When you find yourself with 25# of lentils: make a new curry


Remember my food-hoarding habit? Right. Well, there is no small amount of irony in the fact that, now that I have a basement full of rolled oats, wheat berries, and rice, I am no longer eating grains.

Funny how that happens, something about the best-laid plans.

I’ve passed some of these grains onto friends, and am keeping ones the rest of my family still eats. But for the time being I’ve placed a moratorium on purchasing bags of grain that don’t fit neatly into a standard shopping bag.

So now when I hit my favorite fall-off-the-truck store, right after he gets a shipment from Whole Foods, it’s hard not to be a little forlorn at all the money I’d be saving, walking past those huge bags of oats and brown rice. But every once in a while, he gets a bag of lentils — and those, I’ll be eating in vast quantities over the course of 2012.

This time they were red — a lentil I’ve not used much in the past but am about to consume with a vengeance. By the time this bag is empty, I very well might never want to gaze on a red lentil for the rest of my life. So be it, because for now they are a star legume. Shine bright, little red pea.


And speaking of shining bright, don’t they look lovely on my shelf-o’-jars, with their punch of tangerine? It was their color that inspired my first attempt at a dish: a red curry studded with butternut squash — orange on orange, with orange.

With this curry, feel free to sub sweet potato — likely the more traditional choice but outlawed on my current diet due to high starch content. The most important thing when making curries is to make sure your spices are very fresh — a stale curry powder will not a curry make (true Indian cuisine wouldn’t use curry powder at all, but other spices along with garam masala — but I love the convenience of the powder, and when fresh it has a wonderful aroma and flavor). Smell and taste your spices — are they still pungent? If not, splurge on a new jar — but your best bet is buying in bulk from your local health-food store. Fresher, and likely cheaper too.


And if you need some lentils, I could perhaps spare a few…


Recipe: Red Lentil & Squash Curry

: The overnight soak of lentils is optional, but recommended. If you don’t soak, do rinse them well in a strainer until the water runs clear. It is important that spices are fresh and fragrant.

serves 6-8 as main dish


  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1 small (1 pound) butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2  Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp peeled & minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • (1) 15-oz can tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • fresh parsley or cutting celery, for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, cover lentils with filtered water by 2″, let soak overnight (at least 8 hours). Drain and rinse well.
  2. Combine lentils and sweet potato in a large saucepan. Cover with water (just enough to cover), and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables are soft. Drain and return to pot.
  3. While lentils cook, in a small bowl combine curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, honey, garlic, and ginger. Mix with a fork until combined, and set aside
  4. In a medium saute pan, saute the onions in the ghee or oil until beginning to brown.
  5. Add the spice paste to the onions, and stir constantly for one minute.
  6. Add the tomato sauce to the onions, and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until lentils are done cooking.
  7. Pour tomato curry sauce & lemon juice over lentils, and stir well. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or lemon juice to taste. Garnish with parsley, and serve over basmati rice.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.


Brown bag lunch: quinoa salad with tasso & citrus vinaigrette


I’m not a huge fan of the sandwich. I used to be a fan, eating them almost daily at lunch for decades — but it was during one of my pregnancies that I must have crossed a line of sandwich-eating, consuming one too many, saturating my tolerance for the American lunch favorite named for an Earl.

What I am a fan of for lunch is the grain salad. Granted, I’m not personally eating them right now for obvious reasons — but plan to someday reintroduce them to my midday repertoire. They are convenient — you can make a big bowl and eat from it for days, serving it hot or cold. They are inexpensive — grains, even organic ones, are a lot of bang for your buck. And they are infinitely variable, using up leftover bits and pieces of things in your refrigerator that might otherwise go bad. What’s not to love about the grain salad?

So when the folks at the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market asked me to come up with some under-$5 lunch ideas using market-sourced ingredients, this was the first thing that came to mind.

I love quinoa — a seed-grain that contains not only lots of protein, but all of the amino acids, and is lower-carb than most other grains. It has a stronger flavor than rice, which for some takes a while to get used to — and while I’m not a fan of eating it plain, I do love using it in salads.

Today’s recipe is Cajun-inspired, with its star ingredient being Smoking Goose’s spicy, smoky cured pork tasso. The strong, salty flavor of the pork is tempered by roasted bell peppers, celery, and the subtle sweetness of an orange vinaigrette. The perfect salad to carry to lunch, as it does well at room-temperature — and it comes in at about $2.50 for a lunch serving. Mission accomplished.


If you’re interested, I’ll be showcasing this and a couple other lunches (with at least one sandwich) at tomorrow’s market. Sonja of A Couple Cooks will be there with her vegetarian lunches, and a raw food chef will showcase options as well. I think the party starts at 10 am — so if you’ve not made it to the market, come tomorrow and say hello! I’ll be the one with the southern drawl, breaking out into hives if I have to speak publicly.

Thanks to the IWFM for supplying ingredients for this and the other lunches on display tomorrow. You can find the tasso, quinoa, honey, olive oil, and perhaps the parsley & scallions at tomorrow’s market, all from local vendors.


Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Tasso and Citrus Vinaigrette

: Feel free to substitute leftover cooked quinoa (use about 4 cups cooked instead of 1 cup dry) or another grain such as cooked rice, barley, etc. You can use any smoked ham or other cured meat instead of tasso.


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water or stock
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 pound tasso (or other smoked meat), cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced (most of a 7-oz jar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey


  1. In a fine-meshed colander, rinse the quinoa well, and drain thoroughly.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa and stir to coat with oil and separate grains.
  3. Add the water and 1/2 tsp salt, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool to room temperature.
  5. In a small bowl or jar, combine orange juice, vinegar, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, honey, and olive oil. Whisk or shake well to combine.
  6. Once quinoa is just barely warm, combine with the tasso, peppers, scallions, celery, and parsley. Pour vinaigrette over the top, and toss to combine.
  7. Taste for seasoning, adding additional splash of vinegar or salt if necessary.
  8. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 5 days.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.


Make your own: fish sticks (regular & grain-free)


I grew up in a bedroom town just west of Jackson, Mississippi. For many years, the town of Clinton had only one fast food restaurant: Dairy Queen. I spent countless hours in that place — after school functions, church functions, sports function — there was nowhere else to go (think of the Alamo Freeze in Friday Night Lights, only not as many cute football players and supposed-small-town cheerleaders sporting $300 haircuts). For many years, rumor had it that our DQ was the highest-grossing of its chain in the nation. To which I responded — of course, it’s a friggin’ monopoly for fries and ice cream in a desperate, dry southern town of 30,000.

Anyway. One of my favorite things to get there was the fish sandwich. With tartar sauce. Because what kid doesn’t like fried fish on a bun?

(insert rebuttals of each and every one of you who hated fish, in all forms, as children. let’s just pretend your plight was heard.)


These days, my kids are funny about fish sticks — likely because we never go to Dairy Queen, and I never buy the frozen ones. Not that I have anything against them — it’s just that the ones that are anything close to all-natural likely cost more than I want to spend. So every once in a while I spring these on them — catching them unawares, sneaking seafood into dinner. Mainly because I still have a soft spot in my pre-pubescent heart for them (time to confess that my own cravings regularly dictate the dinner menu).


When I made them this week, I had an additional challenge: make some of them grain-free. So I made them both ways, and it wasn’t much more of a hassle. Both recipes are below, you can take your pick.

The great thing about these? Say you find cod on sale — you can buy double, and freeze half of them for a future “convenience food” night. Batter them all, then just bake half and freeze the other uncooked (directions below).


Of course, to live the true Dairy Queen experience, you’ll need to stick some in a bun with tartar sauce, and eat them through heavily-glossed lips with a waft of hairspray in the air. Perhaps put a Journey or Boston tape in the deck, and keep checking the door for the cute boy that you’re hoping is the next one to walk through.

Really, they taste better that way.


I always make my own bread crumbs, because they’re fresher and cheaper that way. Keep a bag of loaf ends in the freezer — the ones nobody wants to eat and usually get thrown out — and when you need crumbs, just stick these in the toaster or oven to thaw and dry out a bit. Grind them finely in a food processor (the dryer they are, the finer they will be). I use whole-wheat bread since that’s usually what we have, but you can use any type.

You can substitute another white fish, such as tilapia or halibut, but I like cod for its texture and price.


Recipe: Fish Sticks (to bake or freeze)


  • 1  pound cod (wild-caught if you can find it)
  • 1/4 cup (rounded) flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 (or more) cups fine bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 450°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse fish and pat with paper towels to dry thoroughly. Cut into 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ sticks, or whatever size your prefer.
  3. Get out 3 shallow bowls. In the first, combine the flour, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper — whisk to combine. In the second bowl, whisk one egg. In the third bowl, place the bread crumbs.
  4. Dredge each piece of fish: first in the flour, then in the egg wash, then coat in bread crumbs. Place on baking sheet (you may need an additional egg or bread crumbs, depending on the size of your fish).
  5. (At this point, you can freeze the fish sticks for future use: place on a parchment-lined tray, and freeze until solid. Once frozen you can transfer to a zipper freezer bag for storage until ready to bake.)
  6. Bake freshly-made fish sticks for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden-brown. (Bake frozen fish sticks for 20 minutes — no need to thaw.)
  7. Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.




Recipe: Fish Sticks (grain-free)


  • 1 pound cod (wild-caught if available)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1-2 cups blanched almond flour


  1. Preheat oven to 450º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse fish and pat with paper towels to thoroughly dry. Cut into 1 1/2″ x 1″ pieces, or whatever size you prefer.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and spices. Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of the fish pieces.
  4. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl pour the almond flour.
  5. Dredge each seasoned piece of cod in the egg wash, let excess drain, then coat in almond flour. Place on lined baking sheet.
  6. (At this point, you can freeze the fish sticks for future use: place on a parchment-lined tray, and freeze until solid. Once frozen you can transfer to a zipper freezer bag for storage until ready to bake.)
  7. Bake freshly-made fish sticks for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden-brown. (Bake frozen fish sticks for 20 minutes — no need to thaw.)
  8. Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.


This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday.

Lara Bars


Ever looked at the ingredients list on a LaraBar? It’s basically just dried fruit and nuts — nothing else. I think my favorite flavor (Cherry Pie) lists cherries, cashews. That’s my kind of convenience food.

But there’s that matter of the price tag. While I’ve no problem grabbing one when on-the-go and in need of a blood-sugar fix, I don’t want to drop the cash to unwrap a bar every day. Plus, my kids like them. And we all know the pain of watching your children discover a delicious mommy-treat, becoming fierce competition in the pantry habitat (I still rue the day I encouraged my kids to choose dark over milk chocolate — now none of them will touch a Hershey’s kiss, but they’ll scrap for my Chocolove bar).

Many months ago, I found a post that gave a formula, of sorts, for making your own. I’ve been using it since then, never making the same bars twice (and yes, I finally made my own version of Cherry Pie, but didn’t write down what I used, and curse if I’ve not been able to repeat them).

The great thing about it is that you can throw in whatever you have. At a bare minimum, you need dried fruit and nuts. Preferably, you have at least a cup of pitted dates — I’ve started keeping them in my pantry for this reason — because they are full of digestive enzymes that take the benefits of these bars up a notch  (about $5/pound in bulk at your health food store). My luxury additions include — you guessed it — dried cherries, since those are a thing of which I apparently cannot get enough.

A food processor makes these a breeze, but you could likely get away with a mini-prep processor or other chopper, working in batches. If you have neither of those, but are adventurous and looking for a bicep workout, go at the fruit and nuts with a chef’s knife until they are pulverized.

Just be ready to stash these somewhere, or make up a mystifying name for them, or in some other way deflect questions of their existence. Otherwise, it’ll be survival of the fittest — may the most snack-desperate mom/dad/chef win.


Recipe: Homemade Lara Bars

: based on this post at GNOWFGLINS

makes about 20 1×1/5″ bars

I like to use at least 1 cup dates in every batch I make, then use a mix of fruits for the additional necessary cup. If you like the flavor of cherries, but not the price, try starting with just a quarter-cup, using dates and raisins as the rest of the fruit. If the cherry flavor isn’t strong enough, use more on your next batch. Feel free to make up recipes — try a pinch of cinnamon with dried apples for an Apple Pie flavor, or maybe a little lemon zest with apricots & golden raisins to make a Lemon Chiffon. This recipe is meant to be a base for experimentation — with the ratios below you really can’t go wrong.

I use raw nuts and seeds that have been soaked & dehydrated, to help nutrient absorption and digestion. You can also use roasted nuts, but look for those that have no additional flavorings and are naturally-roasted (if salted, be careful adding salt in step 1). If you can find it, look for fruit with no sulfites or sugar added.


  • 2 cups unsulphured, unsweetened dried fruit
  • pinch sea salt (may omit if nuts are salted)
  • 1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 1/3 cups nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, or a mix)
  • 1/3 cup optional additions (dried unsweetened coconut, seeds such as flax, sesame, pumpkin)
  • 1 Tbsp (or more) water, if necessary


  1. Chop large pieces of fruit into smaller pieces. Place the dried fruit, salt, and optional cocoa powder in workbowl of a food processor. Process until fruit is finely chopped and begins to form a ball. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add nuts and any optional additions to empty workbowl, and process until finely-ground.
  3. Return fruit to bowl with the nuts. Process to combine. Squeeze the mixture — if it doesn’t stick together, add water, 1 Tbsp at a time, and process. Dough is ready when it holds together.
  4. Press dough into an 8×8″ baking pan. Refrigerate for about half an hour, or until firm enough to cut into bars.
  5. Store bars in an airtight container for up to a week.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.



Toasted coconut truffles (dairy-free)


If I were the type of food blogger that had my s— together, I would’ve posted this last week, or at the very least yesterday, giving think-ahead readers time to incorporate these little chocolate numbers into their Valentine’s Day plans (if they so desired).

But alas, that’s not how I roll. It’s not that I don’t wish to roll that way, it’s just the genes allowing for the ability to plan things and be on time and keep my house dust-free somehow missed me, or got eaten by the genes that allow for meticulously planning my errand-running around time to hop into the nearest thrift store (anywhere in this city, there is a thrift store within a 2-mile radius — it’s like degrees of separation for junking).

Do genes eat genes? Oh, how I hated chemistry.

Anyway, today *is* Valentine’s Day, as you can plainly see by the pink heart paper I chose for my truffle photo shoot. Without a drop of irony.

But even if it wasn’t, I’d likely be writing about these truffles. Because they are the first chocolate I’ve had since December. And I discovered that when a woman has been without chocolate for almost 6 weeks, the first chocolate she consumes pretty much puts her in a state not unlike the guy who saw the double rainbow.


These truffles are darkly chocolate — and while not as smooth and creamy as a dairy-laden version, at the right temperature they are pretty much perfect (they get a bit chalky when too cold, so I like to let them sit at room temp before eating). And since they are made with raw cocoa powder, coconut oil & cream, and sweetened only with honey, I can eat them while on the GAPS diet. And I don’t mind if my kids have a few as well (assuming they find them, hidden in the way-back of the refrigerator, behind all those jars of cultured vegetables).

The original idea for the recipe came from one of Cara’s meal plans, and then it was tweaked by my friend Jen (who’s been doing the GAPS diet with me). I’m pretty much doing what Jen did, only using toasted coconut rather than cocoa powder as coating. You can roll the chocolate in whatever suits you — cocoa powder, finely-crushed nuts, or if you’re not avoiding sugar, just about anything.

Or, you could roll them in nothing at all, and instead just eat the chocolate right out of the food processor, trying to calculate how many truffles’-worth of chocolate you ate after licking the spatula clean. Not that I would know anything about that sort of utter lack of control.

Because the control genes? Those, I unfortunately kept.


Recipe: Toasted Coconut Truffles (dairy-free)

: Use only high-quality cocoa, as it lends all the flavor. The cocoa butter is a bit of an obscure ingredient, so optional — but lends an extra creaminess and stability at warmer temps.


  • 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (the thick cream on top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, or I like this from Wilderness Family Naturals)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder just until combined.
  2. Add the coconut oil, honey, cocoa butter, vanilla, and coconut cream to the food processor.
  3. Process until mixture is smooth. Place bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens up enough to roll into balls.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the coconut very briefly in a toaster oven or under the broiler (this should only take a couple minutes, watch it very closely as it burns very quickly).
  5. Roll the chocolate into 1″ balls, then roll in toasted coconut. Store in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.


Homemade, all-natural “Gatorade”


On my to-do list today was “make marshmallows.”

It all started this past weekend, when on the way home from her orchestra rehearsal, I told my daughter we could have hot cocoa that afternoon. Instead of the praise-filled, Mother-adoring “YAY!!” I was fully expecting, her response was a lackluster, “mom, do we have marshmallows?”

“Um, no, honey, I don’t think we do.”

To which her reply was unquestionable, non-Mother-adoring, silence.

Anyway, it’s not that I feel the need to meet every whimsical expectation of my eldest child — but making marshmallows was something I had been meaning to try and do, so this week it was.

But my 3-year old has been down with a fever and headache since Monday morning — and when I woke with her beside me in bed this morning, my husband informed me that our eldest was the latest to succumb. So we’re home today, all three feeling tired and cranky, and I’m trying to simply be thankful for the relatively healthy year we’ve had, rather than feel inconvenienced or grumpy.

Because, I mean, marshmallows. On my to-do list, on a Wednesday.

Instead, I’m whipping up what can best be described as the opposite-end-of-the-spectrum: homemade Gatorade.

I’ve got two pitiful little ones, neither one having much of an appetite. I want them to stay hydrated, and keep balanced electrolytes. But I also want them to avoid sugar at all costs, since that ingredient effectively shuts down the immune system. Enter homemade Gatorade: all-natural, no refined sugar, no chemicals, tastes just like the powdered stuff. If you happen to have a couple lemons or limes & some honey, you’ve got all you need.

Confession: I don’t think my youngest has ever had Gatorade, and my oldest has likely only had it at soccer practice. So while they don’t care that the flavor is so similar, they both drank it up, guaranteeing that they’ve ingested fluid, salt, and calcium. That’s a win.

And the marshmallows? Let’s just say that’ll be the barometer for how we’ve fared, come my next post.


Recipe: Homemade “Gatorade”


  • 2 lemons + 1 lime, juiced (can use all lemons or limes, should have about 1/3 cup juice — this is a fantastic tool for juicing citrus)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dolomite powder (buy it here), or 1 calcium tablet, crushed (optional, adds calcium)
  • 3+ cups filtered water


  1. Combine juice, honey, salt, and optional calcium in a quart-sized (32-oz) jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Add enough water to make 1 quart. Shake well, enjoy. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.


This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday.



The state of things

In early January, when school was still out for the holidays, we had a playdate scheduled at my friend Liz’s house. The plan was a pitch-in lunch, so I threw bread, cheese, and fruit into a bag. I was about to start my diet, and had thawed a frozen jar of GAPS-friendly creamy cauliflower soup to take for myself.

We got the kids settled, had a cup of tea, and I put my quart of soup in a pot to simmer on her stove. We chatted away, and fifteen minutes later I looked over to see that it had curdled into a disgusting mess. I had no idea what had happened, but supposed it had something to do with the soup being frozen? It looked completely inedible, so I sadly dumped the whole thing down the sink.

Later at home, as I unpacked from our excursion, I opened the fridge to see a quart of creamy cauliflower soup, staring me mockingly in the face. In an instant, I realized that I had simmered a fresh quart of homemade yogurt for our lunch. I texted Liz, and her reply was laughingly there’s something to say for labeled, store-bought food. I couldn’t argue her point.

This morning, after snapping these photos of the contents of my chaotic fridge, I sat down with a sigh. It’s a lot of energy to keep up with everything in there — not just from a production standpoint, but organizationally. Tim has been a champ through this all — once quietly requesting that I at least label the jars that contain yogurt (rather than coconut milk or cauliflower soup, they all look the same) so he would know what to eat for breakfast w/o having to smell the contents.

I just did the math, and figure I spend at a minimum 5 hours every day in my kitchen. I’m an introvert, so for me this isn’t terribly difficult — minus the dishes, I usually like the work. But it does, truly, get old. Especially when I have many other things I need or want to do instead (like this week, I’m trying to upcycle a thrifted cocktail dress, to turn it into the prom dress I wish I’d worn back in 1988 — FYI, for a prom-themed party, not simply to rectify any personal prom regrets).

Anyway, there’s been a hoopla recently. Articles in the press that question whether or not women who make the choice to spend their time on domestic activities such as canning, homesteading, urban gardening, and chicken-raising are causing a giant step backward in the efforts of feminism. Others that ask whether or not new domestics are portraying a fantasy world that is completely out-of-touch with the past, romanticizing a life of pioneering that was nothing but hard (no over-exposed photos of home-cooked goods served on vintage dishes in the history books).

I don’t want to argue a person’s right or interest in asking these questions — I am nothing if not critical of movements and ideas, and relish environments where those discussions can intelligently occur. I also readily admit, with sadness, that many on my side of the domestic debate attach a veil of dogma that does nothing but polarize (of course the same exists on the other side).

When I looked into my refrigerator, and was inspired to take a picture, it wasn’t out of a This-Is-What-Everyone-Should-Be-Doing mentality — it was truly more of a THIS-IS-CRAZY mentality. I can’t rearrange those jars in my fridge for the umpteenth time and not chuckle at myself. I’m embarrassed for people to look in my icebox. I’m not ashamed of how we eat, but I dread the explanation. It is, in a word, extreme — and I know it.

This is a ton of work. It gets to me. My husband worries. I can’t get it all done. But so far I wake up and choose to do it, every day. I see the benefits already (and trust me — I would have quit long ago if I hadn’t). In my own kitchen, this is not about feminism, not about living in a delusional history lesson (except when I imagine I’m the fourth sister on Little House — but that’s pure survival fantasy), not about a moral imperative. It’s quite simply about doing what I think is good for me, and for my kids — our present and future health. It is my last-ditch effort.

But no one else has to do it. That’s one reason that — even though my new diet could have me eating grain-free for the next year — I don’t want to turn this into a grain-free blog. Or a GAPS diet blog. Or an anything blog, other than cooking, and cooking from scratch, locally when possible (but you knew that, and kept reading, right?).

So no thrifted dishes today (ahem, but perhaps later this week) — just the unlabeled, messy, fermented, brothy, soupy canning jars of my refrigerator (if I could look into my brain these days, it might look about the same). No cause, no soapbox.

Just the way life is.


This post was my first link up to Just Write.


Classic buttermilk biscuits


Isn’t there an old adage about a woman’s worth being determined by her biscuits?


No, really. It’s like this thing that a woman either could or couldn’t do — make biscuits — and when a woman could do it, she never told anyone her secret. Her life-altering biscuits went with her to the grave.

(Ok, can we all agree that there’s no way to non-euphemistically discuss biscuits using the feminine possessive?)

I could have some baggage here. Once, my college boyfriend’s mother genuinely laughed at me — cackled even — when I told her I had never made biscuits (I had no idea why it was so funny). And while that scenario didn’t lead to the relationship’s demise, it is true that I did not marry into that family.

Truth be told, there are some secrets to making good biscuits. But I’m about to spill them all:

  • My buttermilk biscuits? Contain no buttermilk. Instead I make them with thinned yogurt. This happenstance was a result of buying buttermilk for 7 years for one recipe, then letting it go bad in my fridge (yes, it can go past the expiration date, but I learned you should never consume chunky buttermilk). A mixture of part whole milk plain yogurt, part milk did the trick quite nicely.
  • I love a mix of whole wheat and white flour in my biscuits. But to be successful, the whole wheat flour must be very fresh. Whole-grain flours start to go rancid within hours of being milled, so taste your flour — if it is bitter at all, or has any off-flavor, it is rancid. Milling your own (at home or at some groceries) is the best way to go — but buying in bulk at the health-food store is second-best. But again — taste before you buy — I’ve bought rancid flour from the health food store (and yes, I returned it, because I’m a grocer’s worst nightmare). Store whole-grain flours in your freezer.
  • The key to flaky biscuits is in the handling of the dough. You want to handle it as little as possible — really, think of how little you can possibly handle a dough, and handle it less than that. I learned this from my friend Sonja, who, truly, is famous in Asheville, NC, and likely the world over, for her biscuits. The first time I watched her, I couldn’t believe the mess of dough she thought was “mixed” and was about to start cutting from. But she proceeded, and  darnit if the results weren’t delicately flaking all over my plate.

My recipe is an amalgamation adapted from The Joy of Cooking and The Grit Cookbook. It goes like this:

Mix together your dry ingredients. Not wanting to dirty a whisk, I just toss it with my pastry cutter.


Cut your butter into small pieces, and scatter over top. Then cut them into the flour, until there are no pieces bigger than peas. Clean off the pastry blender as you go, using a knife — not your fingers, as your body heat will melt the butter, and that is something you don’t want to do.


Pour your yogurt/milk liquid over the flour all at once.

Using a rubber spatula, cut the liquid into the dry ingredients, pressing more than stirring. Do this as few times as you possibly can. Once it looks like a messy, tangled blob with streaks of dry flour still everywhere, gather it with your hands and gently press it into a ball. Then dump it onto a well-floured surface and press gently into a 1/2″ round (no rolling pin!).

(Here is a video to demonstrate. You might want to go grab a magnifying glass, because I rigged my iPhone to a pendant light to shoot this, and it was too far off, and I couldn’t figure out how to zoom my phone camera. Also disregard my bobbing head at the end. And maybe, while you’re at it, imagine some delightful background music, rather than nothing but the noise of a clinking bowl):

Cut into rounds or squares — I’ve used jelly jars, vintage cutters, and a dull knife to do this. Place them close-ish together on a baking sheet if you want them to bake up with sides attached. Get as much as you can with the first pass of the cutter — the ones you re-press will be tougher. Brush with melted butter, and bake. They can over-brown quick, so don’t walk too far away from your oven at the end.




And that’s it.

Maybe not proposal-worthy, but that’s just one reason I’m thankful for MrSheCooks, that didn’t marry me for my biscuits (he actually married me for my soup, but that’s another blog post).


Recipe: Classic “buttermilk” biscuits

: yields about 18 2″ biscuits

Note that the photos and video above are showing a double recipe.


  • 2 cups flour: a combination of 1 cup unbleached all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat (if wheat flour is not very fresh, do not use more than 1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • additional 1 Tbsp melted butter, for brushing


  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Get out a large ungreased baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt. Toss well with a whisk or pastry blender.
  3. Scatter cold butter over the top of the flour. Using pastry blender, cut in until no butter pieces are larger than a pea (clean blender w/ a knife, not hands).
  4. Combine yogurt and milk in a glass measuring cup, and stir well. Pour this over the flour all at once.
  5. Using a plastic spatula, gently cut and press the flour and milk as few times as possible to form a scrappy, barely-cohesive mass of dough (streaks of flour should still be visible).
  6. Gather dough with floured hands, and dump onto a well-floured surface. Gently press into a 1/2″ thick square or circle.
  7. Using a knife or cutter, cut biscuits out of dough, using as much of dough as possible. Re-press scraps together, and continue until all dough is used.
  8. Arrange biscuits on baking sheet — place close together if you want soft edges. Brush tops with melted butter.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tops are golden.
  10. Serve immediately, these do not keep well.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.