Posts Tagged ‘culinary experiments’

I’ve been making these while watching consecutive episodes Carl Sagan’s Cosmos…on the same channel that’s going to have Neil Tyson deGrasse’s version tonight.  Listening to Sagan’s loopy and melodious voice is very soothing.

It also makes me think about a time when more people watched this show, because there were only three choices of shows on television at any given time.  Maybe more people were exposed to science then.  I might be getting old, and therefore, cranky, but it seems to me that I knew a good amount of this stuff about science in my twenties….astronomy, chemistry, physics, math…and I hated the sciences at the time.  And I see a lot of young adult patients now, and they want more of drug X than drug Y because drug X “has more milligrams.”  (Even though narcotic Y is more than fourteen times stronger.)  I’m not sure that it’s simply a matter of my patients coming from disadvantaged school systems….there is some of that.  But accidents happen to any person, and it has nothing to do with socioeconomic class….more to do with relatively younger age, and being male than anything else.

I had a college-educated young man who stopped taking antibiotics because he wanted to “heal naturally.”  I told him that his amoxicillin originated from mold, and unless he wanted his infection to worsen and risk his foot getting full-blown gangrene….take his damn antibiotics.  I didn’t say the “, you moron”, but I’m sure he heard it.  Gangrene and sepsis are very natural ways to die.  Stupid.

I’m glad this show, Cosmos, is being rebooted.  Our national dialogue allows Fox News commentators at the table….people who do not “believe” in global warming.  It’s as if the opinion of any of us minimally-haired primates had anything to do with facts, weather patterns, the density of our atmosphere…  It’s not just the radical right, either.  The radical left can be just as bad….as the college kid who wants his infection cured by….I don’t know…aromatherapy and meditation…shows.  I’m not sure when we saw “science” as “optional.”

I blame two things:  the religious right’s money forced the Republicans to take them seriously.  Second, the furthest liberal left told us that we are a multicultural society, and the straight white man’s point of view is no better than the black lesbian woman’s (and every other iteration of difference).  Which is incredibly well-meaning, and is near and dear to many Americans that we are a democracy.  However, that became toxic.  When everyone is equal, and no point of view is better than the other….that means no point of view is better than the other.  It is true that my neighbor, who might be a moron, casts one vote, just like I do.  But at an extreme, it also means that we can’t say that Carl Sagan is better prepared to design a high school science curriculum than Jerry Falwell.  The religious right used this extension of the left’s ideas to get a louder place at the table of national dialogue.

And years later, Fox News was spat out unto the world.

It’s intuitive to us that a 14 year old has a voice that needs to be valued, and respected….for the voice that it is, for the potential that it has, for his unique point of view, which is often be fresh and creative.  I love my stepson and his interesting view of the world.  And he should not be running the country.  He is growing, and changing, and has not incorporated lessons into his life yet.  And he will. But while he is able to make responsible decisions about some things, he is not yet able to be responsible in other ways.  We know this.

But we don’t apply that to the conversation on global warming, on stewardship of the planet, or our responsibilities to other countries, or a million other things.  Because we treat the commentators on Fox News, or some of the yahoos we pay to go to DC as if their points of view belong in adult decision-making.

Yup, I’m saying that the opinions of the creationists and naysayers of global warming are not grown up.  Because they cannot incorporate and integrate ideas of mysticism, feelings and belief into the facts of science in front of them and come to a whole.  Not one sane person in this country is telling them not to have their religion. Go worship.  But unless you have solid math skills, you should not be calculating taxes of the citizenry.  Or allocating that money to state schools, or choosing what textbooks those schools are allowed to have.  And partly because of this….my patients come to me saying they’re not taking prescribed antibiotics, and taking pills that have more milligrams in them.

So I’m glad we’ve got Carl Sagan back on television, and Neil Tyson deGrasse.  Because American culture’s gotten goofy and stupid.

Rant over.

Here’s the recipe:

The Meat-Free Monday Cookbok, by the McCartneys


  • 1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch diceImage
  • 1 cup frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (seeds from 4 pods….my Indian grocery was out of pods, so I did 1/2 tsp instead)
  • 1/2 tsp black onion seeds
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (I left this out)
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger (I went light on the ginger for Mark’s Wisconsin palette)
  • 1 large green chile, seeded & chopped (I used two anaheims to make up for the onion)
  • 1/s tsp tumeric powder (oops, I actually forgot this)
  • 1/4 tsp chile powder (this, too)
  • 1 heaping tbsp mango chutney (left out because I’m serving with tamarind, which I like way better)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro (which I didn’t have)
  • 10 oz filo pastry
  • melted butter, to brush (I used ghee, to try and get a more authentic flavor)

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  Add peas and cook for a further 30 seconds.  Drain and set aside.  Tip cumin, coriander, cardamom into a frying pan and toast over medium heat for 1 minute.  Coarsely grind onion seeds using mortar and pestle.

ImageHeat oil in a large frying pan, and add onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger and chile and cook for 30 seconds then add the spices.  Continue to cook for 1 minute, then add the diced potatoes and peas.  Mix well and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat, add the chutney and chopped cilantro, and season well.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Lay a sheet of phyllo pastry on the work surface and brush with butter/ghee.  Lay another pastry sheet on top and cut into strips 3 inches wide, then brush with butter/ghee.  Put a spoonful of the potato mixture onto the top corner of each strip.  Fold over to make a triangle and continue folding down the length of the strip to completely encase the filling.  Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry.  Arrange on baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes until golden and crisp.  Serve with chutney.

These are lighter than your typical samosas because of the phyllo.  Really tasty.  Not sure if I’d do this recipe often, because it is a lot of work.  I doubt I’d try freezing these, because they’re so delicate.  Of course, to make a meal, you might have to eat twenty of them.  Good stuff.  Not WOW, but good.  I flavored these somewhat for Wisconsin palette…and maybe if I hadn’t, my palette would be WOW.  But they are light, and good.  Very much an appetizer.


I am finally getting around to posting this recipe.  Have to say that it ROCKED (if I do say so myself).  The kids came back for multiple servings…  I don’t have any photos of the pancakes themselves, as I was cookin.  But I do have photos of the Turkey Day setup before anybody arrived.

source:, but I got the idea from Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch

lacto-ovo-vegetarian, gluten +

  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a bowl, mix together milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, ginger and salt in a separate bowl.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over meium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 c for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Everybody says phyllo is a pain in the butt.  They sure are right, but it was worth a try.

I love Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.  Mark took me there on our engagement trip, which made me blissfully happy.  This is, however, a deeply snooty cookbook.  It’s Thanksgiving, so I thought I would try snooty, because when else will I have the automatic excuse?

source:  The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

vegetarian, gluten ?

  • 1/2 pckg frozen filo pastry
  • 1 c walnuts, freshly cracked if possible
  • 2 to 3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp marjoram, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c white wine or water
  • 1 lg bunch spinach or chard, washed and finely shredded
  • 8 oz goat cheese (Montrachet, Boucheron, Lezay)
  • 2/3 c ricotta
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Remove filo pastry from freezer and let it come to room temp while you prepare the filling.  Unfold the dough, and cut the stack of sheets in two.  If you are making just one recipe, refold half the dough, and wrap it in plastic.  It can either be frozen or kept for a few days in the fridge.  Cover the sheets to be used with a sheet of waxed paper covered in turn with a damp kitchen towel, to keep them from becoming dry and brittle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roast the walnuts for 5 to 8 minutes until they are fragrant; chop them finely, and set them aside.  Rinse the leeks, and shake off the excess water.  Heat the butter in a large skillet, and saute the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the garlic, some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the herbs.  Stir to combine, add the wine or water, and cook slowly, covered, until the leeks are soft.  Add the spinach, toss with the leeks, then re-cover and cook until the spinach is wilted.

Remove the veggies to a bowl, and combine them with the goat cheese, ricotta, and eggs.  Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Brush a 9 by 13 by 2 inch pan with the melted butter and lay down a sheet of the filo pastry.  Brush pastry with butter and continue layering and buttering until you have used half the sheets, scattering half of the chopped walnuts between several of the pastry sheets.  Brush the top sheet with butter and spread the filling over it.  Continue layering the rest of the pastry sheets, buttering each sheet, and again distritributing nuts between several of the sheets.

Cut the pastry into 3 inch squares, then diagonally into diamonds, making sure you cut through all the layers; refrigerate the pastry if you will not be baking it right away.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until browned.  Serve the pastries warm from the oven, slightly cooled or at room temp.  For a wine, serve a dry sauvignon blanc.

Okay, so I have completely the wrong size pan, and my pastry might become a gooey mess.  This smells wonderful, but because my pastry dough sheets were too long for 9 x 13, I cut the sheets in half.  That made them much too small for the pan, so the gooey cheesy stuff is oozing off the sides. 

If it ends up being a flop, nobody will ever know that I tried it, right?

So, it sort of worked?  They are messy, but they smell wonderful.  The nibbles I’ve had so far are tasty, too.  It’s SO buttery.  Worth experimenting with more another time, also.


I love to cook things from around the world.  I have tried very litter, er, cuisine, from the UK.  There’s that haggis factor and all…  Mark wanted to make cashew gravy and mashed potatoes.  Everybody likes us to bring that to Thanksgiving every year.  Meat eaters don’t do mashed potatoes without the meat, I don’t think.  I found this recipe in Moskowitz’s fabulous book, and bam!  Bangers and mash it is.

I have not yet spent any time in the UK (Heathrow airport layovers do not count….I used the ATM just so I could get pounds out once.), so I have no idea if this is even remotely British food.  I do know that seitan is good, though.  I have no idea if the meat-eating part of the family will even be brave enough to try it.

Meat eaters.  Too many culinary cowards among them.  Every one that has tried my homemade seitan loves it.  So, here we go.

source:  Vegan Brunch by Moskowitz

vegan, gluten ++++

  • 1/2 cu cooked navy beans, rinsed and drained (I used black beans)
  • 1 c veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 c vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • several dashes fresh black pepper

Before mixing ingredients, get your steaming apparatus ready and bring water to a full boil.  The rest of the recipe comes together very quickly.  Have ready four sheets of tinfoil.  In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones are left.  Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork.  Divide dough in four even parts.  Place one part of the dough into tinfoil and mold into about a 5 inch log.  Wrap dough in tin foil like a tootsie roll.  Don’t worry about shaping it; it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.

Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes.  That’s it! You can unwrap and enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.  I like them sliced and sauteed in olive oil for a few minutes, or grilled whole then sliced.

I think what I’d like to do with these tomorrow is slice them into ovals and lightly fry them in olive oil.  These are GREAT, by the way.  Spicy, and tasty.

Several months ago, I tasted a homemade granola bar made by Kristin Clever….it was delish!  I live close enough to Boulder, CO that I feel that I should know how to make granola.  I mean….I don’t eat morning eggs without salsa anymore, and I voted for the legalization of marijuana, and I do a happy dance when it snows. That makes me a Coloradan now, right?

I’d planned to have a variety of fresh fruit out for brunch….pineapple, bananas, apples and Clementine oranges.  Brunch should have fruit, and you don’t have to cook it.  It occurred to me that it would be cool to put fruit over Greek yogurt, and then I’d have cinnamon out, and nutmeg….and then, of course, I thought of granola.  Which led me to my Tassajara Zen Buddhist Center cookbooks, which I haven’t used much yet….and I should dig deeper into.

So while a yogurt/fruit/granola bar for as a side for Thanksgiving brunch is an unusual choice….I like the idea far better than slabs of various pig parts.  I realize many people like their fried pig parts, but, well, it’s my party and I’ll serve granola if I want to.

source:  The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown

either vegetarian or vegan, gluten – (I think…oats are okay, right?)

  • 4 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 3 c coarsely chopped almonds
  • 3 c sunflower seeds
  • 1 c safflower or soy oil
  • 1/2 c malt syrup or 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 c maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c any of the following in bite-sized chunks:  raisins, dried apricots, currants, figs or dates

Preheat oven to 325 deg.  Put the oats, chopped almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Combine the oil, sweeteners, vanilla, almond extract, spices, and salt.  Heat this mixture in a saucepan until it becomes watery.  Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients, tossing until everything moistened.  Spread the mixture in a large baking pan or on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the middle of oven for about 20 minutes, or until the granola turns golden, stirring every 5 minutes so the mixture toasts uniformly.

Transfer to a large bowl or cool baking pan and toss occasionally until the granola is thoroughly cool and dry.  Add the dried fruit and toss to mix.  (More than once has someone tried baking the dried fruit with the oat mixture and found the fruit blackened 00 definitely not recommended.)  Store in a tightly covered container.


This makes 10 to 12 cups, by the way.  (I should have read that in advance.)  It’s quite good.  We have enough for a year, but that’s okay.  It’s very tasty.

Mark keeps pointing out how many jars of jam we now have in the pantry.  What he doesn’t notice is that we’ve already eaten a third of what I’ve made so far, and that’s not even giving away any yet.  I’d actually hoped to have a spread of my homemade jams for Thanksgiving, and be able to make kiffles with my jam.

Maybe I need to hide a few.

Colorado peaches.  Had to make a batch of golden peach jam.  The recipes in the Ball book were mostly for plain peach jam, or a honey conserve, which sounded a little interesting.  The first jams I made were basic, straightforward fruit. And they’re really awesome, and Chase also eats them.  I wanted to stretch my fledgling cooking skill a little bit, though.

When Mark and I did our engagement trip to Napa, we had a day of wine tours.  At one of those places, we tasted a peach cinnamon jam that was OUT of this world.  We’ve been missing that jam ever since, and we were not bright and didn’t write down the winery or the name of the jam.  So I really wanted to try a cinnamon spice peach jam.  This recipe also had pectin in it.  Pectin has its own flavor, and I’m kind of meh on the flavor.  I do notice it slightly in the jam.  But this recipe came out really nice.  Definitely a fancy jam intended for soft skeezy cheeses and not for peanut butter sandwiches.  Love the spice I added to it.  The Ball recipe did not have those in it, but upon googling a few, I saw that the basic jam recipe is only altered by adding spices.

This is the Ball recipe, and what I did with it.

source:  Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, and Yummly Spiced Peach Jam and Cinnamon Peach Jam and Yummyly Grand Chamion Peach Jam


  • 1 quart finely chopped, peeled peaches
  • 7 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick

(Wish my camera had focused so you see how embarrasingly gorgeous these peaches were.)  To prepare raw peaches, blanch in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then dunk in cold water.  The peach skins will peel off easily if they are ripe.  Combine fruit, sugar, spices and lemon juice in a large saucepot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Stir in liquid pectin.  Return to a rolling boil.  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary (and it will be).  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Adjust two piece caps.  Process 10 minutes at sea level (I’m doing 30 mins) in a boiling-water canner.

Ball says you can add  tsp whole cloves, 1/2 tsp whole allspice and 1 cinnamon stick tied in a spice bag to jam during cooking.  Then take the spice bag out and fill jars.

(Better photo of beautiful peaches.)  I had 2 lbs of peaches, which made a generous 1 1/2 quart of peaches.  I increased the recipe by 150% accordingly, but because I wanted spicy peaches, I doubled the nutmeg and cardamom.  I forgot to double my cinnamon stick, however.  And I think it would be good to use ground cinnamon.  I do like the flavor now, it’s definitely a warm autumny spice peach jam.  But it’s not my cinnamon jam, it’s a cardamom-nutmeg jam.  Which is also lovely, but my tastebuds wanted cinnamon.  I’m also noticing that in my jam, the peach bits are rising to the top, and I have clearer golden bottoms.  I may have an opinion on that as these get eaten up…just noticing it and finding that interesting now.

With 2 lbs of peaches, I ended up with 12 8-oz jars and 3 4-oz jars.  It’s cheeseworthy.  And it’s possible that I’ll make another batch with cinnamon, and *maybe* a dash of clove, without cardamom.  And if it keeps us in cheeseworthy peach jam for the next ten Thanksgivings, that is a happy thing.  (I’ll bet you it won’t last that long, though.)


….As these finish processing, they’re still hot, but they are liquidy.  I will watch that they form up, but I’m wondering if I made spicy peach …er, glaze….or something.  Not jam.


I drive by Berry Patch Farms on my way to the hospital in the mornings.  I’ve been driving by there for two years, and since my drive-by times are 0545 and 1845 when I’m working, I haven’t stopped.  Today, I did.  Wonderful place.  They had more of those wonderful peaches when I first walked in, but there were only two left by the time I was done picking raspberries.  (Won’t make that mistake again.)  That peach tasted like pure happiness.

Mostly, I picked raspberries.  I chose the rubiest berries that almost fell off the vine into my hands.  Red raspberries are Mark’s favorite, so I thought I’d start there.  They’ve also got fields of ever-bearing strawberries and golden raspberries. ….Further types of jam likely coming.

No better time like partial-employment in September to make jam.

source:  Ball Blue Book:  guide to preserving

veganish, gluten –

  • raspberries, I had 1.5 lbs
  • sugar, 2/3 cup for every cup of berry you have

Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepot.  Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly to gelling point.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process for 25 minutes in boiling canner at metro Front Range and foothills altitudes.

InSANEly good jam.