Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Prickly Pear Aguas Frescas and Thanksgiving

This has been a year, not just a season, of great transition... an epic relocation back to Oregon from the far reaches of Washington. It took us months to accomplish our move with a husband who suffered an injury, required surgery and a long stretch of recovery time. Transitions into new jobs, new opportunities, putting down roots, networking for business, and yet another move, have kept my dance card pretty full.

I don't wonder where the time went, that's pretty clear, but as I reflect on how much has been packed in to this year, I'm going to take some time here to be thankful for all blessing packed in to this year too. Surviving and thriving, I'm amazed and thankful for all.... after all, everything leading up to right now has brought me here. "Here" is good, and it's right here that I attend to my languishing food blog, and that's another good thing!

Oh yes, my food blog has seriously languished... my last post was in April, like seven months ago! A quick post about the marvels of peeling an egg. Wow! During these past months, there were so many meals shared, and mostly prepared by family, who are far better cooks than me; quite a few meals on the go, and with so much on my plate, there has hardly been room for food.

I may not post as often as I have in the past, but I do want to play catch up during the winter and share some tasty recipes that are creations of my daughter and her husband (at one time a chef). Hopefully, we can get some good photos of our fare and feasts, and I'll try to get back in my kitchen as my own creative juices start flowing again...

And speaking of juice... Fantastic to serve at Thanksgiving, here's my daughter Effie's recipe for her non-alcoholic Prickly Pear Aguas Frescas:


4 prickly pears (available fall/winter seasons), peeled with a knife and rubber gloves (a must)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 limes, juiced plus 1 lime for slices to garnish
1/4 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or regular cinnamon
2 cups ice

  1. Puree the prickly pears in a blender.
  2. Pass through a fine sieve or mesh strainer in to a bowl to strain out ever seed; use rubber spatula.
  3. Puree the pear liquid again, adding in the sugar, lime juice and ice in a blender for 1 minute.
  4. Pour into glasses and garnish with lime.

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Novembers.”  


Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Peel a Hard-boiled Egg & the Tick's Battlecry

Justin Chapple, Food & Wine test kitchen chef, demonstrates a brilliant trick for peeling hard-boiled eggs with a spoon. I would have loved using this technique after boiling dozens upon dozens of hard-boiled eggs for my signature creamed eggs on biscuits, which was served as one of our Bed and Breakfast's special selections.

Which reminds me of my favorite battlecry, "Spoon!"
- Arthur, the Tick's sidekick.

“Sometimes it's not the strength but gentleness that cracks the hardest shells.” —Richard Paul Evans

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Orange Millet Pilaf

My friend, Larry Fried, the owner of Natural Choice Directory, has shared his recipe for Orange Millet Pilaf. He's made it for years and is one of his favorite dishes to take to a potluck. I made it the other night for my family, including my five and three year old grandchildren. They gobbled it up, saying "I love it, Nana!" I bet you will too.

For those of you making the transition to more of a plant-based diet, I encourage you to read Larry's article "For My Heart: A Personal Perspective on Eating a Plant-Based Diet."



1 cup Millet (rinse)
4 medium Oranges
1/2 cup Cashews
1/2 Raisins
zest of 1 Orange (above)
1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar or to taste
Water (see below)

  • Juice 3 oranges
  • Add water to the juice for a total 2 1/4 cups total liquid
  • Put millet in saucepan with liquid
  • Cover pan
  • Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer, and cook until liquid is gone (about 20-25 minutes). DO NOT STIR
  • Turn off, let sit for about 5 minutes, then fluff lightly with a fork

While the millet is cooking, combine:
  • The zest of final Orange
  • The juice of that Orange
  • Cashews
  • Raisins
  • Agave
After fluffing millet, add the above mixture, stir in with the fork, and serve.

Pilaf can be eaten hot (best) or cold.

[Note: Before I cooked the millet, I dry-toasted the grain for 4 minutes or until slightly golden, on medium heat, for a nuttier flavor. Be very careful not to burn.]

For information about millet and it's many benefits. click here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Homemade Italian Seasoning

Most stores carry an Italian herb seasoning, but it's easy and perhaps less expensive to make your own blend from the collection of dried herbs you already have in your kitchen spice cupboard.

Here are two options for blending your own dried herbs to create  homemade Italian Seasoning.

Measure, mix together and store in an airtight container:

Five Herb Blend

2 Tablespoons Basil
2 Tablespoons Marjoram
2 Tablespoons Oregano
2 Tablespoons Rosemary
2 Tablespoons Thyme

Seven Herb Blend

1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Marjoram
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Rosemary
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Sage
1 teaspoon Savory

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snap! Our Gluten-Free Gingersnaps - the Best Ever!

Tuesdays with Nana - Bake a Cookie Day

Today, we baked Gingersnaps, gluten-free gingersnaps. Decidedly the best gingersnap cookies any of us have ever eaten. Seph helped with gathering and blending the ingredients and mixing the dough, but both helped with rolling them in granulated sugar before baking.

Papa photobombed us while the gingersnaps were cooling, then tried to snitch one from off the cooling racks before we had a chance to test them ourselves. We caught him red-handed in the kitchen and made him put his cookie back, and wait five more minutes until our "Cookie Party" with Mama.

 We all watched as Mama dunked her gingersnap in coconut milk. Mama said, "Nice and crispy, lots of flavor... the best gluten-free gingersnap cookie I've ever had!"

Sephira and Leif thought the cookie dough had such great taste, they quickly dunked their cookies into rice milk, goggling them down posthaste. They didn't fall apart; crispy on the outside with the slightest bit of chewiness in the center. Perfect!

Even Papa agreed that he'd never tasted a finer gingersnap cookie, and well worth the wait.

You too can enjoy our Best-Ever Gingersnaps Cookies!


3/4 cups Butter or Earth Balance (our non-dairy preference)
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses
1 Egg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 teaspoon ground Ginger

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the molasses and egg; beat well.
  3. In another bowl, using a fork, thoroughly blend the flour and dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until a well-blended doughy consistency.
  5. Roll the gingersnap dough into small balls (heaping teaspoon), then coating with granulated sugar.
  6. Place the sugared, gingersnap dough balls two inches apart on a greased baking sheet or on a Silpat baking mat (our preference). 
  7. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Our's baked for 11 minutes and were perfect.
  8. Slide them off the Silpat onto cooling racks.
Enjoy! And don't forget to dunk!

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap. - Barbara Jordan

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sweet Potato, Lentil and Kale Burgers

For me, 2014 is the Year of Change. I'm in the midst of moving from the shores of Washington's Puget Sound, where fresh seafood is abundant and shellfish is easily harvested, back to a place in Oregon that is beautifully situated between the Cascade Mountain Range and a city where a river runs through it.

I'm also starting off this new year transitioning towards more of a plant-based diet, eliminating the fish and shellfish that have been a part of my pescetarian diet for the past number of years.

I've tried this before and failed, but now I have the support and encouragement of family who are also discovering and enjoying the benefits of vegetarian and vegan cuisine, which makes it easier for me to stick with my resolution to eliminate seafood and more. I haven't entirely eliminated eggs and the occasional sheep and goat cheeses, yet.

Ever wondered what to call yourself while you are transitioning to a plant-based diet?

  • A vegan is one who does not eat meat, eggs or dairy of any kind. Some vegans avoid such foods as gelatin, honey... or eating or buying anything that has some form of animal-based ingredient used in the process of making the product.
  • A flexitarian is one who has a mostly vegetarian diet, but sometimes eats meat. 
  • One who is a vegetarian but also eats eggs is called an ovo-vegetarian. 
  • One who is a vegetarian but also eats dairy is a lacto-vegetarian. 
  • One who is a vegetarian but also eats dairy and eggs is called a lacto-ovo vegetarian. 

This past weekend,  I attended a vegetarian/vegan potluck. Everyone brought something for the "Burrito Bar" - tortillas, beans, corn, tempeh, tofu, homegrown sprouts, salsa, spices and condiments. One brought black bean brownies and another black bean pudding for dessert.

The theme of our discussion was beans. I tossed out the idea of having a bean burger "bake-off" with a prize for the best bean burger recipe. I am not posting my bean burger "bake-off" entry recipe until after this event happens, IF it happens.

Although this is not a bean burger, here is one our family's favorite ovo-vegetarian burgers. There are only a few changes to the original recipe, which is on page 79 of Luke Volger's cookbook "Veggie Burgers Every Which Way."

 This recipe will make six 4-inch burgers, so we recommend doubling or tripling the recipe, cooking and freezing what you don't eat right away to reheat for later meals. Remember to never double or triple the salt when making more than one batch of anything with salt as an ingredient; increase salt to taste.


3/4 cup French Lentils (small, green)
1 bunch Kale (remove tough stems)
1 medium Sweet Potato (approx. 8 ounces), peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, diced
1-1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1-1/2 teaspoons Curry Powder
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 cup Oatmeal (gluten-free), lightly ground
1/4 cup Almonds, ground to a meal-like consistency (using spice grinder with slivered Almonds)

Sort through the lentils and rinse. Bring lentils to a boil in a small sauce pan in 3 cups water. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When tender, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Coarsely mash lentils with a potato masher.

Steam the kale, by what ever method you prefer, for 5-8 minutes. Remove and cool, then wrap in a clean kitchen cloth towel and squeeze out any excess liquid. Finely chop and set aside.

Steam the sweet potato for 8-10 minutes, or bake until tender. Add the sweet potato to the lentils, mashing and blending with a potato masher or fork.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add the onion, garam masala, curry powder and cayenne pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes. Then add the chopped kale and minced garlic. Cook and toss to combine for 2 minutes. Note: If a crust forms on the base of the pan, add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up the browned mixture with a wooden spoon.

Combine the kale-onion and lentil mixtures together. Stir in the eggs, coriander, salt and lemon juice. Blend in the ground oatmeal and almonds. Adjust seasoning according to your taste. Shape into 6 burger patties.

In an oven-safe skillet or non-stick saute pan, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the patties and cook until browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until firm to the touch and cooked through.

Serve hot on a toasted bun, or room temperature in a lettuce wrap, with your favorite condiments. Freeze and reheat leftovers.

Recipe adaptation, meal preparations, and photos by Effie.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Savory Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers

I love stuffed peppers, and didn't think it was possible to serve up a vegan version as good as the meat-filled and cheese-topped peppers my mother served up when I was a kid, or those I served my family in years past. I've since changed my tune and share my recipe with you here.


4 medium green Bell Peppers
1 single package of unflavored Tempeh
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup fresh Onion, minced
1/4 cup organic Catsup
1 cup soft gluten-free Bread Crumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil Leaves
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare (vegetable salt)
1/4 teaspoon rubbed Sage
1/4 cup Water


1/4 cup hot Water
1/2 teaspoon Better than Bouillon Vegetable Stock Paste
Shredded Diaya brand Mozerella Cheese (non-dairy)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash peppers. Leave them whole, but cut off the tops, and removed the pulp and seeds, and rinse seeds from cavity.
  3. Steam the peppers upside down in a steamer or on the stove in a covered pot with a small amount of water to steam for five minutes.
  4. Brown the crumbled tempeh on medium heat in hot oil, adding onions, catsup, water, bread crumbs, basil leaves, salts, herbs and seasonings. Adjust salt, herbs and seasonings to taste.
  5. Fill the peppers with the tempeh mixture and place in a square or round glass baking dish. 
  6. Dissolve vegetable stock base in 1/4 cup hot water and add to the bottom of the baking dish.
  7. Cover the baking dish with foil, then bake the peppers at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  8. Uncover the peppers, top with shredded cheese and paprika for another 10 minutes. If you want the cheese to bubble and brown a bit, you can broil for a few minutes.
Serves 4