Wednesday, July 30, 2014 princess!

Jasmine is my 12+ old labradoodle puppy. I say puppy because to see her bound to the door to greet people, chase a tennis ball across the floor or catch her frisbee in the back yard, you'd think she was. But then when you look closely you see the clouded eyes and greying hair around her eyes, you can tell she is an old lady. Of course, since she lives in this house, she is also a foodie. She loves her marrow bones and is an absolute cheese fiend. She can be on the other side of the house and if I open up cheese, she comes running. However, she is a cheese snob. Once after a pot luck BBQ, someone had left American cheese (foreign to our house), so I decided to give her a slice. She took it in her mouth....and promptly spit out! That's my Jasmine.
She has always been a clock watcher in terms of her meals. She will let us know when it is time for breakfast and dinner (with dinner she starts bugging me as soon as I start cooking...even if that is 2 hours ahead of when she normally eats. She figures, "Lee's working in the kitchen, should be dinner time"!). About a week or so ago, she started letting her breakfast sit in her bowl and didn't eat it until later in the day. Then she stopped eating dinner. Everything else about her was normal: she ate her snacks (she gets a "treat" when she comes in the house), she had all her energy; she just seemed off her food. I put some homemade chicken broth on it and then she ate it, though she would lick up the broth and eat the food gradually over a few hours, actually taking some of the pieces out of the bowl, putting them aside, and then drinking the broth.
Now, adding the broth was fine with me, I wanted her to eat and I figured, what the heck, she's over 80 in human years, I don't blame her for being tired of this food. As reflects our "parenting" styles, I wanted to keep pampering her and my husband was more of the mindset to let the food sit and see how long it would take her to eat it. Well...she waited us out. Went over 24 hours without eating her meal. So fortunately we had our usual 5 week appointment with the vet yesterday (she has Addison's disease and needs a shot every 5 weeks). I described her behavior and he said it could be: 1) A lot of dogs as they get to this age turn away from their dry food because it hurts their teeth, so they start to prefer canned or softer food...however, she has excellent teeth..."the teeth of a 5 year old dog"; or 2) The dry food can go bad because the manufacturers do tend to coat it in fat so that it is more flavorful.
So after getting recommendations on food from my niece (a soon-to-be vet and owner of 3 dogs), dumping the remaining dry food in a giant ziploc bag, and scouring out the dog food bin, I went to our local pet store (Concord Pets) and bought both a small bag of her existing food and a small bag of a new food. When I explained to the store that I thought her food had gone bad, they said to please bring it back to them and they will refund my money as this does happen sometimes. They return the food to the, good to know and what a great store!
The test came at dinner...would she shy away from the food again, or go for it. I gave her a small amount of the new batch of her usual food and hurray...she gobbled it up!
So lesson your dog's nose and sense of taste!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Farmers Market Bounty #3: Blueberries

We are having company tomorrow night and 2 of the people can't eat gluten so I'm making my go-to summer dessert: frozen meringue cake with berry topping. Perfect since the markets are overrun with blueberries! I may add a few peaches or nectarines to the topping as well. Whenever I make this dessert I usually make creme anglais to use up the extra egg yolks.
As I was making creme this morning,and was scraping the vanilla bean seeds into the cream I starting wondering how the heck did someone discover the incredible flavor of vanilla? I always thought that the vanilla bean was stamen of an orchid, but after checking wikipedia discovered it is actually the fruit from an orchid plant and was originally harvested by Totonacs of Eastern Mexico, a tribe that was conquered by the Aztecs. So there you go...your interesting fact for the day!
In addition to the cake recipe, I'm also including a blueberry gin cocktail. We drank this several years ago and I rediscovered it the other day. As a bonus I'm also adding my mom's incredibly simple blueberry pie.So bon appetit and salut!

Blueberry Thrill

From Cooking Light

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups dry gin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • additional blueberries for garnish (optional)

1. Place 2 cups blueberries in a large, heavy stainless-steel saucepan; mash with a fork or potato masher. Place over medium-high heat, and cook 3 minutes or until berries begin to release juice. Remove from heat; add gin. Cover and let stand at least for 1 hour or up to overnight. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing berries with the back of a spoon to remove as much juice as possible; discard solids.
2. Combine 3/4 cup water, sugar, and cardamom pods in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool completely; discard cardamom pods.
3. To serve, add the ice to a cocktail shaker to come halfway up sides of container. Add 1/4 cup blueberry-gin, 1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom syrup, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; shake until chilled. Strain cocktail into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with additional blueberries, if desired. Serve immediately. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients.

Kate's Simple Blueberry Pie


  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1 T powdered sugar
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  1. Follow directions for pie crust to unwrap and put in pie pan
  2. Process the almonds, flour and sugar in a food processer and sprinkle over the bottom of the pie shell.
  3. Add the blueberries and sprinkle powdered sugar on top
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
Damn this is easy! I forgot about this wonderful recipe.

Frozen Meringue Cake with Berry Topping

From Epicurious 

For meringues

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
For cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod

To serve

  • 1 pint seasonal berries such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries
  • Additional whipped cream for garnish
Make meringues
  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil; butter and flour foil.
  2. In large bowl using electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy. Drop 8 (approximately 1/3-cup) mounds of meringue about 1 inch apart onto baking sheets and use spoon to make indentations in centers of mounds.
  3. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven until crisp but still white, about 45 minutes. Turn oven off and cool meringues in oven 1 hour. Using metal spatula, transfer meringues to rack to cool completely. (Meringue shells can be made up to 5 days ahead and kept in airtight container at room temperature.)

Make cream and assemble dessert
  1. Lightly oil 7-inch diameter soufflé dish or ramekin (6 cup capacity).
  2. In large bowl using electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Chop meringue shells into 1-inch pieces and fold into cream. Transfer mixture to soufflé dish and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, approximately 8 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)
  3. To un-mold dessert, fill large bowl 1/3 full of hot water. Run small knife around inside edge of soufflé dish to loosen. Dip dish into bowl of hot water for 2 seconds, being careful not to splash water onto cream. Carefully invert onto serving plate. Arrange berries on top of and around frozen cream and garnish with additional whipped cream.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How much matcha?

I awoke at 2:30am this morning and didn't fall back asleep until 5:30am. Once I awoke I started thinking about the logistics of driving both boys to their fall destinations (college and post-grad work). Of course they will be in opposite directions and both want to leave during the same week, so I'll be spending my whole week on the road. I tossed and turned while trying to figure out whether I should be renting a car or van and how to minimize some of my driving. As a result, I'm a little foggy this morning so I needed a caffeine boost.

When we were in Tokyo over the holidays, I discovered a new morning drink: Matcha Latte. It is a latte made with the matcha tea that the Japanese use in their tea ceremonies. Unlike the green tea we are used to drinking, where the tea leaves are steeped in the hot water, matcha is finely ground powder made of the tea leaves. So instead of drinking an infusion of tea (where the leaves are discarded), you are actually imbibing the leaves themselves. You get the benefits (and caffeine) of about 6-8 cups of green tea in one cup!

When we returned, my reflux was bothering me and I've discovered that the matcha latte (when drunk in moderation, which for me is one latte every few days), gives me a wonderful boost for the day and doesn't aggravate my GERD. As I've done research, I've found that the matcha gives a sustained boost over the course of the day, instead of the one time big boost of caffeine from a coffee latte.The milk in the latte helps to moderate the acid inherent in the tea. There is even some thought that the matcha helps to heal the esophagus.

The recipe I use is:
one teaspoon of matcha powder mixed with 1/4 cup hot/boiling water
sweetener of your choice (I use 2 stevia packets but you could use honey or agave syrup).
8 oz of milk (heated and foamed)

I use the electric whisk to blend the matcha powder, the stevia and 1/4 cup of water together because the powder is so fine and the electric whisk does an effective job of dissolving the powder. Then I add the foamed hot milk.

I scoured the internet and visited tea shops and found the best price and flavored matcha at (a great site to get the ingredients for my homemade granola as well!). Link to matcha powder

There are matcha latte mixes that you can buy (similar to what you will get at Starbucks if you order one), but it is so easy to make your own and avoid the additives in the commercial mixes.

1 level teaspoon of matcha powder

Add 1/4 cup of water to the matcha and stevia and blend with the electric whisk.

Add the cup of foamed hot milk

Voila! A delicious matcha latte.