Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ginger Chipotle Cookies

Ginger is a favorite year round ingredient, and ginger cookies are not just for Christmas. I make them year round too. I followed an Amish recipe for its appeal to men who remember their mothers using a similar recipe, but changed it radically to adjust taste values seasonally.

Ginger will be hot, so you will need the sweet, cloves and cardamom to balance. I like it with a kick, so I add a 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup melted unsweetened butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg, beaten
2-3 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2-3 Tablespoons of powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon clove powder
Extra brown sugar

Oven to 350.

In a bowl beat the butter and sugar for a long time, until creamy. Add the beaten egg and molasses, and mix well. Add the spices, and mix well. Then add the flour and mix - it should be a dough like consistency.

Scoop and roll into balls - about 30 of them - roll in brown sugar, and place on a large cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, they will rise and almost join up, and will not be ginger snappy but have a fat, soft dome on top of a ginger snappy base. They taste better fatter.

If you want ginger snappy, make smaller balls, about 50 of them, and bake for about 7-10 minutes check carefully, they could bake faster and burn.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Apple Coconut Pie - the sequel got better

I am forever in search of the best apple coconut pie and for Spring, wanted a lighter recipe. When I came up with this one, I vowed never to go back to the previous Winter version. It looked and tasted so great I have only this last lonely picture, as it vanished almost instantly.

1 graham cracker crust, prebaked
3 eggs beaten (definitely only 3)
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar (or was it 1 1/4)
1/2 cup of melted and cooled butter (definitely a full half cup of melted butter)
8 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or was it 6
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unsweetened finely grated coconut (this is accurate)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apples cooked finely diced, mixed with 1-2 Tblspoon brandy it could have been a tad more.

Those were the measurements, as best I can remember as I was experimenting and cannot be so sure - you know, was it 1 cup, or 1 and 1/2 or a 1/3 ... hmmm, I'll just have to do this over and over until it's recorded right. The differences are not going to ruin a darn thing.

Preheat oven to 350. Note, you will kick this up to 375 approximately halfway through.

Prepare the apples and let them soak in the brandy. Beat eggs and sugar till creamy, add vanilla, lemon juice, salt, mix well. Stir in apple mix and then coconut, pour into the pie shell and bake for 30 minutes at 350, bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 more until the top is fairly firm, and doesn't wobble. You may have to tent with aluminum but I've never had to and the coconut rises to form a golden brown crust, the apple is in the middle and the butter seeps into the crust dragging the vanilla with it.

You cannot serve this warm, as it will melt. You must refrigerate it overnight, then take it out about 30 minutes before serving. You will not believe your taste buds.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Irish Soda Bread - to go with Irish Stew

In New York City the Irish deli's bake Irish Soda bread with raisins for St. Patrick's day, and I always asked "how come you don't make it year round?"

Most Irish Soda Bread today is made with sour milk masquerading as buttermilk - so you'd think a restaurant has a good milk recycling reason for Irish Soda bread - I suspected some food mafia is in place to prevent that sort of common sense.

Corporate Butter Milk:
Any Irish Soda Bread recipe will call for a cup or two (1/2 to 3/4 pt) of buttermilk. Here's the scoop on Buttermilk, never forget, there is REAL Buttermilk and CORPORATE Buttermilk, which tastes nothing like the real deal, but there you go, corp-conned again.

Wikipedia says rightly, "Buttermilk is the liquid left over after producing butter from full-cream milk during the churning process. It has a slightly sour taste." Further, "It is quite popular as a refreshment in Northern Europe and South Asia, particularly in Afghanistan, Punjab and the Pashtoon belt in Pakistan and in India. "

Wiki seems to be in agreement with me about the con job on corporate buttermilk: "Most of the modern, commercially available, "buttermilk" in supermarkets is not genuine buttermilk, but rather cultured buttermilk, that is, milk to which lactic acid bacteria have been added to simulate the traditional product. "

And so, fellow food travelers, Real Buttermilk is the popular refreshment I was so fond of, and Corporate Buttermilk is what I suspect Frog vomit, more correctly, Slappy squirrel vomit tastes like. Again, I kid you not..."Traditional buttermilk is quite different from cultured buttermilk: it is thin and slightly acid, while cultured buttermilk is thick and tart." Yecch!

Real Buttermilk:
Real Buttermilk is very healthy. In older-bud-wiser days, "pure cow's milk and buttermilk are described as ‘divine’ food or best source of nourishment for those on a spiritual quest." In fact, long term fasting is usually done in the East on Buttermilk alone. From the annals of the Himalayan Academy we see: "Buttermilk acts as a tonic; it pacifies the doshas and aids in digestion if taken after a meal. Vata people fare best with sour products to which a little salt has been added. The pitta person adds sugar or honey, and kapha types add ginger, black pepper or black chilies. Commercial buttermilk is too sour for consumption and should be avoided. "

If you purchase sour cream or real cream, and you keep it in the refrigerator for days, (OK, in my house it's weeks) and it gives off that thin liquid on the top - that's real buttermilk... drink up! Or save it for Irish Soda bread. Like the real Irish, I mean, real people every where do...

As for the Western debate about drinking cow's milk: "Children may have a glass of milk per day, adults may get their milk through the consumption of ghee, buttermilk and curds. Milk should be considered as a whole food not a beverage." Duh! How could anyone drink a glass of milk and call it a beverage, it hits your stomach like a lead balloon it's that protein and fat rich and heavy.

How to make Sour Milk that's closer to Buttermilk:
"In baking, regular milk can be substituted for buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar or 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar per cup of regular milk. Allow the soured milk to stand for ten minutes before adding to recipes." That's also why some Irish Soda bread recipes call for Cream of Tartar.

Thank you to my best reference site for conversions:

1 pint = 2 cups = 16 fl oz = 450 ml (Can usually be rounded to 500 ml)

How to make Irish Soda Bread, and variations:
Never been to Ireland, but have flown over as part of umpteen transatlantic flights, and every time - we're not yet at cruising altitude so still quite low - I could not believe how green it is... I could hardly believe the green. You've got to see it: it's like the bitter in bitter melon, you can't believe how bitter, bitter is until you've tasted bitter melon.. and so, you've never seen green until you fly over Ireland. That's how come I instantly knew their cows have to make some pretty special milk, and their creams and buttermilk must be to die for.

That being said, you now know why you're never going to recreate real Irish Soda bread outside of Ireland, but this is a fair approximation.

A word about leavening agents: baking powder, soda and cream of tartar
Soda bread is a quick bread, and its basic ingredients are flour, baking soda, (some call for baking powder and cream of tartar) and buttermilk.

The acid (sour taste) in the buttermilk reacts with the alkaline base of the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and that causes the leavening, the rising of all quick breads. It must be mixed with acidic ingredients to work. Baking powder contains baking soda and a powdered acid, so it can work without other acidic ingredients, so you don't need buttermilk if you use baking powder, but the baking powder won't be hurt by buttermilk. Use your judgment when mixing and matching ingredients, you'll more often be right.

Quick breads call for a pretty hot oven around 425 degrees, but some bake them with less heat. Most Soda Bread recipes call for a crap load of flour - 4 cups. But it's worth it.

Optional ingredients:
Some put in molasses (aka treacle), caraway seeds, raisins or currants, even apples, and if you're like me, you're going to try to see how you can sneak in Mr. Coconut. But straight-up, plain Irish Soda bread is great with Irish Stew - and so can be served at almost every meal, the way dinner rolls are served in Corporate restaurants.

I keep a stash of plain Irish Soda bread along with Mr. Cornbread and they all freeze quite well if you have to go that route. It goes well with Irish stew, see recipe index, the combo is amazing.

4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon BAKING SODA
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon BAKING POWDER OR 1 tspoon of CREAM OF TARTAR
(Note: you can just use one generous heaping tsp of BAKING SODA)
4 Tablespoons of melted butter
(Note: you can go with cold butter if you have the energy to crumb it into the flour)
1 cup raisins
(Note: you may want to soak them in whiskey, and add the sugar here, plus I add a bit of lemon)
1 or 2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk

(Black and Crispy clause: If you're going to sample the whiskey while making this, beware after the whiskey prep, I once thought one egg looked so lonely, used two, and mistook baking powder for baking soda. I was rewarded with a wonderfully soft, cottony texture - tasted and looked great, but not the Soda bread texture...)

Oven at 425 degrees C., grease a round pyrex pan, or a large cookie (baking) sheet.

Sift and mix the dry ingredients, and make a well. (If you are expert, you can "cut" the hard cold butter into the flour mix until it's crumby - I don't because I always overwork everything and it doesn't rise).

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, add the cool melted butter (else the eggs will cook), and the raisins etc. etc. etc. caraway seeds, mix well, and add to the other well.

Mix decisively and quickly, running your wooden spoon against the side of the bowl, turning using your wrist as your spoon travels to the center to deftly spiral inwards, release and do again. Try to get everything mixed within 30 seconds, until you begins to form ball and you can hardly mix anymore. Some people say turn out onto a floured board and knead for 30 seconds more, but it's likely to soft for this and you do not want to overwork it, one minute of kneading will ruin it. Scoop the whole dough out onto the baking surface you've chosen, take a serrated knife and make a deep X on the surface. This is to let the fairies out.

Pop it in the oven for 35-40 minutes, if the dough was a bit soft you might have to run it for an hour, but it's done when stick inserted comes out clean (it will) and sounds hollow when tapped.

If it starts to brown up too fast, put an aluminum tent foil over it somewhere in the middle. Some recipes call for 325 for an hour to 1 1/4 hours... try it both ways.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

BitterSweet Melon-choly

Ever wonder how certain foods remind you of people from your childhood, especially grandparents? In my case, bitter melon reminds me of my grandmother.

Periodically, the grandchildren were deposited into her care, and after some thorough spoiling, she graduated us to other matters: cleaning us up not only on the outside but also on the inside. This involved introducing us to specific adult foods.

One of these was the bitter melon, a dreadfully bitter vegetable - as ugly as it was bitter - and it was so bitter, we were actually excused from not eating the entire serving. Unheard of. We called it the green crocodile from hell because its skin was toady and reptilian. The first time I took a taste, I was so stunned by it's bitterness - I could hardly believe something that bad would be deliberately put on the dinner table.

Grandma tried everything to get us to regard this as a sainted food and not a flat-out inedible poison. She called it "korela". The older kids ate it without fuss, in fact, they were shepherded in, their grown-up eating preferences put on display, and they actually ate it as though they liked it. The adults made a big deal of how smart they were, and how we were so young, likely going to remain that way if we continued to look upon this sainted food as poison. Somehow, we knew this, the most odious and relentlessly bitter-tasting of vegetables, had to be pretty special - you couldn't find a substance more opposite to the idea of sugar than this. So we made faces, but we ate it and grandma really did try to make it taste good. But she never said it wasn't bitter, she said straight up it was very bitter, and very good for you, that it cleaned your blood and made you strong. And she was right. A year or so later, I was among the older and wiser kids, setting a superior example to a new generation of recently assaulted tastebuds. My grandma, Doctor Grandma to you!

To this day, when I see bitter melon in the rare store, I am reminded of my fantastic good health. My subtle knowledge of what foods to select to stay that way I attribute mainly to her...I do pay homage to my entire ancestral line which contributed to this uncanny taste-balance , food-health-diagnostic thing I have. So, I buy lots of bitter melon, and pass on the bitterness. How sweet this memory is, and how I miss her. Now all grown up and then some, I find myself craving it usually around spring cleaning... which is now...

Bitter melon is among the few items that will cure diabetes (and if you don't believe that, it's OK with me, please don't eat it, and if you don't like me making that claim, feel free to climb the nearest legal rope and hang yourself) ... and they're finding out it cures a lot of liver ailments, good for a lot of immuno-supressive diseases. Whatever. I've do crave this thing now, and when I do, I remember those innocent times with bittersweet melancholy, for they can be no more.

I have developed this recipe which gets rave reviews, and calls for seconds and thirds by those who have never tasted bitter melon before.

Bitter melon with yellow lentils (chana dal)

1 cup yellow split peas (lentils)
4 cups water

2-3 Tablespons soysauce (optional)
1 large onion, finely chopped (I prefer white onion)
1/2 head garlic finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh and finely chopped ginger
1 Tablespoon cumin seed or powder if you don't have the seed
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, if you don't use soy)
4 Tablespoon mix of olive and sesame oil
1 Tablespoon of chana masala which has: amchoor (dried mango powder yum!), ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, anardana (pomegranate seed!), black and green cardamom, black salt, white salt, cloves, turmeric, garlic, nutmeg, mustard seed, bay leaves, asafetida (hing), coriander, cumin, fenugreek (methi) leaves. This is sweeter than the other masalas.

If you don't have it, that's fine too, just use 1 teaspoon of curry powder, or a tiny bit of as many of these ingredients that you do have. Don't worry about the spice balancing. If you can only manage to have one or two spices, make sure these are cumin and turmeric.


(Warning: The pressure-cooker approach is about as nutritious as flash frying onions in plastic.)

Clean the lentils thoroughly in cold water, and bring to a boil in 4 cups of fresh water. Skim off the beany scum. Add salt, soy sauce (optional), turmeric, masala to the lentils and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small pan, heat oil, and add cumin, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, onion, garlic, and ginger for several minutes; when the spices begin to release their oils, add it all to the lentil mix.

Simmer and stir frequently as the lentils tend to burn. If they do burn, do not stir or scrape, just remove contents to a fresh pot, and continue. Simmer for another hour or so, until the lentils become soft and it turns into a creamy texture.

You will want to serve this over the bitter melon, next to a bed of rice and perhaps other tidbits. Note, it can be refrigerated and heated up the next day for a richer taste. I prefer to split the prep over two days, and re-simmer for 30-45 minutes the next day when I do the bitter melon. In my experience, lentil soup does not keep for more than a three or so days in the refrigerator, and you will know this as it can develop a "sour" smell, and does this quite rapidly, so take care, don't leave it out.

Bitter melon:
1 large bitter melon ripe or not
Fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
Black mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Soy sauce
A tspn of the chana-type masala which has: amchoor, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, anardana, black and green cardamom,black salt, white salt, cloves, turmeric, garlic, nutmeg, ral, bay leaves, asafetida, coriander, cumin, methi leaves. This is sweeter than the other masalas. If you don't have it that's fine too.
1 medium onion chopped finely
5 cloves garlic chopped finely

Cut melon lengthwise and fish out the seeds. Cut into thin strips and then across so each strip is about 2 inches long. Place in a bowl with some soy sauce (for the salt), some tumeric and a bit of chana masala. Marinate for about 10 minutes.

In a saucepan place some olive oil, and the onion and garlic. Brown them slowly, and add the spices, then the bitter melon. You can skip the onions and garlic if you'd prefer the bitter melon straight up but use the spices. Cover and cook very slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring as it will brown and stick from time to time. In the end, they'll be quite soft with a lot of brown in the pan, it's all good. You may have to add a teaspoon of so of water along the way.

When the lentils are ready, spoon several tablespoons of the bitter melon mix in a soup bowl, pour two ladles of the lentil soup over it, and serve right away.

The lentils give an almost sweet contrast to the bitterness of the melon, and this dish gets rave reviews for taste and health values.

For a more elaborate dinner, I serve this with a fish and another vegetable dish, followed by a slice of the Springtime version of apple coconut pie... washed down with sparkling wine. These sorts of dishes mark the end of winter for me.

Friday, March 16, 2007

AMA ZING Spring Bling

When Spring rolls around, dont'cha just feel you're trying to throw something off and spring to life? A certain joy fills you and I'm not talking about Corporate Spring Fever, (which TV-transformed itself from an innocent line in a Hollywood song to a patriotic medical syndrome - meaning, an excuse to sell you Corporate Adolph-Pharma's spring allergy drugs).

For those of you who find yourselves ... pick one or more...

  • sneezing and wheezing
  • moaning and groaning
  • meeping and weeping
  • mind floating and body bloating
  • blaming and flaming
  • hogged, fogged and blogged
... it's time to re-balance and cleanse your body and mind and spirit using the Medicine Cabinet of First Resort (MCFR)- your kitchen.

What exactly are you balancing? The Constitution! The Constitution of the United States of Who You Really Are!

What exactly are you cleaning out, getting rid of? AMA! Not just any "ama", THE Ama!

Well, yes, as initials, your brand-name recognition programming identifies the A.M.A. as the Anti-Christ Medical Association. Here it means AMA, pronounced "ama". How appropriate the lead agency for dispensing death-oriented medicine to America in this Age of Adolph, should be named after a bodily-produced substance that is the root cause of all sickness in humans. Holy Crap. Nay! Unholy Crap. Excrementissimus Vilus Iniquitus Lotharious ... EVIL ... like the entire Bush Crime Family, which embedded itself, like AMA, deep within the Global Body Politik, much less the last 6 US Administrations.

[Drum roll maestro, that WAS a good one! You'll NOT likely forget the name of this WOEFUL SUBSTANCE now, will you?]

While we exhort all good people to get rid of the Bush Adminstration from within the body politik, we also exhort all good people to gird themselves with good health in our battle of good vs. evil.

If you want to know what AMA personified looks like, view the corpusculent visage of Karl Rove, you can see pus-drizzled ama coursing in the bulging veins behind his eyeballs... watch Condoleeza Rice closely, if you can stomach it, and see the bile-flecked ama working her mouth and lips, as she spittles forth words in the form of dancing corpses...

We don't want to end up like that do we? Here's how AMA builds up:

EFFICIENT DIGESTION: Eat food, convert to nutrients or waste, all wastes flushed out. No AMA.

INEFFICIENT DIGESTION: Eat food, converts to nutrients or waste, some wastes flushed out, rest stuck in body in digestive system, bio-leaks into surrounding tissue, becomes more toxic, clogs up all tubing, including nerve channels, blocks flow of bio-electricity, known as chi, life force, body feels hogged (like Rove) flogged (like Condi, she was MKUltra programmed in one of the gifted child programs, watch her hand movements!) and blogged (like America?). Lots of AMA.

AMA is the ground in which bacteria, viruses, degenerative diseases, endocrine collapse, heart disease, cancers, diabetes, stroke, kidney and liver failure, substance addictions, including obesity take hold. And when the physical instrument is off, what the heck do you think happens to the mind and spirit? Duh! Like you didn't know this all is the black business of the AMA ...

Fasting and cleansing are the oldest therapeutic interventions known to man (i.e, Homo Sapiens, not Homo Adolpho Pharmo) . So, do not expect the AMA Medical establishment to back this up. This is not their clap-trap, this is the people's medicine, not corporate medicine. This is not AMA medical advice! This is how to get rid of AMA for GOOD!

AMA builds up when your digestive functions are not efficient. If you eat something not suited to your particular and precious constitution, which makes you spectacularly and only you, AMA will build up. If you eat something old that cannot be digested, AMA will build up. If you eat something when your digestive system is off, AMA will build up. When you eat processed or artificial foods, AMA will build up.

That's sort of obvious. What's not so obvious is this: drinking ICE COLD BEVERAGES when eating food shuts down the digestive "fires". This is what a famous Chinese Jewish doctor said about drinking ICE COLD beverages DURING meals:


The rest is just common sense:
Okay so we're filled with the treacherous AMA, what's a body to do? Cleanse it out. We already talked about it, the Tridoshic Trump Cards are the way to go, as well as a few other cleansing tricks. It's not rocket science or a bloody mystery, folks. How about simply slowing down the eating. Slowly.
  • Eat fresh and light like spring... and tridoshic
  • Drink warm water throughout the day.... take a tip from Buddha Cat...
    Kitty likes his tea. In the morning and last thing at night, he insists on a bowl of warm water, that has been thoroughly boiled and allowed to cool to the correct temperature for his pretty little nose. He also wants a drop or two of fresh lemon juice in it. Believe it or not. This is a kitty, who if you forget to do this, will "call you" over, and as you bend down, will reach up with a soft paw and swat you as reminder. No scratches mind you. Then when you bring him his tea, he'll lick you on a specific meridien which will make you feel loopy-happy.
  • Quick, warm oil body self-massage right before morning shower - Coconut is good, sesame is preferred.
  • Cook with detox spices such as Cumin, Chili, Coriander, Clove, Fennel, Ginger, Turmeric which also happen to keep the digestive fires burning efficiently.


I sprouted a whole bunch of Mung beans which looked marvelous, they were such eager little sprouts - the ones I verbally encouraged embedded their little roots practically before my eyes into the paper towels in their joy to grow; damn things sprouted an entire inch over one night!

With equal and misplaced enthusiasm, the next day I rewarded them their yearning to live and express themselves, by scarfing them down, devoured every last one (Insert picture).

[I hope the vegetarian nazi's reading this understand that every living thing has some sentience and it was just as life-taking doing the sprouts in, as it was doing the fish in. I predict that only when vegetarian nazi's get this will all war will stop on this planet.]

Within 4 hours I was rewarded with terrible abdominal cramps which told me there was a lot of AMA in my body, and my digestive fires were low, and I should really cool down this gung-ho lets clean-up and re-balance, Ein, Zwei, Drei, Heil, Heil, (goose-stepping music now) Cleansing Macht Frei! I know, that damn Austrian blood in me gets going when the AMA is in town.

I devised a great mung sprout recipe which my stomach loves and is very tridoshic. Excuse me while I call it simply amazing. That's right, a-m-a----z-i-n-g.



1 cup freshly spouted mung beans (sprouting instructions below)
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup brown rice if you can get it
1 lemon
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add the spices toss in the mung beans and stiry fry til the edge is off the beans, add everything else, and remove from heat.


In Japan, these are eaten like rice cakes. They are so tasty I can't seem to get any left over in the fridge past one day.

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoon sesame oil
Ground cayenne pepper

In a bowl, mix the ginger, soy, salt, wheat flour and water. Stir in the mung beans, and make it into a pourable batter of pancake like consistency, just a bit thicker.

Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium heat then reduce to low and pour in just enough batter to make a medium plate sized pancake, make sure it's thin and not too thick. Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side.

The best way to flip this pancake is to get another skillet same size, place over the pancake skillet and turn over, then transfer the flipped pancake to the cooking skillet. Do this over a cutting board so you can retrieve your mistakes with dignity.

You can drizzle some tamari or soy sauce over this, it is delish.

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