Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Cooking Post: Socca

I’ve found a new food that meets a lot of my criteria for Good Stuff to Eat.

Meet Socca, a crepe-like bread from Nice, France. The link I’m sharing is only one version of many on the web, and I’m not making any recommendations one way or another. Have fun and figure out your own favorite.

Here is my go-to version:

20170610_070639

This was my breakfast. Yes, I know you’re jealous.

As I said, there are many variations for this bread and some of them can require real effort, such as folding in beaten egg whites or investing in a brick oven. All worth it, I’m sure. But it doesn’t get any easier than my version:

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup water

That’s it. Wisk it up and pour 1/4 cup of batter into a heated and greased small, iron skillet. Rotate the skillet a bit to spread the batter out, let it brown, then flip to brown on the other side.

This recipe makes three small crepes. For today, I spread mashed banana on them, then filled with the cut-up fruit you see above: 1 apricot, 3 small strawberries, 1/2 peach, and a small handful of blueberries.

That’s a lot of fruit, but it’s summer and my CSA box is full of the lovely, fresh, organic stuff, and I take advantage.

Disclosure Note: if you want to sign up with my CSA, Farm Fresh to You, you can use my code, MARL2337, and get $15 off your first delivery. Yes, I get a bonus, too…

I also like to use these crepes to hold a salad of any vegetables I feel like tossing together, along with a shot of Sriracha Sauce or a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Garbanzo flour is high in protein and fiber: 21 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber in 1/2 cup. This recipe is low in calories too: 180 calories, not counting the calories in the butter used to grease the pan.

So that’s pretty much a full meal up there folks. For today, I just need to add veggies!

Try it and let me know what you think.

What’s one of your favorite go-to foods?

 

 

 

 

From Marion Nestle: What Fruits and Vegetables do Americans Eat?

I almost linked this post straight to Facebook. I’ve been doing that too much lately, bypassing my own blog.

It’s either lack of sleep or plain laziness.

So here’s the link to Dr. Nestle’s post: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2017/05/what-fruits-and-vegetables-do-americans-eat-more-charts-from-usda/.

It’s an eye-opener. People, there are far more vegetables than tomatoes, corn, and potatoes. Oranges, apples, and bananas are NOT the only fruit in the world. For your own health… please branch out!

Pet peeve: potatoes should not even be listed as a vegetable, and juice is not fruit. Use potatoes as a healthy starch (they ARE good for you as long as you don’t fry them), and juice is just candy. EAT the fruit!

What do you eat most weeks?
What are your reasons?
Have you ever tried to branch out into the huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available?
What is NOT available where you live?

 

 

 

Healthcare: How to Get There from Here

This article, We all Want Healthcare to Cost Much Less – But We are Asking the Wrong Questions, by Joe Flower, is just about perfect in its analysis of the problem. I encourage everyone to read it.

I have always believed that we need health CARE, as opposed to health INSURANCE. This has led me to advocate for a single-payer system that does away with insurance companies. Mr. Flowers does not quite go there in his argument, but it’s not really his point, anyway. He goes a step further: how to go from a profit-driven and highly wasteful, inefficient system, to one that promotes the best health of each individual? What are the steps we take? What happens in the transition?

In short: what do we pay for?

Therein lies the rub, folks.

Comments? What do you think?

 

Oh My, Look at the Time

I’m on the third night of Very Poor Sleep. I’ve been awake since 2:00, just like last night. Yes, I tried meditating, counting my slow, deep breaths, muscle relaxation, and pretty much anything else they claim is useful. I don’t drink coffee after 10:00 a.m. and I almost never drink alcohol anymore. I don’t/can’t nap during the day. I stay off of electronic devices after dinner and do gentle stretches and relaxation poses before bed. There is no TV in my bedroom. Yet in the middle of the night, adrenaline courses through my veins no matter what I do, and now I’m up talking to you.

This is my Normal. It has been for almost 20 years, so no, this is not a result of recent stresses. It would be nice if I were one of those people who happily function on 4 hours of sleep a night. In a way, I do function all right – I always get through the day, usually get a few things done, and feel mostly okay. But years of this are taking a toll. My memory is much worse. I can’t write fiction anymore and you’ve probably noticed the scarcity of blog posts over the last year. It has become a challenge to organize my thoughts and write something coherent. Often I start a post and give up in frustration because I’m not making sense even to myself.

Maybe I should resort to Twitter.

There’s no real point to all of this. Consider it a case a weary mumbling and go on with your day.

How did y’all sleep last night?

 

Seeking Solace

May we always help each other…

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

Today is the big day. An new era full of uncertainty starts with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

God save the Republic.

I firmly believe it is critical to take the long view on this, since we are about to settle in for what is likely to be a tumultuous four years. We will have to pick our battles, declare victory where we can, and always keep our eyes on the prize. For this reason, and to keep our sanity, the wisdom of the ancients should be a primary source of comfort. Today’s readings are from the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stan Rosenthal.

View original post 561 more words

Baby Food Facts

Here’s a summary of a report from The Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The report’s title is Baby Food FACTS: Nutrition and marketing of baby and toddler foods and drinks.

It’s interesting reading. The takeaway: Babies don’t need baby food (especially “toddler drinks”), but most companies are providing nutritious food in their products. EXCEPT for snacks and those toddler drink products.

Don’t waste your money on something that will hurt your baby’s health.

This Dinner Brought to You by Slaves

What will take to end the practice of slavery in our food chain? Read this article and realize this is not an issue happening only in the dark and poor corners of the globe. No folks, this is YOUR dinner we’re talking about. MY dinner. These are slaves working for Americans, bringing our food to the grocery store. And they are not just working for slippery American criminals is some hidden black market: no, this slavery is documented in the rules and laws of our federal government and the local agencies of our states. It’s not only happening, our laws perpetuate it.

I know we need to eat. I understand that food can’t be so expensive that people can’t afford to buy it. But we must stop this. We must stop it and never allow it to happen again. Maybe we need to sacrifice. We sure as hell don’t need a wide overabundance of food in our system, a great deal of which just gets thrown away.

Think about that. We have slaves suffering in horrendous conditions to provide us with too much food, most of which spoils in trucks and stores and restaurants, that we then throw into overfull landfills.

This is not impossible to fix. This is just a matter of people acting as responsible human beings, who understand that what we do as a society matters on a global scale. There are many things we can do immediately:

  • Understand how our society functions and insist that it function with honor and fairness.
  • Stop functioning as a society that uses money as the bottom line for everything.
  • Stop stockpiling so much of everything.
  • Understand the full cycle of every product we use, and make sure ALL of it is used.
  • Don’t make things or grow things with parts that can’t be used again for something else.
  • Obtain mot of our food from local farmers, ranchers, and fishers. Join a CSA and make sure the workers are paid decent wages, have good working conditions, and have the FREEDOM to live their own lives.
  • Understand and regulate trade agreements for everything we can’t obtain locally. Again, make sure all workers along the supply chain are paid decent wages, have good working conditions, and have the FREEDOM to live their own lives.
  • Don’t allow any supply chain to get so large, it is impossible to regulate effectively.

I’ll say it again: this is not impossible to fix. And if we don’t fix it, American society does not deserve to survive.

 

 

 

 

Cooking Post: German Chocolate Cake

I don’t have an overabundance of happy memories from childhood, but this is one: making German Chocolate Cake for my birthday. It was my favorite cake and my mother made it every year, and I always got to help. Eventually, I got big enough to make it on my own.

I don’t make it so often anymore because it’s very, very fattening. You’d think I could get it away with it once a year, but see, I have no willpower where this cake is concerned. I will gladly eat the entire thing over the course of two or three days. So now I only make it when I’ve got a crowd to feed. Today’s cake is going to my daughter’s pig fest tomorrow.

There’s a new generation of cooks out there, and I have a little suspicion that most of you don’t know what I’m talking about. You think I picked up a cake mix, right? Or maybe I ordered a cake from the fancy bakery down the street, with plain chocolate icing around the outside?

No. Pay attention now, this is important: I am talking about HOMEMADE German Chocolate Cake. The kind your great-great grandmother made in the log cabin around 1852, when Samuel German first created the sweet chocolate baking bar. Wikipedia says that the recipe was actually created in 1957, or at least that’s when it appeared in the Dallas Morning Star. Maybe so, or maybe that’s just when someone got it published.

No matter.

This cake is infused with joy for me. That means something. My mother and I did not have a great relationship, yet I can reach back and feel the joy in my memories of making it with her, all wrapped up in the heady touch and smell and taste of chocolate, butter, and sugar.

I’d love to take you on the journey with me, because I don’t want the human race to lose this recipe. Most people really do think the cake mix is fine, or that the German Chocolate Cake from a bakery is actually a German Chocolate Cake. I really want to show you how wrong that is. Not morally wrong (it’s just cake, after all), but oh-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-missing wrong.

Yes, it takes a bit of time and a bit of effort. But the best things in life always do.

The Cake

It starts by buying a bar of German Baking Chocolate. The recipe is inside the package, but I learned today that they (corporate marketing) have messed with it. It’s the same general recipe, but they skipped some steps and combined others. At first, I thought, “Eh, okay,” but about halfway through, the brakes came screeching on, and I said out loud, “No SIR, we are NOT skipping that step!”

So I’m going to give it to you the old-fashioned way, except for the beginning where I was still trying to follow the recipe. I’ll tell you what changed and you can decide how you want to do it.

The original recipe called for placing the chocolate in a bowl and pouring 1/2 cup of boiling water over it. Let it sit for a few mintues, then stir it until it’s all blended. While that’s happening, you place softened butter (3/4 cup, and that’s real butter. Don’t you dare use margarine) and sugar in a big bowl and beat it on medium speed (hand-held or stand mixer – either one) until it’s thick and creamy.

I guess they wanted to make it easier for the instant generation (you know who you are), so the MODERN recipe has you put the chocolate and butter in a big bowl and microwave for 1 or 2 minutes, then mix until blended. This is where I was following the recipe, so here’s what we have, before and after mixing.

wp-1472235023869.jpg
Chocolate and butter

 

I was not happy that I did it this way because… memories. In my memory, every step has it’s own flavor, probably because I was always tasting the batter at each step along the way. And I missed stirring the chocolate in the water, and tasting the seductive mixture of butter and sugar. Now I had a mix of butter and chocolate.

That’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. It’s just not the memory.

Well, all right. We have butter and chocolate, so it’s time to add sugar. Pour in 1 and 1/2 cups and beat for a minute or so. Add 1 tsp vanilla.

wp-1472235023762.jpg
Sugar added to chocolate and butter

 

Now we move on to the eggs. There are 3 eggs separated. This is something else the modern recipe has changed. Now they just have you throw 3 whole eggs in there. This is what made me put on the breaks. I’m sorry, but it’s essential to separate the eggs. Do this one egg at a time, putting the whites in another bowl, and the yolk in the batter. After each yolk, beat the batter for one minute. No, this is  not too much bother. This helps make a fluffier cake. We want fluffy cake, no?

wp-1472235023639.jpg
Egg yolk ready to join the batter.

 

Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. First, get a smallish bowl and mix 1/2 cup flour with 1 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt. This is me, so of course I used whole wheat pastry flour. There is no white flour in my house. Stir this until thoroughly mixed, then add to the batter, beating it until smooth.

wp-1472235023472.jpg
Flour, baking soda, salt

Next, scoop 1 and 1/2 cups of flour into your bowl. In a measuring cup, pout 1 cup of buttermilk. Now you are going to alternate mixing in some flour, beating it, then buttermilk, beating it, then flour, etc., until all the flour and buttermilk is beaten thoroughly into the batter. I usually do it in thirds, but I just eyeball it. Just be sure to mix well after each addition. In the pictures below, you’re seeing the dark brown batter of chocolate, butter, sugar, and egg yolk. By the time you finish adding the flour and buttermilk, you will have a thick, gloopy, light brown batter.

Now is the most important step. I can’t believe the modern version skips this. Remember the egg whites we put in another bowl? We are going to beat them till firm peaks form, then fold them into the batter. You will end up with a large amount of thick, pale, fluffy batter. Please, if you make this cake, do what I say, not the directions. Separate those eggs, beat the whites, and fold them into the batter. You will rejoice later. I promise.

wp-1472249597840.jpg             wp-1472235023389.jpg

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now just pour that thick, gorgeous batter into a greased cake pan. Spread it around till it’s even – it’s so thick, it doesn’t really pour.

Usually, this cake is baked in three layers, and you can do that if you want to. For me, it’s always just been a sheet cake, and I’m happy with that.

Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. While it’s baking you can move on to Step 2.

The Frosting

The cake is great, but it’s the frosting that sends it over the edge to galaxy-wide, too-good-to-be-true-goodness. And once again, you cannot skimp on this. You won’t find this flavor in a box or can or bakery-made cake. Fortunately, there are far fewer steps. This is actually pretty easy to make.

Get a medium-sized saucepan. Add 3/4 sticks butter, 1 can evaporated milk, and 4 egg yolks. (Yes, you have to separate the eggs again. Sorry). Whisk this up and put the pan on medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir. Tradition demands you use a wooden spoon. I think it adds something to the flavor.

wp-1472250124783.jpg
Evaporated milk, egg yolks, butter, sugar – life is good

 

Set the timer for 12 minutes and stand right there stirring the whole time. I find it helps to have a book to read. Don’t stir fast… slow and steady is what you need. After 9 or 10 minutes, your pudding will be bubbling along merrily. Keep stirring. It thickens up a bit and turns a slight golden brown. Usually 12 minutes is the magic number. Take the pan off the heat and turn the burner off.

wp-1472250124796.jpg
This frosting is really just caramel pudding

 

Add 2 and 2/3 cups shredded coconut – the recipe calls for a 7 oz package of Angel’s Baker Coconut, which is pre-sweetened. Honestly, the last thing you need is more sugar. What were they thinking? Just use plain shredded coconut. Also add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pecans. Stir it up, pour into a bowl, and refrigerate for an hour or two. It will thicken a lot as it cools. Perfect, caramel-y goodness!

wp-1472250124787.jpg
Almost done!

 

It goes without saying that you can taste at every step in the process. This frosting is not safe from me, even while it’s cooling.

When all is cooled and ready, I just pour the frosting over the cake and spread it around a little. No fancy decorating needed. If you do the 3 layers, spread frosting between layers and on top. It’s too heavy to work on the sides, which is maybe why bakers came up with the idea of plain chocolate frosting there. I think it ruins the experience, but hey, it’s subjective.

THIS right here… is heaven!

wp-1472249991257.jpg

Oh, those extra egg whites? Make an omelet if you want. I made Lemon Macaroons.

wp-1472251631326.jpg