Archive for October, 2015

Delicata squash soup

Delicata squash arrive in my veggie box this time of year, green stripped, lemon colored winter squash make sweet soup.

1-2 medium sized Delicata squash, cut lengthwise baked 350 degrees
4 cups vegetable broth
Purée till smooth.

Topping sautéed together: extra virgin olive oil, Stonehouse Napa Valley herb blend http://www.stonehouseoliveoil.com/Spices-and-Salts/#.Vi6jmNm9Kc0
sliced Shitake mushrooms.


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There were three places food took center stage in my life.

  • In Bodil’s Kitchen
  • Joyce’s House
  • At an Ashram in Upstate New York

These people and places taught me how to bring food preparation from mundane to magical. Bodil and Joyce were my mother’s best friends, one Danish, one Jewish, both outstanding chefs.

Dinner at Bodil’s included candles, underfoot dachshunds and Christmas trees alight with flame, fireplaces roasting chestnuts or popping corn, fondue simmering and potatoes spiraling around in a pan of brown sugar until the crusts carmelized. She owned a restaurant called The Plush Fox and I remember the sign couldn’t be red because it would distract drivers on the freeway. They served mini ice cream cones for dessert from trays that looked like painter’s pallets with holes. Seeing her joy in the kitchen and her love of food and flavor and presentation inspired me.

Joyce’s house swirled with salt and spatulas, licked fingers and meals consumed so quickly I had yet to place my napkin on my lap and the dessert course fell upon us. Thanksgivings were joint adventures with Joyce: we, her minions, chopped and washed and stirred and tasted and prepared a feast for 20 plus people. She had three file cabinets of recipes cut from magazines and a cabinet of cookbooks. Before she died, she and her daughter, Jill (my best friend since preschool), collaborated on The American Cookbook for a Swedish audience titled, Den amerikanska kokboken (Jill and her photographer husband lived in Malmo for a year).

One dish, the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, rested on my great grandmother’s Mimi’s Blue Danube platter for the photo. I looked through Patrik’s lense to see what looked like a graph paper grid superimposed over an upside down, Pineapple Upside Down Cake. As he nudged the composition to the left and to the right, I learned to appreciate the talents and tricks of food photography. Another photo would be a brownie, a la mode. Joyce came dashing out with another beautifully warmed hot fudge sauce to top the ice cream, but it melted away too quickly. The remedy was a squeeze of Magic Shell, appearing like marvelous fudge in the photo, while the recipe stayed true. When Joyce died, the greatest irony was that she was unable to eat. After a lifetime love affair with food, she left hungry. We still hunger for her.

Food satisfies both physical and emotional needs. Joyce is still alive in the pot roast her son, Gregory loved and his fiance learned how to make. The book and movie, Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel clearly links a master chef’s thoughts, and intention infusing food with more than taste. At the Ashram in upstate New York (think Indian monastery in the snow), I learned to be present with an ephemeral art form that nourishes body and soul. It was the first time I tasted vegetarian food and loved it. It was the first time I had cookie dusted with gold as prasad. It was the first time I learned my capacity for calm in a frenetic kitchen. It was the first time I learned about spice magic.

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I Learned From…

I learned to cook by watching my dad. He was big into the warm plate thing, cloth napkins, wine and the “cheers” before eating. “Don’t start, not everyone is seated.” “Don’t start, we haven’t clinked glasses.” “Don’t start, the plates aren’t warm enough.” He made five things really well. He made these five things often. Marinated Flank Steak, Creole Chicken Wings, Lemon Chicken (the following morning Poached Eggs with Lemon Butter and English Muffins), Chorizo and Eggs, Pasta Primavera with Grilled Vegetables. Since I became a vegetarian in 1998, he now has one thing he makes me, Pasta Primavera. Every time I see him.

I learned to cook by standing next to my grandma Cobain on a white stool, with an apron and a wooden spoon. I was the stirrer. I stirred the Jello, I stirred the pudding, I stirred the custard, I stirred the Root Beer Floats. I licked the spoon and the beaters.

I learned about cooking captivating breakfasts from my mom. With swiftness and style she set out the ingredients the night before, so when my brother and I stumbled from bed, shivering, we could plop down in front of the preheating oven. A quick whisk of ingredients, a check on the melted butter in the pan, and we sat rapt by both the warmth and drama of the German Pancake bubbling and heaving behind the oven door window.

And while I learned some of the sweet and less healthy meals from my dad and his side of the family. Thanks to my mom’s training at Loma Linda University, we ate like this most of the time:


Harvard’s distillation of science and USDA food guidelines minus the self interests of the Dairy and Meat Councils.

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I know it is Back to the Future Day and I am posting about what I did on September 30 for the final Vegan Month of Food challenge: Thai Curry Sushi. Hoverboards exist. Time is flexible.

I made a video, better than the one at the first of the month, 30 seconds versus 15 minutes. Still learning how to post these kinds of things, and edit sound and image into something I can get behind.

I figured sushi is a good thing to show how to do, rather than tell.

Here I will tell you how to make it, later the show will go up.

Thai Curry Sushi

1 cup brown bhasmati rice

1 cup brown sticky rice, also called sweet rice

1 can light coconut milk

2 Tablespoons green curry paste or powder

Make the Sticky Rice: 2 cups of rice require 4 cups of liquid, after measuring the coconut milk, add water to make up the rest. Add the spices. Cook in a rice cooker. After the rice is cooked, spread on a plate to cool.

Prepare the Fillings:

Slice into matchsticks, long, thin 3/4 inch diameter pieces, or chop finely.

Possible filling for the rolls include carrots, daikon radishes, cilantro, chopped cashews, mint, steamed beets, sauteed shitake mushrooms, avocado. Some seasonings to sprinkle over filling may include: pickled ginger, gomasio, Nanami Togarashi (a mix of chili pepper, orange peel, black sesame seed, white sesame seed, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed).

Wrapper options: Nori or Soy paper

Tools: A flat wooden spoon, sushi roller, a small dish with water (for sealing the edge of each roll).


Begin by gently spreading a thin layer of rice leaving a one inch margin at the top.

Lay the fillings about an inch and a 1/2 up from the bottom of the sheet, keep them together.

Gently moisten the top margin of seaweed or soy paper, roll from the bottom up, compress ingredients gently.

Remove from sushi roller.

Slice into 1 inch pieces with a sharp knife (knife may need to be cleaned between slices).

Serve with tamari, pickled ginger and prepared horseradish.

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