More cooking joy

In the past week I’ve learned how to make nine new dishes – so joyous! Nothing compares to home cooking.

Banana bread and zucchini loaf
Both gluten-free, scrumptious and super-nutritious: with gluten-free flour, eggs, stevia, and loads of fresh-ground flax as well as chia seeds
(From an improvised recipe from my mom.)

Turkey noodle soup
Two turkey drumsticks, boiled or roasted for 1 hour at 350 F, 1 cup of brown rice noodles, 1 liter of chicken broth, salt and poultry seasoning to taste – fast and easy, and infinitely better, in both flavour and nutrition, than anything you can buy in a store.  (There’s no excuse for lazy cooking, in my mind, or for anything other than home-made meals, at least 19 times out of 20. If you’re too busy to make home-cooked meals, you’re probably too busy in general, and your priorities are probably out of line. Simplify. And slow down. Make big batches, and eat it for a couple of days, interspersed with other foods; or freeze part of it, and have delicious home-cooked meals ready to re-heat anytime.)

Fried chorizo with pico de gallo
See Epicurious for a super-easy and incredibly delicious pico de gallo recipe, and many more. (I rarely eat meat lately, but this little Spanish side dish incredible.)

Gluten-free spanakopita (spinach pie)
Instead of the traditional Greek spinach pie, which is made with filo pastry, I used frozen spinach, three eggs, beaten, lots of goat cheese feta, and a pinch of nutmeg, baked in a greased casserole dish, covered, for about an hour – easy, incredibly delicious, and extremely healthy. For extra flavour add sauteed onions and garlic; but this dish is super-rich already, even without them.
(From another improvised recipe from my mom)

Classic pecan pie
Also from an Epicurious recipe – Epicurious has never failed me yet. As with most recipes, at the rare times when I use a recipe, I modified this one, and improvised. I didn’t want all that sugar, and no corn syrup, so I mixed brown sugar with stevia. Next time I’ll use maple syrup, which I was unfortunately out of, along with natural, zero calorie and zero carb stevia.

Fruit cobbler
With apples and pears from the backyard: five pears, four apples, large oats and maple syrup on top, with a cup or so of water in a covered pie dish, baked for about an hour at 350 F (A total improv – and it turned out great!)

Mexican-Italian pizza
Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and amazingly delicious:
Gluten-free teff tortillas with pesto, goat cheese feta, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and pico de gallo added after it baked for about 20 minutes at 350 F. One of the best pizzas I have ever tasted. (Also total improv, like most of my cooking.)

Gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian lasagna
Brown rice lasagna noodles, par-boiled, layered with a white sauce made with lots of goat cheese, spinach and pesto, with layers of goat mozzarella on top – fantastically mouth-watering, everyone in the family can eat it; and it doesn’t sit on my stomach like a rock! (Also improv. There’s nothing like free-form experimentation – especially when it turns out far beyond your expectations!)

“Cooking is like love – it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.”
  – Harriet Van Horne
  (A quote than adorns my fridge)

The next dishes I want to learn to make:

Pumpkin pie
The pecan pie was my first pie ever, and it turned out amazing, so I am emboldened!

Muffins – gluten-free blueberry bran with stevia, flax and chia seeds, as a first run

Mexican tortilla soup

I hope these cooking notes will inspire you to cook, if you don’t already – and to take joy in cooking! Experiment! It’s all a learning process, and we can take joy in the journey. Why not? Life is short!

Bon appetite!

J. Todd Ring,
November 12, 2013


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