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I hate pancakes.  It is a common known detail about me, mostly because I talk about it frequently to anyone who will listen. I think they are a pointless food. Pointless, because they always leave me hungry an hour later and I don’t even think they taste all that good.  I much prefer a savory breakfast – eggs, cereal, even a smoothie with protein powder gets my vote before pancakes.

So, it may surprise you that this is my new favorite dish…

Fluffy, fruity, oven-baked pancakes.  The secret to this (still pointless, but at least delicious) breakfast food is to whip egg whites and fold them in to the batter, making the pancakes unbelievably light, like a souffle-cake.  You have folded egg whites before, no? Well, I am not known for my baking abilities and had to research some folding techniques before getting it right.  At first, I would just gently stir, but that did not result in the fluffiest of batters.  This fancy-chef method is actually pretty easy and efficient.

You create a batter of milk, flour, eggs, and some spices.  Then, you whip two egg whites until they form stiff peaks, like this:

 

Then, you take about 1/3 of the egg whites and gently stir into the batter.

This is a gentle stir, not time for the folding yet – we are just introducing the egg whites to the batter at this point.

Now, slide the rest of the egg whites into the center of the bowl of batter.

And start the folding!  There are three steps to the fold:

1. Cut – place your plastic spatula directly into the center of the egg white/batter, all the way through to the bottom of the bowl.

2. Fold – run your spatula along the bottom of the bowl, slowly, and bring the batter up and back to the center.

With a gentle and slow flip of the wrist.

3. Turn – now turn the bowl a quarter turn.

Repeat, repeat, repeat until all the whites are incorporated.

Keep repeating…

Until it looks like this:

Next, you heat up a small 6 or 8 inch non-stick pan and add a half a tablespoon of butter.  Gently pour the batter into the pan and check after 30 seconds or so for the edges to set.

Then, add whatever cut up fruit you want!

Pop it in a 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes.  Check the pancake and with a toothpick comes out clean, the pancake is done.  Repeat with additional servings.

Lastly, top with honey, syrup, or whip cream…

Have I changed my tune on pancakes for good?  At least these pancakes don’t have a lot of sugar (only honey) and have extra eggs.  After eating I think I made it two hours until I was hungry, which, come to think of it, is actually pretty standard for me!

Fluffy Summer Pancakes – makes 2 servings
1/2 cup warmed milk
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp of honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of baking powder
2 eggs
2 egg whites
sliced fruit
toppings: whipped cream, maple syrup, and/or honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together warmed milk, flour, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and two eggs until well-blended and no longer lumpy. Whisk egg whites until they form peaks. Gently fold egg whites into the rest of the batter – starting by adding 1/3 of the whites and mix, then gently fold the rest. Heat a small 6 or 8 inch non-stick pan on the stove with a half tablespoon of butter. Pour in half the batter, saving the rest for the second serving (unless you have two pans that will work, then make both at the same time). After the pancake begins to set, add the fruit. Put pancake in oven for 7-10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.

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Um. Hi guys!  What’s new?  I am sorry for the lack of posts, but sometimes get a little paralyzed by the blog.  There are so many things I want to say – things about recipes; feelings about life; brilliant, witty observations – that I get overwhelmed and then don’t publish any of my many, many drafts I have started.  After a while nothing seems good enough, so I don’t post anything.

Well, that kind of sucks for you. Doesn’t it?  So, I am going to just say hi and give up a quick update on what has been going on with me.  First of all, Erik and I are engaged!  The wedding is in a few months (eeeek! tiny freakout based on the amount of decisions that still need to be worked out).  Without getting too lovey-dovey mushy, I am grateful to be marrying someone so fun, loving, and inspirational. I can’t imagine my life without him.

Our wedding planning so far has been a lot of fun, because we have agreed on almost everything. As someone that tends to obsess over things, it is really comforting have something so important go smoothly.

Other than this huge life change, everything else has been pretty mellow around these parts. I am a little obsessed with the site, pinterest, and have even added a side bar so you can see all my latest pins. You should be warned, it is a little addicting.

In the food related world, I have been referring to a cookbook I got as a Christmas gift from my Dad, All About Braising by Molly Stevens.

I have read about this book for years and am really glad I have it.  Her recipe for braised cabbage is delicious, along with the two pot roast recipes I have tried. If you love the slow-and-low method of cooking, like I do. Check it out!

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I stepped outside this weekend and realized something… It is cold!  Is it going to be like this until June? Really? I think I forgot what 46 degrees feels like.  I also have a sinking suspicion this happens to me every year.  I am surprised when it is hot, surprised when it is cold.  You’d think our human brains would have a better memory for weather, but maybe it is like pain.  You really don’t want to remember.

This cold, relatively dry fall has brought us one thing in the Pacific NW: a bumper crop of chanterelle mushrooms.  I am sure there is some fancy mushroomy reason behind it, but all I care about it eating as many as I can.

So, last week I baked some and added them with their juices over a bowl of polenta.  It was a great accompaniment to a pork chop and a salad.  And then, per usual, I reheated it the next day and put a poached egg on top.  What did you expect?

Below you will find a recipe for the mushrooms and later this week I will talk about making polenta from scratch. It tastes so much better than the store-bought tube stuff and it takes very little cooking skills, so don’t be scared.

Oven-roasted chanterelles
8 oz of chanterelles
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of butter, cut into small pieces (or melted)
2 tbsp of diced shallots
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Clean and cut mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices, removing the woody stem. Toss onto a baking sheet with olive oil, butter, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. When tender, remove from oven, save your cooking liquid and drizzle over mushrooms.

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What is your go-to recipe when you are cooking for a group?  My favorites are roast chicken and short ribs, but sometimes those dishes involve way too much time I don’t have.  Plus, living in Portland means you are likely to run across a vegan, a vegetarian, and a gluten-intolerant all at the same party. Short ribs with a crusty bread just isn’t going to cut it.

I have tackled this problem in the past by making three main courses and just hoping that everyone could find something to eat. This takes a lot of time and, not to mention, money.  So when Erik told me about this delicious chili recipe he stole from his friend, Brett, I was thrilled.  It is easy, delicious and vegan – with some yummy toppings that will please all sorts of eaters.

This past weekend, Erik raced cyclocross – you know this sport, right? Cyclists ride mud-covered, off-camber courses that have barriers demanding you get off your bicycle and jump over, lugging your bicycle with you.  It is not for wimps (like me who is really afraid of hurting myself, being yelled at by aggressive riders, and generally looking like the world’s biggest idiot.)

The best part about the races, if you are thinking about attending or joining, is the atmosphere.  Tents line up along the course, cheering riders on with cowbells and obnoxious screams.  There are vendors selling waffles, french fries, and sometimes, beer. This year, with the team’s new tent, we were able to bring a camp stove, chairs, and a fireplace.  It is like camping, but you get to shower and sleep in your bed at night. Awesome.

In order to keep myself busy (and discourage others from encouraging me to stop being a weenie), I made this chili for a crowd of hungry racers and spectators.  My only regret is that I didn’t make more.

Vegetarian Chili
Feeds 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups of chopped onion (one really large or two medium)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp of cumin
2 Tbsp of chili powder
1 Tbsp of ground coriander
2 tsp of cayenne pepper (more or less for desired spice)
6 cans of beans, drained (I use a mix of kidney, black, and pinto) or 4 cups dried beans, soaked and cooked*
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes including juices
1/2 cup cilantro (plus more for toppings)
Salt to taste

Toppings
Sour cream
Cilantro
Shredded cheddar cheese
Diced jalapeno or hot sauce

Heat olive oil on medium-low in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and cook for 8-10 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in cumin, chili powder, coriander, and cayenne and cook for about two minute. Dump in beans and tomatoes. Bring pot to a boil and then down to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of cilantro and cook for another 5. Salt and serve with whatever toppings you choose!

*If you start with dried beans (I did this last time and kind of like them better!), first soak the beans overnight in cool water. You want to cover them with at least three times as much liquid. Next, drain the beans and place in a pot on low (or crockpot) with at least 2 inches of water covering the beans. Bring the beans to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours, checking after the first hour for doneness. The beans should not be al dente, but also not completely broken down. I cooked mine 3/4 of the way and then finished the cooking in the chili and it worked fine. I just had to add water to my chili.

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Before a few weeks ago, I used to be able to sit through fast forwarding commercials on my DVR with the upmost patience. I used to be able to wait for someone to call me right back without logging on to the computer.  I could read books and peruse magazines on the weekends. But, things have changed.  I found Pinterest and every spare twelve seconds I have is spent searching through photos of far-off places, delicious foods, cool clothes, and, of course, food.  This site, if you haven’t heard, is basically collections of photos that link back to their original source.  It can be used as a style board for redecorating your house, a place to store ideas for big events, an inspiration for outfits, and a cloud storage for online recipes.  Oh, and did I mention the photos of kittens?

For this kitty, and so much more, check out my pins.  Also, sign up so I can follow you!

In one of my many pinterest wormholes, I found that someone had posted a recipe for healthy cookie dough and I had to click on the link to see just how it was possible to make HEALTHY cookie dough – and how fast I could do it.  The original source came from Chocolate Covered Katie, who makes healthy vegan desserts that are low in sugar and still taste good. (Believe me, I know, I too was a skeptic).

Today, after staring at the recipe for a few days, I decided to make it around lunch time.  The recipe promised to be high in fiber and protein, so I figured it sort of counted as lunch.  I modified Katie’s original recipe a bit, including decreasing the amount of sugar, and after eating a small bowl (seen above) I was completely full. In fact, it is almost six and I am still not hungry!

The “cookie dough” was good enough that I would definitely serve it at a party the way she explains on her blog, with graham crackers, or keep in the fridge to munch on when I get the urge to eat ice cream (or actual cookies).

Let me know if you make it!

Adapted from Katie’s Healthy Cookie Dough (just for eating – not for baking)

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained)
  • start with 1/8 tsp of salt, add more to taste (I ended up with about 1/4 tsp)
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, more to taste (I added 3 tsp total)
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (peanut butter will work, but maybe use less so it doesn’t taste too peanut-y)
  • up to 1/4 cup milk (start with 1 tbsp and add more as needed – she uses nondairy milk, but I used the cow’s stuff)
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar (Katie makes this without sugar or up to 2/3 cup to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 to 3 tbsp oats (If you omit, don’t include the milk)

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

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I looked up at the calendar today and realized it is the first day of fall.  I am so not ready to say goodbye to the warm, long days of summer.  Nor am I ready for the onset of winter squashes about to hit the market. I still want tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and basil!  Is it really over?

I was about to share with you my last hold on to summer – a gazpacho I made this week – only to realize I already shared a gazpacho recipe last year, here.  I only make it once a year, probably because we end up eating it for every meal for the next four days, but it always screams summer.  If you still have ripe tomatoes, make it before they are all gone.

In hope to find something else to share, I looked in my photo archives for another dish that has defined our meals this summer and realized I hadn’t told you about my new favorite vegetable: Padron peppers.  They are these tiny Spanish peppers with just a hint of spiciness and are DEVINE when grilled or sauteed.

The first time I made them, to pair with this flank steak, I was trying to save some for Erik when he came home from work. Instead, I ate all of them and then called him to tell him just how good they were.  He, strangely, didn’t appreciate hearing about food he might have liked if I hadn’t eaten it all. Weird.

Making them is simple.  First, I tossed them in a bit of olive oil before putting them on the grill.

They stay on the grill for about 2-3 minutes a side, just until they start to blister a bit and the skins darken.

Then, I just sprinkled them with coarse kosher salt and gave them a quick toss.  (If you want to cook them in a saute pan, no prob, I had the same delicious result.  Heat up some olive oil on medium-high, throw in the peppers for a couple minutes until they start to blister, salt, and serve.)

Next, I ate them out of this bowl. I have made them again with shavings of parmesan cheese, which was delicious but not necessary.  I just saw them this week at the farmers’ market and may have to have them one more time as a last farewell to summer.

What are you doing to say goodbye to my favorite season?

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Last year when I started canning, I had a only one goal: to put up as many tomatoes as I could. (For those not caught up on your canning lingo, “put up” is ole-timey way of saying “can”.) I tracked what I used from my pantry the year before and realized I went through way more cans of tomatoes than anything else.  Black beans and tuna were a close second, but I am definitely not at a point where I feel comfortable canning my own tuna!  So, all summer I bided my time. I canned jams, pickles, beets, peaches, and just about anything I could get my hands on until it was time for the tomatoes.

Then… came September. I saw the price of tomatoes at the farmers’ market hover around $3 to $4 a pound.  I’d pick up a dull, light-red tomato and take a whiff, smelling nothing – not the sweet, ripe, tomato-y flavor I’d hoped for.  Farmers claimed it just never got and stayed warm enough to get bushels of ripe tomatoes. I was devastated. So, instead of canned tomatoes I made green tomato salsa and sweet green tomato pickles, I found the best red tomatoes and canned salsa in limited quantities, and I waited…

This year the weather has not been so mean.  We had a slow start to summer, but the last month has been warm and sunny.  I started looking around at farms and realized my CSA farmer from last year, Sun Gold Farm, was selling 20 pound boxes of San Marzanos – the king of canned tomatoes.   So, with my friend, Rebecca, we bought 40 pounds and got to work.

After 6 hours of cleaning, scoring, blanching, peeling, and canning tomatoes we were left with 6 quart jars each, plus 4 pints of tomato juice each. I don’t know about you, but 6 quarts is sadly not enough to get me through until next September.  I probably use about a quart and a half a month in soups, braises, and sauces.

So, in a week we are going to be at it again. Luckily, we learned some things that we will continue the next go-around.

  • Two water bath canners are necessary for this many tomatoes.  The quart jars take 45 minutes to process and if you had to wait to sterilize new jars in between you are looking at an additional 30-45 minutes just waiting for water to boil.
  • When using two water bath canners, setting one up outside is the nicest thing in the world. I am so happy Erik let us use his camping stove for this.
  • An assembly line is key and rotating jobs frequently will decrease back and shoulder pain as well as increase tolerance for tomatoes.
  • I may purchase a food mill between now and next weekend.  We made tomato juice by straining the leftover skins and seeds and then cooking down, but I bet we can get more out of it if we processed through a food mill. I am thinking of buying this one. What do you think? Does anyone own a food mill and love it?  Should I stay away from the OXO version?
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Late summer is the best time to live in the Northwest.  Our weather is finally consistently warm and our gardens are overflowing veggies.  Have you been to the farmers’ market lately? The colorful rows of tomatoes, peppers, and summer squashes scream at you to eat them.  (EAT ME! EEEAAAT MEEEEE!)

But, if you have high yield zucchini plant in your garden you have zucchini up the yin-yang about now. It is daunting to keep up with the amount of zucchini those plants produce. I have heard of people dropping off bags of zucchini on neighbors’ doorsteps when they aren’t home. Unfortunately, my puny garden couldn’t handle zucchini and I haven’t seen any bag-fulls on my doorstep.  I would gladly accept them if you were curious…

Whenever I hear of a good zucchini recipe, I feel like it is my duty to share it with all those folks drowning in squash – and for those of us who buy arm loads every chance we get. A while ago, I had dinner with some friends at Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, one of my favorite pizza restaurants in town. We were starving and decided to order a squash appetizer.  It was so incredible, I went home immediately and recreated it… And have made it over and over again.

The squash was sliced thinly, tossed in a lemon-olive oil dressing and served raw.  The lemon helps loosen the squash up a bit – by beginning the breakdown process – but it retains a nice crispness and flavor.  Toss in sliced mint, basil and chevre and you have summer on a plate.

 

Squash Salad
Serves 4
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
6 mint sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped
10 basil leaves, sliced thinly
2 tbsp of chevre, or another soft, delicious cheese
2 tsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 tsp of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

After washing your squash, begin to slice it into 1/8 inch slices. I used a mandoline (like this one), in order to get uniformly thin slices, but it will be fine if you just slice them thinly.

Next, make the dressing. First add the lemon juice to the salad bowl you are going to use. Add a pinch of salt and drizzle in a bit of the olive oil while whisking. Continue whisking until the solution is emulsified and changed to an opaque mixture. Next, add the remaining oil slowly, while continuing to whisk. Taste and add sugar if necessary. Add in at least 1/4 tsp of salt. You want it to taste tart and a bit salty. Add ground pepper and more salt if necessary.

Take your squash and half the herbs and add them to the bowl with dressing. Toss. Sprinkle the top with the remaining herbs and the chevre. This should be served immediately or within 10-15 minutes, before the lemon starts to break down the squash too much.

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Has it actually been two months since I have last updated a post? Wow! No wonder everywhere I go someone gets mad at me for not writing. Sorry! The last few months have been spent working like crazy and after staring at the computer for 10-12 hours a day, it was near impossible to muster up enough energy to write a post. Not to mention I have been doing some awesome traveling on weekends that has completely filled up my time.


A sunset after a storm in Georgia.


Me! On top of a spire at Smith Rock.

When I am in town my weekends typically begin with a Saturday morning trip to the farmers’ market. With my recent weekend getaways, I missed weeks and weeks of farmers’ market goodies. I found myself day-dreaming about which fruits and veggies have come and gone in my absence. Did I miss snow peas? What about asparagus? Strawberries? Sure enough, when I went berry picking last weekend I HAD missed a season. STRAWBERRY SEASON OF ALL THINGS! Luckily, at the market a few vendors still had them so I could make some jam. Thank god. I almost had a heart attack when I thought I missed making strawberry jam.

I made a couple of types – one regular and another with Thai herbs. The herbs added an interesting twist on a regular jam, but not so overwhelming that it was all you tasted.

I have looked at this Thai Herb Strawberry Jam recipe many times since I started canning and I am glad I tried it. I love a juxtaposition of flavors in sweets… Salted caramel might be the best combination in history. So, I think this jam on salted butter toast with maybe a few fresh mint leafs will make any morning a bit brighter.

Strawberry Jam with Thai Herbs
Adapted from Canning For a New Generation

3 pounds hulled and diced strawberries (about 9 cups)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped Thai Basil
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Add diced strawberries and sugar to a 6-8 qt preserving pot. Turn the heat on medium until it reaches a simmer, reduce temperature and simmer for 5 minutes. Once strawberries become liquid-y, place in a strainer over a glass or stainless bowl. Stir strawberries so they release some of their liquid. Place syrup back in preserving pot and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil and reduce to about 1 1/2 cups, or about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Once reduced, add back in the strawberries and the collected juice. Lower heat and continue to simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently. When the jam has begun to set, turn off heat and stir in the herbs. Fill sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace and remove air bubbles. Add lids and screw tops according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

*Per usual, follow proper canning techniques and follow your jar manufacturer’s instructions.

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Down the street from my house is a restaurant called Sub Rosa. During the evening they serve simple Italian food, but on the weekend they do a pretty traditional breakfast. You know the type – eggs benedict, pancakes, an egg scramble of sorts – and my favorite, Ma’s Breakfast Bowl.

The dish is very simple: black beans, spinach, salsa, and two poached eggs. The first time I ordered it I was worried the soppy, squishy nature of those ingredients would not compliment each other, but I was wrong. With a little bit of crunchy, buttered toast on the side to dip in the dish, you are set.

The other morning, I felt like I needed a healthy, protein-rich breakfast to fuel my day and decided to recreate Ma’s bowl. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

I started my water to poach some eggs. Updated tutorial here (in the past year I have made some changes to my egg poaching methods and I updated the original post).

Next, I got out a bowl and poured in a cup of spinach, 1/2 can of drained black beans, and some salsa.

Popped that in the microwave for a minute and a half, toasted my bread, and plopped the eggs right on top. I added a bit of salt and pepper and presto! Breakfast!

I am always looking for protein- and veggie-heavy breakfast options. What are your favorites?

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