Cook Book...

Cook Book...

To write or not to write,

That IS the ???

So I have hit the 100th person to ask me: Are you going to write a cook book?" or "When are you going to write a cook book?"  I am celebrating this milestone (like celebrating the 100th person to cross the threshold of a new store or business) by chatting about it here.

Cook book or not?

I have to say, "nah, not in my plans."  I thought about it for a bit and here are my issues... issues, we always have issues!

1.  I am a "just throw it in a bowl" kind of gal.  For example, foods like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and pancakes all have the same basic ingredients. Some have more liquid, i.e. pancakes, while others have more flour, i.e. cookies. What I throw in the bowl depends on the consistency of the batter or dough I am trying to make.

So, to make a chocolate cake I do something like this (and hope for the best!):

  • 2-3 eggs whipped up and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup melted butter (these two ingredient amounts depend on whether I am making a one or two layer cake)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, unrefined, of course (I may use 3/4 if making 2 layers and it is not for my kids, most people like sweeter cakes.)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk, again depending on the layers
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. baking powder depending on the flour (oat flour and I use less b. powder, if it is millet / quinoa / teff / amaranth flours I use more b. powder)
  • 3-6 tbsp. cocoa powder depending on # of layers and how chocolate flavored I want the cake
  • Enough flour to create a cake batter consistency, which is thicker than pancakes but more liquid than cookies

Set batter aside for 5 - 10 minutes to see how the flour soaks up the liquid.  After 10 minutes, if the consistency is cake like, good to go.  If it is too runny, I add flour a tiny bit at a time.  Too thick?  I thin with a bit of milk.

So, that is how I cook everything.  A little of this and a little of that.  Who wants a cook book written like this? I would get boo-ed and rotten tomatoes thrown at me! Most people want exact measurements.

2. Meal cooking is a process of looking at the local, seasonal produce on hand and having fun with it; playing with the ingredients, herbs, and spices.  When you play with food for long enough, cooking and creating in the kitchen becomes second nature.

I suggest picking up a couple of good vegetarian cook books* (cook books that show case seasonal produce) and then read them like novels.  Next, get cooking. After a bit of practice in the seasonal kitchen, I will say it again, cooking becomes second nature. It is an art work. Relax, breathe deeply, and let your creative nature just flow.

Add your favorite protein sources and whole grains to the yummy seasonal veggies and voila'... you have dinner (suggestion: make enough for lunch leftovers!).

If you have blood sugar control challenges (diabetes) eat whole grains in serious moderation, not at every meal, and up the intake of veggies instead.

3. I visited the SLU book store and checked out the cook book section.  It was scary!  There were 5 shelving sections of cook books with 7 shelves in each section.  35 shelves of cook books and only 2 of the cook books on the shelves had more than one copy.  One was the original MoosewoodCook Book the other was a smoothie "recipe book", I believe.  All of those 35 shelves were loaded with single copies of cook books on every topic and health promoting diet imaginable! That was a huge wow for me!

The 5 rows of cook books at the SLU Book Store:


3.  I am all about making food an art form.  The kitchen is your studio, food is your medium, and the kitchen utensils are your artist's tools!


Watch for my follow up post:  How to Cook Like an Artist

Be well, have fun in the kitchen!  Paula

*Cook Books you might find useful: 

  • Home Gardener's Month By Month Cookbook, Marjorie Page Blanchard
  • From Asparagus to Zucchini
  • Recipes from the Root Cellar, Andrea Chesman (She also wrote Serving Up the Harvest)

If the cook book uses refined ingredients (refined, all-purpose flour, bleached or not)... use your whole food kitchen skills and swap out the refined ingredients and add in 100% whole food ingredients. Need help with this? Give me a shout, read that section in my book (Hands On Health: Take Your Vibrant, Whole Health Back Into Your Healing Hands), or zap me an email and I will send you my educational handout.

If you do not like the high fat ingredients in the Home Gardener's Cookbook, swap out for ingredients with fat contents you are comfortable with.  Myself, hey, bring on the butter!   (From Pasture Raised Cows, Please!)

Get cooking like the seasonal kitchen artist you can be!

PS  My second book, a book of inspirational words to help you put the action steps in my first book, well... into action, was picked up by a publisher yesterday!  Stay tuned as I keep you informed of the publishing process!  

I call this book of words my "yoga poses" for the body, mind, and spirit book. No, that is not the book's title... that secret will be released at a later date! 

Today, to celebrate, I am off to climb a high peak in those amazing ADK Mountains!

White Face from last summer's hiking ... today I am going up Dial!

White Face from last summer's hiking ... today I am going up Dial!

Gluten-Free Cooking & Living Class

Gluten Free Class Offered through Local Living Venture DSC00874

Gluten Free Valentine's Cake, see recipe below.

POTSDAM, NY -- The idea of "gluten free" is being talked about everywhere lately, and many people find that they are unable to tolerate the proteins found in gluten-containing grains, or just feel a lot better when they eliminate them from the diet.  Because of the need for basic, solid information on this subject, the Local Living Venture is presenting another in their series of "Nutritious Delicious" cooking seminars entitled ""Gluten Free Eating and Living" on on Thursday, February 27th in Potsdam, NY.

If you are curious about Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance or are wondering about going gluten free, it may all seem overwhelming. This informative session with local nutrition educator Paula Youmell, R.N. will give attendees the lay of the land from both a practical cooking discussion and demonstration to the very important health perspective.  Plus, attendees will help make, and then sample, some gluten-free whole foods.

Topics to be discussed include:  the basics of a gluten free diet; how to do it in a healthy and easy manner; how to avoid hidden gluten and cross contamination; and, cleaning out the kitchen of gluten products.  Many resources will also be shared for follow up.

Presenter Paula Youmell is an R.N., Certified Health Education and Lifetime Wellness/Fitness Teacher who has worked in the areas of holistic health, healing and whole foods for twenty-plus years.  Youmell is currently proprietor of Hands On Health Holistic Healing ( and has co-presented several seminars in this Nutritious Delicious series, including "How-To Cook Beans & Grains" and the "Baking with Whole Foods" classes.

The Local Living Venture (LLV) sponsors workshops promoting traditional rural and simple living skills with the motto "Sharing Knowledge from the Past - Building Skills for the Future."   A listing of upcoming resourceful living workshops and events are on the Workshop Schedule page at   New topics and local workshop presenters are always sought and welcome.

Co-sponsoring the event is the Potsdam Food Coop at 24 Elm St., Potsdam, NY  They strive to provide a pleasant shopping experience and working environment, with an emphasis on education, shared information and developing a relationship with the community. The Co-op ( carries local, natural and healthful foods and is open to the public (no membership required) from 8 a.m to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Class size is limited so attendees must RSVP for the location in Potsdam, NY.  To register contact or (315) 347-4223 with your name(s), phone numbers, and number in party.  The class fee is a suggested donation of $15 per person, $5 for students. Partial scholarships are available upon request.

Cake Recipe (all ingredients are organic and grass fed, naturally raised)

Keep in mind I made this in my usual "throw stuff in a bowl and hope for the best" method.  Amounts are approximate based upon my throwing in the bowl and eyeballing the amounts.

2 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup butter

1/3 cup unrefined cane juice sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla

3 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. baking powder (I use a larger quantity because I do not use the fluffy fillers that most gluten free products use: potato & tapioca starch, white rice flour.  These filler ingredients are all refined foods and deplete body cell health.)

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. unrefined sea salt

100% whole grain, gluten-free flour mix - this was millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff and buckwheat that I ground just before making the cake.  Any gluten-free grain will do.  Certified gluten-free oat flour is great if you want to replicate a "normal" cake. Start with 1 1/4 cups of whole grain, gluten free flour.  Add as described below and let set for the 5-10 minutes.  Add more to make thicker if needed.  Cake batter is runnier than cookie or muffin batter.  Stir and use best judgement on the consistency.

1.  Mix wet ingredients and beat together well.  I melt the butter first and use a little bit to butter the cake pan.

2.  Add dry ingredients on top of wet and mix them in well.  Start with 1 cup of the flour.  When every ingredient is mixed together, set the bowl aside for 5-10 minutes.  Whole grain flour soaks up liquid.  It is easier to add more flour, a little at a time, than to try and add more liquid.

3.  Check batter consistency after 5-10 minutes.  If too runny for cake, add a bit more flour and check again in a few minutes.  Batter is ready when it is at the consistency of cake batter.  Not sure what that means?  Well, runnier than cookies or muffins but a bit thicker than pan cakes.  That is my best explanation, play in the kitchen and these things become second nature.

4.  I baked in my 6" round, 2 1/2" deep Pyrex bowl to make a small cake.

5.  Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

6.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes or so and remove from baking dish.

7.  Allow to cool completely.  Slice in 1/2 to fill between layers.  Fill and top with other half of cake & frost.

Frosting (again, all organic and from naturally raised, grass fed animals)

1/2 pint heavy cream

1 package Neufchatel cheese (lower fat, higher protein cream cheese)

3 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1.  Blend all frosting ingredients together until thick like frosting.

2.  Separate into 2 bowls, 1/2 frosting in each bowl.

3.  Add grape juice or black cherry juice concentrate to make the frosting pink.  I added about 1/4 cup of the concentrate (do NOT reconstitute this concentrate).

4.  I used the fruit juice colored frosting to fill between the layers and make the heart on top.