December 21, 2012

Christmas Soup

This recipe for Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup) from ChefMD looks like Christmas! The look is entirely coincidental, but I'm glad for a holiday-looking soup all the same. 

Yesterday, I listened to a People's Pharmacy® interview with ChefMD, aka Dr. John La Puma called Healthy Holiday Feasts. I'd heard them talk to him before, but this time I was inspired to check out the recipes on Many look quite tasty!

This recipe calls for fennel, which wasn't available at the store yesterday, so I substituted an onion instead. I used Bionaturae's whole wheat macaroni, as that was the smallest pasta I had. On the show, Dr. La Puma talked about using "reduced sodium spicy vegetable juice" which I also didn't have; I used a double can of fire-roasted tomatoes with their juice. I also didn't have peas, so I used string beans.

Tomatoes + string beans + navy beans = Christmas soup!

Musical Accompaniment
Pink Martini's Joy to The World.

December 08, 2012

Favorite Books read in 2012

Goodreads has been a good way to keep track of books I've read, which was my goal. It's made listing my favorite fiction reads of 2012 very easy! The list is online, and I can even  embed it in this post.

Stephanie's favorite novels read in 2012

American Dervish
This was a fascinating book. Interesting insight into the life of Muslims in 1970s Milwaukee, and a horrible betrayal by the narrator. None of the characters was especially positive, but the book was compelling. One tic that bothered me:...
The Newlyweds
Delightful story about a Bangladeshi woman who marries an American man and moves to Rochester. The early story is good, but has been done before. However, the second half - when she returns to "Desh" - is fresh and interesting.
The Cranes Dance
This was a great book for anyone who likes reading about ballet, NYC, or mental illness. The two I know best were handled authentically, and the third was entertaining. It started out a bit lite-n-snarky, but I'd read a good review of ...
The Snow Child
This was quite a lovely story -- the "Child" herself was lovely, as were the other characters. Alaska in 1920, too, was a character in the story -- and a very interesting character at that.
Let the Great World Spin
This was a lovely novel, though it started out as a series of disconnected short stories. I wasn't sure I'd stick with it - but I'm glad I did. The stories deepened and got very interconnected. I remember when the Twin Towers were being ...
The Night Bookmobile
I loved this book -- all librarians & good readers should read it. I borrowed my copy from the library (most of my reads are library books), but this is one I will purchase, as I could imagine wanting to revisit this one again.

Clearly I could have added more annotations, but at least I have a good list of books read & loved in 2012!

December 01, 2012

Chocolate Mooncakes (Gluten-free). Or, Recipes on the Blog!

I've been cooking & posting photos / recipes to my Facebook page for a while now. That turns out to be satisfying because my friends post comments ... but ultimately is unsatisfying because I can't easily refer people to my baked kale recipe or my spicy Thai slaw recipe.

I got a suggestion (or two) to start a blog ... but hey, I already have a blog, and it's not being used. So ... I'm planning to post some recipes here, in addition to the occasional post about teaching or librarianing or cognitive sciencing.

Chocolate Mooncakes
First up: Chocolate Mooncakes (Gluten Free). or, Black bean, gluten-free brownies. I wanted a relatively healthy and wheat-free baked good to take to various holiday events -- but it had to taste good first. So I scoured the interwebs for black bean brownie recipes & settled on Eat Good 4 Life: Dark chocolate and black bean brownies.

The recipe calls for many of the usual brownie ingredients, such as eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

Variations: I am not a big brownie baker, so I was less familiar with the chocolate aspect. The recipe calls for dark cocoa powder, but since I didn't know if I was going to like these (and thus make them again), I didn't want to buy a lot of cocoa powder. So I bought a single-serving packet of sipping cocoa. I used Whole Foods semi-sweet chocolate chips for the toppings. I also substituted (and toasted) pecans instead of chopped walnuts, just because I'm in the south.

I was flummoxed at the notion of buying instant coffee -- all I could think of was Sanka, and I didn't know where I might big a jar of Sanka these days. While I didn't look hard, I still didn't find any instant coffee, and so I thought I would do without. Then I remembered that Starbucks is making instant coffee, so I bought a three-pack of their coffee-flavored instant coffee.  (I didn't buy their flavored mochas, nor their Christmas blend.)

The cool thing about this recipe, and this is not a variation, but is, imho, A Good Thing, is the use of a can of black beans instead of flour. The texture is not quite brownie-like, but as my friend Tomasa said, is more like a Chinese mooncake. Actually, according to Wikipedia, this is nothing like a typical Chinese mooncake, but it's more like a mooncake than a brownie, so I'm sticking with the name.

If you're gluten-free, or just want to try a brownie variation, I recommend these.