Monthly Archives: October 2011

How Goes the Compost Bin?

How goes the composting you ask? It goes well. I have worms in there! This makes me happy. I didn’t put them in there, they came of their own accord through the little holes on the bottom of my trash can compost barrel. The reason it makes me go “squee” is because it means that the bin is a happy good composting rot place where worms want to hang and get in on the action. It looks rather compost like in there.

I’m a lazy composter. I toss stuff in there when I think of it. I only think to gather stuff on occasion. Sometimes the bucket in the bottom of my cupboard full of veggie rot that needs to be tended to gets forgotten for a while.

I started this bin back in January, which is not the best time of year to start a compost heap in a New England climate, but I managed, and it did alright.

If you read my first post about the DIY city folk friendly compost bin, you know that I began composting in January. In Boston. Not the best time of year, but it works. I had to give it up for a while as the barrel was buried by snow, and then a layer of ice sealed it in. From February to early April (at least it felt like that late in the year) the barrel was invisible. There was no tending, no adding (this is when my experiment in making poisonous anaerobic rot inside my kitchen occurred).  Despite the ups and downs and hiccups and less-than-dedicated effort, I feel like I earn a green star for still turning a decent amount of kitchen scraps into worm happy compost rather than land-fill.

Here’s a few lesson’s I’ve already learned along the way:

  • It’s important to transfer the goods in your inside bin to the outside bin before a situation develops.
  • Never make your inside bin airtight. I learned that the hard way (you don’t want details, suffice it to say it’s the worst smell in the world, and I believe hazardous to one’s health).
  • Egg shells take a long while to compost.
  • Whole sheets of copy paper also take a while. It’s important to rip those bad boys a little.
  • While it’s never too cold to compost, there can be too much snow.
  • Paying only the slightest regard to “greens” and “browns” and proper proportions will still yield you results, though perhaps not on the fastest schedule.
  • Even lazy-man occasional composting still makes you all warm and fuzzy “I’m saving the earth” inside, which is nice to think.

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Energy bars

I recently went on a hike and whipped up this batch of energy bars to eat for breakfast while on the trail. This recipe is a riff off of another recipe I found online. They were quite tasty and filling, which is perfect for a hike or go-to snack/pick me up. I took the Whole Grain Gourmet’s specific recipe and pared it down to its essence.

Once you make these, you’ll instantly see modifications you can make to it to suit your taste. Feel free to experiment- more peanut butter, or more honey. I would’ve added chocolate in it or melted on top if I had any on hand.


  • 1/2 cup nuts (your choice- walnuts, peanuts, almonds, a mix or one kind)
  • 1 cup dried fruits (I used dried cranberries, strawberries, blueberries)
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s 12 grain cereal (or another variety, or just grind up oats)
  • 2 cup rolled oats (mine was a rye, oats, barley, wheat 4 grain medley)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Toast the oats under the broiler. Be very mindful you don’t end up with burnt oats. Stay close to the stove and begin peeking the second you smell them.
  2. The recipe I based my energy bars off of said to “pulse dried fruits to mine.” I found that trying to pulse my dried fruit lead to my food processor emitting an ear shattering noise with little mincing happening. So, I instead took out my handy chef’s knife and got to hand chopping.
  3. I also chopped my nuts up by hand.
  4. Combine the dried fruits, nuts, and rolled oats together in a bowl (leave out the cereal).
  5. Boil 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Add the 12-grain cereal. Let it rest two minutes (I turned off the heat but left the pan on the burner).
  6. Add the peanut butter, honey, salt, and vanilla to the pan with the cereal. Turn on heat to low and stir for a few minutes until thoroughly combined.
  7. Combine the wet mix with the dry mix. I got right in there with my hands as a fork and/or spoon were not doing the job after a while.
  8. Press into an 8×8 pan (no need to grease it first). I first used my hands to press the mix into the pan. Then I used the back of a spoon to press and level it some more. You want to ensure it’s a compacted, solid bar.
  9. Take a sheet of wax paper and use that to press down on the top and even out the energy bar mixture.
  10. Let it firm up for a few hours at room temperature before cutting.
  11. Cut into whatever size bars you’d like. It makes at least 8 really large bars.

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Apple Cake

I’ve made this cake about three or four times in as many weeks. Every time it has come out quite tasty. I’ve used both a bundt pan and a pyrex 9×13 to cook it up. I’ve tossed some of the apples on the bottom of the pan and put the rest in batter, or mixed them all in the batter. Basically, it’s a hard cake to screw up. Cake’s a bit of a misnomer as it’s more like a delicious apple muffin. Slather some frosting on it, either a glaze or some cream cheese frosting if you want a more cake-like experience. I imagine it could also be turned into muffins easily, just adjust the bake time.


  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
  • 2 3/4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp cloves
  • 1 Cup walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup dried blueberries (optional)
  • 4-6 Apples, diced (any good cooking apples- I’ve used cortlands and crispins before)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop the apples and coat with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Mix the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
  4. Combine the flax (optional), flour, salt, and spices together in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture until combined.
  6. Stir in the walnuts and dried berries (optional).
  7. Fold in the chopped apples.
  8. Pour into an oiled 9×13 pan or a bundt pan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Try not to eat it all in one day, it’s that tasty!


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Rum Cake

This cake was a huge hit at my friends’ party last night. Based on its deliciousness, one friend quipped that I should open my own bakery.  I don’t have the wherewithal to do all that noise, but bottom-line, the cake rocks. Make this cake when you’re having a gathering otherwise you’ll want to devour it all yourself.

I based my glaze drizzling process on what was detailed on Pioneer Woman’s blog, but my recipe was a modification of several recipes I found online.


  • 1 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 Cups dark rum (I used Sailor Jerry’s)
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 Tsp salt
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • Rum glaze


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs, vanilla. Blend to combine.
  4. Add in the rum and blend until combined.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter, alternating between the two (adding about 1/3 each go), beginning and ending with flour. Blend on low after each addition until just combined (a few seconds each).
  7. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes. If you insert a toothpick into the cake, it should come out clean.
  9. While the cake is still in the pan, slowly drizzle 1/3 of the rum glaze over the cake, giving it time to seep in. Let it soak for 5 minutes and then invert the cake onto a cake platter or plate. Be sure whatever surface has a sufficient rim to trap in the rum glaze that will spill out! (I did not, and ended up with glaze spilled all over my counter and floor. I ended up sticking the cake in a pyrex pie dish).
  10. Poke all over the cake with the tines of a fork. Then slowly drizzle the glaze all over the cake.
  11. Enjoy!


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Chai Tea

There’s nothing quite as delicious as milky spiced tea. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it when I was in Tanzania, it has been absent in my life until recently when I first concocted it at home to serve to a guest. Shamed by how easy it is to make at home, I’m surprised how I deny myself this treat. If you’ve got the spices, you’re golden.


  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 1/2 Cups milk
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 Tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 Tsp ground cloves (or three whole cloves)
  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon (or one stick)
  • 18-20 Cardamon seeds (or 1 tsp ground)
  • 1/4 Cup sugar


  1. Add all the spices and tea to the 2 cups of water in a medium size sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add sugar and milk. Stir.
  5. Return to a boil, but keep a close eye on the pot and remove it from heat once it begins to froth.
  6. Strain the tea at the cup (to remove the chunks of spices).

It makes 2-4 cups of tea, depending on how large your mug and whether or not you care to share.

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