Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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Recipes for a Gluten Free, Mostly Rice Bread and a Spicy Spread, Dressing or Dip

Here’s my contribution to gluten free bread recipes. I’ve also included a spicy spread, tasty enough to replace mustard and mayo on sandwiches and hoagies. This is a perfect combination for those holiday left-over meats and cheeses. Both are quick and so easy that if I had teens around, these recipes would be shared as “learning how to creatively cook” experiences.

A Gluten Free, Mostly Rice Bread

Gluten Free, Mostly  Rice Bread

A loaf of gluten free bread made from the recipe below.

This recipe doesn’t take much time to make once the ingredients are assembled so gather all the makings together first. Grease a large bread loaf pan with coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Baking time: 60 minutes.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup mixture of gluten-free flours (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt or Celtic salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. guar gum (I’ve never tried it with xanthan gum)
  • 2 tsp. dried ginger (optional)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/4 melted butter or coconut oil
  • 3 large or jumbo eggs
  • 2 tsp. apple cider or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cups yogurt (I use goat yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup strained applesauce, banana or squash to add extra body and moistness.

In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients together. Set aside. Mix the wet ingredients together well and add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir until the dry ingredients are well incorporated into the wet. Plop this mixture into the oiled bread pan. Smooth surface with a wet knife or leave as it. Place the filled bread pan in the center of the oven and bake for 60 minutes. I like to take a long toothpick or kabob skewer and insert it into the heart of the loaf. Check carefully to see it comes out clean and not wet. If it needs more time to bake, turn the oven down to 325 and continue until it is nicely brown and indicator comes out clean.

Remove loaf from oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool. If you slice before it’s cool, you may run into some cracking and slight crumbling. I say it’s worth the risk for the first few slices to savor its fresh flavor. I do store it in the refrigerator and pull it out just before slicing and popping into toaster or making sandwiches.

This bread holds up well to a load if sliced thicker and made into open-faced sandwiches. Toasting it relaxes the texture and served warm with butter or olive oil, it is (in my estimation, of course) the perfect carrier for nutritional yeast, seaweed, etc. for breakfast energy snacks. Another way I use it toasted is as a breakfast open-faced sandwich with coconut oil, cottage cheese, seaweed and dried nettle powders as toppings. Adding a banana to the batter, gives the loaf a pleasant taste and so spreading a piece of banana flavored toast with coconut oil almost makes it into a dessert! Try it with nut butters, too!

Like all rice breads, it has its limitations and since there are no preservatives or additives, store it sealed well, preferably in the refrigerator. If possible, take out and allow slices to warm before making sandwiches. Refreshing it in the toaster oven or toaster works great, too.

Yummers!

Sliced gluten free, mostly rice bread.

Sliced gluten free, mostly rice bread.

Pat’s Spicy Spread, Dressing and Dip

Pat's Spicy Spread, Dressing and Dip

Pat’s Spicy Spread, Dressing and Dip

Whatever you’re fixing to make for lunch or dinner and need a dip, a spread, or a dressing to add some flavor and flair, try this recipe. It’s quick to make out of ordinary ingredients and perfect for adding to soups to spice them up, for replacing the mustard and mayo in sandwiches; for adding to slaw or cucumber salads to give them a bite of warmth, or to dull and bland dishes for added spicy creaminess. I’ve added xanthan gum to help emulsify the mixture for longer-lasting creaminess.

In a blender, blend together until fluffy:

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced fine
  • 1 tsp. or more fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 or 2 limes, juiced
  • 2-4 Tbs. tahini or almond butter
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp. or more warm honey or other sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (sprinkle in as blender whirls)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. fresh dill weed if you have it, otherwise use 1 tsp. dried (optional but I do find dill weed makes everything taste fresher!)

Keep a jar in the refrigerator for that inspirational moment!

Until next time, enjoy the holidays!


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Big Beet and Sausage Borscht

Big Beet and Sausage Borscht

Big Beet and Sausage Borscht.

From what I understand, the wild beet which grew along the coasts of Eurasia and eaten for its greens wherever it grew, was eventually cultivated by the Romans and Greeks who produced the beet root, the seed stock that gave rise to our modern beet. Before that the root was used as medicine for which it still has a good reputation. I surmise the Roman beet, as it was known, migrated wherever the Roman and Greek cultures spread and became part of the cultural cuisine, expanding on its own throughout Europe as its popularity and seed production increased.

It would make common sense once it got into folk hands that the ingredients easy to grow or obtain in any one area would be largely responsible for Borscht’s development. I’m sure many cultures had their own variation on a beet  soup and Borscht just became the most well-known and copied. My ancestry dates back to Wales and Finland so for me, I grew up with few embellishments in a beet soup other than apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, beets, carrots, onions and perhaps some caraway seeds.

I’m delighted to have made my own variation, sampling as I went with traditional recipes, raw or cooked, bowls of it hot or cold or room temperature and finally settling on my latest one inspired by the large beets we recently gleaned at a local farm here in Sequim, WA at the base of the majestic Olympic Mountain range.

The Big Beet of this recipe refers to the huge beets that we dug and which are normally too big for commercial value but flavorful and tender, none the less. One of these humongous beets takes the place of the 3-4 beets in this recipe which calls for more normally sized ones. Our area’s glacial and river bottom soils are well-known for producing naturally sweet and tender root crops including beets and carrots.

A Big Beet!

A Big Beet!

This recipe does not contain potatoes nor beans which normally add a creamy thickness to a pot of Borscht although you’re welcome to include them. I do, however, add the water saved from my other potato boiling and steaming dishes for part of the stock used to cook this recipe. My favorite broth to make Borscht is home-made chicken stock; yet water adds another dimension, allowing the soup’s subtle flavors to play with my taste buds.

Big Beet and Sausage Borscht

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sausage (your choice, raw or cured. I use Spicy Sweet Italian raw links or similar but plain is fine, too.)
  • 2 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, peeled, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3-4 smashed garlic cloves, cut into slices
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly julienne sliced into 1-inch pieces (washed well but peeling optional)
  • 3 cups napa, red or sweet white cabbage or a combination, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 3-4 large beets, roughly julienne sliced into 1-inch pieces (washed well but peeling optional)
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger or 1 Tbs. fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. dried garden sage
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 sweet apple, diced (peeling optional)
  • 6 cups broth or water (I often use potato water.)
  • Last minute freshies from the hedges or gardens

Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle surface with salt. Add the butter and olive oil and heat to the stage where the butter bubbles up but just before butter turns brown.

Remove the casing from the raw sausage and using a scissors, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add to the hot butter/oil in the pan along with the onions and garlic; stir until sausage just turns barely brown and veggies are translucent. If using an already cured sausage that only needs warming up, go ahead and skip the browning stage unless you want extra flavor.

Sauteed sausage, garlic and onions together in butter and olive oil.

Sautéed sausage, garlic and onions together in butter and olive oil.

Add the spices and herbs into the sausage, butter, olive oil, garlic and onion mixture and stir well. I like to take this step so the spices and herbs absorb the flavors of the sautéed sausage and alliums before the rest of the vegetables are added.

Keep out the diced apple, while adding the remaining veggies to the saucepan. Thoroughly stir to blend all the ingredients. Add enough broth to cover the veggies and stir again. I don’t usually add all the broth at once unless I’m in a hurry, but like to add when I see a need for more. Taste broth and adjust seasonings realizing flavors will change over the cooking time. Cover and allow to slowly simmer.

Borscht ready to simmer.

Borscht ready to simmer.

When these veggies have reached the al dente stage, add the diced apple. Adjust the seasonings and liquid level. Here I’ll also add any extra fresh garden flowers, hedgerow greens or herbs for added zip and color. For this recipe I found some lovely calendula blossoms and the last fragrant maroon rose which I chopped loosely and added to the pot. Perhaps one last perusal of your garden or floral space will provide you with pansies, parsley, chickweed, dandelion blossoms, heartsease or violas, etc. On inspiration, I even added some hawthorn infused honey to this dish.

Late garden treasures for borscht.

Late garden treasures for borscht.

Stir well to incorporate the contents and simmer until all the veggies and the apple are tender and flavors have had a chance to meld. Serve with simple salad and warm biscuit or bread. I’ll added a dollop of my spicy slaw salad dressing but a cool spoonful of yogurt or sour cream is pleasant, too.

Big Beet and Sausage Borscht ready to serve.

Big Beet and Sausage Borscht ready to serve.

Enjoy your journey through the delights of autumn cooking and dining and we’ll catch up next time!


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Musings in the Autumn Season: Tempting Recipes

Cooking is an alchemical, transformational process hinting of magic. To me, one of life’s healthiest joys is watching friends and family gather around a meal, tastefully prepared and lovingly served. In this post, I’ll offer you some of my experiences and recipes to pique your exploration of the autumn cooking and dining scene.

Farm store autumn produce.

Farm store autumn produce.

Whereas summer’s bounty is often enjoyed raw or with minimal processing, fall meals tend to be heartier, requiring more cooking and enlivening through the use of warming herbs and spices. Produce from the vegetable gardens and orchards, farm stands and wild woods encourage cooks to translate their unique aromas, textures and flavors into a language that suits the diners’ seasonally-shifting health needs and palates.

Not only does proper prepping and cooking enhance the color, texture and form of autumn’s bountiful produce but how food is presented to our bodies assists in the regeneration of its living tissues which goes on 24/7/365, rain or shine. Seasoned with the sensual enjoyment of tempting ingredients and healthy, intriguing recipes, it asssists in making eating a pleasure.

Celebrating Harvests

A typical garden in the Pacific Northwest and across much of the northern tier of states is usually finished producing in time for the pumpkin harvest at Halloween. Depending on the terrain and elevation, frost may already have touched or possibly even decimated the produce but often during the final clean up, there will be bits and pieces of salvage that challenge me to make an end-of-year harvest soup. A pale orange tomato, a handful of green beans, a few pathetic-looking parsley stalks, a forgotten onion, an all too-small garlic bulb, a few corn kernels off a runt cob, some cilantro seeds or the last bit of basil gets slipped into the soup pot along with other ingredients, herbs and spices. It’s a way of my saying thanks to the garden which has produced so much for us during the course of its life. Some years we’ve been blessed to find a handful of immature beans tucked away in the pods we’ve pulled and these hold special honor, a jack-in-the-bean-stalk magical moment.

Another tradition is a celebratory harvest “roast of vegetables,” including but not limited to, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, squash and garlic baked in butter and olive oil until nicely caramelized and seasoned with additional herbs and spices. This is my way of saying thank you for the bountiful harvest and gives us a taste of what we’ll be enjoying until foraged foods and spring veggies are locally available.

An Abundance of Avocados

Hawaiian produce at the fruit stand.

Hawaiian produce at the fruit stand.

During our recent four-year stay on the Big Island of Hawaii, we lived on the wet side, the jungle side in an area known as Puna. We enjoyed a variety of fresh fruits during the autumn months including an extra sweet banana known as the candy apple banana, guavas, mangoes, rambutans, papayas, starfruits, lilikoi or passion fruits and the plentiful avocado which could be bought for a reasonable price at the farm stands and markets. They could also be gleaned while out on our neighborhood walks but we had to be quick and pick them up before the wild pigs or the rats got to them first. Gleaning for avo’s after a wind storm was ideal except that sometimes there were just too many to eat!

As to be expected, when the avo’s were ripe, guacamole found its way into every potluck gathering and all the cooks had their own recipes. One variation I used often consisted of two or three smallish, mashed avo’s, to which I added a dollop of hot sauce, some grated ginger, finely diced red onion, a finely minced garlic clove, the juice of a lime or lemon, a pinch of salt, pepper and a sprinkling of Thai or Italian basil, either fresh or dried. I might also add a measure of mayonnaise if I were serving it immediately.

Another simple meal featuring the avocado was made by toasting a slice of whole grain sprouted bread or rice bread onto which I placed an egg done to my liking, sunny side up, adding mashed or sliced avo, drizzling it all with olive oil and for extra nutrition, some Bragg’s liquid amino acids and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. This could be eaten with knife and fork but often became a finger food and a finger/plate licking feast!

Roots and I Take Center Stage

But I digress into the past and a certain desire for warmer temperatures and colors now that we’re living in the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate, maritime climate at the feet of the majestic Olympic Mountains. Here the cool soils grow scrumptious fall root crops, brassicas, celery, leeks, spinach, foraged greens, pears and apples. The cooler climate creates a desire for more oils and longer cooking times and the use of more warming herbs and spices. And as food is our daily medicine, in the autumn we are careful with the amount of sweetening used, especially around the holidays, in order to keep immune systems healthy.

I’ve always been a slow cook, largely localvore, although I’m fond of exotic flavors and fragrances. I choose organic whenever possible and eat meat when my body tells me to “eat meat protein.” For my cooking oils, I use olive oil for basic salad dressings, meat dishes, tomato sauces and some toasted breads; butter for potatoes and added to meat and tomato dishes to impart a creamy taste and texture; and coconut oil for egg dishes and as a spread on scones and toast. For vinegars, I prefer wine vinegars or medicinal ones I’ve concocted myself for salad dressings; apple cider vinegars for meat dishes or heavier herbal vinegars such as nettle leaf; and balsamic vinegar for that unique flavored dish or dressing.

Our well-stocked pantry is supported by foraging, buying both locally and from Azure Standard so I have the items to be more creative on hand rather than having to secure them each time from the market. It’s a carry over from living in Alaska and Hawaii plus we feel some responsibility to our community when the need arises for support.

I enjoy the sensual textures, smells, sounds, tastes and sights of preparing, cooking and eating…in other words, my style involves active participation in being alert through the different cooking stages, watching how a dish melds together, listening for the sizzling and boiling sounds, sampling and noisily savoring the flavors.

I have yet to share how valuable music is to my cooking routine. I don’t particularly have a favorite style to cook by; most any kind will do if not too discordant a rhythm. Michael is the gatekeeper of the music and can usually pick a good vibe for me. I feel both relaxed and enlivened when music is playing while I prep and cook, sort of like having my kitchen full of friends sharing in my cooking passion. My kitchens are usually small where I can tap bottom drawers and doors shut with my foot or use my hips and knees to do the same. I like to get caught up in the twist and sway of the music and punctuate it with an occasional tap on the kettle with my wooden spoons. My metal mixing bowls become Tibetan singing bowls with beautiful tones. I never mind when they “ping” together and resonate till quiet. I like to think the musical routines translate into the food that comes out of the kitchen, too! My cooking is also my active meditation practice and I work diligently to allow thoughts of peace and harmony to permeate my time in the kitchen. Some days are easier than others!

So let’s look at a few warming recipes featuring autumn ingredients from near and far, blending cool clime and some tropical produce, shall we? After living in Hawaii where cooler temperatures, strong winds and heavy rains punctuate the fall months resulting in snow falling on Mauna Kea, I like to celebrate for the islands too.

I’m thinking scones with local blueberries and Hawaiian ginger for morning tea/coffee; later in the morning a wild foods frittata; followed by either potato leek soup or a corn chowder, Puna style. Then after a day of working outside, come in to warm up with a chaga fungus brew. Snacks are a rainbow selection of baked root chips. And if you fill up on chips, for a lighter fare, I offer a  recipe for baked acorn squash with quinoa-cranberry stuffing which goes well with a simple salad.

Gleaning Napa cabbage with Sally for the local food bank.

Gleaning Napa cabbage with Sally for the local food bank.

In the fall and winter months, I like to cook one pot meals so for a heartier appetite, how about a beef or veggie stew, a meatless black bean chili with orange chunks or a hearty bean soup featuring smoked pork chops and pinto beans which also can be served with boneless chicken breast or made vegetarian just by leaving out the meat.  I’ve also included something for the lighter appetite: a recipe for an all-in-one, spicy veggie slaw which would goes well with a simple carrot, ginger and coconut milk soup.

Now in the dessert realm, I’ve included recipes for a pumpkin coconut milk baked custard, and another tempting dessert: a layered, yogurt, cream cheese, blueberry, banana and custard pudding pie. The former is a crowd pleaser, the latter brings down the house!

Oh, and then to top it off, at the end of the meal while you sit around relaxing, a hot mulled rum apple cider.

Please join me on the next page and enjoy the culinary delights of autumn.

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Musings in the Autumn Season: A Food Journey

Since I find the acts of cooking and eating among life’s greater pleasures, I enjoy and am challenged each season by the foods, the harvesting, the preparation, the diversity of recipes and coordination of cooking skills involved in getting it from raw material to my plate. Seasonally, in the northern hemisphere and particularly in the Pacific Northwest, summer and autumn supply the richest variety and abundance of foraged and cultivated foods. On the other hand, depending on where you live, late spring and early summer can provide nutritious foraged foods and the beginning pickings of cultivated ones; while the winter season seems to tax our ingenuity in gathering both foraged and cultivated foods, keeping them from spoiling in storage and in knowing how best to prepare them as food and medicine.

Using Our Senses to Journey

Farm store produce.

Farm store produce.

Let’s begin by taking a sensual journey into the cornucopia of autumn’s bounty by thinking of answers to a few questions about your favorite culinary fruit. Take a moment and thoughtfully consider each question and response in your own manner. If you are familiar with produce only from your grocery store or farmer’s market display, please imagine this as your place of selection. Feel free to improvise ways to enjoy or obtain more data on answering the questions such as actually obtaining and taking a bite of your sample!

Picture your choice of the perfect autumn culinary fruit, your favorite, still attached to its branch, stalk or vine. What makes it perfect for you? In your mind’s eye, thoughtfully pluck it or even pick it up off the ground where it sits. Inspect it. Look for bruises, bird pecks, droppings, moldy or soft spots, worm holes or other blemishes. Roll it around in your hands. Is it heavy for its size? Is it small, misshapen? How would you describe the outer texture of the peel? Is it waxy, veined, fuzzy? What about its color? Is it streaked, or of solid color, flecked with white, cream or green? Is there a light spot on it from where it shouldered up against another piece of fruit or where it sat on the ground? Should it be peeled or can you eat leave the skin on and eat it out of hand? Do you need to let it ripen off the vine? How will it change in color, in flavor?

Since smell and taste are entwined when it comes to eating, if the peel is edible, what does it smell and taste like? Is it sharply flavored, bland, astringent, sweet, sour? How about the fruit underlying the peel? Is it bitter or sweet? Do you pucker and eat gingerly or smile and savor its flavor, feeling satisfied that you’ve got a good one? Are you inclined to slurp when you eat it, enjoying its aroma and taste? Are there fragrances or tones that linger longer than others? How does it feel on the tongue? Is it warming, leaving a hint of vanilla essence or perhaps cooling with a green apple fragrance, snappy with the aroma of ripe berry, or savory and tropical?

Do you hear anything resonating in your head when eating your piece of autumn bounty? Perhaps a satisfying crunch, a solid thwack, sounds of moistness, a slushy sound? Do you utter a sound upon eating your perfect, favorite piece of fruit? Such as…?

Papaya on Big Island, HI.

Non-GMO Papaya on Big Island, HI.

Does your piece of fruit have seeds or pits? Describe them: color, texture, form. How are they contained? Can you save and plant the seeds and there be more of the same without them hybridizing?  Do the seeds have a distinctive odor, flavor, can you eat them, or are they poisonous? Does cooking change their toxicity or make them more palatable? Could you use them in a medicine pouch or for a craft project?

Now look at your hands. Are they sticky? Do you feel inclined to lick your fingers? Did the fruit stain them? What color? Did it leave your fingers or face feeling itchy? How does your tongue feel? How about the inside of your mouth? Are your teeth zinging from all the sweetness? Do you feel like burping?

A food’s color and form and perhaps outer texture were identifying characteristics which may have prompted clues housed in your memory to the selection of your perfect piece. You further used recall describing the sensuous aspects, for if this is a favorite fruit of perfection for you, the fruit’s flavor, its smell, texture upon eating it, sounds of eating it are all friendly memories that reacquaint you with why it’s a favorite and will give you insight into how it can be enhanced in the alchemical process of cooking.This exercise can be done with your choice of the perfect vegetable, as well.

So, why did I have you do this, taking an imaginative journey acquainting your senses with the food you truly enjoy eating, a food which you most likely already have or will eventually transform into aiding the regeneration of your body’s living tissue? Primarily I did it to entertain you with a type of imaginative journey, I enjoy traveling plus as a reminder of society’s loss of contact with the natural world, and the greater sense of dis-ease that studies have proven exists globally today. This loss also exists in the realm of healthy foods, the very foods we eat and our bodies process 24/7/365 and which nourish our very being.

My Perfect Favorite Fruit

Although it’s been many decades, I can vividly remember my favorite apple tree and apple, what it looks like, it’s flavor and smell. The tree grew in my grandparent’s back yard next to the dripping water faucet, the old-fashioned kind of faucet that you could never really quite turn off, providing moisture to the tree, a dog’s watering dish also frequented by the deer who and resident garter snake. The tree wasn’t all that thrifty as it was an old tree and usually had a small harvest. It was a late summer apple, among the first ready for picking with tender flesh which developed a bruise where it fell off the tree. It’s flavor was sweet, its flesh a creamy white and it smelled fruity yet a bit like a crabapple. It made a slushy sound when I bit into it.

Associated with my apple are the memories of my grandmother helping me to shake the tree so that the ones already weakened by having a worm in residence or being small and misshapen would fall. She explained to me those were always the first to ripen. They also tended to be sweet because the irritation from the worm or the malformation caused them to go through their maturation process earlier. And if one fell and developed a bruise, if eaten immediately, the bruise helped to disperse the fruit’s sweetness. Weird, I know. But it does seem to work with the late summer, non-storage apples. The deer know from their midnight raids under the tree eating the fallen fruits.

Of course, the tree’s sweetest apples were growing at its top, light golden with charming pink stripes turning even more golden and red where they received plenty of sunlight. If not picked by my uncles or my dad climbing on a ladder, these were shaken down later when truly ripe. It became a game of grabbing them mid air so they didn’t bounce on the ground and cause a bruise to form in their tender flesh. The bruised ones were put aside to be among the first used in making applesauce. I treasure the lessons learned under that tree.

Applesauce made from gleaned apples!

Applesauce made from gleaned apples!

My mother, grandmother and I used to make copious amounts of applesauce to can, and to make into Priscilla cakes or raisin cakes which became our Christmas fruit cakes and baked well before Thanksgiving. The raisin cake was made popular during WWII when there were shortages of eggs, milk and butter. We stuffed ours with dried and candied fruits and nuts. After it was slowly baked and cooled, we’d wrap it in a thin layer of brown paper to hold it together, tie it with thin white string and then cover it with a layer of flour sack cloth dipped in brandy. This was wrapped carefully around the parcel and re-wetted with brandy, not soaked, however. It would be further wrapped in waxed butcher paper and stored away in the cool corner to “ripen” and be ready to serve during the holiday season. Adding all the fruit and nuts made them heavy, but oh, so tasty without being cloyingly sweet. My mother often made the raisin cake throughout the year without the extra fruit and brandy to serve at social events.

Sensory Cooking Routine

I normally inspect my produce with the usual debug, clean and notice the blemishes/bruises routine.  Then I go through a sensual inventory of its age, sweetness and tartness aspects, how I imagine it to combine with other flavors, textures. Would the addition of spices or herbs enhance its flavor or detract from it?

To me it’s not a piece of celery I look at, but a question: Is it part of the center spiral and therefore lighter in color and flavor or a stalk from the outer spiral which tend to be firmer, larger, darker, heavier-leafed, with more celery flavor? This makes a difference in a meal say of potato soup where I might want the flavor of the darker celery stalks to pep up an older batch of stored potatoes. I’d also add more onions and garlic to the recipe, possibly throwing in more curry and basil. If they were new potatoes and I wanted their buttery flavor to be highlighted, I’d use the inner celery stalks, a bit of sweet onion, less garlic and curry with a hint of dill and parsley to bring out the flavor and freshness of the newly-dug tubers.

First Recipe ~ With More to Come Next Time!

Let’s start with a simple, onion soup using the sweet Walla Walla or Vidalia varieties. You’ll need: coconut oil, butter, sweet onions, celery, dry basil, thyme and tarragon, curry powder, mustard powder, bay leaf pepper, salt and either a stock or nut milk. Of course, feel free to personalize it!

  • Creamy Sweet Onion Soup
  • 3-4 large sweet onions, quartered and sliced very thinly
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbs ea. butter and coconut oil (or olive, if you prefer)
  • Saute onions and celery together in butter and coconut oil until absolutely melted and turning light tan. Watch carefully and keep it from getting too caramelized (unless you prefer it that way.)
  • Stir in:
  • 1  Tbs or more medium to hot salsa
  • 1/2 tsp+ dried basil, thyme and tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp+ curry powder (I prefer the muchi curry)
  • 1/8 tsp+ mustard powder
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Add 1/2 – 1 C of broth, nut milk or raw milk. (I use rice milk.)
  • I just add enough nut milk to barely cover the onions while they simmer together for 15 minutes stirring frequently allowing them to meld and thicken. Now taste and add extra butter for a more buttery flavor, add additional salt, spices, etc. if you want. Stir well. Add more rice milk until just above the onions. Let it simmer for a while longer until thoroughly warmed up. If you add the moisture slowly, the onions seem to incorporate it, swelling and taking in the liquid’s sweetness or flavor. Stir well and taste again. If satisfied with the flavor, add just enough milk to keep it a thick soup. Of course, feel free to make a roux of butter, flour and milk to thicken it or even add kudzu or arrowroot and make a larger amount of soup but I like to keep it thick and rich without the additional thickeners. Makes 3-4 servings.
  • Serve with warm garlic bread and lightly-grated pecorino romano cheese.
Avocados from Kapoho, Big Island, HI.

Avocados from Kapoho, Big Island, HI.

And the fall season is perfect for avocados in Hawaii as evidenced by this lovely one from a local farm stand in Kapoho, Big Island, HI.

Now until we meet again, think about the sensual aspects and pleasures of connecting with your food and join Alpine Lady next time for Musings in the Autumn Season: Tempting Recipes.

PS: Yes, I’ll have a recipe for my favorite guacamole, too!