I’ve made 500 posts here (counting this one), through thick and through thin. My diet went from general (but mostly whole foods), through mostly Paleo / Weston-Price, through needing MORE fiber in my life (more legumes and grains/pseudograins), to retirement and moving north, adding in homesteading posts, to what I’ll call a Paleo-Influenced food plan. And suddenly less healthy, higher glycemic carbs, which are influencing my bathroom scale, often due to racing back and forth to the old home to get it sold. Even so, along the way, I’ve happily avoided margarine, TVP, “vegetable” oil. and standard deli meats (okay, pepperoni ends up on pizza occasionally…). And I do have to admit there isn’t a single faux sweetener out there that remotely tastes interesting enough (and usually without an accompanying annoyingly lingering aftertaste) that I will ever consider cooking with it. I ditched that particular type of stuff long before I learned to care about what was in my food.
Hopping around my recipes reminds me there are a few gems in there I haven’t made for awhile – and need to make again, soon.
PS, today is also my birthday – 66 years orbiting around our good ole Sun.
Other than the specific tree-nut sensitivity that cropped up along these years, I haven’t entirely eliminated ANY food group. (It turns out I can do coconut and almond.) The best idea is to MODERATE some food groups, mostly the more detrimental ones. Although I’ve yet to see a good point for me to choose to cook with margarine, TVP, “vegetable” oil or standard deli meats – they’re all modern inventions and none of them actually comprise a true “food group” anyway. I’ve seen no reason to add them into my ongoing meals.)
Looking back over all 500 recipes (oh, which include a few homesteading things), I’m going to link here back to my favorites in several categories. I’ll put anywhere from one to three recipes in each category. These recipes are NOT in order – it’s mood-dependent! Some might overlap. (Categories, are, however, alphabetized.)
Breakfast or Brunch: Despite my standbys being omelets, over-easy, and simpler recipes, here are some more involved ones.
- South Indian Uttapam Pancakes. I cannot eat this vegetarian dish often enough. Time constraints do end up limiting it, as this is NOT a quick dish. Features broken rice, urad dal, and seasonings such as fenugreek and curry leaf. Additions include tomato and onion, and I do dot it with ghee or butter, but if you omit that, it’s vegan friendly. Everyone I have served it to, loved it. Wanted seconds, if available.
- The Shad Roe Breakfast. I do something similar once most every year. Missed it this one. Apparently it is easier to come across shad roe in Connecticut than up here.
- Full Sized Crustless Quiche. Two varieties, one vegetarian and one not. I also have a recipe post for about three different small mini-crustless quiches – turns out you need a different ratio of the main components. Seriously, I prefer quiche without the crust. It’s not only about lessening the amount of carbs here. It’s TASTE. I have found quiches really don’t need crustiness.
Desserts, Sweets, or Baked Goods:
- Pear Upside Down Cake with Buttermilk. Turned out surprisingly well, for me not being a sweet tooth and all. Vegetarian. Not gluten-free.
- Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake. I do admit a liking for chocolate. So. Here we are. Made it a couple times when company was impending; and not too sweet, but not so non-sweet as to turn guests off on it. It is very rich, a little does go a long way. It’s been a success, and the gluten-free attendees have been happy.
- Gluten-Free Muffins with Almond Meal, Squash and Blueberries.. They also contain pine nuts which I can no longer eat. I made them for a bake sale at work a bundle of years ago. They did move off the table. Not too sweet, but they apparently hit the spot.
- Moroccan Boneless Goat Leg Roast. A lovely meal with something I’d forgotten was in the freezer!
- Ground Goat Patties, and Stuffed Peppers. Stuffing bell peppers with ground goat and various veggies was great enough I did it several times. Right now I’m looking for goat meat to continue on this path. (I skip rice entirely whenever I stuff things.)
- Khatta Meat. This is a Northern Indian curry which uses either goat meat, or mutton (older sheep). I did find goat meat to use in this. The goat supplier no longer exists.
Grain-Based: NOT, of course, entirely made such and such just a grain-inclusive, but where the grain seriously carries the dish. Certainly not Whole30 or Paleo, but I do these under consideration. My personal body does require some grains… Again I’m with not cutting out entire real-food groups – other than allergies/sensitivities! (Balance them…)
- Greek Spanakopita. Rice and spinach, essentially.
- Indian Basmati Rice Flavored with Cumin, Fenugreek, Curry Leaf.
- Vegetarian Pizza-Like Cheese Melts: Indian or Mexican-influenced. Definitely fun. Uses either fenugreek paratha wraps or white corn tortillas. Obviously, adaptable to non-vegetarian concepts as well.
Greek: A new for me cuisine I’m hoping to expand on in my own kitchen, ASAP!
- Lamb Kofta, grilled on skewers.
- Rooster Corfu. From home-grown roosters, this slow cooked dish is less complicated than Coq au Vin. And was a success twice served to guests here.
- Greek Tzatziki or Persian Mast-o-Khar. With cucumber.
- Vegetarian Cauliflower and Onion Pakoras. After about three attempts, I got these chickpea flour appetizers down right. And they’re vegan, if you wish.
- Chicken Tandoori on the Grill. I’ve tried Tandoori recipes in western ovens. I’m afraid that Tandoori food needs the awesome heat of the grill (unless, of course, you own a tandoor…)
- Bharwaan Mirchee – Stuffed Bell Peppers (Indian). Another vegetarian recipe of note.
- Onigirazu – Japanese Rice Sandwiches. These things are fantastic and versatile! I made three varieties for this post. Adorable!
- Whole Trout, Japanese Hot Pot Style
- Dashi Recipes (Japanese broth stock). Three dashi recipes, one which is vegan. Oh, none of these use that powdered dashi stuff which seems to be more prevalent these days.
- Japchae. I’m having a hard time in this category; I love just about everything Korean that I’ve made. But we will persevere and limit ourselves to three. No particular order – that would be a call beyond duty! This one I use yam noodles for the starch.
- Kimbap/Gimbap. Korean seafood (or pork, or veggie) rolls. Similar to sushi rolls, but they’re their own thing.
- Pyogo Jeon – Korean Stuffed Mushrooms. I might have put Bulgogi here, or BBQ Korean beef, but since I’m limiting myself to three choices, I went a bit off the beaten path. Those mushrooms are unique and tastefully awesome. Do try. Omnivore or vegetarian or vegan options are possible with this dish.
- Moroccan Mechoui (Slow Roasted Bone-In Lamb Leg). This is a different Moroccan preparation than I used for the goat leg listed above.
- Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Lamb. Time consuming, but worth it.
- Irish Shepherd’s Pie. If you use beef, it tastes different (inferior, actually), and should properly be named Cottage Pie so that those of us who prefer the lamb can know what to expect. (And, perhaps, we’ll order something else and better.)
Make-Overs: The first two definitely reflect that I do NOT like buns or thick bready things to wrap up and minimize what I consider to be tasty food. That they are also gluten-free is a positive to some of my readership (AND friends).
- The “Un-Philly” Sandwich. Yep, no bun, but a lettuce wrap.
- The “Un-Popeye” Chicken Sandwich. Also a lettuce wrap, and boneless-skinless chicken THIGH.
- Make-Over Catalina Salad Dressing. They changed the recipe back in the 80’s to add in more sweetness, mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Our family could not tolerate the taste change, and this really did affect our use of this condiment. So I was glad to come up an adaptation. This recipe has been used as an artichoke leaf dipping sauce. It also goes well on some salads, especially a nice avocado grapefruit salad.
Mains with Gluten: For a long while, just about everything I posted here was Paleo (gluten-free, legume-free, and added sugar-free). Below are some that actually do work best with wheat. I still make most of my meals at home Paleo. Seriously, I feel better that way. I do wonder for some of us who are NOT celiac – if there are other ingredients in supermarket breads that a good bakery won’t use. Which is why I respond health-wise to a GOOD bakery food, in a way I can’t with a general supermarket bread-based product.
- Beef Kidney Recipes (aka Got Kidneys?). This links to several recipes, but I’m ONLY pointing to the English Beef and Kidney Pie in this collection. Puff pastry!
- Skillet Mac and Cheese with Veggies. I’m not a fan of regular mac and cheese. I like this because adding some veggies is integral to this (it’s not just wallpaper paste), and there’s no heavy crusty stuff on top. Ups the tasty sort of cheese factor, too. I think the skillet cooking method helps as well.
Offal: (I’m picking one from different organs)
- Tacos de Lengua: Beef Tongue Tacos. I like tongue in a variety of ways, but this was something new I’d tried, and it was a welcome success.
- Turkish Tripe Soup: Iskembe-corbasi. I have to say… amazingly good.
- Stuffed Lamb Heart, Featuring Apple and Onion. It was HARD to pick just one heart recipe.
Paleo/Whole30 (NO Gluten, NO Grains, NO Legumes): For this, I picked things typically made with grains. And made them better, without.
- Spinach, Turnip Greens, and Ground Meat Mini-Muffins. I make these before road trips and eat them cold. The full sized muffins: I found 1 of them to be too few but 2 to be too many. The mini size helps one adjust eating amounts to optimal on these road trips! An adaptation from Melissa Joulwan’s full-size recipe. Freaking awesome. PS, the turnip greens are optional, just add in a full bolus of spinach instead. You can even drop the meat altogether, replacing it with more spinach, for a great vegetarian Whole30 muffin.
- Grain-Free Pork Meatloaf: Cauliflower, Apple, Fennel. One day I figured out that the reason I didn’t like meatloaf was due to the breading tossed in there. The Paleo movement encouraged me to create meatloaves that I LIKE! Since you (or at least I) don’t want the loaf to be ALL meat, I started to learn creative substitutions for the silly breadcrumbs. Healthier, IMHO, too.
- Grain-Free Ground Beef Meatloaf: Sweet Potato. My first go-round with meatloaf, necessitated by getting tired of the patties and sauces made from my ground beef meat share, and wanting to stretch my wings. See above.
- Pork Butt Shoulder Roast.
- Fresh Pork Hock Osso Buco in the Slow Cooker.
- Pork Sausage Patties: Apple, Fennel Seed, Smoked Paprika, Sage.
Poultry: (I’m picking one from each species currently at hand)
- Braised Turkey Thighs. Braised with various root veggies and cranberries.
- Baked Duck Breast with Shiitake. Done simple, it packed a punch.
- Rooster Corfu. Home grown cockerel in a slow-simmered pot reminiscent of Greece.
- Bacon, Lettuce, & Tomato (BLT) Salad. So simple to create and enjoy!.
- Seafood Salad: Shrimp, Mussels, Cabbage Slaw
- Avocado Grapefruit Salad. I made this for the blog before I learned to do a Catalina salad dressing make-over. See above in the Make-Over section. Combine the two for a heavenly vegan salad!
- Stuffed Squid: Sweet potato, crab, scallop, mushroom, apple.
- Arctic Char: Cooked on a Cedar Plank.
- Eel, cooked with Salsa and Olive. Yes, you can substitute something like bluefish, something with body to carry this dish.
Soup & Stews:
- Mushroom Soup: No Flour, No Cream. But it does have butter. And it surprisingly thickens!
- West African Peanut Soup/Stew with (optional) Chicken
- Vegetarian Ethiopian Black-Eyed Pea Stew. Very tasty and warming!
- Sous Vide Chicken Breast (Skin on). Finally, a white meat chicken breast worth singing praises about. The main issue with chicken white meat is that it is either dried out, or undercooked. And if it is a thick piece, there’s nothing one can do to render it tender yet cooked… unless sous vide comes to the rescue.
- Sous Vide Salmon, with Asparagus and Mushrooms. Best with a thick salmon fillet or steak.
- Sous Vide Turkey Hearts, Alongside Broccoli and Onion. Seemed to be the most practical way to cook them through. (Without chopping them up.)
- Vegetarian Cauliflower and Onion Pakoras. Yum, Yum, Yum.
- Stuffed Delicata Squash. Always welcome!
- Curry with Okra, Bitter Melon, and Eggplant (Aubergine). Over rice.
Vegetarian (but non-vegan, as with either dairy or egg):
- Greek Tzatziki or Persian/Iranian Mast-o-Khiar. A great accompaniment to many Middle-eastern or Mediterranean dishes.
- Vegetarian Burgers (does contain egg).
- Vietnamese Bò Trộn Cải Xoong – Pan-Seared Beef & Watercress Salad, with Fish Dressing Sauce.
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls. These are just awesome. I love the thin skin of these rolls as opposed to thick fried skin of spring rolls, or of Chinese hand rolls. A nice healthy wrapping allowing one to focus on what’s inside!
Fave Cookbooks: This is hard to decide. For this reason, I am listing FIVE. And, in no particular order.
- Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. If one wants to cook and eat vegetarian or vegan (full-time or part-time), this is a great book to have on your shelf. Seriously, the best vegetarian foods are from cultures with a long-standing history of eating this way. That’s indeed what Jaffrey focuses on. Downsides: Don’t expect a lot of photos, and it is a hard book to poise open on the counter while you are cooking (it is LONG)! BUT, don’t let that deter you!
- Deborah Abraham-Klein. Silk Road Vegetarian. I like this book even better than Jaffrey’s, but my eyes are getting old which means the text appears to be shrinking… Less recipes, but all seem very well thought out.
- Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking. Here you get some tried and truly tested cooking techniques, along with recipes to, ahem, illustrate the principles. Yes, I know, they don’t really have expertise in foreign cuisine, and when they go “health” they prefer low fat to low carb – but when they study techniques, they study techniques. Do get this book. Downside: Not a lot of photos, but hey, we’re here to cook, right?
- Russ Crandall. Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without All the Junk. Again we happily skip around the world, in this case pursuing the upgrade of food to a Paleo style of eating, subbing in healthy alternatives to some of the less-nutritious items out there.
- Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs. The subtitle does indicate that this is NOT a true cookbook, but a guide for your own kitchen creations. Basically, what flavors and ingredients go with which other flavors and ingredients, with reference to cultural food norms.
Fave YouTube Cooking Channels: Again, this will be five. Alphabetical order. I am picking ones that seem individual-oriented, rather than promoted from a large “company” per se, although I don’t know if this applies to the last on this list. I have ignored a couple of quality ones where the narrator is (to me) annoying. Sorry, Chef John – you didn’t start out with that horrible vocal inflection problem, so I consider it a terrible affectation that prevents me from watching your videos. Learning from videos should not be painful!
- Binging with Babish. I’m not really interested in his TV/movie/cartoon food recreations (in part because those can be over the top in a bad way, and also because I really am highly TV/movie/cartoon illiterate!) but to give him credit, if he does a re-creation, he at least in recent videos makes an effort at following up with a tasty and edible substitution. Plus, his voiceover tone is mesmerizing, he has a sense of dry humor, and he doesn’t cover up mistakes. And he’s a decent dude, working to give back to people less fortunate along the way. He has a sub-topic on his channel called “Basics with Babish” which I especially enjoy, since he’s not bothering with those re-creations in those videos. “Babish” (Andrew Rea) has two cookbooks out, but since they focus on the TV/movie recreations, I am not bothering to purchase.
- Chinese Cooking Demystified. Off somewhere in the hinterlands? of China, are a couple who are uploading awesome cooking recipes, probably through some arcane VPN, to us in the western world. Authentic, with ideas to adapt to those of us in the West. The couple will talk about the derivations of their recipes, which I fully appreciate.
- Maangchi. I’m simply mystified that there are so MANY Korean recipes out there! Oh, a couple do feel like thrown in to fill the bill, but most don’t fall into that category. She likes her food hotter than my gut can currently stand, but that’s easily adaptable, and she’s engaging and specific in presenting her myriad of Korean recipes. I am now the proud owner of her two cookbooks. I’ve cooked from the former, but the second has simply just arrived about a month ago, and there’s been too much going on here to follow up… yet.
- Townsends. Living the colonial experience, most of the content is cooking colonially (with some German and English recipes included) from the 18th century. They’ve recently branched from food.
- The Victorian Way. This is actually a subcategory of the English Heritage channel, but The Victorian Way search name will get you more recipes and information about TRULY retro foods… Gets me into my student of history mode.
- Rooster Corfu. From home-grown roosters, this slow cooked dish is less complicated than Coq au Vin. And was a success when twice served to guests here.
- Refurbishing a Wooden Kitchen Cutting Board.
- Refinishing/Refurbishing Wrought Iron Patio or Lawn Furniture.
- Raising Chickens: Trekking to My Chickens in Zone 5 Winter.
- Raising Chickens: The Bin, or Storage at Your Coop.
Remarkable Dining Out Experiences (that I’ve written up):
- Dead Eye Dick’s, Block Island, Rhode Island. I did post several eateries under the same blog header, but this one was an outstanding place on various levels of dining. Scroll about half way down, or so. It is also far enough from the harbor where the ferries arrive, that at least when I was there, the prices were quite reasonable. Focus is New England seafood. They had an awesome Rhode Island clam chowder, as well as other seafood specialties.
- Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, Flushing, Queens, NYC, New York. It’s the soup dumplings, and it’s the mapu tofu. I could lie down and die there, as long as their food keeps coming! So far out of my current driving distance, but I WANNA GO BACK!
- Alo Saigon, Westfield, MA. A nearby Vietnamese eatery that is both inexpensive and wonderful. Crepe, pho, and several other dishes… Has expanded my horizons greatly!
Mission Statement: To create whole and real food that is also tasty, from a variety of cultural and personal inspirations – and share, everywhere. To encourage myself to do more DIY projects, homesteading activities, and fun stuff such as that.
Goals for Immediate Future (blog-wise): January will be Whole30 recipes. February will be Greek recipes (although I may toss in a Cajun one for Mardi Gras if it works to my satisfaction). There won’t be a month-specific thing going on for awhile after those. Themes can be fun, but they can also get in the way.
At any rate, I have a pre-set recipe for lamb tongue coming next Friday, and I am hoping for a dessert or sweet the Friday after that, and with luck, two seafood entries for the following Friday upon that. I’m hoping the New Years posts can reflect Hogmanay, the Scottish welcoming-in-of the New, this year. We shall see.
Homesteading/Farming: Making maple syrup in February (more likely March). Planting herbs, potatoes, tomatoes, cukes, winter squash, Asian and other greens, kale, collards, chard. Getting the fruit tree orchards underway far more than they are now. Starting quail. Getting the solar activated. Getting a fishing licence and going fishing. Continuing chicken work. Putting in the wood stove in the living room. Getting the rest of the deck stained and preserved. Motivating the chestnuts. Working on developing a like-minded community of mutually-supportive people around here. I also need to MOVE, er, exercise more, and focus on overall health.
Creativity: Pursue the arts, and pursue writing. Learn woodworking. Return to stained glass endeavors. Learn to water color and/or do acrylics. Maybe oils, if I keep watching Bob Ross on YouTube. Get OUT more, see friends, museums, wilderness. Hug chickens. Hug cats.