All posts by Jacque Nyenhuis

Culinary Medicine and Nutrition Researcher, Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Central Florida Medical School. Culinary Medicine Textbook Co-Author, Food Science and Human Nutrition Instructor, Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Nutrition and Health. My daughter Ashley wrote this bio for me: Nyenhuis has competed at marathons and triathlons. Nyenhuis routinely bike commutes and enjoys bike touring around Lake Michigan. She has led many hiking expeditions, including a climb of Grand Teton and Cloud Peak, and other tours through the Rockies. She has planned the high altitude menu for a successful expedition. She has learned international cuisine from those who enjoy Eskimo Ice Cream and Stink Head, and made pineapple upside down cake over an open fire in an African Village. Her newest sports are extreme cooking (for 100 hungry football players) and kayak touring. She and her husband, Dave, live in Florida.

Ahi Poke

Hawaiian Poke made yellowfin tuna famous. So many Hawaiian cooks develop their own favorite ingredients but yellowfin tuna is the go to base. Other sushami-grade tuna can be used but the time honored tradition for Poke is yellowfin tuna.

Marinade with sesame seeds and seasonings for an amazing taste treat.

Dice  onion such as maui or vadallia in a uniform piece similar in size to the tuna and cucumber pieces. Sometimes traditional poke contains 1/2-inch pieces but for those who might not want to bite into that large of piece of raw tuna, a tiny dice works best.


Ponzu citrus seasoning and dressing is a great sauce for this recipe with notes of lime and orange. Soy sauce can be substituted with a touch of lime added. The seasonings only need a few minutes to meld with the raw tuna. Serve chilled and eat immediately.


Endive  is a good carrier for Poke and adds  a fresh taste. It can also be served with rice for a meal.


Served as an appetizer with cucumber slices is another idea for serving.


Ahi Poke

¾ lb. yellowfin tuna or other sashimi-grade tuna, diced
¼ cup diced sweet onion
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup diced cucumber
1 teaspoon black and white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon Ponzu citrus dressing or soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine diced tuna with remaining ingredients. Marinate in refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes to r before serving. Place a spoonful on an endive leaf and arrange on platter.



Sourdough Apple Bread-A Little Like Completing My PhD

A special note I will treasure: My mom is brilliant and the most determined person I know! Successfully defended her dissertation today! Despite five moves to four different states, university changes, and other hurdles along the way she has completed her PhD. You are such an inspiration Mom, and we are all so proud of you. Congrats, soon-to-be, Dr Jacque Nyenhuis!

This message really humbled me. On the other hand, we all laughed when I told my kids that getting a PhD was thankfully more about my determination than brilliance.

My dissertation title is: Political Ideology, Beliefs and Values as a Framework for Nutrition Preferences.

A PhD is suppose to signify that I am now an expert at something. I thought about taking a poll to see what I am an expert at, but polls have been really off lately with the 2016 Presidential election so I decided to just think about it on my own. PhD’s are suppose to be able to do that really good, too!

Nothing shows my determination like a PhD unless it is sourdough that made it through every single one of those moves– 4 different states in 5 years. I carried my college backpack in one hand and my sourdough starter in the other. Can you imagine the determination of those pioneer women to keep their starter alive through their moves? Yep, that’s the kind of determination I am talking about.

Paige has some of that determination. She wanted to help her mommy bake and wanted to make sure she got in on the fun.

Paige was grabbing at the whisk, wanting to help out. The bread is going to be way better with her sweet touch.

So what am I an expert at. It is where I have put my passion. My kids and grandkids. Also, as a food scientist I am likely a bit obsessive compulsive about determining what works for sourdough. 50 years of bread baking and 1000′s of loaves later this is what I know for sure…..

Keep it simple.  Don’t stress. It always comes back to life. But we all need a little renewal:

I have spent hours and hours on a loaf. And I have spent 5 minutes on just as great a loaf. But it is all good. Even after months of neglect, add a teaspoon of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of instant potato flakes along with 1 cup of flour and a cup of water, and it is all good…. Let it sit on the counter, covered for at least several hours. It will float in water when it has the power to make a crusty, light loaf of bread. Ashley has proven this renewal works since she keeps a neglected bit in the frig that only sees a feeding when I visit several months later.

I have worked through every complicated sourdough process, I have tried every method known. More importantly, I visited with cooks across the country in their own kitchens to learn even more. Wow, this is starting to look like how I earned my PhD….I traveled across the country talking with people about food, nutrition and politics. That is another thing that I am good at. Talking to people and learning about food.

I am a foodie in a really down to earth kind of way. I love local dives. Expensive restaurants can’t hold a candle to a hole in the wall with great local cuisine.  I will go way out of my way to eat at one in just about any corner of the world. My kids have been known to say “We are not going to eat there, are we?”  But when Coulter’s deployment with the US Marines was completed he needed his truck. So I loaded up the F-150 and headed west. Through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. And no one was with me to refuse a stop at all of these amazing little nooks where some of the best cooks and chefs serve their food day in and day out.  I learn so much from all these folks, about cooking, about new foods and yes,  life too.

So, this is also how I learned about bread baking: Gram on the farm in Iowa taught me the sponge method. My mom taught me that some things like yeast bread can be done even when  when you have 6 kids, work full time and go to school. The native Alaskan women, stooped with age, first taught me  less flour is more. The North Dakotans  have such a long history of wheat bread baking that it was ingrained in their souls and they shared recipes handed down several generations. And then there was my experimentation.  I literally can not stop. I tell myself after the 20 loaves in as many days, to get on with my life. I then find myself back in the kitchen because in the middle of the night I woke up with one more experiment to try that meant another 20 loaves in the next  few days. OK, you get the picture.  And here is a fabulous apple bread to celebrate all this knowledge and expertise I have gained in sourdough baking and in working towards a PhD. It takes very little hands on time, about 5 minutes if you are fast and sloppy like me.  I make the bread between classes, work, playing with Carson and Paige and even between chapters of  a dissertation.

THis is one of my favorite things to do when the sourdough is taking its time to rise.
This is one of my favorite things to do when the sourdough is taking its time to rise. We were both full of laughter and love.


Other times we are working hard and sitting pretty.
Other times we are working hard and sitting pretty.


Sour Dough Apple Bread

1 cup flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups starter
1 cup starter (it is perfect when a bit of it can float in water)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups fresh or dried apple pieces, dusted with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients, adding more water or more flour to make a dough that is very wet but can still be a handled. Knead it for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let stand in a very warm place if you want it in 3 hours or at room temperature 68 degrees if overnight.

Go to work. Write a dissertation. Play with the kids. Go to sleep for the night…. ahh yes sleep. That is what I do. I mix it up right after supper and it proofs overnight on the counter.

After you are done with what you are doing and the bread is double. Form it into a loaf. Place it on parchment paper and gently place it in a cast iron pan or clay cooker.  Cover with the lid.

Go to work. Take a walk with your sweetheart.  Spend the day with the grandkids.

As soon as I get home from work, I put it in the oven. Turn the oven on: 425 degrees. Spray the top of the bread with water. Sprinkle with seeds. Slash a cool design on the top.  Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake another 20 minutes or until a thermometer placed in the center of the loaf registers 200 degrees.

Tip: The bread can be placed in the oven before it is preheated when using a covered baking dish.  To bake in a regular loaf pan, preheat the oven. Coat the pan with cooking spray and place dough in the loaf pan. Let rise until double and then bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes total.

We had to climb to the top to find all of the best apples. No low hanging fruit for us.
We had to climb to the top to find all of the best apples. No low hanging fruit for us.





Cranberry Orange Biscuits-Magnolia Farm’s Copy Cat Recipe

Ashley and I just got back from Magnolia Farms in  Waco, Texas.  Magnolia Flour, also known as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ fixer upper silos, was a quaint little turn of the century grainary turned bakery.

Ashley is ready to dig into the box our biscuit came in. The packaging was just as amazing as you would expect from Joanna Gaines. They put each item in a box which meant each of us were able to bring  a box home (only my daughters know how much I love these kind of boxes). I already re-purposed it. I filled it with warm, glazed biscuits and took it to my neighbor. I can still hear Andria telling me “Now Mom, make sure they know that they are not really from there!”   So Andria, I am sure my neighbor figured out that I could not have possibly made it to Texas and back and still have the biscuits be warm. But thanks sweetie  for always trying to keep me honest. I love you to the moon and back

There were only a few different biscuits, rolls and cupcakes but every single one of them were like little treats of perfection. And the packaging, ohhh the packaging. Black and white and classy and so Joanna. Definitely worth finding space on the plane for those. Need I say anymore?

IMG_2451 (2)
Beautiful artwork with scripture to remind us of where our blessings begin.

Graced with scripture, the setting in and around the bakery and store felt comfortable and welcoming.



One of our favorites from the bakery were the Cranberry Orange Biscuits which were a little like a glazed scone.

…….But in a square biscuit shape.

…….But baked close together so the sides were pillowy soft.

……..But oh so tender and melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

……..But with a glaze speckled with orange zest!

OK maybe not really like scones.

But these were like no other biscuits. But what would you expect from Joanna Gaines of  Fixer Upper fame?

I thought I could find a copy cat recipe online for some of the bakery items. Ashley scoffed at me and  bet that I could not. I lost that one. I guess the bakery is too new or maybe the biscuits are too out of this world. But since I lost, I told her I would put a copy cat recipe on my blog to remember such a great day together.

The food trucks and picnic area are a great place for breakfast. We had a whole grain crepe with fresh strawberries, bananas and peaches. YUM
The food trucks and picnic area are a great place for breakfast. We had a whole grain crepe with fresh strawberries, bananas and peaches. YUM

Give me a minute here to rave about the whole place. Tastefully done, simply delightful and  food trucks, did I mention food trucks?And shopping for home goods.  And simple gardens of zinas and herbs and Swiss chard. And a large green space for yard games. And did I mention food trucks?

The silos are old grain bins used in an era past to store grain before it was shipped out on the railroad. What was once an eyesore in Waco is now a destination for 15,000 visitors a week.

Hens no longer lay their eggs in these boxes, they have been repurposed as a herb planter.
Hens no longer lay their eggs in these boxes, they have been repurposed as a herb planter.

Look at these “laying hens” nesting boxes that are filled with oregano, basil, mint, lemon mint and more. What a great way to grow herbs in a small space .

OK so now on to the recipe for Cranberry Orange Biscuits. They are easy and you have to keep them easy. No over stirring. No over kneading, No over handling. No over thinking. Just 5 minutes to mix up and 12 minutes to bake. That’s it. Make them any harder and I promise, they won’t be as good.

There is not basil in this recipe, I just wanted to show the neat tea towels I got at Magnolia Seed and Garden.
There is no basil, carrots or collard greens in this recipe, I just wanted to show the neat tea towels I found at Magnolia Seed and Garden.

First of all, I am sure being in the south and now a Texas Girl, Joanna and staff use a traditional southern biscuit flour such as White Lilly or some other low protein flour. It makes the biscuits light and the crumb tender. This is the flour to use and self rising flour would be even more perfect. But in some markets, this is hard to find.  That is also a lot of different flours to keep on hand all the time. So to get this same effect as using a low-protein flour, I gave tips with the recipe for substitutions such as using all purpose flour and adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of flour.  The results are a slightly coarser crumb than Magnolia Flour’s but letting the dough sit for about 1/2 hour before baking makes the crumb more tender.

The real secret is to handle the dough as little as possible and as gently as possible. This takes lots of practice but this recipe is so delectable that everyone will oooh and aww over your first biscuit. Only you will know how much better your biscuits are after many times of working the dough and knowing how gently to knead the dough.

I cut the dough with a large knife and used the knife to slide the slightly dough apart.
I cut the dough with a large knife and used the knife to slide the dough apart just a little.

Placing the biscuits close together was another tip I learned from the bakery. It allows the biscuits to raise straight up and tall but still have soft, luscious sides.

Bake the biscuits close together so the sides are tender and soft like the center of the biscuit.

I noticed that Magnolia Bakery cook their biscuits just until barely done. That’s right. The center biscuits are incredibly moist and I bet  that even the biscuits at the edges of the baking sheet are absolutely, perfectly moist and tender. One tip for this recipe is to err on the side of under-cooking the biscuits.

The glaze should be thin enough to spoon over the biscuit. Add more powdered sugar if it runs too wild.
The glaze should be thin enough to spoon over the biscuit. Add more powdered sugar if it runs too wild.

A glaze of orange zest,  juice, vanilla and powdered sugar is spread over each biscuit. I experimented with the glaze and the best time to spoon it on the warm biscuits. If it is put on too soon, it melts and dissolves into the biscuit, so let it cool a little.  Pour on the glaze  so it drys  to make a slightly stiff coating.

Orange Cranberry Biscuits

(AKA:  A lot like Joanna Gaines’ Biscuits from Fixer Upper and Magnolia Farms fame)


2 1/2 cups White Lilly flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1-inch pieces of orange peel without any white pith on it
1/2 cup butter, cut up in pieces
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3  cup buttermilk, milk or  light cream
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
3/4 cup dried cranberries


1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine  cream and orange juice concentrate. Set aside while mixing remaining ingredients. The cream might thicken slightly which is a good thing.

For Biscuits: Combine sugar and orange zest in food processor. Process until the orange peel is very fine, about 15 seconds.  Add flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, soda and salt to mixture in food processor. Process for 2  to 3 seconds or until butter is cut into pieces about the size of a pea (so easy to over-process so you can also cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender). Pour this dry mixture into a mixing bowl. Pour liquids into the center of the dry ingredients. Add dried cranberries. Stir lightly, just until flour is no longer visible. Turn out onto a floured board and gently fold dough in half 3 to 4 times, turning and kneading as gently as possible.

Place dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Pat out to about 2-inch thickness and shape into a 8×8-inch square. Cut into 2-inch squares and gently spread squares apart about 1/4-inch so they can rise but will still touch after baking. (optional: let stand 30 minutes before baking)  Bake for 12 to 15  minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly browned. If the biscuits are really close together, they may take a few minutes longer.  Let cool slightly. Combine glaze ingredients, adding more or less orange juice to get a nice consistency to drizzle over the biscuits, stirring until smooth. Spoon over biscuits and allow glaze to set for a few minutes.

Tips: In place of White Lilly flour which is a lower protein flour, you can substitute cake flour or  all purpose flour. For all purpose flour   put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the measuring cup and then add flour  for a total of 2 1/2 cups). The cornstarch will help keep the biscuits from forming excess gluten and the biscuits will be soft and tender.

My sister Debbie did not have cream so she used yogurt and orange juice in place of the concentrate. She said they turned out really good. You can also substitute buttermilk.

If your dried cranberries are not fresh they will draw moisture out of your biscuits and they will not keep as well. To freshen dried fruit, boil 1 cup of  water or orange juice and let the cranberries plump up. Drain well and stir in with other ingredients for biscuits.

Pumpkin Butter

I stop at produce markets all over the US but my favorites are always the ones that use the honor system and have a little bucket or box to drop your money in. It seems to me that anyone who uses the honor system to make a living probably lives a life of character.  And it gives me a warm, heartfelt invitation to share with them whatever I can.   So it was with a full heart that I stopped at a  produce stand as I was traveling through Wisconsin, picked out my produce and dropped the money into the bucket. Just about that time, a horse and buggy pulled up with more produce to restock the stand. I had a wonderful visit with the farmer and he invited me to his home which sat on 60 beautiful acres in the hilly countryside.  I met his wife who humbly showed me the apple and pumpkin pies she had made.

She shyly invited me inside her home and when I stepped into the entry, I could see pies and baked goods sitting on the wood burning stove. The pies were near perfect and the smell told me that they were as amazing in taste as they were to look at.

I just happened to have some of my homemade pumpkin butter in the car and offered her a jar and the recipe. She was a wonderful baker and had rows of jars with apple butter, harvest beets, pickled eggs and jellies but she had never tried pumpkin butter. I explained that pumpkin butter is prepared exactly like apple butter and is very similar. Both the flavor and texture is slightly different.

The next time I pass through their community, I will have to ask if she tried my pumpkin butter recipe. I can just see the family sitting down at the oak plank table spreading fresh pumpkin butter over thick slabs of homemade bread. It is so much fun to share recipes and it lets us laugh and enjoy each others company like few other things in life.

Pumpkin Butter

1 medium sugar pumpkin
1/2 cup of apple cider
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pierce pumpkin deeply with a knife to allow steam to escape. Place in the microwave and cook on high for 7 minutes per pound or until soft and flesh is tender. Remove pumpkin puree from the seeds and peel. Place pumpkin puree and remaining ingredients in a 2-quart microwave-safe container. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until thick, stirring several times to check the consistency. Serve immediately with bread or as a topping for ice cream , or allow to cool and store two weeks in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer.

Turkish Food Vendors in Vienna?


The orchestra and open air market were highlights in Vienna, Austria. Andria and I both love these kind of markets so I bet when she visited the one pictured above, she thought of our adventures last summer eating our way through the Farmers Markets of Washington, Oregon and California. I can just hear her saying, “My mom would love this!” And I do! Even if it is just in photos.

A multitude of dried fruit at the open air market in Vienna.
A multitude of dried fruit at the open air market in Vienna.

This looks like a really fun market. Some  of the foods are typical to what  we might see in the States ( dried cranberries or apples). One difference is  that foods from all over the world make their way to the street market in Vienna (candied hibiscus flowers is definitely a new one for me).


Some foods like  Turkish Borek are sold by vendors hawking their ply to tourists and locals alike.

Borek (Turkish Spinach and Feta Filled Phyllo)

A street vendor with Turkish pastries made with phyllo dough caught Andria’s attention.

Wiener Huhnerschnitzel (2)

And so did the wiener huhnerschnitzel with fries and kraut.. SpicesA  crazy array of spices cater to the international buyers on the street.

Sunflowers and Nut Butters and Honey: A Few of My Favorite things

Did I mention macadamia honey nut butter in that list? If not, it is because I just discovered it. That’s right, in between the time I wrote that title and my first line I discovered my new favorite lunch food. I take my lunch everyday and if I am working late and early,  often my breakfast and supper too. So I am always thinking about what packs well.  I found this can of Macadamia nuts in my cupboard and remembered a friend telling me that it makes great nut butter.


I am not sure what possessed my daughter to buy such an expensive item such as  this 1 1/2#  can of dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt but I am so glad to be the “finders keepers” person and instead of the “losers weepers” person.

SONY DSCI quickly poured the remainder of the can into my food processor before anyone saw me and confiscated my “treasure”.


Two minutes later  (literally 2 minutes of mixing in my food processor, I timed it) my frozen macadamias were a luscious nut butter. So quick no one even knew what was happening.


The macadamia nuts had been in the freezer so were really cold when I started.  The nut butter was still cold when I removed it from the food processor and stirred in honey but in this photo you can see that the sun has warmed it to the point that it is starting to melt.SONY DSC So for my new favorite lunch, I grind the wheat from the field by my house, make it into a bread using 100% whole grain and spread it with my own nut butter mixed with honey from the bee hives we just set out last week. Now that is what I call an all-natural lunch.  No refrigeration needed, it keeps for the next day if my lunch plans change and I can eat it without a utensil just fine, thank you.

Macadamia Honey Nut Butter

3/4 lb. macadamia nuts, roasting and salting is optional
1/4 cup honey

Place nuts in food processor and process for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Mixture will go from chunky to forming a ball to being smooth like what you might expect of a nut butter.  Stir in honey. I like to do it just before serving because some honey will crystallize faster than others. I can melt the honey crystals that are pure honey, but once I add the nut butter, it is much harder to get rid of those sugar crystals.



Turning Lavender and Sweet Clover to Honey


Our honey is the first two on the left. Most likely the nectar for each of these honeys, from left to right, are: Sunflower, Canola, Yellow Sweet Clover and Lavender. It is easy to see the bits of honey comb floating in the first one because I did not filter it. The sunflower honey is a vibrant yellow color which does not really show very well in this photo. The second one from the left  is also unfiltered but does have wax that settles to the bottom. This clover honey is a very pale, creamy color that shows more color than it really has. It has a buttery, rich flavor and is very thick, almost resembling a whipped honey.


I just found out that our hill is the perfect place to make honey. Here, a honey bee is finding clover nectar that it will take back to the hives we just set out last week.
This bee is loving the idea of his own sunflower.
We have a sunflower field right next to the house and the bees are loving those too.
Each kind of honey has unique characteristics.  I am experimenting with producing lavender honey. A lavender seedling ready to be planted.


To find out what type of nectar the bees are bringing back to the hive, I have to follow the bees as they leave the hive to see where they are getting the nectar from. These are my Lavender fields in my dreams. All honey is a combination of nectar, but often the specific hives will gravitate to specific flowers.
We try to stay calm when we are around the bees. They don’t seem to mind sharing their honey with us.
Honey doesn’t have to be processed, I just let the honey drip out of the comb into a jar.
Simple elegance! Honey drizzled over blue cheese. This is our first jar of honey. So beautiful in its raw, unfiltered, unheated, unadulterated state.

A Taste of Italy

Andria is headed to Italy so be prepared for lots of great Italian food ideas. She arrived for work just in time for the Italian shut down. That means she has two weeks to travel across Europe. Above are a few photos she sent.

Love those mountains with the clouds hanging low. And that cobblestone street in Fabriano! Look at the Orzo with fresh basil and tomatoes. Andria said the tomatoes have amazing flavor.  And that last photo is Andria and Greg just a short while before they had to say goodbye. Carson is wondering what all the fuss is about? He is probably thinking:  “Greg already has a ticket to visit and I don’t. Why am I left out of this picture?”

I thought we  needed a little Italian pasta recipe to celebrate with her and to appease Carson.  The penne pasta  is flavored with shrimp, lemon and garlic….and don’t forget the Asiago cheese. I often reach for Asiago cheese  because of its tang and nutty flavor even though Andria’s Italian friends made sure to let her know that no self-respecting Italian would allow cheese to be served in a dish with fish.

Penne Pasta and Shrimp

The stores in Italy have so many more types of cheese than we do. Andria was really surprised at how many different varieties of fresh Mozzarella there were even in the small town grocery in Fabriano. She also gave me a mini lesson on Italian food lore: Pasta is never, ever called noodles and chicken does not belong on pizza. Orzo is Italian for barley which is what our orzo was originally made from. The photo with tomatoes and basil is whole grain barley with tuna.  So many new things, so little time!

Meanwhile, here in the states we are trying our best to replicate some of those great Italian favorites. Change up the veggies and seasonings in this recipe for pasta to fit the season and delete the cheese if you want to be authentic.


Shrimp and Pasta

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound medium shrimp peeled
1 teaspoon shrimp or seafood base
2 cups chopped pea pods
3/4 pound penne pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons butter
1 small bunch chives, chopped
½ cup shredded Asiago cheese

In a bowl, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice,  red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and the shrimp. Set aside to marinate. Microwave shrimp on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp is opaque, stirring halfway through. Stir in shrimp or seafood base, pea pods and ½ cup of reserved water from cooking pasta.  Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until kale starts to wilt. Add cooked pasta, butter and chives. Garnish with cheese.

Hibiscus Tea

My sisters and I only have a chance to see each other about once a year, so it is always special. But, one of my favorite times was when Becky brought her hibiscus tea to share with us. Who would guess that brilliant red hibiscus leaves can be dried to make an amazing tea? IMG_1802Use petals that that are free of pollutants and other chemicals. In dry environments, lay the petals out on a piece of parchment paper or on a screen to dry. Allow several days for petals to fully dry before storing.  To make tea, put 1 tablespoons of dried hibiscus in a strainer or tea ball per cup of water.

SONY DSCThe rich, red liquid is full of flavor and makes a great cup of tea to share with a sister, friend  or even just to drink in a time of solitude.

SONY DSCDebbie had a beautiful china cup ready for serving. She keeps her table set up all the time so it was ready for a tea party. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

SONY DSCLook at that red steam of tea coming from the dried hibiscus leaves.


How to make the best Sushi Ever

Sushi is not so easy to find where I  live (since I am  miles from the nearest town, which has a population of less than 1200,  neither is milk or flour – unless I milk the goats myself or pick the wheat and mill it…which I have been known to do but that is for another post.). But we love living in the country. It is beautiful, peaceful and did I mention the deer who ate my garden….. he was beautiful. And now he is full!!  But back to sushi. As much as I love living in the country, it is not conducive to finding sushi, day old, week old… not even a year old sushi in these parts. So I just set out to figure out how to make the best sushi ever.

sushi chefs

I found wonderful sushi chefs who taught me the unique art of sushi making. Everything from the perfect rice seasoning to how to layer each roll.  They kindly brought a 60 lb sushi-grade ahi tuna to my food science class to show the students the wonderful flavor of the freshest ahi ever. Did I say I learned the perfect way to layer the ingredients?


OK, maybe my layering is not quite as good as his but it worked. The sushi chef carefully placed the vegetables and fish lengthwise on the rice and seaweed. If there is  too much filling, it can make it more difficult to form a perfect  roll.


The mat is wrapped with plastic wrap before spreading with rice. seaweed and fillings.


A sharp knife allows the sushi roll to be cut into perfect individual  slices.

Sushi Rice

1 cup short-grained sticky rice
1  cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3  tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mirin
1 kelp leaf, about 1-inch long


Sheets of nori
Pickled Ginger

Spicy Sauce:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon siracha sauce

Rinse rice in a strainer and drain well. Combine vinegar,sugar, salt and mirin together in a bowl and mix well.  Wipe kelp leaf lightly and make slits in it to allow release of flavor.  Add rice, water and kelp to a microwave-safe 2-quart pot.  Place lid on pot. Microwave on high for 12 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes with lid on.  Place dish on the counter to cool and lightly fan the rice while adding the vinegar mixture. Mix rice gently, careful not to break it. Sushi rice is best used at body temperature.

Spread rice over a plastic wrapped covered mat and top with a sheet of nori. Layer fillings and roll up with fillings in the center. Combine ingredients for Spicy Sauce.

Cut sushi rolls into slices with a sharp knife.   Serve with wasabi, spicy sauce and pickled ginger.