15 May 2012


Posted in parenting, Z-boy at 8:44 pm by Tricia


This solves two mysteries:

  1. What happened to all our water bottles.
  2. Why the boy’s lacrosse bag was so heavy (only the one filled tonight was empty!)

(actually, we own at least 4 of the dark blue, and another orange, so we’re
still short a few…)

(no singleton socks were in the bag, you’re on your own there!)


12 April 2012

Various Veggies

Posted in CSA, food at 1:10 pm by Tricia

We’re in week 4 of the spring season at Capella Farm. I should be organized like my friend L and post my menu plans for what is in the box. Unfortunately, I tend to be spur of the moment when it comes to dinner. Here are some of the things I’ve prepared in the past three weeks:

Spring regulars – recipes I’ve posted before:

New this year (links go to recipes at other web sites):

  • grated parsnip apple salad with meyer lemon dressing
    • This appears in From Asparagus to Zucchini, p 113 – link above goes to an online version of it. I decided to make it since it was completely different from roasting or braising the parsnips. Bonus – I got to use another one of those meyer lemons left over from Pi(e) Day! The spousal unit really liked this – I thought the parsnip added an interesting taste, although it might be good to add a bit more dressing.
  • stir-fried carrots and ginger with mustard seeds
    • Another great dish from World Vegetarian.  This is quite spicy – you’ll want something bland to eat with it (rice, bread, or maybe top it with a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt). I put a few spoonfuls of it in my salad for the next day’s lunch. The rest of the leftovers went into a flour tortilla with sauteed greens on Taco Tuesday.
  • stir-fried bok choy with cashew sauce (From Asparagus to Zucchini, page 31)
    • After I made this recipe, I realized it’s not that different from cooking greens then dousing them with a peanut sauce – and I even had a jar of peanut sauce in the fridge. But actually, this does taste different. I had a large head of bok choy but the amount of sauce in the recipe was too much – I kept about half in the fridge and will use it on other cooked greens. Or maybe I’ll be inspired by this post at Arctic Garden Studio and do a stir-fry with tofu and more choi.
  • assorted sauteed greens recipes
    • We have a near-weekly dinner tradition of Taco Tuesday. I like to change mine up a bit (at least 3 of the other 4 in my family would be fine eating the same thing each week), so I sauteed rapini with garlic and cumin, then added some (Trader Joe’s tomatillo and roasted chile) salsa at the end of the cooking. I put this in a flour tortilla with leftover spicy carrots (see above) and yum! wonderful twist on Taco Tuesday!

10 April 2012

Soup Weather?

Posted in food at 8:25 pm by Tricia

In December I overheard someone say they didn’t eat much soup, because they didn’t have much soup weather. I let it pass, but I’ve been thinking about it and wonder: how exactly does this make sense? I know these people eat hot casseroles, roast turkey and other meats, and so on. Those dishes are hot when you eat them, cook for awhile, and thus require heating up the kitchen — so how is that different from soup? Of course, I eat ice cream year round (although primarily indoors during winter), so perhaps I’m not the best person to judge.

Anyway, the soup in question was turkey tortilla soup, made with the turkey carcass leftover after Christmas dinner. I riff on this basic soup any time we have a poultry carcass at our house. What I’d really like to reproduce is the cheesy chicken tortilla soup served at Le Dog, but I’m not sure how to get the cheesiness in the broth, so we put grated cheddar in the bowl when served.

First step is making stock from your poultry carcass. Hopefully you also have some leftover chicken (or turkey) meat to add to the soup. I rarely make it the same way twice, but here is the general recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tab powdered chiles (or chili powder)
2 tsp ground cumin
(6 cups) chicken stock
shredded/chopped leftover cooked chicken
1 or 2 cans of tomatoes with green chiles + 1 Tab tomato paste
some chopped jalapeños
2 Tab juice from the jalapeño jar
~1 cup corn
other ingredients that you like

toppings: fried corn tortilla strips (or tortilla chips), grated cheese, chopped cilantro (if cilantro doesn’t taste like soap to you), etc.

1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, heat 2 Tab oil in saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, powdered chiles, and cumin. Stir and cook for about 1 minute (you want the chile powder to get aromatic).

2. Add chicken stock, tomato products, and all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings (maybe add salt & pepper, or a little lime juice. I usually add green chile salt).

3. While the soup is cooking, you can cook tortilla strips in about 1/2 inch hot vegetable oil if you want them (this is a big treat at our house). (You don’t need directions for this, do you?) Drain them on paper towels after frying.

When we have this, we put grated cheese in the bottom of the bowl, then ladle the soup in, and top with tortilla strips. Yum! And much to my delight, everyone in our house gladly eats it (no matter what the weather).

21 March 2012

Spring Sprung Early

Posted in food at 10:37 pm by Tricia

Spring has arrived on the calendar here in the Northern Hemisphere, and springlike weather has arrived about a month early here in Michigan. We’re not complaining, but most of us are waiting for the other shoe (read: snowstorm!) to drop.

Another sign of spring: the first pickup for the Capella Farm spring CSA!

Some of the greens are as confused by the warm weather as the rest of us, and are bolting. I sautéed these komatsuma (? Iirc) flowers with some mustard greens and tossed them with pasta and parmesan for dinner. Yum! I feel the vitamin K coursing through my veins already, and I have more bags of greens to cook yet 🙂 Thursday night is likely to feature Spanish style chickpeas and spinach (which I would link to, but I have discovered that this iPod WordPress interface leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to usability!)

14 March 2012

Double Punny Pie

Posted in events, food at 11:57 am by Tricia

I bought a bag of Meyer lemons over the weekend, because I intended to make a lemon chess pie for tonight’s Pi(e) Party. After all, chess is math-geeky like pi, right? Double punny pie!

2 lemons, a spoon, and a pie

Turns out, you need at most 1 lemon for the pie, so now I have almost a full bag of Meyer lemons. I guess I’ll need to find some more recipes to use up the lemons. If you have a lemon that you don’t know what to do with, I present the following recipe from the Moosewood Book of Desserts.

Lemon Chess Pie

1 prebaked pie crust, cooled to room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
2 Tab fresh lemon juice
2 Tab unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Put all the ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth (i used a hand mixer). Pour the custard into the baked pie crust and bake for about 35 minutes, until the custard is firm and set. Cool somewhat before serving.

I, of course, used my go-to pie crust recipe, cooked for 10 minutes at 400° F (with beans in the crust to weight it down, and foil around the edges). For the lemon peel, I used the zest from one of my Meyer lemons, which appeared to be more than 1/2 tsp. The same lemon yielded at least 2.5 Tab of juice (maybe 3), and all of it went into the custard base.

I haven’t tasted it yet, so perhaps I shouldn’t post the recipe now, but some people have been wondering if my blog is still alive, so I offer this untasted recipe and photo as evidence. It’s up to you to decide what claim the evidence supports!

8 December 2011

Kohlrabi Salad

Posted in food at 7:04 pm by Tricia

Yet another from my favorite cookbook, this is now my go-to kohlrabi recipe. Since we got some kohlrabi in our Capella Farms holiday share, I made this recently and decided I would add it to the blog. Leftovers are good too, unless you don’t like soggy peanuts. In that case, only add peanuts to what is on your plate. Cilantro optional for those who think it tastes like soap!

Kohlrabi Salad (Thai/Vietnamese influenced)

about 1.25 lbs kohlrabi
1 1/4 tsp salt
Peanut or canola for frying
3 med shallots, peeled and slivered (I use onions)
5-6 tsp fresh lemon juice, according to taste
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more, to taste)
2 1/2 Tab coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
2 Tab very finely chopped cilantro

Cut off thick end of kohlrabi, then peel. Julienne or shred the rest. Put it in a bowl. Add 1 tsp salt and toss. Set aside for 15 minutes. The kohlrabi will give off liquid.

Meanwhile, pour the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch in a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in shallots. Stir and fry until the shallots are reddish-brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on paper towels to drain and crisp up.

Once the kohlrabi has wilted, squeeze out as much water as yu can and pat it dry. Put in a fresh bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, the lemon juice, sugar, and cayenne. Toss to mix. Add the peanuts, cilantro, and shallots and toss again.

2 December 2011

Spice Rack Challenge – Cinnamon

Posted in events, food at 6:18 pm by Tricia

While tracking down sale mint M&M’s on a recent trip to Target, I was arrested in my tracks on sighting cinnamon M&M’s. Since they were on sale, I decided to give them a try. At the checkout, the cashier (oh wait, I think they’re called associates at Target) asked if I’d had them before. She proceeded to tell me that they were all afraid to try them, because either they’d be really good (and thus dangerous) or they’d be really bad. She didn’t think there would be a middle ground. Apparently Target associates don’t get to try everything in the store, unlike Trader Joe’s team members. Anyway, I was still willing to take the chance and I’m here to tell you: yum! They’re not quite as good as the long-gone hot chocolate choxie bar, but they do taste like real cinnamon, not some fake “red hots” kind of cinnamon. The chocolate pellet is bigger than a traditional plain M, which also adds to the appeal in my opinion. I’m a big fan. Some of my family members think they are kind of odd, but nobody hates them.

And on a related note, one of my boys is a big fan of chocolate chex. Believe it or not, they (barely!) meet my criteria for sugar I’m willing to buy, weighing in at 8g of sugar per serving (my cutoff is 9). He mostly eats them as a snack (not breakfast), since Jonski Papa makes lovely whole wheat pancakes or waffles most mornings. The back of the choco chex box has a recipe for Mayan Chocolate Chex Mix. Even though it doesn’t strictly meet the challenge (there’s only cinnamon products), I present it anyway. Read on for another recipe that does include actual cinnamon.

Mayan Chex Mix

3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups chocolate Chex cereal
2 cups cinnamon Chex cereal
1 cup cashew pieces
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tab butter or margarine
2 Tab light corn syrup
2 tsp ground ancho chile pepper (I used 1.5 tsp ground chimayo chiles + .5 tsp smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 cup cinnamon M&M’s (orig recipe calls for chocolate chips)

1. In a large microwaveable bowl, mix cereals and cashews.
2. In 2-cup microwaveable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, nutter, corn syrup, chile and cayenne uncovered on high about 90 seconds, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Pour over cereal mixture, stir until evenly coated.
3. Microwave uncovered on high 5 to 6 minutes, stirring after every minute. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Break into bite sized chunks, stir in M&M’s (chocolate). Store in airtight container.

It’s a bit too sweet, so if I were to make it again, I would add more nuts and some pretzels, and maybe more of the corn chex than it calls for. And to make it more in the spirit of the spice rack challenge – like, to actually use some cinnamon from the spice rack!! – you could add cinnamon with the chile powder.

Now on to some actual cinnamon. 4 or 5 years ago, we won a romertopf unglazed clay pot in a raffle. I haven’t been able to find many recipes to make with it, other than roasting chickens, but it certainly makes good roasted chicken! I borrowed Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert from my library, but it only had 2 recipes for unglazed pots, so wasn’t any help either. More recently, I came across this one in my Epicurious app, and was inspired to try something similar. It was quite tasty, and made a nice change from our standard plain roast chicken. We had quite a bit of leftover bulgur (only the adults were willing to try it), but it was good on reheating.

Middle-Eastern-Inspired Clay Pot Chicken

2 ounces unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, cut into thick rings
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 long sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into rings
1 green peppers, seeded and cut into rings
2 long green chiles, seeded and diced
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced
2 ounces bulgur, washed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 stick cinnamon
2 star anise (I might have left this out)
few sprigs thyme
1 package “pick of the chick” chicken pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
diced dried apricots

1. Start the clay pot soaking.
2. Heat the butter and extra-virgin olive oil in a pan. Gently sweat the onions, garlic, peppers and chiles with the cumin and cinnamon for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the tomatoes, bulgur, chicken stock, cinnamon, star anise, and thyme and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, then cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper (and more cinnamon, if you wish).
4. Put the bulghur mixture into the clay pot. Sprinkle with the diced apricots. Top with chicken.
5. Cover and place cooker in center of cold oven. Turn on the oven to 450 F and cook for 50 minutes. Remove lid and roast uncovered 5 to 10 minutes to brown skin slightly. (If you don’t have a clay pot, the original recipe at Epicurious gives directions for using a casserole dish.)

27 September 2011

Spice Rack Challenge: Mustard Seeds!

Posted in events, food at 8:38 am by Tricia

The challenge for this month was mustard seeds, with a nod to making summer last a little longer.

I started out by perusing Epicurious on my iPod, and I came up with a couple of recipes that looked interesting. The first was a rice dish (jasmine rice pilaf with mustard seeds). Sadly, the rice was kind of bland (even after I added salt on reheating). The mustard seeds didn’t really add much that I could tell. I also tested out green beans with red onion and mustard seed vinaigrette. The green beans were delicious at first, but when I reheated them and ate later, they were a bit too vinegary for me. I do think the onion vinaigrette has promise, though. (And true to form, I took both of these dishes to a block party!) I figured I could blog these, even though I wasn’t totally excited about them.

Flash forward to this week. Sweet corn season is on its last legs, so I bought half a dozen ears on Wednesday (and the farmer threw in an extra for free). I remembered seeing a couple of interesting corn recipes in my favorite cookbook, so imagine my excitement when I found that one of them included mustard seeds! I took what was left after dinner on Thursday and scraped the kernels off the ears and made spicy corn with sesame seeds and tomatoes.

spicy corn ingredients

most of the ingredients, assembled for one photo opp...

Spicy Corn with Sesame Seeds and Tomatoes
Tamatar Varu Makai Nu Shaak
(serves 4)

2 Tab peanut or canola oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
generous pinch of ground asafetida
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh hot green chile, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tab sesame seeds
1 smallish onion (3 oz), peeled and finely chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups corn (i used cooked corn removed from cobs)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala (i used curry powder)
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used fresh; orig. recipe calls for canned)
3 to 4 Tab chopped fresh cilantro

Put the oil in a large nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds being to pop, a matter of seconds, put in the asafetida (if you have any!). Stir once and put in the garlic and green chile. Stir once or twice and put in the sesame seeds. As soon as the sesame seeds turn golden and/or pop, a matter of seconds, put in the onion and green pepper. Stir and fry for 5 minutes. (Catch your breath! :^)

Add the corn, salt, and garam masala. Stir and cook for a minute.
Add the turmeric, ground cumin, coriander, and paprika.
Stir and cook for a minute.
Add the liquefied tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Uncover, add the cilantro, and stir to mix. Serve hot.

It tastes wonderful! The cookbook recommends rolling it inside a tortilla, chapati, or pita bread. We had a couple of tortillas on hand, so that’s how we ate it for lunch on Friday. I had the leftovers on Saturday by itself – also good. Stir in a spoonful of plain yogurt if you want some added creaminess. (Note: I thought I’d bought some asafetida a few months ago, to try in various recipes, but I could not find it in any spice drawer to left it out.)

All of the produce in this recipe came from my farm share. I thought the green pepper (already chopped when the photo was taken) was a poblano chile and expected it to be hot, but it wasn’t. I see now from various online sources that poblanos are rather mild, so maybe my expectations were just off! I guess I should have used one of my jalapeños (such as the one in the photo…). I expected the two red peppers to be sweet, but the first one I cut into was HOT. I think the second one was not hot, but I’d blasted my sense of taste on the first so I couldn’t be sure. Anyway, my point is: you can adjust the spiciness through pepper selection.

I bought quite a lot of mustard seeds at my local by-the-ounce purveyor of spices because I’ve been intending to make homemade mustard. I just can’t quite get up the energy to do it, though (after all, you need lots of energy to let something soak for two days!), because I don’t even like mustard. This would be for the spouse, so I’d need his participation when it comes to the final taste adjustment step. Maybe I’ll start that…tomorrow.

6 September 2011


Posted in creative outlets at 10:06 pm by Tricia

I finally learned to knit!

look ma, i can knit!

At the Maker Faire at the end of July, a volunteer taught me how to cast on and do the knit stitch. The garter stitch swatch on bottom left is the outcome of that.

A week or so later, having forgotten how to cast on, I started a new piece with the help of youtube – and didn’t quite get the cast on right, but it was good enough for practice purposes. Then I learned how to purl from youtube – except I ended up doing some weird wacky thing that was not purl at all, and which my neighbor the knitter cannot figure out. (She teaches high school students how to knit, she has experience with these things!) The yellow one in the center is an example of my wacko purl stitch (the top two-thirds). The little piece below it is what I did after the neighbor taught me how to purl properly (she also taught me how to cast on properly!)

In the interest of full disclosure, I actually managed to start doing purl properly after a 10 minute break from knitting, but since it wasn’t what I HAD been doing I thought I was wrong so asked for help. My knitting neighbor helped me see the error of my ways, and now I can knit and purl properly. The piece on the lower right is a stockinette swatch, done after her counseling and knitting rehab :^) The blue piece at the top is a swatch scarf to use up my ball of blue yarn obtained at the Maker Faire, following suggestions in Kids Knitting. It includes a 2×2 rib, 1×1 rib, basketweave, seed stitch in the center, then basketweave, 1×1, and 2×2 on the other side of the center.

Now what?? The T-boy wants a blanket, which seems way too big. A friend suggested a dishcloth. I have an itch to do socks, but I’m sure they’re WAY too hard! Maybe I’ll make a pillow instead of a blanket…

21 August 2011

August Spice-Rack Challenge: Cumin

Posted in events, food at 11:28 pm by Tricia

The spice rack challenge for August is cumin. As i commented on Mom’s original post, I always associated cumin with Mexican food (you know, chili powder – not to be confused with powdered chiles…). Then i encountered it in various Indian recipes in my favorite cookbook, and learned it’s in many Middle Eastern dishes as well (e.g. the baharat spice mix I used for February’s challenge).

Here are some recipes from my archives that contain cumin:

  • Turnips with Yogurt and Tomato (cumin seeds): I’ve only made it once, so it’s not yet a favorite, but I did make this about a month ago, so it’s current.
  • Spanish-Style Spinach with Chickpeas (ground cumin): This is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. He looks forward to having it when we’ve got lots of spinach in the fridge.
  • Green Beans with Cumin and Fennel (both cumin seeds and ground cumin): my favorite way to cook green beans (if you don’t mind spice with your green beans!).

And here’s a new one:  curtido, a cabbage salad with oregano from El Salvador. The original recipe also called for a cup of shredded crisp lettuce, but I didn’t have any on hand so left it out. For someone who claims she doesn’t like cole slaw, I’m posting quite a few slaw recipes this summer!

Cabbage Slaw with Oregano and Cumin (curtido)

6 cups shredded green cabbage
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp salt
2 Tab red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tab olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix. Set aside for 1 hour or longer, refrigerating if necessary.

Now if I could just find where my chickens wandered off to… I guess they aren’t getting enough cumin in their diets! [joking! We have no chickens.]

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