Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SOON it will be the 5th of May.

CINCO DE MAYO as a holiday is celebrated nation-wide in America and regionally in Mexico, where it commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco- Mexican War (1861-1867).  Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo as a festival of Mexican culture with special food, music, and games.

HERE in Three Rivers, the theme for our 1st Saturday event, which falls on May 5th this year, is Cinco de Mayo.  The recipe I concocted to serve is not a traditional dish, but boasts 3 ingredients important in Mexican cuisine.

CHOCOLATE (food of the gods) dates back to 600, when the Maya Indians brought cacao beans to Mexico from the rain forests of Guatemala, and the Aztecs, who later ruled, used the beans for food, rituals, and money.

CINNAMON from Mexico is called Ceylon (or True Cinnamon), and Mexico is the world's largest importer of this cinnamon. It has a mild, sweet taste, crumbles easily and is a lighter color. The cinnamon most found in America, called Cassia, is a darker color, has a stronger flavor and is less fragrant. I will be using the latter.

CAYENNE, a powder made from very hot chili peppers, has been used in Mexico as food and medicine for 7000 years.


2 T. ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
1 cup soymilk
1 T. apple cider vinegar
11/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4- 1/2 tsp. cayenne to taste
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
3. Blend flax seed and water on high for 1 minute. Add
    milk and vinegar; blend well. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa
   powder, baking powder, baking soda, cayenne, cinnamon
    and salt.
5. Add milk mixture, maple syrup, oil, vanilla and walnuts.
    Gently stir until just mixed. Put into loaf pan.
6. Bake 50-55 minutes, until inserted knife comes out clean.
7. Let cool on rack before slicing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heroes, and Not the Sandwich

DO YOU have a hero? I have a new one every day. They pop up frequently to my rescue and I am ever-so-grateful for their help.

MAYA RICCI is my hero today.

1st SATURDAY is our monthly event here in Three Rivers, and it occurs in 3 days, creating 2 problems.
1. It's cold in my studio! I need firewood.
2. I always serve something delectable that matches the theme, which is "Pinecones and Pomegranates" this month. And I still don't have a recipe to serve. I have been cooking pomegranate salads and main dishes all month - zip. It's now down to the wire.

WHINING to an artist friend over coffee this morning brought no results, so I returned to my studio to work on my latest painting. As I entered the cold room, the phone rang. "It's Maya- do you need firewood yet? Bring your truck over." Oh wow.

MINUTES later, I had a truck full of wood. As I started to leave, she said, "Wait- I have pomegranate juice for you. And I just got a new cookbook with some wonderful pomegranate recipes in it – interested?" Sweet.

I'M SERVING one of those recipes on Saturday. The cookbook is called "Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi, and with gorgeous photos by Jonathan Lovekin.

And thanks Maya- you're my hero!


1 cup pear barley
6 celery stalks (leaves picked and reserved), cut into small dice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 tsp ground allspice
salt and black pepper
3 tbsp chopped dill
3 tbsp chopped parsley
seeds from 2 large pomegranates

1. Rinse the barley with cold water, then place in a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh water. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender but still with a bite.
2. Drain the barley and transfer to a mixing bowl. While it is still hot, add the celery, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, and some salt and pepper. Stir, then leave to cool down completely.
3. Once cool, add the herbs, celery leaves and pomegranate seeds and mix in. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, then serve.  Serves 4.

Friday, August 5, 2011

PEACHES give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Join me (and the rest of the nation) this month in celebrating this versatile fruit.

THE PEACH originated in China, and has a colorful history there, symbolizing longevity, abundance and good luck. Myths about the fruit are plentiful, and people considered it magical. The Tree of Life was a peach tree.

PEACHES are high in vitamins A, B and C. They contain about 37 calories a peach and they rank low on the glycemic index. And the juice makes a great moisturizer for your skin. But what I love most is the taste.

CHOCOLATE and peaches go great together. Add a little sherry and almonds and you have a winning dessert. Not too sweet, not too rich. Perfect.

Chocolate-stuffed Peaches

4 peaches, halved and pitted

   1/2 cup fresh rye breadcrumbs
   1/2 cup sugar
   1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
   2 T. cocoa
   1 T. sherry
   1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cp. dry white wine
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 T. vegan margarine

1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
2. Scoop out and chop centers of peach halves.
3. Mix stuffing ingredients with chopped peach.
4. Place peach halves in oiled baking dish. Fill with
    stuffing. Pour wine over peaches, sprinkle with
    sugar, dot with margarine.
5. Bake 30 minutes. Serve hot.

                                      Serves 8

Monday, June 27, 2011

Red White and Blue

HERE WE ARE again in July. This is my 3rd recipe greeting card celebrating July 4th. Every year I say I'm serving my recipe on a lily, and I even have Scooter (my computer) notify me when the lilies will be in bloom. Yay! I did it.

THIS WAS FUN putting together. Anything red, white or blue. This is National Blueberry Month so I designed my recipe around that. I wanted all raw, crunchy, cold textures, and then tried many dressings. The coconut lemon was just right – and it didn't change the colors, which needed to stay bright and clear for the photo.

SIMPLE to make, throw a jar of it in your picnic basket, or serve on a lily for a festive lunch with the canasta girls.

Blueberry Bell Pepper Salad

3 T. coconut oil, warmed to liquid
2 T. sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup jicama, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped coarse
1 cup cauliflower, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1- 2 cups watermelon, cut up
1 cup blueberries

1.Mix first 4 ingredients for dressing. Set aside.
2. Place all other ingredients in a bowl.
3. Pour in dressing.

I served the salad on a bed of lettuce and lily petals. Use only
home-grown lilies that are free of pesticides.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spaghetti on the River

IT'S JUNE and June is National Rivers Month. to celebrate the river. There's swimming and fishing and kayaking and canoeing. You can paint the river, photograph it, or simply wiggle your toes in it. You can clean up trash.

I CHOSE to set up a pretty table and chairs right on the river. Two friends joined me to surprise a fourth on her birthday. We enjoyed a breathtaking view while dining, and after dinner we played canasta until we could no longer see the cards.

MY RECIPE is a vegan version of my mom's spaghetti sauce. I always double the recipe and freeze enough for later, to serve on gnocchi or rigatoni. You can use canned tomatoes but it's worth the extra work with fresh tomatoes, especially if they came straight from your garden.

As Good as Mom Made Spaghetti

2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 package (12 ounce) Morning Star Crumbles
(or other hamburger substitute)
12 Roma tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 t. oregano
1 bay leaf
1 T. fresh basil (or 1/2 t. dried)
1/4 t. cayenne

1. To remove skin from tomatoes, drop into boiling water for 3 minutes, then put in cold water. Peel, then chop.
2. Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add hamburger, heat through.
3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, seasonings and water. Simmer low 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spinach Walnut Turnovers

ON MAY 7TH we celebrated National Bike Month here in Three Rivers, CA. We launched our 1st Saturday event with a "Trike and Bike" costume contest, held at the Hummingbird Cafe at 9 am. How adorable! To see all the photos from the contest, click on the post title above.

IN KEEPING with the theme, I hiked up to Salt Creek with my daughter, Landon, who walked the bike up. I couldn't find a bike with a basket on it, so I bought a basket and made the floral inset with little ties on it. I like the black-and-white motif with the purple bike and lupines, which I knew were at peak bloom for this photo. And the "S" in the waterfall (for Salt Creek) was clearly visible. It was a good workout for me, hiking with a backpack of food, but worth it.

TURNOVERS are simple to make and hold up well for a picnic. What better way to spend lunchtime?

Spinach Walnut Turnovers

1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (10 ounce) frozen spinach
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne
pinch freshly ground nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 375º.
2. Heat oil in large pan. Saute onions until soft.
3. Chop spinach; place in a towel; wring out water. Add to onions.
4. Add remaining ingredients except puff pastry. Cook 5 minutes on
low heat.
5. Unfold pastry sheet. Cut into 4 equal sections. Place about 1/4 cup
spinach mixture on each square, forming into a triangle shape.
6. Moisten edges with water; fold pastry in half diagonally; seal with
tip of fork. Repeat with second sheet of pastry.
7. Spray a cookie sheet with oil. Place turnovers on sheet; bake 25
minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 8.