Geeky Wedding Cakes

June 24, 2011

Now, for a little comic relief, check out the geeky wedding cakes at bewelldogood.blogspot.com

 

 

I wonder how one could make these gluten-free and sugar free and food-color-free….

My favorite:

 

 

hat tip:  @juliaroy

 

 

Strawberry Shortcake

June 19, 2011

Perfect treat for Father’s Day- I’ve just picked 4 quarts of organic strawberries at McEnroe’s Farm up in Amenia, NY. Tough picking because they’ve let the weeds grow up- so there were thistles to wrestle with (ouch) and slim pickings because this is only their first week of picking. So I was a bit early. Hope my dear friend, T, will go with me later in the week or even next week. No matter, I’ve frozen 3 quarts (for sorbet and the winter) and will use the rest for shortcake topping and for snacking. They are very sweet!

I have tried a new vanilla muffin recipe from food.com. It only makes 9 (really, I tried to stretch it but 9 it is) muffins/cupcakes so you might like to make more, these are going to go fast in my house. I also used a gluten free flour mix instead of all the separate flours. 22 minutes in the oven was perfect time. The recipe also has chocolate frosting. I am not going to make that. I will make strawberry topping, see below.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Serves: 9, Yield: 9 Cupcakes

Ingredients

◦                                  2/3 cup soymilk

◦                                  1/4 cup canola oil

◦                                  3/4 cup agave nectar

◦                                  2 teaspoons vanilla extract

◦                                  1/4 teaspoon almond extract

◦                                  1 1/2 cups gluten free flour

◦                                  1 teaspoon baking powder

◦                                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda

◦                                  1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions (adapted from food.com):

Preheat oven to 325°F;

Line muffin pan with 9 Liners and fill 3 remaining muffin cups with a little bit of water.

 Mix together soy milk, canola oil, vanilla and almond extract and agave nectar.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt one by one and mix for 1-2 minutes. Mixture will be thin.

Fill 9 muffin cups approximately 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 1 hour to allow agave to set.

Serve with 2 cups strawberries halved and cooked with 1 T maple syrup or honey, 1 cup water and 2 T arrowroot powder on low flame, stir until thickened;

Garnish with fresh berries and whipped tofu cream topping (1/2 cake organic tofu, 2 T tahini, 1 T agave syrup (or to desired sweetness) , pinch salt, 2 T grapeseed oil blend until smooth and creamy.

Mango Pico de Gallo

June 7, 2011

My dear friend, T, invited me over for a fish taco dinner party on Sunday night. I asked if I could bring something and she requested Pico de gallo. I don’t know what it is, even- but gather that it’s what I call salsa and it goes on the fish. Pico de gallo in Spanish means rooster’s beak–whatever–and can be made as a fruit salad with chili and other spices sprinkled on the top, or as a raw condiment like a chutney made with vegetables. In the US we think of salsa as a chutney of diced tomatoes, maybe avocado, peppers, definitely a spicy jalapeno, lime juice, salt and often my unfavorite green, cilantro, sprinkled in so I cannot pick it out. I’ve had salsa made from peaches and also mangos as well as watermelon! I decided to be creative and make it up.

I had a few very ripe mangos on hand, went down to the store and bought 1 plum tomato, 1 red pepper and a green jalapeno, 1 lime. I also had a few little red onions left from last year and lots of fresh parsley in my garden, so I set about to make up a simple but yummy Pico de Gallo for our fish tacos.

Dice small 1/4 cup red onion

Dice 1/2 red pepper (remove the seeds and extra skin inside, first)

Dice 1 small plum tomato

Chop very fine- 1 small hot pepper of your choice (keep 1/2 T aside in case it is a very hot pepper or people want something like the beak of a rooster pico….)

Peel and Dice 1/2 cup ripe mango

Chop large handful of parsley  very fine

Toss all the vegetables along with

1/2-1 t seasalt to taste

Add juice of 1 lime (or more to taste)

I garnished with chive flowers (you can see on at the top of photo, above) I broke up a few flowers and sprinkled in the salsa, too. It was very yummy.

The dinner also included watermelon gazpacho, fresh picked garden salad with oil and salt dressing, sweet and spicy beans and rice, guacamole (with the dreaded cilantro), spicy tilapia, rice and corn tacos, my Pico de G and T’s special gluten-free banana cake. Delish.

Here it is before the parsley was added. Still beautiful!

 

What toxic chemicals are lurking under the kitchen sink or at the back of the shelf in the basement or even in plain view on your bathroom countertop? This is a photo of what I found in my house.

Since it is Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in I have been scouring the house and garage for corrosives, flammables and poisons in my home. I consider my family to be conscientious about NOT bringing hazardous materials into the house but I surprised myself with the items I collected in 10 minutes of searching.

Many items we use and discard with our trash are actually similar to EPA regulated hazardous wastes that are generated by industries that make the products we buy and use. Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away.

In the kitchen: oven cleaners, drain cleaner, floor-care, soaps and cleansers

In the bathroom: toilet cleaner, cosmetics, hair color, aerosol deodorant, nail polish remover

In the laundry: spot removers, chlorine bleach, spray starch, softeners, brighteners

General: pool chemicals, paint strippers, glue, furniture polish, air fresheners, metal cleaners, paint/stain/varnish, turpentine, paint thinner, wood preservatives, ammonia cleaners, moth balls and flakes

Cars: gasoline, antifreeze, brake/transmission fluid, solvents and degreaser

Lawn and Garden: insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, flea and tick powder

Why is household hazardous waste a problem? At home accidental burns, poisoning, or even death if not used, stored and disposed of properly. Septic systems and sewage plants are not designed to filter toxic materials. If you pour these things down the drain or in the sewer this can affect everyone’s water supply ultimately contaminating our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound. Often solid waste is burned and if the waste has hazardous materials then the residue ends up in the air we breathe and the ash contaminates the ground water. Last but of course not least toxins in our water can affect fish and other wildlife.

I think I have reasons why I have some of the items I have, you might, too – for example, a few years back there was a huge hornets nest in the garbage shed, then it was useful again a few years later when there was another yellow jacket nest in the ground under the lilac tree outside the front door – so I thought we needed a spray to knock them out. But I still have half a canister. I also have paint thinner, pet odor attack and indoor house plant food, a few half empty spray paint cans left over from Josh’s graffiti days, charcoal starter fluid (don’t even have a charcoal grill…) and liquid ski wax (no one skis anymore).

What to do? Best solution? Don’t buy or use these things. Oh, no! No more nail polish and remover? Hmmm.

Well, anyway, we can begin to think about the products we bring into our homes. Can we do without something, or substitute a natural option? It is much easier to find non-toxic cleaners at your local grocery stores these days. Check out this list from ecomall.com and seventhgeneration.com and . Under my sink today I have products from Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Bon Ami, CitriSolv and plain old vinegar.  Or make your own and make some more. Buy only what we need, use what we buy. Pass on partially used products to neighbors or friends who can use them.

Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away. I mean, where does our hazardous waste get stored or disposed of –  is there any place safe?

What we can do is keep all our hazardous products in one place and dispose of properly by taking to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

How to find one near you: Best to search on the internet under “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day” and add your state and county. Here is a great informational site for the Twin Cities. There will be something near you, too.