This has a staple in our house for at least a couple of years (before that we had bacon Sundays…..).  It’s loosely based on Mark Bittman’s recipe. Also, warning, the only things I actually measure of the flours and baking powder, so my other measurements are really guesses— it’s okay to ballpark!

The best part of doing this every week is the seasonal variations.  Gives me something to look forward too. (For instance, today was pear after a long time– yay for fall coming).

Ingredients (for two servings):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (preferably “white whole wheat” or “whole wheat pastry flour” if you can find it.  This has a milder taste)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of table salt
  • about 2 teaspoons sugar
  • one egg
  • about 1 teaspoon canola oil (or neutral vegetable oil) plus some for the pan
  • Up to a cup, probably less of milk; I use 2% and I would probably add more oil if I was using “skinnier” milk

Instructions:

1.  Pre-heat non-stick pan or griddle (preferable well seasoned cast iron) on medium heat.

2. Mix together dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add egg and oil; mix.  Then add milk until the batter is the consistency of thick liquid (I’m guessing about 1/2 to 1 cup of milk but it really seems to vary). It’s okay to have a small amount of lumps. I cannot get myself to find a consistent measurement of milk.

3. Lightly oil the pan- I use a spatula/turner to spread the oil around. I use a small ladle to ladle about 1/4 cup of batter pan an then sort of spread it around to the desired pancake size.  (I put one puddle on the right side and one puddle on the left so I do two at a time). Flip when you have bubbles on the top and the batter isn’t runny looking– cooked surface should be a tan color once flipped.  Usually cooking other side takes less time as the first side (take a peak underneath to know when that is done).  The whole thing shouldn’t take more than a few minutes- and might take less time as your pan gets warmer, so it’s important to watch your pancakes and not just go by a timer.

Trouble shooting tips: if your outsides are burnt but inside underdone: heat level is too high. Batter also might be too thick.  If it’s sticking to the pan too much or too delicate or taking forever to cook, heat leave might be too low or might be too runny (use milk/flour to adjust for consistency)

4. Plate your cooked pancakes and continue cooking and flipping process until you’re out of batter!  Usually this makes about 6-8 medium size pancakes.

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Now for the fun stuff…

Toppings:

1.  Butter (I like Kerry-gold spreadable), just a little

2. Maple Syrup.  Please try real maple syrup; it’s super expensive but a lot less is needed (and tolerated to be honest, it’s a very strong taste).  It’s so yummy and addicting.

3. Strawberries: cut the stems off and thickly slice the fruit.  If they aren’t that sweet, sprinkle a little sugar and let sit a few minutes.

4. Ripe peaches: sliced in wedges

5. Apple:  Cover and simmer cored cubed apple with 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1-2 cloves, dash of canola oil, and about 1 tsp of brown sugar. Yum.

6. Pears (pictured):  Cover and simmer cored cubed pear with one cardamom pod, one clove and 1/2 cinnamon stick, dash of oil, and about 1 tsp of brown sugar. This can cook fast so watch it (or it’ll be mushy)

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Variations:

1. Buttermilk:  replace half the milk with buttermilk.  Results will be very fluffy. (aka Midas pancakes)

2.  Blueberry (pictured):  add a handful um maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup of washed and mostly dried blueberries to the batter.  Warning hard to spread batter so results might be dense. Oh so good. Warm burst of purple goodness.

3.  PUMPKIN!!!: The reason to look forward to fall. Add a big dash of ground cinnamon, and a small pinch of ground nutmeg and if you have it a small pinch of ground allspice to the dry ingredients.  Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pureed unsweetened pumpkin (from a can or from your own doing), before you add the milk.

4.  Banana:  Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup smashed very ripe banana to mixture before you add the milk.

Bonus picture of Midas:

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(was trying to get a picture of the hummingbirds, can’t do, but got a picture of Midas watching them!)

When I heard my hours might be extended work-wise, I realized I need some more healthy snacks to get me through the day (or else I get HANGRY).  Timing was actually pretty good as I just got the brown bag lunch cookbook by Miriam Jacobs in the mail.

Now let me tell you about this cookbook.  I checked it out in the library, years ago, when I start my first sort of grown up job.  I really really liked it.  It probably is the first cookbook I had as an adult that I really liked. I even made copies of recipes (which several moves later I lost). I have been thinking about the weird but yummy yet healthy maple cookies and “Asian” salad ever since.

I did find it out of Amazon, but it seemed to be out of print, thankfully, I was able to by a somewhat used copy.  It was actually a bit scary getting the cookbook: are the recipes are as good as a remember?   Am I going to be disappointed? (which is the usual case with cookbooks). Plus the Amazon review weren’t that great (mainly because here recipes sometimes were more complex than a sandwich).

So fast forward to today.  Sitting at the kitchen table, “hmm.. I should bake a snack for the afternoon…hmm, there are three over-ripe bananas on the counter….hmm I wonder if she has a recipe for banana muffins.” And she did.

Except… her recipe broke all the rules I have ever learned about baking and muffins.  Read and be amazed.

Here’s my adaptation of the recipe (based on the ingredients I had on hand).

Dump pieces of 3 over-ripe bananas, 1/3 cup of honey or agave or mixture (b/c that’s what I had on hand), one egg, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract, and pieces of 1/4 c butter (that’s half a stick) in food processor.  Mix (I pulsed till mixed).  Add 1.5 C whole wheat pastry flour (I like this better than normal whole wheat) and 2 tsp baking power.  Mix (again I pulsed).  And there’s your batter.

I would say this makes 8-10 muffins. Grease muffin pan, pour.  375 oven.  Took me meh 22 minutes (clean toothpick yet careful not to overbake). Cool 5 minutes in pan, then longer in baking rack, you know the drill.

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Anyways, I am totally amazed that these turned out edible (and in my opinion pretty good) considering:

1. Food processor, really?  Aren’t we supposed to always mix our muffins by hand since overmixing muffins and quick breads is a sin?  (Okay, okay, it’s hard to hand mix butter, but that’s why these things are usual use liquid fat like veg oils).

2. Not mixing wet and dry ingredients well separately first.

3. Healthy ingredients:  like honey (or in my case part agave) without sugar and whole wheat without some white to balance it.

4. No salt.

Now on point 3, hubs points out that the muffins did taste “fibrous” but “were still good”.  And that’s my conclusion, there are good in a healthy way.  Very light not at all dense.  Didn’t exactly taste like a muffin.  Am looking forward for having them as snack though. And am glad I have a new method to make sort of muffins.

Sometimes the stars align, you open the fridge, and there actually is something to snack on.  The random stuff I had in the kitchen made a truly perfect snack today that was so pretty, I had to take a picture before I dug in!

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Components:

1.  Figs: they were on sale because I guess it’s fig season.  Store had samples and I had to get some more. Black mission. Really really yummy.

2. Prosciutto:  Left over from une salade (see past entree), I later used some for pasta, and final piece worked perfectly for this snack.

3. Camembert:  decided to get some when I was at TJs a few days ago.  Man their cheese prices are good.  I’m debating whether I like this one compared to the now seemingly overpriced ones I’ve bought, but it’s definitely palatable. Hard thing about TJ’s, you don’t know exactly what the original brand the cheese was/where it’s from.

4. Bread:  from a demi-baguette that was supposed to be part of dinner…. um well yeah.

I have an ice cream maker.  It is awesome.  I don’t actually use it for ice cream that much though.  I use it for frozen yogurt.

Not only is this frozen yogurt recipe a lot easier to make than a lot of ice creams, but (to me) it tastier (like addictive) and you can tell yourself it is healthier.  Not exactly low fat (and please don’t use low fat yogurt, it doesn’t taste right), but not full of eggs, heavy cream, a boatload of sugar, or weird additives.  It’s tart like yogurt.  You finish feeling happy and refreshed; not on a sugar high.

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This recipe is from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.  It is the easiest recipe I tried from the book in my opinion the tastiest.  I like it so much, I make it every week! (Hint: Greek Gods makes a the perfect size for this http://www.greekgodsyogurt.com/html/yplain.php).

Basically, mix 3 cups of whole frozen GREEK yogurt (again not low fat!!!) with 3/4 C white sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. He says to chill, but I’ve done it without and it’s been fine.  Add mixture to you machine and voila 15-20 minutes later (depending on the desire consistency and your actual ice cream maker model), you will have the best fro-yo ever.  Keep in mind 1.  with homemade frozen deserts, they taste best right after making  2.  it will be “soft serve” right after making  3.  this is still pretty good after putting in the freezer (just not as good), but keep in mind it takes a while (like 20-30 minutes) to thaw/get soft enough. Top with hipster seasonal fruit if you want.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, in yoga class I realized something bad.  Those “extra bad allergies”  I’ve been dealing with, aren’t really allergies.  I have a cold, and it was quickly getting worse.  

I get sick enough to have a routine of dealing with it.  What is the most important step in this?  Home made chicken noodle soup!

I think I started experimenting with this in college.  I was definitely was making it by the time I was dating my husband (yes that’s how you land a husband– good soup). Method is pretty streamlined and simple, but sometimes, when one is cranky from shopping in the August heat and exhausted for attempting yoga when sick, even a simple soup recipe seems like a daunting task.

So, I come home from yoga, with my soup ingredients and tea bags, wanting to eat soup but not really wanting to make one.  My husband says “Tell me how to make it and I’ll do it.”  “Are you sure?” “Yeah.”

So I tell him how to make it…. and seriously the best soup ever.  Yeah, the recipe is mine, but husbands (and moms and friends) get to add something special. Love!

Seriously, I am proud of my husband of how good he now is at cooking.ImageHere are the steps (serves 4):

1.  Heat large pot or enameled dutch oven over medium heat.  Add thin coating of olive oil and then add diced chicken- about half a pound.  As much as I hate chicken breast, this is one of the very few times I prefer it.  It’s a much cleaner feel than the fatty texture of dark meat.

2.  Diced onion (about half a large)- add to the pot once chicken looks mostly cooked. Stir.  Add Some thyme leaves (like a teaspoon) and salt and pepper.

3.  Dice some carrots (2 large or 4 small) and celery (2 large) and add to pot.  Can be a rough dice (and you can call it “rustic”). 

4.  One veggies have started to soften, add 1 cup of chicken stock (bonus if it is homemade), and 4-6 cups of water (enough to get to your preferred soup consistency).

5. Med-high heat to boil then lower heat to simmer for about half an hour.  It’s okay that you added so much water because during this step you are basically make more stock.

6. OPTIONAL:  In the mean time, boil (cook to al dente) and drain some pasta (I prefer egg noodles); set aside.

7.  Taste your soup– do you need more salt or water?  When ready, put some of that optional pasta in the eating bowl, then fill your bowl with soup.  I only combine the pasta and soup at the very end or else MUSHY PASTA.  No one wants mushy pasta.  Also, avoid whole grain pastas because weird texture.

Important:  Bowl will be hot.  Use kitchen towel for transfer or will drop bowl.  True story.

8. Find a cozy corner and enjoy. While eating leftovers for lunch today, I really felt every sip feel like liquid strength.  It reminds me that everything is going to be okay. And someone loves you (even if it’s yourself who made it, that counts!).  Bonus point if you have sleepy puppy at your feet!

 

For the longest time I didn’t like salads.  Then I went to France…. and that changed.  I’m not sure why/how the salads there taste so much better.  I make my salads differently now, and I even look forward to them.

One of my favorite salads was at a seaside cafe in Cassis (I think).  I was going to get a pizza but l noticed some of our neighbors has this wonderful looking salad with an exquisite thin slice of meat on it.  It was ham, but definitely not something from Oscar Mayer (no offense Oscar Mayer—my husband really loves your bologna!).  So I order “une salad avec jambon,” and that was a good salad.

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I made a salad this weekend that sort of reminded me of that wonderful lunch.

Here are the components:

1.  Lettuce: I like Boston or Butterhead.  Enough crunch without the bitterness  On head is enough to two large salads or four small side salads.

2.  Tomato:  not to sound like a snob, but in season local really does taste better. Back yard even more so (unfortunately my plant is just too tired…).

3. Boiled egg: excellent inexpensive source of protein, and always yummy.

4.  Black olives:  if you have a nice grocery store with a sort of “bulk” section, you could get just a few really good ones.  You don’t need a lot.

5. Croutons:  I bought them for years then Mark Bittman convinced me to try making my own.  I do now, it’s totally easy and do able.  Add olive oil, cubes of day old bread, and a smashed garlic clove to a pan pre-heated to medium-low.  I add salt + Italian dried herbs. Add more oil if needed (the seasonings should stick).  I then work on the rest of the salad, keeping an on on my pan to make sure nothing burns and occasionally giving a stir. It’s done when it’s toasted like croutons (only should take a few minutes). Today I used a bun I got for like 50 cents from the soup section of the grocery store yesterday. Brioche…yum.

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6.  PROSCIUTTO: BEST PART OF THE SALAD. Prosciutto is awesome.  It can also be expensive, if you have a deli section with people and a counter that sells you this– use them.  I only use one thin slice per salad; which wasn’t expensive at all.

7. Dressing:  minced garlic (I used a piece from my crouton pan so it was a little cooked), Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  My oil to vinegar is like a 3: 1 ratio.  Everything else is a very small amount.

And Enjoy!  It sounds like a lot to do but really isn’t and is well worth the extra effort.

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When I got my dog Midas, I was so nervous about being a good doggie-mommy that I got a ton of dog books.  I learned a lot from those books, one of the most interesting points one book made (I think it was from The Dog Whisperer) was about the benefits, even privilege that having a relationship with a dog entails.  By having a dog, not only are we in a relationship and have constant communication with another species of animal, but, due to that, we have a connection to nature that so many humans have lost.  He talked about the idea of the natural world on some sort of connected level with themselves and with the earth, but us, unfortunate humans, for the most part, have lost that.  We’re so busy with our lives, we’re rarely present in the moment or notice what is around us.  Midas has helped me live in the moment and I do think I see and feel the world a little differently when I’m around him.  

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I have an unkempt corner in the yard, that slowly became Midas’s hang out spot. It’s great to watch him listening for squirrels and birds and just being happy to be outside.  (And I kind of wish I can fit in there too!)

I grew up eating my mom’s fresh salsa, or “pico de gallo,”  which I eventually started making myself.  Later, though I wanted to venture out, and after discovering the wonderfulness that is roasted tomatoes, made some roasted salsa.  Amazingly, it came out great the first time, although I did learn some tricks to make it better with further trials.

I used basically the same ingredients as the pico, except most of them are roasted. 

Okay here are the steps

1.  Gather/cut the ingredients:  here I have cored tomatoes, jalapeno, and onion. Note, I left the pieces pretty big because I don’t want them to burn.  Best part about doing in the summer, it could be really fresh and local.  

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2.  Next, roast those ingredients.  I think I did it at 400F for about 20-30 minutes.  

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3.  Let it cool, then food processor (or chop it).  I first put the peppers and onions in the FP and pulse to desire consistency, then i add the “soft” ingredients:  tomato, cilantro, lime juice (about 1/2 lime), and salt to taste and maybe sugar.  Barely/gently pulse.  (If you chop it all at the same time the tomatoes will get too pureed OR onions will be too chunky).

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Once in a while, after taking the dog for a walk, I convince myself to do a little yoga. I roll out the mat in the the living room and look out the window and to decide to to move outside be use it’s just too nice outside.

What a good move! Dog dutifully plops down on the yoga mat an does a downward dog, and I’m reminded what a cool tree I have in the yard every time look up (which is a lot in yoga). I love the spring!

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peasproutSpring is my favorite time of the year.  Well, every season seems like my favorite time of the year when it starts; but really who doesn’t like the spring?  I’m finally starting a veggie garden this spring, something I haven’t done since I was a kid.  Very exciting (and scary).

Once thing that is hard to figure out is whether your new little seedlings are they seedlings you want or just some random weeds.  With my peas, though, I’m pretty sure I have the real deal! So pretty.

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