Category Archives: Glorious Food

Menu for El Puerco de Julio

Once again, I’ve surprised myself by how long it’s taken me to post. I have been so busy I can hardly see straight. Somewhere in the chaos of daily life, I’ve come up with the menu for our second annual El Puerco de Julio Fiesta. Here ’tis:

  • Watermelon
  • Cole Slaw
  • Pulled Pork
  • The Man’s World Famous Gluten-free Mac and Cheese
  • Cornbread (gluten-free and maybe even a vegan version as well)
  • Ice Cream (coconut milk and agave based/gf vegan)

I’m still not sure about the ice cream flavor. We’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas, including just going vanilla and then providing fruit sauces such as peach, cherry (our trees are so weighted down with cherries at this point), lychee, and strawberry. I really like this idea, but honestly, it sounds like a lot of work, which is time I just don’t have right now. Other ideas are peach (using black-peach tea with peach chunks) and strawberry. I’m torn. Naturally, I want it to be perfect, so I’m having a hard time committing. I really need to kill my inner Martha!

Any ice cream flavor suggestions out there? What is traditional (since my menu is traditional) yet super yummy and maybe a little different too?


Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, gluten-free, Gluten-free vegan

The Melon-Eye

When I was a kid, my parents would often take my older sisters, brother, and I back to their small hometown in California’s Central Valley. Think cotton fields, dust, unbelievable heat, drive-in movie theaters, strawberry soda, and the smell of alfalfa everywhere. One of my uncles, whom I’ll call Floyd Owens, was a real character. Think bolo tie, cowboy boots and hat, thin lips, Texas accent, and a major leg-puller of small, gullible children. He used to call me “Melon-eye”, which now sounds to me like an exotic Hawaiian cocktail, but at the time was one of those mildly annoying things about Uncle Floyd (when you’re twelve, “Melon-eye” just doesn’t sound cool somehow).

As I mentioned in my last post, my market had a sale on galia melons. I got to thinking about aguas frescas and how much I love them. Then the Craving started, and I knew it would have to be satisfied. Hence, I bring you, The Melon-Eye. Improvise as you wish. Methinks it cries out for vodka, but you probably have better ideas (which you naturally should let me know about).

The Melon-Eye

serves 2

  1. Select a galia melon. I typically push in the bottom gently with my thumb and smell it. If it smells like melon and my thumb can push in just a bit, it’s ripe.
  2. Cut up the melon, discarding the seeds and peel.
  3. Place the melon pieces into a blender or food processor, pulsing until blended.
  4. Strain through a colander or sieve.
  5. Add agave syrup to taste. I use 1-2 T per glass.
  6. Add ice and serve.

Like I said, this just screams cocktail! and next time I make it, I’ll probably add some vodka and maybe a sugar or salted rim. I mean, it is summer after all, and one must make the most of it.

The Melon Eye

The Melon-Eye


Filed under Cocktails, Cooking, family recipes, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, gluten-free, Gluten-free vegan, Recipes

Oxtail Pate

My apologies for taking so long to post once again. I got busy with moving NS and getting the chicken feet. The feet handoff went very smoothly and included freshly picked strawberries and a jalapeno plant from my sister’s garden. The strawberries were spectacular and may have inspired me to actually try planting some myself next year (however, not holding my breath as my garden intentions always outdo my garden realities).

Oxtails had been on my mind due to my recent economical meats kick. I saw them on a local menu a few weeks back as something like “braised oxtails with orange” and knew that was the next thing I’d tackle.

They’re pretty cheap, though not as cheap as I thought they would be. I got three-ish pounds for $18. Not exactly the price of pigs’ feet, but this dish made it plenty worth it.

I first looked at this recipe to get an idea of what to do, and then went off-roading from there.

Oxtail Pate

3 lbs oxtails

5 T butter

1 c red wine

2 T bacon fat (optional)

1 onion

1/4 c orange juice

2 t drained bottled green peppercorns

4 cloves, ground

2 t salt

  1. Melt 3 T butter in a dutch oven. Add 1 c red wine and the oxtails. Cover and roast in the oven for 3.5 hours at 300F.
  2. Remove from the oven and try not to eat them all because they are super delish at this stage. Remember, you’re going all the way and making pate.

    Sooooooo good

    Sooooooo good

  3. Let cool a bit and then remove the bones using your fingers. It’s much harder to do with a knife and you risk losing a finger. Bad times.

    Meat separated from bones

    Meat separated from bones

  4. Saute the chopped onion until golden in some leftover bacon fat that you have lying around, or 2 T of butter.
  5. Add to the bowl of your food processor: oxtail meat, sauteed onion, orange juice, peppercorns, cloves, and salt. Pulse until fairly well minced but not to the point of a fine grind.
  6. Pack into a loaf pan and refrigerate overnight or until well set.
  7. Loosen the sides by running a spatula around the edges and plop out onto a serving platter. Serve at room temp with some seriously good crackers. This makes enough for two people to last a week and is plenty for a dinner party.

The Man’s comment on this pate was that it was good enough to serve to “normal” people and was actually quite yummy. I thought of it more as a great holiday dish that I won’t have to make excuses for (i.e., “This is my allergy-friendly dish that only I will find tasty.”)

Please take me to a dinner party so I can make people happy!

Please take me to a dinner party so I can make people happy!


Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, gluten-free, Pate, Recipes

Chicken Feet Text Message

It’s not every day that oldest my sister texts me with this message: “Do you like chicken feet?” Hmmm. Where could this question possibly be leading? I text back: “Maybe?”

Her text: “We are slaughtering chickens today. Do you want the feet?”

My text, following a mad Web scramble for chicken feet recipes: “Sure!”

So now we are on our way to San Francisco to move a friend to Portland. On the way back, we’ll rendezvous with my sister in Redding to get the chicken feet. Good times!


Filed under Chicken Feet, Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, gluten-free

Seriously Good Crackers

Most of the recipes I post here are pretty good. But these crackers are REALLY good! In fact, I have to stop making them because they are really TOO good (i.e., addictive). The problem is that they are crunchy, which is something one sorely lacks when one is not eating grains. These are a riff off of the cheddar cracker recipe posted here.

Crunchy Cheese Crackers

1/4 lb grated cheddar

1 cup hazelnut flour (or other nut flour)

1/2 t salt

1/2 t dried sage

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t red pepper flakes

1/4 c oil

3 T cold water

1/3 c sesame seeds

UPDATE: Because sesame seeds are not SCD-legal, next time I make these, I’ll substitute coconut flour.

  1. Mix everything together and form into a ball. Refrigerate for a half hour (or overnight) until firm.

    Chill out, crackerball

    Chill out, cracker-ball

  2. Roll out to 1/4 inch. I recommend using parchment both above and below the cracker-ball (not as shown in this pic). Trust me on this one. However, if you don’t have a rolling pin, you can always use an empty wine bottle.rolloutcracker
  3. Bake 15-18 mins in 350 oven, depending on how much crunch you like. Remove from baking sheet with a metal spatula and cut into squares, triangles, or shapes of your choice. I like trapezoids.crackers
  4. Serve with oxtail pate and cukes. Pate recipe coming soon.

    My new favorite meal...breakfast, lunch, or dinner

    My new favorite meal...breakfast, lunch, or dinner


Filed under Cooking, crackers, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, gluten-free, Recipes

Lime Ice Cream

Seems like I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, though I have been working on several. Here’s a photo of the very scientific way in which recipes are developed at AFFFG:

Recipe post-its covering fridge

Recipe post-its covering fridge

This lime ice cream was created as a result of the heap of key limes we had leftover after the keylime cheesecake experiment (which went very well, recipe soon).

Lime Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk

1/3 c lime juice

1/3 c agave syrup

8 oz pkg of cream cheese (omit if you’re vegan)

dash of salt

4-6 drops of green food coloring (optional)

  1. Place all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Mange!

I should probably somehow archive all my ice cream recipes together on this site somewhere. If you know how to do that, let me know.

Eat me now!

Eat me now!


Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, ice cream, Recipes

Kitchen Gratitude

My Okie father has a saying for when things go wrong, which is, “Things could be a lot worse.” I think this is the Okie way of saying, “Count your blessings,” “Practice gratitude,” etc. So I’m sitting here this Sunday morning practicing Kitchen Gratitude, which goes something like this:

I’m grateful for:

  • Key limes, which are amazingly photogenic. These will be the victims of today’s egg-free key lime cheesecake experiment.


  • Inexpensive cuts of meat that make me learn new things, such as today’s tongue. Here it is simmering before being put into the oven for eight hours.
  • A cupboard filled with kitchen stuff.


  • A cup of tea, which is kind of an obsession too. I was reading up on tea bush/trees yesterday and wondering if I could actually grow one here.


  • And to go with my tea, my Sunday breakfast of red Mexican bananas sauteed in butter with cream, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, and honey.


My dad celebrated his birthday last week. He’s a pretty positive guy, in general, but in particular when things go wrong (not in an annoying way). Life happens: your health goes south, you get a pay cut like everyone else in this crapper economy, and rats invade the compost pile.

But, things really could be a lot worse. And I’m grateful it’s just rats in the compost pile that I’m dealing with today.

So, thanks, Dad, for all the hard-knock lessons you’ve taught me. And happy birthday!

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Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food

Easter Finale

I think half of my joy in this blog is getting to mess around so much with my digital camera. I bought it last year before I embarked on this blog. Honestly, I think the blog was more how I justified buying the camera. See! I am using my new camera!

Easter, which we’re now going to call Hot Tub Day, turned out pretty well except for the fact that it was an all-day hot tub extravaganza. I got up at 7:30, threw the pigs feet into their broth, brought them to a boil, and put them in the oven to simmer for two hours, using the handy timer feature on my new oven (so awesome). Then I also whipped up some chocolate puddings and ran out the door to start the hot tub journey. And what a journey it was. Three hours later, we actually had the hot tub in front of our house. Then The Man had to round up every male person he knows and have them come over to help lift the tub from the trailer and across our yard to the patio. It took eight guys and even then they said it was pretty tough.

The incredible crew putting the tub into place on our patio

The incredible crew putting the tub into place on our patio

Whew! So happy it’s here now. It’s going to get some serious use. However, we do need to run 220V out to it, which may take a couple of weeks since The Man is very busy with work these days (hallelujah!)

After we put the hot tub to bed, it was time to get back to the pigs’ feet, which I had hoped would be a kind of treat for DL, the hot tub project manager. Here are the trotters frying in the pan:

Fried pig skin is soooooooooo tasty!

Fried pig skin is soooooooooo tasty!

The recipe was pretty easy overall, and tasty. I definitely learned how to make pigs’ feet, which was the goal. However, if I were to make trotters again, I’d probably go with a Chinese version along the lines of those described in this fantastic Chowhound thread about trotters just because I’d like to learn more ways of cooking them. I have to say that pigs’ feet are amazingly economical. And if you like skin and fat in general, then you really should try them.

Here is The Man’s partially eaten plate. I forgot to take a picture until we were almost finished with the meal, hence this really bad photo. DL’s special friend, J, made the salad, which turned out great and was a necessary tart/acid counterpoint to the richness of the skin/fat fest of the feet, but I’m still not sure why one would want to shave an entire rib of celery with a vegetable peeler. But J was very dedicated and followed the recipe to a T.

Our Easter meal

Our Easter meal

Later The Man, Pickle, and I hunted eggs around the house because, naturally, it rained…for the fifth year in a row, so we couldn’t hide them outside.


Easter really is a great holiday. I think part of it has to do with the fact that it’s one of the holidays that The Man and I spend together, without our families, and so we have created our own little traditions together as our own family. Here’s to that!


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Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food

Spit-roasted Lamb, or, Easter Musings

Sitting here this Friday morning feeling:

a) grateful that I don’t work on Fridays;

b) hungry;

c) like I’d really love to rig up a spit in my backyard for Easter.

I’ve been reading one of my favorite cookbooks, Rosemary Barron’s Flavors of Greece. She has this fantastic Easter menu, but it mainly consists of two spit-roasted lamb dishes. Here’s what she says about the main course lamb, called The Paschal Lamb (passover lamb?):

“After the dark austerity of the Lenten feast comes the plenitude and joy of the season of rebirth. All over Greece the centerpiece of the celebratory meal, traditionally cooked by men, is spit-roasted milk-fed lamb. As early as sunrise on Easter Day coils of fragrant smoke begin to rise from pine-wood fires in preparation for the midday feast. All morning the whole lamb turns on a long spit and the cooks, using brushes made from rosemary sprigs, lemon leaves, or branches of thyme, baste the meat with olive oil.”

Now there’s a vision! Can I do that in my backyard? I’m really wondering.

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Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food

Pink Eye, Stink Eye

So I’ve been sick the past several days. That’s my latest excuse for not blogging in a while. But seriously, I had yet another bout of pink eye in my right eye, which I’ve battled courageously, only to wake up today with pink eye in both eyes. Not only that, but it brought its nasty little friends with it–sore throat, chills, headache, and must-go-back-to-bed-right-this-instant. It really sucks. And I’m just at my wits’ end with it. This is probably my third bout of pink eye in the last six months, this incarnation being the worst yet. Pus and one’s eye should never mix.

In other news, I did have a great 24-hour visit with my friend, Mary, who lives in Ecuador. She had a really insane itinerary this time around, so I’m very grateful she made such a huge effort to see me. Her work with Amazon Partnerships Foundation is thrilling to hear about. She’s doing amazing work in the jungle. And, I’m hoping to announce some Big News in her fiction writing career in the coming weeks as well. It was just nice to hang out with someone who knows and gets who you are. I guess that’s what friendship is about.

Naturally, we did a lot of talking about writing, one of our mutual obsessions and life loves. I will share with you some paraphrased highlights:

Me: So, Mary, what are you working on these days?

Mary: I’m drafting my second novel, and doing some business stuff around my first novel, Twenty-One Letters from Santa Lucia. I just had the first chapter of that novel published over at Writers’ Dojo, which was a fantastic experience. What are you working on, Mel?

Me: Well, I’m thinking about doing Script Frenzy because I’m really obsessed these days with films and wonder if I could write a script more successfully than I seem to be able to write a novel. The idea is that I’ll write a script using the story of my second novel. It’s been a great exercise to sketch out the idea and learn more about another genre of writing.

Mary: And what are you reading these days?

Me: Margaret Laurence’s New Wind in a Dry Land. This is an amazing travelogue written by one of the queens of Canadian literature about her time spent in Somalia in the early 1960s with her engineer husband. He went there to build reservoirs; she went to translate Somalian poetry. It’s a great read. I’m also reading Lew Hunter’s Scriptwriting 434 and Lucia Perillo’s Luck is Luck (poems) and I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing (essays). Perillo writes about her illness (multiple sclerosis) in a completely scorching way. After the first page of Vultures, I was reduced to tears. For anyone who has been affected by a chronic illness, I highly recommend this book.

Okay, enough paraphrasing and more life updating…I have also been doing a lot of cooking and eating, but that kind of goes without saying. The man and I teamed up to make tandoori chicken followed by makhani murg (Indian butter/cream chicken), both of which were ridiculously good and surprisingly easy. SCD biscuits, jerk chicken, red bananas and dates sauteed in butter and topped with whipped cream, Thai curry, and chai ice cream (recipes for those last three will soon be posted here), have all made recent appearances at our table. In addition, the food cart Bombay Chaat House (SW 12th/Yamhill–not to be confused with India Chaat House) has kept me fed and happy while working at the Sterling Room.

I’m also incredibly proud to tell you that my nephew WS will be attending Chico State in the fall and living on campus. He wrote a fantastic essay about my dad that is quite a tribute. Way to go, W!!!

So that’s my life today. For now, it’s back to the eye drops.

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