Tag Archives: recipe

Lamb and Plum Stew in Honor of “The Hunger Games” premiere

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

Last week, I received my paperback copy of The Hunger Games, and, pardon the pun, devoured it in a night.  Sure, I didn’t sleep much, but it was worth it.  I handed it over to my daughter who did the same the next night, although she wasn’t willing to cop to being up until 4am, and I didn’t reveal to her how much faster she is at reading than I am.

Yesterday, we went to the cinema in Redmond during the day when most people are either at work or school (one of the best things about a lack of schedule as homeschoolers is having an entire movie theatre to ourselves, or nearly so).  I’d saved half of the leg of lamb I’d purchased earlier in the week, but we got home so late yesterday, we ended up eating out instead.  So, tonight we had Katniss’ favorite meal from the Capitol.  Going completely on inspiration, and not looking it up, here’s what I came up with.  Remember folks, I don’t generally measure for things like this, so you’ll have to use your own best judgment, and since I wanted this to have an intense flavor, I was fairly heavy-handed with the spices.

First, chop a pound of lamb meat into small, bite-sized pieces.  Toss into a bowl with shiitake mushrooms (or any sturdy mushroom on hand that you like) and two handfulls of dried plums (prunes).  Cover with a decent quality red wine (I believe I used either Haystack or Barefoot brands, since those are the two open on my counter at the moment).  Toss in a large quantity — approx. 3 or 4 T. each — of turmeric and paprika*.  Sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon.  Grind 2 tsp. flower pepper (black pepper with dried petals from calendula, rose, lavender, and cornflower), add this to the liquid.   Stir it all together.  Let marinade all day or over night.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a pot or large, tall-sided skillet on medium-high heat.  Add in rendered lamb’s fat (or 2/3 a stick of butter or olive oil, the heartier the fat, the better the survival in the arena), and allow to melt.  Saute minced garlic.  Spoon out plums and mushrooms into a separate bowl.  Spoon lamb out of bowl, adding a splash of the red wine mixture. Brown the lamb’s meat.

Create an opening in the center of the pan or pot, and brown the mushrooms in the center until tender.  Remove from heat, add plums, and pour in the rest of the wine mixture.  Bring to a low boil for about five minutes.

Optional (at my daughter’s insistence): add in 4 heaping T. of Bhutanese red rice or a similar wild, nutty grain.  Fill the bowl that held the marinade half way with water, bring to a boil again, and turn heat down to medium to simmer and reduce sauce.

When sauce has reduced to a syrupy thickness, replace the mushrooms and salt to taste.

This turned into an intensely flavored, rich stew.  It sent me into throws of bliss, but my partner said he wasn’t very hungry to start (though he ate all the lamb), and my daughter picked out the lamb, saying the sauce was too spicy for her.  She offered me her plums and rice, but I’d already had my small bowl and a third of my partner’s, which was plenty.  Small pot, very filling.


*For my mother and other people unable to eat nightshades, I’d recommend replacing the paprika with extra cinnamon, although you don’t need as much cinnamon as paprika, even with this substitution.


Teeth & Soup


Image by Martijn Nijenhuis via Flickr

As if my recent post about amalgam in my teeth weren’t enough, the last few days I’ve been in extraordinary pain from one of my impacted wisdom teeth.  It’s not tooth pain, thankfully, but my gums just at the area surrounding the lower left quadrant wisdom tooth swelled and caused me to accidentally and repeatedly bite the inside of my cheek connected to the area.  I’ve been careful with it, salting and brushing, and it’s starting to get better (slowly), but without dental insurance getting this taken care of is an impossibility.

However, because I wanted to eat without a lot of chewing, I ended up saying hello to necessity, and ended up creating a Thai-inspired soup with what I had on hand.  It’s not a proper Thom Yum Gai, but it was very tasty and since I had a request for the recipe, I’ll post it here.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 3-4 breasts)
3 large carrots
2  handfuls of sugar snap peas
1 medium non-green sweet pepper (ours was a mix of orange, pink, and yellow)
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 T. coriander
1 T. fresh grated ginger
4 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 gallon chicken broth
2 t. Thai chili paste
3 T. lime juice (or more, to taste)
~6 oz. can of coconut milk
1/2 pkg. of vermicelli style rice noodles, broken into 1 1/2 – 2″ lengths (a.k.a bahn pho)
sea salt, to taste
white wine
olive oil

Cut chicken into bite sized lumps and toss into a skillet already oiled and hot.  Throw in the grated ginger, sprinkle sea salt, and cook with a splash of white wine until chicken is cooked but not browned.

Empty contents of skillet into stew pot, scraping as much oil into the pot along with the meat and sauce.  Add chicken broth and lime juice and set to boil (this is a good point to determine how much soup you want to make; add water if there is not enough broth to cover and cook ingredients).  As it heats, toss in ginger root slices, coriander, basil, and half the chopped mint.

Shave skin and trim carrots.  Slice them into rounds as thick as nickels.  Slice the sugar snap peas at diagonal angles into approximately three pieces each (depending on size).  Trim off the top of the pepper and core; slice the pepper in half lengthwise, and then make long, thin slices.  Set vegetables aside.

Break rice noodles into shorter pieces to your liking.  When the broth comes to a boil, add in noodles and stir.  Toss in carrots.  Wait four minutes, and throw in the peppers and snap peas as well.

When noodles are almost tender, mix in chili paste, salt to taste, and coconut milk.  Stir thoroughly and remove from heat.  Carrots should have just a little give when you bite into them, and peppers should retain their color and sweetness.

Serve  with sprinkles of mint in large bowls that allow slurping of noodles and sipping of broth.  Keep salt, lime juice, and chili pepper on the table for those that want to adjust the flavor. (My daughter liked it the way it was, while I wanted more salt and lime and my partner wanted more salt and chili pepper!)

Happy Accident: Greek Lasagna


Yesterday I was set with all my ingredients to make my partner a lamb lasagna.  Except, as I discovered in the cooking process, we had forgotten something crucial: the cottage cheese.

You’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, but trust me, next time you make lasagna, replace the ricotta portion with cottage cheese and you’ll end up with a moist and creamy filling.

So, we didn’t have cottage cheese, and I talked with my partner about what we did have in the fridge besides the mozzarella and parmesan–cheddar, jack, paneer, feta–feta!  Oh no, but that would be too strong for the lamb and tomato and morels soaked in red wine and . . . I can make this work!

I ran back into the kitchen, assessed what I had, and here’s what I did*:

  • Two hours before cooking, take a handful of morels–fresh or dried–and soak them in a small bowl of red wine.
  • Dice garlic and sauté in olive oil.  Add 1/4 c. of red wine and cook three to five minutes until the alcohol sizzles away.  Add 2/3 lb. of ground lamb and season with salt, tarragon, and thyme to taste.  Turn and separate lamb while browning, mixing in the garlic, and ensuring that the meat crumbles.  Turn off the heat and fold in a large, diced heirloom tomato.
  • Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the bottom of the pan and layer the first sheets of lasagna pasta (brown rice for us) having already cooked them somewhat in boiling water.  Lightly sprinkle red pepper flakes and grind black pepper over the mix. Place half of the lamb mixture in a fine layer across lasagna sheets, setting the other half in a bowl.
  • Slice a zucchini lengthwise and then finely slice along the length.  In the same pan as the lamb, sauté the zucchini.  When it browns slightly, set it aside.  Finely chop a handful of pitted kalamata olives.  Place another layer of lasagna sheets over the lamb and spread the olives across the sheets evenly.  Add the zucchini and crumble 1/3 lb. of goat or sheep feta over the top.  Lay another layer of pasta sheets over the top.
  • Sauté red wine-soaked and diced morels in the pan, adding it to the last half of the lamb mix.  Spread all of the mushrooms and morels in on this layer, and sauté sliced red, orange, and yellow bell peppers.  Add these over the top of the lamb with another sprinkling of red pepper flakes and black pepper from a grinder.  Place the final layer of pasta sheets.
  • Gently brush a thin layer of olive oil over the top sheets, and then place thin slices of mozzarella over the pasta. Squeeze the mozzarella between thumb and forefinger to widen circumference.  Shave parmesan from block and crumble over the layer of mozzarella.  Place lasagna in oven at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts, bubbles, and gets brown at the tops and edges.
  • Slice into squares and serve with a salad with light dressing (caesar, oil/vinegar, lemon/oil, et al), or put it on a bed of fresh spinach.


*(Understand that with the exception of the wine-soaked morels, I hadn’t prepared anything ahead of time, so all of this was happening at the same time–I had a baking dish on the back burner, a skillet for sauteing on the front left, and a big pot of boiling water that frequently burned my hand, and at one point left a big long red stripe across my arm from spitting at me.  Don’t do it my way; do prep work!)

Less Pain

Bob's Red Mill

Image via Wikipedia

Seems getting rid of wheat was a good decision.  My inflammation has significantly reduced since I stopped eating what proved to be an allergen.  I’m not 100%, but there are a lot of other factors leading to my chronic pain and other issues.  The fact that I can now feel aches in specific places (knees, lower back) rather than a near-constant swath of pain across my body with tenderness almost everywhere is a good reason to continue abstaining from wheat.

Of course, I had a mild flare up the other day, and went over in my head what I’d eaten.  I called Bob’s Red Mill because I’d eaten their organic Scottish oatmeal–I’m addicted to it–and Andre told me that there’s a cross-contamination issue.  I have to wonder how they can call it organic unless the only cross-contamination is with other organic products.  They have yet to provide a gluten-free Scottish oatmeal, though they have other forms, none can compare.  Alas!

I did find something good, though, this recipe for wheat free bagels looks as though it could be adjusted to include the extras I like including jalapeno-cheddar, poppyseed, or blueberry.  I could also make my own flavors if I want.  That’s, of course, assuming I can ever get yeast to obey me.

For those that like oatmeal and often make more than they need (a bad good habit of mine), you can save the extra for a different treat the next day.  While it’s still warm, take the oatmeal from the pan and pour it into a glass container.  I prefer a rectangular, short-walled container with a snap-on lid.  Use a spoon or spatula to smooth it flat, cover it, and place it in the fridge.  The next morning, slice it into thick strips, place in a non-stick or well-seasoned iron skillet, add a dash of cinnamon, and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Serve with a dollop of butter (or substitute) and a drizzle of agave syrup, maple, or honey.

The key to its firm consistency is to not add any type of milk or toppers (e.g. nuts, fruit, et al) into the oatmeal before placing it in reserve.  I flavor the pot of oatmeal with sea salt, raw sugar, cinnamon, and butter or Earth Balance.  I only add almond milk to the bowls along with any add ons each of us like (I most love putting walnuts and bananas or apple slices on the bottom of the bowl and mixing them in after, so they get cooked slightly by the heat of the oats).

Day 3: A Lotta Work in One Chair

Raven smiling, but with shaking hands

Raven smiles, though her hand shakes, making the image blurry

It’s hard to believe that I’m in such a good mood given the way I started the day (image below).  I’ve gone from working to prove someone was wrong on the internet in politics (see here and here) to getting a lot of work done on clearing scenes to tackling the complexities of multiple author imports on WordPress to having a  meaningful conversation with my co-author and on to a Grammy-recipe of cheese sauce on, well, everything (i.e. chicken, cauliflower, pan-fried potato rounds) followed by giggles in a poly chat space.

Grumpy, greasy Raven

Before the shower, after the political rant

Oh yeah, and I took my vitamins, I’m on my seventh glass of water plus a mug of pumpkin spice tea, and I dealt with some personal responsibilities with scheduling time for others that I’d been putting off.  Weight: 259.2. Not bad for day 3.

Tomorrow: Take Daughter to her clay animation class.  Free clay animation class.  Blessings all around.

Grammy’s Cheese Sauce
(which I don’t make very often, just look at the dairy content!)

3T. flour
1/2lb. butter
2-3c. whole, organic milk
1c.+ cheddar cheese (only if you want a cheddary cheese sauce; can be made with almost any cheese that melts)

Make a roux by melting the butter in a small pot and mixing in the flour until it’s smooth (no lumps).  Add milk and stir constantly on med-low until hot.  Add in shredded or crumbled cheese, stir until cheese is fully melted.  Serve immediately on anything you like.

NOTE: Shred your cheddar!  It may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it takes a lot less time and effort than waiting for cheese cubes to melt in warm milk.  Also, the above portions are estimates only, I didn’t actually check my recipe card to make the sauce this evening, and I didn’t check it before posting here.  I didn’t use measuring tools, either.  These are guesstimates. Ahem.

TIP: Make extra, save extra for later, and chop up jalapenos or green chiles (I like poblanos best) and store it for a nacho treat later.  Great on whole black or pinto beans, too.