill

Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange pollock on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over fish and top with fresh dill. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a spritz of lemon juice.

March 28, 2009

green beans with caramelized onions and almonds

This past weekend I took the Trainer home to Michigan for a quick visit. We got to watch Mom perform in the local ice show. I enjoyed showing the Trainer around the town I grew up in. Dad and I took him to Meijer's and almost lost him in the huge store. We drove him past my huge high school and my elementary school.

We walked around my neighborhood and I showed him where my grandmother lived and the 'closest' grocery store to our house. We toodled around downtown with my friend B and his fiancee J, stopping for coffee at the original Borders. The Trainer was amazed at how quite Ann Arbor is; he decided that he liked downtown but would have trouble adjusting to my quite and relative (compared to New York) isolation of my neighborhood.

Saturday night I pulled out several photo albums, showing the Trainer pictures of same of the litters of gerbil pups I raised in high school. Of course I also showed him pictures of myself when I was a babe. Our photo albums run out shortly after I turn 2, I must have kept Mom pretty busy. As I was looking through a book of all my awards and certificates I found what might have been my first two recipes.

Since Mom was so busy with the figure skating club and ice show I knew that Dad had been alone for dinner most nights for almost two weeks. Friday night we had some great post roast that Mom cooked in her clay pot and left for us but Saturday I fixed a special dinner for my two best guys.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Almonds
1 lb green beans, cut into inch long pieces
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
In heavy pan or skillet pour in olive oil, garlic and onion. Turn heat on to medium and saute until onions are translucent. Add greens beans and raise temperature to high. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add almonds and stir briefly. Turn off heat and serve.

This was big hit, especially with Dad, since he loves caramelized onions and Mom rarely uses any extra oil in her cooking.

March 19, 2009

bar-b-cue chicken

It's been a busy week. The Boss is going to a trade show on 'the Continent' which means lots more paper work for me to generate and proof read. Add to that a request, made Tuesday, that we make him a catalogue of sorts with pictures of our 25 most important pieces. (this, of course, requires me to take new photos in some cases)

Because the majority of the paperwork cannot be generated until the last minute three of us stayed until 7:30 last night working and I've got a lot more to do before the trunk gets picked up at 12:30 today.

On top of that, Tuesday was St. Patrick's Day, an event I would have completely missed had there not been a green stripe and loud parade right down the middle of Fifth Avenue, directly under my office window. The ranks of uniformed police officers, firemen and soldiers left my coworker drooling and wondering how she could be single with so many uniformed guys out there. I endless marching bands made it harder than usual to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

When it was all over the boss braved the remaining crowds to visit a few other offices and brought back chocolate cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I must admit that they smelled fantastic when I went to the kitchenette to self-righteously heat up my bar-b-cue chicken and kale. When I was taking my meal back to my desk I realized that I would rather have my chicken and vegetables, and I don't regret being unable to eat those types of things anymore.

This could be a slow-cooker recipe, but I made it on the stove last weekend. It reminds me off food I used to have at camp or other summer picnic events. A bright taste to compliment the bright, but still cool, days that are heralding spring here in New York. I saw the first purple crocus buds peeking up in the church yard on Sunday.

Bar-B-Cue Chicken
1-1/2 pound chicken
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in a medium covered sauce pan or slow-cooker and add just enough water to cover chicken. Stir to mix and cook on low for about two hours. Shred chicken with a fork and continue cooking slightly uncovered until most of the liquid evaporates.

Serve with salad, rice, on a bun or in a wrap.

March 14, 2009

garam masala

Yesterday morning I used up the last of my garam masala making my breakfast. I realized that I have used this spice blend in two recipes that I have posted. When I first bought garam masala to make saag I had no idea what it was and bought the pre-mixed bottle from the store. That mix had anti-caking agents and when I realized how much of it I would be using for my breakfasts, I decided to try to make my own blend. As it turns out, this particular blend is made from spices I already have "in stock" and after a little tweaking I've come up with a combination that tastes fantastic and is easy for me to prepare.

Garam Masala
makes enough to fill 1 3oz spice bottle
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground corriander
2 teaspoons ground cardomom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Mix all ground spices in a large bowl or coffee grinder until they are a uniform color. Pour into a small, airtight glass jar.

Because this mixture has no anti caking agents, and the ground particals may not be uniform, it might not shake out of the jar as well, but that doesn't mean it is any less tasty.

March 12, 2009

honey mustard roasted brussels sprouts

After last weekend's beautiful sunny days March has returned to remind us that it's not quite spring yet. The nights are still cold, but the clear days are bright, chilly in a way that allows the sun to kiss your face with the promise of warmth to come. Two days of dreary weather prepared me for today's clear briskness.

Having been shuffled around by the boss, I found myself with Thursday off rather than Tuesday. This left me with a fair number of things that needed to be done today. The Trainer and I had an appointment to have our taxes prepared, only to find that both of us likely owe money. The tax preparer was generous enough to advise us to file ourselves and didn't charge us. I suppose he makes plenty of money this season, but it was still kind of him.

After that disappointment, and smoothing the Trainer's ruffled feather's, I walk home under the clear blue sky. For lunch I wanted something warm and comforting, but with a a bright little zing, just like the day. After roasting my brussels sprouts I settled in to finish a few other projects and to plan my attack of our taxes.
Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts
serves 2
1 10 pkg of brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3 teaspoons ground yellow mustard (I use Coleman's)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup water
freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F and line a loaf pan with aluminum foil. Wash the brussels sprouts and trim stems, removing any outer leaves that look damaged, and cut in half. In a large bowl whisk oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, ginger, turmeric and a few grinds of fresh black pepper until combined. Add brussels sprouts to bowl and stir until covered in mustard mixture. Transfer to prepared pan and scrape all mustard out of bowl, lightly salt sprouts and out in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and places brussels sprouts in a bowl. While pan is still warm, use water to deglaze pan, scraping everything from the bottom of the pan, to use as extra sauce.

March 11, 2009


After our late winter storm at the beginning of the week spring arrived in Saturday. The ride in the sun the sun made the trip down to the musty basement to retreive the bike. I decided to leave without the Trainer and rode to Target, through my old neighborhood, before going to the gym.

Outside the Queens Mall and Queens Tower folks were out enjoying the day and all the street food carts were out in force. The smells or grilled meat hovered over the street and made my stomach growl. It seems like the heat brings everyone out of the woodwork, and all the smells of delicious food along with them. I think of lunch hour at the United Nations.

By the time I got to the gym, I had bar-b-cue on the brain. Grilled sausages, hamburgers and chicken. And what is a hamburger without ketchup? And after a stop at the grocery, and an afternoon of simmering on the stove, I now have ketchup for my new batch of burgers.

I'm looking forward to one later, but right now the Trainer and I are lounging on the bed with the gerbils, Toni and Tavo, running around and over us. Tavo seems fascinated with the computer today and keeps coming to sniff my keyboard and make his own additions to the post.

I used Emril's recipes, only changing it a little bit as I went along. As I tasted it while it was cooking it really tasted like Big Boy's cabbage soup I remember from road trips pf my youth. As it cooled down it tasted more and more like the ketchup I remember, although I haven't had Heinz in a long time.

3 pounds tomatoes
1 small onion
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Wash the tomatoes, cut them in half and remove seeds and chop in quarters. Puree tomatoes in batches and transfer into a medium non-reactive saucepan. Puree the onion and garlic with the last batch of tomatoes. Add honey and spices and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, fora about 1 hour. Add vinegar and continue cooking until it achieves desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Cool and store in a non-reactive container.

March 8, 2009

curried broccoli soup with spiced cashews

I have to admit that I'm not much one for checking the weather. I like to know what's going on, but normally I only get to watch short bits of the Today show when I'm getting dressed or eating breakfast. As often as not, I gauge what I should wear based on what the folks outside in the plaza are wearing, since my office is right next door.

It was merely a coincidence, then, that I made this warm and toasty soup just in time for the east coast's big winter storm. A few weeks ago I got a few new organic spice mixes at Whole Foods. The curry powder sat on the shelf for a while before I decided to use it on my kale.
The first bite was delicious, and stirred a little memory down deep inside. After a few bites the half formed feelings of comfort and warmth start to resolve themselves. Something sweet was missing. Something smooth and creamy.

A vision flashed in my memory, a grey rimmed, well used, sturdy off-white plate with a generous serving of bright yellow, raisin studded curried rice. A special treat that Mom fixed in frequently. So good it made broccoli palatable, in my youthful opinion. I always ate my vegetables first, and saved the best for last.

The image of Mom's curried rice, nestle along side spears of broccoli bumped around in my head enticingly until I saw Liz's broccoli soup. A little spice, a little sweet, and a little crunch makes for a great serving of vegetables. And even though I had no idea the storm was coming until the boss called Sunday evening to close the office for Monday I was sure glad I had something warm and toasty.

Curried Broccoli Soup
*I apologize for the lack of pictures, we are experiencing technical difficulties with the camera
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bunches of broccoli, florets and stems chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cups broth or stock
2 tablespoons curry powder
3/4 cup
golden raisins

Spiced Cashews

1 cup cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp garam masala

Pour olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan and add onions and garlic. Turn heat on low and slowly saute until onions are translucent. Add broccoli and increase heat to medium, stirring occasionally until broccoli is bright green and tender. Transfer about one quarter of the broccoli mix to a blender or food processor and add 1/2 cup stock and puree until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pan and blend the remaining broccoli and stock in batches. Place soup back over low heat, add the raisins, curry powder and salt to taste. Simmer for about five minutes, adding more broth if you want a thinner soup.

While soup is simmering heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet. When oil is hot add salt, turmeric and garam masala, stirring to make a paste. Stir in the cashew pieces and make sure that they are completely coated. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 5-7 minutes, until cashew just start to brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minuntes.

Serve soup garnished with spiced cashews.

March 3, 2009

tuna pomegranate & roasted garlic wraps

On Saturday we had a little breath of spring here in Queens. On Wednesday the puddles along the gutters looked like spills of iced coffee. Thursday the weather was slightly above freezing, Friday it was downright balmy, but it rained in the evening. Saturday dawned bright and clear, with a nip in the air but the promise of actual warmth from the sun.

This close to the end of winter, our stores were running low. The Trainer used the last of the walnuts and pecans on his oatmeal and after making bread and test running a few recipes I could see the bottom of the proverbial barrel of my dried fruit stores.

A trip to Trader Joe's was in order, and in this weather we decided to take the bikes. I'm always fascinated as we pedal through cross-sections of ethnic neighborhoods. On a Saturday afternoon we see Latin people strutting along Roosevelt avenue. There are so many Italian restaurants along one section of Queens Boulevard that it smells perpetually of pizza and tomato sauce. As we push up the hill barely pass Jewish families walking home from Temple, the women in long skirts and kerchiefs over their hair. Here all the restaurants are glatt Kosher and the signs read in Russian. When the signs shift to Greek we turn onto Whitestone Boulevard for the final push to the store.

We loaded up on nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, mesquite honey and just a few other necessaries. With more than 20 pounds of food split between two packs we step out to unlock the bikes to discover that winter was back. By the time we got home I wasn't feeling my toes and my hands were stiff around my handle bars. Just once it would be nice for the ride home to be the easier one.

After putting the bikes back in the basement and filling the cupboards with our haul I was famished. I wanted protein after a trip like that and I just happened to have a brand new can of Trader Joe's tuna, packed in water with no soy or anything. I had some kind of inspiration and threw together a quick wrap, which was so filling and unexpectedly delicious that I got the ingredients and made a prettier version tonight.
Tuna Pomegranate & Roasted Garlic Wrap
2-3 large leaves of lettuce
1 can tuna, drained
6-9 cloves roasted garlic
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Was and dry your lettuce. Smush garlic along the length of the rid of one lettuce leaf. Spread the tuna on top of the garlic. Drizzle pomegranate molasses along the tuna and salt to taste. Fold lettuce and wrap with the other leaves.

Tuna Pomegranate & Roasted Garlic Hor Devoures
1 tuna steak
roasted garlic
pomegranate molasses
lettuce, cut into ribbons
fleur de sel
olive oil

Pour a little but of oil into a skillet and heat until it's very hot. Sear the tuna steak, no more than 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a cutting board and slice into 1 1/2inch wide strips. Sear the fresh sides of the tuna. When the tuna is cool enough to handle, cut into 1/4inch thick slices. top each slice with a smear of pomegranate molasses, one clove of roasted garlic and wrap with a ribbon of lettuce. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve warm or cold.

February 28, 2009

black forrest gingerbread hearts

I love gingerbread. I've always liked dark, spiced cookies. The ones that heat you up from the inside after cold winter outings. Even before I had any dietary restrictions I was seeking the perfect gingerbread.

I made these first as a loaf to share with the Trainer, but he thought it was a little to spiced to suite him so I tweaked it again and made a batch just for me. Instead of making a loaf, I spread the batter out in a backing pan. After it was baked I descided to try out my new heart cookie cutter.

Of course, after seeing me enjoy my gingerbread heart and cup of tea every evening the Trainer finally decided he wanted to try one. After one, two, three little hearts popped into his mouth, he decided that they weren't too bad. In fact, "they're pretty good" he declared before finishing off my stash. Luckily, before this happened both S and C had a chance to try them and I got their votes of approval too. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.Black Forrest Gingerbread
1/2 c. (15pc) prunes
1/2 c. water
1 small tangerine or 4oz applesauce and zest of 1 orange
3 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
6oz (2 c.) blanched almond flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 Tbsp ground allspice
1/2 Tbsp ground nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. dried cherries
Preheat oven to 325°F and line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Soak prunes in 1/2 c. water in a covered container in a warm location. Blanch tangerine: in a small, heavy sauce pan cover the tangerine in cold water, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, drain and repeat two more times. Cover tangerine with water once more and boil for 1 hour. In a blander or food processor puree the prunes, water, tangerine, honey and eggs. In another bowl mix almond flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Blend dry ingredients with prunes and mix well, then stir in cherries. Pour into prepared pan and spread to edges with back of a spatula and Bake for 25-35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool for at least 30 minutes and cut into squares, or any other shape with a cookie cutter.

February 22, 2009


I find it hard to believe that I've lived in New York for almost four years, and I have very few friends here. Of course there's A, who I knew in college and lived with when I first got here, but making actual friends in a big city is difficult if your focused on your job and don't hit the party scene.

So it was a special treat for me to have lunch with C the other day. Ironically, she's the receptionist for my wonderful chiropractor and we started chatting every morning I was there and we hit it off. We're both from the Michigan/Ohio are and we have a similar outlook on some things. I was thrilled when she suggested that we "do lunch" on one of our mutual days off.

She was the perfect person to take with me to a new, all organic restaurant that opened recently near Union Square, GUSTOrganics. I first heard about GUSTOrganics through Allergic Girl's Worry Free Dinners, the latest of which was hosted there. With plans set with C I checked out the menu and then called the restaurant to make sure they could handle all my 'other' specifications.

I was directed to email a very nice young man named Eyal, who is working to make the restaurant as safe as possible for those of us with a gluten intolerance or food allergy. Eyal and I exchanged emails and then spoke on the phone. He understood the need to keep everything separate and gluten free and was able to suggest a menu item that would be safest for me.

When we arrived I was able to meet Eyal and quickly review what I was going to have. C ordered from the standard menu and I had a spinach salad with apples and strawberries with a grilled steak. The salad came plain with olive oil and pine nuts on the side. Just to be safe I also asked for a dish of salt, since the table salt had grains of rice mixed in to help keep it dry.

The meal was delicious, organic foods really do taste better. C and I agreed that they whole meal tasted more alive. The dining room is quaint with big, sturdy, bare wood tables and chairs. Since we had a late lunch it wasn't crowded and I was very confident that the kitchen wouldn't be rushed.

I highly recommend GUSTOrganics for anyone who wants a delicious, natural, organic meal and I know that they will accommodate any of your requests if given enough advanced warning. Although it was a little expensive, as you would expect for organic foods, I plan on patronizing a restaurant that treats me so well.

February 14, 2009

valentine pomegranate heart tarts

This month Kelly at The Spunky Coconut is hosting Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free and in honor of Valentine's day this month's theme is Sweets For Your Sweetheart. I really wanted to make something very special for the Trainer and myself so I asked him to think about what he might want. His answer was "that thing you made when we were first dating."

Very helpful, sweetheart. I can barely remember what I made last month, let alone two and a half years ago. So I decided that I wanted to make something pink and shaped like a heart. The Trainer agreed to pomegranate and I was off. I borrowed a silicon mold with 8 little hearts from S and decided to make tarts.

I wanted to make something like a pomegranate cheesecake so I did some research and brainstorming. Last night I tried my grand experiment and came up with these pomegranate heart tarts for my valentine. This is by no means a finished recipe, but I present it now, and I will continue to work on it for a future, more polished, offering.

Today, the Trainer and I slept in, all the way until 7:30 and headed to separate gyms. I worked out, he worked and we met up to see Coraline at one of our local theaters, followed by lunch at one of our old haunts, a Colombian restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue. When we got home we shared two of these and decided that they were very satisfying. The Trainer didn't even realize that they were made from yogurt (although he was in the kitchen the whole time I was making them last night).

Pomegranate Yogurt Tart makes 8 small heart shaped tarts
3oz (1 cup) blanched almond meal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, other vegetable oil or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 cup thick yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small bowl mix the almond meal, egg white, honey, oil and salt. Mix until a thick, pasty dough forms and there are no clumps left. Using a small spoon or your finger, press the dough into tart forms, filling in any holes, the layer of dough does not have to be to thick, since it will puff up a little as it bakes. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until edges are golden and no raw areas are apparent.

In a small dish bloom gelatin in the water. In small sauce pan gently heat the yogurt. Slowly whisk in the pomegranate molasses and honey until everything is blended. Keeping the heat low, whisk in the bloomed gelatin until it is all dissolved. Pour yogurt into cooled tart shells and place in the refrigerator over night to set.

February 12, 2009

roasted salmon with lemon oil

This morning as I was cooking my spicy-crispy kale I thought about how our bodies tell us they need, if we're only able to listen. In going gluten free, and even following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) I've longed for replications of baked goods and comfort foods that I used to have.

But when I think bake to me early childhood I wasn't a big fan of bread, or cake (even is I have always had a sweet tooth), or even pasta. I shied away from them when I was young, but somehow, when I learned that those thing made me ill, I wanted to find replacements. But those replacements don't agree with me either.

When I stop and listen to my body, it tells me that it wants protein. Meat, fish, poultry, any kind will do as long as it's protein. Fresh vegetables are great too, but right now my body wants meat. Whatever nutritionists may say, I know that I feel my all around best when I have more protein than anything else.

This then presents the challenge of how to eat my meat and enjoy it too, without getting bored and eating the same thing all the time. I try to mix things up, having fish a few days a week and I found this great roasted salmon recipe. It's great fresh from the oven, the left overs freeze well, and it's especially good cold over salad, the lemon oil negating the need for any type of salad dressing.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I am.

Roasted Salmon with Lemon Oil
1 large lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
4 6-8oz salmon fillets
kosher salt
fresh pepper

Set rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 450° F. Zest the lemon and mix zest and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside. Arrange the fillets on a heavy baking sheet, skin side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the salmon for 10-13 minutes and remove from oven, immediately squeeze the lemon over the salmon. Arrange over fresh salad or cooked vegetable and drizzle with lemon infused olive oil.

February 6, 2009

mini mincemeat tarts

I made this mincemeat before Christmas. In his younger days Dad spent time in Europe, living in England and the Netherlands, where he picked up some habits that never quite left him. Growing up I used to listen to Sherlock Holmes books on tape and I later read any number of "the classics", including but not limited to, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Chaucer and of course, Harry Potter. All this literature left with me with a fascination with Victorian English culture, food included.

I've always wondered about mincemeat, figgy pudding and bubble and squeak. This year I decided to do some research and try my hand at mincemeat. Inspired, of course, by David and others. The first hurdle was the mincemeat, and the second was the method of delivery from plate to mouth. Mom gave me these great little silicon mini-muffin baking cups from Williams Sonoma that are sturdy enough to stand without any other pan so I settles on teeny little tarts, three bites each. Unless you're the Trainer, who popped the whole thing in his mouth at once.

Mini Mincemeat Tarts
Makes 16 mini mincemeat tarts
SCD Mincemeat
2/3 c. chopped raisins, black and golden mixed
1/2 c. chopped apricots, about 8pc
1 tbsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/4c. water or SCD legal alcohol
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Chop all the fruits and mix well with the vanilla, zest, spices and liquid. Store in an airtight container for several days to allow flavors to meld. If you use alcohol, container can be left out, otherwise refrigeration is a good idea. Mincemeat can be added to fruit pies or as a condiment or filling for breads or biscuits as well as in tarts and pies.

Pecan Tart Shells
1/2 c. pecan meal (or any other nut meal)
2 tbsp butter
1 egg white
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 300° F. With a spoon or fork mix the pecan meal, butter, egg and salt until everything is incorporated. Fill small tart molds (this will make fewer, larger tarts) or mini muffins cups (I got a set of silicon mini-muffin cups from Mom for Christmas) with the dough. Using your fingers, press the dough into an even layer inside the molds. Prick a few holes in the bottom of each shell with a fork to allow air to escape. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and allow to cool on a rack for a few minutes before filling.

To make tarts, fill each mini muffin sized shell with tablespoon sized amounts of mincemeat and tamp down. Bake in a 350° F oven for 10-15 minutes to dry out the mincemeat slightly. When the tarts are cool, flip the silicon muffin molds over and tap from the bottom until they fall out.

February 4, 2009

roasted onion soup

When I was in college I belonged to the caving club. I was a WUSS*. Yes, I suited up in old clothes, put a helmet and light on my head and headed underground, towards the center of the earth. I'm not crazy, I come by this naturally, both my parents were active cave explorers when I was younger and I was underground long before I could walk. There's something so peaceful when it's just you, in the dark, with the living rock. In the Earth's womb.

But I digress, in the cold winter months there wasn't much caving going on in Ohio, even Southern Ohio. The highlight of those frigid weeks, when the ground was iced over and the sun was down long before classes were finished was Wednesday night caving club meetings. The faculty advisor was an old friend of Dad's and I had known he and his wife my whole life. The same was true for some of the other non-student members. Every week after the meeting some of us, the adults and officers, would go out for dinner at one of the local chain restaurants. Each week we went to a different place, but the need for warm comforting food was always the same. So many Wednesday nights I ordered French onion soup; warm, flavorful and decadent with molten cheese.

We had a frigid day and fairly significant snow, and walking home through the clear, crisp, chilly night I was overcome with a need to recreate that pungent soupy comfort. I've never made an onion soup before, but I do have lots of onions in the house and using the oven is a great way to add a little extra warmth to our little apartment. If roasting works for garlic I figured it would work just as well for onions. And I was right! I can think of so many flavor variations for this warm, comforting base

*WUSS stands for Wittenberg University Speleological Society. We used to say that "you have to be brave to be a WUSS"
Roasted Onion Soup
1 large yellow onion
5 shallots
1 bunch scallions
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups broth or water
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Have the onion and then slice it, same with the shallots, cut scallions into 1/2" sections and chop garlic. Toss chopped onion and garlic with olive oil and spread in a heavy baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through, until most onions are dark brown. When the onions come out of the oven immediately pour 1 cup of broth into the pan and scrape all the drippings from the bottom. Pour broth and onions into a sauce pan and add remaining 2 cups broth. Heat soup and add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve like french onion soup ladle into 3 or 4 oven safe bowls, top with toasted bread, croutons or roasted garlic biscuits and grated Gruyere cheese. place bowls on a baking sheet and place under the broiler or back into the oven until the cheese is melted, 7-10 minutes.

February 3, 2009

roasted garlic biscuits & croutons

After making my roasted garlic I started to think of other ways that I could use the flavor. I've been experimenting with savory breads, trying to make a roll, biscuit or scone that isn't so sweet. So many of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet recipes call for lots of butter of vegetable oil. I still seem to have problems with large amounts of dairy, probably the casein, and I'm trying to limit the amount of fat I add to recipes. The almond flour I use in baking adds plenty in the baking. I've discovered that it's a matter of adding just enough liquid to create a batter, rather than trying to recreate a standard recipe.

After making a reasonably successful scone with banana I decided to try using the roasted garlic to help mind the biscuits. You could probably oil the muffin tin, or use papers, but I found that by adding just a touch of olive oil in the bottom of each muffin cup helped the muffins slide out. These came out of the oven really crisp and dry, after sitting in the fridge overnight they attracted moisture and were much softer the next day. After toasting them as croutons they stayed nice and crisp for more than a week. To make this recipe specifically for croutons or bread sticks I would spread the batter in a 9x13 baking pan and then slice it into the desired shape for additional toasting

Roasted Garlic Biscuits
2 c. (6oz) almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. (2 heads) roasted garlic, smashed
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
6 tsp olive oil for pan

Preheat oven to 350° F and place a standard size muffin pan inside the oven to heat. Mix dry ingredients to get out all the clumps. Mix in roasted garlic, eggs and 1 tbps olive until batter is smooth. Quickly, while the muffin pan is still warm, pour 1/2 tsp of olive oil in the bottom of each muffin spot, and then evenly fill with biscuit batter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until biscuits are very dry. Flip pan over to knock biscuits out, and then cool on rack. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container. The biscuits will be nice and dry right after baking, but will take on moisture as they cool and sit. To dry them back out, place in a warm (120°-150°F) oven for several minutes or toast in a toaster oven. To make croutons, cut the biscuits into cubes, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes in a warm (120°-150°F) oven. After the biscuits have been dried to croutons, they store well at room temperature in an airtight container

February 1, 2009

vanishing cranberry orange cake

Work was exceptionally busy this past week. It was my week to shine, or work really hard, to send my bosses off to a trade show. I barely had a moment of rest from 9:30 Monday morning until the armored truck guys came at 4:30 Thursday afternoon. Then I gusted a huge sigh of relief and decided to focus on fending off the last of this never ending cold that's been pestering me since the beginning of the year.

I've been having Mom's turkey soup with greens and lots of roasted garlic, the final thing I needed was a good dose of good 'ole vitamin C. In addition to my grapefruit a day habit I had a big bag of little tangerines, or mandarin oranges (I'm still not sure which), hanging around from my last grocery delivery.

There's a great company called FreshDirect that delivers groceries to the New York metro area, and after doing the math I decided to try them. Their product is great and their prices are good, and I'm much more comfortable with the quality of the meat than I am with what I can get in my neighborhood. And having the food delivered means I don't have to take an entire afternoon to pack ten or more pounds of food home from Whole Foods in the city.

Several of my past deliveries included a sample of 'peak produce' and these tangerines were sent as part of that program. As one who doesn't eat oranges very often I was at a loss what to do with so many tiny oranges. With this cake I found a great way to use them up, and to get everyone to eat a little more vitamin C. The Trainer and I took the fresh cake into our room and did a number on it last Saturday evening. I put what was left in the kitchen and several hours later I found a lonely sliver left on the plate. Of course, I wasn't completely satisfied with the first version and I whipped up the second one, which the Trainer agreed was better, and we managed to make that one last a week.

Cranberry Orange Cake
4 mandarin oranges (or 3 tangerines, 2 oranges)
3 eggs
1/2 c. honey
9oz (3c.) blanched almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. chopped cranberries

Wash the oranges well, place in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and drain water. Cover with cold water and repeat two more times. After draining the water the third time, fill the pot with water and boil the oranges for about an hour, until they are very soft. (boiling, or blanching, the oranges reduces some of the bitterness, allowing you to use less honey in the cake) After the oranges are boiled, drain them and preheat the oven to 325° F and prepare a 8 inch round cake pan, either grease is or line it with parchment paper. In a blender or food processor puree the oranges. Add the eggs and honey and puree again. In a a separate bowl make sure all the clumps are out of the almond meal, baking soda and salt. Stir in the cranberries. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until center is firm and edges are just browning.

January 29, 2009

neat & easy roasted garlic

Lately I've been feeling a bit under the weather. I had a nasty cold last week and I ended up using my new day off to sleep and recover. I've been resting and trying to do everything I can to keep my immune systems up. At home Mom's advice was always hydration, orange juice and turkey soup with lots and lots of garlic.

Vitamin C is great for you immune system and I've been eating a grapefruit ever morning and orange cake in the evening. Garlic is also supposed to be good for your immune system, but how do you incorporate more garlic into your diet without eating it raw, and driving your loved ones and coworkers away? (Well, in some cases I wouldn't mind driving a certain coworker away)

Roasted garlic is a great condiment or appetizer. On salads, with salmon or roast beef or especially with chevre or SCD yogurt cheese and toast. The roasted garlic that my aunt taught me required a lidded, oven-safe dish and hours of cooking. Mom made this version at my cousin's house but when I got home, and got sick, I needed something quicker and easier. This is it.

Roasted Garlic
2 heads garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian herbs

Preheat oven to 350 F. break apart garlic heads into individual cloves, remove as much of the excess papery skin as possibly, leaving each clove in its own peel (if the individual peel does come off, it's no big deal). Trim the hard ends of each clove. Make a pouch out of two or three squares of aluminium foil. Place garlic, olive oil and herbs in pouch and twist closed. Place directly on oven rack and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When foil is cool enough to touch, open foil pouch and extract roasted garlic from peels.

Serve with SCD yogurt cheese and toast/crackers or on a salad or with your favorite meat dish.

January 27, 2009

trainer's choice apricot almond bread

I may have mentioned that I make a variety of breads for the Trainer and I. The dark date & pecan spice bread was my first version. With a little tinkering I found a very successfull base and with each loaf I try something a little bit different, trying to find combinations that are especially good.

After our trip to Alaska, Mom liked the bread so much that she started making it for herself, Dad and just about anyone else she could give it to. Dad is very particular about his snacks and meals, he used the have 8 or 9 apricots and 8 or 9 ginger snaps as his evening snack, but somewhere along the line he switched to Mom's granola and apple crisp. This left Mom with a surplus of dried apricots and she decided to try the bread with apricots instead of prunes. For Christmas she sent a small loaf to the Trainer's family and gave us a larger loaf.

The Trainer liked her version and asked me to make my next loaf with apricots. When he had his first slice of this one he said that it was the best. Now, he says that about each loaf I put in front of him, except the gingerbread I'm working on, but he has continued to request this loaf "just the way it is".

Apricot Almond Bread
6oz (2c.) blanched almond meal
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4oz (1/2c., 15pc) dried apricots stewed in 1/2c. water
4oz applesauce
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp almond extract
1/2c (10pc) chopped dates or golden raisin
1/2c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 9x3" loaf pan with parchment paper. Stew apricots in water. ( I discovered a neat trick to this, I put the fruit and water in a jar and leave it on the radiator for several hours) In a blender or food processor puree apricots, with water, egg yolks, applesauce and almond extract. In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and 1/8 tsp salt. Wipe down the inside of the bowl of an electric mixer with cider vinegar, place egg whites and 1/8 tsp salt in the bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Mix apricot puree and and almond meal. With a spatula carefully fold egg whites, dates and pecans into batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Alow to cool for 1 hour before removing from pan and cooling on a wire rack.

January 25, 2009

garlicky greens

People often say that food is the stuff of which memories are made. Many, many gatherings, both of family and friends revolve around food or involve food in some way. Folks reminisce about family Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas suppers or Easter dinners. But it's funny what can trigger your memory.

As long as I've been living on my own I've been cooking my greens, especially spinach with lots of garlic. That's how Mom used to cook spinach, and after the atrocious cafeteria food I wanted foods that were familiar. When I was little, fixing spinach with Mom, she used to tell me how her mother used to cook the spinach with a few whole cloves of garlic in an attempt to get Mom and my uncle to eat the spinach, but Mom and Ken used to fight over who would get the garlic, and still avoid eating the spinach. After that, for the sake of familial consistency, I cooked my spinach with garlic.

Now, I fix greens every week to carry to work with me. Spinach, swiss or red chard and collards. Lots of vitamins and fiber. As I was rolling and cutting my collards into ribbons to saute I remembered, as I often do, my late uncle Ken who taught me to cut leafy vegetables this way. I remember standing with him in out kitchen on one of his rare visits and learning to chop basil for pasta sauce. He lined all the leaves up and rolled them into a tight tube, this way he was able to easily hold the roll while slicing ribbons. More importantly, it was much easier me, with my small hands, to hold the vegetables and help in the kitchen.

After thinking of my uncle, who passed away in 2003, I knew exactly how I had to cook my collards. Chopped to ribbons and with lots of garlic. This makes a great side for any dish, a bed for fish or chicken, as well as great mix-in for soup.

Garlicky Greens

1 bunch collard greens (or any other type of greens)
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash and drip-dry the collards. Peel and mince the garlic. Place a large skillet on the stove and add olive oil and garlic. Turn on heat as low as possible. While oil and garlic are heating cut the greens in ribbons: taking 3 or 4 leaves at a time, cut off the bare length of stem, laying the leaves on top of each other, fold and roll the leaves, parallel to the stem. Holding the roll of leaves cut thin ribbons from the roll, either in a straight line of on an angle, in relation to the stem. As the leaves are cut, add them to the skillet, stirring each time. When all the greens have been added to the skillet, mix everything well and turn the heat up. Continue stirring until the greens are all bright green.

January 20, 2009

quinoa raisin cookies

As I mentioned before, my parents were here over the Christmas holiday. And, if I haven't mentioned, I am a daddy's girl. My father's daughter through and through. His favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin and his favorite pie is apple. I got VERY good at making apple crisps and oatmeal rainsin cookies.

Dad is one of those guys who already has everything, the ones that are impossible to shop for. Whenever he wants something he gets it for himself before anyone can get it for him. So, whenever I'm with Dad I try to make something special for him.

I put these cookies together with what I had in the apartment, quinoa that I can no longer eat, teff that I keep for the Trainer's pancakes and honey, the only sweetener I use. Of course I wasn't able to sample these but I am assured from the cookie connousour himself that they hit the spot. Mom agrees, and the Trainer wouldn't share the ones I saved for him with any one.

Quinoa Raisin Cookies
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. Teff flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 c. quinoa flakes
2 c. mixed black and golden raisins

Preheat oven to 325°F. In one bowl cream the butter, honey and eggs. Mix in the teff flour and baking soda. Slowly add the quinoa until it is all mixed in. Stir in raisins. Form into 2 tbsp size balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.

January 11, 2009

quince & cream

I must appalogize for my quietude again. Things at work are in a shake-up due to the current economic situation. One of my favorite co-workers has decided that it's in her best interest to return to Columbia. A young woman who used to work with us is returning and it remains to see just how the office dynamic will evolve. I'm nervous and apprehensive about these changes, but we'll see how this plays out. In addition to these staffing changes all of us have been cut back to four days a week, with accompanying salary adjustments.

This week was my first four day week. I used my day off to have breakfast with the Trainer and then visit my storage unit and get some winter clothes, along with my ice skates. I packed myself all the way to the West Side and skated for the first time in almost a year.

I thought I'd have lots of time to cook and work on the site, and I plan too, but I just needed to get out on the ice. It felt so good. It'll take a lot of work to get all my skills back, but there's really nothing like figure skating, and being healthy enough to take the ice.

So this morning, having coffee with the Trainer I put together this little breakfast that just hit the spot. Poached quince with yogurt and nuts. A little bit of everything

Quince & Cream
1/4 (2pc) poached quince
2 Tbsp yogurt
1 Tbsp roasted nuts
Poached Quince:
4-5 quince, peeled, cored and cut in eighths
1 lemon washed and cut in half
1 vanilla bean, halvedd legnthwise
1/2 cup honey
In a medium size suace pan, place the quince, lemon, vanilla bean, honey and enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil and stir to make sure that honey is dissolved. Cover and simmer until quince are tender. Remove from heat and store in syrup. You can continue to cook down the syrup if you want it thicker.

Roasted Salted Nuts
6-8 oz mixed nuts, chopped if desired
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Toss nuts, water and salt ina bowl and mix so that all the salt dissolves and nuts are all moist. Spread nut mixture evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

breakfast of champions, crispy-spicy kale

Happy New Year to all!

I must apologize for my extended hiatus. I only intended to be quite for a few days while my parents were in town. However, while the Trainer was hurriedly cleaning our room for a quick visit with my parents he dropped the computer with the power cord still plugged in. This necessitated a trip to the Apple store, and a I had to pay bail to get the computer back yesterday. And now we're back.

Now, I realize that this may not be every big city girl's dreams of a big bowl of greens for breakfast, but this kale is so good, I can't get enough of it. And along with a little bit of protein it's the perfect way to start the day. Simple, fast, filling and nutritious I've been having this for breakfast every morning.

Crispy-Spicy Kale
3-4 leaves kale
garam masala
olive oil
Pour about 1 tsp of olive oil into a heavy frying pan or cast iron skillet. Tear kale from the main stem and into bite size pieces, placing them in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt, a few shakes of garam masala and a generous amount of turmeric. Turn the burner on to the highest setting and start stirring the kale so that it all gets coated in seasoning and olive oil. Cook until all the kale is bright green and some pieces are starting to blacken and char.

Serve with eggs, tofu, cheese, yogurt or whatever else strikes your fancy, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The blackened pieces may look burnt, but they get nice and crispy before they actually char.