Mushroom caps stuffed with red pepper and quinoa

Mushroom caps stuffed with red pepper and quinoa

Our friend The Big Boss from work, a man who could, and did, eat two dozen prawns, half a dozen drumsticks, and an additional two pounds of roasted meat at one sitting, has gone practically vegan. I created these mushroom caps stuffed with red pepper and quinoa for him, a winner of an umami-laden dish that feels hearty and satisfying without any of those pesky high carbs, gluten, or dairy products. My only warning is they take a bit of time. You can make the stuffing in advance; it will keep for several days refrigerated. Ingredients: 36 medium-sized mushrooms, washed with stems removed 1/2 cup quinoa 1/2 teaspoon olive oil 1 cup water 1 red pepper generous splash full-bodied red wine (about 3/4 cup) 1 tbsp nutritional yeast plus extra to sprinkle on top 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper spray olive oil Instructions: First, get your quinoa cooking. (Follow these directions from The Kitchn if you’re worried about doing it wrong) Whatever you do, don’t overcook it; there’s nothing worse than soggy quinoa. Ok, there are lots of worse things – I’m thinking about the brussels sprouts creme brûlée from LL’s ill-fated 50th birthday party – but for the purposes of this recipe, you want your grain more al dente than mushy. Let cool. Then roast your red pepper. I cut it in half, take out the seeds and membrane, and put it right on top of the gas burner on my cooktop just like I roast poblano peppers. Let the pepper cool, then scrape off any black charred spots. Now simmer your wine burn off the alcohol, or at...
Turmeric and honey tea

Turmeric and honey tea

I was intrigued by this turmeric tea recipe Heidi Swanson posted on her blog 101 Cookbooks, based on an Ayurvedic recipe she found. Turmeric became my friend after accidentally creating multiple aches and pains in my knees and hip during last spring’s 22-mile Big Sur Marathon walk. Remembering that a (talented, accomplished, and beautiful) dancer friend once told me they would make turmeric paste to slather on sore muscles and joints while on tour, I found a cream made of turmeric extract, curcumin, that seemed to do the trick without turning my clothing bright orange. Turmeric doesn’t just give curries that wondrous yellow color. It’s is the wonderkind of Ayerveda, traditional Hindu medicine. Lisa Gallant of the California College of Ayervedic names a few of the many 5,000-year old uses for turmeric, including: use as a cold remedy, to give relief from bruises, sprains, and inflamed joints, to soothe skin from rashes ranging from eczema to chicken pox, even an insect repellant. The recipe is simple. This is all you need: turmeric, raw honey, lemon, hot water (not boiling), and black pepper. (I was psyched to find Wild Mountain brand honey at the grocery story. Wild Mountain Honey. Get it?) embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube Direkt   Anyway, mix 1/3 cup raw honey with 2 1/2 teaspoons turmeric. Blend well; it will become a medium paste: To make a cup of tea, add 1 teaspoonful of the past to a mug. Fill with hot water (not boiling water; as Heidi Swanson points out, you preserve the benefits of the raw honey if the water is not hot enough to cook it). Add freshly squeezed lemon juice...
First fish

First fish

A quick stop at Day’s Market for a bag of ice was the daily de rigueur in the sailboat days of our early marriage. No refrigerator on the Ericson 30 we called home, just a deep insulated box under the speck of formica counter that needed constant replenishment to keep our chardonnay chilled and sundries shivery. It had been a long time since I’d even glanced at that sign – a grow-the-baby-to-the-cusp-of-his-twenties length of time, and stopping there again that Saturday morning for a bag of ice made those memories misty and my nostalgia shivery. It wasn’t the time or place to reminisce, though; I had a date with a salmon. This email, from Fisherman Frank of the Gayle R, came late one Friday, 4 or 5 days after the opening of commercial salmon season: Dear Salmon Fans, Plenty of fish, but the early bird always gets the worm!  (No earlier than 10 o’clock though, please). The cost is $10/lb for the whole fish.  Frank will filet and/or steak the fish for you.  Please remember to bring an ice chest. Cash is preferred, but local checks are OK.  If you don’t think you want a whole fish (average is 11-12 lbs), find a friend to split one with you.  Can’t beat the price!! Thanks ~ see you at E-dock! I was a newbie on his list, the one he sends when he’s on his way back to the harbor with a fresh load of live Dungeness crab, so didn’t realize his repertoire included salmon. Who could resist the lure of the freshest, local-est, line caught fish around? Not me. I was there by 10am after a stop at the bank, the...
Fast, hearty, and delicious chicken, leek, and artichoke penne

Fast, hearty, and delicious chicken, leek, and artichoke penne

Oh. My. Gosh. This improvised dinner that was absolutely, fabulously divine, with a hint of earthiness from the mushrooms, flavor from the leeks, and brightness from the artichoke hearts all coming together to coat the penne with love and delicioiusness. It’s easy to make, with a simple broth of just artichoke water, butter, and olive oil thickened with a bit of flour. Read on!

Bannocks – gluten free, vegetarian oat cakes

Bannocks – gluten free, vegetarian oat cakes

It’s been an oatmeal kind of autumn around here – there’s something about the cooler weather that calls out for the warmth and earthiness of hot oats, don’t you think? Recently I was having a taste flashback to the bannocks we used to eat when I was a kid living in Sitka, and decided to try and make them for the boys – but there were so many recipes out there . . . I didn’t know where to start. I wanted simple and oat-y; I wasn’t interested in adding flour to make them bread-like. I also wanted to capture all the flavors of a bowl of oatmeal in a simple round patty. So I did what I always do – read a handful of recipes and then make up my own. After a few weeks of tweeking, here I present (drum roll, please!) the perfect oatcake! Oats, egg, and banana are really the only ingredients you need; everything else just dresses the oatcakes up a bit. And if you use leftover cooked oatmeal, you can omit the egg and make it vegan. Seriously, don’t these look scrumptious? And did you ever think you’d see the words “scrumptious” and “oatmeal” together???   The boys LOVE these oatcakes – seriously love them, like a kid might love a chocolate chip cookie. Ok, they are way too old for me to worry about making kid-friendly food, but these totally pass the test. Kid One has even memorized the recipe so he’ll be able to recreate them when the day comes he has a kitchen of his own.   I love them...
Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Fennel and artichoke hearts add an earthy twist to Julia Child’s excellent potato leek soup – a quick entree I learned to make forever ago from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In addition to 2 large chopped leeks – white part only –  and 2 pounds peeled and chopped russet potatoes, just add 1 large chopped fennel bulb and 1 can water-packed artichoke hearts to your pot. I discard the feathery fennel tops and thinly slice the bulbs. Use these often in your soups – they hold up nicely in a stew, puree well, and add a hind of licorice along with a boost of fiber and potassium to your meals. The rest of a proverbial piece of cake. Just barely cover with water, add a pinch of paprika and lots and lots of freshly ground lemon pepper. Simmer until it’s all tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. It will look like this: Use a hand blender to puree, and you end up with a nice thick warming entree. Add butter and salt at your pleasure and discretion. Serve in warm bowls with a fresh baguette and warm radishes. Go crazy and top with a bit of sour cream and crispy prosciutto if you like....
Sliced buttered radishes

Sliced buttered radishes

We’ve been on a warm buttered radish kick lately, serving them up every couple of days on top of a slice of fresh baguette and topped with a bit of crunchy green salad. Mmmm. If you’ve never tried these, give it a go. . . it’s the simplest side dish you’ll ever make: Sliced buttered radishes   Save Print Serve these warm, spicy, buttery radishes with a fresh baguette. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: salad, side dish Ingredients 1 bunch fresh radishes 1 tbsp unsalted butter 1 tsp sea salt Instructions Wash and trim the radishes. Slice into thin circles. Arrange on a microwave-safe plate. Top with 1 tbsp butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09...
Oatmeal muffin magic and recipes for happiness

Oatmeal muffin magic and recipes for happiness

You certainly have a recipe for a perfect roasted chicken or chocolate chip cookies – for some dish that makes you and your family smile – but have you ever considered your recipe for happiness? It’s a little bit harder to describe, hmm? That’s the question the Allrecipes.com team posed to us bloggers at this year’s BlogHer Food ’12 conference, and it’s definitely something to chew over. Food is a way of bringing people together, of showing love, and of sharing a culture – all things that bring happiness. How do you put it all together? I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do just that – to think about my recipe for happiness and share it with Allrecipes’ Fresh Bites blog. Of course, it involves my children, and cooking, and being creative. Click here to read Muffin Magic – One Family’s Recipe for Guaranteed Happiness. And thank you, Allrecipes, for letting me stop by your blog and share a...
Spicy pickled vegetables

Spicy pickled vegetables

Here’s a quick recipe for pickled vegetables for you to play around with. I’d been making a batch of pickled red onions every couple of month ever since I found Monica Bhide’s recipe in a magazine last year and finally started playing around with it to mix up the color and flavors. I love this version – it’s a gorgeous mixture of oranges, yellows, and purples – and it tastes just fabulous. Crunch, tang, spice, a bit of sweet . . . we’ve been adding it to everything from pizza to hot dogs to hummus and spinach tortilla wraps. Plus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and has that super-healthy boost turmeric provides. Best of all, it’s a simple recipe that keeps for – well, I don’t know how long it will keeps. We’ve always eaten this size batch within 2 weeks. This is all you do. Pour 1 cup very hot water in a 2-quart Pyrex mixing bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 1 tbsp turmeric and stir again Now add: One thinly sliced red onion 3 ribs thinly julienned celery 1 bunch thinly sliced radishes 1 cup shredded carrot a pinch of red pepper flakes Cover with white vinegar, and your work is done. Just snap on the lid, place the container in the refrigerator, and let the turmeric and vinegar do their thing for 6-8 hours. Drain the mixture well before serving; a colander works best. Store unused portion in the vinegar mixture in the refrigerator....
First pick of home-grown blackberries

First pick of home-grown blackberries

My neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, so that awkward strip of land between property line and county-maintained street is a landscape free-for-all, a curb value coda. A few neighbors fill the space with asphalt. Others plant prim mounds of multicolored lantana, rosemary and lavender bushes, pots of bamboo, or birds of paradise; almost everything grows here. Many carefully groom the space with pebbles that coordinate with their house color. Many also just let weeds and visiting cars fill the space. Last year I ripped out a native landscape garden I’d established in our strip during one enthusiasm in favor of my newest obsession – growing only/mostly things we can eat. Kid Two helped me dig deep holes in the clay dirt, mixing in fine soil, filling the space with tiny springs of bareroot grapes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and huckleberries. One day, I thought, we’ll be able to pick a few berries as we walk to the beach, or gather an after-school snack, or maybe even grow enough for a batch of homegrown jam. Dream-berries. The reality of a berry patch has certainly not been as glamorous as my fantasy. We navigated the jigsaw puzzle of drip irrigation only once, but everything else is continuous. Fertilizing, mulching, weeding the prickly California roses that kept sprouting up, figuring out how to train the prickly brambles away from the street, from scratching my arms and leaving stickers in my thumb. We’ve done the work randomly, mindlessly, losing track, really of when to expect a harvest. Life was that much sweeter then, after pulling into the driveway from vacation – mind already building the endless...

How do you manage kids and junk food?

I read this great article on Zite this morning: My Kid Likes Junk Food And That’s Ok by registered dietician, writer, and mom Sally Kuzemchak. She makes the point that, no matter how much a parent wants and tries to keep their child away from junk food, it enters their lives in some way. Yes. A child would have to be kept away from television, from movie previews, out of mainstream grocery stores, birthday parties, would have to ignore snacks other parents take to the park, and would probably have to stop engaging with other kids altogether, especially at lunch time, to remain blissfully unaware of junk food. When Kid One started school, I was truly shocked when I saw what some of the kids brought for lunch. Bologna sandwiches, Lunchables, potato chips and cookies in all sorts of packaged-for-lunch-box shapes and sizes . . . nary a piece of fresh fruit in sight. Trash cans filled with barely-eaten sandwiches and empty foil wrappers. This was Santa Cruz, after all; I honestly went into his kindergarten thinking the kids who brought that stuff would be ridiculed. And it wasn’t just lunchtime – in any class, over half brought in treats to celebrate their birthdays. Not homemade goodies, either, like these oatmeal cookies with Craisins my dad Downtown Tom just whipped up and emailed to me: Instead parents usually brought cupcakes from the Safeway bakery down the street: spongy yellow cakes piled with snow-white super-sweet frosting and season-appropriate sprinkles. Then there were the class parties: the random ice cream parties, pancake parties, the celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter break, Valentine’s Day,...

From French Chef to Fat Chef in fifty years

Fifty years ago Julia Child celebrated butter and cream, teaching us how to craft soufflés and beef Wellington on The French Chef. When her show was originally on the air, the average weight of an adult woman then was 140 pounds. In 1997 the International Federation of Competitive Eating was founded, and a few years later Man v. Food showed us how you can make a living by traveling and allowing yourself to be filmed stuffing as much food into your body in one sitting literally as humanly possible. Now the Food Network takes Fat Chefs and teaches them how to not eat quite so much and how to work off the calories. Today the average weight of an adult woman today is 164 pounds. There is, I think, connection here. Frank Bruni has been writing some thoughtful essays recently about how we are most likely genetically programmed toward weight gain, pointing out that the way in which we’ve become experts at processing food crops has led to the creation of a tremendous array of irresistibly salty, sweet, tasty, calorie-dense, and cheap things to grab and munch on at will. (Read the piece – he’s got some excellent points – then read the comments, which are also quite insightful.) This is Michael Pollan’s big point in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, showing how we take the million of acres of corn we grow and not just feeding it to the animals we eat, but reformulating it into almost a dozen more components of processed foods: For modified or unmodified starch, for crystalling fructose and ascorbic acid, for lecithin and dextrose, lactic acid and lysine, for maltose and...

Taste memory of Loreto: pineapple and jalapeño salsa

“If we’re in Mexico, does the menu really have to say Mexican food?” This from my very astute Kid Two while reading the offerings at Loreto’s La Palapa, a tourist destination-type restaurant conveniently situated between the ocean and the town square. I had a few menu questions of my own, like why are the chicken fajitas and chicken in mole sauce listed under “Fowls” instead of included with the Mexican offerings? And in that spirit, shouldn’t the beef shish kabob have been more properly labeled as “Turkish” instead of under “Meats?” And why didn’t they get someone to spell-check the English translations? – “garlinc” “snaper” and “chesse” all snuck by, preserved forever under laminating paper.   La Palapa was highly recommended by the expat sitting next to me on the plane, a golf-playing blonde of a certain age on her way back from taking care of some business back in Portland. I can picture her there – sunburned nose on a hot summer night, a table with a pitcher of margaritas and her three best friends – a reliable spot to laugh a lot and sing a little, a place to start the night with fresh ceviche and guacamole and end it with a couple of tacos and a plate of fries to soak up the booze. Anyway . . . I’m being a little snarky, but I get why people like the place. It’s got energy – mariachi music, splashed with color, and an awesome kitschy thatched palm roof – and the food was fresh and perfectly fine. It has to be tricky, trying to stay in business by catering to the whims...