Quinoa and Coconut Porridge 

This morning I was browsing Instagram (as I am known to do) when I came across this photo of a Vegan Quinoa and Coconut Pudding. I hadn’t had breakfast and it looked damn good so I started looking in vain for the recipe. 

Nowhere to be found. 

Not one to be deterred by the lack of instructions, I headed to the kitchen and got busy with my craft. I came up with the following as a start.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (I’m not vegan and I won’t ever be one)
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk (Thai Kitchen, organic)

Of course, I washed the quinoa first and then set the ingredients on the stove and brought them to a low boil. I turned down the heat and covered the pot with a lid. After about 15 minutes I checked on things. 

Despite the fact that most of the liquid was absorbed, the quinoa didn’t look like it was done — the hulls were still completely intact.  I figured that there must have been something about the milk/coconut milk mixture that prevented this — I hypothesized that it was the fat content of the coconut milk but that’s just a guess. 

So I added 1/4 cup of water to the pot and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. When I checked, the quinoa was done. 

I garnished the porridge with chopped walnuts, honey and raspberries. It turned out really good and packed a full 15 grams of protein to boot!

Here’s the final recipe:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (I’m not vegan and I won’t ever be one)
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk (Thai Kitchen, organic)
  • 1/4 cup water

According to MyFitnessPal the porridge packs 290 calories, 11 grams  fat, 37.2 grams carbohydrates, and 10.6 grams protein. (The walnuts made up the difference here folks)

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday of the year. It’s about giving thanks, being with family and most definitely food!

When I was a child, my mother hosted most of the Thanksgiving meals. I have fond memories of Mom and Dad putting together the stuffing early in the morning and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in my pajamas. Later, the family would start to arrive and the house would fill with people. Mom-mom and Pop-pop. Uncle Danny and Aunt Sue. Uncle David and Aunt Debbie. Grandma Jennie and Grandpa Tony. Later, cousins Pat and Brennie. On rare occasions we might get the Germans — Uncle Michael, Aunt Kerstin, Cousins Gabby, Marc and Evan as well as Uncle Arthur, Aunt Gailee and cousin Christopher — if not there was the phone call.  Many of those people are no longer with us, but I remember them fondly and while there’s a twinge of sadness, it’s mostly happy memories that come back to my mind.

After marrying Mrs. TKD in 2004 I started hosting Thanksgiving. We’ve had it more often than not and somehow this feels right to me. I’m carrying on the traditions from when I was a child and giving them to Mr. Grey. We’re also creating new traditions.  Somethings are the same but some are different. He’d rather watch Iron Man than the parade, and that’s okay. Unlike Mom, I only have one brother so the house sometimes didn’t always seem as full as it was when I was younger, but that’s changed as more small mouths have shown up at the table. At times, we’ve had friends as well as family over for Thanksgiving and that’s always been wonderful.  Even if folks don’t make the main meal there have been times when extended family and friends have stopped in for desert.  So the house generally feels fuller now than it once did.

This year, it looks like it will be family – though you friends who have the invitation are still welcome – Mom, Frank and Guinness and the kids, and Papa will be in attendance. The house will be crazy with representation from a wide range of ages (3 – 73) – the open floor-plan ensures that noise will carry from one room to another. And in the midst of the whirlwind, I’ll be cooking. I truly can’t wait, I thrive on it.

So, here’s the menu:

Roast Turkey — basted with white wine & butter
Grandpa Gibbons Stuffing – the secret is bacon fat
Mashed Potatoes
Collard Greens Gratin
Mr. Swanson’s Green Beans – sautéed in bacon fat (again)
Sauerkraut and Kielbasa – it’s a Baltimore thing
Roasted Beets
Cranberry Orange Slaw – Mrs. TKD’s annual contribution.  Who knew orange rinds were edible?
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
Pecan Pie

It’s only Tuesday — can we skip to Thursday now?

Make a Recipe Your Own: Chicken, Corn, Chipotle and Bacon Chowder

A few years ago, my mom got me The Bacon Cookbook, by James Villas for either Christmas or my birthday — I can’t remember which. This book is filled with over 150 wonderful recipes that all have a common ingredient — bacon. As with most people, I love bacon. Even the some of the most tried and true vegetarians I know have a good hankering for bacon every now and then.

As I settled in and started browsing the pages several recipes popped out at me. The first one that I cooked was Chicken, Corn and Bacon Chowder, which is featured on page 77. This luscious and decadent soup makes for a perfect meal on cold winter’s day.

As the flavors of celery and onion, thyme and cayenne, and potatoes, mingle with the milk and bacon, I grow more and more excited for that first spoonful. This truly is a wonderful soup.

However, I like to tinker. Continue reading “Make a Recipe Your Own: Chicken, Corn, Chipotle and Bacon Chowder”

Shepherd’s Pie: A good way to ruin mashed potatoes?

When I was about 13 years old, I walked into the kitchen one afternoon and asked mom what was for dinner. “Shepherd’s Pie,” she replied.

“What’s That!?!” I asked.

“Well, it’s ground beef with gravy, a layer of vegetables and a layer of mashed potatoes. You bake it in the oven.” Mom said.

“Sounds like a good way to ruin mashed potatoes.”

I never was a picky eater, but something about this meal just sounded gross to me. An hour or so later, I’d changed my tune and I’ve been a fan of Shepherd’s Pie ever since.

Continue reading “Shepherd’s Pie: A good way to ruin mashed potatoes?”

Lunch: Ham Tartine with Spinach Salad

DSCN2741I don’t know about you, but I expect my ham to have some texture to it.  There should be a noticeable grain in the meat.  Otherwise, well, it just isn’t right.  The “ham” that you get at the deli counter is a poor substitute for the real thing.  For some reason, here in the US, deli ham seems to be all that’s ever available.  I have fond memories of amazing ham sandwiches abroad.  There was the amazing ham with butter on a baguette in London.  My (then new) wife and I picked up amazing ham at a deli counter before we headed to Governor’s Beach on Saint Barts (after a long boat ride from St. Martins — mental note; fly next time).  But here in the US, ham is almost always pressed and tasteless.

The simple answer would be to keep a ham around and grab a slice when you need it.  Except, that there’s only two and a half of us here at the house, and a ten pound ham is, well, overkill.  I finally found a compromise yesterday, when I noticed some rather nice looking “boneless” hams that were quartered in the case a the store.  They weren’t the pressed ham of the deli, and they weren’t so huge that they’d go rancid before we got to eat them.  So, I bought one. Continue reading “Lunch: Ham Tartine with Spinach Salad”

Beer Braised Bison on a Winter’s Night

IMG_05111We’ve had quite a cold snap here in Maryland this past week, complete with a little snow/ice storm for the weekend. Considering the weather, is it any wonder I’ve been dreaming of a good pot roast, shepherds pie, and other wholly scrumptious wintry dishes?

I’m not afraid of beef, but I must say that I’ve grown weary of tasteless corn-fed beef from the supermarket. I started exploring grass-fed beef a few years ago, but it’s hard to come by in the immediate five-mile radius. What is available, is bison (a.k.a buffalo) and it is divine.

Sometime, about two years back, I gave a bison burger a try at a place called Lures in Crownsville, MD. Without a doubt, it was the best burger I’d ever eaten and I knew instantly that I’d be exploring bison as a replacement for beef in my cooking. Lures is also a great place to get a really great selection of beers.

I have found that ground bison works really well in just about every setting that you might find ground beef. I have fallen in love with bison “new york strips” and rib-eyes as fine substitutes for beef steak in the summer. But I’ve been a little leery of a bison roast, until now. Continue reading “Beer Braised Bison on a Winter’s Night”

Fresh Fruit Salsa


Sometimes, a little fruit salsa is exactly what a dish needs to make it complete.  I like to serve a fruit salsa with grilled fish, especially swordfish and tuna.  This is one of those recipes where the basics are constant and the star ingredient (the fruit) can change.

Fruit Salsa

1/2 Medium Onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 jalapeno (optional)
Fruit of your choice, chopped (peaches, pineapple, mango work well)
Juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let the mixture of goodness sit in the fridge for at least a half hour.  Serve with your favorite grilled fish or with tortilla chips.