November 30, 2010

Spiced Cranberry Orange Relish


Just in time for Thanksgiving (barely), here is my recipe for homemade cranberry relish. It’s tart, spicy, citrusy, sweet and, most importantly, kicks that goo that comes in a can’s booty. As, I suppose, most any homemade cranberry relish does. And it’s really easy. Honestly, it takes about 5 more minutes than opening a can.


1 12oz bag fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)

1 large orange

1 cup sugar

ginger root

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp of nutmeg

1/8 tsp of cloves

1 tsp vanilla


Place cranberries in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Zest the orange into the pan with a microplane.


Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Grate about 1/2” from the ginger root into the pan (1 tsp). Stir in the sugar, spices and vanilla.


Cook the cranberries, stirring frequently, until most of them have burst. It should take about 5 minutes.


Let the cranberries cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for up to a week.

November 26, 2010

Quick and Easy Kimchee


Kimchi is traditionally a Korean fermented cabbage dish. This version is isn’t fermented but still has the spicy tang of the original. It’s similar to vinaigrette based coleslaw.

Kimchi isn’t for everyone. Honestly, it’s a little spicy for me. However, my boyfriend loves it, especially with rice and a fried egg. The yoke from the egg makes a bit of a sauce and its richness helps to cut some of the heat from the kimchi.




1 head of cabbage (I used savoy because it came in my CSA last week but any will work), cut into 1” strips


1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2” piece of ginger root

3 medium cloves garlic

1 tsp Sriracha sauce

2 Tbs fish sauce

3 Tbs rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbs red chili flakes


Place cabbage in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Toss a few times to mix. Let the cabbage sit for at least an hour, mixing occasionally. This helps to remove some of the liquid from the cabbage.


Press the cabbage against the bottom of the colander to get any remaining liquid out and transfer into a gallon resealable bag.

Grate the ginger and garlic into the bag with a microplane or small grater.


Add in the rest of the ingredients and seal the bag. Double check to make sure it’s sealed!

Squish the cabbage around until it’s coated with the sauce. Refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to a month. The flavor will get stronger the longer it sits.


Serve over rice, with a stir fry or with an egg.



November 24, 2010

Glass Leaf and Swarovski Crystal Bracelet



Last time I was at my favorite bead shop on the coast I found a strand of red, yellow and orange shimmery glass leaves and thought they would make the perfect Christmas present for my mom. She loves sparkly jewelry and is one of the few women I know that truly looks good in orange. You can find similar beads here.


I bought a dozen or so packages of Swarovski crystals in fall colors to go with the leaves. Swarovski crystals are a little spendy but you can sometimes find them on sale at Michael’s or JoAnn’s. Or better yet, you can buy them in bulk here and here. Plus, I found that even though the boxes were tiny the beads actually went a long ways and I could probably make another bracelet out of what I have left.


First, I cut three pieces of bead stringing wire long enough to go around my wrist plus a few inches. Then I threaded one wire through one side of a three-way spreader and back through a crimping bead.



I smashed the crimping bead with pliers to keep the wire in place. When using crimping beads, there is fine line between smashing them so hard that they break (instead of just flatten out) and not hard enough so that the wires slip. You might want to practice on some wire scraps. Trust me, it’s extremely frustrating when your almost finished bracelet comes apart and spills beads all over the floor.


I trimmed off the short piece of wire and started stringing beads.



Once enough beads were strung to go around my wrist, I attached the other speader in the same way I put on the first one.


I repeated this method for the other two strands and then attached the clasp with jump rings.



November 23, 2010

Stress Free Gravy


When asked what stresses cooks out the most about holiday cooking, most seem to say over cooking the turkey or lumpy, greasy gravy. There are plenty of sites devoted to turkey perfection right now. has a whole section on cooking a delectable turkey.  However, I haven’t seen much on gravy.  So, here is my fool proof, super quick method for making gravy.


These pictures aren’t exactly pretty. Consider yourself warned.

1. I usually rub the turkey down with a mix of oil or butter and fresh herbs, salt and pepper. For this method a butter rub makes much better gravy than oil because butter is solid at room temperature and will be easier to remove from the drippings.

2. Before you put your bird in the oven, add 1 1/2 cups or so of water to the roasting pan. This will help to stretch the drippings a little and prevent them from burning.

3. When the turkey is done remove it from the roasting pan to rest under a nice foil tent.  Let the drippings cool for a few minutes.

4. Put a few big handfuls of ice cubes into the roasting pan with the drippings. Slowly stir them around with a large slotted spoon.


5. The fat in the drippings will harden and stick to the ice cubes. After most of the fat is congealed. Scoop the ice cubes and fat out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Throw the ice and fat away in the trash. It can clog your drain.


6. Put the roasting pan back on the stove over two burners on medium heat. Alternatively, you can pour the drippings into a sauce pan.

7. Stir in 3-4 cups of broth or stock depending on how much gravy you need.


8. Stir the broth and drippings, scraping the bits of goodness from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil.

9. In a small bowl or cup mix 3 tbs. of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of room temperature broth. Stir into boiling broth. Simmer until thickened and then remove from heat. You made need to add more of the corn starch and broth mixture depending on how thick you want the gravy to be. If it becomes too thick just add a little more broth.


10. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Even if your turkey is dry at least you know you will have good gravy to spoon over it.

November 18, 2010

Sparkly Yellow, Orange and Coral Necklace


I realized a year or so ago that I have ton of black (and brown and gray and other drab colors) clothes. So, I made a little deal with myself that I would start buying brighter pieces to supplement my dark wardrobe. This rule really only served to justify more shopping (as in “I don’t really need this new sweater. It’s bright pink? Well, that’s okay then.”) but I do wear a lot less black now.

And with new clothes, one needs new jewelry, right?


I used the same method to make this necklace as I did for this one. I should probably change the name to The 10 Minute Sparkly Necklace because you can throw one together 5 or 10 minutes and a few left over beads.



November 3, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake


Texas Sheet Cake is much more delicious than it is pretty. It’s the kind of cake you serve right from the pan because it’s a little on the fragile side. And, really, if I’m being honest sometimes I just eat it right out of the pan. 

If gluten free isn’t your thing substitute all purpose regular flour for the gluten free flours. This doesn’t work for all baked goods but it doesn’t seem to matter here.

The recipe is loosely based on the one from  Joy of Cooking.

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup oat flour

3/4 cup rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:

1 cup chocolate chips

3 tbs butter

1/4 cup cream

1 tsp vanilla

2+ cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans or flaked sweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.

In a sauce pan heat water, oil, shortening and cocoa. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, whisk sugar, flours, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. 

Remove cocoa mixture from heat and pour over dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined.

Mix eggs, sour cream and vanilla together and then stir into batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 25-28 minutes until cake springs back when gently touched.

While the cake is cooling make the frosting. In a double boiler (or heat proof bowl set on top of a sauce pan of simmering water) melt chocolate chips and butter, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cream and vanilla.

With a hand mixer, beat the powdered sugar into the chocolate until it’s a spreadable consistency. Add more powdered sugar or cream to adjust consistency.

Spread frosting over warm cake and top with pecans or coconut (or both).