So I went to the eye doctor this morning and now my pupils are dilated! Hope this isn’t filled with typos – because I can’t see a thing! Please stay tuned.. anyone know how long dilation lasts??

Happy food photo day, everyone. I’ve been doing a lot with tempeh and other faux meats lately and I’m not entirely sure why. This is another dish from Totally Vegetarian, though I must admit this one did not knock my socks off. With tempeh and it’s brethren, the proper proper flavors are crucial to taking that block of bleh into something delish.

Tempeh Curry

Hello, 2010. Let’s Have Fondue.

I typically hate New Years. There’s so much pressure to maximize your fun… just thinking about it makes me tired (see Caring for your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch)!


But yesterday someone posted on their facebook page “2010 new years goals (if you call them resolutions, you never ever do them).” Huh.. that seems so true! So here are my DinnerCakes goals for 2010; we’ll see how I do:

1) Read the cookbooks I already have
2) Experiment more
3) Work with foods I’ve never cooked with before
4) Try cooking things I think I won’t like (…many things)
5) More vegetables!

Let’s stick with that for now.


So far this month I’ve made fondue using an electric fondue pot. If you’re trying to make meat fondue, this is really the only way to go. The word fondue is from the French verb fondre, which means to melt. It’s actually a Swiss dish in origin. HungryMonster describes:

During the frigid Swiss winters snow covered mountain valleys isolated villages and towns. Consequently fresh food became scarce. Towns people had to rely upon locally made foods. These were produced by area cheese makers in the summer months. During winter months these cheeses became dryer and more unpalatable. Out of necessity came a wonderful dish, the fondue. It’s named derived from the French word fondue – meaning to melt or to blend. This was exactly what the stale cheese needed to make it more digestible. The cheese was melted in a earthenware pot called the caquelon. Local wines and seasonings were added and even the stale bread tasted delicious after it was swirled in the creamy cheese sauce.


I don’t know how accurate this information is, but it makes a nice story! I was inspired to experiment with fondue after a friend’s sister had my husband and I over for a fondue night. She used to work at The Melting Pot, so she had some good advice along the way. She made a cheese fondue with cheddar, white wine and garlic, a meat fondue with chicken broth and red wine, and a smores chocolate fondue dessert complete with flambee!


In my own adventures after this dinner, I just made the cheese and meat fondue… I probably didn’t need two chocolate fondues in one week (though I wanted it). This is only round one of me & fondue (you’ll be hearing more later as I learn more), but so far some tips I can pass along include


Cheese Fondue (dippers this time – cauliflower, crusty cubed bread, apples)
1) Flour your cheese – more than you think you need to
2) Beer in the cheese is delicious, but only use about 1/3 of the bottle
3) Use more than one kind of cheese for depth of flavor
4) Keep the temperature hot but not boiling

Meat Fondue (dippers this time – chicken and beef, new potatoes and mushrooms & teriyaki and BBQ dipping sauce)
1) Use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth – the veggie broth made the beef taste more like beef stew
2) Don’t use beef that is specifically for beef stew
3) Use dry red wine in the cooking base, like Pinot Noir
4) Veggies like new potatoes and baby bella mushrooms are excellent choices

My friend’s sister also gave me an awesome recipe for Green Goddess vegetable dip. I haven’t tried to make it yet, though, so I’ll let you know how that goes soon!


Take That Winter! Thick And Hearty Lentil Stew

Happy 2010 everyone! I hope you all had a joyous holiday and a fun (and safe) New Years Eve. I traveled to the windy and disturbingly cold Chicago for Christmas to see quite a few members of the extended family. Despite the shivering, it was a great time and well worth the twelve hour drive it took to get there (that’s right, we drove there).  My family, with our German roots, is not big on the vegetarian cuisine and the term “light” does not enter the vocabulary either (I believe the word is “licht”, in case you were wondering).  There will be much to make up for these following months.

The new year has started off wickedly cold up here in DC and the strong winds we’ve been getting lately have been so horrid I have given serious thought to becoming a professional hermit.  I suppose moving would be a little more realistic….  Regardless, I shall be cutting down on any non-essential trips out of my building and surrounding myself with whatever keeps me warm.


I’ve always loved meals with copious chunks of fruit or vegetables and this is because I’ve always been a picker.  I would always start munching on whatever Mom was making for dinner before it was ready until she kicked me out of the kitchen.  My sister HATED this (“he’s putting his hands in our food!”).  You can’t really “pick” a piece of biscuit or spaghetti.  You’re either going to get caught or burned.  But fruit salad, roasted vegetables?  Score.

ANYWAY, with winter in full swing I wanted something as well as filling, so I took a recipe from my hero Alton Brown and stewified it; making it heartier.  Next time, I shall add a potato, I believe, but the broccoli was a great addition as part of the soup and for picking potential (you can pick from soup.  it’s just harder).  Try this next time you’re looking for something to warm the deep chill out of your bones.

Thick and Hearty Lentil Stew

Thick and Hearty Lentil Stew
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions; chopped
2 medium carrots; diced
1 stalk celery; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
3/4 lb green lentils; rinsed and drained
1 head of broccoli; chopped into small florets
3 medium tomatoes; chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
12 cups water/stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
10oz spinach; roughly chopped

Sweat the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cilantro until the onions have softened. Add the lentils, broccoli, tomatoes, spices and water/stock. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the spinach and lemon juice and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!