Hoppin’ John and Jalapeno Corn Muffins

It’s supposedly good luck to eat hoppin’ john on New Year’s day (in fact, the legend goes for the best luck, you should try to eat at least 365 black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year).  I had never heard of this tradition until last year, and this is the second year in a row that we’ve observed the practice. Hoppin’ john goes well with corn muffins, so I also tried out a jalapeno corn muffin recipe.

I used the hoppin’ john recipe from our latest Cooking Light magazine, with a few modifications:

olive oil
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
a pinch of salt, to taste
3/4 tsp paprika (smoked is best)
1/2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
3/4-1 cup diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup brown rice

Rinse the black-eyed peas, cover with 6 cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for one hour (if you ever need to know how much water and time you need to cook dried grains and beans, this is a helpful chart).

Rinse the brown rice and cover with 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer about 30 minutes (you don’t want the rice to be completely done, as you’ll be adding it to the hoppin’ john to finish cooking).

Heat a large pot over medium high heat, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot, and add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cooked black-eyed peas, along with the salt, paprika, thyme, black pepper, and ground red pepper and stir well. Drain any extra water off the cooking rice and add the rice to the black-eyed peas mixture and stir well.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the rice is done (up to 10 more minutes or so). Be sure to keep stirring to avoid burning the bottom of the pan, and feel free to add more liquid (water or more diced tomatoes) if needed.

Hoppin' John copyright Sarah Bhimani

I found the recipe for the jalapeno cornbread muffins here.  Overall, the recipe is a good one.  The muffins are best fresh with Earth Balance butter and honey. The ones we saved in the refrigerator got a tiny bit slimy, as gluten-free baked goods tend to do, but when we microwaved them, they still tasted great.  If you don’t like too much spice, omit the second jalapeno and don’t put any jalapeno slices on top.

Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

Happy New Year!


Medlar Jelly

I’m always fascinated by fruits and vegetables that are less common nowadays than they used to be, such as quince, persimmons, and medlars.  I recently received a bag of medlars, close to when they are perfect for using – rotten.  Yep, you can’t use medlars until they are overripe, also known as “bletted.”  Medlars that have bletted have an interior that turns buttery and spreadable, much like apple butter, but with a strong yeasty taste.  I’m actually not a fan of the taste or the smell of ready to eat medlars, I discovered, but I found this article with a recipe for medlar jelly, so I figured I’d give it a try.


I separated the medlars I had into two groups – one group that had already been bletted (already soft and squishy to the touch) and one group that needed to blet further.  For the second group, I laid them in a single layer on a plate and set them in our coldest window, as cold (but not refrigerator-cold) helps the ripening process.

Medlars Bletting

I tried my hand at following the above article’s jelly recipe, following all the steps: quartering medlars and boiling along with a chopped apple and lemon, then letting it strain through cheesecloth into a bowl overnight and boiling into jelly the next day.  However, while most of the articles I read said medlars should have just enough pectin to jell naturally (the apple helps increase the pectin), my first batch never jelled.  It did get thicker, to the consistency of syrup, so that’s how we’ll use the first batch – just like we’d use maple syrup.  The syrup is a beautiful rosy color and has a very mild, yet sweet taste (nothing like how raw medlars smell or taste, thankfully!).

Medlar Syrup

A week later, I tried again with the second batch of medlars.  I followed all the same steps, but this time I added Pomona’s Universal Pectin to the mix, following the directions/amounts in the box for quince jelly.  The liquid never really reached a jelling point as far as I could tell, yet once I had ladled it into jars and it was refrigerated, it jelled up.  Not as firm as I would have liked, but definitely jelly-like.  It was interesting to note that the second batch was less vibrant in color and more orangey, but I’m not sure why.

Medlar Jelly

I’m not sure why my medlar jelly wasn’t exactly successful.  Perhaps I needed more medlars in each batch, or perhaps they needed to be bletted further (some of the ones I included weren’t totally bletted all the way through).  Either way, I encourage you to experiment with these fruits and to see what you can come up with!


One good aspect (of many) of working at a food co-op is that I’m surrounded by people who like food and have a great wealth of food recipe suggestions.  I can simply ask my co-workers for dinner suggestions when I’m drawing a blank.  Recently, my co-worker was coordinating a class on how to make Iraqi Biryani and shared the recipe with me.  It was a surprisingly hearty and satisfying meal.  The recipe my co-worker shared with me is here, but I made a few modifications. For some protein, we added ground turkey and instead of vermicelli pasta, we used half a bag of brown rice pasta which we had in our pantry.  I followed the recipe, and then after frying the almonds, raisins, and peas, I cooked the turkey in the already hot pan.  I cooked the brown rice pasta as I normally would (letting sit in hot water) and then added the already cooked pasta to the turkey along with the cooked almonds, raisins, and peas and continued with the recipe from there.  The great thing about this recipe is that it seems fairly flexible to what we may have on hand. We’ll definitely be making this again!



I used two different recipes to create this concoction to accompany our dal soup tonight. One is from Gluten Free on a Shoestring and the other is from the book, 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes.

Ingredients and tools:

1 packet (2 1/4 t) instant dry yeast
1 t sugar
1/2 cup warm milk (cow, rice, soy, nut)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 t salt
1/2 t onion powder or flakes
1/2 t xanthan gum
1/2 t guar gum
1/4 cup plain yogurt or soy yogurt
1/4 cup unsalted butter or buttery spread (I used Earth Balance sticks)
White rice flour for dusting
Cooking spray, bacon grease, or ghee
Parchment paper
Rolling pin


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk (can use microwave set to under 1 minute). Set aside to foam for ~5 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine white rice flour, potato starch, salt, onion powder, xanthan gum, and guar gum. Use a whisk to mix these ingredients well.
  3. Add dry ingredients and yogurt and butter to a food processor or kitchen aid mixer. Process. Add yeast-milk mixture and process until mixed well.
  4. Prepare cast iron frying pan, grease with grease of choice, and preheat.
  5. Make 6 even piles on a sheet of parchment paper (about 1/4 cup each). Set out two other pieces of parchment paper (these two will be used to sandwich a dough ball and roll with the rolling pin). Dust one of the unused pieces of parchment paper with flour, set dough ball on the parchment paper and dust with flour. Place other piece of paper on top and roll flat.
  6. Fry naan one at a time in pan, making sure the heat is hot enough to create bubbles, but not too hot to evaporate all of the grease.
  7. Serve hot with dinner.
  8. These may be reheated by placing on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes.

Beet, Carrot, and Potato Latkes

Our St. Patty’s Day Eve fare consisted of German food (don’t worry, we’ll be Irish-ing it up for St. Patrick’s Day tonight)—latkes!


Latkes are fairly easy to make (especially if you have a food processor), and very tasty (given that you can eat them with ketchup and, really, anything that contains potatoes is just a vehicle for getting ketchup to my mouth).  Image


1-2 small red onions (I only use one)
3 medium peeled potatoes (about 4-5 small)
1 peeled red beets (I actually used two small-medium ones)
1 peeled carrot
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour (I used our Carol Sorghum blend flour)
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
olive oil

Refrigerate the onion for about 15 minutes before starting (it makes it easier to shred).  Shred the onion in the food processor (using the grating attachment).  Saute half of the shredded onion in about 1 Tbsp olive oil until golden brown.  Set aside.

Shred the beets, carrot, and potatoes with the food processor.  Put into large bowl.  Add raw shredded onions, and put mix into a colander and squeeze out excess liquid by pushing down on it.  Return to large bowl and mix the veggies with the cooked onions, eggs, flour, salt, and pepper until combined.

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Using your hands, form about hand sized flattened patties of the mixture and squeeze out excess moisture before placing in the pan.  Let fry for awhile, then flip and cook on the other side.

Enjoy (with lots of ketchup)!



This was a big hit at Courtney’s Thanksgiving feast. It consists of a loaf of Sarah’s gluten free bread inserted into a simple stuffing recipe. I modified the recipe by adding an extra stick of celery and an extra cup of chicken stock (dairy free and msg free bouillon from Safeway). I cooked for the full 40 minutes due to our elevation. If you don’t have a casserole dish, this can also be made in a baking dish.