Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forced Inactivity (and having the time to smell the lilacs!)

Although the steel band around my chest is slowly becoming more elastic, I continue to frustrate myself by getting breathless relatively easily. Asthma attacks suck. :)

I have accomplished several things which I am able to do with minimal exertion, and many of which would not have been done until they absolutely had to be. For example, cleaning out my dresser drawers. So why have I been hanging on to that camisole with the padded shoulders for the past 20 years? Do I really want to look like a football player again? Really, once was truly enough! White and light-colored pantyhose? ANY pantyhose? Why? Knee-high stockings? Come on! And slips. Half-slips, full-slips, every single one had elastic which had stretched out and died over a decade ago. What makes me keep these things? I pulled a chair up to the dresser and methodically went through each drawer, and I was merciless. As a result, my drawers are neat and organized and ready for the next twenty years.

Also, the drawers in the kitchen. Jack brought each one over to the kitchen table and I straightened and tossed and now can actually find a twist-tie or a rubber band without rummaging through cracked drinking straws and pieces of knotted kitchen twine.

The Christmas tablecloths and napkins are ironed, folded in white tissue paper, and stored. And I folded the ironing board and put it away for the summer. It gets too hot here to iron in the summer.

All of the recipes which I have printed out (or torn from magazines) in the past several months and stuck into a folder are now in their own plastic sleeves, and arranged in massive 3-ring binders.

I have also repotted all of my tomato and pepper seedlings, giving them more room to stretch their little roots before I (hopefully) get them in the ground in 3 or 4 weeks.

And I am actually enjoying just sitting and typing without having a to-do list hanging over my head. I have moved the laptop out to the screened-in porch and I see the beautiful colors of spring, and can watch the frogs and toads splashing around in the pond.

I opened the door to let Spooky out yesterday morning and was enveloped by lilac-scented air. The very warm weather which we had experienced during the first part of the week did its magic and pushed our 2 lilac bushes into flower. I took a huge breath, and had a coughing fit. :) I am now practicing moderation in taking lungfuls of this scented air.

Is there anything more graceful that the way cut lilacs just happen to fall into place? No arranging skills needed here!

Since it required minimum effort, I took my camera outside.

Primroses in front, both pink and white bleeding-heart, and far behind is the crimson-bronze of the Japanese maples.

Don't these little guys look happy? Like they're singing, or something.

I love spring!

Hopefully I will be able to return to posting recipes in the next day or two.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Salmon with Spinach and Mustard Sauce

I sit at the computer, gathering recipes, putting together menus and ideas, yet not able to actually get in the kitchen and cook. It’s frustrating, but I am recovering from an asthma attack and I am still taking it easy, out of necessity. I hate it!

When I post recipes and reviews, I almost always include a photo. Today, though, will be a rare exception as even with the short amount of time that this recipe took to prepare, I was too tired to even take a photo before we ate.

I am feeling a craving for super-healthy meals, most likely because my subconscious is telling me that if I eat this way, perhaps I will recover more quickly. Whatever, I am listening to this craving and am going to post a recipe which I made the other evening that hits the Perfect Dinner Trifecta—healthy, seasonal, and quick. Oops. And delicious. Trifecta… quadfecta???? Anyway…

This recipe comes from the book "Cooking the Real Age Way" by Michael F. Roizen, MD and John LaPuma, MD.

Within a half hour of starting this, Jack and I were eating. I didn’t bother with making a rice pilaf, I simply steamed some jasmine rice to serve alongside, and I started it first. To say that this was quick is an understatement. Sprinkle salmon fillets with soy sauce and let them sit while you make a simple sauce and chop spinach. Cooking takes less than 10 minutes. The salmon is pan-sautéed, the sauce is added for the last part of the cooking; then the fish is removed and the spinach sautéed in the sauce and salmon flavors. That’s it. And it’s unbelievably delicious.

I didn’t have any white wine, so I used vegetable stock and I think that next time I will add some halved cherry tomatoes to the spinach for added flavor, color, and nutrition. And take a photo. :)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Salmon with Spinach and Mustard Sauce

Recipe adapted from: "Cooking the Real Age Way"

Servings : 2 Preparation Time :0:25

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

10 ounces salmon fillets

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable broth -- or water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces fresh spinach -- coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon freshly shredded lemon peel -- optional

Place salmon on a shallow plate and sprinkle with soy sauce.

Combine vegetable broth through olive oil and set aside.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, add salmon, turn down the heat a little and cook for 4 minutes (check during the last minute that it is not burning). Turn salmon over, pour vegetable broth mixture over all, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 3 minutes (until opaque and firm to the touch).

Remove the salmon with a slotted spatula to a plate (allow any liquid to drip off into the pan). Add the spinach to the accumulated juices in the pan and stir until wilted.

Spoon spinach onto plates, top with salmon, sprinkle with lemon peel, if desired.


"Cooking the Real Age Way" by Michael F. Roizen, MD and John LaPuma, MD

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 265 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat; (42% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 74mg Cholesterol; 658mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Serve with a simple rice pilaf or crusty bread.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thai Chicken Pizza

It only feels as though I’ve been sick for months… :)

The thermometer reading here at our farm in southwestern PA is 93, on April 26. It was the same yesterday, and is only to “cool off” a few degrees tomorrow. Suddenly, from 58 degrees and March weather last Friday, we are now firmly in July. Until later this week, when the roller-coaster temperatures are to dip again.

Although I still feel crappy, I did a quick-clean of the screened-in porch this morning so we can catch some breezes and be comfortable as we recuperate. The interior storm windows are still up in the house, and it’s getting a bit warm in there. I don’t think that I have set up the laptop out here this early before.

So I am sitting here at the table, with a panoramic view of Springtime at the Farm. The grass is thick and green (and long, but Jack is still coughing so it will be a few days until he can get that taken care of). The profusion of colors is incredible—Japanese maple leaves are a crimson color, redbuds are pink/purple (???), the lilac bushes are clouds of purple and green, and the new growth on the row of pieris is a bronzy red. Add the pink and white bleeding hearts, white hyacinth (sadly, on their way out now) and purple grape hyacinths, and it is gorgeous outside. Pink and yellow primroses ar lining the path to the door. I am watching a toad float his way around the fish pond, and a green frog is “clucking” from a stone in the far corner.

It is truly enjoyable to sit here and watch it all. Normally I would be outside doing something, but since breathing is almost required for outdoor work, this is simply not possible today.

All in all, though, it is getting better around here. We both experienced about 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, and that is big. During the past several nights, both Jack and I have woken each other often with coughing fits (and apologies). It seems as though, after 4am or so, we both seem to sleep better. It’s probably just sheer exhaustion.

I look forward to being able to walk around for a few minutes and not have to stop and rest. Today, after a rather cursory clean-up of the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, I fell into a dead sleep for 2 hours (with nary a coughing attack, wonder why?!).

Sunday is Pizza Night, and a little thing like lack of oxygen shall not stop me from continuing this Jack-beloved tradition. Fortunately I had a ball of pizza dough in the freezer, which I actually remembered to take out and put in the freezer to thaw last night before going to bed. I believe that this will be our first grilled pizza of the 2009 Summer Grilling Season because I refuse to turn on the oven today.

Now, I must go over my notes to review the steps to making grilled, as opposed to charred pizza.

The dough must be sturdy. I once tried a very soft, no-knead dough for grilled pizza and it actually slumped between the grids and burnt into thick stripes.

I must remember to prepare all toppings ahead of time. All. No exceptions. While the pizza is cooking, there will barely be time to pour the wine (which is Jack’s job, actually).

The grill must be preheated only to 400F, which is about 12 minutes. Any higher and the pizza will scorch. Once the crust is slid onto the grids, the lid must be shut immediately and the pizza be allowed to bake for 1-1/2 minutes (but I stand by the grill for the last 30 seconds of that time, in case I smell burning). A pizza peel will be used to take the crust off of the grill, the lid shut again as I bring the crust in for embellishing.

The pizza is turned over and the toppings are arranged on the cooked side of the crust. Again, it is taken out to the grill, slid back on the grids, and baked for 2 minutes of so (checking after 1-1/2 minutes).

A few hours later...

Okay, these were the notes from LAST year! I forgot that I now have a baking stone that is not too big for using on the grill, so although the prep has remained the same, the cooking time has changed. But no big deal, just double the times above. I don’t know if I like using the baking stone, though. It certainly is easier, and less chance to burn, but I miss the “grilled marks”. And I am sure that the “grilled taste” was less apparent when the pizza was baked on the stone. But this pizza wasn't charred at all. :)

I made a Thai Chicken Pizza this evening.

Although I see numerous recipes for Thai food which includes peanuts, I’m not entirely certain that they are an authentic ingredient. However, the sauce recipe for my pizza tonight uses peanut butter and I’m keeping it because I really like the flavor and it does give the sauce added body.

I know that I have probably posted a recipe similar to this before, but I don’t often measure ingredients and this time, for the sauce, I did. It’s easy, the most difficult part is gathering all of the ingredients together.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Thai Pizza Sauce

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons lime juice -- or rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek -- or other Thai hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients except sesame oil in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until peanut butter melts. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently as the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat, and stir in sesame oil. Allow to cool (it will thicken even further).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 179 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (47% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 1mg Cholesterol; 865mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

The sauce is very flavorful, but it is high in sodium and fat (that peanut butter!) so even though it’s a favorite we do try to rein ourselves in and have this only once or twice a month.

About the pizza, I have trouble initially stretching the dough even though my whole wheat recipe uses added wheat gluten, and I allow it to rest after the second punching-down. So I have discovered that taking the plastic wrap which covered the bowl during rising and placing it on the outside of the upside-down bowl, then forming the pizza dough into a flat disc and allowing it to stretch over the inverted bowl, makes the process a bit easier.

Here’s a photo of the pizza crust, still on the grill, after the first side was baked:

And after the pizza was done:

Tonight, in addition to the sauce and lowfat cheddar, I used sautéed spinach, red pepper strips, and onion; then added chopped chicken breast and water chestnuts. I have to mention that, when making this particular pizza, I try to remember to reserve a tablespoon of the sauce, mix it with a tablespoon of water, and toss the chopped chicken breast with it to keep it moist during baking. Tonight I forgot, but the pizza was still good because I had poached the chicken breast and it remained moist. The additional flavor of the sauce would have been good, though.

Okay, I just realized that although I cooked a more extensive meal for dinner tonight than I have in the last 2 weeks, I’m not particularly exhausted. In fact, I’m sitting here, typing, and not really even wheezing! Could this nasty problem be in its waning hours (oh, yes, let’s not get too excited—days. I’ll take waning days!).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Potsticker Soup

It has been a pretty rough couple of weeks here. My cold quickly turned from that into a respiratory infection, which triggered the worst asthma attack I have had in 5 or 6 years. Even though I disinfected everything I touched, Jack caught the same cold and his turned into bronchitis. In fact, I hate to admit it, but I was so miserable that I thought his cough was just a “sympathetic” cough, and didn’t do much about it except throw cough drops at him for a few days…

In the last 10 days or so, I have totally depleted my freezer full of chicken and vegetable stock since I prepared only very simple, quick soups and stews. I actually located a couple of meals in the freezer (I have to remember to make extra and freeze occasionally for situations such as this) which I was able to use as well.

Today, however, looks a bit brighter. Although it sounds like a 1950’s hospital TB ward around here with all of the coughing going on, I realized that I could make it the whole way up the stairs to the second floor without having to stop and breathe. Pretty pathetic.

Back when this all started and Jack was still cold-free, he met with our accountant and, when he arrived home, brought me a huge container of wonton soup from our favorite local Chinese restaurant. I love their wonton soup, and had recently found out that it tasted so good because the owner makes his broth from scratch. Yum. There’s nothing worse than salty, greasy chicken broth. A few days later, on our way home from my doctor appointment, we stopped at the same restaurant and I had the soup again. It just made me feel so much better!

While talking with the owner (Glenn!), he mentioned that he enjoys chicken broth with potstickers as a quick meal. Hmmm. Why had I never heard of this before? Jack and I love potstickers, any kind, and we have found that Trader Joe’s chicken and vegetable dumplings are one of our favorites. However, I had never heard of boiling them in broth, only steaming or pan-frying.

Today, we needed more soup. We are living on soup. As I mentioned earlier, my freezer supply of homemade chicken and vegetable stock had been depleted. As was our supply of cough drops. So I went out to the local grocery store and picked up a few supplies.

The only low-sodium chicken stock or broth which had been suggested to me, and was available at the small store, was Swanson’s chicken stock. Armed with a couple of boxes of that, plus some vegetables and fruit, milk, juice, and cough drops, I came home and took a nap. :)

When I finally got around to moving again, I dug out a package of TJ’s dumplings out of the freezer and went to work. The soup which I made was incredibly simple, but very delicious. The dumplings were more filling than wontons, and I added some vegetables and a few seasonings as well, which made this a well-rounded meal.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Potsticker Soup

Recipe By; Vicci

Servings: 2 Preparation Time :0:20

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ ---------------------------------------

2 1/2 cups low-sodium defatted chicken broth

2/3 cup water

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/8 teaspoon oriental hot sauce -- (sambal oelek is a good choice)

1 large carrot -- split lengthwise and sliced diagonally

3/4 cup thinly sliced green cabbage -- any kind, but I prefer Napa or Bok Choy

2 large green onions -- slice all but keep the green tops separate (for garnish)

12 whole Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers, unthawed

1 teaspoon arrowroot -- mixed with 1 teaspoon water, optional

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepot. Add the ginger, garlic, hot sauce, carrot, and cabbage.

Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green onion WHITES and the potstickers, turn up the heat to return to a boil, then turn the heat back down, partially cover, and cook until the potstickers are tender (TJ's directions say about 2-3 minutes)

If a slightly thicker broth is desired, add the arrowroot-and-water mixture and stir until thickened. Turn off heat and stir in the sesame oil. Divide between two deep bowls, sprinkle with the reserved sliced green onion tops. Dust with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 260 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat (1g Saturated); (15% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 26mg Cholesterol; 1347mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

I have to add that Jack loved this soup so much he has requested it for tomorrow, too! :)

Next time I get to the store, I will pick up some snow peas to shred into the soup as well-- I think it would be a delicious addition.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

King Arthur Flour's Ciabatta Three Ways

My cooking (and blogging) has come to a screeching halt.

A “tickle” in my chest on Saturday night turned into a full-blown head-and-chest cold, the likes of which I have not experienced in many years. Easter lunch was canceled, so there will be no post of the lemon-glazed chicken cutlets and almond rice pilaf (although the dessert will be reviewed at a later date as I had already made a Meyer lemon cake which, because I cannot taste anything, is now in the freezer awaiting my recovery).

After almost 3 full days of rest, hot liquids, and vitamins I cannot say that I am much better. The few prepared foods that I had in the freezer are gone, and tonight we will eat leftovers from Sunday. Hmmm, if they were never eaten in the first place, are they still considered to be leftovers? And, to add even more fun, Jack had to take Spooky to the vet for an emergency visit (and this is the first time Spooky has ever needed to go to the vet for anything other than his twice-yearly Senior Wellness Checkups). I'm sneezing and blowing my nose and trying to ignore the headache as I , very anxiously, await their return.

One last note: Puffs Plus ROCKS! But I doubt if I will even have a nose in another day or two if this doesn’t let up…

So until I am up and cooking again, I will post a recipe review that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

We love flavorful, slow-rise breads with a thin, crispy crust and this ciabatta recipe from King Arthur Flour did not disappoint!

One of the wettest dough I have ever worked with, this one literally poured from the bowl onto the baking sheet. Problems with handling it can be minimized, however, if you remember to grease your hands and utensils with shortening beforehand. It is a messy, but necessary, process. I have made this bread three times and, no matter what I do, mine does not rise as much as KA’s does although that’s certainly not a reason for me not to ever make it again.

One of the options is to make this ciabatta into garlic bread. I’m not a fan of garlic bread, I prefer plain ol’ bread (and, if it’s really good, you don’t even need butter), but I made the garlic version for our family Christmas dinner and it disappeared immediately. I was asked to make it again for my Dad’s birthday dinner a few weeks ago, so I did. Again, one slice was left and it was fought over by my 3 nephews.

One of the loaves:

I made a change to the recipe this time, and this was to broil the bread instead of baking. I didn’t notice much of a difference, but Dad liked the “crispy edges” better.

After broiling, I re-sandwiched the halves together then sliced them.

And this was one of the bread baskets, just seconds before the swarms dove in to gobble it up.

Again, the dough is a bit of a pain to work with but the result, whether enjoyed plain or with the garlic and-cheese (and butter!) topping, is incredible.

Start the bread the day before since the starter needs to rest for at least 8 and up to 15 hours, and after this it will be another 3-1/2 to 4 hours before you will slide it into the oven.

I have found that those breads which use a slow-rise starter taste so much better than those made by the more common “knead-rise-punch-rise-bake” method which takes only a couple of hours. Give this one a try. Really, what is more worth waiting for than really, really good bread???

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Easter is a very low-key holiday this year, and the only baking which I have produced has been that one absolutely essential holiday cookie- pizzelles.

My Italian grandmother used a pizzelle iron which made one at a time. She stood in their basement, at the "second stove", baking each cookie over a gas flame. It must have taken her forever, flipping the iron over and back to cook each side. It took us kids seconds to wolf them down.

So, every time I make pizzelles with my electric two-at-a-time pizzelle iron, I thank her (because I'm fairly certain that she is watching me from above, and smiling).

I love my pizzelle iron. I bought it at a local Italian store because it was the kind my Mom has, and when I got it home I realized that it is manufactured a couple of miles from here. West Newton, PA. A tiny town, smack dab on the biking trail we use.

I found this on Amazon. I paid about $40 for mine, probably 20 years ago, and it is everything that I could ask for in a pizelle maker.

I developed this pizzelle recipe because I wanted to use an egg substitute rather than the dozen eggs which my Mom's recipe called for. And find a way to reduce the 2 cups of vegetable oil. I have to admit that hers are a little lighter in texture than mine, but I can eat more of my pizzelles! And they still taste great.

Make the batter the day before because it really has to sit for the flavors to develop.

* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By: Vicci
Servings: 48

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
8 ounces Egg Beaters® 99% egg substitute
4 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 ounces canola oil
2 teaspoons orange extract
2 teaspoons anise oil
4 1/4 cups Eagle Mills All-Purpopse Unbleached Flour

Beat first 4 ingredients until frothy. Mix in flavorings. Stir in flour (the batter should be the consistency of a very thick pancake batter; you should be able to scoop the batter out with a cookie scoop with ease). Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Heat pizzelle iron for 15 minutes. Using a paper towel, rub shortening into the grids.

Add a tablespoon of batter in the center of each form (I use a cookie scoop), the close and lock lid. Check after 40 seconds. Discard first 2 pizelles. Darker pizzelles will take about 55 seconds per batch.

Immediately remove pizzelles from iron to a cooling rack. Store in a loosely-covered container to keep crisp.

"8 dozen"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 71 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (48% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 16mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Other flavorings can be used: lemon extract, vanilla extract, with 1 tablespoon FRESH lemon zest, almond extract, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup very finely ground, toasted almonds (decrease flour by 1/4 cup)

Easter 2009

I used 1/4 cup of almond syrup and 1 tablespoon of almond extract, and also needed to add a little extra flour.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Almond Loaf

I read a good many vegetarian blogs and websites for recipe ideas. Jack and I are not vegetarians, although we have not eaten “red” meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.) in over 15 years. I do like the idea of basing our diet on more nutritious, healthful, easy-on-the-planet vegetables and grains so, even though I incorporate fish and poultry into some of our meals, we keep at least two of three meals per day meatless with two days a week being totally meatless.

For several years I kept a subscription to Vegetarian Times magazine until I realized that this magazine, along with many others, was piling up on my kitchen table, unread. Now I peruse their website, use the back issues often, and get a weekly e-newsletter.

The editor of the magazine raved about something called “almond loaf” in the most recent newsletter. I remembered reading about “nut roasts” and “nut loaves” in articles and on blogs, but had never tried one. I was in the mood to attempt something different so, for dinner than night, we had almond loaf.

I have to admit, this almond loaf was great! I really didn’t expect to like it so much. In fact, I didn’t even tell Jack what I was making because I was afraid of receiving his “roll of the eyes” and doubting comments.

We both enjoyed it.

A mixture of ground almonds and breadcrumbs held together and flavored with spaghetti sauce and eggs, then baked in a loaf pan. Honestly, who would have thought it would be so delicious? I really wish that I knew how to describer it better. It very much resembled meatloaf, but tasted slightly nutty (although not like eating a handful of almonds), and unlike anything I’ve had before. I added chopped Portobello mushroom to mine based on the review of a VT reader, and this is the way I will make it from now on.

Ready to go in the oven—a visual resemblance to meatloaf. Well, kind of...

I sautéed Portobello slices in olive oil and garlic, then topped each slice with some of the mushrooms and additional sauce.

This photo is fairly awful (why was the mushroom sliding off of the nut loaf?) but, as I took this first shot, the camera started beeping that the memory card was full. I just put the camera away and started to eat...

Almond Loaf

Vegetarian Times Issue: January 1, 2006 p.45 — Member Rating: 1111

Ground almonds replace the protein and texture of meat in this savory loaf. Try the leftovers in sandwiches with spicy mustard, lettuce and tomato.

Ingredient List

Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 cups whole grain breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/4 cups spaghetti sauce, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, then coat with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.
  2. Finely grind almonds in blender or food processor; transfer to bowl. Add remaining breadcrumbs, spaghetti sauce, onion and eggs; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, or until firm.
  4. Meanwhile, warm spaghetti sauce in microwave. Cut loaf into slices, and serve with warmed sauce.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING: Calories: 272, Protein: 10g, Total fat: 16g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 23g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 314mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugars: 7g

Yes, it is higher in total fat than I would like, but it’s mostly the good monosaturated fat from the almonds.

And then, the leftovers. For one lunch I warmed almond loaf slices and served them on multigrain sourdough with melted Swiss, baby spinach leaves, and spicy mustard.

For the second lunch again I warmed the slices but this time served them on Tuscan-style bread with melted mozzarella and extra sauce. Both sandwiches were winners.

Amazing. In my forties I “discovered” the absolute joy of olives, artichokes, gorgonzola, and avocados. Now, at age 50, I have found nut loaves. Isn’t food wonderful???

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Four Grain Bread


This past Friday I walked past one of the upstairs windows and saw something beautiful outside, out of the corner of my eye. Blossoms! White pear blossoms! Purple plum blossoms! Spring has arrived!!!

That little bit of elation ended, with a screeching halt, yesterday. As I made dinner, snow started to fall. Not a lot of snow, but it was blowing almost horizontally, and those poor flowering trees were actually shivering. No snow through the entire month of March, when we actually still expect it, but now in April…

Again, *sigh*

Today it remained chilly, quite chilly, and I decided to turn on the oven and bake.

During most of the year I bake the sandwich/ toast bread which we consume, although from approximately mid-June through mid-September I need to buy bread because baking heats up the kitchen too much. Not a problem today, since the high was in the mid-30’s ON APRIL 7th! I was cold so, of course, I baked bread.

I found a recipe for 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts posted by Sharon on Cuisine at Home a few weeks ago and decided to make that. Unfortunately, although I was certain that I had a bag of walnuts, a big bag, left from Christmas baking, I was unable to locate it in the freezer. I would have to make 5-Grain Bread, sans the nuts.

Then, another supply issue. I could not find my rice flour (I think that I may have used it to make dog biscuits before Christmas and did not replenish my supply) so I needed to eliminate that. What remained, and yes I had the rest of the ingredients, became 4-Grain Bread! I doubled the amount of oat flour to make up for the missing rice flour.

This was a very good, basic bread recipe that is perfect for toast and sandwiches. The loaves were huge! I’m a big fan of all breads and this one will go into my regular rotation because it was relatively simple and yielded a wonderfully tasty loaf. I subbed white whole wheat flour for the original recipe’s unbleached all-purpose flour and doubled the fiber content per slice. I also added a little brown sugar when proofing the yeast, and vital wheat gluten and olive oil into the dough.

One procedural change. I have found that, when making any bread which contains heavier flours such as oat or whole wheat, it is beneficial to cover the dough and allow it to rest after you mix the dough but before you knead it. This time allows the grains to absorb moisture and I have found that I need to add less flour to the dough as the kneading process goes on. Also, the texture of the baked bread seems to be better.

This was an excellent, basic bread recipe, high in fiber, and even higher in taste. :)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Four-Grain Bread

Recipe adapted from Carol Field

Servings: 28

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 3-1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 cup warm water -- about 100-110F

3 cups water -- 100F

3 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

2 3/4 cups rolled oats -- Using a food processor, grind the oats into a fine powder (or use

2-1/2 cups oat flour).

1 cup rye flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water.

Stir in the flours, wheat gluten, olive oil, and salt with the paddle. Mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Scrape the paddle, and cover the bowl. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 5-6 minutes at medium speed until firm and elastic but still slightly sticky, adding ¼ to ½ cup extra flour if necessary. Finish kneading briefly by hand (about 2 minutes or so) on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

First Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be moist, firm, and noticeably elastic, if slightly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into an oval loaf to fit a loaf pan. Place the loaves in the oiled pans (preferably glass)*, cover with a heavy towel, and let rise until truly doubled and fully above the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

Baking: Preheat oven to 400° F. Slash a pattern in the top of the loaves before baking, if desired.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

If using glass loaf pans, you can bake the last 5 to 10 minutes out of the pans on a baking stone or baking sheet to brown the bottoms and sides.

Cool completely on a rack.

* I used my Chicago Metallic 1-pound loaf pans

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Per serving: 177 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (10% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 232mg Sodium; 5g Fiber

Food Exchanges: 1 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

I will eventually try the recipe which Sharon posted, and I look forward to it. If you have walnuts, and the desire to bake bread, try that recipe!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vegetarian Mulligatawny

I love fun-sounding words and phrases. In my previously-posted recipe, the title of the beans used was Eye of the Goat beans and that unusual name intrigued me enough to make it (of course, I didn’t have that particular bean so I subbed Canary beans, the name of which I find slightly less amusing although much better than kidney).

A few weeks ago I ran across a recipe for Mulligatawny. I have fun saying that name—mulligatawny! Yes, I am easily amused. :) I have never had nor made this soup, but I believe that it was mentioned in the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld many years ago. This vegetarian recipe, which was entered in March's edition of No Croutons Required by the author of Asparagus and Raspberries, contained a few vegetables which I happened to have on hand and wanted to use.

I looked up “mulligatawny” online and found a zillion widely varying recipes. Although it seems to be Indian in origin, it is actually British (from when they occupied India and altered a regional soup recipe to use ingredients with which they were familiar). Many of the recipes contained lentils or rice, which the original recipe does not contain and I ended up adding cooked basmati rice at the last minute.

This recipe has a huge ingredient list, and lots of time is spent in preparing the vegetables, but the resulting soup is well worth the effort.

With a 3-4 hour simmering time, as long as you (or a responsible person) is around to give the mixture a stir every now and then, you don’t have to spend all of those hours babysitting it. I went for an hour-long run, and set a kitchen timer to remind Jack to stir it every 20 minutes.

And it made the house smell wonderful, like stepping into the very best Indian restaurant you’ve ever visited. With four hours of simmering (apparently you can get away with three), the fragrance of curry was permeated into our living areas until the next morning (and, believe me, neither of us minded a bit!).

Above shows the curry powder roasting in the oil and butter. I, of course, decreased both of those ingredients from the original recipe. And pardon the old (to say the least) pot. I don’t have a nice Dutch oven at the lake house and I found this in the far reached of the cupboard. I make chili in it occasionally. A nice, very heavy pot which Jack brought into our marriage (noooo, it couldn’t have been a LeCreuset piece, could it?!), but no matter how I tried I could not remove the black from the inside.

I believe that an essential step is lightly sautéing the vegetables in the oil/butter/curry mixture. The vegetables had a chance to absorb this wonderful flavor before the liquid ingredients were added.

I made some changes in the recipe, but the most major change was in the structure of the ingredient list. I am a little fussy when it comes to organization and I have to have recipes organized as well, letting me know the order in which I will be using the ingredients. I find it easier to cook this way.

We spent a few days at the lake house and I packed all of the ingredients and took them with us. I thought that I had frozen corn and lemon juice there only to discover that I did not, so those ingredients were left out. And, because of Jack’s inexplicable aversion to eggplant, I left that out as well. To add more flavor and nutrition, I used vegetable stock instead of some of the water in the soup.

I was unpacking after arriving at the lake house when I realized that I had forgotten the white potatoes. I had an equal amount of sweet potatoes, so I used them instead. I had thought that they may get a little mushy with the lengthy simmer, but I was wrong. In fact, I will now use sweet potatoes whenever I make this, just because they were so good. One last point, I used too much rice (and that has been corrected in the recipe below). The next day, you could have cut the soup into wedges, it was so firm. ;)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vegetarian Mulligatawny

Adapted from a recipe by Asparagus & Raspberries

Servings: 8

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

----------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

3 medium potatoes -- peeled and diced

4 small carrots -- peeled and diced

2 large parsnips -- peeled and diced

1 large onions -- peeled and diced

2 whole leeks -- outer layers removed, thinly sliced

2 medium apples -- peeled and diced (Granny Smith apples hold up nicely to the long


6 ounces yellow corn

10 ounces eggplant -- diced

1 large red bell pepper -- roasted, skin removed, diced

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp nutmeg

2 large bay leaves

15 ounces canned diced tomato

4 cups water

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

8 ounces light coconut milk

1/2 cup fresh parsley -- chopped

1/2 cup pistachio nuts -- chopped

1 medium lemon -- juice only (use some of the peel as garniture)

1 large lime -- juice (use some of some of the peel as garniture)

3/4 cup basmati rice -- cooked

Prepare all the vegetables.

Start by roasting the curry in the oil and butter in a Dutch over medium heat for about 2 minutes (stir constantly so it doesn't burn, you might have to turn down the heat a bit near the end).

Add the potatoes through bay leaves and cook the mixture, turning the heat to medium/low, stirring to coat all with the curry/oil. Make sure that the vegetables do not take color. Then add the canned tomatoes (undrained), water and vegetable stock and bring to a boil before you leave it to simmer, covered, for 3 - 4 hours. Set the lid of the pot ajar a little for some steam to escape (but not too much or the liquid may evaporate and boil away!).

Stir every now and then. This thickens the soup and intensifies the taste.

Add the coconut milk through the cooked rice, blend in with the rest of the soup, and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve with a bit of nut-parsley topping if desired, or chopped cilantro, or lime and lemon zest.

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Per serving: 349 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat (3g Saturated); (28% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 58g Carbohydrate; 4mg Cholesterol; 233mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates