I'm not a huge fan of donuts, but these were pretty hard to resist. They had a really nice fruity coconut flavor and are crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. They would taste AMAZING dipped in black coffee, my favorite being anything from Forte Legato Coffee Company. (This coffee is the best you will ever have in your life. I am a sugar and cream kind of girl, but Forte Legato's coffee tastes good black. It's strong without being bitter. Try it!)
These were supposed to be strawberry buttermilk donuts. They are nectarine donuts because the strawberry stand at the farmer's market had already packed up and gone home. They aren't buttermilk donuts because who keeps buttermilk around? Until I have a cow to milk and cream to churn to butter, my house will probably remain buttermilk free. So clearly this isn't a recipe you have to follow too closely. The coconut flavor was so nice that next time I will probably try this with sweetened flaked coconut on top. Or inside. And maybe coconut milk.
1-1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped nectarine or other ripe soft fruit
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1. Mix the flour through the salt together in a bowl.
2. Mix the oil throughout the vanilla together in a separate bowl.
3. Stir the flour mixture and the wet mixture together and add in half the fruit.
4. Grease the donut pan with butter or coconut oil, put 2 Tablespoons of batter into each mold, and bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees until the donuts are golden and a toothpick inserted in a donut comes out clean. If the donuts cook faster on one side, rotate your pan halfway through cooking.
5. Invert the donuts onto a baking rack and allow them to cool COMPLETELY. If you glaze the donuts before they've cooled you'll end up with soggy donuts.
6. Whisk the confectioner's sugar, water, and remaining fruit together for the glaze. Dip the cooled donuts in the glaze and put them back on the rack until the glaze sets.
This recipe made 14 donuts. It was adapted from a recipe in Saveur Magazine for Strawberry Buttermilk Fonuts.
This is the perfect fall soup. A lot of butternut squash soups are disturbingly sweet, but this one manages to stay firmly entrenched in the savory world where it belongs. I tried this originally as part of a collection of Palestinian recipes from Saveur Magazine last year and I've made it many times since then. The original recipe used carrots and celery, but the bell pepper and tomato tasted just as good and I honestly couldn't taste a big difference. So use whatever you have.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic
2-3 cups of mixed vegetables like carrot, celery, bell pepper, tomato, or zucchini cut into dice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 cup red lentils
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
paprika and parsley to garnish
In a soup pot over a medium high flame, heat a few tablespoons of oil and use it to sauté the onion and garlic. When the onion looks soft, add in the other mixed vegetables and a little bit of salt. Continue to fry until the vegetables look soft. Add in the cumin and red pepper flakes and stir. Now pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and then simmer until the squash and lentils are completely soft, maybe 20 minutes or so. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, and when the soup has cooled off blend it either in a processor or with an immersion blender. Garnish it if you like with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and some chopped parsley. Serve it with the lemon wedges on the side.
It's mid-September, but it's still corn season at the farmer's market. I tried this recipe years ago from an issue of Eating Well and was surprised by how much I like it. I roast vegetables all the time with butter or olive oil, salt, and pepper, but the combination of soy sauce and rice wine with this smells spectacular. If you don't feel like trying this, it's only because you can't smell it. I have a sneaking suspicion it would be even better with butter instead of oil since butter and soy sauce are such a heavenly combination, but I keep forgetting to try. Maybe next time.
3 cups cut corn (from 3 ears)
4 cups sliced mushrooms
3 sliced scallions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sake
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil and roast for 10 minutes on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish. Toss the corn with the remaining tablespoon of oil and add to whichever pan you're using. Roast the corn and mushrooms together for another 10 minutes, then add the scallions, soy sauce, and sake. Stir it up and roast it for 10 more minutes. (Total roasting time should be 30 minutes,) Done!
We ate this with rice, pot stickers, and steamed broccoli.
I love donuts. I love fries. But I rarely eat them because of the oils they are fried in. If you would like to be disgusted too, read this article. If you prefer blissful ignorance, I understand.
In an attempt both to convince my children that their mother is normal and to help them feel like they aren't missing out on any of the good stuff, every time I deny them fried foods I explain, "Of course you can eat that! Just not those ones, because they're fried in rancid disgusting unhealthy vegetable oils. I'll make that at home, ok?" But quite some time has passed, and I haven't had one single morning when rendering lard and frying donuts, or whatever the forbidden food is, sounded like fun. So I have to do it whether I feel like it or not, and today I will render lard.
I tried this once maybe two years ago. I researched, rendered, and fried. The first donut, the guinea pig donut, was fried before the lard was hot enough. Too cowardly to try a dessert cooked in animal fat, I handed it to my sister who courageously bit down before gagging and squealing, "It tastes like PIG!" So the moral of that story is to make sure your fat is hot enough before you begin frying. The rest of the donuts were powdery sweet miracles.
Rendering lard is very simple unless you only do it once every two years and have forgotten how in the meantime. So whether it's been a while or this is your first time, here's how you do it. If you actually follow this, please read through the whole thing before you start.
Because this batch of lard got a little overheated, I decided to use it to fry some lumpia tonight instead of the donuts I had promised. I will be honest. The entire house reeked of fried food. It was a little off-putting, and while I stood over the boiling hot golden lava on my stove I thought I would never do this again. However, minutes later my children polished off all their lumpia and even thanked me sincerely for making dinner. Fried food tastes amazing, and I had forgotten this fact. So maybe I will fry again once the fumes clear.
For the one person who ever reads this far, I feel compelled to mention that I bought new workout pants moments before I started posting about lard. Does this make me an optimist, or just conflicted? You can tell me what you think.
Summer 2012 I read Joel Salatin's Folks, This Ain't Normal and felt inspired to raise chickens. They lay eggs; I like free food. It would be nice to have a pet that contributed something for once. In the book he says, "...I advocate getting rid of the parakeet cage and replacing it with a couple of chickens. They are much quieter and far more industrious." Two years later I don't believe they are any quieter than parakeets, but he was on to something regardless.
The following Valentine's Day I found a coop with seven chickens on craigslist and took the plunge. I had never spent any time around birds, and as simple as it all is I found it a little confusing until I had the chance to see it in action. Roosting, nesting and laying were all words that didn't mean anything to me until I watched birds do it. Phrases I have heard my whole life began to have real meaning as well: "pecking order", "flying the coop", "coming home to roost", "ruffled feathers", "brooding over something", "ruling the roost", and of course, "mother hen". Raising chickens was once so common that our language is peppered with references to them and their behavior.
The eggs have been nice. The first egg was so exciting; no egg, egg. It amazed me. The yolks were dark, and each one made me want to cheer for my amazing girls. I love my cat, but he's never done anything this amazing. Chickens are charming. They scratch and squabble, roll in the dirt, and get excited when they think you're bringing them treats.
On the other hand, they also destroyed my garden no fewer than three times. Their run, which was once a lush paradise for chickens, now resembles a gulag. They can fly right up to the top of their coop and from there out into the yard where they wander around, stir up the chipped bark onto the lawn, and leave little presents for me to step in. Worse yet, three of our very social hens paid visits to neighborhood dogs and had to be brought home in garbage bags. Our backyard now attracts possums, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes, all of which eat chickens. When I go outside during the day I look overhead now for hawks. I guess it's a bird eat bird kind of world and I certainly sided with the losers.
Early this summer we brought home six baby chicks from the feed store. Baby chicks are one of the cutest things you will ever see. They are the sweetest little sleepy fluff balls. Of course, they grow incredibly rapidly and they do not make good house pets, no matter what Joel Salatin says.
At about the same time, one of my hens refused to leave the nest. A broody hen just wants to sit there and hatch some eggs. I understand there are ways to break a hen from being broody, but after all the hassle and stress of keeping chicks in my dining room it seemed wise to try it the natural way. My dad came over with eight fertile eggs and put them under her. The broody hen sat. And sat. She got up briefly for water a few times, but then raced back to sit some more. She became very quiet and pecked my dad every time he came to check on the eggs. Her entire body puffed up to an enormous size. (Nine, ten, a big fat hen!)
Exactly 20 days later, we picked up one of the fertile eggs and heard quiet pecking. One of the eggs had a tiny little hole, another a hairline crack. On day 21 they all hatched. Ridiculous as it sounds, this was one of my proudest moments. My broody hen had become a mother! We all huddled around her and whispered in hushed voices just like we do when we visit newborn babies at the hospital. She protected them well, but we'd see the occasional piece of fluff poke out from under her before she got a chance to gently tuck them back underneath her. She also began to make a soft, steady clucking noise we had never heard before.
Two days later she brought them out and began to show them what was good to eat. She would scratch vigorously, occasionally sending one of her five flying, and then show them what was good in the dirt. The chicks imitated their mother. When they got sleepy from the effort and ran to her, she sat down on them again. When Domina, our meanest hen, comes to pay a visit, the broody hen chases her off. When I get too close, she's right there. When a hawk came and tried to fly off with one of her babies, she made so much noise we all came running out of the house and the hawk had to make a run for it. I have witnessed Martha, a sweet hen I now sometimes refer to as Aunt Martha, give her precious nieces and nephews piggy-back rides.
My children have had a little taste of life and death. After the first five hatched, one fertile egg, a latecomer, got cold and the chick inside died. My son and my father decided to investigate once it was clear it was too late to save it. My son wanted to show me, and I asked if it was horrible and disgusting. "No, just a little sad." He was right.
Recently when I went outside to make sure all the birds had food and water I realized that the mommy hen had tucked her babies into bed early. I also realized that I had forgotten to check for eggs for a few days. I guess it's not about the eggs anymore, is it?
Tonight we heard the crying of one of the chicks as a floodlight went on outside the bedroom window. We flew outside in time to see a fox run off with one of the chicks that somehow had not gone into the coop with the mother hen. I bawled like a baby right there in the dark. But it turned out that the fox had dropped the chick, and my husband brought it back to the coop. We weren't sure if the chick was okay or not; at best it is traumatized like we are.
Thirty minutes later as we lay back down we remembered the saying, "like a fox in the henhouse." Ugh.
I am happy to report that today the chick is alive and well.
This is cheap and healthy, and in spite of the dizzying array of vegetables included, somehow my kids still like it. Today this cost me $6 to make and it served four people with leftovers. Every time I make this I think I am going be smart and just throw together a huge batch of sauce to use next time (though I never do). You don't have to peel the bell peppers, but it makes it much easier to digest.
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat or light olive oil
1/2 pound of thinly sliced pork
1/2-1 onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, peeled and then sliced thinly
1 small zucchini cut into matchsticks
1 pound of yaki-soba noodles
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil or just a big squirt
2 tablespoons sake
a few grinds of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
Heat the bacon fat or oil in a wok. When it heats up, add the pork and fry it. When it's almost cooked through, add all the vegetables. I typically overcrowd my pan as you can see in the picture above, so it might take a while to cook the vegetables down. Make sure that the onion really cooks through so you don't end up with big horrible mouthfuls of sharp crunchy raw onion and zucchini. When the vegetables are soft, add in the noodles and pour the sauce over them. Use a pair of chopsticks to wiggle apart the noodles while the steam softens them and they become more pliable, stirring and mixing them into the vegetables. Taste a few noodles to make sure there's enough salt in the dish and make any adjustments you need to. Take it off the heat and mix the basil in.
At the farmer's market I am frequently seduced by the beauty of vegetables that I'm not quite sure what to do with. Last time it was long beans and Chinese eggplant. This is what I did with them. This tastes exotic but is really easy to make as long as you have lemongrass and coconut cream on hand. I bought a big bundle of lemongrass and froze it; coconut cream is sold at Trader Joe's now.
1 small yellow onion
4" piece of lemongrass
1 mild fresh green chili, seeded (but you can adjust this or just take it out if you have small children)
3/4" fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 cup of coconut cream
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups of mixed vegetables or a mix of vegetables and meat
1/2 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/3-1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
If you are using meat, brown the meat first and set it aside. I've made this with ground beef and stew beef. If you use stew beef, be sure to cut it into much smaller cubes or it will be tough since it doesn't simmer for long.
To make the sauce, put the onion, lemongrass, chili, ginger, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Process them a little before adding half the coconut cream. Process it again until it's mostly ground up, and then add the rest of the coconut cream, salt, and sugar and blend it until you have a smooth paste.
Simmer the coconut sauce for 10 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup of water and then add the vegetables and meat. Simmer them until they are tender, then add the fish sauce and peanut butter. Cook it until the peanut butter is thoroughly amalgamated. Add more fish sauce if it isn't salty enough.
This soup is better than the sum of its parts. It shouldn't be good. It takes almost no effort and few ingredients and still makes a great light meal. We ate it for lunch a few days ago and for breakfast today. I serve it with rice if I want to make it thicker, but you could add egg too. You could garnish this with chopped cilantro to make it prettier if you like, but I am posting this in its simplest form because I love that all you need are meaty pork bones and some cabbage or spinach for this. The other benefit to this is that you can make it in a couple hours or over a couple days.
meaty pork bones
1/2-1 napa cabbage, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
1. Put the bones in a pot and just barely cover them with filtered water. If you use too much water your soup won't taste like much. Bring it to a boil and skim off the scum that forms on top. Turn the heat down now and simmer it for an hour or two.
If you don't need it right away, you can make this another way. Instead of simmering it right away, you can cover the pot, turn it off and forget about it. Bring it to a boil once every twelve hours three times. So if you start cooking this at night, let it sit with the lid on overnight. Bring it to a boil again the next morning, and then again when you get home that evening. It will be ready to use the next morning. Then you can either refrigerate it for a few days or use it right away.
2. Once the water has cooled enough, take out the bones, remove the meat from them, chop the meat up, and return it to the broth. Add the napa cabbage (or spinach, or bok choy), some salt and pepper, and sprinkle in a little 10-Spice Powder. Bring it to a boil one last time to wilt the cabbage, and once it cools a little, taste it for salt and pepper.
When I went to Cloverfield Organic Farm a few weeks ago and bought popcorn it needed a few more weeks to dry out. Tonight we tried it. Two small ears were the perfect amount for four people. I never knew we'd been eating stale popcorn, but we could taste the difference. Every kernel popped, and next year we will try growing popcorn.
This popcorn topping hails from my Berkeley hippie roots. Back in the late 70s my mother's vegetarian friend introduced us to the pleasures of nutritional yeast. Not impressed? Try it!
1/3 cup popcorn or kernels from two small ears
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
1/3 cup nutritional yeast, or to taste
3 tablespoons of melted butter
Heat the olive oil in a big saucepan over medium high heat. Add the the popcorn and a teaspoon of salt and shake it well so that the oil and salt coat the kernels. When the first kernel pops, cover the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Shake it occasionally to be sure the corn isn't burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. When it's done popping, pour it into a bowl and pour the melted butter over it. Add lots of nutritional yeast and salt to taste.
This recipe serves four not very hungry people, but you can easily double it. Tonight we were saving room for a popcorn and movie night.
4 chicken drumsticks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 lemon, sliced
1 potato, sliced
salt and pepper
Marinate the chicken in equal parts soy sauce and mirin for one hour or a few days. Put it into a small baking dish with the marinade, the potato and the lemon. Dot with butter and sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper. Put in a 350 degree oven and bake until the chicken skin is nice and browned. You can cut a drumstick to be sure it has cooked to the bone. (I hate dry, overcooked chicken, but I have fed large groups of people slightly undercooked chicken enough times to check now. People FREAK out.)
Remove the the chicken to a plate. Submerge the potatoes in the juices, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and return to the oven. Turn it up to 400 degrees to finish cooking. When the potatoes are done, serve them with the chicken and a sprinkle of parmesan.
I served this with cucumbers seasoned with salt, sugar, and rice vinegar.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!