Category Archives: food

More Cheese Making

It’s been a couple of years since I took the Cheese-Making class at PCC, but while thumbing through their course list again, I had the urge to try it again.  The last couple of weeks have been experimenting with:

Yogurt – I picked up a used “yogurt maker,” which is a just a fancy hotplate with a timer that keeps the yogurt ingredients at  45°C for up to 15 hours.  It looks a lot like this:

Yogurt Maker (not actual size)
Yogurt Maker (not actual size)

Making yogurt is easy-peasy:

  1. Heat 1.25L of milk to 85°C.
  2. Cool to 45°C.
  3. Stir in 150 ml yogurt as seed culture.
  4. Pour into each of the seven glass jars and let it yogurify overnight. (Key point: leave it alone.)
  5. Eat.

The yogurt comes out slightly thinner than most grocery store brands, but tastes good.  I did look at milk powder to thicken it, but it imparted the odd milk powder taste.  I suppose if it really bothered me, I could sieve it through a cheesecloth.

Ricotta – As before, this was super-easy and super-tasty, but also super-expensive when using the super-awesome Pure Éire milk.  Since I was on a roll, I used it in the Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes recipe that was in the September 2013 Cook’s Illustrated:

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes (source: Cook’s Illustrated, 2013-09)

2/3 C (85g) all-purpose flour 1/2 t (2.5g) baking soda 1/2 t (2.5g) salt 1 C (250ml) whole-milk ricotta 2 large eggs, separated 2 egg whites 1/3 C (80ml) milk zest from two small lemons juice from two small lemons 1/2 t (2.5ml) vanilla extract 2T (30ml) melted butter 1/4 C (50g) granulated sugar
  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Make ricotta from scratch (see above)
  3. Mix ricotta, the 2 egg yolks, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, melted butter.
  4. Stir into flour mixture.
  5. Whip the 4 egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.  (But not this stiff.)
  6. Stir in half of the egg white mixture.
  7. Fold in the remaining.
  8. Cook the pancakes on medium-low heat.
The yogurt is good.
I’m Jim and I approve of this pancake recipe.



Feta is in progress.  There were numerous idle moments, during which I binge-watched my accumulated episodes of Agents of Shield and Person of Interest.  The basic ingredients were:

2L goat milk

1 package mesophilic yeast

2ml liquid vegetable rennet

cheese salt

The recipe in the “Cheesemaking 101” book was pretty terse, omitting several specifics of the well-documented site here, so I’m curious to see how things turn out.

Given a choice, I would have liked to try this with sheep’s milk, but I couldn’t find any within the normal shopping radius.  The second choice, goat’s milk, was about 5-times the price of cow’s milk.  The guide book said one can also use cow’s milk, but I’d need to add some lipase for flavor and calcium chloride for texture.  Since I’m making a small batch, I went with the goldilocks compromise: goat milk.

As I started writing this, the curds just came out of the pot:

Pre-feta.  Needs to drain, ripen and be salted.
Pre-feta. Needs to drain, ripen and be salted.

After three hours of draining, The result was a nice, soft cheese blob.  Had I started this project earlier, I would have let them sit out for a few more hours to firm it up, but I need to go to soon.

After draining for a few hours, we have a ball of cheese.  Whee!
After draining for a few hours, we have a ball of cheese. Whee!

I cut the ball into 2cm cubes, lightly salted the result, and put them in the fridge for ripening the rest of the week.  I did give some serious consideration to brining (8% solution), but there was a suggestion that it might cause the cheese to fall apart.

Salted feta cubes, ready to ripen for a week.
Salted feta cubes, ready to ripen for a week.


One aspect that I hadn’t really thought about was how I was going to maintain a balmy 30°C.  The stove top temperature seemed to take freaking forever to get close to it.  Once there, it suddenly shot up and I had to remove it entirely.  It’s really too bad the yogurt machine doesn’t have a lower setting.

Peeking forward a bit in the cheese-making book, I noticed cheddar needs to be eaxed and then ripen at around 15°C for a few months.  As best as I can tell, the crawlspace would be the best location, but it’s unclear if that would lead to problems.


Pita bread for falafel and hummus

After typing up my random food dribblings on food trucks, and specifically Hallava Falafel, I remembered I previously posted a recipe on falafel and hummus nearly ten years ago.  I volunteered to cook this very same thing today, but as I was making the grocery list, I noticed that my recipe depended on store-bought pita bread.  WTH?

I must rectify that omission.  The recipe I used is from Emma Christensen’s The Kitchn.  She does a fantastic job laying out the steps.  It works as follows:

  • 1 C warm water
  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 3 C white flour
  • 2 t Kosher salt
  • Spray oil like Pam or Baker’s Joy 
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and give it 3-5 minutes to get foamy.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, and liquid together until it forms a dough ball. Depending on a lot of factors, you may need to add flour or water.  The dough should be slightly tacky but not stiff.  I swirled it around my KitchenAid for about a minute.
  3. Spray the ball with a little Joy/Pam, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours at room temperature (20C).  While this was happening, I corralled all of the ingredients for falafel and hummus.

    Tahini sauce (l) and Falafel magic (r).  I am so happy we remodeled the kitchen.
  4. Gently pat down and divide the dough into eight blobs and gently mold them into a thick disc.  You can let them sit a little while until you’re ready.  Under no circumstances would I recommend stacking them on top of each other and watching “just a few minutes” of the 49ers/Green Bay game.  (They (pre-pitas) kind of stuck together… despite flour between.)
  5. When you’re ready to cook them, roll them out into flat disc.  I went with a smaller shape (6-7″) because I wanted them to be a little thicker.  For flatbreads, this would be great, but it limits how much goodness you can stuff inside.

    These look a lot like tortillas, except we’re not rolling them as thin.
  6. You can either bake them or use the skillet method.  I opted for the latter as it’s very much like making flour tortillas and I’m all about the crunch spots.   These cooked for about 30 seconds on the each side.  You know it’s ready to flip when there are a lot of bubbles.  I put the cooked ones on a rack and covered them with a clean dish towel until dinner was to be served.
The Final Product.

Contemplating food trucks

Food options in downtown Seattle crush the gastronomic wasteland of far Eastgate in Bellevue.  I only eat out one day a week, but when I do, I like to make it count.  

For example, in the morning, my selection of coffee includes Seattle Coffee Works (best mocha), Moore Theater (Mexican mocha), Bedlam (mocha with lavender or cinnamon), Le Panier (mocha with pumpkin friands), Cafe D’Arte (mocha … you get the idea) … and at least four Starbucks and a Tully’s.  (Or, for a really long walk, Espresso Vivace.)

To avoid the worst part of commuting, I leave early.  Not a lot is open that early, but if I’m not-so-ridiculously-early, I can indulge in a slow, sit-down breakfast at The Crumpet Shop.  Not only do they serve mochas and crumpets, they have groats:

This is my equivalent of the Grand Slam: Groats with currants, a lemon ricotta crumpet, and a mocha. I will skip lunch.

A quick alternative is a poppy bagel, tomato, basil and egg sandwich.  With mocha, of course.

Cherry Street Coffee … and a poppy bagelwich

Lunch options are much better, but require some degree of walking up several flights of stairs, breaching the gauntlet of panhandlers/petitioners and dodging throngs of tourists/buskers queued up (for a non-mocha) at the (not really the first) Starbucks in Pike Place.  For that effort are delicious rewards, such as the portobello panini at Michou. $6.50 for a whole one:

Portobello sandwich

Or $3.25 for a half an option on one of many fine sides like carrots and feta, quinoa, beets or roasted Brussel sprouts (i.e. Stuff The Kids Won’t Eat).

… and Michou’s assortment of salads is respectable, too.

When a longer walk is necessary, I head over to the various food trucks that dot downtown.  (Don’t tell, but Seattle really wants to be like its cooler sibling.)   Among the treasures:

  • Marination does tacos.  Tofu: excellent.  Beef: excellent.  Pork: outworldly, with a wonderful, slow burn after being eaten:
Marination Pork Tacos – photo source: Marination
  • Now Make Me a Sandwich – Its name just doesn’t roll off the tongue very well, but the logo is a hungry viking.
    Now Make Me A Logo: 5 stars!

    Because I’ve been trying to go easy on the go easy on meat, I was drawn to the Buddha Call (sauteed spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, red peppers and manchego cheese with garlic tahini sauce).  It’s quite fantastic and does not need the home fries pictured below.

Buddha Call!
Headed to Portland.
  • Hallava Falafel serves up a good falafel sandwich with the spicy Russian red relish.  (I have since found at least two other falafel places along the way in case I need my humms fix.)  If I’ve biked that morning, I’ll indulge in fries and tzatziki sauce, but hold the mega-garlic because:
Garlic Fries: the aftermath.  I am going to be so unkissable tonight.
  • Contigo shows up at the PI building.  Their $2.50 tacos are tiny, but lets one try everything without pigging out.  As seems to be my theme, I like the mushroom ones the best.
I was so hungry, I couldn’t focus the camera on the tasty tacos.
  • Maximus/Minimus has a good pulled-pork sandwich washed down with ginger lemonade.  Unlike most of the other trucks, they make it out to the east side once in a blue moon.  Theirs is the most distinctive food truck.

    Maximus Minimus at Issaqus Farmerus Marketus
  • Box Nature Sushi – wait, sushi in a food truck?  Yeah.  The roasted veggie and shrimp California rolls were good. The (former) co-worker who went with me suggested we eat in Seattle Coffee Works – which was surprisingly okay with that (as I did buy a big mocha). Mochas and sushi don’t mix well with edamame.
Sushi in a food truck.  No, really.
  • Buns should be awesome, but I’ve been mildly disappointed both times I’ve been there. One novel thing they do that I’d like to see others follow is online orders.  These hugely cut down the time waiting in line and being panhandled.
  • Skillet is the most expensive of the food trucks, but has a fantastic poutine. I would not recommend having this with the burger as it’s too much food for one.

A benefit of all of the walking has been its negation of any additional calories I’ve consumed from eating at food trucks.  If I’m still downtown next summer, when the days are long again, I may try to walk over to the massive Food Truck Pod near South Lake Union (stomping grounds of as they seem to draw the best ones.

Nutrition Course External References

Roasted brussel sprout salad with a portabella panini.
Roasted brussel sprout salad with a portabella panini.

… speaking of great Coursera offerings, I just finished Katie Ferraro’s excellent Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention course.  Its focus on evidence-based medicine was refreshing and helped clear up a lot of confusion I’ve had from contradictory sources over the years.  Since Coursera content is prone to being archived, I wanted to preserve the extensive set of external references provided so I can consult them later.  The hard work of identifying and assembling this into a logical grouping all of this was Katie’s.  I’ve tried to clean up the list, expand abbreviations, and add my own commentary.  Thus, if there are mistakes, they’re mine.


Week 1: Introduction to Nutrition Science

Why Study Nutrition?

CarbohydratesMedlinePlus, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Nutrition for Everyone: Carbohydrates, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Carbohydrates in human nutrition, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Patient Education, Carbohydrates

Lipids (aka “fats.”): MedlinePlus, CDC Nutrition for Everyoen: Dietary Fat, FAO Fats and oils in human nutrition, UCSF Patient Education, FatFats Domino (I was just seeing if anyone was paying attention.)

ProteinMedlinePlusCDC Nutrition for Everyone: Protein, FAO Energy and Protein Requirements, UCSF Patient Education Healthy Ways to Increase Calories & Protein

VitaminsMedline Plus, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) VitaminsFAO Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements, WHO Vitamin A Deficiency

MineralsMedline Plus, Harvard Health Vitamins & Minerals: Understanding Their Role, FAO Human Vitamin & Mineral Requirements, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) Calcium

Meal Planning Guides 

The new diagram gives a more understandable representation of proportions recommended than the Food Pyramid did.


Dietary Supplements

Week 2: Heart Disease

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) [This advocates diet, physical activity and weight management as a first step.]

Dietary Fat and Heart Disease

Essential Fatty Acids [Fatty acids you need but your body cannot synthesize on its own.  There is an older study on PubMed asserting that the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is out of whack.  I’ve seen some viral youtube videos suggesting the ratio can lead to “inflammation” of the arteries, suggesting eventual problems.  I see more reputable sources saying “there is no evidence” than I see evidence.]

Dietary Fiber and Heart Disease

The Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health [Its focus is reducing cardiovascular risk factors through a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterols.  It is not low-fat, but considers type of fat.  A recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests there is credibility.]

The DASH Diet [Its focus is reducing hypertension through decreased fat, salt and cholesterol intake while trying to increase potassium.  Not surprisingly, most of the salt comes from my favorite foods: breads, pizza, cheese, pasta, potato chips, pretzels, and bacon.]

Dietary Management of Hypertriglyceridemia: American Heart AssociationMedlinePlus

Plant Stanols and Sterols [These are used to reduce cholesterol; They’re pretty expensive and only effective with a decent diet.  In other words, you’re still going to have to cut back on the bacon and egg lardshakes.] — Cleveland ClinicUniversity of Southern California, Keck Medical Center

The Cholesterol Nuclear Option.  Source:

Week 3: Diabetes

Defining and Diagnosing Diabetes

Physical Activity and Weight in Diabetes

Meal Planning for Diabetes

Carbohydrate Counting and Exchange Lists For Meal Planning

Dietary Fiber and Blood Sugar Control

Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

Gestational Diabetes: PubMed HealthAmerican Diabetes Association, UCSF Patient Education – Diabetes in Pregnancy

Week 4: Cancer

Cancer Prevention

Diet and Cancer

Debunking Cancer and Diet Myths [Executive summary: eat sensibly.  There’s no silver bullet, but there’s a big pile of bullshit out there.]

Nutrition Needs in Cancer


Week 5: Obesity and Weight Management

Defining Obesity: World Health OrganizationHSPH Measuring Obesity

Energy Balance: NIH/NHLBINational Cancer Institute

Metabolic Syndrome [These are risk factors that, when occur together, imply a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular problems.]: Medline PlusPubMed Health

Pediatric Obesity [Children who are obese are more likely to be obese adults.]

Guest Lecturers [These were the two folks I remember as they offered different viewpoints.]

  • Robert Lustig: Sugar – The Bitter Truth [This was interesting; I now understand the concerns about high-fructose corn syrup in diets.]


Week 6: Disorders of the GI Tract 

Nutrient Digestion and Absorption: National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse – Your Digestive System and How it Works

FODMAPS [fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols — groups of foods containing short-chained carbohydrates that cause problems] Approach to IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] Management: Today’s Dietition – Successful Low-FODMAP LivingShepherd Works – Low FODMAPs Diet

Celiac Disease [Your immune system gets drunk on gluten, goes medieval on your small intestine.]

Diets for Diverticular Disease [This sounds awful.]: UCSF Patient Education – Diverticular Disease DietNDDIC – Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis


  • World Health Organization, Diarrhea
  • MedlinePlus – Diet, Constipation
  • NDDIC Intestinal Gas
  • MedlinePlus – GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease – food leaks back up.  Among other problems, this can cause your teeth to weaken.)
  • Nobel Prize, H. pylori [The cause of peptic ulcers is bacteria]

Food Allergies [Key learn: allergy == can kill you; sensitivity == makes you feel bad, but doesn’t kill you]  The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Food Allergy


Probiotics and Prebiotics



Good eats in Oregon

It’s been ages since I’d had one of these. But, on our last evening in Ashland, we went to the all-organic place, Grilla Bites. Though they offered burgers, I opted for the portobello sandwich, substituting the bleu cheese for mozzarella. It was awesome:

Portobello sandwich
Portobello sandwich – Grilla Bites, Ashland, OR

The second best meal was a potato gnocchi at Green Gables in Newport, OR:

Potato gnocchi
Potato gnocchi – Green Gables restaurant, Newport, OR

And in third-place, but still awesome, a creation called “The Blast” from GreenLeaf restaurant in Ashland.  It is essentially a BLT with a slathering of avocado spread and sprouts.  The chips were home-made.  The pickle: kosher.

The Blast
The Blast – Greenleaf, Ashland, OR

One thing that did not live up to my anticipation was the big-as-your-face cinnamon rolls at Heaven on Earth restaurant.  One roll, $12.95, will feed two adults and two teenagers:

Cinnamon roll
Big as your face – Heaven on Earth restaurant, exit 86, I-5N in Oregon

While tasty, I was not having visions of unicorns prancing on glitter rainbows.  I really wanted a nap.  Their jams, however, were excellent.

DIY Mocha

I’ve been pretty happy with the AeroPress (thanks for the suggestion, Scott!) for in-home mocha making.  For the first several dozen cups, I dutifully followed the instructions. It worked pretty well. But as one who gets bored with routine, I experimented and spoke with other AeroPress owners who have deviated from the norm. The subject came up a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d elaborate with my own procedure.

First, get some coffee beans.  If you have access to raw beans, I’d encourage you to try roasting them (here are some instructions).  It’s fun, and you get to totally trash an old pot.

Pre-roasted beans are also fine.  While geocaching on Vashon Island a few weeks ago, We stopped into the local coffeeshop for lunch and coffee.  Both were excellent. On the way out, I had to pick up a pound for home experimentation.  I have a mini-grinder, but the woman behind the counter offered to grind them for me with their industrial-strength grinder.  (I know a purist would grind just before use.  I don’t always have the time.)

Vixen blend coffee
Taking a cue from beer brewers, Vashon Roasterie chooses an evocative name for their coffee: Santa's fourth reindeer.

Next, start some water boiling. There are enough tea drinkers in the household that we have an electric kettle. (Truth be told: when I heard about the concept, I thought it was … not the best idea. But now I love it.) There is no reason you can’t stay analog.

Electric water kettle

Assemble the Aeropress. Except… we’ll work top down. Put the plunger in a bit and turn it upside down.


Add two scoops coffee. The Aeropress comes with a plastic funnel, but I don’t want to have to clean any more than necessary. Besides, I can eyeball it well-enough. Usually.

Add coffee

The water should soon be 175°F;, but please feel free to experiment. I have found that warmer produces a bitterer coffee. (Let’s also note that you don’t want to pour cold milk in first – for reasons that I don’t want to go into.  (*cough* failed experiment *cough*)


In the immortal words of the Eccentric Alaskan Barista, “Pour, baby, pour!”

Pour, baby, pour

Now stir, baby, stir.

Stir hot water

This would be a good time to heat up some milk. I fill up a standard ceramic coffee cup and microwave it for 1 1/2 minutes.

Now, prepare thy travel mug. I used to use chocolate syrup, but discovered it’s just as easy to stir in sugar and cocoa. While Brownian motion is occurring, add the sugar to the travel mug:

Add Sugar

And now the cocoa:

Add cocoa

Put the paper filter disc in the plastic porous thingie and run under the sink to get it wet. Slide the filter around if necessary so it’ll come out even. Then screw on the filter thing.
Add the filter thingie

Be careful doing this because pressing too hard will spill precious coffee.

Position the Aerobie over the receptacle and gradually press! (Note to self: it’s really hard to do this and hold a camera without spilling a drink.)


Dispose of the grinds. (Note to self: see previous note to self.)) If I didn’t hate gardening so much, I would collect these for my garden.

Dispose of the grinds.

Clean up.

Clean up.

Pour in the cup of warm milk, stir, and enjoy on the way to work.

Stir and enjoy.


2 scoops finely-ground coffee
1 t of Pernigotti cocoa
2 t of sugar
1 C warm milk to top off the cup
Whipped cream (optional, best for in-home consumption)