Available for Picnics: Tequila & Watermelon

Available for Picnics: Tequila & Watermelon

It’s the time of year when, come Monday, there’s a half of a watermelon giving me the eye when I open the fridge. I know the chances of eating it are slim, but with five minutes’ work I can be on the porch sipping something perfect.

I like to make this in a mason jar, which doubles as the shaker. Gets me on the porch faster with less to clean!

Watermelon Lime and Tequila Refresco

Take that watermelon and scoop it into a blender. Blend until liquid, and strain through a coarse strainer. A half of a 12-inch diameter melon should yield 6 cups or so of juice.

Fill a 2-cup mason jar with ice. Add:

  • 1 1/2 ounces of silver tequila,
  • 3/4 ounces of lime juice (I find the Santa Cruz Organic bottled is a fantastic sub for hand-squeezed in cocktails), and
  • 4 1/2 ounces of watermelon juice.

Put the lid on the jar and shake until the jar feels quite cold.

Head to the porch and put your feet up!

Expecting company? Make a batch to serve 4 ahead of time:

  • 3/4 cup of silver tequila,
  • A little more than 1/3 cup lime juice, and
  • 2 1/4 cups of watermelon juice.

Next question: will it freeze? Stay tuned!

Tamale Pie Riff: Low Fodmap and Gluten Free

Darling Sister:

Last night’s dinner was headed for disaster. We were supposed to have tacos, but SOMEONE had eaten the tortillas. Enter Tamale Pie to save us! This gluten-free cornbread baked up tender and fluffy over a bed of ground beef seasoned taco-style. Topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro, dinner was filling, low fodmap, and delicious. Win!

I used a cast iron skillet for this entire dish, but you could make this in a pie pan or 8×8 cake pan just as easily.

We ended up with an enormously puffy delicious cornbread that took over our dish  here, I half the recipe, but if you’re big on cornbread (or want to just make a great GF cornbread) double the recipe.

Here’s rundown:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Barely brown 2 pounds of hamburger seasoned with your favorite seasoning mix. I prefer 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, a little cayenne, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of vinegar at the finish. Remember that the meat will continue to brown in the oven. Drain most of the fat, and stir in some corn kernels (frozen or canned works fine!).

For the cornbread:

Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon of bacon grease (if you have it, if not just use 4T butter) and set it aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, stir together 3/4c gluten free all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur brand here) with 1/2c corn flour and 1/4c cornmeal.

Add 1/4c sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the dry ingredients, stir it’s a fork to combine.

Use your fork to whisk 1 egg and 3/4c almond milk together, then stir in the melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just to combine. The batter will be lumpy. Spread the batter over the ground beef, smoothing the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until the cornbread is golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Serve with shredded lettuce, tomato, and cilantro.

Bon appetit,




Gluten Free (but GOOD) Low Fodmap Bread

Gluten Free (but GOOD) Low Fodmap Bread

Darling Sister,

My poor husband has been put on an exclusion diet for twenty weeks that includes no gluten and restricts certain kinds of sugars. I quickly realized I cannot go that long without something bread-ish in my life. After trying the selections at Whole Foods, and being generally underwhelmed by those stiff, mealy offerings, I stumbled across a recipe from Saveur that saved us. While the ingredients require a trip to a natural foods store or other well-stocked grocer, the tougher to find ingredients (looking at you, xanthan gum!) will last me through many loaves. This recipe requires exact measurements, so I used my kitchen scale and pre-weighed the dry ingredients for six loaves at the ready in my pantry. On Saturdays, I add the eggs, oil, and carbonated water to the dry mix and I’m halfway to bread before I have even finished my coffee. The resulting loaf is a little sweet, tender, and best sliced thin and toasted – fortunately it is sturdy enough that even a 1/4 in slice can hold up to a sandwich just fine!

Today’s fresh loaf! I left the top unspilt for a nice, high crown.

I followed the recipe posted at this site, with just a couple of modifications. First, I do not have seltzer water in my house. I do, however, have a case of tonic in the bar. I have been using tonic in lieu of seltzer for six weeks now with no noticeable problems. Second, I find that this dough takes longer to develop a nice rise than the recipe indicates. I turn on the oven while I’m mixing the dough, and turn it off when I’m putting the oiled dough in the pan. This serves as a nice, warm incubator for the loaf, and I give it a good 2-hour rise there. Third, it’s hard to get a nice loaf-y shape out of this sticky batter. I find that scraping the dough into a rough ball with my spatula and spritzing the ball on all sides with a little canola oil means that I can shape the dough into a cylinder the size of my loaf pan using my hands – a much more uniform result than just scraping, dropping, and hoping (as the recipe would have you do).

Looking forward to when we can have onions again, but not missing bread,


I spent all the time measuring and fiddling with dry ingredients up front, so I feel like a total boss dropping this bad boy into the mixer on Saturday mornings.


Fresh from the mixer, the dough has a very disconcerting clay-like texture. Take heart!


After a couple of hours, the dough will peek over the top of your loaf pan – which means it’s time to warm the oven and get baking!

Sweet Corn Soup – The Essence of Summer!

Sweet Corn Soup – The Essence of Summer!

Darling Sister,

While you’re busy loving that darling baby of yours, I’m busy cooking up a storm and trying my best to enjoy the hot days of summer before we slip into autumn. Yesterday, I wanted to make the most of some fantastic local sweet corn and came up with a chilled corn soup great for a picnic. I just bought an electric pressure cooker, so I’ve included instructions for both a stovetop version (made in a large dutch oven) and a quicker version using an electric countertop pressure cooker. Either way, same summery result!




Sweet Corn Soup

Serves 4


  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and with the kernels removed, reserving the corn cobs
  • 1 yellow onion, cut roughly into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Minced herbs (I used chives, thyme, and basil, but parsley, marjoram, and dill would also go nicely here)

Prepare the corn kernels:

Saute half of the onion in the butter with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the onion is translucent, add the corn kernels and saute until just bright and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool, transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

Prepare the sweet corn stock:

Add the corn cobs, bay leaf, remaining onion, garlic, and 6 cups of water to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, until the broth is golden yellow and fragrant, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, strain, transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

To serve: 

In a blender, puree the corn kernels with 4 cups of the stock until very smooth and silky, adding more stock only if needed to achieve a velvety consistency. Add heavy cream if you want a bit of creaminess. Season to taste with salt. Serve cold, garnished with minced herbs. (note: this is also delicious served hot, but with the late heat of these long summer days, who needs a hot soup?)

To make this recipe in an electric pressure cooker, use the ‘saute’ function to prepare the corn kernels as above. To make the stock, without washing the pan add the ingredients listed and cook under high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow for a natural release of pressure. Continue as above.

Oatmeal Cookies with Flax and Brewer’s Yeast (Lactation Cookies)

Oatmeal Cookies with Flax and Brewer’s Yeast (Lactation Cookies)

Darling Sister:
Since you’ve gone and brought the sweetest baby ever into the world, I figure I owe it to you to keep you fed. Unfortunately, most of the foods that pregnant you thought would be awesome to eat (macaroni and cheese! chili! baked ziti! butternut squash soup!) have been placed on the naughty list for now, while you work out what is making that squishy baby so tooty. For the time being, it sounds like no milk, no tomatoes, no leafy greens, no onions, and – saddest of all – no chocolate.

The day before you gave birth, we made a double batch of lactation cookies, which I’ve reworked for you using margarine instead of butter and carob chips instead of chocolate chips. The verdict? They’ll do just fine!

These cookies are pretty indulgent – they’re cookies, after all – but have loads of things a breastfeeding mom needs, including calories (duh!), brewer’s yeast, and flax seeds. They’re soft and toothsome and don’t taste too healthy. A win all around!

Sweetly yours,



Dairy-free Oatmeal Cookies with Flax and Brewer’s Yeast (Lactation Cookies)

This recipe was modified from this one to swap out the butter and chocolate. Using margarine, the mix ends up a lot thinner, and requires more flour to even things out.

Makes 4 dozen.

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.

In a measuring cup, mix and let stand:

  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal; and
  • 1/4 cup tap water.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat until fluffy:

  • 1 cup salted margarine (2 sticks);
  • 1 cup white sugar; and
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar.

With the mixer running, add one at a time:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla;
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda;
  • 3-4 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast;
  • 2 eggs; and
  • the flax seed meal and water mixture.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour;
  • 3 cups of rolled oats; and
  • 1 package of carob chips (10-12 ounces).

Mix until incorporated. Add additional flour in 1/4 cup increments until batter is stiff enough to hold a shape when scooped.


Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper. Scoop dough onto prepared pan, leaving 2-3″ of space between each. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the lower edge, turning the pan halfway through. Remove to a cooling rack.

*I made one dozen fresh, and rolled the remainder into 3 parchment logs and put them in the freezer…later on you can slice and bake them individually or by the dozen without much fuss – that way they’re constantly fresh!

Two Ingredient Workout: Soba Noodles!

Two Ingredient Workout: Soba Noodles!

Darling Sister:

Since you’ve been in the family way I know you’ve been trying to find creative ways to work out. Boy, do I have a great one for you here! An arm-toning opportunity to simultaneously feed your belly and, dare I say, your soul. And/or get some aggression out, whichever.


I was delighted to discover that soba noodles require just two ingredients – buckwheat flour and all purpose flour. Add a little lukewarm water and you’re off – muscling a very resistant blob of dough around for some minutes. I had planned to make these by hand, as done in Saveur magazine – roll the kneaded dough into a flower shape, then massage it into a cone, then roll it into a disc before finally flattening it and slicing the noodles by hand. It looked very instagram, and I was all for it right up to the point where I was required to shape the dough – my “flower” form was ridiculous, and I broke out the pasta machine. Which worked FANTASTICALLY. Dinner tonight? Soba! Lunch tomorrow? ALSO SOBA! I’m quite excited.

Noodly yours,



Handmade Soba Noodles

Adapted from this recipe in Saveur Magazine.

Note: The recipe I adapted required “light buckwheat flour,” which is buckwheat flour milled with less than the whole grain. My local market only had whole-meal buckwheat flour, so I subbed in all purpose flour to good effect.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 9 ounces whole-grain buckwheat flour;
  • 3.5 ounces all purpose flour;
  • 6 ounces lukewarm water.

With your hands, work the flour into the water, spreading and kneading the dough around the bottom of the bowl until there are no dry bits left and the dough is one mostly incorporated mass.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead it until it’s smooth. Form into a disc and slice it into sixths (quarters shown here, but they were a lot to handle at once).


Resting the remaining pieces under a damp towel, run your dough through a pasta machine on a wider setting several times, until the dough is pliable and holds together well. Slice by hand or using the spaghetti attachment. Toss in cornstarch or tapioca flour to separate the strands. Shake excess starch off the noodles by tossing the noodles gently in a sieve. Turn out onto a tray. Repeat for remaining dough.


Cook immediately or store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

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