Good friends, good food
Wednesday December 27th 2023, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Recipes

We had a spur of the moment lunch out with old friends, a great time, and a restless toddler at the next table where two couples were doing the same thing we were.

A panda puppet. Happy faces.

On a side note, if you take my favorite blueberry cake recipe, use Forager cashewmilk yogurt because the dairy-allergic kid is gone and it needs to be used up (but real butter because I can again), swap 2/3 c of the flour out for 2/3 c of almond flour, and sprinkle the tops with half the blueberries and then maple sugar and bake for 23 minutes, it makes eighteen blueberry almond maple muffins and they came out very very good.

But no pumpkin spice. Unless you want to.
Thursday September 29th 2022, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

I went looking for a pumpkin variant on the almond flour muffin theme and played with a recipe I found at (Note that there’s 1/3 c more almond flour from when I first played with this last September.)

My updated recipe as of December 2022:

Bowl 1: 1 2/3 c almond flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon. (Yes her baking soda might have made it lighter. This is why I will never ever put it in, much though I still love that old college roommate, and the texture was quite light just the same.)

Bowl 2: melt 3 tbl butter in a glass measuring cup–almond oil works fine–swish it around, pour it into the now-empty third-cup measuring cup you used on the almond flour, add a maybe generous 1/4 honey to the butter-coated glass one: it makes it so much easier to get all the honey out. Beat together 2/3 c canned plain pumpkin, 2 eggs, the butter, and a tsp vanilla, then add to the almond flour mixture.

Note that if your honey is crystallized go ahead and use it anyway, just beat well.

Twelve muffins. Sprinkle crunchy sugar on top. I used the maple sugar that had been sitting in the cupboard for two years needing to be needed and it was a superb choice. Highly recommended. (Tripping and spilling batter like I did the first time these went into the oven, not so recommended.)

Bake at 350 with paper liners for 22-23 minutes.

These do not have to be put in containers to keep overnight, and the texture improves markedly when fully cool vs first coming out of the oven–they hold together better.

Use up the fruit
Monday August 22nd 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Recipes

Just for fun, a Ukrainian beaded necklace in granny squares. In late ’60’s colors to keep in character.

Made some progress on the afghan.

Meantime, I had some plums from Andy’s that needed to be put to good use, most quite small and a few of another variety a fair bit bigger. I whipped a warm stick of butter with 2/3 c sugar, then with 2 eggs, then added in a mixture of 1/2 c flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch salt. Put it in a 9″ nonstick springform pan with a parchment bottom (my 9″ circles came with pull-up handles) and arranged halves of the small plums in a circle, skin side up, and half one of the big ones in the center.

I should have taken a picture of my pretty sunflower cake before baking it. It really did look like one with those golden plums and darker plum in the center.

When I pulled it out of the oven 45 minutes later (the recipe I was riffing off of with that almond flour said an hour and I knew that was wrong, 45 was pushing it but okay) I looked at that thing and there was only one description for it.

A bellybutton cake.

And it is very very good.

Don’t forget the figs!
Tuesday August 09th 2022, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

The essential sandwich of August. Thrown together after a Trader Joe’s run. So simple, so good.

Brioche slices spread with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then slices of ham and cheese on top. Note that the New Zealand Organic cheddar cheese slices are on the thick side and big enough to pretty much cover that bread.

But then this: cut figs in half and put them, stems off, on the parchment paper next to the sandwiches as they bake at 350. Take the pan out at 13 minutes, put the half-roasted figs on top of the cheese, put it back in the oven another three minutes or so to let the fig juices run across the top. It surely would have been just fine with the figs on top from the get-go, but I forgot them until the things had been in the oven a minute already and I just kind of threw them at the pan.

Messy and worth it.

A blooper that worked
Saturday August 06th 2022, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus,Recipes

Our school district held to the traditional Tuesday-after-Labor-Day opening long after that was no longer fashionable. Years ago we got next-day camping spots at Yosemite, passing school bus after school bus as we drove there–and ran into a family we knew who were doing the same thing: no six month wait, just call and come right in, everybody else’s kids were in class.

The good old days.

Our friends Phyl and Lee throw a ‘last Saturday of summer!’ pool party every year before school starts. We older parents all remarked how odd it felt that that meant today.

Richard and I always arrive late when the sun is low.

I wasn’t about to go swimming with a heart monitor on, but sitting around the pool with old friends at a potluck, that we were definitely into. Made new friends who let me hold their baby.

All of this by way of saying that if you ever make my chocolate hazelnut torte recipe as four dozen mini cupcakes, if you get them in the oven and five minutes later see the bowl still sitting there on the counter waiting to go into the batter that has the half pound of hazelnut puree/cocoa/salt and you exclaim AAAGH! loud enough to be heard across the house and you only got the quarter pound of hazelnuts in that was a different step of the process–no worries. It’s all good. Yes the texture is more crisp cookie on top and a smoother texture than usual below because it’s got all that extra sugar relative to the ingredients that actually went into it, and not a whole lot of Cuisinarted nuts.

The verdict? They were devoured fast and I’m glad I saved a few here for breakfast.

I do have that half pound of waiting hazelnut meal with cocoa in it to play with, though. Whip some egg whites and sugar to meringue them into cookies? That’s my guess so far.

Thursday July 14th 2022, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Recipes

I bought some Hemskirke apricots at Andy’s for my friend Nina on Tuesday and she dropped by tonight to pick them up.

The muffins were cool enough to offer. I’d looked up the raspberry cupcakes in Sweet and even though they’re great, I wanted less fat and sugar, so I thought I’d play with it a bit.

They’re not too sweet, I warned.

I like not too sweet, she answered.

One bite and she really wanted that recipe. I told her I’d have to go write it down quick, I had winged it on the fly. So before I forget what I did, here goes:

Oven at 350, I used paper liners in my 12-muffin tin

1 c flour

1 c almond flour

1/2 sugar

1 tsp baking powder

about a half tsp salt.


Separately, whisk:

5 tbl melted butter

1/2 c Greek Gods Plain Traditional yogurt, which is quite thick and has zero runniness

2 eggs

1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, spoon out into the muffin tin, put three or four raspberries on top of each (that have been carefully patted dry with paper towels after rinsing) and sprinkle across the top with turbinado sugar or, what I had on hand, Costco’s organic sugar.

I checked them at 22 minutes and took them out after 23 after a toothpick test.

Nina said they had a bit of a marzipan aspect to them, and I said, Yeah, I like that, and she said she did, too.

And then she happily took her apricots home along with a muffin for her husband, with me saying, If you have more than you can eat, make those muffins–only put a cut-side-up apricot half on each one. (Let the skin of the apricot hold in the juices because Andy’s Hemskirkes have a lot.)

She was looking forward to it.

And a good time was had by all.

(I should go look around here to see how similar this is to the last time I did a batch along these lines.)

Edited to add, and if you ever wanted to hear Sandra Boynton’s voice, here’s your chance. Avec des petits pois.

Notes on messing with a new cobbler recipe
Sunday June 26th 2022, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c flour

1/2 c almond flour (original recipe simply called for 1 c plain flour)

2/3 c sugar. (original recipe said 1 c plus another 1/4 across the top, which I didn’t do, and as it came out I’d probably do a half cup next time instead of 2/3. Unless grandkids were around.)

1 egg

Mix until you have small crumbles

In buttered 8″ pan (ceramic one in my case), put two cups of fruit. (Raspberries, here.) Top with mixture. Use a spoon to scatter 5 tbl melted butter across the top, put in 350F oven, bake 45 minutes (for me since ceramic pans take longer.)

Crunchy on top. Just right. Going to try it on some apricots next with a bit of almond extract.

Texting the doorbell ditching
Tuesday May 31st 2022, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Recipes

My friend whose husband just got his PhD and they’ve been getting ready to move away…after being so careful for so long, they and their boys came down with covid last week. Thankfully they had all been vaccinated so it wasn’t as serious as it could have been–but.

I offered to bring dinner.

They are well loved; I had to wait my turn.

Y’know, I love a good split pea soup. Celery, onions, green onions, red pepper, chicken broth, halved grapes, an intensely flavored Californian EV olive oil and ham. (Theirs is THE best olive oil out there. It is like the difference between a rock-hard tasteless grocery store peach and an Andy’s Orchard peach.)

It was the first time I’d tried cooking the split peas first in an Instant Pot. There’s no rhyme nor reason to the recipes out there; one said 15 minutes’ pressure, another, 30. Hmm. Risk grit or liquid? Thirty it is. (Two boxes of broth to a 14 oz bag of the peas.) Verdict: definitely the only way to go next time.

The vegetables sautéed while that was going on and then everything into the dutch oven on the stove for an hour or so because I just couldn’t get the IP to maintain the temp I wanted for simmering.

I hauled out the hazelnut chocolate torte recipe. I have two 24-mini-cupcake pans, mostly because I’d forgotten I’d already bought one. Good thing! That recipe was the perfect amount for filling both, and it is way easier to freeze some for future breakfasts in that form.

Aubrie had reminded me that Eric was allergic to dairy, and of course we know that one well. I melted cocoa butter for the butter. Turns out it’s a very stable fat with a shelf life of 3-5 years–I checked, because mine was about a year old. Not a problem. Worked great.

Two paper plates full of those, a bar of freshly made chocolate, a box of Andy’s slab dried Blenheim apricots that they love, some cherries from the Stella–hey! Getouttamytree! I chased away the two squirrels and picked some before they could.

And some fresh juice. Because when you’re sick you have to have juice. It’s the rule.

Sugar splurge
Sunday August 08th 2021, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

I needed to use up that cream so even though we definitely didn’t need to eat such a thing, a recipe for Instant Pot creme brûlée got the better of me.

I even found where the rack to the thing went back when I was moving everything out of the termite guys’ way. Separated the eggs, started whipping the yolks, reached for that cream and opened the carton.

Holy moly guys nope nope nope.

So I fudged it. 2% milk with melted butter? I wasn’t at all sure of this, so only a tablespoon’s worth of the fat we suddenly really didn’t have to eat but hey we’ll see what we get. Seven minutes on low pressure, half an hour on natural release, ta daaah…


What we have, I told him, is hot egg nog. But it’s cooked!

Well? He asked. Where is it? I’d like some! (Have I mentioned I love that sweet man? He’s a trooper.)

He also got almond meringues from the egg whites because if you’re going to do Christmas in August in the kitchen you might as well go full-on weird.

Those turned out to be worth repeating.

Almond meringues:

Four egg whites, beaten till frothy with about a quarter teaspoon cream of tartar, then 3/4 c powdered sugar and a tbl or so of plain sugar, then when that gets to pretty stiff peaks, beat in 1/3 c almond flour and quickly start doling it out on parchment paper over a cookie sheet. 275F, and the original recipe I totally fudged from because I didn’t have slivered almonds said 35 minutes but I left them in longer, didn’t hear the beep, don’t know how long it was, but I still put them back in for another five.

Pandemic kitchen soup
Friday January 15th 2021, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

A box of chicken stock, a stalk of celery, green onions, let simmer while deciding what they want to be when they grow up. A little extra virgin California Organic olive oil (insert long lecture about how the Feds allow adulterated and lesser grades to be labeled EVOO but California’s grandfathered law requiring California Organic EVOO to be exactly that means that if you buy Californian-grown and organic and extra-virgin olive oil, that specific combination on the label, then you know you got what you paid for.

And it is revelatory if you are new to such.

Apollo‘s varietals are the best I’ve found. It’s like the difference between freshly grated real parmesan cheese and the (delete the phrase hamster bedding) that shakes out of the green can.

Hey, when you live this close to where so much of the country’s food is produced for so long it rubs off on you. Last I saw the baby artichokes 10/$1 sign was still up along the coast.

A few shakes of gumbo file powder for thickener and flavor.

Hmm, a half hour of simmering later, how about a good long squeeze of Costco Californian tomato paste in a tube. We’ve seen those trucks in the Central Valley, stuffed bottom to top with tomatoes and a few red bombs flying off the back (don’t get too close) and splatting on the road behind them as they go. A few bounce. We saw no pallets, no divisions, and no covers (I bet that’s changed now), just open beds piled high like a giant heaping tablespoon of a truckload.

That’s what I always picture when I see tomato paste.

A half package of frozen okra, stir, and let it simmer another half hour.

Here’s where my mom goes, You’re finally eating okra? On purpose?

Then take a small package of precooked Teton Ranch beef sausage links out of the freezer, in my case, which adds a little pepper to it too, or ham, chicken, whatever floats your boat, slice and throw it in and let it keep going till the meat is nice and warm.

Dish and sprinkle grated fresh parmesan on the servings, not in the pot, because there might be some leftovers (there was, though not a lot) and Michelle’s driving down from Washington State for a visit and it would be nice to be able to hand her something dairy-free and good within a minute when she walks in the door tomorrow after that very long drive.

I can’t wait.

Clafoutis for all that ails you
Friday December 18th 2020, 12:14 am
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Food,Friends,Recipes

At 9:55 this morning there was one customer being helped and three clerks, the easiest December post office run ever. I told Anne her apricots were on their way and she told me those are the best she’s ever had, she can’t wait. She made my day.

That was just the start.

This afternoon I got a text from a friend: he’d heard Richard was sick; how was he doing?

Definitely getting better, thanks.

Next thing you know there was a second text saying he’d dropped off a little something for us.

I opened the door. He was already gone–which makes sense, because, exposure. There was a bag with eggs, veggies, grits, butter, juice, milk, just because he could. Wow! I was gobsmacked, and so was Richard.

His stomach’s still a bit tender, eggs are easy on it, we were running low, and now we aren’t.

A little history: years ago I got sent to Urgent Care with what was clearly the start of a Crohn’s flare. It’s not like I didn’t know what that was at that point.

To my great surprise the doctor who saw me was dismissive of anything I had to say about that; all he wanted to know was, had I eaten raspberries.

A day or two ago…

He insisted I had salmonella poisoning from Mexican raspberries (who says they weren’t US grown? There was no recall nor mention in the press in either case) and he sent me home without doing anything about the Crohn’s, which is indeed what it was. My GI doctor rolled his eyes with a bit of suppressed indignation at that when I ended up in his office, which made me want to say oh thank you thank you.

So. I found myself thinking, well, you know, though. My husband does not have Crohn’s and he did eat a lot of raspberries when I didn’t.

We had more of them. I wasn’t taking any chances–I baked them into a clafoutis, with some blueberries to get it up to four cups of fruit. Cook’em. They’re probably innocent but this way I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

The recipe calls for whole milk. I substituted the last of some cream 50/50 with the 1% that’s always around and was surprised at how much of a difference it made–it definitely improved it over my usual low-fat ones.

And it’s a good way to get fruit and protein down a whiny stomach.

Thanks to our friend, if Richard wants more, and he’s quite fond of it, I have whole milk in my fridge now and I can make it come out that way again tomorrow.

Clafoutis recipe: butter a 9″ deep-dish pan, not smaller, whip three eggs a goodly while, add 1/2 c sugar, beat, then 1 c whole milk, still beating, a small pinch salt, 1 tsp vanilla, a tbl melted butter, still beating, and then at the last beat in 1/2 c flour. Pour it in the pan quickly, put the fruit on top, bake about 40 minutes, 45-50 in my ceramic pan or till a knife in the center comes out clean. (Ed. to add: oven at 350.)

And then try to wait till it cools, but I won’t blame you if you don’t.

Scary ghost story for jack o’lanterns
Friday October 30th 2020, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

Don’t use homemade pumpkin, it said.

Okay, I’ll use leftover homegrown butternut squash that was baked intact so that it steamed itself and roasted its sugars nicely. Into the Cuisinart!

I didn’t have quite enough.

Wait–but I did have a few of Andy Mariani’s ripe-dried Golden Transparent plums that had gotten a little too dried out over time so I’d been soaking them in apple cider in the fridge for several days. I took a small taste: spices (I had added none) and Thanksgiving, with a depth that was quite a surprise–just perfect. So that, pureed with what now seemed more syrup than juice, made up the last quarter cup.

It said oil. I melted butter, because I can now, because the allergic person isn’t here for it to taunt.

It said a glass pan. I used ceramic and went for the max 36 minutes before testing because of it.

It came out just right.

I want to be able to not do it like they said again because it’s so good, so, partly as a note to myself, here’s the link to their pumpkin cake recipe. Which sounds really good, too.

Chocolate hazelnut raspberry
Friday July 24th 2020, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

With a superfluous pomegranate picture just because I thought it was pretty.

I was ordering some pre-tempered powdered cocoa butter for chocolate making, as one does to help seed the right type of crystal formation, while wondering how summertime temps in transit might effect what I was buying it for… Well I guessed I’d find out.

The baking supplier dangled a half pound of hazelnut praline on my screen, and it wasn’t going to cost me any extra on the shipping so hey why not.

When it came it said 50% hazelnuts and it was sweeter than I would have made it. Y’know, all I had to do was throw toasted no-skins-on hazelnuts in the food processor and an equal amount of sugar (or less, for us) and then I wouldn’t have had to work all the oils back through the heavy substance of the stuff. Done. Gotta admit that is tasty, though. Into the fridge with you.

So here I was a few days later and there was this batch of homemade chocolate, quite dark. We’d just eaten a small lunch that definitely needed more to it.

I wondered…

So I nuked a little of that chocolate for 20, 30 seconds or so so it wouldn’t burn, just enough so that when I smashed it with a spoon it gave way and became stirrable.

And then stirred in a larger spoonful of that hazelnut praline.

And then folded a large number of raspberries in.

I got asked if I could go do that again? Please?

We didn’t quite eat the entire twelve ounces of raspberries but we came close.

Holiday baking
Friday December 20th 2019, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

Here’s Sunset’s recipe and pretty pictures.

And here’s what my daughter came over and made with me this evening: using TCHO’s 81% for all of the melted chocolate and with peanut butter in the filling. We used Earth Balance because of her dairy allergy, and (quietly) if they came out this good one could only imagine what butter would be like in them.

Like bite size pieces of chocolate torte, is how she described the cookies. Portion-wise, you could almost not feel guilty.

Turkey spinach mango barbecue soup
Saturday November 30th 2019, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

Yeah, sounds weird. I would show you a picture but it all disappeared too fast.

Richard’s aunt always asks at the end of Thanksgiving whether I want to make stock out of the turkey bones or if she should toss the carcass. There’s only one answer.

This afternoon I shredded the most obvious meat off it and then boiled it down, stopping when the broth tasted good about two and a half hours later. Note that it had been stuffed with mandarin orange slices, and they went into the pot, too, along with a bit of pepper.

Good thing I had an extra large strainer–it had been a big bird.

I had some small yellow mangoes that had been picked too early to be very sweet; they were okay, but even after ripening for a week they were still more cooking mangoes than the dessert type they’d been raised to be.

Which would be perfect, right? I debated, standing looking around my kitchen, and then thought of my father’s description of my more adventurous mother’s cooking: “You’ll never be bored at Frances’s table. It might be INTERESTING,” and he would laugh his big laugh for sheer joy and pride in her.

A half a bag of spinach (grocery store size, not Costco’s) rinsed and nuked for two minutes.

I poured three+ cups of that broth into the blender, followed by the drained spinach and several glugs from a bottle of smokey Trader Joe’s Apple Bourbon Barbecue sauce and let’er rip.

I poured my green soup into a large bowl and added one of those mangoes, diced fairly small.

I nuked that for two minutes or so, added a bunch of the turkey, and put it back in for about 20 seconds.

And then came over here to write it down. Because that was very, very good and I definitely want to do it again.

Maybe thicken it next time. Or not.

Right now there’s more of all of where that came from. Yum.