daily walk: welcome to my neighorhood

Dear Internet,
Last night we straight up went Bacchian on the forbidden deliciousness of pizza that we had delivered. As I was predictably feeling terrible this morning when I woke up at around 6AM, I decided there was no point to me laying wide awake in bed staring at the ceiling and I should get up and go do something.
That go do something turned into a brisk walk around my neighborhood.1
As I start to sort my daily schedule, one thing I wanted to make sure to happen, regardless of weather, was that I got up and walked a mile each day around my neighborhood.2 One, it would give me some exercise. Two, it would get me out of the house. Three, I could use this to loosely train for a competitive 5K walk. Four, it would help with the water retention happening in my ankle. Five, exercise helps with the crazy.
So really, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be doing this even if i it is the only thing I’m doing.
As I was walking this morning in the light drizzel, I thought it would be a great idea to get a picture of something that strikes my fancy that I see on my walk and post it as well as my distance and times. This will serve no purpose to really anyone but me, but what the fuck. Let’s see how much I can do this.
Distance: 1.32 miles
Walk time: 23:32 minutes
Pace: 16:56/mile
For a fat girl with sketchy ankles, I sure do walk fast. And this is my normal speed.
After I came home, I woke TheHusband up show me for the fourth time how to make a smoothie so I can do it on my own. Turned out much easier than I thought and despite the fact it looks like green slime, it is actually quite delicious.
Throbbing Manor Smoothie (base)

  • 8oz orange juice
  • 2 leaves + steams of a major green (I used chard this morning)
  • 1 heaping tsp of hemp protein
  • 1 heaping tsp of chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen fruit (we are currently using mixed fruit)

Add ingredients into blender of your choice in the order above, making sure at the very least the juice is  added first. Blend until thoroughly liquid and then pour into a glass and serve. Makes about 16oz of smoothie.
Variations: If OJ is not on hand, use about a cup or so of ice and swap out the frozen fruit for fresh. The recipe is flexible enough that you really just need liquid + green + fruit to get you going with protein powders added for extra nutrition.
P.S. If I feel a bit — forced on excitement on this whole thing, I have found the more I fake being excited about something I dread, then discovering it is not akin to torture, I tend to be more open to continuing said thing. Rainbow sparkles unicorn poop for all.

1. It took me longer to find my earbuds, sort out music/podcast options, sync everything together, change, put shoes on then it did to do the actual walk. Next time should be a lot faster getting ready.
2. I use the web version of Gmaps Pedometer/Miler Meter to map routes and then sync it with the iOS version and then use Walkmeter to track time/distance/pace. While both are free, I upgraded both to get the extra features. Since it’s cumbersome to use both, and MilerMeter has a shitty interface on iOS, I hope to get intimate with Walkmeter to use it’s full potential.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2011, 1999

Recipe: White Bread (Throbbing Manor variation)

Dear Internet,
With the fairly big change in our lives happening in a few weeks, we’ve been hunkering down on costs whenever we can as whatever monies I make the first year writing will more than likely not match (not by a long shot) what I make at the current job.
One of our biggest expenditures is food: take out, specialty, high end, doesn’t matter. If we could put it in our mouths and digest it, we were more than likely buying it. Having the means to eat anywhere you want to, dining out for lunch nearly every day, or the near daily shopping trip to a great local bakery hasn’t helped either. It was shocking adding the receipts into YNAB over the last few months, because wow. We dropped how much on a single dinner and didn’t blink?
Right. Time to change.1
The other big component to this is knowing what ingredients are actually in our food. I had lunch with Kolene at Curry Kitchen2 recently and feigned surprised when I found out the naan had milk in addition to being slathered in butter. I wasn’t really surprised, but I have been in deep denial about how a lot of the food I eat is dairy free.3
The other component is learning how to cook, something I’ve moved from thinking about to seriously thinking about in the last year or so and need to start actually practicing.
(This is an awfully long intro to a damn recipe, but keep up with me here.)
With all of this swirling around, TheHusband and I have been doing pretty great on getting the food budget under control, not eating out unless it was foretold by the gods, and finding ways to maintain most of our food lifestyle without skimping on anything. With all of this in mind, it was also important for me to document what we’re doing because not only will be helpful for later recall but also for others.4
Bread was something that I’ve made frequently in the past to know I was good at and could also cheaply replicate at home. I had not found a good white bread recipe for sammiches yet, so I asked my pal Frank for a non-bread machine recipe, which he gladly supplied.
How awesome was this recipe? TheHusband and I killed half a loaf with dinner. It is THAT good.
It is, however, not that great for sammiches. The innards are tad too soft and any weight given in the sammich building would probably tear it apart. It would also probably not work well as French toast either. It would work for plain eating with a spread or for sopping or even just tearing hunks off to nibble on.
Plus the recipe is super easy. AND, since I’ve successfully used vegan milk and butter but a real egg for the recipe, swapping in an egg replacement would make it totally vegan. SCORE.

Egg glaze is on and ready to be slipped into the oven.

Also remember recently when I said, “At some point in my life, I’ll learn how to be a better food photographer”?
Yeah, I decided this was now the time.
Bread after it has cooled and on the rack. TheHusband was chopping bacon in the background to top our green beans.

White Bread – Throbbing Variation. Adapted from Frank Skornia, who adapted it from Peter Reinhart
2 teaspoons (.22 ounces) active yeast
1/2 cup of hot water (around 112 degrees)
4 3/4 cups (21.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) salt
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1.33 ounce) unsweetened almond milk
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) vegan butter melted or at room temperature (I use Earth Balance since it has the best consistency and taste to cow milk butter)
1 3/4 (or 2 1/4) cups  (14  – 16 ounces) water, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked  until frothy, for egg wash

  1. Proof the yeast by adding it the 1/2 cup of  hot water and let sit for about 5 minutes until creamy. If using quick yeast, you can skip this step but make sure to add the 1/2 cup of water into the water total later in the recipe for a total of 2 1/4 cups
  2. While yeast is proofing, add flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl  (hand or stand) and blend
  3. Add the yeast mixture, milk, egg, butter, and 1 cup (1 1/2) cups of water with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, slowly add water until the dough is soft and supple.
  4. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Continue for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.) The dough should pass the windowpane test.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature). Trick: Due to weather (windows are open!) or to save time, a trick to get dough to rise quickly is to warm the oven up (200F roughly) and then turn it off. Now pop the bowl (and thus use a clean towel and NOT plastic wrap) into the oven, close the door and check back in an hour. The dough should have doubled by this time.
  6. Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves and shape the dough. Lightly oil two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans. 
  7. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size. I also did the same trick here with the oven but I did NOT cover the tops.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F for loaves and brush the loaves with egg wash.
  9. Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden. The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. (My oven is quick so I baked for 35 minutes on the nose and they were perfect and I did rotate about 20 minutes in.)
  10. When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.
  11. DEVOUR

Also make sure to check out Frank’s adaptation as he includes how to use this dough for making dinner rolls, hot dog, and hamburger rolls. Also thanks to Frank, I learned about the windowpane technique and how to shape loaf dough. Frank, you rock!

1. Even if I somehow make a trillion dollars off my future endeavours, it certainly would be in our best interests to have better control over our budget so we know if we’re buying a pied terre in Paris’ first district or some kind of ramshackle ruin in the wilds of southern Italy. Bad comparison as we want both, but you catch my drift.
2.The owner kept making fat jokes at my expense while also referring to himself – things along the lines like I didn’t worry about starving to death waiting for the naan while rubbing his own protruding belly.
3. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve had mac and cheese. Some days, I would give a year of my life to eat mac and cheese.
4. People love, love, LOVE any posts I do how-tos on whatever.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013

eat all the things

Dear Internet,
One of the duties I’ll be taking over when I become writer in residence of Throbbing Manor is food prep and cooking, so this weekend seemed like a good time as any to start oozing into that roll.
At some point in my life, I’ll learn how to be a better food photographer.
This weekend, however, is not that weekend.

Shredded broccoli and carrot salad.
Shredded broccoli and carrot salad

First up on the list was to find and make some kind of cold salad with broccoli as an ingredient to complement the sausage and peppers we were having for dinner. We had purchased a small broccoli head last week and it was starting to wilt in the fridge, so it needed to be used ASAP. I found this broccoli stem and carrot slaw recipe that ticked all the boxes and let me use up a few items that were getting close to be past their peak.
I had no idea what a cornichons (mini gherkin) were, I cut the mayo nearly in half, used half a white onion instead of a whole red, and we ended up adding a few dashes of salt to amp up the flavor. Instead of a Granny apple, I used a Pink Lady and I didn’t have Dijon, but used brown mustard instead.
While the salad turned out to not to be a good choice as a complement to the meal since the sausages were spicy,  it was still a delight. We noted the flavors of the salad and the meat were dueling it out on our tongues and as a stand alone, the salad would be delish or as a side to more toned down meat like chicken. We both liked the different flavors, the salad’s crunch, and my substitutions worked really well together, making this salad fairly flexible.
No-bake granola bark

While the broccoli slaw chilled in the fridge, I turned my attention to this no-bake 5 ingredient granola bar recipe I had recently discovered. I was drawn to the recipe because we already had all the ingredients and the idea that the bars could be formed without baking was greatly appealing. The lack of added sugar was also a big plus. I added in a dash of shredded coconut to the recipe for added flavor and added dried apricots to the mix as well. Apparently I didn’t press the mixture hard enough into the pan because after 20 or so minutes in the freezer, they came out more like bark than bars. TheHusband declare he loved it,  and it’s something we can always make again since we normally carry all the ingredients in the house. We’re keeping the bark in the freezer to keep fresh and to nibble. Next time I’ll just need TheHusband to come down and use his manly strength to press the bars more firmly.
Vegan nutella

Lastly, I made another batch of vegan nutella. While it is super easy to make, I still hate de-skinning the hazelnuts as the skin bits get everywhere. Regardless, my toast this week will be partying hard with this on top.


While I’ll more than likely never get beyond as a very amateur cook, there is definitely something to be had for eating something knowing, “I made this.”

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1999

Recipe: Vegan Nutella

The ingredients
The ingredients

Dear Internet,
Truth be told, I’ve been pretty lax on the dairy restrictions around these parts lately because having a dairy allergy is akin to a death sentence. If you don’t live in a vegan friendly area, you’re pretty much fucked in the shopping and eating out arena as  (mostly) everything has some sort of dairy-based ingredient in it. Thanks to my BFFs at VeganGR, GR has a growing vegan-friendly restaurant and food scene. But I am not vegan or vegetarian, I’m just allergic to dairy so I cheat.
A lot.
Let me clarify that “cheating a lot” business. I mean that I won’t eat ice cream, but if a product has whey or lactose in it (crackers, chips, etc), and it’s not within the first five ingredients, I will eat it. If I am out to eat and an item has butter in or on it, I will eat it. I’ve been known to imbibe in a pizza or two and eating 2 Benadryl directly after ingestion.
Except cheating is becoming problematic. Before I could get away with having a pretzel stick here and eat eggs cooked in butter there, but the longer I keep cheating, the more compounded my reactions get. Finally, I’ve decided I’ve had enough of the constant heartburn, hives, lips tingling, stomach issues, and so forth. I have resolved no more cheating, and if I want something, I have to find or make a dairy free version of it.
One of the hardest things for me to replace is Nutella. It’s chock full of skim milk and they use milk chocolate. When I find dark chocolate variations of hazelnut spread, milk or whey is almost always involved. I’ve had a variation or two that seemed to be dairy free, but the flavor was off. I figured this was going to be one of the few foods I had to give up forever.
The answer is: No. Not true.
I discovered this particular recipe a few years ago, but I was afraid it was going to be a failure like previous veganization experiments. I once tried to make vegan cheese and it was a science project. Yeah, I’m super hesitate about making vegan Nutella.
But this recipe, this recipe was easy. It had five ingredients, only required toasting of the hazelnuts and the use of a food processor. If I could get the roasting out of the way, as I’ve been known to burn bacon cooked in the oven, then I could totally do this.
I ordered already roasted hazelnuts from Nuts.com and waited for their arrival as I had everything else in stock. Once the nuts arrived (along with my personal mixed trail mix – yum!), I went to work.
First, I measured 2 cups of hazelnuts.
2 cups of hazelnuts
2 cups of hazelnuts

And since they were already roasted (smart thinking Lisa!), I dumped them into a clean kitchen cloth and rubbed the skins off.
Rubbed off hazelnut skins
Rubbed off hazelnut skins

After I got 98% of the skins off, because you won’t be able to get them all off, I dumped the lot into the food processor.
Hazelnuts 98% skinned in a food processor

According to the instructions, when you start grinding the little bastards, first it goes into a meal, then into a ball, and then thanks to the heat and friction, it becomes butter in about 5 minutes of constant food processing.
Okay, I said to myself, I can do this. So I set the timer for five minutes and started processing.
My nuts went from nuts to butter in 1:30. One minute. Thirty seconds. I did not even get the satisfaction of the ball that would bounce around on the blades for a bit. Now the reason that I think they went almost immediately into butter is because the nuts were probably roasted with a bit of oil on them, so combined with their own natural oils, they liquefied pretty quickly.
After the nuts went into butter, then you dump in the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and the cocoa powder and continue to process until it was thoroughly mixed.
[insert photo I forgot to take of the processing of the rest of the ingredients.]
Now the recipe also calls for up to 1/4 cup of veg or nut oil added to liquefy a bit more if it was too thick to stir. I decided to use 1Tbsp of veg oil and go up depending on the results, and even that was way too much. But since it is living in the fridge for the next month or two (or week, if we end up devouring it), the cold will definitely thicken it up.
End result?

It bloody tastes like fucking Nutella.
I am a domestic goddess. Nigella, eat your heart out.
So a couple of notes:

  • If you buy your nuts already roasted (smart thinking!), you may find yourself not in the need of the oil
  • If you do use an oil, do not use veg, use a neutral oil instead. TheHusband, who has super human taste buds, claims he can taste the “rancid vegetables” from the oil
  • Jessica Su, the author of the recipe, put together another version (on the same page, but farther down) that does not use confectioners sugar. Her reasoning is that as confectioners sugar contains cornstarch, the first recipe seems a bit chalky in taste. We did not find that to be true, so feel free to mix/match between the two recipes she offers
  • If you order from nuts.com, a 1lb bag of roasted, unsalted hazelnuts should make two batches, a pint per batch
  • I use Hershey’s Special Dark powdered cocoa since it does not contain milk derivatives but any powdered cocoa will do


2 cups whole raw, roasted, unsalted hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 1/4 cup neutral  oil (grapeseed, coconut, something along those lines)

  • Remove the skins from the hazelnuts by putting them in a clean cloth and gently rubbing on them until the skins come off. You can also toss them in a bowl. If some skins are left on, that’s okay.
  • Dump the skinned hazelnuts into a food processor and process until they become butter. Time may vary, but it should go from whole nuts to meal to a ball of mass and then into butter. Stop and scrap down sides as needed. Process until you have a nice butter formed
  • Once the butter has formed, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla and process until thoroughly mixed. Scrape sides as needed.
  • If the mixture is too stiff, start adding the neutral oil, 1/2 Tbsp at a time until desired spreadability
  • Transfer deliciousness into a pint glass, cap tightly and store in fridge for 1-2 months
  • You may need to mix it before using

P.S. I snuck downstairs a few hours later and the Nutella was divine! I was eating gobs of it with a spoon and had to stop myself from devouring the entire jar.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 20132003, 2003

On the occasion of giving thanks

Our table
Our table. From front: Cornbread & Sausage stuffing, Kale & Chard salads, roasted root veg, and roast beef.

Dear Internet,
Thanksgiving, as a holiday, has always been a source of conflict in our house. There is, of course, the idea of thanking the fates for all the bounties the year has given us and then there is the history of the day, which is steeped in blood, violence, and deceit. We’ve started approaching it more as a “Let’s make a fabulous feast and have people over for cards!” as our tradition rather than dwell on the historical origins.
Here is this years menu, along with recipes:
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.

After slow cooking for 8 hours.
After slow cooking for 8 hours.

Meat: Guinness marinated, slow cooked roast beef
Instead of turkey (which both of us are eh on) or ham (which TheHusband is not a fan of), we opted to make a slow cooked Guinness marinated roast beef just like the meat pies of the same name I usually make, except minus the crust. We marinated the beef for nearly 48 hours before slow cooking it for about 8.
This year, the beef was good but on the dry side. We decided it was because we used a janky slow cooker which we’re now discovering has terrible heat element and thermostat control. We’ve decided next time, whether as a stand alone dish or for the meat pie itself, to use Mark Bittman’s techniques for making pot roast from his How To Cook Everything
I should also add that in the three years since I first published the recipe, much has changed with how we prep and cook the beef. Namely, there is no dried onion soup mix or cornstarch involved. TheHusband, when we make this meat pie, now makes the gravy via a roux from the beef drippings and caramelizes the onions instead of relying on dehydrated spices.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.

SidesCornbread & Sausage Stuffing
It’s a well known fact nothing can come in between me and my carbs. This is TheHusband’s take on a Whole Foods recipe of the same name, except we take the corn bread recipe found on the container of corn meal, double it, and use the same pan the corn bread cooked in as the baking dish for the stuffing. He also doubles the meat, and adds carrots for color and flavor. By far our favorite part of the meal it has now become the default staple when we do big meals like this.
Kale and Chard salad with almonds and lemon/garlic dressing.

Sides: Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
This recipe was pulled from the New York Times’ essentials for a 2013 Thanksgiving and came out a dud. It looks super pretty, but tasted of oil slicks. The dressing, which I prepared as directed, was the culprit. Given I had double the greens requested, and made the dressing to a T, we ended up having more than double of the dressing left over after giving the greens a good toss. The olive oil and lemon juice looked emulsified but tasted strictly of oil even though garlic cloves steeped in the concoction for roughly an hour. The recipe doesn’t give precise directions on what you should be looking for or how long the garlic was to steep, so I worked with what I had.
Next time we make this salad, we’ll use the same greens/almonds mixture, but with a different vinaigrette.
Sides: Mashed potatoes
TheHusband used russets which he smashed using goats milk and vegan butter. They came out delicious and ultra creamy.
Sides: Roasted root vegetables
Sweet potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi were slow cooked in the oven for about an hour under a brown sugar glaze TheHusband whipped up for the cooking process. TheHusband was meh on most of the veg, only liking the glaze and the sweet potatoes, while I adored the whole concoction. Next time we make this dish, we’re going to change out the kohlrabi and add in turnips and another veg for color and flavor and keep the glaze.
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).

Deserts: Chocolate Pecan Pie
The pie crust held up remarkably well using vegan butter (Earth Balance) and but the caveat is I should add is I should have rolled the crust thicker to the size as it shrank when it was pre-cooked before I added the filling.
Per the instructions listed, the pie was to bake 30-40 minutes until it jiggles and then pull out to cool completely. After 35 minutes, the pie was a’jiggling and was set aside to cool for an hour before being placed in the fridge to chill for about five hours before it was cut.
Turns out the pie had not finished cooking and the middle, even after chilled completely in the fridge to hasten the thickening process, was like runny black blood. TheHusband didn’t care for the pie, declaring it too chocolatey and sweet, which is odd since I used bittersweet chocolate not only for the chips but also for the cocoa powder. But I do have to agree the chocolate, even with the pecans, is overpowering. May make this again in the future, but modified to taste. The crust recipe, however, is a definite keeper.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.

Deserts: Trifle
The tradition to eat trifle for major dinners and feasts is a long standing one in TheHusband’s family, one of which he introduced me to when we got back together and one he has been in charge of making.  Upon finding out my allergy to dairy a few years ago, the entire concoction is now artisanal with nothing coming pre-packaged except the cake mix, which we found saves a lot of time when we have so much else to prep for other courses, and of course the fruit, none of which is locally instead at the moment.
Trifles are layers consisting of cake, custard/pudding, whipped creams, and fruit of some sort. We usually do a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding/custard, fruits striking the fancy, and of course the whipped cream. As nearly each component is lengthy for prep, we usually start assembling the ingredients a few days before the event it is to be eaten. (And if TheHusband had his way, all he’d eat is trifle for every meal.)
For the pudding/custard layer, TheHusband makes it from scratch using the following technique:
Throbbing Manor custard 
8 egg yolks, whisked together
4 cups of goats milk
3-4 Tbls Tapioca (optional, for texture)
2/3 cup of sugar
3-4 Tbls of cornstarch to thicken
Guts of a vanilla bean

  1. Using a whisk, combine milk, tapioca sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat on stove top. Allow milk to scald (heat to the point when tiny bubbles form around edges of pan). Whisk occasionally to prevent cornstarch from clumping on bottom edges of pan.
  2. Remove milk mixture from heat,
  3. Mix a few tablespoons of scalded milk mixture into eggs using whisk, then introduce eggs/milk mixture into remaining milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  4. Immediately return pan to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens, another two or three minutes. Do not allow to boil.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Cool completely before eating. Should be refrigerated at least 12 hours before assembling in trifle.

I personally found the above a little on the thin side after it was assembled in the trifle, and TheHusband agreed. He said he’d probably up the cornstarch to get it to thicken more.
Throbbing Manor coconut milk whipped cream
1-2 can of full fat coconut milk
Sugar/Vanilla to taste (optional)

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least 10-12 hours (we like it after at least 24). Several hours before you need to whip the cream, place metal bowl in freezer to chill.
  2. When you’re ready to whip the cream, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the firm layer coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can and put it in the chilled metal bowl. Do NOT scoop out any of the water left in the can, you want just the solids. You can use the leftover water for drinking/smoothies/whatever.
  3. Mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes using a hand mixer or mixing stand. You want soft peaks to form as you whip.
  4. Add in optional sugar/vanilla during the end stages of the whipping
  5. Keep unused mixture in the metal bowl and keep in fridge to re-whip before using again.
  6. For the trifle, we used two cans of coconut milk

And there you go. Now you know why we are so fat. Happy holidays!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2011, 1998

Recipe: Slow Cooked Moroccan Stew

Dear Internet,
Alright Internet, I’ll get straight to the point: It’s over 90F. It’s going to be hot for days. You want something to eat but you don’t to cook (and this is taking into consideration you’ve already ate your vodka infused freezy-pops and drank enough slurpees for a million brain freezes) and you don’t want to have to keep making a meal every day.  Enter slow cooked Moroccan stew:

The ingredients.

Okay, I fudged. There is some cooking, but not a lot. Like 10 minutes. Tops! It won’t hurt, I promise, to turn on your stove.  (Just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done.)
TheHusband and I have started our split schedules this summer – he is working up north and tending to cabin, while I work down state during the week before heading up to him on the weekends. When we left a few weeks ago to head up north, we cleaned the fridge and pantry out of anything that could possibly rot while we were gone. I knew coming back I’d have to do a small shop for the few days I was in town and that I’d need to do this every week.
Onions, peppers, squash!

The problem is: I don’t cook. Well, I can cook, but when TheHusband is much better at it than me, I don’t see the point. On the flip side, as part of my BECOME SUPER AWESOME project is learning the fundamentals of cooking. While I haven’t gotten there yet (the year is still young…), this exact situation I’m in now is the reason why I wanted to learn the fundamentals of cooking so that I’m not grazing on veggies and hummus for all of my meals for four days.
You can almost smell the cinnamon from here.
You can almost smell the cinnamon from here.

Enter Twitter. And Davey. Davey posts he has/is making a nomilicous slow cooked Moroccan stew and did any one want the recipe? I said sure! In addition to sounding delicious, the idea of making a one pot meal, that I didn’t have to watch, and could be eaten over the course of many days appealed. Bonus points: I had 90% of the ingredients already and shopping this week was a breeze since it was essentially chocolate, a box of a cereal, and sugar free Red Bull.

Slow Cooked Moroccan Stew

Adapted from Davey.
Vegetarian. Dairy Free. Gluten Free.
Prep time: 30-60 minutes
Cook time: 4-8 hours
2-3 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, cut into small chunks
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger (or you could use fresh ginger)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of diced tomatoes (Chopped will also work.)
2 or 3 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of honey
Good handful of raisins or currants
1 cup of dried apricots, cut into bite sized chunks
1 apple, chopped
1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
4-6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup red wine (sweet or dry depending how you want the stew to go) [OPTIONAL]

  1. In a pan, heat up the oil and add onion, pepper, zucchini. Cook on med-low heat until veggies soften and the onion gets a little carmalized.
  2. Once veeggies have softened, add cumin, paprika, chili, cinnamon, ginger, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, honey, raisins/currants, and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. Turn the crock pot on low and line the bottom with apricots, chick peas, potatoes, apples, and carrots.
  6. Add the mixture from the pan on the top and stir well.
  7. Add wine, and stir again.
  8. Cook on low for 8-10 hours OR on high for 4-6.

Serves 6-8. At least.
Serve with rice (any flavor), couscous, pita chips, or fresh torn up baguette for sopping.

  • Davey doesn’t give amounts for some things, like he just has “potatoes,” so the amounts listed above is what I used.
  • He recommends pre-cooking the carrots, potatoes, and chick peas BEFORE going into the pot. This seemed like overkill since they would be slow cooking for hours so I opted to skip that part.
  • The only ingredient I omitted from his version is mushrooms as I hate the damn things.
  • I added red wine, upped the amount of a few spices, salt and pepper, swapped veggie oil for olive, used red potatoes, yellow squash for the zucchini, and added an apple.
  • Davey also notes it freezes and reheats well, which makes this a great dish to make if you want something super delicious that you don’t mind eating several days in a row or for a potlock.
  • I marked this vegetarian and not vegan since it contains honey and to stave off controversy.

End result: It was damned delicious. I had two bowls for dinner last night, using pita chips to scoop up the bits. There were enough leftovers to serve me for over a week. Since I got heavy handed on the honey and wine, it was slightly sweeter than I would have liked but overall I loved it.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012

To: Consume: Recipe – Guinness Steak Pie

[I started writing this post Sunday morning, with the intent of having the text finished while the meat was simmering in the slow cooker and adding photos as the meal progressed during the day. I discovered, however, when looking for photos from past meals to add to the post that I had NOT uploaded half of my photos from my trip to Scotland. I spent a better part of the afternoon color correcting and uploading five days worth of images to Flickr, from a trip taken 4.5 years ago. Considering I also just recently uploaded the remaining photos from my 2008 trip to England, at this rate, I’ll get the rest of the honeymoon pics up in 2013.]
In the early summer of 2006, several friends of mine and I travelled to Scotland for two weeks of Scottish bliss. Nearly every night during our stay, we would top our day off with a trip to Haymarket Pub, New Town, Edinburgh and after the pub, a trip to the local fish/chips/pizza/kebab/burger/chicken place.

At Haymarket, our home away from home away from home, we flirted with the staff, taught the bartenders how to make black’n’tans and lemon drops and ate at least one meal there a day. Our favorite meal, by far, was their Guinness Steak Pie served with mashed potatoes and peas.1 Darcee and I were so enamored of the meal that upon our return to U.S., we set to work on figuring out the recipe. The summer of 2006, in my itty, bitty kitchen on Norwood Ave., during an incredibly hot summer in which I also did not have A/C, we worked out the recipe and after a few tries, found an ingredient list that works.
In the nearly five years since our trip, I usually make Guinness Steak Pie once a season and usually timing it with a birthday or some sort of celebration. The meal, due to the cost and amount of beer and meat involved, can be fairly expensive2 and because the process can take several days, also very time consuming. To make Guinness Steak Pie, thus, involves planning and giving up your kitchen to a higher good for a few days. In the end, it is totally worth it.
Also during those five years, I have been the only person who has known the recipe from start to finish. I’ve hoarded the recipe close to my chest like crazy lady because it was a great trump card to entice people to visit or woo them if we just met. Plus it was also my “thing”! Everyone has a “thing” and mine was/is Lisa and her Guinness Steak Pie! When TheHusband and I started dating again, I wooed him with Guinness Steak Pie. When he would return to home to California after visiting me, he apparently bragged to his roommate about the deliciousness that is Guinness Steak Pie. Said roommate would ask for the recipe, TheHusband would ask me for it, I would say no and then TheHusband and I would get into an argument about the ideas behind freedom of information. He argued, and I do agree with, that information should be freely available.
Unless it’s Guinness Steak Pie and in that case, the rest of the world can go fuck itself. 🙂
Over the course of the last few years, as TheHusband and I would argue back and forth on this topic, I realized that hoarding the recipe AND then claiming to be a proponent of freedom of information was getting a bit ridiculous, so I decided that I would publish the recipe the next time I made it. And to be fair, I did parcel out the recipe to friends outside of the continental U.S., if that counts, which to me it does.
The pie can be cut into four large pieces or six normal sized pieces, served with mashed potatoes and accompanying gravy and a veg on the side. We recommend the veg to prevent scurvy. So here we are. Links in recipe to images on Flickr illustrating that step. Also consider this a rough draft of the presentation of the recipe since it’s done from memory. Corrections/edits will be notated when necessary. Please email or comment with suggestions/additions.
Guinness Steak Pie
Ingredients (Makes 1 pie.)
3lbs of beef roast
2 bottles of Guinness Extra Stout
1 packet of dried onion soup mix
2 Tbls corn starch
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pastry dough for top/bottom crust
nRed skin potatoes
Sour cream
Veg (to prevent scurvy)
Step 1
Marinate beef roast in liquid from 2 bottles of Guinness, in the fridge, for a minimum of 12 hours. Recommend using a gallon sized bag and double wrapping the bag to prevent leaking. Meat should be submersed in the beer for best results so make sure meat is laid flat on the shelf.
Step 2
After minimum time marinating, transfer meat and beer into slow cooker. Add enough water to the beer mixture to cover the meat. Then add 1 packet of dried onion soup mix to the mixture. Turn slow cooker onto low for minimum of 8 hours. See notes for additional options.
Step 3
nOne hour before meat is done (minimum 7 hours), pull pie dough out of fridge to warm to room temperature. Clean and cut red skin potatoes for cooking. Transfer potatoes into a pot, with water to cover, onto stove.
Step 4
Preheat over to 400F.
Turn heat on under potatoes on stove to bring to boil.
After minimum of 8 hours, turn slow cooker off.
Line 9″ deep dish pie plate with bottom crust.
Pull roast from slow cooker onto a plate and shred. Pile shredded beef into pie plate.
Step 5
Pour liquid from slow cooker into a pot.
Turn on medium heat.
Add cornstarch to water to form liquid consistency then add to gravy mixture on stove.
nHeat until gravy thickens.
Step 6
Cover meat pie with gravy. Please note there will be EXTRA gravy left over, so you will not use it all.
Add top crust and vent crust, then put into pre-heated oven for 15-22 minutes until crust is golden.
Step 7
While pie is baking, potatoes should be done. Mash redskins with butter, milk and sour cream.
Heat up veg of choice (to prevent scurvy).
Step 8
Pull pie out of oven and let sit a few minutes.
Cut into 4-6 pieces.
Serve with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy.

  • The magic minimum time for marinating the meat is 12 hours. More is better, less doesn’t work as well.
  • The minimum slow cooking time is 8 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on auto then on low for remaining time. I’ve had it hang out in the slow cooker for up to 10 hours on low and have had great results, but minimum is 8.
  • 3lbs of roast will fill a 9″ deep dish pie plan with room for gravy.
  • I’ve made the pie with expensive AND cheap cuts of meat, with the same results. It was pointed out to me that the idea of marinating meat is not only to flavor the meat but to tenderize it, therefore cut of meat is irrelevant.
  • We’ve done pie dough by hand AND pre-made. Both work equally well.
  • The pie will keep in the fridge for a few days, but does not freeze well.
  • You could alternately put the cornstarch in with the meat while it’s slow cooking and make the gravy that way instead of doing it separately.
  • I also should note that a vegetarian friend has made this, swapping the beef for portabella mushrooms, and said it came out deliciously awesome.

1. I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for the Scots and their obsession with peas as evident by their serving it at Every. Single. Meal. The exception to that rule seems to be peas were of the mushy variety, of which I was able to track down cans of here locally in the summer of 2009.
2. This time around, roast was running at about $4/lb so it was $12 USD for the meat and $9 for the beer for a single meal, not including other ingredients.

To: Consume – Shark Cake!

Shark Cake!
Shark Cake!

Our friends/pub quiz masters Eric + Lauren are moving from the Detroit area back to their hometown at the end of the month, so Kristin and I wanted to do something special for them before they left but we were not quite sure what that something would be. In the end, she and I decided to make & present them with a Shark Cake! from a recipe we found on Parenting.com due to their, specifically Lauren’s, love of sharks. A few hours, some sugar and candy, food coloring and a simple pound cake and viola! A beast that borders on more on Domo Kun rather than scary, blood ripping terror of the high seas, but it’s the thought that counts.
We presented the cake to them last night at Pub Quiz, with the quiz master cum dj played “Don’t Stop Belivin’” as Kristin and I’s procession and presentin’ music. We haven’t heard from either Lauren or Eric today, so let’s hope it’s because they are overcome in a sugar coma and our baking skillz didn’t accidentally kill them.
More food porn is located here.

To: Consume: Recipe – The Throbbing’s Granola Mix


The Throbbing's version of granola.
The Throbbing’s version of granola.

I had not realized finding a granola recipe that we liked would be that difficult – it’s oats, nuts, dried fruits and whatever else is thrown in the mix. How fucking hard can finding a decent recipe be? Apparently, damned difficult: Finding a recipe that doesn’t depend on granulated sugars, preservatives or some form of artificial sweetening (even from the supposed “all natural” recipes) to sweeten it up proved to be a tricky task. Also, the timing for baking it was also odd as many recipes had super high temps for long periods, instead of a more moderate temp. The super high suggestions nearly ended up near scorching the oats and nuts.
The following is the cobbled mixture with the base nod to Alton Brown’s Granola recipe plus experimentation. We totally love this version and it’s become a staple over these last few weeks. We hope you enjoy it too.
The Throbbing’s1 Granola Mix
3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of slivered almonds
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of sweetened coconut
1/4 cup molasses (You can use maple syrup or double the honey instead.)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup of oil (I flip between vegetable or sunflower)
Cinnamon (to taste)
1 cup of chopped dried dates
1 cup of chopped dried apricots
1 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of raisins
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, seeds and coconut. In a smaller bowl, mix together molasses, honey and oil. Combine the liquid mixture with the dry mixture, making sure the dry mixture is evenly coated. Spread, evenly, onto sheet pans. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally on the mixture.
Cook for 30 minutes,stir and add more cinnamon as needed. Rotate pans in the oven and then cook for an additional 30 minutes. Total cooking time is 1 hr. After cooking, let granola cool for a few minutes before transferring into big bowl, then add dried fruits and additional nuts. Mix until evenly distributed.
1. Our oven is electric as well as crappy. 250F for an hour seemed to be perfect – anything longer (or at a higher heat) and the whole mix just started getting scrochy.
2. I’ve had same luck with pre-treating the pans with a spray oil as I have not pre-treating the pans before distributing the mixture: stickiness to the pans abounds. Mileage may vary.
3. All the ingredients are organic or local or preservative free or a combination of the above. Dried fruits do not have additional sugar added to them. The molasses used was organic, though arguments about “natural” could ensue.
4. To: Experiment: Swap out the nuts and dried fruits with whatever you’d like as the base of oils/oats is excellent to work from. It’s sweet but not overly sugary. Add 1/2 – 3/4 Tsp of salt to the mix if you want to make it a little more sweet’n’salty.
5. Update 09/02/10: After more experimentation, discovered that cinnamon liberally sprinkled on the mix and baking the cinnamon in adds a wonderful flavor to the granola. Recipe has been updated.
1. Throbbings is our last name nom de plume, as discussed here.