Spicy Tomato Coconut Soup



This simple soup combines canned tomatoes and rich flavors of Southeast Asia – coconut milk, ginger, garlic, and chilies.  A bowl of Spicy Tomato Coconut Soup may not be quite the same as a big bite of that first vine-ripened tomato of the late summer season, but it’s darn close.

picture1140Ingredients (serves 6)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 large onion

1 teaspoon of garlic ginger paste

1 teaspoon of spicy chili paste such as Nam Prik Pao

2 large cans of tomatoes (I like organic San Marzano tomatoes)

picture11391 can of light coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cilantro (to garnish)


Step 1) In a large pot, saute onion, garlic ginger paste, and chili paste in coconut oil until onion is soft and translucent.  Add tomatoes to pot, along with salt, pepper, and brown sugar.

Step 2) Bring pot to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Step 3) Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes or until lukewarm.

Step 4) Puree contents of pot with an immersion blender.  Add coconut milk and stir to blend.

Step 5) Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with cilantro.



Wild Muscadine Jelly

picture1206Wild muscadine grapes do not grow in my Northern climate, but I am fortunate to have family down South.  Dark purple, thick skinned and distinctly flavored muscadine grapes grow all over the wooded rural property where my sister and brother-in-law live.  When I feel jealous of the grapes, I remind myself that very big snakes live in those same woods!

picture1202On a recent trip up North, my sister gifted me with a gallon bag of frozen muscadines.  I retrieved them from the freezer last night, and turned those delicious purple grapes into ten jars of jelly.  The pint size people in my life gave the “monkey sandwiches” shown above (muscadine jelly, peanut butter, and a halved banana in a fresh bun) a hearty seal of approval.  If you prefer to enjoy grape jelly right out of the jar, well, picture1203that’s fine with me!

Ingredients (makes 10 half-pint jars, plus enough leftover for a few sandwiches)

1 gallon of muscadine grapes, washed and stems removed


picture12048 cups of sugar

1 box of pectin


Step 1) Place muscadine grapes in a large pot and cover – just barely – with water.

Step 2) Bring pot of grapes and water to a picture1208boil.  Gently mash grapes with a potato masher.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Step 3) Filter juice through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  When scooping grape pulp into the sieve, push gently (the back of a soup ladle works well) to extract as much juice as possible.  Discard pulp into your compost bin.

Step 4) Measure 8 cups of juice and add to a large pot.  Add box of pectin to the juice and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Step 5) Add 8 cups of sugar to the pot of boiling juice and pectin.  Stir to help sugar dissolve, and bring pot to another rolling boil.

Step 6) Allow jelly mixture to boil for one full minute, then remove from heat.

Step 7) Ladle jelly into half pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, as described in our earlier canning instructions.  Enjoy!




Ginger Crackle Eggs

picture1123Hard cooked eggs make for a quick and easy, high protein breakfast.  Ginger Crackle Eggs are hard cooked, then infused with subtle flavor and caramel colored, fernlike patterns from ginger flavored rooibos tea.  These eggs are delicious on their own, and make a fun addition to summer salads.  Enjoy!

picture1116Ingredients (makes 2 eggs; double as needed)

2 eggs

1 tablespoon loose rooibos tea

2 thin slices fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups water


Step 1) Bake eggs in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Setting eggs in mini muffin tins and placing the tins in the oven works well.

Step 2) After 30 minutes, remove eggs from oven and place in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes.

Step 3) Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, and steep tea with ginger and sugar for 5 minutes.

Step 4) After eggs have cooled, gently roll them on a flat surface to “crackle” the shells.

Step 5) Place hard cooked eggs with crackled shells in the steeped tea.  Let soak for 10 minutes.

Step 6) Remove eggs from tea, peel carefully, and enjoy!

Easy Vietnamese Pickles


These zippy, crunchy little pickles are traditionally called Do Chua, which translates literally as “by sour” from Vietnamese.  Made from carrot, daikon (a jumbo size member of the radish family), and galangal (similar to ginger, but more pungent), these pickles are delicious on salads, on sandwiches, or right out of the jar!  It only takes a few minutes to whip up a few jars of this lovely summer condiment.  Enjoy!


Daikon and Carrots

Ingredients (makes 3 pints)

1 1/2 cups carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks

3 cups daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 tablespoon minced fresh galangal root (or substitute ginger)

For the brine:

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt


Fresh Galangal Root


3 tablespoons vinegar (chili vinegar, if possible)


Step 1) Distribute carrot, daikon, and galangal evenly between three, pint size mason jars.

Step2) Combine brine ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Step 3) Ladle brine into jars.  Fill jars within 1/2 inch of top.

Step 4) Refrigerate for up to three months.  Wait at least one week to enjoy, for maximum flavor!


French Kisses


This whimsical cookie recipe turned up in my Great Grandmother’s recipe box.  I smiled with nostalgia when I noticed that the recipe prominently features Corn Flakes… this would have been quite the modern cookie ingredient in her day!  This light, meringue type cookie is perfect for summer.  The coconut and almond in this recipe offer a pleasing flavor combination.  Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes 36 cookies)

3 egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 cups Corn Flakes

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Step 1) Beat egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl until stiff.

Step 2) Add sugar and vanilla to egg whites and beat for two minutes longer – mixture should look glossy.

Step 3) Stir in Corn Flakes, coconut, and nuts.  Drop rounded teaspoons of mixture onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Step 4) Bake in 325 degree oven for 18 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Easy Peanut Cabbage Slaw


This salad is ridiculously easy to make and very nutritious, featuring a whole head of Savoy cabbage.  Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage are well respected for being high in fiber, anti-cancer phytonutrients, and a wide range of vitamins including K, C, and B6.

You’ll notice chopsticks in the photo, above.  If your children usually eat with a fork, try serving this dish with chopsticks… the long, thin slices of cabbage are relatively easy to pick up, and (in my experience anyway) the novelty of chopsticks can be enough to compel reluctant cabbage eaters to try a few bites.  The pleasing peanut flavor with just a bit of zippy tang will keep them engaged!

Ingredients (makes 1 large serving bowl of salad; at least 8 cups)

1 head of Savoy cabbage

1/2 cup of thin sliced carrot

1/2 cup of thin sliced daikon or other radish

1/4 cup of real peanut butter (nothing hydrogenated, just peanuts and salt!)

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup of chili vinegar (just white vinegar infused with a sliced Thai chili pepper)

1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts


Step 1) Slice cabbage very thin and toss in a large bowl.  You could use a grater if you prefer, but I like the texture of slices (think onion rings) better.

Step 2) Whisk together peanut butter, sesame oil, and chili vinegar in a medium size bowl.  It will take a minute of careful whisking, but these ingredients will give you a smooth, delicious dressing.

Step 3) Drizzle dressing all over cabbage and toss lightly until cabbage is evenly coated.  Add carrot and radish; toss again.  Garnish with peanuts and serve!


Greek Chicken

picture1040Why is this Greek Chicken so spectacular?  It’s just marinated and oven baked – fast and easy, no fancy schmancy kitchen skills needed.  The secret is in the marinade.  This is not your typical oil and acid marinade – it’s made with a yogurt base.  That’s right, yogurt – stay with me for a moment here.  The enzymes in yogurt are perfect for tenderizing meat, and yogurt itself easily takes on the flavors of the other marinade ingredients – lemon, parsley, garlic, etc.  The end result is plump chicken with rich flavor.  Give it a try!

picture1037Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

1 fresh, whole chicken, cut into pieces

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Juice from 1 lemon

1 cup chopped fresh parsley


Step 1) Combine yogurt, olive oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and parsley in a medium bowl.  Stir until well blended.

Step 2) Score each piece of chicken several times with a sharp knife.

picture1038Step 3) Generously coat each piece of chicken with the yogurt marinade, using a basting brush.  “Pile” chicken into a large bowl; this keeps both sides of each piece of chicken in contact with the marinade.  Pour any remaining marinade over top of the pile.

Step 4) Cover the bowl with foil, and refrigerate for at least1 hour, but no more than 24 hours.  This marinade seems to work faster than other marinades I’ve used.  While I always recommend marinating all day if possible, you’ll still get good flavor with this recipe if you only have an hour.

Step 5) Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking, and rearrange chicken so that it can bake in a single layer.

Step 6) Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the meat (but not against a bone!) reads 165 degrees.  Tip:  I bake the smaller pieces (wings, drumsticks) on a their own pan, as these pieces are usually ready to come out of the oven at least 10 minutes before the larger pieces (breasts, thighs). Serve with a salad and your choice of sides.