Awesome Chocolate Waffles/Pancakes

This recipe uses zucchini from my aquaponic bed. I’m getting enough zucchini to be able to eat a whole one a day, sometimes two a day. Woot!

ChocWaffles
Mmmmm.

These are SO awesome!  Fresh zucchini, coconut flour, eggs, cacao powder, medjool dates, butter and baking soda.


2 eggs, 2 medjool dates, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup grated fresh zucchini
2 eggs, 2 medjool dates, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup grated fresh zucchini

In a pint jar add 1/2 grated fresh zucchini, 2 large organic eggs (warmed in hot tap water before opening), 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 medjool dates (pit removed).  Spin on the blender attachment and run on lowest setting until everything is chopped and mixed.


After blending
After blending


Cacao powder, coconut flour and baking soda added and blended.
Cacao powder, coconut flour and baking soda added and blended.

Spin the top off and add 1 tbsp coconut flour, 1 tbsp cacao powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda.  Spin the top back on and blend until the powdered ingredients are integrated.

Step4
Cook and serve with butter. Mmmmm.

Chunky Chicken Soup

Chunky chicken soup
Chunky chicken soup

This is a fast and simple recipes.  If you’re like me and mostly just cook for yourself and maybe another, you will love this one.

Wadly got a nice buy on some boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I like thigh meat as it’s tastier and juicier.  Already boned and skinned means no fuss . . . though this recipe would work with skin on and bone in and it would work for chicken breast if you don’t mind less tasty.  If you go the whole thigh route, fillet it out a bit so it’s not so thick and put it skin down.  The skin and bone will add flavor.

Cut a handful of baby carrots in half lengthwise or peel a whole carrot and cut it in diagonal slices just under 1/4″ thick.

Cut two 1/4″ slabs of zucchini.  I cut off the length I want and then cut it in lengthwise slices.

Chop some red and green pepper.  You’ll also need a 1/4″ thick slice of onion.  Don’t dice the onion.  Cut it into big chunks.

Take the stem end off a roma tomato and slice it open.  Don’t cut it in half, just make a single slice up the side and a few short slices in top and bottom so you can lay it out flat.  Pull the middle bit out and rough chop it.

Melt a generous tablespoon of butter in a small pan (I use the really small cast iron skillets for a lot of the “just me” stuff).  Turn the pan down to really low, the low side of simmer.  This won’t take long to cook and cooking it slowly will make the chicken super tender and keep the veges from becoming mush.

Put the two slabs of zucchini down side by side in the middle and arrange the carrots around them.  Sprinkle the onion and peppers on the top.  Stick the chopped bits of the tomato on top.

Place the chicken on top.  Don’t cut it up, just lay it over the top of the veges.

Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper on top the chicken.  Lay the tomato skin side up over the top of the seasoned chicken.

Cover and cook slowly until the carrots are tender.  Lift the skin off the tomato and discard.  Lift the chicken out and cut it into big pieces.  Return to the pan, stir and pour into a bowl.

This soup is simple, fabulous and no fuss and the perfect meal for a dreary spring day.  You can bump the flavor a bit more by adding a couple tablespoons of your favorite “with chicken” wine if you’re feeling posh.

Enjoy!

Orange and ginger creole?

One of the unspoken mandates for celiacs is really tasty food to compensate for all we can’t partake.  Of late I’ve been marinating everything . . . hamburgers, steak, pork or chicken and it’s been wonderful.  I thought I’d share, both the recipe I use for my creole seasoning (pork or chicken) and the twist it got this morning.

My creole seasoning is spicy but not too spicy if you like spicy.  Use only organic seasonings.  If you haven’t gone organic with everything you can, herbs is a must for where to start.  When an herb is dried the flavor is concentrated, but so are any chemicals ON the herbs.  Go organic with your spices and herbs.

  • 2 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic (powder)
  • 1 tsp onion (powder)

This mix is just a tablespoon or two more than will fit in a recycled spice container so plan for the extra you’ll have to store if you can’t use it right away.

This morning’s deviation from the norm included freshly grated ginger (micro-grated) and fresh squeezed orange juice.

For a single serving, squeeze the juice of 1/3 of an orange into a bowl.  Add grated ginger (1 tbsp?), the diced pork (or chicken) and shake a couple teaspoons of the creole seasoning over the top.  Mix thoroughly and set aside while you prep the veges.

I’m a little short on ingredients this morning.  For those of you who read my blog, you’ll know that’s not unheard of.   This morning’s stir fry had zucchini, onion and mushroom.  With a bit of bell pepper it would have been even better, and it was awesome!

Make sure you saute the mushrooms separately until thoroughly browned so they come out tasting like mushrooms.  Once all the veges are cooked set them aside.  Add more butter and a tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan.  Pour in the marinade laden meat.  As soon as it looks nearly done, return the veges to the pan.  Stir to incorporate and it’s done.

If you’re a thickened sauce person, spoon out the chunks and thicken the broth. 

This is lovely, full of flavor, healthy and a quick fix.  

Anatomy of a heel

Separation of intent
Separation of intent

It’s sock knitting season again.  I need a couple more pair to fill out my wardrobe and I’m revisiting the sock heel.  Because my feet are so short I can make a whole pair of crew socks out of a single skein of Paton Stretch Sock if I use a contrasting color for toes, heels and cuffs.

This particular heel is build from knit-into-the-bump-below short rows and a strange combination of k2tog-pick up short row wrap stitch-drop the next stitch over it and knit.  The decrease series nearest the back of the heel is a k3tog which includes the picked up short row wrap.  This morphed into the decrease mentioned above which produces a more smooth decrease.

The bit I want to document is what happens between the series of increases and decrease, that lovely set of rows that separate the two.  This short row section incorporates an additional 4 stitches toward the front of the sock with each row end knit in the bump below and slipped to the other needle.

Portable crisper

Portable crisper
Portable crisper

I eat a lot of vegetables. Because I am a fuss-less person I’ve come up with a way to get my veges out of the fridge without spending forever pulling them out of a drawer, stacking them on the counter, whack off what I need only to stick them back in the fridge again every time I cook. This portable crisper sits on top the glass shelf that is the cover for the existing crisper in my fridge and, with the handy handle molded into the front of the drawer, allows me to pull it out of the fridge with one hand.  It contains most if not all of the veges I need.

This crisper is the drawer and glass shelf from a small portable fridge. With the addition of a brass piano hinge and some aquarium sealer, a piece of washable non-skid shelf liner for the inside and very little effort, I have streamlined and shortened my prep time.  The lid fits flush against the top preserving the moisture in the veges.

The paper sack is cut down from a large grocery sack and holds mushrooms at the perfect humidity to keep them fresh.  Strong smelling veges like onion are zipped in plastic but everything else is pre-cleaned, unwrapped and ready to use.  A cut-to-fit non-skid shelf liner keeps the veges up off the plastic bottom to avoid accumulation of moisture where veg and plastic meet.

Current content of the crisper include zucchini, yellow squash, onion, celery, mushroom, red and green pepper.  The larger build-in crisper contains overflow and backup stock.

New media with a twist

Leaves showing signs of chemical imbalance
Leaves showing signs of chemical imbalance
I noticed some chemical burning on the tomato plant leaves and tested the water.  8.0 ph when I need 7.3.  Ouch.  Burn baby burn.  While all three tomato plants have blossoms, only one is producing fruit and shows no sign of the chem burn.

PH is totally busted.  Ouch.
PH is totally busted. Ouch.
I didn’t just test the PH, I tested nitrate, nitrite and ammonia. All were perfect for the system. For those readings, I couldn’t be happier.

PH after 2/3 water change
PH after 2/3 water change
Our well water is 6.0. For the house I “condition” it by running it through oyster shell to bring the PH up to 7.3 naturally. For a quick and very un-permanent fix to the problem I did a 2/3 water change in the fish tank and got what I expected, close to perfect PH. This, however, is a really poor solution. I flushed my nutrients (okay, I lied. I dumped the water in outside planters) and added kelp to compensate for the loss.

The whole point is to have a system I don’t have to think about or fuss
about or test or monitor or . . . you get my point. I cannot keep doing
water changes. I don’t want to have to add anything to the water to
keep the water at 7.3. Which means I’ve got to find a different media.
This media, as suspected, spikes the PH.

The trial

6" pvc with survey end caps.
6″ pvc with survey end caps.

For a couple years my brother Dan was a maintenance engineer at a produce processing plant. He did a system retrofit and brought me some of the stuff being thrown away. This flood and drain planter is a piece of 6″ schedule 40 pvc pipe. The ends are survey caps purchased at a local plumbing supply warehouse.

The really sick looking plants are the result of neglect on my part . . . pulling one system apart and putting another together with too long a span between stressed the plants. They’re recovering. The tomato plants are purchased and are my test subjects. The tank holds two goldfish, not quite enough to supply this many plants with nutrient.

One of my concerns with media this light is its ability to hold the plants in place as they grow and produce fruit. I will have to run retaining lines between the support ropes.

A question of media

Ugh, it floats
The failed floaty stuff, the new light clay-like stuff and hydroton.

In planning my next plant wall I’ve been testing hydroponic planting medium.  In the past I’ve used hydroton but there are currently two issues with this media.  Because it’s heavy in iron it eventually trashes the magnetic pump.  I replace pumps about once a year.  At about $50 a pop that’s not horribly expensive but it is inconvenient.  Secondly, it’s no longer available.  That makes the inherent equipment-related problems with the media moot.

Leftmost is the floaty stuff, middle is the light slippery-clay feeling media.  Rightmost is hydroton.
Leftmost is the floaty stuff, middle is the light slippery-clay feeling media. Rightmost is hydroton.

I bought two bags of a product that was supposed to be a replacement for hydroton.  It felt like sandpaper, very garnet/scratchy expanded glass feeling.  The pieces were quite large for hydroponic media, didn’t break when whacked with a hammer and very light.  Other than the roughness and overly large size, I thought it would work fine.  Wrong.  The stuff floats.  Using it in a flood and drain system allows all the plantings to shift every watering cycle.  When working with seeds, the media used to hold the seeds vanishes into the mix.  Ugh.  When planting cuttings they sink a bit into the mix every cycle eventually drowning.  Double ugh.

Light with a slippery-clay feel
Light with a slippery-clay feel

I reported the failure to the excellent staff at our local hydroponic shop and got a sample of another product to try. It had a light silky clay feel, sank when dropped into water and could be crushed.  The product is a little big, roughly 2-3 times the size of the hydroton beads.

PH is one of the most important items to monitor in a hydroponic system.  I’m not a fan of chemicals and like to handle this as naturally as possible which makes the ph of the media very important.  With that in mind I crushed a piece of the new media and tested the ph.  It tested lower than I expected at 6.0 which means it’s not inert.  Because our water has a very low ph which I moderate with oyster shell, I’m keeping an eye on my test system. Time will tell.