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Screaming good haunted sailor’s bread

November 6, 2015
Sailor's Bread recipe from teh Heceta Head cookbook

Sailor’s Bread recipe from teh Heceta Head cookbook

We recently took a two week camping trip down the Oregon coast at a slow and ambling pace to discover lighthouses. I had no idea that lighthouses are so cool! When you visit them, the history is palpable and you can almost see the ghosts of the past fading in and out of the walls. Come to find out, in some of the lighthouses you can see ghosts as Oregon has haunted lighthouses.

One of the most notorious of these is Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, was also known as Terrible Tilly. It was built on a rock 1.2 miles off of Cannon Beach in the tempestuous Pacific to give sailors a guiding light around Tillamook head. She was fated to see many deaths and drive men mad. It all started in 1879 when surveyor John Trewavas, set foot on the rock to inspect it for the lighthouse and was instantly swept out to sea, the first victim of Terrible Tilly.

Many others perished during her construction and just weeks before the lighthouse was lit a ship called the Lupatia sank near there and 16 bodies of the crew washed up on the rock. Soon after that, lighthouse keepers reported hearing low bone chilling moans in the stairwell to the lantern. It quickly earned a notorious reputation of being a haunted and dreadful place to be where lightkeepers would go mad from the months marooned out there.

Yaquina Head lighthouse

Yaquina Head lighthouse

Yaquina Bay lighthouse near Newport is also known to have hauntings going on. This lighthouse was only in commission for three years till Yaquina Head Lighthouse (a most beautiful thing to behold) was built. In 1874, the crew of the whaling ship, Monkton, went mutinous and set their Captain adrift in a small boat off the coastline. He was final found on land…….. in the form of a ghostly sea captain with a red beard and skeleton face.

He drifted among taverns and homes, “looking for a place to stay and someone to join him in death” as he moaned to one terrified observer. He eventually came to haunt the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse after it was decommissioned. Supposedly a young lady disappeared at the lighthouse soon after that, never to be seen alive again and now haunts the grounds of the lighthouse with the ghostly captain in a flowing dress screaming in anguish.

Heceta Head lighthouse

Heceta Head lighthouse

One of the most famous haunted lighthouses is the Hecate Head lighthouse near Florence Oregon. This is the home to the “Grey Lady” AKA “Rue” who haunts the lightkeeper’s house that is now a bed and breakfast. Supposedly she was the wife to an assistant lightkeeper when their child drown in the waters near there in the 1890s. In despair the young mother committed suicide by throwing herself off a cliff. She now haunts Heceta Head Bed and Breakfast, ever searching for her child. Guests to this day have gentle encounters with the grey lady and the chefs of the bed and breakfast consider her family.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast is also known for their cozy (haunted) rooms and spooktacular 7 course breakfasts that people die for! The place is run by the frighteningly talented duo of Michelle Korgan and her husband Steven Bursey. Their cookbook; “The Lighthouse Breakfast Cookbook, recipes from Heceta Head lighthouse” was materialized in 2009 so that more than ghosts and guests can enjoy their excellent fare. This recipe from the cookbook, “Sailor’s Bread” seemed like the perfect potion to sweeten even the sourest of ghosts. This magic bread begins the night before when you start your brew on the stove so build that into your plans…..before it’s too late!

haunted sailor's bread

haunted sailor’s bread

Haunted Sailor’s Bread
This vegan bread contains no eggs or dairy so it can be taken on long ghostly voyages. (Or at least keeps well in the freezer wrapped up like a mummy) Adapted from “The Lighthouse Breakfast Cookbook, recipes from Heceta Head lighthouse”.

3/4 cup of organic sugar
2 TBLS of cocoa powder
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of allspice
1/2 tsp of cloves
1/2 tsp of cardamom
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of water
1 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of dark rum
1 cup of light tasting oil like avocado oil
2 TBLS of molasses
1 cup of walnuts, coarsely chopped
2.5 cups of unbleached organic flour
1.5 tsps of baking soda
3/4 tsp of baking powder

The night before you want to bake this magic bread, take out of small saucepan and add sugar, spices and salt then stir till well blended. Slowly add the water while stirring making sure everything is becoming a good potion then stir in the raisins. Heat up the concoction on the stove over a medium heat till it just.about.boils. Turn off and add the rum, (take a swig like a good sea captain) cover and go to bed and allow the magic to happen.

The next morning, (yawn and stretch) make some tea and turn on the oven to 350 degrees and oil a large glass bread pan or two small ones. To the magic brew, add the oil, molasses and the nuts then mix a little bit. (No worries, it won’t blend in well with that ooey gooey mess of yumminess) In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, soda and baking powder then with the mixer going slowly add the flour mixture till just blended.

Pour into your bread pan(s) and sprinkle the top with coarse sugar and tuck in the oven for the transformation for 50-60 minutes for the big loaf and 35-45 mins for the small ones or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20-30 minutes then turn out on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way. We couldn’t resist and fed on it before it cooled. I imagine if you let it cool all the way it won’t crumble when cut but I don’t really know cause it dematerialized.

Apples; the secretly disguised superheros

October 27, 2015
Gluten free paleo crisp

Gluten free paleo crisp

A recently scored a huge box of beautiful organic apples picked from a local tree. When I opened the box and breathed in the aroma of fall, I was struck with how this common fruit is really a superhero posing in plain clothing. Immortal and extraordinary, the apple has been flying out of phone booths and through history in art, science experiments, legends, and torrid love affairs. It has also been seen flexing its vast muscles and protecting health and smashing disease for centuries.

The wild apple of ancient Asia, malus pumila, a member of the rose family, is the ancestor of our current juicy superstar apple. The malus was small and sour, much like our crab apples. There are many tales told of this ancient apple and its rise to fame but the ever imaginative Romans are credited with cultivating it into the predecessor of our caped crusader. They began the magic by creating 7 different varieties of the apple. There are now over 7,500 varieties of apples being grown worldwide. The leading producer of apples is China, (big surprise!) with the US coming in second with Washington State as the quarterback.

There is a wee bit of controversy that needs to be cleared up for our superstar. The apple has never deserved the publicity that it was the downfall of the Garden of Eden. (But I guess every super hero is misunderstood occasionally.) According to historians there is no specific name given to the fruit Eve tasted from that notorious tree. They believe Eve’s fruit of temptation might have been a pomegranate or possibly even a quince since those were the popular fruit during the time the bible was written.

No matter what the mysterious past of the apple is, today it is the world’s favorite champion fruit with American’s eating an average of 50 pounds per person. Johnny Appleseed was on to something when he planted apple trees across the country, bringing nourishment for generations to come. (Even though it is rumored that he planted the trees for hard cider)

These are a rare heritage apple called "Wolf Rivers". They are huge and beautiful!

These are a rare heritage apple called “Wolf Rivers”. They are huge and beautiful!

The nutritional benefits of our humble hotshot are astounding. A medium apple eaten raw with the peel on has only 81 calories and a whopping 3.7 grams of soluble fiber. (Make sure and eat them with the skin on, most of the good stuff is in there.) It is also loaded with antioxidants, potassium, folic acid, Vit C and calcium. The amazing apple also has been shown in studies to reduce the chance of lung, breast and colon problems and consequent cancer. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away!

How does one pick the right apple out of 7500 different varieties for the dish? I once again, sacrificed myself and my husband for the good of all, and found that out. Honeycrisps are the BEST for eating and baking. They even edged out the old reliable granny smith’s. Gala’s are a pretty good all-around apple too if you can’t find honeycrisps. Macintoshes are the best applesauce apple but do not bake with them or you just get mush.

There are so many wonderful varieties of apples that are being dusted off from the past now, it is incredible to gaze upon them in wonder. The farmer’s market in Portland has a few apple farmer vendors that offer heirloom varieties that are flying back in style again. It is so much fun to taste the difference in all these apples! I recommended you do your own personal trials with apples and see what you uncover of this super hero in disguise. Start with this very simple dish to highlight the brilliance of the apple.

Gluten free apple crisp

Gluten free apple crisp

Honey Apple Crisp
This recipe can be gluten and dairy free, but not vegan due to its use of honey. If you wish to make vegan just sub maple syrup for the honey. Make sure and use organic apples as conventional apples are loaded with toxins. Serves 4-6

The fruit
4 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
1/2 lemon, squeezed over the apples
1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
2 tablespoons of honey

The crisp
1/2 cup of almond flour or wheat flour
1 cup of gluten free oats
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup of butter or coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and pick out a beautiful pie plate or 9×9 baking dish and lightly oil it. First, make the fruit filling by tossing the apples with the lemon juice in a mediumish bowl. Sprinkle in the raisins and spices and toss till combined then drizzle in the honey and stir till well incorporated. Arrange the apple slices in your baking vessel and set aside till you get the topping made.

To make the topping, stir the flour, oats, pecans, salt and cinnamon together till it is all blended nicely. While stirring this mix, slowly add your melted butter, then the honey till the mixture gets clumpy. Lastly, stir in your pure vanilla to make your nose dance. Pour the crumble topping over the apples and pat down so it fills the crevasses of the apples. Tuck in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes till the topping is just starting to get golden and a knife easily slips into the apples. Try not to buzz about at the end of the baking as honey and nuts burn quickly. Serve with ice cream or vanilla yogurt. (of course)

Enjoy the fruits of the summer….in sangria

September 1, 2015
Sangria is a great summer drink

Sangria is a great summer drink

All this talk of drought has made me thirsty! I’m off my soapbox and mixing up a drink to quench my thirst. (Can you say short attention span?) I am going to take a left turn here and talk about a very spirited subject instead of a hot one.

I recently attended a very gentle summer birthday party where the sun glimmered through the trees and sparkled off a pitcher of blood red sangria. I was struck with the beauty of this drink with all the fruit of the season floating in it giving it the quintessential flavor of summer. No summer is complete without at least one pitcher of sangria to enjoy.

Sangria is a wine punch that was born in Spain close to the time of Christ’s birth which is kind of interesting cause the word “sangria” means blood, or the color of blood. It is also interesting because very first beginnings of sangria were from roman soldiers who invaded the region 200 years earlier and stained the earth red with the blood of the locals. It was those soldiers that planted the first red grapes that sangria is made from.

The Romans not only introduced grapes to Spain but also their spiced wine that they loved to drink. The water was well known for being as dangerous as the swords of the Romans so they drank wine instead. It was watered down a bit and spiced heavily with herbs and exotic spices that they just happened to have in their rucksacks. The Spanish got even more creative and added luscious fruits from the area and sangria was born.

As the years went by and the Romans faded back to Rome with their rucksacks full of spices, sangria was made with just fruit. After all the Spanish had abundant fruit to spare and into the sangria it went! A lovely wind brought sangria to the shores of America in 1964 where it was served at the World Fair in New York and has been a sensation here ever since.

I highly recommend making your own sangria as it is as easy as falling off a slippery log. The pre-made sangrias are full of corn syrup, other unmentionables and made with poor wine. It is well understood that a marginal wine can be made better by turning it into sangria but I suggest you use a good wine, not the best, but a good mid-shelf wine to make sangria. The best wines to use are fruity dry wines like zinfandel, Syrah or a Malbec. (I like to use a zinfandel like Clos Du Bois, which is surprisingly good and a great value at around $15 a bottle.) If you want to follow in the steps of the Spanish try making it with a Tempranillo, Garnacha or a Roija.

Sangria is probably the most adaptable recipe in the world as it takes wine, fruit, fruit juice, a little sweetener and possibly some brandy. Done. Now get creative. You can even make a “sangria blanco” with white wine of your choice. The sky is the limit to experiment with this wonderful wine drink. I recommend serving it in wine glasses with ice and maybe a sprig of mint. I have shared a couple recipes for you to rift off of or try just as they are. Enjoy the fruits of the summer….in sangria.



Classic Sangria
Makes about 8 servings. Feel free to add any fruit that is laying around, I added a peach. (no bananas please)
1/2 cup of water
1/4 -1/2 cup of honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 bottle of dry red wine such as Syrah or zinfandel
1/2 cup of orange juice (Fresh squeezed is best!)
1/2 cup of brandy
1/2 cup of an orange liqueur like Cointreau or orange curacao
1 orange, cut into wedges, peels on
1 lemon, cut into wedges, peels on
1 lime, cut into wedges, peels on

Add the half cup of water and honey to a small sauce pan and warm up till the honey is completely dissolved. Add that mix and the rest of the ingredients to a pitcher and chill for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight. Serve over ice, fruit and all.

NW sparkling berry sangria
Makes 12 or so servings. If you want to get really creative, make juice ice cubes the night before by filling an ice cube tray with pear or apple juice and a few berries per ice cube and freeze overnight. If you use these ice cubes in your sangria it will not get watered down. Tricky huh?

1 firm pear, cut into wedges
1 peach, cut into wedges
A couple pints of berries like blackberry, blueberry or strawberries
1 cup of a pear brandy like Clear Creek (Local and delicious!)
1 bottle of a good crisp rosé (Stoller and Ponzi make good ones)
1 bottle of a sparkling wine like prosecco or Lambrusco

Mix the berries, pear, peach, brandy and rosé together in a pitcher and set in the fridge overnight to chill and marry the flavors. When you are ready to serve, pour the bottle of sparkling wine into the pitcher with the brandy mix and serve immediately with ice.

Altering climate change, one carrot top at a time

August 10, 2015

“When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.” National Geographic on the future of food.

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto

I think it is safe to say that our climate is changing. This is a tough subject that even though it is talked about a lot, there doesn’t seem to be much being done to change it. I think that is because everyone is a little at loss on what we can do to avert this. I know I am. But it has come home to roost here on our lovely coast and it is time to talk about how it affects us, our food and what we can do about it.

Everything about our food is tied to climate conditions. Our agriculture and fisheries are highly dependent on specific climate conditions to flourish. We see those changes all around us as our ocean warms and our rain and snow become elusive. The tomatoes may love it but there are many ancient ecosystems that have been in place for hundreds of thousands of years, that don’t.

Organic carrots and look at those tops!

Organic carrots and look at those tops!

On top of this concerning climate change is the looming fact that humans are thriving and the population of the world is expected to increase by two billion more in the next 30 years. That is a population increase of more than 35% to our already weighty footprint. So the million dollar questions are how are we going to feed our population and not ruin this fragile planet? And what can the individual do to make a difference?

National Geographic recently did an in-depth study into this very challenging subject and have come up with some pretty good answers to these questions. They have a 5 step plan on feeding the world and lowering our impact on our environment that is quite frankly brilliant. It is a very practical and thoughtful strategy that I want to share with you here over the next few articles as this is a very important subject that affects everything; our planet, our wildlife, our food, our children and ourselves.

To start up the great plan to save the world, I thought I’d share this wonderful recipe for carrot top pesto in the spirit of reducing food waste. It was developed by a London chef, April Bloomfield, for those carrot tops that we all toss in the compost. If you have never nibbled on a carrot top, there is a happy surprise waiting for you. They have an earthy, spicy flavor to them (and a bit bitter too) that you will find plenty of places to use them. I treat them like herbs and sprinkle them in salads or add them to stir fries and marinades. What a delicious way to improve our climate.

Carrot Top Pesto with Cheese and roasted carrots. Not the prettiest dish but delcious for sure!

Carrot Top Pesto with Cheese and roasted carrots. Not the prettiest dish but delcious for sure!

Roasted carrots with carrot top pesto and burrata
It is easy to strip all the carrot leaves off the stem in one fell swoop. Pinch the stem near the top with the fingers of one hand. Then run the fingers of your other hand down the length of the stem from top to bottom.

The Pesto

2 cups of lightly packed carrot leaves, stems discarded, roughly chopped
A small handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of nuts such as walnuts, filberts or pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 garlic clove, quartered
1/2 tsp of a flaky salt like Maldon’s or Kosher
1/3 cup of really nice extra virgin olive oil

Pesto is made very easily in a food processor and if you do not have one, go buy one. (You can also make it in the blender but just make sure and chop everything a bit finer before subjecting your blender to it.)

In your handy dandy food processor add the carrot tops and basil and pulse a few times. Then add the nuts, cheese, garlic and salt and pulse several more times then process full on while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Stop and scrape down the sides occasionally till the pesto is blended well and beautifully fragrant. Taste and season with more salt if you fancy.

The carrots
20 small carrots, about the size of your fingers, scrubbed but not peeled. Leave 1/2 inch of the green tops on them. If they are big, cut them in half
3 Tbs of very good virgin olive oil, divided
A few pinches of Kosher or another flaky salt and pepper
1/2 pound burrata cheese or marinated fresh mozzarella balls
A handful of carrot top leaves

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the center. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a heavy roasting pan big enough to hold all them carrots in a single layer. Toss the carrots in the olive oil, position them to a single layer and then pop in the oven to roast, stirring every once in a while, till they are done about 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt and some pepper on the carrots and toss again. Let the carrots cool for a bit to serve.

Cut the burrata in half and arrange on a pretty serving platter. If you are using mozzarella balls, scatter them about the serving platter. Arrange the roasted carrots so they are pointing this way and that, rather rebellious like. Add 3-4 Tbs of the pesto in little dollops, here and there. (You’ll have left over pesto to use in a million delicious ways like on your eggs and in your salad.) Drizzle one Tbs of the olive oil over everything, sprinkle a few chopped nuts and garnish with carrot leaves. Serve either as an appetizer, vegetarian main dish, or a side. It does it all!

Life is a clafoutis

June 23, 2015
Cherry clafoutis

Cherry clafoutis

“Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious; it’s too mysterious” Lew Brown

Cherries just make me happy. I bought a bunch of cherries at the first farmer’s market of the season and when I started munching on them, the old song, “Life’s is just a bowl of cherries” came dancing into my head. The red juice was staining my fingers and I was chewing around the pits and spitting them out and thinking that song was spot on. Life doesn’t get much better.

We are in the height of cherry season here in the NW, with cherry stands popping up everywhere. This season is through July and is fast and furious as cherries are highly perishable. The State of Washington grows 40% of the country’s sweet cherries but what most people do not know is that Oregon has quite a history with cherries too. The beautiful and uber popular Bing cherry was developed in Milwaukie Oregon in the late 1800’s by Seth Lewelling and his Chinese foreman, Ah Bing. (It was named after Bing when he couldn’t get back to the US from China after going there for a visit.)

Beautiful bing cherries

Beautiful bing cherries

Cherries are an excellent crop here in Oregon where most of them are grown tucked in the shadow of Mt. Hood on hillsides overlooking the Columbia River. The mountain blocks most of the rain that blows in from the west, protecting the cherries from weather that would otherwise split and soften the fruit. The Willamette Valley also have orchards and there have been cherry orchards surrounding The Dalles for generations but the industry has changed over the years.

For one thing, there’s more profit in fresh cherries now. It used to be that the lag time to get the cherries from the tree to the mouth was so great that only people living around cherry orchards had that privilege. Now with planes, trucks and refrigeration much of the world gets to enjoy fresh cherries. In Japan, the Rainier cherry is considered a delicacy. They get a buck a piece for them since it is so expensive to get them there fast, but it can be done.

Life is a bowl of cherries

Life is a bowl of cherries

A generation ago, it was impossible, so the industry centered on the sugary, lipstick-red preserved concoction called the maraschino cherry. We all remember those, if only in our “Shirley Temple” drink as a child. The maraschino was originally created from Marasca, a small black cherry that grew wild on the coast of present-day Croatia. To preserve them, the ancients pickled the cherries in seawater then marinated them in a liqueur made from the Marasca’s juice and pits. A taste for the marinated Marascas soon drifted beyond the Croatian shores and an ingenious recipe was created to turn Oregon cherries into maraschinos.

Because of this, processing maraschino cherries became a big industry in Oregon during the mid-20th century. The nation’s two largest maraschino manufacturers are still located in Oregon to this day. I remember being told as a child that the maraschino cherry wouldn’t digest for 7 years in your gut. (Now who would tell a kid that?) I stopped eating them and so did many other people and the maraschino cherry fell from grace to be replaced by the fresh cherry industry.

One of my favorite ways to eat cherries, other than fresh, is in the delicate and delicious French dish clafoutis. (Pronounced “kla-foo-tee) The French have a way with food and this dish perfectly highlights the lovely cherry suspended in a custardy goodness and it’s easy! Some French bakers like to bake it with the pits in the cherries because they release an almond flavor into the dish. I prefer to pit my cherries and add a bit of almond flavor so I don’t have to worry about someone breaking a tooth on a pit! This is the one reason to buy a cherry pitter which I am eternally grateful for so that life is not the pits, just a clafoutis full of sweet cherries.

Julia Childs' cherry clafoutis

Julia Childs’ cherry clafoutis

Julia Child’s Cherry Clafoutis
This luscious dessert is super simple! To make gluten and dairy free sub almond flour for flour and coconut milk for milk. It serves 6-8 (Maybe, depending on your portions sizes)

1/3 cup of organic granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup of flour
1.25 cups of whole milk (preferably the Bennet Farm’s milk)
1 TBLS of vanilla
2 tsps of amaretto (optional)
OR a few drops of almond extract
Pinch of salt
3 cups of pitted bing cherries
1/4 cup of sugar for the top
Powdered sugar (optional)

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and butter up 6 ramekins or a ceramic tart dish. (Try not to use metal and DO NOT use a cast iron skillet it makes the clafoutis turn grey and taste like iron. As you can tell, I thought this was a good idea…once.)

This job is done best in a blender. I know Julia Childs did not make it in a blender but she would love how this turns out. Start by putting the flour, eggs and sugar in the blender and whirling on medium speed till blended well. In a small bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, amaretto and salt then slowly add the milk mixture to the egg mixture while the blender is going. When your batter is smooth pour it into your prepared dish(s) and then drop the cherries in so they are well distributed.

Tuck in the oven to bake for 10 minutes, then carefully sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sugar on top, close the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes for the large dish and 20 minutes more for the ramekins. The clafoutis are done when they are puffed, golden and a knife comes out clean when poked in the center. Let them cool for a few minutes then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with whip cream.

Getting reacquainted with Ancient Grains

May 21, 2015
Beautiful black rice porridge made from ancient grains

Beautiful black rice porridge made from ancient grains

In our fast paced age of information it is refreshing to engage in the practice of eating slow foods like ancient grains. In fact, the only thing fast about ancient grains are how fast they are catching on right now. They are so popular that Cheerios is actually putting out a cereal with a scant amount of ancient grains in them in hopes to revive their market. (Isn’t that a contradictory? Fast cereal with old slow grains??)

I have been eyeing this ancient grain movement with interest and curiosity. I mean I was cooking these grains back in my hippy momma days where I whipped out millet seed loafs with tomato gravy and handed out spelt cookies to all the neighborhood children in hopes of rescuing them from their Oreos. So this movement isn’t new to all of us, but Maria Speck’s book “Simply Ancient Grains” re-introduces us to these old friends (or new) in an easy and engaging way. simply ancient grains

I think the reason I stopped cooking them so much was two fold, they are slow to cook and I have shied away from the highly processed and tainted grains that are low in nutrition and high in carbs. In this book, Maria introduced easy ways of cooking these old slow grains so that you can have them more often and offers fun delicious recipes to get you in the spirit of trying them plus reminded me of their excellent untainted nutrition.

Maria has offered me a new conversation with some old friends and I’m looking forward to making a pot of tea and getting reacquainted by making “barley thumbprints” and “kamut shortbread with hazelnuts”. Or waking up in the morning and enjoying a bowl of “burgundy bulgur with blueberries and orange blossom water” or “coconut buckwheat porridge with cinnamon and buttered dates”. Seriously, after reading this cookbook, it is hard to not want to take out stock in “Bob’s Red Mill” ancient grains. (They carry all of them!)

But to preserve the budget and start the conversation I made the beautiful dish, “cardamom infused black rice porridge with blueberries and pistachios” for breakfast and it was delightful company. (I had the black rice on hand) It struck me as I was eating it, how simple food that has deep history is as nourishing emotionally as it is nutritionally. Thank you Maria Speck for reuniting me (and many others) with some long lost friends.

The only bummer about this beautiful cookbook is that I really really like the pictures of the dishes and even though there are a quite a few lovely pictures some of them are of the vegetable/fruit or grain highlighted in the recipe and wasted a full color page on that. Come on now, if you are going to use expensive color ink on a picture, how bout the recipe at hand? Rant over and off to have another conversation with old friends.

Cardamom infused black rice porridge with blueberries and almonds

Cardamom infused black rice porridge with blueberries and almonds

Cardamom infused black rice porridge with blueberries and almonds This porridge is beautiful, fragrant, delicious and earthy. I loved it! Make sure and always use organic rice. I used Lotus Foods brand.

The night before;
¾ cup of black rice
2 whole cardamom pods
1.5 cups of boiling water
In the morning;
1 cup of whole milk, half and half or coconut milk (Which is what I used, so yummy!)
3 TBLS of maple syrup
3/4 tsp of ground cardamom
1 cup of purple berries like blackberries or blueberries, frozen or fresh (I used blackberries)
2 TLS of chopped nuts of choice (I used almonds)

The night before, place your beautiful rice in a heavy little saucepan and pour the boiling water over it, put the lid on and go to bed. Sleep with dreams of whole grains and a purple breakfast. (I did!) The next morning sneak down to make sure the rice is still there. (It should be) You will be surprised to see the beautiful purple water and that the rice seems uncooked. Fear not! Add the one cup of milk or coconut milk, maple syrup, ground cardamom and bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring often, then lower the heat to medium or whatever it takes on your stove to create a lively simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the rice is the softness you desire. (I liked mine slightly chewy) Add the berries and simmer for about 2-4 minutes more or until the berries are warmed and tender. Divide the purple mix between 4- 6 bowls, or 2 hungry ones, and sprinkle with the almonds. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, more milk or maple syrup if desired but I thought it was plenty sweet just like it is. Make sure and take time to smell the beautiful bowl of goodness and chew well.

Chickens rule the roost and they don’t even know it

May 18, 2015

“The chicken has, quietly but inexorably, become essential.” Donna J. Haraway

Thomas Keller's famous roast chicken

Thomas Keller’s famous roast chicken

The egg comes before the chicken. At least that is how it is in my world. Edition before last, I wrote about the incredible edible egg and now we are going to focus on the humble chicken. Now this uncelebrated bird has some surprising facts to it. For instance did you know that if you added up all the world’s cats, dogs, pigs, cows and toss in all the rats for fun, there would still be more chickens on this earth?

Yes, it is true, this simple creature has captured the world and we don’t even know it. If it had a brain bigger than a walnut, it could rule. Chickens are 50 billion strong and on every continent in the world except Antarctica, and they still make it there in frozen entrees. (The reason that they do not have them there is because they carry a virus that emperor penguins chicks can catch.) So conceivably they have us surrounded, but we can rest easy as the chicken isn’t intending on ruling the world, just looking for a juicy bug to eat.

It seems the chicken has become extremely important to our world and no one has even noticed. It all started in the thick humid jungles of Asia where the ancestor to the modern chicken, the red jungle fowl, hatched into the world. There is evidence that in Southern China chickens lived with humans over 8,000 years ago, making the chicken the first domesticated animal.

From there this ubiquitous bird started its successful march across the world spreading to the Indus Valley, (Pakistan) then to Eastern Europe, Egypt, and when the Romans got a hold of them, they went everywhere! The ancient Polynesians even had them and that has the Archeologists tail feathers in a twist as they can’t figure out how that happened.

They could rule the world

They could rule the world

Why? Because humans love to eat them and their eggs. Chickens are the worlds favored source of protein, be it egg or meat. The meat of the chicken is an intriguing canvas for many dishes that crosses cultures and continents with ease. All countries have their favorite part of the bird and dishes that are cultural stables. The eggs are a nice neat package that can stay fresh for weeks unrefrigerated and they are in every country’s foods as well.

Here is America we love our boneless, skinless chicken breast that are as tasteless and dry as cardboard. I recommend you start cooking with the whole chicken for two very good reasons. First off, the skin and bones add nutrition, moistness and flavor to the bird. Second of all, buying parts of a bird are pretty much guaranteeing that you are buying a chicken that was raised inhumanely in large chicken factories that are hidden from the world in shame.

I buy whole chickens from Lance’s farm vittles (503-322-2226 or at our local farmer’s market) that are grown right here in our own valley and are happy chickens during their short stay on earth. Lance also buys the breed “Red Roaster” which is a slower growing meat chicken that isn’t a monstrosity that the normal Cornish Cross meat chicken is. It also has more flavor. (More flavor is good!)

I feel that everyone should learn to roast a perfect bird. In this following recipe based on a recipe from the great chef Thomas Keller, anyone can. I didn’t believe it could be so easy and good till I tried it and I’m a devotee! Stretch your wings and learn how to trust a chicken for this recipe. It’s not hard and there is a very simple You Tube video that will show you how if you search for “How to truss a chicken.” Use kitchen twine available at almost any store. Make this as a lovely spring Sunday dinner and your status will be elevated to super chicken.

Thomas Keller's roast chicken recipe

Thomas Keller’s roast chicken recipe

Thomas Keller’s famous simple roast chicken

One farm raised fat chicken, 3-4 pounds
Flaked salt and cracked pepper
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or rosemary (Or both if you’re feeling crazy!)
1-2 tablespoons of butter
Serve with Dijon mustard if you like

First off, preheat your oven to 450° degrees and lightly grease your baking pan or skillet. (Thomas likes to use a stainless steel sauté pan but I like to use a cast iron skillet) Take your chicken out and rinse it thoroughly and then pat it dry inside and out with paper towels. Thomas stresses that you want the driest heat possible when roasting it to make it turn out moist and delicious.

Next, toss a little salt and pepper in the cavity. Now the fun part, truss the bird. I am not going to explain it here as it might be impossible and with technology available today, just search how to do it on the web. The first video that comes up is an excellent one. Make sure and truss it tight as this is part of the technique to keep the bird moist.

Now put the all trussed up chicken in your prepare pan and rain salt and pepper down on it. Thomas recommends about a tablespoon of each. Some will stick some won’t, don’t stress it. Tuck in the oven for 50-70 mins till done and a thermometer stuck in between the thigh and breast reads 160. I can tell by pricking the thickest part of the thigh with a fork and the juices run clear. Don’t mess with the chicken while it is baking as much as you want to.

When you take it out, add the herbs to the pan juices and then baste the chicken thoroughly. Let it sit 15 minutes then cut the twine, discard and eat the delicious chicken with mustard served on the side. Easy peasy, one two threesy.


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