Archive: Mar 2011

  1. Writer’s Block


    Definition of writer’s block: a usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing. Today I am feeling drained of inspirational essence to finish one, two, nope, three papers on my to do list for school. This lack of inspirational essence is really just a euphemism for the “I really don’t have it in me to do this whole research-regurgitate thing right now,” feeling. I hate it when this happens. The blank cursor pulses, I type something out, and then delete it all. Frustrated, I’ll look at the time in the top right hand corner of the computer screen and calculate how many more minutes I can actually afford to waste before everything goes up in flames (the impending due dates, that is). My stunted productivity cracks a window for all sorts of other thoughts to enter the mind and suddenly it’s as if the whole day has been swallowed in quicksand. Just. Can’t. Move.

    Writing a fluid blog post with this state of mind would be sort of like committing an emotional affair. Che Guevara, Apartheid in South Africa, and the Nicaraguan Revolution are patiently awaiting my discourse, and indulging in any further meanderings on life, love, growth, etc. might feel good temporarily but will only leave me worse for the wear. But I digress. Writer’s block. When all else fails, have some gluten-free radicchio and caramelized onion flatbread with fresh parsley and honey. (Recipe Below).

    Gluten Free Crust (adapted from Mark Bittman’s Basic Pizza Dough):

    • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast
    • 3 cups whole wheat or gluten free flour
    • 2 teaspoons coarse Kosher or sea salt
    • 1 to 1 1/4 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for greasing the bowl

    1. Combine the yeast, flour, and salt in a food processor. As it is mixing, 1 cup of water and 2 T of oil.
    2. Mix, adding more water until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky.
    3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few seconds until it forms a smooth round ball. Use a bit of oil to grease a bowl, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free area until it doubles in size (1-2 hours). The gluten free flours, if you choose to go that route, will not rise like wheat. Don’t be discouraged it will still taste good.

    While the dough is rising, prepare topping:

    • 3-4 medium sized Radicchio, shredded
    • 1 small red or yellow onion, sliced thinly (I used red, but next time I’ll use a sweet Wala Wala variety)
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 large or 2 small fuji apples, chopped
    • olive oil
    • balsamic vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
    • honey, for drizzling

    In a medium pan, saute the onion and garlic with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar until they wilt and begin to caramelize (5-8 minutes). Toss in the apples and saute on low heat for another 2-3 minute. Set aside. In a large bowl toss shredded radicchio with olive oil and salt and pepper to wilt. With about 30 minutes left on your dough rise, pre-heat the oven to 450′. Did you know woodfire pizza ovens get up to 800 degrees? Crazy, right? When the oven is ready, roll out (or push out if you’re like me, shamefully without a rolling pin) onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven, and spread a THIN layer of onions first, and follow by piling up on the radicchio (now a bit wilted). Send it back to the oven for another 5 minutes, then hit it with the broiler until the edges begin to brown just slightly. Remove from oven to cool and sprinkle with fresh parsley leaves and drizzle your slice with a  healthy helping of local honey.

    Enjoy, my friends.

  2. Moving and Mason Jars


    In sync with the changes in season, Shaun and I spent this past weekend closing a chapter of our lives by packing up his apartment and moving into the little house down the road that will give him, and us, more room to grow. Moving may sometimes seem like a stressful endeavor, but going through closets, bookshelves, and old boxes helped us to slow down and savor the little mementos of our past that remind how far we’ve come as individuals, and as a couple. Tickets to baseball games, race bibs, old photos from our teens, letters from friends, clippings of the Times that inspired us on Sunday mornings past – just the little things that made us pause to honor the blessings in our lives. When I was boxing up the kitchen supplies I found an old egg-timer that I had accidentally set too close to the open flame of the stove and had half-melted into the tile counter top. It was clearly non-functional and why I didn’t just toss it back then, who knows. But it made me smile – this was the kitchen that Happyolks was born, and even though it was so small we could barely share counter space, it provided us with more memories and laughs than I can count. Late Sunday afternoon after some hardcore deep cleaning, spackling, and trips to Goodwill, we stood in the empty space glad for all that has been and excited for all that is still to come.

    Seventy-five percent of our meals this weekend can be found at your local Whole Foods cold case (Golden Beet and Fennel salad for me, Calzones for him), but I did get around to experimenting with marmalades and preserves as an excuse to test-drive my new mason jars. Yes, I just used “test drive” and mason jars in the same sentence. First, a Grapefruit Ginger Thyme Marmalade and second, a Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Jam. They’re both sweet, and a little savory. That’s kinda what life feels like right about now around these parts. The marmalade is on the sour side, and I think it pairs well will poultry and mild greens. The jam would be lovely with biscuits or shortcake. If you’re feeling virtuous try a gluten free biscuit recipe at either Whole Life Nutrition or Gluten-Free Girl. Wanna splurge? Go for the shortcake recipe with cream from Joy the Baker.

    For the Grapefruit Marmalade, you’ll need

    • 3 large ruby red grapefruits
    • 2 Meyer lemons
    • 2 cups of raw sugar
    • 2-3” nub of ginger, grated
    • a handful of fresh sprigs of thyme

    With a paring knife, peel away the rind and pulp of a grapefruit and set aside. Cut in half, then remove the white membrane from the middle and discard. Cut the grapefruit into 1” chunks and place into a medium sized pot with 3 cups of water. Cut the rind and pulp into very thin strips no more than 2” in length and add to the pot. Repeat with the other two grapefruit and the lemons. Fill the pot with more water until just barely covering the top layer of fruit and rind. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 30 minutes until the rinds are very tender. If the water level falls too low, add a bit of water. After 30 min, stir in the sugar and let the mixture come to a boil again. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the thyme.  Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars to store in the fridge, or go through the heat bath process for long-term storage.

    For the Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Jam, you’ll need:

    • 3 heaping baskets of strawberries
    • 6 (9” to 12”) stalks of rhubarb
    • 2-3” nub of ginger, grated
    • **1 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
    • 1 cup of raw sugar
    • Juice and zest of one meyer lemon
    • Handful of fresh basil

    Rinse the strawberries and rhubarb in warm water and veggie spray (even if they’re organic). Remove stems from strawberries, cut large pieces to 1” chunks and add to deep pot. Remove tough ends of rhubarb and chop into ½ inch chunks and add to pot with the strawberries. Cover with 2 cups of water and bring burner to medium heat. Let the mixture simmer down to a near liquid then remove from heat, stir in flax, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and grated ginger and return to a low simmer. Stir off and on for 20 minutes to thicken and to prevent sugars from burning at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat when the mixture has taken on a jelly-like texture and add the basil. When slightly cooled, spoon the jam into sterilized jars to store in the fridge, or go through the heat bath process for long-term storage.

    ** I used ground flaxseed as a thickening agent because half-way into the process I realized I didn’t have pectin! At first I thought it was going to be a disaster and that I had just destroyed $6 of fresh strawberries, but it turns out it worked really well! Who couldn’t use a little extra flax in their diets anyway, eh?

  3. Brown Rice Pudding


    With the weight of two weeks of mid-term papers and exams off my shoulders, my body let its guard down and succumbed to repressed exhaustion. Lazing around this afternoon, I flipped through my favorite cookbooks searching for inspiration and came across Terry Walters brown rice pudding recipe (p. 273) in Clean Food. Yes, exactly… I thought. Pudding. My body and brain felt like pudding this weekend, and the visit from my amazing parents melted me into a gooey warm paste. I made a few adjustments to the original recipe primarily because I didn’t have all of Terry’s ingredients on hand, plus I omitted the maple syrup for some meaty dates I picked up at the Farmers Market that I think gave it a subtler flavor.

    You’ll need:

    • 2 ½ cups cooked brown rice
    • 10 ounces extra firm organic tofu
    • 1 cup almond (or rice) milk
    • ½ cup brown rice syrup
    • 6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • 2 tsp vanilla

    (plus) nuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar for sprinkling

    Preheat the oven to 350’

    Before you actually start to assemble the pudding, give yourself about hour to cook 1 ¼ cup brown rice in 2 ½ cups water ( based on package instructions). When the rice is cooked and still warm, combine with chopped tofu and non-dairy milk in a food processor. Slowly add brown rice syrup, dates, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla until pureed. Oil a 9 x 12 pan and pour in mixture. Lightly dust with cinnamon and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Enjoy while it’s still warm, sprinkling some raw walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar, and even a little cold almond milk atop to send it home.

    ** Two days later… heated this up this morning with blackberries and almond milk, oh my. Protein perfect breakfast :)