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.

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!


Before I met my hens, I decided that one would be named Nugget. The most golden-brown one of the flock was a natural fit. I later realized she is the alpha-hen: Top of the pecking order, grunts when someone gets too close while she’s eating, and is by far the largest, fattest, and grandest of them all. She quickly teaches hens their place and hers. Her walk is a sort of waddle, perhaps due to her grandiose size. I started to feel another name arise: Big Nugget, who is now Nuggo.

The Trader Joe’s “Incredi-Sauce” sign reminds me that a more endearing version of “Nugget” exists. Nuggo…how do you feel about “Nuggies”?

Noodle Conundrum

Every time I cook a dish using dried pasta or noodles, I face a conundrum: how much pasta do I add? I can’t eyeball this consistently, and the various shapes, sizes and densities of noodles make this difficult.

I once followed the serving size suggestion on a box of penne: it left me wanting more. I suspect pasta nutrition facts portray smaller, side-dish-like serving sizes to keep the calorie count attractively lower (and not scare us with the carbolific truth). What about one of those spaghetti portion rings, you ask? I don’t own one, as I don’t like one-use kitchen items. Measuring cups? Doesn’t work with long noodles.

Then I had an idea.

I eyeballed rice noodles for two servings of pho. I measured the dry weight using a scale – 160g. I prepared the pho, slurped up the gingery-cilantro deliciousness, and concluded that I wanted a little more noodles next time. I jotted down “175g” on a piece a paper and kept that with the rice noodles in the pantry. Next time I measured out 175g of dry noodles in the pot, and was happy with the serving size. I plan to create weight notes like this for each type of pasta or noodle I regularly use and adjust it through trial and error.

Using a scale in the kitchen isn’t really common for making pasta or noodle dishes. But it is among coffee snobs and bakers. Why not apply this to other types of cooking? Or even things outside of the kitchen, where consistency is desired and its hard to eyeball the measurements.

Happy noodling!