Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake

I know you’ve probably had your fill of carbs by now from all the holiday baking but I felt the need to post one last recipe just in case you still have a house guests or need a New Years Day brunch idea.  I adapted this recipe from a blueberry coffee cake that Cook’s Illustrated did a few years back.  Blueberries are not in season so rather than pay a fortune for sub par fruit that’s traveled from great distances, I’d rather go with ones that are in season.  I thought cranberries and oranges would be a wonderful combination, perfect for the season, and it was.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

In the spirit of saving trees, we hung our ornaments in the front window.  Hope you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snickerdoodles - 3 Ways

I’ve said it before, cookies make an excellent holiday gift.  They’re inexpensive and easy to make and almost everyone loves them.  This year I made snickerdoodles, three ways, for the people I work with.  I started by adapting a Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle recipe by Isa  Chandra, and eliminated the cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chickpea, Chard and (Soy) Sausage Soup

When the weather goes from unseasonable warm and windy to freezing overnight like it did last week, it’s time for soup.  Soup is one of the best comfort foods.  It’s good for you and inexpensive to make.  Packed full of beans and greens, and garnished with some Tofurky Beer Brats, this soup is the perfect end to a very cold winter day.  I love to make big pots of soup so I can eat the leftovers for lunch.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Growing Pomegranates

Two years ago we bought a pomegranate tree.  We chose the “Wonderful” variety because of it’s size, soft seeds, high water content and excellent flavor.  It thrives in a variety of well drained soils and grows best in full sun.  It will tolerate cold temperatures during winter down to 20° F.  Pomegranates are self-pollinating and typically ripen in the late fall in California.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Filipino Desserts

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a tradition Filipino dessert - the delicious Sans Rival cake!  And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a staple on our Thanksgiving table, candied sweet potatoes to be exact.  But this year I wanted to try something different.  I’ve been experimenting some stuffed Hasselback sweet potatoes.  A Hasselback potato is one that’s thinly sliced, topped with bread crumbs and herbs, and then roasted.  Traditionally, it made with russet potatoes but I’m fond of tweaking tradition a little so I went with sweet potatoes instead.  Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods and considered to be a “superfood” on all of those “foods you should eat” lists. Then, there’s also the fact that I’m allergic to all other potatoes.  I was curious about the origins of the name and from what I’ve read, Hasselback potatoes came from the restaurant of the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm Sweden some time in the 1940’s.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lentils with Fruit

Here is the second in a series of recipes I copied from a cook book owned by a friend who lives in Mexico.  The book is called “ Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook” and this recipe, Lentejas con Fruta is from the region of Oaxaca.  It caught my eye because of the unusual combination of lentils and tropical fruits.  The combination of flavors was so intriguing that I knew I had to try it.  It would never have occurred to me to cook lentils with bananas and mangoes and yet it was delicious.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

The End of the Summer Garden

Frost has been teasing me for days with small snow flake like crystals of ice on the windshield of my car in the morning.  There have also been some very cold nights.  So cold in fact, I was forced to put away the summer bedspread and get out the down blanket.  But this morning, the ice on my windshield was no longer teasing me.  It was one of those mornings when you just have to wait until your defroster can melt the ice so you can see to pull out of your driveway.  Summer is definitely over, even here in northern California.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

My Director of Pest Management would like to wish you a very Happy Halloween! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fudge and Pumpkin Pie Popsicles

I bought these BPA free plastic Popsicle molds and never got around to actually making any Popsicles.  Luck for me, we get summer weather well into October here in northern California and this year is no exception.  The temperature has gotten as high as 80°, hot windless days, what I like to call earth quake weather.  (In fact we’ve had three minor quakes already this month)  Inspired by the weather and my apparent current fascination with pumpkin, I made some pumpkin pie Popsicles.  When I mentioned to Mr RK that I was going to make pumpkin Popsicles, he didn’t look interested until I offered to make him some fudge pops as well.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat! 
Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is traditionally served during the holiday season.  The best description would be: amazingly tender cinnamon nut swirl bread.  I would imagine that you could get very creative with the filling, maybe substituting with poppy seeds or by adding some chocolate chips or cranberries and it would be just as good. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

We had our annual end of summer block party late this year, it’s usually in early September.  I live on a dead end street and we like to get together for an annual BBQ pot luck in the cul de sac.  Inspired by the fact that it’s October already, I made some pumpkin cheesecake squares with a ginger snap crust.  Last year I made a family favorite, oatmeal carmelitas.  

Like many of the recipes I develop, this one is a combination of several vegan pumpkin cheesecakes that I found online.  What I liked about this my recipe is that it doesn’t contain any tofu.  I love tofu and eat it often but I really don’t like my desserts to taste like tofu.  However, this recipe is not soy free because the non dairy cream cheese is made from soy.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Garden Update

The thing I love about living in Northern California is that we are still able to harvest a lot of food from our garden in October.  Typically, we have very warm weather in September and October and this year is no exception, except for that freak rain storm we had last week.  It usually doesn’t start raining here until the end of October.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Croissants

The Daring Bakers go retro this month!  Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child! 

Friday, September 16, 2011


Inspired by our recent trip to Mexico to visit with a long time friend and my love of Mexican food, I made some enfrijoladas.  The recipe came from a book my friend owns called “Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook”.  It’s filled with amazing pictures of authentic recipes from the different regions of Mexico.  I copied many of these wonderful sounding recipes for future potential dinners.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Garden In Mexico

We spent the last week vacationing in a small village in Mexico.  We went to visit a long time friend who lives there.  This is her beautiful courtyard garden.  I didn’t take my Nikon so these pictures were taken with a Lumix pocket camera.   They don’t do the garden or the flowers justice.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blackberry Harvest

Our blackberry harvest is in full swing now.  We’ve had some very hot days and when that happens, the blackberries ripen very quickly.  There are still a lot of red ones, but I’m picking a basket of ripe ones every other day.  
We can’t eat them fast enough because we’re also picking raspberries and strawberries, so I freeze them.  I think about the black smoothies, blackberry crisps, and other treats we’ll be able to eat in December when fresh, local, organic berries are not available. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Orange Peanut Dressing

The inspiration for this salad was a recipe in the Fields of Greens cookbook by Annie Somerville.  She’s the executive chef at Greens, a celebrated vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco.  While their noodle salad has been a favorite on their menu since the late seventies, I felt it needed updating.  I didn’t want to blanch the vegetables..I didn’t see the point.  Carrots and peas are wonderful when they’re raw and crunchy.  I also changed the dressing by balancing the flavors more to my taste.  The result was wonderful.  One of our new favorite dinner salads.  This recipe makes four decent sized servings but Mr. RK and I ate the whole thing.  We had to have seconds, it’s that good.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Fresh Fraisiers

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
Fraise is the French word for strawberry.  A Frasiers is a cake made with fresh strawberries and filled with pastry cream.  Making the required sponge cake was not the challenge for me.  I used my normal egg free cake recipe except that I substituted cake flour for all purpose flour to give it a lighter texture and I add a teaspoon of lemon zest.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peach Crispy Crumble

It seems that most people, including myself, get confused when talking about fruit crisps and crumbles. Half the internet thinks a crisp had rolled oats and a crumble doesn’t.  Don’t get me started on cobblers, grunts and pan dowdies.  However, after extensive Google searches, I’ve come to realize that it’s a country of origin thing.  Americans and Canadians call them crisps and the British call them crumbles whether or not they contain oats.  I’m going with “crispy crumble” because my technique creates a wonderful crispy crumbled topping for any fruit.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dragonflies in the Garden

This beautiful dragonfly showed up in our garden yesterday and Mr. RK got some pictures of her.  She’s a Flame Skimmer (Libellula Saturata), common in Northern California and usually found near ponds or lakes from April to October.  You can tell that she is a female because she’s more of a burnt orange color rather than bright orange and has a white stripe between her wings.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple Garlic Almond Green Beans

It’s green bean season.  Green beans are a summer staple in our diet.  My favorite way to eat them is to steam them for 3 minutes and then toss them into a pan with garlic and almonds for another minute.  They still have a nice crunch and a wonderful garlicky flavor.  This dish take all of five minutes to make and makes ordinary green beans into something wonderful.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July Garden Update

This is what we picked today from our garden.  Raspberries, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and our first tomato.  The raspberries are amazing.  We get a container like this about every other day.  You’d think I would be able to freeze some for the winter but Mr. RK eats a pile of them on his oats for breakfast everyday so I’m just lucky there are some left for me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Potato Salad

Those who know me well will think this is an odd dish for me to make, because they know that I’m allergic to potatoes.  Yes, potatoes.  I have a number of food allergies, and potatoes is one of them.  However, a neighbor invited us over for a 4th of July dinner and asked me to make some potato salad.   I was happy to contribute to the meal and I knew that Mr. RK, who loves all things potatoes, would love some.  Because of my allergy, I tend not to cook them. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July Party Suggestions

The 4th of July is only a few days away and so are the parties that go with it.  I was going through my archives and realized that I have a number of salads, platters and desserts that would be perfect for such an occasion.  These are all recipes that you can make ahead of time, or at least some part of the recipe, and the rest will come together very quickly.  So, here are my suggestions for your holiday party.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Mouse in the House

This is my Director of Pest Management.  I’ve posted about her before.  Her main objective in life is to catch things and keep unwanted guests out of my garden.  She really does an excellent job of keeping the birds from eating our raspberries.  However, lately, I’ve been considering writing her up for dereliction of duty.  The squirrels have been eating my almonds and she’s done nothing about it.  I usually find her sleeping in the ferns.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Bakers’ June challenge.  Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.
Typical of most ancient recipes, the origins of baklava are claimed by many ethnic groups but no one is really certain where it originated.  The educated guess is Central Asian, with it’s more current form being developed in the imperial kitchens of the Ottoman Turks after they captured Constantinople.  The palace chefs came from all the different Ottoman territories, so it’s considered an urban creation and not an ethnic one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tempeh "Crab" Cakes

I’ve wanted to try this recipe for tempeh “crab” cakes from the moment I read it in Isa Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch cook book.  I have the book, so there was just no excuse.  It’s the perfect summer dinner, a protein we can eat on a salad.  As far a soy proteins go, tempeh is one of the best.  Now, you can have crab cakes out of season and no crabs need to be harmed in the making of your dinner.  Tempeh crab cakes are a lot less expensive too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

After the Rains

In California it almost never rains after the first week of May, but this is the first week of June and it’s still raining!  It must be another sign of global climate change because I can never remember a time when it’s rained the whole month of May.  I haven’t ventured out into the garden much because the weather has been so unpleasant.  However, it now appears that the rains are finally over so it’s time to check on my garden’s progress.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tofu Scramble

Tofu scramble is one of my favorite comfort foods.  When I get home late from work or I’ve had a bad day or it’s still RAINING and it’s June already, I turn to the tofu scramble for dinner.  It’s inexpensive and quick to make and it’s very good for you.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Spring Harvest

Last week we traveled to the other side of the county for T.C.‘s graduation from NYU. (We’re very proud that she graduated with honors) When we returned, the late spring rains and longer days brought the first harvest.  Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries!  To be honest, the first berries of the season are never the sweetest but we don’t care because we haven’t had fresh vine ripened fruit since last season.  It’s so wonderful to finally have berries for our oats in the morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

German Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these delicious German Chocolate Cupcakes as my dessert contribution to our annual Mother’s Day family pot luck picnic.  When I asked my mother what type of dessert she wanted, she responded by saying “something with chocolate of course”.  I figured cupcakes travel better than a cake because you can put them back in the muffin tins and they won’t get damaged.  I added the coconut pecan topping to them when I arrived at the picnic.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Visitors

Every Spring brings new garden visitors and this one is no exception.  My Director of Pest Management is generally the first one to greet them, since she feels that it’s her job to patrol every corner of the garden.  Here’s my Director of Pest Management..just in case you haven’t met her yet.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carrot Cake with Creme Cheese Frosting

I wanted to make a dessert that represented Spring, Earth Day, and Easter to celebrate the season.  The first thing I thought of was carrot cake.  Although carrots have been used in cakes since the middle ages, the carrot cake became a huge fad in the U.S. in the 1970‘s, around the time when eating “natural” foods became popular and the first Earth Day was celebrated, so it seems like the perfect choice.   I made carrot cake back in the 70’s but I felt the recipe needed an update. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vegan Ricotta & Sausage Stuffed Shells

I was watching the Food Network the other day and Giada making stuffed shells for her sister and I was fondly remembering a time when I could eat cheesy ricotta stuffed things when it I realized that I didn’t have to deny myself such yummy food.  I came up with my own version, a non dairy, soy sausage stuffed shells that tasted just as good.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast.  Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maple Almond Granola

I was going through some old recipes the other day and I found my old “crunchy granola” recipe from the seventies.  Yes, I admit it, I made granola in the seventies, and we called it “crunchy granola”.  It was really good granola, the kind with big clumps, and I made it often as you can see by the recipe card.  I had edited the original version but I don’t remember where it came from.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Garden Update

I haven’t been out in the garden much because of the rain.  It’s been raining almost every day.  In a brief break a few days ago, I went out to see how spring has progressing.  This is a picture above is my peach tree.  It’s the second tree to bloom, the almond is always the first.  With all this rain,  I worry that the bees won’t be able to pollinate and the wind and rain with wash off the blooms, which means we won’t have any fruit.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Panna Cotta & Florentines

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Grilled Tofu in Mustard Caper Sauce

I got this recipe from a neighbor of mine and she got it from a recipe by Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa.  I think it came from an old issue of House Beautiful.  The original recipe involves fish and creme fraiche.   It’s really delicious but all that cholesterol is not so good for my body so I adapted the original recipe because I thought is was so delicious.   I replaced the creme fraiche with a combination of non dairy sour cream and non dairy creamer.  I used grilled tofu instead of the fish.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I asked Mr. RK what flavor cheesecake he would like for Valentines Day and he very quickly said chocolate raspberry.  I used to make him cheesecakes for his Birthday, when I could still eat dairy and eggs, but I haven’t attempted to make one in years.  My original cheesecake recipe came from the McCormick Spices of the World Cookbook.  What I loved about this recipe was the sour cream top layer that you add at the end.  I had to change the original recipe, a lot, because I’m allergic to eggs but I left the sour cream top as it was written.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spring is Just Around the Corner

In the San Francisco Bay area we have these glorious two week of spring like weather every year at the end of January or the beginning of February.  Then, the storms start up again and we have gray rainy weather on and off for most of February, March and April.  
Today, at noon, it was 76 degrees in the shade at my house.  This amazing weather in the middle of winter causes the trees to bud out.  This is a picture of my almond tree, my peach tree is also starting to develop buds.  The down side of this weather is if the trees bloom and the rains start before the bees can do their job of pollinating the flowers, we won’t get a crop of almonds, like last year.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bean and Vegetable Soup

Soup is the perfect winter comfort food!  It warms you up, it’s inexpensive, low in fat and calories, and simple to make.  We been a little “under the weather” with colds this weekend, so tonight I made some soup.  Soup always makes me feel better when I’m sick.  This basic bean and vegetable soup is so easy to make, there is no reason to ever buy canned soup.  This recipe is very flexible, on purpose, because it allows you to use up the leftovers you have in your refrigerator.  Another excellent benefit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Injured in the Line of Duty

Several night ago, while working the grave yard shift (at her own request) my Director of Pest Management got into an altercation with unknown feline invader and is now on a medical leave of absence.  Since there is not much going on in the garden this time of year, it’s not a problem, except for the vet bill.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orange Pistachio Quinoa Salad

My favorite winter fruit is the perfect satsuma mandarin orange.  They have no seeds and they’re very juicy and sweet and travel well.  By this I mean that you can toss a couple of them in your bag and they won’t make a mess of things.   They’re easy to peel and divide into segments so they don’t make a mess when you eat them either.  They’re also loaded with vitamin C.  The only problem I have with the satsumas is that they aren’t available all year like other varieties of oranges, so I have to get my fill of them while they last.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Corn Casserole

It’s a rare thing to have a bag of fresh organic corn on the cob in the middle of winter, but that’s the situation I found myself in.  The corn was a little past it’s prime, but it was free, so I sat down at my computer to find a recipe for corn casserole.  The first recipe I encountered was by Paula Deen, and as it turns out, was essentially vegan.  By which I mean that I could convert it without much trouble.  All of the other recipes I found on the internet were just variations of hers.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Hoppin John Soup

Happy New Year Blog friends!  For a number of years now, I’ve been cooking black eyed peas for New Year’s Day dinner.  Last year, I made them into a tart with a brown rice crust.  (see link at the bottom of the page) Eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity.  It’s not that I’m really superstitious, it’s just that it’s a very old tradition and I’m fascinated by the history of food
Black eyed peas are also an inexpensive, healthy protein that is high in calcium, vitamin A and folic acid.  Since I can no longer eat dairy products, finding non animal foods high in calcium is important.