Kitchen Basics Misc

Spiced Eggnog

As a child I carpooled to school with a very unusual girl named Danielle. A quarter century later, Danielle remains one of the most intriguing people I have ever met. She has the brain of an engineer, the heart of an experimental artist, the spirit of an old-timey woodsman, and the energy of a cartoon bunny. Several years ago for Christmas — right before she moved to Portland to explore her passion for pack goats —  she gifted me a small jar of her homemade eggnog. I was instructed to keep it in my fridge and take small sips of it over the course of the next year.

Eggnog, which is a concoction of eggs, dairy, sugar, and alcohol, did not strike me as something that would age well. Danielle assured me that the alcohol content was high enough to act as a preservative for the more susceptible-to-spoilage dairy and eggs. And she was right. I couldn’t make the nog last a whole year because I enjoyed it too much, treating myself to little tipples well into springtime.

I’ve been missing that creamy, comforting drink, so I decided to make my own. I checked in with internet food experts to make sure I wouldn’t poison myself, and learned that 20 percent of the total volume is the amount of alcohol needed to keep the eggnog safe. I also learned from Google that two or three weeks ageing in the fridge produces peak nog. I riffed off recipes from Kenji Lopez-Alt, Michael Ruhlman, and Alton Brown (the latter two of which had frat party-levels of alcohol) to create this spiced eggnog. Make a batch soon to enjoy over the holidays and beyond!

Makes: 2 quarts


  • stand mixer or handheld electric mixer


  • 8 eggs (very fresh or pasteurized. No old eggs.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Separate egg yolks. Save whites for another use. (They freeze well.)
  • Combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, and spices and mix with whisk attachment on medium speed for about a minute, until creamy.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for another minute or two, until well-combined.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a year!

Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

Last Thursday we made pie crust. Today we’re filling it. Next Thursday we shall feast! I have been working on the recipe for this sweet potato pie for a couple weeks now, and I think it will make a beautiful addition to any Thanksgiving table (even if it’s just a Party of One, Two or Three. No shame in gorging on a whole pie). For extra fanciness, use purple sweet potatoes. For extra craziness, arrange pecans in concentric circles, in honor of my friend Lauren, the patron saint of painstakingly measuring things to make holiday treats.

Makes: 1 pie


  • pie dish
  • stand mixer or electric mixer


  • 1 single pie crust

For Sweet Potato Mixture

  • 2 largeish sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For Pecan Mixture

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom


  • Roast sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub a small amount of olive oil onto potato skins, prick potatoes with a fork three or four times, and roast for 45 minutes to one hour, until a fork easily slides into the potatoes. This step can be done ahead. 
  • Preheat (or lower oven temp) to 350°F.
  • Roll out pie crust and place in pie dish. Do something pretty with the crust edges 🌟 Place in fridge while the filling is prepped. (Check out my recipe for making and rolling out pie dough.)
  • Remove potato skins (they should come off easily after roasting). Mash potatoes with stand mixer or electric mixer until smooth. Add other sweet potato filling ingredients and mix until well-combined, about a minute. Taste mixture and add more spices or adjust flavor as needed.
  • Fill pie crust with potato mixture, then top with pecans. 
  • Whisk together remaining pecan mixture ingredients. Pour over top of pie.
  • Bake for about one hour, until top of pie is caramelized. Check halfway through the bake to see if the top is browning too fast. If so, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of pie for the remainder of the bake.

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

Being able to make a pie from scratch should be a requirement for graduating from high school (Why did they stop teaching home ec classes? 😡) . Here is a simple, whole wheat pie crust recipe that you can use for whatever pie your heart desires. You don’t have to use whole wheat flour, but the flavor will be better, and we gotta sneak in that fiber wherever we can! Next week I’ll be featuring a Maple Sweet Potato Pecan Pie recipe, so think of this as part one.

The most important thing to remember when making pie crust is to work fast and keep everything very cold. Some folks go a lot further in this department by prefreezing the flour and butter cubes, but this feels overly fussy to me. As long as you keep the butter cold enough so that it is visibly flecked throughout the dough, you’ll end up with a lovely flaky crust. The easiest way to do this is to start with very cold butter and work fast so that the warmth of your hands doesn’t melt the butter.

Makes: 1 single crust


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (if you can have access to whole wheat pastry flour, use that)
  • 1 cold stick of butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • big pinch sugar
  • ice water
  • extra flour for rolling out dough


  • Add a few ice cubes to 1/4 cup water. Set aside.
  • Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Cut cold butter (straight from the fridge) into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to flour and toss to coat cubes in flour.
  • Working quickly and confidently, use both hands to work butter into flour. Pinch butter with your fingers and mix continuously until butter pieces are pea-sized and uniformly flecked throughout the flour.
  • Measure out 1/4 cup ice water (no ice cubes) and pour into flour-butter mixture. Working quickly, mix by hand, kneading until the dough is hydrated and comes together, this should take well under a minute.
  • Form dough into a disc, wrap in Bee’s Wrap or plastic wrap and allow to cool in the fridge for at least one hour or up to a day or two.
  • To roll out dough, unwrap dough and place on work surface. Generously flour the surface and the dough. 
  • Using a rolling pin (or wine bottle!), start at the middle of the dough and roll out to the edge in every direction. Flour and flip the dough every so often, so that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Keep rolling out the dough, working from the middle outwards until it is about a 1/4 inch in thickness throughout and the right shape and size for the pie dish. Clean up the edges and drape into the pie dish. 
  • To bake blind (without pie filling), place a  piece of parchment paper on top of the crust, so that it that goes up the sides and fill at least 1/2 inch up with dried beans or rice* to weigh down the dough. Baking the crust with a weight on top like this will keep the crust from forming bubbles and cracks as it bakes. Place in fridge or freezer and preheat over to 350°F. Bake for about 30 minutes, then allow to cool and fill as directed. Otherwise, add pie filling to raw dough and bake as specified in the recipe.


*Save the rice or beans afterwards for the next time you make pie! You can use them over and over again.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Bars

This Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup-inspired recipe represents my aesthetic well. It was inspired by my favorite menu item in the kitchen at Clearwater Camp for Girls, the classic peanut butter bar. I use hippie ingredients like oats and honey, but also sweet, sweet trash like actual Reese’s cups. I recommend it for self-medicating OR celebrating after the election!

Makes: 1 9×9 pan


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + more for sprinkling
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • as many mini peanut butter cups as your heart desires (but probably 6)


  • In a blender, blend oats to a powder, or as fine as the blender will allow.
  • Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. 
  • Once melted, stir in oats, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and honey. Once combined, stir in 3/4 cup of peanut butter.
  • Cover bottom and sides of pan with foil or parchment. Spoon peanut butter mixture into pan and smooth to form an even layer that fills pan.
  • Unwrap peanut butter cups and press them down throughout the mixture.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and chocolate to form a smooth mixture. The easiest way to do this is in the microwave, heating for 30 seconds, stirring, and then repeating. Or heat in a double boiler.
  • Pour chocolate mixture over peanut butter mixture and smooth with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle salt over top.
  • Place in fridge to harden for at least two hours.
  • To serve, remove from fridge and cut into squares.

Garlic Fermented in Honey

This simple technique provides preserved garlic plus a delicious garlic-infused fermented honey, which you want in your salad dressings, marinating your roasted veg, drizzled over pasta, and spooned into your mouth.


  • as much garlic as you want
  • unpasteurized honey


  • Peel garlic cloves and place in a jar.
  • Pour honey so the cloves are submerged. 
  • Stir in a teaspoon of water, which kickstarts fermentation.
  • Loosely cover the jar with a lid and allow to ferment at room temperature for at least a month. I’ve gone up to a year, and the results were wildly intense, almost medicinal. The cloves may float to the top, particularly at the start of the fermentation period, so be sure to stir the garlic back under so it doesn’t spend too much time exposed to oxygen.
  • To store, just seal the lid tightly and keep at room temperature, using the garlic and infused honey as needed.

Fermented Garlic Paste

Once this ingredient enters your kitchen, you will never be able to live without it again. I use the paste in place of minced garlic. It takes some time to peel all the garlic initially, but then all garlic prep is eliminated. Use this same technique with ginger, turmeric, or a mix, and feel free to add spices and herbs!


  • as much garlic as you can stand to peel
  • salt


  • Peel the garlic. For maximum ease, smash each clove with the flat edge of a big kitchen knife. The skins then will slip right off. 
  • Using a blender or food processor, blend garlic to a paste.
  • Calculate salt. Find a jar big enough to fit garlic paste and still will have headspace to weigh down the paste while it ferments. Place empty jar on scale, power on and tare so the scale reads 0 grams. Spoon paste into jar, try to remove air pockets as you go, and measure weight of paste in grams. Multiply the weight by .02 (2 percent). This is the salt quantity. (For example, if the paste weights 300 grams, use 6 grams of salt.) Sprinkle salt on top of paste.
  • Weigh down contents of jar. The easiest way to weigh down the contents is with a Ziploc bag filled with water.
    Open Ziploc bag, and make sure there are no leaks. Put your fist inside, and press down onto the surface of the paste. Fold the outer edges of the bag over the sides of the jar. Fill the bag with water so it comes close to the top of the jar. Now place a rubber band around the top of the jar, which will keep the Ziploc bag in place.
  • Ferment: Allow jar to ferment at room temperature for 10 days to one month or longer.
  • After fermentation, carefully remove the weight. Store in an airtight container in fridge, where it will keep indefinitely. Use as you would minced garlic.
Kitchen Basics

Fruit Shrub

Shrubs are a great old-timey way to beat the heat. This vinegar-based drink is puckery and refreshing, and a cool way to use up fruit scraps or preserve an abundance of ripe fruit. Concoct a summery cocktail that highlights the sour, fruity flavor of the shrub, or just pour some in your fizzy water of choice! We made ours this week with leftover pineapple skin and blackberries. Gotta eat up all those berries before Michaelmas!!

Shrub is an excellent way to showcase your homemade fruit scrap vinegar!


  • 1 cup chopped fruit of choice (scraps are fine, but the more actual fruit, the stronger the fruity flavor)
  • 1 cup sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc)
  • 1 cup fruit vinegar (apple cider vinegar, or something homemade!)
  • optional: herbs, spices, citrus zest


  • Add ingredients to a jar and stir it all together. Particularly if using berries or soft fruit, mash the fruit up a bit.
  • Seal jar and place in refrigerator for 2-4 weeks (or a couple days if you’re in a rush. The flavor just won’t be as fruity). Mix occasionally, especially if using sugar as the sweetener, which may need help dissolving.
  • Taste every so often. Once pleased with the flavor, strain the fruit out. The remaining syrupy liquid is the shrub. It will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely. Add it as a flavor booster to cocktails, fizzy water, kombucha, lemonade, iced tea, or whatever beverage your heart desires.

Smoky Fermented Hot Sauce

Scrambled eggs, takeout pizza, fried rice, mac and cheese, roasted veg … are all improved with hot sauce. I don’t mean the stuff that makes your face sweat and your heart race and your brain fog over. Those are not culinary experiences I crave.

I want something with a balance of salty, sour, and umami flavors, and a kick of heat, just enough to wake up the palate a bit. I like to add chipotle peppers for some smokiness. This process takes a couple weeks, but it’s mostly hands off. And once it’s ready, you’ll have a shelf stable product to keep in the pantry forever. Although I doubt it will last very long, with all the meals you’ll be slathering it on.


  • Kitchen scale


  • A handful of hot peppers of choice, stems removed (I like red jalapeños)
  • 2 ripe bell peppers (not the green ones) or a handful of sweet peppers, stems removed
  • 3-4 chipotle peppers (dried or the canned ones in adobo sauce)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt
  • fruit vinegar
  • cooking oil of choice


  • Preheat oven to 450°F and lightly oil a baking pan. Remove skin and quarter onion. Cook onion in oven until charred — about 15 minutes.
  • Prep veggies by chopping into pieces that will fit in the blender. Be sure to use fresh veggies. Anything past its prime may encourage  mold and yeast growth during fermentation.
  • Blend onion, garlic, carrot, and peppers until smooth. Taste for heat level. Not hot enough? Add more hot peppers. Too hot? Add another carrot or bell pepper.
  • Calculate salt. Find a jar that is about double the volume of the veggie purée (the jar should have plenty of headspace for weighing down the contents ). Place empty jar on scale, power on and tare so the scale reads 0 grams. Pour purée into jar and measure weight in grams. Multiply the weight by .02 (2 percent). This is the salt quantity for the hot sauce. (For example, if the purée weights 300 grams, use 6 grams of salt.) Sprinkle salt on top of purée.
  • Weigh down contents of jar: Pepper purées can be very active during fermentation. Usually solids will separate from the liquid and rise to the top. They also have a tendency to grow kahm yeast in hot climates. The easiest and cleanest thing to do is to weigh down the contents with a Ziploc bag filled with water.
    Open Ziploc bag, and make sure there are no leaks.  put your fist inside, and press down onto the surface of the purée. Fold the outer edges of the bag over the sides of the jar. Fill bag with water. Ideally the weight of the water will be close to the weight of the purée, but eyeballing it is fine. Now place a rubber band around the top of the jar, which will keep the Ziploc bag in place.
  • Ferment: Allow jar to ferment at room temperature for 10-14 days (or longer!). Since this can be an active ferment, I recommend placing a kitchen towel underneath the jar to capture any spills. Also, the activity may push the water in the bag up and over the edge of the jar. Be sure to check often and add more water if necessary, so the purée is fully weighed down.
  • After fermentation, carefully remove the Ziploc bag. Blend fermented purée with an equal amount of fruit vinegar. This makes it shelf stable, plus the flavor is more complex with the acidity. Store in a tightly sealed bottle with very little headspace (the oxygen could potentially encourage mold growth). It will keep at room temperature indefinitely. If anxious about mold growth, the container can also be stored in the fridge, if you’re anxious about mold). I have stored jars of hot sauce for well over a year in the pantry, and I’ve never experienced any mold growth.

Black Garlic

You are either the kind of person that is willing to keep a slow cooker plugged in for weeks at a time in service of delicious garlic, or you are not. This recipe is for those in the first camp. The results are most definitely worth it. If you like caramelized onions, you will adore black garlic. It’s sweet and deep and mellow- more candy than vegetable.


  • a slow cooker with a “keep warm” setting


  • as many whole heads of garlic as you can get your hands on


  • Place whole heads of garlic in slow cooker.
  • Plug it in, place on lid, and set to “keep warm” (which should be around 135°F).
  • Allow garlic to slowly transform into black gold over the course of 2-3 weeks. Open and reseal the lid every day or so to release excess moisture. The garlic is ready once the cloves are soft and black.
  • Store black garlic in fridge in an airtight container. It will keep indefinitely.
Recipes Savories

Hazelnut Garlic Pesto

A lovely pesto to stir into a pot of pasta, schmear on toast, or toss with roasted veggies.


  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, cubed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus additional for roasting garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • optional: a few sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water; a handful of kalamata olives; a bunch of parsley, stems and all; an anchovy; or some combination thereof


  • Place hazelnuts on a pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Allow hazelnuts to toast for 12-15 minutes while the oven preheats.
  • Slice off a small section from the pointy top of the garlic bulb off, so that a bit of each clove is exposed. Place garlic on a square of aluminum foil. Rub a bit of olive oil around the bulb, sprinkle some salt, and wrap up tightly in foil. Roast in oven until cloves are soft, about 40 minutes. (Hot tip: go ahead and roast a few cloves at once. They keep in the fridge for a while, and they’re lovely in everything from salad dressing to soup to scrambled eggs). Once roasted, it’s easy to remove the garlic cloves from their papery skin.
  • In a blender, pulse roasted garlic cloves, hazelnuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, and any optional add-ins. Once blended into a uniform coarse crumble, add olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
  • To store, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto and place, tightly sealed, in fridge. Keeps for several weeks.