A cooking, drinking & musings blog.


Karaoke "Bliss": Guess what I'm choosing to sing...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/28/07: Lumpia "Dipping" Sauce

LushMommy's Vinegar and Garlic "Sukang" for Lumpia

2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
ground black pepper, to taste
hot sauce (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit for a least 10 min before serving with fresh fried lumpia. (Make a small bite off the end and use a teaspoon to pour the vinegar directly into the eggroll.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/26/07: Eggplant & Tomato Salad

I'm sorry, everyone who cares. I'm so behind. I'm taking a real estate course right now, so that's taking up all my concentration.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/25/07: Chicken Adobo

LushMommy's Mommy's Chicken Adobo

This is the last pot I made.

3 1/2 lbs cut-up chicken
(salt and bottled lemon juice for cleaning chicken)

Marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp black pepper corns, crushed (use a mortar and pestle if you have one)
1 bay leaf

vegetable oil of your choice
1 large onion, cut into sixths
2 baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
4-5 carrots, peeled, cut into 2 1/2" pieces (halved lengthwise if carrots are thick)
  1. An adapted version of my mother's method for cleaning chicken: Clean chicken by sprinkling liberally with salt, scrubbing the surface with the grains, then pouring the undiluted lemon juice. Give a final rinse with running water to remove the salt. Put pieces in a colander so excess water can drain.
  2. In a container large enough for all the chicken plus liquid, cover and refrigerate the chicken with the marinade overnight.
  3. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute onion for 3 min. Add chicken and marinade to pot. Bring to a boil, cover, then lower heat and simmer for 35-40 min, depending on size of pieces.
  4. When chicken is almost cooked through, remove pieces from pot and set aside. Add carrots and potatoes to pot. Raise heat and bring to a boil; lower heat and let simmer uncovered, about 15 min, until potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a fork but not too soft. Return chicken pieces to the pot and distribute pieces with the vegetables. Let simmer for about another 10 min.
  5. Enjoy the adobo with lots of rice!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The next guy I date:

must have chemistry with me. It's not just physical attraction, but that's a very essential component to the mix. It's something more — something almost volatile, caustic. It's the electricity that goes through me when he enters the room, or when I hear his voice at the other end of the line, imagining the heat at the end of his words. Not having any layers on, not having to be someone I'm not. It's being exposed but not feeling vulnerable. We'll have reams and reams of things we can talk about, without wanting to stop. And I'll have reams and reams of things to say with my lips, with my hands, with everything else...

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/24/07: Vinegar

Today begins a special series on vinegar, which I believe should attract more flies than honey. It is one of the most under-appreciated condiments out there. There are even more different kinds of vinegar out there than wine. Any good pantry will have a selection of high-quality vinegar to choose from, much like a well-stocked wine cellar.

Shopping Tips:

All I have to say is avoid conventional white vinegar, which is produced chemically from ethyl alcohol, which is in the same family as ethanol, the chemical corn-derivative that's being used as an alternative to fossil fuels. I would only use it to clean mirrors or glass or my coffee maker.

Tomorrow: LushMommy's Mommy's Filipino Chicken Adobo.

Friday, February 23, 2007

LushMommy's "Retirement" Dinner

Ruby and me.

Ruby and my son, too cool to be awake.

Choosing my karaoke set.

No one took pictures of the actual singing. Oh well.

*Thanks to Ruby and Skip for rocking out with me. Also thanks to my son's father and my son for braving the cold to represent.

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/23/07: Quick Broiled Salmon with Honey

A delicious and simple Lenten-friendly dish from Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2006, p. 181:

"Bake salmon fillets at 350°F until almost cooked. Cover them with honey and place under the broiler until they are nicely caramelized."

I usually sprinkle a little sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before baking.

Shopping Tips:

Salmon:
About fish cuts: fillets are nice when they are at a good price; however, the steaks are usually more economical per pound. It's really not that hard to pick the bones out of salmon. Don't be lazy. Use a dedicated kitchen pair of needle-nose pliers to take out the bones prior to cooking.


Honey: I got the best deal from Costco, a huge 1-quart bottle for under $12 (I forget the exact price). My son's father had turned me onto raw honey while we were dating, but I'm a bit freaked out that it can contain random bits of wings and such.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My latest crush: Gordon Buchanan

He's a nature filmmaker. He's adventurous. He's Scottish. He's smart. He's sexy. He just needs to shave more often, and I'll love him even more. (He reminds me of a favorite actor of mine, Ben Chaplin, from Birthday Girl with Nicole Kidman, and Terrence Malick's WWII epic, The Thin Red Line.)

See Gordon Buchanan in Expedition Borneo on The Science Channel.

His Nature documentary, Leopards of Yala, has clips on the PBS website.

I've got my eyes on you: "Idol" Chatter

My favorite contestant, Season 6, so far: Blake Lewis. I didn't like him at first because of the ridiculous overuse of gel. But he won me over by choosing a Keane song, "Somewhere Only We Know," which is currently on heavy rotation on my jukebox. All he has to do is stop looking like he's from a prefabricated English boy band, and I'll keep vigil over the busy signals to vote for him.

My second favorite is Phil Stacey, who is so cute with a hat on (without one though, he looks a little Vulcan/Nosferatu; he's no Daughtry when it comes to a shaved head). Up close, he also appears much older than he does on his Idol profile. He's a decent singer and has charisma, so hopefully he'll stay on long enough to grow a bit of hair on top.

Of the women, alas, I was at mass for Ash Wednesday, so I missed all but the last half hour. Who I'm happy I saw: Gina Glocksen. She rocks. I'm a bit bothered that none of the judges liked the beginning of her performance, which I thought was moody and affecting, and a modern, edgy update to a Celine Dion song. Who I'm disappointed I didn't see: Antonella Barba, who is hot (girl-crush alert!) and has a great exotic look. I like the fact she isn't a trained singer.

Who I think should go from the men's side: Rudy Cardenas, who (no hate mail please) is so gay and hackneyed, and Sundance Head, who is so unhot and gave a dreadful Meatloaf-like performance. It wouldn't be fair for me to judge the ladies. We'll see tonight who makes the cut...

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/22/07: Coconut

If you've used your noodle, now use your coconut:

Coconuts deserve to be called a "superfood." Coconuts (in particular, its oil) got a bad rep in the mid-20th century. But it's making a comeback. Its lipid profile, though saturated, is similar to breastmilk (so it's common in infant formula), and has antibacterial properties. It is great for athletes as a recovery food. We can't forget its emollient properties either, and its oil is a natural, fragrant, nontoxic alternative to baby oil and baby lotion (which often contain mineral oil, a petroleum product). Coconut meat is high in fiber too.

Add unsweetened, sulpher-free coconut flakes to your yogurt, smoothies, cereal or your baking. Coconut oil is also great alternative to butter or vegetable oil in baking, frying and sauteing (see my famous muffin recipe); it has a higher smoke point than canola and olive oil. Lastly, fresh coconut milk is superior to canned ones, and though a messy endeavor to make yourself, the taste rewards are high (fresh frozen coconut milk is available at Filipino and [I believe] Hispanic food markets).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lenten Regulations and Meditations


If you are unclear about Lent, its meaning and practice, visit the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw and its Lenten Regulations page.

Also order The Little Black Book: Six-minute meditations on the Passion according to Matthew from their website. It is a type of vade mecum (pronouced vahday maykum, Latin for "travel with me"); The Little Black Book is a pocket-sized booklet to read through the whole Lenten season, based on the writings of Bishop Ken Untener (1937-2004). I have it in my hands right now.

My search for ashes: A Photo Essay



*Special shout-out to Ruby for helping me with this pet project.

40 days and 40 nights...

of no profanity. No cursing. No cussing. (Get ready for some really creative blogs.)

I should really give it up entirely, at least in front of my son. He's a complete parrot now. He can even use the "wrong" words in the right context. The last thing I need right now is some busybody accusing me of nurturing a potty mouth.

Sometimes I think, what's the friggin' big deal? Expletives are so common place in the everyday vernacular. It's almost subconscious how they pervade our speech. I probably have said curse words in my sleep. They can be so useful in conveying just the right amount of vitriol to sum up the moment, the thing, the person. Who says we don't have the right to offend? Not only do we kill each other with kindness, sometimes we kill ourselves. The recipients of swearing should just try to develop a stronger stomach to those bitter little pills, which sometimes are loaded with truth.

This is un-Christian of me to say, I know. I'm going to confession soon anyway.

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/21/07: Filipino Hot Chocolate

Happy and repentant Ash Wednesday!

This is the first of a series of blogs to celebrate this day. However, I don't have time to type out today's recipe, LushMommy's "Tastes Like Home" Filipino Hot Chocolate, until later. So enjoy these funny pictures of my son eating his first real Filipino breakfast this morning while you wait...


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/20/07: Wine in Cooking

DON'T WASTE IT:

Use that leftover wine corked in your cupboard or fridge in your cooking experiments. You'll be surprised by the complexity it adds to your finished dishes. I like to add a 1/4 cup of red wine to my ground beef, ground pork or bulk sausage that I'm sautéing for pasta sauce, let it simmer until almost evaporated then add the tomatoes (or jarred sauce). Also white wine can enhance, but not overpower, the delicate taste of white fish, when cooked in such techniques as poaching and francaise.

Must Reads:
The Joy of Cooking (Wine is a common component in the recipes of this cookbook classic.)
From WineShopOnline.com: Wine 101: Cooking Wines
From marthastewart.com (plus search the website's recipes):

Monday, February 19, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/19/07: Microwaved Omelet

How I Survived My Pregnancy
Part I: Eating for Two

It wasn't always easy to get a balanced, hearty meal for myself during my pregnancy. I worked Monday through Friday full-time for 8 hours straight (no lunch break). Breakfast was (and still is) the most important meal of the day for me. I usually did not have time before work to relax and enjoy a full breakfast. So I concocted an on-the-go sandwich, cooked almost entirely in the microwave. Coupled with a piece of fruit, my baby and I would be satiated for a good few hours, until lunchtime.

LushMommy's Microwaved Omelet Sandwich for a Busy Mother-to-be

Nonstick cooking spray
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk (by eye)
Spices to taste:
Salt, ground black pepper or red pepper, paprika, garlic powder
2 cheese slices (optional)
2 slices of whole grain bread, toasted
  1. Spray a microwave-proof bowl with nonstick spray. Crack the eggs into the bowl. Add milk and spices. Whisk all together.
  2. Microwave on HIGH for 2 min, or until center is firm with no runniness.
  3. Arrange cheese slices on one piece of bread, then turn omelet bowl upside down on top of the bread. Top with remaining slice.
Variations:

Sausage or Ham, etc.: Heat, on a separate plate, your desired breakfast meat. Place on top of the finished omelet, etc.

Spinach: Spray bowl as above. Add a handful of fresh well-rinsed, dry spinach or 1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach. Microwave for 30 sec; let cool for a minute. Add eggs, milk and spices, whisk. Microwave on HIGH for 3 mins, until firm with no runniness.

Part I to be continued...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

LushMommy's DO NOT DRINK List

First inductee:

Polska Vodka.

This cheap-ass rubbing alcohol fucked me up royally last night. I still taste its toxic haze in the back of my throat and nose even 24 hours after consuming it. When I examined the refreshments table at the party, I thought Polska was quality because it came in a Grey Goose-esque frosted glass bottle (I later discovered it really costs a bargain basement price of $12.99 for 1 liter). It's been so long since I've felt this close to blacking out from drinking. It was déjà vu all over again and it freaked me out.

The last time was 8 years ago, when I drank at home in MD another stock vodka in a plastic bottle. The last thing I remember was being in my kitchen; I didn't realize I'd passed out in my hallway, where I was found naked in a pool of my own vomit. I was rushed to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and had to swallow charcoal in order to throw up supposed aspirin I threatened to take during this raging-drunk suicide attempt, all of which I do not recall.

The only time I ever tried to commit suicide caused by cheap vodka. I ain't goin' out like that. I swore since then to avoid all vodkas that come in plastic bottles. Now I am expanding the embargo to all vodka brands that cannot afford a billboard advertisement.

Shopping Tips for Vodka: TOP SHELF ONLY. Now that's out of the way, choosing among reputable brands becomes, as I often say, a matter of taste. Another personal anecdote: one night, a couple of months ago, I ordered a vodka tonic while talking to this Tibetan* guy I met at a local bar. Apparently he was a regular there and had some cache with the bar maid, and trying to impress me, he told her to make it with Grey Goose. I interjected, "No, no, Ketel One." That is my number one choice. Second is Stolichnaya, especially its different flavors. Belvedere if I'm feeling ultra-luxe. Tanqueray makes an excellent vodka too, which I loved even before coming to appreciate its more famous gin.

I don't believe the hype either. My opinion: Grey Goose is overrated, Absolut's reputation is more indebted to its legendary advertising campaign than its actual product, and Skyy is just a slickly-packaged crap domestic brand. Okay, your opinion can differ. But whatever, to each their own.

*I refer to him as the "Tibetan" guy not to generalize Tibetan people. The reason is I tried to pick his brain about Buddhism in his homeland but every time he'd pull me to the dance floor to change the subject.

And just for the record, that night the Tibetan guy tried to pick me up (he wouldn't let me order a glass of water, only alcohol), I had been to an office party dinner and another bar beforehand, and had even more ounce for ounce of Tanqueray gin and Ketel One vodka than I had of the Polska last night. I was still standing by the end of the night and perfectly lucid, ready to debate anyone under the table, about politics, religion, etc. No hangover the next day either.

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/18/07: Baked Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings are my favorite finger food, and are usually what I will order on a first visit to a new pub. I am very picky: the wing sections, both the wingette and drummette, have to be fat, otherwise I feel jipped; the skin has to be nice and crispy, with little or no breading (often restaurants overbread or the skin is soggy); the hot sauce cannot be wimpy or too hot, nor should the wings be drowning in sauce or have little at all. It's hard to find restaurants or pubs that meet all my criteria, plus are a good value piece for piece. When I find that diamond in the rough, it usually will become my new favorite restaurant.

That being said, I also like to make my own buffalo wings. I prefer baking over deep-frying, because it's easy to just throw the wings in the oven than hover over them in a fryer and baking creates less mess.

LushMommy's Baked Buffalo Wings

Serves one very hungry person or 2 as an appetizer.

12 individually quick-frozen chicken wing segments* (see Shopping Tips below)
1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil (if I have it on hand, I use macadamia nut oil)
3 tbsp, more or less to taste, cayenne pepper sauce (I believe Frank's Red Hot Original to be the best balance of heat and acidity)

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Arrange wings on a nonstick baking sheet or one lined with greased aluminum foil (I like to use ungreased Reynolds Wrap Release Nonstick Foil for easy clean-up; it's heavy-duty weight too.) Place in oven. Bake for about 45 min to 1 hour, turning once, until skin is crispy and translucent.
  3. Towards the end of the baking time, melt butter (if using) in a medium microwave-proof bowl (or just put oil, doing no heating). Whisk in the pepper sauce.
  4. Once wings are ready, with tongs, place all in the bowl with the sauce mixture. Toss to evenly coat, then enjoy!
Variation: Teriyaki Wings: replace 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce (more or less to taste) for the pepper sauce.

*Shopping Tips for Chicken Wings: Most of the time I will say fresh is better and food additives are bad, but in the case for chicken wings for this recipe, opt for individually quick frozen wings, water-added. They are convenient to have on hand and taste better than fresh because they add salt and sodium nitrite/nitrate, the latter being a very unhealthy additive, but if you only eat it once in a while, it shouldn't kill you.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/17/07: Sundried-Tomato & Anchovy Frittata

If you sleep over at my house, I'll make this for you the next day. (I once fancied opening a bed-and-breakfast at my house.)

LushMommy's Sundried-Tomato and Anchovy Frittata
Serves 4 generously.

8 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano
Black pepper, ground
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
All these vegetables julienned into matchstick strips:

  • 1/2 of one sweet onion, smallest you can find
  • 1/2 of a large orange or red bell pepper
  • 10-12 sundried tomato halves (pref. moist-packed, not in oil)
1 tin of anchovies in olive oil (not soybean oil)
2 tsp capers, drained (you can substitute the two above with 1 tin of anchovies rolled with capers)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (plus sprigs for garnish)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Mesclun salad, washed
Balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a medium bowl, crack in the eggs. Add oregano then black pepper, to taste. Beat eggs, then set aside.
  3. Over a medium flame, heat olive oil and butter in a large oven proof pan (pref. nonstick) until the color is almost golden brown.
  4. Add garlic and onions and saute for 2 min.
  5. Add whole contents of the tin of anchovies and capers to pan. Then add bell pepper and sundried tomato. Saute another 2 min.
  6. Increase heat slightly. Add eggs to the pan. Sprinkle chopped parsley and quickly and lightly distribute eggs into the vegetable mixture with a spatula. Once distributed, do not stir and allow to set. Cook the frittata until the bottom is golden and the top is slightly runny, about 3 min.
  7. Put pan into the oven and bake frittata until just set, about 5 min.
  8. Cut into wedges and serve warm, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and a side of mesclun salad with the vinegar and olive oil. Garnish with parsley.

Friday, February 16, 2007

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/16/07: Homemade Applesauce

How do ya like these apples?*

For an alternative to the same old Red Delicious apple, which can often be firm on the outside, but be soft and mealy inside:

Try a Fuji apple, as pictured to the right. Always sweet, always firm with a long storage life and a bright fragrance, they are great in baking and applesauce, or just plain snacking.

LushMommy's Beginning Eater's Homemade Applesauce

Makes enough for maybe 3 baby meals.

2 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1" pieces

  1. Arrange apple pieces in one layer in a 1-qt microwavable casserole dish, pref. glass or ceramic, and place the dish's cover on.
  2. Nuke for about 3-4 mins or until soft (the apple's high water content will provide enough steam to cook).
  3. Let cool for a few minutes, then puree in a food mill, blender, food processor or by hand with a fork or potato masher.
  4. Divide it into servings you think your baby can handle and either freeze (last prob. 1 month in freezer) or refrigerate (at most for 3 days).
*Please forgive me for the Good Will Hunting reference. I am the anti-Matt Damon.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm sorry:

That last post was completely self-indulgent. I apologize.

(Maybe I'm just a tween at heart.)

DON'T give me a camera!

Armed and dangerous.























(I don't have any boogers, do I?)

Misadventures in Cooking: Part I

This is not edible.

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/15/07: Ramen

Use your noodle:

Add 1/2 cup peeled shrimp and 1/2 cup broccoli florets to the boiling water 2 min before adding the packaged ramen noodles (if the shrimp and broccoli are frozen, add another 4 min before dropping the noodles).

(And I always add the seasoning after serving it in a bowl, because the spices will stick to the pot.)

Shopping Tips for Ramen (or other Asian noodles): Try imported brands, rather than the run-of-the-mill domestic ramen. Venture to an Asian food market, and choose from the myriad of flavors of ramen, many specific to tastes of the country of origin. Also most imported brands do not use hydrogenated oil to precook the noodle.

I like Nissin from Hong Kong, Lucky Me from the Philippines, and Shin Ramen from Korea.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SEE—I did it myself.

I can shovel my own sidewalk, thank you very much.

Take note all you ten-year-olds ringing my front doorbell:

I was six months pregnant when the last big snow storm hit NYC in January 2005. I did it all then and I can do it now too.

The next guy I date:


Will be a gentleman. He will open the door for me, volunteer to carry my bags (even though I would be perfectly alright doing it myself), buy me flowers even if it's not a holiday (it doesn't have to be a pricey fancy bouquet; a modest pocket full of posies are beautiful too)...

But he doesn't have to go beyond his means to please me. It's the simple and free things in life that make me happy.

But most of all, most importantly, a gentleman will make the first move...

This other single mom does not understand what it's like to be me:

From babble.com: Another Non-Father Emasculated By Support Court: Pay Up or Go to Jail.

Read Karen Murphy's blog article and my comment.

RECIPE Tip of the Day 2/14/07: My legendary muffin


Happy Valentine's Day! Smootches to all!

If you are single like me, and are looking for love (or sex) in all the wrong places, try offering one of these muffins to a cute, interesting person you'd like to get to know better.

Chocolate-Chip, Cranberry, Walnut, Oat Bran Muffins
My muffin has made me famous among my mommy circles and co-workers.
*See Shopping Tips below.

Dry Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour*
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour*
2/3 cup oat bran, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on top*
1 tbsp baking powder (double acting, aluminum-free)
½ tsp sea salt or kosher salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda, if using yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk; omit if using milk

Stir-ins
1 cup chocolate chips (about half of a 12-oz package)*
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Wet Ingredients
2 large eggs (left out for about 30 mins)
¼ unsalted butter, melted*
¼ coconut oil (melted if solid)*
2/3 cup organic sugar or evaporated cane juice or sucanat*
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup yogurt*, buttermilk or sour cream, pref. whole; can also use milk (not ice cold)

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In another medium sized bowl, toss stir-ins together with 1 tbsp of dry mixture. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, fully stirring the sugar to dissolve. Coconut oil may form small lumps if the eggs and yogurt, etc. are very cold.
  5. Grease a standard-size 12 count muffin tin.
  6. Take dry flour ingredients and stir into the wet ingredients for about 10-12 strokes, until almost all the flour mix is moistened. Add stir-ins with another 2-3 strokes. Do not over stir. Batter will not be smooth.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop or a ¼-cup measuring spoon, drop batter into the muffin tin cups evenly. Sprinkle tops with reserved oat bran.
  8. Place muffin tin in oven. Reduce heat to 375˚ F—very important!
  9. Check for doneness in about 18-20 minutes. (Use the “clean toothpick” test.)
  10. For cooling, spread a hand towel on the counter and flip the muffin tin, crown side down, onto the towel. Let cool upside down.

*Shopping Tips:

Flours and Oat Bran: I insist on using organic whenever possible. Arrowhead Mills makes organic versions of all of these flours (except oat bran). Bob's Red Mill is another reputable brand for flours and brans, though not everything is organic. The most likely place to find these brands and choices under one roof is Whole Foods Market. (Beware of Whole Foods store brand all-purpose flour because it is not 100% wheat and therefore I could not guarantee the results). Some health food stores offer these ingredients in bulk containers too. They are fine too (support local business!) but give the flour a bit of an inspection before bagging.

Chocolate Chips: I have gotten into reading the ingredients of these bags, and what I have found that the brands that add milk fat in place of cocoa butter, such as Nestlé, Hershey, and generic store brands, are inferior to the ones that just have cocoa (or chocolate) liquor, sugar and vanilla. Baker's has a good chocolate chunk (though they use artificial vanilla). The best for the value is Trader Joe's at $1.79 a bag! (Compare to $2.99 and up for the name brands.)

Butter: European-style butter has less water than conventional butter, which makes it extra delicious in baking (and everything else really). (Get Plugrá coupons here!)

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil, a common cooking oil in tropical countries, has gotten a bad rep for decades in the US for its high saturated fat content and studies in the mid-20th century done with hydrogenated coconut oil. Coconut oil has since made a comeback, as virgin coconut oil (meaning unrefined), but is mostly available at health food/vitamin stores, not the supermarket. I buy mine from the Vitamin Shoppe, which has good sales on health food ingredients. I usually buy Nutiva coconut oil, which by the way, is made in the Philippines (PINOY PINAY POWER!).

If you can't find coconut oil, just use all butter, or vice versa.

Organic sugar, et. al.: Organic sugar is a vague term, because there are various levels of refinement that go into making sugar of any kind. Evaporated cane juice is a generic term for sugar that has minimal processing. Sucanat is a brand name of evaporated cane juice, and is one of the darkest brown ones on the market (meaning it will impart a delicious molasses/brown sugar taste to your foods). All three—organic sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucanat—may be in the bulk section of your local health food store.

Yogurt, etc.
: If using whole fat, non-homogenized yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream, remember to stir the contents in the container before using it to evenly distribute the fat. I like Fage, a Greek yogurt, which strains most of the water out of the yogurt before packaging, therefore it is extra-rich.

(I used Fage, as well as oat flour, in my last batch of these muffins, and I think they were my best so far!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This is so tweenie of me:


But everybody, there's a Pucca marathon on the Toon Disney channel, tomorrow Wednesday starting at 7 PM ET.

Thanks for visiting! Stop by tomorrow!

Thanks for visiting! Stop by tomorrow!
A day at the park.

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