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Indian Food Sabbatical

After watching one of the most tear jerking movies ever...Lion, staring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman,  I became fascinated with Indian cuisine. I've been to some elegant Indian restaurants in New York City, but most Indian food looks like a pile of canned dog food slapped on a pile of yellow rice. Presentation really is everything. The decision was made to buy some common Indian Spices, delve into the cuisine and make it as attractive as possible.

First, I found a simple YT video about how to make Lamb Shanks. Lamb isn't a popular protein in the United States. Americans' tend to prefer chicken, pork, turkey, and beef. I found the video below, and then thought how I could make it into an Indian lamb shank. Objective One: must taste Indian Objective Two: It can't look like a pile of goop.

- 2 Lamb Shanks
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 2 Onions
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Carrots
- 2 Sprigs of Rosemary
- 1 Beef stock cube
- 1 tbsp Plain Flour
- 200ml Red Wine
- Oil (to fry)

My Indian Interpretation
- 2 Lamb Shanks marinated overnight in curry, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 2 diced onions
- 5 Shallot bulbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ounce shredded ginger
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 3 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili powder
-1 teaspoon mustard seed (fry in pan before adding all the other ingredients)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- oil to fry

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Raspberry Banana Bread

Last night I decided to use some over ripe bananas. But, I've made banana bread so many times that it doesn't please me anymore. I added a little twist this evening, dropping an even number of fresh raspberries into the mix. 

The cakes didn't come out as I hoped. I think what would've made it better was to separate the batter into two equal parts. In one part, add crushed raspberries, in the other part, dark chocolate chips. I think that combination would've been more interesting to the palette. Perhaps a dark chocolate raspberry banana bread would be delicious. 

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peel apples with a drill

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Avocado Pancakes

My son attends a local preschool, and their breakfast has something to be desired. They serve the children cereal, milk and maybe....maybe some fruit. The only protein the get from that diet would be the milk. Sometimes the school serves sugary cereal, and Lucky Charms.

This is a crucial time in his life, his brain is not growing as rapidly as it did when he was a baby, but still neurons are making connections on a daily basis. Kids need a diet with healthy fats and protein. I make his breakfast at home every morning, and send it with him to school. He still eats with his friends, but he will not be eating school food.

Sometimes, I make him scrambled eggs with salmon. He only eats a little of that. Then I think of other ways of getting fat into his diet, like mixing some fish oil into his peanut butter - but he can't have peanut butter at school. One thing he always loves its my pancakes. Every two weeks I make a large batch of pancakes, freeze them in little baggies. When I assemble his breakfast in the morning I toss in a couple blueberry pancakes with his egg whites and fruit. Today - I made him a different kind of pancake.

Naomi's Avocado Pancakes
Although avocados contain mainly monounsaturated fats (omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats), they are still a healthy source of fats and beneficial for your child's development. Toddlers should consume 40 percent of their daily calories from fat, with is 33 to 45 grams of fat per day for toddlers consuming 1,000 calorie diets. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, half an avocado provides your child with about 15 grams of healthy fat. This batch of pancakes contains 3/4 an avocado, he will eat 3 or 4 mini pancakes every day.

So, the small amount of avocado in three pancakes certainly is not enough fats - but hey, it is something, and it is certainly better than pancakes without any avocado.

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Naomi's Mayonnaise

Brief History of Mayo:

Sources place the origin of mayonnaise as being the town of Mahón in MenorcaSpain, from where it was taken to France after Armand de Vignerot du Plessis's victory over the British at the city's port in 1756. According to this version, the sauce was originally known as salsa mahonesa in Spanish and maonesa (later maionesa) in Catalan (as it is still known in Menorca), later becoming mayonnaise as it was popularized by the French.
The Larousse Gastronomique suggests: "Mayonnaise, in our view, is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg." The sauce may have been christened mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, because he took the time to finish his meal of chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques.
Nineteenth-century culinary writer Pierre Lacam suggested that in 1459, a London woman named Annamarie Turcauht stumbled upon this condiment after trying to create a custard of some sort.
I made my first batch of mayo yesterday. I am not impressed with the flavor. One of my good friends, who is a chef suggested that the flavor was "clean". He makes mayo with avocado and almond oil. He suggested I use lemon instead of vinegar. 
It is very important that children get the right amount of fats in their diet. Healthy fats improve nerve function, coordination, cognition, and hormone regulation. Store bought mayo contains mostly canola oil. My mayo contains mostly grapeseed oil, then coconut oil, and finally a little canola oil. Next time I will follow my friend's recommendations and make it his way. 

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Blackberry Cobbler and Pie Filling For Sale, I have only THREE available

Hi Everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your summer.

I picked about 10 pounds of wild blackberries, and prepared three quarts. I have to make room for my blackberry wine and need to sell these three jars. They are $11.00 each. These jars are huge and enough to make at least two large cobblers.

Each quart has one tablespoon Splenda, so these are sweet and low calorie. Good for a healthy dessert.

I have only three, blackberry season will be over in the next few weeks, maybe I can pick more. Contact me if you would like one.


Buy Here: Each one is $11.00 each

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Syrniki (Russian Cottage Cheese Pancakes)

500 g Cottage cheese
2 eggs
4 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract for extra-delicious vanilla taste
4 tbsp flour plus some extra flour, for rolling
Vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Sour cream, for serving
1. Beat cottage cheese with mixer until soft, then add eggs, sugar, salt and 4 tbsp of flour and mix well.
2. Dip a spoon in water and spoon batter onto the surface, dusted with flour, roll it into a ball, then press down to make a syrnik.
3. Heat some oil on a large skillet over medium heat. Cook syrniki on each side until golden.
4. Serve syrniki with a dollop of sour cream, jam, honey, or maple syrup. And if you are a sweet tooth, don’t forget to dust them with powdered sugar!

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Homemade Granola Bars

The other day I got the idea to make my boys some nutrient dense homemade granola bars. Today I made a
note to myself to try a recipe. I found several recipes online but decided to be adventurous and go my own way. This is an extremely calorie dense recipe, unfortunately I cannot eat them. I will taste it, but will certainly not eat a whole bar. The recipe is just something I came up with to make sure my boys get a good amount of protein every week.

1. cup rolled oats
2. 1/4 cut crushed or sliced almonds

(bake the oats and almonds for 10 minutes at 350. )

1. 1/4 cup honey
2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
3. 3 table spoons butter
4. 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Mix and melt

Add the toasted oats and almonds to liquid mixture.

Then add:
1. one cup granola
2. three tablespoons soy protein
    (one tablespoon = 5 grams of protein)

I pressed it all into a lightly greased, foil lined baking pan. The toppings were chocolate chips and one tablespoon melted peanut butter. (I mixed a little soy protein into the peanut butter, about .5 teaspoon)

The mixture was so thick that I easily formed bars, but it only fit half of my pan. If the boys like this treat I will double the recipe and make a full pan.

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Healthy wraps for kids

My son's lunch

I have the misfortune of having two little boys who are picky eaters. Every once in a while I have to come up with new ways of getting fresh vegetables down their throats. 

Today, I made my son a chicken wrap (featured above).

Ingredients: small corn tortilla, homemade Taziki sauce, grilled chicken breast, tomato, and lettuce. In the side I gave him on tablespoon of taziki sauce with some chicken and slice of avocado. 

One of my favorite activities of the day is having breakfast with my son. Since he likes to fill up on milk, I started giving him water in the morning. For a healthy breakfast he had one egg and one egg white (scrambled eggs), and one piece of wheat toast with peanut butter. 

Egg yolks contain all the nutrients that eggs offer. They are healthy. It is misinformation to assert that yolks are unhealthy and should be discarded. Egg whites are good because they are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and  are a good source of protein, selenium and riboflavin. The only down side is that they are high in sodium. 

In the morning, when I make my son two egg omelette, I give him one egg and one egg white. (discarding only on yolk) I typically have a spinach egg white omelette myself. 

When preparing my own meals, and especially my children's, I try to ensure their energy sources are coming from 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbs, and 1/3 fats. I want them to learn early on how to eat healthy, delicious food within their calorie range. 

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Thanksgiving Pics

I made three stuffings, one cheesecake, one gravy and tangerine cranberry sauce.

One word


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Butternut Squash Ravioli

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The season to make wine

In Washington State the berries and rock fruits are in full bloom. Now is the time for our wine making.

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Honey Infusions

This is a great idea

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Homemade Herb and Spice Blends

Pike Place Market - Seattle
The other day, I went to the Pike Place Market with my son to look around and see what was going on. How I love that market! The smell of flowers, coffee, and fish...ahhh, nothing quite like it. I saw some pepper ornament things hanging from the ceiling of a shop and asked one of the employees if they were real peppers. He abruptly say, "yes". It was closing time, and he clearly did not want to stand around and chit-chat with me. Anyway, I took the above photograph at Seattle's Pike Place Market. These are drying peppers and garlic. From closer inspection, they look like Thai Red Peppers. I thought that they were so pretty hanging there that I needed to take a picture. I started growing Thai peppers in my garden, and have yet to use them in any dish. The image inspired me to publish a quick blog about Seasoning Blends. (Note: these are not my recipes, I got most of them from

Seasoning Blends tend to be very expensive in the supermarket. When we look at the ingredients, it is plain to see there is no reason we should not be able to make these at home.

Alas - here are some of my top picks: 

Thai Seasoning Blend:

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, dried, ground Thai chili pepper (featured above)
  • 2 tablespoons dried, ground lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons dried lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 2 tablespoons toasted, unsweetened, coconut
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Taco Seasoning Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup Chili Powder
  • 1/4 cup Cumin Powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano leaf (or oregano leaf powder)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup himalayan salt or sea salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Homemade Curry Powder Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup Paprika
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Fennel Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Fenugreek powder (optional)- gives sweetness
  • 2 tablespoons Ground Mustard Powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground Red Pepper Flakes (optional)- adds spiciness
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander (optional)
  • 1/4 cup ground Turmeric root
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves powder (optional) – Adds complex flavor

Homemade Italian Seasoning:

  • 1/2 cup Basil leaf
  • 1/2 cup Marjoram Leaf
  • 1/2 cup Oregano leaf
  • 1/4 cup cut and sifted Rosemary Leaf
  • 1/4 cup Thyme leaf
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder (optional, especially if you cook with fresh garlic)

Homemade Rajin’ Cajun Seasoning:

  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/3 cup Himalayan Salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (optional- won’t be spicy without this)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oregano leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme leaf

Healthy Ranch Dressing Mix Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup dried Parsley leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil leaf (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning:

  • The zest from 4-6 organic lemons (or 1/2 cup pre-dried lemon zest)
  • 6 Tablespoons ground black pepper (or whole peppercorns if you are using fresh lemon)
  • 5 Tablespoons Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt

Fajita Seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Sea Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder

Chili Seasoning Mix:

  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1/4 cup oregano
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 1 tablespoon thyme

Herbs de Provence:

  • 1/2 cup thyme leaf
  • 1/4 cup marjoram leaf
  • 2 tablespoons of cut and sifted rosemary leaf
  • 2 tablespoons savory
  • 1 teaspoon of lavender flowers (lightly ground-optional)
  • 2 teaspoons dried orange zest (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)

Asian 5-Spice Seasoning:

  • 2 tablespoons anise powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon himalayan or sea salt

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons allspice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves powder (optional)

Apple Pie Spice:

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 dried lemon peel

Cajun Spice Blend:

  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons papirika 
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper

Chicken Seasoning Blend:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon chicken bouillon. 

Greek Spice Blend:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried nutmeg

Basic Indian Spice Blend:

  • 2 tablespoons whole toasted cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole toasted cardamon seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole toasted coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

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Naomi's Culinary Extracts

I love to bake, especially with two boys in the house, I will need to bake and freeze my breads, treats and goodies. When you soak certain fruit in alcohol, the alcohol draws out the flavor and aroma. Aroma is a very important part of flavor. Have you ever noticed that when your nose is stuffy, food does not taste right? The same process is at work when making extracts. It is a matter of making a tincture. A tincture uses a solvent, such as vodka or rum, to extract oils, nutrients or phytochemicals of a plant.

Extracts are very expensive, expect to spend $10 to $12 on a six ounce bottle. One of the reasons they are pricey is because infusing the flavor and aroma takes a very long time. Manufacturers have to pay for shelf space and storage. I love to garden, harvest, and make as much as I can from scratch. I am able to make more diverse dishes and treats while spending only a fraction of the cost. I found a few wholesale supplier of nuts and seeds for my extracts. Nuts In Bulk and Oh Nuts. (Nuts in Bulk appear to offer the best deals) My products make great gifts, and if I stumble upon something that is very good, it might make its way to the local farmers market. 

So here is my current project: Orange and Vanilla Extract. Infusion should be finished May 1st, 2013. 

Many foods are soluble in alcohol and water. Sometimes you can use either Vodka or Rum with water. The extract will be perfectly fine if you add water. Natural vanilla beans contain hundreds of compounds which give it its complex flavor and aroma, it would make sense to use both alcohol and water as solvents (i.e., to use 100 proof alcohol). Different percentages of alcohol to water will tend to have different properties when it comes to dissolving various flavor and aroma compounds over a fixed period of time. Presumably, commercial producers of top quality natural vanilla extract have figured out the best mixture of ethanol to water for the vanilla beans they use, the extracting process they use, and the signature flavor/aroma profile of their extract.

For my extractions, I will be using 80% cheap Vodka with 20% spring water. It really does not matter what kind of Vodka you use, because the beans, fruits, or nuts you are using will take over the flavor. So go for the cheap stuff. 

After I made my extracts and photographed the jars for this blog, I placed them in a dark place. Light degenerates the extract, so keep it in a dark place for proper infusions. When the batches are finished, they will be packaged into small amber bottles from Specialty Bottles (my favorite supplier). 

Upcoming Projects are going to be:

  • Cherry Extract
  • Strawberry Extract
  • Lemon Extract 
  • Blueberry Extract
  • Chocolate Mint Extract
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Chocolate Extract
  • Coffee Extract
  • Orange Extract
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Hazelnut Extract
  • Green Apple Extract
  • Peach Extract
  • Coconut Extract
Last night, I made: lemon, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut extracts. I have to do cheery, strawberry, blueberry, almond, hazelnut, green apple and peach.

When I make the basic extracts, I am going to make some more complicated extracts
  • Pumpkin Pie Extract (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, allspice)
  • Chocolate Chip Mint Extract 
  • Peanut Butter and Chocolate Extract
  • Tropical Extract (coconut, lime, mango)
  • Turtle Cheese Cake

There is a lot to think about. 

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