Homestead Gingerbread

Here’s a recipe for a less-sweet gingerbread with bare-bones spices and minimal dishes to wash. Add whatever nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit toppings you fancy.
I’ve tried: Cranberries studded on top, chopped walnuts, peanuts (strong flavor; walnuts are better), and chocolate chips.
I didn’t include allspice or nutmeg, typically in gingerbread recipes, as I don’t find those necessary.

Yield: About 8 slices, from a 9-inch round pan


  • 200g flour (all-purpose or whole wheat OK)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 teaspoon ground ginger (add more if you like spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • half stick (or 55g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 55g sugar
  • 120mL molasses, dark unsulfured
  • 160mL boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • Toppings: chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, fruit


Mix Sweet + Wet ingredients First, then add in Dry.

  1. Pour 55g sugar and 120mL molasses into mixing boil.
  2. Boil water
  3. Melt butter in a microwave-safe cup for about 20 seconds
  4. Pour butter into mixing boil, then pour boiling water into the cup to clean it out.
  5. Whisk items in bowl. When warm (cooled down), add eggs and whisk.
  6. Whisk 200g flour, 1 teasp baking soda, 1/2 teasp salt, 2.5 teasp ginger, 1 teasp cinnamon into the wet ingredients.
  7. Add semi-sweet chocolate chips and any toppings. Whisk till combined, no lumps.
  8. Bake at 350’F for 25-30 minutes.

Awaken the bread machine!

Last year, I received a bread machine from a neighbor who had previously received it from another neighbor. It sat unused for years at her home so she passed it on. Alas, the tradition continued as it sat on my shelf for many months, yearning for yeast and flour.

I resolved that 2023 was going to be different. I would awaken this bread machine from its deep slumber.

Also, I jogged with a friend along the lake, and we chatted about schmalzkuchen (German beignets), sourdough, and this bread machine. Thank you to this friend for sharing the joy of running and making bread!

Here is a 1 pound loaf, which is the smallest size possible with this machine. The machine kneaded away my fears with its automatic mixing, gentle heat application as the dough rose (proofing), and finally the actual baking. It took 2.5 hours from start to finish with very little hands on and cleaning effort. This cube loaf is chewy and tastes like normal bread! The crust is a little tougher through than store-bought loaves, but I will eventually figure out how to amend this. The yield is a perfect amount for me to enjoy in one week, 1 to 2 half slices per day as part of breakfast or a snack with vegan butter and homemade invasive blackberry jam.

Also: The proofed dough is an exquisite texture that I highly recommend patting. Far better than a baby’s bum!

I was curious…
How much did this 1 pound loaf of homemade bread cost?

IngredientGrams in packageCost of packageCost/gramGrams in loafCost for loaf
Water240g (1 cup)$00240g$0
Olive Oil (organic)1832$15.99$0.00872828g$0.24
(organic, raw)
All-Purpose Flour
(organic, 5 lb bag)
Active Yeast (2 lb)908$7.49$0.0082494.2g
1.5 teaspoons
Sunflower Seeds, Toasted, Unsalted, Shelled454$2.99$0.00658660g$0.40
1 Loaf Total670.2g
(about 1 lb)
Note: All ingredients were from Costco except for the flour (Grocery Outlet) and Sunflower Seeds (Trader Joe’s).

So I made 1 week’s worth of organic bread for just 147 cents! Definitely a tasty and inexpensively repeatable activity. Next time I will mix sunflower seeds into the dough (I love seed-rich, “bird food” bread) and maybe use a third or half whole wheat flour for more nuttiness.

*Update February 19, 2023*
I’ve now made this recipe 4 times. By happy accident, I discovered that doubling the honey from 15g to 30g somehow produced a softer, chewier bread (did not dry out as quickly) without noticeable sweetness. I also add 60g of sunflower seeds which gets mixed into the dough and gives nice texture. Trader Joe’s has the best value on these. The final bread weight is lighter than adding all the raw ingredients due to water evaporating as it bakes.

If you have a bread machine, you can follow the Ingredient + Grams in Loaf columns to get the recipe. I poured the ingredients in this order (top to bottom) in the Breadman Plus machine.

Plum Salad + Chicken Tenders

Have you ever tried sliced plums in a salad? The arugula and lettuce greens go surprisingly well with the fruit. Here’s a fresh summer meal I’ve enjoyed these last few evenings:

  • Vegan chicken tenders
  • Trader Joe’s Incredisauce (“great with nuggies!”) and Peri Peri hot sauce
  • Salad: baby greens, balsamic vinaigrette, seeds, 1-2 sliced ripe red plums
  • Optional: Any leftover sides, like elote corn kernels or carrots & hummus

One day I discovered Blanqui (the white hen) eating a fallen plum. I looked up and realized the tree straddling the fence line was laden with ripe plums! This discovery inspired this meal. It also feels appropriate, not ironic, that I enjoy the tenders as a loving tender of happy chickens.

Summertime Salsa

A favorite snack, inspired by my friend Carlos.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes (about 3:1 tomato to onion ratio. Roma-types are denser and better than watery types like beefsteak.)
  • Onions (no ‘sweet’/vidalia. White is good.)
  • Cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Optional Ingredients:

  • Chile pepper of choice. (I used 2 yellow cayennes; jalapenos are a classic; serrano is spicier)
  • Garlic cloves
  1. Roast tomatoes, onions, and peppers on the grill or stovetop (vent the kitchen!). Tomato skins should blister. Onions can be cut into thick rings. Roasting will bring out onion sweetness.
  2. Blend all ingredients minus salt using any blender (I used magic bullet). For more exquisite texture, use a molcajete (mortar and pestle). Leave all charred bits and skins on; these will blend in and add rich flavor. Then, add salt to taste and mix slightly.

    Blend in short pulses and check on the texture to liking; do not blend too much that it becomes a puree.
  3. Enjoy with tortilla chips or with any meal! ¡Provecho!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Yogurt

A snack I’ve been enjoying most afternoons:
– Plain Yogurt
– Strawberry-Rhubarb curd (garden ingredients & West Seattle honey), or any jam/compote
– Fresh strawberries
– Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Granola

Did you know Lebron James plans and schedules everything, from workouts to meals to naps to snacks? I find myself benefiting from snacking about the same time every day, around 3pm.

Salad with Sprouts & Lettuce

I’m going to document meals I’ve made that use a home-grown ingredient, and create a cookbook/recipe idea collection.

Here, I have a slice of pizza with a salad made with garden lettuce and mason-jar-germinated sprouts.

– Balsamic vinaigrette: 1:1 balsamic vinegar and olive oil, dried basil, touch of honey, shake in a jar
– Lettuce from the garden: Ruby red, tango (frilly green one), and mezclun blend
– Sprouts: alfalfa seeds germinated in a jar
– Pumpkin & sunflower seed topping
– Apple slices

Recipe: Menestra a la Betty

My partner’s Peruvian mother, Betty, makes the best menestra – beans, lentils, legumes. They´re seasoned just right and she makes it consistently well. The final beans are red in color but not spicy. Here’s her recipe:

Menestra a la Betty

Para 6 porciones:
Menestra – 300-340g
Ají especial (ají panca molido)

Pasos en un Instapot (u olla de presión)

  1. Picar la cebolla en cuadraditos y freír en aceita por unos minutos, hasta dorar en Instapot Sautée mode.
  2. Agregar ajos picados (1-2 cucharas) y el ají especial, dorar 2 min.
  3. Agregar la menestra y cubrir con agua. Sumerge la menestra por el ancho de dos dedos.
  4. Cocinar, medium or high pressure. Frijoles 30-40 minutos, lentejas 10-15 minutos.
  5. Abre la olla, agrega sal al gusto, mezclar, y tapar de nuevo hasta la hora de servir.

Add salt AFTER the legumes have been pressure cooked. Do not add before, as it will make the beans take longer to fully cook and soften.

Wok noodles with Little Flowering Kale Thing (Raab) and Black Garlic

I’m on a mission to identify what’s growing in the garden and enjoy cooking with it. There is kale starting to form flower buds, resembling thin broccoli florets. I discovered these flower buds are called “raab”. They are tender and significantly less bitter and fibrous than broccoli.

I harvested these stems (leaving the leaves) and tossed them with shiitake mushrooms, garlic, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil & seeds, protein and egg noodles to create this dish. I used diced bacon and think firm tofu would work well too. Use high heat for that wok hei! Serve with kimchi and black garlic. Enjoy!

On “raab” etymology:

“Turnips are the true “Broccoli Raab”, also called Broccoli Rabe, or Rapini. “Rape” is the Italian name for turnip, and broccoli means something like flowering thing (in Mike’s rustic Italian). Adding “ini” at the end implies that it is a small thing, so if we put it all together “rapini” is a little turnip thing, and broccoli rabe is a flowering turnip thing.”


Wok Bok Choi

There is bok choi growing in the garden, planted by the previous resident. Big stalks of bitter, fibrous stems daunted me for a month.

Recently I got a carbon steel wok. I scrubbed and seasoned it over direct flame. The first several times I used it, I set off the smoke alarm while it was warming up. I think it has something to do with using canola, safflower, or common vegetable oil. They’re not cut out for the high temps of wok frying. For that, look to peanut oil or bacon fat.

I watched this video on how to wok stir-fry bok choi. She emphasizes good technique and using garden-fresh vegetables. She only uses oil and salt to season, letting the bok choi’s natural flavor shine. She’s right about the simplicity. “Fresh vegetable has its own umami and sweetness.” There is a natural sweetness to the crunchy stem; sugar is not necessary. And you don’t need a fancy stove-top with gas flame to stir-fry!

Here’s my result today: Stir-fried garden bok choi with hamachi kama (yellowtail cheek). 잘먹겠습니다! Let’s eat!