Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I want to wish everyone a very peaceful, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Eve Blue Moon

The Farmer's Almanac defines a blue moon as an extra full moon that occurs in a season.  One season usually has three full moons.  If a season has a fourth full moon, it's referred to as a blue moon.

The Cherokee call the December moon the Snow Moon, the Chinese call it the Bitter Moon.  Other cultures call this the Cold Moon, the Long Night Moon or the Wind & Rain Moon.  On December 31st we’ll have our second full moon of the month, a blue moon with a partial eclipse!  Blue moons occur on New Year’s Eve only once every 19 years.  The last one was in 1990 and the next one will occur in 2028.  However, for those living in Australia and Asia, the full moon doesn’t show up until New Year’s Day, which makes January a blue moon month for them.
Those of us in North America will not be able to see the partial eclipse.  It will be mainly visible in Europe, Africa and Asia and across Alaska.
This full moon occurs in the sign of Cancer, an emotional sign, ruled by the moon.  It’s in axis with Capricorn,  representing accountability, duty and reputation.  It’s important to remember balance at this time, between our home and personal life and our career and goals.  Balance of our emotions.  It’s a time of increased self evaluation and epiphanies.
2009 is almost over and I’m happy to see it go.  It’s been a really rough year for me and a lot of you as well, I’m guessing.  I’m looking forward to a fresh start in a new year....a new decade.  I hope this next year brings us all some peace and joy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Soft Gingerbread

This is the very first cake I attempted to make without eggs, and it’s still one of my favorites.  I adapted the recipe from a cookbook I picked up at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield Mass.  The Shakers were one of the more influential religious organizations of their time.  They were responsible for numerous inventions: the clothes pin, the flat broom, and the circular saw.  Borden went to a Shaker village to see their evaporator when he was attempting to invent evaporated milk.  They were also the first to grow and sell seeds in paper packets.  Their furniture designs are beautiful in their simplicity.  Maybe all that creativity was a result of the celibacy thing....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Raw Cranberry Macaroon Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies are the balance to all of the other holiday baking I’m doing and will be consuming over the next few weeks.  My cranberry macaroons are “raw” which means I dehydrated them at 115˚ instead of baking them.  This way, all of the enzymes that naturally occur in raw foods will still be active.  It also means I used ingredients that were never cooked over 115˚, like raw organic shredded coconut, raw cocoa powder and raw agave nectar.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mexican Bean Soup

Soup has always been a family favorite on cold winter nights and this winter is no exception.  A warm bowl of soup always hits the spot, and this soup is one of my favorites.  I adapted the recipe from a book I bought years ago called The Book of Soups by Lorna Rhodes.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Cookies are a perfect gift.  They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to make, and will please just about everyone.  I mean, really, who doesn’t like cookies??  They can be altered to meet anyone’s dietary requirements.  Allergic to nuts, leave them out.  Hate cranberries...substitute raisins.  There are lots and lots of gluten free recipes out there in blog land, just google your favorite kind.  I’m working on some raw food cookies that will make delicious, well appreciated gifts.  

My Frozen Garden

We didn’t have any snow last night like some of the Bay Area cities but we did have a really hard frost last night.  When I woke up this morning my garden was like a winter wonderland, everything was frozen and covered with ice crystals.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Noodle Pudding - Dairy and Egg Free

One of my favorite dishes as a child was noodle kugel or pudding.  It was something my mother made from a recipe that was handed down from her mother.  More of a casserole than what we traditionally think of as “pudding”, we ate this cinnamon raisin kugel for dinner.  

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This Squirrel Was Not Happy

I was in my office, working on my computer, last week when I heard this very loud chatter outside in my garden.  I went out to investigate and found this squirrel up in the oak tree, yelling at my Garden Supervisor with an acorn in it’s mouth.  My Garden Supervisor was pretending that she had absolutely no idea why this squirrel was so upset and making so much noise.  She claimed that the squirrel was having a psychotic episode and it was not her fault.  My Pest Control Manager was no where to be seen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives.  She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides.  She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas

Still haven’t figured out what to make for Thanksgiving?  Do you need to bring a dish to grandma’s and you don’t know what to make?  Here are a few of my recipes that I would recommend.  

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Candied Yams

This one is for you TC.  Here’s the candied yam recipe.  The one dish at Thanksgiving that can never be tinkered with in any way.  I could change the stuffing a little each year, or serve brussels sprouts instead of green beans but THERE MUST NEVER BE ANY CHANGES to the candied yams. I did put a few pecans on the top....just for the photo....I apologize for letting nuts touch your yams.

Friday, November 20, 2009

After the Rainstorm

The wind came up this morning and the sky darkened. Then it started to rain. Of coarse, I had errands that I couldn’t blow off so I braved the weather and went out.  By the time I returned the rain had stopped.  Some of these leaves are from trees half a block away, which gives you an idea of how windy it was.  The rain also brought out the mushrooms and lichens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Turkey Alternative

Thanksgiving is just a week away and I’m sure those of you who are cooking, are planning the menu.  If you’re not vegetarian/vegan yourself, you probably have at least one person coming to your table that will not eat turkey.  Maybe, due to the recession, you just can’t afford a turkey.  Whatever the reason, I have a very tasty alternative for you.  Stuffed tofu rolls with mushroom gravy.  The great thing about these tofu rolls is that it can be made the day before and reheated right before serving and topped with the gravy.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are These Edible Mushrooms

We found this amazing cluster of mushrooms growing under the blackberry vines yesterday when we were doing some late fall garden clean-up.  They’re beautiful, a little work of art.  Not only do they look amazing but they smell incredible.  They had an intense earthy, woodsy smell that makes you want to run in the kitchen and put some butter in a saute pan.

Minestrone Soup

We were working in the garden yesterday, harvesting the last of the tomatoes before the expected first frost.  Our garden is not producing a lot this time of year, just a handful of this and that.  I’m grateful that it’s producing anything at all, but that’s one of the perks of living in northern California.  We usually don’t get our first frost until November, so our summer vegetables will continue to grow until then.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Squash Stuffed Baked Apples

I got the idea for this recipe from an old 1988 calendar I found at my mother’s house a while back when I was helping her unpack.  November’s recipe was for squashed stuffed apples was courtesy of the Washington State Apple Commission.  I thought it was a great idea for Thanksgiving dinner.  However, I think a whole apple is a bit too much considering all of the side dishes that make up the Thanksgiving meal.   So, I adapted their recipe to make more reasonable portions and to shorten up the process.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Garden Has a New Squatter

This guy showed up in my garden last week on this large well constructed web.  We noticed it because it caught a wasp, which was buzzing loudly.  The wasp was probably screaming in wasp speak, aware of it’s inevitable fate.  I have to admit I couldn’t watch what happened next, I just can’t watch this sort of thing.  I hardly ever watch the nature channel, for this very reason.  I just can’t watch animals eating each other.  I know, it’s the natural order of things, but I can’t do it.  This is why I don’t eat animals or birds myself.  I figure, if I don’t have the courage to kill it, then I shouldn’t eat it. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Winter Cole Slaw

As I was typing the title for this post, it struck me what an odd name “cole slaw” is for a salad and I wondered what it’s origins were.  I turned to the web for a quick answer.  The term “cole slaw” comes from the partial translation of the Dutch term “koolsla”, a shortening of “koolsalade” which means cabbage salad.  Now it makes sense.  Apparently, the Romans were probably the first to make cole slaw, because it’s mentioned in Caelius Apicius’ collection of cook books (On the Subject of Cooking) from the 4th or 5th century.  His version contained vinegar, eggs and spices.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roasted Vegetables with a Maple Orange Glaze

Normally, I would prefer to eat most of these vegetables raw, grated on a salad.  It’s the best way to get the full nutritional value out of a vegetable.  However, when the weather turns cold, I start to crave warm comfort foods.  This dish of roasted root vegetables is one of my favorite fall/winter (guilt free) comfort foods.  I love it because it’s so tasty,  so inexpensive and easy to make, and so good for you.  Topped with an orange maple glaze, you might even get kids to eat it. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chocolate Molasses Ginger Cookies

....or what to do with your left over Halloween chocolates.

We didn’t have as many “trick or treaters” this year, compared to last year, so there were quite a few left over mini chocolate bars.  I put them to good use by topping some molasses ginger cookies with a piece.  The subtitle of this post could also be “how to get Mr. RK to eat a cookie that is not chocolate chip”  I get bored making the same cookies over and over.  He’ll usually eat any type of cookie as long as chocolate is involved, so I took the chance..and they were a hit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pear and Chocolate Scones

This photo of my pear & chocolate scones was taken by Kathryn Hill of Apartment Therapy’s “The Kitchn” when she visited my kitchen to do a photo shoot for their website.  Since then I’ve had several requests for the scone recipe, so here it is.  To see the photos on The Kitchn, click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Recession Kitchen is Featured on "the Kitchn"

Earlier this week, Kathryn Hill from Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn came to my house to photograph my kitchen and garden for their website.  This was our daughter’s idea, she’s a long time reader of Apartment Therapy’s website, which is really five websites in one: home design, technology, children, green living and cooking.  
So if you’re interested in taking a peak of my kitchen and garden, click on the link above and have a look for yourself. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: French Macarons

Vegan French Macarons, from the left: Plain with white chocolate cranberry filling; chocolate with chocolate filling; goji berry with chocolate filling; barley malt with chocolate filling.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S.  She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of the Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pear Chocolate Brownie Tarts

I’ve been trying to find a really good eggless brownie recipe for some time now.  I’ve looked through countless cook books, read pages and pages of google searches and tested many recipes over the years, only to be disappointed with the final result.  They were either too gooey, too cakey or too dry.   Eggs seem to be a very important component to really good brownies, but due to my allergy, they’re just not an option.  Tofu doesn’t work for me either.  I love tofu, but I just don’t like that soy under tone in a dessert.  Plus, I think tofu gives them a rubbery texture.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's Going on Behind the Garden Today

We have a bumper crop of acorns this year from the valley oak tree in the alley behind our house.  I read that It takes 50 years for an oak tree to get it’s acorns and can drop 50,000 of them yearly.  The most amazing fact is that one oak tree can provide enough oxygen for eight people for a year!  

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto with Caramelized Onion and Hazelnuts

It’s raining again so when it comes time to make dinner, I start thinking about comfort foods.  Something warm and creamy.  I had some left over canned pumpkin, from a failed pumpkin cookie attempt, that I needed to use, a pumpkin risotto came to mind.  I don’t usually plan, to far in advance, what I’m going to cook for dinner. It’s a question of what leftovers need to be used or what veggies need to be picked in the garden or what looks good at the farmer’s market.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Big Rain Storm Has Passed

My garden supervisor is out inspecting the yard after the biggest mid-October rain storm in forty years. The storm has passed, leaving behind over 4 inches of rain in a 24 hour period.  There were also 40-90 mile an hour winds.  Needless to say, there was some flooding, downed trees, and loss of power in the Bay Area, but we didn’t experience any problems.  We’d put away all of the summer yard furniture and covered the tomatoes with plastic sheeting, hoping to prevent them from splitting.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chili Cups

While helping my mother unpack some of the boxes she never got to after her move, I came across two boxes of cookbooks, accordion files and newspaper clippings of recipes that she had collected since she was married in the 40’s.  If you’re like me, this is like finding a treasure chest!  You can see some of the other things I found in her kitchen by clicking here.
This recipe was cut from a newspaper (probably the Oakland Tribune) some time in the early 60’s.  I guessing this from an ad on the back of the recipe that show a man and a woman shopping for groceries in suits, hat’s and gloves...yeah... no one has dressed like that to go grocery shopping in 50 years.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Cornbread Muffins

 Cranberries and pecans are a perfect fall food combination in my kitchen.  I love them in oatmeal, salads, rice, and any type of baked goods.  I’ve been thinking about putting this combo into cornbread for sometime, today was the day.   Instead of making the cornbread in an eight by eight pan, I decided to make them in my mother’s little jello molds.  I love their shape, and wanted to make them a little crispier.  I’m that person that likes to eat the outside edge of something, that part that gets a little crunchy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Growing Goji Berries

A few years ago I bought a goji berry plant.  I was researching goji berry suppliers on the internet for a raw food project my company was launching when I discovered the Timpanogos Nursery in Colorado was selling the plants.  Goji berries are incredible antioxidant fruits but they’re also very expensive so I ordered a plant.  I was also interested in trying them fresh.  The berries are very delicate and bruise easily which is why you usually find them dried.   According to the nursery, these are the true goji berry plants, not the wolfberry variety.  The true goji berry plants, known as Lycium barbarum, come from Tibet and Mongolia and the fruit is sweeter than the wolfberry.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October Harvest Moon

Harvest moon: The full moon closest to the autumn equinox.  The October full moon that rises within a half hour of sun set, giving farmers light to extend their harvest.

Once every four years the Harvest Moon occurs in October, this is one of those years.  The short time between the sun setting and the moon rising gives farmers extra light to extend their day/harvest.  It’s also called the Hunter’s Moon because it gives hunters more time to chase their prey...but as an almost vegan, I’d rather not think about that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lemon Rice with Chickpeas and Pistachios

It’s October and the weather is starting to cool.  We’ve had a long summer here with 100˚ weather until last week.  Now that fall has finally arrived, it makes me think differently about dinner.  Instead of salads, I start thinking about warmer, comfort foods.  Soups, casseroles, grains and beans. This dish is a perfect summer to fall transitional meal because it can be eaten warm or cold.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Vols-Au-Vents

The September 2009 ' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

A Vols-au-Vent is a small hollow cup of puff pastry used to serve a variety of fillings, usually savory ones.  The word is French for "windblown", used to describe the lightness of the crisp, flaky, layers you see when the pastry is baked.  Puff pastry is a laminated dough with a solid fat.  It's a time comsuming process because the dough must be kept cold and rest between folds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Things I Found in my Mother's Kitchen

I’m visiting my mother this week, to help her clean out her garage and open some boxes she still hasn’t unpacked from her recent move.  These are some things that I found in my mother’s kitchen that she’s probably had since the “big depression/recession”.  You know, that one that started in 1929 and lasted until the early forties.

This cake house mold is one of my favorites.  However, I’m guessing that this one is from 1957 since it says 1957 on the roof of the January house.  The packaging gives you examples of cake houses for each month of the year.  Birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and there’s even pictures for making a “ranch house” and barn with straw made from shredded coconut.  My mother said I could have this, so the next person I know that has a birthday is getting a house cake!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate Malt (Non Dairy) Ice Cream

We’re experiencing our usual “Indian Summer” weather here in California, which means that it’s been over 95˚ for the last four days.  It’s the kind of weather that screams ice cream.  I was given a Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment for my mixer for Mother’s Day, and I’ve only used it once.  The hot weather seemed like a good excuse to put it to use. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tofu Veracruz Style

The ripe tomatoes from my garden, that were starting to pile up on my kitchen counter, were calling to me.  I needed to make some sauce before they went bad.  I made a big pot of basic marinara, which I’m going to freeze, in ziplock bags, for later use.  I like to make a basic sauce that I can use as a base for other sauces later.  I’ll add some (vegan) sour cream  and vodka for vodka sauce, or use it as a base for  a minestrone soup.
Watching the sauce simmer on the stove brought back memories snapper Veracruz.  I didn’t have any fish but I did have tofu, so here is a vegan adaptation of that dish.  

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Harvesting Almonds

Two years ago, when I learned that the California Almond Growers were required to pasteurize their almonds, I went out and bought a self-pollinating Almond tree.  Pasteurizing almonds prevents them from sprouting and we eat a lot of sprouted almonds.  When you sprout the almonds, you remove the enzyme inhibitors, decrease the amount of fat they contain, and increase their nutritional value and digestibility.  I usually dehydrate them after I sprout them until they’re crunchy.

Mock Tuna Stuffed Cucumbers

Most people have an abundance of zucchini in late summer but I’ve had cucumbers.  Lots and lots of cucumbers.  I’ve had to get creative and invent some new ways to eat them, so for lunch I made stuffed cucumbers.  I stuffed them with a raw mock tuna made from sprouted sunflower seeds.  They came out looking like sushi so I sprinkled them with soy sauce and ate them with chopsticks.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is made from the flower sap of the coconut palm tree 

I'm always on the look out for a good alternative to sugar in baked goods.  Technically, sugar does the job and tastes really good but there are side effects.  The first problem is that it's addictive, the average American consumes about 115 pounds per year.  Since I don't eat anywhere near that much, someone out there is eating my share.  Someone is eating over two hundred pounds of sugar a year!?!  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Day Trip to the Coast

Mr RK and I decided to abandon the garden for the day and take a trip north, up the coast.  It was our anniversary.  In better economic times, we would gone to Mexico for a long week-end of warm beaches and fruity drinks.  Being unemployed and in cash conservation mode, we decided to head up the coast.  The beaches south of us would have been warmer but they closed the Bay Bridge for repairs this weekend, so going south (and dealing with the traffic) would be nothing short of insanity.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

S'mores Cupcakes

Summer is leaving.  Tomorrow is Labor Day and most kids are back in school already.  Even though it’s still warm here in California, there has been a barely discernible chill in the night time temperature that wasn’t there before.  The kind that reminds you to close the windows before you go to sleep.  I love summer and I’m always sad to see it go.  I know it will be back next year but that’s a long time to wait to see a good friend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fresh Tomato Avocado Tart

When the weather is hot, I prefer a cold dinner.  This fresh tomato avocado tart was the perfect end to a 100˚ day.  The filling has only four ingredients.  The corn, tomato and basil came from my garden, and I lined the bottom of the tart with an organic avocado.  I did sprinkle the top with a little salt, so I guess that makes five ingredients.  Still, it’s so simple, fresh, raw and tasty.  

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Director of Pest Management is not Happy

The director of Pest Management is mad.  She wants to have a "sit down".  She wants to know why she has to wear a black uniform when it’s 99˚ and extremely humid.  She’d like something in white, hell, she’d settle for gray.  After all, the Garden Supervisor gets to wear stripes.  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Dobos Torte

I joined an online baking group called the Daring Bakers.  Each month one of the members of the group chooses a challenging recipe and everyone bakes it and then posts their finished product on their blog.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella.  They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Growing My Own Onion Seed

This spring I has some green onions that wintered over and grew impressively large.  You don’t really get a very good perspective from this picture but the stems on these onions were about 4 feet tall.  They developed beautiful flowering heads.  I was very impressed with their showy desire to reproduce themselves, so I let a few of them stay to watch what would happen.  The flower buds began to open and then the bees showed up.

Mocha Tart

Mr Recession Kitchen doesn’t really like cake.  When asked what dessert he wanted for his birthday, he said “I don’t know, but not cake”.  Knowing that two of his most favorite foods are chocolate and coffee, I made him a mocha tart.