savory pumpkin, walnut, jalapeño, smoked cheddar, biscuits made w corn, oat, and whole wheat flour

i’m a pretty ad hoc baker but here’s the sketch of tonight’s experiment:
1/2 cup oats whirred in the coffee grinder, 1/2 cup corn meal, 1 cup wh wht flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 1/2 t bkng pdr, some (?) grated smoked cheddar (from savenor’s on kirkland st in cambridge- thanks to corey for the clue-in), some chopped walnuts.

to all that I added some wet stuff mixed together: ~3/4 cup pumpkin, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup veggie stock, some chopped pickled jalapeños.

added the wet stuff to the dry stuff, rolled it out and baked at 410 for 20 min but if you try this start checking after 12-15 to see if they’re browned.

these were sooooo good. i think it was the smoked cheese.

biffins for bfast

It’s gonna be a hunkered down kinda weekend — digging into hundreds of pages of readings for classes on dynamic systems theory applied to human development, cognitive biases, paradoxes in group learning, and waaaay down at the molecular level –synaptic plasticity . I am coming to terms with the fact that it’s not possible for this human to read, much less integrate, this amount of information.

My Id is demanding indulgence so today’s (late) breakfast experiment is something between a biscuit and a muffin. Stiff, almost roll-out biscuit dough baked in a cast-iron mini-muffin pan.

the dry…
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
generous doses of ground ginger and cinnamon
pinch of cloves
chopped walnuts
shredded unsweetened coconut
some chocolate chips
and 2-3 T coconut oil.

the wet…
1 egg
1/2 cup (??) cooked mashed sugar pumpkin (baked last night)
1 1/2 (?) T honey
2 T finely chopped crystallized ginger. (I really can’t get enough of this stuff)

put in at 400 but look like they are browning quickly so lowered to 375.

Timer just went off (16 minutes). Here they are… as yet untasted.

pumpkinMuffinsOct2010

postscript…
hellz yeah! just the right mix of hearty, salty, and sweet. definitely requires one to adjust expectations of previously tried baked goods.
DSC_8095

the dry sandwich condundrum

While simultaneously having an insatiable craving for sandwiches and a desire to cut back on all but the healthiest of oils, I encountered a lack of sandwich lubricating options. Most are familiar with the almost unsurpassable avocado option, but I wanted a few fat-free selections so experimented with two, both of which I think are permanent additions to my sandwich repertoire: eggplant and sweet potato.

For the eggplant, I pop the whole thing in the oven and bake it until completely soft. Separate the insides from the peel and let drain in a colander, stir it up with a fork and spread it on both slices of bread. I had mine with rustic whole wheat bread and a tofu, wild-rice burger.

The sweet potato version you pretty much make the same way: bake, mash, spread. This one is really good with a few dried cranberries or dried tart cherries thrown in.

iron-booster unbrownie

After tracking my nutrients for a couple months now the trends are unmistakable (if one can believe the USRDA… a big “if”, I realize) — not enough potassium or iron in my diet. Today I gave myself a new creative task to invent a palatable treat-like thing that would boost my iron.
iron-boosters This is what I came up with — entirely edible and possibly even really tasty if you’re willing to boost the fat a bit.

A few notes to temper expectations:
This recipe is sweetened only with roasted bananas and molasses. If you’d like more of a treat, add some sugar.
There is no chemical leavening (only eggs), not that I’m against baking powder or anything, I just like a dense baked good. This is closer to a bread pudding than a cakey brownie. They’re even better after a day in the fridge if you ask me.

So here it is…

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put 2 bananas (skins on!) on a baking sheet and place in oven until black and giving up liquid (about 15 minutes). Remove to cool and lower temp to 325.

the wet stuff:
in a medium bowl mix
the 2 bananas squeezed from skins and their juice,
2 eggs,
2 T molasses (44 grams),
1 T coconut oil (15 g) — I use extra virgin organic. Increase this to 3 or 4 tablespoons if you don’t care about fat, i.e. if you’re making this for a kid! Mmmmm…. fat.

mix the wet stuff together with…
1/2 cup of unprocessed (Miller’s) bran (25g) and let sit.

In a separate small bowl, mix together:
4 T organic cocoa powder (21 g)
2 T coffee substitute (5g). This is optional to give a richer dark chocolate flavor so I’d skip this if you’re making it for kids.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (35 g)
1/4 buckwheat flour (35g)
1/4 tsp salt

wisk together the dry stuff to break up any lumps and then stir into wet.

Pour into a small glass pyrex pan (I use a 6×8) and bake at 325 for about 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center clean.

I tend to make small batches but this should double fine. This makes 8 servings with following nutritional info per serving. It’s not an enormous amount of iron but it is 10% of my USRDA (I’m a 46 yo woman. Not sure what it is for kids)

Calories: 111 kcal <---- BONUS! Carbohydrates: 19.3g Fat: 3.3g Saturated Fat: 2.4g Cholesterol: 29mg Sugar: 7.2g Calcium: 57mg Iron: 1.9mg Potassium: 329 mcg

What’s your favorite sense?

My biological psychology professor recently asked us, “What’s your favorite sense?” I’ve entertained a similar question before: if you had to give up one sense, which would it be? Though I don’t have a ready answer to that question either, the one I often choose to place last in line is vision. Maybe this is because I am so affected by color. In fact, I’m often baffled by other people’s apparent lack of fine color discrimination (apart from the naming itself which is another topic entirely). My reluctance to give up vision might make it the obvious choice for favorite, but I’m going to skip the obvious and go for a much more subtle and, at least to me, complex sense: smell.

My fascination with smell has to do with the ways in which it rehydrates long dormant and seemingly forgotten ordinary experiences. Among the senses, it appears that olfaction has the most unique relationship to memory. While I might have strong visual and episodic memories of where I was and who I talked with on September 11, I do not remember a single thing about what I smelled though I might have if I’d noticed something in particular that day. Alternatively, events that are entirely mundane, unmemorable to the most imaginable degree, are summoned back in vivid detail by a smell. I had a most transcendent experience of this phenomenon when I opened an ancient blue-tinted mason jar full of buttons that I’d collected from my grandmother’s sewing room after she died. In that jar was a embodied experience of place.

What I find so intriguing about the power of smell is its ability to rekindle deep experiential memories — the feeling of being there. If you asked me to remember my grandparent’s house, the resulting tableau would certainly include smells I experienced over many years there – percolated coffee, german sausage, oil paint and lake water – but I could not have resurrected the experience of being there brought so vividly to life by smelling all those things, mixed together for years and years, and captured in a jar of buttons.

a twist on beet salad

steam beets until tender (stick a fork in ’em)
put ’em in cold water until cool enough to handle and slip off skins.
cut beets and place in bowl with diced avocado
add lemon juice,
olive oil
and lots of white pepper.

in a dry skillet, crisp up some dulse and crumble on top. dulse is a purple seaweed and adds salty crunch.

mmmmmmm

even a dog can learn to savor its food

I came across this wonderful story from Charles MacInerney in his mindful eating meditation instructions.

I used to have Rhodesian Ridgeback named Chani. She was a big dog, and loved bananas for some reason. She used to eat bananas like she ate rib bones, crunching them into two pieces and then swallowing both halves, skin, stem and all. One week I decided to teach her the eating meditation using a raisin.* Normally she would swallow a raisin without noticing what she had eaten, so I held the raisin between my fingers so that she could only nibble the tiny exposed portion of the raisin. She took my whole hand in her mouth! After a while she let go of my hand and contented herself with licking and nibbling the exposed portion of the raisin as I slowly exposed more of it over the next minute. During this time she grew increasingly excited and wagged her tail and her whole rear end. This might have been the first time she had ever tasted a raisin, although she had swallowed more than her share.

After a couple of weeks of this ritual with the raisin, I was amazed when she took a whole banana from me, and instead of swallowing it, took it out onto the back porch and set it down almost delicately. She held the banana with one paw and peeled it with her teeth, and then ate slowly, wagging her tail, and pausing occasionally to look back at me. Finally when it was all gone, she returned to the banana peel and ate that as well.

* Please note that I have since found out that raisins can cause renal failure in dogs. Although it is doubtful that a single raisin would be sufficient to cause any symptoms, I would still advice using some thing other than raisins, if for no other reason than to reduce the likelihood that your dog will seek out raisins on it’s own and consume larger quantities which can be harmful to your pet.

Charles’ eating meditation instructions can be found on his website, www.yogateacher.com

sweezubee thai pie

No excuses are needed for me to find myself in the kitchen wingin’ it without a recipe but when a good friend hosted a party inspired by the movie, waitress, the cogs started turning double-time. If you haven’t seen the movie it helps to know that the title character is a serial pie inventor, each pie name a reflection of her current state of being: “I Hate My Husband Pie… You take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel”. Continue reading

about the taste pages

One might think that with the prevalence of eating disorders in the west these days that we were a nation of gastronomes but our troubles may very well be caused by the exact opposite – that we have strayed away from actually tasting our food. The scientists who study our sense of taste have discovered that it’s development has much to do with guiding us towards what we actually need. If you are using old data and no longer really collecting new reliable data then you are bound to end up heading in the wrong direction when making food choices.

Soon this section will be expanded to include food meditations and other information on conscious eating that we hope will support you in honing your own food guidance system: your taste buds!