Friday, December 24, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen.  She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
Stollen bread was first made in Dresden, Germany in the early 1400’s.  It was shaped into a loaf to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The early stollen breads were rather tasteless because they were made during Advent, when the use of butter or milk was banned.  Eventually, the Pope allowed the use of butter and eventually dried and candied fruits were used to sweeten the bread.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Moon

On December 21st there was a total eclipse of the moon.  This was the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the day of the Northern Winter Solstice since 1638, and it won’t occur again until 2094.  A total eclipse occurs when the full moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Most people view fallen leaves as a chore, something they have to rake up and dispose of.  I see them as compost.  A valued addition to the kitchen scrapes, shredded paper, sawdust, and grass clippings we use to make the layers of our compost.  We rake them up and store them in trash cans.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Soup

Soup is the perfect end to a cold damp winter day.  It’s also easy to make, inexpensive and low calorie.  Curling up with a big bowl of hot corn and black bean soup, after a day of yard work, warms me right up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tuscan Chickpea Frittata

This Italian Frittata (or Farinata) is a tradition in the Ligurian region of Italy.  People line up in the streets in front of the bake shops and pizzerias in anticipation of eating them fresh from the oven.  It’s also know by the name Cinque e Cinque, which is a name given to the dish by sailors in the early 1900‘s.  It refers to the the price - five cents for the patty and five cents for the bread.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Apple Cranberry Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Barkers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata.  She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.
A crostata is an Italian tart that can be filled with fruit or pastry cream.  The base of the tart is a sweet short crust pastry, traditionally made from flour, sugar, butter and eggs.  My biggest challenge was to make the crust without the butter and eggs.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Meal Ideas

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I love all of the fall foods that are traditionally eaten for this holiday...roasted vegetables, candied yams, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  I usually don’t tinker with my Thanksgiving recipes because my family gets annoyed when I do, they like tradition and besides, why fix something that’s not broken. 

The only thing we don’t eat is the turkey.  Last year, I invented stuffed tofu with mushroom gravy.  The mushroom gravy is excellent, and can hold it’s own against any turkey based gravy.  

My candied yams recipe is an all time family favorite.  Baked yams are sauteed in a mixture of Earth Balance butter substitute, maple syrup, barley malt and honey (or use agave to make this dish vegan)

If you prefer a side dish that’s less sweet, you can serve this roasted root vegetable medley.  It has a lighter orange maple glaze glaze.  This recipe is available in my archives as are all of the others I've posted here.

The big hit of last Thanksgiving were my squash stuffed bake apples topped with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup. They would be an excellent side dish or dessert.

If you’re looking for a salad recipe, I recommend my Winter Cole Slaw.  It’s topped with cranberries and almonds and an orange mustard dressing.  

These are my Cranberry Pecan Cornbread Muffins.  They may be a little rich with everything else you may be planning for dinner but they’re an excellent morning after muffin.

The only recipe I don’t have to offer is a pie.  That’s a work in progress.  If it tastes as good as I hope it does, I’ll post it at a later time.

It’s been a tough year here in My Recession Kitchen but I’m thankful for what I have.  When I listen to world events, I realize that I’m very fortunate compared to so many people who have lost everything in fires, floods, earth quakes, tsunamis, and wars.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Growing Cilantro

I usually grow cilantro in late spring.  I love cilantro, it’s one of my favorite herbs, next to basil.  The frustrating thing about growing cilantro where I live is that it never lasts long.  Whether I grow it from seed or buy starts, it always bolts fairly quickly once the weather turns hot.  This summer was no exception.  However, this year I didn’t pull out the plants once they started to go to seed.  This year, I let the plants develop their seeds.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegetable Hand Pies

Butternut squash, spinach and mushrooms in an incredibly flaky crust.  My first try at hand pies was a complete success.  Last year, my daughter gave me this adorable little gadget for making pumpkin shaped hand pies.   I’ve been waiting for pumpkin pie season to use it, and that time has come.  Filling the pastry with pumpkin pie filling is the obvious choice but I went a different way and made savory vegetable hand pies for dinner instead.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup

It rained here yesterday and when the sky cleared it was cold and damp outside.  Rainy, cold Sundays always make me think about making soup for dinner, so that’s what I did.  I made a big pot of mushroom barley soup.  I haven’t made barley soup for many years, though I’m not sure why.  I used to make it a lot.  So much so, that when my daughter (who was about three years old at the time) got a new baby doll as a gift, she named it Barley.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Doughnuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up.  Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts.  She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
I’d never made doughnuts before and I have to say they were a lot easier to make than I thought they would be.  I used the Alton Brown yeast doughnut recipe.  That way I was sure to have light doughnuts without having to use eggs and they were perfect.  Since this was my first try at making doughnuts, I didn’t play around with fancy flavors.  Next time!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Red Rice Pilaf

I love this red rice.  It’s a handcrafted heirloom rice that has been grown in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan for thousands of years.  Because the rice is irrigated with mineral rich glacier water, it’s got significant amounts of magnesium and potassium.  It’s high in fiber, has a wonderful nutty flavor and only takes 20 minutes to cook.   I prefer it over brown rice and it makes a very tasty pilaf.   

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Harvest

It’s October which means it’s time to harvest pumpkins.  This year we grew our pumpkins in a shared garden with our neighbors, I wrote about it on August 28.  I harvested four pumpkins today and three of these mutant delicata squash.  
I’m not sure why the squash grew round like a pumpkin, but I have several theories.  My best guess is that the seed I used from a squash that I bought was a hybrid and it reverted back to whatever it was originally.  My second guess is that it cross pollinated with the pumpkins.  They’re a little stringy for eating (I baked one) but they’re very pretty.  I may have to turn it into a jack o lantern for Halloween!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Crispy Apple Roast

I got a few dozen free apples yesterday, and I couldn’t decide what to do with them.  I wanted to make a dessert, but I’ve been eating a lot of sugar, flour and fat lately, more that I care to eat, or should be eating.  I wanted to make a tasty little treat without all the calories.  I was pouring over my cookbooks when I remembered this recipe I’d saved online from Martha Stewart.  It’s a recipe for a potato roast.
I loved the presentation and thought that I could make this with apples instead of potatoes.  No flour, very little fat and maple syrup as the sweetener.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grape Harvest

We’ve just finished harvesting the grapes.  Like most everything else in the garden, they took a very long time to ripen because of the cool summer weather.  We tried to leave them on the vine as long as we could so they would sweeten up, but when the raccoons (or maybe opossums) started eating them, we knew they were ready and should pick the rest.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!  Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porchen and the Joy of Baking.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tofu Apple Salad

A chicken apple salad caught my attention in a deli case the other day and it looked really good to me.  A perfect fall lunch, especially now that apples are in season.   I don’t eat chickens, but I thought to myself, I can make that and substitute baked tofu for the chicken.  So, that’s what I did.  This is a very quick and easy recipe, especially if you buy the tofu already baked.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple Harvest

We have a Gala apple tree.  It’s grows, espaliered on the side of our garage.  It’s an excellent method for growing trees in small spaces, training them to grow on wires, like grapes.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Yesterday was our annual, end of summer block party.  It’s one of two yearly events where everyone on the street gets together for a little food, drink and conversation.  At the end of every summer we meet in the cul de sac for a potluck BBQ.  My contribution this years was oatmeal carmelitas.  It’s my go to dessert recipe for big gatherings.  Everyone loves them and they travel well.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our New Neighbor

We have a new neighbor.  I must apologize, I was introduced and I’ve forgotten his name.  I know he was named after a character, I think, from a Star Wars movie, so we just call him “Baby Star Wars”.  He’s very friendly and always comes over for a visit in the evenings when we’re watering the garden.   

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shared Garden

Our neighbors/friends up the street have a long sloping hill behind their house.  Early this spring it was covered in California poppies.  Quite a beautiful site.  They haven’t done much with it in past years so I convinced them that we should plant some veggies up there.  The things that need lots of sun and space to grow, like corn, melons, squashes and pumpkins.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking.  For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both.  Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tamale Pie

It’s a family tradition at our house that you get to choose whatever you want for your birthday dinner.  Mr. RK had a birthday a few days ago and he chose Tamale Pie.  He always chooses tamale pie, so that was no surprise.  He’s loved this dish since the first time I made it many years ago.  It really is delicious so I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often.  I make it a cast iron frying pan, less clean up that way.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Braised Green Beans with Onion, Garlic & Basil

We have a bumper crop of green beans this year.  Aside from the usual bush beans that I grow, I also planted these beauties.  (Read more about them in The Garden section of my blog)  They’re very prolific and I grew board with just eating them steamed.  Braising is my new favorite way to cook beans.  It’s simple and quick, and produces a very tasty side dish.  Some days, I turn this into a main dish by adding cut up soy sausage and a little crumbled feta.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rattlesnake Beans

A neighbor gave me some beans in the spring and told me to plant them.  He said that they came from his father.  That’s all that he said, so I planted them and they grew, so much so that we had to put bamboo extensions on the wire cages so they would have something to grow on, and still they grew.  Then, they started to produce flowers, dark purple flowers, that turned into long, broad, purple mottled green beans.   Beautiful beans that I couldn’t identify, so I turned to the internet to tell me what I was growing.  Turns out, they’re rattlesnake beans.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peach Breakfast Tarts

We planted a peach tree two years ago and this year we probably picked 30 peaches.  It’s still a relatively small tree so I was surprised by the number of peaches we got this year.  We did pick off the smaller ones in the spring (like they tell you to) to encourage the others to grow bigger.  We’ve been eating peaches morning, noon and night.  We can’t get enough of these sweet, juicy, tree ripened beauties.  

Friday, July 30, 2010


Moles are furry little blind mammals that burrow underground and eat worms.  They like to dig lots of tunnels in places, like your lawn and flower beds, to store their worms and generally make a mess of things.  In earlier centuries, in Europe, they were called mouldywarp, mould meaning soil and varp meaning throw, or essentially, “one who throws soil” or “dirt tosser”.  We thought gophers were making the mess but it turns out we have moles.

Beer Glazed Black Beans

I got a new cook book for my birthday, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.  A food writer for the New York Times, Mark is know as the “Minimalist” and I’ve been a regular reader of his blog Bitten Blog for a few years.
I adapted his recipe for beer glazed black beans for dinner and they were very tasty.  The flavor of beer and beans go together really well, and I’m sure this dish would work with pinto, kidney or white beans. This recipe is quick and easy and could be made even faster if you use canned beans, however, I cooked by own.  Black beans cook in 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world-life and food.  Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge.  Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

First Peach of the Season

We picked the first ripe peach yesterday.  It wasn’t as ripe as it should have been, I think Mr. RK was a little excited to taste the first peach.  We’ll leave the others on the tree for a few more days to sweeten up.  (They are very fuzzy peaches!)

Broiled Blackberry Corn Cake

This is one of those situations where you get lemons so you make lemonade.  I was intrigued by a recipe from Jeremy Jackson’s The Cornbread Cookbook for caramel corncake.  It sounded very tasty so I thought I would give it a try with the addition of blackberries.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Last of the Apricots

We picked the last of our apricots today.  This giant beauties are delicious and I will be sad when we’ve eat them all.  Apricot are one of my favorite fruits and these homegrown ones have been exceptional.  They’re much bigger than the ones you see in the stores (thinning in the spring really helps produce bigger fruit) and much better tasting because they ripen on the tree.

Strawberry Ice Creme

I’m on a quest to make really good non-dairy ice creme.  The ingredients in ice cream that traditionally give it that wonderful thick, creamy texture are cream and eggs.  Being allergic to eggs and and trying to avoid foods with cholesterol I’m searching for the perfect vegan ice creme recipe that will give me the “mouth feel” of full fat ice cream without the offending ingredients.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Tomato

This is my first tomato of the season!   Yes, I know, it’s just a little tiny cherry tomato but it’s the first.   I get excited by these things.  It’s beautiful, and I’m going to eat it for dinner tonight.  I’m going to cut it in half and share it with Mr RK.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back Alley Visitors

We have an alley behind our house that’s well traveled by the wildlife of our neighborhood.  This afternoon we had a new visitor to the alley.  This sweet little girl, who was probably born in Sorich Park this spring, came to visit with her mother and older sister.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July Garden Harvest

I love going out in my garden in the morning to see what we’ll be eating today.  This is what I picked.  I also have a little spinach left, lots of kale and chard, some lettuce, basil, cilantro and onions.  I harvested the garlic last week and it’s drying out in the shed.  
We picked blueberries raspberries and strawberries to put on top of our oats for breakfast.  I also picked the first (4) ripe blackberries.  The blackberries are my favorite.  We’re going to have a big crop this year because of the heavy spring rain.  

I also picked the first ripe apricot.  Our tree is full of big ripening apricots but a good number of them are molding on the tree.  I think is due to the rains that brought me the bumper crop of blackberries.  Nature is a good example of the yin/yang concept.  Things tend to balance out.
Due to the heat that is ripening the fruit in our yard, the peas are winding down.  The peas don’t like the heat so the plants are starting to dry up.  We’re still picking a few each day but they won’t be around much longer.
I also picked my first green bean today.  It’s a French bean from seed I bought in Paris a few years back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Roasted Asparagus Salad

I went to a family event last weekend and my contribution was this roasted asparagus dish.  It was so tasty, I’m making it again for a July 4th get together with neighbors.  This is a perfect party platter because you can cook the components up ahead of time and assemble it later, especially if you’re going to be traveling. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Chocolate Pavolva

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious.  Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse.  The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiohany by Francois Payard. 
A Pavlova is a meringue based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova.  The dessert was created by a New Zealand chef to honor Pavlova when she visited that country as part of her 1926 world tour.  It’s still a popular dessert today, and often served at holiday meals.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cannellini Beans & Broccoli

This meal is a tasty mixture of cannellini beans, broccoli, onions, garlic, mushrooms and soy sausage in a white wine broth.  I love the smell of sauteed onions and garlic when you pour some white wine over them, so much so, that I created a dish around it.  It’s a delicious combination of flavors, that is so good, I had to make it twice in one week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lemon Risotto with Spring Peas

I get lots of different kinds of food to sample at work.  Everyone wants us to sell their products.  I try to taste almost everything, but some things you get more excited about than others.  Yesterday, an Italian Food broker gave me a number of different, super high quality, products to try.  A bag of superfino carnaroli rice was one of those products, so I knew I would be making risotto for dinner. 

A New Garden Visitor

Today, we had a surprise visit from a swallow tailed butterfly.  I haven’t seen one of these in my garden before, or for many years, so I considered it a great honor that it chose to visit us today.  It sat on one of our hydrangea bushes for a long time until we took a picture of it, and then it flew away.  It’s camera shy.
Swallow tailed butterflies are from the family Papilionidae.  There are 550 species, most of which are from tropical climates but can be found on all of the continents except Antarctica.  The family includes the largest butterflies in the world.  This one was about 4 inches across.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grainless Tabouli Salad

I have to admit that before I started making this salad a few years ago, I’d never eaten parsnips.  My mother never cooked them, so as an adult, I really didn’t know how to eat them until I got involved with a raw food project at work.  I was working with raw a food chef, Roxanne Klein, who introduced me to parsnip tabouli.  I don’t have her original recipe but I do know that the bulgar was replaced with a combination of parsnips and pine nuts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

My nephew is graduating from middle school and his birthday is coming up at the end of the month.   This resulted in a little family get together, for which my sister asked me to make the dessert.  In accordance with family tradition, I asked my nephew what he wanted.  We settled on chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.   

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Trip to the Coast for Garden Ornaments

We took a day trip to the coast last week-end to walk on the beach and collect some seashells for our garden.  Mr. RK built some new garden “gates” to keep the cats out of the vegetable garden and he wanted to decorate them with seashells.