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!

Tofu Curry Scramble

There are not many things coming from our garden right now that are more beautiful than our Rainbow Chard.

Rainbow ChardIn addition to it being beautiful (and packed full of nutrients), it’s also very plentiful, leaving us stumped as to how to use it all.  Here’s our latest meal, Tofu Curry Scramble, adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson:


  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped
  • about 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • about 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • about 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • about 1/16 tsp cayenne
  • about 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • about 3 cups of chopped Rainbow Chard (or other dark, leafy green)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Drain tofu, wrap in a towel, and place a weight (I used our empty cast iron) on top to press out as much liquid as possible.  I let it sit under the weight for about 10 minutes or so.  Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a wok and add onion and garlic. Saute until onion softens, then stir in all the spices. Crumble all the tofu into the wok, then cover for about 5 minutes, checking it once to stir and scrap any browning bits off the bottom. Add the chard and fold into the tofu mixture until chard gets a bit wilty.  Add the salt and keep folding the mixture until well incorporated.  Enjoy!

Note: You could add more curry or other spices to bulk up the flavor a bit more.  You could also top it off with various condiments – Rabi put some sriracha sauce on it, which he said was pretty good.

Tofu Curry Scramble

Portobello Pizza


On of our biggest challenges with eating gluten free is pizza.  We love pizza, but we hate making gluten free crust.  It never turns out as well as store bought gluten free crust and definitely is never as good as the real thing.  Today, I stumbled upon this recipe, which removes the crust factor altogether and makes a “pizza” out of portobello mushrooms.  Delicious and filling!  I followed the linked recipe pretty exactly (using heirloom tomatoes and omitted the fresh parsley) and it made four pizzas.  I also substituted coconut oil for olive oil, as I was recently told that I needed to increase my intake of healthy fats.  We couldn’t really taste the coconut, but it sure smelled nice while it was cooking!



Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

After many tries, 3 cookbooks and one personal idea gained from failed attempts, the pie came together. The main ingredients come from 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes. The filling is from The Joy of Cooking. The crust folding technique is from The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. All three are available on Amazon or better yet, try your local bookstore!

Crust Ingredients:

1 cup flour mix (1.5 cups sorghum flour, 1.5 cups potato starch/cornstarch, 1 cup tapioca flour all whisked together)
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet rice (or white rice) flour
3 T sugar, divided
1 t xanthan gum
1 t guar gum
1/2 t salt
1/8 t baking soda
1/2 cup shortening or buttery sticks
1/2 cup milk (rice, soy, cow, nut) or water
1 t vinegar or lemon juice
1 egg white beaten with 1 T water for egg wash (optional to make vegan)

Crust Directions:

  • Hand whisk the sorghum blend, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, 2 T of the sugar, xanthan gum, guar gum, salt, baking soda, and shortening in a food processor and process until crumbly. Place dry ingredients in food processor, kitchen aid, or leave in bowl (if combining by hand). Add the milk and vinegar and process until the dough forms a ball. If it doesn’t form a ball, use a butter knife to break up the dough into pieces and process again, scraping down sides if necessary. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead with your hands until smooth. Shape the dough into two 1-inch thick disks, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • With a rolling pin, roll to a circle between two pieces of plastic wrap, large enough to cover the bottom and edges of the pie pan. Move the rolling pin from the center of the dough to the outer edge, moving around the circle in a clockwise fashion to assure uniform thickness.
  • Remove the top plastic wrap and invert the crust onto hand and center it over a 9-inch nonstick pie pan. Remove plastic wrap. Press into place. Leave about 1/2 inch overhanging edge.
  • Add filling as directed below. Roll remaining disk of dough to cover pie and overhang by 1/2 inch, flip onto hand and center on the filled crust. Do not remove the top plastic wrap until the dough is centered.
  • Tuck the top crust over and underneath the bottom crust. Pinch together with fingers. The pinching should leave the crust upright (which can prevent spillage if the filling boils out of the crust). Repeat this process all the way around the pie. Make sure the pie is sealed to prevent mess.
  • Cut eye shaped holes (or some type of hole) in the pie crust. This prevents the crust from resealing and making a big mess.
  • Place the pan on second to lowest oven rack. Place a nonstick baking sheet on the lowest rack, below.
  • Bake pie for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Brush crust with one egg white and sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar. Cover edges loosely with foil if they have begun to brown.
  • Bake for another 30 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ingredients and Instructions:

1 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut in 1 inch segments
Measure 2.5 cups and combine in a bowl with:
2.5 cups prepared strawberry quarters
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar, depending on tartness of fruit
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
(1-2 teaspoons grated orange zest)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the filling into the bottom crust and complete instructions above for to crust