Hi, again, Dear Readers:
Once again, other stuff has got the best of me, and I haven’t posted since November. My apologies, because I’ve had some delicious things to tell you about. They’re in the draft folder, as usual. Coffee, tamales, and a tale of two frozen pizzas. No kidding.
Our dysfunctional weather means that the grass, trees, and other things think it’s spring and they’re blooming. The allergies are choking people around here, and I can’t seem to find the right “thing” to control the sniffling and sneezing. We’ve gone through a large amount of tissues, and my desk trash can fills up quick. Wunderground says it’s grass pollen, so that would make sense with the grass turning green and the weeds and stuff flowering. I don’t remember the tree pollen in Houston being this bad, even when it coated the cars with yellow “snow.”
The Blog Lives On
The good news is that I paid the bill for the domain and hosting for another year. Woo hoo! Maybe I can publish six posts this year.
I did mention in a chat conversation with my hosting company that I couldn’t believe so many people were that bored that they tried to hack into this blog. The response was that it’s bot systems that try to get in. There is no user called “admin” on this site, so they can try a million passwords and it won’t work. I knew how to do that a long time ago.
The irony is that I’m learning more about SEO, and how to make this blog findable! With useful, keyword-rich content! And frequent publishing, of course.
I’ve bought another website for my copywriting side, but I haven’t gotten around to finishing setting it up. I started it. . .much like a few of my sewing projects.
Speaking Of Sewing
We haven’t had the freezing cold that we had last winter, nor any snow. But I was ready for it!
I found this pattern, Simplicity 8738, and fell in love with it. Version B is very easy (version A is just longer), it has five pieces, and stitches together easily. I couldn’t find any sweater knit locally, and the last time I went to a Joann Fabrics in New Orleans, the clerk wasn’t very helpful. So online I went, and bought some lovely sweater knits, including two southwestern patterns. It only needs two yards, and I’ve made six of these casual tops. They’re comfortable, large and boxy, and work well with jeans.
If you decide to make one, make sure to include the little “thumb portals” in the end of the sleeves. You’ll thank me later. (I’m thinking of you, Aunt Ruth.)
Tasty Sweet Potatoes!
I do have a delicious recipe to share, and I just made it this evening.
Last year I was gifted a free one-year subscription to Bon Appetit magazine because Sur la Table was giving them away with a purchase over a certain amount. I don’t really get to read the magazines as I would like, but I did manage to flip through the March issue (featured: Korean Comfort Foods) and find something that I wanted to try.
This evening, I made these Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter, and they are very, very good. They’re also gluten free (check the labels on the tahini) and low carb (I think.)
I had all the ingredients on hand (but we’re now nearly out of butter.) While it took a good bit of time, the results were very much worth it. It’s also true that you think the butter and tahini won’t mix with the liquids, but you have to keep at it. Once it started to smooth out, I just began whisking it with the fork until all the liquid was perfectly emulsified into the butter and tahini. Then I used a small spatula to smear it over the hot potatoes, just like putting soft cream cheese on a bagel. Then I sprinkled them with toasted sesame seeds. It’s SO good. I’ll be eating this all weekend.
What did BF think of it? Well. . .I’m kind of upset with him this evening (long story.) I didn’t cook dinner, we had plenty of leftovers. Ordinarily I would have pestered him to try the sweet potatoes, but that’s not what I did. This time, I let him know that they were “not made for you,” and that he wouldn’t like it. In other words, I don’t care if he didn’t like the looks of them. I know he wouldn’t like them because of the quarter-cup of lime juice in the tahini butter.
BF doesn’t like anything tart or acid, like limes, lemons, or any kind of vinegar, and I’ve found that out the hard way. I’ve made one or two things with a small amount of balsamic vinegar for him, but it’s not a strong taste, it blends into the background. He was warned that they weren’t suitable for his tastes. As far as I know, he didn’t touch anything. If he had, I’m sure I would have heard about it.
When I read the recipe, I was thinking about when I would make it, or half of it. This evening, I just decided to go for it, including toasting some sesame seeds. It’s an unusual taste, and the lime juice taste does stand out, but doesn’t overpower. If I ever make it again, I might try cutting down the lime juice to half. When I make hummus, I add half the amount of lemon or lime juice, because it’s too strong for me and ruins the taste.
As For Writing
I’m still working primarily with lawyers, but as I get better with SEO, that could change. I wrote this piece on blogging and the First Amendment not long after my last blog post in response to an inquiry about a couple of previous postings that, apparently, didn’t sit well with someone who happened to read about herself, but not by name or any personally identifiable information (PII.) Approximately three people knew her identity, including herself. Well, I’m protected by the First Amendment, thanks very much, and by the case of Obsidian vs. Cox, 2011, from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Ninth Circuit ruled that bloggers are, indeed, journalists, and are entitled to the same protective provisions as journalists who work for a news organization. One of my lawyer clients, who I’d mentioned this to, said that as long as you don’t post something untrue, you’re good. Well, I didn’t, and everything I publish is true to the best of my knowledge. But the research to find the case law led me to suggest the post to a different client, and the project manager assigned it. So, girlie, if you’re reading this, yes, I do know what I’m talking about, and I can have lawyers back me up on it. Irony alert: a simple phone call asking, “hey, can we talk about this?” would have yielded a completely different ending. But, whatever.
I’ll write what I want, thanks very much.
Until Next Time
I’ve got a number of projects working, in addition to making sure we have clean clothes, washed dishes and dinner, so blogging. . .I’m trying. And WordPress just changed the interface, so now it’s even more tedious to post and add pictures. GRRRRR. . .I’ll get there.
Try the sweet potatoes this weekend.
Good Evening, Dear Readers:
This post, and maybe your evening supper, is a bit like the title. Some things tossed together. I hope you enjoy it.
For my gluten-free folks: I just received an email today from thyroid advocate Mary Shomon about something called the FODMAP diet. Kind of hard to explain, so here’s the link if you’re interested. It looks to mean high-sugar/carb content foods,but I can’t say I understand all of it from a quick read. For anyone reading that’s interested, I am passing along info.
Two topics are on chocolate, so I’ll start with the first one: Lindt. You probably heard about the incident in Sydney, Australia in a Lindt cafe yesterday: the terrorist went down and two hero hostages didn’t make it out. The company is offering full support for the people affected; I’m sure that includes medical assistance. Awfully nice of them. There is a worldwide call to support Lindt (#buyLindt and #supportLindtchocolate) by buying something they make, i.e., one of those delicious balls of chocolate at the register in my fabric stores. I know, fabric stores. . .but despite everything going on around here, I’m ready to head out for a couple of Lindt dark chocolate truffles with the deliciously soft insides. Maybe tomorrow, but I will. I am also thankful that my wonderful Aussie friends live in Melbourne, some distance away from where this happened.
Please say a prayer for Sydney as the city puts itself back together, buries its heroes and heals from this horrific incident. Much like Boston, it will take time to sort out what happened.
The second topic is a different chocolate company here in the US, and I occasionally drop in their shop in Baybrook Mall when I have to go in there. See’s Candies is a company in the US with some locations in Asia that is more of what you’d call a “chocolate boutique” (my term.) I always thought they were a Texas company, or even a Houston company, but no, they’re headquartered in Carson, California.
Last week I headed to Baybrook Mall for some fact-finding. Because I was slowly becoming claustrophobic, I stopped in See’s for one of their Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Bars, which are pretty darn good. In the store, they’re also sold individually, so it’s not a problem to pop over and get one on the way out. (There is also a Godiva store next to Starbucks, but I’m not going in there.)
See’s is white and shiny on the inside, like an old-fashioned candy shop, but of course, it’s mostly chocolate. I don’t go to the mall very often, especially this time of the year, unless I have to. But every time I’ve been there, I’ve been happily greeted by this nice man, even if I’m not feeling nice:
Note: I was NOT rude to him, I just mentioned that I wasn’t in a good mood, and apologized for being a grouch. By the time I left Sees, I felt better. Please do not be rude to Malcolm, either!! He’s very friendly, doesn’t bite.
I’ve seen him several times, so I know he’s been there a while–which is more than I can say for Staples! (They’re nice too.) Malcolm always tells me about the delicious new things they have, whether or not they are sugar-free. I can vouch for them all being delicious, even if I don’t know what they are. . .because I’m too busy listening to him tell me about what’s new.
I happened to mention to last week that I write a food blog sometimes, and, DUH–how about a blurb about See’s? I didn’t say I was the best food blogger. . .but Malcolm did mention that he’s also been to culinary school.
So now I know he’s smart, too. But I never doubted it. Once he starts telling you about what See’s has, you know he knows his stuff and isn’t “just working there.”
If you’re in Baybrook Mall sometime, stop in and see Malcolm and his very nice coworkers and see what they’ve got in the way of truffles, candy bars, and if you’re so inclined, sugar free chocolate. Whether for gifts or for yourself, Malcolm will make sure you are not disappointed.
Did I mention that chocolate is the Food of the Gods? I thought I should. . . .
Now, longtime readers of this humble blog are familiar with my attempts at gardening. I’ve had some successes, but I haven’t yet been able to grow enough to make a significant dent in my grocery bill. I’ve had a couple of small bell peppers, three Anaheim chili peppers, and four Meyer Lemons. The lime tree had flowers on it when I bought it, but no fruit this year. Then again, that Meyer lemon plant is about two years old.
The GER told me “you might get one or two from it.” HA! I got four. Take that! I need to ask him how the pineapple plant is doing. . . .
Well, the day finally came where they were ripe and I had to pick them. So what the heck was I going to do with them? Look no further than picture-based social media site Pinterest, where I found this delicious recipe for a gluten free cake made with almond flour and. . .FOUR Meyer lemons.
Now, the only “objectionable” thing in the recipe is sugar. . .so, naturally, I went with Somersweet, and it worked beautifully. Honest, it’s a little time consuming, but otherwise pretty simple.
First, you boil the lemons, no kidding:
When it cools, you cut them open to get the seeds out:
I cut them into pieces on that plate while they were still hot so they’d cool faster. (That one’s a Corelle, so it’s hard to hurt.) When they cooled, I got the seeds out, which may be planted in the spring and make more lemon trees:
Next up, the secret–the food processor!
You puree the entire lemon–yes, peel and all–until it’s nice and smooth. Separately, the eggs and sugar/Somersweet get combined.
Then add this:
Next you mix in the almond meal, lemon puree and baking powder to make the batter.
Pour every bit of this into a greased 9″ springform pan and bake it for 50-60 minutes, or until the obligatory cake tester comes out clean:
Now, while that’s going on, clean up a little, and then get on with the icing–I used the fourth lemon, which was half-zested, and juiced it.One thing I will tell you is that Meyer lemons, while bigger and slightly sweeter than regular lemons, are NOT edible as is. I tried it. Ended up with this much juice.
With 3 tablespoons of soft butter and 1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar, or in my case, SomerSweet, you beat that all together and get this thick, stiff, tart, sweet icing that tops that sweet, nutty cake perfectly.
No, it’s not something you’d get in a fancy bakery, but you know what? It’s a rustic, homey, delicious cake that will really make you happy. Gluten free, and if you’re so inclined, sugar free.
Neighbor K and Neighbor R have both given two thumbs up to the slice I gave them, so I know it’s good–and neither one cared that it was healthy, either. Try it soon, (even with regular grocery store lemons) and you’ll be happy you did. This cake is good about anytime you want something different, and it’s not chocolate.
Many thanks to fellow blogger Sue over at The View From Great Island for this wonderful cake. It’ll happen again. . .because I have more pureed Meyer lemon in the freezer!!
Now for something REALLY different. . . .dinner.
I was flipping through Nigella Kitchen on Sunday, thinking about what to do with something that’s been in my freezer for a while, and I found an unusual recipe I’d never noticed before. You know I just HAD to try it! Keep reading. . . .
Over the weekend I had the occasion to drive into town. I had no idea that the stretch of freeway was under construction and was closed, I had a fun time taking detours and getting lost. I got where I needed to go, eventually, but on the way home, I stopped at Trader Joe’s for a few things. I took two pictures of what I needed from Trader Joe’s, (paperless grocery lists!) missing only olive oil. I was told by one of the workers that it had not yet been unloaded, and was still sitting on a ship in the Houston Ship Channel.
Oh, well. At least I’m not out.
This recipe is on page 340, and is called Sweet Potato Supper. First thing that caught my eye was “sweet potato.” (The complete recipe is at the bottom of this post.)
Take a look at the picture in the book:
Well, I needed asparagus and thyme, but was unable to find the cold-pressed canola oil, so darnit, I just used some olive oil. And instead of “smoked lardons” (you try finding them in Houston, OK?) or the 16 slices of bacon, I used. . .bacon. Because lardons are bits of pork fat anyway, darnit.
And because I didn’t notice the half-cup measure of smoked lardons, I just used the entire packet of the bacon ends and pieces:
Because, ladies and gentlemen, there IS no such thing as “too much bacon.” At least, not here. But maybe next time I’ll try half the packet.
Scrub, but don’t peel, two sweet potatoes:
I lined the pan with parchment paper first, made cleanup real easy.
Toss some fresh thyme (or one teaspoon dried) on top. Like this stuff:
The rest will be used to make more of my favorite dry BBQ rub.
This pan goes into a 425 degree oven; naturally, in the HeatCageKitchen, it was the toaster oven. The broiler pan for the toaster oven was perfect for this (without the top grill part, of course.) Roast for 30 minutes, flip the sweet potatoes, then roast for another 30 minutes. . .and this is what comes out:
I chopped the sweet potato smaller than Nigella recommends, but I didn’t turn them right at 30 minutes like I should have, so they overcooked on the bottom. No matter. Nigella also recommends mango chili sauce, but I didn’t think to look for it in Trader Joe’s. I think I have some Tabasco Habernero, which has mango in it to tame the heat. . .but I forgot about it. I also forgot to use the lettuce leaves under this, as suggested.
This is SOOO good. . .you will not believe it. I texted Neighbor K, who had gone out for the weekend with her girlfriends, and told her how good it was. I offered her the other half, but she was still full from the morning, so she declined. That means I had it again the next day for lunch! Maybe next time.
This recipe serves two, but could easily be doubled for four people. It does take an hour to cook, but that frees you to do other things, like make an easy dessert you don’t have to bake.
Seriously, this is amazingly delicious. Want something different for dinner this week? Give this a try. You won’t be sorry.
Sweet Potato Supper, from Nigella Kitchen. (Serves 2)
- 2 sweet potatoes or yams (washed and dried, but not peeled) cut into quarters
- 8 ounces (1/2 cup) smoked lardons, cubed pancetta, or 16 slices smoked bacon, snipped (or bacon ends)
- 8 ounces asparagus tips
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- a few sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons cold-pressed canola oil (or olive oil)
- salt to taste
- Salad leaves, to serve (optional)
- Chili sauce, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425, and get out the roasting pan for all the ingredients.
- Arrange the sweet potato chunks in the pan and then drop in most of the lardons/bacon, followed by the asparagus tips and garlic cloves, and finally, the remaining lardons/bacon.
- Sprinkle with the thyme, pour the oil over, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, before turning the sweet potatoes over and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Let everything cool a bit, then divide between 2 plates on top of salad leaves (if desired) and sprinkling with some salt or chili sauce as desired.