Posts Tagged ‘Stevia’

Cooking, Karaoke, and Crisp Prose

May 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

SAD is in full-swing this month. That’s my MNINB group’s May challenge: Submit a piece A Day. So far I’m batting a thousand.

I’d just finished sending off a piece of Flash Fiction to Ether Books this morning when I became time conscious. What’s that? It means I got a closer look at the time and realized I still had zucchini bread to make before going into anything further.

You knew about the cookbook I’m writing, didn’t you? I’m just now getting around to putting together the recipes I’m responsible for in the book. We need to have all of the modified and personally designed recipes finished in a couple of weeks so that I can get them plugged into the manuscript. Anyone who thinks writing a cookbook is easy should watch Julie and Julia. It has nightmare potential.

I’m fortunate. I only have responsibility for a few of the recipes, aside from doing the editing. My two partners have borne the brunt of the cooking endeavors, and one of those—sister of mine—is doing all the photos. Can’t beat that with a stick, to quote grandpa.

I was using a newly developed recipe for my Zucchini-Oatmeal Nut Bread and it turned out beautifully. The whole-ground wheat flour kept it a deep golden brown as it rose in the oven. The apple sauce replacing the oil in our healthy version sent its aroma wafting across the kitchen seeking nostrils for appreciation. That nuttiness of crushed walnuts lent its own aspect to the bread’s prospective deliciousness.

Back to the point: the bread was doing its thing in the oven along with a tray of tiny Bundt pans of bread batter. While they baked, I rode the recumbent bike, listened to the radio playing in the background, and thought about those items still on my editorial calendar for the day.

Karaoke thoughts entered the picture when the radio came on. We don’t have such a machine. We do it the old-fashioned way, personal memory and raw voice. We choose not to use a microphone. No one in his right mind would want to hear us sing anyway.

Which brings me back to the bike. I try to do three plus miles a day on the bike. When I’m pedaling, I use the time to plan out stories, read writer’s magazines, or plot schedules. Getting organized will bring about such aberrations of thought.

And what I was considering today was how much like cooking writing really is. A recipe is nothing more than a plot, with a beginning, middle, and ending.

The ingredients list represents all of those necessary characters, each with dimensional measurements and traits. The setting and plot twists appear in the directions for combining all of those ingredients. Bowls are involved. Mixers take precedence over the future of the ingredients, all the while a specific order of action must be followed, so that the plot is satisfied, and the outcome is assured.

Great care comes in how hot to have the oven and how long to let the bread bake.  Specific directions ensure that nothing unforeseen can ruin the baking. And when the loaf is pulled from the oven, the cook must carefully judge when to take the loaf from the pan and how long to allow it to cool before cutting and consumption can begin.

I’d baked a loaf of bread. I’d changed half of the ingredients from a basic quick bread recipe because we don’t use sugar, white flour, or oil. I’d change measurements of some of those ingredients; three-quarters the amount of wheat flour and one quarter amaranth flour. I’d made adjustments to create a personal loaf of bread.

In the same way, writers put prose together, whether fiction or non-fiction. They learn how to cook with myriad ingredients and how to manipulate and combine those ingredients to get different outcomes. They learn how to bake, not with precision of time or temperature, but with intuition and experience. That’s what good cooks do most of the time.

Now, let me ask you. How do you cook your stories, poems, or essays? Do you use a recipe or wing it? Share your method of assemblage here. I haven’t yet met a cook who doesn’t enjoy a good chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Pull up a chair, and get comfortable.

So, tell me, how do you…?


Zucchini Oatmeal Nut Bread (from “Get REAL in the Kitchen—coming out in 2012)

3 eggs

1 ½ C. Stevia

1 C. unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 C. quick oats

1 ½ whole-ground wheat flour

½ C. amaranth flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

2 C. unpeeled, raw, grated zucchini

1 C. chopped pecans (optional with walnuts or hazelnuts)

1 C. chopped raisins (optional with other chopped dried fruits)

Beat together eggs and Stevia. Mix in applesauce and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients into egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Add zucchini, nuts, and fruit (if desired.)

Pour into 2 greased and floured 4-8-inch loaf pans or split between one loaf pan and muffin tins.

Bake at 350° F. for 1 hour. Muffin tins will be ready to remove in 25-30 minutes.

Note: 5 small foil pans will work for individual loaves instead of larger loaf pans.


I hope you’ll drool well over this recipe. It’s going to become a favorite around our house. It will freeze wonderfully, too. Enjoy your cooking lesson.


Whether You’ve Done It Before or Not

March 10, 2012 6 comments


My friends wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I have so many projects on the boards at the moment that it will take six months of dedicated work to get the pile whittled down to a convenient size. No matter; I’ll never get bored.

During our workout yesterday, I threw out a suggestion for Sister and our workout partner. All three of us ladies rank in the senior set and workout three times a week together. We’d all began a nutrition journey a couple of months ago to improve our health, lose weight, and get fit. And we enjoy doing it together.

My suggestion created another book project, one that Sis and I have thought about for a long time. Enter our friend, who creates her masterpieces in the kitchen. Yep! You guessed it; a cook book.

Call me insane, but this is something that can be fun and done with others. Joint efforts usually make for great experiences.

I’ve never done a cook book before. I seldom do recipes for friends and family. Even so, after our discussion, we had the table of contents, the introduction, the recipe categories, and three creative cooks who’ve just been put on a new nutrition plan for life. Sis is our photographer for the project, too.

What better way to expand our horizons on this food journey than to write a cookbook of our favorite creations that draw from those foods we’re allowed to have?

Keys to the Recipes

Our mutual nutrition plan allows only Stevia FOS as our sweetener. On very rare occasions honey can be substituted in small amounts, or dark molasses. Anything using white flour, sugar/sugar substitutes—other than the above, or regular potatoes is verboten. The plan, which is used for pre-diabetics or diabetics in crisis, uses a low glycemic index approach to food.

Taking the restrictions in mind, as well as those foods required by the plan on a daily basis, we began cooking differently and thinking about food in a more mindful way.

Case in point: of fast foods, the only one we’ve found that actually doesn’t trip the alarm meter on this plan is Taco Bells’ hard-shell taco, supreme or not.

Whole grains, which include brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and a few others, can be used without fear. Whole grain flour from this list is usable, too. And don’t forget the legumes. They constitute a major part of the plan, along with Greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds.

Everything we eat now–with rare exemptions–are unprocessed foods; organic where we can get them. We’ve pulled away from the artificial, chemically supported pre-processed foods.

Why a Cook Book?

As I said, Sis and I have been thinking about writing one for a few years; ever since we began making our own tasty egg rolls and stuffed wantons. At that time we thought about creating an entire volume on those treats. Life got in the way, pushing the project to a back burner so recessed, it was almost forgotten.

Now, we must come up with inventive and tasty ways to include foods that our nutrition plan relies on, without breaking the bank or the plan. Each woman in our little group has an individual body type, certain food restrictions due to medications and allergies, and physical restrictions. Taking all of those facts into consideration makes for recipes that can be enjoyed by all of us and most others.

Planning and Execution

It took us about half an hour to have a plan put together. We do tend to make quick decisions. Execution won’t be the problem. I’m wondering if trying to get this done before June will test sorely our abilities in the kitchen.

We create new recipes each week for our menu plans. Sis does most of our cooking and delights in developing new taste sensations. Guests at our house don’t go away disappointed as a rule, either.

Sis will write most of the Introduction and do all the photography. She does brilliant still life photos. That is a plus for us.

Our friend, Jody, gets to create most of the breads. I will help her in that arena. Breads are my downfall. Sorry, color me embarrassed. I think of all those new grains to bake with and get positively giddy. Oooo… and the cookies that we can have; small batches only. Experimentation is the real fun.

I get to write and organize the book: recipes, detailed table of contents, and index. I’ll create some of my own recipes, as well.

As I mentioned before, we’ve already decided the categories. We’ll put in a minimum of 100 recipes, each with a lead photo of the finished dish. We’re sure to have more than that.

There you have it; our new project for the next few months. Of course, all the work on this cook book will get done around my work on other manuscripts that sit waiting for completion on my desk.

The difference in excitement in this project and the others is that this one has a physical element to it and I get to work with others on it. For me, brainstorming is some of the best inaction available in the world. I get fired up and the “little grey cells” whirl, dive, surface, and generally make me dizzy.

Who said writing must be about something you’ve done before?