"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hotplate: 12 Step Ratatouille

It was some leftover frozen squash and chayote that made me want to make a Ratatouille and it turned into an adventure.

As usual, I researched Ratatouille recipes. I found several. Some had ingredients I did not recognize. Others seemed complicated, then others were similar but SimplyRecipes's recipe while it had a lot of steps seemed straightforward.

Typically, I never have all the ingredients and have to get inventive.

The original recipe called for 1 pound of this or that. What was that?

I have a minimum amount of kitchen devices, so, no scale. So, I used a measurement conversion site (Source: Calculator-Coverter) and 1 pound was about 2 cups. The recipe was designed for 6-8 servings; I cut it in half since it's usually just me.

It turns out using 1/2 of some of the items equals one cup, or I used the whole vegetable. 

Caution: Careful using links, I am not sure they are all safe.

Hotplate: 12 Step Ratatouille
(Adapted from: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/dads_ratatouille/)


1/2 medium-large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 Zucchini, diced
1 Chayote, chopped
1 Patty pan Squash, chopped
1/2 Green bell pepper, diced
1/2 Red bell pepper, diced
1 Medium eggplant, chopped

Olive oil for cooking
1/2 heaping Teaspoon dry Rosemary
1 heaping Teaspoon dry Thyme
1 cube tomato bouillon
4 dashes of red pepper sauce
1 Cup Canned tomatoes, diced
Salt (optional)


1 medium-large pot
1 skillet
1 sharp knife for slicing, dicing and chopping
1 slotted spoon
1 colander
1 cutting board
1 cup
2 teaspoons
1 serving dish or storage container 


You will be preparing and sauteing each vegetable separately.
Sauté means: to fry (food, such as small pieces of meat or vegetables) in a small amount of fat until golden, (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
You may need to add extra oil to the skillet as you go. Also sautéing time will vary. General times are 5-15 minutes.

1. Dice onion and garlic.

2. Add oil to skillet, sauté onions and garlic.
Chop zucchini while onions and garlic are sautéing.
Remove onions and garlic from skillet with a slotted spoon, add to large pot.

3. Sauté zucchini. 
Chop patty pan and chayote squash while zucchini is sautéing. (I used my frozen leftover patty pat squash and chayote.)
Remove zucchini from skillet, add to pot.

4. Sauté squash.
Dice bell peppers and chop eggplant while squash is sautéing.
Remove squash from skillet, add to pot.

5. Sauté bell peppers, and eggplant. Remove from skillet, add to pot.

6. Put bouillon cube into 1 cup water.

7. Crush Rosemary and Thyme in your palm and add to pot. Add red pepper sauce and bouillon to pot. Stir well.

8. Heat mixture to boiling, lower to simmer, cook for 30 minutes.

9. Pour mixture into a colander and quickly place the pot underneath the colander to catch the juices. Let the juices drain. Stir to get the juices to continue to drain. Pour juices into the skillet. Pour the mixture back into the pot.

10. Cook juices until it is reduced to a glaze. Cook on medium-high. This can take 15-30 minutes or more. It goes faster on high.
Note: I use a hotplate and the various temperatures are difficult to achieve.

11. Chop tomatoes. Add tomatoes to vegetable mixture in pot. Stir well.

12. Return juice glaze to pot. Stir well. Heat mixture until tomatoes are warm.

Serve Ratatouille warm.

OMG, This is wonderful. I don't think I have ever made a recipe with so many ingredients or steps.

My addition of chayote and patty pan squash did not alter the taste.


I like this recipe even though it involves many steps and ingredients. I like cutting the individual vegetables and then sautéing them. Each step gave me time to prepare the next vegetable and clean up as needed but it took me hours to complete. So, this will be a Sunday cooking marathon dish.

In addition, I had very little food waste.

While writing this blog, I did a little research into squash and learned Zucchini and Chayote are a type of squash and the squash I buy is a scallop or patty pan squash. This has opened my eyes, I never knew there were so many varieties of squash.

Zucchini Squash

(Source: https://www.burpee.com/vegetables/squash/squash-burpees-best-hybrid-prod003504.html)

Chayote Squash

(Source: https://www.plattershare.com/)

Scallop/Patty Pan Squash

(Source: https://weirdvegetables.blogspot.mx/search?q=chayote)

Other Sources:



University of Illinois Extension

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Frozen Fruit & Nut Yogurt Cubes

When I don't have my usual sweet snacks around, I get inventive.

I had made my usual fruit and nut snack then I got an idea. Make frozen yogurt cubes with the mix.

Frozen Fruit & Nut Yogurt Cubes


Fruit and Nut Mix Snack, see previous post.
1 220g (~8oz) container of liquid yogurt (Almost any flavor will do, I used Piña Coco)
1 ice cube tray


Take the ice cube tray and add about 1/2 teaspoon of fruit and nut mix into each of the cube slots.
Carefully, pour yogurt into each cube slot. Do not fill to top.
Place tray in freezer.
Wait at least 8 hours before eating.

Tasty. One cube is a mouthful but filling. Now, I have a sweet treat for at least a week.

Fruit & Nut Mix Snack

I am sure everyone has a version of a nut and fruit snack mix.

One reason I like this snack is it is one way for me to eat lots of raisins and blueberries. Plus, nuts are good for you, too.

While mine varies, it usually contains:

Fruit & Nut Mix Snack


1-2 7oz bags of various peanuts, or peanut and sunflower seed mixes
2 cups raisins
2 cups dry blueberries

Suggestions: dried cranberries, Plantain chips, popcorn, dry cereal like Chex, pretzels

Note:  On occasion, I have added popcorn but after cracking two teeth, I stopped adding popcorn.

Sample, there are many varieties of peanut snacks.


After adding the various items into a container. Close with lid and shake well.

Other sources: https://www.chex.com/

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hotplate: Imitation Tuna Sliders

I wanted to make Jack's kidney bean burgers. I did not have kidney beans, so I tried using Bayos Enteros, a kind of pinto bean but I did not really like the results.


Later, I wanted to make imitation tuna salad but I changed my mind and decided to make imitation tuna burgers or sliders inspired by Jack's recipe.

In my mind, sliders are smaller versions of burgers or sandwiches.

Hotplate: Imitation Tuna Sliders
(Inspired by: https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2018/02/19/carrot-cumin-kidney-bean-burger-17p-was-9p-vg-v-df/)


1 can garbanzo beans, drained
About 2 TBspns sardine oil, drained from small tin of sardines
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 TBspn of leftover canned carrots and jalapeno peppers, diced*
About 4+ heaping TBspoons mixture of leftover saltine crackers, crushed, and bread crumbs*
2 teaspoons cumin
Olive oil for cooking or extra
1 Roll
1 TBspn Mayo
Ground black pepper
Cole Slaw* as a side (Optional)

*the canned carrots and jalapeno peppers, crackers and bread crumbs, and cole slaw were leftovers, so when you make the recipe make your own variations.


In a large bowl, add beans and mash well.
Add sardine oil.
Add onions.
Add carrot mixture.
Add crushed crackers and bread crumbs.
Stir and mix well.
If mixture is too dry, add a little olive oil.
Put 2 heaping teaspoons of flour on cutting board.
Pick up about a golf ball size of mixture.
Squeeze, shape into a ball.
Flatten in center of palm. Smooth edges.
Pat both sides of patty with flour as you shape the patty.

If necessary, reshape patty to make sure it does not crumble. Add more flour to outside of patty, this will help it keep it's shape and make it crispy.

Pour oil into skillet to cover bottom, about a 1/4 inch in depth.

Add patties to skillet. Cook on medium-high for about 3+ minutes per side.

I tried to make sure they were crisp.

Remove and place on platter when done.

To serve, I used a hamburger roll, would have preferred a small dinner roll.
Add Mayo on both parts.
Sprinkle with ground black pepper.

I used a bit of cole slaw from a carryout order as a side or you can add on top of patty.

 I made 7 small to medium sliders/burgers.

They were good!!!

Because of this success, I am going to try to make the Bayos Enteros burgers, again. I think it will work this time.

Microwave: Poached Egg Sandwich

First, I need to thank Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/) for this recipe. It made my year. Now, I can have poached eggs.

I had tried the "boil in water" method ala Julia Child but it was cumbersome for me. I don't recall the results but I have not tried it again. Plus, that method uses a lot of water, so with this method, I save water.

Let's not forget, I can burn water. I am not a cook. Plus, all I have is a hotplate and a microwave. So, you can understand my joy!

The original steps in Business Insider were in a video. I like written instructions.

Microwave: Poached Egg Sandwich
(Adapted from: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-perfectly-poach-an-egg-in-the-microwave-2016-6)


About 3 TBspoons water
1 clean egg
1 Roll
1 TBspoon Mayo
Ground black pepper
Imitation bacon bits


Put water into a small microwaveable bowl.
Carefully crack egg and open contents into bowl.
Place bowl in microwave and cover.
Microwave on high for about 45 seconds.
Note: I tried varying the time to get a softer egg, 40 seconds works, too.

Spread mayo on both parts of roll.
Sprinkle with black pepper.
Use a slotted spoon to remove cooked egg from bowl.
Place egg on one side of roll.
Sprinkle with bacon bits.


Royal Sussex Mocktail

I watched Harry and Meghan's Royal wedding (5/19/18).

It was a beautiful wedding. Meghan and Harry added so many personal touches like the Forget-Me-Nots from the Kensington Palace garden for Meghan's bouquet as a remembrance of Princess Diana, Harry's mom.

Plus, I really liked Meghan's veil. It was embroidered with the official flower from each of the 53 countries (member states) in the Commonwealth.

  Meghan in her Wedding Dress and Veil.
(Source: https://www.elle.com/fashion/a20754091/meghan-markle-veil-royal-wedding/)

 Update: just found out Meghan's veil also included California's state flower, the poppy. Meghan was born in California. 

For more information on Meghan's dress, veil and more, see https://www.royal.uk/wedding-dress-bridesmaids%E2%80%99-dresses-and-page-boys-uniforms. Seems there are crop images on the veil as well. Very interesting. But, I see no mention of the Poppy.

The wedding was also a great break from the doom and gloom in the news.

The bridal party.

Harry, Meghan, the Queen and Prince Phillip, and several other members of the Royal Family.

I admire Meghan for choosing to make conscious choices in living a healthy life. I think she's a vegan during the week. Plus, she has rescued two shelter dogs. She does yoga. She is a spokesperson for women's issues.

This is not from the Duchess of Sussex's official web page.
Link to the Duchess of Sussex webpage at; https://www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/

Megan and her beagle, Guy (Source: conceptnewcentral.com)

Meghan's parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle.

Ms. Doria Ragland at Meghan's wedding

Doria and Thomas Markle at their wedding.

After the wedding, the couple, now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, went to their reception at Frogmore House in Windsor. While you can find lots about the menu at the reception on the web, one item caught my eye. They served mocktails!
"With a nod to the no-ABV cocktail movement, guests of the royal couple were offered a non-alcoholic drink: An apple and elderflower mocktail, created to complement the elderflower in the wedding cake."
(Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elvaramirez/2018/05/19/royal-wedding-prince-harry-and-meghans-official-menu/#57ff35b54709)

Couldn't find the recipe, so I can only guess at the proportions and ingredients.

Anyway, I decided to make my own Royal Sussex Mocktail.

 Royal Sussex Mocktail


1 8 oz glass
Ice cubes
1 capful of Lime concentrate
1 capful of Jamaica concentrate*
Apple Juice
Sparkling Water or any carbonated water
Garnish Optional


Add ice cubes to glass.
Add Lime and Jamaica concentrates.
Fill glass about 1/3 with Apple Juice.
Fill remainder of glass with Sparking Water.
Stirring is optional. I liked the layered look.
Add Optional Garnish.

It's tasty!!

*Jamaica Concentrate is made from juice made from the Jamaica flower (flor de Jamaica). The flower is also called Hibiscus. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibiscus_tea

For more frugal Mocktail Recipes, see Mocktails by Ria Stone at Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/539967. Only .99 cents!