Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jac's Gumbo Stew

I'm using qualifiers like "Jac's" and "Stew" because I'm not trying to pass this off as a traditional gumbo. I've never been to New Orleans. Not a lot of Creole where I grew up in rural PA. I've taken significant departures from the base recipe to come up with this.

Jac's Gumbo Stew

Time ~2hrs, Servings: ~6

- 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced
- vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 small onion
- 1 stock celery
- 1/2 green pepper
- 1 jalapeno pepper (seeds optional)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 lb chicken, diced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 2 cubes beef bullion (or 2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon blackening seasoning (or Creole or Cajun)
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups frozen chopped okra
- rice
- 1/2 lb catfish fillets
- 1/2 lb shrimp

- Cook sausage over medium low heat in large soup pot to melt out the fat. This may take about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dice vegetables.
- Set sausage aside, but reserve grease. Stir flour into grease and add oil until mixture is the consistency of a thin gravy. Stir constantly over low heat for 20-30 minutes until roux deepens in color.
- Stir onions and celery into roux. Cook over medium heat until onions start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and peppers, and stir a few minutes more. Add chicken and cook a few minutes more until it starts to brown.
- Return sausage to pot. Add tomatoes, water, bullion, salt, hot sauces, spices and okra. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
- Start rice
- Add fish and shrimp to gumbo, simmer over low heat. Taste for saltiness and hotness. You want it a little extra salty and spicy because the rice will cut both significantly.
- The gumbo is finished when the rice is done. Serve over rice with hot sauce(s) of your choice. Enjoy!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

This is based off of this recipe from It is not vegan, low cal or gluten free. It is delicious. I used 1.5 x this recipe for the crust - no rolling.

- 2 8 inch pie shells
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup 63% cacao chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Heat sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a small sauce pan until sugar is dissolved, stirring to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- Beat eggs, add bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Distribute pecans evenly between the two shells.
- Stir chocolate chips into warm corn syrup mixture until they melt. Whisk in egg mixture. Pour half of mixture into each shell.
- Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until filling has set. Cool on rack. Serve warm or chilled.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan, Low Carb)

Threw this together from a couple different recipes. It's creamy but not thick. You can reduce the liquids and add a thickener if you wand something closer to gravy consistency. This happens to be vegan and low carb. It's also delicious.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Time: 40 min
Servings: 4 side dish
About 8 grams carbs per serving
About 4 grams protein per serving

- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 cups dice mushrooms - I used portobello and crimini mushrooms
- generous shake of Italian seasonings or thyme
- generous black pepper
- 2 cups water
- 3 vegan bouillon cubes - I used Better Than Bouillon "No Chicken Base"
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry

- Heat oil in wide pot or pan. Add onions and sautee until translucent. Add garlic, mushrooms and seasonings. Cook stirring frequently until mushrooms are cooked down, about 10 min. If needed, transfer to soup pot for next step:
- Optional: use immersion blender to reduce mushrooms pieces to desired size.
- Add water and bouillon, and simmer until onions are very soft, about 20 min.
- Add soy milk and sherry. Heat the soup back to serving temperature but do not boil. Enjoy!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Jac's Chocolate Silk Pie

I've made this pie several times over the past year. I usually use firm silken tofu. Soft would probably work, you'd just have a softer pie. Silken tofu usually comes in two sizes: 12 oz and 16 oz. If you use a 12 oz block, just use a 8 inch pie pan. I tend toward darker chocolate and desserts that aren't overly sweet. My favorite chips are Ghirardelli Chocolate 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips.

Jac's Chocolate Silk Pie
- 1 9 inch graham cracker crust
- 1 lb silken tofu
- 1 10 oz bag dark chocolate chips
- 6 oz coconut milk (light is fine)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Melt chips with coconut milk. If doing this in the microwave, stir several times to keep chocolate from burning.
- Pour off excess liquid from tofu, put in blender. Add melted chocolate coconut mix, vanilla and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping sides with spatula to get everything mixed in.
- Pour mixture into crust. Refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours). Serve with whipped (coconut) cream.

Whipped Coconut Cream
Note: Use a high fat coconut milk or coconut cream. 17g fat per 100mL is sufficient. 6g per 100mL wouldn't work. You want a milk that solidifies when refrigerated.
- Pour one 13.5 oz can coconut milk into a small mixing bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Whip chilled coconut milk on high speed several minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and powdered sugar to taste. Serve on your favorite desserts, especially Jac's Chocolate Silk Pie.

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Apple Cake Adventure

I tried to make a peach cake. This is what happened.

I'm staying at my cousin Tom's apartment while he and his wife are out of town. His kitchen is somewhat less well equipped then what I'm accustomed to.

Exhibit A: Mystery Measures

I had ripe peaches I wanted to use up, so I thought I'd have a go at this delicious looking peach cake. Changes 1 & 2 Since it's only me here, I cut the recipe in half while upping the fruit a bit since I wanted to use 2 whole peaches. Change 3 I didn't have any sour cream, but plain yogurt should do the trick. Then I discovered I didn't have any eggs. Change 4 I'm reluctant to buy them due to mild but annoying allergies, so I substituted 1 small grated apple and 1 teaspoon of baking powder for the egg. When I set about to put the wet ingredients together, I found Tom's mixer, but no beaters. (I searched the Entire Kitchen. Twice.) So I had to cream the butter and sugar (which I cut by 25%) Change 5 by hand. The dry ingredients went together without a hitch, except that Change 6 I accidentally added the cinnamon that was meant to be reserved for the sugar topping. I mixed the batter together, then went to cut up the peaches. Change 7 Pithy and brown inside. I used my two remaining apples instead. Apples don't cook down when they aren't covered by a topping or layer of batter, and I didn't want a layer of dried apples on top of the cake, so Changes 8 & 9 I put all the apples in the middle of the cake and added a little butter and cinnamon on top. Change 10 I didn't have any nuts so I omitted those, and Change 11 I had to reduce the baking time for the smaller cake. After all that, here's how it turned out.


Double Apple Cake
- 5 tablespoons butter (salted) at room temp., divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (low fat) (room temp)
- 1 small apple, peeled and grated
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (I think. See Mystery Measures Exhibit A)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling
- 2 large apples, peeled and sliced

- Grease a 1 quart baking dish.
- Cream together 4 tablespoons butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add yogurt, grated apple, and vanilla.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Add dry ingredients to wet a little at a time. Mix just until combined.
- Pour half the batter into the pan. Cover with sliced apples, topped with a few shakes of cinnamon and about 1 tablespoon butter, in pieces spread around the apples. Cover apples with remaining batter.
- Bake for 40 - 45 min, until apples are bubbling and batter is fully cooked. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Strawberry Cheesecake Pi Day

With Pi Day rapidly approaching, I went to the local open-air discount produce market to look for affordable filling. I found lightly crushed strawberries, 2 lbs for a dollar. After looking at several strawberry pie recipes, I decided to put a strawberry jello top on a cheesecake bottom with a pretzel crust.

- 3/4 cup unsalted pretzels, crushed
- 1/4 cup granola
- 3/8 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 T sugar
- 1/4 T salt
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 t lemon juice
- 1/4 t vanilla
- dash of salt
- 1 egg
Fruit Gel
- 1 package strawberry gelatin
- 2 1/2 cups strawberries
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 ice cubes

- Combine all ingredients. Press into 9" pie plate.
- Bake at 400°F for 8 - 10 min
- Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually blend in remaining ingredients, and beat well. Pour into prepared crust.
- Bake at 325°F until the center is set, about 18-20 min. Cool before topping.
Fruit Gel
- Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. Stir in 3 ice cubes. Allow to chill for 30 min.
- Spoon fruit onto cheesecake layer. Pour gelatin over fruit. Chill pie until set, about an hour.

The result:

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Zest and the Art of Bycicle Maintenance

A couple weeks ago, I noticed the housing on my front shifter breaking. Eventually, a piece broke off, and I tried gluing it back together. Didn't work, but I could still shift by pushing the internal lever with what was left of the housing... 'till that broke apart and fell off.

That's one broken SRAM shifter. So today I went to my local bike co-op and purchased a replacement. A friend of mine said he could probably figure out how to install it, but he was busy tonight, and I was not.

The dude who sold me the replacement assured me that it was a simple process, and the new shifter came with installation instructions. After reading through the instructions three times, I got down to work.

First: remove the broken part.
Turns out I was in no way supposed to lubricate the bar, which I did in order to remove the static grip. Oops. After washing the bar with soap and water, I installed the new shifter. I can't say whether I tightened it with exactly 1.7 N-m of torque. I just went until the Allen wrench felt like it was starting to bend. (It was a very small wrench!)

Threading the cable correctly into derailer took two tries. I was thankful for my needle nose pliers with built in wire cutter - made it much easier to grip the wire, pulling it tight as I screwed down the derailer's clamp. I tested out my new shifters out on my trainer. Lookin' good.

I'm actually glad my friend wasn't available to help me tonight. Figuring it out for myself was way more empowering than having someone else show me how to do it. Now I bask in my accomplishment, enjoying a slice of the lemon tart I made from scratch the other day - including candying the lemon zest! Cheers, y'all.

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