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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recipe for Happiness... and Chai Tea

My amazing friend, Laura Lavigne, founder of the Happiness Sprinkling Project, recently shared a recipe from her yoga friend Pam. Making homemade Chai Tea... what an aromatic scent to fill one's home with in the process of brewing a batch. Then again by a crackling fireplace breathing in and sipping a steaming cup of Chai while curled up reading a good book. This year, my favorite of the culinary books I read was Yes Chef a true story with a happy ending. If interested, check out a book I read this year that continues to have the greatest impact on my life and sustaining level of happiness.

And if not now but later, when you are back here at your computer with your second cup of Chai Tea in hand, please take time to watch and enjoy this delightful 16-minute video presentation"Go for Joy!: Laura Lavigne at TEDxSkagitValley."

Join Laura Lavigne along with a host of others around the country, and soon around the world, to be a Happiness Ambassador in your community! Gathering and making friends to sprinkle happiness wherever we go, now don't you think this is the best recipe for happiness there is?

"Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crabfest & Dungeness Crab Egg Foo Young

As the gray clouds of the past week peeled away their canopy, we breathed in the crisp air as the sun bounced it's light off the waters of Puget Sound and poured it's warmth upon the fall leaves, displaying their glorious amber and crimson leaves as we drove up Highway 101 to Port Angeles for the 12th annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival.

Under the bigtop, food vendors lined the perimeter to serve up their offerings hot off their grill or ladled from industrial size cook pots. Some folks, even whole families stood in line for an hour for the crab feed, ordering either a whole or half crab with drawn butter, corn on the cob and coleslaw for $29 or $15 a plate. We preferred to sample a variety of seafood dishes - chowders, scallops and crab. 

Me sampling "World Famous" crab cakes.*(see links below)

The Blackball Ferry was churning out droves of Canadian tourists from Victoria and beyond along for the waterfront Crabfest - many there to see their favorite culinary celebrity and his wife, Graham and Treena Kerr. Graham, Treena and family were there to give attendees and opportunity to meet Graham, buy books, and attend events where he gave a talk, judged the first annual chowder competition, and watch his cooking demonstration. Unfortunately, we had to head back home before Graham 's time came to give his cooking demonstration on Sunday afternoon. However, we did have the good fortune of listening and watching Chef Les Chan, cooking instructor in Victoria B.C.

Chef Les Chan's delightful sense of humor entertained us while we watched his cooking demonstration and waited to taste his two dishes - Dungeness Crab with Black Beans and Crab Foo Young. Both tasty, relatively quick, if you don't try to talk and cook at the same time, and easy to prepare at home. The perks for staying through to the end of each demonstration was to taste the dish, and take a copy of the recipe, which I did for both and share with you here.

Dungeness Crab with Black Beans


8 Crab Leg segments, cracked
4 Tbsp Thai Basil, chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger Root, minced
2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, minced
1 tsp Chinese Chili Sauce
4 dried Chinese Peppers, crushed
4 dried Chinese Black Beans
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Peanut or Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Sherry
1/4 cup Water
Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, soak fermented black beans in warm water and set aside.
  2. To hot wok, add oil.
  3. When oil is hot, coat the sides of the wok and add garlic, ginger, drained black beans and crushed Chili peppers. Cook for one minute.
  4. Stir cornstarch into the water until blended smoothly.
  5. To wok, add water and cornstarch mixture, and chili sauce. Cook two minutes.
  6. Add crab legs, sherry, and Thai basil. Cook two minutes until crab is hot.
  7. Serve on a warm platter family style.
  8. This is finger food, so don't be afraid to use your fingers. Enjoy.

Crab Foo Young


8 Eggs, large
1 cup Fresh Bean Sprouts, minced
1/2 cup Green Onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup Bamboo Shoots, minced
1 cup Fresh Crab Meat
1 tsp Light Soya Sauce
2-3 tsps Cooking Oil
1/2 cup Water


  1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, crab meat, soy sauce, and vegetables.
  2. Heat 2 tsp of cooking oil in a non-stick skillet, coating sides.
  3. Add 1/3 egg mixture and fry as you would a pancake, cooking until lightly browned on bottom. Carefully turn over to cook and brown the bottom.
  4. Keep warm while cooking the other two pancakes.
  5. Add more oil to the wok, if needed. Cook, and keep all three pancakes warm while making sauce.
Foo Young Sauce

1/2 cup Chicken Broth (if vegetarian, substitute with vegetable broth)
1 tsp Light Soya Sauce
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp White Vinegar

1/2 cup Water
2 Tbsp Cornstarch

  1. In small pot, combine cornstarch and water with Foo Young Sauce.
  2. Cook and stir until slightly thickened.
  3. Serve hot over stacked Egg Foo Young, family style.
*If you  are in search of a great crab cake recipe, click for my crab cake blog post here. For Graham Kerr's Crab Cakes on Mixed Greens with Peanut Vinaigrette, click here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vegan, Gluten-Free Finnish Pancakes

Thanks to our sweet friend Sarah, from Edmonds (WA), we enjoyed a Sunday breakfast of Finnish pancakes. Sarah shared her recipe with friends on Facebook, and being one of her friends, I jumped at the opportunity to give her recipe a try to compare with the Dutch Babies (pancakes) I make. I found the Finnish pancake to be just as delicious, but slightly thicker with a bit of a custard texture (more on that later).

While baking, rather than the batter raising up on the sides to form a bowl like the Dutch Babies, the  vegan, gluten-free version of Sarah's Finnish pancakes I made domed in the center. Both types of pancakes settle down and flatten once out of the oven, as the start to cool.

I served our Finnish pancakes with a choice of real maple syrup or agave nectar, and slices of fresh mango and lichee on the side. If I had an assortment of fresh fruit in the house, I would have served a medley atop the pancakes with a dollop of coconut yogurt.

I'm sharing with you Sarah's original recipe, then give your my vegan, gluten-free version.

Sarah's Finnish Pancakes


4 Eggs
2 cups Milk
1 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Whisk eggs with the milk, flour, sugar and salt, until well blended.
  3. Melt the butter in an 9x12 baking pan.
  4. Pour in pancake mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-23 minutes.
Lee's Vegan, Gluten-Free Finnish Pancakes


4 large Eggs
2 cups Rice Milk (try using Almond, Coconut or Hemp)
1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Dried Lemon Peel (or fresh lemon zest)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 TBSP Butter Substitute (I suggest Earth Balance or Smart Balance)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put two glass pie dishes in the oven to heat.
  2. Whisk eggs with the rice milk, gluten-free flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon peel, until well blended.
  3. Carefully open the oven door, slide the rack out a bit and place 2 Tbsp of the butter substitute into each pie plate. The plates are so hot, the butter substitute melts very fast.
  4. Carefully remove the pie plates with melted butter substitute from the oven, and pour half of the pancake mixture into pie dish.
  5. Return the glass pie plates to the oven and bake the Finnish Pancakes for 22-24 minutes.
Note: I cooked our Finnish Pancakes for 21 minutes. The very center had a custard-like texture, but yummy! Next time, I will bake them one to two minutes longer. I might suggest reducing the milk just a bit, as I did add a little vanilla extract.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Effie's Gluten-Free Flour Recipe

I finding myself meeting more and more people who have discovered they have a problem with gluten. In chatting with them, sometimes I mention that my daughter, Effie, came up with a no-fail All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix. When interested in giving it a try, I've emailed it to them. 

Shortly after being seated for lunch at a restaurant in La Conner, I had a conversation with Kim, the hostess, wanting to know if certain dishes were gluten-free, which led her to say that she understood, recently having changed to a gluten-free diet herself. I said that I'd like to share Effie's recipe with her.  

But even better than emailing, I thought it would be good to post it on my blog, so it's also quick access to the rest of my gluten-free recipes I've posted thus far. Here you go! 

Effie's All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix

2 c. white rice flour

2/3 c. potato flour/starch

1/3 c. tapioca flour

Makes 3 cups.

Double or triple the batch and store in an airtight container to keep flour on hand for cooking and baking.

Every time we experiment converting a recipe to gluten-free using her flour, it works just as well, if not better! Let me know if you've enjoyed baking and cooking with it, too. Post a comment.

Here's a photo from the tulips fields - the reason stopped in La Conner.

Which reminds me - if you like foreign films, we recently watched the Italian film Bread & Tulips. A charming, quirky love story with English subtitles. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Home-crafted Vitamin Water

I don't know where these vitamin water recipes originated from, as they came from a post that went viral on Facebook. I'm sharing them, because it makes sense that we make our own "vitamin water", which is far more refreshing and nutritious than anything we could buy off the grocer's shelf.

Just as important as eating healthy foods, it's absolutely critical to stay hydrated, especially when exercising. How do we know when we are dehydrated?
  • Confusion
  • Dry Mouth
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded
  • Headache
  • Little or No Urine (or urine that is darker than usual)
  • No Tears (when crying)
  • Sleepiness or Fatigue
I've experienced all of these symptoms. You? Let's not wait until we notice symptoms, which are often hard to recognize at the time, often masking as other problems. 

Let's hydrated, drinking plenty of water, enhancing our enjoyment of staying hydrated with vitamin rich, home-crafted flavors made from organic fruits and herbs. Here are eight recipes:

1) The Classical : Lemon/Cucumber:
Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + 1 cucumber and a lemon, thinly sliced + 1/4 cup fresh finely chopped basil leaf + 1/3 of finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

2) The Granite : Strawberry/Lime or Raspberry/Lime
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 6 strawberries / 0r Raspberries and one thinly sliced lime + 12 finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

3) The Digestive : Fennel/Citrus
First: infuse 1/4-3/4 teaspoon of dried and crushed fennel in 2/3 cup of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water + lemon juice (put the leftover lemon in the mix) + a small thinly sliced orange + 12 fresh chopped mint leaves + the infusion of fennel seeds. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

4) The Anti-OX : Blackberry/Sage
Note that a part from the berries, sage leafs is the herb that has the highest antioxidant content.
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of blackberries that have been very slightly crushed + 3-4 sage leaves. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

5) WATER-melon : Watermelon/Rosemary
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of watermelon cut into cubes + 2 rosemary stems. Leave in refrigerator overnight before serving.

6) The Exotic : Pineapple/Mint
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of pineapple cut into cubes + 12 fresh mint leaves finely chopped. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

7) The Traditional : Apple/Cinnamon
Mix in a pitcher : 10 cups of water + 1 cup of apple cut into cubes + 2 cinnamon sticks + 2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

8.) The Zingiber : Ginger/Tea
In advance: heat 1 teaspoon of ginger in two cups of tea, let it cool down. Mix in a pitcher: 10 cups of water with two cups of the ginger tea + 4-5 pieces of fresh ginger cut into cubes. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hooked on Salt, Sugar and Fat

I like to listen to books on tape, especially when I'm driving, exercising, knitting or busy about the kitchen or office. I still have a couple of hours left listening to the fourteen and a half hours of Scott Brick narrating Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. But, before I get caught up with this coming week's schedule of work and projects, I have to tell you about this book, so you can order it or download the audio book for yourself!

Similar to food documentaries such as Food Inc and Forks Over Knives (see the sidebar for a list), the insights you will get from reading the book Salt Sugar Fat will forever change how you think about the foods you are tempted to, craving to eat. What you glean from the author's research may be the information you need to change your eating habits, which in turn may ultimately save your life and the lives of those you love.  

As a Pulitzer Prizing-winning investigative reporter at the New York Times, Moss uses his experience and skill to digs deep to uncover the marketing strategies and chemical formulations that transform real foods into cleverly disguised and packaged food items that lack real substance, nutrition and are harmful to our heath. The ever increasing rise in diabetes, especially among children, directly correlates with diets high in sugar and fats from processed foods. We've been systematically manipulated, hooked if you will, by ramping up our cravings through taste, texture and eye appeal for highly salted, sugary and high fat content food-like products that appeals to convenience and are fast, cheap, easy and fake.

It's far, far worse than we thought friends. The length to which the processed food industry giants go to in their mission to manipulate and change consumer habits to crave the foods they make is astounding.

I encourage you to read the March 8, 2013 msnbc article ‘Salt Sugar Fat’: How food companies put profits ahead of public healthMorgan Whitaker interviews Michael Moss.

Ever heard of the "bliss point"? I hadn't until I read Salt Sugar Fat. The food scientists employed by the big food and beverage manufacturers have dialed in on our "bliss", and proven through taste testing that the myriad of foods engineered do hook us and keep us coming back for more, continuing to pull in billions upon billions of dollars for their employers. Job security as long as we keep craving!

Confession - As a young mother back in the 80's, who mostly cooked healthy foods for our kids, I too fell into the trap of foods that catered to convenience and my kids' cravings - serving our children Kraft Mac & Cheese with hotdogs on date nights,  Jello Jigglers and Instant Pudding as treats, Lucky Charms and other sugary cereals, and Lunchables to take to school. Yuck! My cravings were for the salty "Os" - Fritos, Cheetos, tacos. I still tend to crave salt in the form of gluten-free pretzels and corn chips with salsa.

Although I've been blogging for some time now, sharing healthy gluten-free recipes, I've continued to use some dairy in my recipes, including homemade gluten-free Mac & Cheese - loaded with cheese. After what I've just learned about the dairy and processed food industries, I'm going to be digging deeper  into the foods I tend to crave and eat. I'm also going to take label-reading to the next level, and not just dairy, dairy substitutes and their salt, sugar and fat levels.

Of course, once we realize why we keep craving certain foods and take back the control of what we put into our bodies, in time the level of salt sugar and fat we think we need to be happy and satiated will continue to decrease. Hopefully, you are coming to this understanding early in life rather than later. However, it's never to late to change habits, though old habits die hard. If we think of food as either being medicine or poison, it's easier to choose what we put in our body. In the place of ingesting foods to sustain those high levels of tastes we've come to consider the norm in processed foods, restaurant cuisines and even meals prepared at home, we will find more and more satisfaction in every bite of the healthy foods we eat with less salt, sugar and fat. Now that's true bliss!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

First Kitchen Garden

Before Graham Kerr signed my copy of his latest book "Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden", I had the most unexpected opportunity and great blessing of spending time visiting with Graham and his wife Treena as they waited to be interviewed on-air with Phil Andrus, the show host of "Tossed Salad" on KPTZ 91.9 fm Port Townsend. Until then, I was unaware of the crossroads  they came to earlier in their lives, their salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ, and how the impact of those events, decisions and faith would forever have on his career and their lives, which has led them both to the most fulfilling and rewarding chapter they've written and are living thus far.

Here's a synopsis of the book:
"Growing at the Speed of Life takes you through the first year in his kitchen garden, sharing the lessons learned and the wisdom received from his circle of local knowledge providers. From digging up his “south lawn” and putting together a greenhouse to planting his first seeds and harvesting and sharing his first crop with others in need, Kerr provides a whirlwind tour through his gardening adventures. Along the way, he profiles sixty common-and not-so-common but readily available-garden vegetables, fruits, and herbs with useful advice and recommendations for care and feeding."

Growing at the Speed of Life is a valuable, compact, well-researched and brilliantly organized resource to guide those of us, who are in some degree like Graham in that he "cooked just about everything that grows - but had never grown a thing he'd cooked." Even if you are an avid gardener there is much to learn, as Graham benefited from the advice of gardening experts and in turn we can glean from his experience cultivating his own garden and culinary adventures and pleasures... from garden to the table, from apples to turnips, from basil to thyme, from benefit to the body to the benefit to the community.

I attempted my truly first kitchen garden, an organic vegetable and herb garden, when we operated our bed and breakfast in rural Oregon. But alas, although the typar (roofing underlayment) lining my garden boxes kept the vols and moles from tunneling into them, the wild rabbits and deer were unrestrained from grazing for greens and nibbling away at my edible flowers and aromatic sweet peas ... but I digress.

In my attempt to eat healthy, I've run the gamut of shopping local, buying freshly harvested organic produce at the farmers market wherever we've lived, shopping the periphery of grocery stores - avoiding the isles, where lifeless boxes and dead-weight canned goods crowd the shelves. I shop for whole foods and fresh produce, because I've only lived in two places where vegetable gardening has been possible - it seems like there has always something making it less than convenient, lacking adequate light or space. Where I live today is no exception. I do have light, but I will have to give up parking space and grow everything in containers. Then there's the matter of the deer and rabbits and nowhere to erect a critter-proof fence. 

But I'd like to try vegetable and herb gardening again, even if it's relegated to the enclosed sun porch in our passive-solar house. Because I realize that as time goes on, growing our own food is going to be a necessity rather than a hobby or a luxury. We have to learn how to grow, harvest and prepare our own food, then pass this knowledge on, especially to the younger generation. And this is is what Graham is on a mission to do in his personal life and shares with us in his 29th book, and when on tour giving presentations, like the one I attended yesterday. Learn more at Graham's website and join the conversation, "The Ripple Effect". Graham's current goals are to:
  • Help to increase US consumption of fruit and vegetables by 100% to 7 servings per day by 2020.
  • Help to reduce portion sizes to safe “reasonable” levels.
  • Promote the idea of converting habits that harm into resources that heal.
  • School Meals enhanced through initiatives such as the 1095 Club.
More about Graham Kerr here.

I leave you with a poem by Treena Kerr from her book of poetry, Substance in Shadow.


All creation's new  beginnings.
Wake to stirrings of adoring.
All expecting, waiting, aching.
Stretching up, anticipating,
Beautifying, glorifying,
Giving thanks while testifying.
This new-birth, so purifying,
Sings a song while prophesying.
Hope and life are now reviving
God and earth are harmonizing.