cooking

This morning I woke up and I didn’t want oatmeal for breakfast.

It was incredibly traumatic for me.

I had a hankering for my favorite comfort food of all time.

I’ve talked about it before, but that was way back in November, so you probably don’t remember it.

I am talking about cornbread. I woke up with a desperate need for cornbread.

The big problem I was having with this craving was that I was out of Jiffy Mix. As I previously explained, I’ve grown up on Jiffy Mix. I love Jiffy Mix. There are many processed, packaged food items that I have given up over the last few years. Mostly because things made from scratch are generally better. Except when it comes to cornbread. Every single time I try someone else’s cornbread, I get depressed. It doesn’t taste right. It doesn’t taste like Jiffy. Due to this, I always make it from the mix.

I checked my kitchen for supplies and I learned that I did have cornmeal. I bought it the last time I hit up the bulk bins at Rainbow Grocery. I had plans for cornmeal cakes, but never got around to it. I had buttermilk. I checked a few recipes, from Paula Deen’s to just random things popping up on people’s blogs. None of the recipes were really grabbing me. I looked up recipes for Whole Wheat Cornbread. Those weren’t all that exciting either. After checking the pantry once more, I decided to make Spelt Cornbread. I was feeling pretty impressed with myself until I googled that and found out that tons of people had done it before, including Ashley at (never home) maker. Oops. Guess I’m not special after all. Sniff.

In the end, I wound up making my own recipe, loosely based on different elements from all of the recipes I checked out. I know it sounds like this research phase took an awful long time, but I promise, I spent like 10 minutes searching before the Gemini in me took over and said, “Whatever! I’m creative! (and bored!) I’ll wing it!”

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup spelt flour, 1.5 cups cornmeal, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, .5 teaspoon baking soda, .25 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

1.5 cups reduced fat buttermilk, 4 tablespoons of butter (melted), 1 egg,  2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

Speaking of butter, when I went into my fridge to get some, I found the cutest darned thing:

Is that not the cutest stick of butter ever?!

I don’t really keep butter in the house, as I don’t need it very often. At Christmas time, however, I had planned to make chocolate chip cookies, so I had bought this butter. I remember choosing this box because it came in half sticks. I never made the cookies and I never opened this box of adorable butter. So I was all surprised and excited when I got to use one of these mini butter sticks.

(Hey, I find joy where I can, people!)

Combine well and pour into a baking dish of your choice. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cornbread is done when a toothpick/knife inserted comes out clean.

It should look something like this.

Now as I’ve mentioned, the main way I eat cornbread is crumbled in milk. As a matter of fact, it is the ONLY reason I EVER make cornbread. I don’t make it to go with chili or soup…I prefer crackers. I don’t make it to go on the side of a southern meal or for any other “normal” reason.

I make it when I want to eat bread ‘n’ milk.

This is what bread ‘n’ milk looks like. Yes. I took two slices for my bowl. It’s how I roll.

Overall, I thought the spelt cornbread was pretty good!

I won’t lie though, it isn’t Jiffy. I was sort of okay with that though. This was much heartier. One of my big problems with making cornbread is portion control. I usually have to make it in muffin tins so I don’t keep going back. Sometimes bread ‘n’ milk doesn’t really fill me up and I end up eating several servings of cornbread. This time, I was satisfied with the two hunks I cut out of my loaf. It actually staved off hunger for about 4-5 hours, which isn’t bad at all.

I know I will eat Jiffy again, but for now, this will do.

What is your favorite way to eat cornbread?

I have to tell you all:

I am the jealous type.

It’s a rather unattractive trait, I know, but when other people are having fun and doing things that I deem more interesting than what I’m doing, I have a habit of becoming green with envy.

This is how I felt during the Food Buzz festival last fall. Now, normally, I wouldn’t care all that much about a foodie convention. Sure, I love food…but I’m not really a food blogger, per se. My palette isn’t all that refined. I mean, you’re talking to a girl who ate KFC after going to the race track last Thanksgiving. How elegant an eater can I be?

The thing that got me was that the festival was here in my hometown of San Francisco. The people whose blogs I read everyday were right there, and I couldn’t partake in the festivities.

You might ask, “What kind of things were they doing, that were so enviable?”

Eating farro, of course.

Farro wasn’t even on my radar prior to reading about it on Ashley and Emily’s blogs. Nor was Il Cane Rosso. Though I do love The Ferry Building, I really don’t spend as much time there as visitors to San Francisco seem to. I really only go there on market days. Nevertheless, I wanted some of this farro porridge that they told of. Maya and I were going to try it in November when she was in the states, but they weren’t serving it that day.

After missing out on farro that day, I became even more determined to try it out. I ended up buying some from Rainbow Grocery in the bulk section….and leaving it in my cabinet for over a month. Oops.

Today was the day, however. I was ready to try out this farro thing in my own kitchen.

Tip: When you buy things from the bulk bins, don’t only put the bin number on the tag, but write down the name as well. Or else you’ll be like me, standing in the kitchen wondering what is what. Fail.

Ashley has done several posts on making ground farro, so I pretty much just followed the general instructions for preparation. First up, the farro needed to be ground. I wasn’t quite sure my magic bullet was going to do the job justice, but having no other option (besides a not so great blender), I went with it. Using the flat blade, I went to work.

I did it in 1/3 cup batches, as I wanted to make sure the magic bullet did an even job. And yes, I’m the blogger who forgets to take a pre-grinding shot of the flat blade.

The magic bullet actually did a pretty good job. I was very surprised. The only objection I had was how loud the grinding process is. Scares the bejeebus out of my cats!

Due to the noise factor, I decided to grind the whole bag while I was at it. I cooked about 4 BIG servings worth (about 1/2 cup ground farro or 1/3 cup whole farro would be 1 serving) of ground farro and put the rest in some tupperware for later use.

I used a 2:1 ratio for cooking up the farro. I used about 2 cups ground farro, 2 cups of 1% milk and 2 cups of water, then cooked just like oatmeal. Towards the end of the cooking process I also stirred in a dash of salt, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed, 1 tablespoon of Land O Lakes Lite Canola Butter and 2T of brown sugar.

Although I like my hot cereals thick, I think I would either cook for a shorter amount of time or use more liquid next time.

I decided to top my farro with the last 1/3 of a container of mixed berries from Whole Foods (an expensive impulse buy after the Strawberry Hill 5K), some chocolate peanut butter and a tiny bit of Galaxy Granola for crunch.

The chocolate peanut butter, by the way, is AWESOME.

Overall, I really enjoyed breakfast. It kept me full for hours and was quite the tasty meal.

And now that I have had it, the only thing feeling green with envy in my household is my set of Shamrock Fiestaware.

What is your favorite breakfast grain?

A year or so ago, Maya gave me the recipe she was using for pancakes at the time. I had never made pancakes from scratch before, and even my Bisquik attempts had failed. Nevertheless, I gave them a try and they turned out great. For quite some time I made double batches once or twice a month and kept all of the extras stored in the freezer. That way I could grab a couple whenever I was short on time. A couple of minutes in the microwave and I was in business again!

But after a while, I got lazy. Dirtying up all of the dishes and standing around making pancakes seemed like too much effort. I mean, even a single batch of 8 pancakes could take forever, as I only have a 3/4 sized stove in my studio and thus can only cook in small frying pans, lest the food cooks unevenly.

On Tuesday, I decided it was time to get off my butt and get over this bout of extreme laziness. On Tuesday, I made pancakes. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes.

Like those measuring cups? Valentines Day 2010. I’m a lucky woman– Heart Shaped Measuring cups and PEZ dispensers!

Yeah, ignore the dirty dishes, sink, counter, stove top…really…I’ve been L-A-Z-Y lately…

See? I’m serious. Two pancakes at a time. I usually make double batches of pancakes, so it takes at least an hour.

I ran out of blueberries about 1.5 batches in. I had a can of pumpkin sitting around…and exactly a 1/2 cup of flour left, so I made a half batch of pumpkin pancakes. I had never made pumpkin pancakes before, but I’ve played around with this recipe several times with great success, so I just added 1/2 cup of pumpkin, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to the batter.

Tasty pancake-y goodness!

I wrap the pancakes up in twos. I take two pancakes, wrap them up in wax paper, making sure that a layer of wax paper is separating the two cakes–this allows me to only eat one if I want. (Without the wax paper, the cakes get stuck together.) Then I wrap them in plastic wrap. Lastly, I put all of the two-packs into a freezer bag. They keep for quite a long time and it’s easy to grab a pack, toss them into my purse and heat them up at work and have them at my desk…yum!

In the moment, I decided on one blueberry pancake and one pumpkin pancake with a little syrup. There was only one egg left, so I decided to cook it up over easy. Deliciousness.

Maya’s Recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Flax Pancakes:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup nonfat milk
1 tbsp honey
1 egg

Directions:

Mix flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Pour milk and honey into a measuring cup. Whisk in egg. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed.
Heat non-stick pan over medium heat. Add batter 1/4 cup at a time, making sure not to over crowd. Cook until golden brown or bubbles appear and edges dry out slightly, flip, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Number of Servings: 8

As I say, I change up the recipe all of the time. I’ve made chocolate hazelnut pancakes, banana pancakes, strawberry pancakes and other flavors too. Sometimes I use a whole egg, other times, egg whites. Sometimes low fat buttermilk, other times whatever milk is in my fridge. It’s a good recipe to use when you’re wanting to mix things up.

I think Maya has had several improved pancake recipes since she passed this one to me. Maybe one day you’ll all get lucky and she’ll do an official pancake post.

I think my pancake obsession is back!

Are you a pancake or a waffle person?

A long day deserves a good meal.

I considered buying my good meal, as I was very tired.

But as it turns out, I have no money until payday.

Oops. My bad.

I had to find a good meal in my kitchen, and luckily there was one there.

Delicata Squash Tacos

I spritzed the squash with the Misto Olive Oil Sprayer I received from my Mom in my Christmas stocking. I roasted the squash at 400 F for about 30 minutes or so. Then I grabbed a couple of white corn tortillas and topped them with squash, black beans, Trader Joe’s Avocado Salsa, some greek yogurt, a pinch of reduced fat shredded mexican cheese and a little bit of fresh cilantro.

My good dinner was inhaled in about 42 seconds.

Now I’m chomping on the same lemon cookies Caitlin was talking about in her post. I shouldn’t buy cookies…I’m never satisfied until I’ve eaten them all. Oops again.

I’m also having an Anchor Steam….because this day warranted it. Trust me.

Hope your Saturday included a good meal, a serving tons of cookies and a nice cold beverage of your choice!

Are you good with sticking to single serving sizes of treats?

(I am a cookie monster. For serious.)

If you’re sitting there at home right now, trying to figure out what you should have for dinner tonight, let me make a suggestion.

Last night for dinner I made a variation of Angela’s recipe for “Back on Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad“.

Now if you’ve never had a wheatberry, don’t be scared. They’re chewy and delicious. Especially in salads! I didn’t soak mine, but just did like Kath and simmered them until I was satisfied. I think it was around 30-40 minutes. I omitted the bell pepper from the salad (didn’t have one) and used black beans. This salad was great and really easy to prepare. I highly recommend it.

I had the salad with baked onion rings. Simply slice an onion, pull apart the rings, coat in egg whites (or whole eggs, whatever your pleasure), coat in the bread crumbs of your choice and bake for about 30 minutes. I think I baked at 350 F. They are most excellent when dipped in BBQ sauce.

Ever had wheatberries? What are your thoughts?

It may not be easy to be green, but by gosh, green sure is tasty.

(Sorry, Kermit.)

I’ve been trying to check out new recipes lately. My eating routine had gotten fairly boring and because of that, I found I was having little interest in making food at home.

This week my experiment was Kale Pesto with Spelt Spaghetti.

I first read about Kale Pesto on Ashley’s blog. Really, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I’ve made broccoli pesto based on a recipe of Amber’s, so why not Kale? Honestly, I think I like it even more than the broccoli.

It came out really well, though if possible, I would advise you to NOT use a Magic Bullet to make it. It was certainly more difficult than if it had been done with a regular food processor. I, of course, do not have a food processor, so I just accept that I have to spend a little extra time getting cooking jobs like this done.

The most interesting (or at least topical as of late?) ingredient for me in the kale pesto was the nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. I had no prior experience with nutritional yeast, and as I am not a vegan, the use of parmesan cheese doesn’t bother me in the least. I had some in the fridge, as a matter of fact. I was curious, however, so gave nutritional yeast a try. I didn’t really taste it in the pesto. I tried a tiny bit on its own, and I wasn’t sure I how I felt about its taste or texture. It seems like the kind of product that I wouldn’t mind in a sauce or something, but I wouldn’t want it sprinkled on my salads.

I had my kale pesto on spelt spaghetti that I picked up at Rainbow Grocery in the bulk section. I had never had spelt pasta before, but to me, it sort of tasted similar to whole wheat. Just a little bit heartier than white pasta. Definitely tasty though…and with a decent amount of fiber per serving. I would call it a win.

What’s on your dinner table this week?

Some days I feel darned proud of myself. Sure, they may fall few and far between, but sometimes, I know I’ve done good.

Yesterday after work, I didn’t want to walk home. But I did.

Then I didn’t want to cook dinner. But I did.

I know! I deserve some kind of trophy!

What the heck is that? Why, turkey meatloaf, of course!

I have never been a “meatloaf person”. I know many people grow up with it and think of it as comfort food, but no one ever made meatloaf in my childhood home. I always thought the idea of a bunch of meat in loaf form was kind of gross. Don’t ask me why. There is no logical reason. I liked burgers. I liked steak. I liked sausage. But meatloaf? Icky!

Then when I was older and living with my sister and brother-in-law, he would occasionally make the dreaded meat dish. This was when I actually tried it for the first time. I was about 22 years old. I announced that it was….okay.

Even now, meatloaf is not something I ever gravitate towards.

Well, it usually isn’t.

I woke up this weekend with an intense craving for meat. It was serious. I didn’t want a salad or some sort of wacky quinoa dish. I just wanted meat. Luckily, Jenna had just posted a recipe for a turkey meatloaf a few days ago, so I decided that it was about time I make this meatloaf thing happen. I used her recipe completely, with two exceptions. First, I had no lentils, so I obviously left those out. Secondly, I subbed a couple of chopped stalks of celery for the carrot. It still tasted pretty awesome.

Oh, and I also didn’t use a loaf pan, as you may have noticed. Not being used to making loaf-ed foods, I don’t own one.



Today I continued my awesomeness by going for my first run post illness. It was in no way as bad as I expected it to be. I was definitely feeling out of shape though. My heart rate stayed pretty high throughout and I am feeling kind of sore now. On the bright-side, I really did hit my stride about halfway through the run. I normally never really reach that part of running where I feel full of awesome, happy and healthy. I usually feel exhausted and I struggle mentally. Today, it was the exact opposite. As I ran down Haight, everything finally clicked.

That, I enjoyed.

After my run, I showered and walked to work. That’s right, just over 6 miles between walking and running covered on foot today. Boo-yah.

Work has been the only blemish in the awesome day. We learned that one of our contractors passed away yesterday. I didn’t know him very well, but he was always very nice. The vibe in the office is very somber today. I hope that wherever he is now, he is at peace and no longer in pain.

Meatloaf? Yay or Nay?