Tag Archives: Recipe

Gilded Lilies, Volume II

A couple years ago, I posted my pumpkin pie recipes. Every year I tweak them ever so slightly in the quest for the perfect recipe. Plus, I like to play around with variations. Unlike George Lucas, my revisions tend to involve removing or reducing ingredients.

I’m now prepared to declare my “standard” pumpkin pie recipe finished. I’ll always continue to fine-tune it depending on the pumpkin itself, but that’s half the fun of using fresh pumpkin. Anyway, here’s my finished recipe:

Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
20 grams peeled fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients except ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Run the ginger through a garlic press, into the pie batter. (Whatever makes it through the press goes in, but the stringy bits left inside the press should be discarded. Squeeze hard, you want all that juice.) Stir a little more to distribute the ginger. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

Here’s one of my favorite variations:

Espresso Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp finely ground espresso beans
1/2 tsp black pepper (freshly ground if possible)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup (the darker, the better). Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

Here’s my latest variation. It definitely needs some work, but it’s very promising. Part of the problem is that most chocolate chips are too sweet for this flavor. The other part is that the gritty, raw mouth feel of Mexican chocolate is sadly absent. I’m also thinking that a Kahlua whipped cream would be a nice addition.

Mexican Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp cayenne
100 grams chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl except chocolate chips and mix well. Fold chocolate chips into the batter. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

General Pumpkin pie tips:

  • The easiest way to make the pie batter is in a blender. It’s easy to mix and easy to pour. It’s also easy to overdo it, and make a really light, fluffy pie batter, which tends to crack more while baking. One way to avoid this is to add the eggs last and blend it just enough to combine them with the batter.
  • Slide the oven rack out and place the empty pie crust on the rack before you fill it. That way, you can avoid trying to lower a really full pie into the oven.
  • A vegetable peeler works great on fresh ginger.
  • It’s really hard to overbake a pumpkin pie, so if you’re not sure, go a few minutes longer. Or, when you’re pretty sure the pie is done, just turn the oven off but leave the pie inside. It’ll continue to bake a little, and it will cool more slowly, which will help minimize cracking.
  • If you want to make multiple pies at the same time, I’d suggest making the ginger first, then the espresso, then the Mexican chocolate. You can skip washing the bowl in between.


OK, I’ve had trouble with deodorant for years. Most “mainstream” commercial brands irritate my skin to the point of cracking, and most “natural” brands aren’t very effective. I finally found one that is completely non-irritating and nearly as effective as the chemical stuff. I found it on passionatehomemaking.com, so they get the credit. I just wanted to share it, ’cause I like it so much.

45g Coconut Oil
60g Baking Soda
60g Arrowroot Powder
6–8 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix it together. Wipe some on your armpits. You can play around with a little more or a little less coconut oil to find a consistency you like.

UPDATE: I adjusted the recipe for measuring by weight, which should make it a lot easier to get a good consistency on the first try.

Tomato Basil Soup

3 Large Carrots, cut into quarters
2 Onions, diced
4 Cloves Garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon salt
3 28-ounce Cans Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Instant Veggie Broth Powder
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Handful Basil (20–30 leaves)
4 Tablespoons Butter (if you’re feeling decadent)

Throw everything in the crock pot for 2–4 hours on high, 3–5 hours on low. Blend until smooth. Serve with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Lentil/Quinoa Taco Filling

1 Cup Lentils (any variety)
1 Cup Quinoa
4 1/2 Cups Water
4 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Cumin
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Salt

Throw everything but the salt in the crock pot for 2–4 hours. Add the salt, and a little extra water if needed and cook for another 2–4 hours.

[EDIT] If you don’t do a lot of cooking with lentils and/or quinoa, you may want to keep a close eye on this one. If you use smaller, thinner lentils and/or a finer quinoa, this can cook pretty darn fast, just an hour or two in the crock pot. Personally, I think it turns out better with the bigger, heartier lentils, but that’s just me.

Day Fourteen, Part II

OK, I split day fourteen into two posts. I received a few questions that I’d like to answer, but I want to be very clear that perhaps this post is not for everyone. So, here’s your warning:

This post deals with the digestive effects of ABC, specifically, elimination. There will be no other topics discussed here, so if you don’t want to read about it, don’t read any further.


I’m going to write about poop now, so you’ve had your warning.

One thing no one tells you about becoming a parent is how much time you spend talking about poop. Did she? Didn’t she? Quantity? Texture? Any gas? Well, the same holds true when starting a drastically different diet. Will I? Won’t I? Quantity? Texture? Any gas?

The first couple of days, I didn’t notice much difference. My urine turned fluorescent yellow from all the extra B vitamins, but that’s no surprise. Around day three or four, quantity started to taper off, and things got harder. I changed the recipe a little, adding a bit more fiber.

Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to help. That’s when I started thinking about the benefits of roughage over powdered fiber. I also kept a close eye on the iron content of my recipe, as I was getting about 300% of the RDA at that point. I made some changes and got that under 200%, which should be a fairly safe level.

One big advantage I can see to a manufactured Soylent would be the elimination of so many extra micronutrients. Yes, I could probably make a much more complex recipe and take care of some of that, but frankly, my recipe is already more complex than I want it to be. I’m pushing the limits of convenience as it is.

The only thing that really helped was adding a little food. When I had my first “meal” on day seven, things were much improved on day eight. The same was true a couple days later when I didn’t get my ABC and got Chinese carry out instead.

I don’t think the constipation was too severe, as a single meal was enough to set things right pretty quickly. Quite frankly, I really wouldn’t want it to get much worse than it did. To stick with Futurama, I felt like Nibbler generating dark matter: dark, hard, and just big enough to be uncomfortable.

So, long story short, my ABC recipe led to moderate constipation. I would guess that the longer I stayed on this recipe exclusively, the worse it would get. I would not recommend more than a week on this recipe without some leafy green vegetables.

Many users have reported gas problems, too. It seems the oats are the main culprit, but I personally did not have that problem. If anything, I was less gassy than usual while on ABC.

So, there you have it.

Day Thirteen

Not much to report today. I tweaked the recipe again, as I ran out of whey protein and switched to soy. I do expect to be pretty hungry later, as I had a pretty active morning, tearing out more asphalt and cleaning the garage.

Tomorrow will be the end of my initial two-week run. I’m pretty curious to get on the scale again, and see where my weight is at. I’m also planning to do a small portion of ABC in the morning and have a meal at night. Right now, I’m leaning towards a taco salad. I’ve been missing burritos, but I also really want/need a serious dose of lettuce, so that seemed like a good compromise.

I’m also planning to continue this on Monday. I’m thinking every other day, maybe? We’ll see how it goes. There’s a good chance we’ll have enough junk out of the basement that I can get a little exercise, too.

So, yeah, there you have it. I’m not feeling terribly inspired at the moment, but that’s OK. I think I’ll turn off the computer and play with my kids now.

Days Eleven and Twelve

Well, we’re nearing the end of week two. Yesterday was the first day I really felt hungry while on the ABC. I had nothing yesterday but ABC and coffee, so that may be a part of it. I’m still not feeling enthusiastic about the weight loss (or lack thereof) I’m experiencing. I bumped the recipe down again, this time to 1700 calories, and I’d like to add a piece of fruit or something for ‘dessert’ at the end of the day. Even with a piece of fruit and a couple cups of coffee, I should be solidly under 2000 calories a day at this point.

I’m planning to keep nudging the calories down until I see a pretty consistent loss of two pounds a week. If things go really well, I could be under 220 by New Year’s, which would be a new low for me. That would be a nice way to start 2014.

I still feel pretty good about the nutrition levels. The only thing I really feel that I’m missing at this point is roughage. I think lettuce provides something to the body that no powder can. I would definitely suggest swapping a glass of ABC for a salad a couple times a week.

I’m also having a hard time separating the effects of ABC from the effects of extreme sleep deprivation and the effects of stress. I haven’t slept more than a few hours a night in a while. I’m still trying to keep pressure on the contractors to finish repairs, I’m still living in a slowly shrinking house, I have a three-year-old who refuses to sleep, and a one-year-old who is still recovering from a couple of brutal months of teething. The only exercise I’m getting is trips up and down the stairs with a laundry basket.

Still, I’m trying desperately to remain positive. We have a new roof, and it looks fantastic. The new roof looks so much more natural and appropriate, I can hardly remember what the old roof looked like. The front steps are all that is left of the old color scheme, and they look extra terrible now. That project will definitely be higher on the list come Spring. (There’s also one section of fence and the garage to deal with, but those are at least separate from the house.)

I’m also cashing in on the free dumpster that’s still outside to get a head start on ripping out some of the pavement. I’ve stalled on that project for a while, as the cost of hauling off the debris was prohibitive, but with that eliminated, I’m hoping to get as much done as possible before snow flies again. With a little luck, that’ll be done tomorrow. (Actually, I’d love to rip out the whole driveway and start over, but there’s no way I’ll get a new one poured this Autumn. I’ll have to settle for just removing the excess at this point.)

The concrete I poured last weekend looks OK. I poured two new squares, and those turned out pretty well. One got stepped on while wet, so there’s a goofy patch that may or may not set correctly, but I think they’ll both be structurally pretty solid. I also did some repair and resurface work on the apron into the garage, and that didn’t turn out so well. Sadly, it’s a repair of a repair of a repair of a piece that wasn’t done very well the first time. At this point, I’m hoping to buy about 18 more months, at which point I’ll see about ripping out the apron along with the rest of the driveway and doing it right.

So, I’m getting a surprising amount of work done on the house considering it’s already November and we’ve had one small snowfall. I had resigned myself to small indoor projects at this point, but I keep getting a little more done outside.

All I really need right now is a few more hours of sleep each night and a chance to socialize once in a while. Sure, a sack of money and a housekeeper would be great, but I’m trying to stay within the realm of the possible.

What I’m getting at here is that life could be better, but it’s going OK. The ABC is taking care of my physical need for fuel, and it’s really highlighting how much I eat out of stress, exhaustion, and loneliness, and how little I eat out of need. I am a long way from getting that under control, but this experiment seems to be helping.

Days Nine and Ten

So, I’ve definitely had to get a little more flexible with this whole thing. Yesterday was not a good day at our house, and as such, I was not able to stick to close to my plan. I whipped up a batch of ABC, took a sip, then my son flung it across the room. I spent the next hour cleaning ABC off the table, floor, Legos, stuffed monkey, crib, my pants, shoes, socks, and of course, my son. By the time that was done, it was time to leave for school with a quick stop to vote on the way. From school, I went directly to a neighboring polling place to work as an election judge for the rest of the day. By the time I was done with that, it was almost 10:00 and I’d had exactly one sip of ABC to sustain me throughout the day. Call me weak, but after a visit to the grocery store for child-feeding supplies, I stopped for some mu shu pork on the way home.

Today, I still have about 2/3 of a batch waiting for me in the fridge. Rather than try to figure out what to add to make it a full batch, I just tossed in a banana and called it good. Yes, I’ll probably be a little low today, but that’s alright. I’ll probably drink a little more coffee anyway.

Fortunately, this should be the end of my five crazy days. My wife will be home a little later than usual, but otherwise, this is looking to be a ‘normal’ day. Plus, my son got another new tooth (his third in six days) which SHOULD signal the end of teething until the two-year molars come around.

I also revised the recipe again. I know, I know, I keep saying I’m not going to do that, but I actually bumped it down to 1800 calories. I’m still not losing weight, and may have actually gained a little, which is not very inspiring. I still need to do more research into how many calories I should be getting each day. So far, I’m getting estimates from 1,500 to 3,300. Hurray for an overabundance of questionable information on the internets!

I’ll probably change the recipe again here in a couple days, as I’m almost out of whey protein and am going to try soy instead. The protein is the most expensive ingredient, soy is about half the price of whey, and the subtle differences in nutritional quality seem to be applicable only for aggressive bodybuilding. I’d also like to switch to a more natural sweetener, probably honey.

So, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m done fine-tuning the recipe. All these tweaks are pretty subtle, so it’s not like I’m completely changing things daily. I’m just trying to find what works for me.

Days Six, Seven, and Eight

I had a killer weekend, so I didn’t get to write individual posts for each day. I’d love to tell you that today’s post will be extra-awesome to compensate, but I don’t think I’ll raise your expectations like that.

I was able to more or less stick to my intentions for the weekend, which is good. In addition to the ABC, I had a bowl of vegetable soup on Saturday night. On Sunday, I had a half-batch of ABC and a big pile of takeout from Quang. I don’t have exact numbers, but I feel pretty confident that I still burned more calories than I ate.

Unfortunately, both kids opted against sleep last night. Well, OK, they don’t really ever sleep through the night, but last night was especially bad. My wife got about 90 minutes of sleep, I got probably double that. So, today is not pretty. I’m exhausted and both kids are cranky. I spent the whole weekend on house repairs and projects, so now I’m buried in dishes and laundry.

Seems like a perfect time to sit and write, eh?

So, that’s a week. Now that I’ve done this for a week with very little additional food, I have a few thoughts.

First, I can’t see myself doing this every day for any extended period of time. It does seem to be a good way to re-train my body to recognize how much food I actually need, so I’m hoping for easier portion control after this. I already noticed that last night’s meal filled me up a lot more than it would have a week ago, and I didn’t even get any coconut bread.

Second, this approach to nutrition is not very flexible. Most of us have different caloric needs every day. Sure, we all probably maintain a pretty consistent average need, but there’s still a lot of fluctuation. Longer-term, I could see changing the recipe to meet my caloric needs on my laziest day, then add a snack here and there based on the day’s activities.

Third, I like the idea of getting complete nutrition every day. Yes, there’s the obvious side of that, but it also means that when I’m not on ABC, I don’t have to worry a whole lot about nutrition. It’s not license to go crazy and live on milkshakes and nachos, but I don’t have to give much thought to individual nutrients. If I eat even a vaguely balanced diet, I should be fine.

Fourth, this is time-consuming, at least for right now. Right now, I’m paying a LOT of attention to every detail of the experience: monitoring my caloric needs, keeping an eye on my weight, paying careful attention to my body’s signals for any concerns, trying to keep some less common ingredients on hand, and mixing up a batch every morning. Then I write about it. In the short term, this is not more efficient.

In the future, there are some things that could smooth out the whole process for me. A commercially-available product would help, even if it is a little more expensive. It would be simpler, and if done correctly, it would provide an even better balance of nutrition. There should be a lot less waste nutrition, too: the irrelevant overabundance of certain vitamins. Even if I continue to make my own, I could at least settle on a recipe. I could also probably put together a pre-mix of the dry ingredients, so there’d be less measuring each morning. It won’t always be a as much of a hassle as it is now.

But, overall, I’m happy with my first week on this plan. I think I’m off to a good start.

Day Five

Day Five also happens to be the first day of five crazy days around here. More if you count Halloween, which is actually still pretty tame with our eldest only three years old. But, the kids did not want to go to sleep after trick-or-treat, so it wasn’t the best way to start this particular stretch of mayhem.

Anyway, today my wife went in for a half day, then as soon as she came home, I went to training to be an election judge, then we met at Powderhorn for Empty Bowls where we volunteer as a family. Tomorrow, I’ll get up early and start draining the radiators so I can do some more plumbing work, go to my yoga class while that drains, then come back and work until it’s done, no matter how long that takes. Sunday, I’m planning to mix and pour 1500 pounds of concrete, again, working until it’s done. Sunday night we change the clocks, so I have every reason to believe the kids will be up about 4:00 AM with no comprehension of why that’s a problem. Monday will  be a normal day, except that we’ll be driving to Lakeland after my wife gets off work to pick up a new used car, and hopefully get back in time to not screw up the kids’ bedtime (the first one after the time change). Tuesday is election day, and again my wife will go in for a half day at work, I’ll take the kids to school in the morning, then I’ll go play election judge for 8 hours.

Those of you who know me (and I’m assuming that both the people who read this do actually know me) know that I handle stress and lack of sleep with food. Except that right now I’m not really eating. It should be interesting.

I did mix things up a little in the last 24 hours. Last night, I ate two pieces of Halloween candy. I had an ultra-micro-fun-size Snickers, because that was the closest thing to real food in the bowl, and a York Peppermint Patty, because it was a PEPPERMINT F-IN’ PATTY. Tonight, I had some soup and a couple tiny pieces of bread at Empty Bowls. I don’t feel too bad about it, as I biked downtown for training and spent several hours on my feet tonight. The soup was pretty light, too.

Still, it was food, and it tasted gooooooood. I’m having a really hard time separating the joy I took in eating something delicious from the fact that I had every right to be pretty darn hungry at that point. But, I’m not beating myself up over it. My overall calorie intake is still plenty low for the day. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that when things settle out a bit, I’ll change the recipe to add a few more calories.

I’ve also decided that I’ll add a ‘meal’ to Sunday evening. That will mark the end of my first week (well, 6 2/3 days), and also the end of a pretty active weekend. My current plan is to simply make a half-batch of ABC in the morning, then get a bag of Vietnamese deliciousness from Quang in the evening. I’m very curious to see what real food will do to my system after being on ABC almost exclusively for a week.

Overall, I still feel pretty good. I didn’t get much sleep last night, which never helps. My bike ride was fun, but a definite reminder that I don’t get enough exercise these days. I’m hungry, but I think a big part of that is that it’s Friday night, both kids are asleep, my wife is out, and as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to park my butt in front of the TV for a while. Hunger isn’t a factor so much as it just seems like a great time for a snack. The last couple hours before bed time is definitely the hardest time for me during this little experiment.