Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Lentil Stew

The last post I did was for a bean stew... since then there have been 12 atmospheric rivers dumping a record amount of rain in California.  So I am still making bean stews!  This is an update of a winter squash and bean stew that I do with lentils.  Lentils have all the wonderful protein packed benefits of beans, but they cook much faster: 20 - 30 minutes.  Plus they grow with much less irrigation than other crops like wheat and corn. I'm sure we will sometime soon find that important again. And while I love winter squash in stews, they are gone from the markets, but this works well with pretty much any vegetables you have around.  I added mushrooms and cabbage to this soup along with extra carrots. Plus as always a bunch of greens - in this case I used collard greens which I love in soups.  

Rosemary and Bay from the front yard

Don't hesitate to add plenty of red pepper, or some hot sauce at the end. Yesterday's batch was a bit under seasoned - I added a nice spoonful of salsa which gave it a nice kick.  

Here's what went into yesterday's batch: 

Chop and saute: 

Cook .. Just 30 minutes!

Add greens (chop first): 

And its done!

 The recipe: 

Vegetable and Lentil Stew with Sausage

This can be a clean the crisper drawer kind of soup, with any kind a vegetable


1-2 tablespoons olive oil 

1-2 slices of bacon (optional, good if you don’t use sausage)

2-3 links of pre-cooked chicken sausage (or use pork sausage – sauté instead of bacon)

1 large onion, chopped

1 to 4 carrots, sliced 

1 or 2 celery stalks, sliced (optional)

2 cloves of garlic

Red pepper flakes to taste

Rosemary (1-2 teaspoons fresh), bay leaves (2-3), and/or Italian Seasoning

More veggies as desired: mushrooms, cubed butternut squash or sweet potato, green beans, tomatoes

6 cups of liquid - 1 quart chicken broth plus 2 cups water (or all water or all broth)

1 pound of green lentils, rinsed 


1 bunch of greens (kale, mustard, chard), stalks removed, chopped (or baby spinach)


Herbs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste.


In a large pot, heat the oil.  Sauté the bacon if using.  Add onion, sausage, celery, garlic, chili (plus any veggies that would benefit from sautéing like mushrooms), plus salt to taste (I start with a ½ teaspoon).  When onions are translucent (5 minutes or so), add carrots and other vegetables, rinsed lentils, broth / water and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 25 or 30 minutes, until lentils are tender (don’t cook to the point of falling apart).  Add more water if desired. Add chopped greens.  Kale or mustard greens need to cook 5 to 10 minutes; baby spinach is done as soon as you have stirred it in. Taste – add salt, maybe a squirt of lemon juice, herbs, some pepper, maybe some hot sauce as desired. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Lamb Stew with Chickpeas and Butternut Squash

Happy Holidays!

Ready or not, the holidays are here! Its been a busy year for me: 

Lots of time in Arizona with family and friends

 a wonderful vacation to Italy (including a week long clay workshop),

enjoying life in San Diego,

continuing as an arts commissioner for the city (this year I am the public art chair), 

plus enough time in the studio to fill the kiln. It's ready to do my first bisque fire of the year - just need to resolve a problem with the plug (which I wished I noticed a year ago when I last fired the kiln), but still hopeful I will get the glaze fire done before Christmas. What I haven't done all year is any food blogging. So here is a recipe that is perfect for the cooler weather.

Lamb Stew with Chickpeas and Butternut Squash

 This recipe was inspired by a NYT recipe which used canned chickpeas and no pressure cooker. Soaking the chickpeas is essential so they cook in about the same time as the meat, I have also adjusted the spices and added more broth to cook the beans. I also do a “shake” to coat with the spiced flour to keep from getting a bowl dirty… so I haven’t made everything harder to do!

5 or 6 servings, takes about 1 hour 45 minutes (not counting soaking time)


8 ounces dry chickpeas
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander  
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup flour
1 pound lamb stewing meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
~ 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
About 8 hours prior to cooking the stew, rinse and soak the chickpeas. I use the strainer and cook pot to do this.  The water should cover the beans by a couple of inches, and I salt the water with a teaspoon or so of salt. When ready to start cooking, drain the water and dry the pot.
Combine the spices and salt in a bowl. In a large baggie, mix 1/4 cup flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture, add the lamb and shake to coat. Set the cooker to “sear” and heat the oil. Put about one half the lamb pieces into brown, turning once. Remove and repeat with other half of lamb pieces, adding more oil if needed.  Remove the lamb and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pot, along with any remaining flour in the baggie. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken broth, stir up any stuck bits. Add the lamb, remaining spice mixture, and soaked chickpeas. Pressure cook using the “chili and stew” setting for 20 minutes (10.5psi, quick pressure release).   When complete, add the squash then use “vegetable” setting for 4 minutes (7.5psi, pulse pressure release).  Serve topped with cilantro.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


We are super lucky here in San Diego to be able to get fresh fish direct from the fishing boats here in San Diego.  Our go-to source has been Haworth Fish, we get their email (or see on Instagram or Facebook) when they have a boat in and pick the fish up at the dock (they are also at some the farmer's markets and they deliver). The other great source is the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market on Saturday mornings. 

The fish available include opah (large sunfish), yellowtail, ahi (yellowfin tuna), and last week we got bluefin tuna (maguro).  They sometimes have black cod.  To cook opah or yellowtail we normally do the super easy "fish on foil" technique on the grill (and make sure to not overcook it.. it gets pulled with the internal temp is about 125F).   The cod gets a flour and cornmeal dusting and then pan fried, it's a nice delicate fish. 

But one of my new favorites is to make Poke.  Poke is a traditional Hawaiian food, but is now heavily influenced by Japanese flavors and served in many customized ways.  This recipe is fairly heavy on the marinade, and is in the "bowl" form ... rice (although you can use noodles) topped with the fish then garnished to your hearts content.  

Poke goes together quickly ... I usually do all the vegetable cutting for the garnish (arrange on a platter if you are setting out for people to make their own bowls), then the onions, then the fish.  So one knife, one cutting board.  Put the seasonings on the fish, mix, and it's ready.  But it can wait for a while in the fridge if you want to do ahead. 

I get all the vegetable chopping done before getting the tuna out..

Then chop the tuna..

Add the seasonings then make the bowls. 



This is best the same day, but leftovers are still ok the next day… 


Serves 2-4 as a main  


Garnish (pick 2 or more): 

Thinly sliced cucumbers, radishes

Shaved or shredded carrots, cabbage 

Sliced bell pepper, hot peppers

Avocado Slices

Sprouts, cilantro or microgreens



¼ cup thinly sliced sweet onion

½ cup chopped green onions, green part only

1 pound sashimi-grade ahi tuna (can use either yellowfin or blue fin tuna), cut into ¾” cubes

¼ teaspoon gochutgaru (Korean red chili flakes) or other chili powder to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted macadamia nuts (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame seeds (or a bit more if not using macadamia nuts)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt to taste


Steamed rice for serving


Prepare ingredients for garnish and set aside. 


Slice onions and place into a medium-large bowl.  Get the ahi out of the fridge, cube and add to onions.  Add remaining ingredients, and gently stir together.  Taste and add salt if needed.  Can be served immediately, but best to refrigerate for 10 minutes or more. 


Make a poke bowl with some rice, top with poke, add garnishes. 


Monday, April 26, 2021

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Our breakfasts are pretty routine and simple, most days are yogurt, fruit and granola, or occasionally oatmeal.  Once in while we have waffles, although lately they seem to be a good dinner option.  And on Sunday's we usually have muffins, alternating though a few standards like banana, pumpkin, or cranberry.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided we needed something different.  Something a bit more decadent.  Since my lemon tree is back to bearing some great (and huge) fruit after a lean year, I thought Lemon Poppy Seed.  

Freakishly Large Lemons

And not the nasty lemon poppy seed muffins that are sticky, overly sweet and pre-wrapped at free hotel breakfasts (if we can remember back to those days), but bright and balanced.  And enough poppy seeds to make passing a drug test a concern.  So I googled recipes .. many were clearly lacking enough lemon and/or poppy seeds, or were more like a cake, needing to cream butter and sugar.   Then I stumbled on one from Sally's Baking Addiction that seemed close.. but it was Orange Lemon (and will someday try it when I have oranges around too).  So I made a few modifications in part to make if more like how I make all my muffins (I do this before coffee, so it needs to be something I can practically do in my sleep).  And it came out good.. very good. 

Wet Ingredients

Yes, the lemons are big

Dry Ingredients

Add dry to the wet

And Muffins!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour (can use about 30% whole wheat if you like)

1/3 cup oat bran

3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk/yogurt combo)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond slivers, for sprinkling

Coarse sugar, for sprinkling 

Preheat oven to 400°F or 380°F convection bake. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in a small bowl (about 1 minute in the microwave) so it has time to cool. 


In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.


In a large bowl, whisk the egg and granulated sugar, then whisk in melted butter, then lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together until no pockets of flour remain. 


Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and a few almond slivers. Bake for about 22 minutes, muffins should be browned and springy to the touch when done.   

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Trying new things ... My store is open!

My ceramics store is finally opened, and I have even made a few sales... but there are still many things available.  I am calling it Firecooked Ceramics.  I also have a new Firecooked Ceramics Facebook page, along with my Firecooked Instagram feed. It's been a learning experience, I am using a web platform called Shopify which sets up to take credit cards, manage inventory, and provides a discount on shipping.  And for all my loyal followers (and because I am still trying to figure out what I should charge, here is a discount code for 20% off that is good for the rest of March:  GRANDOPENING )

Now a year in on the pandemic, with hope on the horizon that soon we can all gather and travel and go out to eat, I am making a list of things that have changed for the better ... I'm thinking on-line grocery shopping, the ability to do meetings on Zoom when you need to, and what is better cooked at home. 

One of the things I have added to my cooking repretare is corn tortillas. I love tacos (who doesn't?) but didn't cook them at at home that often.  It's hard to get good corn tortillas at the grocery store, then they would typically sit in the fridge a few days before I used them, at which point they were less good.  Plus I would always have leftover tortillas that I didn't use that would get tossed.  But when you make your own, you can make just as many as you need, and nothing beats a freshly cooked tortilla. Early in the pandemic, when we couldn't get basics like bread and pasta and beans, I discovered not one but two bags of masa harina (corn flour) in my pantry. You see, I have a recipe for empanadas that called for a 1/4 cup of masa .. that I have made twice.  And the second time that I made them, I couldn't find the bag of masa I thought I had (turns out it was buried in the freezer) so that's how I ended up with two bags. And while in March and April last year basic food items were hard to get, I could buy a tortilla press on Amazon and have it in 2 days.  I just followed the recipe on the bag, and got amazing tortilla's.  

Some special equipment is needed... The above mentioned tortilla press, plus some type of a griddle. I use my cooking steel (a large heavy sheet of steel that I usually cook pizza on in the oven), but you could also use any kind of griddle, or a traditional comal, which is a low sided cast iron pan. 

To make the dough, you just mix the masa with a bit a salt and warm water.  You want the dough to be springy, and neither too sticky or too dry. You let the dough sit for an hour or so, then divide and make small balls (how small depends on how big you want your tacos.. I like them on the smaller size, and make 8 tortillas from 1 cup of masa. To get even sized balls, I cut the big ball in half, then each half into quarters. 

For the filling, you can put in anything you like, including fish or chicken but lately I have been doing veggie tacos. I have nice nearby to-go options for meat loaded tacos, so rarely make those. I use either cauliflower or zucchini as the main veg, plus black beans, onion, garlic, and peppers (if I don't have fresh chili's I just use chili flakes or chili powder).  I am going to give you a recipe, but don't worry about following it too closely. 

I get everything ready (including the add-ons), then cook the tortillas, then the filling.  Both are pretty quick. 

The last part of great tacos at home is the add-ons...  I like something crunchy like radishes or shredded cabbage, something creamy like greek yogurt or sour cream, maybe something cheesy .. cotija is great but I usually don't have that, feta or cheddar are my typical go-to's, bonus points for avocado and cilantro.  Plus hot sauce and lime.  

Corn Tortillas


Scale to make as many as you like, this makes 8 small (5 inch diameter) tortillas, which feeds 2 of us. Water hot from the tap is warm enough, although rather than wait for the water to heat up I usually just warm the water in the microwave. 


1 cup of masa harina

½ teaspoon salt

¾ to 1 cup of hot water


In a medium bowl, mix the masa and salt, then slowly add the water as you mix (I usually just use a fork to do this, would opt for a wooden spoon if I was making a bigger batch).  As the dough starts to come together, knead with your hand several times.  If it is too dry and cracks, add a bit more water.  If it is sticky, add a bit more masa.  It should feel a bit springy when you are done.   Roll into a ball (leave in the same bowl), cover and let sit for an hour or so.  Whe ready to make the tortillas, heat up the griddle.  You are aiming for about 450F, a medium high heat that water droplets will “dance” on.  Divide the dough into 8 pieces (can do more or less depending on how big you like your tortillas).  I cut the ball in half, then in quarters to get even sized pieces, then roll each piece into a ball (they are about golf ball sized).   Place a cut open plastic baggie in the tortilla press (I think the weight that works best is the ziplock storage bag thickness).  Put a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic, then press.  Cook tortilla on the hot griddle for 30 seconds to a minute on each side.  Transfer to a plate lined with a towel, keep wrapped in the towel as you finish cooking all the tortillas.  Serve warm. 

Veggie Taco’s


This makes about 2+ servings.. Please use this as a guideline and feel free to improvise.  Leftovers are good in a quesadilla, on a baked potato, or in a salad. 


Olive or vegetable oil

Cauliflower or zucchini, about 3 cups. Cut in small pieces (about ¼ inch)

Onion, about 1 small, diced

Garlic, a couple of cloves, minced

Bell pepper, about ½, diced (optional)

Hot Peppers, diced (optional, to taste..)

Black beans, about 1 can, drained and rinsed

Cumin, about 1 teaspoon

Chili powder or chili flakes, to taste, ¼ to 1 teaspoon

Salt, pepper


Garnish (pick at least 2-3):

Greek yogurt or sour cream

Shredded lettuce or cabbage, maybe mixed with cilantro

Avocado. Radish slices. Cheese. 

Salsa. Hot sauce. Lime wedges


Warm corn tortillas (3-4 per person)


Heat thin layer of oil in large sauté pan over medium hot flame.  Add cauliflower or zucchini, let sear on one side.  Add the rest of the veggies, let cook a bit, then add bean and spices. Stir well and let beans heat through.  Make tacos with warm tortillas and desired toppings.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Firecooked Ceramics and Biscuits for Two..

My latest endeavor has been setting up a website to sell my ceramics!  For the first 30 years or so of doing ceramics, I always said that my pieces fell into two camps: ones that I wouldn't sell, and ones that I couldn't sell.  Over the last few years though, I have been fortunate to have the time to more more on my craft and have had some excellent teachers that have helped elevate my work.  So while I have been making things for a while that I would and could sell, I'm finally taking the leap to actually sell them.  I have decided to go on-line (not that there are many other options in today's environment), and directly sell from a website I am setting up on Shopify.  There have been a bazillion tiny choices to make, a lot of learning to set up a store, lots of photographs; but I am getting close to a launch, hopefully next week.  I will use this blog to announce when my store opens, as well as Instagram (@firecooked) and Facebook (Firecooked Ceramics).  My website is, but it's not live yet. 

Meanwhile, I'm still doing a lot of cooking.  Looking forward to summer when I'm hoping we are able to gather in bigger groups, but for now still just mostly cooking for 2.  And because its winter (although what we call winter here is not the deep freeze that most the country is currently in), we are eating lots of soups and stews that I make in family size batches, and nothing helps elevate a bowl of leftover soup like a couple of fresh biscuits. 

They come together very quickly ... I normally have all the ingredients (and if I don't buttermilk, plain yogurt thinned with just a bit of milk works), and just cook in the toaster oven.  

The butter get squished into the flour like for a piecrust, add your liquid.  

Then pat, fold, pat, the cut into squares. No rolling pin or cookie cutters needed.

Pop them into the toaster oven (which I don't bother to preheat)

And fresh, warm muffins....

Biscuits for Two

1 cup flour (can be ¼ whole wheat if desired)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold butter
3/8 cup (scant ½ cup) buttermilk

Oven: 425F  (can use a toaster oven)

Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.   Cut butter into thin slices and drop individually into flour … toss as you are going so that all the butter slices are coated in flour.  With fingers, squish butter slices in the flour, until no large pieces of butter remain, but mixture still has some pea-sized lumps.   Add buttermilk, first mix together with a fork, then gently with fingers.  Knead a couple of times in the bowl to bring it all together into a ball (add a bit more milk if needed, but the dough should not be sticky.   Place ball on a floured surface.  Flatten a bit and fold over one way, then the other.   Pat the dough into a ½” thick square, and cut into quarters.   Place quarters on a baking sheet (does not need to be greased, parchment paper is optional).  Using your finger, wipe some buttermilk from the measuring cup and moisten the biscuit tops.   Bake for about 12 minutes.   Serve hot. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Pressure Cooker: Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

It seems like fall is here all of the sudden.  Nights are cool, complaints coming from east coast relatives about it being cold and it's almost Halloween! The latest meal I have been making regularly is a Black Bean and Chorizo soup.  I might even be making it more often than Curried Lentils.  I make in it in a Breville Pressure cooker, which is similar to an Instapot.  From recipes I see on the web, I am guessing the Breville cooks at a slightly higher pressure, as most things will cook faster than called for in a Instapot.  In my opinion, this is the biggest challenges to using a pressure cooker is figuring out the cook time.  Soaked beans will cook much faster (5-6 minutes for soaked black beans vs 22 minutes for unsoaked), fresh beans cook faster than old beans, and different pressure for different cookers.  But you can always just cook some more if you need (and use the quick release, as the natural release is what takes the most time in this recipe). Also ... this is just a version of my Vegetable Bean and Sausage Stew, which is cooked on the stove... On the stove, I would recommend soaking the beans first, and it probably would cook in about the same total time (my guess is the soaked beans would need to cook for an hour or a bit more on the stove at a gentle simmer).  

I like a lot of greens in my soups... this is just one bunch from the Marcella's Farm stall at the Coronado Farmers Market.  You could use a lot less if you want.

When I made this batch, I found I only had a 1/2 pound of black beans in the panty, so I mixed in a 1/2 pound of pinto beans.  The soup is normally darker brown. 

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

Makes 5-6 servings

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 or 2 celery stalks, sliced (if you have them around)
2 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno chili, or some chili flakes
1 pound black beans, rinsed   (pinto beans also work)
6 cups water
Salt (about ½ - 1 teaspoon) and  freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of greens (kale, mustard, chard), stalks removed, chopped (or baby spinach)

Garnish:  Sour cream or Greek yogurt, cilantro, avocado, chili slices, fresh corn, grated or crumbled cheese

 In the pressure cooker, heat the oil (using Sear setting).  Slice the chorizo if it is in a casing, or make little balls if not, and cook in the hot oil until brown.  Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, chili.  When onions are translucent (5 minutes or so), add beans, water, salt and pepper.   Pressure cook using the “bean” function (high pressure) for 22 minutes (note – may be longer with an Instapot).  Let pressure reduce naturally.  When done, taste the beans and make sure they are cooked (if not, cook under pressure for a few more minutes, and OK to manually release the pressure).  Also taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn cooker to slow cook, high setting.  Add chopped greens.  Kale or mustard greens need to cook about 5 minutes; baby spinach is done as soon as you have stirred it in.   

 Serve with a garnish or two. Freezes well.