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Archive for January 5th, 2008

Food Ramblings & Strawberry Recipe

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

ColorJoy, the blog, is a place for all artforms. Today I wish to focus on cooking. Yummy! At the end I will share a new recipe I created today.

I love food. Some of you know that there are a lot of foods I can not eat because of allergy/sensitivity reactions.

However, because of my food restrictions Brian and I eat very well. Everything we eat at home is from scratch. We eat a lot of organic food, a lot of “ethnic” foods, many things I had never heard of while growing up. In fact, I feel really lucky to be living in these times, because so many types of produce are available to me fresh or frozen for most of the year.

New Foods for Me

cookedtaroroots.jpgI am learning a lot right now about root vegetables. I don’t do too well with potato, but taro root which has been boiled and then peeled is a lot like potato, a little more flavorful and a little more work to prepare. They are maybe a quarter of the size of a standard baking potato, and can not be peeled easily before cooking.

They look awful at the store, like small fuzzy brown rocks, but they are worth the effort. Here is a photo of some taro roots after they were scrubbed and then boiled. They look much nicer here than at the store, but they are quite nice to eat (after peeling) with just a little butter or olive oil.

We eat a lot of sweet potatoes. And now I am trying what is sometimes labeled “white yam” which looks like sweet potato, with a purple skin but flesh that is cream colored before cooking and has a few pale green veins after cooking.

It is very smooth in texture, not very sweet but sweeter than potato or taro. I put it in some green (frozen) pea soup the other day and it was incredibly good.


Flat Breads from Root Veggies

I have been trying to make things like tortillas, chapatis or potato lefse (pronounced LEFF-suh, a Norwegian flat bread which we always had at holiday meals when I was growing up). I am not having a great success with this, but I keep trying. (I can not have yeast, but I do not miss regular bread the way I miss tortillas.)

The best so far were the ones last week, made of taro and brown rice flour. The night I made them, they did roll up fine, but they hardened up a lot overnight (see photo).

Honestly, if I just want a bread to eat on the side they work out fine. However, I have not yet done well making anything that would roll up like a tortilla or lefse.

However… when it comes to desserts I am doing great. I make several versions of tapioca pudding that I really enjoy. I make teff spice muffins and pancakes (both gluten free), which are no compromise at all. I make a chocolate cake that is pretty good and I am still working on brownies.

My Friend in the Kitchen: Tapioca

It seems that tapioca is my friend. My mother always used instant tapioca to thicken pie fillings when I was a child, rather than cornstarch. It does have the telltale bumps in it, which I do not mind at all, but it is much cleaner a taste than the cornstarch, less sticky somehow. I know now that tapioca starch can be purchased much like cornstarch, so one could use that without the lumps for pie filling if desired.

I remember the years we would climb up in the neighbor’s cherry trees and pick cherries until we wished there was no such tree. Then we would sit together and pit the cherries, and mom would make wonderful pies, or sometimes just the sauce which we would put over ice cream.

Strawberry Experiments

So tonight I bought two bags full of organic frozen strawberries. What a treat! It is January and the snow is deep, and I can buy organic strawberries in Michigan! I determined that I wanted some sort of sauce or pudding made of strawberries.

I found one recipe that Diana, my Sis-in-Love, had found for me months ago, for a pureed strawberry/tapioca dessert. It seemed to be all sauce and no fruit, and I do not own (or want) a food processor or blender with which to puree fruit.

I found another recipe on the back of my pearl tapioca bag (I have instant tapioca, too, but I rather fancied the larger ones tonight). It was for standard milk-based tapioca pudding. I did not want any milk in mine but it gave me hints on how long to soak the tapioca, how long to boil and how long to simmer, before cooling.



And voila! I combined bits of both recipes, plus I tripled the amount of fruit the one recipe called for. And I made a wonderful dessert. We ate it warm like a pudding, but it would have been wonderful on ice cream or frozen yogurt. It would be a great topping on a humble poundcake or angel food cake.

Or, I am guessing, it might set up pretty hard after a long cooling night in the refrigerator, and it then could be eaten almost like a gelatin salad. I am making sure I don’t eat at least one of the portions until morning, so I can report back on that.

So here I present to you:

Very-Yummy Strawberry Dessert!

1/4c small pearl tapioca
1-1/2c water
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar (optional, or use white sugar)
1-1/2c Frozen Strawberries, organic if available

Measure berries and set aside in one layer, to thaw. Soak tapioca and water in saucepan for 30 minutes. While waiting, cut 1 cup of the berries into small pieces (may wish to thaw very briefly first). With a fork, mash remaining 1/2c berries (or puree in blender or food processor if desired).After the 30 minutes, add sugar and berries to pan.

Bring mixture to a full boil very briefly. Lower heat to very low, and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, allow to cool for 15 minutes. (At this point you may add 1tsp of vanilla or other flavoring of your choice, I did not do this myself.)

Makes four half-cup servings. Either pour over cake, ice cream, pancakes, or eat warm as pudding, or chill thoroughly in refrigerator and eat as a cool snack or light dessert. Consider topping with coconut flakes or whipped cream if desired.


I am guessing that you could mix up any fruit that was a little sweet and a little tart, and use the same recipe. Pie cherries or raspberries would be great but would need more sugar, blueberries might not need any sugar at all. The sky is the limit! Do let me know if you try it.

Do any of you have recipes calling for Tapioca in unusual ways? I’m all ears.