• Being Frugal,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    DIY Muesli

    My kid loves muesli.

    No, you read that right: my kid loves muesli.

    “I don’t know,” she says. “I just like it.”

    That’s all well and good but damn, a serious muesli habit can be expensive.  Our local supermarket sells it for $5.79/pound — and that’s the cheapest one they have.

    Muesli is so simple to make… provided you can find its ingredients. In my case, I already had rolled oats but I could not find any other flaked/rolled grain nearby.

    Fortunately, my supermarket carries a small selection of Bob’s Red Mill products, where I found their 5-Grain Rolled Cereal (rolled whole wheat, rye, oats, flaxseed, barley, and triticale).

    What you see on the right is:

    a 16-ounce package of 5-Grain Rolled Cereal
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup date pieces
    2T flax seeds

    The next time I make a batch, I’ll get the exact weight of the finished product, but I’m pretty sure this comes in under $3/pound.

    I think I might make it with almonds or maybe sunflower seeds next time, just to boost its protein content a little, but you could feel free to add… well, anything you like: brown sugar, other dried fruits, different seeds, whatever!

  • Greenmarket Grub

    Greenmarket Grub: Garlic Scapes

    If you are a fancy pants person who reads a lot of food magazines / is first in line when the farmers’ market opens / prides yourself on your food knowledge, then you already know these are garlic scapes.

    If you are, well, me, then you need to need to look up what the hell you just brought home.

    In brief, scapes are the long, flowerless stalks that emerge from bulbs of hardneck garlic. If they’re left on, they will eventually form another bulb of garlic — but only by diverting the plant’s resources from what would otherwise be a nice fat head of garlic underground. It’s like pinching back the tops of a plant to make the rest grow better.

    Which is fascinating, I know, but how does it taste? Well, if there’s an allium Kinsey Scale where mild, sweet onions are a 0 and raw garlic is a 6… scapes are probably about a 4. Predominately garlicky but still enough sweetness to eat raw without cringing. [And I feel like there was more to make of the idea of the onion-garlic Kinsey scale but I just can’t seem to find it. WELL ANYWAY.]

    Basically, any recipe that calls for garlic could easily use garlic scapes instead — stir-fry, pizza, pasta, whatever — but I used mine to make pesto. You can either use all scapes or use half scapes and half basil, which is what I did.  Otherwise, the recipe is the same: scapes/basil (no garlic, obviously), olive oil, salt, et cetera.

    And then you can be a fancy pants, too.

    ADDENDUM: I’ve got a piece about me and my kid up on Mamalode.com today… maybe you might like to read it?

  • Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    A squishy green miracle.

    Avocado has long been my food texture nemesis… squishy, fatty, ooky, blech.


    Back in April, my Master Composter class got together to make a lasagna-style compost bed at a local community garden and a bunch of my classmates brought food for lunch. So, as I was loading a plate with pasta salad and cookies and whatever else, I saw someone had brought guacamole and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, I scooped some onto my plate.

    I took a bite (hoping not to visibly grimace) and… it was good. Like, really good. So good, I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: I asked my classmate for her recipe. I’ve made it twice already in the past month and I kinda already want to make it again. Like right now.

    What follows is the recipe my compost classmate Lucy generously shared with me (with a few additional suggestions by me):

    Lucy’s Guacamole
    Combine the following:
    – 5 avocados
    – 1/4 red onion
    – 3tbs of fresh cilantro
    – 1 plum tomato 
    – fresh juice of 1 lime (some one told me their secret was extra lime juice, so I put a whole bunch)
    – Himalayan Pink salt (sea salt is fine)
    – fresh ground pepper

    My version
    I use four avocados, because the local market sells bundles of 4 for cheaper than buying them individually and I use two plum tomatoes because I really like the tomatoes in it.  Depending on how juicy the limes are, I sometimes end up needing two instead. Oh, and about a half-teaspoon of cumin in this is good too but then again, I like cumin in almost anything. True facts. 

  • Life in Maison Gezellig

    And so, another week goes by…

    Ordinarily at this time, I would be en route to my kid’s art class, probably hustling across Delancey Street right now, but seeing as she feels a little sniffly, I’m using this time to catch up on the things I’ve been neglecting.

    Like this.

    And you, reader(s), assuming I am still nestled into your RSS feeds somewhere.

    So… hi. How are you? How have you been lately?

    Me? I’m good. I’m kind of crazy busy lately, but in a good way, you know?

    For example, between this sentence and the last one I just typed, I had to reply to an email about the compost situation at our garden. Basically, we have a lot of food scraps and not enough leaves (or other “browns”) to make a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio so we’re scrambling to come up with a new source.

    Garden stuff like that, repeated 5, 10, or 20 times over the course of a day, really kind of takes up a good chunk of my day.

    Oh, speaking of compost, I’m now very nearly officially a Master Composter with the NYC Compost Project!

    Not that it got me the compost educator job I applied for last week… but it’s still something I am really incredibly proud of. I’m still not completely official until I complete 30 hours of compost-related volunteer work, so yeah… there’s that on my schedule now, too.

    And then there’s my kid (who took the photo at the top of this post) who is still homeschooled and still as rad as ever.

    Plus there’s my own writing work. Oh, and I’m writing reviews for Kirkus now. I think I’m supposed to stay anonymous or I’d totally post some of the reviews here. A couple of the books have been such utter crapfests that I would love to share the reviews I wrote for them.

    One thing I will say for being this busy…  America, if I ever busted your chops for your shitty food choices, I just want to say I’m sorry. 

    I see the appeal of the drive-thru, the frozen foods, the nearly instant dinner. Because sometimes it’s suddenly 6:30pm and everyone is famished and all you want to do is shove food in your face and then collapse on the couch for a couple hours. I have been there several times of late and those moments do not usually lead to very good food choices.

    So, if you have had occasion to roll your eyes a little or ever mutter “must be nice to have so much time on your hands” at me, I do not begrudge you for it.

    Because I totally get it now.

  • Life in Maison Gezellig,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Quick, yes. Inspiring, no.

    Poor little blog: you really get the short end of the stick, don’t you?

    What with trying to launch more freelance work, homeschooling my kid, and all the community gardening stuff (e.g. a huge opening day party to plan for next month), dinner has strictly been of the hurry-up-make-food-go-in-mouth-now-and-then-watch-Community variety — which is fine but not of much interest to anyone beyond those actually getting fed.

    So, what you’re looking at above are two beloved (if not very attractive) meals I’ve made this week.

    First up, pictured on the right, is something I look forward to making every year: corned beef fried rice, based on this recipe. Before making a traditional corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, I pick up an extra head of cabbage as well as a huge corned beef (which is always on sale that week) and then use the leftover corned beef (rather than the canned stuff) and the extra cabbage to make the fried rice. Depending on how salty your corned beef was you may want to skip the soy sauce in the original recipe in favor of rice vinegar, too.

    And on the left… a tostada with refried beans. I admit, I am somewhat in love with tostadas of late. They’re like huge unsalted tortilla chips and everything tastes better on them. I am also unequivocally in love with the salad you see perched on top of that tostada, which comes courtesy of Elise at SimplyRecipes.com, and consists of the following: shred half a head of iceberg lettuce and dress it only with vinegar and salt. Seriously. That’s it.

    You can be a lettuce snob and try a different lettuce if you want (in fact, that’s actually romaine in my photo) but take my word: it will not be as good. The cool, watery crunch of iceberg is the perfect counterbalance to earthy beans or the umami of ground beef on a tostada.

  • Brooklyn,  Green is Gezellig,  Urban Gardening

    2011 vs. 2012

    Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post on how much gardening envy had taken over my life — and while the post closed with me saying, “I guess I’ll keep reading stuff and looking at stuff when I can and maybe next year…? No, definitely next year,” I didn’t really believe it.

    I said it because it sounded better than admitting I would probably forget all about it or just go through the same garden envy/lust combo again the next year (and probably for years to come, for all I knew).

    I did not —I could not — imagine that within a year I would be presenting a workshop on how to gain access to land for community gardening, which is exactly what I was doing this past Saturday at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual Making Brooklyn Bloom conference.

    It was fun and frankly exhausting. For an introvert like me, meeting dozens of new people and giving a presentation and answering questions to a roomful of people is on a par with… maybe not a marathon, but at least a 10K run.

    But I did it — and I still got up the next day, went to the garden and hauled wheelbarrows full of topsoil around, finally filling in my garden plot and getting it ready to plant.

    Hello, spring.