Category Archive: Food

Chia-meatballs? Yes!

Jeannie –

A couple of days ago, D accidentally bought ground chicken breast (instead of ground turkey) and i don’t like it. This has happened before so I’ve already tried all sorts of ways to cook it and it always came out dry or rubbery or something unpalatable (to me). Interestingly, the kids have liked it every time (go figure). But the kids are at my mom’s this week while i catch up on work.

I looked for another recipe – though I briefly considered freezing it, hoping I’d come up with something someday… I knew that would basically mean I’d never do anything with it and I can’t afford to lose the freezer space since it’s half-full of ice packs for my leg.

Then i saw a recipe on epicurious.comLinguine al Limone with Grilled Chia-Chicken Meatballs – that not only listed ground chicken, but chia seeds and rolled oats, along with the other basic things i’d normally put into a meatball like onions, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese (which D always puts into meatballs). wow! amazing! (though, i wouldn’t mind replacing the parm cheese with something else. any ideas?)

Turns out that epicurious reprinted the recipe from The Chia Cookbook – i might have to check it out!


btw, here’s what they looked like – i don’t know if i’ll ever learn how to make round meatballs!

chia chicken meatballs


The Best Granola Bars

The Best Granola Bars |

Seriously. I mean it.

I’m a fan of granola in all forms, and I’ve even made my own loose granola in the past (Mark Bittman’s Crunchy Granola recipe from the New York Times). But my true love is chewy granola, and I’ve been searching forever for the perfect granola bar. Most packaged bars are either too sweet, not hearty enough (so many puffed grains!), or both. And I never found a recipe that looked good enough to attempt.

Then I found this chewy granola bar recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it was all over. (Actually, I first found another recipe that was clearly adapted from the SK version, or from the King Arthur original that inspired the SK recipe, but it didn’t credit either, so I’m not linking to it.) I’ve tweaked it a bunch and made it probably a hundred times and I can confidently say these are indeed the best granola bars ever. They are dairy-free and can easily be made gluten-free (if you use certified GF/uncontaminated oats) and/or truly vegan (if you sub maple syrup or another sticky sweetener for the honey). You can substitute the nuts and dried fruit of your choice, and change up the sweeteners. There’s still a fair amount of added sugar, which you need to make the bars cohere without getting rock hard, but I bet you could cut it a bit more and replace with nut butter.

Granola, baked |

The Best Granola Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Takes about an hour, not including cooling time

Grease a 9-inch square pan (I use a little olive oil). Cut parchment paper to the width of the pan and line the bottom and two sides of the pan, letting the ends overhang. Grease the paper.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients:
1 2/3 cup oats
1/3 cup oat flour or ground oats (blitz them in a food processor)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries OR dried cranberries (sweetened with juice, if you can find them), chopped*
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
1/4 cup whole chia seed (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

*I have the food processor out anyway to grind up the oats, so I blitz the dried fruit and nuts in there too.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients:
1/3 cup nut butter (I’ve used peanut butter and almond butter, they’re tasty with either)
6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey (I use raw buckwheat honey)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until evenly coated. Dump into prepared pan and use your fingers to press down into an even layer. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are browned–the middle will still be very soft and you’ll think you underbaked it. It took me 2 or 3 tries, first overbaking and then underbaking before I got it really right.

Cool in pan on wire rack. After an hour or two you can lift it out of the pan and let it cool on your cutting board or a rack. You want it completely cool before you cut it, and in fact to get really clean edges it’s best to completely cool it, then put it in the fridge for an hour or two to let it firm up even more. (However, my husband prefers to dig it out of the pan while it’s still warm, and I can’t blame him because it’s delicious that way.) Cut with a very sharp knife. They will keep for over a week in the fridge in an airtight container; let them come to room temp or microwave for a few seconds before eating.

A Little Late: Christmas Eve Mushroom Soup

barszczgrzybowy_przepisAll this snow is making me think of Christmas, and it wouldn’t be Christmas (or home) without this amazing soup. We call it grzybowy barszcz and it’s oh so yummy. These king bolete mushrooms come from the forests of Poland – we call them prawdziwki which stems from the word prawda for truth – we believe they are truly the best mushrooms in the world, that they are called “king” for good reason. You may know them by their Italian name: porcini.

Soak 2 or 3 handfuls of dried porcini/bolete mushrooms for 3-4 hours in hot water.

Sauté chopped onions,chopped celery and the optional, but flavorful, chopped leeks in a soup pot. (You might be wondering ‘how much?’ – well, that’s really up to you. I’d probably add a handful of chopped onion, maybe a little more and one or two celery stalks.)

Add rinsed mushrooms to the pot. and run the reserved liquid through a cloth or cheesecloth or coffee filter and then add that too. I like to chop the mushrooms. Also add salt, pepper and a bay leaf.

Cook until everything is almost soft. Add chopped carrots (maybe 3 carrots), and a chopped parsnip (optional, but one or two adds something to the soup).barszcz_serving

When everything is cooked and soft, add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar (to taste; I like apple cider vinegar). Bring to a boil and turn off heat.

Put sour cream in a bowl and temper with some of the soup. (mix a little of the soup into the sour cream, mix it up, then add more soup and mix, do this a couple more times and add this mixture back to the soup.)

Add a lot of chopped parsley.

Potatoes for the soup: Boil potatoes, when they’re soft, drain, put back on the stove and dry them a bit by mixing them with a spoon or fork for a moment or two, add some salt. Some will fall apart, but it’s ok. Now they’re ready.

Serve on Christmas Eve when you see the first star in the sky by putting a spoonful of potatoes in a bowl and ladling the soup on top.

It might take a try or two to get it just right, but it’s quite worth it! And, though it reminds me of Christmas, it would be pretty wonderful anytime. Smacznego!

Earth Day Yogurt

Though not officially planned for Earth Day, I’ve learned how to make yogurt with some good timing. Not only will it stop me from buying more plastic, the taste speaks for itself.

There are many methods for making yogurt:

The electric blanket.. The crock pot… The oven… Or some variation.

But that’s just too much for me. I couldn’t do it. I decided to go with the gadget. I will beg Alton Brown‘s forgiveness later (he, btw, goes the electric blanket route).

With the yogurt maker, you follow the manufacturer’s instructions – though it seems that most instructions are quite similar. For mine, I had to heat up the specified amount of milk to 180 degrees in a pot. Translated for the busy mom: a kid started screaming once I put it on the stove and I forgot about it briefly and caught the milk as it started boiling. Since I couldn’t find my thermometer to be sure what the temp was and it was bedtime, I took it off the stove to cool to the suggested 110 degrees, but by the time I got back to the milk, it was room temp or something like it. I kept moving forward thinking If this is that precise of a science, it will never work for me anyway.

There is a yogurt:milk ratio that you have to follow, so I did the math ahead of time. (when no one was screaming and it wasn’t bedtime. What was I thinking?) You add some of the milk to the room temp yogurt and then add it back to the pot and mix it all up. Pour into the adorable little jars – I opted for glass:

Then I put the dome on it, set the timer for 8 hours and went to sleep.

I overslept. And had to get the kids fed and out the door to school, so I have no idea how long it actually was by the time I made it back to my yogurt, but I do know that it was more than 8 hours and it was creamy and tasty and for the sake of experimenting I made yogurt cheese for lunch:


What are you doing for Earth Day?


Blueberry Soup

I’ve spent the last couple of years exploring my family history in old-fashioned ways. I’ve been knitting, dyeing textiles, exploring herbal remedies… and cooking.

My family comes from Northeastern Poland and had a local diet à la 19th century (except they came to the US in the 1960s!). I vaguely remembered a summertime blueberry soup from my visits, so i asked my Mom for the family recipe. Mom explained that it was often served during summer harvest when my grandmother had to feed a farm work crew with not much time for cooking. My mom also couldn’t help but mention that it took longer for her and her sister to pick the wild blueberries than it did to make the soup.

Noodles are optional, but certainly make for a more filling soup.

Blueberry Soup
15 minutes (without noodles)
40 minutes (with noodles)

3/4 pint ripe blueberries
a pinch of salt
sugar (raw and to your liking)

Wash your blueberries. Bring them to a simmer with 1 1/2 cups water (filtered, if you have it). Add a pinch of salt and enough sugar for soup on the sweet side, or less if you prefer. The more ripe the blueberries, the less sugar you’ll need and the tastier the soup will be. Simmer about 10 minutes.

1 cup AP flour, plus more for kneading
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 egg
warm water

When starting the soup, put a pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.

Mix the flour and salt on a cutting board or in a bowl, then make a mound with a crater in the center. Add the egg and start to work it in, adding warm water as needed. You want a smooth dough. Cut the dough in half and roll it out on a floured board. I remember my great-aunt cutting long beautiful noodles, all the same width, using just a knife and a consistent stroke – so that’s what i tried to do. let’s just say i have some practice ahead of me, but no one was complaining. My goal was 1/4″ or a little smaller.

Move the noodles to a lightly floured surface (i used a cookie sheet) and let the dough sit for a few minutes. Cook in batches. I used a medium sized pot, so I placed a handful of noodles in the boiling water for about 7 minutes, but depending on the width, this may take longer. Check to see if they’re ready with a taste (once your noodle’s cooled slightly).

Drain the noodles and put as many as you’d like in a bowl. Ladle the soup over the noodles. In my opinion, this soup is best served at room temperature, but can be eaten hot or cold.

Mom also suggested that leftover crepes can be made into noodles for this soup. Roll up a crepe and cut into matchstick-width noodles. Ladle the soup over them.

post by lizard | | 0

Ginger Tea

All this talk of tea bags lately has made me realize that there’s no reason to use one for ginger tea! It costs less & tastes great.

It’s this simple to make your own:







grate the ginger and steep.

strain to taste into your glass…


strain the rest into a jar to use the next day.  Don’t forget to put it in the fridge.

Add hot water… and sweeten if you like with honey or maple syrup. if you’re iron’s low, you can add some molasses and a squeeze of lemon juice too. yummy.

Safer cans

Great news if you are concerned about BPA in canned food: Muir Glen, maker of organic tomato products, is going to be switching to BPA-free cans as of their next tomato harvest. As far as I know, this is the first company to put tomatoes in BPA-free cans. Canned food is a major source of BPA exposure in humans, and until recently there have been very few options for food cans whose linings don’t contain BPA. Eden Organics is one notable exception; their beans come in BPA-free cans and are the only canned beans I’ll buy now (when I’m not trying to cook my own from dried; that’s another post). But in winter, when store-bought tomatoes don’t even deserve the name, it’s been hard not to just grab a can of tomatoes, especially when I really do like Muir Glen’s tomatoes (far better than Pomi, which I’ve been buying instead because they come in BPA-free aseptic packaging).

So I’m thrilled that, perhaps by next winter, we’ll have a good BPA-free option for tomatoes, too. I’m also thrilled that the FDA and EPA both recently announced they will be taking a look at the effects of BPA exposure (the FDA in food packaging, the EPA in the environment). About time!

(News from via Safer Cans)

What to do with all those Easter Eggs?

My friend Cecelia asked this morning “Anyone got any good recipes that use 2 1/2 dozen hard-boiled eggs?” I wanted to share (and try to make) this recipe for Easter Egg Kotlety that my mother makes. A quick call to confirm ingredients and i was ready to give it a shot on my own.

First, using a serrated knife, carefully cut each egg in half long-ways.

Then scoop out the inside of each egg-half and chop. How coarse is up to you. Add this to a bowl and then add salt, pepper, mustard, raw egg, and chopped parsley. All to taste. Mix it up really well.

Gently put the egg mixture into each shell so that it’s even.

Dip in bread crumbs.

Put a little butter in a hot pan and add the egg. Cook slowly to cook through but you may want to put the heat up for a moment or two to brown the bread crumbs.

That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!

Easter Eggs – Our natural dye experiment

We used:

onion skins
red cabbage
beet juice

We added vinegar once the liquids were in mugs for dyeing on the counter, except for Chlorophyll.

We hard boil the eggs right in the onion skin and water. This is traditional for us, it makes a beautiful burnt sienna color – might be too close to brown for some. I strained the liquid into a mug for dipping other eggs… For instance, my favorite yellow is a golden yellow that’s formed from dipping in turmeric for a bit first and then in this onion skin liquid. so pretty.

The turmeric and water (1.5 tablespoons to 2 cups of water) is boiled first – it’s best used warm or even hot – it separates as the water gets cool.

The red cabbage made the most beautiful color of blue-purple water. but it barely colored the eggs in the end. i was disappointed. Next year, we might try to boil the eggs directly in this like with the onion skins but we won’t use vinegar in the boiling. it’s used in cooking with red cabbage so that the cabbage keeps its color and we want it to give up its color to the water.

Beet juice made a pretty light pink. i used canned beet juice – drained the liquid from the canned beets into a mug. i warmed it up in the microwave. warming was an outright necessity. i might try something else for pink next year.

The chlorophyll was really interesting. makes a really pretty green – but you cannot add vinegar to it like to the others or it curdles (for lack of a better word). it may seem pretty that way, but the curdled, darker pieces never set and the dye comes off on anything it comes near. the dye without the vinegar comes off a little, but it was barely anything worth mentioning. we just poured it straight from the bottle and didn’t heat or anything. really easy, really pretty. and didn’t take long to get a great color.

The blueberry was a pain to make but made a really pretty blue. I used frozen blueberries, added some water and then smashed the blueberries with fork and forced what liquid i could through a fine mesh strainer. i should have warmed this up a bit to see if the color would take faster. Next year, i’ll try canned blueberries and just drain the liquid and use that and i’ll see how it goes.

First row from the back: onion skin, chlorophyll with vinegar, turmeric then onion skin liquid, turmeric then onion skin liquid, beet juice
Second row from the back: onion skin, onion skin, blueberry, beet juice, chlorophyl, and red cabbage. (i forgot about a couple of eggs in the red cabbage solution and they oddly turned green. i’m thinking it was an aberration.)

the turmeric straight made brighter yellow eggs – they were pretty too. there’s (a blurry) one in the easter basket below.

Homemade popcorn vs the prepackaged stuff

Here’s a simple way to be green and smart! It’s almost as easy to make popcorn the alton brown way as it is to open up a prepackaged version. and much less expensive. and it looks greener to me. Here are the recipes and links to why:

Alton Brown’s recipe
Don’t actually have to use the staples, just fold the bag over a couple of times.
Also, you don’t have to use oil or salt if you don’t want – can just put popcorn in the bag if you’d like.

Microwave popcorn in a bowl

Info on store-bought prepackaged microwave popcorn:
It’s in the microwave popcorn, not the Teflon pan
Preliminary FDA data suggest that eating microwave pop corn may expose people to chemicals that break down to produce PFOA, a suspected carcinogen.

Missouri Factory – butter flavoring causes rare lung disease


butter flavoring lung disease in the news:

On Staples in the microwave