The Splendid Table and mushroom stew

Today I was driving home from a birthday party, flipping through the radio stations and happened upon a radio show I just adore. It’s called The Splendid Table on NPR. Heard of it?  If not, I highly recommend you tune in on Sunday afternoons.  The host, Lynne Rossetto Kaspar has this magical way of making food come alive through the airways.  I invariably always come home inspired to cook something unique after listening in.

Today was no exception.  The segment I tuned into was about preparing lamb shank and there were seductive descriptions of delicious wine sauce and tender meats falling off the bone.  My mouth was watering. Maybe it was the rain, or the calm and quiet of a Sunday afternoon, but I was totally compelled to cook something delicious and warm.

Well, the only issue was that I didn’t have any leg of lamb handy, nor any other cut of meat ready to roll, and I didn’t want to stop at the store.  I pride myself in being very creative with what I have stocked in the pantry, so I headed home determined to create something mouth watering, unique, and rainy Sunday appropriate.

After thumbing through a couple of my cookbooks (The Professional Chef and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), I settled on a mushroom stew out of the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book, by Deborah Madison (side note: Deborah Madison is from Davis, CA, just down the road from my home and I once got to meet her at a book signing. OMG, OMG!).

The recipe did not disappoint. As I write the house is filled with the tantalizing aroma of fresh rosemary, herbs de’ provance, lemon and mushrooms.  Mmmm…..

Of course, in full Rebecca fashion, I tweaked the recipe a bit, so here is my Sunday afternoon creation for you:


1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-1/3″ pieces
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 T fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 T herbs de’ provance
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup safflower oil (or other oil you cook with), divide into 2
1 lb white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 T of left over red pasta sauce (original recipe called for 3 T of tomato paste)
1.5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock)

juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

In a large saucepan add half of the oil.  On medium heat, sautee 3/4 of the onions and carrots with the rosemary, herbs and salt and pepper for about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.  In the same saucepan, add the remaining onions and the mushrooms and the remaining oil.  Sautee for about 5 minutes, mixing regularly.  Add the original onion/carrot mixture and mix together in the saucepan for 1 minute. Add the pasta sauce or tomato paste and the stock.  Simmer for about 15 min on med-low, stirring occasionally.  Squeeze in the lemon juice and add additional salt or pepper if needed.  Serve with fresh parsley. Pairs well with rice or rustic bread, or couscous.





A spoonful of chocolate delciousness

What can I say…I love chocolate.  But not just any chocolate.  In fact, the list of  chocolate items I DON’T like is much longer that the list of chocolate faves…oh but how I do LOVE those faves.

Cooking with cocoa powder is definitely a top choice for me.  It’s a way to capture the flavor of cocoa without all the sugar.  Don’t get me wrong – a hershey bar is good for Smores (but not as good as dark chocolate), but otherwise it’s way too sugary for me.

I tell my clients that if they are really craving chocolate, than a rich, cocoa flavored treat will hit the  spot, but if it’s sugar they want they will likely go for the Hershey bar or chocolate ice cream, as those are lots of sugar and very little chocolate (less than 20% cacao!).

Oh, back to the cookies…..these are a modification from the Bob’s Redmill Double Chocolate Cookies. I  think Bob should start paying me kickbacks for all the time I tout his products and recipes.  He can pay me in chocolate… 🙂

1.5 sticks softened butter (room temp)
3/4 cups unrefined sugart (turbinado is great – adds a crunch)
2 eggs, room temp
1 tps vanilla
2  tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
.5 cups oat bran
1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder.  I’m currently using Trader Joe’s.
.5 tsp each: baking soda, salt, and baking powder
6 oz white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli) – this keeps the hubby happy!
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Cream butter with sugar and eggs.  Add vanilla and cinnamon.  Set aside.  Whisk or sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Fold into butter mixture.  Add white chox chips and coconut.  Spoon onto a Silpat or greased baking sheet.

bake for 8 min @ 350.
Try not to eat them all at once.

Piles of goodness!

PS: kids love them and don’t even care that they are healthy!

Kickin’ culinary butt and taking names…

I was lucky enough to partake in the UC Davis Food Science Food Olympics.  Think foodies and science geeks all crowded together in a giant cooking kitchen and lecture battling it out to be the next Food Olympics champion.  We had our hands on so many wonderful ingredients, and the cooking portion (only 1/3 of the event) was like being a kid in a  candy store.

Part of the cooking event is incorporating ‘secret’ ingredients into your meal.  Ours included lavender, matzo, celery root and a few others.  You have 15 minutes to come up with the menu and 1.5 hrs to cook 3 courses.

It was fabulous – a fury of ideas, food, frantic foodies running around…just like you see on TV.  Our team worked awesome together and came up with 3 stellar dishes:

Veggie pancake with lemon yogurt sauce
Lamb/turkey mini-pies over a bed of rice pilaf and mixed veggie salad
beet cobbler (SOOOO good!).

I’m bragging here, but the meat dish, which I headed up, got a perfect score. Yeah!

The pic is me having a proud moment with the mini ‘pies’ as I took them from the oven.  Try this at home:
In a large skillet, sautee in EVOO:
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh dried rosemary, crushed
salt, pepper to taste
2 tsp dried lavendar, crushed
Sautee for 2 minutes…

Meanwhile mix 1/3 lb lamb + 1/3 lb turkey (wanted to use all lamb, but there was only 1/3 lb left) .  Mix in one egg.

Add the meat to the sautee’d shallots/spices and mix.   Mix in about 1/4 lb of really strong blue cheese.  The stinkier the better! Cook until meat is just under done.
Place equal amounts into greased muffin tins and bake at 375 for about 10 min, DON”T OVER COOK!

While that is cooking, whip up some brown basmati rice, adding 1/4 cup of raisins, some bay leaf, and a touch of rosemary to the broth.

Serve the mini-muffins over rice and garnish with shredded veggies or a side salad.

Gluten free crepes

As promised in my last post, here are the picsand the recipe for the Gluten Free Crepes.  I would definitely make these a regular part of my weekend breakfast rotation.  Another option with them is to make extra to use like tortilla wraps for a simpe lunch.  With less carbs than a pancake or tortilla, they are less filling, but have a fair amount of protein to fill you up.

Gluten Free crepes (modified from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone)

2 eggs
1 cup almond milk (plain, low sugar)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Bob’s Redmill All Purpose Gluten-Free flour mix

Combine all ingredients in a blender (or use a whisk like I did) and blend until smooth (about 5 seconds in blender).  Set aside and put in fridge for a few minutes to settle.

Meanwhile, heat a 7-10″ lightweight skillet and brush with butter as soon as it’s hot.  When it sizzles, pour about 2 TBSP batter into the pan and immediately swirl it around untl it evenly coats the bottom.

Cook until golden on the bottom, abou 1 minute.  Slide a knife under the edge to loose n crepe and then flip.

Cook the second side for 30 seconds.

Serve with savory or sweet.  I chose savory: Sautee of asparagus, onions, spinach and sea salt/parsley/thyme.  Delicious!

Abundance (2 recipes)

food 002

I used to think that abundance meant having so much more than I needed, that I’d never run out.  Because I struggle the the disease of  ‘not enough-ism’, there were many days spent wanting for excess of everything: money, friends, time, activities, and of course: SUGAR!!.  It was difficult to see that what I had right now was enough.  God forbid my  cup not runneth over in excess every second of the day, right??

Thank goodness life is changing me for the better.  Nowadays I relish in the opportunities I have to find the abundance in what already lies within me and within my grasp….and my fridge.  Take this morning, for instance.  I was cooking for  a potluck tonight, and out of that experience THREE abundance opportunities found me.

Let me explain.

Opportunity #1:    When I open my mind (and my cookbooks), new ideas emerge that I hadn’t seen before.  So, this morning when  I cracked my trusty culinary companion Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Deborah Madison – check her out, she ROCKS!!), I nearly squealed with delight when I auspiciously opened to “Curried Quinoa” and realized I had exactly what I needed to make this dish, down to the frozen peas.

Opportunity #2: Fast forward 2 hrs and I’m stirring away in the kitchen.  I glance at my bowl of left-over carrot pulp from juicing for the quinoa dish…and a cookie recipe idea was born!!  A quick review of the pantry (yes, just enough turbinado for 1 batch….2 eggs left in the carton, the right amount of flour…..perfecto) and I was off and baking.

Perfect timing, too, becuase Matt really needed a healthy homemade treat after a hard morning.  Walking in to the smell of curry and baking cookies is enough to make any troubled soul feel welcomed and loved!

Opportunity #3:   Not so glamarous, but it saved me the $$ and energy of going out for lunch (part of that not-enoughism is wanting for things I don’t have so I can go out and buy them!).  I used the rest of that carrot pulp in my mish-mash lunch of hummus, carrot pulp, beans and avocado, a concoction also inspired by looking around at what I have and keeping my mind open.

I feel good about my kitchen finds and how much fun I had working with the abundance right in front of me.

CURRIED QUINOA (from D. Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for everyone)

2 tbsp oil or butter (I used butter)
1 onion: 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 coarsely chopped1
1 cup washed quinoa
2 tsp curry powder
salt, pepper to taste
2 zucchini, diced into small cubes
1 cup carrot juice (I juiced 5 carrots)
1 cup peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

heat half the oil in a small soup pot, adding the finely diced onion and cook on med for 3 min.  Stir in quinoa, 1/2 tsp curry powder and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups bioling water and then simmer covered for 15 min.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a 10″ skillet.  Add chopped onion, zucchini and remaining curry powder.  Cook, stirring frequently over med heat for 5 min.  Add 1/2 cup water and carrot juice + 1 tsp salt.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes adn add peas adn scallions.  Cook a few minutes more, adding cilantro at the end.  This is a ‘wet’ dish.

food 003

CARROT/COCONUT COOKIES (fresh from the brain of Rebecca this AM)

2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup turbinado
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1.5 cups spelt flour
1 cup br. rice flour
1 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and carrots.  Set aside.  Mix dry ingredients and fold into wet ingredients.  Texture is like that of sugar cookies.  I maked small balls and patted them onto a cookie sheet (1-2″ cookies).  Cook @ 350 for 8 minutes.  Keep moist by storing in airtight container.

Day 1 of a pre-holiday detox: GOING GREEN

Ti’s the season to DETOX!!!

So my friend A. and I decided to do a little detox before the holidays so that we could walk into Thanksgiving feeling pretty good about our choices.  Truthfully, after being derailed (in the BEST way possible) by my adventures in Italy and a visit to see Matt in California, its been a little hard to be as committed to wheat/dairy/refined sugar free living.  Once my tongue gets a little taste, it’s ON, sister!

With what I term as “the eating season” just on the horizon, now is my chance to get my body a bit back into balance and reconnect with why I love off-white eating/living so much: I FEEL BETTER.  My body has felt a little sluggish and my brain has also been a little less sharp b/c of the allure of the tasty white treats lately.  And I can’t help but wonder if my little visit from aunt “FLU” (yes, FLU, not flow) was worsened because of less than idea food choices (why did they have to make pumpkin bars at work last week and put them in the fridge where my lunch sits….)

Thank goodness for A. because she will help me stay on track, and I will help her too!  We are even co-house sitting for a mutual friend and have planned some fun “Cleanse Cooking” nights.  Yes, we have a sick sense of fun, and thank GOD we have one another!  If any of you have ever tried to eat a detox style diet (details to follow) you know how tough it can be to stay strong in the face of adversity, so having friend to do this with me helps A LOT.

Here’s the down and dirty of our detox diet, which will last between today (Nov 16th) and Thanksgiving (Nov 27th).  


  • A diet free of all dairy (incl eggs), flours of any kind (even spelt!) and concentrated sweeteners of any kind (looks like its stevia city for a few days)
  • Ample green veggies, such as collards, kale, broccoli, watercress, parsley, green onions, spinach ,etc.  Basically, we will be living on greens and green juices
  • Herbs and spices such as: ginger, lemon, garlic, turmeric, nettles, milk thistle, cinnamon are our friends
  • Fruits include only low sugar options: Green apples, cranberries, and dark berries
  • Flaxmeal and Omega-3 supplements daily
  • Healthy fats daily: extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, raw and sprouted nuts
  • Lean protein: wild fish, organic white meats and a daily protein shake (I’m using Metagenix Inflameze protein powder 1x/day)
  • Fresh legumes, such as adzuki beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans, and lentils.
  • Eating regularly throughout the day (I said DETOX, not starvation diet or fasting diet….we need our strength)
  • Water, water, water, water………you get the idea
  • Warm lemon water upon rising every day


Sounds reasonable enough, right?? Well, already I’ve had to stare in the face of baking some  apricot pecan chocolate bars with pomegranate glaze for an upcoming work event.  I strategically planned on baking these bars today, on day 1, because I’m still fired up on this whole detox business, and I’m feeling pretty strong.  I also made a wise choice of baking the bars after eating lunch (Mixed greens with tilapia and avocado) so I wasn’t hungry.  Its amazing how avocado can almost taste like chocolate when I’m really imaginative……

So, when I was looking back through all of my handy-dandy little videos, I found a clip that I recorded when visiting Matt in Davis in Sept and its PERFECT, because its about cooking greens.  So, here ya go!!!  Enjoy and maybe it will inspire you to gear up for the holidays with a little abstinent eating.  Just think about how much tastier those holiday treats will be after a cleanse – like a tall glass of water after a long day in the desert!!!


PS: I make reference to some Himalayan sea salt but really it’s not actually sea salt….it’s from the himalayas, which are clearly different than the ocean….must have been the Davis heat going to my head 🙂

Dine from the vine

Masterpiece!  4 months at an attempt to foster a garden, and look at the bounty I received….one luscious tomato!  Clearly I should just stick to cooking foods already harvested because my thumb is not green.  Nonetheless, what to cook with my precious morsel?

Since I’m going to be gone a lot this week (3 nights away from home: housesitting, visiting a friend at Skamania lodge (yay!!)), I had to plan ahead for 3-4 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  I know myself and the temptation to purchase food becomes very strong if I’ve not planned well.  Now that Matt is in schoolnd the budget for eating out is quite different than it used to be, batch cooking for busy weeks is going to be a Sunday mainstay.  Plus, the choices I sometimes make when my stomach and my appetite call the shots aren’t always the best and I end up regretting them later.  Especially in lovely Woodburn, OR where there aren’t many good places to eat.  Sometimes I eat at the Bistro at work, but mostly I prefer to just BYOL and call it good.

Off to the kitchen I went with my one lovely tomato and an idea.  Here is what I prepared for the week ahead:

1 batch of chicken ‘n’ veggies (see recipe below)
5 hardboiled eggs (for breakfast or to put into a salad)
1 large tupperware of salad as a base for lunch a couple of days
1 HUGE yam, cut into 3 pieces to accompany my meals
Plus I added into my every so large lunch bag: a container of hummus, yogurt, organic black beans, 4 slices of Ezekiel bread, and about 6 carrots and 6 pieces of fruit.  Vioala, I am set for the upcoming week’s needs.  Yes, I will be rather sick of chicken and salads by Wednesday, but that’s okay because I’m banking on having left over barley risotto from my cooking class!  It pays to be the cook sometimes.

Here’s my ‘on a whim’ chicken ‘n’ veggie recipe, complete with warming spices to balance the chilly Salem weather:

4 large free range chicken breasts
2 tbsp EVOO
Sea salt, to taste
3 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/3 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 beautiful, home grown tomoato, chopped
1 can of chopped tomatoes to offset my pathetic garden yield
1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces

Coat the bottom of a pyrex dish with EVOO.  Add chicken and coat with the rest of the EVOO.  Dust with spices and salt.  Spread seasonings with a brush.

Add the tomatoes, onion and zucchini.

Sprinkle with a little salt.

Cook at 400 covered for about 40 minutes, and then uncovered for 10 minutes.

TIP: I just learned from The Professional Chef book (a good reference for anybody wanting to learn about cooking without paying for culinary school) that when cooking in glass you can reduce the temp by 25 degrees for the same amount of time, which is why I chose 400.

Makes 6 -8 servings.

Good night, all, and happy Off-White living.


Livin’ la vida Loca

I feel so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest.  Just today I was chatting with my good friend, C. at her local hangout called Cooper’s in SE Portland.  Lucky for us, the owner – a seemingly happy and inspired man, stopped at our table for a quick chat about all things local, community-based, and fun.    I got to thinking about how cool a place like Portland and its surroundings are because the people simply live a life dedicated to supporting the ‘little guy’, and that ‘little guy’ then provides everything from awesome food and a place to hang on a Saturday afternoon, to 2.5 lb Walla Walla onions, as seen in this pic.

How blessed am I to live here and experience this?  The icing on this cake: most of what is yielded from these locally inspired people is truly authetic (see last post), and very much in alignment with Off-White living.

We’ve been taking advantage of the flavors of our local region all summer long, and here’s a short list of what I’ve had the prviledge of experiencing:

sautees Walla Walla onions
Elk burgers from local Elk
Sheep cheese
berries that make your eyes roll into the back of your head
Amazing stories about Russian immigrants having to flee to Iran for 22 yrs before coming to the NW
Dinner parties that last well into the 11th hour, complete with heirloom tomato salads and quinoa pilaf
Trips to Bob’s Red mill
Rose hip infused dark chocolates served with our bill at the Park Kitchen restaurant
Laughing with friends at the Portland Saturday market, where you purchase all the ingredients to make this:



Livin’ La Vida Loca Burger

1 lb local ground Elk meat
2 tbsp fresh rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large (and I mean large) Walla Walla onion from the farmer’s market
1 bunch of varied lettuces, from farmer’s markets or your friends garden
1 slice of Dave’s Killer spelt bread
1 fresh cucumber, from farmer’s market or your friends garden 

take the elk meat and mix with herbs/salt/pepper.  Divide into 4 patties, set aside. Slice the onion into 1/4″ rounds, set aside.  Heat the grill to med heat and add a little butter or olive oil to the area where the onions will grill.  Add onions and elk burger patties to the grill, cooking the patty mostly on one side first before flipping.  mix the onions regularly so they grill evenly.  Add salt or pepper as needed.

Toast the spelt bread and add the condiments for a burger, to your liking.  Once done, add the burger patties atop the toasted bread and finish off with grilled onions, a little lettuce and perhaps a slice of tomato.  Serve with a simple side salad of mixed greens + cucumbers…..enjoy!!

aaaahhhh,  it is the good life here, and  I am so very grateful.