Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Taken last spring at my grandparents' farm in North Carolina

These pictures are to make up for what I'll be posting about in the next few days. It's not going to be pretty. I've warned you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mellow Mondays

Mondays are my half day with the baby, and I like to take my free afternoon to cook or bake something interesting. Today's menu mission is to use up the rest of those dandelions.

Friday's salad was nice, although some of the older leaves were bitter. I don't mind bitter, so I enjoyed it. It reminded me of a spring salad, but cheaper. Tonight though, I am going to try to make the dandelion pasta with some fresh french bread. I haven't baked in so long that I'm literally geeking out about kneading and shaping some dough.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dandelion pasta

A couple of years ago, I learned from a friend that dandelions are edible. I've never had them, but have been curious about them ever since. Apparently they're a very good source of vitamins.

Since Spring has sprung, I've been eyeing (eying?) the dandelions growing wild in our garden. As we were working on seedstarters today, I plucked up some of the tender dandelions leaves, and am looking forward to having them in a salad tonight. Will let you (my one reader) know how it works out...

Am REALLY looking forward to doing this recipe for dandelion pasta (think spinach pasta) from Mariquita Farm, however:


No pasta machine needed! adpated from: The Cook's Garden catalog - Spring/Summer 1989

2 cups Dandelion greens
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt

1.) Whirl dandelion greens and eggs in a blender until smooth.
2.) Transfer to a bowl, add salt and start adding flour while beating with a spoon. Keep adding until dough is stiff.
3.) Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth (approximately 5 minutes).
4.) Roll out with rolling pin to 1/8"-1/4" thickness or thinner.
5.) Allow to stand and dry 1 hour, then cut into strips. 6.) Drop into boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes.

How easy and delicious does that sound?!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Banana Ice Cream

via Apartment Therapy
So, my friend Corinne posted on her Facebook last week that she was going to make ice cream using a recipe from Apartment Therapy. Ice cream from 1 ingredient...Out of nothing but BANANAS. Intriguing? Yes. 

Here in Seattle, we often buy bananas from the local Asian market, because they sell them in 5 lbs bags for 99 cents. 99 cents! That's as good as those green apples I found last time! I love a good deal.

I try recipes from the internet often, but because I am idiotic enough to believe most of what I read, those recipes aren't always great. (BTW, did you know that there is a spell you can chant to become a MERMAID???) This ice cream recipe however, was wonderful. It was simple, delicious, healthy, and very satisfying. It's also very banana-y. Warning! You may need to be a fan of bananas in order to enjoy banana ice cream. Luckily, we like bananas, but more importantly, MY NEPHEW LOVED IT. I got him to eat healthy food without extra sugar and force feeding. Amazing. It's like I tricked him, but without the negative consequences. I feel drunk on power.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bavarian Apple Torte from Joy of Baking

So those apples that I referenced in the last post? I've made a few things with them, but am still looking for that WOW, THAT'S ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTLEY FANTASTIC apple recipe.

Bavarian Apple Torte

 I burned the top just a bit in my quest for a golden look. Luckily, it didn't affect the taste.

So it's not really a true to the recipe, since I didn't have almonds or a spring board pan. I also didn't have any confectioner's sugar, so I just whirred some white sugar around in the food processor until it was powdery. My next step to halve the recipe. It's usually dessert for only 2 people, so I didn't want the torte to sit out for longer than necessary if we didn't finish it immediately. You'll notice that in the pictures, the apple slices extend to the edges of the baking dish. That's because they're in little ramekins...our apples are not gargantuan here in Washington.

I enjoyed working with this recipe. It was really easy to make, and the shortbread crust was my favorite part. If I make it again, I'll probably take the skin off the apples (I forgot then got lazy), and more cream cheese. Always. More. Cream. Cheese. Considering that I lacked some of the ingredients/utensils, baked them in ramekins (which was more than enough for 2), and burned the top, it was a success because it was still edible (and tasty).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I love pineapple upside down cake. It's warm, gooey, and has fruit so it's extremely healthy. Not really healthy, but it is delicious. When I've made it in the past, it had the typical rings of canned pineapple with maraschino cherry halves in the center, thick brown sugar and butter sauce, and boxed white/yellow cake mix thrown on top. It's a simple dessert that looks like it took some effort.

The other night, as I was making dinner, I looked into the fridge to see what ingredients I had ready to make an apple pie. (We'd just bought a 5lbs bag of granny smith apples at the market for 99 cents!) But when I looked in the fridge, I noticed a small container of pineapple that I'd bought on discount from the market, but never finished eating.

Pineapple upside down cake came to mind. "But it's so HEAVY," I thought. It's warm and comforting, but as soon as your eyes roll back into place from the top of your head, you realize that your veins are no longer pumping blood but butter! How could I make it a bit healthier?

I vowed then and there, in front of the refrigerator, to challenge myself to try to recreate the cake, but without (most of) the guilt.
What are you doing?” My sister asked, “Why are you just standing there?”
Mind your own business! ... Do you want pineapple cake for dessert?”
Mmm, ok!"

So, I took the pineapple chunks, and ran it through the food processor until it had the consistency of apple sauce. I was running out of brown sugar, and the cake was going to have enough butter, so I skipped the syrup. I added a little bit of flour and strawberry preserves to thicken the pineapple sauce up a bit. (Not really sure if that step added anything, but I was in the “Ratatouille zone,” you know? Where Remy is like, crazy inspired and just throwing all sorts of things into the soup pot? You know what scene I'm talking about???) 
My next step was the cake. I'm not experienced enough to make my own cake batter, and  I didn't even know what ingredients went into a butter cake! So, with the help of the forums over at, I found this recipe. Here is the recipe from a forum member (candykisses_Oklahoma), but with my changes in parenthesis. I didn't have all of the ingredients:

1 c. butter flavored Crisco (I used ½ c butter & ½ c margarine)
2 c. sugar (I reduced it to 1 ¼ c, because we don't like it too sweet)
4 eggs
3 c. flour (we had AP, unbleached)
1 T. baking powder
3/4 c. buttermilk (¾ c sour milk = 3/4 c whole milk + 3/4 tbs of vinegar)
1/4 c. whole milk
1 t. vanilla (2 tsp imitation vanilla)

Cream butter flavored Crisco, gradually adding sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk and buttermilk. Mix well. Add in vanilla. Mix well. (Spoon pineapple sauce mixture into bottom of pan, sprinkle with cinnamon.)
Pour (batter) into a 9x13" cake pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
Bake 350 for around 25-30 min. or until toothpick stuck in center of cake comes out clean. (Or, in my case, cover the cake with foil when the top becomes alarmingly dark, while the rest of the cake has not yet fully cooked.)

There you have it, pineapple upside down cake, but the “healthy” version. 

Ok, ok. It's not pretty. It's not what you expect from most versions of pineapple upside down cake, but it really was delicious. The cake wasn't overly sweet, the edges were a bit crisp when you bit into it, it was soft and (gross word alert!) moist. I loved it, and so did my family. And I's not really healthy. There's still a cup of butter/margarine in it, and it's CAKE! The only healthy cake I've ever come across has always been some sort of lie. BUT I figured that since I didn't use a box cake (where I would not have had any control over the ingredients), and used fresh pineapple without the sugar/butter sauce dumped in, then it had to be a LITTLE bit healthier, right? It is in my mind, at least!
 Depressingly sad, unbaked, uneaten apples

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bread making

I was going through a list of recipes and technique sites that I've collected over the years, and came across this really informative one that I hadn't watched in a while.  It's about baking bread, and though it sounds boring, bear with me and give it a watch. If you're short on time, at least skip to 0:16. Let me know what you think...

Edit: The video isn't showing half of the screen when I replay it here, but you can view it on YouTube here.