Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Broken (Sugar Cookie) Hearts

February 10, 2009
Decorating Valentine Cookies

I took Booh to a late afternoon cooking class for Valentine’s Day to make Valentine Cookies for her Daddy. When we arrived, the tables in the classroom were lined with butcher paper and individual decorating stations were set up for each student. Ramekins of colorful dime store candies were set out, and the temptation to stick little fingers into these bowls had all the kids on the edge of their stools while waiting for the class to begin. Once everyone arrived and settled in, heart shaped sugar cookies, the smooth blank slates for their little love creations, were passed out, and the decorating began.

Decorating Valentine Cookies

With small chef hats and matching aprons the kids set to work with their piping bags and chocolate non-perils. As frosting leaked out of the top of her piping bag and onto her sleeve, Booh made the analogy of the pink and purple frosting being like “glue” and the rainbow sprinkles “glitter.”

At one point I noticed that Booh would suspiciously sit back on her stool and pull her little chef’s hat down over her face. I took a sneak peak out of the corner of my eye and saw that she too was sneaking, only little bits of chocolate jimmies that were sure to ruin her appetite for dinner, which followed. I suggested she put them on the cookies for later, which inspired her to load one of her cookies with an abundant mixture of everything, calling it a “fancy dessert cookie.”

Decorating Valentine Cookies

As the room buzzed with laughter and chatting I watched the children beam over their designs. I thought to myself that creations a professional pastry chef can execute with a frosting filled piping bag couldn’t match what these kids made. Not because a pastry chief lacks any technical skills, but because of the abandon exhibited in their creations that would be very difficult for any adult to match.

Booh beamed too at her squiggly trails of frosting that traveled up and over the rainbow sprinkles with thick squirts, centered off with a jellied heart or bean. In contrast the cookies I had decorated were symmetrical in design, or had been fashioned with letters that spelled “I (heart) U” and “I C U,” laced with little rainbow sprinkles.

Valentine Cookies

As they finished up, each family put their little masterpieces to the side of the room on parchment squares to dry. Booh’s “fancy dessert cookie” spilled candies all over the floor as we moved it to the side table. When viewing the collective of cookies, the ones decorated by adults droned order and fashion amidst the chaos of the children’s wild and asymmetrical creations.

At the end of class, each child received a bag to carry their cookies in. Booh decorated her bag with stickers and gobs of red glitter glue (which does not dry quickly for those of you who aren’t in the know). To everyone’s chagrin, the containers were too big to be set upright into the bags. And because the bags were laced with glitter glue that would take a good week to dry, we had to place the cookies on their sides, smearing frosting and jimmies up against the plastic tops.

Valentine's Day

After class we set out into the cold and windy parking lot to hurry home to share our creations with Booh’s Daddy. Inside the bag (a collection of wild abandon and controlled deliverance) cookies continued to smear frosting on the lid and the backside of one another. I placed the glitter glue ridden bag atop the car as I buckled Booh into her booster seat, the wind pushing the door against my backside. And then I heard it – a great thud at my heels! The wind had knocked the bag off the car’s hood and smashed it down onto the pavement.

When we arrived home, Booh proudly handed the bag over to her Daddy. He pulled out a container filled with bits and pieces of cookies jumbled up with pink and purple frosting, textured with sprinkles. Without inquiry, he removed the container’s lid and selected the only bare broken piece of sugar cookie heart that stood pure among the mangled mess, scooping off the frosting and jimmies that clung to the lid. He smiled and Booh beamed back.

“Happy Valentime’s Day, Dadda,” she said.


Curried Lentils and Potatoes

January 19, 2009

I’ve been wanting to experiment with lentils for dinner.  I don’t cook them often enough, so I found myself thumbing through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Bittman to get my creative juices flowing.  

While chopping up my ingredients for last nights dinner I was chatting with my good friend and cooking buddy *E* who reminded me of all the different types of lentils available with which to experiment: French lentils, red lentils, and the variety of green and brown lentils.  I got very excited!


Curried Lentils and Potatoes-1.jpg

Saturday night’s recipe was Curry Lentils with Russet Potatoes, served with organic Jasmine rice.  *J* & I loved the dish! But Booh … not so much.  She didn’t like the cilantro sprinkled throughout, plus it was complex with flavors and spices, not her favorite.  But that was okay.  Meant more for me!  Between negotiating half of *J*’s fourth serving onto my plate along with Booh’s picked-apart small serving, I managed to squeak out a second serving for myself.   I ended up serving her an avocado and assortment of fruit instead.

But my favorite part of the meal wasn’t the lentil potato dish … it was the veggie dish: Carrot, Cabbage and Red Onion Salad in a Cilantro Maple Tamari dressing.  Yum!  Let me say that again … YUM!


Preparation: 1 hour. Serving size: 4

  • 1 cup dried organic brown lentils
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup homemade organic veggie stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon Muchi Curry Powder (turmeric, cumin, black pepper, ginger, coriander, fenugreek, garlic, celery seed, cloves, cayenne pepper, caraway seed, white pepper, mace)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Sambhar Curry Powder (coriander, red chili peppers, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, asafoetida)
  • 2 medium organic russet potatoes (cut into large chunks)
  • 2 tablespoon organic virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  1. Combined the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turned the heat down to low to simmer gently, and partially cover with lid.  Stir occasionally while allowing the lentils to start absorbing the liquid, @ 15 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and gently stir in.  Put the lid on and allow to cook for 10 minutes.  
  3. After 10 minutes, check and add vegetable stock if needed.  Don’t let them dry out.  Add olive oil (or butter/ghee) and stir in.
  4. Cover and allow to  continue to cook until lentils are soft and potatoes are tender (not mushy!).  This takes 5-10 minutes.  Add more stock if needed.
  5. Season with black pepper and sea salt to taste.  Lots of black pepper is good, but careful with the salt.  I almost put in too much, so go slow!  
  6. Removed from the heat and let it stand with the lid on while finishing up the salad (recipe to follow).  It allowed the potatoes to cook more (not mushy!) with out drying out the dish.
  7. Garnish with cilantro.  Yogurt too if you have it.  We didn’t.  Used rice as our cooling agent instead.


I had a bunch of cilantro I purchase to garnish the lentil dish with that I decided to use in my vegetable dish.  I found a recipe for a dipping sauce in the mentioned cook book that I modified to go with the veggies I had on hand.  If you can, make the dressing ahead of time and allow to sit:


  • 1 clove organic garlic
  • 2 tablespoon wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (grade B if you have it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili peppers
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (finely chopped)

Stir ingredients together and let it sit while cooking the lentils.  


  • 2 cups organic cabbage (shredded into long thin strips)
  • 1 cup organic carrots (shredded)
  • 1 cup organic red onion (cut into thin strips)

The longer and thinner the cabbage, carrots and red onion are cut into the better. I used my Black and Decker Handy Slice ‘ Shred appliance (I picked up at a tag sale new in the box for a buck!) but a sharp knife for the onion and cabbage and a peeler for the carrots would work fine.

Blanch the cabbage for 30 seconds, strain and the into a cool water bath.  Strain again.  

If you can, make a double batch of both recipes for lunch the next day!   The next day I brought leftovers over to *E*’s house to share for lunch, and they were just as good as the night before … if not, better!

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men (and dreidels!)

December 21, 2008

I remember as a kid decorating cookies for the holidays with my dad and brother. My mom would buy a roll of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough and cut it into thin medallions for us to decorate with rainbow jimmy’s and red hots.

J and I have followed a similar tradition since we met, only we make and decorate gingerbread men (and women) from scratch. I’ve made a gluten free gingerbread cookie dough two years in a row, and sadly many of our gingerbread men wind up on the Infirmary Cooling Rack. They just don’t hold together as well. I guess my mother had the right idea!

I made a royal frosting this year and piped it onto the batch I decorated with gluten free sprinkles. J and Booh opted to spread frosting on theirs with a butter knife and add currents. Booh found licorice Jelly Belly jelly beans and added those to hers too. That should taste interesting!

One of our neighbors is Jewish and they’ve never decorated Christmas cookies, so we invited them over to help us. They brought their dreidel cookie cutter. The dreidels stayed together much better than the gingerbread men.

Next year I think I’ll go back to a traditional gingerbread cookie recipe … unless someone knows of a good gluten free recipe that holds up after they come out of the oven!