Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Forty Eight (On Table and Chairs and Good Things to Eat)

We forget sometimes that the simplest of things like a table, chairs and good things to eat can transform our sense of feeling at a loss to feeling completely at home. Transitions can be hard, but also invigorating. Sometimes, though, they just unsettle us, especially when we are used to certain routines, like sitting at the dining room table (in chairs) eating mom’s homemade dinners, and knowing where the tape is stored. The delivery of the table and chairs that fit our new tight space transformed our apartment from a living space to home. For this, we are thankful to our friends.

We just went through a huge transition – a good one, but a bit unsettling nonetheless. We (the parents) decided that it was time to make a move. We were aiming to be close to NYC to help me with Spelt Right, but the real key to our relocation was dependent upon where my life partner, love, and confidant landed a job. Somehow, the stars aligned and transported us to the heart of the City where we loved, left, and longed to return.

Once again, after a twenty-two year hiatus we are back in the Big Apple. This time, though, with a little more life experience, a few more educational degrees, too many possessions, and three offspring in tow.

This move from Maine to NYC is an unlikely transition for a family who was under no constraints to move. Yet, we decided it was time to shed some of our worldly possessions, test living in close quarters, and gain access to one of the greatest cities in the world. As Spencer said, “who needs t.v. when you have NYC unfolding in front of your eyes.” (We did keep one of our three t.v.'s)

We are thankful for the supports we have in this sweet apple: our family, business partners, colleagues, and friends – old and new. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Good Wishes for Any Holiday, or Any Day….

And, for our first meal, on our new table in our little apartment – a recipe from a great Italian chef – modified to be made gluten free. - Gluten Free Baked Ziti


One organic onion (finely chopped)

4-5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or minced with salt)

1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Pomi – crushed tomatoes – all natural, no citric acid – in a carton (no BPA in packaging)

One Pound Grass Fed Ground Beef

1-2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt

Ground pepper to taste

6-10 leaves of Fresh Basil (chopped finely)

One package of gluten free (rice) ziti

One small container of whole milk ricotta

One half to one pound of mozzarella shredded


Place chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in large stainless steel pan. Saute until onions are brown. Add ground beef. Saute until browned. Add Pomi tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Add one teaspoon of organic sugar if desired. Stir all ingredients. Cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add chopped basil.

In the meantime, boil and drain pasta according to instructions on panel. Rinse, and then toss with extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking.

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a 9 inch glass baking dish, spread a little of the sauce on the bottom to keep the pasta from sticking. In the sauce pan, toss the pasta sauce and pasta. When thoroughly tossed, place the pasta in the baking dish. Spread ricotta on top. Then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until bubbling on top. Guaranteed to be hit with the kids. It was so good and easy, we ended up making this two nights in row, one with night with meat, the other meatless.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Seven (Santa Sal - Tradition)

Sal has the names of each of his children tattooed with pride on his arm. Maria, his ex-wife, is tattooed there too. Not only is she still present on his arm, but also in the front end of Sal’s Pastry Shoppe. Maria greets each customer with love and pride, as if each one is as precious as her offspring who are laboring in the back with their father. “Cannoli, tiramasu, struffoli? What would you like, honey? They are all delizioso; Sal and my sons make them.”
Sal, direct from Italy, has been baking for 40 of his 52 years. “Not no one knows how to make the bread or the pastries like Sal does.” This is not arrogance, it’s pride; it’s true; don’t mess with the maestro. Just as the famous Italian violinist Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) became one with his violin, Sal, of the same romantic origin, becomes one with his bread. “You must understand the dough; observe it; listen to it; feel it.” The message is clear. A recipe is meaningless without engaging all of yourself, all of your senses, and the sixth sense of intuition into the dough.
The back of the bakery is the training ground for Sal and Maria’s sons, Salvatore, Jr. and Dominic. Sal, Jr., the eldest, has taken on his father’s love of baking. In fact, Sal's Pastry Shoppe is owned by Sal, Jr. An impressive endeavor for a 20-something.
Better than any cake boss, he is the “Prince of Specialty Cakes”. The first time I met him, he honored me with a picture album of the works of art he creates for all occasions: playgrounds, sports fields, crosses, dradles, baby carriages, wedding cakes, all edible, all individual, all made with the precision of a mathematician. Uncle Frank beams, “the kid is a math whiz, you know.” Sal, Jr.’s math acumen is evident by the symmetry and artistry of his creations.
As we continue to knead the test batch of spelt bread, Dominic, the youngest says to me “Maine? That’s where you are from? I love Stephen King.” “Stephen King?” I inquire, “You must love to read, and love horror too?” “Yes, I am a writer.” Dominic’s revelation brings a smile to my face; it explains the drawing of caricatures in the office. Sal, Jr. drew a likeness of Dominic with the phrase “I AM A WRITER”. Dominic drew a picture of Sal, Jr. “I AM A BAKER.”
Dominic has written a few screenplays; some horror in the tradition of Stephen King; some comedy in the tradition of life. He studied at the New York Film Academy. “It’s hard to be recognized in that business.” Dominic said. “Yes, Dominic,” I replied, “It’s hard to be recognized in any business.” But, Dominic, Sal Jr., Uncle Frank and I all have something to learn from Sal, Sr., we just need to keep working at it – using all of our senses – becoming one with what we do.
Sal’s Pastry Shoppe, a beautifully complex tiny world, spins with family, love, passion, tradition, and hard work. Whether creating tiramasu, spelt bread, 12 layer cakes, or screenplays, a few things remain true, we must persevere, hold on to our dreams, hope for a little luck, and being thankful for those who spin into our tiny worlds to help us keep our passions alive.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Six (The Art of Multi-Tasking)

Recipe for Disaster a/k/a The Art of Multi-Tasking

I may not be known for many things, but I am known (within my circles) for being a master at multi-tasking. 1992: Graduate from law school, have the first baby, take bar exam all within a month. 1997: Have second baby, settle a case, and forget the third task. 2002: Help ailing father, do jury trial and lose, have third baby within 1 month. (No sympathy from the jury for waddling into court!) 2011: move business, move family, help ailing mother, visit sister in mid-west, deal with new diagnosis of hemophilia within a month.

And, somewhere along the way, I just wanted to make a simple dinner for two . But, this multi-tasker failed to remember that putting the oven on broil and leaving the room to do what we all must do in the water closet is not a good idea.

Luckily for my keen sense of smell, “Is something burning?” and excellent hearing "Is that the fire alarm?" the failure of my multi-tasking skills did not lead to a house fire. We simply got a slightly burned Spelt Right pizza for dinner, which, when all said and done, wasn’t a bad meal for someone with too much on her plate.

I will not give you this RECIPE for disaster. This is one you can figure out or avoid on your own.

Two essential ingredients: Spelt Right Pizza Dough and a Fire Extinguisher.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Five (Breaking the Fast for Yom Kippur)

This is a guest post by my very dear friend, Anna Collins.

The Perfect Meal to Break the Fast
 This year on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, I fasted as required by tradition.  Then, I broke my fast with spelt.  Let me be more exact --  I broke my fast with the most delicious slice of Spelt Right pizza one could imagine -- a slice filled with the flavors of mushrooms, garlic, three types of cheese, and fresh basil.  

It was also a slice filled with something more -- something that cannot be easily described.

I do not find fasting to be an easy task, but it is something I look forward to because it is transformative.  Modern life is a rushed enterprise, even if one fails to embrace its speed and works to rebel against its multi-tasking nature.  Fasting forces one to observe one's struggle with modernity from the outside, looking in.  As I fast, I becomes aware of my humanity, my frailty, and my dependence on the things that are easy to take for granted in a society still far more privileged than most.  

This year on Yom Kippur, when it was time to break the fast, I found myself with a slice of spelt pizza in my hands.  This was not just any slice.  This was a slice made by a dear friend, someone who has treated me and my family as extended family.  As I ate that slice of pizza, I thought about our friendship -- its history, its dynamics, its future.  I also thought about how fortunate I am to know my friend.  We may have our differences, but we care for each other.  That is something I will not take for granted.

Today, as I consider the moment I broke the fast, I realize something else.  In some parts of the world, my friend and I would not be able to easily share a meal.  Some would consider our cultural heritage too conflicting.  My friend is of Christian Middle-Eastern decent, and I am native Russian Jewish.  The fact that I broke the fast with food she made is powerful, perhaps even transformative.  It is hard to name the key ingredient in that slice -- words are not enough to describe it.  Perhaps the word "humanity" is a good start. 

Here is recipe for humanity.

One Spelt Right Pizza Dough Fully Thawed and Risen
Extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves of fresh garlic
8-12 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
2 ounces chevre soft goat cheese
12-16 ounces mozzarella cheese (shredded)
2 ounces grated fresh parmesan cheese
8-10 leaves fresh basil
Sea Salt

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Lightly oil pizza pan with EVOO.  Stretch Spelt Right Pizza Dough over pan.  Drizzle dough with EVOO and garlic ground with salt (I do this with a mortar and pestle).  Spread with hands.  Put in oven for about 5 minutes just firm up the crust.   In the meantime, saute sliced mushrooms and more garlic and salt in EVOO until browned.  Set aside.   Take crust out of oven and top with shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, and small dollops of goat cheese.  Next add the mushrooms spreading evenly.   Top with with 6-10 leaves of fresh chopped (not too fine) basil.   Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is light brown on the bottom.

Remove from oven.  Slice for family.  Tempt friend who is fasting and save extra large piece for her.   Place extra large piece in aluminum foil, wrap carefully, and give to Anna with a kind admonition not to eat until sundown.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Four (On the Meaning of Life-Blood and One Incredible Banana Bread)

So I have been stressing a bit lately.  What’s new?  Most of it is a self-imposed choice of wanting to climb very high mountains, forge new territories, and occasionally get some sleep. 

Sometimes, however, genetics just get in the way.   This time, it is not only personality traits, but also blood clotting traits.  No one really wants to talk about this stuff.   Blood.  It is kind of taboo.  But, blood has become the focus of my life.   Recently, I was diagnosed with two different blood-clotting disorders – Von Willebrand Disease and Factor XI deficiency.  Factor XI is also known as hemophilia C.   At first the “H” word made me shutter, but now it has transformed me into the guardian of my blood-line – the entire tangle of my family emanating from my father’s side.   My children, my siblings, their children, my cousins, their children.  It is all genetics.   It is like unraveling a mystery.

These newly discovered diagnoses explain years of mystery.   Like why, during certain times of my life, I was so drained, I felt I did not have one more speck of energy to move on.  Or, why I chose to have all of my babies 5 years apart.  Or, why I ended up in the ER hemorrhaging after a simple tooth extraction.  Or, why my father never healed after surgery, which led to his demise a year later.  Or, why my aunt died within hours of surgery.  Or, why my oldest sister is always covered with bruises.

All of us were literally drained of our life-blood.   It is all genetics, but no one knew.   Until, now, that is. 

I recently have been told that I have been very lucky.   But, it’s also taboo to talk too much about luck.  So, I will leave it at that.  (But, I will mention briefly that I am lucky to live in Southern Maine, home to not only lobsters and great coastlines, but also a phenomenal Hemophilia Treatment Center at Maine Med.)

But, now that I am the guardian of this information, I have a responsibility to carry the torch, lead the way, make new discoveries and help those within my blood-line, especially, my youngest, who carries on the tradition of my lineage.   She’s only 9, and wishes to disclaim this inheritance, but unfortunately, she can’t.  Fortunately, though, she also has me, with the knowledge, no shame, and the ability to keep her out of harm’s way.  

So not only will I continue to teach this fierce 9 year old how to be strong, and to care for herself, and to look for signs, I am also teaching her how to be self-sufficient and climb her own mountains.

Spelt Banana Bread Made By One Strong 9 Year Old
During this recent tumultuous time, my littlest tyke really wanted to bake one day, but this baker entrepreneur mother was quite worn out.  So, with my encouragement, she and her big brother baked all on their own and made some incredible banana bread.

It was the perfect snack for a mom who was feeling slightly tired, but no longer drained of her life-blood.

Incredible Spelt Banana Bread

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup organic sugar
2TBL organic black strap molasses
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole grain VITA SPELT flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 ripe bananas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and then mix in mashed bananas, applesauce and orange juice.   Mix well.  Bake in 9 x 12 well butter glass pan, or in loaf pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes in glass pan or 45 min-1hr in loaf pan.    ENJOY every life-filled moment!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Three (Chicken Scarpariello, Unlikely Sage Style)

“It’s better to be blind and be shown the way, then to bluff one’s way into a dark abyss and fall from a cliff.’  Anonymous –(from a person who should be famous).

So was the advice from a friend after I explained my dilemma of being completely ignorant about the topic of conversation of a recent dinner party.  In other words, “listen and you shall learn, but don’t feign knowledge of the unknown, lest you wish to play the fool.”

Again, I am the beneficiary of some great advice from a not-so-famous person with many big ideas with no venue to expound.

Until now, that is….

The Lunch Box Chronicles is happy to announce that it will occasionally offer words of wisdom and recipes from an unlikely sage who also happens to be a great cook.

In addition to being at a loss for words at the dinner party, I was at a loss of ideas for making dinner a few days later.  Plan of Action? Make a call to the unlikely sage.  Get a recipe. Problem solved.

Chicken Scarpariello
Some simple advice was procured “Make Scarpareillo, The Shoemaker’s Dish in Italy.  You Can’t Go Wrong.”

He was right.  I didn’t go wrong.  This was magnificent.  And it is even better a few days later.

3-4 Tbs. Olive oil
3 Links  Sweet Italian sausage (about 1 lb)
2 Lb. Boneless breast of chicken (though this is usually made with chicken in the bone)
 1 Medium yellow onion, finely diced
3-4  red potatoes cut in small cubes
4 –8 Cloves garlic, peeled, and chopped
1/2 pound of mushrooms sliced
1 Cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. Fresh basil, finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

(Could have used red pepper flakes, pickled cherry peppers, lemon, org and lemon, but did not in this recipe)
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add the sausages and cut up chicken and sauté, regulating the heat to reduce spattering. Turn regularly until they’ve browned; about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve.
In separate skillet, add the onions, garlic and mushrooms, sauté until browned.  Add slightly boiled chopped potatoes and sauté until done.
Raise the heat to high in the meat skillet, and add the wine. Boil for about 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of chicken and sausage that have caramelized on the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion, garlic, mushroom, potato mixture.  Continue to simmer.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Add chopped basil as the end.
Serve over polenta and with Spelt Right rosemary bread crisps.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty-Two (Special Person Day: Banana, Applesauce, Orange Juice Spelt Cake)

This special recipe is for special person day.  

Last week we had special person day for the 4th graders at Olivia’s school.

She had a hard time choosing between her dad and me, but finally came to the conclusion that we both warranted a “special person” title.   I felt privileged!  As special people, we were treated to a personalized reading session, a tour of the classroom, and being served treats by our daughter.  I was moved that the feature in Olivia’s Newspaper was about Spelt Right Baking Company.  Despite her protestations about the time I spend on the company, there seems to be a special place in her heart for this  family endeavor. 

 All in all it was a pretty special day.

Here is the cake we made for special person’s day. 

Banana, applesauce, orange juice spelt cake.  So moist!

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar (we use organic)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole grain VITA SPELT flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
1-2 ripe bananas
1/2-3/4 cup applesauce (we used this because we ran out of bananas and it turned out to be a fantastic modification to the recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and then mix in mashed bananas, applesauce and orange juice.   Mix well.  Bake in 9 x 12 well butter glass pan, or in loaf pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes in glass pan or 45 min-1hr in loaf pan.  Enjoy!   This is really really moist, and surprisingly light for a whole grain cake.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day To Remember: A Friend, A Nation, A Cause

As with a year ago, I have a little to say about cooking or baking, but rather I reflect upon a day that will forever be engraved in the US History books as a day that 21st Century Americans lost their sense of invincibility.  It is also a day in which the absolute good and the absolute evil of humankind collided.  And, finally, as a day in which I lost a friend, one whom I had not seen for years, but whose family made a lasting impact on my life.

I was but one beneficiary of many of the generosity of the Goodrich Family of Bennington, VT.   Parents Don and Sally, and siblings Foster and Kim, lost their child/brother, Peter, to the events of 9/11.  Before and since that time, however, the world has benefited from the Goodriches' generosity, sense of humanity, and kindness.  The world, yet, was hit another blow with loss of Sally in December 2010.  She led a strong fight, but cancer eventually took her body.  Her soul remains in the many whom she has nurtured and guided.  I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones who has had this angel touch my life.

To read more about this remarkable family, please see The Peter M. Goodrich Foundation website.

Peace to All.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Forty One (Back-to-School One Day Special: Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies with Splash of Kahlua)

BACK-TO-SCHOOL creates an urgency to buy new clothes, sharpen pencils, and make cookies!

Yet, this back-to-school mode was of the “one day only” variety, kind of like a quick sale.  

"One Day Sale – Get A Pair of 50 Dollar Jeans for Only 10 Dollars – but ONE DAY ONLY!  Hurry in quickly, before you lose your chance!"

That was our back-to-school event.  One day only.  

Hurry in quickly, or nothing will get done around the house, including making those cookies for school lunches. But why worry about school lunches?  We won’t need them for another 4 days, because the kids are on vacation again.

Not only is this schedule throwing off my equilibrium, it just ain’t fair!

Although Hurricane Irene did not pack a hard punch in our town, her impact is nonetheless being felt.  School opening was delayed for a day, which meant that the elementary schoolers were back to school for a day on Thursday until vacation started again Friday.  No school again until Tuesday.

This Labor Day schedule is causing more labor for me.  What’s the point, really? Please?  Why the false start?

No time to complain; just make the cookies before the kids get home and vacation starts - again.  

Here’s a delicious recipe made with100% whole grain – my guess is that they will be devoured just in time for school to start – again.

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Splash of Kahlua

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter - REAL BUTTER softened
1 and 1/2 cups organic cane sugar (this stuff has sooo much flavor)
2 TBL pure molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking SODA
2 eggs
1 teaspoon REAL VANILLA – (I used 1 TBL Kaluha because I was out of vanilla)
2 1/2 cups organic whole spelt flour
12 ounces all natural chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar and  molasses.  Keep beating until smooth, add in eggs and vanilla.  Keep mixing.  In separate smaller bowl, mix together spelt flours and baking soda.    Beat flour mixture into butter mixture, slowly adding in the flour.  Stir in chocolate pieces.

Whole Grain Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in 375 oven for about 10 minutes.  Because these are spelt, they tend to flatten out.  Done when edges are slightly brown.  Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.   YUM!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Forty (On the Edge: Food for A Crowd)

We have had so many kids around the house this weekend that I have lost count - maybe 5 or 6 or 7.

The number keeps fluctuating.  We have two young overnight guests due to their parents being on vacation, and sundry other tykes who roam through the neighborhood and weave in and out of our house.

The big topic for the overnight guests is will they ever get to go home again given all the anxiety around Hurricane Irene.

Regardless of the uncertainty of the hurricane, one thing that I know for sure is that I need to keep feeding them.

In all this making and baking, I forgot what we had for yesterday's lunch, but for dinner I made homemade pizza and grilled chicken with rice, sliced cucumbers with rice vinegar, and salad with homemade balsamic dressing.  Breakfast this morning was spelt waffles (with a little rum, because I ran out of vanilla).  For lunch, I made an incredible vegan dish and forced the most skeptical of the younger crew to "just TRY it!"  For the most part, they liked it, though I did witness a few selective fork maneuvers in which certain "green things" were strategically left at the edge of the dish.

Tonight was a potpourri of leftovers as I was tapped out energy.   The "green stuff again?" one desperate 9 year old pleaded.  "Yep, kid, along with the left over grilled chicken and Spelt Right pizza from last night."  I did manage to find a few scraps of greens for a new salad.

As for the Green Stuff, it really is a marvelous recipe:

Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Chick Pea Stew

1 large onion (finely to coarsely chopped)
1/4-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 16 ounce can of organic chic peas (garbanzo beans)(rinsed and drained)
3 cups of water
1 large eggplant
1 medium sized zucchini
1 medium sized summer squash
10-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in fours
1 1/2- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Place onions and oil in saucepan.  Cook until onions are golden brown.  Add drained chick peas and water.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Cut up summer squash and zucchini.  Cut up tomatoes. Add vegetables to chick pea mixture.  Add seasonings.  Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until eggplant and vegetables are tender.  May be served hot or cold.  

Serve with rice and try to hide the green stuff.

Delicious Dish Despite the Green Stuff

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Thirty-Nine (Spelt Pizza So Good: It Must Be Censored)

Here are two incredible recipes for Spelt Right Pizza - split in half made on one special dough.  

One half was made with the tomato meat sauce recipe provided in Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hunderd Thirty-Eight and topped with fresh mozzarella balls and shredded mozzarella/provolone mix.

The other half was adorned with fresh basil and fresh tomatoes from our neighbor and friends, Kendra (of Whimsy fame) and Will's phenomenal sprawling garden, plus garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella balls.

This stuff was so crazy good that Will, also known as Billy Sweet the Chimney Sweep, described the pleasure of eating it in a term that must be censored from this blog.

But, I totally get it.  Sometimes, really good food, especially that made with your own hands (the pizza dough), and grown with your sweat (the veggies), and created by your own soul (the pizza), engenders such a sense of euphoria that the rest of the world melts away, and just for a moment, you are one with that culinary pleasure.

Quick Recipe - Thaw and Rise Spelt Right Pizza, Pre-heat oven to 450.  Lightly oil pan with EVOO.  Gently stretch dough on to stainless steel baking pan.  Top half with meat sauce and mozzarella.  Top other half with olive oil infused with crushed garlic and sea salt, sliced fresh mozzarella, slice fresh tomatoes, and cut leaves of fresh basil.  Bake until crust is crispy.

Eat slowly and enjoy every passing moment.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles Day One Hundred Thirty-Eight (On Being Blunt - One Stunning Sauce on Spelt Pasta)

Blunt: adjective

3. (of a person or remark) Uncompromisingly forthright

candid, forthright, frank….

Once in a while, everyone needs someone who is blunt…
Candid, Forthright, Frank….

I have the tendency to think that I can “do it all”:  build a business, manage a family, drive six hours at a clip, meet customers with a smile, hang out with friends, practice law, save the world…

But, there are the details I often forget – the details that I preach to others, but fail to practice myself – like getting enough rest, eating the right foods, taking iron and vitamins, slowing down just enough to get a glance in the mirror to gauge whether I am about to pass out or if I am ready to sprint.

I would like to think that I am Wonder Woman, but fiction is just fiction.  I lack super-human strength, the ability to fly, super-speed, and super agility, though sometimes, I do have super-stamina….until I crash….

And, when the crash happens, I am lucky to have a frank person in my life who becomes very blunt….

“You need to rest kid; the car runs only if it has gas in the tank.”

I heeded the frank advice, gave myself a few days to rest, and made a delicious recipe offered by one blunt ally in order to put a little gas in the tank.

RECIPE  - Homemade Grass Fed Ground Beef and Tomato Sauce Over Spelt Pasta


One organic onion (finely chopped)
4-5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or minced with salt)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Pomi – crushed tomatoes – all natural, no citric acid – in a carton (no BPA in packaging)
One Pound Grass Fed Ground Beef (from Maine)
1-2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt
Ground pepper to taste
6-10 leaves of Fresh Basil (chopped finely) (compliments of my neighbor Kendra)
One Package Vita Spelt Pasta

Put chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in large stainless steel pan.  Saute until onions are brown.  Add ground beef.  Saute until browned.  Add Pomi tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.  Add one teaspoon of organic sugar if desired.  Stir all ingredients. Cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.  Add chopped basil. 

Make pasta according to instructions.  Drain.  Put back in pan with 1 cup meet sauce.  Lightly toss.  Put pasta on platter.  Cover with delicious sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil.  Tonight, we will be putting the sauce over some Spelt Right Pizza Dough...blogpost to follow.

Response on the pasta dish from the five children roaming my not-so-quiet house?  "YUMMMM!!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven (On The Need To Metamorphose)

Metamorphose (v. to change the form or nature of; transform)

That’s want I want to do. Metamorphose.  Not like the salesman in Kafka’s Metamorphosis that turned into a cockroach. But rather, sometimes, I wish I could just turn into my cat.  I get so grumble-y at this fur-ball.  No worries, no cares.  He comfortably nests into the clean basket of laundry without a modicum of consciousness that he just created another 2 hours of laundry.  No sense of parenting, work, cleaning, business development, dinner making, nothing, nothing. He just exists for the sake of existing.  Day, night?  Nothing matters.  Three a.m., saunter in through the bedroom porch slider, meow for the sake of meowing, scratch at the bedroom door to get out, scratch and cry again to get in.  Eat, sip on water, play with a mouse or two. Not a care. Not a worry. 

I am through!  I said to my husband tonight, I want the cats out.  His response?  “You want to get rid of this?”

Uggh, ok, I'm not that heartless, but I am tired.  Instead of doing away with the fur ball, perhaps I can just metamorphose. 

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Thirty-Six (Vegan Eggplant-Chick Pea Stew, Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)

This is one of my favorite VEGAN recipes.  It is adapted from “A Taste of Lebanon” by Mary Salloum. 

While there is not an ounce of spelt in this recipe, the Middle Eastern treat of combining cinnamon and olive oil surfaces not only in this delicious recipe but also in our Cinnamon Raisin Royale Spelt Right Bagels.

Eggplant-Chick Pea Stew (Bitinjan mah Hommous)


1 large onion (finely to coarsely chopped)
1/4-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 16 ounce can of organic chic peas (garbanzo beans)(rinsed and drained)
3 1/2 cups of water
1 large eggplant
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4  cup of tomato paste

Place onions and oil in saucepan.  Cook until onions are golden brown.  Add drained chick peas and water.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Add to chick pea mixture.  Add seasonings and tomato paste.  Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until eggplant is tender.  May be served hot or cold.  Serve with brown rice.

I make my brown rice, by sautéing 2-3 gloves of garlic (mashed with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt) in about 3 TBL of olive oil, added 1 cup of brown rice and continuing sautéing until rice is slightly crisp.  Then add 2 cups of hot to boiling water.  Bring rice to boil, then lower heat and let simmer until done (about 1/2 hour).  Watch carefully because it might need more water.

This was a perfect easy dish after a busy Sunday doing a demo of Spelt Right Pizza at the Whole Foods in Portland.

It is possible, yet sometimes challenging, to make great meals for your kids despite a busy schedule.  While this may not look like a meal enjoyed by kids, my 9 year old devoured it with the request for a second helping.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  PS, the wine is for me, not the kid.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Thirty-Five (Spelt Right Pizza - The Perfect Time Traveler for Any Generation)

This is a collaborative piece from Gen Y’er (or millennial) and recent college grad, aspiring musician – Edward Sturtevant, Bates ’10, and Baby-Boomer – food entrepreneur, non musician, Beth George, Bates ‘85

         "The creation of a meal with new found ingredients is like composing a piece of music with new tones, notes, and tempo.
         You see, as a songwriter and band member for the Time Travelers, I am constantly pursuing what new, fresh, and effective elements to incorporate into my music.  Artists, whether in the recording studio, a painters loft, or family kitchen are constantly striving to find  “the next big thing” - the new captivating sound, the unique hue, or that subtle yet powerful taste that offers the audience a divine moment of perfection
         This creative spirit flows to all of our senses – including –our sense of taste.  When dancing with new (and healthful) ingredients, we are playing a song for our taste buds and harmonizing with needs of our bodies.
         On a mission to create art with food, I took the most basic element of the much-celebrated pizza: the dough, and replaced it with a new alternative: Spelt Right pizza dough, hoping (with a little trepidation) to open my eyes to more creative food choices, and my palette to a more nutritious, delicious dinnertime.
         This was a bit of challenge for my roommates and me.  The folks at Spelt Right Baking requested us to be to be mindful of the food we were consuming AND to create it ourselves.  In essence, were asked to be the composers of a symphony for Spelt Right dough – treating each topping as a member of an orchestra.
         Like a conductor with his baton, I started directing the ensemble – each ingredient an instrument in its own right – My roommates soon became the musicians playing the instruments.  Each new combination of toppings became a new song –

-       Goat cheese, tomato, red onion, and mozzarella (Gotta Get Your Goat)
-       Cheddar cheese, ham, broccoli, and mozzarella with tomato sauce (No Vegan For Me)
-       Mozzarella, red peppers, red onion, and bacon, with tomato sauce (Girl Put Your Pepper On)

As each pizza was carefully composed, and soulfully performed, we became more focused on the food and less on the process.   My roommates and I soon lost our roles as conductors and orchestra as we became distracted by the melodic aroma of baking spelt dough, melting cheese, savory onions, and sizzling bacon. We became focused on one thing only: devouring the pizza.

The results of the finished piece were delectable.  Dare I say, music to our taste buds?.  With each bite, I savored the  textured softness and wholesome sweetness of the spelt dough. 

Despite our original trepidation, the making of these pizzas was SO EASY. We simply switched the bland wheat dough for this incredible spelt dough. 

Great taste and good for you? How could the choice be any easier? 

My recommendation?  Indulge yourself, with the sumptuous symphony starting with Spelt Right Pizza."

- Edward Sturtevant

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Thirty-Four (Happy Birthday to Me!!)

Having entered into August, the month of this Lioness's birth, I was finally the beneficiary of an incredible spelt birthday cake made by our in-house cake boss, Spencer, who has recently reached the ripe age of 14.

He pondered for several days on the perfect cake for mom's big 48th....He concluded that A GERMAN CHOCOLATE SPELT CAKE made with organic spelt flour and organic sugar would be fitting.  Unbelievably rich and complicated!!!

This cake and the process that went into it brought us full circle to the reason we have become such a foodie family.
Spelt German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients (adapted from

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups Vita Spelt organic white spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  4. Pour into 3 - 9 inch pans Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack.
  5. To make the Filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.
  6. Spread filling between layers and on top of cake. In a small saucepan, melt shortening and 1 ounce of chocolate. Stir until smooth and drizzle down the sides of the cake.

Although the cake should have taken about 2 hours to make, it took Spencer nearly 6 given we don't even have an electric mixer (it broke somewhere along the way), and he had no help from adults.  

Tim put together a wonderful last minute birthday gathering at Gritty's on Exchange Street in Portland.  The photo is the cake perched on a ledge overlooking Wharf Street from back side of Gritty's.   

Typical of planning though, Tim was right on time, but I was an hour and a half late with Spencer and Olivia in tow.  It turns out, that while Spencer had a great time making the cake, he forgot to feed his own body during the process, and had such a protein low it was as if we were full circle back to where we started 7 years ago with this diet change.

Both of us quickly realized that the melt down was simply a lack of eating - and we called Tim to order a Gritty's burger for Spencer upon his arrival.  

With Spencer fed, friends imbibed, and kids clamoring, we had a wonderful time.  "Happy Birthday day to me...."