Mugicha, Barley Tea: The Taste of Summer Heat

barley tea mugichaI lived in Tokyo for a year and when summer came I heard people speaking dire warnings about tsuyu, the rainy season which was supposed to last about a month.  How bad can it be, I thought.  Little did I know.  For a girl from hot, dry Idaho, the stifling heat and unbearable humidity was a horrible new experience.  Then, a few years later, I moved to Houston.  Houston, where about 3-4 months of the year feel exactly like tsuyu.  We’re right in the middle of it right now, with 100+ degree weather and high, high humidity.

But unless you live in some magical land where it’s beautiful all summer long (oh Hawaii, I miss you), you probably have your own version of summer suffering, be it hot and humid or scorching and dry.  Well, I have a secret tsuyu pro tip for you to deal with the summer heat:  barley tea, a.k.a. mugicha. Continue reading Mugicha, Barley Tea: The Taste of Summer Heat

Lime Pie with a Nut Crust

lime pieLime season continues, heating up with the exciting race of “can I make enough lime things before the limes spoil?”  My friends and I have a game night every few months where we also make dinner and drinks, so I set aside about ten for that and a few found their way into very limey gin and tonics and sloe gin fizzes.

The rest I juiced into about four cups of lime juice.  The majority of this will head to the freezer for use later in the year.  But because I was seeing friends I also realized that enough people would be assembling to make reasonable the best use of limes:  lime pie! Continue reading Lime Pie with a Nut Crust

Custard Lime Cake

Lime cakeIt’s lime season here again!  My tree outside on my .04 acres of land went crazy this year and produced 54 limes, almost twice of last year’s crop.  So it’s Lime Land here and I’m trying to think of what to use them for.  I tried candying them which ended in a burnt finger and failed candied limes…  That project needs a second attempt.

But limes also make me think of key lime pie.  I love it, but making a pie for just myself leads to eating an entire pie by myself which is never a wise plan for anyone.  How to get the deliciousness of lime pie without the volume?  My solution:  lime pudding.  This isn’t exactly a lie-pie-in-miniature (that will come) but it was interesting enough I felt it warranted a post. Continue reading Custard Lime Cake

Roasted Beets

Beets and goat cheeseA friend recently mentioned that she may, unexpectedly, have discovered that she likes beets.  I feel very strongly about beets, so I knew a beet post was due!

I was also a beet skeptic until I did a CSA for a few months a couple of years ago.  I picked the option with the strangest vegetables I wouldn’t normally use, since I wanted it to force me to do new things.  I got lots and lots of collard greens and turnips, which I never really came to love, but the big surprise was the beets! Continue reading Roasted Beets

Classic Cherry Cheesecake

cherry cheesecakeOne of the ever-present cooking dilemmas of modern life is the question of what to bring to office events that require food.  For years, my dad answered this question with the same cherry cheesecake recipe.  Everyone always raved about it at his office and when I got older I would request it for a birthday cake.  This recipe has mysterious and unknowable origins.  Perhaps a cooking magazine from the early 90s?  Who knows.  It lives on in instructions from my dad, tweaked and perfected over the course of years of being made.

A coworker recently requested cheesecake for his birthday at work, so I got out this recipe and gave it a go myself.  The verdict of 2016 office workers?  It hasn’t lost its magic!  This got the highest praise of any recipe I’ve ever brought to work. Continue reading Classic Cherry Cheesecake

Veggie Lasagna the Great

Vegetable lasagnaYou know how sometimes someone says I made brownies!…but then they have walnuts?  Or they made cookies!…but they’re oatmeal raisin?  I think it’s kind of like that if I say “Tonight’s lasagna…and it’s vegetarian!”

Unless you are a vegetarian, I think it’s hard to get really jazzed about the vegetarian version of something.  Especially something so iconically meat and gooey cheesy as lasagna.

But, friends, let me tell you:  be brave.  Be bold.  This veggie lasagna is amazing.  It’s not good “for a vegetarian recipe.”  It’s just good.  I make this instead of normal lasagna.  I sneak bites of it as I’m packing up the leftovers.  I am fully a convert. Continue reading Veggie Lasagna the Great

Sugar: A Rondo in Cookies

rondo - 3I regularly read seven different cooking blogs.  And while many of them have recipes I save, it is only rarely that I read a post and then immediately set out to make that recipe the very same day.  But a little while ago Smitten Kitchen posted a confetti sprinkles sugar cookie recipe that completely captured my imagination.  I don’t have a particular affection for sprinkles, but something about the birthday cake vibe of the cookies drew me in.

I made a batch and they were excellent.  Soft and moist, just the perfect texture.  I started thinking about how to modify the recipe for my annual winter holiday cookies, rolling in green and red sprinkles, etc. and then I started thinking of other things I could roll the cookies in… Continue reading Sugar: A Rondo in Cookies

Chocolate Oatmeal Runner Cookies

mixing cookiesMost of the posts on this site are about recipes I’ve prepared, but when my longtime food taster and kitchen lab rat, Mr. R, expressed a desire to try out a new recipe himself I enthusiastically said sure and then asked if I could write about it.

He’s a runner, but also loves sweets.  So he was intrigued by this recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from Runners World.  (There’s nothing about this recipe that makes it much healthier than any other cookie recipe though.) Continue reading Chocolate Oatmeal Runner Cookies

Rose & Orange Blossom Ice Milk

rose ice milkA Lebanese restaurant near my house has the most delicious rose tea. It’s very sweet, with the wonderful floral notes of rose and orange blossom water.  That tea is my most frequent encounter with rose flavor — I only sometimes encounter it other places, like in Turkish delight or macarons.  I’ve cooked with rose water before, but I also had a bottle of orange blossom water that I had never tried.  I smelled it last week and was in love.  Since then I’ve been thinking of what to make.  Since it’s getting warm here in Houston, floral ice cream came to mind. Continue reading Rose & Orange Blossom Ice Milk

Applesauce

Homemade applesauceFor a few years I’ve wanted to make my own applesauce, but the recipes I’ve looked at called for a food mill.  I resist obtaining new kitchen gadgets unless they are things I will use all the time, so I figured applesauce was something forever out of my reach.

Until last week I stumbled upon an applesauce recipe by Ina Garten that didn’t require one!  Immediately all I could think of was making applesauce, even though it’s not a food I eat very often. Continue reading Applesauce

of Cooking. of Arrakis.