A new twist to an old slaw

This wasn’t fancy, but in addition to adding a little sparkle to last night’s dinner, we all had a delicious serving of raw broccoli. Raw broccoli—not my favorite way to enjoy a vegetable, but this is lovely! It’s light, fresh, and lemony, with the seeds adding a wonderful nutty depth.

Lemony brocolli slaw sm IMG_0075

Lemony Broccoli Slaw with Sunflower Seeds

  • 1 12-oz bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • juice of one juicy lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of garlic powder
  • a grind of fresh pepper
  • 1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice, stir in the sugar until dissolved. In a larger bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Serve with an extra sprinkle of sunflower seeds.


Turkey not your thing? Try a cranberry cholent for Thanksgivukah.



  • ½ pound dried cranberry, pinto or butter beans, or 1 15-oz can
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 pounds brisket
  • 2 large onions, sliced thick
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, chunked
  • 4 large carrots, chunked
  • 1 28-oz can whole plum
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tbs. thyme
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • coarsely ground pepper
  • tomatoes


  1. Soak the beans overnight, then cook in salted water, along with the whole garlic cloves and bay leaves, until just barely tender.
  2. When the beans are ready, season the brisket with salt and pepper and place into a large roasting pan. Cover with the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes (with juice) and cranberries. Spoon on the cooked beans along with 1 cup of the bean broth. Sprinkle with the thyme and a few more grinds of pepper.
  3. Cover tightly and bake at 325˚ for 4-5 hours.

Graduation Hummus


After five years of high school (he wasn’t slow–it was a 5-year high school), Max is now a free man. With the weight of school off of his shoulders he wandered into the kitchen and asked if he could help with dinner tonight. I was making Cholae, an Indian garbanzo bean dish, with Indian Fried Rice. Max made the rice while I made the cholae.

I had cooked up enough extra garbanzo beans so that we could make hummus. The last time Max and I made hummus together it was fantastic—made from freshly cooked garbanzo beans the hummus tastes light and fresh, far superior to store-bought. It’s always my preference to cook from scratch, for the health benefits, the artistic enjoyment of creating a beautiful meal, as well as the cost. Tonight we wrote down what we did.

Hummus can be made from canned beans, however, although it takes longer to make from dried beans (they take about 3 hours to cook) we think it’s worth it. Shop at an ethnic market, where the prices are far lower than in the chain grocers.

Graduation Hummus

To cook the beans, combine the following, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the beans are quite soft. Save the liquid.

  • 2 c. dried garbanzo beans (also called chick peas or chana)
  • 8 c. water
  • 1 tbs. salt

Combine the following in a food processor. Process until smooth.

  • 4 c. cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 c. liquid
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil (optional)

You may also add some chopped parsley and/or a little paprika.


Jam with Mom

Strawberries are ripe now—those exquisite locally grown berries with the delicate skin. I picked up a flat at the Vienna, VA farmers market, which gave us enough to eat, and plenty for jam. The greatest thing about this, the first of the season’s jam, was that Max asked me if he could help. We think that he is prematurely homesick. And being the good scientist, always looking for a better way, he suggested using a pastry cutter to chop the berries.


Passover cooking weekend

For favorite Passover recipes from my kitchen, please get the book Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

This is the weekend to dive into Passover cooking. My goal is to tackle a couple of family recipes and post them here: Passover teglach and chopped liver. I’m also going to make ingberlach, matzo granola and eingie.

My mother would save up chicken livers and chicken fat throughout the year. Her freezer was dotted with tiny plastic bags, each carrying the livers and fat from two chickens–the number that she would put on the rotisserie every Friday. I know that chopped liver isn’t everyone’s favorite, but it was a regular appetizer in our family’s house and I feel compelled to document the process. It’s rare that I buy a whole chicken anymore, so this morning I’m headed out into Northern Virginia in search of chicken livers and schmaltz.

For more Passover recipes, look under “Categories” off to the right on this page.

What to do with concord grapes: Conserve and Grape Pie

Our first house, a log home in Ft. Collins, Colorado, had grapes growing out back by the car port. They were concord grapes, which are intensely flavorful—most known for grape juice—but not terrific as table grapes. My grandfather favored a grape pie, and I’m sharing the recipe here. The pie has an extremely intense flavor. Doug and I turned our harvest into grape conserve, which was my first try at production scale canning. Our friend Joyce was visiting and we put her to work, helping to cook the grapes, run them through the food mill, slice the fruit and can the conserve. The resulting conserve is wonderfully tart and complex, and really terrific on a biscuit.

Concord Grape Conserve (makes about 3 half-pint jars)

  • 2 lbs. concord grapes (to make 1-3/4 c. pulp)
  • 1-3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 medium lemon, cut off the ends, slice very thin, cut into quarters
  • 1 small orange, cut off the ends, slice very thin, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 c. raisins (optional)

Wash the grapes (wash them very well if they are not organic), and remove the stems. Place the grapes in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the seeds come free from the grapes. Run the grapes through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds, leaving you with the pulp. Clean out your saucepan. Measure the pulp, return to the pan, and add an equivalent amount of sugar.  Add the lemon and orange slices, and raisins if you like. Cook into the mixture becomes slightly thick and dark, and sheets off the spoon. Place into hot, sterilized jars, water process for 10 minutes.

Papa’s Favorite Grape Pie

  • 1 quart concord grapes
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange rind
  • 2 Tbs. tapioca
  • graham cracker crust

Wash and stem the grapes, cook over medium heat until the seeds come loose. Run through a food mill, discarding stems and peels. Combine grape pulp with remaining ingredients and pour into a prepared graham cracker crust, then chill until set. Serve with whipped cream.

Baked Beans with Green Tomato Chutney

These are fresh and flavorful, not at all like mushy canned beans.

As summer “officially” ends today, Labor Day, I’m preparing an end of summer supper of good old hot dogs, potato chips, watermelon and baked beans. Although I don’t make my own hot dogs, I do try—more and more—to prepare what I can from scratch, and so today I am making homemade, not-from-a-can, baked beans. Right now they are in the oven. Baking. Our home has already been filled with the great smell of pinto beans cooking (each of the children, in turn, has asked what smells so good), and soon I imagine the aroma of sweet and savory beans will call them all to the table.

This recipe uses my green tomato chutney (click here for the recipe), but if you don’t have this, you may substitute a different chutney (probably best purchased at an Asian or Indian grocery store). Alternatively, substitute a chopped, tart apple.

Baked Beans with Green Tomato Chutney

  • 2 c. dried pinto beans
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chutney
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. (or to taste) salt

Cook the pinto beans in about 4 cups water for 1-1/2 hours or until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid, and then drain the beans. In a large bowl stir together all of the ingredients, including the 1 cup liquid. Taste, and adjust cayenne and salt to taste. Pour into a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees, covered, for 1-1/2 hours; uncover and continue baking for 30 mins.

Italian plums are here!

Prune plums or Italian plums.

These plums are only available for a couple of weeks each fall, and are ideal for baking or making jam. If you want to save them for a later date, they freeze quite well. To freeze, cut them in half, remove the pit, and place the plums in a freezer-type ziplock bag.

Today I’ll be making jam, this weekend I’ll make my mother’s plum cake.  Click here for the plum cake recipe.

Stay tuned as I attempt a new recipe idea: black bottom brownies.

Winter nesting with grains: my favorite cooked cereal

If you feel like indulging, make this with whole milk.

There is something about winter that sends me into a nesting frenzy, heading off to the bulk food section of the organic market to stock my shelves and fridge with twist-tied bags of grains and beans and grainy flours. There’s a cereal that I love this time of year, which, unfortunately, takes a good, long while to simmer over a low heat and involves a lot of stirring. It’s not a good cereal for a school day. When you eat it, though—served hot with a splash of cream—you are rewarded with a rich bowl of hearty, flavorful, complex goodness. Unlike a bowl of cold cereal, when you eat this you feel like you’ve actually eaten something. I love this cereal.

Winter Cereal Mix

  • 2 c. bulghur
  • 1 c. rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2 c. toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1/2 c. soy grits
  • 1/2 c. wheat bran
  • 1 c. polenta
  • milk, raisins, and cream (optional) for cooking and serving

Mix together all of the dry ingredients, and store in a tightly sealed container for up to three months in the pantry. To store for longer periods, keep in the refrigerator so that the grains do not become rancid.

To cook

  • 1 c. dry mix
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. 2% milk
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. cream

Put the mix, water and raisins in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer, stirring often for 20-25 minutes, gradually adding the milk as the cereal cooks and thickens. Serve with a splash of cream.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 158 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 318 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 50mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 18th with 121 views. The most popular post that day was Homemade thin crust pizza.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, touch.facebook.com, google.com, alphainventions.com, and xanalytica.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the plate is my canvas, yeast cookies, rugalah, rugala recipe, and my plate is my canvas.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Homemade thin crust pizza June 2010


Walker Cafe – Always Open March 2010


Gert’s Yeast Cookies (Rugalah) October 2010


Witches Brew Soup October 2010


The circle of life: Round Challahs September 2010