Saturday, November 3, 2012

First Loaf

When I was in middle school, I made my first loaf of bread.  It was whole grain bread, full of molasses and wheat flour and thick rolled oats.  It came together, rose, and baked perfectly.  It was like magic.  I was prepared for the first loaf to be an absolute flop.  But it wasn't; I made giant avocado and mustard sandwiches on it.  I toasted it and drizzled honey on it.  It was my bread.  Even though I branched out to white bread, to challah, to brioche, and to french bread, the sweet oat loaf held a special place in my heart.

On Thursday I made my first homemade gluten free bread.  From a mix, but still.  It turned out well -yeasty and hearty and full of holes.  It was also pale yellow and tasted pretty rice-like.  *sigh*  It toasted up fine, though, and was the perfect vehicle for melted butter and local homemade buckwheat honey and blueberry jam.

The next loaf will be even better.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Corndog Muffins > Other Muffins

It's no secret that I love muffins.  They're a pretty great option for the single cook, because they are pre-portioned, easily freezable, and fit into all of my tupperware.  It's an affair that can't be broken up.

I'm fairly experienced in the muffin world, but I had certainly never had a corndog muffin before.  I've been sick and sleepy all week, and everything in me screamed for carbs and meat.  What better way to solve that with some delicious muffins that pack a meaty punch?

After scouring the web.  Well, Pinterest, actually, I found A Sweet Simple Life who had a recipe for such muffiny goodness.  I adapted it a little, so keep reading to find a cheesy, filling, meaty muffin that can make YOU renounce any other muffin for good.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making New

I grew up in a family with a strong culinary tradition.  We ate real food, lovingly prepared by my mom.  We sat at our old, dented kitchen table every single night to plates of warm casserole, savory pie, chicken, rice, spaghetti, lasagnas, piping hot bread, soup, and perfect baked potatoes.  We'd tell stories over desserts of cake and ice cream and cookies of every imaginable kind.  My mom made the simplest of dishes seem elegant.  Every one of them was special because she made it.  She didn't just go through the motions to get food on the table.  Homemaking was and is my mother's job, and she did and does it (like she did and does everything) eminently well.

I started keeping a cookbook in middle school.  I created a huge collection of photos and memories that I planned to carry with me my whole life, my culinary heritage if you will.  I carefully documented each experiment, each hand-scooped cookie, each soup.  I rated and noted and described every dish.  I soaked up every cooking lesson as I watched my mom crimp piecrusts and frost cakes and brown meat.  I made those recipes my own until my hands deftly mixed fat into flour and dabbed ricotta into lasagna noodles and picked every last scrap of meat off of roasted chickens.  I added my own notes to the margins.  I dreamed of a long future making cheeseburger for my college friends, coming back to my first apartment at the end of a long day to chicken divan, and someday making fried chicken for my kids.

I know now that that's not going to happen.  As the holidays come up, I'm realizing more and more just what I'm missing.  My relationship with my mom is strengthened by food and the love and care and joy that we've shared over loaves of bread and cookies and delicious piping-hot pies.  I miss that more than I ever could have anticipated.

So I'm suddenly in a position I was never prepared for.  It's daunting and strange and filled with crumbling piecrusts and overly dry muffins and rubbery eggplant lasagna.  It doesn't taste or smell or look like my childhood.  It's full of ingredients and flavors and cooking tricks that my mother has never used.  Wallowing isn't going to solve it, though.  I'm researching new Christmas cookies.  I'm making new flour blends.  I'm learning to roast my own chicken and to remember to buy xanthan gum.  I'm creating my own culinary history from scratch, and I think it's going to be ok.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bad Blogger Award AND Smitten Kitchen Goes Gluten Free

Senior year: 1, Blogging: 0 is how it's going so far.  Everything is pretty much a giant vortex of time-sucking-ness from homework (how did I manage to pick ALL intense classes in the one semester I'm taking all 100 and 200 level courses meant for freshmen and sophomores??!!) to debate, to just about everything.  But I miss blogging, and I miss baking and cooking.  There's not a lot of that happening either.  I'm pulling the cookbooks out again, because there's only so many rice chex a girl can eat.

So today I made these:

What are those?  Well first of all, they're da bomb.  But more specifically, they are banana blueberry muffins adapted from Smitten Kitchen, one of the prettiest food blogs on the block.  My love affair with baking and blueberries is probably almost as great at SK's love affair with butter.  But I digress.

...and done digressing.

Her Crackly Banana Bread intrigued me for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, because I've never thought to put uncooked millet in anything (millet is, frankly, pretty gross-tasting) and secondly, because the bananas and maple syrup provided all but a teeny bit of the sweetness.  I'm all for natural low-sugar stuff, so I dove in.

I ended up not putting any whole millet in because I both didn't have any, and as adventurous as I am, it doesn't extend to raw millet.  But I compromised a little, 'cause I'm a compromiser, and  added some millet flour to the mix.  There will be a little gluten-free flour breakdown below with some more info as to why I chose what I chose.

But first, the recipe for banana muffin goodness with some notes.  Thanks Smitten Kitchen (I <3 youuuuu!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crunch Time

It's getting down to crunch time here in the land I love.  Just two weeks left before I am back on American soil.  Wow.

I'm going to be taking a blogging hiatus until then.

See you on the flip side!

Homemade Corn Tortilla with Sweet Potatoes and Chicken

Roasted Mangoes and Red Onions with Black Rice Pasta in Thai Curry Sauce

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Honey Butter Cornbread

When I was little, one of my favorite weekend breakfasts was cornbread dotted with butter and covered doused in real maple syrup.  This was also my dad's favorite breakfast, so the two of us would sit at our kitchen island and talk politics and eat syrupy cornbread.  I felt awfully grown up.

Unfortunately, the long list of ingredients on out boxed cornbread mix scared me long before they were actually off limits.  I don't think partially hydrogenated vegetable oil belongs in any meal, much less breakfast.  Today, I had a real breakfast cornbread craving, and with all the ingredients tucked safely in my fridge and cupboard, I decided to go for it.  The results were, in a word, perfect.  In fact, I'm devouring a nice big piece with butter and syrup as we speak.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lemon Almond Pancakes

Last time I made gluten-free pancakes, they were pretty gross.  Rubbery, flat, and 100% blah.  After making both cookies and cake from almond flour, I realized I really liked the stuff.  My last almond-flour pancake experiment was also semi-successful, so I had a good idea it might work.  To "replace" the gluten (what keeps regular wheat pancakes together) I used a lot of eggs -4, in fact.

I came up with this recipe.  It's not perfect yet, but the best GF recipe I've tried.  Simple, too, because it doesn't use an abundance of gums and blends and extras.  The only big thing I'd change is fiddling about to reduce one of the eggs.  These were quite eggy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tall, Dark, and Handsome

My parents both really like Medjool Dates.  I can't stand the things.  I think they taste weird.  I pick them out of my granola, I extract them from salads.  I don't understand how some people rave about them and call them dessert. Where I come from, a chocolate craving must be honored.

So how did I choose to make these?  I am a big fan of no or low added sugar.  In fact, most of the time I make dessert, I reduce the sugar by at least a quarter or substitute with honey.  I use raw sugar whenever I can.  Making a delicious cookie with fruit as the sweetener?  Yes please!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Food and You: Healthy? NOT.


College can be a really difficult time to eat healthy.  Even if you steer clear of pizza and too many cookies, there are lots of things we are told are healthy that actually aren't.  After the jump, see a list of five common so-called "healthy" foods and better substitutions, as well as a "bonus" tip ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Simplest (and most delicious) Soup Ever

Yes, it's summer.  Yes, I had a craving for tomato soup and grilled cheese.  Lucky thing, because the farmstands are totally overflowing with fresh, glowy, beautiful tomatoes.  I knew these beauties could really shine in soup, so I went ahead and picked up just over two kilos (four and a half pounds) of assorted tomatoes -green and stripey, romas, yellow, red, sauce tomatoes.  They were all perfect and ripe and juicy and colorful.  Just look!

Strawberry Cake

Mmmmmmmm, delicious.  That's what I thought when I saw that cake on this sweetly-named website.  My first foray into gluten-free sweets was a pretty delicious success.  I (as usual) made a couple changes to suit my tastes, what I had, and what was in season.  Without further ado, pics (cause you know you want them) and my adaptations.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Arepa Caprese Sandwiches

Whew.  This whole "no bread" thing is quite the challenge.  Thankfully I discovered the "Arepa" a kind of South American corn English muffin.  Incredibly simple to make and very delicious with a wide array of spreads, they're my new go to.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Leaf

It's been a couple weeks now, folks, but my silence has been for a good reason.

For a variety of reasons, cutting gluten out of my diet was a much-needed change.  I cannot begin to explain how much better I feel and look -inside and out.  I didn't know I could feel so GOOD.  No idea that I could have so much energy and feel pleasantly sated after eating.  All full and happy tummy, clearer skin, and bright shiny eyes over here :)  And so much ENERGY!  ENERGY!  ENERGY!  Did I mention that?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Triberg and Freiburg

Yesterday some friends and I went to Triberg and Freiburg.  It was the longest day trip I have ever been on.  I'm pretty sure we spent more time on the train than we did at the actual sites.  We had a really nice time -hiked the Wasserfall in Triberg, checked out a shop or two, and walked (!!!) back to the Hauptbahnhof.  It's a pretty steep walk.  That whole Southern-European sense of time really exists.  We had to run for pretty much every train.  Exciting to say the least.  All in all it was a beautiful, fun, and exhausting day.  Thank you wonderful people!

Hausach (hour-long Umsteigzeit on our way to Triberg)



Enjoying my last four weeks here.  It's going by painfully fast.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The (second) Best Sandwich in the World

I'm going to let you all in to a little secret.


You know what that is?  It's the second-most delicious sandwich in the world.  It's pretty easy too.  You need two slices whole-wheat bread (I guess you could use white, but I don't think it's all that delicious), nutella, peanut butter, jam, and a small banana.  You spread a swirly delicious mixture of nutella and peanut butter on one slice, and top with sliced banana.  On the other slice, you spread a nice layer of jam.  Then you sandwich it all together and devour (in a ladylike manner, of course).

The first best sandwich in the world?  Right now, it's a secret known only to me and the most fantastic deli in Harrisburg, PA ;)  I'll give you a hint -best consumed with an ice-cold, cane-sugar sweetened cream soda.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunny Wanderings

As the title implies, it's been a lot sunnier here.  I took advantage of that with a friend the other day on the Neckarinsel (the island in the Neckar by the Altstadt).  I was pretty careless with the sunscreen and a pretty agonizing burn resulted.  Oi.  For that reason, I've been the only person in this city wearing sleeves.  Awkward.

Grapefruit Remixed

I love reading the blog "No Big Dill."  Aesthetically, it's lovely, and full of inspiring sewing.  Maybe someday I'll practice up and get that good, but for now I'm sticking with the food.  When I saw this in her recipe page, I thought I'd make my own broiled grapefruits.

I mixed some melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together to make a paste.  I smeared it over the top of two grapefruit halves.  I broiled/baked until the whole thing was melty and warm.  Mmmmmmmmm.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meatless Meatballs

I'm not vegetarian anymore, but I still LOVE my veggies.  I just feel at my best when I eat less meat, especially red meat, and I save money too.  A win-win, as far as I'm concerned.  After seeing these yummy (and easy) looking eggplant meatballs on "A Cozy Kitchen" (what a great name, right?) I had to act!  I really like eggplant, I could honestly have eaten the whole bowl of roasted slices right out of the oven!  My patience was rewarded, though, and the resulting "meat"balls were super-delicious.  I adapted the recipe a little and made half of it.  I ended up with ten smallish veggie-balls.

Get the recipe after the jump.

Banana Breakfast Squares

I like shaking up breakfast.  Cereal and milk one day, veggie eggs (scrambled eggs + frozen mixed veggies) the next.  Pancakes are, of course, a constant star.

With an overripe banana and some almost-overripe peaches hanging out in my room, I decided to act.  It wasn't enough for quick bread, and I wanted something a little healthier anyway.  After a little peeking, I found this recipe from Gingerbread and Bagels on Pinterest.  Healthy, yummy, and something to use up all the fruit :)

I replaced the milk with 1/2 cup pureed cooked peaches and left the sugar out.  I ate the results plain, but they would also be good with jam or fresh fruit.

*EDIT* the blogger seems to have disappeared, so here's the recipe.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats 
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I used peach puree, but you could use any sweet fruit puree)
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
1 large mashed banana 
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix together and pour into a lightly-buttered 8x8-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pancake Days: Lemony Bananas Foster

My sourdough starter is nice and strong again and ready to make tonight's dinner.  As for syrup, I didn't have any maple, so I made Bananas Foster.  A tiny bit of brown sugar, some lemon juice, some cinnamon, and two very ripe bananas later this resulted:

Yes folks, the pancake plate is back again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peach Pie Brioche

Thought I'd go back to yeast-bread baking while I wait for my Sourdough starter to bulk up again.  After seeing this beautiful (and processed-sugar-free) brioche, I figured I'd do my own twist, haha.

So I made peach pie bread.

Instead of cinnamon-sugar for the filling, I used half a jar of peach-applesauce and sprinkled cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins over it.  I also replaced half the butter with more of the fruit puree.

Swedish Eats

Fun fact, all of Sweden (well the indoor bits, anyway) smell like cinnamon sugar.  I kid you not, it is DA BOMB.

They also have delicious pastries (the source of this delicious smell):

They sell marmalade in tubes, like sausages:

They have Skippy-brand peanut butter in regular stores:

And Nutella-banana sandwiches are just as good here as they are everywhere:

Discovering Stockholm: Part III

After the museum, we decided to head back to Gamla Stan (the old city) to check out an authentic candy store!  We read about it in "things not to miss" and it sounded just like something we needed to see.  Plus it was indoors.

It had a name we couldn't pronounce, and none of the candy labels were in English.  That whole "German-speakers-can-read-Swedish" thing does NOT hold true with many fruit flavors.  Thankfully the staff spoke English, and were super helpful.  The workshop was glassed-in, so you could see them making their candies (spicy licorice was the flavor of the day).  The little buckets attached to the workshop hold freshly made, freshly wrapped candy.  So many flavors!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Discovering Stockholm: Part II

After a long, oft-interrupted (thank you four snoring Japanese businessmen!) sleep, we headed out for day two.  The weather wasn't much better.  It was raining less, but so much colder.  Our goal for the day had been to see Skansen (the Swedish equivalent of Plymouth Plantation or Greenfield Village).  Who wouldn't want to see that??!!  We just couldn't imagine being outside long enough and couldn't justify paying the equivalent of 14 Euros to stay 20 minutes.  I know I need to get myself back to Sweden to experience it.  The Swedes were not deterred.  Decked out in foul-weather gear head to toe, we saw family after family just going for it.

Our mail goal no longer feasible, we headed to our (close) second choice, The Nordic Museum.  We took LOTS of pictures.  It was very very cool to see so much Swedish history, including handcrafts. Y'all know how much I love that stuff!.

This guy greeted us in the main hall.  The inscription beneath his throne reads "be Swedish!"


Pancake Days: Coconut Almond

My sourdough starter spend the last couple weeks chilling (hah) in the refrigerator sans food.  This is totally ok, it just needs a little extra TLC and strengthening time when it comes back out, before it can be used again.  While I wait for next weekend, I decided to try ANOTHER new pancake recipe.  Dear me, branching out!

Today I made coconut almond pancakes with coconut milk and toasted almond and coconut shavings. I topped them (and filled them) with butter, cherries, and blackberries.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Baby Cakes

I have a love affair with this blog.  It's partially the name -how can you NOT like something called "Desserts for Breakfast?"  After scrolling through page after page of drool-worthy photos, I had bookmarked about ten different recipes that I just HAD to make.  HAD TO.  Given my time, monetary, and kitchen restraints, I settled on a simpler-looking one.  These adorable little sandwich cookies really got me.

Om nom.

My beloved neighbor is moving out.  My cookie muse, so to speak, with his inspiring love of all baked sweets.  Mostly cookies.  I call him cookie monster, sometimes.  I baked these for his going-away-bbq and because he squealed when he saw the recipe.  I'm going to miss that one.

Discovering Stockholm: Part 1

P and I headed up north (well northerner-north) to see Stockholm.  Our first view of Sweden looked a lot like Maine.  Rainy pine forests surrounded the rural airport we flew into.  During our 1.5 hour bus ride to the city center, the scenery reminded us surprisingly of the US.  We saw 7-11s, huge highways, pine forests, and super-malls complete with big box stores and parking lots for the masses.  When we finally got to the Hauptbahnhof, our destination, it was 11 at night and raining.  We missed the clear signage that exists in Germany.  We were grateful that we could find an ATM to get some money (Sweden is not on the Euro!).

The next day, the weather was no better :(  We headed out to explore the old city, "Gamla Stan."  It was still rainy and cold, so we ducked into souvenir shops too.  There were so many moose motifs everywhere!  Who knew?  Pretty old city:

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Great Up North

For Pfingsten (Pentecost) southern Germans receive a week of vacation.  The Protestant north does no such thing.  Thankfully P. had a couple classes cancelled so headed out to explore the north.  First stop was Bremen, her town.  I arrived on Sunday after a 12-hour train ride.  Believe me, it was great.  I love long train trips.  Got to see so much of Germany!  And for 40 Euros, you just can't beat it.  I briefly saw the Hannover Altstadt while I waited for my final train.

Peachy Keen

I love a good peach.  Their juicy sweetness, textural perfection, and versatility make it a fruit I'm proud to call my favorite.  (Like blueberries, strawberries, oranges...  Playing favorites is tough!).  They're just beginning to show up at the groceries at ludicrous prices, so I bought just two.  After eating the first one a little too soon, I waited a nice long time with number two.  My patience was rewarded today with this delicious lunch:

Peaches sliced on Wasa crackers topped with peanut butter, ground almonds, and shaved coconut.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Soup for Summer

The weather here has been anything but summery, of late.  Rainy, dreary, and chilly, it has called for soup.  I picked up a little Jamie Oliver magazine at the Bremen airport, after realizing just how long the wait would be.  P got a dictionary and we learned words to help us get out of trouble, like "to deny everything."  Leugnen, if you're curious.

The ham-mint soup sounded really appealing, and I figured it would be a good way to assimilate, given that Germans like their Schweinefleisch (pork).

I ended up making it without the mint, and added a little pasta tonight since I didn't want to brave the cold to buy fresh bread.  You don't buy bread for the week here, you purchase it by the day.

American Style

Thanks to our local Asian grocery, S. and I were recently equipped with a bag of (expensive) organic light brown sugar.  It was nestled in between blocks of palm sugar and other curious exotic sweeteners.  We decided to stick with what we knew, because...

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'm back from my weeklong travel oddyssey.  I saw Bremen, Hannover, Hamburg, and Stockholm.  Slept much.  Ate much.  Got rained on much.  Learned much.  Did you know that Sweden smells like cinnamon sugar?  I'm not missing the weather (45, rainy, and windy both days), but I am missing that smell.  More Swedish details to come (and some more Germany stuff, too), but enjoy these pictures for now :)