Sunday, December 29, 2013


This year we decided to try something new for our evening Christmas dinner.  We went to one of the hotels which serves a a very popular and expensive buffet at Christmas.  I was amazed by the number of people waiting in line to get a table.  Reservations are a must and are made many weeks, if not months in advance. To get prime time reservations some people make their reservations during the summer, especially if it is a large group of people.  They are only so many seatings at specified times and I think the catering manager factors in about two plus hours per table.  It is also not an inexpensive proposition to eat at this hotel and unless you are a defensive linebacker for a football team, you could not eat the quantity to justify the price of the meal.  But the food was delicious and the service was very good.

It was a great place to people watch and I was struck by the number of two or three person tables.  In a number of cases, you could tell that the particular table included an adult child and their parent.  There were also several people eating on their own.  I also saw families of siblings eating together or groups of friends who wanted to have a traditional Christmas meal and wanted the ease of having someone else cook.  

Going out to a hotel or a restaurant for Christmas supper certainly takes the stress out of cooking and cleaning up and also the decision of what to make if you want to have a meal that includes some of the nostalgic food you had while growing up.

I am sure there are many stories to tell about why people eating at this hotel made the decision to eat out versus creating a meal at someone's home.  It may have made a funny Woody Allen movie as we all have stories to tell and in a movie you could create those side bar conversations that only a Woody Allen movie does so well.

Here is what I ate.  I decided to skip the salads as I was going to be selective in my choices and fill up on certain foods.  I didn't eat everything on my plate as sometimes a taste was enough.
First course: smoked fish, crust of a slice of bread, grilled vegetables, marinated vegetables and shrimp.

Main course: roast beef, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, one pierogi and vermicelli noodles.

Main course: roast beef, smoked salmon and mashed potatoes with sour cream.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Some stews that I make are more vegetable based than meat based while others have a few vegetables added but the focus is the meat.  This stew is a meat based stew.  You can add more vegetables than what is suggested in this recipe.  For example you could add celery, carrots and grated zucchini.

You can use a variety of cuts of meat and this recipe would be a chicken or a beef based stew.  In the freezer we had some thick boneless pork loin chops so I used these lean chops to make the stew.  I like adding peanut butter to recipes and I have posted several recipes that use peanut butter as one of the ingredients.  This stew is a good recipe and you can serve it with rice if desired.

I used an emile henry cast iron pot to make the stew.  A cast iron pot is great to have as it goes from stove to oven and it is great to use for sauteing and baking.  I also bake bread in a cast iron pot and I like the crunchiness of the crust that is created when it is baked in a cast iron pot.

Mushrooms, onions and garlic being sautéed.

Red pepper added to the pot.

All ingredients have been added and ready to cook in the oven.

Ready to serve.


1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves. thinly chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
handful of mushrooms, chopped
1.5 to 2 pounds of boneless, lean pork, cubed
1-2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a cast iron pot on medium high.  Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and sauté for about five minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low if the onions and garlic are starting to brown.  Add the coloured pepper and cubed pork and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.  Add the sesame oil and peanut butter and combine well.  Season if you want with salt and pepper.  Cover the pot with a lid and place the pot in the oven and bake for two hours at 325 degrees F.  Serves 4 to 5.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


In the coffee shops I patronize, morning glory muffins are a popular muffin sold along with coffee or a latte.  These muffins include apple, raisins, some nuts, sometimes coconut and cinnamon or other spices.  I modified the recipe I had to make it gluten free, used splenda instead of sugar and added apple sauce and coconut.  In my zealous in peeling and grating carrots, I had more than 2 cups which the recipe called for.  I added it anyways.  I also used one cup of apple sauce instead of 3/4 of a cup so I baked the muffins for longer than 20 minutes.  If you follow the quantities called for in the ingredients, the cooking time should be closer to 20 minutes.

2 cups ground almond meal
1 cup splenda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrots
1 apple - peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup raisins
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/3 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.   Lightly oil 24 muffin cups, or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, apple sauce, oil and vanilla.

In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, walnuts and raisins. Stir in apple mixture until just moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.

Modified from

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I sometimes buy golden beets instead of red beets.  The golden beets have a bit of a milder taste and are easier to peel and cook as there are no beet stains.  I had bought a bag of golden beets at Costco over a month ago and I wanted to cook up the last remaining four beets.  Instead of using vinegar you could use maple syrup or brown sugar.  I would probably use less than two tablespoons of sugar.  The beets did glaze nicely and the DH and company enjoyed them as part of the supper meal.


4 golden beets
2 tbsp maple flavoured balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup apple juice
salt and pepper to taste


Clean the beets, quarter them and cook them in a covered dish in the microwave for ten minutes.  Drain, let cool, then peel them and slice into small pieces.  

On medium high heat, add the beets, vinegar and apple juice to a medium size frying pan.  Once the liquid starts to boil, reduce heat to low, stir occasionally and cook for ten minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. There should be minimal liquid left in the plan as the beets are starting to glaze.  Serves 4 to 5.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I have a few cookbooks by Dana Carpender.  She focuses on low carb recipes.  One of her cookbooks focuses on using a slow cooker.  In making this recipe, I used tomato soup instead of diced tomatoes and the cut of beef was around two pounds. I didn't reduce the volume of liquid.  The roast turned out wonderful and was enjoyed by all.


3 1/2 pounds beef roast such as a sirloin tip
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp beef bouillon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 small can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Replace the can of diced tomatoes and cup of beef bouillon with a can of tomato soup, one can of water used to rinse out the can of tomato soup and 2 tsp beef bouillon.


In a heavy frying pan, sear the beef in the oil until browned all over.  Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Scatter the onions and garlic around the beef.

In the frying pan, stir the broth, bouillon, vinegar and rosemary.  Pour the mixture over the beef.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the slow cooker, set to low and cook for eight hours.  When ready to serve, scoop the onions out with a slotted spoon and pile them around the roast.  Serves 8.

Adapted from 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes by Dana Carpender.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


It has been a long time since I made cheese cake.  I have been looking at this recipe from the Wheat Belly book and decided to make it.  It turned out really well and the DH had seconds.  Instead of using ground pecans for the crust, you could use ground walnuts or almonds.  I used pecans.  You can also make this into a chocolate cheesecake by adding 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the filling.  As with cheesecakes, you can add berries, chocolate shavings or fruit preserves when serving.   I baked this cheesecake in a convection oven and for the last ten minutes I lowered the heat to 300 degrees F.


1 1/2 cups of ground pecans
1/3 cup splenda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

16 oz light cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup splenda
dash of sea salt
3 eggs
juice of one lemon 
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 

Making the crust:  Combine the ground pecans, splenda and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Combine.  Add the egg, butter and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 10 inch pie plate.  Spread the crumb mixture 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the sides of the pan.

Making the filling:  Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, splenda and salt in a large bowl.  Blend well.  Add the eggs, lemon juice, zest and vanilla.  Using an electric mixer, beat at low speed for a minute to blend.   

Pour the filing into the crust.  Bake for about 50 minutes until nearly firm in the center.  Cool the cheesecake on a rack.  Chill before serving.   Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


We have had to make some adjustments to how toilet paper is provided in the bathrooms in our home.  This is not a new issue in this household.  I wrote a column about it a few years ago describing the dog's toilet paper fetish.  When the dog was younger, his desire to run around with a toilet paper roll in his mouth caused some minor renovations to be done on the bathroom.  I also admit that I have a toilet paper fetish.  When there are less than six rolls left in the house you would think there is a major crisis going to happen.  That is a rare occurrence as I am usually on top of monitoring the supply and restocking the stash of toilet paper.

Toilet paper is bought in bulk - either a 24 or 36 roll package.  A few rolls are kept in each of the bathroom cabinets while the rest is stored in the basement.  This Spring I noticed that the toilet paper and paper towels being stored in the basement were bearing marks of something trying to shred the packaging.  The packaging was being torn and the paper towels were starting to get shredded.  After dealing with throwing out some of the rolls, we purchased two large rubbermaid storage totes and one was used for storing paper towels and the second one for toilet paper.  I thought I fixed this one.  I outsmarted the invisible paper towel and toilet paper culprit.  Of course I knew who the culprit was.  He has four legs, has fur and weighs about 14 pounds or so.

The toilet paper fetish moved from the basement to the bathroom.  We would find shredded toilet paper on the floors of the bathrooms and a good part of the paper from the roll would be lying on the floor.  After this occurred a number of times, my patience was becoming limited.  The toilet paper came off of the holder and was placed on top of the toilet tank.  I now have a new decorative bathroom accessory that hangs on the wall and has no purpose.

The new bathroom accessory. 
That change didn't deter the culprit.  The shredding continued.  I had to make decorating changes.  The question was how to store the toilet paper roll in the bathroom and make it accessible to the user.

Rubbermaid has many uses.
Plastic containers are not just for storing food.  They have many uses.  This particular container is one I have had for years and it is round and nicely holds the roll.  I could't find a similar container for the other rolls in the other bathrooms when searching multiple stores.  Square containers are the norm these days so I bought square containers and have to squeeze the toilet paper roll into the container when using a new roll so that the lid can be snapped on.  After the roll gets used and smaller in width, the challenge disappears.  

I hope the culprit doesn't maintain this fetish for too long and bathroom life can return back to normal.
The culprit.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I posted a vegetable soup a few years ago with black beans.  This recipe is a bit different.  It does not include corn and uses less black beans.  It is a good recipe to make for lunches and of course I will be taking this soup to work as part of my lunch.  I used my pressure cooker to make this soup and cooked it for 17 minutes.


1 - 19 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tbsp oil
3 medium sized carrots, chopped
2 -3 zucchini, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cumin
8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Add onions, garlic and celery and saute for five minutes on medium high heat.  Lower heat if vegetables are started to brown.  Add a little bit of water if vegetables are sticking.

Add beans, carrots, zucchini, broth and spices.  Cover and simmer for about an hour.  Stir occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm by Noreen Gilletz

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I recently bought the Wheat Belly Cookbook.  It has a number of interesting recipes.  I modified one of the recipes and made muffins using a loaf recipe.  I also made some substitutions.  Instead of using dates, nutmeg and cloves, I used chopped prunes and all spice.  The muffins turned out great.

Prune Nut Muffins


1 1/3 cup almond meal/flour
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp salt
¾ cup chopped pitted prunes, chopped
½ cup pecans, chopped
2 eggs
1 egg white
¼ cup oil or melted butter
½ cup milk or buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, flaxseed, baking powder and soda, spices and salt.  Add the nuts and prunes.  Stir to combine.

In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, egg whites, oil or butter and milk and beat lightly.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix to combine.  Spoon in the muffin tin cups.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until done. 

Modified from The Wheat Belly Cookbook

Saturday, October 26, 2013


A Bonnie Stern recipe usually does not require much tweaking.  Such is the case with this apple cobbler from her book "Friday Night Dinners".   I included my tweaks in the ingredients and did change the amount of sugar she used in the topping.  I thought the sugar could be reduced so I made the change in the ingredient list.  I used pink lady apples but any variety would work.  I used nine apples as some of the apples had bruises so I peeled an extra one to make up for the parts that had been cut away while peeling the apples.  Of course this cobbler was wonderful and the DH and company enjoyed it.


8 apples, peeled and thin - medium slices
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg or cardamon
1/2 cup sugar or splenda


1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown or white sugar or 3/4 cup splenda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
pinch salt
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine


Place apples in a large mixing bowl and toss with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.  Butter a 13 X 9 inch baking pan and spread the apples across the baking pan.

Using the same mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the dish and add the eggs.   Combine the eggs the with flour until it is a crumbly texture.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the apples.  Drizzle with the melted butter.  Bake in a preheated over at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes or until the apples are tender.   Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I must admit, I have gone overboard with a recent love.  This summer I stopped in at a specialty store that only sells olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tapenade, and olives.  The store is located in another city not far from where we live.  I had heard about this store but had not had the opportunity to visit it.  When I walked in and saw the variety of oils and vinegars I thought this experience was going to be much better than a store that sells chocolate or kitchen gadgets.  Their feature of buy five bottles and get the sixth one free was also a very good selling point.  And did I buy.  This store called Oliv has since opened at location close to where we live.  Using flavoured vinegars and oils has replaced any thought of using store bought salad dressings.

I have been using the vinegars and oils on much than just salads.  I only photographed four of the balsamic flavours that I use.  Besides garlic, cilantro, coconut, chocolate raspberry and maple, I have developed relationships with sesame ginger, cherry and grapefruit balsamic vinegar.

To give you some examples of what is possible with these vinegars consider this:
-toss cooked green beans with sesame ginger vinegar
-add sesame ginger vinegar to stir fries
-add sesame ginger vinegar to cooked vermicelli noodles
-marinate uncooked steel head trout or salmon with maple vinegar
-toss shrimp with coconut vinegar while sautéing the shrimp
-drizzle maple walnut or caramel ice cream with maple vinegar
-thaw frozen fruit and drizzle it with chocolate raspberry vinegar
-use chocolate raspberry vinegar in place of chocolate sauce
-add garlic cilantro vinegar to beef marinade
-drizzle any of your favourite vinegars on popcorn

I especially like drizzling fruit with chocolate raspberry vinegar.  It helps with the chocolate craving.  You can also add a tablespoon of some of the fruit flavoured vinegars to smoothies.  I am sure that there are many other foods that would go well with flavoured vinegars.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This is another one of my favourite soups.  The combination of vegetables, barley and sweet potato makes a great soup.  Instead of cooking this soup in a pot on the stove, I used an electric pressure cooker.  I didn't saute the vegetables but added everything to the pressure cooker pot and cooked it for 21 minutes on medium pressure.  My pressure cooker has three gauges - low, medium and high.  For the beans I used dried navy beans.  You could use canned beans and of course reduce the cooking time.

All the ingredients added to the pressure cooker. 

Barley, Bean and Potato Soup


1 cup dried white beans (navy or pea)
3 cups water
2 tsp canola or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
8 cups broth or water
4 carrots, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste


Soak beans in water overnight.  Drain water and rinse well.  Heat oil in a large soup pot to medium high.  Saute onions and celery for five minutes until golden but not overly brown in colour.   If heat is too high, reduce to medium or medium low.   Add zucchini and pepper and cook for five minutes longer.   Add water if vegetables are starting to stick.  Add remaining ingredients except for the salt.  Cover the pot with a lid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two and a half hours.   Stir occasionally.  Add salt when finished cooking.  Serves 8 to 10 depending on portion size.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm

Saturday, October 5, 2013


It can be a bit of a gamble at times when you make a recipe to take to a dinner party and it is the first time you have ever made this particular recipe.  There can be some risks that the recipe won't work, the cake doesn't rise or it tastes awful.  This didn't happen for me when I made a new recipe for a honey cake.  The cake rose, it didn't crumble when taking it out of the bundt pan, the bottom was not burned, and it tasted wonderful.  I made a few changes with the ingredients.  I didn't have orange juice so I used 1/2 cup of whisky and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  I cut down on the sugar and used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup splenda instead of the full amount of sugar.  The original recipe called for 1.5 cups of white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  I also dusted the cake with icing sugar once it cooled down.  In fact I dusted the cake with icing sugar the following day after baking.  I baked the cake early one evening after work, I made sure it cooled down before wrapping it with saran wrap and the next day I sprinkled it with icing sugar before taking it to the dinner party we were invited to.  It is recommended to make honey cake the day before you serve it to allow for the flavours to develop.

Batter mixed and ready to be poured into the pan.

I used a bundt pan to bake the cake.

Cooling after coming out of the oven.

I dusted the cake with some icing sugar after it cooled down.

Serving sliced pieces of cake.


cooking spray
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup splenda
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed coffee (decaf is fine)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup whiskey

Place an oven shelf in an upper position in oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 10-inch fluted tube pan (such as a Bundt® pan) with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the unbleached flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, honey, white and brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, coffee, orange juice, and whiskey. With an electric mixer, beat the flour mixture into the honey mixture just until the batter is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake on upper shelf in the preheated oven until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, about 1 hour.  Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning the cake out onto a serving platter.

Adapted from

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


With the abundance of tomatoes in the garden along with preferring homemade spaghetti sauce over store bought brands, I recently made a big batch of sauce.  I like my sauce to have vegetables and not just be concentrated tomato paste.  I freeze batches in generous one cup portions and I was able to freeze seven containers to enjoy over the next number of months.  


2 tbsp oil
2 onions, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 coloured pepper, chopped
6 - 8 mushrooms, sliced 
1 small to medium size zucchini, chopped
15  tomatoes, skinned, and quartered
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
salt and pepper to taste


In a large stock pot heat the oil on medium high heat, add  the onions, garlic and celery, reduce the heat to medium and saute for 7 to 10 minutes.  

Add the rest of the ingredients except the basil, cover the pot with a lid, heat to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Add the basil in the last half hour of cooking.  Because you are reducing the water content in the sauce I like to stir the pot every 20 to 30 minutes.   Let it simmer for 2.5 hours or until you feel the sauce is concentrated enough.  Makes about 8 generous cups of sauce.    

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


On several shopping trips to one locally owned grocery store I have seen this product on the shelf.  I decided to buy it as I was intrigued.  It is powdered peanut butter.  I know some of you don't eat peanut butter for several reasons including mould on peanuts, it may be non-organic and allergies.  This product is processed as the fat is reduced, there is some sugar added and it is made into a powder.

I still like it even if it is processed and made into a powder.  I have been adding a tablespoon to my overnight oatmeal recipe and I must admit it is quite enjoyable.  It may be healthier for me to add real  almond butter instead to my oatmeal but the lower fat and calorie option in using this product has captured my taste buds and waist line.  The company also makes a chocolate powdered peanut butter.  I haven't tried it yet. There are other foods you can add this peanut butter powder to including smoothies, pancakes, thai stews, cookies and other recipes where you would add peanut butter.

PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter


Roasted peanuts, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 13
  • Total fat 1.5 g 
  • Saturated fat 0 g 
  • Trans fat 0.01 g
  • Cholesterol 0.01 mg 
  • Sodium 94 mg 
  • Total carbohydrate 5 g 
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sugars 1 g
  • Protein 5 g

Friday, September 13, 2013


We had company staying for several days and I wanted to make a big pot of soup to have for lunches.  I have always liked the combination of barley and mushrooms and I decided to add beans to have more substance in the soup.  I used dried navy beans, soaked them overnight, and made the soup early the next morning.  You can use other beans and also canned beans if that is more convenient for you.  If using canned beans, you can shorten the cooking time.  We all enjoyed the soup and I will definitely make it again.

Ingredients being added to the pressure cooker.

All set to go.

A bowl of wonderful tasting soup.


1 tbsp canola or olive oil
1 - 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 small potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 cups mushrooms. chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup navy, dry and pre soaked
8 cups of water, chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp basil or 5 leaves fresh
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Soak the beans overnight or for 8 hours in 3 cups of cold water.  Drain and rinse well.

Heat the oil on medium high heat in a soup pot and saute the onion, garlic and celery for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Heat to a boiling point and then let simmer for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  If the cooked soup is too thick, add some water to thin.  Serves 8 to 10.

If you are making this in an electric pressure cooker, you can saute the onion, garlic and celery in the pressure cooker if your cooker has that cooking feature.  Cook using the pressure cooker at medium heat for 21 minutes.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm by Noreen Gilletz

Saturday, September 7, 2013


I have a number of herbs in my fridge along with cucumbers and I found this recipe that uses herbs, cucumbers, tahini and lemon juice.  This sounded like a perfect marriage.  The dressing really complimented the cucumbers and this dish was enjoyed by my supper guests.


1.5 pounds cucumbers, peeled and cubed into 1/4 to 1/3 inch pieces
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp warm water (may need to add more if tahini is really thick)
1/2 clove garlic, minced
zest from one lemon
1/3 cup red onion, chopped or 2 shallots, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Toss the cubed cucumbers with salt in a colander. Let drain in the sink while you chop the other ingredients and make the dressing.

In a large bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice and warm water. Stir to combine.  Add the garlic, lemon zest and onion.

Briefly rinse the cucumbers under cold water and pat to dry with paper towels.  Add the cucumbers to the bowl with the dressing and gently combine.  Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix.  Store in the fridge until ready to be served.  Serves 4 to 6.

adapted from

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Based on the reviews of this tahini chickpea dressing, I thought it would great as a dressing for salads and vegetables.  What is interesting about it is that it includes chickpeas.  It reminds me of hummus but it also includes ginger and nutritional yeast which is not found in typical hummus recipes.

In making this recipe, I used 1/2 tsp of store bought minced ginger.  I have bought several items from this company including minced ginger and sushi ginger.  I like using minced ginger because of the convenience.  I also used ground flaxseed instead of chia seed.  Because chia seed becomes more gelatinous after it sits in liquid I think it would be a better ingredient to use in the dressing as it would help make the dressing more thicker than ground flaxseed.  One to two cloves of garlic can be added to the dressing.  I used one clove as the cloves were not small and I didn't want to make the dressing overly strong with garlic.  The dressing lasts for several days in the fridge.  I will definitely make this dressing again.   I really enjoyed the taste.

A great condiment to have in your fridge

The dressing is ready to be stored in the fridge.

The dressing is added to a vegetable salad.

Tahini-Chickpea Dressing

1/4 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp chia seed or ground flaxseeds
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger-root, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place all ingredients into blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended.  Refrigerate until well chilled. Dressing will continue to thicken while chilling.  Add extra water by the teaspoon if dressing is too thick.
Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Adapted from

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The cucumbers are plentiful in the garden this year.  It helps that the DH waters them, they grow up on a kind of ladder cages and we planted enough to counter any plants that might not survive during the early stages of growing.  A small challenge that is encountered is the DOG.  He likes to pull cucumbers off the plants, chomp on them and leave half eaten cucumbers on the lawn.  So it does require some vigilance at times to ensure he is not sampling the cucumbers.

I decided to tweak the recipe that I posted a few years ago for ice cream pail pickles.  I made the same recipe with a few adjustments.  I put the sliced cucumbers in a large mixing bowl.  I used a mandoline to thinly slice them.  I heated up the sugar, vinegars, salt and spices in a medium size pot to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes to ensure that the sugar had dissolved.  I think dissolving the sugar is important and making a non heated mixture doesn't ensure that the sugar is really dissolved.  I then poured the liquid over the cucumbers sitting in the mixing bowl.  You may think you don't have enough liquid but the cucumbers have their own juices and the volume of liquid does increase.

Instead of putting the cucumbers and liquid into a large ice cream pail and then placing in the fridge, I decided to use large canning jars instead.  I ensured that the jars and lids were clean but I didn't sterilize the jars in the oven.  There was enough made to fill four large jars.  It is easier to store and use the pickles in a jar than a large ice cream pail.  In the past I would be transferring the pickles from the ice cream pail that is kept in a fridge in the basement to a canning jar for storage and use in the kitchen fridge.  Now I cut out one step and made serving the pickles easier.   It will be a few days before I sample the first jar. 

Friday, August 23, 2013


My friend Marg posted this recipe on facebook and it looked too good to pass up.  Plus I had zucchini from the garden as an excuse to make these brownies.  These brownies don't require flour and are gluten free.  In making these brownies I used agave syrup for the sugar and only used almond extract in place of vanilla or maple extract.  I also toasted the pecans beforehand while the oven was warming up to bake the brownies.  Since I had an open jar of cashew butter in the fridge, I used that instead of the almond butter.  You can also use peanut butter.  I found that I needed to bake these brownies for over 40 minutes.  I added a bit more than 1.5 cups of shredded zucchini so the brownies were extra moist.  It is no use to save ends of zucchini in the fridge as the likelihood of ends being used up is not going to occur.  The batter and brownies are dark as I used dark cocoa.

The brownies are delicious and won't last long between ourselves and friends inhaling this baking.

Mixing the batter.

Ready for sampling.



1 cup natural almond butter
1 ½ cups grated zucchini
½ cup maple syrup or agave 
1/3 cup raw cacao or cocoa
1 egg (vegans use 1 egg replacement)
1 tsp vanilla extract (option - use almond extract)
1 tsp maple extract (or use vanilla)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pecans 
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour mixture into an 8×8 or 8X10 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

adapted from