Friday, November 27, 2015

The exercise cheat sheet

It is TGIBF, and I am polishing my shoe soles to get a good start. Found this this morning. All I ever need for exercises, because I think I can only remember about 3 things normally.

Makes ma laugh, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Veggie loaf

There is a tad bit of snow on the ground, and the cold has started. The wind blisters cold around the face, and tries to sneak in between buttons on the coat. Thoughts of hot chestnut praline lattes sound appealing and highly desirable when I take a few steps between the car and the stores. Today is a busy travel and last groceries shopping day, before the world in the US will settle down, hover around the oven and baste the turkey. Making some exotic cocktails while catching up and taking peeks at the sizzling bird.

Just in time for a veggie loaf, which might be a great addition for the vegan or vegetarian at the Thanksgiving feast.


Veggie loaf

makes about 8 servings

  • 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas  (divided)
  • 1 cup of cannellini beans or white navy beans (divided)
  • 1/2 TB coconut oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame
  • 1/2 cup of chopped frozen spinach or chopped kale (thawed)
  • ½ cup cut up broccoli (cut florets into small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 ts boullion powder, dissolved in 1 TB of water (e.g. Rapunzel)
  • 1 TB dried thyme  
  • 3 TB barbecue sauce
  • 3 TB nutritional yeast
  • 3 TB pepita seeds (or roasted pine nuts)
  • 1 egg (or flax egg for a vegan version)
  • ½ cup or more panko (breadcrumbs)
  • ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne powder (optional, if you like some spice)


  1. If using canned chickpeas and bean, rinse and drain both in a colander. In a food processor, process 3/4 of the chickpeas and beans. Pulse to make a coarse mixture. Set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat with coconut oil, and saute onions and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add edamame, spinach, broccoli, corn, carrots, and dissolved bouillon and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 of the veggies to the mixture in the food processor and pulse some more.
  4. Transfer all ingredients (pulsed mixture, remaining sauted veggies, chickpeas and beans) to a mixing bowl. Mix in the thyme, BBQ sauce, nutritional yeast, and breadcrumbs. Add the pepper and cayenne (if using). Taste for flavor and add more salt of pepper if necessary.
  5. Add egg, and mix in.
  6. Transfer the mixture a dry loaf pan. Press in the mixture and even out the surface. 
  7. Decorate with some BBQ sauce or apply it as glaze.
  8. Bake in pre-heated 400 degrees F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick from the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes, and serve in the pan.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The best squash soup ever

I take back everything I ever said about butternut squash soup.  Because there is really only one pumpkin soup in my book, and that is soup made from kuri squash, also called sunshine squash or hokkaido squash. It just has this wonderful, mellow nutty flavor compared to which butternut squash is simply bland.


It’s not even difficult to cook. I usually buy the smallest kuri possible, the little 1 pound babies, and that’s good enough for 2-3 servings of soup. I leave the skin on, and cut it (also simpler because the squash is small) into sections, and scoop out the seeds, which I roasted separately.


An added flavor booster is this little gnarly cousin of the celery stalk, the celery root (or celeriac). It makes the soup slightly thick, similar to adding potatoes. It has a very strong flavor, so a little slice goes a long way.


So, there you have it. A kuri squash, 1-2 carrots, celeriac, and broth, cooked until both the carrots and squash are tender, cooled, pureed and ready to eat the finest, and boldest natural kuri squash soup.


Red kuri squash soup

makes 2-3 servings:

  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 small 1 pound red kuri squash, cut into section, seeds removed (also known as Japanese squash, orange hokkaido, or uchiki kuri squash)
  • a 1/2 inch thick and 4 inch long strip of a celeriac (root)
  • 2 small diced and peeled carrot
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • sour cream, to serve
  • fresh thyme, chopped, and pepitas to serve

In a large pot, heat olive oil. When hot, add the onion and soften (ca. 3 to 4 min). Add the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Cover with broth, and a lid, and simmer for 25 minutes on medium low heat, or until the vegetables are soft. Cool the soup and puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender and purée the hot soup. Add more stock or water if necessary. Serve.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beet salad with apple, walnuts and coffee roasted beets

Beets are some of my favorite vegetables, and if given the choice I often order the beet salad in a restaurant. My own go-to recipes are balsamic roasted beets,  the garlicky yogurt beet salad, and the beatnick juice.  I wish I’d make fresh pressed juices more often, if it would not be for the clean-up….


Recently I found a new way of cooking beets. Coffee ground roasted! Raw beets, wrapped in foil, and baked under a crust of a coarse salt coffee grinds mixture. The infusion of both the salt and the coffee gives the beets an extra dimension, yes, they are quite salty, but the coffee complements the beet flavor without overpowering it.


Coffee roasted beets
  • 2-4 beets
  • 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2  coffee grinds (before or after brewing)
  • foil
I mixed about a cup of coarse kosher salt with a 1/2 cup of ground coffee (you can use the remaining coffee grinds from brewed coffee), and poured it over 2 large beets that I halved.  Wrapped it tight in more foil so that steam develops inside, and baked the beets for 45min at 400F.

Once the beets are soft, remove all the salt and coffee grinds, and peel the skin of the beets (scrub off the mixture on the exposed side of the beets, if you halve them). They are ready to be used in salad, like this classic beet, apple, gorgonzola and walnut salad with balsamic vinaigrette.


Beet salad with apple, gorgonzola, walnuts and coffee roasted beets
  • 1 coffee roasted beet (see recipe above), peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil (or other light flavored oil of your choice)
  • 1/4  apple with skin, thinly sliced
  • 1 TB gorgonzola cheese
  • 5 walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 3 TB balsamic vinaigrette
In a pan, heat the coconut oil, and saute the shallot and the beet slices. Add a bit of pepper. Heat for ca. 5-7 min until the shallots have some light brown (and pink…) color. Arrange on a plate and top with apple, walnuts, gorgonzola and drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Late fall jitters

It is the time of the year when the day starts out bright and sunny, but it is not very long. The leaves are golden and mostly on the ground. Everyone is saying “We had a good fall this year”, which is code for “it is still mild, and not a single snow flake in sight”. Everyone knows it’s coming. It won’t be long.


People start to feel down, when it’s getting dark by 4pm and a long evening is ahead. I just see it as endless time to get cozy. Huddle with the cats in front of the fireplace, and light cashmere fir scented candles. Slow down. Drink hot peppermint tea. Watch a Hitchock movie. Read a book.  Unpack the water color palette and paint the pages in my planner.  Knit mittens.


Life slows down in the winter months, at least in the evenings. During the short days, everyone is busy, rushes to the stores, buys thanksgiving décor, the first holiday presents, and grabs cans of green beans and jars of crunchy onions on the way out. The chicken man at the FM has a long list of organic, local turkey orders. There is red  and gold or silver everywhere, and a buzz in the air. Memories of Christmas and Thanksgiving past bubble up and shape the hopes for the coming season. We will be busy until the Holidays and New Years. Then, at least in New England, the cold and the snow will come. And skiing season. And more firewood.

So, there is plenty to look forward to.