Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spicy Pickled Asparagus


3 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed to fit your jars (save the ends for cream of asparagus soup: recipe to follow in a few short days)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 sprigs of dill
1 jalapeno pepper


1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and two 24-ounce jars (you can also substitute four 12-ounce jelly jars). Place lids in a small pan of water and bring to a bare simmer.

2. Combine white vinegar, jalapeno, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Fill a large saucepan with several inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add half of asparagus to pot and cook for exactly 1 minute. Transfer asparagus to a colander with tongs and run under cool water. Repeat with remaining asparagus.

4. Remove jars from the canning pot and drain. Place one tablespoon of pickling spice and one garlic clove in the bottom of each jar. Remove jalapeno from pickling fluid, cut in half and place 1/2 in each jar (the more seeds u include, the spicier it will be).

5. Divide asparagus evenly between the two jars. Pour pickling liquid over the asparagus. Tap jars gently to remove any air bubbles.

6. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded towel. When jars are entirely cool, remove rings and check seals.

7. Let these pickles rest at least 24 hours before eating. As with most pickles, they will improve over time. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

This recipe was modified from: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/03/pickled-asparagus-recipe-how-to-make.html

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lavender Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes a week ago and took them to the Bastyr Clinic. They were a hit. They have a wonderfully decadent flavor. The combination of chocolate and lavender is fabulous. Enjoy. I iced them with a scrumptuos lavender, lemon, cream cheese frosting. You only need one to feel satisfied because the marriage of flavors.

Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes

Yields 12-14 cupcakes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup hot water
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lavender, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
2. Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
5. Add eggs, mixing well between each addition.
6. Add vanilla extract and crushed lavender.
7. Slowly add flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa mixture. Mix until smooth.
8. Fill baking cups 2/3 full with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Lemon-Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz softened cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
zest of 1 lemon, ground
2 tbsp lemon juice
Lavender Buds to Garnish
Optional: 2 drops of blue food coloring to 1 drop of red coloring to make frosting lavender in color. If you want a darker lavender, continue to add coloring at a 2:1 ratio.

1. While the cupcakes are baking, place cream cheese in a large bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat it until softened.
2. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and continue to beat the mixture until combined. Keep cold until cupcakes are ready to be frosted.
3. Place frosting in a ziplock bag and snip a small part of one of the lower corners (can use a frosting bag as well). Squeeze bag over cupcakes to easily frost.
4. As a garnish, sprinkle lavender buds on top of newly frosted cupcakes. This will also add a burst of lavender flavor to each bite.
5. Freeze any remaining frosting for future use.
6. Keep cupcakes refrigerated until ready to serve.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lavender Jelly recipe


3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 (1 3/4-ounces) box powdered Pectin or 1 pouch (3-ounces) liquid pectin
4 cups granulated sugar


In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in dried lavender flowers, and let steep for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain mixture into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers. Stir in lemon juice and pectin; continue stirring until the pectin is dissolved.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; add sugar. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes (see below), stirring occasionally.

Boil Times:
2 minutes - soft gel
4 minutes - medium gel

Testing for "jell" (thickness - I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1 teaspoon to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute
After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.

Makes five 1/2 pints

This is a delicious recipe from Great for a food gift or to have something unique in you canning cupboard. It has a very sweet yet unique flavor. This is not your grandmother's average jelly. Serving suggestions: serve over cream cheese with crackers as an appetizer or serve with the eggless/whole wheat sponge cake (recipe posted previously).

Indian Pickles

HOLD UP! I just ate a very delicious pickle and decided to see what was in the ingredients. It was the usual: salt, cucumbers, vinegar, garlic, etc. Then I noticed in small print right below the ingredients......."Product of India". WTF(flip)! India?!! Why the F (flip) are my pickles from India? We don't have vinegar and cucumbers in WA, much less the WHOLE UNITED STATES? When the F (flip) did pickles become an imported food? OMG. I have got to get some new pickles. My heart bleeds for the carbon dioxide that was released to bring me those delicious Indian Pickles :'(

eggless/ whole wheat sponge cake

What’s needed-

1 and 1/2 C of whole wheat flour
6-7 TBL of powdered sugar ( you can also use evaporated pure cane sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
6 TBL of olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1C of water

1. Pre heat the oven at 350 Degrees F and spray a loaf pan with baking spray.*
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder.
3. Whisk in water, oil and vanilla in another bowl.
4. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
5. Place the pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or till the edges begin to brown, and the center of the cake is bouncy. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Set aside to cool.
6. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup, fresh fruit and homemade whip cream**, or fresh fruit and marscapone.

*You can also make two sponges in 8 inch round pans and use them as two layers. Place choice of toppings between layers and on top of the cake.
**Homemade Whip Cream:
1. 1/2 c organic whipping cream
2. 1 Tbl of evaporated cane sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
3. 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
---Combine ingredients in a bowl and blend with a hand blender until light and fluffy.

For more vegetarian recipes, check this site out


I have recently had some new inspiration when it comes to health. Inspired by my extraordinary fatigue from the burn out from working and 3 years of grad school, I realized I was not going to make it to graduation next year if something in my life didn't change. I started taking a close look at my nutritional choices. I started looking for answers in my food, which is where I believe everyone should look first when it comes to health. I started watching nutrition documentaries like crazy. I have recently seen, Forks Over Knives, The Weight of a Nation (HBO), Food Matters, Sick, Fat, And Nearly Dead, and The Disappearing Bees. I have always thought I ate pretty healthy, but the more I learn about health and nutrition, the more I realize I have areas where I can definitely improve.

First off, I was a Diet Coke ADDICT. I knew it was poisonous and has been connected with everything from M.S. to Gulf War Syndrome to Cancer, but I still drank it. It turns into a similar chemical to formaldehyde once inside the body, if you want to read some research, check this article out. It contains two sources at the bottom for further investigation . After debating with myself and the advent of natural soda made with Stevia, I quit drinking diet soda. For two straight weeks I had serious body aches, neck pain, and flu like symptome (no fever, and it wasn"t the flu). I also could "smell" my body detoxing. It wasn't from lack of caffeine because I was still drinking coffee, tea, and "natural" soda. Now my goal is to quit drinking all soda by the end of the summer.

My second area I needed to change was/is a lack of breakfast. It is a work in progress that I struggle with daily, but after watching "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," I may have found my solution. I have started juicing. I didn't know what juicer to buy, so I did a ton of research and reead reviews and finally decided that for my purposes the Breville Plus Juice Fountain . I am very happy I did. How else can I consume 2 beets, 2 carrots, 2 apples, 3 stocks of celery, and beet greens all in one setting? That was my most recent juice and it was delicious. I could never eat that amount of veges in one day, much less one setting. I am feeling better and better. I know I know, we have been taught that juice is empty calories and will add to our weight gain, which is true with PROCESSED JUICE!!!!

The juice you buy at the store is usually pasteurized at a HIGH HEAT destroying not only bacteria, but all of the nutrients and vitamins leaving only orange flavored sugar water. I am in the camp that fresh juice acts on the body in a VERY DIFFERENT way than pasteurized juice. We may not quite understand it yet, but I believe it has something to do with our body recognizing the MICROnutrients lost in processed juice, plus the vitamis and MACROnutrients entering our body from the fresh juice. If it were true that juice could make us FAT just by drinking it, then many flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodests would be obese, but most ARE NOT!!!!! They eat mostly fruits and veges and very little meat. Yes, meat has caloric density, but I do not think that it is responsible for the obesity epidemic; anyone REMEMBER the HORRIBLE Atkins Diet? People weren't obese, they had a plethora of other health problems (heart disease, kidney failure, ect), but rarely obesity. This leads me to believe that there are allot of secrets in micronutrients that we don't quite understand yet. It may be they offer a certain amount of protection in our body from fat collection and build up because the body recognizes we are not in a time of famine (if we are consuming tons of fruits and veges, then how could there be famine). We are just beginning to understand and study the protective nature of food. Fresh juice doesn't kill or break down micronutrients. I think we'll see more research in this area in the future.

I have not become a vegetarian. I have always been a flexitarian, eating more fruits and veges than meat, I am just adding to my consumption of healthy nutrients. I will keep everyone posted as I move further along my road to health and learn more. My recommendation is for Americans to start educating themselves about what they put in their mouth and learn where their food comes from. Small changes really do add up to big ones. One day soon, Insha'Allah, I will post my journey on this blog demostrating that.

For now, I strongly recommend that you watch the above documentaries. You have nothing to loose. Maybe you will learn a few things about your health and body and you can be a couch potato while doing it on your day off. What better way to learn about health,lol? or if you're motivated over summer vacation, read the books (i read too much for school, so the documentaries work for me:). I wish you all happiness and health.