Monday, February 26, 2007


Food as Craft

I’ve noticed an odd phenomenon. Food has risen (or has it sunk) to the level of Craft. The most recent issue of Craft has a recipe for kombucha (a kind of fermented tea). One of our trending magazines at work has dedicated an entire issue to the crafty nature of food. Readymade magazine one of the first of the new slew of DIY magazines has introduced a regular food column with such things as wedding cakes make out of hostess cupcakes. This isn’t truly new. A freshly frosted cake has always been seen as fine work of craftsmanship particularly if it is displayed in a beautiful cake stand. Craft has become cool and so it seems has food. Just like you aren’t seen as a geek because you crochet granny squares, neither are you considered so because you bake your own bread.

Today's Lunch
Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and shredded
2 cups Napa (Chinese) cabbage, shredded
1 leek, washed well and sliced
2 tbsp coriander
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup whole wheat or rice flour
4 eggs
Favorite oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a skillet on medium. Using a large spoon, dish out an orange-sized scoop of pancake mix. Cover with a lid and cook for five minutes. Flip the pancakes and recover for another five minutes. Drain the pancakes on a paper towel. Add more oil to the pan and continue cooking until all the batter is gone. Makes about 12 pancakes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Get Fat!

Shrove or Fat Tuesday is a day of decadence. Traditionalists will eat pancakes or crepes to celebrate. These foods are made because they used up butter, eggs, milk, and sugar—decadent foods that are avoided by some during the season of Lent. I celebrated Fat Tuesday by baking a King Cake. Historically this was eaten for the feast of epiphany to celebrate the coming of the three wise men, but I’m not splitting hairs. Tons of King Cake is devoured each year to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans. One lucky diner from my book group found the bean baked into the cake and was named “king”--or rather “queen”--for the day and shall have good luck for the coming year. Lessez le bon ton roulles!

Today’s Lunch
Red Beans and Rice

1 chopped onion
1 chopped red, green, or yellow pepper
3 stalks celery chopped
3/4 pound sliced polish or Italian sausage
2 12-oz cans of kidney beans
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper

Heat olive oil in a stock pot on medium heat for about a minute. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add sausage, peppers, celery, and herbs and spices. Sautee until the sausage is well browned. Add kidney beans with juice and rice. Cover and cook for twenty minutes. Serves 4.

Monday, February 19, 2007



I just spent the most delicious weekend tucked away in the Rocky Mountains with thirty-five women, four of whom did all the cooking. It was such an amazing opportunity to do very little, but talk with complete strangers (thank you Mildred G. Arnold!). For the next year ten of us will meet once a month and continue our discussions and play although it will be up to us to do the cooking. Our gourmet goddesses from the weekend were kind enough to leave us with a few recipes.

Today’s Lunch
Mexican Corn Chowder

1 can white beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
3 tbsp butter
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 cup hot water
1 tsp cumin
2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (16 oz) cream-style corn
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 medium tomato, chopped
fresh cilantro

In a soup pot brown onion and garlic in butter. Dissolve bouillon in hot water and add to pan along with cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add milk, cheese, corn, chilies, beans, and hot pepper sauce. Cook and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted. Stir in tomato. Serve immediately with cilantro as garnish.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Crash and Burn

For Valentine’s Day my husband baked the most decadent chocolate torte, consisting of 1 pound dark chocolate, 1/2 pound butter, 10 eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of rice flour. We had it for breakfast and for half the day I was on fire. I was articulate, witty, insightful (or so I thought), and bursting with energy, until about 2pm when I crashed and burned. This morning I’m having French toast.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Research Lewis, Research

Wheat shows up in the most unexpected places. After a hard day’s ski I crave salty snacks. We picked up a bag of Sea Salt and Black Pepper Boulder Potato Chips. As reading food packages is half the fun, I was amazed to discover that they contained hydrolyzed wheat gluten. What the heck is that? A Google search revealed, “wheat gluten is the protein complex found in wheat endosperm (essentially the inner core of a grain of wheat). This protein complex is hydrolyzed (or "chopped up into shorter chains of amino acids) to yield glutamine peptides” according to the (Energy Athletics Strength). Not knowing what hydrolysis really means I went to Wikipedia and found that “hydrolyzed Protein is protein that has been hydrolyzed or broken down into its component amino acids. While there are many means of achieving this, two of the most common are prolonged boiling in a strong acid or base or using an enzyme such as the pancreatic enzyme to stimulate the naturally-occurring hydrolytic process.” Apparently this additive can be used as a binder or to enhance flavor particularly in meat. Well it was in my potato chips so my husband couldn’t eat them. More hydrolyzed wheat gluten for me I guess.

Today’s Lunch
Sweet Potato with Fried Onions and Blue Cheese

Bake 2 sweet potatoes: scrub the skins well and prink the skins with a fork. Turn oven to 375 degrees and place the potatoes in a baking dish. Cook for forty minutes or until the outside yields easily to a spoon. Allow to cool for ten minutes.
Chop one onion and cook for five to ten minutes in 1 tbsp coconut oil. Top potatoes with onions and generous amounts of blue cheese and black pepper. Serves 2.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Time to Play with Dough

2007 has come in like a lion, but even as I write this I think that perhaps it is a lamb in lion’s clothing. Last year definitely had it share of roars and although I don’t like to wish my time away I’m happy to pay 2006 adieu. For all the things I couldn’t seem to get right last year, this year is looking up. Although there have been some odd events, too. Such as an when an acquaintance claimed that I look exactly like Ben Franklin. How is that for an ego booster?

One new development is my husband was tested for gluten allergies and discovered that his hunch was right--he has gluten sensitivity. This means that he needs to avoid wheat, barley, and rye, and maybe he can get on top of his allergies. For me it is an opportunity to finally learn how to bake in this high-altitude environment I call home. More than a decade ago I worked on weekends at a restaurant called the Virginian and they paid for me to complete a pastry certification with a woman who studied at the Cordon Bleu. (This is at a time when I thought I wanted to go to cooking school. That is until I read an article in the New York Times that listed chef as the third most stressful job—below brain surgeon, but above scaffolding worker.) I build up a lucrative bank of work baking bread and pastries for area restaurants, but when I moved to the west and nothing I learned here worked very well--cakes were dry, pastries were dense, and bread didn’t rise. I took a job at a bakery and the cooks all sneered. Kitchen staff can be very competitive. So instead of retraining myself I gave it up and went to work with schizophrenics. Now I have to tackle the job head one again. I’ve signed up for a gluten free cooking class. In the meantime I think I’ll start with a recipe I saw in the paper. I can at least practice all of my dough shaping skills.

Play Dough
(From the Reporter Herald, Febuary, 5, 2007 “Homeroom” section)

1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water
Liquid food coloring

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the food coloring. Stir until well mixed, then add food coloring a few drops at a time until desired color is reached. The mixture will start out soupy. Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the mixture begins to clump, dry and gets difficult to move the spoon through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough to a dry work surface. When the dough has cooled to the touch, knead until smooth and cool. To store, refrigerate the dough in plastic bags. Makes 2 cups.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?