Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer Corn

As a kid, I loved corn on the cob. It was the highlight of summer visits to my grandparent's house--my grandpa, an Iowa transplant, always had a big garden including lots of sweet corn.

Unfortunately, the summer of my sixth birthday found me without any front teeth--tragic, indeed, for a corn on the cob lover. But I toughed it out and chewed that buttery cob with the teeth on the side of my mouth! That left a nice greasy swath up my cheek--totally worth it, though. I have, however, been scarred for life by my uncles who thought it hilarious to sing, "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth..." over and over (my front teeth took months before they grew in again).

Well, I must have some scar tissue left on my soul--although I still like corn on the cob, I have found a delicious creamed corn dish that one may daintily eat with a spoon. No front teeth required.

Creamed Summer Corn

5-6 ears of fresh corn
2 cups nonfat or 1% milk
1 TB cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 slices of bacon
1 cup chopped leeks (whiteish parts only)

1. Cut the kernels from the ears of corn to measure 3 cups. Using the dull side of the knife, scrape corn "milk" and remaining pulp from the cobs into a bowl.
2. Place 1 1/2 cups kernels, nonfat milk, cornstarch, sugar, salt and pepper into a blender. Process until smooth.
3. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over MH heat until crisp. Remove bacon; reserve 1 tsp drippings. Crumble bacon
4. Add leeks to the pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add corn puree, 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels, and corn milk/pulp to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in bacon. It's also good with a few chopped walnuts on top.

Enjoy with a good steak and a crunchy summer salad!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Creamy Apple Oatmeal

If you're one of those people who are starting to believe that oatmeal grows in tiny brown packages with it's own private sprinkling of powdered flavoring, I'm here to tempt you back to oatmeal's roots. When we were first married, my husband resisted oatmeal for breakfast. He'd been force-fed so much oatmeal as a child that he'd had his fill for life.

That is...until my lovely sister gave me a great cookbook from the Moosewood restaurant. One of the first recipes that I tried is called "Oven Apple Oats". We were all instantly hooked--even my oatmeal-fearing husband.

Just a word of warning: this recipe is not for that first school morning where everyone is rushing out the door. If you're like me (and hopefully you're way better than me!), breakfast is usually not a preplanned event. A couple of slices of bread in the toaster, maybe some yogurt or cereal (but always coffee for us tired adults) is what everyone in my house gets. This is a weekend recipe, maybe even a "we had company spend the night" weekend recipe. It takes time, but is soooo worth it!

Creamy Apple Oatmeal (modified from "Oven Apple Oats", Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

3 1/2 cups of milk (I use non-fat, but the creamier, the better)
1 cup of Irish (steel-cut) oats---don't use rolled oats!!
2 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples
2/3 cup currants or raisins
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, heat the milk over MH heat until very hot, but not boiling; stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Stir in the oats, maple syrup, and apples until mixture returns to a boil.

Remove from the heat and add raisins, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes. Don't forget to put a pan under the dish to catch drips.

Stir oats before serving. MMMmmmm.... You really want to make this!

apple image from

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackberry Jesus Crisp

Last night we were visited--fortunately not by UFO's, but rather by our two pastors from Redeemer Redmond Church. When they called up (actually it was by email) and asked if they could come visit our family, I'll admit it made me a tiny bit nervous. But since they are two of the nicest men around, that nervousness quickly turned into a creative opportunity--what should I serve for dessert?

Now, this is not the South where food hospitality is ingrained from birth. This is the chilly Northwest where we pull our car into our garage, close the door, and hide out in our fully-fenced back yard and never never make eye-contact in the street. Lucky for our pastors that I don't have a garage, and therefore know enough to bake when a pastor comes over.

So, what to serve these servants of Jesus? Nothing pays homage to Creation more than something local and something seasonal. In fact, zero fossil fuels were consumed for the majority of the ingredients. I simply marched myself down the street to the abandoned house with the large blackberry bushes and spent 20 minutes picking plump berries. (By the way, if you live in the Northwest and you actually buy blackberries from the store, you deserve a sucker patch on your shirt!)

As I told a friend earlier in the week, I am not a big cobbler fan. I don't know, maybe it was my grandma's recipe that "left a bad taste in my mouth" for cobbler--too baking-powdery. And homemade pie wasn't going to happen--I've got three little kids including a 3 month old baby! Pie crust is too labor intensive and, frankly, not as tasty as Crisp, in my opinion. I tried out my beta version of this crisp on my aforementioned friend. It turned out soupy and was not nearly covered in enough crisp topping.

But, version 2.0 was fabulous! I combined 6 cups of fresh blackberries with 1/2 cup of sugar, juice from one lemon, and about 1/4 cup of flour (to thicken the juice). Then I literally threw whatever sounded good into the crisp topping. Starting with a stick of butter, I tossed in a good measure of brown sugar, quite a bit of flour, then opened my fridge for some more inspiration. I spied the nuts, grabbed both walnuts and macadamia nuts, chopping them up into fairly small pieces. And crisp wouldn't be complete without oatmeal.

The topping looked like it would barely fit on top of the berries, so I knew I'd made just the right amount. I popped the dessert into a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes until the juice was bubbling and the crisp topping was golden and crunchy. It smelled like summer in my kitchen!

Of course, I served this crisp a la mode. Creamy vanilla ice cream is the perfect companion to blackberry crisp. Not only does it melt its creamy self into the warm berries, but it provides a perfect canvas to showcase the beautiful purple juice of summer berries.

Matthew 25:40 says, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Of course, he was speaking of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoner. I merely fed the pastors dessert. But if I can whip up something tasty for them, couldn't I also invite my neighbor over for pie? First comes pie, next thing you know, people will be bulldozing their fences, and maybe even smiling at each other in the street. A backyard revolution from a simple Blackberry Jesus Crisp.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie--Cream Scones

It's "please pass your homework to the front of the class" Tuesday with Dorie.....

So this time around I chose a breakfast recipe--Cream Scones from page 27 of "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan. I didn't grow up eating scones; in fact, I only knew scones as something that people got at the Fair (to which I had never been). When I finally did try a scone sometime in Junior High or High School, I was not very impressed. These were the baked goodie that everyone had raved about? These dry biscuity things?

Of course, now I realize that scones are really wonderful, but only freshly baked. I still do not care for the dried out versions served in certain coffee shops. I've made scones a few times over the years--more often recently.

Dorie's cream scones turned out beautifully. I did remove them from the oven after about 19 minutes (instead of 20-22) as mine were turning brown a bit too quickly. The recipe had only one error: it called for 3/4 cup of currants in the ingredient list, but never instructed the baker to include them in the dough.

So here I was, closely following directions--I was all the way to the "gently knead the dough" part when I glanced up and saw my bag of dried Zante Currants. Did I miss it? (I do tend to skim written material) But, no, the instruction wasn't there. Well, I didn't want plain scones, so I dumped the 3/4 cup of currants on my kneaded dough and folded it over a few times. The result was that several scones contained large quantities of currants and some had nearly none at all.

Overall, however, they turned out beautifully! I like the smaller size of these scones--that way I can eat more of them!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gone Fishin'

It was a hot sultry day here in the northwest (yes, it actually was!)--a good day for heading down to the fishin' hole Huck Finn style. Okay, so maybe that sounds a little quaint for Generation X-Box here on Seattle's Eastside. But there's nothing more empowering to a little boy than catching dinner.

Our eldest daughter was off with Grandma today watching the new Shrek musical at the fancy grownup theater downtown, so we decided to pack up our little guy for a date--boy style, of course. No fancy clothes for this date...we headed straight for Gold Creek Trout Farm in Woodinville, Washington.

Besides being a handy resource for stocking your personal pond, customers can also grab a bamboo pole, thread on a little bait and wait a couple of minutes before hooking "the big one". Forget the frustration of using your whole weekend to fish at the lake and yet catch nothing. My three year old son caught 5 fish in about 30 minutes. And boy was he excited! (He even ate his catch later for dinner.) The good folks at Gold Creek do the messy work of cleaning the fish for you---ewwww yuk!

Here's what we did to make a fantastic local dinner:

Rinse the fish, season with salt and pepper. Slice some lemons. Stuff some parsley and lemon slices inside the fish and close it up like a sandwich. Throw a few pats of butter on there and seal it up tight in some foil. Grill over low heat until it's done. Mmmm....

If the thought of a whole fish intimidates you, this is a great way to try it. It's totally easy and trout is a very mild flavor--chicken of the river, so to speak. And it's okay to eat fish, cuz they don't have any least according to Nirvana.

We served it with my favorite creamed corn recipe (based on a Cooking Light recipe a few years back). See the next post for the recipe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kirkland Wednesday Market

It's a warm sunny Wednesday in my town of Kirkland, WA. And while having the sun out is enough of a reason to celebrate in this Seattle suburb, today is also Wednesday Market. It is the day when they close down a street in downtown and roll out the kiosks filled with juicy peaches, blueberries, sweet Walla Walla onions, and a myriad of other locally grown produce.

But, that's not all. I've been meaning to take my knives down there to the stall to get sharpened. Plus I kind of like the idea of strolling through town carrying a stash of knives, like being in some sort of Kung Fu movie.

You can sign up for milk delivery, buy a European pastry, pick out some crazy tie-dyed baby shower gifts all while listening to the Hansen wanna-be band playing for coins (they're very good and kind of cute with their matching long hair).

Earlier in the season, I bought two beautiful tomato plants which I had to wait two weeks to plant due to our very chilly spring an early summer. The guy even talked me into some of his special fertilizer blend. All natural, he told me. Apparently, he knew what he was doing--this photo is of my own, home-grown Brandywine heirloom tomato. It was as sweet and delicious as it is beautiful! Thank you local farmers!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

For more than seven years, I've been considered a college graduate. I have been under the impression that my diploma meant the end of homework. But then my hubby signed me up for this baking blog (see Title) and they require homework in exchange for friendship! He said it would be good for me, but dang! if I don't hate imposed authority, responsibility, and requirements!! (My immature side is coming out, isn't it?) Honestly, I think he just wants me to bake more...I noticed how he thumbed right to the apple pie section and began discussing his birthday dessert requests (his birthday is still more than 4 months away).

So, I sucked it up and chose these cute little mini bundt cakes. The official recipe is "Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes" on page 188 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking, From My Home to Yours. The mini bundt cake pan leaped for joy as I pulled it out of the back of my cupboard, bypassing my usual pans. It was getting its third use since I received it as a wedding gift almost a decade ago!

Just for the record, I omitted the nuts to avoid killing one of my dinner guests last night. And I substituted buttermilk for the whole milk---which is legal according to the "Playing Around" section of the recipe. Everything went well until I tried to spoon the very thick batter into those pesky bundt shapes. How does one cleanly and evenly distribute batter into six crazy forms? The book offered no advice for this.

I checked on the mini cakes during their baking and was a little panicked to see them roundly rising up the middle of the forms, but staying flatter around the edges. Also, there didn't seem to be enough batter to reach full mini-bundt potential. Would I have to trim them off to get them to sit flat on the plate? They were already smaller than anticipated and it would be an awful shame to reduce them further. There was a small moment of panic as I inverted the baked cakes onto the rack, but I had evidently buttered the pan sufficiently.

Onto the so-called glaze...what could be easier than melting a little chocolate in the microwave and adding a mere 2 tsp of corn syrup? The picture shows luscious, shiny, glaze perfectly dripping over the edges of the cakes. Chalk it up to user-error or whatever you want, but my "glaze" was stiff and dull. Annoyed, I spread it over the tops of my cakes (more like forced it to sit there). Maybe it would still taste good.

Now for the test...I served an unknown recipe to my dinner guests. I told them not to spare me, be honest. One of them actually turned his cake over to avoid the "frosting"--not a good sign. My 3 year old ate all of the whipped cream surrounding the cake and then ran off to play after one small bite. Personally, I thought the flavor was nice and chocolately, but the texture was dense and a bit dry. Thank goodness for the whipped cream!

So, Dorie, I'm oh for 1...only 9,000 more to try.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Episode Three: Roast Chicken

Julie Jams Roast Chicken from Arnold Arnan on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

I first had this Asian dessert at a 4th of July picnic.  I thought I ate several portions covertly without anyone noticing my silent love affair at the end of the patio table...but apparently the hostess noticed because she sent me home with all the remaining portions!  I blushed a little at being found out, but felt lucky that the largely white crowd couldn't imagine how indulgently delicious this rice dessert tasted.  More for me....

Following is the recipe I came up with, but first a note on sticky rice.  Until I made this recipe, I had never used sticky rice and required a bit of a crash course in rice varieties.  My family normally eats sweet jasmine rice (a long-grain Thai rice) and I thought, "That's sticky, isn't it?"  It's a good thing I did some research, though, because the first thing I read was, "Jasmine rice is not sticky rice."

Off I ran to my favorite grocery store (shout out to PCC!!!) to stare at their bins of bulk rice.  Surely one would say "Sticky Rice."  No such luck.  I saw brown and white varieties of jasmine, basmati, calrose, sushi, arborio, and on and on.  But nothing so easily identified as "sticky."  After consulting a clerk, it seemed that sushi rice was what I wanted.

Bounding home with my purchase, I carefully constructed my recipe.  My mouth watered as I took my first mouthful only to be a little disappointed---sushi rice wasn't really what I was looking for after all.  (I love you, PCC, but I guess I should have known better...I should have gone to the Asian market!)

I consulted my research again...oh!!! sticky rice is also called "sweet" or "glutinous" rice.  More clues!  This time I perused Uwajimaya, my favorite local Asian market.  And there it was---labeled as Sweet Rice.  The grains are small and almost round.  Off to create sticky rice magic!

2 cups sticky (sweet/glutinous) rice--soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight.  You cannot skip the soaking, so plan ahead!!!!
1 1/4 c (about 10 oz) thick coconut milk
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 mangos

1/2 c thin (lite) coconut milk
2 TB sugar
a pinch of salt

Drain the rice by pouring through a length of cheesecloth.  Wrap the drained rice in the cheesecloth and place in your steamer basket.  Place basket over a few inches of boiling water, cover, and steam for 20 minutes.  Rice becomes almost translucent when cooked.

Mix the thick coconut milk, sugar, and salt together.

When rice is done, put it in a bowl and add the milk mixture while the rice is still hot.  Combine thoroughly and let it rest for 30-50 minutes so that the rice has time to absorb the milk.

Mix the sauce ingredients together.  Peel and slice the mangos.  Place on top of the sticky rice.  Pour the sauce over the mangos.

Start salivating, take a bite, and savor the sweet/salty/creamy flavor of this exotic treat!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Panzanella, The Salad You Want To Eat!

Romaine.  Iceberg.  Bibb.  Red leaf.  Frisee.  Micro greens.

All healthy and obvious choices upon which to build a salad.  Sure, we all know we need to eat our veggies and most of us have even grown up enough to like our veggies.  But, lets be honest, sometimes we toss a little salad together just to appease our consciences while we throw our heart and adoration behind our real meal--the steak, the spaghetti, the burrito.

Maybe we need to rethink our salads.  How to make it delicious enough to serve as the main course?  The answer is easy...swap lettuce for bread!

I know, I know, you Atkins's lovers are starting to sweat.  You who are trying to fit into your prepregnancy jeans may be feeling real pain at the mention of the word.  Some have vilified this staple for so long that you've replace the word "bread" with "evil carbohydrate", "5 hours on the treadmill", or "stretch jeans".

Well, thank the Lord for a little stretch in your jeans, because you're not going to want to miss out on this one.

Buy yourself a crusty loaf of bread, maybe a ciabatta loaf.  Slice it long ways (like you're making a giant sandwich).  Drizzle on some olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and a bit of pepper to your liking (both sides).  Heat your grill, place on your bread slabs, and watch closely so that it doesn't burn.  Grill both sides until they are crisp (but not as in "burnt to a crisp").  Remove the bread from the grill and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  Chop it up into bite size pieces--about 3/4 inch cubes.  Throw these into a very large bowl, then get our your chopping knife.

Chop up some onion (red or sweet), slice some cherry tomatoes in half, throw in a few kalamata olives, cucumbers if you like, even red peppers.  Choose your cheese (I like those little mozzarella balls or feta).  And you can ever throw in some prosciutto (nitrate-free, of course).  Really, you can put any darn thing you like in there, except lettuce, that is.  Who said this wasn't a veggie salad?

Then...pour on a few glugs of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.  Don't forget to season your salad with a little more salt and pepper.  Toss it all together and then TASTE IT!  Add more of any of the above until it is perfect.

Make sure you have a large (or really hungry small) crowd for this one--it doesn't keep all that great--that perfectly crisp bread gets soggy in the ref.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Great Cooks Blogroll

Hi everyone. I have just been added to the Great Cooks Blogroll. It's a great place to read other foodie bloggers like myself. Come check it out at

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


What makes a great cookie? Is it chocolate and butter? Or maybe you are a molasses and raisins type of cookie eater. Perhaps you prefer a bit of the islands, so coconut tickles your fancy. Well, this cookie has it all. It is chewy, rich, sweet, and even has a little fiber! What could be better?

For those of you with kids, rumpledoodles are Lumpy's favorite cookies in The Heffalump Movie that came out a few years back. But the original recipe was dry and tended to fall apart and was way too salty. Plus it was missing chocolate. So my family set out to perfect this cookie our way.


1 c rolled oats
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1 c coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 c raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB molasses
1/2 c butter, melted (or shortening + 3 tsp water)
3 TB hot water
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix oats through salt in a large bowl. Melt butter and add in molasses. Mix until the molasses is thin and viscous. Pour butter mixture over dry ingredients. Mix and add the water. Add the chocolate chips when the mixture feels cool enough (you don't want them to melt).

Drop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. The dough may need squished together a bit to make a ball shape. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

This is for my favorite girl in all of Texas. I miss eating these with you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Filipino Flavor--Chicken ADOBO

My husband is Filipino and if you've heard anything about Filipinos, it's that they are great home cooks and love to throw big parties with huge spreads of food. When my husband's parents retired a couple of years ago, they moved back to the P.I. to run their mango farm in the mountains. Before they left, I begged for a crash course in Filipino home cooking from my mother-in-law. And what could be more Filipino than Adobo?

Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and can be made with a variety of proteins: pork, chicken, etc. Our favorite is Chicken Adobo. From the juicy braised meat, to the tangy coconut vinegar in the sauce, to the melt-in-your-mouth cloves of garlic....adobo is simple and delicious. Kids love it and your friends will beg you for the recipe. Try this for your next dinner party--the cheaper legs and thighs in this recipe are quite economical for a crowd.

The Tirona Family Recipe:

Approximately 3 pounds of chicken, with bones and skin
(very important--no boneless, skinless breasts, please!)
1/2 c vinegar
(coconut is the best)
1/3 c soy sauce
(or tamari)
1 head of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
black pepper

In a saute pan, bring the vinegar and soy sauce to a boil. Add chicken, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Flip the chicken a couple of times during cooking to evening coat it with the sauce.

Serve with rice (we like Thai Jasmine Rice the best).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Coconut Bliss

For a non-dairy "ice cream" treat, try Coconut Bliss brand dessert. I recommend Dark Chocolate. A rich chocolatey flavor with coconut in the background. You'll never miss the cream.
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