main (303) dessert (180) soup (87) sides (65) starter (62) salads (35) mixology (25) breakfast (14)

Saturday, October 30

Hawaiian luau banana bread

Butter, unsalted, softened
½ cup
Bananas, very ripe
1 cup
Flour, all-purpose
1 1/8 cup
Baking powder
1 tsp
¼ tsp
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mash the Wet together.
  3. Mix the Dry together.
  4. Combine the Wet and Dry.
  5. Pour into 9” pan (I’ve been using silicon, so no greasing is needed).
  6. Bake approximately 35 to 45 minutes.
Recipe from former neighbor Sue.

Friday, October 29

Honey-grapefruit sorbet

Grapefruits, freshly squeezed, chilled
5 to 6
(400 ml)
Honey, raw, clover or blackberry or other strong flavor
1/3 cup
(100 ml)

Excluding frosty dairy-based dishes, this is the most amazing frozen dessert I know! No sugar. No fat.

NOTE: Because there are only two ingredients, ensure they're perfect. Also, this recipe works best on a 4:1 ratio; for example: 400 ml of grapefruit to 100 ml of honey.
  1. Heat honey on low until it liquefies. (Never microwave as it damages the honey.
    I place the measured amount of honey in a water-bath, stirring until it liquefies.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in freshly squeezed grapefruit. (Better to pour the honey into the grapefruit... as it cools more quickly for the next step)
  3. Pour into ice cream machine, and run for 40 minutes or so.
Presentation wow factor:
  1. Rinse and chill some oranges for a few hours.
  2. Cut the tops off and keep, and then scoop out each orange, making it in to a serving cup.
  3. Fill with honey-grapefruit sorbet.
  4. Cover with orange tops, and chill in freezer over night.
  5. Take to office or gathering; set out for 10 minutes to soften before serving.

tips, tricks & techniques

Mushroom Storage
Store mushrooms in your refrigerator crisper where they can benefit from cool air circulation. Keep partially covered to prevent them from drying out, but never store packaged mushrooms without venting. Paper bags are a good storage alternative.

Most fresh mushrooms should be used within 3 days. Dried mushrooms should be soaked in hot water or part of the recipe cooking liquid for about an hour before using. Let debris sink to the bottom and use the clear remaining liquid in the recipe for additional flavor.

Mushrooms may also be canned or frozen for future use.

For recipes that use mushrooms, click here.

Wild mushroom soup

Wild mushroom soup with James' favorite loaf
Wild mushrooms, dried
1 ounce
5 tablespoons
Onion, chopped
1 cup
Wild and domestic mushrooms,
cleaned and chopped
1 pound
Beef or chicken broth,
or a combination of both
4 cups
2 tablespoons
Parsley, fresh, chopped
2 tablespoons
Basil, dried
½ teaspoon
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon
Madeira or vermouth
¼ cup
To taste
Sour cream
1 cup

Rinse the dried mushrooms free of any grit. Place them in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water over them. Let them soak for 1 hour. Remove the mushrooms, saving the water. Trim off woody stems, if necessary. Chop mushrooms. Strain the water or pour it off carefully, to remove any sand.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter and fresh mushrooms. Sauté 10 minutes. Add the dried mushrooms, reserved water, and stock. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. While the soup is simmering, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan. Add the flour and stir well to make a roux. Add a little of the hot stock to the roux; it will immediately turn into a paste. Gradually whisk in about ½ cup more stock. Then add the roux to the soup; whisk in.

After the soup has simmered 20 minutes, add parsley, basil, and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add Madeira or vermouth. Taste and add salt, if needed. Stir in sour cream and remove soup from heat immediately. Serve.

Recommendation: If your in need of some great shiitake mushrooms, check out the Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, located in Perkins, Oklahoma. My 'Ma & Pa' logs arrived yesterday (see the photo)!

Recipe from Recipes from the Pacific Rim by Marjie Lambert.

Wednesday, October 27

tips, tricks & techniques

Buying, Using, and Storing Pecans
To keep pecans fresh and flavorful, follow these buying and storage guidelines:
  • When buying pecans, look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size.
  • Shelled pecans can be kept in the refrigerator for about nine months and for up to two years in the freezer.
  • Pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the two-year freezing period without loss of flavor or texture.
  • Airtight containers, such as jars with lids, are best for storing pecans in the refrigerator.
  • Sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer. 
  • In-shell pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for six to 12 months.
  • After removal from cold storage, pecans will stay good for an additional two months.
For recipes that use pecans, click here.
    Tips from

    volitional viands

    The pecan (Carya illinoensis) is native to the Americas and naturally distributed in the Mississippi Valley and the river valleys of Texas. The Indians introduced pecans to the white man by trading for tools and trinkets. In this way, the traders moved the pecan from its native range to the eastern states. The first pecan nursery was established in 1772 and from this small beginning, pecan production has grown into a multimillion dollar industry in Florida and South Georgia.
    ~The Farm Store

    Pecan pie

    Flaky pie crust, unbaked, chilled
    Eggs, lightly beaten
    Brown sugar, dark
    ¾ cup (packed)
    Corn syrup
    ½ cup
    Cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon (scant)
    Vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon (overflowing)
    Butter, unsalted, melted
    2 tablespoons
    Pecans*, coarsely chopped
    1 cup
    Pecan halves
    1 cup
    Heavy cream
    1 cup (optional)

    *Unlike most pecan pies, this one is about the nut and not the sugar. Having been raised on gathering native Oklahoma pecans on my family farm, I’m exceptionally picky about this particular nut. Nothing (except a block of real butter) can match the oil in native Oklahoma pecans! If you can, locate and use the smaller native pecans (often from the southern U.S. region) instead of the mammoths ones you see at the grocery store.
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F, and ensure an oven rack is available in the lowest position.
    2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, vanilla, butter, and salt, and then stir in the chopped pecans; pour into the pie shell.
    3. Arrange the pecan halves side by side on the surface of the filling, creating a sunburst design.
      Note: Trust me on this step. Do not get lazy and skip the sunburst design. Yes, it takes a little extra time, but it wins presentation points, and it creates the needed barrier for the filling to bake properly.
    4. Place pie on the lowest rack of the oven, and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
    5. Bake until the crust is lightly browned and the filling sets, approximately 45 minutes.
    6. Place on a wire rack to cool before serving.
    7. If whipped cream topping is desired (the answer is always YES in my house), then beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form; no need to sweeten.
    8. Apply cream topping generously until you can no longer see your slice of pie, consume, and repeat.
    Recipe from Classic American Cooking from the Academy by the California Culinary Academy.

    Tuesday, October 26

    volitional viands

    Whenever fall comes,
    I smell delicious fresh pie
    With a sweet topping.
    ~Jordyn Muller, from Mary Inglis' fifth-period English class, Wellington Community High School

    tips, tricks & techniques

    If you haven't seen it already, check out the Botany of Desire, a PBS program based on Michael Pollan's book, in which he explores the evolution of apples, cannabis, potatoes, and tulips. To preview:

    Monday, October 25

    tips, tricks & techniques

    As a friendly, seasonally motivated reminder:

    Ensure you pick up the correct can of pumpkin while at the store! Pumpkin pie mix and 100-percent pureed pumpkin can be labeled in an identical manner. I recommend avoiding the pie mix, as the spices' intensity tends to rapidly degrade in the canned pumpkin slurry.

    Also, replace any ground spices in your cabinet that's older than 6 months to ensure maximum flavor potency.

    Sunday, October 24

    volitional viands

    "Nothing ever tastes bad with a little extra cheese on top, it just never hurt a thing in its life."
    ~Paula Deen

    Paula Deen's pumpkin cheesecake

    Whipped cream ghost added for spooky seasonal  topping
    A quick redress for Thanksgiving
    Graham crackers, finely crushed
    1 ¾ cups
    Brown sugar, light
    3 tablespoons
    Cinnamon, ground
    ½ teaspoon
    Butter, salted, melted
    8 tablespoons (1 stick)
    Cream cheese, room temperature
    3 packages (32 ounces)
    Pumpkin, pureed
    15 ounces
    3 + 1 yoke
    Sour cream
    ¼ cup
    1 ½ cups
    Cinnamon, ground
    ½ teaspoon
    Nutmeg, freshly ground
    1/8 teaspoon
    Cloves, ground
    1/8 teaspoon
    Flour, all-purpose
    2 tablespoons
    Vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.
    3. Add melted butter.
    4. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
    5. Beat cream cheese until smooth.
    6. Add pumpkin puree, eggs and yolk, sour cream, sugar, and spices.
    7. Add flour and vanilla, beating together until well combined.
    8. Pour into crust; spread evenly, and place in oven for 1 hour.
    9. Turn off oven, open door, and let sit for 30 minutes.
    10. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours.
    For topping, using an electric mixer to beat 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until it is fluffy. For ghost, scoop the mixture into a pastry bag, and have fun!
      Time: 4 hours and 15 minutes (15 minutes preparation time)
      Serves: 8
      Based on recipe from the

      Sour cream bread

      Loaf shown with leftover roast with gravy and white cheddar

      1 ½-pound loaf
      2-pound loaf
      ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
      ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon
      Sour cream
      1 cup
      1 ¼ cups
      Bread flour
      3 ½ cups
      4 1/3 cups
      Brown sugar, light
      1 tablespoon
      1 ½ tablespoons
      2 teaspoons
      1 tablespoon
      1 ¼ teaspoons
      1 ½ teaspoons
      SAF yeast
      2 teaspoons
      1 tablespoon
      1. Add all ingredients, in the order provided, as layers in your bread machine bucket, ending with the yeast as a pile on top.
      2. Select Basic, choose the loaf size, and set your bread machine on dark.
      Note: Recipes from this cookbook require specific ingredients to ensure the desired result is achieved. We use Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten with vitamin C and SAF yeast ordered from The bread flour comes in 50-pound bags from Costco.
        Recipe from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.