Archive for October, 2006

Simple Supper – Sixteen Bean Soup

beautiful beans

sixteen beans in all their colorful glory

Most groceries carry this mixture in the pasta/dried beans aisle. One pound makes a HUGE pot of tasty soup. Some mixtures include barley — this gives the soup body and if it’s not included in my mix, I toss in 1/4 cup with the beans when soaking. Pick up a package of sixteen-bean mix for about a dollar, and have a simple and delicious supper.

Sixteen-Bean Soup

1. Pick over and wash the beans (and barley, if using).

2. Soak in 6 cups cold water overnight
Quick-soak: bring beans to a boil in 6 cups water. Boil ten minutes, skimming off foam. Switch off the heat, cover the pan and let them sit an hour.

3. Drain off soaking water. Rinse beans. Add six cups fresh water, one chopped onion and a couple of chopped carrots. Cook at a simmer (adding water as needed), about 2-3 hours, or until beans are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Best served steaming hot on a chilly, stormy evening in autumn, with some crusty bread to soak up the broth.


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Leftover Surprise #4 ~ Toor Dal with Methi and Baby Onions

cooking dal
pot of dal cooking

I am crazy about the little baby red onions (sometimes labled shallots and sometimes pearl onions) found in the local international grocery. I love them in any incarnation. I first saw them in Indira’s recipe for sambhar with shallots. All it took was one try, and I was hooked on the sweet taste of these onions. They are nothing like the rather harsh, white boiling onions one sees in the markets around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Preparing either is a labor of love, but while the baby reds thank you with every bite, the whites bite you back every time. I’ve lived long enough to make that a no-brainer sort of choice — reds it is!

The methi was fresh, and the onions had been parboiled and were in the fridge awaiting peeling, so the only thing leftover here was the cooked dal.
I guess the dish still qualifies for the name. Once the onions are peeled and the methi is chopped, this comes together in a flash.

methi and baby onions

chopped fresh methi leaves and baby red onions in jewel-like tones of amethyst

Toor Dal with Methi and Baby Onions

1 1/2 – 2c cooked toor dal**
1 bunch fresh methi
1 small package baby red onions
water as needed
salt to taste

1 tsp ghee or oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 dried red chile, seeded


Wash the onions and drop them into boiling water for just a minute or two. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and set aside.

Wash methi well and chop leaves roughly, set that aside.

Heat ghee or oil over medium heat in medium saucepan. Add mustard seeds. When the mustard pops, add urad dal and reduce heat to med-low. Add dried red chile. Saute a few minutes until dal is nicely colored and chile is dark.

Add methi and stir-fry a minute or two, until it begins to wilt. Add baby onions and stir them around a few minutes. Add the cooked dal. If mixture is too thick, add a small amount of water. Stir well, cover, and cook 15-20 minutes, until onions are tender and dal is heated through.

Serve hot with rice.

**I had dal which had been cooked with green chiles, salt, and turmeric. I didn’t need additional heat. More chiles/chile powder can be added to taste.

Check out another delicious baby onion dish — Priya’s Shallots Curry.

toor dal with methi and baby onions
toor dal with methi and baby onions

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Sweets for Jihva


sweets ~ by the book!

ingredients for laddoo/laddus

sweet beginnings: besan flour, granulated sugar, roasted peanuts, jaggery, cashews and golden raisins

I thought I might try my hand at a more traditional Diwali treat. There were so many great recipes I had a hard time choosing. In the end, I went with these two recipes from Vineela and Krithika. They were user-friendly enough for a novice like me, and I had the ingredients at hand. I behaved. Didn’t change a thing. Followed each recipe to the letter. My reward? Quick, easy, and delicious sweets!!

vineela’s peanut laddu

Vineela’s Peanut Laddu

Krithika’s Besan ke Laddoo

They are a little less-than-spherical, but oh, the kitchen smells divine.
And now if I’m not too late, I will send these to Vee for her
Special Edition Jihva.

Thank you Vineela and Krithika, for your lovely recipes!

festival sweets

a more traditional diwali treat

Comments (21)

Pasties (Say Pass-Tees)

The Pasty Oven
The Pasty Oven’s whimsical sign, one of many lining US Rt. 2 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (image property of The Pasty Oven)

If you’ve ever traveled to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you have been to pasty country. Traditionally made in a lard crust with meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and rutabagas (the big yellow turnips sometimes called “swedes” or “beggies”), pasties were brought to Michigan by Cornish immigrants who came to work the mines. In the morning the miner’s wife could wrap up a steaming hot pasty; it was easy to carry in a coat pocket. The pasty could later be retrieved and eaten, often still hot in its crust, as a convenient and hearty out-of-hand meal.

There are as many recipes for pasties as there are for apple pie. If I am going to indulge in all that crust, I eschew the modern pizza and chicken versions for the real thing. These days I am eating less and less meat, but this recipe is for a traditional pasty with beef and root vegetables. For a vegetarian version, the meat can be omitted — add a little more butter for moisture but please, don’t skip the beggies!

You may use your favorite pie crust recipe, but do try the wonderful version below. Perfected by a talented Michigander, it is easy to handle and still turns out flaky.

Vegetables may be used in whatever proportion is desired. I prefer lots of carrots and rutabaga and fewer potatoes.

For a true UP experience, mail-order some Tovio and Eino’s Pasty Sauce, a special catsup-like sauce with a kick.

More about pasties here and here.

enough for one hungry miner, or two to three regular folks
(3 pasties)
with special thanks to gkc

All measures are approximate.

For the crust:

2 – 2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening (crisco or canola oil — butter is not recommended)
3-4 TB milk, just enough to bind

For the filling:

1/2 – 1 lb best quality lean, tender sirloin, amount according to taste
1 medium rutabaga
1 medium onion
2-3 large carrots
1-2 large waxy potatoes such as red or new potatoes
(for vegetarian version, increase amount of vegetables as required)

salt and freshly-ground pepper

Eggwash for baking:

1 whole egg or egg white mixed with 2-3 TB water


In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Work in the shortening with fingertips until mixture resembles crumbs. Add milk, 1 TB at a time, until the dough is moist enough to form into a ball. Cover the ball of dough to prevent drying, and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

dough for the crusts
dough for pasty crusts — batch on top right is made with oil, the others with vegetable shortening

Cut the sirloin into small cubes, about 1/4 inch square. Peel the vegetables and cut into uniform cubes, also about 1/4 inch. Toss all filling ingredients together in a large bowl with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

pasty filling
pasty filling

In a small bowl, mix the egg or egg white with water and set aside.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

The crust can be rolled thick or thin, but we don’t want paper thin. The crust must hold all the filling without tearing.

Divide dough ball in half. Roll out one half into a large circle of desired thickness. Invert a 9-inch plate over the center and cut around with a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make a neat circle. Carefully roll up the circle of crust and set it aside. Reserve dough scraps. Roll out the other half, cut and roll up in the same fashion. Set that crust aside as well. Combine the scraps to make one more circle of crust.

On a large ungreased baking sheet, unroll the first circle. Mound approx.
1 1/2 cups of filling about one inch from the right edge. Add a pat of butter on top of the filling. Brush the right side of the circle with a little plain water. Carefully fold the left side of the circle over the top of the filling, bringing the edge down to meet the right side. Tuck in any loose filling with your fingers. Starting at the bottom of the half-circle, roll up the edges of the crust and crimp to seal. Repeat with the remaining two crusts.

assembling pasties
assembling pasties

Brush the tops and sides of the pasties with eggwash. Prick several times with a fork, or cut slits with a knife to release steam.

Bake about one hour *** (note corrected baking time), until crusts are browned and steam rises. If you are unsure, run a knife into the crust — if the vegetables feel tender, the pasties are done.

pasties cooling
pasties fresh from the oven!

Carefully remove to wire rack to cool. Pasties may be served hot or room temperature, with knife and fork, or out of hand. Some folks even like to eat them cold. If you spend an afternoon making lots of pasties, they may be refrigerated or frozen for reheating later.

pasty supper
pasty supper on a snowy autumn afternoon, complete with sauce, pickles, and birdfeeder for entertainment

This (vegetarian version — thanks Asha!) is my completely unconventional entry for Special Edition Jihva — Diwali Treats, hosted by Vee of Past, Present, and Me. I hope she will accept my entry. Of course this is not tradtional Diwali, or even Indian food, but it does represent a new autumn tradition for me — one I intend to keep and cherish. And from what I read, Diwali is all about tradition 🙂

Wishing everyone a happy holiday celebration — whatever and wherever it may be.

Comments (19)

Northern Michigan

rolling hills in autumn
autumn snow squall rolling in over farm country in Northern Michigan

genuine UP-style pasty
genuine UP-style pasty, sauce and pickle

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Spicy Horse Gram (Ulavalu, Kulit, Kuthlee, Kollu, Muthira) Rice

horse gram dry and soaked
tiny, tasty horse gram — dry and soaked

I have always loved to try new foods. My odyssey into Indian cooking has been a whirlwind of new tastes and ingredients, and I know I have only scratched the surface. Dal is still my favorite — to cook, to eat, and to gaze at in the store. I could spend hours (and I have!) browsing and comparing and dreaming up reasons to buy “just a little” of each different type I encounter.

To that end, I had been eyeing horse gram for months; but for some reason never bought any. I had lots of excuses. I hadn’t seen too many recipes for it, and what little I had seen seemed to be for soup. I had plenty of variety at home. It was shelved way off by itself in my favorite shop — near the Chinese food freezer. Maybe it wasn’t *really* dal…

Perhaps my hesitation stemmed from the name — “Horse Gram”.

I should know better than to judge a book by its cover.

A few weeks ago I saw Indosungod’s Horse Gram and Snake Gourd. That dish looked so tempting, I had no more excuse. Off I trotted to the international market, and soon had in hand my very own bag of this tiny, tasty dal. I was ready to experiment.

This recipe is something of an amalgamation of several recipes I have read.
Main sources whom I thank for inspiration are:

Sailu (Ulava Chaaru)
Anu (Ulavalu Chaaru)
and of course
Indosungod (Horse Gram and Snake Gourd and Kollu Chutney and Rasam)

Spicy Horse Gram Rice

For the dal:

1/2 c horse gram, soaked overnight and cooked till soft in 6 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 green chili, slit

Remove 1/4 cup cooked gram and mash lightly with fork. Reserve this, and also hold aside the rest of the gram in its cooking liquid.

For the rice:

1/3 c sona masuri rice, rinsed

2 tsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 red chilies, seeded and broken up
2 green chilies, slit
1 big clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c peeled baby onions or chopped onion

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1-2 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 c strong tamarind water (from about 1/4 c pulp in 1 c water)
3/4 c reserved gram cooking liquid
1/4 – 1/2 c reserved whole gram
1-2 lumps jaggery
1/4 tsp methi powder
salt to taste

optional: 1 c plain dry-fried eggplant cubes


1. Heat the oil/ghee. Splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, cumin seeds, and red chilies; stir for a minute.

2. Add slit green chiles, garlic, and onions; saute a few minutes more.

3. Add turmeric, red chili powder, and cumin-coriander powder.
Mixture will be somewhat dry so watch that it doesn’t burn — add a tsp or two of gram liquid if needed to prevent sticking. Cook minute or two.

4. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook over medium heat till moisture has evaporated.

5. Add tamarind water, mashed and whole horse gram, cooking liquid, and jaggery. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes.

6. Add rice, methi powder, eggplant if using, and salt to taste. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to medium low.
Cook twenty minutes, or until rice is tender.

Serve hot (literally and figuratively!) rice with yogurt and a plain browned vegetable. Mellow eggplant was a nice side for this.


I was so excited and happy with the result. The dark, earthy bite of the horse gram and mellow undertone of its cooking liquid, tangy tamarind, sweet jaggery, and plenty of heat from the red and green chiles made this dish an explosion of taste. I will definitely be looking for more ways to enjoy this new addition to the pantry.

Incidentally, I’m also learning alot of new words. Each of the Indian names I came across sounds prettier to me than “horse gram”.

horse gram rice and yogurt
spicy horse gram rice with yogurt and dry-fried eggplant

Comments (37)

Sourdough Hotcakes

giant sourdough hotcake
giant sourdough hotcake with brown sugar and apples

These hotcakes are unlike ordinary breakfast pancakes: eggless and light, with a distinctive old-fashioned taste. They can be made thick or thin; the proportions below are for thin cakes. For thicker cakes, increase flour to 1 1/2 cups. They can be cooked on an oiled, well-seasoned griddle or cast iron pan, or in a non-stick pan with Pam spray or just a wiping of oiled paper towel. To be really decadent, fry them in a mixture of butter and oil.

Sourdough Hotcakes

The night before, mix in a large bowl:

1 c sourdough starter
1 c flour
1 c water

Cover and set aside in a non-drafty area (inside the microwave or cold oven are good choices).

The next day, assemble the necessities near the stove: warmed serving plates, soft butter and brown sugar for stacked cakes. Have the grill or frying pan heated and ready to go. Medium-high heat works best. I used a non-stick frying pan so I could limit the amount of oil needed. Uncover the batter bowl and stir up the batter. A layer of liquid may have formed under the top — that is perfectly normal — mix it right back in.

When ready to cook, mix in a small bowl:

1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1-2 TB warm water

Place batter bowl in sink as a precaution. When the baking soda mixture hits the batter, it may foam up and run over the top of the bowl. Don’t be alarmed if this happens, and don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t. The hotcakes will be delicious either way. This batch didn’t foam up too much.

hotcake batter
hotcake batter before (top) after adding soda mixture

Pour the contents of the small bowl into the batter bowl and mix well. Immediately start frying the cakes. I used 1/4c measure for the smaller stacked cakes. The batter was quite thin, so they weren’t perfectly round. Cook till the top side is covered with small bubbles, then flip and cook the other side a minute or two more.

sourdough hotcakes cooking
frying the hotcakes

For stacked cakes, butter each cake and spoon some brown sugar on. Top with another cake and repeat until stack is as high as desired. Place in warm oven to melt the sugar. Hotcakes may also be served with maple syrup, fruit, or any other topping of choice. I tried one plain with Latha’s peanut chutney and that made a great combination too.

Next project will be the sourdough bread!

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Walking For A Cure


“As many as 3 million Americans may have type 1 diabetes.* Each year over 13,000 children are diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. That’s 35 children each and every day.”

*Type 1 Diabetes, 2004;KRC Research for JDRF, Jan. 2005

— excerpted from
Fact Sheet – Type 1 Diabetes

My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago, just a few days before Thanksgiving. She is not one to sit back and let anything beat her; together we strive to control her diabetes rather than letting it control us. Taking part in the JDRF walks is alot of fun, and one way to remember that she is not alone. There is an indescribable feeling, heartening and empowering, that comes from being among a crowd of people all dealing with the same issue. It’s even better when it takes place on a crisp autumn morning such today, against a beautiful backdrop like the Charles River. On walk day I look back to those first few frightening days of uncertainty and angst and remember how far we’ve come. That instant life-change brought forth from my child a strength previously unknown — a strength that now serves her in every aspect of her life. For that I am grateful.

Meg, your courage and cheerfulness are an inspiration.
I was so proud to walk with you today!

Love, Mom

walk staging area
staging area by the Hatch Shell – John Hancock building in background

arthur fiedler bust
interesting bust of Arthur Fiedler on Charles River Esplanade

heading onto Mass. Ave. bridge
onto the Mass. Ave. bridge – approximately 364 smoots in length

sailboats at mit
sailboats – Mass. Institute of Technology, Cambridge in background

Beacon Hill
Boston’s Beacon Hill and gold-domed statehouse

team t-shirts
many people walk in teams – checking out the colorful t-shirts is part of the fun

my little soldier
my little soldier

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Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

fresh butter
fresh butter

What to do with all that leftover butter from Jihva for Ghee and Butter,
hosted by Sam of Cooking Medley?

Mom’s Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg white
spreadable fruit – apricot or any other flavor
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Cream butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and mix thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 c at a time, mixing well after each addition, forming a fairly stiff dough. Gently knead the dough for a minute or two, right in the bowl. Remove this dough to a board and break into three or four equal pieces. Form each piece into a log. The diameter of the log will be the diameter of the cookies, so shape according to desired size. Wrap each log in wax paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove dough from refrigerator about 30-60 minutes before baking.

cookies ready to bake
preparing to bake

Preheat oven to 350 F. With a small sharp knife, slice the dough into desired thickness, about 1/8 inch – 1/4 inch works best. Lay these slices flat on parchment-lined baking sheet. With thumb or finger, gently make a small depression in the center of each cookie. Brush with egg white. Drop a tiny dab of spreadable fruit into each depression. Bake in preheated oven approx. 20 minutes, or until edges turn light golden-brown. Cookies will not spread out much, so the color is the best guide.

Remove from oven and cool a few minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack. When completely cool, dust cookies with confectioners’ sugar.

Best served the same day.

Well-wrapped cookie dough keeps very nicely in the fridge for up to four weeks. This makes it easy to slice off a few and pop them in the toaster oven for freshly-baked cookies without the fuss.

apricot thumbprint cookies
freshly baked apricot thumbprint cookies

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Jihva for Ghee ~ Brown Ghee Rice and Mysore Pak

This is my contribution to Jihva for Ghee and Butter,
hosted by Sam of Cooking Medley.

butter ghee onions
fresh unsalted butter, homemade ghee, tiny red onions

This recipe is largely based on Sumitha’s Ghee Rice,
with a couple of minor modifications.

Brown Basmati Ghee Rice

about 20 baby onions, peeled and quartered
1 c brown basmati rice
1/4 c ghee, divided

1-2 bay leaves
2-3 cardamom pods
2 cloves
small piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds

2-2 1/2 c water

1-2 TB broken cashews and golden raisins, fried in ghee, for garnish

Wash rice and leave in strainer 30 minutes, then rinse again to allow it to absorb a little water.

Heat 2 TB ghee in heavy saucepan. Add bay leaf and baby onions. Roast over med-low heat until onion is soft. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and cumin and cook several minutes until fragrant.

Add drained rice to onions and spices. Stir well to coat rice with spiced ghee and cook just a few minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, add 2 c water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Check the rice — if necessary add a little additional water and cook a further 10 minutes or until rice is done.

Melt the remaining 2 TB ghee and pour over the rice, stirring gently to combine. Sumitha’s tip for better flavor: cover and set aside 10-15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with broken cashew bits and golden raisins fried in ghee.

brown basmati ghee rice
brown basmati ghee rice

I also made mysore pak, following Indira’s recipe.
I added some toasted cashews on the top.

mysore pak with cashews
mysore pak with cashews ~ recipe from mahanandi

Thanks Sumitha, Indira, and especially Sam.

And now I’m off to Weight Watchers 🙂

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