Monday, November 18, 2013

February: The Month-of-??? Recipes

It’s that time of year again. I blog daily in February with a recipe-a-day that fit a category. Two years ago, I blogged soup recipes daily. Last year I blogged chicken recipes. So what’s this February going to be?

As in the past, I let you, Dear Readers, decide that.

The three options for you are:

Eggs you say? Yes, eggs. Did you know the traditional chef’s toque has 100 pleats because it was said a real chef could prepare eggs 100 ways. Shoot, I only need to do 28 if you pick this one.

Mini-Desserts in shot glasses (though no longer confined there) began with Seasons 52, a wonderful chain restaurant that serves un-chain-like food. Seriously, look for one near you. I don’t often recommend restaurants. This one I do. But back to the desserts: There is something about a one or two-bite bit of sweetness after a meal that is satisfying on many levels--one of which is lowered calorie count.

Appetizers are such fun. I love appetizers parties where happy hour turns into dinner because of the heft and variety of appetizers served. In fact (she says with no modesty at all), my appetizer parties have brought me a small amount of acclaim.

Thems the three. Which do you want and/or need?

But why vote now? February seems so far away. Did you read my OCD post earlier? Well, in case you didn’t notice, there are a few holiday thingies coming up that will gobble up time, and it takes time to figure out what I am going to fix every day for 28 days straight. Oh, and did I mention the OCD post? So give me time to process this selection. Comments here, on FaceBook, and on Twitter will be combined to declare the winning category.

So comment below. Which category would you like to have 28 recipes for? Eggs, mini-desserts, or appetizers? The deadline for voting is December 1. Vote now and get your friends to vote, too.

I’m waiting with bated breath for the results. Really.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I am not OCD! (Am I? Am I?)

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.  ~Harriet van Horne

Am I overly compulsive? And just what the heck does “overly compulsive” mean anyway? Isn’t that just some procrastinator’s term for those who plan ahead, who like to plan ahead, who plan waaaay ahead?

Okay, so maybe I’m a tad on the compulsive side when it comes to food. (Certainly that is NOT the case with dusting, vacuuming, etc.)

When the kids were at home, family vacations were often in the wilds. Bring in your own water. Dig a hole for the latrine. That sort of wilds. Loved it!

But that meant no grocery store to pick up another stick of butter or Oops! No meat? Sorry. Let’s eat what we can forage. Planning ahead, making menus, stocking the cooler--that’s what fed my men.

They ribbed me, of course. But none of them ever turned down the shish-ke-babs and rice followed with chocolate cherry pie. No way. They made fun of my lists and menus, but that was the thin line that separated us from starvation. (Okay, maybe not starvation, but it did save us from the Dinty Moore canned stew my husband “prepared” on our first camping trip. That’s when I knew I had to take charge.)

So whenever anyone is coming to dinner or to stay with us for an extended time, I make menus. And file them. I wouldn’t want to serve the same thing twice to guests. Heaven forfend!

As we approach the holidays, the company is piling up. Pattycake and Jimbo will be here in a few weeks. Served them orange marmalade pork tenderloin, special marinade salmon, and cocoa chile chicken among other faves. So, I am scouring my recipe stash for some dishes I haven’t made in a while. Like chicken cupcakes for lunch. Avogolemono and lamb souvlaki for dinner.

Same with my sons and their companions. I have to serve them old favorites like French Dip for lunch and our traditional-always-the-same Christmas dinner. But I want to try things with them I haven’t served in a while, like Mongolian Hotpot (see my post on “The Girlfriend Test”).

Though they kid me mercilessly, as a working mom, planning menus was imperative. I had nutsy hours some weeks, so making sure they had good food options meant we rarely resorted to fast food like pizza for dinner.

So does that make me OCD? If so, I’ll take it because the stress of not having food organized would put me in the loony bin.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chopped and Served

I admit to an addiction. Addictions are compelling, you know. They grab onto you and force you to aberrant behaviors, behaviors you never thought YOU would be snared by. Yes, that’s right. I watch too much TV. I am addicted to the Food Network, and the show Chopped is especially egregious.

[Side note: “egregious” is one of those words that has undergone amelioration (improvement) in meaning over the centuries; it used to mean “remarkably good” in contrast to today’s “outstandingly bad”]

I was thrilled with the Iron Chef shows that had the mystery ingredient. What fun to watch these world-class chefs figure out what to do with lizard brains! But Chopped took it to another level. A whole basket with mystery ingredients. I loved imagining what I could do with them.

When I first watched Chopped, I was not impressed, and on some level that is still the case. Shoot! A bunch of disparate ingredients to throw together in a few minutes? At my house, I call that dinner!

After all, isn’t that what happens at your house? [Opening refrigerator whilst simultaneously scouring pantry shelves] “Hmm. Dinner. What can I put together?” Seriously! They made a TV show out of every busy mom’s daily experience??? Who are they trying to kid?

So here’s a tip to make that daily experience do-able: Develop a kitchen-awareness for foods on hand.

Okay, admittedly, unlike Chopped, I don’t typically have frog legs, kumquats, graham cracker crumbs, and mustard greens I have to combine, but the principle is the same. Every mom I know looks at the possibilities and puts them together and calls it dinner. So take that, Chopped!
Recently, I had spaghetti, some cherry tomatoes on their way to becoming dried tomatoes, cheese, some chopped veggies left from a salad (peppers, green onion), and some leftover roast chicken and chicken au jus.

I cooked the spaghetti and after draining added the au jus and chicken. I tossed in the veggies and added shaved Asiago cheese. Dinner in ten minutes!

What’s sitting around in your refrig? Leftover meatloaf? Add a can of chiles, black beans, Mexicorn, diced tomatoes, salsa, and Mexican cheese. Pop the casserole into the microwave for ten minutes. Dinner is served!

Two pork chops and four people for dinner? Slice the pork chops and put half in the bottom of a casserole dish. Cut up 2 white and/or sweet potatoes (or use leftovers) and put half on top of the pork. Drizzle on some cream and add cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes (reduce time if potatoes are cooked). Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown up.

See? How easy is that? Look at what you’ve got and throw it together. Odds are very good that you will create a memorable meal. And un-replicable since you will never have the same combo again!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Catch-Up and a New Project

I am excited about a new venture. I am doing a monthly food column for a small community paper in Northern Arizona. The Quick Cook will provide tips and recipes assembled easily to make meals appear effortless.

The Pinewood News already runs one monthly cooking column, The Creative Kitchen, but that columnist cut back the number she wrote. This way every issue of the paper (twice a month in the warm times; once a month in winter) will provide the readers with recipes and cooking ideas.

I needed something new to do, right? And, the column will provide me with a new and different reader base for my culinary mysteries. It’s all marketing, isn’t it?

Too cynical? Nah! I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t love cooking and writing about cooking. First column, for November, is done and ready to e-mail off. The next three are roughed out. Hey, it’s only 500 words. I can hardly say “hello” in that amount of words!

Here’s the first tip in my first column:
QC tip #1: Always keep some basic mixes in the fridge for quick cooking.

For me, that means my Savory Butter (done in an earlier column in this blog) and my delicious, adaptable Cream Cheese Spread.

Here’s the recipe:
8 ounces cream cheese (low fat okay)
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (not creamy)

Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Vigorously stir in horseradish. After use, cover and refrigerate.

I use this as a sandwich spread in wraps, as a dip for fruits and veggies ,mixed with cooked, hot hamburg for a chip dip, and to sauté mushrooms or other veggies as a side dish or appetizer.

You like? Try both and see what other uses you can create for my Quick Cook mixes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Way to a Man's Heart . . .

DH will eat anything I make. Now that’s very nice, but it probably means he doesn’t have the kind of discerning palate that I would like.

Here’s an example. For years, while we both worked outside the home, he packed his own lunch. The SAME lunch everyday--for DECADES! And I mean that literally. Turkey sandwich with mayo, pickles, and cheese. Chips. Grapes. And cookies. Oh, the cookies might vary or he might cut up an apple instead of packing grapes. But you get the idea. B O R I N G!

I cannot eat the same meal everyday. I just cannot. And I am fortunate to have enough money that I don’t need to.

When I stayed home to kick-start my full-time writing career, I told him I would no longer allow him to buy cookies with all those preservatives and other junk. So, I created a cookie just for him. All these many years later, even though he is not packing a lunch anymore, I make these cookies and keep them in his cookie jar. Because they’re small, he thinks he is controlling his diet. They are really quite healthful. If you don’t count the butter. And if you don’t count the sugar. But, hey, NO preservatives!

By the way, he loves his cookies and tells me so often! It may be why we’re still married.

DH’s Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Cookies (makes ~7 dozen two-bite cookies)

1 c plus 2 T butter, softened                        ½ t salt
¾ c packed brown sugar                             1 ¾ c flour
½ c granulated sugar                                   2 ½ c oats
2 lg eggs                                                      6 oz pkg dried cranberries
3 t vanilla extract                                        1 c pecans, chopped
1 t baking soda

Heat oven to 375°.

Beat butter and sugars in a bowl with mixer on medium speed until sugar is incorporated and the mixture is fluffy.

Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt until blended.

With mixer on low speed, beat in flour to blend. Stir in oats.

When well-blended, add in cranberries and nuts.

Drop heaping tablespoons (or use small cookie dough scooper) 1” apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool 1 min on cookie sheet, then put on cookie rack.

Try these with important people in your life and let me know what they think. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Personal Chef-ing for Fun and Profit

Mission Impastable should be available this fall. In that book, Alli, and her friend and business partner, Gina, start a personal chef business. A bold and brave move they take while seeking their goals of self-worth, independence, and financial security. Gina has always been the professional worker, while Alli has pasted together a series of temporary subsistence-level jobs.

However, Alli and Gina are quite naïve when it comes to starting a personal chef business, or any business, for that matter. Gina has worked for others, admittedly in a supervisory capacity. Still . . .  But, Alli? Well, you know Alli. She’s sort of like Maria in The Sound of Music (“a flibbertijibbet, a will-of-the-wisp, a clown”). Bright and shiny things draw her attention so she has a hard time staying focused on details, especially if she thinks they’re boring. She says that Gina makes things happen but Alli is the one conceptualizing the happenings.

In preparation for writing this book, I read about personal chefs, I checked out some of the official personal chef associations websites, I looked for requirements, and finally I talked with a personal chef who also writes mysteries and romance books with recipes. Carolyn Hughey was a great help.


By the time Carolyn got her hands on me, Mission Impastable was off to the editor for publication in a couple of months. Think, think, think!

Ah, ha! Got it! I know how to fix all the errors they are making in book one of the “Dinner is Served” series.

Things are not going well with the PC biz in book two, Prime Rib and Punishment, so they take on a teaching job at the local culinary institute. While there, they teach a couple of courses on how to run a PC business. Doing the research for that (and meeting a PC in the region) helps them figure out what they need to do to fix the reasons they aren’t successful. They acknowledge what they did wrong and then rectify their mistakes. Business picks up, life looks good! This takes re-working the first part of book two, but that is relatively easy at this stage.

Just like in real life, if things don’t go the way they are supposed to, step back and analyze the options. Yanking the book back and re-writing it was NOT a good option. I think editors lose patience if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case I can have my personal chefs learn, just like all of us do in reality.

In case you are interested in how personal chef-ing works, try these resources:

1.     American Personal & Private Chef Institute & Association ...
American Personal & Private Chef Association excels in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Personal Chef Support, Conferences & Personal Chef Association ...

2.     United States Personal Chef Association - Personal Chef Training ...
Personal Chef Education and Personal Chef Membership: United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA)

3.     The Personal Chef Association
With this in mind, the United States Personal Chef Association was able to allow this new career field to flourish while maintaining and regulating the manner in ...

4.     Personal Chef Certification (CPC)
Personal Chef Certification (CPC). CPC - Certified Personal Chef. In 1996 the United States Personal Chef Association created a certification program with a ...

5.     Personal Chef Association - Hangin' With People Who Love Food
Social Networking site for foodies, personal chefs, culinarians, and other folks who simply love to prepare and eat glorious food.

6.     Find and Hire a Personal Chef - Personal Chef Search.Com ...
Find and hire a personal chef, the American Personal Chef Registry invites you enjoy the ... Hire a Personal ChefAmerican Personal & Private Chef Association.

7.     2013 Personal & Private Chef Summit in Baltimore at Stratford ...
The American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), based in San Diego, promotes the “business of doing business” as a personal or private chef ...

8.     the American Personal & Private Chef Association's Discussion ...
American Personal Chef Association the Industry Leader in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Support, Annual Conferences & Networking. Find and hire a ...

9.     American Personal & Private Chef Association Forums
American Personal Chef Association the Industry Leader in Personal Chef Training, Certification, Support, Annual Conferences & Networking. Find and hire a ...

10.  Personal chef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Various training programs are also offered by the United States Personal Chef Association and the American Personal & Private Chef Association.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr

This post is a day late because I am a techno-turd. Not nerd. I wish. I always have such trouble figuring out the simplest things, but that’s not your problem. Here is the post meant for yesterday!

Ta Da! Introducing Meredith Schorr, chick lit author extraordinaire! She is one of the Chick Lit Goddesses I hang out with on FB. I love Meredith’s genuine writing of authentic characters, situations and reactions. If you haven’t picked up Just Friends with Benefits or A State of Jane, why not??? But, even if you haven’t read her earlier work, you are just in time for her newest release, Blogger Girl by Booktrope Editions.

What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.
A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, "Pastel is the New Black," has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that "chick lit is dead" once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.
While Kim's day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that's turning heads--and pages--across the land. It's also popped into Kim's inbox--for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim's coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to, and was famous among her friends for writing witty birthday cards. After trying her hand writing children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing “real” chick lit for real women.  When Meredith is not hard at work on her current work in progress, she spends her days as a trademark paralegal.  Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner.  Blogger Girl is her third novel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Phony Housekeeper in 13 Steps

Back in the day, one of my favorite “cheat” cookbooks (as opposed to the real deal like Julia Child) was The Phony Gourmet by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (still available at ) Their sassy, familiar tone filled with family dynamics made the book fun to read, and the food was pretty darn good, too.

The philosophy was that you could fool people into thinking that you were a better cook than you were and/or that you spent days preparing the repast when in fact you whipped it up in minutes.

What’s not to like, right?

One morning in water aerobics, some of the ladies were talking about household cleaning cheats. It sounded like a topic many of us could relate to: The Phony Housekeeper.

In my culinary mysteries series (Mission Impastable out this summer from Oak Tree Press), Gina is the compulsive one who cleans just because; Maria cleans out of habit; but Alli isn’t so drawn to the domestic duties of cleaning. Oh, she doesn’t kick piles of clothes out of the way--well, not often--but she sees little need to dust something because it will just get dusty again. Same with her bed--in only a few hours it will be messed up again, so why bother.

I kept a cartoon on my bulletin board for a long time:

         Clean and Hide--another example of when two different words
mean the same thing.

I think Alli would like these 13 “Phony Housekeeper” tips culled from my own and others’ experiences:

“I never put the vacuum cleaner in the closet. It stays by the front door. That way, if unexpected guests drop in, I say, ‘I was just getting ready to clean’.”

“If I have company coming that includes tall people, I clean the top of the refrigerator, otherwise, leave it. Nobody will know.”

“I’ve been known to put all kinds of stuff in the oven and dishwasher to stash them until after company leaves. But don’t forget them and run the appliance. I’ve lost some good magazines that way.”

“I keep a can of furniture polish and a rag on a table in the living room. If somebody comes to the door, I tell them they interrupted my cleaning.”

“If the house looks tidy, it doesn’t have to be clean. People assume it is.”

“I throw stuff in the shower and pull the curtain. Voila! Instant clean.”

“I spot clean the floor rather than mopping the whole thing. I look for spots and wipe them with a wet paper towel.”

“Have you ever stuffed clothes that need folding  under chair cushions. It works if you only have a few pieces and somebody shows up at your door. Once I looked for a blouse for three weeks before I remembered where it was.”

“I blow dust off surfaces on my way to answer the door.”

“I answer the door with a cleaning rag and bucket in my hand so it looks like I was interrupted.”

“I keep a little spray bottle of Mr. Clean behind a shelf door. I spray each room with it and it smells like I just finished cleaning.”

“I have a pretty basket in the living room. When the doorbell rings, I throw big stuff, like toys, into it and cover them with magazines.”

“I never apologize for how the house looks. I ignore the dirt and clutter, and then my guests must, too.”

What are your Phony Housekeeper Tips? Or, are you afraid to share them so we all know?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

But That's Your Story Idea

Authors, have you noticed how people give you story ideas? “Oh, you’re a writer. You should write this story about . . .” Fill in the blank.

Like I am not inundated in my head with story ideas already! Should I be insulted? Do they think I am out of ideas?

When I respond, “But, that’s your story. You should tell it.”

The protests begin. “I’m not a writer.”  “You could do it better.”  “No, I am giving it to you.”

And sometimes, you know, they’re pretty dang good. And I might choose one or two of them to develop. But what’s the protocol?

I decided I would recognize the source of the premise or story strand in the acknowledgements section. That seems fair to me. After all, it’s not like a premise is the realization of the story. It’s the germ, the yeast, the focal point. But that’s a long way from a novel.

Recently, someone was responding to a FB post about a book release. Her comment was that she had a story idea but found a book in which someone else had already written it.

Are you kidding me?

A story premise (and there is a finite number of them, btw) can take so many twists and turns. That is a huge part of the planning process for me--the “what if’s” I generate and spin out. Brainstorming with someone for her novel is great fun for the same reason. Love it!

So don’t tell me someone wrote your book. The characters you choose and their reactions and interactions would be unique to you and your storytelling. The obstacles you put in the way are your plot points. When you put it together, no one would write your story in your way.

So, Doug, thanks for the idea about how a killer could throw off the police investigation because of a DNA change due to a concealed blood transfusion.

And, Sandy, love the idea of writing a play with two seniors discussing their medical marijuana misadventures over lunch.

I think I’ll put those on my to-do list. Let me take you two to lunch when they are blockbusters. It’s the least I can do! Truly. The least.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beautiful Food--NOT!

I had a conversation recently with a fellow author/personal chef/cooking-school-trained friend about food presentation. (By the way, if you haven’t read Carolyn Hughey’s books you are missing out on some tasty treats!)

I was whining about how my food tasted okay, but that the “plating” (as the cooking shows call it) was mediocre on a good day. Let’s not talk about the bad days! Shudder!

I just sort of slop it onto plates and platters and bowls and hope people don’t notice because it smells so good. See, I think if I overwhelm one sense that deadens the others.

Carolyn pooh-poohed me. Of course I could do it. It consisted of a few simple techniques and an understanding of color, texture, and proportional sizing. I do get it--intellectually--but I can’t do it. I am convinced plating is a specialty area in the realm of art. Food porn at its best. I am not at all artistic.

Have I ever done a coulis? Well, inadvertently, I guess, when the chicken juice dribbles on the plate, though that is not technically a coulis. And I am known for the powdered-sugar brownie plate--but that is lack of aim, too.

 I am thinking of having Alli and Gina deal with this in one of the cooking classes they teach in Prime Rib and Punishment. I can just imagine Alli giving the students directions on how to plate and then being challenged by one to show them not tell them. (Sound familiar, Authors?) A huge advantage to being a personal chef is you leave the prepackaged food for the client to “plate”.

At my house, we mostly avoid the issue of plating by serving company buffet style! Voilà! No one need know my little secret. Shhh!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

MJ and Me

DH says he hopes the NSA never does an analysis of my computer searches. Undetectable poisons. Airport security breaches. How to fool a lie detector test. And more recently, marijuana types and how to grow and cook with them.

I tell him to stay alive, and it shouldn’t be an issue. Seriously, do I really believe the government is watching us all the time? (Uh, given recent revelations, maybe so.)

Still, I have an alibi, right? I can show them manuscript pages and book contracts and blog posts. I’m safe. I think. For now.

Who has time to worry about that stuff anyway? I don’t write thrillers (yet); I write cozy culinary mysteries. Book three in my series is re-titled (Thank you Author Carolyn Hughey) Pot Luck.

Here’s the premise as of now:
AZ and other states have medical marijuana laws so Alli and Gina whip up some ganja/MJ/pot recipes, much to Gina’s despair. They have a client who needs to ingest rather than inhale her marijuana prescription, and they come up with recipes for her. Alli sees making mixes to sell as a way to supplement their income because they are still struggling personal chefs.

Alll re-establishes a friendship with a local medical marijuana provider, a friend from HS days (Mostel from book two) and his grower. When the grower ends up dead of a heroine overdose, Alli doesn’t believe it and seeks to solve the mystery. She is sure someone killed Seth instead of it being an accidental drug death, but is it the HS friend, a local druggie known for petty thefts, a rival provider, a doctor known for generous prescribing, or the political crook who has a lot to lose if his addiction is made public?

In this book readers learn why Alli is reluctant to make a commitment to Evan. She doesn’t want him to know a secret she has carried for years. Also, Alli’s brother is released from prison after helping the police in Prime Rib and Punishment. She finally realizes Cal is unredeemable, and that he lied about knowing where her family is.

Alli is on the search for tasty mix recipes that she can add MJ to. Of course she’ll do brownies. Any other suggestions for her?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Heart My Slow Cooker(s)

Okay, I still call it a “crock pot”. So sue me. I bought a crock pot decades ago when there was only ONE kind of slow cooker. And it was called a crockpot. For me it’s sort of like the folks in Georgia, while I was attending school in the late 70’s/early 80’s calling every soda pop a “coke”. Or, don’t we all say “kleenex” when we know we’re supposed to say “tissue”?

Rival called it a “Crock-Pot” in 1971, and I had to have one. Mine was avocado green. No removable ceramic insert here; I carefully washed it avoiding getting water into its innards.

What a joy to come home from a long day in the classroom to the smell of a delightful dinner waiting for me. Ahh!

Fast forward quite a few decades. Now we have “slow cookers” made by a variety of companies. And it is still one of my most used and valued appliances. So much so that I have four of them in various sizes. And, yes, my avocado baby still cooks away for me.

However, since I have two houses, the crock-pots reside two to a home. At home two, when my really cheap (not Rival) brand slow cooker died most inconveniently while not-cooking dinner for guests, I went looking for another smallish one to replace it. I only have the one avocado one, and it stays put at house one.

At the store, I discovered that just as portion sizes in restaurants have ballooned out of control, so, too, have slow cookers. So now I have two large ones. Bleah!

So today I ordered a small one. Amazon will deliver it to me for more than the cost of the appliance. Still . . . When a girl needs a smaller crock pot, she’s gotta have one.

Here’s a recipe I have made a lot in both large and small slow cookers. It’s been around for a while, and I’m not even sure who did the original recipe. I believe it was Betty Crocker. People always clean it out my crock pot when this is on the dessert menu!

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake (serves 6)
1 c flour                                                2 T oil
½ c sugar                                              1 t vanilla
2 T cocoa                                              ½ c nuts to batter
2 t baking powder                                 ¾ c brown sugar
½ t salt                                                   ¼ c cocoa
½ c milk                                                1 ½ c hot water
Pam a 2 ½-3 qt slow cooker. Mix together first five ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Add nuts.
Spread batter in bottom of slow cooker. Mix together brown sugar, cocoa, and hot water until smooth. Pour over batter.
Cook 2-2 ½ hours. Let cool for 30-40 min with lid off. Serve with whipped or ice cream.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Entomophagy Recipes

Over at Janet Greger’s blog ( ) I guest posted about why we should eat bugs. They are a highly nutritious, sustainable, safe food source that Americans, for the most part, haven’t embraced yet. But think back ten years ago. Were you a sushi eater or did the thought of raw fish turn your stomach? Fast forward, and today towns of any size at all have at least one sushi bar.

Bug cuisine could be in your future, too!

Why is it that we haven’t embraced entomophagy before now. After all, over 2,000,000,000 people use insects (oh, and worms, too, but that’s another column) as a primary component of their diet. From larva to adult, people relish bugs. No, I don’t mean pickle them, but I suppose you could. Hmm.

I blame Hollywood for the bias against entomophagy.

In so many scifi movies, insectoid creatures are the bad guys trying to take over Earth. I suppose they think it’s easier to accept killing something so removed from us taxonomically. Whatever. Between Hollywood and all the pest removal commercials I suppose it makes sense that we’d view insects as enemies and not a food source. When did you last see a movie when cows tried to take over the world or a pest service offered to remove unwanted pigs from your house?

But, seriously, the world is projected to be over 9 billion people by 2050, so we will have to double our food supply. We cannot feed that many people with a mammalian-based food source. People are already starving all over the world.

So, to get you convinced, I am including some articles/books to read and some recipes for you to try. Alli Wesson, my “Dinner is Served” protag is doing her bit. In book two of the series, Prime Rib and Punishment, Alli directs her cooking school students to create a tasty insect-based dish for any part of the meal--appetizer to dessert. This doesn’t go over well with Head Chef Fournier. But Alli confronts him in one of their legendary clashes that supports the police’s notion she must have killed him. She just wanted to bring the school into the 21st century. Sheesh!

Anyway, crickets and grasshoppers are touted as “gateway bugs” to get you started with an insectoid cuisine. But branch out. Be like Alli. Try something out of your comfort zone. More bug recipes are on a page (right hand column) on this site. Just because “All Recipes” and “Cooking Light” don’t have bug recipes--yet--don’t let that deter you.

These two recipes from the Iowa State University Entomology club were featured on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Now how respectable is that???

Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Mealworm Fried Rice

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. minute rice
  • 1 c. cooked mealworms

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces.
Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil.
Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

If you have a favorite bug recipe, or if this whole idea just bugs you, leave a comment. Bon appétit!

Books about Edible Insects

-Man Eating Bugs by Peter Menzel & Faith D'Aluisio

-Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon

-Creepy Crawly Cuisine by Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, Ph.D.

-Entertaining with Insects by Ronald L. Taylor

List of edible insects

The Food Insects Newsletter

Native Americans Edible Insects Page