Monthly Archives: August 2009

Brown Rice Sushi

Ann Arbor FoodBrown Rice Sushi is a little tricky because the rice does not stick together like white rice does. I make mine with short grain brown rice because of the added nutrition. Sushi rice is traditionally mixed with some kind of vinegar and sugar. I use brown rice vinegar and rice syrup, but you can use any variation you like. The fillings are flexible. I used avocado, cucumber, carrot and smoked salmon for this recipe. If using raw fish, make sure you use the freshest possible.


For the Rice:

2 cups organic short grain brown rice

3 cups of water

2 Tbs Brown rice vinegar

2 Tbs rice syrup or sugar

pinch of salt for cooking rice


2 avocados, cut into strips

1 carrot cut into thin sticks

1 cucumber peeled, seeded, cut into strips

1 package of smoked salmon 4 once (non-vegan option)

1/4 cup toasted sesame seed (optional)

Nori sheets

Dipping Sauce:

1 part soy sauce

1 part mirin

wasabi powder to taste


Rise and soak the rice overnight. Drain off the soaking water. Add 3 cup of water, the rice and a pinch of salt to pot. Bring to a boil, cover then simmer for 25-35 minutes. Mix the sugar and vinegar together. Add rice to a bowl and mix in the rice and vinegar with a rice paddle. Let rice cool to room temp.

For the filling, peel, and cut the vegetables. Cook the carrots for a minute or so in boiling water to soften slightly.


Place the shiny side of the nori sheet down on a sushi mat or piece of plastic wrap. Wet hand slightly and gab about a tennis ball size of rice. Place the rice on the nori sheet. Flatten out the rice with a rice paddle leaving the top inch of the nori sheet clear.

Add a moderate amount of filling, disperse equally in a lined strip about 2 inches from the close end. Don’t add too much filling. I always make this mistake on the first one then reduce the amount of filling. Take the end closest to you, and fold over the nori sheet around the filling. Tuck in the nori over the filling and continue rolling the rest of the roll. Add a little water on the bare end of the nori sheet and roll.Ann Arbor Food

Using a shape knife, Slice the nori rolls in half. Wash off the knife in between cuts. Eight pieces per nore is standard, but you can cut them as you wish.

Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds, spoon and little dipping sauce and enjoy.

Make 5-7 nori rolls

Essene Mana Bread

Ann Arbor FoodMana bread is a dense loaf of bread made from sprouted, and crushed wheat berries. There is little or no flour used and there is no leavening. The end product is a dense, wholesome, slightly sour bread with a rich wheat flavor.

It can be found in health food stores under the Mana bread brand. I made this loaf with a small amount of sour dough starter which is optional. I like to put nuts and shredded carrot in my bread, but decided to make this one plain. It is a several day process, so be patient. It is one of those really slow foods, but it is worth it when it comes out right.


3 cups of wheat berries.

1/4-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup shredded carrot (optional)

1/4 Raw nuts or seeds (optional) I like using walnuts.

For starter if using.

1 cup wheat flour (or what ever you have on hand)

1 cup chlorine free water

small piece of cabbage or 1 organic grape


Day One:

Rinse and then soak the wheat over night. Completely cover.

If using the starter, combine the flour and water till smooth and lump free. Add the cabbage or grape. Cover with cheese cloth and set out.

Day Two:

Strain off the water from the soaking grain. Make sure the wheat is moist, but not wet. Add a little more water if needed. Cover the bowl of moist berries with a plate. Mix the berries around from time to time and make sure they are moist. Add more water if needed.

Stir the starter.

Day Three:

Check the wheat berries and see if they are starting to sprout. There will be small white “tails” starting to grow out from the wheat berries. When all of the berries for the most part have small 1/8th inch tails they are ready. It might need another day. Or the berries could be duds and will not sprout.

close up of sprouted soft winter wheat. My bread is made with dark hard winter wheat


For the starter: take out the cabbage or grape and stir. It should have a sweet/sour smell.

Making the dough:

Take the fully sprouted wheat berries and put into a food processor with a metal blade. Add the salt, and a quarter cup of starter if using.

Add a 1/4 cup of flour and a 1/4 cup of water to replenish the starter.

Process the berries to create a relatively smooth mash. Remove the mash and combine any nuts, seeds, herbs, dry berries/fruits or shredded veggies if using.

Oil and line the bottom of a large loaf pan with parchment paper. My first couple of loaves stuck before I used the parchment paper, so don’t forget this step.

Add the mash to the parchment lined pan. Even out the mash with a rubber spatula.


Cover the loaf pan with a damp towel and set out to ferment the dough overnight.


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

Cover the loaf pan with tin foil.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 3-4 hours.

Remove the tin foil and bake for about 15 minutes to firm up the top.

Use a knife or a metal spatula and cut around the sides of the loaf. Flip upside down and release the bread.

Slice and eat. I love eating this bread with some goat cheese and tomato or toasting with butter, sugar and cinnamon. It is great with your favorite nut butter, or sandwich spread


Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

Ann Arbor FoodThis is a pumpkin seed version of the traditional pine nut pesto. It is a combination of basil and parsley with a little lime for flavor. I made it vegan and put grated parm on the side to accommodate my multi diet household.



1 Lb of whole wheat Penne Pasta

1 cup of pumpkin seeds

2-3 packed cups of basil and parsley mixed

1/2 cup olive oil

2 oz of grated parm cheese (optional)

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

Juice of half a lime

little water to help blend

salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta based on the package instructions.

For the pesto, place pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast at 375 for about 10 minutes till slightly brown. Taste to make sure they are toasted through. Keep an eye on them. They burn easily. Place the tasted seeds in the food processor and process well.

Add the Basil, parsley, garlic, grated cheese if using and lime juice to the processor. With the machine running, pour in the oil slowly. Blend to a thick paste. If the pesto is too thick and you have too many large bits of seeds, add some water and process some more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the pesto with the pasta and serve.

This can be a vegan pasta. Emily, my girlfriend is on a lighter summer time vegan kick, so I am working in vegan options for meals. If you are going vegan with this dish, I recommend adding more salt too make up for both the whole wheat pasta and the lack of parm cheese.

For non-vegans, add cheese and saute chicken breast.

Tammy’s Tastings: Dining for Charity in Ann Arbor

I just attended a great dinner party hosted by Tammy Coxens of Tammy’s Tastings. The party was created as an intimate dinner party fundraiser to benefit the non-profit organization, Growing Hope.  There were only eight guests at the party who were seated around the table in Tammy’s house. The cost was a fifty dollar minimum donation, but you can donate more if you wish. All of the proceeds after the cost of food will be donated to Growing Hope.

The meal was incredible. The menu and pictures of each of the nine courses are below. Tammy cooks with fresh local ingredients gathered from farmers market, the gardens located at her co-housing development. She uses locally sourced cheese and dairy and even herbs growing in front of her house. Each dish perfectly complimented the next. Tammy introduced each item which added a nice touch to the event. I felt like one of the honored foodie guest we see on those Top Chef shows.

For those who drink, there was a bring your own wine policy. Many people brought a bottle. I am not a drinker, but several other guest freely shared their wine. The meal was very casual. There was a break halfway through the meal and several of us took a tour throw the co-housing developments gardens. This meal was a wonderful dining experience with food on par to an upscale restaurant, or even better. I prefer this casual dinner party setting than a busy restaurant any day. The idea of hosting charity dinner parties is a gem. I hope gatherings like Tammy’s Tastings becomes a growing trend in the local food movement across the country.

The Menu:

Cauliflower Panna Cotta w/Salmon Roe

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Sauteed Squash w/ Blossoms

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Corn Soup w/Bacon

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Salad of Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella: with 40 year old balsamic vinaigrette and basil oil

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Salmon-Dill-Potato Pancakes: with mix salad greens and edible flowers

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Pork Tenderloin w/Tomato-Peach Compote and Collard Greens

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Cheese Course: Aged Goat Cheese, Gouda, Gorgonzola: with raw cream honey, blueberries, marinaded raisins and a spicy orange compote

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Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake w/ Beet Ice Cream

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Petit Fours: Blueberry Pate de Fruit (jelly candy) and Yuzu Truffle

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Nations Health Decline Because of Dirty Dishes?

Ann Arbor Food

Disclaimer:This is one persons mostly humorous opinion, not a scientific study (yet).

Did you ever notice that they never show people washing dishes on cooking shows? On shows like  Chopped, or Top Chef, after contestants destroy a kitchen during a challenge, they never have a follow up scene with them doing the dishes. When the contest begins again after a commercial, the kitchen is spotless.

Even a seemingly simple 30 minute meals by Rachel Ray creates a huge pile of dirty dishes. She throws pans in the oven to roast, has one pot for a sauce, another for veggies, a saute pan to brown meat, bowls to mix salad, and pots for boiling pasta. She uses a blender, a food processor, and chops raw chicken on a cutting board. There are serving platters for presenting her food, more dishes for dessert, utensils for serving, silverware to eat with and glasses for drinks. “Yumm-o” Rachel says with a smile after tasting her food. Then the credits role. The meal may takes 30 minutes to cook, but cleaning the dishes will take much longer. Is Rachel going to wash all of those dishes?

American’s are spending less time in the kitchen these days, about 27 minutes a day. This is down from an hour in the late seventies. And the time we do spend in the kitchen is more about opening a package and reheating then taking out a pan or a cutting board. There are many reasons for our move out of the kitchen. We can point to the fact that more woman are working outside the home, or the increase of fast, and package foods. But I feel that the unspoken reason why American’s are cooking less is the fear of dishpan hands.

I cook home made meals for my family and I create a lot of dirty dishes in the process. Take tonight’s meal of black bean and shrimp tacos with fresh salsa, home made tortillas, and a cabbage slaw for example. There is the pot for the beans, a broiler pan for the shrimp, bowls for the salsa, the cabbage salad and another for the tortilla dough.

I used the salad spinner to wash the cilantro and then there are the plates and bowls to serve the meal. By the time dinner is ready, and served there is a pile of dishes to do. On a good night someone from the family steps up and the dishes get done.

But on a low energy, lazy, let’s do them tomorrow and watch our favorite cooking shows night, the dishes are left. The laziness from last night continues to the next day and the dishes are still not done. Instead of tackling them, I grab from what is left of the clean pots and pans to make dinner. This adds to the pile.

One or two meals of not doing the dishes and the whole system breaks down. The kitchen is a mess and even the simplest of cooking tasks like making a grilled cheese sandwich is a pain. The kitchen is a dish nightmare. Suddenly take-out menus are starting to look really good.

Packaged, fast food and/or hot bar meals solve for the dish nightmare, and there is no fear getting dishpan hands. This a all too common reality for busy parents these days.

But what has my pursuit of freeing myself from dish duty cost me?

The fear of or lack of will to wash dirty dishes in part is keeping millions of Americans out of the kitchen in my opinion. The desire, skill, and energy to cook is certainly a factor, but so is the desire and energy to tackle clean up too. How many of us have grabbed for the phone to order a pizza for example instead of making a meal from scratch, which include dish duty? I know I have many times. Less time cooking has meant a steady decline of healthy, home-cooked meals.

Most people do not want to wash dishes. After all, our cherished food memories are about grandma’s roasted chicken, but not the dirty roasting pan. But if we want to create a culture around healthy, home-cooked meals again to counter a fast food driven, and obesity burdened society, clean up has to be apart of the conversation. The simple truth is that washing dishes is a part of a home-cooked meal. And behind every Top Chef, 30 Minute Meal, or a health providing, home-cooked dinner is a pile of dirty dishes. The famed chef, author, and cooking show host Julia Child once encouraged us to be fearless in the kitchen. I would take that a step further and say that we have to be fearless at the dish sink as well.

Taco Night

Ann Arbor FoodI have been thinking about eating more locally lately and what that means for my dinning options. Certain cuisines seem to lend themselves to a local diet more than others. Mexican food for example can fit nicely in the local temperate climate of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tomatoes, peppers, chiles, onions, corn, black and pinto beans, garlic and fresh herbs all do well here in Michigan. In fact I have most of these items are in my home garden. The only thing that is hard to grow around here is citrus fruits like lemon and lime and avocado which are an integral part of the Mexican food flavor profile.

By no means am I local foods purest, but I do like to try and make meals with as much locally sourced ingredients as possible. This meal is one of those meals.

Taco Night Menu:

Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos with Homemade Tortillas

Black Beans: (Vegan Option)

Measure and sort out one cup of dried bean. Soak over night. Strain off the soaking liquid and rinse the beans. Place in pot and add enough cold water to measure an inch above the beans. Bring beans to a boil, skim off any white foam that forms, add a bay leaf, cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until soft, but not falling apart, 1-2 hours. Season with salt, chili powder, cumin, lime juice and olive oil to taste. You can also use pinto bean instead of black beans.


I suggest getting the small shrimp because they are cheaper and you will have to chopped them up to fit the taco shells anyway. They now do farm raise shrimp in Michigan.

Peel, de-vain, and wash the shrimp. Dry off with a towel. Season with some chili power, chipotle  sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and broil for 8-11 minutes.


1 small red onion fine dice

1 clove garlic minced

3-4 big tomatoes (mixed heirloom) small dice

small bunch of cilantro chopped

Salt, Pepper, lime juice to taste

small jalapeno pepper minced, seeds, and ribs removed (optional)

The salt makes the tomatoes release some liquid. I drain off half of the liquid and use it to flavor the beans.


2 cups of corn masa flour (I use Bob’s Redmill)

1- 1 1/4 cups of water. (more if needed)

Mix flour and water to form a paste. It should be able to come together.

Heat a cast iron pan on the stove on high for 4-5 minutes

Wet hands slightly and roll paste into a golf ball sized ball.

Using a double sided plastic lined tortilla press, place the ball into the press and flatten. I find that I need to press once to flatten and a second time to make thinner. They will be about 4-5 inches round. Carefully, peel off the tortilla and place in the hot pan.

Cook for one minute on the first side. Flip and cook for another minute. Then flip again, and using a scapula, press down around the edge of the tortilla. You should see it slightly puff up, kind of like a pita, but not as much. Repeat with the rest of the masa mix.

Serve the tacos with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and hot sauce (optional). Note: Do not over fill the shells. I always do and it is a disaster.

I made a cabbage salad and served fresh watermelon from the farmer’s market with the meal.

Plum Market: Baked Good Sale

Ann Arbor FoodThe secret is out! Plum Market offers a half price sales on their baked goods, pastry and bread case every night after 8:00 PM. Get there early because a line starts forming about 30 minutes before 8:00. They sell out quick.

The prized items of the case is the Zingerman’s bread which at half price is a bargain. My favorite is the sour dough chocolate bread which is $7 a loaf at full price, so I usually pass on it, but at half price I can’t resist.

The offerings are cookies, muffins, breads, scones, donuts, various pastry, baguettes, and others. It is a mixed bag because the case can be pretty picked over depending on when you get there, but there is alway some sweet goods to choose from.

Plum Market is located in Ann Arbor on the corner of Dexter and Maple.