Dry Puttana

Oh, YUM!

After all of my whining about slicing and juice everywhere, I’ve discovered that dehydrating vegetables is paying off in a serious fashion. I made the best pasta sauce I’ve ever made last
night, and I mostly wasn’t paying attention while I did it… So I’m going to root around in my brain to find the list of ingredients for my newly named Puttanesca Asciutto.

  • 1 c. dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1. 5 c. boiling hot water
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 cup chopped kalamata olives (mine were stuffed with jalapenos, which is why I didn’t use any pepper. You might add a 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper to your sauce.)
  • 1 whole chopped onion
  • 2 cloves smashed garlic, OR 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 basil leaves, julienned
  • some capers, if you like them. I don’t.

And from there, it was simply a matter of feeling my way into a recipe: I stuffed the tomatoes into a pot, poured on the water, and waited twenty minutes. Then I dumped them into the blender, and added the other ingredients. I whizzed them up, and cooked them down for ten minutes, until some of the water cooked out. It’s a chunky, fragrant, flavor-intense sauce that would work well on short pasta with a dry asiago cheese, or on a pizza; with some meat, probably, or as a breadstick dip — endless possibilities.

And, best of all, I will whine no more about the endless tomatoes in the garden.

Until next year.

Le Grand Tour

It’s about time I let you in on what all the fuss is about. It’s just this garden thing. See, it takes over your life.

First, you plant a few seeds. And then you get a few seedlings. We ONLY planted six tomato plants. Only six. And then… well, they kept growing. And growing. And it was repellently hot this summer, but apparently nobody told plants that they don’t just lurve global warming. So they got bigger. And bigger. The drip system even broke, once. And still they grew. (Thanks, Watersorb!) Please note the height of the tomato plants vs. the height of the luckless farmerette to the right of the photograph. It was JUST. SIX. PLANTS. Really. Six little ones, even.

And then, the Auld Scot decides he wants to plant peppers. Peppers. And then to pull them up. To overwinter. In the house. Where it’s cozy, what with the books and the knitting and the canisters of random grain. (Bad joke from EarthMother, by the way: “If the man doesn’t know his rye from his oats, how does he know which ones to sow?!” Hnur, hnur, Mom. And people wonder why I’m so weird.) All I know is, if ONE teensy tiny aphid gets on my Saintpaulia, there’s going to be a dismemberment. The peppers of death are no match for me and my hacksaw. Although I really will be the first to admit that the purple ones are quite pretty. I can imagine them on the front walk, or perhaps lending their glory to the back deck. We’re going to have to discuss this overwintering thing. Ahem!

I cheerfully borrow this site to whinge about all of the gardening chores and the dirt and the occasional worm, and the ever-present weeds amongst the seeds, but I really like gardening because it makes me feel victorious and accomplished at something. (Especially when I’m waiting, a year later, to hear a proper word from an editor. A year. We’re coming up on November here, do you think she’s noticed!?) When nothing else in the whole world is going along properly, pulling up a dandelion by its taproot can give you quite a little glow. And, I am easily amused by planting random seeds given to me or filched from plants going to seed that I see on walks, to see what comes up. This year the biggest kick I’ve gotten has come from what I thought were left over sweet potato vines. I carefully watered and endured one popping up in the middle of my green onions, thinking that one had gotten sliced in the tiller and had relocated and somehow miraculously survived. And since I love yams, and we worked so hard on those evil things last season, I coddled it along. And then I realized… not a yam, despite those similarly lovely heart-shaped leaves. No, these some other opportunistic bastards, my old friends from last summer, the morning glories. They were gorgeous despite themselves, as they pulled over and dismantled my trellises. I suffer them proudly. They, along with my gone-to-seed cosmos, dill and cilantro have brought on the butterflies. We have had fewer whiteflies, etc. this year, and the lady bugs are eating well.

Probably the biggest, scariest occurrence in the garden this season are the gourds. When the little seeds I put in the ground finally sprouted, I was so proud. When their little vines were overshadowed by the big, mean zucchini, I worried. They had beautiful white flowers, and strong vines… and somewhere between the first week and the second month of the heat spell, they have managed to take over the entire yard. It’s ridiculous — You can’t step anywhere, because  height=there’s a gourd you’re about to trip over. They grew out of their bed, over two beds to the north and four beds to the east. They trellised up the tomato supports, and made themselves right at home. There are at least sixty of them, I’m serious. And they’re the size of your head. And their vines have a NOXIOUS stink, so as to punish you if you make so bold as to slash the little suckers down and away from your melons, of which we’ve had now, oh, two, thanks to the gourds’ plans for world domination. I have plans for these little suckers, though. Gourd art, to make up for having to endure them all over my space. I figure our little condo hasn’t decided we’re quite weird enough. Being one of the few without the requisite kettle grill on the deck (but the slow cooker really does do well out there) and with a cage full of finches hung to air, we will now embroider our complete bizarre-ness by also hanging up randomly decorated birdhouses.

Oh well. Least we don’t have cats… (I mean, ’cause then we’d be really weird.)

And there you have it: our little borrowed piece of paradise. We took a weedy vacant lot behind the home of land-rich but creativity-and-general-natural-impulse -poor friends, and we grow tomatoes, beans, zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, shallots, cucumbers, beets, peppers, basil, dill, melons, edamame and more I’m forgetting. We eat them… they still buy their tomatoes from Costco. They smile at us, politely, as we offer them our broad-shouldered carrots and then leave them on the counter… to wither. Someday, maybe we’ll afford our own little plot of land outside of our own little piece of house. Someday, we’re going to get to that autumn garden, and plant kale, beets maybe, or lettuce. Or more onions. Someday, someday. We get worms and weird beetles in the tomatoes; we get strangely dormant collard greens that defy all explanation, but every year we try something new, and ever year we struggle, and every year we prevail. Sometimes the feeling that we prevailed only comes because it’s finally over, be we did it – we wrestled the land and won. Sorta. Yeah, anybody can go to Farmer’s Market, but we still struggle to grow our own, and people wonder why. Honestly? I don’t know why we trek a half hour across a bridge and several towns to get dirty, sweaty and sore and to bring back pounds more work to slice, season and dehydrate or stew or can. I really don’t know why. But it’s become a little addictive.

In A Post-Produce Frame of Mind

Words cannot express just how much I HATE tomatoes right now. They smell funny. They leave a rash on my arms. Their …pollen-y leafy green junk gets everywhere. And they have slick little seeds. And I don’t want to eat them anymore. No. Not no mo!

Yes, okay, this is my annual plaint. Locked in winter, we all long for the freshness of tomatoes on our tongues. By March, I am planting tiny seeds thinking that there could be nothing finer than the rich flavor of a pear tomato, bursting sour-ripe on my tongue. And then the season turns, and I get my wish. And I get my wish. And I wish, wish, wish. And then I wish them gone.

The closer it gets to October, the more loosely does this land seem to be gripped in eternal summer, and the more foreign tomato production seems. I want to already have done with all of this fruiting and producing. I want to have put it all up and put it away, and for it to be all a misty, fond memory. I do not want rock-hard pears staring me in the face. I do not want overripened melons, disturbingly large zucchini, and out of control cucumbers inviting bizarre shape comparisons. And I want NO. MORE. TOMATOES. It’s not like all of my whinging is going to do me any good. I was told rather succinctly that if I could come up with something to take the place of the dreaded and derided fruits, I should speak right up and suggest it. But actually: you can’t grow bread. And really? That’s all I want.

Maybe next year we should grow wheat. Hmmmm.

A sad little PS to my story of the scary corn? Silly Sibling (this as opposed to Sullen Sibling and the Littles — does sound like a hair band, doesn’t it?) will now no longer take anything from the garden because she, too, found a worm in the corn. Our Earthmother has managed to produce two complete wusses. But the real irony is that I shucked the last corn, and it was flawless and perfect — no worms, no must, not even any undeveloped kernels. And I promptly chucked it into the freezer. Speaking of which, it’s time to price some of those things. Between the dried veggies and the abundance of salmon, we suddenly have four inches of freezer space. And if we keep making lovely loaves of cinnamon raisin bread… we’ll have none. I hate the idea of the American Obsession With Having Enough For the Apocalypse, but we do need a little more storage for the food we put up. This weekend, all the canning jars go into the garage, and do all the dried stuff, so we may as well shift the salmon into below-storage, too.

The aubergine onslaught has been slowing… finally… We’re to the point where we’re past the one MASSIVE fruit per plant, and have been getting quite a few medium sized bits. I hate eggplant, of course, but I found out my niece made and ate an entire pan of eggplant parmesan — made with Japanese eggplant, mind you, not Italian — and I decided I wanted to give it a shot. Eggplant parmesan sans eggs is very possible; frankly, the eggs never have added to the flavor, to my mind. The cheese issue has been solved nicely with a mozzarella substitute that everyone will eat, however, I haven’t found a parmesan substitute. So, as a recipe in progress, this is just

Aubergine d’Mozzarella:

  • 2 large aubergines
  • salt
  • 1-2 cups unflavored soymilk
  • 2-3 cups yellow cornmeal
  • Olive oil
  • 5 oz. mozzarella – real or imagined
  • 4 cups puttanesca sauce (you do realize puttanesca is a derivation of ‘puttana,’ which means ‘the way a whore would make it?’ my kind of Italian cooking!!)
  • 2 tsp. freshly crushed garlic – or more or less
  • sprig chopped rosemary, basil, to taste
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 400°

Slice eggplants crosswise into 1/4″ rounds. Salt both sides and set aside for 1-2 hours. This leaches away the bitterness. (Some people say this is unnecessary nowadays, as all eggplants are bioengineered to be less bitter. Try telling that to an organic, non-genetically-modified eggplant, okay?)

Rinse salted eggplant slices and set aside to dry on paper towels. They’ll have lost their firmness, and hopefully, their bitterness. Rinse them and wring them a bit, then lay them on a pan. Fill a shallow bowl with milk (or I’ve known people to use creamy salad dressing), and another with yellow cornmeal. Dip eggplant slices into milk and then cornmeal. (Do it again if you want your breading thicker.) Most recipes suggest you deepfry the breaded slices about 1-2 minutes on both sides and set aside on a nest of paper towels. You could do that, or you can bake them on a heavily oiled pan for ten minutes on each side.

Remove the crisped veg from the pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with sauce, and replace a layer of the breaded slices. Sprinkle lightly with chopped herbs, onion, garlic and olives, and cover with shredded cheese. Cover the mozzarella with sauce and repeat the layers ad infinitum, until you run out. At the last layer, anoint with the chopped herbs, sauce, mozzarella and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. *Note: Let it set for at least 5 minutes before serving. As with all aubergine dishes, the longer it sits, the more the flavors mingle. It’ll be even better the next day.

Be aware that with salting the eggplant, you will still have residual salt… so resist the urge to salt a bite before you’ve tasted it.

This re-orientation of one of my old recipes gave me a great urge to make this tonight, but as the mercury currently stands at 87° F… well, this is the weather when we set the slow-cooker outside, all I’m saying!

Miskellany (pronounce the K sound – you know you want to)

Just some links … which reflect my mood today:

Yes, I’d much rather be baking. I’d rather be actually working or something, too, instead of sitting here, babysitting the foolish people through their troubles & trials & needs for data. But, I’m not baking, and I’m here. At least, until I go home.

HOWEVER, I do get to go cash a nice, fat check from a client who FINALLY decided that, oh, their 30 days were up, so they’d drop it in the mail on day 30, from when they received the invoice, of course. Sigh. All for a wee bit of interest….

Maybe I’ll have to take Donal’s advice & buy a FlaBEgone® camera, and take TadMack out for dinner? We could, perhaps, take pictures? Of ourselves eating? Or, perhaps instead, as Natalie Dee depicts below, would she enjoy cleaning the pantries, as she suggested this morning?

Think Before you Consume

So, this morning I was asked if I’m a vegan. The person doing the asking was our spin teacher – born in 1979, a dance major, adopts puppies on her vacation to save them from having to live in the wilds on whatever desert isle she’s visiting at the moment. You know her – somewhere in your life, she lurks, driving her jeep with all manner of “meat is murder” stickers plastered on every available surface.

And you also know that she’s about as thoughtful as a stoat, as she goes out and buys a Prius to replace that Jeep with, because she wants to do her part and all that. Never mind that replacing a 3-year-old jeep with a new vehicle means that she’s essentially contributing to the problem (hello, new aluminum needed for your hybrid), rather than helping to fix it.

Let me just say this now: if you’re not going to keep your car for a decade, it’s not going to save you any money to buy a hybrid. I’ve owned a cute little Honda Insight since December, 1999. I’ve spent around $1000 on gas for that car during that time, and figure I’ve saved around $2000 compared to what her Jeep would have needed. Now, the cost of buying a new vehicle? NOT going to be worth it, financially.

So, let’s recap: not financially beneficial to replace a perfectly good car with a new Hybrid; not environmentally beneficial to do so, either. If your car is totalled out and you have no choice but to buy a new vehicle? Hybrid all the way (well – one of the two fuel-efficient ones on the market, that is, ’cause they’re not all of them about saving fuel).

Am I a vegan? Mostly*. But do I advertise the fact? No. Why not? Well, if you have to ask, you just won’t get it.

*I eat honey (try making a nice oat-bread without it – I’ve been, and it’s no picnic) and drink milk (coffee). I also enjoy Salmon around a dozen times a year (sustainably fished, as all Pacific Salmon is, of course).


The Real Deal, we’re talking ’bout here. We went & purchased a bunch from SFHerb.com and now we’ve got to figure out how to use them. Uncle Phaedrus has a recipe, of course (and a cool site, full of interesting recipes we’ll have to follow up on some later time), but PractialAction.org has a better description of the “how” and also explains the “how not to” … as in “how not to do this using eggs.” Should be interesting.

I think, though, that where I’m wanting to go with them is to use them in conjunction with egg replacement in baking things which I want to be on the chewy side of things, yet still fluffy. Maybe incorporate them into bar-cookies?

Great Grains & "Locavore" Living

There’s a good reason some of us “wish we were baking.” It’s because some of us shouldn’t be trusted in the kitchen to COOK!!!

You know you have just a few too many grains in the house when you go to make a lovely mushroom barley soup on a foggy autumn evening, and you realize that you’re… just not sure which one the barley IS. You peer at it. You call your SO into the room to peer at it. Your SO peers at it, nibbles at a piece, frowns and mumbles and confirms for you which one is which, then leaves to go back to her hours of staring glassily into the television screen, watching bad Doris Day films while waiting for the bread to bake.

You STILL somehow manage to mislabel the grain.

However, you find out that mushroom RYE soup is downright tasty, too. It’s a quick and easy soup that goes really well with… um… well, bread. Whole wheat rolls, in fact. Or foccacia bread, topped with savories. (Sorry, I haven’t yet figured out what doesn’t go with bread.) Anyway, rye in soup is great, because, unlike barley, it doesn’t suck up all the liquid in the universe. The soup isn’t as velvety, but that’s just fine too.

To begin with, soak 2 c. dried mushrooms in 1 c. hot water for 20 minutes. (Save the water! It adds great flavor!) Porcini, chanterelle, or shiitake all work equally well for this, use your preference, and use a lot.

Into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 to one whole chopped white onion, (Or add two. Live a little!)
  • Add 1/3 clove of crushed garlic,
  • A sprig of rosemary, fresh (And ‘sprig’ is a size measurement of your preference, too!)
  • 3/4 c. of rye berries… or, if you must, barley.
  • 1/2 c. of white wine
  • 2 c. vegetable stock

After your mushrooms have softened, rough chop and add them. Strain the water for particles of whatever, and dump it in as well.

We simmered ours for an hour and a half on low, turning it up to medium for the last ten minutes, and the rye was soft but still chewable. Some people add bay leaf, but I find that bay goes better if I’m going to add potatoes and carrots. A squirt of lime juice brightened the flavor just before serving. This was a simple and light soup; flavorful and filling, and a great new use of rye!

Having a sourdough starter in the fridge means that you have to feed it. Feeding starter takes a cup of flour and a cup of water everytime you use it. We are going through an awful lot of flour. Not that it’s a big deal — flour is fairly inexpensive, after all, but we currently seeking sources that are closer to home. After participating quietly in the locavore challenge introduced to us by Tea, we found a personal commitment to eat locally first, and organically second, to support sustainable agriculture. To that end, we’re looking for Northern California items. Those who participated in the locavore movement found local salt, quinoa and amaranth flour, and flour — from Full Belly Farm. So, there are options out there.

Leftovers: Odds & Ends

I think our neighbor thinks we’re freaks.

Okay, so she’s actually the one who should worry, because she talks over me like she’s practically deaf, so our circuitous conversations always seem to have the comedic element of “What?” and “Oh, I just said that” added to them. Too, she somehow always manages to talk and talk and TALK to one about banalities like the weather, the birds in her dryer vent (poor things) and what she’s having done to her house whilst one is digging for one’s keys and concurrently has to pee, but can’t find a way to politely hurry her along. AND, she is … erm… NOSY. Okay, she is awfully curious about some of the things that come into our house. A box from SFHerb.com. was left on the porch. Boxes of produce from our CSA, which prompts her to bring us baskets of strawberries and tell us that she bought them at a farm. We shared fresh-baked bread with her, and she utterly fails to be able to acknowledge that D. made it, not me. Lots of stuttering as she goes on, and on, and ON on the telephone. Poor thing. We totally rock her little world. A man that COOKS!? If only she knew. The knitting. The cans of jam. The (sob!) sewing on of one’s own buttons and ripped pillow case seams! This whole blog would blow her tiny, little mind…

Somewhere, Rick Bayless is screaming.

Lest I come off as too much of a foodie in this blog (friends express astonishment that we attempt tofu, grow a large garden and can our produce. They remark that they wish they had a.] time, b.] patience, c.] creativity to do what we do in the kitchen: mostly they’re thin, and don’t know what a mess our house is, please note), celebrating the joys of eating fungus in Quorn and going on and on about what is generally back-breaking and odd work like baking bread from scratch every week and experimenting with drying things, I wanted to tell you something: there is something I couldn’t bring myself to eat.

It was from the CSA. It was organic. It was fresh — so fresh, it still had a lively inhabitant. It was ethnic and valued by chefs of fresh flavors and new experiences. Even the handsome Ming Tsai has fixed it. It was …corn smut. Huitlacoche, Latin Americans call it, and praise it for its woodsy, earthy, delicate mushroomy flavor. The Beard Foundation, apparently in an effort to get Americans to pay more attention to it, renamed it the Mexican truffle. Nice try, people, but no dice this time. And it had nothing to do with the snob appeal of having something called a truffle, okay? I have to admit… it was mostly… well, the occupant which turned me off. I’m usually pretty game, but… I have a thing. With worms. And spiders. But today: the worms.

(No, I will never know the joy of tequila. So what? And yes, I, too, rescued drowning earthworms in the rain as a child. That was different, leagues different from enduring the blind, hornéd stares of the tomato worms that infested our yard one year. I have never recovered from being required to blend them with cayenne and garlic and spray them on the plants… thank-you, Mama, for your green-sense to save the earth, but GROSS!!! GROSS!! GROSS!! GROSS!!!!!!)

It was just… alive and all, it felt like a pulpy tumor when I touched the corn cob. I peeled back the husk with dread, and saw the familiar puff of blackness, the …worm… and then the spore-filled horror.

Oh, the horror!

Couldn’t it eat. Couldn’t look at it (notice the blurred photographs – shaking hands?) Couldn’t really even think about it.

And, glad I didn’t try. It’s only spore-filled when it’s too old to eat. And really, if you are allergy prone like I am, it’s probably not too great an idea to play with spores, and I don’t know, but I think I need a guide before picking mushrooms, so I’m not going to claim some kind of fungus hipness with stuff that grows on corn. But someday, I’d like to try this — properly prepared, (not sold in a can, like I’ve seen it!) and not by me — and see what it’s all about.

As long as there are no worms.

Sorry, Rick, sorry Ming. Dudes. I tried.

I have been whinging away about the amount of baking going on around me… and I’ve come to a conclusion: self-control is less expensive than diet foods. I don’t believe in de-greening the planet with packaging. I refuse to pay other people to make me do what I’m supposed to do anyway, which is to stop eating sometimes. (Okay, I’ll pay my gym dues, but that’s about it.) I am going to have to find a balance between the comfort of winter baking and the comfort of having a body that I don’t have to roll down inclines. I am going to have to make friends with my freaky neighbor, and keep giving her food. Really, it’s the only way…

When you bake without eggs, AND without oil, you need to take precautions to be sure that you’re not making a brick that is going to be perma-welded to your pan. Why, you ask yourself, did we make this brode without eggs or oil!? It was not in any attempt to be über health conscious in any way. We were weighing and measuring and tootling away on engineering this bread recipe, and we … erm… forgot.

We realized our error about the time we were going to pan the bread, and we thought… “Ah, what the heck,” and lined the pan with oiled parchment. It worked! It came out, it held up, it rose, thanks to the experimental flaxseed and water blend we used. It was quite exciting to look at something attractive, something that someone might actually want to buy one day, and think, “Hey! We did it!”

Okay, now, so much for being good, I need to go and get a piece.

Happy Baking!

Aran-esque Sweater Project

Thought I’d give you some decent shots of my aran-esque sweater project, as I finally got the film developed. Yes, film. Believe it or not, I get far better shots with 35mm than with digital … but that’s a whole ‘nother blog.

Detail of Honeycomb Stitch, which runs right up the front panel, starting about 10 inches from the hem.
Now, I don’t have any idea if Honeycomb is supposed to be like this? This is the first I’ve ever done it, so it’s a new one to me, but … should you be able to run your fingers up beneath the cables like this?

Horseshoe Cable – not such a great detail shot. There’re two cables, each running alongside the Honeycomb panel, about 4 inches away.

Some details of the back panel. These cables were initially just part of a kind of “sampler” thing I was doing – nothing organized, just playing with stitches.
The back panel is the foundation for the whole sweater, and I’m now working on knitting into the edges – without selvages… which is what gives me this edge…
and this edge. Don’t know where I’m going wrong, nor why things look so odd. I figure it’ll be a “house sweater” in any event, but still. I’d like for it to look good, too!

It’s the Time of the Season for Acorn

Today, the fog lasted until almost eleven. For awhile, the wind was just whipping through my clothes, and I could briefly see the fog of my breath. I was cold enough to wear a sweater, and drank a gallon of hot tea in perfect, gray-fog bliss. Briefly this morning I could pretend that September in California means that there will be cold arriving shortly, a crisp rime of frost on the sidewalk, ruddy hued leaves and sharp winds under cerulean skies.

Unfortunately? September in California means maybe an extension on summer’s “short lease.” It gets hot. Hotter, sometimes, than it’s been in August. The leaves don’t start doing anything noteworthy until almost November, and by then, rain is threatening, and you’re feeling rushed. The fine weather lasts so long that the slow transition doesn’t seem to exist here. It’s funny… I’ve lived here my entire life, and I still somehow expect it — a gradual decline into a colder time. However, that’s not going to happen, because it’s just not time for all of that yet.

Still, I can feel it coming. It doesn’t help that the stores have squash out, there are gourds in my garden, Halloween sales start Labor Day Weekend, and the cornfield near the church has scarecrows. It’s a bit crazy-making, trying to resist the lure of cooler nights and dim, foggy mornings. So, I don’t. I am officially beginning autumn today. I’ve started with squash.

Wait. I hate squash.

However, I belive in the power of acorn, and roasted acorn is perfection in being. Next year, I am going to grow a large patch of acorn. Please note that I am now dismissing the word ‘squash’ from my vocabulary. Watery and tasteless, summer squashes don’t have the punch of flavor or …anything, really, to make me want to be bothered with them. I have to add so much to them — basil, shallots — breadcrumbs, perhaps? for them to have any taste. And after all that, they’re really not so much vegetables as they are… uh, I don’t know, the main course? Veggie latkes? At any rate, I have found a friend in acorn, and I so enjoyed it this weekend that I combed through my old recipes today to dredge out a likely spice rub with which to pair it. Now, there are charmoulas, and then there are charmoulas. The ingredients are wildly variant, as seems to be the case with all rubs, but there are some base ingredients that remain the same. One is garlic. The other is cumin. I’d never made a charmoula before, but I’ve tasted them, and figured that one rub was pretty much like another, in the world of rubs. I hoped this would be a winner, since it was veggie specific. This recipe found awhile (a year?) ago in the newspaper, in their Thanksgiving food section, and it meant to highlight vegetarian tastes especially. It includes:

  • Garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • Schmear of olive oil

Please note the lack of direction for the garlic and the oil — two things I think ought to be left to the tastes of the individual.

So, I used my handy marble mortar and pestle, and ground up my ingredients (because you never want to reuse a coffee grinder that has had cumin ground in it. Ptui!) and made my acorn rub. The verdict? Not so good. I used molasses instead of brown sugar, which may have made a difference in that there was too much liquid. The flavor was fine, but it was too spicy, and not rich enough, or something, to go with the acorn. But as a barbecue sauce? Amazing, and I must admit a deep hatred and distrust of all things barbecued. D. liked it, but I’m an acorn purist, I’m afraid. Just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper for me. Or, butter and maple syrup… but mostly, I like acorn best roasted dry and served up whipped like mashed potatoes with a teensy bit of garlic and basil. Tasty!

Meanwhile, I have found a scary sort of perfection elsewhere. Just in time for the season, a fulfilling use for your every seed need: pumpkin seed brittle!!! Ohhhh, you know you want to try this at least once. If you look at the picture, you’ll be hooked like I was … or a little alarmed at the state of anyone’s teeth in attempting to bite that hunk of sugary goodness. Pumpkin seeds support the function of the immune system, assist prostate health and help lower cholesterol levels. They are also a useful source of omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. Now that you’ve had your health minute? Add sugar and enjoy!