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  1. Essential Egg’n'ham Eats

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    This is one of my breakfast favorites. It is simple and tasty. This dish is gluten free, but meat-tastic.

    You will need: a muffin pan (six cup is preferred), 30 minutes (10-13 minutes prep, 17-20 minutes cook time), and the below ingredients.

    6 slices of ham; medium-thick Black Forest is awesome
    6 eggs
    ½ an onion*
    half a dozen mushrooms*
    salt and pepper
    oil or butter for greasing the muffin pan and sautéing

    Step 1: Turn oven on to 350°.

    Step 2: Heat a small skillet to medium. Add a small amount of oil or butter to the skillet. Dice onions and sauté until translucent. Chop mushrooms and cook with the onions for another five minutes (until they are just starting to go soft).

    Step 3: Oil your muffin pan and tuck the ham slices into the oiled cups.

    Step 4: Place a ¼ to a ½ cup of the onion mix into the ham ‘cup,’ top with a cracked egg, and a little salt and pepper.

    Step 5: Place in the pre-heated oven for 17-20 minutes. The egg white should be fully cooked when the dish is done. Let sit for a minute, plate, and enjoy!

    *I use many different fillers for this one. I happen to enjoy mushroom and onion the best, but other veggies work too. A little cheese also tastes great in the ham cups. I like to experiment, and suggest you do the same.

    And there you are, a quick and easy, gluten-free breakfast. Thanks for reading!


  2. Beautiful Basil

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    I hate wasting food, and one thing that quickly goes bad in the fridge is basil. This is huge bummer for many reasons. 1. It’s tasty. 2. It’s expensive. 3. It can be used in just about everything. I have an ingenious method for keeping basil fresh. I will use this method forever and I want to share it with you all.  20120702-165938.jpgWhy is that basil in a cup? and why is it covered in a plastic bag? you ask. It is hothousing. By placing the plant in water and covering it with clear plastic, you are creating a simple terrarium for your edibles. Can you see the little rootlets down at the bottom? It is now a happy, growing basil plant that can be transfered to soil—if you so wish.   20120702-165958.jpgCheck out that root system and the little flowers in the top left, so cute! This particular batch of basil has been sitting on my window for about two weeks now, and I haven’t had to add any water because the plant sweats and the water replenishes itself. As you can see it is healthy and happy.

    I plan on using some of it for dinner tonight. I’m making fried rice with cauliflower, broccoli, and, of course, basil. It is one of those staple dinners that makes for great leftovers. The dish is vegetarian (vegan, if you don’t add the egg) and gluten free.

    I hope this tip will help keep your basil fresh and keep you cooking delicious meals.


  3. Tasty Tartlets

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    One hard aspect of a gluten-free diet is the lack of pastries. I have had really good luck with rice flour waffles, so I thought I would experiment with pie crust.

    This recipe is a two parter—pie crust and lemon curd. I’ll start with the pie crust and get to the lemon curd, which is delicious on its own, or on toast. Anyway, to the recipes!

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    Rice Flour Pie Crust:

    1 cup rice flour
    3 tbs butter
    3 tbs vegetable oil
    3-4 tbs cold water

    Cut the butter into the flour, then add the oil. I use my hands to mix the ingredients into small flour balls. Add the cold water last and mix it all to an even consistency. The dough should stick together, but not feel gooey.

    Divide the dough into six equal parts and press each part into the cup of a six cup muffin tin. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes, (until the crust pulls away from the cups) then let cool. Now you have mini pie crusts!

    Lemon Curd:

    Lemon curd can be intimidating because there is a need for a double boiler. Never fear! Double boilers can be made with many things. I used my pasta pot, a steamer tray, and a sauce pan. It worked great. I did this because I don’t have any metal mixing bowls, something I will have to remedy.

    4 egg yolks
    2/3 cup sugar
    Juice from 2 large lemons (I like my curd lemony, you can reduce the lemon juice to taste)*
    Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon *see above note
    1/2 a stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

    Pour an inch of water into a medium sauce pan (or medium pasta pot), and simmer on low heat. In your metal mixing bowl (or sauce pan) whisk the egg yolk and sugar for a few minutes, until smooth. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until fully incorporated.

    Place the mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan so it rests on the rim, not in the water. Stir the curd with a rubber spatula, mixing from the bottom up for 7-10 minutes. The curd will be done after it thickens enough to stick to the spatula. Remove from heat.

    Whisk in the butter slices, one at a time. Wait until each slice is melted before adding the next. When all the butter is added, spoon the curd into a. a clean glass jar (the curd will stay fresh in the fridge for two weeks) b. your cooled mini pie crusts c. your mouth.  

    Fruit Tartlets:

    Drop fresh fruit into the bottom of the mini pie crusts, top with lemon curd, and more fresh fruit. Place back into the oven at 375° and cook for a final 10-15 minutes. Don’t do what I did, mainly get impatient and turn on the boiler. My poor tartlets got a little crispy. Cool in the fridge overnight and enjoy.

    Lemon curd tartlets: endorsed by four year olds, (especially tasty for breakfast!).


  4. Good Ginger

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    In addition to yummy recipes  I like to store food well. One of the things that I try to do for myself, and other people in the kitchen, is find quick and easy solutions to make cooking more fun. I love fresh ginger, but I find it goes soft before I can use the whole root. I have some awesome advice: put it in the freezer!

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    Also awesome: Alden’s ice cream of any kind, we have been particularly satisfied with the Orange Sherbet (pictured above).

    Tossing the ginger root into the freezer allows you to keep it viable for much longer than it would be in the fridge or on the counter, and it makes it easier to grate. What makes it even easier is a zester instead of a cheese grater, but baby steps. My poor kitchen.

    Since this post is a little short, I thought I would add in a recipe for a ginger drink that kicks the common cold in the butt. When I was working at The Gravity Bar, a now closed restaurant in Seattle, we called this drink a Dragon Slayer. I think I’ll stick with that.

    Dragon Slayer:

    1 oz ginger juice*
    1 oz lemon juice
    2-3 cloves garlic
    ½ tsp cayenne pepper

    Toss all ingredients into a blender and blend until the garlic is fully integrated and you have a nice liquid. Pour into a short glass and drink as fast as you can, or add it to tea for a longer experience. Feel your sinuses open up and your immune system work overtime.

    *If you don’t have a juicer to make ginger juice, you can peel the ginger root and use a garlic press to ‘juice’ ¼ inch pieces of the root at a time. It takes a little longer, but it is well worth the effort.

    For the most part, I just grate a little ginger at a time into my fried rice dishes. I have also heard that it is really good in coffee, but I haven’t tried it and am a bit skeptical. Ginger is also a very tasty add on to sweet recipes, like pancakes or apple pie.

    I hope this tip will inspire some of my awesome readers to go out and buy a chunk of ginger for kitchen experiments.

    Thanks for reading!


  5. Sweet Summer Salad

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    Summer in Portland is awesome. All of my favorite foods are available fresh from local farms, and the fruit is amazing. I try and eat my weight in fresh berries every summer, I also love the fresh greens that summer brings. When you combine greens and fruit . . . Ah! Deliciousness happens.

    I happen to think that summer is the best time for salad. And salad is awesome food. Salads can range from simple, one or two ingredients, to complicated multi-ingredient masterpieces. One of my favorite ways to add a little zing to my salads, is by adding fruit. The contrast of sweet and savory is a favorite of mine. The salad that I’m writing about today features some of the best aspects of summer. At least in my opinion.

    Having strawberries and peaches ripe at the same time is delightful. This fruit combo makes for many delicious meals, and are delicious all on their own. Add some blueberries and yogurt and you have one of my favorite breakfasts. At any rate; on to the recipe.

    Sweet Summer Salad:

    3 cups spinach, or other greens (a cup is about a handful)
    2 ripe peaches
    6-8 medium strawberries
    ½-1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed or grated
    2 tbs red wine vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste

    Chop the peaches and strawberries into bite size pieces, set aside. Grate or chop your mozzarella, set aside. In a large bowl combine your greens, fruit, and mozzarella. Pour the red wine vinegar over the ingredients and top with salt and pepper. Toss the salad until the juice from the fruit mixes with the vinegar and serve immediately.

    This serves four people as a side, and two as a meal.

    I hope you  all enjoy the summer as much as I do. Happy eating.


  6. Easy Eggs

    May 25, 2013 by Dylan

    I love to eat eggs with pretty much everything. And I love to find new ways to eat eggs for breakfast. I have been eating a lot more fried rice dishes lately and I am totally okay with that. This dish is a great way to use leftover rice and makes for a quick, tasty, high-protein breakfast.

    Fried egg over garlic rice, with a Sriracha swirl.

    The ingredient list is pretty short, which makes this one of my favorite things to cook. I am all about ten or less ingredients. Hot sauce, salt, and pepper are not really included (at least in my head) because they are toppers and aren’t necessary for the dish, but they do make it tasty. I also love using leftover food for new dishes and I am not at my best in the morning, so simple breakfasts are my friend. Needless to say, this dish satisfies a lot of my cooking quirks.

    Rice and Egg Breakfast with Garlic: (serves 2)

    1 cup of rice
    2 eggs
    3-6 cloves of garlic
    1 tbs oil (vegetable or olive)
    butter for frying eggs
    salt and pepper to taste
    hot sauce

    Dice 3-6 cloves of garlic, depending on how garlicy you like your food, set aside. Use a large frying pan on medium-high heat, pour the oil into the pan, then slide the garlic into the oiled pan. Fry the garlic until it is slightly translucent, then add the rice, salt, and pepper. Mix well and turn the heat to low.

    Place a small frying pan on medium-high heat, slide a pat of butter on the pan for frying an egg. Fry your eggs any style you like, flipping midway. I prefer my eggs in between over easy and over medium. I find that it takes about four and a half minutes. Salt and pepper your eggs according to your personal preference.

    When the eggs are done, divide the rice up (about a half cup per person) and slide an egg on top. Top with your favorite hot sauce. I like Sriracha, but any hot sauce will do. Then dig in. Voila! Eggs over rice.

    If you want to go super quick, you can always fry an egg and put it over leftover rice (no garlic frying involved) and that is also a tasty breakfast. I happen to think that the garlic fried rice really makes for an awesome meal, even if it takes a little longer.

    Happy eating, and thanks for reading.


  7. Med Mash-up

    February 13, 2013 by Dylan

    Last week I went to a (yet another) new doctor. She seems nice. I got all my blood work done and everything looks good. My good cholesterol is awesome. Go yummy foods! And my other levels were right on track. The appointment was for my annual, so we didn’t get to talk in depth about new ideas for meds that might work better, but I made appointment in March to go over all of that. Maybe this doctor will stick around for longer than a year and I can get some things dialed in. That would be very nice.

    The med that I talked with her about tapering off was Cymbalta. I am very tired (literally) of the side effects. I start on a reduced dose tomorrow, and I am interested to see how my person will react. Tapering off Cymbalta is notoriously hard, and I have no idea how my body is going to handle it. Fortunately, it is the only thing that I am reducing, so that might make it easier.

    Things that I am looking forward to while getting off Cymbalta:

    • More energy! This is one of my biggest annoyances. Right now, I need to sleep ten to twelve hours a night, and sometimes I still need a nap. I would like to not be so tired all the time, I’m sure my family would appreciate it too.
    • No more night sweats! Man, this is really annoying. I feel like I’m menopausal and I just turned thirty-one. Plus, (TMI) I get heat rashes and I had to get a creme just for that. Yet another prescription. Boo!
    • No more dry mouth. I drink a lot of water, and I still have dry mouth. This winter, my lips chapped so badly, that they bled. Often. Ick.

    Things that I am NOT looking forward to while getting off Cymbalta:

    • Return of the pain. My hips still hurt, it is much less than it was last winter, but on bad days . . . I have bad days and they aren’t fun. It will be a good baseline measure though, for future reference anyway. And it will give me an idea of my pain levels after a year of meds.
    • The possible withdrawal effects. These include, moodiness, brain zaps, depression, and other joyful things. This could be fun.
    • Having to do all this again with a different med.

    So, I have the next month to see what happens. I will keep everyone updated, because talking about health issues is fun. Plus, I want people to become more aware of these “Invisible Illnesses.” We aren’t just wusses, you just can’t see how much our life can hurt. Sometimes, I think it would be easier if I was in a cast, or something else that was visible, but I am (mostly) happy with my life the way it is.

    As always, thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions. I’m not shy.


  8. Job Joy

    February 5, 2013 by Dylan

    My current day job has cut my hours (get better economy!), so I’m on the hunt for part time work. I’d love to find something in the writing or editing world, but I’d also consider retail, restaurant work, or child care. I’m up for cleaning houses on Tuesdays or Thursdays, if anyone would be interested in a housecleaner.

    I need to get my tush into gear on the personal writing front. There is the first Ruby story that I have to finish editing, then the second and third need writing. This winter weather is for the birds, it makes me supremely lazy. The Little Man and I have been having too much fun playing video games and watching movies. I need to get a move on.

    That’ll be it for today. But, I’ll be back later with more exciting posts about fun things, not just work stuff. If you hear of anything, or have any work for me, send me an email at dylancbenito@gmail.com. I’ll be checking the internet too. I gots rent to pay!

    As always, thanks for reading!


  9. Catch-all Catch-up

    December 23, 2012 by Dylan

    Edited to add my NaNoWriMo certificate!

    2012-Trad-Nano-Winner-Certificate1.2 (1)

    Firstly: I am a terrible blogger. I will endeavor to write more in 2013. I have some good things to share.

    Secondly: I finished, and won my NaNoWriMo challenge! I wrote just over 50,000 words. I think I have a great first draft of a crazy, post-apocalyptic, adventure novel. The draft will need a bunch of work, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I discovered that it is just the first in a three part series. I’m looking forward to writing the next two, but I have to get some other stuff done first. The best thing about the project was learning my limits. I now know that I can write over 4,000 words in a day (if I have to), and that my imagination is much bigger than I thought it could be. Awesome.

    Which leads to point three: I sent off the first Ruby mystery off to a (my) delightful editor, Ms. Shelia Ashdown, and got back a ton of great advice. I am in the middle of another round of edits and I think I will be ready for some copy editing once I’m done. The next step is starting up the business and publishing. I’m thinking that I will start with e-publishing, then go on to a small print run. Things are moving right along, and it’s exciting. Of course, I will keep all of you updated as everything rolls out.

    Point four: My Little Man will be turning five on the 26th! I can’t believe it. We don’t have anything planned for the actual day, but we will be getting him bunk beds later in the week. I think it’ll blow his mind. I can’t wait. Expect a post with pictures. I’m hoping to get out with him today and run some errands, but the weather is gross and neither of us is very excited about going outside. I might have to tempt him with a trip to the toy store, he has some birthday money to spend, and he has been talking about a robot toy.

    What else has been going on? I’m still working at the music shop, and that has been work. The holiday season has finally hit and it’s been busy. I expect next week to be even busier. People love to spend their gift cards. After the new year, I will be compiling an inventory list again. That should be entertaining. I am still trying to figure out the best way to get it all together. I’m hoping I can put our iPad to good use. We shall see.

    Six will be a health update: My current meds are messing with me. After this batch runs out, I plan on changing meds. That could be really interesting. Tapering off Cymbalta is notoriously difficult and I have no idea how I’m going to react. I’m really tired of the side effects and am hoping for something a little easier to deal with. I have also been fighting off a cold/flu thing for a few weeks. Every time I feel like I’m getting better, I get hit again. I’m definitely ready for that to stop. Other than that, I’m doing alright.

    I think that’s about it for now. I’ll post pictures soon, and maybe an excerpt of the first Ruby book. If that is something that you all are interested in.

    Ta for now.


  10. Writing Whirlwind

    November 12, 2012 by Dylan

    Hello all. Sorry that I have been so absent lately. It seems that life has decided to get in the way. Time is flying by and I have been having a hard time keeping up. We are all doing quite well in the Portmandia household. We survived the Little Man’s first Halloween, and are still enjoying the remnants of his candy. Mainly, writing abounds for our little family.

    Mr. Portmandia and I are both taking part in NaNoWriMo2012, National Novel Writing Month, it is a month long writing challenge. We are both trying to get to 50,000 words by the end of November. So far it has been a fun project. I am writing a post-apocalyptic adventure story and am relatively happy with how it is turning out so far. I will keep you all updated on if I make the final word count or not. Either way, it is a fun thing to participate in. I should hit 20,000 words today, and that feels good.

    I haven’t been cooking a whole lot, so I don’t have any fancy new recipes to share. Mr. Portmandia, on the other hand, has been making lots of delicious pickles and has just started brewing beer. He should be bottling the current batch this weekend. I am looking forward to tasting some. He has been quite the experimenter lately and I like it.

    I will leave you all with a picture of the beer that is burbling in our closet, and a promise to write more.