Thursday, July 30, 2015


I’d planned to make Roti - a staple of Indian cooking - when I came across this astonishing post from today’s Wall Street Journal:
I’m in shock. Is this the future of home cooking? Will blogs like mine become irrelevant? (Don’t cheer all at once or you’ll scare the horses.) YouTube features a far simpler Roti maker, which bears a strong resemblance to an everyday crêpe maker ... 

(If you can’t view this, go to )
In response to the arrival of this simple machine, YouTube commentator Venki R. recently wrote: “ … It’s not good or soft as we make by hand that we can keep for longer, compared to these. All over India, we have lot of electricity scarcity and dono how much watts this sucks. The more we use machines the more we get sick with different diseases due to lack of activities and lack of healthy food. Now we know why get more and more diabetes and (blood pressure) cases compared to previous generations.” 

YIKES, that’s harsh! Though I do understand that India has major electricity issues, I’d hate to read what Venki R. has to say about fridges and stoves. But then I idly thought: “Gee ... If the Donald J. Trump household had a Roti maker in the kitchen, what would it look like?” Once again, YouTube provided the answer:

To see this, go to
I think I’ll give up on my silly notion to make Roti. I’m going to the beach, instead.  xox  Nicole

Apricot and Oat Bran Muffins

This prize-winning recipe was featured in the June, 2002 issue of Canadian Living Magazine. My friend Ruth,
Ruth Foster, fellow baker and friend
who passed it along, sometimes substitutes chocolate chips, nuts, an
other dried fruit, or a combination of all. To make a double batch of these high-fiber muffins, Ruth sometimes uses 1 c. of chopped apples and ½ c. raisins. I’ve modified this recipe from the original.

Apricot and Oat Bran Muffins:

1/2 c. natural (wheat) bran
1/2 c. boiling water
1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/3 c. wheat germ
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 c. chopped dried apricots
12 halved pecans (see Note)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. In medium bowl, mix bran with 1/2 c. boiling water, stirring to ensure the bran soaks up the liquid. Cool to room temperature. In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt. In blender, combine buttermilk, sugar, oil, and egg; pour over dry ingredients together with bran mixture. Add apricots, stirring just until combined. Spoon into ungreased paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 18-to-20 min., or until toothpick inserted near centre of muffin comes out dry. Yields 1 dozen standard-sized muffins. 

Note: If you wish, midway through baking, press a pecan half into centre of each muffin; continue baking as recipe directs.

Stir boiling water into natural bran; cool.

Combine flour, oats, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

Optional: Add a halved pecan midway through baking.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Canfastic Campfire Bread

As many of us head out to local campgrounds, foremost in our minds is the quest for quick, space-saving recipes. This simple bread is easy to make and tote. Carry the well-mixed dry ingredients in a zippered plastic bag, adding the wet ingredients after youve set up camp. This recipe comes from Fast and Easy Company Treats, a cookbook I wrote a whole lot of years ago, when I was a toddler. Yeah ... that’s it! A toddler ... yeah! Below this post is another very easy campfire bread. 

Canfastic Campfire Bread:

1-1/2 c. packaged biscuit mix (such as Bisquick)

1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. skim milk powder
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tbsp. canola oil plus enough water to make 1 c. 
2 clean, empty 14-oz. or 19-oz. well-washed cans, one end removed from each
Deep saucepan with lid
Enough water to half-fill saucepan, with extra water for topping up 
Canning tongs and/or heat-proof oven gloves
Wire rack for cooling

Combine biscuit mix, cornmeal, salt, sugar, skim milk powder, and walnuts. Mix well. Stir in combined oil and water, mixing only until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into well greased cans, 1/2-to-2/3 full, covering with heavy-duty foil. Using canning tongs or silicone gloves, lower into saucepan of simmering water to a depth halfway up cans. Cover saucepan, steaming cans 35-to-40 min. Be  sure to check water level often, adding more as needed. Skewer inserted into centre of loaf should come out clean. Transfer filled cans to rack, cooling 10 min. before removing loaves. Slice when completely cool. Yields 2 small loaves with 6 slices per loaf.

Bannock Campfire Bread

This great little campfire recipe comes from Nicole Parton’s Galley Gourmet: Great Meals From Small Spaces, a cookbook I wrote when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Using a simmer ring is optional; if your heat source has adjustable settings, you can eliminate it. 

Bannock Campfire Bread:

1-1/2 c. biscuit mix (such as Bisquick) plus extra as needed 
1/3 c. milk (see Note)
Flour, as needed
Heavy skillet or camp griddle
Heat-proof oven gloves
Wire rack for cooling

Combine biscuit mix and milk on heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet or griddle lightly dusted with flour or with additional biscuit mix. Gather dough into a ball, kneading 10 times until smooth. Pat into 1/2-in. thick circle. Set circle of dough aside. Preheat skillet or griddle over medium heat, using a camp simmer ring, if you have it. Slip in circle or dough, allowing bottom crust to brown. Dough will rise during this time, but will remain soft in the middle. 

Flip to brown other side. Lower heat with simmer ring (optional) or by adjusting temperature of campfire cook stove. Tent skillet or griddle with foil to allow inside of dough to cook through, 10-to-15 min. Transfer to wire rack and let stand, covered, a further 2 or 3 min. Slice into 4-to-6 wedges. 

Note: If you don’t want to carry fresh milk to camp, there are a couple of easy ways to prepare it. For each cup of milk you need, shake together 1/4 c. instant skim milk powder and 1/2 c. cold water in a lidded jar until fully dissolved. Add additional water until milk reaches 1 c. level. Or ... For each cup of milk required, shake together 1/2 c. canned evaporated milk with 1/2 c. cold water in a lidded jar.

Take one far-away campsite ...

Add two young campers, eager to cook ...

And measure out the ingredients for Bannock Bread

Combine, flattening the ball of dough that results.

Working in a floured skillet, knead Bannock dough 10 times. 

Over medium heat, let Bannock brown on the bottom.

 Note that its shape doesnt have to be perfect!

(A watched skillet never burns!)

Flip the dough once ...

And tent it with foil, so the soft-in-the-middle* part cooks. 

Fry a little bacon and a few eggs, add Bannock and ...

There’s your hearty breakfast!

Time to relax after all that hard work!

Then off to the woods to explore!

*A little music while we cook the soft-in-the-middle part? 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

When I made these high-energy bars for a group of volunteers last night, never did I dream they would become a “favorite”!
Peanut Butter Energy Bars: A big hit!
Packed with nutrition, these bars refrigerate and freeze well. With the ingredients already in my kitchen cupboard, I didn’t consider this expensive to make. Logical? Maybe. With energy bars selling for as much as $3 apiece, these homemade bars are a bargain! To make a gourmet bar, substitute macadamia nuts and white chocolate in place of the almonds and semi-sweet chocolate I used. This excellent recipe requires a food processor. 

Peanut Butter Energy Bars:

2 c. packed dates, pitted (see Note)
1/2 c. natural whole almonds, skin on
3 c. large-flake uncooked rolled oats
1/2 c. liquid honey
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Line 10 in. x15 in. jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Soften dates by pour boiling water over them for 10 min. Squeeze dry. Process dates on high speed until they form a ball and only small bits remain. Place in medium bowl. Do not wash food processor.
Spread almonds over cookie sheet, stirring once or twice as nuts toast 15-to-20 min. (see Additional Note). Add almonds to processor, chopping in bursts using pulse setting. Add to dates in bowl.
Spread oats over cookie sheet, stirring once or twice as oats toast 15-to-20 min. Add oats to dates and nuts in bowl. Combine thoroughly, using clean hands. Set aside. 
In microwave-safe container, stir together honey and peanut butter on medium-low heat, just until warm. Pour over date-nut-oatmeal mixture, combining well.
Press well-combined mixture into prepared pan, covering with cello wrap and rolling or pressing to even thickness. Cover with foil and chill 15-to-30 minutes before slicing into bars. These are high-calorie and sweet, so I cut these bars small. Yields 4-to-5 dozen 1 in. x 3 in. bars. 

Note: Substituting dried apricots for the dates in this recipe would also work well.

Additional Note: My induction oven does a very poor job of browning foods. Items do not brown or toast as expected. Despite that, toasting the almonds and oats even without browning them produces a far superior flavor than adding them to this recipe untoasted.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Colon Rockets

The name says it all ...
Passed along without comment … The name of these muffins says it all! A tasty way to … um, do the trick! If you prefer your muffins sweeter, reduce the molasses to 3/4 c. and add 1/4 c. honey.

Colon Rockets:

4 c. natural wheat bran
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp. flax seed
2 tbsp. chia or hemp seeds
3 c. milk
2 eggs
1 c. fancy-style molasses (see Note)
2/3 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 c. plumped raisins (see Another Note)
1 c. fresh, dried, or frozen blueberries (see Additional Note)

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. In medium bowl, combine bran, flour, baking soda, and seeds. In a separate medium bowl, combine milk, eggs, and molasses. Add combined liquids all at once, stirring just until moist. Mix in walnuts and fruit, just until evenly dispersed. Spoon into ungreased paper liners in muffin pan, filling each 2/3 full. Bake 20-to-25 min., or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 2 dozen standard-sized muffins.

Note: If you prefer your muffins sweeter, reduce the molasses to 3/4 c. and add 1/4 c. honey.

Another Note: See Index for How to Plump Dried Fruits.

Additional Note: If using frozen blueberries, thaw, drain, and pat dry before adding to muffin mixture.

Best Tip Ever: If you find yourself with enough batter for a couple of extra muffins, save oven time and energy by baking the extras alongside the other muffins. Bake the extras in metal measuring cups in the 1 c., 1/2 c., and 1/3 c. sizes.

Combine dry ingredients.

Final step: Stir in fruit.

Bake extra muffin batter in metal measuring cups.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Heart ’n’ Soul Guacamole

I’m always surprised to see that I haven’t yet posted a recipe for Guacamole - but who needs a recipe? Guacamole is something you make from the heart and soul - no need for a cookbook.
The ingredients vary by cultural and individual preference, but the basic avocado, tomato, salt, hot seasoning, and lime (or lemon) juice are always present. A short while ago, I found a Guacamole recipe that uses mayonnaise - yuck, yuck, and yuck - not to my taste, but perhaps to yours. 
Guacamole offers many variations on a theme, the worst of which resembles a menacing shade of green once prevalent in toothpaste and on the walls of institutions for the incurably, criminally insane. I speak from experience. Of the former. Not the latter. Not yet, anyway.
Some supermarkets try to pass off this glow-in-the-dark horror as Guacamole. Make no mistake: It is not. Watch as it slowly slithers and slides from its opaque plastic container - a congealed brick of glop. Avoid this product lest you land in an institution for the incurably, criminally insane 
For those of you Dollinks who have been duped and brainwashed into thinking this is how Guacamole tastes, I’ve got news for you. The recipe below is proof positive that you can make a very decent Guacamole for very little money and very little time. The ingredients, quantity, and proportions are approximate - taste it until you like it, but don’t taste it all or youll have nothing left. 
Guacamole is excellent served with chips, small crackers, or beside the salsa and sour cream you serve with quesadillas. We aim to please, so if you want to make some of those quesadillas, youll find my Three-Pepper Quesadillas indexed under Mexican. Happy eating, muchachas y muchachos!

Heart ’n’ Soul Guacamole:

1/4 c. finely chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1-1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice (or half a lime, juiced)
1-1/2-to-2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
3/4 tsp. salt (do not reduce)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
2-to-3 ripe avocados, peeled at the last moment and lightly mashed (see Note)
Cilantro sprigs, as garnish

In a work bowl, combine all except cilantro. Cover and let flavors blend at least 45 min. This is mandatory, unless you miss the good ol school days when you thought library paste was a food group. Consider yourself warned. Transfer Guacamole to serving dish; garnish with cilantro.

Note: I’ve found that the very best place to mash avocados is on a clean chopping board. From there, they just slip into your work bowl, never giving them a chance to brown. Don’t over-mash them or you’ll purée the mixture; a light mashing produces the irregular, appealing texture that sticks to the cracker, crisp, or stomach onto which you heap this Heart ’n’ Soul Guacamole. 

Guilty-Secret Note: The best way to make Guacamole is with clean fingers and hands. A spoon, fork, or (No! No! No!) electric mixer is a poor second-best to your Hände.