Friday, October 3, 2014

Thankyou, everyone, for everything!

Dear Internet,

I just wanted to thank each and every one of the people from all over the world who have taken the time to visit this little blog. This blog meant so much to me for a very long time, and really helped me through a difficult time as I was struggling with my newly discovered need to follow a gluten-free diet. Of course, that was back in 2007, when no-one had ever heard of such a thing, and everyone thought I was crazy! I didn't want to feel like a victim, I wanted to feel empowered by my new restricted diet, and I started this little blog to help me through that. It turned into so much more for me: when I first began to suspect I had issues with gluten, I had been suffering from mysterious illnesses for most of my life. I didn't have any health insurance at the time (because back in 2007 you could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions!), and I decided to give it a go, and see if I felt any better. Not only did I feel better... it completely changed my life, and cured me of my debilitating chronic pain! It gave me two, beautiful children! I am so thankful that this space was here through all that, and I so enjoyed being able to share some of my favorite recipes and kitchen mishaps here. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would someday top 1 million views!

It has been a long journey, and I am so glad to say that I have made a full recovery since starting this special diet. As a gluten-free diet has become a more and more normal part of my life, in many ways I have come to feel that the original purpose of this blog has been fulfilled. In December, 2013, Baby James (now in Kindergarten!) was joined by a new little sister, Baby Lucy.  These two little wild things keep me pretty busy, and in many ways, I don't have the time or energy to spend in the kitchen that I used to. I have also developed other interests that don't really fit into the scope of this blog, and that is part of why things have gone quiet here. But I am still so thankful for this space to write, and for everyone who has stopped by to hear me be goof around and share recipes.

I recently stopped by the blog, and was very surprised and saddened to see that all of the pictures are gone. I have been a Flickr member and have had a Flickr Pro account for many years, for the purpose of maintaining this website, and I was very upset to learn that Flickr had deleted my account without even contacting me or sending me an e-mail. I feel that was very unprofessional, especially considering that I was a paying customer! Since my account was deleted, I am not even able to contact their help-desk. I am appalled, and will never use Flickr or Yahoo ever again, but what's done is done, and the pictures are gone. The idea of re-shooting the whole blog briefly crossed my mind, but that's really impossible! So, it is what it is. I feel touched by all of the comments and other people that I have helped, and I will leave this blog up as long as blogger will let me, so that you can still have access to those ribs and cookies recipes everyone loves so much!

Please feel free to enjoy, and from the bottom of my heart, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Best Juicer Recipes EVER! ~ The Pink Lady with Pomegranate and Grapefruit

This is one of my favorite juicer recipes, not least because it's so pretty! But of course, if you add together three lovely pink things - pomegranate, grapefruit, and a pink lady apple - you're going to get something pretty! I'm sure this juice is great anytime, but I think it's especially nice in the winter when fresh produce is so sparse, and pomegranates and citrus are just coming into season. In the doldrums of yet MORE winter vegetables, this sparkly, tangy pink juice is a treat!

Best Juicer Recipes EVER! ~ The Pink Lady

I have heard that some people have trouble juicing fresh pomegranate arils (the seeds), and I think this is a juicer by juicer problem. I have a Jack LaLanne power juicer AND a Breville Juicer, and I have never had a problem with either. If anything, I feel like the arils sometimes go through the juicer too fast and don't get quite all the juice extracted, if you can call that a problem.

1 pomegranite, seeds removed and collected (about 1 cup)
1 large pink grapefruit, peeled with a kitchen knife
1 pink lady apple
optional: small sprig rosemary

Run the ingredients through your juicer according to your manufacturers directions, starting with the least juicy, and moving to the most juicy, to ensure any reside of the less juicy ingredients is washed into the cup by the more juicy ingredients: rosemary (if using) pomegranate, grapefruit, pink lady apple. Serve over ice, and garnish with fresh rosemary or a few extra pomegranate arils. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Best Juicer Recipes EVER! ~ Pineapple Ginger Paradise

Pineapple Ginger Juice

 I don't know about you, but I spent a good 6 weeks, from Thanksgiving to New Years, feasting. The butter! the cookies! The roasted meats smothered with gravy and served with creamy scalloped potatoes! 10 kinds of pie! And lest us not forget, all FOUR (yes, FOUR) Christmas celebrations!

It's enough to leave anyone feeling a little heavy.

Especially around the middle.

By the time I get to January, I am so done with feasting and holiday cheer that I just cannot wait to turn over a new leaf and get the year started right. I am practically itching to pull out my juicer and start replacing all those heavy, meaty, buttery holiday foods with sparklingly light, refreshing juice. I think by the time I get to these dark days of winter, when fresh food is so sparse, I am just so hungry for some fresh vitamins and minerals, and I really start craving juice.

This one one of my most favorite recipes, and it's perfect for the dead of winter, when you are really craving a glass of liquid sunshine. This is definitely a drink that will help out your digestive system and clean you out!

For the last couple of years I have been using my mom's old Jack LaLanne juicer which I stole borrowed one weekend and neglected to return... like, ever. Then a couple of weeks ago my friend (Hi Anita!) passed on her Breville to me and WOW. This juicer is an animal. I'm actually a little put afraid of it, it's so powerful. I've used both of these juicers personally and I can't recommend either enough, but whatever juicer you have, you are going to love this recipe!

Juicer Recipes: Pineapple Ginger Paradise

1/2 a pineapple, skin cut off with a kitchen knife
1/2 a ripe mango, peeled
1 Link lady apple
1/2 a lime (skin on!)
1" piece of peeled fresh ginger

1. Following the manufacturers directions for your juicer, process the ingredients in the following order, from least to most juicy (that way the more juicy ingredients wash any residue from the less juicy ones into the cup): the lime, the ginger, the mango, the pineapple, and the apple. Mix well with a big spoon, and serve over lots of ice. Enjoy!

(PS: If you have a  popsicle mold, this juice would be SO GOOD as a popsicle. Because I am sure you are thinking about popsicles right now in the dead of winter! :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Julia Child's Roquefort Cheese Ball Appetizer, or Amuse-Gueule Au Roquefort


Ok, I don't know if this is because I am tragically immature, but I can't say "cheese balls" without feeling a little bit giggly inside. It just sounds so silly, even though the real thing (and it's very impressive French name) is nothing but serious. And the fact that these are made of Roquefort? Serious indeed. In fact, I had one guest at my party tell me I should warn people before they eat one, because they are potent!

But then, has a Julia Child recipe every been anything otherwise?

One thing I can say is, this lady loved her blue cheese. In her appetizer section of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she has a has recipes for Roquefort turnovers, Roquefort wafers, and of course, Roquefort cheese balls. Yum!

Julia Child's Roquefort Cheese Ball Appetizer, or Amuse-Gueule Au Roquefort
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I had a little trouble with these - I don't know if it was just the cheese I had (it was imported from France, so that wasn't the problem) but seemed very wet. When I blended it together with the other ingredients, it was waaay too soft to roll into balls. But then I realized, that hey! It's August in California and about 88 degrees outside, and I'm working next to a hot stove. Perhaps this is the problem? And it was. Once I let it chill in the fridge, it firmed up very nicely. I just had to make sure it stayed chilled, because if I worked with it too long, or left it out in the heat, it started to get really melty again.

1/2 lb Roquefort (8 oz)
4 - 6 tablespoons softened butter
1 + 1/2 Tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon finely minced celery
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch salt
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (if gluten-free, leave a peace of gluten-free bread out to get stale, then toast to remove any moisture out, and crumble)
2 tablespoons very finely minced parsely
1 teaspoon cognac
a few drops Worcestershire sauce 

1. In a food processor of mixer, combine the cheese with 4 tablespoons butter, and work into a smooth paste. Beat in the chives and celery, seasonings, and cognac. If the mixture is very stiff, beat in more butter by fractions. If it's too runny (like mine) try chilling it to get it to set up better. Check the seasonings carefully. Roll into small balls (I actually used a small cookie scoop to get the perfectly uniform size).

2. Toss the parsley and bread crumbs on a plate. Roll the cheese balls in the mixture, so they are well covered. Chill immediately. Serve on a chilled platter, with or without a toothpick. Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Julia Child's Gruyère Stuffed Mushrooms, or Champignons Farci


Well, I'd have to say that Julia's Child's 100th Birthday party was a smashing success! I had a pretty good time too, and I feel pretty lucky to have gotten to share my birthday with such a fabulous lady. I do have to say that it was the most expensive party, ingredient-wise, I have ever thrown (and probably ever will!). Oh Julia, only you and your wildly lascivious French chef friends would come up with a recipe calling for a 4.5 lb beef filet ($18 per lb), stuffed with fois gras ($99 per lb), anointed with truffles ($1000 per pound, and no, I went with truffle butter, sorry), and braised in demi-glace ($50 per lb). That was one fine plat principal. And seeing it is such a rare thing that Filet De Boeuf Braisé Prince Albert ever gets made at all (I'm assuming. Maybe the French make it on Thursdays, for all I know), I didn't get any pictures. I know! Tragedy. But it was dark, and we were hungry, and is that enough excuses? I can go on and on you know. 

What I do have pictures of are these delicious Champignons Farci, or Gruyère Stuffed Mushrooms, and oh, they were delicious. They are definitely "old school," and by that I mean on the creamy decadent side of things, but they were quite tasty! They made a great hors d'oeuvres, and would be a perfect appetizer for your next cocktail or dinner party. 

Julia Child's Gruyère Stuffed Mushrooms, or Champignons Farci
from THE FRENCH CHEF by Julia Child

24 medium brown mushrooms, such as Crimini
14 tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 6tbs)
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon flour (I used sweet rice, to make it gluten-free)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced pasley
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese 


1. Rinse and dry the mushrooms to clean them of any remaining dirt. Rub the bottom of a baking dish with the stick of butter.

2. In a small saucepan, melt 2tbs of butter over medium heat, and set aside. 

3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and set aside. Brush the mushroom caps with the melted butter, and arrange in a shallow baking dish, hollow side up. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Finely chop the mushroom stems, and twist in the corner of a dish towel to remove as much water as possible. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the rest of the butter (12 tbs) over medium high heat, and saute the shallots and mushroom stems 4-5 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add 1tsp flour, 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper, and the flour, and whisk until bubbling, but not browned. Whisk in the cream. Continue whisking until mixture is thickened, then removed from heat. Let cool, then whisk in the parsley, and adjust salt and pepper until it tastes delicious!

5. Fill mushroom caps with mixture (you might have to really mound it up!), and top with 1 teaspoon of Gruyère. 

at this point, the mushrooms can be covered and refrigerated until the party

6. 15 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake in the upper third of the oven, until lightly browned. The bottom of the dish will probably be juicy, so I would recommend transferring to a separate serving platter. Enjoy! Or as Julia would say, Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!

If you happened to watch the movie Julie and Julia when it came out in 2009, you probably fell in love with Julia Child just like I did. It's hard not to love her enthusiasm and her pluck, and I thought Meryl Streep portrayed her with tremendous depth and humanity. I had the pleasure of reading Julia's autobiography My Life in France in a book club this year, and one thing we almost unanimously agreed on was that her personal story was an inspiration. When she married Paul Child, she was an aimless 34 year old who had been working for the foreign service in China because it was something to do during WWII. And when she and Paul moved to Paris shortly after their marriage, Julia could barely cook to save her life!

I doubt Julia would describe her life this way, but her search for something meaningful to do really resonated with me. She and Paul were never able have any children, and in the post-war era, there just weren't a lot of other career options for women. I thought the movie captured it perfectly when Julia, whose book has just been rejected, says "Eight years of our lives just turned out to be something for me to do, so I wouldn't have nothing to do. Oh well." Of course, we know that her book did go on to be published and that she went on to be the fairy godmother of French cookery in America, but at the time she must have felt very deeply that her work had turned out to be frivolous; just something to pass the time.

I think what I love about her story the most is that it's never "too late" to find something you love and be successful at it. In the post-war era, 34 was terribly "old" to marry (for the first time, at least!), but she found a great and lasting love all the same. She didn't discover her love of cooking until her mid thirties, and she published Mastering the Art of French Cooking at 49. The first episode of her TV show was broadcast when she was 51, and most of career as a television personality happened in her 50's and 60's. In our high pressure, fast paced culture there's this underlying assumption that you have to have everything figured out by the time you are 18, and if you don't, you've missed your shot. I like to think that Julia's legacy is testament to the fact that you don't have to have everything figured out right away. Like Julia, you can get half way through your life before you even discover what you love!

Tomorrow is Julia child's 100th birthday, and so to honor her (and ::ahem:: my 29th birthday also happens to be this week, just saying) I'm hosting a dinner party in her honor! There are a lot of different restaurants, chefs, and individuals honoring her all over the world, but I'm planning on honoring her in the way I think she would have liked best: by cooking from her cookbook in my servantless American kitchen. The intention of Mastering was always to make French cuisine accessible to the average American housewife, and I think she would be pleased that 50 years later, it's still being used the way she intended it to be.

So here's a rundown of the recipes coming to you over the next few days. I've tried to pull as many recipes as possible from Mastering. Some items, such as the "inverted martini" (5 parts vermouth to 1 part gin) and the fishie crackers, are simple things that happened to be Paul and Julia's favorite. The menu is modeled as much as possible on the menu that Julia served for Paul's 50th birthday party, which she remembered in My Life in France as one of her favorite parties of all time.

Le Menu


Paul and Julia's favorite "inverted" martini
5 parts vermouth, 1 part gin
Rosé French 75
gin, lemon, pink champagne, sugar

California Bramble
gin, crème de mûre, lime, sugar

Amuse-Gueule Au Roquefort
Roquefort cheese balls rolled in breadcrumbs

Fondue Au Gruyère Canapés
gruyere cheese gratinee on bread rounds with fresh vegetables

Champignons Farci
mushrooms stuffed with cheese

Fishie Crackers


Heirloom Tomato Salad
hand made croutons, burrata cheese, fresh herbs
Julia's red wine "sauce vinaigrette"

Le Plat Principal 

Filet De Boeuf Braisé Prince Albert
braised filet of beef stuffed with foie gras and truffles

 Gratin Dauphinois
scalloped potatoes with garlic, cream, and gruyère

Seasonable vegetables
 to be determined

Le Fromage 

Assorted French Cheeses
Red Grapes, Apple Slices
French Baguette
Fig Jam

Le Dessert 

Gâteau D'anniversaire Au Chocolat
chocolate birthday cake with almonds and raspberries

Le Café

Coffee with cream and sugar
chocolate bonbons

 Le Digestif

Tawny Port



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

15 Bean Soup with Bacon


Lately we have been trying to eat more beans as main dishes (they're supposed to be so good for you and your heart and all that) and I have to admit I have been having a hard time finding good main dish recipes. Beans (in America, anyway) are usually served as a side dish, and more often than not are slathered in barbecue sauce and brown sugar. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it's not exactly main course fare! If we're eating beans for dinner, I want the recipe to be hearty and satisfying, not sugary. Thankfully, this recipe is both hearty and satisfying, and it has become one of our family favorites. And of course as an added perk, beans are incredibly inexpensive - You can feed an army for less than $1 a person, as the saying goes!


It may seem like this recipe takes FOREVER to make (soaking the beans overnight, boiling the beans, simmering the soup), but it actually requires very little actual working time - I would say maybe 15 minutes total, just to saute the bacon and the onions.

1 lb bag 15 bean stew bean mix
1/2 lb sliced bacon
1 quart stock (I use beef, but chicken is great too)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
optional: cayenne pepper to taste, white or brown rice for serving over

1. Remove the beans from the packaging, and place in a large pot. Discard that little packet of MSG (it's bad for you!) Fill the pot with cold water, covering the beans by at least 2 inches (I didn't do this last time, and my exposed beans sprouted. Lesson learned!). Let sit at least 6 hours or overnight (you can do this in the morning or the night before. More soaking doesn't hurt!). Rinse the beans in cold water, until the water runs clear. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil beans for about 2 hours, skimming off an scum from the surface of the water. When beans are tender and soft when pierced with a fork, they are done. Remove from heat, and pour off any excess water ( I never seem to have any - mine often turns to soup all on it's own when the small beans disintegrate. If this is the case, just reduce the amount of stock you use to 2 cups).

2. Dice bacon strips into a small dice. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute bacon over medium heat until very crisp and golden, about 15 minutes (if it's soft at all, it get's mushy and chewy in the soup), being careful not to burn it. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and place diced onion and garlic in the left-over bacon grease. Saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add stock, diced tomatoes, beans, bacon, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper to taste, and correct seasonings if it needs more salt or pepper. Serve on it's own, or with a little dollop of sour cream. Also great over rice!