Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Four:(On Kids, College and Cakes)

Well, arriving home last night couldn’t have been any cuter. 

I came home slightly grumpy after a $300+ eye doctor bill because of some crazy astigmatism that I have – making the cost of the appointment and the contact lenses about a gazillion times more expensive than that for the normal far-sighted folks.

But, as I walked into the apartment, there was laughter and wafts of baking chocolate and perhaps an essence of alcohol?

This was truly a sight for sore eyes. 

My two oldest were in the kitchen baking together.  Emma wanted one of Spencer’s famous (at least in our household) cakes to bring back to college.  Spencer will use any excuse to make a cake, but this excuse was a good one, because he loves his big (albeit 6 inches shorter) sister.

What kind of cake for the college kids?  Well, of course it has to have chocolate, and maybe a little liquor.   Voila!  A spelt chocolate Kahlua cake.   

Tim, being the good dad and cautionary fellow he is, warned Emma not to give the cake to any of the drivers on the trek back to school.  I assured Tim that when baked, the liquor is baked off and so the cake would not be truly intoxicating, except maybe for its delicious taste.  Still, we got the assurance that the kids would not “eat and drive”.

Now, I was lucky to try the frosting, but the kids simply would not let me break into the cake to try it, so we will have to hear comments from the college kids way up North on how they rate it.

SPELT CHOCOLATE KAHLUA CAKE (adapted from and modified to be mostly organic, all natural, and without regular wheat)

Kahlua Chocolate Spelt Cake
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar packed
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup strong cold brewed coffee
3/4 cup Kahlua

Kahlua Frosting   (this was not the typical way Spencer likes to make frostings.  He usually does butter cream on the stove top, but he took the confectioners sugar short cut in order to make it in time for his sister’s departure to college)
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound of sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons hot coffee

Kahlua Chocolate Spelt Cake
Butter and flour 2 9” cake pans
(it is best to put fitted parchment paper on bottom of the buttered pan)
Preheat oven 350 F.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites till frothy; then beat in sugar until stiff peaks forms. Set aside.
In a larger bowl (or in the KitchenAid Mixer if you have one), cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and Kahlua; blend well. Fold egg whites into batter.
Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes. Invert on wire rack.  Remove from pans. Cool before frosting.

Kahlua Frosting
In a large bowl, cream 6 Tbsp butter and a pound of confectioner’s sugar. Add 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 Tbsp Kahlua and 2-3 Tbsp hot coffee; beat until smooth.
Gently frost.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Three (On Birthdays and Giving Thanks and Complicated "007" Cakes)

"007 Cake"
Happy Birthday, Tim!

My husband was blessed with being born during the Season of Giving, so every seven years or so, this year being one of them, Tim's birthday falls on Thanksgiving.

Spencer gets quite revved during holidays because they provide a great excuse to make great cakes.  A double holiday leads to double the reason to make a doubly good cake.

We dubbed this cake "the 007" given the timeliness of the newest James Bond flick, and because of all of the gadgets that were used to create it.  But, as an afterthought,  we realized that this "the 007" was also appropriately dubbed for this Double Occasion: Thanksgiving with our crew of 5 and Tim's 52nd.


This is at least a two person job (another double).  No person (especially a 14 or 15 year old) should be expected to make this alone.  Spencer spent approximately 5 hours making this incredibly delicious and rich concoction of layers of chocolate, butter, sugar, coconut, and pecans.  I spent about 6 hours following him around and cleaning up every bowl, gadget and pan it took to create this Double Occasion cake.

Ingredients (adapted from but revised significantly to meet our spelt and all natural requirements)

1/2 cup water
4 ounces German sweet chocolate
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups organic cane sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1 cup milk (need to make into buttermilk with lemon)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon
2 1/2 cups organic white spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
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 organic coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions (REVISED 11/24/12)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. 
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, make the buttermilk by mixing the milk and fresh lemon.  Set aside until curdles. (About 5 minutes)
  5.  In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. In a large bowl (or KitchenAid Mixer), 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.
  7. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then, fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  8. Pour into 3 - 9 inch round baking pans, which have been greased with butter.  Best also to cover bottom with parchment paper cut to fit the baking pan.
  9.  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.
  10. 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.
  11. Spread filling between layers and on top of cake. In a small saucepan,

ENJOY - and then go for a 30 block walk (twice!) in order to work off some of the double calories gained from this double treat.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Two (Spelt Crumb Cake to Carry Your Worries Away)

Yesterday I thought I would never escape my doldrums. I was more tired than I remember being in years.  My only option was to nap.  Finally, I had escaped into a dreamy bliss of not knowing where I was or having a care in the world. 
Nearly three hours later, I woke to the joyous sounds of Emma arriving home from college.  “PARENTS!! I AM HOME! NEW YORK, I AM HERE!”  
And, then everyone barged in on my pillowly bliss.  “HELLO MADJA” proclaimed Emma.  Then, Olivia and her pal Ying, showed up like little chirping birds.  “We’re hungry! We’re hungry!” Then Spencer chimed in waiting for that moment for me to wake.  “Mom, it’s time to make a cake!!!” Then, Tim came in with some hot chocolate.  
So, I got up, tucked away my worries and proceeded to the kitchen.  While I made meatballs, Spencer tried out his “new” KitchenAid (thanks to a friend) and made the best spelt crumb cake ever!


1 and 1/2  cups organic white spelt flour
1 cup organic whole spelt flour
1 and 1/2 cups organic evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2.5 TBL organic molasses
2/3 cup BUTTER
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 beaten eggs
1 and 1/3 cups of milk with 1-2TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice (let sit for at least 5 minutes)
1 cup chopped walnuts

A cake to carry your worries away

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl. combine flour, sugar, and molasses.  Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Set aside 3/4 of a cup for topping.
Stir in baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and all spice into remaining crumb mixture.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and lemon.  Add wet mixture to dry and mix together.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  
(If you have a KitchenAid, first mix the dry ingredients on low, and then add the wet ingredients and mix on medium until ingredients are all mixed together)

Combine nuts with reserved crumb mixture.  Mix together in crumb form and then sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

ENJOY!!!  Savor each piece with your family and friends, tuck your worries away, and be sure to save a piece for friends. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles, Day One-Hundred Seventy One (On Being a Flexitarian - Vegetables with Chicken)

noun \ˌflek-sə-ˈter-ē-ən\

Definition of FLEXITARIAN  (
source: )
: one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish
flexitarian adjective
flexible + vegetarian
First Known Use: 1998

This recipe is dedicated to my formerly vegetarian, now flexitarian friend.   We both aspire to be completely meat free in our diets, but sometimes we just need a little comfort food – both for our bodies and our souls.

Baked Chicken with Vegetables, or in Flexitarain Lingo: Baked Vegetables Accented by Chicken. (adapted from A Taste of Lebanon by Mary Salloum)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 green peppers, de-seeded and sliced in rounds
2 large tomatoes sliced in rounds (field tomatoes are great for this)
2 large onions sliced in rounds
2 large zucchini sliced in rounds
1 large leek sliced in rounds
4 potatoes sliced in rounds
1 chicken cut up, or two-three bone-in breast of chicken
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 tsp dried basil
4-5 cloves of garlic (crushed with salt)
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (destemmed and chopped)

Set oven at 400F.  Wash and dry chicken (I do this by cleaning with salt and then rinsing – taught to me by my mother and grandmother).  Place all vegetables and chicken in roasting pan.  Add oil and all remaining ingredients.  Coat vegetables and chicken with oil, herbs, and spices.  Cover roasting pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

This is an easy comfort meal.  Perfect with Spelt Right rosemary bread - toasted with EVOO.  The kind of food to enjoy after weathering a storm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles Day One Hundred Seventy (Distant Observations from Close-By: Hurricane Sandy)

Distant Observations [of Hurricane Sandy] from Close-By (by Beth George)

October 29, 2012 – late night 

Cloistered in my living room on W. 187th and Cabrini watching the screen report on the unfathomable destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy.  The reality of Mother Nature’s assault on my adopted City is brought to me via CNN. 

With a simple click of the remote all sense of chaos disappears, until it hits me that I cannot get off of this island.  All bridges, tunnels, and subways are closed.  Highways are flooded.  If you have not been ordered to evacuate,  official orders are to stay inside.   But, it is so peaceful in my apartment and on my street.  Perhaps, someone has made a mistake?

Came here seeking refuge in the vastness, anonymity, and opportunity of the Big Apple. Landed here in the Heights by chance.  The enclave of Hudson Heights within Washington Heights is among the cheapest of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan.  Little did I realize that it was also among the safest when an unprecedented storm hits the City.

Being home to the fortress-like Monastery, known as the Cloisters, should have been a hint of the Heights protective nature.  It’s no surprise George Washington chose it as his headquarters during the Revolutionary War given its location perched above the Henry Hudson boasting the highest point in Manhattan. So I sit in my solid apartment fortress in the City of all Cities sheltered from the angering wind and rising waters watching the screen, wondering, and thinking, “Maybe I should pray tonight.”

October 30, 2012 – even later than the night before 

The Seal of NYC
While this neighborhood has been protected, the pain of the City permeates throughout its veins.   The wind has died down, the waters have started to recede, but the lives lost will never be forgotten, and destruction at every level – below, on and above ground  - is unthinkable.  What will happen? 

The subway system, the grand equalizer of this City, the way 5 million people – regardless of wealth, race or class commute throughout this extensive beehive of boroughs, and into neighboring NJ, is closed.  Many of its stations are under water.  How will the millions who make this City churn get from here to there while this 108 year old subway system is gasping for breath?

This City is so vast, so diverse.  Who could believe that so much destruction could happen in one place in one night? Enter Mother Nature, perhaps with Mankind messing her up a bit.

Solid little fortresses in Hudson Heights are protected from the wrath.  Grand high rises in Mid-Town are threatened by an errant storm-damaged crane teetering menacingly over Mid-Town.  Breezy Point Queens, a tight-knit coastal community, was devastated by raging fires leaving 80 homes (most recent count 110) burnt to the ground.  And, communities along the coast in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island are underwater.  Nearly a quarter of a million people are without power.  Cars are floating down Wall Street; Lower Manhattan virtually has been swallowed by the sea; the tunnels between Brooklyn and Manhattan are underwater; rail yards are under water; and the Battery has been battered.

But, it is the subways, the grand equalizers that are haunting me.  How in the world will they pump out the water and get these veins pumping again?  The words of Joe Loda, the MTA chief keep echoing in my ears “The worst disaster the mass transit has seen in 108 years it has been running.”

Yet still, I sit in my quiet little fortress in Upper Manhattan and I have seen none of this.

October 31, 2012 – wee hours of the morning

I should be asleep, but I can’t.  The screen reminds me that NYC is not the only place crying.  All of NJ has been declared a State of Emergency.  Governor Christie says it’s some of the worst damage he has ever seen.  Seaside, NJ has been buried by sand, reminiscent of the City of Pompeii, yet these homes instead of being locked in time will be washed out to sea.  Hoboken, our neighbor to the West, is under water, half of its residents trapped in their homes.  And, the list goes on.  And, next we hear from neighboring Connecticut – also underwater.  And the list goes on.

Yet still, I sit in my quiet little fortress in Upper Manhattan and I have seen none of this.

This bliss won’t last.  I will venture out, but in the meantime, I will do something that I do not do often.  I will pray. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles Day One-Hundred Sixty-Nine (Of storms, neighbors, and sweet things to eat). Guest Blog from Courtney Young.

This is a Guest Blogpost from one of my favorite NYC finds: Courtney Young - professional dancer, wonderful mother, accomplished baker, loyal neighbor, and one hell of a Spelt Right bagel demo-er!

"The hurricane is coming to New York City.  The subway is stopped, shops are shuttered and city slickers are staying sheltered.  I love this kind of day.  Normally life is rush here, hurry there, off to work, time for school. .  . A day like today when the city is literally shut down allows me to stay in my apartment, enjoy my family at a relaxed pace and accomplish some of the to-do’s I have at home.  The list of course is quite long - everything from design, create and install curtains in our bedroom to painting a kitchen wall with chalkboard paint so that the kids and I have a spot for daily inspiration, to baking graham crackers in autumnal shapes.  

Today, I don’t have the supplies I need for curtains or painting so the graham crackers win.  I’ve wanted to make them since I was at a girl’s weekend over the summer with my sister and friends in Minnesota.  One of the woman, Stacy May, casually mentioned that she makes her children graham crackers.  I must admit, I figuratively rolled my eyes as she handed me a copy of the recipe.  Who has time to make graham crackers?  The thought never once occurred to me.  Aren’t the store bought ones perfectly acceptable?  Then the competitive New Yorker in me kicked in and I figured if Stacy May in Minnesota could do it then Courtney Young in New York could do it better.  I would certainly be a superior mother if I could navigate the confusing world of the city pre-k admissions process AND make homemade graham crackers.  I had to improve upon them though. 

Lucky for me, several months earlier, Beth George, owner and creator of Spelt Right Baking, moved into my neighborhood.   Since then I’ve been enjoying her breads, bagels and pizza dough and have suspected that my family’s health is better off for them.  As of late, I’ve even been assisting Beth at demos at Whole Foods and telling customers about the benefits of the Spelt Right Baking Co. My zeal for this ancient grain has been growing.  Spelt Graham Crackers it is! 

So at 9:30am on hurricane day with Blythe (age 15 months) in the Ergo Carrier on my back and William (age 3) as my very enthusiastic helper we took the graham cracker to the next level.  The process is incredibly easy. William loved operating the big Kitchen Aid mixer and cutting out the pumpkin, turkey and leaf shapes.  Blythe was delighted to sample the dough. All of us including daddy, Scott, enjoyed eating them.  Beth and her family even gave them an enthusiastic Spelt Right approved thumbs up.  Her only suggestion was to add two tablespoons of molasses next time in order to keep them moist.  Great advice.  I’ll try it."

Here is the recipe. . .

2½ Cups Organic Spelt Flour
½ Cup Dark Organic Brown Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ Cup Butter, chilled and cubed
¼ Cup Honey
¼ Cup Water

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.    In a food processor or mixer combine the first 6 ingredients.
3.    Add cubed and chilled butter and pulse/mix until it resembles coarse meal.
4.    Add honey and water and continue to mix until it all combines.
5.    Remove and shape dough into a flat disk and place between two pieces of parchment paper.
6.    Roll dough out until ¼ inch thick.  Cut into crackers or shapes.
7.    Place cookies on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes (less time for smaller shapes).
8.    Cool and serve

Beth’s daughter Olivia suggested we make homemade marshmallows, melt chocolate and make S’mores.  Great idea.  Might have to save that for the next hurricane though. 

PS:  Thank you William for the modeling!!

Lunch Box Chronicle Day One Hundred Sixty-Eight (In the Shadow of the Storm, Make, Bake, Eat Cookies)

This day is beyond surreal.  One of the largest natural disasters is about to hit NYC, and I'm waiting impatiently in my apartment for all hell to break loose.  All public transportation is closed - no subways, no buses, no rail service.  All flights are cancelled.  The threatened eleven foot water surges have caused the closure of the tunnels.  More than a quarter of a million people have been ordered to evacuate from their NYC homes.  

The talking heads on the t.v. are murmuring non-stop, holding on to swaying trees, sopping themselves, repeating to us again and again The Obvious.  This storm is going to be Big.  Bigger than Big.  How-to-survive messages from friends and family who are out-of-state and out-of-country are appearing on my Facebook, in my email, and through texts.  

All kids are home from school - indefinitely.  The apartment building has become a refuge for all the children, huddled together, roaming the halls and apartments as if the world belongs to them; playing make believe, and showing the adults that a hurricane is nothing but a chance for all kids to just be kids.

Somehow, this close living, the quick stop with neighbors to share goodies, the endless play of the kids in the building, the Super making storm preparations, all make this impending event seem less lonely, more communal, and perhaps safer.   But, what do I know?  It is only the shadow of the storm that has reached us thus far.

So, I retreat to doing what I do best in these situations - cooking, baking, and writing.   Here is a recipe to offer a little bit of calm before the storm.   

Whole Grain Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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 
1 1/2 cups organic whole spelt flour
1 cup organic white (sifted) spelt flour
12 ounces mini semi sweet Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips

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.

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.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Sixty-Seven (Sweet Trio-Spelt Right Dough, Figs, Walnuts)

Daily I am reminded of the gift in friendship.   This past month has been a testament to the value of friendship, both new and old.  Just before leaving for a 5 day journey to visit my dear friend Veronica of 32 years who lives in Mexico, I had dinner in NY with two friends of 3.2 months.   May, I just say that both encounters were precious.

Jess, Ruthie, and I had an evening of shared recipes, shared clothing, kvetching and kvelling.  Our newly formed sweet trio shared traditions from our respective cultures.  Thank you Ruthie for the Yiddish, and I shared some Lebanese cooking traditions.  For dinner, we collaborated to make my favorite recipe flayir bil-flayfli, walnut pepper pies.   We topped off the night with a sweet dessert for this sweet trio.

Here is the sweet trio recipe for you to share with your friends, old and new.

Spelt Right dough, fig paste, and walnuts.  Perhaps, we should name it, TRIBESSIE (for Beth, Jess, and Ruthie).

Preheat oven to 450F.  Thaw and rise Spelt Right dough in package.   Cut in 10-12 small pieces.  Flatten the pieces in rounds.  Set on well oiled baking pan.  Blend 1/4 fig paste, 1/2 cup walnuts together.  Place a dollop of the mix in the center of the dough.  Make into triangles.  Bake at 450 for  15-20 minutes.

Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Six (Turkey Loaf: In Honor of the Bird)

So, the ground turkey from the Farmers’ Market lived on for another day. (Well ain’t that an oxymoron? How can a poor slaughtered and ground up bird live on?). Now, I’m making this very appetizing meal not so appetizing by thinking and articulating too much about the state of the deceased fowl.

In any event, all this rambling has gotten me off course for providing you a really good recipe for nothing else, but, tada! TURKEY LOAF.


  • One pound ground turkey breast (I bought the locally raised variety)
  • 3 carrots finely grated
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 whole bunch curly parsley, de-stemmed and finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Spelt Right breadcrumbs


Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Mix together bread crumbs, grated carrots, chopped onions and mashed garlic. Add in eggs, blend well. Add in turkey meat (poor bird! I just can’t let go of it…maybe I should try vegetarianism instead of stressing every time I make a meat based meal). Blend well.

Place on well greased (with EVOO) 8 x 8 baking dish, or whatever combination you have. (see pics)

Bake for 45 min – 1 hour until fully baked. Enjoy, and please take a moment to the honor the bird that made this meal possible.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Five (The Bellwether Meal: Shepherd's Pie, Beth Style)

Cooking is my bellwether.

It’s not the literal sheep (wether) wearing the bell, and leading the way. But, it is the metaphorical indicator of my wellbeing.

Bellwether. Wellbeing. Interesting how close those words are juxtaposed. Or if I play with them a little more, it becomes WellBether.

How Weird. Cooking relates to a Well Beth.

Well, this Beth has not been so well the past month, and she has not been up to any cooking. So, cereal and pasta, if anything, it has been for this family, except for the few nights that Tim did some stupendous cooking.

But, I love to cook, and to write, and when both are stifled, it is an indication that something is wrong. The WRONG was a strange anaphylactic response to some unknown that lasted in various stages for about a month, followed by strep throat. It was like my body wasn’t my own.

Finally, happily, my body is once again my own. No more swollen face or scratchy throat. And, with this rejuvenation comes the impulse to cook and shop. Luckily, my new pal Ruthie likes to grocery shop too.

So after “schlepping” two dozen cases of Spelt Right product to the UWS Whole Foods for our upcoming demos, (thank you, Ruthie, for the Yiddish), we visited the Farmers’ Market on 97th Street and loaded up on fresh locally raised meat and turkey, fresh grown veggies, and the rest. You know the scoop, summer and fall in the Northeast create a virtual cornucopia. Pure bliss for those who love to cook.

I decided to make turkey shepherd’s pie – hey, how apropos for a bellwether meal. The sheep and the shepherd are joining us for dinner.

As I was about to boil the potatoes, I decided to modify the recipe and use home fried potatoes instead and add ground turkey, and organic corn, and create a hash-like shepherds meal rather than in layers as in shepherd’s pie. Along with gaining my health back, I also gained some creativity. This was a “yum fest”.

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 4-5 potatoes, diced, and sautéed on stove top with EVOO and a smidge of salt until golden brown and soft to cut.
  • In a separate pan, sauté one chopped onion, 4-5 cloves of garlic mashed with about 1 teaspoon of sea salt in about 1/4 cup EVOO. Saute until golden brown.
  • Add, one pound of ground turkey meat. Cook thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop one head of curly parsley and add to meat mixture.
  • Add in cooked potatoes.
  • Toss together.
  • Feed to very hungry and happy family and to one healthy mom.

This meal and blogpost are bellwethers of happier, healthier days to come.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Four (I've Gone Bananas!)


My intent was to write something funny, or inspiring, but I feel neither humorous nor inspirational, just a bit bananas.

Some of you know my story, others have bits and pieces, and many simply don't know or don't care. Don't worry, though, I'm not hurt. I get it! Everyone else's story can't become your own.

You would have too many layers to unfold, too many tangles to untangle. Life is too complicated. Inertia moves us from moment to moment. We do what we can just to survive.

And, we hope somewhere along the way that, if we work hard enough, hang tough, and remain dogged with our mission, we might actually achieve that which we set out to accomplish. But, I've been told that it also takes some luck.

Well, I've had some good luck. And have worked hard. And have hit some brick walls, experienced some bruises. But, I am still moving forward. My goal is to build a business - Spelt Right Baking - to have people chose better options for eating bread while having the grain spelt become a household staple - "Of course, I have spelt in the cupboard, right along side my quinoa, emmer, and wild rice." And to have Spelt Right be the brand that everyone associates with spelt. And, side by side with these goals, I hope to benefit my family and my business partners, for sticking by me, cheering me on, being a part of that essential luck, and keeping me from going completely bananas.

PS: Did I mention that Spelt Right is on its way. We did our very first demo in the NYC Whole Foods - Upper West Side - and we plan on doing many more. And, with a little luck, we hope to get into many more stores in this great city.

Here is a DELICIOUS recipe - whether you are going bananas or not.


1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
2 TBL molasses
2 eggs beaten
1 cup whole VITA spelt
1 cup sifted (white) VITA spelt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas mashed

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs; beat well. Add dry ingredients. Mix. Add bananas and orange juice. Mix well. Butter and dust with flour a baking dish. You can use a flat Pyrex type dish, 9" x 7"or a 5"x 9" loaf pan. For the flatter dish, bake for about 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. For the loaf pan, about an hour.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Three (On Ushering in A New Season and Flavors)

I missed the entire month of June! My intentions were there, but I simply did not have a speck of time to express myself in this semi-public forum. And, then, there are the emotions. The ones that made it too painful to write. The ones that force me to face the realities of love, life, and loss. The lingering void of knowing my beautiful niece no longer graces this earth; the non-linear episodes of time experienced by my 86 year old mom; the constant pull between self and non-self. The impenetrable feeling that there is so much more to do, but never never enough time or resources.

And, then I am thankful, just for the times when I can cook, create memorable flavors, and feed my family. And, the tastes bring life into the present. And, everyone who takes a bite experiences it - the love, life, and satisfaction - even if only for a moment.

Here is pizza that welcomes in summer - It's made with my awesome Spelt Right Pizza Dough, extra virgin olive oil, onions, sauteed summer squash, sauteed mushrooms, crushed garlic, and fresh mozzarella from Little Italy - Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Make sure the dough is fully risen (in bag) before use. Gently work to a pizza shape on a well oiled stainless steel baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes on 450, then top with all the toppings, and put back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes.

Enjoy, reflect, savor the memories of those gone by, and enjoy the moments with those here and now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Two (Eggplant Whateva' Text Style)

This is called a text recipe. 

It is from a friend from whom I often request quick recipes.  I have modified it to make it slightly less criptic.  Hope you enjoy.

Message:  Any ideas for quick recipes with leftover fresh mozzarella and fresh ricotta?

Reply: peel slice eggplant....flour [with Vita Spelt] and egg the slices...fry lightly in olive pomi [homemade tomato sauce] in pan....layer in cheeses [fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta from Teitel!] off with pomi,grated cheese and mozzarella...cover and cook slowly or put bake pan in oven (at 350F for about 20-30 minutes)....bon apitito.

Reply:  TY Wz Gd, CU later.

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty One (Popeye Strikes Again!!)

Baked Farro with Fresh Ricotta and Mozzarella - Popeye Style - with Spinach
This weekend I visited one of my favorite stores in one of my favorite neighborhoods in one of my favorite cities....Teitels in Little Italy in the Bronx.  It was nice to have a new friend along - Tania - as we shared stories of parenting and the art of feeding our offspring.

As always, I loaded up on fresh made mozzarella (once you've had this stuff it is really hard to be satisfied by the mass produced supermarket variety), fresh ricotta, fresh parmesan and farro pasta.

I decided to make a new old time favorite - baked penne - but this time with a little influence from an old old time favorite - Popeye.   Baked pennette with spinach!

One organic onion (finely chopped)

8-10 crimini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
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).  Soon you will be able to buy this on our website.
1-2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt (also soon to be available on our website)
Ground pepper to taste

1 TBL Organic sugar (optional)
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, carefully cleaned and rinsed with water and vinegar.  Coarsley chopped. 
One packages of FARRO pasta which you can now purchase at the Spelt Right store. 
1/2 small container of whole milk ricotta
One half to one pound of natural mozzarella (shredded or pulled apart)
Place chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in large stainless steel pan. Saute until onions are brown. Add mushrooms 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 Farro 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. Fold in the ricotta.  Fold in the spinach. Then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until bubbling on top. 
This meal was DEVOURED.  Can you imagine if we had Popeye to dinner?