Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

These are protein packed and satisfying vegetarian stuffed peppers.  Leave out the cheese, or use a substitute and they can easily be made vegan.

Preheat the oven to 375.  In a small casserole dish (about 6 x 9) combine
  • 8 oz package of tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is brown with crispy edges.  Leave the oven on after removing the tempeh.

Meanwhile, rinse
  • 1/3 c quinoa
  • 1/2 c brown lentils
Add to a rice cooker along with
  • 2 1/2 cups water
Cover, and cook the quinoa, lentils and water in the rice cooker until finished.  Coat a 9 x 12 casserole dish with olive oil.  Remove stems and cut in half

  • 4 bell peppers
place the halves, cut side up, in the oiled casserole dish and set aside.  In a large pan, saute until transluscent

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, about 2 cups, chopped, or 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cook, stirring often until the tomatoes have softened and the mixture has become juicy.  Add the tempeh and the mixture from the rice cooker when they are ready and stir well.  Turn heat to low and stir in
  • 1/4 grated parmesan
Remove from heat and spoon mixture into pepper halves.  For some extra cheesy goodness, get
  • 8 ciliegine--tiny balls of fresh mozzarella
poke one into the center of each stuffed pepper.  Bake the stuffed peppers for 20 minutes, or until they are heated through and the pepper cups have begun to soften.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Portobello tempeh Rueben

In order to improve my health and lose weight, I've changed my diet following the guidelines in the book "Always Hungry?"by Dr. David Ludwig.  I'm eating whole foods with more fat and protein than I was used to, low glycemic indexes, and no sugar or sweeteners.  I feel great and love what I am eating!

I love the tempeh Rueben sandwich that they serve at The Autumn Cafe in Oneonta NY.  This is a way to combine all of those great flavors without the bread, and to do it on a grill in good weather!  In winter, just do the same thing on a baking sheet in a 350*F oven.  Year 'round tasty-ness.

Use 4 or 5 large portobellos when serving these as a main course.  Use smaller portobellos to serve as an appetizer or side dish.  These are very filling!

Serves 4 as a meal, more as an app or side

Preheat grill or oven to 350*F.

Cut into thin strips

  • 8 oz tempeh
In a cast iron pan heat
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Spread the tempeh strips in a single layer in the pan and fry for 5-6 minutes, until the underside has browned.  Then turn and fry the second side until brown.  Add more oil to the pan if needed.  Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Brush both sides of
  • 14 oz portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Brush surface of grill with olive oil, or if using an oven, line a baking pan with parchment paper.  Once grill/oven is up to temperature, place mushrooms gill side down on grill or baking pan and place pan in oven.  Grill/Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to soften but still hold their shape.  Turn mushrooms gill side up and top each one with
  • scoop of sourkraut about 12 oz total
  • sliced tempeh
  • Russian dressing (I use close to the whole recipe for 14 oz of mushrooms)
  • sliced Swiss cheese 8-10 oz total
Grill/bake until the toppings are hot all the way through and the cheese has melted.  Another 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Russian Dressing, Homemade and Sugar-Free

Traditional Russian dressing is often packed with sugar.  This is an easy to make, healthier, sugar-free version.  An immersion blender makes homemade dressings a breeze, but if you don't have one you could also do this in a traditional blender or even whisked together in a bowl.

Makes approximately 1 1/3 cup.

In a 1 pint wide mouth canning jar, or in the measuring cup of an immersion blender, combine
  • 1 c sugar-free real mayonnaise.  I use a variation of this recipe
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tbs minced shallot
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Blend with immersion blender until thoroughly mixed.  Refrigerate for at least one hour, but preferably a day before using.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chickpea Cheddar Biscuits

I've been experimenting with several recipes to make a really good grain-free biscuit.  There are other cheddar biscuit recipes out there, but I believe this to be an improved version.  I love to eat these with soup, or split in half and use them for a breakfast sandwich or in place of the English muffin with eggs benedict.

Chickpea flour is the same thing as garbanzo flour or gram flour or besan.

Makes 5 really hearty biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 500*F  Butter a 6"-7" oven safe dish or ramekin.

Combine in the bowl of a food processor:

  • 1 C chickpea flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Pulse a few times to mix.  Cut into approx. 1/4 pieces and add to the food processor:

  • 2 T butter

Pulse 8-10 times to incorporate the butter.  You may still see small chunks of it, and that's ok.  Pour the contents of the food processor into a medium sized mixing bowl and add:

  • 1/2 C buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1 C shredded sharp cheddar

Stir with a rubber spatula until you have a consistently wet, sticky, lumpy dough.  Place about a 1/4 cup of chickpea flour in a bowl and line up the bowl of dough, followed by the bowl of flour, and then the buttered oven safe dish.  Use a 1/4 C measuring cup to scoop dough out of the first bowl.  Drop it into the flour and roll it around to coat, then toss it gently from hand to hand over the bowl to shake off any excess flour.  Place it into the buttered dish.  Continue with the rest of the dough, arranging the biscuits touching each other in a circle in the dish.  You'll make about 5 balls total.

Bake in the 500*F oven for 5 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 450 for an additional 12-15 minutes.  They are done when golden with some browning on top, and cooked all the way through.  Turn out onto a plate to cool, and break the biscuits apart when cool enough to handle.

These are a bit too crowded in only a 5" dish.  If you make a double batch, a 9" pie plate will hold them perfectly.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Inspired by Michael Pollen's book Cooked and several Science Friday guests, I started experimenting with whole wheat sourdough bread about a year ago.  I've played around with the recipe, and now that I have something that I like, and that gives me consistent results, I'm sharing it here.

First you need a starter, which you can make or purchase.  I don't honestly remember whose instructions I followed to make mine, but I'd suggest trying these from King Arthur Flour.

Once the starter exists, store it in the fridge and feed once a week with 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and 1/3 cup of filtered water.  Filtered or distilled water is crucial, because tap water is treated with chlorine to prevent microbes from growing in it.  This is great for our well-being, but terrible for sourdough, as it may kill the microbes you're working so hard to feed!

Get the starter out of the fridge at least 2 feedings before you plan to mix your dough.  Pour off the layer of alcohol on top (this is normal) and then feed with:

1/2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c filtered water

Keep the starter at room temperature, and feed every 12 hours.

To make the bread:

Mix together in a medium sized bowl:

1 c starter
3/4 c filtered water


2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 t salt

stir with a spoon or spatula to form a shaggy dough.  

This is what a shaggy dough looks like:

(I had to look that up the first time I read it in a bread recipe.)

Close the bowl with a lid (Tupperware is great for this!) and allow to rest for 12 to 24 hours.  How long depends on your climate, your sourdough starter (it is different in different locations) and the time of year.  The yeast and other microbes in your sourdough need time to do their work.  Your dough is ready for the next step when it has grown and looks like this:

At this point, for a less tangy bread, knead in:

1 tsp baking soda

If you would like the full sourdough bite, skip the baking soda and kneading.

Form into a ball, 

close the bowl with its lid, and let rest a few hours until doubled in size.

Place a covered casserole (the cool kids use a dutch oven) in the oven and preheat both casserole and oven to 425*F.

Once the oven is up to temperature, bake in the covered casserole or dutch oven for 35 minutes.

 before baking

after baking

Remove from the dish and cool on a wire rack.

You can test if your bread is done by holding it in one oven-mitted hand, and "thumping" it with the other.  A loaf that is fully baked will give a full satisfying thump. 

Sourdough is interesting stuff.  The wild yeast and other microbes in the starter are a combination of yeasts and microbes that were already living in your flour, and the yeasts and microbes in your kitchen.  This is why sourdoughs from different places will have a different flavor.  I brought my starter with me to my summer job, only a 4 hour drive away, and it was different there than at home.  I didn't taste a big difference, but it was much more active--generally lighter and frothier at my summer residence than it is at home.

Keeping this in mind, I encourage you to use this recipe as a launching off place.  Your kitchen is different than mine, and your sourdough will be different too.  Feel free to experiment with the amount of moisture in your recipe, resting times, cooking time, and anything else you care to play with.  A good scientist changes only one variable at a time, and records his/her methods and results each time!

Once you know how long your dough needs to rest at each step in your kitchen and climate, you should be able to bake bread any day, even in the middle of your work week, if most of your intervals work out to 12 or 24 hours.  I love that this recipe doesn't require a lot of time at any given step since there is almost no kneading, so while you make it over the course of 3 days (including starter feedings), it takes less than an hour of actual effort.

Here's the short and sweet version of the recipe, easy to copy and print and without the pictures:

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Remove starter from refrigerator at least two feedings before use.

Mix together in a medium sized bowl:

1 c starter
3/4 c filtered water


2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 t salt

stir with a spoon or spatula to form a shaggy dough. 

Seal bowl and rest for 12-24 hours.

* optional:   At this point, for a less tangy bread, knead in:

1 tsp baking soda

Form into a ball,, seal bowl, and let rise a few (up to 12, depending) hours until doubled in size.

Preheat covered casserole and oven to 425*F

Bake in covered casserole at 425*F for 35 minutes.

Remove loaf from casserole and cool on wire rack.

Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Knit Argyle Socks in the Round

*Want the pattern for the socks pictured here?  Click here to purchase* 

Traditionally, the leg of an argyle sock is knit flat.  Once the leg has been knit it is seamed up the back, and the rest of the sock is knit in the round. 

This is fine for the un-ambitious.

Personally, I prefer to knit anything I can in one piece.  I think that’s knitting’s biggest sculptural advantage—one can knit a fully shaped, one piece garment without any cutting or sewing.  Add to that the fact that store-bought argyle socks are seamless, and perhaps you can see why, when I learned that argyles “need” to be seamed, I took that as a challenge.

I’ve played with a few different ways to knit argyle in the round over the years.  I came up with each on my own, although I’m sure that lots of other knitters have come to the same solutions on their own over the years.  I’ve settled on what I think is the most successful method.  That’s what I’m sharing here.
These instructions are written with the assumption that you are familiar with and have knit a basic sock.
First, take a look at an argyle sock.  There are usually diamonds in 2 different colors, with a third color making the x’s that run through the diamonds.  This pair has blue diamonds which will be on the sides of the sock and green diamonds, while will be the front and back of the sock.  The diamonds interlock, so that the blue diamond makes up the negative space around the green, and vice versa.

To figure out where you are at each step of these instructions, on each row you work, you’ll need to keep in mind which color of diamonds is growing, and which is shrinking.  We’ll start where the green diamonds are growing, and the blue are shrinking.  By the way, I HIGHLY recommend winding your diamond colors onto bobbins, whether you knit your argyles in the round, or traditionally flat.  Either way bobbins greatly lessen the amount of tangling, and therefore frustration, with any kind of intarsia knitting.

 Argyle 1

But that’s jumping ahead just a bit.  To start the sock, cast on the number of stitches you like to cast on for a sock.  A multiple of 4 is ideal.  The example sock is knit on 60sts at a gauge of 8sts per inch.  Work 2x2 ribbing for about an inch in your main (background) color.

Set up row:  you’re beginning in the middle of the green diamonds, which is at the point of the blue diamonds.  Add in 2 different green bobbins, and 2 white bobbins for the x’s.  Also add a second ball, or bobbin of blue.  Divide your total number of stitches by 4 to get x.  Knit 1 blue stitch, then continue knitting in green until you’ve counted to x.  Start counting again, but this time the first stitch is a white cross stitch, then the rest of the green bobbin until you’ve counted to x again.  For the second half of the sock, you’ll do the same thing, but this time you’ll start back at the beginning of the row and purl across the inside.  Using the second balls of each color, p x-1 green, p1 white, p x-1 green, p1 blue, and you will have met your other half of the cast on, half way around the sock.   On our 60st example sock this means:  k1 blue, k14 green, k1 white, k14 green.  Start 2ndball of blue, p1 blue, start 2nd bobbin of green, p14 green, start second bobbin of white, p1 white, p14 green.  End of row.  Arrange your stitches across 4 needles, one for each diamond.  So at the moment, each blue stitch is on its own needle.  You’ll use a fifth needle as the working needle.

 Argyle 2

The arrows show the direction each green diamond was worked.  One was knit, the other purled.
At this point, both green strands of yarn are at the same end of the sock.  At that end, shift the last green stitch on each needle onto the needle with the one blue stitch.

 Argyle 3

Knit those 3 sts in blue, being sure to wrap the blue yarn with the green before and after you knit 3.  i.e. wrap, knit 3, wrap. 

 Argyle 4

*VERY IMPORTANT* You will always have the yarn ends of the “shrinking” diamonds right next to whichever “growing” diamond you are working on.  This is so that you can wrap the ends around each other in proper intarsia fashion at each edge of the growing diamond to prevent holes.  If this is not a familiar process, please look up intarsia knitting in you knitting books or online.  You need to wrap your ends whether you work your argyle socks in the round or flat.  This is what those wraps will eventually look like on the inside of your sock.

 Argyle 12

Now work across each green diamond to the other side of the sock.  You’ll knit across one diamond, and purl across the other, so as to keep the outside of the sock in stocking stitch.  In both cases, stop one stitch shy of the end of the needle.  You’ll also add the last 2 bobbins of white (4 total) on this row.  Remember that the white stitches each move by one stitch on every row.  If this makes you crazy and is just one too many things to keep track of, feel free to leave them out and add them with duplicate stitch after your sock is finished.

 Argyle 5

Slip each of those un-worked green stitches onto the needle with the blue stitch.

 Argyle 6

Purl these three stitches in blue.  Remember to wrap your ends.

 Argyle 7

Slip one more green from each green needle onto the blue needle you are working on.

Argyle 8

Turn and knit these 5 sts.  Remember to wrap your ends. 
You have worked 2 rows on the growing blue diamond, as indicated by the arrow.

 Argyle 9

Now you’ve established your pattern.  Here’s the whole thing in sequence.

1.       Work both shrinking green diamonds back to the other side of the sock.  Purl one, Knit the other, keeping the outside of the sock in stocking stitch.  Do not work the last stitch on each green diamond needle, instead, slip them to the needle holding the growing blue diamond.

Argyle 10

2.   Purl the stitches on the blue needle, slip another green from each needle, turn, and work across again.  Remember to wrap your ends.  I’m going to stop writing that now, but you should keep doing it at every boundary between colors.  You’ve now gone back and forth on the blue needle.

 Argyle 11

That’s it.  You’re now ready to work back across the shrinking green diamonds, and do the same thing on the other side. 

In general, you always work across both shrinking diamonds to bring them to one side of the sock, leave the end stitches, then work back and forth on the growing diamond, knitting the left behind stitches on the first pass, and the slipping two new stitches to the growing diamond’s needle to work on the second pass.
Keep doing this until the growing diamonds have grown across the whole sock.  There will be one row with only blue and white stitches, no green.  At this point everything shifts.  The green diamonds start growing from one stitch, and the blue diamonds become the shrinking diamonds.  Start over again with the instructions just after the set up row, but this time with the colors reversed.  Once the blue diamonds shrink down to just one stitch, you’re back to the beginning.  Continue like this until you’re ready to do the heal, at which point your sock can easily become a simple sock, knit out of just your back ground color all the way to the toe.  You could also do a contrast heal and toe.  It’s your sock—do what pleases you.

If, once you’ve tried this, the whole thing makes you want to throw your project across the room, don’t torture yourself.  Go back to knitting your argyles in the tried and true flat method.

*Want the pattern for the socks pictured here?  Click here to purchase* 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Year of the Snake

dyed "snake" sock blank

2013 is the year of the snake.  I celebrated back in January with my fiber pals at Raveloe.  We dyed long thin sock blanks to look like snakes.  Everyone had their choice of what to do next.  I unravelled mine and knit socks as intended.

Year of the Snake socks

I am happy with the results, and even though it was January, I figured I was sort of done with the year of the snake and wouldn't think about the Chinese Zodiak again until January 2014 or the next time I ate in a Chinese restaurant with the Zodiak placemats.

Silly me. 

My property has a pleasing amount of wildlife living on it, or at least passing through.  It feels good to see lots of plants and animals around the yard; I feel like I've made good choices and have created a healthy eco-system.  We tend to see one or two garter snakes around the place each summer.  There is a creak running along the edge of our property and because of that there seem to be a lot of frogs, and frogs are a favorite food for garter snakes.

For whatever reason this year we have many more garter snakes than we have had in the past.  In the spring I would see at least 2 every time I worked in the yard or flower beds.  I started trying to count them based on size and markings, and I think I tracked at least 6 different snakes.  They make me really nervous when I mow the lawn, because as I mow I see them quickly slithering away from the mower.  If they head for a flower bed I figure that they're safe, but sometimes they make bad choices, like slithering into the unmown grass, or onto the concrete sidewalk where I know they won't stay until I'm done, or back towards the mower, so I had gotten into the habit of picking up the ones who made bad choices and carrying them to the flower bed.  When I did this two weeks ago, I found out that while garter snakes are only mildly venomous, I am one of the lucky few people who have a reaction to their bites.  Not terrible, but my hands puffed up for a day, and that snake was set into the flower bed less gently and from a greater distance than the others.

Then last week my worst fears came true, and I inadvertantly hurt an animal.  I'm still upset about it and don't know how exactly it happened, but now there is a snake in our yard that we have nick-named "stumpy."

Finally yesterday morning I was doing some landscaping before going to work.  We had some topsoil left over from the spring and had stored it in the yard on a tarp.  We folded the tarp up over it a few times to try to keep it dry.  When I unfolded the tarp it was FULL OF SNAKES.  Like 2 in each layer.  One was a baby, which was super exciting to see, but I'm a little nervous now that I know about the allergy, so I left the tarp open and walked away, hoping that they would leave.  I had  to keep checking under the tarp before shoveling the dirt so I wouldn't accidently hurt any hiding snakes with my shovel.

So yeah, it's definitely the Year of the Snake at my house.  What's next year?  I hope it isn't the Tiger yet.