30 March 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight Loss Weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and two other bloggers trying to lose weight.  Join us as we discuss tips, strategies our successes and failures along our weight loss journeys.

This week, Sunny from That Extra 20 Pounds asks:

A lot of people drink diet sodas or drinks with artificial sweeteners when they are trying to lose weight. Do you drink these kind of things? What are some of your favorite things to drink when you're watching your weight?

I don't drink sodas period.  Last year, when I first found the book French Women Don't Get Fat, the author encourages you to eliminate soda of all kinds from your diet and instead opt for water or perhaps some sparkling water with a splash of juice in it if plain water is too boring.  At the time, I was drinking one Coke-a-cola a day (full sugar variety).  I actually found it EXTREMELY difficult giving that one Coke a day up.  I was surprised at how difficult it was really.  In the afternoon, I would just seem to lag and crave that sugar hit.  Also, I was craving the bubbles.  I was able to break the soda habit through perseverance really, but also by buying large packs of Perrier from Costco.  I would go though 4-6 20 oz. bottles of Perrier a day, but I felt good knowing that I was giving up the sugar hit of the Coke.  Without realizing it, I slowly replaced the fizzy Perrier with still water to the point now I am drinking one Perrier a week.  

Just giving up that one Coke a day, I am saving myself 980 calories a week!  Over the course of the year, that translates to about 15 lbs.  Not only am I giving up the calories though, I have broken that sugar hit dependence.  I feel when you substitute diet sodas for the full sugar ones, you may be saving yourself the calories, but you are never breaking your dependence on the sugary sensation (even if it's not real sugar).  This causes more cravings, and more cravings, and more cravings....It's when you BREAK the dependence on the sugary flavors that you can truly get over the cravings and it is not such of a daily battle.

Now, my main drinks are water, tea and coffee, milk and occasionally a tiny amount of juice.  It's no longer an issue and I don't crave the soda at all anymore.  In fact, the last time I had a soda, it was so cloyingly sweet, I only had a sip.  I never noticed that before I broke the sweet cycle.

Check out what my fellow weight loss weekly bloggers have to say:

Sunny says:

"Last time I dieted I bought a big pack of Diet Dr. Pepper to "help" with my sugar cravings. I thought it would help but it did NOT!!" keep reading at www.ThatExtra20pounds.blogspot.com

Check out what Nurit has to say at Family Friendly Food

28 March 2009

A Culinary Trip to Ethiopia Continued

For the past few weeks, Chef E from Cook Appeal and I have been traveling virtually through the cuisine of Ethiopia. I was so honored this week to play host to a real Ethiopian at my Friday feast! My neighbors adopted a little girl from Ethiopia about a year ago. Here she is sitting at my kitchen table enjoying....macaroni and cheese. Don't you just love her pudgy, pudgy hands? I tore off some injera for her and she looked at it like it was not edible. I thought it was quite cute that while her parents and my husband and I feasted on dishes from Ethiopia, she was happily munching on the mac and cheese I made for all the kiddos.

For our culinary tour this week, I decided on making Doro We't, a spicy chicken and egg dish, as well as Ye'atakilt Alich'a, which is a vegetable stew.  Also, as a bonus, my little friend's father prepared Yemisir Alich'a which is mild lentil sauce served with pita chips or injera.
The Doro We't.  You can just see how spicy and rich the sauce is.

Doro We't by Joie de vivre


6 lbs. chicken parts
3 sticks unsalted butter
3 lbs. red onions, chopped
2 tsp. garlic powder
4 heaping Tbls. berbere (recipe here)
9 oz. tomato paste
3 c. chicken stock
10 hard boiled eggs, peeled and slightly scored
1 tsp. black pepper


1.  In a large Dutch oven on the stovetop, melt the butter.  Add the onions to the melted butter and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5-10 minutes.  
2.  Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken parts and score the meat slightly to allow the sauce to penetrate once they are added to the pot.
3.  To the onions, add the garlic powder, berbere, tomato paste and the black pepper.  Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the chicken pieces to the sauce one piece at a time, stirring between each addition to make sure that each piece of chicken is covered in sauce.
4.  Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees.
5.  Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 4 hours.
6.  Thirty minutes before serving, add the hard boiled eggs to the sauce to warm.
7.  Serve Doro We't with injera (recipe here) and eat it with your hands.

Ye'atakilt Alich'a (Vegetable Stew)

Ye'atakilt Alich'a (Vegetable Stew) adapted from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin


3 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. red onions, chopped
6 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into large bite sized pieces
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
6 oz. tomato paste
1 small green cabbage, cored and chopped into large chunks
6 medium Anaheim chilies, seeded and sliced into long, skinny strips
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. chicken stock
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper


1.  In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent 5-10 minutes. 
2.  Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir.  
3.  Cover the Dutch oven and place in a 275 degree oven for 3-4 hours until all of the vegetables are tender and are browning.
4.  Stir the Ye'atakilt Alich'a to combine and serve with injera.

Our special treat, Yemisir Alich'a (Mild Split Lentil Sauce)

Yemisir Alich'a (Mild Split Lentil Sauce) adapted from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin


2 c. lentils
6 c. water
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. butter
1 Tbls. ginger
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/3 c. berere


1.  Bring water to boil in a large stockpot.
2.  Pick through the lentils and remove any rocks.  Boil the lentils in the water for 5 minutes.
3.  In another pot, melt the butter and add the onions.  Cook until the onions are translucent but not browning, 5-10 minutes.  Add the lentils and the water to the onions.  Add the spices.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the mixture is thick and the lentils are soft.  Serve with injera.

I've so enjoyed this culinary tour of Ethiopia.  The dishes are rustic and although they are not quick and easy to make, they are SO WORTH IT!  Thank you Chef E for suggesting we do this!  Don't forget to check out the amazing Ethiopian dishes at Cook Appeal.  Chef E used to work at an Ethiopian restaurant and goes all out for her meals.

27 March 2009

March French Friday #4

Bonjour to you gorgeous French people.  Can you believe that this is our last discussion on Mindless Eating?  March certainly roared in like a lion and is now, thankfully, exiting as meekly as a lamb.  For my New Zealand and Australian readers, I know you are entering your autumn, and as French people, we embrace the changing of the seasons, so you all enjoy getting cozy in your sweaters and switching your meals to embrace some heartier, warming fare.  As for me, it has been SUCH a long winter.  I am embracing the spring with each new blossom I see.  I have also been using the weather as an excuse to go on a slightly longer walk to enjoy the daylight.

Today, Tangled Noodle and I will be concluding our discussion of Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.  Don't worry though gentle readers, French Friday will be continuing in April with a discussion of The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  Don't forget to pick up your copy of the book to read along with me.  I was skeptical of some of the principles at first, but since adopting some of the ideas from this book, I'm down an additional 5 pounds in 3 weeks!

Tangled Noodle has a lovely discussion of Chapter 10 of Mindless Eating going at her site.  Please visit her and sit in on her conclusion of this book.  Here is a little snippet to whet your appetite:

"How does the science of economics fit into a discussion of food habits? Quite well, as a matter of fact. Please join me at Tangled Noodle as I explore how Dr. Wansink's main themes echo basic economic principles of trade-offs, margins and incentives, and how we might apply 'mindful eating' strategies to our other consumption behaviors."

Chapter 10:  Mindlessly Eating Better

Mindless Eating was filled with study after study that show traps people fall into where they mindlessly eat.  Scarily, eating just an extra 100 calories a day, will make you gain an extra 10 pounds in a year!  Think of what 100 calories is:  a cup of nonfat milk, two Hershey's kisses, a slice of bread, you get the idea, you can easily consume an extra 100 calories throughout the course of your day, and not even realize you were doing it.  However, you can also CUT OUT 100 calories mindfully (or mindlessly) without really realizing it and lose 10 pounds in a year.  The difference between the two scenarios is MINDFULLY realizing where you can cut and not realize you are cutting, and then keep a journal so that you KNOW that you are indeed cutting calories and that you are making small, positive changes to your diet.

Ask yourself:
1. Where can I mindlessly cut calories?  What are two or three positive dietary changes I can make?  Perhaps I can only eat HALF of my french fries, perhaps I store the Hershey's kisses in the freezer instead of eye level in the cupboard where I see them more often?  What mindless tricks will work for you?

I so enjoyed this book and our time together.  Thank you to Tangled Noodle for suggesting it to me.  Please remember to visit her lovely discussion of this book as well.  If you have an idea for a book that you think would make a great book to review during French Friday, please let me know, I'm looking for some new ideas!

26 March 2009

Sourdough White Sandwich Bread

I recently found a little and inexpensive sourdough pamphlet for sale on Amazon called Baking with Sourdough by Sara Pitzer.  Now that I have two pots of sourdough, a rye levain and a potato flour starter, I must keep them fed regularly and that means finding things to make with them.  This pamphlet has some great ideas for using sourdough.  Ever since the new year, I have been making my own bread and I think I finally found one that hubby will like to make sandwiches with, rather than just eating hunks of with soup.  It wasn't the quickest recipe, sourdough breads never seem to be, but it made two huge, beautiful loaves with good crust and nice crumb.  My potato flour starter is VERY WET, so I had to use more flour than the recipe called for.  Use your judgement when kneading, add more flour until the dough comes together in a nice smooth dough.

Sourdough White Sandwich Bread adapted extensively from Baking with Sourdough by Sara Pitzer


1 c. very wet sourdough starter
1 1/4 c. high gluten unbleached white flour
1 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 Tbls. honey
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. butter
6-7 1/2 c. high gluten unbleached white flour (depending on how wet your starter is)


1.  The morning before you want to bake, combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover with Saran Wrap and leave on the counter for 24 hours.
2.  The next day, combine the milk, honey, salt and butter in a small saucepan and heat the milk until the butter melts.  Allow the milk mixture to cool slightly and add it to the mixture that had been sitting overnight.  
3.  Begin incorporating the flour with a wooden spoon.  When you can no longer stir it, turn the mixture out onto a heavily floured counter and begin kneading, adding flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic.
4.  Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow to double in bulk, about 3 hours.  Punch dough down, cover again, and again allow to double in bulk, about 1-2 hours.
5.  Separate the dough into two or three loaves depending on the size of your loaf pans.  Dough should fill about half of the pan.  Brush the top of the dough with butter, cover and let rise until the dough is rising out of the pan, 1-2 hours.
6.  Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees, F.  Bake the loaves for 45-50 minutes until nicely browned.  Cool for 5 minutes in the pans on a wire rack, then remove the bread from the pans and let the loaves cool completely on a rack before serving.

25 March 2009


Sites I love to read:

Bloggers from Southeast, WA (or close to)

French Women Don't Get Fat Resources:

Pasta with Red Clam Sauce

After a few days break while my husband took over cooking duties in order for me to recover from the flu, I was back in the cooking saddle tonight.  Fortunately, this dish seems really fancy, but comes together very quickly.  The key is finding good clams.  My local fishmonger just got a shipment of fresh clams in today, plus I always trust his stuff, but if you are shopping for clams, look for shells that are closed tight (or that close tightly if you tap on them gently).  If you have any clams with broken shells or shells that won't close, discard those.  Store your clams in the refrigerator in an open bag to allow the clams to breathe and don't store them for more than a few hours before cooking them.  When you are ready to cook your clams, place them in a large bowl, fill the bowl with cool water, swirl and drain.  Repeat this procedure a few times to help remove any sand that might be on your clams.  It's not pleasant to have sand in your nice, tasty clam sauce.  Clams are simple, delicious, elegant and cook in less than 5 minutes, perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Pasta with Red Clam Sauce by Joie de vivre


1 onion, chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 lbs. clams, rinsed and sorted according to above directions
1 1/2 c. white wine
1 28oz. can chopped tomatoes, with juices
1 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
black pepper, to taste
pasta noodles of your choice


1.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until the onion is translucent and starting to brown.
2.  Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute until garlic is fragrant.  
3.  Add the white wine and scrape up any bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Bring the wine to a boil.  Add the clams and cover the pot.  Steam the clams with the lid closed for 5 minutes.
4.  After 5 minutes, remove the clams to a bowl using a slotted spoon.  Discard any unopened clams.
5.  To the wine and onion mixture, add the chopped tomatoes, stock, oregano, basil and the pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat.  Boil gently, uncovered for 20 minutes to reduce the sauce a little.
6.  Cook your pasta according to package directions.  When cooked, drain and add noodles back to the pot they were boiled in.
7.  Add a few ladles of sauce to the linguine and to the other half of the sauce add back in the clams.  Cook the clams in the sauce for a few minutes to warm back through.
8.  To plate:  Serve a portion of pasta into a bowl, then top with clam sauce.  Serve with a crusty bread to mop up the juices as well as an empty bowl to place shells into.

24 March 2009

What a man!

Don't you love to see your man working in the kitchen?  I sure do.  Here is my wonderful husband training the next generation of wonderful men how to cook.  I have had the flu the past 3 days now and have only now begun to venture out of bed.  My fabulous husband has taken over household / cooking / daddy duties like a champ.  Thank you honey, I'll try to get back to cooking duty tonight.

23 March 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight Loss Weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and three other bloggers trying to lose weight.  Join us weekly as we discuss tips and strategies that are helping us lose weight, as well as our successes and failures.

This week's question was posed by yours truly!  I ask:

"Afternoon is a LOW point in my day. I always fight the urge to snack,
snack, snack. Do you have a LOW point in your day? How do you fight the
cravings or what are the snacks you choose to snack on to get you through
your LOW point?"

Last year, when I first started losing weight using the principles found in French Women Don't Get Fat, I happened to concurrently read the book The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark Urka.  It is filled with little gems and tidbits about tea, but I'll summarize what worked for me from this book.  Most of the time when we're hungry, we're not really hungry.  We are either trying to fill some sort of emotional void, we're bored, we're thirsty, etc.  Tea is a no calorie drink that can fill that void.  There is something about the warmth of tea also that just seems to fill me from the soul up.  Also, the caffeine in tea helps give me a little boost to get through the afternoon.

There is something soothing also about the ritual of making a cup of tea.  Boiling the water, rinsing the pot, adding the leaves, it just takes my mind away from my stomach and puts me completely in the moment of making tea.

I have been trying not to give in to the urge to snack relying instead upon tea and water.  I am finding if I tend to snack, I can't seem to stop snacking and I eat the same amount of dinner regardless.

Do you have any tricks to help you get through the low points in your day?  Please share!

Here is what my fellow Weight Loss Weekly participants have to say:

Nurit says:

“I usually am a good girl from the morning and until the afternoon but then…” keep reading at 1 family. friendly. food.

Sunny says:

"My afternoon snack is an important part of my weight loss plan. Since there's no way I can skip it, here's what I do..." keep reading at www.ThatExtra20Pounds.blogspot.com

22 March 2009

Raspberry Marlow

I love vintage cookbooks and old recipes.  So I was so excited to read about the Everything Old Is New Again recipe contest over at the Domestic Muse.  I recently inherited an old cookbook that belonged to my grandmother, Norge Binding of Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook.  I love this cookbook!  One, it is huge, two, the copyright is 1945 so it is FILLED with vintage recipes, and three, my grandmother won this book for being the top sales girl on the floor of White House Appliances in Eureka, CA.  She was very proud of her accomplishment and of this cookbook.

This was my first time actually using this book because I am so afraid it is going to fall apart!  It deserves to be used though and it reminds me of my grandmother and makes me wonder if she had ever tried the recipes and what she thought of them.  Grandma, I made this for you!  It is very rich tasting, but perfect for a spring day.  My five year old thought it would be perfect in a no-bake pie with a graham cracker crust.  Perhaps that will be our next experiment with the leftovers!

Raspberry Marlow adapted from Norge Binding of Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook


1 1/2 c. raspberries (defrosted if frozen)
8 oz. marshmallows
1/3 c. dates, finely chopped
1 c. heavy whipping cream


1.  Mash the raspberries to a pulp and add them to the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water.  Add the marshmallows and stir continuously until the marshmallows are melted completely.
2.  Transfer the marshmallow mixture to a bowl, stir in the dates.  Chill the mixture 1-2 hours.
3.  Whip the whipping cream until heavy peaks form.  Stir in 1/3 of the whipping cream into the chilled marshmallow/raspberry mixture to lighten it a little.  Fold in the rest of the whipping cream gently.  
4.  Chill until ready to serve.

21 March 2009

Moroccan Minestrone

If you all are anything like me (cookbook collectors), you have more cookbooks than you know what to do with.  Most of my cookbooks actually sit idle on the shelf as I tend to pull out my favorites time and time again.  They do not get jealous, they sit patiently, waiting for their day in the sun.  Last year I was browsing the Notre Dame bookstore, I was there for my sister's graduation, and picked up Whole Food by Jude Blereau.  It looked really good but ended up as one of those patiently waiting books on my bookshelf.  For kicks, I decided to pick it up recently as I was looking for a fun way to use up chickpeas.  I came upon this wonderfully flavored stew.  I'm not sure why I was so surprised that this recipe was wonderful.  After all, something attracted me to this book in the first place, I guess I had just forgotten it with the thrill of finding some other book to distract me.  This book deserves to be one of my favorites though.  You go book, have your day in the sun and SHINE!

Moroccan Minestrone adapted from Whole Foods by Jude Blereau


1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 c. dried Puy lentils
14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
3 Tbls. tomato paste
2 quarts chicken stock
Cooked brown rice, to serve


1.  If you have a pressure cooker, place the soaked beans in it with enough water to cover.  Bring to pressure and cook beans until soft, 30 minutes.  If you don't have a pressure cooker, place the beans in a pot with enough water to cover.  Bring the water to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and partially cover.  Check the beans periodically to make sure they are still covered with water and cook until soft 1-2 hours.  You will end up with about 3 c. of cooked beans either way.
2.  Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Saute the onions and the celery in the olive oil until they are softened and starting to brown.  Add the ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and the cilantro and cook, while stirring, for another minute.
3.  Add the lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste and stock.  Cook over medium heat for 45-60 minutes until the lentils are soft.  Adjust the seasonings.  
4.  If desired, serve over cooked brown rice.

20 March 2009

March French Friday #3

Happy Friday gorgeous French people!  Today, I am feeling anything but chic!  I've caught a cold and it's just so hard to feel chic while coughing and blowing one's nose.  But despite this, spring is in the air, and so I am wearing a cute skirt from Ann Taylor Loft, a cashmere blend sweater, and a cute fitted jacket.  I'm doing my best to look cute despite the red nose!

Today, Tangled Noodle and I will be discussing Chapters 7-9 in Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating.  Please don't forget to pop over to Tangled's discussion.  Here is a little snippet to whet your appetite.  

"The title of another well-known book says it all - men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  And this holds true even with our attitudes toward food. In Chapters 7-9 of his book Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink alludes to gender differences in our attachments to comfort foods, the influence of primary food providers on future eating habits, and the role of 'health halos' in justifying mindless overeating.  But I would like to add my own thoughts on the importance of understanding the ways men and women look at food differently and how it can impact our eating habits. So please join me for Part III of "Mindless" in Minnesota, a discussion of the book Mindless Eating, at Tangled Noodle"

As for me, I will be discussing two studies from Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating titled, "The Nutritional Gatekeeper and the Good Cook Next Door" as well as, "The McSubway Study and Information Illusions".  Let's begin!

The Nutritional Gatekeeper and the Good Cook Next Door

Are you your family's Nutritional Gatekeeper?  This is the person who does most of the shopping as well as most of the cooking.  The nutritional gatekeeper is consciously or subconsciously in charge of 72% of the food that goes into their family's mouths.  Brian Wansink described a "pop-tart starved teenager" who if there are no pop-tarts in the house because the nutritional gatekeeper did not buy them, can no longer eat pop-tarts.  What if instead that Nutritional Gatekeeper chopped carrot sticks and put them in the front of the refrigerator.  Most likely, the teenager will not borrow the car keys to make a pop-tart run, but will instead start grazing the fridge and will happen upon the carrot sticks.

What sorts of food decisions are you making for your family?  Are they healthy choices?  Are you enabling "pop-tart decisions" by keeping these foods in the house?  You may want to provide these choices, just as long as you are mindful of your role as nutritional gatekeeper and are mindfully making these decisions.

This study also talks about 5 different types of cooks:  the giving cook, the healthy cook, the innovative cook, the methodical cook and the competitive cook.  Brian Wansink found that most cooks can be categorized neatly into one of these 5 categories.  All of the cooks helped their families eat better and more varied meals...except for one.  Can you guess which it is?  Which kind of cook are you?

From Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink:

"Giving Cooks (22 percent):  Friendly, well-liked, and enthusiastic, they specialize in comfort foods for family gatherings and large parties.  Giving cooks seldom experiment with new dishes, instead relying on traditional favorites.  The only fault of the giving cook is that they tend to provide too many home-baked goodies for their famil.

Healthy Cooks (20 percent):  Optimistic, book-loving, nature enthusiasts who are most likely to experiment with fish and with fresh ingredients, including herbs.

Innovative Cooks (19 percent):  The most creative, trend-setting of all cooks.  They seldom use recipes; they experiment with ingredients, cuisine styles, and cooking methods.

Methodical Cooks (18 percent).  Often weekend hobbyists who are talented, but who rely heavily on recipes.  Although somewhat inefficient in the kitchen, their creations always look exactly like the picture in the cookbook.

Competitive Cooks (13 percent):  The Iron Chef of the neighborhood.  Competitive cooks are dominant personalities who cook in order to impress others.  These are perfectionists who are intense in both their cooking and entertaining. "

The Giving Cook was the type of cook that did not help their families make better choices.  Because they rely so heavily on favorites, the giving cook can end up in ruts and their families tend to eat the same things over and over.  However, the giving cook is the most common type of cook.  If you are a giving cook, what are some ways you can break out of your rut?  How can you introduce your family to new foods?

The McSubway Study and Information Illusions

The last time you were in a Subway restaurant, you may have noticed how prominently they display the nutritional information of their food.  It was on my cup, my napkin, on the menu, everywhere.  It seems likely that people would then read this information and take it into account to try to make healthier choices.  Brian Wansink discovered that most people who dine at Subway, go for the higher fat, higher caloric subs because they are under the impression that everything at Subway is "healthy".  They even compensate for the healthier choices by choosing chips, cookies, or soda to go with their "healthy" sandwich.  Most people at 200 more calories than they thought they ate.  Contrast this with McDonalds where the nutritional information is very difficult to find (although it's getting easier) and where there is no impression that the food is healthy.  People still ate an average of 200 calories more than they thought (and a whole heck of a lot more than the people at Subway).  The McDonalds eaters ate those extra calories because they liked the McDonalds food, not because they were under the impression it was healthy.

Where do you fall into the "healthy" trap?  My mother in law will serve a Cobb salad for dinner (not really a low calorie dinner) as an excuse to have dessert.  It is the impression that the Cobb salad is healthy for which she compensates with the high calorie dessert.  Do you tend to overeat in situations where the food is perceived as healthier?  Do you offset the health of the food with high fat/high calorie sides?

Next week, Tangled Noodle and I will be finishing the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.  Also, don't forget to pick up a copy of April's French Friday book The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  See you here next week in our virtual sidewalk cafe.  A bientot!

19 March 2009

Braised Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes

Oh yeah, you go ahead and drool, this was totally drool-worthy!  I am a big fan of braising meat, smelling those wonderful aromas as tough cuts of meat break down until they are falling off of the bone they are so tender.  A few weeks ago, I noticed lamb shanks in the freezer section of my wonderful local butcher.  I had never seen them there before, and as everything is always so fresh and good from there, I didn't even hesitate over the thought about how to cook them before snatching them up.  The woman helping me actually gave me a photocopied recipe that I used as inspiration here.  Braising the lamb shanks does take a few hours, but they are so delicious, it is time well spent.  This would be a fabulous dish to serve for Easter dinner.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes by Joie de vivre


4 Tbls. olive oil
4 lbs. lamb shanks (2 big shanks)
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. chopped tomatoes, drained
1/4 c. orange juice
about 1 quart chicken stock
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
4 small waxy potatoes, quartered and placed in cold water to cover


1.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Brown the lamb shanks on all sides and set aside.  
3.  Add a little more olive oil to the Dutch oven if necessary and add the chopped onions.  Cook until softened and starting to brown a little.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.  
4.  Add the white wine, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Stir in all the ingredients EXCEPT the lamb, salt and pepper, and the potatoes.  Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper.  Add the lamb.  If needed, add water or more chicken stock to cover the lamb shanks.  
5.  Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid, and place the Dutch oven into the pre-heated oven for 1 hour.
6.  After an hour, drain the potatoes and add them to the Dutch oven stirring a little so they are covered with the sauce. 
7.  Place the Dutch oven back into the oven and cook for an additional 2-3 hours until the meat on the lamb shank is falling off the bone and the potatoes are cooked through.
8.  Remove the Dutch oven from the oven.  Place the lamb shanks and the potatoes to a plate and set aside.  Remove the bay leaves from the sauce, then use an immersion blender to puree the rest of the sauce.  Serve this sauce as an accompaniment to the lamb and potatoes.

18 March 2009

Georgia Cookie Candy

I do believe that Paula Dean has happened upon the secret recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter cups but taken out the preservatives!  My boys and I were watching Paula last week and she had her son Bobby on making this.  I told my boys, "Look at that big boy, he's bigger than his mommy!"  They did not believe that Bobby was Paula's son because how could you ever be bigger than your mommy?  They were intrigued however by the Georgia Cookie Candy and asked to make it.  It was a wonderful dish to make with kids as it doesn't require any cooking.  Plus, it makes such a big pan, desserts are covered in your house for a week.  Here's the link to Georgia Cookie Candy on the Food Network website.  Enjoy!

17 March 2009

Chicken Enchiladas with African Spices

After Sunday's culinary trip to Ethiopia, I have been mesmerized by the flavors and also devising ways to use up some of the berbere I created for the dishes.  I'll need to make more berbere (recipe here) for this Sunday's trip to Ethiopia after this dish, but it was so worth it!  This dish was also inspired by my recent trip to Santa Fe and the desire to recreate some of the delicious dishes I had while I was there.  My friend Cindy shared her mother's recipe for New Mexican Enchilada Sauce and I adapted it to fit in some African flavors.  This wasn't a quick dish, but very few things worth having are quick, right?

Chicken Enchiladas with African Spices by Joie de vivre


5 chicken legs
About 8 small corn tortillas (I made mine for better and fresher flavor)
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

For Enchilada sauce:
3 Tbls. unsalted butter
2 Tbls. all purpose flour
1/3 c. berbere (recipe here)
2 c. water
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin


1.  Begin by making the enchilada sauce.  Melt the butter in a large bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk well.  Cook the flour in the butter for about 1 minute whisking continuously.  Add the water extremely slowly, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.  Add the berbere, oregano, and cumin and cook the sauce over low heat for about 10 minutes.
2.  Add the chicken legs to a 4-5 quart crock pot insert.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the chicken legs.  Cover and set the crock pot to LOW.  Cook the chicken legs on LOW for about 4 hours, stirring once after about 2 hours.
3.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove the meat from the bones and place it in a medium sized bowl.  Shred the meat with two forks.
4.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
5.  Into an 8 x 8 inch Pyrex baking dish, spoon about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce from the crock pot.  Cover this with a layer of about 4 tortillas (enough to cover the bottom of the dish.  Spoon about 1/4 cup more enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas.  Over this, layer 1/2 of the chicken.  Put 1/2 of the cheese over the chicken and spoon another 1/4 c. sauce over the cheese.  Repeat the layers.  Tortillas, sauce, remaining chicken, remaining cheese, and the remaining sauce.
5.  Place this dish into the pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted through and bubbly.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

16 March 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight Loss weekly, is a weekly collaboration between me and three other bloggers trying to lose weight.  Join us as we discuss tips, tricks, our success and failures on our weight loss journeys.

Today's topic was posed by Nurit from Family, Friendly, Food.  Nurit asks:

"Losing weight is a long journey. So what do you do about shopping for clothes while trying to lose weight?"

When I first started my weight loss journey 36 lbs. ago, I was wearing tight, size 18 pants.  Now I'm wearing a loose 14, but believe it or not, I haven't needed to shop for a lot of clothes.  

Firstly, the jeans that I had were the "tummy tamer" jeans from Coldwater Creek.  These jeans have a little panel in the front made out of stretchy material.  I found these invaluable as I was losing weight as the panel kept the jeans in place.  Obviously they were baggy, but not so baggy that I needed to buy new pants at every new size.  I was able to put off buying new jeans until I hit a size 14.  I plan on keeping the size 14 jeans I have now until I'm a size 10.  (I'm on my way!)  I also have some dress slacks from Coldwater Creek that are a little stretchy.  Again, these are a little more forgiving than other types of pants when you lose weight.  Plus, it's easy to shrink stretchy material in the dryer a little!

Unfortunately, I am still wearing a lot of my baggy sweaters from last winter.  I did break down and buy a few new sweaters this season to fit my new body.  I also invested in about 5 tank tops from Eddie Bauer last summer.  The tanks have slight ribbing to them which gives them a little stretch.  These got me through last summer, and they also have been serving as undershirts throughout the winter.  They will also get me through this summer as, even though I am smaller, they are stretchy and have shrunk.

Undergarmets have been a little bit of an issue.  I needed to buy new bras almost immediately upon starting to lose weight.  But I only invested in two of them and wash often as these suckers are expensive and kind of a critical thing to have a good fit.  I felt better investing in only two at first because as I lost more weight and changed sizes again, I could buy other bras that fit.  Obviously with losing 36 lbs., underwear fit also becomes an issue.  I've bought cute but cheap underwear from WalMart until I reach my final weight and can splurge on something more expensive.

Last summer, I was able to get by with my very loose shorts that had a tie that I embarrassingly tied until they were puckered all around, but since I have lost a few more pounds since last summer, and it is a few months from short weather, I am going to have to buy more shorts to get me through this summer.  I plan on buying a couple pairs of capris in beige or jeans color to take me through late spring and early fall, as well as a couple pairs of shorts.  This should take me through the summer and shouldn't be a huge investment either.

I also love dresses.  Dresses are very forgiving.  I bought a size 10 dress on super clearance at Coldwater Creek at the beginning of Weight Loss Weekly to motivate myself into it by mother's day.  It is already fitting even though I am nowhere near a size 10 pant yet.  But because most dresses are flared, if you fit into the dress at the top, you usually fit into it at the bottom.  This dress should last through a lot of dropped weight.

My fellow Weight Loss Weekly bloggers are Nurit, Giyen and Sunny.  Here is what they have to say!

Nurit says:  

"I love to shop for clothes. Don’t you? I have told you before about the ping-pong game that I play with my smaller size clothes when we talked about The most ridiculous thing I’ve done. But what do I do in the meantime? Can’t just sit and stare at those teeny tiny clothes for years and years until I lose those @#$%&! 18 pounds (now 14, yippie!)… Read more at 1 family. friendly. food.

Giyen says:

"I hate to admit this, but I have been hoarding skinny clothes for years. At this point I have more clothes that fit the "future me" than I do the "real me" - this is sad, I know." Keep reading more at Bacon Is My Enemy.

Sunny says:

"After gaining 20 pounds, I finally had to break down and just buy bigger clothes. Grrr! It makes me so mad when my skinny sister comes over and puts on a pair of my jeans, they're so big on her they're practically falling off...." keep reading at That Extra 20 Pounds

15 March 2009

A Culinary Trip to Ethiopia

Sorry for the blurry steam pic everyone.  I was too excited to dig into this to be patient for nice plating.  :(

The good news is that for the next couple Sundays, Chef E from Cook Appeal and I will be traveling to Ethiopia to explore some of that region's culinary treasures.  Chef E used to cook in an Ethiopian restaurant so I can't wait to sample what she has on the menu.  As for me, I'm merely an Ethiopian food lover.

My first experience with it was at a restaurant in Berkeley, CA called The Blue Nile.  The restaurant ambiance was intimate and cozy and I immediately felt relaxed.  I was served this food that looked nothing like anything I had ever eaten before along with wafer-thin, spongey injera.  I loved the process of tearing the injera into little strips which were then used to scoop up some of the luscious dishes to eat with my hands.

I was currently living closer to Sacramento at the time, so a weekly pilgrimage to the Blue Nile was out of the question.  Imagine my delight when my husband and I stumbled upon a little hole in the wall Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento.  All good things must come to an end however, and we ended up moving to Southeast, WA where the most "ethnic" food available to us is in the form of P.F. Changs (and that has only come just recently)

I started my quest at the public library to find a way to make Ethiopian food at home and happened upon an old cookbook called The Africa News Cookbook.  This cookbook has been westernized to approximate some of the authentic ingredients one would use in true Ethiopian cooking with things we can readily find here.  Although the recipes aren't truly authentic, they are tasty and gave me hope.  (I loved the book so much, I eventually bought it on eBay!)

Last year, my neighbors adopted a little girl from Ethiopia.  I was talking to them about making Ethiopian food for them and a few other neighbors as a benefit to their adoption agency while they gave a little slide show of their experiences.  She was so excited that I was thinking of this, that she bought me a very authentic Ethiopian cookbook titled Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin.  

The recipes that follow come from both of my books.  Two days later, my house still smells amazing from all of the heavy spices used in the cooking.  If you are interested in more Ethiopian dishes, tune in the next couple Sundays as Chef E and I explore the food of Ethiopia more!

Ye'abesha Gomen (Collard Greens) adapted heavily from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking


8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 lb. collard greens, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
10 oz. spinach leaves, washed
1 c. red onions, chopped
4 medium Anaheim chilies, seeded and cut into long, thin strips
2 c. water
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt to taste


1.  Fill a large pot with water, boil, and then add the collard greens.  Boil for about 10 minutes, until soft.  Drain and set aside.
2.  In a large pot, melt the butter.  Saute the onions until soft.  Add 2 c. water and bring to a boil.  Add the collards and the spinach.  Stir so that the spinach is covered with the onion/water solution.  Cover the pot and boil for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  
3.  Add the Anaheim chili slices and boil the mixture until the water is mostly absorbed, and the Anaheim chili slices are soft, about 20-30 minutes.

Yeshimbra Assa (Chickpea Flour Cakes) adapted from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking


2 c. chickpea flour
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil (divided)
2 c. water
2 c. red onions, chopped
1/2 c. berbere (recipe below)
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt to taste


1.  In a medium sized bowl, add chickpea flour and 1/2 c. oil.  Rub with fingers until mixture is throughly mixed.  Take a walnut sized piece of dough and squeeze in fingers (like making a fist) to make a little "fish" shape.  Continue in this manner with the rest of the dough.  Place all of the little "fish" shapes onto a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in a 350 degree F. oven and cook chickpea shapes until starting to brown, about 30 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add 1 c. oil to the pan.  Cook the onions until soft.  Add the water and cover until the mixture boils.  Add the berbere and mix.  Once boiling, turn off heat and set aside until chickpea shapes are finished cooking.
3.  When the chickpea shapes are browned, put the onion/spice mixture back over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Add the cardamom, ginger, garlic and salt and stir.  Gently add the chickpea shapes to the sauce and gently stir.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Easy Injera adapted from The Africa News Cookbook


4 c. self-rising flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. club soda
4 c. water


1.  In a very large bowl, mix together the flours and the baking powder.  Add the club soda, and the water and stir until a very thin batter is achieved.
2.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles off of the pan.
3.  Spoon some batter into the skillet (try 1/2 c. to start) and swirl the skillet quickly to spread the batter out.  
4.  Cook until the injera is dried and cooked on the top.  Do not flip.  If this one does not work out, you may need to add less batter so the injera is thinner on the pan.
5.  When cooked, remove the injera from the pan, place on a plate, and cover with a cloth while you are making the rest.  Stack the injera when others are cooked and continue to cover with the cloth until finished.
6.  Use bits of injera to scoop your food up with and eat it with your hands.

Berbere adapted from Africa News Cookbook

Makes about 1 1/2 c.


1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 Tbls. salt
1 1/4 c. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. paprika
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


1.  Mix all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

14 March 2009

A touch of spring at the end of winter

In my pursuit of living bien dans ma peau (well in my own skin) I have been trying to embrace the little pleasures in life.  My husband brought these daffodils home for me a few days ago.  They were all tightly furled in their papery skins, but held so much promise of beauty.  This is the sight that greeted me at our table yesterday morning.  The sun was shining through the windows onto these bright, beautiful flowers.  Just had to share them with you.  Happy weekend everyone!

13 March 2009

March French Friday #2

Happy Friday to all of you gorgeous French people!  Welcome to my virtual sidewalk cafe!  Isn't it lovely outside today?  (Okay, it can be in our minds).  Even though it is still winter, the sun is shining and you can just begin to feel a change is on the way.  Spring is almost here.

Today, Tangled Noodle and I will be discussing Chapters 4, 5, and 6 from Brian Wansink's book, Mindless Eating.  As I think I said last week, this book is just PACKED with little tidbits and individual studies on eating and eating behaviors.  I will be picking a few to discuss each week, and Tangled Noodle will as well, but even with both of us discussing things from this book, there is so much to it that we cannot discuss it all.  Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself and read along with us (I found mine at the public library so you don't need to spend money to read along with me).

Speaking of reading along with me, before I get down to business, I have also, with great pause I may add, decided on the book that I will be discussing in April for French Fridays.  I have decided to review The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  I say that I chose it with great pause because one, it is a "plan", and two, I don't totally agree with everything the author endorses.  However, for those of you who are readers of my Weight Loss Weekly column, my weekly collaboration with three other bloggers trying to lose weight, you will know that I feel one of the hugest stumbling blocks to my losing weight is how fast I eat.  I think if I could just get that one thing under control, my portions would shrink by 1/3 to 1/2 naturally.  What sold me on making The French Don't Diet Plan my book for April is that it does have two tricks for eating slower that I have been trying out this week and....they have been working for me!  My portions have been shrinking and as a result, so have I!  So even though I do not agree with some of the finer points of Dr. Clower's philosophy, I feel there are lots of little tidbits that we can glean from it to help us on our own weight loss journeys.    Pick up your copy so that you can read along with me in April and let me know what you think.

Let's get back to the present though.  This week, I will be talking about two studies from Chapters 4, 5, and 6 that I find particularly useful in my own weight loss efforts.  They are:  "The See-Food Trap" and "Family, Friends, and Fat".  Let's dive in!

The See-Food Trap

Do you ever find yourself in this situation?  You have put a bowl of M & M's on the coffee table and one on a side table because you are having people over later, but as you are cleaning the house and passing the M & M's, you pop one into your mouth.  Then, you pass the table again and pop another in your mouth?  Or perhaps those stale doughnuts that are on the table in the break room just seem to find their way into your mouth when you pass by them to get your lunch from the refrigerator.  Dr. Wansink and his associates conducted a study where they gave an office building full of secretaries 30 Hershey's kisses.  To some, they gave the kisses in a clear glass candy jar, to others, they gave the kisses in an opaque candy dish with a lid that they couldn't see through.  Every evening, they would go and count how many candies the secretaries had eaten during the day.  The ones who were able to see the kisses through the clear candy dishes ate an average of 71% more candies during the day than the ones with the opaque candy dishes.  This translated to an additional 77 more calories a day.  If Dr. Wansink and his associates had continued to fill those candy dishes for a year, those secretaries with the clear candy dishes would have gained about 5 extra pounds more than the secretaries with the opaque dishes.  It seems that when food is in front of us, and we can see it, we can't help but to dip in and graze a little.  Little by little though, those extra calories here and there mean extra weight we gain without quite knowing why we've gained it!

What can we learn from this study:

Like the M & M's that we can't help but graze when they are out, we can also make healthy choices easy to graze on.  Fill that candy dish with walnuts in their shells, celery sticks, or perhaps a fruit bowl.  Better yet, if you are prone to snacking, put the food out of sight.  Out of sight, out of mind!  I use this idea to get my boys to eat more veggies.  I put a raw veggie platter on the table before dinner.  They are already in the frame of mind to eat, and end up snacking on veggies before dinner.  If they then don't touch a veggie during dinner, I know that they've still had their serving for the meal.

Question to ask yourself:

1.  What "see-food" do I have out?  If I put it completely out of sight, would it help me from snacking?  If not, what healthy choices can I have in my line of sight?

Family, Friends, and Fat

Have you ever noticed that "fat" and "thin" tend to run in families?  What I mean is, if you see people from the same family, they are all heavy, all thin, or all...whatever.  Yes, there is an argument for genetics, but how do you explain husbands and wives who are both heavy, or both thin?  This study talks about eating patterns with friends and family.  Let's say, when you are alone, you eat a certain amount.  If you were eating the same meal with one other person, the average consumption of the same meal rises 35%, with four people 75% and with seven people, about 96% more.  We tend to eat until everyone is finished, and we also tend to pace our eating to those around us.  Which means, we will eat faster when eating with a fast eater, and slower when eating with slow eaters.  When we eat fast, we tend to eat more before our brain registers that we are satisfied.  Also, by the time our brains get the signal that we are satisfied, we have already eaten too much!

What we can learn from this and questions to ask ourselves:

Although you can't control the speed of your family, you can control, and be very mindful of, the speed of yourself.  What are ways you can slow down the pace of the meal?  Who are you choosing to eat your midday meal with at work?  Are they fast eaters or slow eaters?  Don't continue to graze until everyone is finished.  Eat slowly, feel satisfied, then put down your fork and drink water, tea or coffee until all are finished.  This will keep you from matching other's paces and eating more than you should.

I have so enjoyed our time together in our little sidewalk cafe.  Next week, we will be discussing studies from Chapters 7, 8, and 9.  If you have enjoyed my discussion or are interested in learning more, don't forget to pop over to Tangled Noodle's discussion of the book.  While you're there, leave a comment for her (all of us so love to get comments)!  Here is a little teaser to lure you over to her lovely table.

“Who do you think has your best interests at heart – your family or your friends? According to Dr. Brian Wansink, when it comes to watching how much you eat, neither group is as reliable as you might think. Please join me at Tangled Noodle in continued discussion of the book Mindless Eating as I explore the reasons why ‘the more, the merrier’ isn’t necessarily so; how convenience and overeating can go hand in hand, and how names really can hurt you.”

12 March 2009

Buttermilk Scones

Here is a quick and easy buttermilk scone recipe that I adapted from one of my mother in law's recipes.  She makes THE BEST scones!  I made these last week to bring to a play date.  They were extremely quick and very flavorful and tender.  The boys and I were still ready to leave the house at 9:15 am and I did not even get up early to make them!  Technically, I'm not sure that they can be called scones since I did not cut them before baking, but instead cut them into wedges after baking.  Does that make them wedges of buttermilk scone pie instead?  Whatever the are, add these to your list of recipes you can make when you have only a little bit of time.

Buttermilk Scones by Joie de vivre


2 c. high gluten, unbleached white flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbls. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. rum extract


1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Mix all ingredients together well in a large bowl.  Dough will be very wet and sticky.
3.  Put dough into a greased pie pan.
4.  Place into the oven and bake until slightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.

11 March 2009

Baked Chicken and Potato Salad

Potato Salad adapted from Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, last week you may have received a very cryptic tweet from me saying "About to make dinner with my 3 year old, pray for me!"  In order to get my three year old to eat food I prepare without complaining, I tried buying a picture cookbook for him last week and let him pick out a dinner to help me make.  He was so excited to help, had been wound up throughout the day, and was very excited when I told him that it was almost time to cook, I just had to clean up the kitchen first.  He settled into the couch to play a game while he waited for me to clean up the lunch dishes.  Within two minutes, I look over at his very still body, he had fallen asleep!  Ah well, so much for good intentions.  We're going to try again tonight, but here is the recipe he picked out.  I really liked the potato salad, it tasted reminiscent of summer with the mint leaves in there, and the chicken legs were just downright good value at about $0.50 a piece.  

Potato Salad adapted from Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook


14 oz. small white skinned potatoes, scrubbed
2 green onions, finely chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbls. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbls. lemon juice


1.  I have a potato setting on my microwave, so after pricking the potatoes all over with a fork, I put the potatoes into a small pyrex dish, and set the microwave button.  If yours does not have this setting, find some way to cook the potatoes, boil, broil, microwave, whatever.

2.  Let the potatoes cool and cut them into quarters.  Place the quartered potatoes into a bowl and add the chopped green onion, the chopped mint, and the halved tomatoes.

3.  Mix the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice together with a fork, drizzle mixture over the potato mixture and stir to coat everything.  Set aside until the chicken is done so that the flavors meld a little.  The leftovers were fabulous the next day after a night in the refrigerator.

Baked Chicken Legs


5 chicken legs
2 scant Tbls. Ethiopian berbere spice mix (or use something milder like paprika if desired)
3 Tbls. olive oil


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Place the chicken legs, spices, and the olive oil into a gallon sized ziplock bag.  Remove as much of the air as possible, seal the bag, mix the legs around so that they are fully surrounded by oil/spice mix, and leave on the counter for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to overnight.

3.  Place the chicken legs in a small Pyrex baking dish.  Pour the oil/spice mixture over the legs.

4.  Place the chicken legs into the oven and bake for 40 minutes flipping them over halfway through.
Baked Chicken Legs with Berbere Spice

10 March 2009

Sourdough Savarin

Gorgeous isn't it?  I've been having so much fun with my sourdough starter, that I decided to try my hand at a savarin, which is a yeasted cake, soaked in rum and baked in a ring mold, and adapt it to use my starter.  I'm not sure I could reproduce it if I wanted to, but I'm going to try.  Since I used the sourdough starter, this recipe was all about patience.  I started it the night before I baked it to give the yeast a chance to do their thing, and then it had an additional 4-5 hours of rising time the next day.  I'm sending this beauty over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her YeastSpotting event.


3/4 c. very wet potato flour sourdough starter
1/2 c. very warm water
1 1/3 c. high gluten unbleached white flour
1 Tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt


1.  The night before you want to bake the cake, combine the sourdough starter, water, flour, sugar and salt.  Mix until the flour is moistened, it should resemble cottage cheese.  Add more water if needed.  Cover bowl and leave over night.

2.  The next morning, mix in:

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 c. high gluten unbleached white flour

3.  Knead the dough lightly, and add in:

1/4 c. unsalted, melted butter

4.  Knead the dough until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth and pliable.  Put the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise about 1 hour.

5.  Lightly oil a Bundt pan.  Gently place the dough into the Bundt pan, spreading it out with your fingers so that it is even and fills the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until dough has risen to about an inch below the rim of the pan.  For me, this took about 4 hours.

6.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake the savarin until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean (about 45 minutes)

7.  Immediately unmold the savarin and place it on a cooling rack (Below is a picture)
Unmolded savarin fresh from the oven

8.  Once cooled, make a simple sugar syrup by adding to a saucepan:

1 c. water
2 c. sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon

9.  Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the syrup to a boil.  After the mixture has boiled, remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract

10.  Place the cooling rack on top of a cookie pan with sides.  Immediately soak the cake with the very hot sugar syrup by brushing it on thickly.  Pour the syrup that has drained into the pan back into the saucepan, re-boil it, and then pour that over the cake again.

11.  After soaking the cake with the sugar syrup twice, brush the cake with 1/3 c. rum

12.  Warm about 1/2 cup apricot or peach jelly in a small saucepan until melted.  Brush this over the cake after the rum.

13.  To serve, you can fill the center with whipped cream or serve as is with an accompaniment of sliced berries or serve plain.

Savarin after the first sugar syrup coating