Friday, November 25, 2011


Apple, quince crepes with cranberry sauce. Photo: Travis Stevens

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day.  It's even better than dessert in my book. Some women shop to reward themselves, I cook.  Brunch is a treat to myself where at least once a week I take the time to cook and enjoy some of my favorite foods with loved ones before I start thinking about everything I have to do that day or that week. 

Crepes can be intimidating, but once you've made them once you will quickly realize they really aren't complicated.  Plus, you can fill them with just about anything, including cherry pie filling. I happily stumbled upon this filling combination one recent Sunday.  Quinces and apples are in season and hence what I had on hand.  Thus a filling was born.  The fruits are cooked down to make a sauce that warms the sweetened sour cream filling to the perfect temperature and consistency when both are wrapped in a warm crepe.  The result is a light, creamy and satisfying mouthful with a balance of sweet and tart that does not require additional syrup.  

Apple Quince Crepes
4 eggs
2 C flour (all rice or 1c white rice, 1/2 c brown rice, 1/2 c sweet rice)
1 C rice milk
1 C water
4 Tbls melted butter

1. Beat eggs, sift in flour and beat until smooth.
2. Stir in milk, butter and water.  All ingredients should be room temperature so melted butter does not solidify when added to ingredients.
3. Chill for 1 hour (or at least for as long as it takes you to make the fillings).
4. To make a  crepe, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into a well greased, pre-heated, small pan.  After adding batter to pan, immediately tilt pan to spread batter over the entire bottom of pan.
5. Cook 1-2 minutes or until crepe pulls away from bottom and sides of pan. Flip to brown other side. Repeat until batter is gone.  To keep crepes warm, cover with a kitchen towel or place in a warm oven.

Sour cream filling
8 oz 'sour cream' substitute
2-3 Tbls sugar
1. Combine ingredients to taste.  The mixture should still be a little tangy and not overly sweet. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the fruit filling.

Apple quince filling
 1 apple, peeled and diced
1 quince, peeled and diced
1-2 Tbls sugar
1. Add fruit, sugar, spices and a small amount of water to a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat until fruit is soft.

To assemble crepes add a few tablespoons of each filling.  Roll and place seam side down on a cookie sheet or plate.  If making a lot of crepes, warm them in the oven before serving. If eating right away, heat from the hot filling should be enough to take the chill out of the sour cream filling.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Squash Season

Name this squash!
and then eat it - 
Squash & Kale Risotto recipe below
P.S. I helped grow these!  I find that veggies always taste better when I've worked for them; or perhaps I just appreciate them more and it makes them that much more delicious?
Delicata - small yellow ones with green stripes; Butternut - oblong,sandy colored; Hokkaido - green on the outside, but deep orange and smooth on the inside. Plus it stores well into January; Pie pumpkin - I think you know this one; Props to those of you who know the large pale green one, alas I have forgotten its name.
One of the joys of eating with the season besides the potential decrease in carbon emissions, and more flavorful, nutritious food, is I get to anticipate and look forward to what's coming up next.  In fall there are a lot of treats - persimmons, chestnuts, greens, but with out a doubt my fall favorite is winter squash.  Truth be told, delicata (beware not all delicata's are created equal.  Go for the smaller ones with bright yellow and orange rather than yellow-green rinds) and hokkaido are my favorite, but butternuts and a good pie pumpkin are always great too.

Another joy of eating foods in season is that it makes deciding what to eat for dinner that much easier!  All it takes is looking to see what's on hand. How do I stock up? We get a CSA share of produce from Shade River every week.  One of the best parts, even better than getting a little bit of that Christmas like anticipation every week, is the fact that I don't have to choose what to buy at the Farmers Market.  Sounds strange, but I could easily deliberate for well over an hour about what to buy and from who.  This way if there is something I really want, I get it. Otherwise I just pick up my box of produce and am on my way with delicious, fresh, seasonal produce.  Thank you Star, Lilly and Mike!

Think about it: 
What do you eat?
  • Learn a new variety of winter squash this week
  • Eat something grown by the person you bought it from

Squash & Kale Risotto
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
(~4 large servings)

4 1/2 - 5 C. vegetable stock
1 C. onions, minced
1 1/2 C. arborio rice
1/2 C. white wine
2 C. peeled and cubed winter squash, 1inch or smaller
3 C. kale, stemmed & chopped
1/8 - 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon peel, grated (do not skip this if at all possible, or try substituting lemon balm)

1. Boil stock and reduce to a simmer.
2. In a heavy saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute onions until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a wooden spoon, add rice and stir until coated with oil.  Add more oil if needed.
4. Add white wine and stir until absorbed.  Then add 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir until rice has absorbed liquid, about 2-3 minutes. Repeat with 2 more cups of broth, adding 1/2 a cup at a time.
5. Stir in squash and kale. Continue adding 1/2 cup of broth every few minutes for about 10 minutes
6. When rice is tender, add nutmeg, lemon, salt and pepper to taste.  This is a good time to add Parmesan or Ramono cheese if you can eat it. A note about Ramano, it is normally made from sheep's milk.  Some who cannot tolerate cow dairy products do just fine with goat or sheep dairy products.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Pie Bars

Mmm...Apple pie bar. Photo by Travis Stevens
If you are accessing this blog through the office of sustainability website, you may be wondering what in the world any of this has to do with a more sustainable lifestyle.
1. We all eat.  We all use resources to grow, access and cook food either directly or indirectly. What we choose to eat impacts resource use. Plus, if we think about our food just a bit it it opens an interesting door for exploring how the planet supports us and how we can act in a way the helps or hinders it from continuing to do so.

2. We are social creatures, like it or not. I wasn't exactly social in my younger years so it came as a great surprise when somewhere along the line I finally embraced that people enrich my life. Sharing good food with friends nourishes me and can bring a bit of joy to even the most mundane day. It makes my friends happy (which makes me happy) and it often is a good excuse for getting together, relaxing, discussing and pausing for a bit to enjoy life.

Does all the food I eat have the least possible ecological impact?  Do I share all my meals with family or friends?  Clearly if you've looked at any of my recipes and see the heavy use of sugar and flour, you realize the answer is no.   But I do try to find a balance when I can - those are local apples in the photo, the veggies I eat are grown in a responsible manner and I don't eat much meat.  These are little steps, and collectively they are giant steps.  Here is some food for thought I heard recently, When it comes to sustainability a reaction many people have is 'What can I do?' a better question is  'How should I be?'...

Enough philosophizing, to the apple pie bars!  I recently brought these to a dinner party which convinced me that it's not only me, these really are scrumptious.  Against my friend's advice to keep this recipe super secret so Starbucks doesn't steel it, I've decided to spread the joy. 

Apple Pie Bars
2 1/2 C flour (I generally use 2 C white rice and 1/2 C sorghum, brown rice or sweet rice flours)
1 tsp salt
1 C (2 sticks) Earth Balance, chilled
1 egg, room temperature
2/3 C milk substitute
1 C crushed corn/rice based cereal (I forgot these last time and they turned out fine)
8 C peeled, thinly sliced, tart apples (mandolins work great for this)
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk substitute
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Stir together flours and salt.  Cut in butter.
2. Add egg and milk. Stir with a fork until incorporated.
3. Divide dough in half.  Roll half the dough into a rectangle large enough to cover a 9x13inch pan.  If the dough does not stick together well try chilling it for 20 minutes or just press it directly into the pan.
4. Sprinkle cereal over the crust and layer apple slices on top.
5. In a bowl, stir together sugar and spices.  Sprinkle over apples.
6. Cover apples with the other half of rolled out dough.
7. Brush with egg white, and sprinkle with a mix of 2 Tbs sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
8. Bake 45 minutes - 1 hour until slightly brown.
9. Once bars are mostly cool, mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle by the fork-full onto bars.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

As promised, a recipe for a wheat and dairy free bread even regular bread eaters will enjoy.

The recipe I used came from another blog - but as usual I've made a few adaptations.  

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
1 3/4 C flour (All brown rice flour works, so does 1c. white rice flour with 3/4 c. sorghum flour) 
1/2 C potato starch
1/4 C tapioca starch (cornstarch also works)
1/2 C sugar
1 TBS xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS cinnamon
1 - 1 1/2 C raisins
1 C milk (soy, almond or rice)
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 egg whites, room temperature, lightly beaten

1. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Mix in raisins.
2. Add wet ingredients to bread machine.  Turn machine to 'Dough' cycle.  When paddle starts turning add the dry ingredients.  Alternatively, mix wet and dry ingredients together then add to bread machine.
3. When cycle is complete, bake at 350 for an hour in oven or bread machine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What do you eat?

The is the most common response I hear when people find out I don't eat  wheat or dairy is 'What do you eat?' Mind you, this is often said in a tone of total bewilderment and extreme urgency, as though I may starve right there in front of them. The answer? It's not as bad as you might think, and I have a more diverse not to mention delicious diet because of it. Here is a small sampling of a few items from the last two weeks. Apparently I was on a dumpling kick.

Stay tuned for the raisin bread recipe. GF breads normally turn out like edible bricks, but not this one! Imagine, GF bread that actually tastes and feels like wheat bread. Want to know how other dishes were made? Simply comment.

Tomatillo stew with cornmeal (from Shagbark Seed & Mill) dumplings

Homemade pasta with garlic 'butter' sauce

'Cheesecake' (and some amazing ice crystals) from the freezer.

"This bread is so good I'd eat it everyday even though I'm not gluten-free."
Cinnamon raisin bread

Vegetable chilli with polenta

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fast Eggplant with Miso

I was in such a hurry to eat I didn't get a photo!
This is a picture of an eggplant I grew, though
not the one from the container. Use what you've got.
One day this week, it must have been before we picked up our weekly share of vegetables, food supplies were down to green peppers, hot peppers and onions.  Then, on a trip to and fro my second story apartment I passed our containers lining the stairs.With only a shady piece of land available to us on the ground, earlier this summer we opted to plant some tomatoes, peppers and you guesed it, eggplant to grow in containers (10gallon buckets) on our sunny staircase.  I harvested what must have been the third eggplant of the season from this container, and woola, suddenly I knew what was for dinner!  Container gardens aren't necessarily the most productive way of growing food, especially if you take the extreme low-maintenance route like I do, but when they do fruit, my is it fantastic!

This recipe is so tasty that...
1. I've made it more than once (It's not often that I go back to stir-fry type dishes and actually measure ingredients) 
2. Even people who claim not to like eggplant say they like this.

All the sauce ingredients can be found at an Asian grocery store (New Market if you are an Athenian), or perhaps even your grocery store's 'ethnic food' isle. 

Ingredients (for 4 servings)
This recipe is from the book Japanese by Lulu Grimes
 I like to double the sauce, especially if I use a lot of veggies.

2 eggplants (or one eggplant and other veggies you like)
1 fresh red chili, sliced (I had hot peppers so that is what I used.  If I was out of those I would have used dried thai hot peppers.)
2 TBSP sake
4 TBSP mirin
2 TBSP shoyu (or another favorite soy sauce that doesn't have wheat like Bragg's Liquid Aminos )
3 TBSP hatcho miso (not sure what hatcho miso is, I used a red/dark miso paste)

1. Peel eggplant if desired, especially if you aren't using the long, skinny type of eggplant. Cut into bite-size pieces.
2. In a small bowl, heat the water and combine warm, not burning hot, water with miso. Stir until dissolved.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
3. Preheat a wok over high heat - here in southeast Ohio a cast iron pan works just as well.  SERIOUSLY.  Pre-heat you pan, this is not a step you want to skip.
4. Add a little sesame, peanut, or olive oil and heat until it is very hot.
5. Add eggplant in BATCHES to the hot pan and cook about 4 minutes or until done.  Avoid overcrowding the pan in this step, as it will slow the cooking of the eggplant and change its texture.
6.  Return all veggies and hot chili to hot pan. Add sauce, stir, and cook until sauce thickens to desired consistency. 
7. Serve over rice, rice noodles or as a side dish.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


What can I say? I have a sugar addiction and hardly a week goes by when I don't bake something.  It is one of my favorite forms of procrastination. Becoming wheat and dairy free did originally hinder my sweet tooth but no more!  This blog entry includes recipes for cupcakes and cookies.  Inevitably more desert recipes will follow. 

Don't like my recipe selection? No worries.  Send me a request or take just about any recipe and substitute Earth Balance for butter, a milk alternative (soy, rice, almond, coconut) for milk, and rice flour for all-purpose flour.  I'll often mix in other flours depending on the taste or texture I want but rice is normally the base.  If you really like baking, do yourself a favor and invest in an electric grain mill. 
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (that happen to be vegan)
Quantity: 12

Photo by Travis Stevens

These are slightly denser than other cupcakes but are still tasty.  If you want bigger cupcakes, fill muffin tins until they are about 3/4s full, but you will have less than 12 cupcakes if you go this route.  Also, I tend to use what I have on hand. What I used this time is what is written.  *Items in parentheses are what the recipe actually calls for. 

1C. coconut milk (soymilk*)
1/3 C. vegetable oil
1/2 -3/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract (+1/4tsp almond*)
1/4 C. tapioca flour
1 C.  rice flour (1/2 C. rice flour*, 1/2 C. quinoa flour*)
1/3 C. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
NOTE: for vanilla cupcakes use almond or masa flour instead of cocoa.

1. In a medium bowl combine coconut milk, oil, sugar and vanilla.
2. In another bowl combine dry ingredients.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet, mix well.
4. Fill greased or lined muffin tins about halfway (more for taller muffins, but less of them).  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
5. For frosting, beat together 1/4 C. shortening with 1/4 C. margerine.  Add 1 3/4 C. powdered sugar and beat.  Add  3/4 tsp vanilla and up to 1/8 C. of soymilk until frosting is fluffy and to the consistancy you want.
6. Frost muffins once they are totally cool with room-temperature frosting.

Photo by: Travis Stevens
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
adapted from the Quaker oatmeal cookie recipe
Quantity: 3 1/2 dozen

1 C. butter (earth balance), softened
3/4 to 1 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. rice flour (all white or 1C. white rice flour + 1/2 C. brown rice flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 C. oats
1 C. raisins

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat.
4. In a separate bowl combine flour(s), baking soda, cinnamon & salt.  Stir this into the wet ingredients
5. Stir in oats and raisins.
6. Drop by tablespoon full on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute and remove to wire rack to cool completely.