Holiday Bread: Stollen

bakermom:

Ah-ha! I knew I would need this recipe again some day. It is so yummy! I can’t wait.

Originally posted on la petite kitchen:

This bread is a very old German Christmas bread that I have never heard of until this Christmas. My son came home from work raving about this wonderful fruity bread filled with dried fruit and topped with a blizzard of powdered sugar that he had tried that day. I was intrigued.

I was challenged!

It sounded somewhat familiar too.

So I started digging, like Indiana Jones going through ancient parchments, through my myriads of baking books. Sure enough I started finding recipes. Then I went on-line. Yep, Stollen…stollen…stollen. Seems like there are as many Stollen recipes as there are bakers. Some are dryer, aged bread while others are a little bread holding together loads of fruit. They all pretty much hold true to a unique shaping created about 500 years ago that is somehow supposed to represent the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Sure. I’ll eat that.

So while…

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Happy All Hallows Eve, with a side of beef stewed in wine (and gluten free)

Hello there all. Ready for all the Trick or Treaters to come traipsing to your door? Ready for little angels and ninja turtles and lady bugs and vampires? (And lets not forget the last minute too-cool-to-go-trick-or-treating, but still want that candy older kids coming by with pillow cases to fill)

IMG_4358 (1024x765)

What should we name him? Count of Monte Pumpkin? Casanova? Phantom of the pumpkin?

Look at the inside of this huge pumpkin we got from the store. It looks eery with almost spider-web like pumpkin strands inside:

IMG_4359 (1024x765)It’s a biggin! Waiting to be gutted and carved. (and the seeds toasted by yours truly, and eaten by yours truly, with any luck.)

Anyway, I had pulled some stewing beef out of the freezer the other day and it was high time to cook it up before it went to waste. We had just had spaghetti n meatballs a couple of night before and I was trying to stay away from the whole tomato based meal thing.

Side note:

We were supposed to have this last night, but on my way home yesterday, I was bashed into at an intersection by some young idiot who thought texting while driving was a great idea, and ran a red light. So dinner was put on hold. Stew needs time. This punk robbed me of that time and my car and it could have been my life. Or his. (Don’t worry, I am fine. But the car is hopeless).

So what to do? My usual fall-back beef stew was delicious but had tomatoes. If I left those out, I would need something else to um, ‘enhance’ the stew.

So my mind wandered back along those Juila Child flashbacks. Wine, wine and more wine. How about Jacques Pepin, Mr. French cooking with ze wine?

Have you ever cooked with wine? Have you had much success? My experience is more of a ‘win some-lose some’. But last night we won some! And it was still a gluten-free meal. Here is how it went:

Beef Stew with wine

stewing meat or a chuck roast cut into stew size pieces (I had about 2 pounds. You can use however much you need or make enough to freeze for later. I would  say this is even better the next day.)

olive oil

onion, diced

herbs (I picked some rosemary and thyme from garden. Use what is in your pantry if you want, whatever you like best)

garlic cloves, 2

red wine

chicken broth & some beef broth (I use the boxed size from the store. If you have homemade, even better!)

carrots, pearl onions, peas, mushrooms or whatever mix of vegetables your family likes or you have on hand.

potatoes (sweet or white or a combination)

leeks (optional, if you happen to have some looking kind of sad in the fridge, needing a purpose in life other than going in the trash.)

2 Tbsp. tapioca starch (or you could use potato starch or just flour)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

So,  pour some olive oil in the bottom of a heavy dutch oven, enough to fry the meat in, and heat the pan.

Salt the meat and brown in the hot pan, doing it in 2 or 3 batches depending on how much you are making. Remove the meat to a bowl or large plate. (In my old recipe, I would dredge the meat in flour first. I don’t anymore.)

Add the diced onions and garlic to the pan, frying in the meat fat/oil. Add the meat back in. Add the herbs and about 1/2 a bottle of red wine and half a box of chicken broth or enough to barely cover the meat.

Pop into the oven and forget about it for 1 1/2-2 hours. Isn’t that nice?

Now carefully remove the amazingly, ferociously hot pot from the oven and set on the stove.

Peel the potatoes and carrots. Get out the other vegetables you are putting in. I happened to have pearl onions in my freezer (from Trader Joes of course). You could use any kind of onions you have on hand. The previous diced onions are cooked down to nothing, adding to the sauce, but these will be more intact to pick up with a fork and eat. Cut the potatoes into largish chunks, cut the carrots into 1″-2″ pieces. There are really no hard and fast rules here. Add any other vegetables you want. Add more salt and pepper too.

Put all the vegetables into the pot, stirring them in. At this point I added some beef broth because the vegetables where sitting up too high over the meat and sauce that I wanted them to cook with. So add some beef (or more chicken) broth and stir it all in. Put back into the oven for another hour, or cook on the stove top until vegetables are tender.

IMG_4356 (1024x765)I spooned the meat and vegetables out of the pot and into a serving bowl, leaving the sauce behind.

Now take about 2 Tablespoons of tapioca starch and put it into a little prep bowl. Add some water to it to make a mixture, not much, but enough so you can mix it and smooth is out with a mini whisk or fork.

Put the pan of wine/broth on the stove over a high heat to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the tapioca mixture with a whisk, stirring it into the broth. It will thicken up pretty quick. I poured this over the meat/veg mix in the bowl. Ooh-ahh. It’s ready to serve! The boys had some toast with it. (We had some homemade peasant bread) while hubby and I abstained.  Everyone thought it turned out great and there is even a little leftover to fight over for lunch the next day.

Mr big dirty pot.

Mr big dirty pot.

And I had roasted pumpkin seeds for dessert.(hee-hee-hee). Here is the recipe for those that I made 2 years ago while out kitchen was being remodeled and I did not have an oven. But ingenuity is the mother of invention, right?

I may be making pumpkin poppers today to give out to adults walking with their kids. You’ve never heard of pumpkin poppers? Where have you been? You must make some quick! Run to the store right now and get a can of pumpkin and a cake mix!! Or maybe you already have this?

It is sooo easy. You take 1 box of spice cake mix and 1 smaller can of pure pumpkin. Thats it! You mix them together (sometimes I add a shake or two of extra cinnamon) until pretty smooth and scoop them out into a mini muffin pan. Bake in a 350 oven for about 12-15 minutes. Take them out and give them the press test. Gently press the muffin. If the indent bounces back it is ready. If it sinks in, it needs more time. When cool you can sprinkle powdered sugar over them. Or what I did for the cooking class was dip the tops in melted butter and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Extra yum points! Sadly I do not have any pictures of the poppers. You will just have to see them to believe them. (of course, I won’t be eating them…but I can still smell them and love seeing other people enjoy them.)

Happy Halloween!

Oh, and beware of people texting and driving. BEWARE!

Days 4, 5, &6

Where does the time go to?

Is anyone else already thinking about thanksgiving or, heavens, Christmas?

Last year was the first year we watched the Hallmark station for all their holiday movies starting the 1st of November and let me tell you; There is nothing to put you in the holiday mood like good  ol’ sloppy sentimental Christmas movies. Yes, with elves and santas and romances and disasters, with the Christ child and mangers, all of it.  We got out all the trimmings early, bought cards before our usual time,( a week before Christmas) and even sent most of them!

Well we just found out it starts all over again on Oct 31st. I can’t wait. As Hubby says, “Everyone turns up on the Hallmark Channel” meaning any actor or actress you have ever know eventually finds their way onto a Hallmark movie.

But, lets talk Paleo diet for just a moment.

The menu has not changed much. We had zucchini pasta and meatballs…

yes, its a little liht on the zucchini, but I never seem to have enough.

yes, its a little light on the zucchini, but I never seem to make enough, even with the boys eating wheat pasta.

The usual routine is fruit salad either for breakfast or lunch alternating with an egg meal. Then dinners vary. Last night it was cashew chicken and a salad. But I was out of cashews so it was with sliced almonds. And we didn’t have water chestnuts but did you know jicama tastes just like them? Well, they are crunchy like them anyway. Tonight it was roast pork, applesauce, sautéed cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes. So I have finally discovered that there is a way to cook without rice, pasta or beans and rarely potatoes. Now if I could just get my younger son to climb on board the healthy eating lifestyle…

As for the 7 day challenge daily pep talks, I will miss them sorely. One was about the importance of being outside in nature, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day. Its vital. Even people in hospitals with photos of nature in their rooms needed less attention and used less pain meds than those without them. Well, I don’t know if the front lawn counts, but I went out under a full moon and watered our crispy lawn for at solid 1/2 an hour.

Also sunshine. Getting that vitamin D. I didn’t really go out for 15 minutes in the sun this time like he suggested. Just ran out of time. But I am in and out of the sun all day, running to and from the car, which as we know is parked on the street because, as we know, with all my husbands Alfa projects, my car will never live to see the inside of any garage and even was demoted from the driveway…not that I am bitter. Think of all the vitamin D I am getting going to and from the car several times a day.

But even then it is big hat time, shades, I would wear gloves if I had them. I am fair-skinned. Sunshine means freckles, age spots and possible skin cancer, so I think I will pass that one for now.

Another pep talk was about exercise. In a nut shell, all the exercise in the world cannot make up for a poor diet, no matter how hard we try. Don’t get me wrong. I have not even tried.  Exercise is something other people do. Wearing yoga pants. Or swimming out in the ocean, doing laps. (ahem, shark bait!). But I got out the Wii system from the sons room and plugged in the Wii-fit game and did that for 15 minutes. I was kind of excited because it said not only had I lost 3.5 lbs since my last workout 22 days ago (how dare they nag me about the days! But as you can see, over exercising is not an issue here.) but I had crossed the threshold of shame, going from “You are overweight!” to “You are…normal!” for the first time since I started using it some 5 years ago.(but did not fail to mention that I could still lose another 12 lbs or so. Pttttt!)

So exercising with a burrito in one hand and a Slurpee in the other wont cut it. Got it.

Well, that’s it for now. Go and see what my hippy daugther is up to in San Fransisco at her blog “Thread and bones“…It’s usually fun and artsy at the same time. She has become quite the photographer and has been blogging about fashion, travel and how to find the best coffee anywhere you are, food, decor, friends, photography and interesting finds. She just changed the format or what-do-you-call-it, the face…the layout…the theme? Well, it looks nice as you will see.

I added more veggies to the "cashew" chicken than usual, since dave and I couldn't have the rice with it. As it is we had to pick out the corn.

I added more veggies to the “cashew” chicken than usual, since dave and I couldn’t have the rice with it. As it is we had to pick out the corn.But I added mushrooms, broccoli, celery, peppers, jicima and pretty much anything I could get my hands on.Too bad I didn’t get a finished shot of this. Just imagine it full of chicken and shrimp! And a sauce of chicken broth, Tamara sauce, corn starch and fresh ginger.

Day #3 of 7 day Paleo Challenge

Everyone feeling bright and perky today? In spite of this incredible heat?  You’d think we would lose weight just from all the sweating going on here.

Anyhoo, its day 3 for my paleo challenge. And its church day. So I gobbled down a banana when I got up, knowing I would eat after church. (sweat-sweat) When I got home it was some melon slices (water and honeydew) and a few slices of lunch meat. Oh and a few olives. (sweat) Oh, and part of a plum. (fan-fan-sweat) Maybe a couple of raw almonds from a bag I found in the freezer.

Wow, you should see all the stuff I just erased. Enough to put me to sleep! So I will spare you.

Basically today I learned about avoiding situations where you know you are going to be tempted beyond your means and to have a plan of action if you are. Not to wait until you are there and just “hope and pray” you have the will power to say “no”. The video talked about figuring out the foods you most cheat on. I would say mine, while not junk food, are not on my approved list. That would be milk and yogurt, homemade breads (pretty easy to avoid if I’m not baking) and warm scones. (Store bought breads hold no sway with me. But of course, I am not going to go marching into a bakery either.)

Okay, stop right there. I have no intention of NOT eating a scone fresh from the oven. I don’t make them often, so that’s good because I will eat one. Maybe two.

And if Paul would stop leaving half empty cups of milk in the fridge, life would be easier for me too.

sslllluuuuurrrrppp

sslllluuuuurrrrppp

Not going to try to avoid this...

Not going to try to avoid this…

But will plan to stay away from this...

But will plan to stay away from this…

Anyway, by spending my monies on more fruits, nuts, good quality lunch meats and so on, (and not spending it on chips, candy, fast food, soda and cereal) I can avoid the famishing moments and keep on my 7 day challenge. (to stay 100% paleo for 7 days).

Why Paleo? Because I can’t count points. Because we are too much the carnivore to become vegetarians. Because we believe in fats, so low fat diets are out. (more on fats tomorrow). So this seemed like the diet that both brings results and does not include paying someone else for a plan, special foods or pills. It’s just real food. So we do not have to worry about commercials coming out next year along the lines of “If you or someone you know was part of the ____ diet pill plan, call the law offices of Cheatum and Wheep. You deserve compensation for all the emotional stress and strain and the now non functional heart valve, liver, pancreas and central nervous systems you suffer from. Call today!”

Look at the haul I made yesterday!

Aren't they pretty? That is not a fancy or frilly apron. That is one of my workhorse aprons for wiping hands on and getting splashed on and general dirtiness that goes on while cleaning and cooking.

Aren’t they pretty? That is not a fancy or frilly apron. That is one of my workhorse aprons for wiping hands on and getting splashed on and general dirtiness that goes on while cleaning and cooking. Or collecting eggs.

Paleo Challenge Day #2/Thai Coconut Soup

By the way, this is my 400th post! 400 rambling stories and recipes, mostly posted so I can find them later and so when I am “over the great divide” my family will have recipes and pictures to look back on.I hope, my dear ones and friends, that you have enjoyed them. Love L.

I could have sworn I had shared the Thai coconut soup recipe with you! Mainly so I could find it later instead of rummaging through all my printouts, online recipes and cookbooks. I would have bet money! But I guess I would have lost because it is not here. I found it on our Kindle in the “Against All Grains” book. I had such good luck with it last time that I am giving it another go tonight, on day 2 of my paleo challenge.

Now can you honestly tell me that does not look yummy!? For the boys, I put a large scoop of rice in the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the soup.

Now can you honestly tell me that does not look yummy!? For the boys, I put a large scoop of rice in the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the soup.

So for day 2 we started out with fruit, sausage, bacon and an egg scramble.

I sauteed some zucchini and shallots first, then scrambled up some of our girls eggs. Topped it with my moms garden tomatoes!

I sauteed some zucchini and shallots first, then scrambled up some of our girls eggs. Topped it with my moms garden tomatoes!

I made the ‘boys’ some multi grain blueberry pancakes and didn’t eat 1 bite! Go me! (Last time I made some, I scarfed one down when no one was looking. Bad me.)

As soon as I took this picture I ate a bite of the egg, snagged one of the sausages and a slice of cantaloupe.I was too lazy to make my own plate full. It’s more fun to steal his. Just nibble-nibble-nibble. Honestly, how does he put  up with it. I cant think of the last time I poured myself a glass of ice water. I just slurp on his, since he is never without. Sometimes he beats me to the punch by bringing me my own glass of water. I try drinking a sip out of younger sons cups sometimes but he acts very affronted. His look basically said to ‘get your own’.

Then for lunch we nibbled some more on Cortinas deli meats as a reward for all our good healthy shopping. Boars Head ham, mortadella, salami, soppressata, and more. Not a lot of each, but enough to round out a meal of melon salad and have some throughout the week.

Now for dinner.

Here is a recipe modified from “Against All Grain” for Thai coconut chicken soup. we all enjoyed this soup last time I made it. It reminds us of the soup we all share at our favorite Thai place and its really not hard to make. You just dump everything in the pot, bit by bit. Sometimes I use chicken sausages (the bacon n pineapple ones, yum!) with the chicken. This time it is shrimp.Whatever floats your Thai boat. (I was going to say junk, since that is a Chinese boat, but thought some might get the wrong idea.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 8 whole thai birds eye chilies (which I never heard of. I use dried chilis I have on hand and pick them out later.)
  • 2 cans (14 oz) full fat coconut milk. (This time around it is low fat from Trader Joes. Sorry, its all they had!)
  • 1 full box of chicken broth
  • a 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced into about 3″ pieces and smashed with the butt of the knife.
  • the recipe calls for 8 kaffir lime leaves but since I never heard of them, I skipped it.
  • 4 Tbsp. of fish sauce.
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of all fat and thinly sliced
  • I either add a couple of sliced bacon chicken sausages or, like today, added some cooked shrimp.
  • 1 cup slices mushrooms. (sometimes I use button, this time I am re-hydrating Chanterells).
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 of a lime juiced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • optional spice: turmeric (makes it yellow, health benefits), any Indian spices that suit your fancy, fresh basil, etc.
  • optional: rice stick noodles
  • fresh chopped cilantro and scallions for garnish.

Method

In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil to melt. Add the chilies and stir for 1-2 minutes. You can leave them in at this point or pick them out. I picked them out this time and will put one on top of hubbys bowl for decor. This batch was not as hot as before, which made some of us happy.

Pour in the coconut milk and broth, bringing to a boil.

Add the chicken, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, cooked shrimp or sausages, onion, lime juice and cherry tomatoes and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Remove, if you can find them, the lemongrass sticks, the kaffir lime leaves, if you happen to be lucky enough to find them at a store, and the ginger slices (which I usually cant find in amongst the onion. You find them when you bite into them.).

Add your noodles here if using. I might next time.

Serve in a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions.

One pot meal, quite easy and very flavorful!

The tomatoes add some color. I would have used more if I had them. See the yellow from the turmeric? I have a big jar of it and my son and husband keep asking me to add it to just about everything, its so good for you.

The tomatoes add some color.(both red ones and yellow ones).I would have used more if I had them. See the yellow from the turmeric? I have a big jar of it and my son and husband keep asking me to add it to just about everything, its so good for you.

Maybe if I ate more turmeric in my food, I would remember better to add turmeric to our food…It adds very little flavor, very mild.

Basically this makes an all purpose broth that you can add any kind of protein you like. Enjoy

Love L

Day #1 of Paleo challenge.

Hello all.

In a brief update, hubby and I have turned to the Paleo diet to lose weight and regain energy and health. We started this just over 6 weeks ago.

As of now he has lost 20 lbs. and I can barely keep up with him when walking places. I have lost about 12 lbs.

Yes, this is hubby with an engine block on his shoulder. An engine!

Yes, this is hubby with an engine block on his shoulder. An engine! All muscle!

If you are wondering what exactly the Paleo diet is about, maybe you have heard of it kind-of-sort-of, here it is in a nut shell:

The Paleo diet (or lifestyle really) is one where you eat wholesome, nourishing, basic foods. Meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs. You don’t eat breads, pastas, rice, any grains (even oatmeal is out) soy, sugar, legumes, dairy (sniff) and bad oils. Good oil is olive, coconut, lard, ghee and so on. Bad oils are seed oils like canola, corn, sunflower, vegetable and the like.

Eat this...

Eat this…

and this...

and this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It started at my friend Michele’s house. She had a book called “Against all Grain”   by Danielle Walker, which I thumbed through while visiting. Later, after some discussion and research, Dave and I decided to give this diet a try. Not in the “Oh boy, we are going to change our life” way but more the “Well, what have we got to lose by trying” way. So I got her book on Kindle.

Not this...

Not this…

and not this...(Okay, I did cheat this day with a tiny slice. I run the diet, it doesn't run me...)

and not this…(Okay, I did cheat this day with a tiny slice. I run the diet, it doesn’t run me…)

It didn’t look as hard as some others diets out there and we had to do something to stop this run-away train of weight gain we were both experiencing.

I don’t like the idea of a “diet”. It sounds too temporary. “We will diet (struggle and sacrifice and suffer) until we lose the weight, then go back to the way we ate before”.

We were looking for more of an eating lifestyle change. Not that our diet was that poor! As you can read in this blog, we ate mostly homemade meals and had a pretty balanced diet. I bake a lot, but do not eat much of what I make. I just taste it and let others eat it.

But some habits had to be changed. Like the sea of chips, candy and popcorn pooling around the island of the recliner, late night eating/snacking and those several-times-a-week stops at Del Taco for cheap tacos. Every time he sat down, hubby was putting food in his mouth. Then taking a nap.

Also portion control was an issue.

The only way to get one of us to stop those bad habits was for both of us to change our ways.

So there I was, taking a crash course on cooking paleo type meals. Along the way I found Paleo Living Magazine. It has some fun and interesting posts. Also Nom Nom Paleo was a fun site to visit with practical ideas as well.

Anyway, the other day I got an email from the paleo living magazine couple, Jeremy and Louise, about a 7 day challenge. Since we have been on this diet long enough to kind of ‘get the hang of it’ , I signed us up to be challenged.

For fun.

Really.

So for the next 7 days, instead of being 95% paleo, we will go for the full 100%. No cooking in irish butter. No sips of milk. No candy.

And today is the first day. So here is what we ate today.

For breakfast I made us a potato hash with sweet potatoes and 1 white potato I had peeled,diced and soaked in salt water. (this pulls out some of the starch, which I thought might be better weight wise. This is the first white potato we have eaten in 6 weeks. More to avoid the weight of the starchy food. Some Paleo people have it on their good list, some on their bad). I added some diced onion and seasoning. The difference between this and Jessica hash is the lack of corn. We can’t eat corn now. I also made him 2 cheater-poached eggs and some watermelon. (cheater poached-I put the eggs in a pre-heated skillet with olive oil, crack the eggs in, put about a Tbsp of water over the top of them and put a lid on it until its done the way we like.) I made one for myself as well.

This could be made ahead (or save leftovers) and given a quick saute in a skillet. Add a lightly poached egg on top and oo-la-la!

This could be made ahead (or save leftovers) and given a quick saute in a skillet. Add a lightly poached egg on top and oo-la-la!

Lunch will be leftover green salad with a hard-boiled egg sliced in, some pepitos and pear slices.

Dinner will probably be something along these lines:

Probably not salmon today, but fish, mango salsa, and green beans instead of a salad.

Probably not salmon today, but fish, mango salsa, and green beans instead of a salad.

What can we drink? WATER. Really that’s about it. Tea with breakfast. I do put about 1/2 tsp of honey in it. Dave has been putting a splash of juice in the bottom of his water glass, but he really shouldn’t. Coffee is okay, but neither of us really drink it. Oh yeah, coconut water is okay too. We do have cans of that sitting around. But mostly just water. You get used to it pretty quick.

I have been learning to start dinner earlier so we are not eating later than 6. (I’m trying anyway). Dave, who is a late night person and doesn’t come to bed until about 1 am is learning not to snack after dinner. I find that incredible. Because here he is up and working, then checking email and ending with a little tv. It has been about 7  hours since he ate and he is not going to eat any snacks!? That’s like eating lunch at noon, then, instead of dinner at 7, just going to bed. He does come to bed hungry and whispering, in a husky voice, sweet breakfast ideas for the next day.

But I am proud of how well he is sticking with it! I probably cheat more than he does. I know he has a candy bar in the outside fridge he takes a bite from at least once a day. I have an occasional sip of milk or spoonful of good yogurt. When I made scones a couple of weeks ago you know I ate at least one! And I had a slice of the Japanese Milk  bread a couple of days ago when it was fresh. When we have really cheated, it had most definite consequences! One day 30 Dave celebrated by picking up fries from Der Weinershnitzel. He ate about 5 and thew them out. He said they had such a chemical and over salty taste! And these used to be his favorites!

I made a bag of popcorn one day, “for the boys” and we each had some. This too he thought was too salty. What’s amazing is he has always been my salt monster! Like in the old Star Trek episode with this creepy grey salt monster, Dave was always snacking on the salty stuff. He called chips his “salt transport mechanism”. And now he hasn’t had a chip in over 6 weeks. Amazing.

But yesterday, before we started the challenge, I decided to get us each a donut. I have been craving a donut for weeks and really, who, other than my older son who never eats them, can resist a donut? So I did it, I bought us all a donut.

Wow. Yes, it tasted wonderful and I enjoyed every bite. But that night my ankles (go figure) hurt so bad I could barely sleep. I have had painful ankles for a couple of years now. In short, we don’t know why. Anyway, I have not had noticeable pain in quite a while and even took the dog for a jog around the block the other night. But last night I could hardly sleep for the pain. Dave came to bed with a pounding headache. He took some Tylenol and it helped for a little while. But it came back. We both got up this morning agreeing that we would not do that again any time soon.

We had started off thinking we would do this for 30 days. But with all this new energy, with the slow and steady weight loss, we decided to stick it out a while longer. Who knows, maybe forever…

Japanese Milk Bread or a new way to make squishy soft white bread!

IMG_4170 (1024x765) (2)Okay bread lovers out there…Is this not the most beautiful looking bread? The shine…the find crackles in the crust, the coloration…wow! I am very happy with the way these turned out.

I learned 2 new things! One is how to use the “tangzhong’ method of making dough. The other is in the shaping. I love how this takes pieces of the dough, rolls each one into a mini loaf and puts them together in the pan. It makes pulling it apart fun and groovy. More

Noodles from Zucchini

When I first heard that people were making noodles from zucchini’s I thought they were either terribly desperate or had lost their minds.

I mean-eww.

And yet here we are. If you are reading this you too must be wondering if I have lost my mind or else you have heard of this growing trendy-pasta-imposter thing and want to learn more.

If you or a loved one you cook for is having trouble either with digesting glutenous foods (or maybe just pasta) or perhaps are trying to lose weight, then making zucchini pasta is a way to get around this and still have something to eat with your meatballs. (Which we had just last night and I didn’t think to take any pics, sorry)

IMG_4165 (1024x765)

I have heard of mixing half zucchini and half regular pasta to cut carbs, but we went all the way and you know what? It really works!

Zucchini lends very little flavor of its own to whatever dish you are making and holds its shape, making it the ideal pasta substitute.

I am no expert in zucchini pasta but I will share what I have learned.

First, you need some kind of tool. I use a julienne peeler from Pampered Chef. It makes the stringy noodles you see above. It looks like I peeled the zucchini for this batch, but usually I do not. I just start running the julienne peeler down one side of the longest zucchini you can find, slicing it over and over until you reach the seeds. Then STOP!

Turn the vegy over so the flat side is down and start slicing again on the opposite side, until you reach the seeds, then STOP. Now start on another side and so on.

There are spiral slicers you can use to make flat spiral pastas. There are hand crank slicers that you can put zucchini in and they will make long round “pastas” out of them by going around the zucchini instead of just down its length, making much longer pasta. It’s on my Amazon wish list as we speak.

You could even just use a vegetable peeler and peel off thin slices of zucchini to make a type of ribbon “pasta”.

Now zucchini is a very wet vegetable even if it doesn’t feel like it. You will want to drain the excess moisture off. There are lots of ways people do this. One is to slice it, salt it and let it sit in a strainer for a while, like 10 minutes or so. Then wrap in paper towels or cloth towels and wring the dickens out of it.  Then, oddly enough, you can put it in boiling water to cook, just like regular pasta, but not for long. I don’t understand that completely. Some people bake theirs on a low setting until dried out a bit.

Usually I just either cook it for 2-3 minutes in the microwave, drain it, then cook it a bit more in the sauce or I saute it, cooking out the water and cooking until tender, then adding sauce. However you decide to cook it, just don’t over do. Especially with the julienne peeled ones. They are very thin and if you over cook them, they might just break apart.

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I am sauteing here in a non stick pan with a misting of olive oil. I will stir, keeping an eye, until moisture has cooked off and I start to see browning. Then it is sauce ready.

I am sauteing here in a non stick pan with a misting of olive oil. I will stir, keeping an eye, until moisture has cooked off and I start to see browning. Then it is sauce ready.

I usually make this with a tomato and meatball sauce but have also made a garlic, oil and Parmesan sauce for a nice side dish to go with maybe steak, instead of pasta or potatoes. Plus there are scads of recipes on the web using this type of “pasta”. Pretty much anything you can imagine.

There are lots of blogs out there showing how to make this type of psudo pasta too. Here are a couple of my fav’s:

Here are some visuals from Nom Nom Paloe, an award-winning site.

Danielle Walker who wrote “Against All Grain” has a blog where she video’s herself making pasta out of zucchini. I tell you, it makes you want to run out and get a hand crank spiral slicer and a bushel of zucchini. Come to think of it though, zucchini pasta probably doesn’t freeze well, so maybe not a bushel. I wonder if you can dry them like regular pasta? Dehydrate them? Should I try it and start a business selling dried zucchini pasta?

I have her book Against All Grain on our Kindle and have relied on it for several meals. She has an awesome Thai “Peanut” vinaigrette recipe I made with a broccoli slaw the other day. I will post my variation of it later on.  She doesn’t use peanuts thought because as a legume, they are not eaten on a paleo diet. I guess they are hard to digest for many people, not counting those with allergies. I want to try her ginger-garlic broccoli in the hopes of actually liking broccoli. (which so far has only happened when it is raw, such as in broccoli salad and slaw). And we all loved her barbecue bacon burgers with rosemary-garlic mushrooms.

I also made a variation of her wonderful Thai coconut soup (tom kha gai). I never knew you could have so much fun making soup with coconut milk! Its my new favorite thing. This soup was, as my sister would say, “The  bomb!” That post will be next. You’ve got to try it!

Let me know how your pasta noodles work for you!

You know the summer heat has set in when the coconut oil is melted

(I started this post 3 weeks ago. I think it is too late to warn you, you probably figured it out already.)

We here in Southern California have been blessed with a mild summer. Yes, we are in a terrible drought and the price of everything has skyrocketed recently due to that and other considerations, but overall, we have at least been able to cool off at night.

But then the coconut melted.

Up until now, it has been holding solid. This morning I pulled it out to fry eggs with and it was a liquid, with semi-slooshy white in still in it. But the melt is on the way. And the heat-of-death follows.

Granted, I had the oven on early today to bake cookies for an order from my mumm. She likes to reward her kind neighbors, who take out her trash cans, with home-made cookies. It’s probably my last chance to bake for a while. Because once the coconut oil melts…well its time to head for the hills. Quite literally. Mountains… Tahoe? Arrowhead? Big Bear? Sequoia’s?

It’s time to look up all your friends with pools. Or central air conditioning.

It’s the reason everyone leaves Italy in August. Their coconut oil melted. Only a few people stay to take care of the silly tourists who don’t know that the coconut oil has all melted and its time to go elsewhere.  North. Iceland maybe. Siberia even. For heavens sake…THE COCONUT OIL HAS MELTED! GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

And cook cool.

imagesHere is a light and cool lunch or dinner to make. Quesadillas!

Or apple walnut salad with grilled cheese.

Or how about some of grandmas Cheesecake Pie?

Of course, Trifles in summer are a perfect pairing.

Good luck. If you have some cool ideas, pass them along.

Sour Cream Biscuits

Warm home-made biscuits are one of life’s simple pleasures. Slathered with melting butter, drizzled with honey, spread with jam or with ham and cheese layered into the middle, it’s all goodness and love.

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I have a standard biscuit recipe I have used for years and years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

But I didn’t have any buttermilk, so in a way, it was broke. I needed something new.  I had lots of sour cream and a son going off to fight the Yankees in Huntington Beach this morning at the Civil War reenactment. Nothing better than a well wrapped biscuit after a battle with ol’ Matilda. Plus they are good to trade for other foods. (He usually brings fruit, a slab of cheese, canned beans of course, some corned beef hash, pickles, boiled eggs, etc.. If there is going to be a fire, some salt pork. But not this time.)

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My youngin’ second from left. Him and Maribelle, his rifle.

A young lady waiting her turn for a spin on the dance floor, er grass.

A young lady waiting her turn for a spin on the dance floor, er grass.

But before I get to that recipe, let me tell you about our newest bee invasion. Seems a queen decided to set up housekeeping on the side of our house. I was watching them this morning (we have a call in to have them…removed?) and thought the way they hovered about, waiting their turn to get inside through the tiny opening they found, much like planes circling around LAX. I saw them, hovering, bobbing up and down, coming in closer, then backing away when they realized it wasn’t their turn.Very patient, bees. They are using our bathtub as their burial grounds for their aged worker bees. So we closed the bath window, although I don’t know how they got in through the screen either. But I don’t need to be showering with dead bees floating around my toes.

 

Anyway, on to…                                                             Sour Cream Biscuits!

preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you have it, put a stoneware piece in to warm up. (Bar pan, pizza  stone, etc)

You will need:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (or sub 1/2 cup with cake flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, cold
  • 1 cup sour cream

Whisk the dry ingredients together.

Cut the butter into little pieces. Toss it in with the dry ingredients using a fork. Now here is what I did different. I used my fingers to squish some butter pieces flat into the flour on the bottom of the mixing bowl. I kept rubbing some of the butter into the flour, leaving other pieces bigger, until I had a mix of butter sizes from pea size on down to sandy and flat bits.

Then using a fork, mix in the sour cream until it forms a cohesive dough. Push together a few times, kneading gently to make it come together and wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Times up!

Lay out on a floured board. Press dough out, fold over, press, fold over, press. (this helps with the flaky layers) Then roll it out with a floured rolling pin, but not too thin. Thin dough gets you thin biscuits. You want at least an inch high to start. Cut into biscuits. Roll together the spare dough and cut more.

Get out the baking stone and, flipping the biscuits bottoms up, place on the hot stone and put into the oven. OR just place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and put into the oven. Bake until golden brown on top. This may be 15-20 minutes depending on your baking surface. The stoneware bakes more evenly and, since it was preheated, will be quicker and the heat will give it a burst of energy. Metal pans get very hot and tend to burn where the biscuits (or cookies or whatever) touch the metal if you are not careful. Double panning, or placing one baking pan on top of another helps with this problem.

IMG_4123 (800x598)There you go. Beautiful, aren’t they? Well, I think so. My son thinks so too, although his mouth was too full of biscuits and jam to say much.

So, I think I need to clear out any dead bees, take a shower, dress and head out to the reenactment to the smell of gun powder, cannon blasts and to see all the pretty dresses worn by both the southern belles and the yankees. Tonight they will have a dance, which is all kinds of fun to watch or be in. Men in uniforms, petticoats swirling around! But I have to be home to watch Dr. Who again so…

Blessings!

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