Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hemp Hearts and Peanut Butter Cookies

I was going to type up some little journal entry, but I'm too tired. This past weekend was a drawn-out series of social and physical exertion and I'm fork-poking done. This coming weekend will be just as bad.

Fortunately, these cookies are easy and satisfying. They are made with hemp hearts and peanut butter with a few other things thrown in for good measure. I ate them for a snack yesterday and again for breakfast today.

If you are one of those people that needs motivation to scarf cookies, then you should know that three tablespoons of hemp hearts packs 10 grams of protein and a veritable potpourri of vitamins and minerals. Add the peanut butter's stats to those numbers, and you're good.

Crunchy Hemp PB Cookies
Adapted from Adam Hart's Recipe
2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

1 cup Hemp Hearts
1 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
2 Large Eggs
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Rolled Oats

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Roll dough into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with the greased bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Slices of Sunshine for Easter

Christos Aneste!
Christ is Risen!

Alithos Anesti!
 He is Risen Indeed!

 Happy Easter, Everyone! I hope you all are enjoying this Easter season.

I must apologize for my absence last week. I came here several times to post, found I wasn't sure what I could say, and then was distracted by posts from my fellow bloggers. I'm always smiling when I read my friends' blogs- particularly A Little White Bird and Under the Bear Hood. A Little White Bird shares pretty snapshots of the emerging spring with a simple, honest joy. Under the Bear Hood serves up charming art with an occasional dash of brutal humor.
I really ought to do a more in-depth features for both these blogs, as well as a few others. Please look forward to them in the coming weeks!

So, in short, I was kept away by my own vague brain and the excuse to procrastinate that only a good read and pretty pictures can offer
But today I make my return!
Bring out the trumpets!
For my welcome back gift, I offer photos and a recipe for Lemon Turmeric Pickles.

I've mentioned before how much we like adventures in the kitchen. In that adventurous spirit, the Boss-lady bought some raw turmeric tubers on a shopping trip. She had no idea what to do with them, but she thought they looked funky. So into her basket they went.


The challenge of what to do with them fell to me. My gigantic Larousse Gastronomique had few clues to help me in my quest- just a couple flavor pairing suggestions and a brief overview of the spice's history.

The internet revealed a few more clues. I learned they should be stored like garlic; in a cool, dark, dry place. The refrigerator is too moist, but a basket on the counter out of direct light should be fine in most kitchens. The tubers can be converted to the more familiar dry powder after roasting, drying, and an amount of grinding too insane to be cost effective in our little home kitchen.

I could use the tubers to grow my own turmeric plants which I could harvest for a bigger yield later. For that, the tubers must be stored in a dry, dark spot until buds begin to sprout. One would then cut the tubers into shorter pieces and plant.

I also picked up some info about the spice's health benefits. Eating a half teaspoon a day can reduce inflammation, among other things.

For all this, culinary use of the whole, raw tuber seemed to be restricted to juicing in smoothies, crushing into cold-combating elixirs, and pickles. Potables didn't appeal to me that day so I chose to explore the third option.

A couple of the turmeric pickle recipes I found used lemon juice as its only acid. I took a page from the Gastronomique and used ginger as an accompanying spice. I had noticed that the internet said to eat pepper with turmeric, and my health-conscious mom echoed that. Garlic and salt played their parts in this recipe as well. The salt was pink because I find it hard to pass up an opportunity to use it wherever I can.


These are pungent. Biting into one is like putting a crisp slice of sunshine between your teeth. The flavor is an explosion of bright lemon. While the taste is a little too strong to eat alone, I really enjoy a couple slices on a cracker with pesto or nestled into a hearty sandwich. I imagine these would also be great chopped into a relish or a tangy potato salad.


Lemon Pickled Turmeric
1 cup Turmeric Tubers
3 Large Cloves Garlic
1 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 Salt
1 tsp Coarsely Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp ground Ginger

Peel the turmeric and slice them thinly lengthways or on a diagonal. Try to make the slices between 2 and 3 millimeters thick. Skin and slice the garlic to the same width. Toss garlic and turmeric slices into a jar.

Mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ginger then pour over turmeric and garlic.

Close up the jar and give a good shake. Let sit in the fridge for 2-3 days.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This coming weekend in Houston is the annual Japanese Festival in Herman Park! Since I joined my dojo three years ago, I've awaited the festival every year with anticipation and bated breath. I've performed in our festival demos since joining, and I think I'm finally getting the hang of the emotional roller coaster of performing in public.

Step one: Panic.
What if I mess it up? I invited friends and family to come and watch. I don't want to look bad in front of them. They're looking forward to seeing something great. What if I disappoint them? Anyway, I won't be the only one I might embarrass. If I mess up, I make my whole dojo look bad. What if my partner doesn't show up? What if he forgets which technique I'm supposed to do? What if I get stage fright? What if I already have stage fright? Oh no! Is this stage fright? Oh gosh! I have stage fright! Great. Now I'm shivering and perspiring cold sweat. Lovely. Now I'm going to look all bedraggled in front of the entire city of Houston- if I ever do make it on stage. Is my hair okay?

Step two: Over compensate.
Okay. Calm down, self. I'm only going to be up there for less than 15 seconds anyway. Just get pumped up and you'll do fine. Talk to other people. That'll distract you. *Sees random team mate* HI LOVELY FELLOW DOJO FRIEND!! LET'S BE AWESOME!!

Step three: Perform.
*Enter stage, bow, and breathe deep* KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Step four: Realize it's over.
Is it over? Did I even do my technique? I did? I even did it well and looked great? Seriously? But I missed it. Let's go again!

Step five: Enjoy the Festival.
*Runs about still in uniform* Ooh! Lookit kimonos! Lookit tea ceremony! Lookit Taiko drummers! Lookit origami! Lookit deep fried Japanese food! Lookit! LOOKIT!

And on Sunday, I get to do it all again!

To celebrate the coming fest, I'm sharing my own method for making onigiri.
Onigiri are made of rice and a filling- This can be anything you like. Meat, fish, or veggies.I've made sweet-spicy pork filling. I've broiled canned tuna and mixed it with sauce to make a filling. You can braise mushrooms in soy sauce and use them.
My method for making them was gleaned from reading several Japanese cookbooks and glancing about online. There are other methods for various skill levels, but mine is a good way for a beginner to start.

First, get everything together

I'm right handed and like to work left to right. If you're left handed or prefer to work right to left, reverse your set up.
You will need:
* Pot of hot rice
* Wooden spoon (I know my picture shows a metal spoon. Do as I say, not as I do. I do stupid things sometimes and scratch the bottoms of pots.)
* Filling of choice
* Bowl of cold salt water
* Teacup, or whatever you plan on using for a mold
* Plate

Set everything up as in the above picture before you start. Once you start, you're hands will be covered in hot, sticky rice and you won't want to scramble for a plate.

Step 2

Rub the tea cup and your hands with the salty water. Dump any puddles back into the bowl.

Step 3

Fill the cup about half way with hot rice.

Step 4
Dig a pit in the center of the rice, pressing the rice against the walls of the cup.

Step 5
Fill the pit with your filling of choice- about a tablespoon.

Step 6

 Cover the filling with 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot rice.

And tap it down firmly and evenly.

Step 7
Invert your cup over a plate.
Give your cup a tap, then lift the cup away.
 If your onigiri doesn't slide free from the cup, give it another solid tap.
Stubborn onigiri means the cup was too dry or the rice got too cold.


Repeat with the rest of your rice and filling.

If you want to take these with you on a picnic (say, to your local Japanese festival to watch the Jujitsu performance) let the onigiri cool and wrap them individually in plastic wrap before packing in a cooler.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cake among Friends

I'd like to take this chance to throw some confetti in the air and introduce my personal friend and a talented baker: The Charming Martha! We met a couple years back in my old stomping ground- a kitchen, of course. I was senior staff (by about six months) when she came in, bright eyed and full of dreams. I left to pursue adult life (whatever that means) while she stayed and further perfected our craft. Some of the things she whips up now blow me away.
We get together these days as our schedules allow and have baking challenges. Our most recent collaboration was a beautiful Princess Cake.

She'll give you the recipe over on her blog, A Girl of Twists and Turns.

I have so much fun working with this lady. We researched recipes for a month before finally cracking down to bake. The recipe we settled on was from Donal Skehan, despite the confusing UK ingredient names. A note for all our fellow ignorant Americans: What we call 'corn starch,' folks in the UK call 'cornflour.' We made a couple of minor adjustments to the recipe (forgive us, Donal) which you can read about over on Martha's post.

Like I said, I had fun with this recipe. We trotted out in the morning to hunt down marzipan; we sang old songs of the South while beating cream; we cooed at the adorableness that was our mini princess cakes; I stared in fascination as Martha made about a dozen little rose buds to top each cake.

Princess cake is oddly easy to make. It's a delicate sponge cake cut and layered with custard and raspberries or jam. The whole cake is then topped with a mounded heap of whipped cream and a thin sheet of marzipan. There are some tedious details, and you can expect your whole kitchen to be devoted to this one cake for several hours, but it's otherwise simple. So, head on over to A Girl of Twists and Turns and give my friend a visit. Tell her I sent you.