Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Kruidnoten (Ginger Nuts) Recipe in HomeLife Magazine

HomeLife Magazine published my Kruidnoten (Ginger Nuts) recipe in their December issue's "It's Cookie Time Again!" piece.

Here's a link to the recipe on my blog. You can also see Peppermint Snowball Cookies from my blogging pal Katrina at Baking and Boys...and a Chocolate-Kissed Gingerbread from Sarah. I don't know her, but her cookies look delightful.

Marinated Mushroom Medley

I had leftover mushroom parts from different recipes, including the stem of a monster porcini [look right!], a handful of shitakes from D's Barley-Stuffed Pumpkin, and some oyster mushrooms. I decided to marinate them for a surprise Thanksgiving bite.


  • 1 C water
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 T fresh oregano
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t anise seeds
  • 3 to 4 C mushroom (parts)
  • 2 T vinegar (I used a white balsamic)

Place the water, lemon juice, oregano, and anise seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, making sure they are coated in liquid. Cook for another 10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for an hour. Stir in the vinegar. Place in a jar or container so that the mushrooms are completely submerged. Marinate for at least 24 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

D's Barley-Stuffed Pumpkins

D and I have been watching A Mind of a Chef. On one hand, I love that he enjoys the creative side of cooking - it's definitely not drudgery - but I'm torn between whether or not I appreciate his ardent insistence on his ingredients. But I do know where he gets it.

Here's the Mind of the Wom...

It began with some extra pumpkins from our High Ground Organics CSA. I had ordered them for myself. But D saw them the same day that the request came for his class Thanksgiving feast sign-up. 

"I'll bring those...stuffed with barley and kale," he announced, pointing at my pumpkins. 

What? You'll bring what?! 

"Those pumpkins, Mommy. I'm going to cook them for my class." 

I bit my lip, silently bid my visions of pumpkin puree goodbye, and encouraged him, That's a great idea, Wom. I know it will be delicious. I especially appreciated the 'I'm going to cook them' part as we are in the middle of moving.

I had heard him say 'barley-stuffed', but when cooking day arrived I only had Israeli couscous in the cabinet. How do you feel about couscous-stuffed pumpkins with kale? 

Silence and a disappointed look. 

Israeli couscous is similar in size and texture to barley, I commented.

"Mom, I really want to use barley. Please." At least he's polite in his insistence. So off to the store we went. He also wanted mushrooms...that he would cut small so his friends who don't like mushrooms wouldn't really know. I tossed some shitakes in our cart.

And, true to his word, he got cooking.... He chopped, he chiffonaded, he spiced, he stirred, and he stuffed.

  • 2 small organic pumpkins
  • 4 to 5 C organic pearl barley
  • 1 to 2 C organic chicken stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch lacinto kale chiffonaded
  • 1 C shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • olive oil
  • spices (I didn't completely pay attention to his proportions, but I saw turmeric, thyme, and paprika on the counter as he was cooking)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Parboil the barley while you clean out the pumpkins. Drain the barley and set aside the cleaned pumpkins.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, saute the onion, mushrooms, and kale in a splash of olive oil. Cook till the onions are translucent and the kale is softened. Pour in the chicken stock and add the barley to the pan. Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add more chicken stock, if needed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season to taste with your preferred spices.

Fill the pumpkins, pressing down on the barley mixture to get rid of air pockets. Cover your pumpkins with their lids. And cover the entire baking dis with foil.

Roast for 60-90 minutes. Squeeze the pumpkin to make sure it's soft. Let cool if not serving immediately. Serve hot, slicing the stuffed pumpkin into wedges.

Here's the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf with his creation for his class. He left one at home for us to eat for dinner. Creative and generous. I love this kid!

The verdict (on whether or not his friends would enjoy his pumpking): Well, more of the moms and my teacher ate it than the kids in my class. But it's okay. The adults really liked it! Thank goodness someone ate it. We'll be eating ours for dinner.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Someone-Likes-It-From-the-Can Cranberry Sauce for #foodnflix

For this month's Food'N'Flixwe watched, or rewatched as the case may be, Pieces of April. Deb, at Kahakai Kitchen, is our hostess this month. 
Click to see Deb's invitation.

This post contains an affiliate link for the DVD at the bottom.
collage from Deb,  Kahakai Kitchen
On the Screen...
This is a completely new-to-me movie. And, though I typically like quirky, indie flicks, this one did not float my boat. Oh, well. You can't like 'em all. But I was still inspired to get into the kitchen. This exchange had me in stitches.

April Burns: Well, the cranberries were easy. I just had to open the can.
Eugene: [needing support from his wife] Evette?
April Burns: [sensing Eugene's outrage] What? Oh, come on. Everyone likes it from the can.
Eugene: No one likes it from the can.

On the Plate...
Sadly, Eugene, some people do like it from the can. Some people who share my last name, in fact. So, I decided to have a little fun and make some homemade cranberry sauce that looks like it's from a can! Here you go...

 And no, there are not garbanzo beans in this recipe...I needed the can!

  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 1-1/2 C diced, peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1 rinsed can with its tell-tale ridges

In a large, flat-bottom pan, combine the cranberries, apple, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, approximately 30 minutes. Scrape the cranberry sauce into the can and refrigerate until chilled and set, approximately 3 to 4 hours.

To serve: invert the jelly onto a serving plate.

There you have it. This was a tough one for me. I kept wantimg to add some herbs, spices, even a splash of wine. But for someone who likes it in a can, I think it needed to be plain jane.

Even though I didn't love the movie. I loved this project! And my someone-who-likes-it-from-the-can was amused.

That's all for now. Next month Heather of girlichef is hosting as we watch A Christmas Story. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

R's Autumn Chestnut Soup

R had his Thanksgiving feast last week at week early, but it was nice to spread out the holiday mayhem. The request was for a favorite autumn dish or a traditional Thanksgiving dish. Since we don't do anything traditionally - read this! - he opted for the autumnal dish and asked for chestnuts. Okay.

But since it was also funddrive week, I cheated and bought pre-roasted, pre-peel chestnuts. So, while he was hard at work on a school project I whipped up this soup and some Chestnut Ice Cream in 45 minutes. I was feeling very Top Chef-like.

This recipe made a pot-full for an entire class!


  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 5 to 6 C roasted and peel chestnuts
  • 2 C pumpkin puree (click for how to make your own pumpkin puree)
  • 8 C organic vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 C water (only if you need more soup...which we did)
  • 2 T creamy peanut butter (R wanted to add this after he tasted the soup)
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh herbs, chopped (use whatever you have on hand...I used a mixture of chives, parsley, and thyme)

In a large souppot, melt the butter in a splash of olive oil and saute the onions, carrots, and celery until softened and translucent but not browned. Pour in the stock and add the chestnuts and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and puree in a blender. Return the soup to the pot. Pour in the cream and stir in the peanut butter. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes but do not let it boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the herbs. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chestnut Ice Cream

It's chestnut season...get ready for my next culinary obsession! 

  • 2 C roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 C organic granulated sugar

Place the chestnuts in a blender with 1/2 C of cream and 1/3 C sugar. Blend till smooth. Pour the puree into a mixing bowl. Gently fold in the remaining cream and remaining sugar. Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your machine. Ours took about 40 minutes to come to a soft, gelato-like texture. Spoon ice cream into a container and freeze for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Not Buying Groceries or Anything Else on Thanksgiving or Black Friday

I am, admittedly, not a shopper. I actually dislike shopping, especially browsing. I go to the store with a list and get what I need. So, skipping the stores on Black Friday isn't tough for me.

And, normally, I would just head out for my hike and keep my mouth shut about what everyone else chooses to do. 

But, I am appalled by this trend of retailers opening, not just on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving. For crying out loud, stay home, give thanks, play a board game, read, or just cuddle on the couch in your post-feast haze.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have and spending it with people who are important to you. It's not about getting the best deal before the person behind you in line can snag it. Spend time with your family and friends and not the deal-crazed lunatics with dollars signs in their eyes and with coupons hanging out of their pockets.

And plan ahead on the food front, you'll have plenty of leftovers to eat; you don't need to go to the grocery store - or any other store - on Friday.

Thanksgiving is quintessentially American. Dating back to the 17th century, it's about unity and breaking bread with family and community. It's a pause. It's not overtly religious, but it feels reverent and respectful. So, when I saw this campaign on Facebook, I shared it.

"Because I believe in family, I pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving. If I'm shopping, someone else is working and NOT spending time with their family. Everyone deserves a holiday."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping. The list of stores that will open on Thanksgiving Day keeps growing. It's truly disturbing. Walmart, Toys R Us, Kmart, Old Navy, Sears, Target, JCPenny, Kohl's. Do you frequent any of these stores? I do. Or, I have in the past. I am taking a stand and will be spending my dollars at stores where actions speak volumes about how they feel about their employees. I may be a member of the "me" generation, but I find this trend nauseating.

As plugged in as we all are, if you must shop, do your retail therapy online. Your orders will be fulfilled on the next business day. You won't know the difference, I promise. Maybe we can at least keep the physical stores shuttered for the day and allow employees to stay home with their families. 

As a mother of young(ish) children, I think about the fact that my boys get more pleasure out of playing with the box that a fancy new toy comes in than the gadget itself. They love empty boxes because they can turn them into whatever they want. They can invent a board game or make a hut. They certainly won't know that you saved 80% on their Christmas present because you stood in line for 2 hours. But they will remember whatever you do that includes them.

Here's what we did on Black Friday a couple of years ago...we took our best friends down the coast, crossed a river in our underwear, built a driftwood fort, and had a delicious picnic of Thanksgiving leftovers. 

These four kiddos - and even my husband and I - talk about that day frequently. We're talking about doing it again this year.

I'm not going to be shopping on Thanksgiving, or the day after. I'm going to focus on what I have and do what I can to try to stop this holiday from being gobbled up by greed.

Souvlaki from Debbie Matenopoulos' "It's All Greek to Me" {#sponsor Book Review & Giveaway}

When BenBella Books invited me to join the book tour for It's All Greek to Me -- Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with my Family's Century-Old Recipes from Debbie Matenopoulos, I was excited. First, I love Greek food. Second, though I have reviewed many cookbooks, a virtual book tour is new to me. Many thanks to Rook No. 17 for sending them my way. What fun this is!

photo courtesy BenBella Books

We all love Greek food. And when I write that, I mean that when our local Greek Festival runs for three days over Labor Day weekend each year, we typically find an excuse to eat there on all three days. All. Three. Days. Here are a few photos from previous years' events.

In Debbie's warm and authentic style, she weaves incredible family recipes, anecdotal storytelling, and stunning photography that will transport the reader to the Greek family table, and delight their taste buds with the flavorful, heart-healthy delicacies of the Mediterranean.  At the end of this post, you'll have the opportunity to enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me of your own.

Here are some of the recipes that I am most looking forward to trying...

Gigantes: Greek Giant White Beans (page 183)
Kalamarakia Tiganita: Lightly Fried Calamari (page 50)
Revani: Almond, Orange, and Semolina Cake (page 254)

An Interview
I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask Debbie a few about her Greek heritage and her new cookbook.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What are essential ingredients in a well-stocked Greek pantry? Maybe the top five.

Debbie: A Greek pantry is NOT a Greek pantry without some very key ingredients. I know you've asked for 5, but there are actually 7 that every Greek kitchen should be stocked with. They are Greek extra virgin olive oil, dried Greek oregano, fresh lemons, fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh tomatoes, and onions. Combined, those ingredients and you have the base of a lot of Greek dishes.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: I think food memories of cooking with moms and grandmothers help shape who we become culinarily. Not sure if that's a real word. But what's your earliest memory of cooking or preparing Greek food?

Debbie: My earliest memories of cooking are from when I was about 4 years old and are of me being in the kitchen with my mom. I was helping her stir the bechamel for the pastichio or moussaka over the stovetop to make sure it didn’t get too thick.  She would pull up a stool for me to stand on and make sure to let me know that my job was very important. She would tell me that getting the pastichio or moussaka exactly right all depended on me making sure I didn't let the bechamel thicken too much.  That responsibility made me feel so important and made me so proud when we all sat down to dinner. It truly made me feel like I was an integral part in making this delicious meal. I think that's when I fell in love with cooking.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What message would you like to resonate with your readers?

Debbie: I would like the readers of my blog and home cooks to not only enjoy the amazing flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine of my ancestors, but also the immeasurable health benefits.  And, I’d like them to enjoy this food with their family and loved ones, because after all, food is more than just food to Greeks. To Greeks, food represents love and family.  So here’s to you enjoying the deliciousness of this cookbook with your family!!

Souvlaki Arni
Lamb Souvlaki from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos
photo courtesy BenBella Books

I laughed when I realized that I had photos of souvlaki from multiple years of the Greek festival. I guess that's a true family favorite. It helped me decide which recipe I wanted to make for this book tour.

Souvlaki, pronouced soo-VLAH-kee ahr-NEE, is an all-time classic! It's the Greek equivalent of the a hamburger for Americans. I made a couple of minor changes - my changes in blue- swapping the dried oregano for fresh, adding crushed garlic, and letting the meat rest overnight instead of just a few minutes. Also, I grilled baby peppers to serve alongside the meat.

Ingredients serves 6-8
  • 1 leg of lamb (bone-in weight about 6 pounds), cubed with bone reserved for another use
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • skewers (I used Firewire Flexible Grilling Skewers, but use whatever you have)
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 T dried oregano (I used 3 T fresh oregano. A good rule of thumb for converting dried to fresh herb amounts: one to three.)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and minced
  • fresh rosemary for garnish
Thoroughly wash the lamb. Pat dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper. Let the seasoned lamb rest for at room temperature before rubbing with seasoning. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano together in a mixing bowl. Rub the mixture all over the meat and let marinate overnight.

When you're ready to cook, let the meat come to room temperature. Then assemble the skewers.

Cook the lamb on the grill for 10 minutes total, turning every couple of minutes until browned on all sides. Remove from heat when done and serve.

Variations: this same recipe can be made with pork, chicken, or beef. Since my boys aren't huge lamb fans - they usually order the pork souvlaki - I went with that for them.

I thoroughly enjoyed cooking from It's All Greek to Me and am looking forward to trying my hand are more Greek recipes in the future. Now on to the part you've all be waiting for - the giveaway.


One of my lucky US readers - sorry, everyone else! - can enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos, courtesy of BenBella Books, Inc. Giveaway runs from today - November 18th - till December 1st at 5 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Debbie Matenopoulos’s It’s All Greek To Me Cookbook to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my post or review.