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Mix-and-match grain salad

I’ve been making a mix-and-match grain salad a ton recently. It’s great for using up leftovers, and it keeps really well in the fridge as long as the greens you use are substantial enough.

All you do is combine a cooked grain of some sort, greens, at least one soft-ish vegetable, at least one crunchier vegetable, and dressing. Things that I’ve found work in most versions of this salad include kale, green onions, grated carrot, thinly sliced onion, small tomatoes, olives, capers, and cucumber. I find that bagged, chopped-up kale keeps for a super long time in the fridge both before it is prepared and after it goes in to the salad.

Bonus additions include toasted seeds or nuts, feta or grilled halloumi, chickpeas or puy lentils, hardboiled eggs, croutons fried up from the leftover heel of a loaf of bread, bacon bits, leftover roast chicken, that sort of thing. It’s best if you leave the cooked grain overnight in the fridge so that it can dry out a little bit, and when you use it in the salad it’s worth breaking up any clumps with your hands first.

These are some decent combos and their dressing counterparts. I’m counting cous cous as a grain since it functions a similar way!

  1. Components — Wild rice + shredded red cabbage + thinly sliced green onions + grated carrot + roasted peanuts
    Dressing — Rice wine vinegar + soy sauce + sesame oil + minced garlic + sugar + ground ginger
  2. Components — Bulgar wheat + massaged kale (stalks removed) + thinly sliced red or white onion massaged with sumac + diced cucumber + fresh mint / dill / parsley / thyme if you have it
    Dressing — Olive oil + honey + lemon juice + a tiny bit of tahini + minced garlic + salt + pepper
  3. Components — Cous cous + massaged kale (stalks removed) + roasted red peppers (jarred is fine) + toasted pine nuts or cashews + fresh oregano / basil / parsley if you have it
    Dressing — Olive oil + balsamic vinegar + salt + pepper
  4. Components — Quinoa + arugula + diced tomatoes (or whole small tomatoes) + thinly sliced onion + chopped olives and / or capers + canned tuna, drained
    Dressing — Olive oil + red wine vinegar + Dijon mustard + salt + pepper

This is the recipe I contributed as part of a recent recipe chain mail. I normally really dislike chain mails but am always happy to participate in a food-based one!

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A damn fine margarita

John makes the best margaritas, finally texted him for the ratios. Needs must!

Most recipes online seem to call for about 2 oz tequila + 1 oz triple sec + 1 oz lime juice (2:1:1). This is way too intense IMO, almost feels more like a martini or something (that’s not the right analogy, but you get what I mean). The extra sweetness from additional triple sec balances things out. I’m calling for Cointreau below because that’s John’s recommendation.

Combine 2 parts tequila + 2 parts Cointreau + 1 part fresh lime juice (2:2:1). If you’re making two, 3 oz tequila + 3 oz Cointreau + 1½ oz fresh lime juice works super well (I tried this using an egg cup as an ounce measure due to where we’re at, YMMV). Shake thoroughly with ice, then strain into one or more glasses of fresh ice. Or use a single huge cube of ice if you’re at chez Goods. If it’s your preference, rub a wedge of lime around the rim of the glass and dip in to coarse salt before pouring in the drink.

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Pantry Parkin

This is a use-up-all-the-things parkin recipe. Useful if you want something sweet and super spiced when you’re about to move. Or, say, in the middle of a pandemic. Now is perfect. It takes an hour and a half to bake, so it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday self isolation.

For proper authenticity, use a beat-up Tala Originals Cook’s Dry Measure for most ingredients. Judge the butter amount by gauging it based on a whole block, then hope for the best.

Don’t hesitate to substitute ingredients, that’s the whole point. The only things you probably can’t get away with substituting are the black treacle / molasses and the ground ginger. If you substitute the flour, use Traditional Ovens’ converter to make sure you’ve got the right volume.


Based on a parkin recipe from The Spruce Eats.

Preheat the oven to 140C (275F) and line a 8×8″ (20×20cm) tray or two 1lb loaf tins.

In a large saucepan, melt 220 g butter, ½ c dark brown sugar, packed, ¼ c black treacle or molasses, and 1 c golden syrup or corn syrup

In a bowl, mix ½ c muesli with raisins removed, 1¼ c dark rye flour, 2 t baking powder, ¼ t salt, 4 t ground ginger, 2 t ground nutmeg, and 1 t random spices that are something similar to mixed spice. A blend of ground coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (heavy on the cinnamon) seems to work well.

Blend the wet and dry together thoroughly, then use a wooden spoon to beat in 2 eggs. The consistency should be like cake batter. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water / oat milk / normal milk.

Pour the mixture in to your prepared tin(s) and bake for an hour and a half. It may need to bake 15-20 minutes longer if using loaf tins. When done, allow to cool in the tin.

When cool, store the parkin in an air tight container. Try to let it sit at least a few days first, it will get better and better. Keeps for about two weeks, and it freezes well.

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Leek and potato soup with smoked paprika and toasted fennel seed

All measurements are approximate. Taste as you go! Doesn’t call for cream because I can’t have it.

In a big pot, heat about 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add 3 leeks, rinsed and sliced and two cloves of garlic, crushed. Sautée until softened. Add a big pinch of salt, 2 t fennel seed, toasted and crushed, and 1 t smoked paprika. Stir to combine and allow to continue cooking while you prep the potatoes.

Peel 3–4 medium-sized potatoes, then cut them in to manageable pieces and add them to the pot. Add vegetable bouillon (I use Swiss Marigold powder) and enough oat milk and water to submerge the potatoes. The total amount of liquid should be about ⅔ oat milk, ⅓ water.

Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the liquid has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat, then remove a stick immersion blender to purée the soup thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, it may need more salt and will probably need the juice of at least ¼ lemon.

To serve, ladle in to bowls and drizzle a little olive oil over the top, then sprinkle over a tiny bit more smoked paprika and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Goes nicely with crusty bread.

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Oatmeal streusel muffins

Makes a dozen muffins.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, combine 45 g (½ c) rolled oats, 40 g (⅓ c) plain flour*, 40 g (⅓ c) chopped pecans or walnuts, 66 g (⅓ c packed) light brown sugar, 1 heaped t of ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.), and a pinch of salt. Pour 4 T melted butter over the mixture and mix thoroughly to combine in to a crumb-like mixture.

Make the batter. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine 240 ml (1 c) milk*, 113 g (½ c) cooled melted butter, 1 large egg, 100 g (½ packed c) light or dark brown sugar, and 1 T white vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine 125 g (1 c) plain flour, 90 g (1 c) rolled oats, 1 t ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt, 1 t baking powder, and ½ t baking soda. Stir the dry in to the wet just until combined.

Immediately after making the batter, ladle it in to the prepared muffin tin. The batter should fill the cups about ¾ of the way. Next, add a generous tablespoon of topping to each muffin.

Bake in a 200C (400F) oven for 18–25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then remove the muffins to a rack to continue cooling.

* This seems like a substitution-friendly recipe. I made these with a combination of dark rye flour and gluten free flour when I didn’t have normal flour in for whatever reason and they came out really well. Wouldn’t hesitate to try all GF flour or similar substitutes. Oat milk works really well too.


This recipe is a tweaked combo of a Cooks Illustrated recipe (paywall) and another oatmeal muffin recipe.

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Flourless peanut butter cookies

Makes about 10 cookies. Can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and line a tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, combine 66 g (⅓ c) brown sugar, 66 g (⅓ c) granulated sugar, and 1 t baking soda. Add and blend in a pinch of salt if using unsalted peanut butter. Next, add 1 large egg and 250 g peanut butter, and then mix thoroughly to combine.

Use two spoons to maneuver walnut-sized balls of dough on to the tray, leaving ample space between each cookie since they will rise and spread. Flatten the balls slightly with a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake in a 175C (350F) oven for 8–10 minutes. Allow them to cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool further. They will be very soft to the touch fresh from the oven and firm up as they cool.

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Chocolate crackle cookies recipe

The ingredients in this recipe are very similar to Prof. Bruce Maxwell’s Churchill Brownies recipe, so similar that I may consider trying the exact combo below as a brownie tray bake some time. Dust the top with powdered sugar and cut it in to squares. Could work!

There are a few factors at play in getting the crackle right including the fully preheated oven, the position of the oven rack, the liquid-to-dry ratio, the *sifted* powdered sugar, and the temperature of the dough before it goes in the oven. You could attempt to bake two sheets of cookies at once, but baking the cookies in separate batches helps them crackle more uniformly. Follow the instructions carefully, and use weights if you can. Weigh your eggs if you’re not sure about the chicken egg sizes in your country.


Makes about 18 cookies, on two baking sheets.

In a large bowl, combine 60 g (½ c) unsweetened cocoa powder, 205 g (1 c) granulated sugar, and 60 g (¼ c) vegetable oil until very homogenous and absolutely no lumps of cocoa are left. Beat in 2 large (~60 g each w/ shell on) eggs and ½ t vanilla extract or the zest of an orange.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 130 g (1 c) plain flour, 1 t baking powder, and ¼ t salt. Next, stir this dry mixture in to the wet mixture just until combined. Cover and place in your freezer for 45 minutes if you want them quickly or 4–8 hours in the fridge if baking the next day.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 175C (350F) and position an oven rack in the upper third of your oven. I use the second rung from the top. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then sift about 35 g (¼ c) powdered sugar in to a bowl.

When the oven is fully preheated, remove half of the dough from the fridge / freezer and use a spoon to scoop out about 1–2 T for each cookie, quickly rolling them in to balls. The dough will be very sticky. When all of the dough balls are ready, quickly roll them in the powdered sugar and place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving decent space for the cookies to spread. Place them straight in the preheated oven and bake for 10–12 minutes until crackly and just a tiny bit soft. Let cool no longer than 5 minutes, then transfer them off of the paper and on to a cooling rack.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, using a separate cool tray or allowing the original tray to cool sufficiently.

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Kołaczki recipe

This is my mom’s kołaczki [kɔˈwat͡ʂki] recipe, from her mom. I would guess that my grandma found it in the Chicago Tribune at some point. It was my absolute favourite as a kid, and my mom’s. The cookies are super light and the perfect size.


Makes about a dozen cookies if rolled to ¼” (6 mm) thick, closer to two dozen if rolled ⅛” (4 mm) thick

Let ½ c (110 g) butter and a smidge less than 3 oz (⅔ c, 80 g) cream cheese* sit at room temperature until semi-soft, then beat them together in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter. Blend in 1 c (130 g) flour until just combined. Lay out some parchment paper, drop the dough in the middle, and then press it in to a rough rectangle. Wrap it up and refrigerate it for at least an hour. If you can, stick your rolling pin in the fridge as well.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay some parchment paper out on a surface and then generously dust it with powdered sugar to prevent the dough from sticking. Remove your dough and rolling pin from the fridge. Working quickly to prevent the dough from getting too warm and sticky, roll out the dough to ⅛–¼” (4–6 mm) thick. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough if it seems to stick to the pin.

Once it is rolled out, cut out the dough with a 2″ (50 mm) diameter circle cookie cutter or cut in to 2″ (50 mm) squares and place the shapes on to the lined baking sheet. The cookies can be spaced relatively close, they rise a bit and spread only very slightly. Dab a small amount of apricot preserve on the centre of each cookie. If using the square cookie technique, fold two opposite corners in so that they slightly overlap over the preserve.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 10–12 minutes until very lightly browned. While warm, sift powdered sugar over the cookies and then let them cool on a rack.


* I have lactose issues so I tried making this with vegan cream cheese. It worked really well! The vegan cream cheese was a little less sweet than I would want for this recipe, so I replaced a tablespoon (10 g) of flour with powdered sugar. It also seems to be a bit softer than regular cream cheese, so next time I would probably add 1–3 more tablespoons of flour.

If you double or triple this recipe, separate the dough in to thirds before you refrigerate it. You can then roll it out in stages to prevent the dough from getting too warm.

Apparently you could put all sorts of fillings in this. Apricot preserve is what we always had when I was little, but this time I ended up using the gooseberry and blackcurrant jams we had on hand. More traditional fillings are poppy seed (masa makowa) and plum butter (powidla sliwkowe). The website In Ania’s Kitchen has some good recipes for these fillings.

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Lemon-glazed Pierniczki recipe

I went to Wrocław recently with some good friends and we picked up a bag of minty Uszatki (“eared”) pierniczki from Kopernik at the airport with our few remaining złoty. Pierniczki, or pierniki, are Polish gingerbread biscuits, slightly soft and heavily spiced. They come in a lot of shapes and sizes and are sometimes filled. Traditionally the dough is allowed to rest for a long time, possibly a year. This is a quicker recipe, though it does still call for at least a few hours’ rest.

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