Dashi Recipes (Japanese broth stock)

I’ll post both a traditional bonito-based dashi and a vegetarian (shiitake mushroom-based) dashi recipe here today.  Both are good and serviceable!  Plus, cleaning out some old ingredients, I have a combo dashi at the bottom of this post.  Dashi has lots of uses in Japanese cuisine, as a stock or soup base.  You can make it and save it for a week in the fridge, or freeze it for around three months or so.   Coming up, I plan to post recipes for Age Dashi Tofu, and for Katsudon, both of which require a dashi base.

dashi, Japanese, recipe, kombu, bonito, shiitake, vegetarian option

Dashi, freshly prepared and still steaming

In doing research for this post, I’ve regretfully discovered that a lot of places that serve dishes enhanced by dashi are now using a powdered form.  I’ve noticed it sold at my local grocery, but figured it was something put out for us lazy “gringos” who wouldn’t notice any better, as it were.  No, the quick powdered form is now even appearing in Japan!  The ingredient list is appalling.  Real dashi is kombu, water, usually bonito (more on which below), or if vegetarian, mushrooms such as shiitake.  I can understand a preservative or two, but… Eh.  I’ll make my own, it is not so hard!

Bonito:  Bonito are shavings from preserved dried fish, most typically katsuobushi or skipjack tuna.

Kombu is a Japanese seaweed with a strong unami component.  You can simmer it but remove it prior to any boiling, as it may make your stock bitter.

And use dried shiitake, if you plan to use shiitake – the unami strengthens in this!

Japanese Dashi with Bonito

  • 3 inches kombu
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup bonito flakes

Add the water and kombu to a sauce pan.

Bring the water and kombu to a simmer, do NOT boil, the kombu can make the broth bitter.

Remove the kombu after a minute of simmering.

Add the bonito flakes.

Simmer/boil this liquid more vigorously for another two or three minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth), and reserve the liquid for future use as your dashi stock.

Japanese Shiitake Dashi, Vegetarian

  • approximately 15 dried shiitake mushrooms (they do vary in size…)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 inches kombu

(One can leave out the shiitake entirely, but that seems a waste of what could be a much more flavorful unami-enhanced dashi than if this is just kombu…  vegetarians should not live deprived!)

Soak the shiitake in warm water for an hour or so, or soak them in cold water overnight.

Remove the mushrooms, squeezing the liquid from the mushrooms into the soaking waters.  (Reserve the mushrooms for a dish, such as a stir fry or a soup.)

Add the mushroom liquid and kombu to a sauce pan.

Bring the mushroom liquid and kombu to a simmer, do NOT boil, the kombu can make the broth bitter.

Remove the kombu after a minute of simmering.

Simmer this liquid more vigorously for another two or three minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth), and reserve the liquid for future use as your dashi stock.

What You Can Do!!!  Bonito Plus Shiitake Dashi – Double Plus Good Unami!

  • 3 or 4 dried shiitake mushrooms  (you can use more; this works however)
  • a cup of water
  • 3 inches kombu
  • 3/4 cups bonito flakes

This particular batch of Dashi was made today.  I combined the best ideas from the vegetarian and piscevorian thoughts on Dashi.  You see, both my bonito and my kombu have passed their preferred “sell-by” dates.  For some odd reason, I’d bought both items back in February or March of 2011, and I’d stocked up – it was a distance to our not-so-local health food store, and it was the only place that at that point sold either.

At any rate, neither the kombu nor the bonito are glowing in the dark (the Fukushima tsunami tragedy happened in April of 2011).  It does turn out a lot of the source for bonito is from tropical fish that don’t swim near that corner of Japan, which helps.  It also turns out there are sources for kombu, or at the very least, kombu-like kelp – look at labeling – that are also not near  Japan.  But is time to turn what I do have here into dashi!  This is also why the final product I’m making WILL reach the boiling point.  Removing the kombu itself prior to boiling, but then still boiling the stock – yes, do this.

I’ve managed to keep the remnants of both stocks very dry, and I also have some more-recently-obtained dried shiitake mushrooms.

Soak the shiitake in warm water for an hour or so, or soak them in cold water overnight.

Remove the mushrooms, squeezing the liquid from the mushrooms into the soaking waters.  (Reserve the mushrooms for a dish.)

Add the mushroom liquid and kombu to a sauce pan.

Bring the mushroom liquid and kombu to a simmer, do NOT boil, the kombu can make the broth bitter.

Remove the kombu after a minute of simmering.

Add the bonito flakes.

Simmer this liquid more vigorously for another two or three minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth), and reserve the liquid for future use as your dashi stock!

This blog post shared at the Real Food Fridays Link Party.
And at the  Fiesta Friday link party!..  Laura is the week’s co-host.

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Condiments, Cooking, Seafood, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

GF Scotch Duck Egg with Ground Beef, Coconut Flakes

Well, it’s experiment time again!  I’ve never before eaten Scotch eggs, much less made them.  They’re seasoned ground meat of your choice wrapped around a peeled boiled egg, which can be semi-soft or hard cooked prior to the wrapping.  Then, they’re typically rolled in breading, usually breadcrumbs.  I went for coconut flakes instead.  And, I used a large duck egg, which will require more covering than would a chicken egg.

egg, recipe, paleo, gluten-free, beef, coconut

Scotch Egg fresh from 20 minutes of baking

I went with ground beef rather than another species, because 1) I had ground beef to use and 2) not having done this before, I’d rather not end up with, say, rare ground pork.  (This beef came from a meat share, so I trusted it.  I tend to be especially picky about ground meat sources!)

I figured if it was going to take a large amount of ground meat to cover my duck egg, I should only have one.  For chicken eggs, I’d consider a serving to be two eggs.

Seasonings are only limited by your imagination, and your spice cabinet.  For ground pork, I’d definitely make this sausage-like!

  • 1 large duck egg
  • 1/4 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and ground pepper 
  • 1/8 cup coconut flakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Boil your egg(s) to preferred level of cooking — but if you like them real soft note that peeling will become hit or miss, mostly miss… I allowed this egg to cook at least 30 seconds longer than normal.

Run under cold water, and peel.

Meanwhile, while the egg is cooking, mix your seasonings by hand into the ground beef, and form into a thin patty of uniform thickness that you can wrap around your egg.

When the egg is ready, gently form the meat around the egg, covering it on all sides.

Roll it in a layer of coconut flakes.

Place on a pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  The outside will cook faster than the egg interior.  Serve.

recipe, egg, ground beef, coconut, paleo, gluten-free

Scotch Egg – quite yummy!

My beef was done to medium.  For chicken eggs, the meat will cook a little more rapidly, but bake for at least 15.

This blog post shared at the Real Food Fridays Link Party.



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Feast of the Seven Fishes, 2016: Featuring Eel and Smelts

Last year I had a truncated feast – I think it was four fishes.

This year I had all seven.

And while this is an Italian Christmas Eve tradition, one has no need to stay with Italian methods of preparation.  (Or so my father indicated, once he discovered that this was a tradition – in fact, he’d go to town and take over the concept big time, his way.  Fish, fish, fish.  And fish, fish, fish.  And, more fish.  Maybe even more than seven! Anyhow, I follow the Father Tradition in my Feast of the Seven Fishes…)

Feast of the seven fishes, yellowfin, smoked trout, smoked salmon, tobiko, ikura

From left to right: wasabi, yellowfin sashimi, marinated herring, smoked trout topped with cream cheese and tobiko, smoked salmon with cream cheese and ikura. Scatterings of green onion. Crunchy salad underneath.

This is my 2016 lineup:

  • Smoked salmon rolled up with cream cheese, dill, topped with salmon roe (ikura).   This was wild coho salmon.
  • Smoked trout  topped with cream cheese, dill,  flying fish roe (tobico).
  • Marinated herring, fresh from the jar…
  • Yellofin tuna sashimi with wasabi and tamari.
  • Balsamic and tamari fried eel.
  • Breaded fried smelts.

I was hoping to find a fish I’d want to poach, but the only fishes I saw for poaching were salmon (I already had two forms of salmon to hand) or trout (already had one form of trout to hand).  Well, they did have tilapia, but that’s not one of my favorites, and I’m not keen on how it is raised for the most part.  Ditto Chilean sea bass (Pantagonian tooth fish), which I’ve only eaten once in my life, and I really think I’d gotten a bad one, but that one turned me off of that particular fish forever.  Which is just as well.

I started Christmas eve off with The Feast of the Two Ova for breakfast!


A prelude into the day: Omelet with salmon roe (ikura) on top.

  • Chicken egg omelet, with a spicy melting cheese and most of a scallion inside,
  • and salmon roe (ikura) sprinkled with the greener parts of the scallion atop, for that holiday festive red/orange and green ambiance.  Ground black pepper inside and out.

Note:  somewhere in my past I tried cooking the ikura, and I was not pleased with the results.  For something as expensive as this, add the ikura as a topping after you plate the omelet!

There’s not much to say about the prepping of the first five items that you can’t gather from the photo – the salmon was indeed rolled up with more cream cheese (you can use goat cheese) and dill inside.  The smoked trout was too thick to roll up, so I simply sectioned it, and topped it.  Everything was served above a bed of salad (that resembled crispy cole slaw without the mayo or other wetting agents).  The salad was at the salad bar at Stew Leonard’s, the grocery from which I obtained the ikura, tobico, marinated herring, and the tuna.   (The other fish came from ShopRite.)

That leaves us with the eel and the smelts, both pretty simple, too.

The Eel

Eel is a fish I buy once a year, simply for this feast (which, I sprawled out across the day).  I have the fishmonger gut the thing, as believe me, that’s one thing you don’t want to do!  I have them leave the skin on, but that’s up to you.  It’s not scaly, and when you cook it the slimy part cooks away and is not present when you eat it.

recipe, eel, feast of the seven fishes, strawberry balsamic, tamari, gluten-free

A small plating of eel for dinner. Don’t worry, I ate more.

Prep: 5 minutes.
Cook: 8 minutes.

Balsamic, Teriyaki Pan-Fried Eel

  • 1 eel (they come in different sizes) chopped into 1.5 inch segments.
  • Cooking oil (I used a splash of avocado oil, enough to coat the pan)
  • A fruity balsamic vinegar (I used strawberry balsamic)
  • Tamari or coconut aminos.

Turn the heat up to medium on your range, and allow the oil to heat up to temperature in your skillet or pan.

Then add your eel, and follow immediately with the balsamic, enough to coat the fish on both sides.  Then add in a tablespoon or two of tamari.

Cook, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes total.

Serve with your choice of a vegetable side.  Bok choy with water chestnuts would be good.

The Smelts

Smelts are a small fish that provides high benefits of calcium, and being small, they are also not mercury accumulators.  They’re also highly sustainable, so I try to buy them frequently throughout the year.  With the smallest ones, you can eat the backbones (hence the calcium) – otherwise, it is easy enough to discard the backbone while eating them.  In my dinner, I ate about half a pound, along with salad and the amount of eel depicted above.

They are usually sold already cleaned and de-headed.

recipe, smelts, feast of the seven fishes, gluten-free, buckwheat flour

Some smelts ready for the eating.

Prep:  About 5 minutes.
Cook:  About 6 minutes.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat-Breaded Fried Smelts

  • Fried smelts, rinsed.
  • 1/2 part butter to 1/2 part avocado oil, amount depends on skillet size.  You’ll want a little more than a coating amount, but you don’t want to turn the skillet into a deep fat fryer, either.
  • Buckwheat flour, enough to coat the amount of smelts you’ll be cooking.
  • Ground black pepper, to taste.

Turn the heat up to medium on your range, and allow the butter/oil to heat up to temperature in your skillet or pan.

Dip the smelts into the buckwheat flour, rolling them around so they get coated inside and out.

Place them in the skillet and cook, three minutes per side.  Flip one final time for another few seconds, then remove and plate on top of a crunchy salad.

The Aftermath

Very good!

I finished up the smelts (same prep) for Christmas breakfast, along with a fried egg.  I chopped the rest of the eel into two and froze one half for later – the other half is refrigerated for later.  Eel freezes well.  I finished the tuna sashimi for mid-day snack, and prepared the rest of the smoked fishes on Christmas morning for an appetizer platter to take to friends for Christmas dinner (using a spreadable goat cheese instead of cream cheese, and for visual effect, putting tobico on the smoked salmon, and the ikura on the trout…).  Along with more of the marinated herring.  And along with garlic hummus, a crabmeat spread, and chopped veggie crudities.

May you all be having the happiest of holidays, whichever ones you and yours celebrate!






Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GF Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes

I’d bought some buttermilk for another purpose.   Most of the bottle was left over – why can’t they sell these things in quantities single folks would actually USE?  It’s not like we singles are non-existent or rare, you know?

Buckwheat isn’t really wheat – so it is gluten-free.  I’ve always liked the taste of buckwheat, so finding a recipe where I did not need to use some other, often tasteless, flour was wonderful.

gluten-free, pancakes, buckwheat, breakfast, vegetarian, recipe

Yes, there is a drizzle of maple syrup on these pancakes! (Love the flavor, not the sugar!)

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)  is related to rhubarb, and comes from the plant’s seeds, and so isn’t a true grain.  It contains all eight essential amino acids, and, depending on your source, comes in a sizable amount of total protein.  It contains more fiber than oatmeal per serving, and some studies indicate a positive role in maintaining proper blood sugar, healthy levels of LDL, and a goodly amount of dietary manganese (Buckwheat).

This recipe contains no other grains nor pseudo-grains.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes per skillet load
Rest Time:  Not needed, but if you are making a lot and want everyone to eat together,  cover and put them in a warming tray, or set the oven temp as low as possible, and keep them there until ready.
Serves: 3-4 people, depending on sides.
Leftovers?  Not after cooking, but you can reserve extra batter for a couple of days.

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar  (I used a little less, and I used organic coconut cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.25 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional 1/4 cup of blueberries, cranberries (pre-steam these), strawberries (chopped), or banana (sliced and chopped).
  • Butter, for the cooking oil
  • Your choice of toppings.  (I went with butter and a splash of real maple syrup)

Mix together by hand all the dry stuff in a large bowl.

Mix together by hand all the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.

Add wet to dry, and mix that by hand, leaving some lumps.  If adding fruit, add this in now.

Heat your skillet and when the butter or other oil you add to the skillet is hot – before the butter browns – add batter.  I tend to like small pancakes as I find them easier to control.  Flip when you start to see bubbles. Cook for another 2-4 minutes, checking to make sure the bottom side isn’t burning.  A nice tan works fine.

Serve.  Add toppings of your choice.  I bring my butter to room temperature ahead of time, and I prefer to use that.  As a New Englander, I like real maple syrup, but since I am NOT a sweet tooth, especially at breakfast, I just drizzle on enough for a bit of that maple taste.  I do NOT bother with “flavored corn syrup”!

The below link takes you to my inspiration for this.  I followed the pancake portion of the recipe pretty closely.

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancake recipe, from Cookie + Kate.

If you like some sides for breakfast with this, serve with with home-made pork sausage patties, or some quality plain yogurt to which you might add your own fruit.  Or just a big bowl of fresh berries!

gluten-free, pancakes, buckwheat, breakfast, vegetarian, recipe,, maple syrup

Second time I opened this bottle. 🙂

A note about organic coconut cane sugar:   I bought my bag over two years ago.  (I may be close to needing to purchase a new one…)  The remainder has YET to harden in the bag.  Something to endear it to us who seldom use this ingredient.

Shared on this Holiday Weekend with Real Food Fridays.

And with Fiesta Friday !  

There are a lot of holiday recipes at both those sites, and don’t forget, that the above pancakes may make a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah brunch idea.




Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Gluten-Free Chicken Cordon Bleu, with Boneless Thigh Meat

There are a lot of gluten-free breading recipes out there using either 1) pre-packaged conglomerates of stuff with dodgy ingredients or 2) crushed tree nuts, usually almonds.

Well, many tree nuts are problematic for me, and I know that the ones I care most about are off my food plan – pistachios and pine nuts.  Other ones seem to be likely as well, but I really don’t miss those.  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to limit nightshades — potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant — all of which I love.  These, however, are non-critical to eliminate entirely, just severely limited, so I will make recipes containing these hither and yon. No nightshades today…

chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, recipe, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

Rolled oats coating on the left, unsweetened coconut flake coating on the right.

For this Cordon Bleu recipe, you can use boneless skinless chicken breast, of course — but if I’m changing things around to be gluten and tree-nut free, I might as well go with that more flavorful cut I prefer:  a good boneless, skinless (in this case) chicken thigh.    Mind you, a good chicken breast cordon bleu is one of the few forms of chicken breast I actually find moist enough to consider seconds on, and the ham and cheese moisture and yummy taste certainly doesn’t hurt!

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, Paleo, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

Coconut flake Chicken Cordon Bleu

I tested two types of outer coatings, both rolled oats and coconut flakes, as described below.  I have to say, for me, the rolled oats won, but the coconut flake coating is suitable for those who wish to dine strictly Paleo.


The ham used.


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  Skillet – 15-18 minutes each round.  Oven – 20 minutes.
Rest Time:  5 minutes
Serves:  1 or two Cordon Bleus per person.
Special equipment: toothpicks, cooking rack.
Leftovers:  re-heat in oven for continued crispiness.

Gluten-Free Chicken Cordon Bleu, with Boneless Thigh Meat

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat cut away.  (Go ahead and use the breast meat if you prefer.  Get the thin-cut slices.)
  • 4 thin slices of a quality sliced ham (I like Applegate’s brand; they make an effort to raise/source their animals more humanely.)
  • 4 thick slices of Swiss cheese – thin enough for flexibility
  • 1 teaspoon (or so) of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (or so) of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or so) of powdered mustard  (I used a spicy Oriental mustard simply because that’s what was available.   The end result had a bit of tang that wasn’t “hot”.)
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • arrowroot powder/starch, about 1/3rd cup.  (Rice flour is also gluten-free, and is also easier to find, if you don’t care that the recipe be Paleo.)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • the outer coating:  about 1/3rd cup of either:  unsweetened coconut flakes (Paleo) or gluten-free rolled oats, NOT instant, nor steel-cut.  Break up the rolled oats using a mortar and pestle, or put some in a freezer bag, and run something heavy over them.
  • Grapeseed (or other high temp) cooking oil.  Safflower oil in a pinch.  Note – the use of coconut or avocado oil (which are Paleo, unlike the grapeseed or safflower) for this is simply too pricy!  The amount will depend on the size of your skillet.  Add enough so that the oil comes up about 1/3rd the height of the meat you place into it.

As with anything chicken, wash your hands and equipment early and often!!!

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Set everything up before you start handling the chicken, for sanitary reasons.  Have a bowl or plate for the arrowroot flour, a small bowl for the beaten egg, another bowl or plate for the coconut or oats.  Pull out several toothpicks and set them aside.  Add half the thyme, dried mustard, garlic powder, and ground pepper to the flour, the other half to the coconut or oatmeal, and mix.  Pull out some plastic wrap and set a strip of it aside.

Pull out the chicken and lay it out flat on your meat cutting board.  Assuming you’ve already cut away and discarded the fat, now cut off any of the knobby bits that stick up from the thighs.  (Reserve these for something like a stir fry  with lots of veggies for a base!)

Place the sheet of plastic wrap over the meat, and pound down with a blunt object.  Yes, there are specialized tools for this, and they probably don’t cost much, but improvisation is even cheaper!

Discard the plastic, and layer the slices of ham over the chicken thighs (or breast).  Follow with the Swiss cheese.  Cut away any bits that overhang the base chicken.  (Add to the center of the chicken if you feel there is room.)  Smear with 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard per thigh.

Roll the thighs/ham/cheese up tightly, and secure with one or two toothpicks.

Roll the thighs around in the seasoned flour mixture so that all parts are covered.

Dip and roll in the beaten egg.

Roll in the crumbly mixture (coconut or oats).

Heat up the oil in your skillet so that a drop of water sizzles, and then some (do not allow the oil to smoke).  Note that the hotter you can get the oil, the less greasy your food will be!  Add the thighs — as many as your skillet size fits comfortably.  Allow to cook about 4-5 minutes a side, and then do two or three minutes each edge.  The crumbs should be a crispy toasty brown.

Remove from the skillet onto a couple layers of paper towel, to absorb extra grease.

In your baking pan – put a rack down so that the underside of the thighs remain crispy.  Place the cordon bleus in here, edges not touching each other.   (Hmm, what IS the plural of cordon bleu, or is there one?)

Bake 20 minutes (maybe only 15 if breast meat) at 350 F.

Remove from oven, allow to rest for five minutes.  Remove tooth picks and serve.


Both the coconut flake and the rolled oats were good.  I seriously preferred the rolled oats with this treatment, however.   This is the way I will be doing this dish in the future. 

Suggested serving sides:  Rice pilaf?  Steamed broccoli or broccolini with butter and fresh Mediterranean herbs?   A nice hearty salad with mixed greens and cukes and whatever may be in season, tossed with fresh tarragon, EVOO and red wine vinegar?

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, gluten-free, nut-free

Lay down the ham, then lay down the cheese… (The item at upper left in each photo is the leftover nubs of chicken thigh… soon to be wrapped up and away.)

Final notes:  If you are fine with gluten consumption, sub in regular wheat flour for the arrowroot.  Sub in finely-crunched up dry breadcrumbs — making your own will limit the amount of weird additives in your meal — or Japanese panko for the coconut flakes / oatmeal.  (I personally CAN eat gluten – at least at “reasonable” levels — but I prefer to limit my intake to what I eat dining out, if at all possible.)     

PS:  I’m not sure if coconut is considered a “tree nut”.  I digest coconut just fine, while a friend of mine cannot digest either coconut or tree nuts.  

PPS:  The kitchen (and house!) smelled mighty fine after!

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

Chicken Cordon Bleu, rolled up and ready for coatings

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

Frying the coconut pair.

recipe, chicken cordon bleu, chicken thigh, gluten-free, tree-nut-free

For some reason, the oatmeal ones were giving me photography issues. But here’s as good as it got…

Come join the fun at Fiesta Friday, with our hosts Caroline, and Tania.

And have some more fun at Real Food Fridays!


Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Once and Future Kitchen…

I have mentioned in a few posts that I’m currently building a home (which I had naively hoped would have been ready by the very latest, late last summer or early autumn).

It is a log home, one level but with a walk out basement.  I am in some regards seriously downsizing into it — but this does not count the kitchen.  The kitchen is UPSIZING.

Kitchen plans

To left of sink: Dishwasher. To right: trash and recyclable bins. Straight up: induction range. Hood still needs to go overhead. Prep area in front of window — contractor’s boom box will vanish. Upper cabs to left: coffee, tea, mugs. On counter underneath: beverage station – coffee maker, grinder, SodaStream.  PS: Sink faces the dining area, and has a good view out the window beyond.

Right now, I have a very dysfunctional kitchen built in 1968 or 1969, when the assumption was we’d all be eating TV dinners quickly and without fan-fare, heated in the oven.  It is small and poorly-planned, which is why a lot of the food I am serving is photographed out of doors.  Move the clutter?  Move the meal?  Which is quicker???  (I like eating it before it turns cold.)

Currently, my basic prep area is on TOP of the range.  There is a counter to the left and to the right of the range — 12 inches wide, in each case.  On the left side, it is my collection of oils and vinegars and tamari.  On the right side, it’s my knife block and some more condiments.  I store large platters in a dresser drawer in a spare bedroom.  I also do some prep work at the dining room table.

There are two duplex electrical outlets — The one is used by the fridge, and is by that counter to the right of the range, allowing no practical use for the other portion of that duplex.  The second is near the sink, and I’m constantly switching out plugs for:  microwave, coffee maker, coffee grinder, mini-food processor, immersion blender, George Foreman grill.  Weaving the cords in and among the dry goods containers (rice, oatmeal, coconut flour, lentils…) as needed.

There’s more, (in less space) but let’s get back to the good stuff!


Looking in from dining entry area. Over that range (that will also have a vent hood…) is a small upper cab for cooking oils, salt, pepper, garlic powder. You know, the essentials. To the right of prep area is Prep Sink. Compost will be collected in a bucket under that sink. Doorway leads to future pantry. To the right of that — landing zone for groceries, with a spare condiment upper cab above. Fridge of course, with lower freezer compartment.

I’ve enjoyed consulting with others about ideas, and having many lower drawers rather than too many lower cabinets seems to be a great idea.  I was also talked into having a prep sink — and that the notion of food from the fridge should go to the sink (prep in this case), then to the prep area, then to being cooked.  And that a landing zone before the fridge is way handy.  So, I did all that.

And, being as I am tall, and sometimes my back goes out, having seriously functional upper cabinets is also a grand notion.  Hence, my floor plan is semi-open, not OPEN to the universe.  (Besides, on the opposite wall, I will be hanging artwork.  I like artwork… )


Some of the image to the left got cut off, but immediately off-screen is the fridge. Straight ahead is the book shelf (there will be another board in there) for cookbooks. The right wall is sage green, NOT remotely that bluish stuff.  Colors on-line can be deceptive!  Lots of cabs here for dishes and glasses, with the most frequently used items closest to the viewer (and to the dish washer when it unloads). On the counter will be (from back to front) the George Foreman grill, the toaster oven, and then the microwave. (Yep, all the contractor stuff there will GO.)

The drawer under the counter-top in the most recent photo, the one closest to the viewer:   Daily silverware.  The one back further away:  Asian accouterments, and the shish-kebab implements.  Lowest cab:  the combo lobster pot/hot water canner.  As well as a Dutch oven, a yogurt maker, and various implements I’m not keen to keep on the counter top.

The kitchen will be set up for far better photography – I may even consider doing a video or three.   Light will be better, and will be properly controlled.  There will be pendant lighting over the prep area — probably not necessary in the summer, but in the winter it gets dark mighty early.  Also over the sink, to get those dishes clean.  (Not everything goes into a dishwasher.)

I’ll get a full-sized food processor,  and a few other items.  I’d really like a pressure canner, as I will be growing a lot of my own food outside during the warm months.

This house has indeed been designed around the kitchen!


When will I move in?

Dunno.  The house just got propane heat (next year I will be adding solar), and the plumber is there this week connecting the septic and the fixtures.  Not sure when the electrician will be back, and there’s some up-to-code sheetrocking left to do in the garage.

I’ve already started moving (non-valuable) stuff up there — to places out of the way in the house.  I can finally get my platter collection out of a back bedroom dresser drawer!!!





Posted in Cooking | 9 Comments

Gluten-Free Bean Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

If it were a stew or soup, I’ d be inclined to leave the mussels in their shells, but in this case, they’ll be cooked, removed, and returned to the pasta when the pasta is ready for them.

recipe, gluten-free, chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels

Chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels, and seasonings.

Garlic, dried oregano, and ground pepper will finish this off nicely, plus a pat or so of butter (or a splash of EVOO, if you don’t do dairy).

The chickpea pasta I’ve been using has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of  fiber per serving.  I’m happy with that.

This is an extremely quick recipe.  Ah, yes, kudos for those!

Prep Time: not significant.
Cooking Time:  Mussels — 5 minutes.  Pasta — see package (no more than 10 minutes)
Rest Time:  None.
Serves: 2, as a main.  More if served as a side.

Gluten-Free Bean Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

  • 1 bag of mussels — usually a pound or two in the shell
  • 1 8-ounce pack of frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces gluten free pasta (I use chickpea bean pasta here)
  • 1 generous tablespoon butter (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and ground pepper to taste.
  • Some optional ideas at the end of this recipe!

Cook the mussels in boiling water, leaving ample room for mussels to open as they cook.

Allow mussel water to froth and that water in the pot to rise, about an extra minute.

Drain mussels and run cold water over them.

Get another pot of water ready, and put the opened package of spinach in at the bottom.  Set to boil.

While this is coming to a boil, de-shell the mussels, saving mussels and discarding shells.  Also, discard any unopened mussels!!!  They may have been dead prior to cooking.  No need to find out… Anyhow, if they get overcooked, they tend to get rather dry.

When the pot with the spinach starts to boil, add in the pasta, and stir it to mix in with the spinach.  Allow to cook to the time it says on the package.  Bean pasta will go soggy rather quickly, so keep an eye on the time.

Drain the pasta/spinach, pushing out excess liquid.

Add to a large bowl.

Immediately add the de-shelled mussels, butter (or EVOO), and the seasonings, and mix.

Serve while hot.

Some other options:  a couple good tablespoons of grated Parmesean cheese would be tasty to add at the end.  I also had considered using fresh sage, rosemary and thyme  for seasonings, instead of the oregano — for a good Simon & Garfunkel ambiance!  (But alas, what remained was no longer fresh…)  You can also flicker some red pepper flakes on top, to taste — or let people add at their whim at the table!

recipe, gluten-free, chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels

I found this to be very filling.

PS:  Leftovers — I’d nuke within three days, with some cheese on top…   Or splash on a bit of broth (to keep things moist), then nuke.

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Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments