Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Curried-Tempeh Salad

Wow. This is way better than chicken salad! Thank you for sharing you recipe with us, Ef!

The main entree of our tailgate lunch, in the parking lot at the Portland International Raceway between our kid's cyclocross races, was our daughter's gluten-free, faux chicken curry salad, made with tempeh, served with her gluten-free sandwich bread made with buckwheat. If I am successful with her bread recipe, I will share it on this blog too.


2 packages (8-ounce each) of Tempeh, diced into 1/4" cubes
1 Apple, cored and diced (peeling optional)
3 Celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Nuts (walnuts or pecans)
2 tablespoons Raisins
2 teaspoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Mayonnaise (eggless, if vegan)


  1. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, add 2 to 3 inches of water to a saucepan and place tempeh in a steamer basket. Let cool.
  2. Once cooled, in a large bowl, combine the tempeh with the apple, celery, nuts, raisins, seasonings and mayonnaise. Add more or less pepper and mayonnaise to your taste and level of moistness you prefer.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serves 8

Here's a recap by my daughter of her conversation her four year old daughter, my granddaughter, on their drive home from their cyclocross race: 

"Leify (22-month old brother), please stop making all that noise! It's not polite to make all that noise when I'm trying to have a conversation with Mama." She told me in intricate detail of her plans for opening a restaurant called "A Big Kitchen For All of Us" - it will host two large kitchens, a party room, offer world foods, the parking lot will be on the left - and I will be supplying lights for the lot, restaurant decorations, roses for the tables and a calendar for the kitchen so that she knows what day it is. And her menu sounds amazing! She's so creative she won't even have to go to cooking school! Thankfully we've been invited to dine at her restaurant every night! I can't wait for her to wow me every night, cause she certainly does evety day!!!

Some of the delectables Seph plans to serve are Crispy Crunchy Carrots and Purple Marshmallow Stew.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Whether ambiance or ambience, it spells special atmosphere.

While I was visiting with a friend yesterday, he mentioned as he was about to leave that he and his wife were going shopping for candles. I figured since we've had some high winds and storm season is upon us, they would be utilitarian, back-up lights for a possible, even probable, power outage. We had an outage, not far from their home, just the other night. He replied something like, "No, we enjoy dining by candlelight." BIG smile here. I gave him a mental high-five.

It has always been our family tradition during our thirty-eight years of marriage to serve dinners with a pleasantly set table: table cloth or runner, attractive placemats, sometimes charges that we brought back from France, cloth napkins and condiments go from bottles and jars to serving bowls, while enjoying that special atmosphere or mood  (ambiance/ambience) created by dimming the lights and/or candles lit at the table. Sometimes we add soft, relaxing music to the background, other times we enjoy quiet and the flicker of the fireplace as we share our thoughts and recaps of our days. In an atmosphere like that the food tastes even better, we eat slower and linger at the table.

I came across this great idea from Friends of Glass on Facebook. All you need is a glass cutter to repurpose regular or over-sized wine bottles to make a casual cluster of candles as center-piece luminaries, to create a special atmosphere or mood whether indoors or outdoors - the wind won't blow these candles out!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crab Babies

DZ is harvesting crabs daily, with a limit of five per harvest - Washington State limit per person, per day. It was dark by the time I got home, and DZ was still in the garage removing the crab meat from the  five he brought home and steamed late afternoon. The day before, he bought a small freezer to keep in the garage to store the vacuum-sealed seafood we will enjoy after their perspective season has ended.

We were both tired and hungry, with two portions of fresh crab in the refrigerator... so while DZ was dealing with the crabs outside, I need to quickly get creative and productive in the kitchen, if we wanted to eat anytime soon.

Having served my friend, Kris, sweet Dutch Babies filled with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar, for breakfast a few days earlier, I thought it would be tasty to serve us savory "Crab Babies" for dinner... simple, quick, and with little taxing of what brain cells I had left, a creative solution that proved to be excellent, despite how I had to take a number of little offerings from the refrigerator to generate enough content to feed two people. Our Crab Babies ended up just right - flavor-wise and portion-wise, especially for two, who whatever reasons, forgot to eat lunch.

Dutch Babies are easy-cheesy to make and take few ingredients... even with alternative ingredients in the batter, they hardly ever fail to impress, look and taste great.

Here's the ingredients and directions for making my version of a gluten-free Dutch Babies, using what I had on hand:

Ingredients for Dutch Babies Batter:

1/4 cup, same as a half a stick of Butter or butter substitute (four pats - two for each baking dish)
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Rice Milk
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour
Pinch of Salt

Note: Dutch Baby batter recipes may vary slightly as to the ratio of number of eggs, milk, flour and butter per serving.

Directions and Other Ingredients for making Crab Babies:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees with two glass pie plates on a rack in the middle of the oven. Do not have a rack above, as the Dutch Babies have the potential of rising on the sides, sometime quite high.
  2. Liquid first, put all the ingredients, sans the butter, in a blender and blend until... well, blended.
  3. When oven reaches temperature,  put two pats of butter in each glass pie plate and melt, without browning - happens very fast, so watch carefully. It's easy to forget and set off the smoke detector.
  4. As soon as the butter is melted, pour half of the batter into each of the two glass pie plates.
  5. Before or while they bake at 425-degrees for 18-20 minutes, prepare the contents to fill the "Crab Babies" after they are transferred to dinner plates, as shown above.
  6. In a saute pan, lightly saute together in olive oil savory ingredients of choice. Here's what I had on hand: chopped Green Onion, diced White Onion, diced Red Bell Pepper, sliced Mushrooms, teaspoon or less of Capers (rinsed), a quarter + teaspoon of Fennel Seed and a pinch of Salt and Cayenne Pepper. Keep warm, but don't over cook.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, whip together - best at room temperature (a quick microwave works to take the chill off) -  whatever portions seems right to you of creamy ingredients. I found a little of each of the following in our refrigerator and combined them to make a wonderful, creamy base to my concoction: Tofutti (soy cream cheese substitute), Greek Yogurt, Mayonnaise, shredded Parmesan Cheese, a squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest... and a pinch of Salt.
  8. As soon as the Dutch Babies come out of the oven - oven mitts compulsory - very, very hot and easy to burn yourself - transfer them to dinner plates. They should have lovely, toasty brown edges, perhaps bubbly in the center slathered in melted butter... then immediately start to "settle" on the dinner plates.
  9. Best using a rubber spatula, divide and spread the creamy mixture across each, hot serving, then divide both the savory filling and warmed, cooked crab meat, and cover the creamy mixture with color and texture of the sauteed mixture and bite-size pieces of crab.
  10. Garnish with a light sprinkling of Paprika and serve while hot. 
Generously serves 2

Recipe dedicated to Crab harvesters DZ and Phil.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apricot, Plum, Date and Almond Sticky-Bars

In the midst of moving in and getting acquainted with the kitchen, our local produce stand was about to close for the season, so we unpacked our food dehydrator and bought a bunch of ripe apricots and plums to dry before they were gone. After I got the kitchen drawers and cupboards filled with the basics, I set to work rinsing, slicing and pitting the fruit for drying for later enjoyment.

When dehydrating pitted fruits, be sure to pop the back so they will dry evenly and flat. Dry time will vary depending how much fruit you are drying at one time, but your dehydrator guide will give you the suggested temp and time for the particular food you are drying.

Later enjoyment came sooner than later, as one of the cookbooks I unpacked, Fresh - The Ultimate Live-Food Cookbook, opened to a recipe for Peach Cobbler Bars on page 112.

I adapted the recipe to accommodate what I had in the kitchen... my apricot, plum, date and almond bars turned out very nutritious, moist and tasty.

Here's my recipe... I chopped and mixed by hand. I find that a blender often pulverizes nuts, try as you might not to, and when it comes to mixing sticky ingredients in a blender, the mixture often is to "gummy" to blend properly and the effort can burn out the motor.


1 pound medium to finely-chopped Almonds
1 cup dehydrated Apricots and Plums medium to finely-chopped and soaked for 5-minutes in Apple Juice
1/2 cup pitted Dates, medium-chopped
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon powdered Cinnamon
1/5 teaspoon Sea Salt
Peanut or Canola oil to coat muffin tins

  1. Lightly oil a couple of muffin baking pans.
  2. Drain the hydrated apricots and plums, reserving the rich nectar to drink. Yummy!
  3. By hand, blend all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl. 
  4. Take a heaping tablespoon or so of mixture and press flat into the bottom of each muffin tin.
  5. When all the mixture is pressed into the muffin tins, place the muffin pans in the freezer.
  6. When chilled, remove the round bars and place two-by-two into ziplock snack baggies. Return to the freezer until ready to enjoy.
The bars have a lot of texture and moisture, making an excellent and satisfying snack to boost energy and stave off hunger mid-day.

We took a break from unpacking to check out the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race in our town. I put together a small snack bag to take along that included the apricot, plum, date and almond bars... perfect solution! 

Oh, here's just one of the participants with his crazy kinetic sculpture gizmo - a gnome working something of a gerbil cage, moved only by physical human energy down the road, into the water, across the sand and through a mud bog. 

I wish we hadn't eaten all the bars we had with us; bars that even gnomes and gerbils would love!