Category Archives: Fun Food

Original Elisen Gingerbread

GingerDSC_8483Northern Europe, knows a large variety of gingerbreads, they originate from the honey breads and pepper cakes, also called Lebkuchen in German. You can choose from the Nordic pepper cake style such as the Swedish ‘Peparkaka’ or the Hamburger Braune Kuchen. A simpler dough is used for Gingerbread houses (Pfefferkuchenhaus). Then there are Pfeffernüsse, the chewy round sugar glazed balls. Around Aachen you can find Printen, bare or chocolate glazed ‘logs’ of rock sugar studded very hard gingerbread. A very old variety is the diamond shaped spicy Magenbrot. Simple Supermarket ‘Lebkuchen’ are chewy floury dough stars and pretzels, also jam filled hearts, and ‘Domino cubes’ covered with dark chocolate. And then there are Elisen Lebkuchen. Continue reading

Raw sweets

TrufDSC_6198.1RAW foodies have a sweet tooth. When looking at some recipe books recently, I noticed salads, appetizers, dips & sauces and snacks, and then… come the desserts. I flipped back, did I miss the entrees? Don’t expect to find a real heavy traditional main dish in RAW recipes, entrees will look like beautiful appetizers and they are likely very filling.
Here are some little truffles, RAW (or quick vegan). They are  less chocolatey, think of the answer to commercial marzipan potatoes and tadaa…the most indulgent way to eat a carrot…
If you care to make this recipe truly live, you will look for unpasteurized RAW almonds, as all domestic (U.S.) almonds require pasteurization and are likely blanched as well. You may find imports from Spain, which need lots of soaking and may have a higher content of bitter almonds in the batch, but they should even be able to sprout. See recipe

Treats from seeds

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Seed bars work for many occasions. Relatively quick to make, they can replace trail mix, pastries and cookies. After eating too much chocolate, it was time for me to  go a step healthier. Raw seedbars often contain chocolate powder or raw chocolate nibs, which have no sugar or dairy added and are not heat processed.
Depending what you have at home, you can make this recipe truly raw, or nut free, you can also replace some ingredients that are heat processed for a vegan treat. The bars will harden in the freezer, and can be stored in the refrigerator, you may also add some time in the food dryer to remove moisture.
Despite the large amount of ingredients, the amount of servings is relatively small, reminding me again how nutrient dense this food is. See recipe

You made truffles from what?

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Valentines’ is chocolate season, with sinful sweets and chocolate gifts for loved ones. All the reason to experiment with your own truffles, before the chocolate craze starts.
As in the earlier mayonnaise post, the emulsifier does not need to be from eggs or cream, the blend does not need to contain loads of dairy or fats.

The filling is instead made from a blend of pecans with sweet potato mash(!), they surprisingly taste very much like traditional hand made truffles which makes me wonder, what companies can blend into chocolates these days… DIY and you can influence ingredients; which sweetener or chocolate you use to make it vegan and/or healthier. See recipe

Too easy to not DIY…

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Chia pudding is the new hype After blogs and cookbooks praised chia as the new superfood, the packaged food industry wanted a share. You may remember chia’s early fame in ‘hair growing’ chia pets and recently as Chia fresca, now the seed’s pudding is offered next to the alternative yogurts in supermarket fridge, and I believe I saw a whooping price of 3$ per portion for a small cup of the submerged seeds. While I understand, yogurt making takes some time and expertise, I wonder what makes Chia pudding so special…
The answer is ‘nothing’, it does not take more than 3 spoonfuls of chia seeds per any liquid cup of choice, even without a blender. Stir, cool and wait… really no reason to buy a plastic jar with stale ingredients, and worth only a couple of pennies… See my recipe for Horchata chia pudding

Mexican milk alternative

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Mexican restaurants and food trucks sell horchata; Asking about this variety of ‘agua fresca’, we learned about the variety of ‘rice milk.’
Horchata originated in Spanish speaking countries, and Latin America has several different traditions for horchata.
The refreshing milky drink is usually ice cooled, tastes of cinnamon and has a tan color unless you use white rice and white sugar. The satisfying milk alternative can easily replace a meal. If you do it yourself, you can influence details such as what sweetener is used, use brown rice and raw nuts. Use more almonds than rice, to achieve a richer, less chalky taste.
While the original recipe includes soaking the ingredients overnight, you can also make a quick horchata in an instant, blended and strained in modern kitchen equipment. Horchata recipe and horchata chia pudding

Cowboy cookoffs…

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If you don’t care how your food looks–Chili is for you!
I find it impossible to make chili look good in a picture, it has this ‘canned dog food’ appeal. But the  soul food is popular for games, tailgating, and is perfect for cold weather. Just the amount of spice should prevent several colds.
As one of our local fire departments is participating in a cook-off for the hot Tex-Mex American Cowboy dish, my own memory of tailgating with bean chillis was rather painful, so I kept avoiding them. Today, I am convinced that the beans were not soaked long enough, not cooked right, or maybe contained too much grease in combination with spices. The official Texas State dish, by the way, does not contain beans, even though chili beans are likely named after it… 

Yesterday, I found out that there are safer, fart-free chilis, very easy, pressure cooker fast that will not give you the blows for days to come, tastes are surprisingly real as a vegan version. Sorry Texas, no cows compromised for this one. Also environmentally friendly, it uses dry beans and fresh pumpkin mash, which saves at least 3-5 cans; You can make up that extra prep-time easily in using a pressure cooker. See recipe

If life hands you quinces…

MembrDSC_5704Happy New Year! An unexpected gift from our visit over the holidays was a bag of fresh quinces that Sven had kept from his trees in Mecklenburg, Germany. Your first thought may be quince jelly, elsewhere you may think of liquor, but if you are Hispanic, there is only ‘membrillo’, loosely translated as ‘quince bread’ and eaten with cheese. Fortunately, with one load of quinces, you can make both, as the membrillo is efficiently made from the fruit after separating the juice! And both tastes great even without cheese. Continue reading

First Holiday Flavors

SconeDSC_5046It is that Pumpkin time again… Leaves are red and yellow, temperatures just shy of freezing point and hot soups are making a comeback. Warm hugs of sugar and pumpkin spices and a warm kitchen are so comforting…  ah, pumpkin scones. When I saw this gluten free recipe I had to veganize it even though I had only sweet potatoes instead of pumpkins. I did not have all of the alternative flours either, if you have a grain container it helps to make quick brown rice or millet flour for part of the recipe. Flavorful, highly recommended and going fast. See recipe.

Eating with the Moose – Moosewood Restaurant Ithaca

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The Moose was always on my list. Everyone here of course knows the famous Moosewood restaurant, the cookbooks will find you early if you are veg. friendly. Mollie Katzen’s first books from her days in the cooperative, had made the place famous, beyond Ithaca.
For me directly from Europe, the early vegetarian cooking style felt a bit strange, as much as the rest of the local food in NY. Today, vegetarian and vegan cooking has moved on, from local and natural, to beauty oriented or raw–fancy, indulgent and gourmet showy. Not always with health in mind, just think ‘vegan cupcakes’. Continue reading

The sweet life

SugDSC_0000If sugar is bad for us, which sweetener is wiser to use?
Is Agave Syrup better than Maple Syrup or maybe Xylitol? Is zero calorie better than honey? Diet sodas are often sweetened with Aspartame, is that good?
Many products claim to be better than sugar for different reasons, if you need sugar specific properties, it depends what you want to do with it, if you want to bake, or just want to sweeten your coffee. And of course it also depends what your diet is like.

In doubt use a mashed banana to make ice cream and cold desserts, even pancakes and baked banana bread, it is a superior sweetener without the need of other sweeteners.
Here is an Overview that compares recommendations for different diets. I have tested sweeteners for some time and will update on a regular basis. 

Calling for better breakfasts

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What’s new? As early as in the beginning of the 19th century, US food reformers called for cutting back on excessive breakfast meat consumption and promoted healthy vegetarian cereals, such as oats, which were considered by most of the public as ‘horse food’. Despite great inventions in the last 100 or so years, not much seems to have changed in eating habits… Continue reading

Staying fresh

AquaDSC_3873In Mexican restaurants we have Aguas Frescas. The combination of fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds is blended with sugar and water to make a light non-alcoholic beverage and are popular in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States especially during hot weather.
Aquas Frescas are different from smoothies, as they are fresh, light and based on water, lime and lots of fruit. Another Agua fresca I was writing about is Chia Fresca, which contains besides lime also Chia seeds. Especially melon is refreshing other types are guava, mango and horchata (a rice milk.) If you never know how to manage a whole watermelon in a small household, here is the solution. See recipe

Picnic time

PestoDSC_3913.1Don’t use your stove during the heat. If you cook pasta beforehand, you will have a great base for cold pesto dishes for lunch and dinner that also work well as picnic and party food. This sundried tomato pesto tastes well warm or cold, if you add fresh tomato and basil, you will have a wonderful cold salad. My pesto will always have some wild herbs in it. See recipe

Shrooming weather

PicklesDSC_3846Monday, we had a Spring Flood.  When I went down to the train, I took an umbrella, in less than 10 minutes, the rain turned into a flood, water was shooting down Maple Avenue and left me wading to the station. I was wet up to my knees. Within 3 minutes we watched water filling the tracks, luckily it did not rise to the platform, the trains were in time. At Grand Central, people all looked dry and outside was just a little drizzle. How do you explain the wet suburbian-rat look?

Continue reading

A twist for a dessert

EmpanadDSC_3688You can make these little zapatitos, if you have some empanada dough left. They are a simple blend, and closed like dumplings, as the filling is a bit more wet. Great to use up some overripe, even frozen bananas. See recipe

Mighty green Midgets

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Our CSA delivery has just started and we are loaded. This year we are sharing on a bi-montly schedule with a nice neighbor. Easier sharing, provided you have a big fridge. A good way to work leafy greens of all kind is steaming them and then fold them into empanadas with butternut squash as a sweet component. We like little ones and whole wheat dough, which I haven’t seen ready-made yet; so we made our own dough, which is a little more work, but you will be rewarded with easy to handle, handsome dough. Our newest tool is a tortilla press, which helps turning doughballs into small disks. Just some touchup and you can fill them. Better with two person handling… See recipe

Wet punky-pie

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Looks can be so deceiving. Here is my warning: ‘Do not fake your food photography or retouch the soul out of it.’ Today I tried a recipe, that looked like little brownie squares. Although I changed some ingredients, I was not prepared that this was not a regular cake, it did not rise and left the oven merely behaving like a hot pudding. However, after cooling for several hours, it turned into a really nice pumpkin pie, just what I wanted, except I nervously had eaten many pieces along the way checking the ‘status’. Continue reading

Greetings from Guatemala

PlantainDSC_3195Plantains can be a dessert or vegetable. While green plantains are high in starch to be cooked and used like potatoes, the riper fruits with yellow or black peel have developed a nice sweetness, without becoming mushy like dessert bananas do. Often Latin American recipes deep fry plantains, such as the ‘Rellenitos de plantano’; Plantain rolls with a sweet bean filling. However when the plantains are cooked first, mashed and filled and then lightly cooked in a frying pan, they are not as greasy and taste great as dessert or snack. See recipe

The vegetable banana

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Looking for more vegetable variety in winter, I noticed plantains, the starchy cousins to our sweet dessert bananas. Originally from Asia and Oceania, plantains are now a food stable in Africa and South America. They contain less water, more starch and their peel needs to turn black until maximum sweetness is achieved. Green plantains are a great replacement for potatoes, if you need to avoid nightshades. Although most Southern recipes deep-fry plantains, you can cook them like potatoes and then lightly sauté them. Served as chips or patties, with garlic sauce, or with a sweet filling, plantains are a great snack or potato-like side dish.