Chocolate Quinoa Porridge


Well we’re living in a time where pretty much everything goes, right? And wasn’t it Marie Antoinette who said “Let them eat cake…for breakfast”? And had she known about combining somewhat unlikely ingredients (although it depends what you consider ‘unlikely’), would she not instead have said “Let them eat chocolate quinoa porridge”? I think so.


1/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup almond milk
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar

1 oz chocolate of choice
a few strawberries

Let the quinoa soak in the almond milk overnight. Transfer it to a pot, add the cocoa powder, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat until the quinoa has absorbed the milk. Stir in the agave nectar or brown sugar or whatever you prefer. Let the chocolate melt over it and add the strawberries if you like.  It’s an energy booster that’ll satisfy that one desire and give you two dancing feet. Enjoy!


Smoked Salmon on a Sunday Morning


There are some days when you get extra doses of Inspiration and you sit down and write 50 blog posts and have to save them all in your drafts lest you frighten the world with an overabundance of zeal, which to the blog-reading public might come across as “too much free time.”

On other days, the creative juices decide they’ve been flowing too freely and they’re just going to take a break and dry up for a few days. During this period, it’s really impossible to post anything, and even if you look back at the plethora of filed drafts, they all seem stale and lifeless.

Then, on a Sunday morning, you wake up and the sun is very bright and the fact that breakfast is your very favorite meal is enough to remind you that it will be a beautiful day. And just like that, Inspiration returns …in the form of smoked salmon.

It doesn’t matter that there’s no smoked salmon in the house because today is Sunday and there’s nothing keeping you from bundling up, stepping into the cold sunshine, and walking to the store to buy some. Then you remember that Inspiration is relentless when she strikes. She doesn’t care where you are or what you’re doing, so you have to run back inside to get your journal.


At this point, you’re walking and writing at the same time and simultaneously trying to lift your face to the sun to catch its rays and absorb a winter’s portion of Vitamin D. This is obviously too much activity at once, especially for someone entirely inept at multi-tasking, which is why you trip into a car that’s pulled over alongside the road. It’s embarrassing until you realize that its just your brother sitting there with the coffee and newspaper that he’s just picked up from the local deli. He is clearly amused and offers you a ride, but you decline because “A ride? O please, can’t you see I’m enjoying my walk?”

When you reach the store it takes concentrated effort to ignore the bounties of food that A) you don’t need, B) you didn’t come for, and C) you can’t afford. Eyes on the prize, Marie.

The guy at the fish counter sees you eyeing the oysters that you really should have enjoyed on Valentine’s Day this week if you were not single. He sweetly asks if he can help you find something, and for a moment, the way he is positioned there in front of all those gorgeous seafood varieties makes him look like an ideal catch himself until reality hits in the form of your rumbling stomach and you quickly grab the smoked salmon and scurry to the checkout line.

There, a light of divine intuition strikes and you call home to ask that someone preheat the oven to 425.° And thus begins the preparation for the simplest, most perfect little Sunday meal.

Rub some asparagus in olive oil and minced garlic and throw it into the oven to roast. On second thought, add some brussels sprouts along with it. On the stovetop, combine a little vinegar with some boiling water and poach an egg or two. Lay the roasted asparagus on your plate, top it with some slices of smoked salmon and lay the egg(s) on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!!


(^^Cora misses her Sunday afternoon football^^)

A Celebration of the Roaring Twenties and Cranberry-Apple Baked Oatmeal

You spoke my language and touched my limbs
It wasn’t difficult to pull me from myself again
And in our travels we found our roads
You held it like a mirror, showing me the life I chose -Sea Wolf, Dear Fellow Traveler


My friends and I are going to write a book one day and it will be called “Shit No One Told You You’d Go Through in Your Twenties.” Stay tuned. It won’t be all bad. The twenties are a loaded package of transitions and growing pains and trials that slap you in the face with adulthood. But if you can emerge from everything you weren’t expecting to encounter, you’ll realize that it wasn’t for nothing and the world is wider and fuller than you could ever have imagined. No need to be afraid.

I have just come over the hedge of my mid-twenty mark and if I turn around for a minute, the view behind me is really something else. There are graduations and travels and internships and new people and weddings and empty bank accounts and health-related hurdles and anxiety and break-downs and relationship sagas and proud accomplishments and intense loneliness and stronger friendships and new babies and unemployment and unrelenting existential questioning. It’s been one hell of a decade so far, but now, I can honestly take a deep breath and look forward to whatever the second half will bring. All these experiences shape me whether I like it or not. And not that I want to give the hard times any encouragement, but I have to admit that every single time life knocks you down, it also gives you the opportunity to get up a little bit stronger and wiser. (Thank you, Nietzsche, for being dead long enough for me to plagiarize and paraphrase your words).

Sometimes, all I can do is sit in amazement and wonder and look at God with a thankful heart. Then I get up and find courage to do frightening things such as budgeting and baking, both of which require entering into the wild world of numbers and precision.  Since selfishness is something I hope my twenties will continue to drive out of me, I make the decision to bake.  There is nothing about baking that I enjoy except for the smells and the taste of the final product, and now even that last pleasure is robbed by my gluten intolerance.  Nevertheless, I’ll still bake because I love my family and because there are cranberries in the kitchen that will go bad soon.


Cranberry Apple Oatmeal

*This is more akin to oatmeal than to bread in texture.  Like oatmeal, it is not too sweet on its own, so toppings of brown sugar or maple syrup or honey are welcome additions.


2 1/4 cups steel cut oats
1 cup cranberries
3 apples, peeled and chopped (I used gala)
2 cups whole milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cage free eggs

Preheat oven to 350° Use a food processor to grind the oats into a coarse oat flour. Add the cranberries and 1 cup of milk and blend. Transfer to a kitchen aid, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix until smooth. Pour into two greased loaf pans or two smaller ones and bake for an hour or until a knife can be inserted and come out clean.

Enjoy with some butter or jam… or just inhale the smells and pretend you’re tasting it. The sad thing is, I could have used gluten free oats for this but didn’t have any. Next time.


Snow and Brown Rice Pudding

If you happen to go to the grocery store and encounter rows of empty shelves, it could mean one of two things.  A) The apocalypse is at hand or B) there’s snow on the way.  Last night exhibited all the tell-tale signs of the oncoming snowstorm.  The grocery stores, gas-stations and liquor stores all had to accommodate about five times the amount of customers they would regularly receive on a quiet Thursday night.  Hurricane Sandy is still fresh in people’s minds as well, so all the more reason to stock up on the necessities.

The snow is coming down and the roads are slowly receiving their first blanketing layer.  When you get home, there’s no better way to enjoy it than to fill the house with the warm rice pudding aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove spices.  This rice pudding was made with the last of a bag of brown jasmine rice.  It is filling and mildly sweet with a wonderful cloying texture and slightly nutty flavor from the almond milk.  If you prefer a more traditional rice pudding, simply use milk and arborio rice.

Brown Rice Puddin’


1 cup brown rice
5 1/2 cups almond milk
1/4 agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger spice
4 cloves

In a medium size pot, stir the rice into 4 cups of almond milk. Bring to a low boil. Add the spices, agave nectar, and the rest of the almond milk. Let it simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally for about an hour and a half, or until the moisture has absorbed. Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy!

Serves 4


A Celebration of Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Frittata

I believe Gertrude Stein is credited with saying “If you enjoy something, you understand it.”  Sweet potatoes, I understand you.

For awhile, my only knowledge of yams or sweet potatoes came through Thanksgiving and Chinua Achebe.  My cousin prepares a spectacular dessert version of mashed sweet potatoes every year, and that was really my only first-hand experience of them.  I did develop a fascination with them for awhile after reading Things Fall Apart because they seemed like the lifeblood of Achebe’s novel, tying the people to the land in a cycle of deep respect and reciprocity.  There were also a few pages in The Invisible Man when the narrator comes across a yam vendor and orders a buttery syrupy yam that brings him back to his childhood and even challenges his self-perception.  I don’t know what spiked my curiosity to try them again outside of Thanksgiving Day, but my reaction after Bite Number One was something like WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE???

Oh the sweet potato.  Packed with vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and resounding with all sorts of goodness from potassium to vitamin C to B vitamins, this wonderful root vegetable offers better eyesight, disease prevention, stress relief, healthy skin and even helps to ward off depression.  And it tastes like happiness.  And its pretty much available all year round.

I can’t get enough of the sweet potato and apparently it can’t get enough of me because it keeps re-surging in all different forms on my plate.  I like it mashed with coconut milk and maple syrup and a bit of butter…or walnuts and cranberries…or topped with almond butter.   I like sweet potato pie with a walnut and hazelnut meal crust.  I like them boiled or baked in their skins as a snack with some butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.


I like them roasted with carrots and capers and beets and fennel.  I like sweet potato fries.  I like sweet potato soup.


And I like eating them in the morning in an unusual but tasty, custardy frittata.

Breakfast Sweet Potato Dessert Frittata


1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp honey
2 cage free eggs
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup boiled, mashed sweet potato with skin removed

Optional garnishes: shaved coconut, crushed walnuts, dried cranberries

Stir the chia seeds into the coconut milk and let them sit overnight in the fridge.  The seeds will expand and give the frittata a custard-like consistency similar to tapioca.  In the morning, add the eggs and sweet potato to the mixture and whisk together.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Melt the butter in a small cast iron skillet or frying pan and pour in the mixture to fill the pan.  Transfer to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the frittata is firm.  Remove it from the oven and drizzle with the honey. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!

Serves 2


Note: Sweet potatoes should always be served with some fat, as vitamin A is fat-soluble and will absorb better in the body.


A Celebration of Leeks


When I used to babysit for my neighbors’ children, sometimes I forgot to bring work or reading to keep me occupied after the kids were asleep, so I would raid the bookshelves and make my way through the chapters one night at a time.  It was during one of those times when I was first introduced to Mireille Guiliano and her writings on food and pleasure.  Although I am not a fan of the catchy title of her most popular book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, I do think she has loads and loads of wisdom to offer. Mireille’s philosophy in a nutshell (and you should really read her books yourself because I’m butchering it here) is that if we take time to engage our senses in all that we do, we can lead more fulfilled lives.  My introduction to Mireille also turned out to be my first introduction to leeks.  Mireille is a woman who really appreciates the leek in all its glory.  Her recipes are brimming over with leeks and she even uses leek juice as an occasional detox formula.  Although I don’t think I’m capable of following through with a detox (unless maybe it looks something like this), I have to agree with her that there is more to this unassuming vegetable than meets the eye.

First of all, they belong in the same allium family as the garlic and onion, so they are in great company.  They boast of high levels of Vitamins K, A, C and B6 and have manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and folate as well.  Leeks are more humble and subtle than onions and have soothing fragrant properties that conjure up images of cozy afternoons with a bowl of chicken soup.  They are good team players as well; they know how to complement other vegetables without dominating.  They are delicious in the morning when braised in oil or butter with spinach and eggs and a dash of salt.  They are the perfect companion to the potato in a bowl of creamy soup.  I also imagine they nicely accent the sweet-savory duet of strawberries and goat cheese in this dish. They do just fine as a side dish to a slab of grilled salmon or roasted poultry…and they are also able to hold their own quite nicely if given the chance.  This afternoon, I decided to let them stand alone and savor all their mildly sweet oniony flavors post-lunch, steamed and drizzled with balsamic reduction and olive oil.