Again, sorry for the hiatus. I have been all over the place lately as I wait for my two jobs to hand me a proper schedule. But at least there's been cooking!

A loaf of gluten-free rye bread is about to go in the oven and will be eaten (if all goes well) with some balsamic-fig jam. All this before crashing early: I fly to Cleveland in the morning to see Shaunalynn! So expect more delays on posts, I return Wednesday.

Balsamic-Fig Jam:

-Black Mission Figs, fresh
-Balsamic Vinegar
-salt and honey (depending on the quality of the other ingredients)
-fresh rosemary or fresh ginger (optional)

1. Stem and slice figs
2. heat some balsamic vinegar in a pan with the sliced figs and herbs. stir.
3. the mix will simmer and reduce, a while. adjust ratios to taste, and let it boil down to a spreadable paste.



My apologies for neglecting to post.

Here are some recipes:

Fauxsagna No. 2

-9 c water
-3 c polenta grits

1. boil water
2. add grits and lower the flame. stir while it simmers. the coarser the grits, the longer you simmer. cook until they could be called "al dente." Add salt and thyme to taste.
3. pour half the grits into a pyrex baking dish to make a flat layer.
4. chill in the freezer (or fridge if you have time to kill) until the layer sets.

-1 bunch fresh basil
-1 avocado
-lemon juice
-parmesan cheese of some sort
-olive oil and/or water
-garlic, optional

5. combine all these in a food processor or blender, adjust proportions to taste.
6. spread a layer of pesto on the layer of polenta after it sets.

-eggplant (here's a good way to cook it properly)

7. slice eggplant into thin discs, and soak it in water (I parboiled it, but cold water works too, just not as quickly).
8. heat up a skillet with some higher heat oil (coconut, canola, peanut, but not olive)
9. add eggplant rounds to cover the pan (you'll do these in batches. also, preheat oven to 375). they will kick up hot oil because of the water, beware.
10. as soon as the rounds are covered on one side with the oil, flip them. this will prevent one side of the round from sucking up all the oil. super oily eggplant = instant food coma. so there's that.
11. let the second side fry for a while, until it looks like it's begun to cook. it will have shrunk slightly and turned a light brown. there won't be any pale dry spots. place the rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet, and repeat until all the rounds are parcooked.
12. bake while you prepare everything else, as long as you want.
13. when you are ready to finish off the eggplant, throw all the rounds back in the frying pan, no oil this time, and cook until they rounds have kind of disintegrated. you can add salt, spices, soy sauce, aminos, vinegar, or whatever other flavoring you want. you won't need much if you have a good quality eggplant (i don't know how to define that, but i usually stick to the smaller eggplants, purchased from a farmers market or health food store).
14. spread the eggplant over the pesto layer.

-smoked gouda cheese, or any other cheese of your choosing

15. add a layer of cheese over the eggplant. then pour on the rest of the polenta and let it set again in the freezer.

-brussel sprouts

16. wash brussel sprouts, remove stem nubs, cut in half.
17. parboil the sprouts until they have turned a brighter green
18. throw them into a frying pan with a touch of oil, cut side down, and let them cook until the cut side is a crispy-looking brown.
19. add a layer of pesto to the polenta
20. cover with brussel sprouts
21. cover with the remaining cheese
22. bake at 375 until the cheese on top is melted and beginning to crisp. Serve hot.

Golden Beet Borscht:

-6-7 golden beets, peeled and diced
-fresh sage leaves

1. preheat oven to 350 or 400
2. spread above ingredients on a baking sheet and bake until the beets are pretty much cooked (longer for bigger chunks)
3. boil a few cups of water while it bakes.

-a few small shitake mushrooms
-1 T or so toasted coriander
4. add baked ingredients to the boiling water with the mushrooms and boil about 10 minutes
5. pour soup into a blender with coriander and puree.
6. put the soup back in the pot, salt to taste and add water (or reduce) to achieve your desired consistency.
7. serve with pickled shallots, plain yogurt, or feta cheese

Pickled Shallots

-as many shallots as you can bear to peel, peeled
-rice vinegar

1. saute shallots in oil until translucent and browned.
2. season with honey and salt to taste.
3. let them sit in a bowl with rice vinegar to cover, until you are ready to eat them. they will also keep in the fridge.



Ms. Faith Gilbert holds one of two collabo-loaves between Faith and
Jay and me. This one is a whole wheat bread stuffed with sauteed red
onions, garlic and local monterey jack cheese. The other is the same
dough rolled with a sage-thyme coconut reduction.

The dough:

1/2 c warm water
1 t yeast
1 T honey

proof the yeast in 1/2 c warm water with honey. it will be ready when
foamy ~ 10 minutes

2 t salt
1/2 milk powder (optional)
2 c flour mix (white, white whole wheat, whole wheat) plus more for dusting

mix these in a large bowl

1/2 c warm water

add this to the yeast mix, and add that to the flour mix. stir until you get
a dough. turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for as long as you
can stand. cover the dough ball in olive oil and set in a pan, covered, about
1 hour until doubled in size.

turn back onto work surface and punch down the dough (with more flour)
for a few minutes. Put the dough in an oiled loaf pan.

If you want to stuff the bread, do it now. cut the loaf halfway down and
wedge your stuffing into it. Seal it up and flip it upside down. you can make
hatches in the top of the dough before letting it rise.

Let it rise a second time. bake at 375 35-45 minutes.

Enjoy with good company, fresh from the oven.

coffee coffee

I worked a shift at the Readers Cafe today and then biked home.
The commute is a dream: an easy downhill there, totaling 20
minutes door to door from my house, and a windy uphill back
at 25 minutes and proving time after time to be the perfect antidote
for my caffeine high.

I got home and looked in the mirror, and saw my head violently
shaking. I got nervous, being full of endorphins as well as coffee.
Then I steadied the mirror, and all was well.


readers cafe, open for business

We opened today, us folks at the Readers Cafe in Fort Mason Center.

I started my day by fixing our decaf grinder, which was reported to
whiz and spin and other unpleasant things (I tightened two screws
half a turn each. Thank you engineering classes). It's quite a pleasure
to be serving good coffee to people who spend their friday afternoons
drinking cappuccinos at used bookstores (It's also awesome to have
an afternoon cappuccino crowd.). I only had to explain to 3 people how
they should enjoy their coffee, and only one of the three admitted to
disliking what I made him.

I left with a pocketful of tips just in time for Off the Grid, a gathering of
local Asian and Mexican food trucks right outside our door. I downed a
steamed dumpling and a blackberry gingerade before biking off into the



I made out like a bandit at the farmer's market today: dates, almonds,
peppers, golden beets and greens, garlic, lemon cucumbers, early girl
and heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, basil, radishes, and one of the first
apples of the season, all grown nearby.

So obviously, I decided to try some more pickles.

rice vinegar
white balsamic vinegar

Left to right:

1/2 lemon cucumber
1/4 apple
1 vanilla bean

2 lemon cucumbers
a bunch of basil leaves
juniper berries

1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 apple
2 cloves garlic
(note: the jalapenos and garlic I got at the farmers market are infinitely
more potent than conventional ones from a grocery store.)

7-8 radishes

The sealing went well, only one broke, and after the second attempt, all
of them sealed.

It's funny to be stocking my pantry in August, but I guess there's no better time?


no holds barred

I went out and bought an 8oz. bag of yeast, 1 pound of butter and 7 pounds
of wheat flour.

It felt almost unholy, somehow breaking my streak of gluten free and vegan
bread-like experiments, but with the goal of coming up with recipes for the
Readers Cafe, I started baking.

Coriander and Caraway Whole Wheat Loaf:

-1 c white flour
-1 c whole wheat flour
-1 t yeast
-2 t salt
-1 T honey
-1 c warm water
-1 T caraway seeds
-1 t coriander seeds
-1 T dried Incan berries
-1 egg yolk

1. proof the yeast by putting it in 1/4 c of the warm water with the honey and
1/4 c flour. after about 30 minutes it should be foamy.
2. while you wait, mix together the remaining flours, salt, and berries.
3. toast the caraway and coriander over a high flame in a dry pan until popping
and fragrant, and add to the dry mix.
4. when the yeast mix is foamy, add the remaining water and pour into the flour.
5. mix until combined and turn out onto a floured work surface.
6. knead for 10 minutes (really, don't skimp on this one)
7. roll the dough into a ball and cover in oil. place it in an oiled bowl in a warm
place, covered with a cloth, until it has about doubled in size (30 min-1 hour).
8. re-roll the dough into a ball, and place on a floured baking pan. let it double
in size again, uncovered.
9. preheat oven to 400 degrees.
10. brush or spoon egg yolk mixed with a touch of water on the top of the bread,
and use a sharp knife to make slits.
11. put the bread in the oven and pour 1/2 c water on the oven floor to steam.
apparently this helps make a crisp crust. close the door quickly.
12. bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on how tall your bread gets. mine spread
out sideways and took only 30. you'll know it's done if you tap the bottom and
it sounds hollow.

Dinner for One:

Now, having a beautiful fresh loaf of bread, I knew that dinner could easily
be the whole loaf, and nothing but the loaf. So to make sure I ate some actual
nutrients, I cooked up this dinner-for-one while the bread was in the oven.

Dinner for one:

-brussel sprouts
-small onion
-white balsamic vinegar

-egg white leftover from brushing the bread

-feta cheese

-slices of the fresh bread
-truffle oil

1. cut the stem stub off your brussel sprouts, cut them in half, and boil them for
a few minutes until they turn a bright green and start to get soft.
2. while the brussel sprouts are boiling, slice an onion and saute it in oil until it
starts to get soft and tastes sweet.
3. mix together about 1/4 c white balsamic vinegar, a little bit of honey and a
teaspoon of salt. taste to adjust the ratios.
4. when the brussel sprouts are done, move the onions to the brine bowl and stir.
add more oil to the skillet and add the strained brussel sprouts and minced garlic.
5. let the brussel sprouts cook cut side down in the pan until they start to get a
good brown.
6. when they are done cooking, add them to the brine and stir. pour your egg
white into the skillet now.
7. while this cooks, quickly assemble your arugula, feta and avocado. pour a
little of the brine over the salad and toss. your bread should have just come out
of the oven.
8. slice your bread and drizzle with truffle oil. move your mini-omelette from
pan to plate, and put the brussel sprout mix on top. add salad, and enjoy.


And the first test recipe for the Reader's Cafe!

Shortbread base:

-1 1/2 c white flour
-1/2 c whole wheat flour (had to sneak some in)
-1 t salt
-1/2 t baking powder

-1/2 c sugar
-6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
-2 T honey
-1 t vanilla extract
-2 t water

1. cream the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla.
2. mix the dry ingredients and add them to the butter bowl.
3. divide into two bowls
4. spice each batter to make 2 flavors. I used lavender and smoked salt in
one bowl, cocoa cinnamon and chile in the other.
5. roll each into a log and coat the outside in sugar/salt/cocoa or anything
else that sounds good.
6. wrap each roll and chill for 1-2 hours.
7. preheat the oven to 325.
8. cut each log into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and place them on a baking sheet with
a decent amount of space between them. bake for about 15 minutes, or until
the bottoms just begin to brown. let cool completely before serving.

gluten free and vegan lavender cookies

These cookies are a bit crumbly, but taste delicious, AND I measured!


1/2 c garfava flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c tapioca starch
1 c sorghum flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t xanthan gum
1 T lavender

1/2 c coconut oil
1/2 c olive oil
1 banana, mushed
1/2 c sugar or honey
2 t vanilla extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and form into cookies. They will
spread a little on the baking sheet so don't pack them too tightly.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

(this can serve as a cookie base, use the ratios, nix the lavender, and
create whatever kind of cookie you want!)


The second Second Sunday Supperclub went swimmingly last night, with the theme Sensory Confusion. Jesse and I were on starters and whipped up this mind-boggling plate of fruit nachos, with a pitcher of Fauxchata. Recipes below.

Cinnamon Tortilla Chips:

corn tortillas (~6 chips to a tortilla)
oil of any kind (liquid)

preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. brush both sides of each tortilla
with oil and cut into wedges.
cover liberally with cinnamon and bake until sizzling and curled,
about 15 minutes. let them cool
before serving for crispiness.

Strawberry Salsa:

1 1/2 lbs strawberries
1 small-but-not-too-small jicama, peeled
1/2 bunch mint

chop everything rather finely (especially the jicama) and mix in a bowl.

Mango Cheese

28 oz. mango puree (sold in 14 oz packs frozen from a Mexican grocery,
or easy to make)
~1 T arrowroot starch
1 heaping teaspoon kudzu powder
2-3 T coconut oil
coconut milk for opacity

melt the mango puree in a saucepan over a low flame. dissolve kudzu in
a tiny bit of COLD water,
and add it to the mango. add arrowroot, coconut oil and coconut milk
and let it simmer until reduced
and thickened, as long as you want. let it cool a little before
serving (cooler = thicker).

Bean Dip

2 cans aduki/azuki/adzuki beans
~ 3/4 c tamarind concentrate, tamarind juice, or tamarind pods
~ 2 T agave, honey, sugar or other sweetener
1/2 c water

if you are using tamarind in the pod, remove the pod and blanch the
fruit in water before trying
to remove the seeds. the yield will be small and still hard to get off
the seeds. add the fruit to a
saucepan with tamarind concentrate (Mexican grocery, again), beans,
sweetener and water and
bring to a boil (adjust sugar level tamarind to taste). lower the
flame and reduce until the liquid
is a paste. cool before serving.

To Assemble:

Put 1 layer of chips on a platter, and top with beans and cheese.
Repeat until you are out of chips
and beans, top with salsa and more cheese, and serve


12 lemons worth of lemon juice, strained
4 tall cans of coconut water (68 oz), chilled
2/3 can coconut milk

mix in a pitcher and stir well. serve cold just after stirring.


I'm off to start my 15 hours of blue bottle training
there will be tales of caffeine highs like never before
stay tuned!